Designed for learning

learning – teaching – research – design – technology

Steven Warburton’s “Tintin” model of PPW and LDS

I was talking to Steven Warburton the other day. He mentioned that he wanted to present PPW (the Participatory Patterns Workshop) and the LDS (Learning design studio) models at a recent talk he gave, and started thinking about how the two relate to each other.
We’ve talked about this in the past, but as always, its only when you need to present something that you really work it out in detail. So Steven came up with this diagram:

Steven Warburton’s “Tintin” model of PPW and LDS

When he showed it to his audience, someone said “Oh, that’s Tintin!” and so it will be for eternity. I like the picture, although I’ll have to ask Steven to walk me through it before I can explain it properly.

This got me thinking about the commonalities, synergies and differences between the two frameworks.

Participatory Pattern Workshops (PPW) Learning Design Studio (LDS)
Is a… Methodology for collaborative reflection on practice. Originally conceived as a device for educational design research, aimed at eliciting expert knowledge and structuring it in the form of design narratives, patterns and scenarios. Through use, emerged as a powerful form of professional development. Methodology for Design Inquiry of Learning. Developed explicitly as a device for supporting educational practitioners in their professional development through active inquiry of techno-pedagogical innovations.
Suitable for… Domain experts, seasoned practitioners, multi-disciplinary expert teams. Novices or experienced practitioners who wish to engage with new pedagogies or technologies or both.
Mood.. Reflective, semi-structured, analytical, critical Creative, productive, intuitive, iterative, emergent
Outputs.. Transferable educational design knowledge in the form of design narratives, design patterns, design scenarios, and theoretical contributions. Application of design knowledge in the form of documented and evaluated educational innovations.

I would be interested to hear from people who participated in workshops and courses based on these models how this maps to their experiences.

Mor, Y. & Mogilevsky, O. (2013), ‘The Learning Design Studio: Collaborative Design Inquiry as Teachers’ Professional Development’, Research in Learning Technology 21 (researchgate)

Mor, Y. & Mogilevsky, O. (2013), Learning design studio: educational practice as design inquiry of learning ‘Scaling up Learning for Sustained Impact’ , LNCS, 8095, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 233-245 (researchgate)

Mor, Y.; Winters, N. & Warburton, S. (2012), ‘Participatory Pattern Workshops: A Methodology for Open Collaborative Construction of Design Knowledge in Education’, Research in Learning Technology 20 (researchgate)


November 22, 2013 Posted by | design, design patterns, learning design | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Design Inquiry of Learning

The Design Inquiry model (see Fig. 1) combines the iterative structure of educational design research with the principles of inquiry learning . Educational practitioners follow a cycle of:

  1. Defining their project
  2. Investigating the context in which it is situated and identifying appropriate techno-pedagogical theories
  3. Reviewing relevant cases
  4. Conceptualizing a solution
  5. Implementing a prototype of that solution,
  6. Evaluating it
  7. Reflecting on the process.


Fig. 1. The Design Inquiry model

Although this cycle is presented as a neat linear progression, in reality project work is messy and iterative. Practitioners revisit various points as their understanding evolves.

Diana Laurillard (2013) argues that teaching should be repositioned as a design science, in line with paradigmatic distinction of between natural science which describes how the world is, and design science which is concerned with how it should be. Ideally, we would want teachers to adopt a design science stance towards their practice. However, it would be unrealistic to expect practitioners to allocate the resources required for rigorous and systematic scientific investigation. Instead, we propose a model of design inquiry – a projection of the ideal of design science into realistic settings.

define learning design as “the act of devising new practices, plans of activity, resources and tools aimed at achieving particular educational aims in a given situation”. In that sense, every learning design is a hypothesis about learning: when we design a learning activity, resource or tool we are implicitly claiming that within a given context, learners engaging with the designed artefact will achieve particular educational aims. Such a claim can be the seed hypothesis for a process of inquiry.

