Blend your module – an introduction

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Welcome to our latest Learning X series, Blend your Module. As you work through this series we’ll present you with some core information to think about and review. You’ll then be encouraged to think about the points raised, to investigate and research a little more deeply and to reflect and apply the information to you own practice. To support this process you can share comments on each activity or you might want to keep a reflective notebook of your thoughts. If you use Twitter you can also share thoughts and any useful resources you find there using the hashtag #UoDLearnX.

Over the course of Blend your Module we’ll be encouraging you to review your current modules and the teaching and learning approaches you use. As you work through this process we hope that by the end of this series you’ll have the outline of a learning design for your module that can help inform an action plan to support the transition to blended learning in 20/21.

Getting started

When moving to a blended learning approach that includes a higher proportion of online learning there can be a temptation to try and reproduce what you’ve traditionally done in the classroom where the focus can often be on the transmission of information. This tends to be because we use technology to do what we’ve always done rather than thinking about how we can use the digital space to enhance student learning and encourage students to take more responsibility for of their learning. This approach was typified in some of the early massive open online courses which were effectively video lecture, multiple choice quiz sandwiches, something we hope to avoid!

Over to you

Have you had any experience of blended or online learning from the perspective of a student or learner? For example have you taken part in online distance learning programmes, online CPD or completed some of the online training packages on cyber security and equality and diversity? What approaches have you found particularly helpful? What have you not liked?

To broaden your perspectives of online and blended learning sign up for a free FutureLearn or OpenLearn course on a topic in your own discipline or that’s of general interest to you. As you explore the course you sign up for think about the types of activities and teaching approaches that are adopted. What strikes you as being particularly effective? Are there any ideas that you can take and apply to your own modules? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Other resources

As we make the transition to blended learning in 20/21 there is likely to be some wariness of how this impacts on our teaching. To finish off this section have a read of this piece by Kevin Gannon on how, ‘Teaching Online Will Make You a Better Teacher in Any Setting‘.

All posts in Blend your module

2: The Bigger Picture

A triangle, with the points labelled Learning Outcomes, Assessment Tasks and Learning Activities. Double headed arrows link them. In the centre, there's a circle labelled Constructive Alignment
Reading Time: 3 minutes


Before we start to take a closer look at the ABC approach to learning design let’s first take some time to think about some of the activities you will be assessing either formatively or summatively as part of your module’s formal assessment and how your students will access and engage with their learning.

By thinking about the outcomes you want your students to achieve first, you can then start to think how the ABC approach can be used to design learning approaches that will help ensure that your students are properly prepared for their final assessment.

We also need to consider the environment and circumstances that your students will be studying in can help to ensure that all students have an accessible learning experience.

Constructive Alignment

You have probably heard of Constructive alignment, as described by Biggs (2003) – though he was drawing on work done by Tyler in 1949. The basic premise is that the assessment tasks you set should allow the learning outcomes to be met, and that the learning activities you design should appropriately prepare the students for those outcomes.
This is an iterative process, that’s often visualised as a triangle. “Constructive” refers to the student – they should be able to construct their knowledge and understanding of the subject, while the instructor is responsible for the “alignment”, setting up the tasks to ensure that the learning activities can support the learning outcomes.

A triangle, with the points labelled Learning Outcomes, Assessment Tasks and Learning Activities. Double headed arrows link them. In the centre, there's a circle labelled Constructive AlignmentOver to you

Use the comments area to discuss these points.

  • Can you think of a course that you did when you got to the exam and thought “but we haven’t done that…”?
  • How did you feel?

There’s a lot of research into constructive alignment – what can you find about it?

  • Are you able to find those critical of it, as well as those who support it?

What challenges do you think you could face trying to ensure that your modules are aligned as much as they can be?

Universal Design for Learning

Universal design for learning has grown from the general approach for Universal Design – that everyone should be able to use a product. Extending that to learning, it covers 3 main aspects

  • Representation: Offer your content in multiple formats – Blackboard Ally helps a lot with this, you don’t need to create multiple versions of information yourself.
  • Action and Expression: Offer multiple ways of allowing students to express their ideas. This doesn’t always mean a choice every time, rather ensuring that over the course of the whole module, students can experience a range of different ways to express themselves.
  • Engagement: Can you find multiple ways to motivate and enthuse your learners. As you work through the ABC design you’ll be able to make sure you’ve covered a range of different learning types.

