Structuring content - Fleksibel utdanning Norge

A high-quality course or programme is the result of a thorough development process, a systematic reflection process that results in a number of pedagogical and didactic choices for the entire learning process.

During the planning process, the subject content is structured to make it clear what will be done when, and in what order. This design is often called a learning path, a structure that should be user-friendly for students. The course content can be divided into smaller units or modules that build on each other and create good progress. Within each unit, students will find relevant learning resources in different formats, assignments, cooperation arrangements, topics for discussion and reflection etc. Including a conclusive element for each unit or module is a good pedagogical approach. This could be repetition of the most important content, a final assignment or an assessment.

Part of the planned structure involves facilitating learning activities for the students. Such activities may include making presentations in different formats, doing assignments, assessing each other’s work, participating in joint lessons, writing reflection blogs and discussing in discussion groups.

All the elements have a different place in the course of the programme. Students need information about what to do and when to do it. They need advice on what might be the best order, what is most relevant, and which elements overlap, complement or reinforce each other.

The NIFU report Fleksibel opplæring for voksne: En kunnskapsoppsummering (12) shows that the ability to self-pace learning is central to benefiting from flexible education and training. This can mean that a well-organised learning process may provide many with the necessary support to achieve the intended learning outcomes, if they do not have the necessary experience or ability to self-pace. At the same time, the findings in this knowledge summary indicate that more research is needed on the balance between flexibility and supervision to promote successful completion.

The goal is for the digital learning arena to be as clear, informative and intuitive as possible. There are many ways of structuring content in the learning platform. Some decisions have already been made through the choice of learning platform, but some choices still have to be made. Some advice is provided below:

Advice and tips

  • Present the elements in the order the students are supposed to work on them, to put them in learning mode and provide a general structure.
  • Present the essential subject content before supplementary and specialised content. Make it clear what is what.
  • Include few topics in each unit or module. The order of learning activities must be clearly evident in all units.
  • A gradual introduction to units or modules may promote progress.
  • It should be easy to find previously used resources later in the programme.
  • The learning materials used (podcasts, models, videos, images etc.) should be given intuitive names that make is easy to find them, and they must comply with universal design requirements.
  • The overarching structure should show how the material is organised. To help students, the units may be given simple names such as ‘Week 1, Week 2, Week 3’, or ‘Module 1 Penal Code, Module 2 Administration Act’, rather than generic names such as ‘Videos, Tests, PDFs’.
  • Consistency in the design and naming of resources from module to module and from course to course improves the overview and makes navigation easier.
  • Links should be clearly marked, to make it clear what they refer to and why they are relevant.
  • Learning resources come in many different formats and from many different providers. Ensure the resources are available and safe to use.
  • The learning platform is a closed area where students should feel safe. It is therefore good practice to specify which resources lie outside the platform, especially if students are expected to provide opinions and comments.

Universal design in online learning enviroments

Content that is published online must be universally designed. It is important to be aware that universal design is positive for everyone, not just people with special needs.(13)

There are a number of universal design requirements in teaching. Principles of universal design often coincide with principles of good teaching and good design of digital resources in general. A separate chapter therefore provides advice and tips on the design of digital content (Part 2, Chapter II).

Fotnoter

  1. 12

    Wollscheid, S., Bergene, A. C. & Olsen, D.S (2020) Fleksibel opplæring for voksne: En kunnskapsoppsumering NIFU-rapport 2020:29 https://hdl.handle.net/11250/2728210

  2. 13

    https://www.digdir.no/digitalisering-og-samordning/universell-utforming-av-sosiale-medium/1957 (retrieved 4 May 2023)

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