Recent studies (e.g. Voogt et al, 2011) demonstrate how training teachers as learning designers enhances not only their practical skills, but also their theoretical understanding . Positioning their design initiatives in an inquiry cycle can further enhance their development, by adding an extra layer of rigor, and connecting educational theory to concrete experiences.

The design inquiry of learning approach is at the core of the Learning Design Studio model , which has been used in several MA courses and in the recently conducted Open Learning Design Studio MOOC (Mor & Mogilevsky, 2013a; 2013b).


Laurillard, D. (2012), Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. , Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group , 7625 Empire Drive, Florence, KY 41042

Mor, Y. & Mogilevsky, O. (2013a), Learning design studio: educational practice as design inquiry of learning, in ‘Scaling up Learning for Sustained Impact’ , Springer Berlin Heidelberg, , pp. 233–245

Mor, Y. & Mogilevsky, O. (2013b), ‘The Learning Design Studio: Collaborative Design Inquiry as Teachers’ Professional Development‘, Research in Learning Technology 21

Voogt, J.; Westbroek, H.; Handelzalts, A.; Walraven, A.; McKenney, S.; Pieters, J. & de Vries, B. (2011), ‘Teacher learning in collaborative curriculum design’, Teaching and Teacher Education27 (8) , 1235 – 124

October 30, 2013 Posted by | design, learning design | Leave a comment

The art and science of learning design – a supplement of the Journal of Research in Learning Technology

I’m very happy to share the fruits of a long and intensive collaborative efforts.

The Journal of Research in Learning has recently published a supplement on “the art and science of learning design“, of which I am a co-editor. This supplement includes eight papers and an editorial. The work on this collection started at the “art and science of learning design” workshop. Some of the papers are direct descendants of contributions presented at the workshop, others are reflections and commentaries on the ideas discussed there, and two – Rashomon I and Rashomon II are new pieces of research proposed at the workshop’s concluding session.

Research and practice in learning design aims to make the tacit practices of design for learning explicit, provide suitable textual, visual and computational representations to support these practices, and suitable tools to manipulate them and share them. The editorial begins by considering the meaning of design, and the rationale for positioning education as a design practice.  We argue that whatever your interpretation of “learning” or “education”, it always concerns change – from an existing pattern of action or intentional state to a preferred one. This fits with Herbert Simon’s notion of design: “Engineers are not the only professional designers. Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. “. We then expand the discussion, by considering Ertmer, Parisio, and Wardak definition of design, and Latour’s 5 “advantages” of design.

We argue (provocatively?) that the “grand challenge of learning design” can be summarised by three words: language, practice and tools. Language refers to the representational systems used in the act of learning design. Language also refers to the scientific and professional discourse about learning design. Representing educational practice is one of the central themes of learning design. A growing body of literature raises the questions of representing, understanding and advancing the practices of learning design themselves. Finally, effective design practices need to be supported by powerful learning design tools. Such tools need to support the expression of design knowledge in a range of languages. Thus, tools connect practice, language, and knowledge.

The other papers in this supplement speak to these challenges. While all papers touch on the three themes of language, practice and tools – each one has a different balance of attention among them.

McKenney’s Designing and researching technology-enhanced learning for the zone of proximal implementation presents a case for technology-enhanced learning research and development that focuses more on what is practical today than on what could be effective in theory in the future. The paper proposes methodological considerations for the design of clear, value-added and tolerant innovations aligned with the real needs of today’s implementation contexts. This perspective calls researchers to include in their studies attention to broad factors focused on how innovations are understood and used by teachers and schools.

Pozzi and Persico Sustaining learning design and pedagogical planning in CSCL focus on learning design in the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) domain. In particular, the paper discusses diverse existing approaches to design, represent, refine and visualise collaborative learning designs, and proposes a unifying model for pedagogical planning in the CSCL design process, with a strong focus on supporting decision making. The unifying design model considers the four dimensions of Task, Teams, Time and Technology.