These principles of universal design have always been important but there is perhaps a growing appreciation for them as we prepare to teach against the back drop of the Covid-19 pandemic and better consider some of the challenging situations and environments that our students may be studying in.

You’ll find more about Universal Design for learning on the CAST website. The Centre for Extended learning at Waterloo University uses Peter Morville’s Honeycomb for User Experience to look at Online Learning Experiences, which could give you more ideas to ensure that students get a range of different experiences.

Over to you

In the comments area think about these ideas.

  • What do you know about Universal design generally?
  • What about Universal Design for learning? What are your initial thoughts?
  • Build from scratch, or retrofit your learning activities?
  • Can you find useful URLs that might help you and/or others?


Additional resources

  • Backward Design Backward design adopts a similar approach to constructive alignment. This resource from City University of New York looks at this a little further. It looks at designing your module in a way that will ensure that the assessments will help students achieve the intended outcomes and that the teaching sessions and module resources will help students to build and develop their knowledge and understanding to achieve those outcomes.

3: What is the ABC model

spider chart of a module
Reading Time: 4 minutes

What is the ABC Model?

The ABC curriculum development model is a student-centred approach to curriculum development. It’s a model that’s been adopted internationally and one we’ve used to help design our FutureLearn courses. We’ve now adapted it further to help you create richer learning designs for blended learning modules in 20/21.

ABC is based upon the educational theory of Professor Diana Laurillard’s Conversational Framework and structured around six different learning types. Watch this video for an overview of these.

ABC Overview

The Digital Education team at UCL used the six learning types described by Professor Laurillard in the video to inform the original ABC curriculum design model. It’s very much a rapid curriculum design approach, typically used in a hands-on 90-minute workshop. Central to the ABC approach is academic teams collaborating to create a visual ‘storyboard outlining the type and sequence of learning activities (both online and offline) required to meet the course’s learning outcomes. The result is that lecturers leave the session with a clear overview of their module design and a strong plan of action to bring it to life!

Given these ever-changing times, we’ve redesigned our face-to-face ABC workshops into this Learning X series to help individual lecturers along with module and programme teams start applying the ABC approach as they begin to review and plan their teaching for 20/21. If you work through this series, you should end up with an action plan in the same way workshop participants do. (For those who’d prefer a workshop, we’ll be sharing details of our online workshops later.)

Over to you

Before we start looking at the current design of your modules, let’s start to sharpen the focus! First off download this ABC worksheet

We generally kick-off our workshops with a chat about how a module leader can describe their module in a way that captures the unique elements of their module. So, let’s start things off in the same way.

How would you describe your module in a way that will capture both the imagination and the curiosity of your potential students? Keeping it short and snappy, and working together if you’re part of a larger module team, write a “tweet-sized” 140-character description that sums up the essence of your module or what you think is great about your module. Don’t include the module title in the description! Here are some examples from our recent online workshops:


Examples of Tweets for courses
Examples of Tweets

Write out your description on your module worksheet. You can also share your descriptions in the comments if you’d like to.

If you’re part of a module team, agreeing this description can help provide clarity as you begin to delve into the design aspects of your module.

We’ll come back to the worksheet in a moment.

Mapping your module

As we’ve already seen, six learning types form the building blocks of ABC.

  • Acquisition
  • Discussion
  • Collaboration
  • Practice
  • Investigation
  • Production

In addition to these 6 learning types, the team at Glasgow Caledonian have created 3 further “learning experiences” to support the students during their studies. We have included these as we feel they are critical.

  • Digital wellbeing
  • Socialisation
  • Signposting

All of these learning types are introduced and presented in card-form as shown below and we will go on to discuss each of these in more detail as the series progresses. For now though, let’s focus on these learning types in the context of your module.

