Designed for learning

learning – teaching – research – design – technology

Innovating Pedagogy report II is out

The OU’s Innovating Pedagogy reports explore new forms of teaching, learning and assessment, to guide educators and policy makers. The 2013 report updates four previous areas of innovation and introduces six new ones: Crowd Learning, Learning from Gaming, Maker Culture, Geo-Learning, Digital Scholarship and Citizen Inquiry. The report can be downloaded from

September 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Call for Submissions – MOOCs and Beyond: eLearning Papers Issue 33

eLearning Papers is currently welcoming submissions which address the challenges and future of Massive Open Online Courses, a trend in education that has skyrocketed since 2008. Issue 33, MOOCs and Beyond, seeks to both generate debate, and coalesce a variety of critical perspectives into a fruitful body of research.

Educators today are confronted with several questions regarding MOOCs. These include:What role do they play in the undergraduate degree system? In particular, what threat do they pose to higher education as it currently operates? Also, what does the path towards proper accreditation for these classes look like?

On a broader level, MOOCs offer another site from which to explore the intersection between technology and pedagogy, in the effort to improve our understanding of how to support learning. How do MOOCs differ from face-to-face, or even on-line closed courses? What is particular about the MOOC learning experience, and what does that teach us?

Contributors are invited to present theoretical or empirical research, specifically regarding the following topics:

- Experiences speaking to the design, implementation or assessment of a MOOC.

The impact of MOOCs within Higher Education.

Learning analytics and MOOCs.

Peer-to-peer learning and MOOCs.

- Analyses of the impact and reach of MOOCs – considering course completion, global recognition.

The guest editor for this edition is Yishay Mor.

Deadline: March 25th, 2013.

Click here to read the complete Call for Papers.

March 9, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

manifesto for teaching online: a design checklist for a 21st Century curriculum?

Cross posted from the OLDS MOOC blog:

Rebecca Ferguson and Mike Sharples pointed me to University of Edinburgh MSc in E-learning 2011′s manifesto for teaching online.

I wonder: how many of their maxims we follow? How many will emerge from the OLDS MOOC participant projects? Here’s a sample:
The possibility of the ‘online version’ is overstated. The best online courses are born digital.
‘Best practice’ is a totalising term blind to context – there are many ways to get it right.
Every course design is philosophy and belief in action.
The aesthetics of online course design are too readily neglected: courses that are fair of (inter)face are better places to teach and learn in.

December 19, 2012 Posted by | design | Leave a comment

this is your brain on code

Hannah Wright has an interesting study on cognitive advantages of programming, which she finds are similar to those of bilinguals:

The performance of 10 professional computer programmers (aged 22–25) and 10 adolescent computer programmers (aged 14–17) is compared to age-matched and IQ-matched controls in two executive control tasks. In the Attention Networks Test, as predicted, programmers recorded faster global reaction times than their monolingual peers; the difference was significant. In the Stroop colour-word task, programmers recorded slower reaction times; however, these results were not significant. Overall, the results suggest that extensive computer programming experience may, like bilingualism, be associated with enhanced executive control. Whatever the direction of this relationship, it could have important implications for education; these are discussed, along with areas for future research.

Hannah is very cautious about her results, and is well aware of the difference between correlation and causation. Nevertheless, this does warrant further investigation. In fact, here is one area of educational research where pre- and post- tests would be meaningful. And, I wonder if there’s a case for a cognitive neuroscience perspective? Yes, surely coding changes your brain – just like any tennis, or any activity you practice regularly. The question is, how?

Another perspective (personal plug – Mor & Noss 2008) is that programming creates mental bridges between mathematics and narrative. Narrative, as Bruner showed, is the means by which we organise experience into meaning. As Hirsh, Mar & Peterson argue: “A growing body of theory and research indicates that the broadest and most integrative levels of an individual’s knowledge system can be characterized as narrative descriptions of reality”. For example, Mar (2011) shows a strong link between narrative comprehension and theory of mind – our core mechanism of social cognition.

What has all this to do with Mathematics? Very little, and that’s the problem. Most people find mathematics hard to grasp, precisely because it is de-narratised. Wittgenstein said “Mathematics is invented to suit experience and then made independent of experience”, stripped of person, time, context – all the elements that make a narrative. The pure perfection of maths is the source of its power, but it leave our narrative apparatus nothing to latch on to.

And this is where coding comes in. Code is narrative in form, but mathematics in essence. A wolf in sheep’s skin. It tells a story, but that story has no tolerance for ambiguity or error. By putting our picture of the world into code, we tell a story – and in doing so construct meaning – but that story is mathematical.