Goodyear and Dimitriadis, in In medias res: reframing design for learning, go beyond considering design as a significant task of the teaching practice and focus on the role of design as a relevant means of helping people learn. The paper discusses why it is important to have a theory of design for learning and set out some of its elements. Key issues addressed in the paper are around the different actors involved in a framework of design for learning (people creating designs which can help other people learn, the learners, teachers supporting people learn) or the kinds of things that can be designed and re-designed, and how they may relate to multiple learning layers and goals. In Forward-oriented design for learning: illustrating the approach Dimitriadis and Goodyear turn to the recent design for learning literature to illustrate their forward-oriented design approach. They focus on two key facets of the approach, design for orchestration and design for reflection, and identify key points for reflection upon their design approach. They then draw upon fieldwork from two case studies to highlight how their approach addresses important design problems and provides suitable solutions.

Masterman and Craft (Designing and evaluating representations to model pedagogy) further emphasise the importance of theoretical grounding, turning their emphasis to the problem of the selection of representations of learning designs. To capture learning designs requires representing them in some way, both during and after the design process. The authors propose using a framework for epistemic efficacy adapted from the cognitive psychology literature, to aid in evaluating the effectiveness representations. To illustrate this, they show how the framework can be applied to the evaluation of one pedagogic planning also, the Learning Designer.

Continuing the theme of design representations, in the next paper, Katsamani and Retalis’ Orchestrating learning activities using the CADMOS learning design tool discusses the tension between formal representations of learning designs (such as IMS-LD) and the concerns of educational practitioners, who are not versed in technical formalisms but need intuitive visual and textual representations which are easy to share and manipulate. They compare five popular LD tools (MOT+, Compendium, WebCollage, OpenGLM, and LAMS) using five criteria: usability, guidance, formalisation, pedagogical neutrality and design flexibility. They argue that no single tool satisfies all five criteria. They propose CADMOS as a tool which aims to address these concerns, by guiding practitioners in a design process which is based on the principle of “separation of concerns”: maintaining two parallel models of the design – a conceptual model and a flow model. They discuss the results of a user evaluation of the tool, and map its future development.

As the number of learning design tools and representations continues to grow, it becomes more difficult to keep track of them and to engage with them. Therefore, not many researchers or practitioners have time to try more than a few tools, and they are unlikely to use several different tools to author the same design. They are perhaps even more unlikely to take into consideration different approaches to the learning design process, itself. This is especially true for practitioners, who must cope with the day-to-day demands of teaching. Hence, the motivation for the concluding two papers in this supplement. We take our inspiration from the internationally acclaimed film, Rashomon (1950) by the late Japanese film director, Akira Kurosawa. Rashomon is notable not only because it introduced Japanese cinema to Western audiences, but also because of the novel plot device used by Kurosawa, in which the same narrative (a mysterious murder) is revealed from the perspectives of three different characters. We hope to provide the same benefit of multiple viewpoints in the papers Rashomon I and Rashomon II. As a result, these two concluding papers are rather different to the traditional research literature, but we believe they provide compelling perspectives on the contemporary opportunities and challenges in our field.

In Rashomon I Persico et al. consider the tensions and possible synergies between different approaches to LD by examining a single activity – the PI project Healthy Eating activity (Anastopoulou et al2012) through the lens of five different design approaches, each supported by particular representations and tools. These approaches are the 4SPPIces Model, the 4Ts, the e-Design Template, the Design Principles Database and the Design Narratives. The authors compare the various approaches according to their underlying pedagogical assumptions, their mode of use, and their advantages to the designer and educator. Each approach guides the designer through key decisions in the design process (or in the case of Design Narrative – in post-hoc reflection on it). The comparison does not claim to be extensive, or to conclude that one approach is superior to another. Its value is in exposing the reader to the diversity of the field and allowing her to form an understanding of what would serve her best in particular situations.

