Last week, with Henry Keil I ran a workshop (Learning and Teaching Forum) for staff at Harper Adams, the workshop was entitled ‘Technology Choices for Work-Based Learning’. Essentially we moved through a journey from looking at what it is like to be a work based learner (How does it feel? What are the constraints and opportunities?), to considering how online learning may be designed (what are you doing and what tools will you use?) and then finally to think about how we might align our learning designs in the context of different stakeholders (employers, staff, learners). To consider the design of online activities we successfully drew upon a workshop designed and used by Stephen Powell at Bolton University, whereby an online learning design is broken down in to three elements – activity, tools and roles.
The journey of designing and running the workshop and engaging with people along the way led me to consider that there may be two dimensions to online activity design for work-based learners. The first dimension being internal alignment, ensuring that in themselves the elements making up an activity work in harmony (e.g. activity, tools, roles, learning outcomes). The second dimension being external alignment of the activity with the needs, abilities, facilities/equipment and cultures of stakeholders (usually, staff, learners and employers). I then though through different scenarios, what would it be like if the activities were in themselves well designed but did not fit with stakeholder culture or technology provision for example? What would it be like when tasks are poorly designed in themselves but the initiative has been developed with some considerable thought towards stakeholder needs? The result of this thinking is captured here (click to view in more detail):