On Monday, July 3rd 2017, an expanded course team from three continents, supported by LSi’s Scholar Apprentices, began to trial a completely new approach to the development of digital learning.
This is the story of how we came to reboot the amazingly successful #DigitalScholar initiative offered by the Geneva Learning Foundation just one year ago.
Earlier this year, new #DigitalScholar course team member Iris Thiele Isip-Tan built the Learning Module (Scholar account required to view) for the 2016 #DigitalScholar course. This is more than just an archive.
- A learning module describes the sequence of events and includes all resources in a course.
- It includes all learning resources and activities, including the projects and their rubrics.
- In addition, the learning module provides guidance (metacognition) for the facilitator or course team.
- A learning module may also be used to support blended and self-guided learning.
- It can also be used to replicate and localize the course.
- Every element in a Learning Module can be pushed to a Community, where its members can respond to it as they collaborate and progress through dialogue and project development.
- The sequence and content of activities remain flexible, as they can be edited and remixed as soon as they are shared with a Community.
With the Scholar Approach, everything is about dialogue driven by activities (Community) and projects (Creator). The question is: “What does the learner get to do?” Unlike content-driven digital learning that requires front-loaded media-intensive resource development, we simply map out day-by-day the learners’ guided learning journey, structured by the Creator project rubric.
This affords us amazing flexibility to tailor activities in response to the behavior of the cohort. It is akin to agile development used in software development. It is a wonderfully creative and adaptive process. However, it also means that as we are building the course just-in-time, some learners lose the visibility that they expect as to what happens next.
The Learning Module resolves one dilemma that results from Scholar’s adaptive, agile learning development. If we had run a repeat of last year’s course, every participant would gain visibility of the entire set of activities.
And, in fact, this is what we were going to do with the second run of #DigitalScholar in 2017. The Learning Module is comprehensive. The first run of the course in 2016 was amazingly creative and productive. So it was tempting to just do a repeat.
However, we have learned so much in the past year about the design and execution of Scholar-based courses that we launched a reboot on Monday.
With transmissive MOOCs or Moodle-based courses, the focus is on content collection and curation prior to the start of the course. The question is: “What content do we prepare for the learner to consume?” This means that no matter how dynamic, interactive, or gamified the course activities, the content remains fixed. Updating a resource is a momentous event. Double-loop learning becomes improbable as there is no way for learners or teachers to reshape content and activities without undue stress and effort. This is the content trap that George Siemens described with amazing acuity over a decade ago, and that scholars such as Bharat Anand have more recently written about.
So on Day 1 of the reboot, we disarmed the content trap. Can’t wait for Day 2.
Images: Flowers in my garden (July 2017). Personal collection.