In the companion paper Rashomon II, Prieto et al. take the approach of modelling the same activity using five different tools. The authors use the same “healthy eating” activity from the PI project and describe how this inquiry-based learning scenario is implemented in all five tools, providing illustrations and a detailed discussion for each. They are thus able to uncover key differences and similarities among the tools. These entail differences in their use and usefulness, their audiences, and pedagogic specialties, among others. This comparative approach therefore also illustrates some of the key contemporary challenges for the field of Learning Design.

We hope this contribution is useful not just for the learning design community, but for all researchers and practitioners engaged in educational innovation.

October 7, 2013 Posted by | design, design patterns, learning design, technology | , | 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

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

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

mLearning project ideas from my students

A couple of weeks ago Daniel Spikol visited my mLearning class. My students prepared a presentation, outlining their projects. I asked for their permission to share it with the world. Comments are very, very welcome. I promise to pass them on:

(I tried to embed the presentation, but the plugin doesn’t seem to work, so you can watch the presentation here)

May 14, 2011 Posted by | design, technology | , , , , , | 1 Comment

6 notes on how to build a technology-rich educational system

1. Focus on teachers. Teachers are the primary change agents in the classroom. Empowereing teachers should be the fundemental guideline for any programme of using technology to enhance eduction. The same technology can work both ways: when interactive whiteboards were introduced in the UK they initially created a cinecmatic experience: the teacher had to darken the room and drag students through a pre-determained slideshow or movie. This resulted in an impofrished eductional experience, taking pedagogy back 40 years. Nowdays, teachers hardly use the boads directly: they send students to present their work or solve problems at the board, while they stay back and manage the whole class interaction. Teachers have approprited the tool to their needs, subjecting it to their expertese. This is the kind of process we want to support.

2. Focus on (techno-pedagogic) design. A good teacher does not deliver educational content – she designs an educational experience. There is an ubdundance of high-quility, open and free digital educational content. The critical resource is the knowlege of how to use it. Hewlett foundation invested vast sums in the UK open university’s openlearn project, pushing large portions of their excelant currucular resources to the web, using an open and robust platform that allows free use and even customisation and re-mixing of resoureces. Now Hewlett are funding research into why these rich resources are not being used.
Teachers (and educational leaders in general) need to be shifted from the position of consumers to that of designers. A consummer chooses among available immutable goods and makes do. A designer analyses a problem, in its context, and devises a solution. She then implements this solution using available resources. Teachers need learning design and development tools such as LDSE and LAMS, but they also need help in changing their mindset.

3. Open standards, open protocols, open market + guidance, quality contron and monitoring. There are many ways to learn and many ways to teach. Any centralist solution will be good for some and less so for others. Centralised design and implementation choices disempower school leadership and desolve their responsibility. School leaders need to be able to make their own technological choices, but the system needs to ensure that these choices are sound and that the local overhead is minimised. They way to achieve this is to define a set of techno-pedagogical standards for educational technology – from the generic level of operating systems and office suites to the particular tools used to teach specific subjects to specific age groups. Such standards should define the functions and qualities of the technology and their interfaces with other systems (e.g. handles for assessment), but should not dicatate any specific technology. These standards should be supported by a central regisration and management extranet. This system would work like the way Cisco manages its ecosystem: it would provide suppliers with clear specifications of the expected standards, allow them to register and certify their services and products, and offer these to school leaders. These, on their side, will have to document their choices and evaluate them.

4. Same stuff, new ways. Some topics don’t change, but the way we teach them should. Dr. Yifat Kolikant from the Hebrew university is using internet-based dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian students to teach history in a deep and provokative way. By confronting students with conflicting perspectives, they are driven to engage with and strive to understand their own national narrative. The WebLabs project used computer programming and on-line collaboration to drive to develop their a mathematical language and explore complex issues in science and mathematics. Technology enables teachers and students to make the curriculum their own, individually and collectivly, it allows them to draw on a multitude of resources and connect their educational experieces to their real life. The only advantage a computer has over a textbook is its ability to connect people and build networks of knowledge.

