Preliminary findings from a series of staff surveys on perceptions, attitudes and practices of learning design

Simon Cross, Paul Clark, Andrew Brasher
The Open University, UK

Understanding the practice and process of designing learning is important to supporting and guiding both institutional and individual responses to new technologies, pedagogies and work-practices. This requires an understanding of attitudes and perceptions: is learning design speaking to a perceived need? What factors combine, and when, in the planning, structuring and sequencing of learning activity, student perspectives and teacher intent that comprise learning design? What roles do different forms of graphical representation play? This paper will report on a series of inter-connected staff questionnaires. These have been undertaken over spring-summer 2009 as part of ongoing work by the Open University Learning Design Initiative. They build upon an established evidence base built over the last eighteen months (Conole et al. 2008). We will outline how that evidence base has informed the questionnaires and present a summary of some initial findings. These data will examine the broad argument advanced in learning design discourse: namely, that the design of teaching and learning is becoming more challenging, complex and fragmented (see e.g. Lockyer et al. 2008). Furthermore, for staff who have encountered the graphical representations for support being developed by the Initiative, what is the perceived role of such representations? In conclusion we will highlight how these data may have value in taking forward learning design at our institution. We will also seek to identify more general messages, such as the need for methods to better manage the complexity of design and the nature of support for using graphical representation. The paper is aligned with several of the conference themes: it seeks to use research evidence to inform practice; it looks squarely at issues associated with the design and re-design of learning; and it reports on a method of data capture intended to help support the implementation of design innovation.

Conole, G., A. Brasher, S. Cross, M. Weller, P. Clark, and J. White, 2008. Visualising learning design to foster and support good practice and creativity. Educational Media International 54: 3: 177-194. Lockyer, L., S. Bennett, S. Agostinho, and B. Harper, eds. 2008. Handbook of Research on Learning Design and Learning Objects: Issues, Applications and Technologies. Hersey PA: IGI Global.