Tag Archives: instructional design

The Design of meLearning



Recently I have been musing about the concept of meLearning: the amalgam of mLearning and eLearning to be a personalized experience with tablets. In this context of an Information Literacy resource, the concept is harder to put into practice.



meLearning is meant to have the student at heart with “the best” (or most approrpirate for the design) aspects of mLearning and eLearning used in the resource to “design the learning for me (the student)”. We had hoped to make the learning interactive through social learning pedagogy that includes other students and the person responsible for maintaining and facilitating the resource. However, it is likely that there won’t be anyone and the resource will instead take on more characteristics of autonomous learning of a typical eLearning resource. Still, we are able to present the illusion of personalization and interaction through the use of scenarios. Another area is learning preferences. The resource is mainly spoken text with optional subtitles and media is supplementary to this. Students who prefer to listen, read, watch and/or interact will have strong preferences for how they want to use the resource. This is good but we are missing out on interpersonal learning preference. All in all, this is ok but for now, the concept of meLearning will not be more developed.


Ubiquitous Learning

When considering a resource for tablets, I looked at the nature of ubiquitous learning that is often a part of using mobile devices. I wrote down that our resource needs to be available on and offline for students convenience. This way, they could access on the way to and from campus or while connected. This would involve planning ahead and downloading the specific module but it is a possibility. Our users, students, should also be able to access specific information and skills of information literacy. It would be important for students to be able to get this information within a short timeframe but while being engaged in the process. Bringing the conversation on this to a close, ideally the resource would become integrated into research and academia at our university in terms of teachers and learners. Just like BlackBoard is the LMS, the information literacy resource could be the tool that everyone uses for teaching and learning, remedial work, or a self-access resource.


Screen Real Estate

There is not as much real estate on the tablet screen for an eLearning resource. When designing our UX  persona outlining typical students (male and female here in the UAE!), we knew to picture them with a tablet in their hand. This made us focus even more so on reducing users’ extraneous cognitive load. We are “hiding” unessential back or sidestory information in buttons, which (hopefully) results in a cleaner look and a substantial space for media. This has helped us eliminate the “text” and include as audio with optional subtitles and the choice buttons reveal the scenario choices, something that cleans up the screen on entry and allows students to listen and then process this before moving on with the choices.


Chunking Content and How Students are Learning

Our SME has worked on projects before and is doing a good job in outlining content in quite good sized chunks for learning. But what we need to know more about is how students will interact with that chunk. I can’t wait to get to the alpha prototype of our pilot module where students will be able to go through the scenario. I want to film them and their interactions. I want to know what else they need in order to learn the content. It may be chunked appropriately but do students need paper and a pen too? What about a note taking feature in the resource? What about some social interaction to talk with others about the concepts? What about some form of feedback on skills? We are only just starting down this path…

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A Meta-Awareness of Instructional Design

arabic language


This week I have been participating in course redesign discussions.. It was extremely interesting because of the nature of the content: it is all in Arabic. It is an Islamic Studies course and when talking with the instructor, we have to talk using the meta-language of education and instructional design.


When I approach English course resources like the syllabus, curriculum, materials, I bring my assumptions about them. For instance, if I know anything about a subject that is based around concepts or themes, I might assume that x, y and z should be the order of content and big ideas, those core concepts of which all else are tied to. But on occasions, my assumption has been wrong. I ask the course instructor and in fact the order and the big ideas might be different. Talking with the Arabic instructor, I had to ask him explicitly and he had to direct his attention to these. I need to ask the right question and make sure of the details to ensure of my recommendations.

Direct and Focused Thinking

To follow on from this, not understanding the language of the content forces me to ask direct questions. If I want to know what the curriculum objectives, I need to ask. If I then want to know in what ways these are met in lessons or which materials support the teaching and learning of these, I’ll need to ask directly. This certainly helps focus the instructor and my thinking on the objectives and how they’re met.

Learning Design

When I read certain ideas of how the teaching and learning might be designed. I of course outline these but at times these need clarification by the instructor as I leave out certain details that I assume are given. When speaking with the Arabic instructor, I was able to approach the course resources with a very clear and open mind. I had to rely on the instructor’s commentary of resources before I could get any impression of them and how the curriculum and learning objectives can be met through them. We were certainly able to focus conversation on the resources and the best teaching and learning to met the objectives.


This was a crucial area of discussion as currently the course has students with laptops but in six months, they’ll have students with iPads coming through. The assessments would work quite well and it was only after talking about instructional design specifics, like the above, that I was able to understand more about the assessments and how the iPad would affect this. We focused on the reports assessment that was used to assess students’ research. Already they had reflection as a component to it but with certain apps, I suggested that the assessment could be formative throughout the term and not just summative at the end. Apps like Evernote tie in with this idea well as students document the learning experience throughout the research process. Not understanding the content because of a language barrier helped me focus my questions and created a meta-awareness of the educational and instructional design features that I needed to talk about.

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