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Pushing Technology Over The Learning Design Threshold

Ms Megan Saville,
Mr Peter Smith

University of NSW

Background: In higher education, technology is o en touted as a key tool in the repository of good learning design. It is true that technology is the most effective way to scale authentic and adaptive individualised learning experiences. However it’s easy to forget that technology is not the driver. Good learning design

is and always should be at the helm and, technology needs to be pushed by the power of pedagogy. Methods: As a case study, UNSW Library redeveloped the ELISE Quiz online induction module using adaptive learning technologies, overcoming unique challenges faced in designing a truly adaptive and authentic learning experience for 10,000+ students. Starting from the hypothesis that each student begins their university experience with differing levels of knowledge and understanding of higher education, the design process began by redefjning learning outcomes. From these, the learning framework was created - a pre-quiz (baseline for prior knowledge), learning modules with interactive learning activities and real-time student feedback, and the actual

quiz, determining student scores. When a student answered a question/s incorrectly, the technology would direct them adaptively through learning modules personalised to their learning needs. Further, the design framework required students to be looped back through relevant lessons for revision if unsuccessful in passing the actual quiz.

Findings: In the initial stages of the project, it was realised that the technology was unable to achieve the level of adaptability required. Instead of changing the learning design, a staged approach was needed to push the technology. The learning design framework was broken down into a set of deliverables, and the technological functionality was developed in targeted stages, in line with student feedback. Three iterations later, the project has become business as usual. Discussion: This case study highlights the success of a learning design driven model of development. Positive voluntary student feedback and insights from learning analytics provide continual evidence of the soundness of this approach and demonstrate the value of keeping the student learning experience at the forefront and pushing the technology.