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Educational Content SIG and Pedagogy Forum meeting report

Christina Smart
Last modified 04 May, 2007
Published 04 May, 2007
Liverpool Hope University hosted the joint JISC CETIS Educational Content Special Interest Group and Pedagogy Forum meeting last week which focused on the JISC Design for Learning programme (D4L). There were updates on the two Pedagogy Planner projects three projects at Liverpool Hope which are using the IMS LD specification, and reports were given on LAMS version 2 and the TENCompetence project.

Sheila MacNeill opened the event with a brief introduction to the work of the JISC CETIS and the special interest groups which offer advice to the community on e-Learning, interoperability and standards [1], [2].

Mark Barrett-Baxendale, Amanda Oddie and Paul Hazelwood introduced the three JISC funded learning design projects underway at Liverpool Hope.

  • Learning Design for practitioners [3]
  • Design for Learning Design [4]
  • Design Share [5]

Learning Design for Practitioners is a project with partners in St Helen’s College, Phosphorix and the University of Bolton, which is developing a more user friendly interface for the RELOAD IMS Learning Design (LD) editor [6]. With the support of the team at Liverpool Hope, practitioners are developing units of learning at their own institutions. Feedback from these teachers will used by the University of Bolton to develop a new interface for the RELOAD editor.

The Design for Learning Design project aims to improve Learning Design runtime for institutional use by looking at the performance and stability issues around the Coppercore engine and the SLeD tool [7], [8]. The project is a collaboration with the Open University and OUNL and builds on the SLiDE project [9]. One outcome of the project will be a new administration interface for SLeD.

Design Share is a JISC toolkit demonstrator project looking at how users might use repositories of learning designs. The project is developing a plug-in for the RELOAD IMS LD editor which will allow users to be able to search the repository from within the editor making it easier to share learning designs with other teachers.

The JISC Design for Learning Programme [10] has funded two pedagogy planner projects. Professor Diana Laurillard from the Institute of Education gave an overview of the London Pedagogy Planner, a tool to assist practitioners in the early stages of course planning and to help them reach a stage where they can start using Learning Design tools [11]. “Learning technology offers solutions to personalisation, flexibility and inclusion, but staff often don’t have time and the support to use it” she said. The planner scaffolds the planning process and gives practitioners an assessment of the pedagogic value of different teaching approaches. Staff are stepped through the stages of developing a course inputting the constraints of the course, the numbers of students, credits and teaching time, access to resources, learning objects and assessment methods. At each stage suggestions are available on the pedagogic value of different approaches. Diana concluded that the planner would represent “A portfolio of your thinking” and would allow new staff to quickly see why a course was structured in a particular way.

The London Pedagogy Planner, breakdown of staff time

The London Pedagogy Planner, breakdown of staff time

After lunch the participants had a virtual presentation from James Dalziel, chief architect of LAMS (Learning Activity Management System), who had stayed up late into the night in Sydney to deliver his virtual presentation [12]. James gave an update on the features of LAMS v2. He reported that it had taken two years to redevelop LAMS for version 2 to give it a modular architecture to allow new community tools to be added. New features include allowing activities to happen online as well as off line, and portfolio export. The system also now supports IMS LD export at level A. James reported that the team are now working on V2.1 which will include branching and advanced grouping features. Another exciting development will be the ability to do “Live Edit” to be able to change activity sequences as they are running. This particular facility will allow practitioners to be more responsive to students during a learning session. Pedagogy Planners are an exciting new development and James shared his ideas about the elements they should contain. A planner should support faculty in the design process, should be easy for staff to complete and should ideally produce an output that can be run either by LAMS or other learning design players, he said.

Marion Manton and David Balch from the University of Oxford introduced the other pedagogy planner project funded by the Design for Learning programme, Phoebe [13]. Phoebe is an online planning tool for practitioners and staff developers to support the development of individual learning sessions rather than a whole course. The project builds on the work of the Evaluation of learning design tools project which found that practitioners use a wide variety of technologies to plan their teaching sessions. Currently running as a wiki, it can be used as a reference tool drawing on research findings to offer advice to staff about different teaching approaches. The wiki can be downloaded for customisation and use by individual institutions as part of their staff development programmes. The project is now moving into phase 2 which will see the development of a planning tool to accompany the reference tool.

In the final presentation of the day, Dai Griffiths from the Ten Competence project [14] looked at a number of current developments in the learning design space, and reflected on the current challenges facing IMS Learning Design. Dai reminded the audience that IMS LD specification has two purposes, as a modelling language and also a means of facilitating data interoperability. There are two challenges that are impacting on current developments, one is the disaggregation of VLEs, and Dai reported that an increasing number of institutions are building their own learning environments. The other is that institutions are under increasing pressure to offer support for informal learning. The TenCompetence project is a four year EU funded project to support the development of systems to support informal life long learning. The project is developing a personal competence manager, Antelope, which should be available in the summer. There will also be a TenCompetence workshop in Barcelona in the June which will focus on learning design [15]. Dai concluded his presentation with a round up of a number of interesting software developments using the IMS LD specification. He emphasised that IMS LD is essentially a file format and does not dictate how the software should be structured.

It was a very useful day and provided a good overview of current work in the learning design space. Pedagogy planners are emerging as a new and exciting area of development especially if they can be simple enough for staff to pick up and use quickly. Presentations from the event are available on the JISC CETIS wiki at: Shelia MacNeill also has an overview of the day on her blog at

Christina Smart

4th May 2007


[1] JISC CETIS Educational Content Special Interest Group

[2] JISC CETIS Pedagogy Forum

[3] Learning Design for Practitioners

[4] Design for Learning Design

[5] Design Share

[6]RELOAD IMS editor

[7] Coppercore engine

[8] SLeD project

[9] SLiDE project

[10] JISC Design for Learning programme

[11] London Pedagogy Planner

[12] LAMS v2

[13] Pheobe Pedagogy Planner

[14] TenCompetence project

[15] TenCompetence workshop in Barcelona


Supported by JISC Supported by CETIS
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