Developing course team approaches to task design

Adam Unwin, Maths, Science and Technology, Institute of Education

TRA3 A Unwin (Final Report) [pdf, 178kb]

TRA3 A Unwin (Appendix 1) [pdf, 179kb]

The research project is a qualitative investigation of the task design process on three courses where distance e-learning is a key component. The rationale behind the project was to investigate the how?, what? and why? behind the design of tasks for e-learning, the intention was to enable course teams in particular to engage critically with pedagogy in their development of e-learning tasks.

As the use of e-learning expands in Higher Education (HE) staff play a critical role in developing successful and appropriate pedagogies for their courses. Most HE staff have not been e-learners themselves and thus need more assistance to engage with the affordances technology can offer (Laurillard, D. 2002). Crucially the experiences and perceptions of students engaged in e-learning need to be considered in the task design process.

The project investigated both student and staff perspectives on e-learning tasks. This allowed a critical comparison of the pedagogic intentions of staff (and the rationale behind these) with student experiences. The project utilised courses in three different Universities and disciplines (Medicine, Education and Business). However the approach adopted enabled a generalised understanding of task design, pedagogy and experience. This increases the potential for HE practitioners to engage with the broad outcomes of the project and consider key issues in the contexts of their own courses. Outcomes of the project include two overview diagrams. These diagrams should not be seen purely as a way of presenting findings, they have been designed so that they can also be used as a flexible tool in course and staff development. Appendix 1 includes these (Box 1 and Box 2) along with guidance about how they could be utilised by course teams.

Laurillard, D (2002). Rethinking University Teaching, a conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies, London, Routledge Falmer.

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