Using VLEs to offer higher education students choice and differentiation in learning activities: Micro-pathway Learning Design implementation and opportunities

Cross, Simon (2019). Using VLEs to offer higher education students choice and differentiation in learning activities: Micro-pathway Learning Design implementation and opportunities. In: European Conference on e-Learning, ACPI.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.34190/EEL.19.096

Abstract

Conventional models of distance e-learning course delivery are increasingly coming under pressure as course designers struggle to reconcile the diversity of learner interests, abilities, prior learning, and study demands with needing to adhere to a single linear structure pitched at the average learner. However, designers have an alternative and using technology can design and build differentiated paths, or learning micro-pathways, through sequences of learning materials and activities which have the effect of delivering a more personalised learning experience. One approach is to hide the personalisation decision-making from the student whilst a second – that explored in this paper – is to give the student agency by offering them a choice of differentiated learning pathways through a sequence of learning activities. This paper will present a small-scale pilot study intervention that spanned a week of learning activity in a postgraduate online module. This was achieved by using existing Moodle VLE functionalities associated with conditionality operators and the student options to create two, student-selectable (and re-selectable) differentiated paths through part of a learning week. The design approach will be described in relation to twelve Design Goals and a focus on the following questions: (1) Does being offered a choice increase the learners’ sense of control, engagement, and perception that the course is meeting their needs? (2) What guidance do learners need to make effective decisions, and can visualisations of learning design support this? (3) Can differentiated learning be achieved within a VLE by individual teachers with appreciably low effort and resource? (4) What design skills and conceptual competencies are required to do this? Feedback from repeated use of the intervention shows that learners responded positively, found the choice-making process clear, and would support use of the technique in other modules. Learners also suggested a range of potential teaching uses. This feedback will be discussed along with consideration of learning design challenges and opportunities.

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About

  • Item ORO ID
  • 70214
  • Item Type
  • Conference or Workshop Item
  • ISBN
  • 1-912764-41-5, 978-1-912764-41-9
  • Keywords
  • differentiation; personalisation; learning paths; learning maps; VLEs; learner agency
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Depositing User
  • Simon Cross

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