5. New stuff, new ways. Our children live in a world which is radically different than the one we grew up in. The skills they need to develop did not exist when we went to school. A common mistake is to interpret this statement in a technical, or rather – technophobic – manner. Children need no more help in learning to use powerpoint than they need in operating their cell-phone. They do need help in understanding what it is they want to tell the world, how to formulate this message, and how to reach their audience. Powerpoint may be a tool they use for this purpose, as may be FaceBook or YouTube. Using any tool is easy, but choosing the right one is hard. Our children have more opportunities and confront new dangers. We need to help them leverage the former and manage the latter.

6. Coding, a basic skill. Computer programming is wrongly perceived as an elite technical skill. In fact, good programmers specialise in one thing: solving problems. They analyse problems, creating abstract models of complex situations, and use whatever hardware, software and social conventions they can get their hands on to devise solutions. Programming is an art that combines analytic reasoning with creative innovation. We do not expect every student to become a master artist or noverlis or a professional sportsperson, yet we teach art, literature and sports from an early age. We see these subjects as essencial to children’s well-being and happiness. They provide them a rich perspective on the world and cognitive tools for dealing with the issues they encounter. Mathematical thinking, and its practical embodiment in computer programming, should be seen in a similar light. Computer programming is a tool, and it should be integrated as such across the curriculum.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | design | | 1 Comment

I wordled my phd

I wordled my phd.


October 29, 2009 Posted by | design patterns, my phd, narrative learning | | 3 Comments

Guess my X and other techno-pedagogical patterns: my EuroPLoP’08 paper

I’ve finally posted my EuroPLoP’08 paper on telearn.

One of the most successful activities of the WebLabs project was the Guess my Robot game. This game served as a model for several other activities, and eventually gave rise to a set of design patterns for learning mathematics through construction, communication and collaboration. As often happens, I was too busy with other projects to properly publish the results. I mean, I’ve published a few papers which referred to the game or its descendants, but the patterns themselves have always remained informal creatures.

The first attempt I made at collating these patterns for publication was at EuroPLoP 2008. The feedback I received there are invaluable, and encouraged me to rewrite the paper dramatically for the proceedings.  Since then, the patterns have made their way into my thesis and in the process changed again. So there are some things about the proceedings version which I obviously wish I had done differently. But there’s no end to that. It will take some time until my thesis gets processed to publications.

“publish early, publish often”, right? so here it is:

Mor, Y. (forthcoming), Guess my X and other patterns for teaching and learning mathematics, in Till Schümmer & Allan Kelly, ed., ‘Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (EuroPLoP 2008)’ .

Most people see learning mathematics as a demanding, even threatening, endeavour. Consequently, creating technology-enhanced environments and activities for learning mathematics is a challenging domain. It requires a synergism of several dimensions of design knowledge: usability, software design, pedagogical design and subject matter. This paper presents a set of patterns derived from a study on designing collaborative learning activities in mathematics for children aged 10-14, and a set of tools to support them.


Mor, Y. & Noss, R. (2008), ‘Programming as Mathematical Narrative’, International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning (IJCEELL) 18 (2) , 214-233 .

Mor, Y.; Tholander, J. & Holmberg, J. (2006), Designing for cross-cultural web-based knowledge building, in Timothy Koschmann; Daniel D. Suthers & Tak-Wai Chan, ed., ‘The 10th Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) conference (2005)’ , Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Taipei, Taiwan , pp. 450 – 459 .

Mor, Y.; Noss, R.; Hoyles, C.; Kahn, K. & Simpson, G. (2006), ‘Designing to see and share structure in number sequences’, the International Journal for Technology in Mathematics Education 13 (2) , 65-78 .

Matos, J. F.; Mor, Y.; Noss, R. & Santos, M. (2005), Sustaining Interaction in a Mathematical Community of Practice, in ‘Fourth Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (CERME-4)’ .

October 18, 2009 Posted by | design patterns, games, narrative learning | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment