10: Production

Full text in the slide deck


Today’s topic will give you the opportunity to think about learning through Production, to help you consider how you could enrich and motivate learners to consolidate what they have learned and how they used it in practice.

Learning through Production can have many important benefits for learning. First of all, it encourages creativity, activity and interactivity and allows for students to take on more responsibility for their learning central to effective knowledge construction (Biggs, 2003). It also provides students with an opportunity to articulate, reflect and have considerable scope to influence the focus and pace of their work. For example, giving students greater control over their learning as creators increases active engagement, learner autonomy, and increased ownership (Wheeler, 2013).

As we saw in Practice, designing learning activities requires considerable thought and organisation to make the online experience work well. Consider then, how you would keep your students motivated and engaged online by evaluating the concepts of their practice through Production. For example, you might want to think about integrating online collaborative groupwork or allow your students learners the opportunities to think independently for producing a presentation or a portfolio of work of what they have learned.

Full text in the slide deck
Production – Front of Card
Full text in slide deck
Production – back of card

Moving online

There are many ways to motivate and empower learners to become producers of their own content, but it is important that you have the knowledge and awareness of the tools and technologies that are available (GCU Curriculum Design & Development Toolkit for Staff p15). Another consideration to factor is ensure that your students are given adequate time to acquire new skills for learning a new digital tool. Think about what this would involve and how would you implement student support and opportunities for practice before the start date and over the duration of a module.  

Look at the back of the learning type card for Production, notice that it offers a choice of tools for your learners. Think about the constructive alignment and what you want your students to achieve to develop their concepts of practice. There are many kinds of learning activities that work well for this in the blended and online learning modes, some ideas could be:  

  • Video and audio: Allow students to work to produce a video or audio assignment.  They could do this either independently, or as a small group. 
  • E-portfolio: Formatively assess continuous learning of the product as curated by the student, that is built up incrementally. Here students monitor their progress of their learning by mapping against competency-based framework criterion
  • Online groupwork – blogs and wikis:  Assign students to create a collaborative (social) working space and assign authentic activities.
  • Online groupwork – producing digital documents: Allow co-authoring opportunities. This can easily be set-up in OneDrive and shared through the virtual learning environment synchronously capturing the learning process in real time.  

Dundee Tools

  • My Dundee: Journals,
  • YuJa: Provide and engage students by giving them a space to create digital audio and video artefacts.
  • LearningSpaces: Offer blog, wiki, reflective and e-portfolio spaces.
  • 0365 for Education Word, PowerPoint and OneNote
  • Audacity: If you have students who’d rather do more with audio than recording on their phones and uploading to Yuja, then point them to Audacity – on Apps Anywhere – or downloadable as it’s OpenSource.

Over to you

Production is usually associated with summative and formative assessment and requires considerable thought and organisation for ensuring that the learning activities effectively engages the student. In the comments box below share and reflect on the following:

  • How would you support and keep your students motivated and engaged online?
  • How would you formatively assess continuous learning and provide feedback?
  • What do think about giving your students spaces for them to produce artefacts to develop concepts of their practice and show what they have learned?
  • What measures would you put in place to evaluate their learning?
  • If you have students with hearing or visual issues, how could you ensure they’re not excluded from others’ contributions, for example to a class podcast? What should your students who are creating artefacts be doing for universal accessibility?

Other Dundee Resources

In the LearningX looking at Innovative Assessments, we had a range of different approaches to assessment. We’ll be updating this soon – and keep an eye out for the new recipe cards that are on their way.


Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Houston, S. (unpublished) Curriculum Design and Development Toolkit for Staff. Glasgow Caledonian University

Wheeler, S (2013, September 1) Learners as Producers http://www.steve-wheeler.co.uk/2013/09/learners-as-producers.html Accessed June 26th, 2020

Young, Clive. (2020, April 21) Moving activities online with ABC – take it further. https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/abc-ld/moving-activities-online-with-abc-take-it-further/ Accessed June 22nd, 2020

YuJa (no date) Video assignments and student recording. https://www.yuja.com/video-assignments-and-student-recording/ Accessed June 28th, 2020

11: Signposting

Steve Krug - picture of book


Watch this video, to get an overview of Signposting [1:43]

You’ll find the card at slides 17 and 18 in the full slide deck

Signposting Front of card
Signposting –  Front of card
Signposting Back of Card
Signposting – back of card

Moving Online

Signposting is all about making the student’s journey through their module as simple as possible with no barriers or pain points to distract them from their learning. As highlighted in Steve Krug’s web usability book “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability”

Steve Krug - picture of book

“Making every page or screen self-evident is like having good lighting in a store: it just makes everything seem better.” (Krug, 2017)

In the online, self-study, environment we want our students to understand ‘how they can progress through the module and how it all contributes to the overarching learning outcomes of the module’ (GCU Curriculum Design & Development Toolkit for Staff p18). This can be done in a simple way with some effective design principles these include:

  • Break pages into clearly labelled, defined, manageable sections (as highlighted in Acquisition). This avoids the danger of information overload. For example content could be broken down by topic or a specific time frame (i.e. week 1, week 2..)
  • Numbering content – Using a hierarchical numbering convention helps identify user progress and location. (For example, if you chose to split by weeks you could have everything to be completed in week 3 given the heading 3.1 The Concept of …, 3.2 Reading material for, 3.3…)
  • Avoid nesting content. For example, clicking through multiple layers of folders to find the desired content. (Blackboard Ultra has limited the amount of file hierarchy to help avoid this practise).
  • Weekly study planners and checklists.
  • Provide clearly written learning goals and objectives, appropriate for the course level and aligned to the desired learning outcomes and module descriptors. [from UoD Module Framework]
  • Guide students through the sequence of learning activities and tasks that need to be completed. Make use of conditional (staged) release so that tasks are hidden until prerequisite tasks are completed, or until specific dates. [from UoD Module Framework]
  • Simplified language wherever possible.
  • Declutter text as much as possible, understanding that white space can be important to allow the student to focus.
  • Awareness of readability/accessibility.
  • Consistency of layout/labelling/numbering conventions.
  • Time stamps – useful to clearly show the amount of time required to complete a task in particular for audio and video. For example, 3.4 The Art of Making a Good Cup of Tea [1:44]

We all can get blinded by our own thought processes and lose sight of the student’s goals therefore it can be highly valuable to conduct usability tests. This does not need to be overly complicated and basically requires a fresh pair of eyes looking over your module. This could be a colleague or student however preferably it should be someone outside your area of expertise to make feedback more objective.

Blackboard Ultra – Signposting

One of the key features of Blackboard Ultra is accessibility. With the planned move from Blackboard Learn (current version) to Blackboard Ultra at a module level many of the signposting issues have been improved. A clean, simplified layout, consistent set of icons and accessible navigation structure (bringing key information to the top level) gives clear signposting to the students in an easy, intuitive way.

Blackboard Learn Ultra|video [1:55]

Over to you

In your exploration of other learning providers highlighted in the introduction (FutureLearn, Open University…). Or even your experience of online in general, shopping, researching…can you find some examples of where you thought signposting was effective and examples of when you found the signposting confusing or awkward? Share these examples in the comments box below.

  • Think about these examples and share in the comments box below how you could apply the principles to your own module design?
  • Think about how you want a student to progress through your module and think about it in terms of a journey. What is the journey you want your students to take? Think about what signposting techniques you could employ to facilitate them?
  • Conduct a quick usability test with one of your current modules and try to find insights on how a user interacts and identify possible pain points. Can you use signposting to alleviate these problems?
  • Think back to any module evaluations and feedback you have received in the past and consider whether better signposting could have helped address any issues raised. For example, signposting when a student is receiving feedback.
  • Finally, one of the most widely used forms of signposting can be the student Handbook, can you think of circumstances that the Handbook could be more valuable than delivering the information in smaller chunks?

Other Dundee resources

Blackboard Ally resource created by University of Dundee students Emma Tennant, Emily Turnbull and illustrations by Daisy Hutton.

Academic skills live smart & learn smart for students : Academic Skills Centre.


Houston, S. (no date) Curriculum Design and Development Toolkit for Staff. Glasgow Caledonian University (unpublished)

Krug, S., 2017. Don’t Make Me Think!. [Berkley]: New Riders.

Dundee Exemplary Module Framework 19 May 2020 Version 4