A Mixed-Method Study of How Instructors Design for Learning in Online and Distance Education

Nguyen, Quan; Rienties, Bart and Whitelock, Denise (2020). A Mixed-Method Study of How Instructors Design for Learning in Online and Distance Education. Journal of Learning Analytics, 7(3) pp. 64–78.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18608/jla.2020.73.6


The use of analytical methods from learning analytics (LA) research combined with visualizations of learning activities using learning design (LD) tools and frameworks has provided important insight into how instructors design for learning. Nonetheless, there are many subtle nuances in instructors’ design decisions that might not easily be captured using LA tools. Therefore, this study sets out to explore how and why instructors design for learning in an online and distance higher education setting by employing a mixed-method approach, which combined semi-structured interviews of 12 instructors with network analyses of their LDs. Our findings uncovered several underlying factors that influenced how instructors designed their modules and highlighted some discrepancies between instructors’ pedagogical beliefs and their actual LD as captured by the Open University Learning Design Initiative (OULDI). This study showcases the potential of combining LA with qualitative insights for a better understanding of the complex design process in online distance higher education.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 72643
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1929-7750
  • Project Funding Details
  • Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
    Leverhulme Open World Learning grantNot SetThe Open University (OU)
  • Keywords
  • Learning design; learning analytics; mixed method
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Research Group
  • OpenTEL
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2020 Journal of Learning Analytics
  • Depositing User
  • Bart Rienties