Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 12 May 2008   Tuesday, May 6, 2008

ISSN 1748-3603

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JISC e-Learning Programme
Pedagogy Planning Tools Strategic Review meeting
by Ellen Lessner

ALT was invited to send two representatives (Martin Oliver, for ALT and myself, from ALT-FE) to join a range of stakeholders from the post-16 sector, including representatives from national agencies, researchers and practitioners , to review the development of two new online pedagogic tools, and to discuss their relevance and potential for the future.

The first tool ‘Phoebe’ has been developed by a team from the Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning Unit (TALL) at Oxford University and the Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS). Phoebe is designed to guide teachers ‘through the construction of design for courses and/or individual learning session’. The second tool, The London Pedagogic Planner (LPP) was developed by London Knowledge Lab/Institute of Education, London Metropolitan University and LAMS International. LPP is a ‘prototype for a collaborative online planning and design tool that supports lecturers in developing, analysing and sharing learning designs’.
The day was well organised and highly participative.  Everyone was asked to fill out a survey before the event and in the morning, after an introduction to the context of the tools, we were split into HE/research and FE/ACL to have a structured, hands on session with each tool.  The afternoon session began with some thoughts from the tools’ developers about the future of these projects and was followed by sector group discussion which focussed on the relevance and potential of the planning tools for our respective communities.
From a FE point of view,  Phoebe had more to offer because it has a straightforward interface, along with a guided list of suggestions for each area. This would be helpful if you were working with colleagues to design a new course or working alone to put together a lesson plan.  The LPP appeared to focus more on breaking down the hours allotted to classroom and independent study and provided cells to further break down the type of activity to be used. There was an area for entering learning outcomes and activities and the beginning of a ‘mapping’ area to tie these together: interesting to those of us who like a more visual representation of our lesson planning. The feedback in my group suggested that the LPP would be something course managers and planners, rather than the FE/ACL lecturer, might work with.
Overall, there was an enthusiastic response for the potential of these tools, which are at the end of the ‘proof of concept’ phase.  The use of these planners fosters reflection and makes a useful collaborative tool to develop the aims and the delivery style of a new course.  Phoebe in particular would be helpful to anyone on a teacher training course. I introduced the tool to the course leader for teacher training at college.  His response was enthusiastic, although he is not an innovative user of technology himself.  Unfortunately, like any ‘proof of concept’ tool, I couldn’t guarantee that Phoebe would be available for much longer and we don’t have the technical support to run it ourselves.
The day itself managed to combine a group of people from across the sectors who don’t often share an opportunity to work together.  The discussion, networking and reflection made it a particularly worthwhile day for this reason, along with the chance to keep up with a useful development of an online pedagogically sound planning tool that could prove to be quite helpful to a wide range of practitioners across the post 16 sector.
To find out more, and to try out the tools visit:

Ellen Lessner

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