Hirsh, J. B.; Mar, R. A. & Peterson, J. B. (in press), ‘Personal narratives as the highest level of cognitive integration’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Mar, R. (2011), ‘The neural bases of social cognition and story comprehension’, Annual review of psychology 62 , 103-134,

Mor, Yishay and Noss, Richard (2008). Programming as mathematical narrative. International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning (IJCEELL), 18(2), pp. 214–233.

December 16, 2012 Posted by | narrative learning, neuroscience | Leave a comment

My Phd, made practical: “SNaP! Re-using, sharing and communicating designs and design knowledge using scenarios, narratives and patterns”

Mor, Yishay (2013). SNaP! Re-using, sharing and communicating designs and design knowledge using scenarios, narratives and patterns. In: Luckin, Rose; Goodyear, Peter; Grabowski, Barbara and Winters, Niall eds. Handbook of Design in Educational Technology. London: Routledge, (In press).

In order to enable a culture of critical, informed and reflective design practice we need a linguistic framework for communicating design knowledge: the knowledge of the characteristic features of a domain of practice, the challenges which inhabit it, and the established methods of resolving them. Such an infrastructure must “serve two masters”; on one hand, it should adhere to the requirements of scientific rigor, ensuring that the proposed conditions and challenges are genuine and the solutions effective. On the other hand, it should maintain pragmatic adequacy, ensuring that the insights it encapsulates are readily available for practitioners to implement in real-world situations. Several representations have been proposed to this effect: design narratives (Mor, 2011; Barab et al, 2008; Bell, Hoadley and Linn, 2004; Hoadley, 2002; Linn & Hsi, 2000), design principles (Kali, 2006, 2008; Linn, Bell, & Davis, 2004; Merrill, 2002; Quintana et al., 2004; van den Akker, 1999), and design patterns (Derntl & Motschnig-Pitrik, 2005; Goodyear, 2005; Mor & Winters, 2007; Retalis et al, 2006), to name a few. The aim of this chapter is to characterise two of these forms – design narratives and design patterns, and propose a third form – design scenarios, and suggest how these could be embedded in a cycle of reflective learning design.


November 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

phenomenology, representation, design

I’m working on a paper on “the grand challenges of learning design”. One of the issues I’m exploring is representation: what would be a good representational infrastructure for learning design? I thought I should look for analogies in other design practices, e.g. architecture. But then: what are we representing? Reading Jones (2011), I thought: are we representing the object, or the phenomena? What does an architectural drawing capture? And to what purpose? Is it a contract between designer, inhabitant, builder? Or is it a metaphor for a lived experience? Or maybe that’s what sketches are for – as Tversky & Suwa (below) note – sketches allow the designer to express “what the designer wants to create”, overlaying spatial information with functional properties. So are sketches our way of articulating phenomena?
Then there’s Latour and Yaneva who are not the least bit impressed my the whole phenomenological project:
All this is very well, except it does nothing more than to reproduce, at the level of architecture, the usual split between subjective and objective dimensions that has always paralyzed architectural theory—not to mention the well known split it has introduced between the architectural and engineering professions (and not to mention the catastrophic consequences it has had on philosophy proper).
The paradoxical aspect of this division of labor envisioned by those who want to add the “lived” dimensions of human perspective to the “objective” necessities of material existence is that, in order to avoid reducing humans to things, they first had to reduce things to drawings.
Jones, D. (2011), An alternative (to) reality, in ‘Proceedings of the Researching Learning in Immersive Virtual Environments Conference’.
Latour, B. & Yaneva, A. (2008), ‘“GIVE ME A GUN AND I WILL MAKE ALL BUILDINGS MOVE”: AN ANT’S VIEW OF ARCHITECTURE’, Explorations in architecture: Teaching, design, research , 80-89.
Tversky, B. & Suwa, M. (2009), Thinking with sketches , pp. 75-85 .
Suwa, M. & Tversky, B. (1997), ‘What do architects and students perceive in their design sketches? A protocol analysis’, Design studies 18 (4) , 385-403 .

November 28, 2012 Posted by | design | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Innovating Pedagogy 2012

The OU’s Innovating Pedagogy report seems to be generating a lot of interest.

In case you haven’t seen it yet:

The series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation.

The first report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education:


November 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Aggregation rumination

Cross posted from

I’ve been thinking about Martin Hawksey’s excellent post “Show me your aggregation architecture and I’ll show you mine“. Martin surveys some 14 MOOCs (or, to be precise, cMOOCs) and compares their aggregation mechanisms. Theoretically, MOOCs are about making connections between learners’ independent journeys, and synergising the resources and insights they bring. If you have hundreds of participants or more – that needs some machinery to make it happen.

There’s a wide range of social technologies in the bag (flickr, twitter, facebook, lots of google groups) but only two RSS aggregators stand out: FeedWordPress and gRSShopper. The first is a wordpress plugin, so obviously only works if you choose wordpress as your platform (and have your own installation, rather than a or institutional one). The second requires root access to a web server. The sourceforge page cites 4 downloads, so I suspect its used mainly by its creators.
Martin seems to suggests we need a robust aggregation technology for MOOCs, and I agree. I’d also like to suggest the kind of activity it needs to support:
Nomination: you run a MOOC, I participate. I want to propose a feed for you to aggregate. you can accept the feed automatically, manually, or by public vote (e.g. it has 3 people to speak for it).
Aggregation: harvest the posts from a large group of feeds and display them in a way that I can easily sift through and find the stuff I’m interested. e.g., let me navigate by tags / keywords / most liked.
Curation: I want to select items from aggregator brought in, and compose a new item from them. Storify style.
Correlation: I want to find and display links between items. “Joe says A, Ann says B. But Ali links the two in a surprising way.”
And – I want it all with zero install. Ideally, as a platform independent embeddable component.

October 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

CfP: Teacher-led Inquiry and Learning Design: The Virtuous Circle

✢ Call for Participation ✢
Teacher-led Inquiry and Learning Design: The Virtuous Circle

A hands-on research workshop at the

Alpine Rendez-Vous 2013 scientific event

January, 28 – February, 1st 2013

Villard‐de‐Lans, Vercors, French Alps

The Workshop at-a-glance

“TILD” is a practice-centred, hands-on workshop focused two key areas of Educational Science: Teacher-led Inquiry and Learning Design. Participants from all areas of research and practice (teachers, researchers, school leaders, etc.) are welcome.


Duration: five ½ days, with time for recreational activities
Hashtag: #ARV-TILD

Requirements: Expression of interest registration and a position paper of 2 pages
Outputs:  (tbd) peer-reviewed journal issue, open-access journal, book, website, joint research proposals


Key Dates: 
Register NOW: Register your expression of interest on the workshop website
31 August 2012: Position Paper submission deadline. Submit using EasyChair:
Mid-September: Attendees invited:
28 January 2013: Workshop begins!

The Alpine Rendez-Vous

The Alpine Rendez-Vous (ARV) is an established atypical scientific event focused on Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). The ARV series of events are promoted by TELEARC and EATEL associations. The goal of the Alpine Rendez-Vous is to bring together researchers from the different scientific communities doing research on Technology-Enhanced Learning, in a largely informal setting, away from their workplace routines. ARV is structured as a set of independent parallel workshops located at the same time in the same place. Workshops last two to three days each, half of the workshops taking place in the first part of the week and the other half in the second part, possibly with a “common day” in the middle. The Alpine Rendez-Vous of 2013 will take place from January 28th to February 1st, in Villard-de-Lans, a village in the middle of Vercors. Snow is used as “social facilitator”: the schedule includes slots to enjoy ski and outdoor activities. Breaks and meals are organized in a way that promotes informal encounters between participants from the different workshops. Participants will be able to enjoy Alpine and Nordic skiing and other activities, (see The Rendez-Vous will be hosted at Grand Hôtel de Paris where special rates have been negotiated.

The Workshop on Teacher-led Inquiry and Learning Design

This workshop is situated at the intersection of two fields of Educational Science; Learning Design (LD) and Teacher-led Inquiry into Student Learning (TISL). Learning Design is the act of devising new practices, plans of activity, resources and tools aimed at achieving particular educational aims in a given situation (Agostinho et al, 2011; Craft & Mor, forthcoming). It is informed by subject knowledge, pedagogical theory, technological know-how, and practical experience. At the same time, it also can engender innovation in all these areas and support learners in their efforts and aims. Teacher-led Inquiry into Student Learning  is an approach to pedagogic practice and continuing professional development, within which the teacher applies systematic and rigorous methods to the evaluation of student learning in relation to teachers’ practices in order to improve learning design (Kelly, 2003). It places the teacher at the centre of a dynamic process of goal setting, analysis planning, analysis execution, reflection and communication (Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D., 2003). There is a critical need for synergy between these areas.LD, to be effective, should be informed and evaluated by teacher inquiry, or, indeed should ideally be a process of inquiry. TISL, to be meaningful, should support optimising the design of activities and resources. The objectives of this workshop are to establish a new strand of research aimed at the synergy of Learning Design and Teacher-led Inquiry, to solidify its theoretical foundations, to propose new methods, tools, and representations which support research and practice.

Three concepts will be at the centre of the theoretical discussion: context, practice, and change. Examples and use of these will be explored during the workshop along topical strands. The topics will include:

●      Articulating the relationships between Learning Design and Teacher-led Inquiry by capturing the learning context, epistemic and pedagogical practice, and models of change.

●      Exploring methods to support educational innovation though Learning Design and Teacher-led Inquiry, and identifying ways to link them more closely through tools and representations

●      Establishing a culture of practitioner design inquiry in which educators use the representations, methodologies and tools above to sustain scientifically informed creative practices in their professional context.

The Call

The workshop will enrich conversations about both Learning Design and Teacher-led Inquiry by bringing together new perspectives and will explore how the different communities can learn from each other. It brings together teachers and researchers seeking to articulate the key concepts and who wish to develop a shared understanding that will engage and inform other practitioners.

This timely workshop is grounded in the fertile soil of two key knowledge domains (LD and TISL) and facilitates much-needed cross-fertilisation between them. Specifically, we aim to:

●      Establish a new area of research in Education, synergizing LD and TISL, and focusing on context, practice and change

●      Network to build a new community around this research theme

●      Produce 5-6 draft papers for a special journal issue

●      Potential for new significant research grant proposals

●      Archive the work outputs from the workshop activities as a useful resource to other practitioners


To participate in this workshop, please register your interest on the form on workshop website


You will need to submit a 2 page position paper, as specified below. Submissions will be peer-reviewed, as places are limited. Submissions should focus on the themes of representation and manipulation of context, practice and change in learning and teaching. We will consider  four categories:


●      Research reports - an account of innovative research at advanced stage

●      Demos of tools for supporting the above

●      Synergy propositions - drawing on existing literature, identifying gaps and points of intersection, and proposing cross-overs

●      Research proposals - arguing for the need and viability of new research initiatives


Please submit your position paper by 31 August via EasyChair:

Contributions will be selected by the organizers on the basis of individual quality of the papers and the overall balance and coherence of the programme. The selected papers will be uploaded to a shared repository and participants will be asked to review their peers’ contributions and identify possible links prior to the workshop. These potential links will be posted for review and discussion and will inform the workshop activities. There is no standar format for submissions.


We are looking into funding options, but these will be limited. If you wish to be considered for support please indicate so in the expression of interest form. However, until further notice, all participants should assume that they must provide their own funding.

Expression of interest should be registered on to workshop website ( as soon as possible. Short (2-3 pages) Position Paper submissions should be made to EasyChair by 31 August 2012.

Programme Committee
The workshop is a collaborative initiative of the NEXT-TELL research project ( and the “Inquiry of Design for Learning” project at the Open University Institute of Educational Technology (

Brock Craft (co-chair)
Institute of Education, London, UK
Yishay Mor (co-chair)
Open University, UK

Davinia Hernández-Leo
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

Katerina Avramides
Institute of Education, London, UK

Rose Luckin
Institute of Education, London, UK

Gabriele Cierniak
Knowledge Media Research Center, Tuebingen, Germany

Barbara Wasson
Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen

Thomas C. Reeves
College of Education, The University of Georgia

Susan McKenney
Learning & Cognition Group, Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC), the Open University of the Netherlands and the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences at Twente University
Karen Littleton
Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology, the Open University, UK

Patricio G. Herbst
School of Education; Department of Mathematics, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan, US

Thomas Ryberg
E-Learning Lab, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark

Andreas Roepstorff
Section for Anthropology and Centre for Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, co-director, MINDlab, Aarhus University



Agostinho, S.; Bennett, S.; Lockyer, L. & Harper, B. (2011), ‘The future of learning design’, Learning, Media and Technology 36(2), 97-99.

Beetham, H. & Sharpe, R. (2007), Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age, Routledge, New York, NY, 10001.

Craft, B. and Mor, Y. (forthcoming). Learning Designreflections on a snapshot of the current landscape. Research in Learning Technology.

Dana, N. F., & Yendol-Hoppey, D. (2003). Teacher Inquiry Defined. In The reflective educator’s guide to classroom research (pp. 1–11). Thousand Oaks,CA: Corwin Pr.

Kelly, A. E. (2003). Research as design. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 3-4.

Koper, R. (2006), ‘Current Research in Learning Design’, Educational Technology & Society 9(1), 13-22.

Laurillard, D. (2012), Chapter 1: Teaching as a design science, in Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. , Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


August 6, 2012 Posted by | design | Leave a comment

I’m out..

I haven’t been blogging much lately, but I do occasionally post on Google+

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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