Front of cards - full set available as slide deck to download
Fronts of cards

The full slide deck is available as a slide deck to download

Over to you – mapping your module

Based on the top-level introductory overview of the learning types we’re using we’d like you to look at your module.

Referring to the worksheet you downloaded earlier, you’ll see that there is a learning types activities graph. Take 5 minutes to draw out how much of the different learning types you adopt in your module. Critically this is not about what you do in terms of teaching. ABC is a student-centred design approach, so this is about your students and what they do and how their time is spent on your module. If you’re working on a new module, think about the balance that you would like to achieve between the different types.

There is no right or wrong shape! Here’s an example completed.

spider chart of a module

Once you’ve mapped the shape take a minute or two to think about how blended your module is and mark on the scale where you think it sits.

Looking at the shape of your module currently does anything particularly strike you about the current learning experience on your module? Do any of the learning types dominate? Are you already making use of blended learning approaches in your teaching? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

You might want to take a look at your module timetable or teaching plan and begin to identify and tag learning types in more detail. At the end of the series when you’ve reworked the design of your module we can revisit this map and see if the distribution of learning types has changed as you move to a more blended approach.

We’ll now move on to look at the learning types on more detail and consider how you can use the digital space to support them. In the meantime to finish off today you might like to watch this short video with Professor Laurillard that shows how some digital tools can support the six learning types.

4 Digital Wellbeing and Safety

Digital wellbeing card - full text in slide deck
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Watch this video, to get an overview of Digital Wellbeing and Safety

You’ll find the card at slides 13 and 14 in the full slide deck

Digital wellbeing card - full text in slide deck
Front of card
Digital Wellbeing card - full text in slide deck
Back of card

Moving Online

It’s very important that both staff and students feel protected from the potential risks they face engaging in the online world, as well as the benefits.

We also need to ensure that we all have a good balance between on- and off-line activity, to understand the additional stresses that may arise from having digitally mediated relationships with others, and the pressures that both staff and students may face working from home.


The word “Netiquette” has been around for a long time – the earliest use listed in the Oxford English Dictionary is 1982. You’ve probably all seen a variety of “rules” – they’ve varied over the years, but the core remains similar – the need to treat people respectfully online.

Many of the guides, like this one, predate the extensive use of live meetings, such as Collaborate or teams, when we are using audio and video, as well as text and images.

While you’re watching this, think about 3 communities

  • This group. Remember, the blog is public and anyone can sign up
  • The module you’re thinking of developing now
  • Another module that has a different student group (e.g. significantly different size, different year group etc)

And ask yourself these questions

  • How relevant is the guidance in this video today?
  • What would you change?

Over to you

In particular, we’d you to think about what we might call “Chat-iquette”,  what guidance should we give others (students or staff) about

  • Video – always on; never on; something else?
  • Hands up for questions?
  • Chat on or off during a “presentation”?
  • Which parts you’d record, and which you wouldn’t

We’d like you to think about two things

  • Guidance for this community
  • Develop something that will work for your module – thinking about your student group, the subject they’re covering etc.
  • Any modifications you might make for a different cohort.

In addition, what particular issues (caring, timezones, limited tech etc.,) may impact both students’ and fellow staff’s ability to participate in sessions in the way that you can (or, perhaps, you are one who has the limitations).

Share your ideas in the comments area.

Resources that might be useful


As you’ll be aware, from September 2020, we have to ensure that content is accessible; and there is a variety of support

  • Ally is the tool that’s already built into My Dundee.
  • Academic Skills have an introductory document for creating inclusive resources, and Disability sevices has more information.
  • There are also other tools available, for example, the POET training tools help you choose good alternative text for images, whether they’re in Powerpoint, Word or anything else.

Relaxing with your team members

One idea, that might help you and others is to have a departmental/school  “Randomised Coffee Trial” – While it might not take you away from the screen, it could start to re-create those random meetings you have in corridors and by the water cooler. 


Many thanks to Suzy Houston, GCU for sharing with us “Houston, Suzy (2020) Responsive Curriculum Design Toolkit for staff. Glasgow Caledonian University” – an internal document they have used for similar staff development

5: Acquisition

Screenshot of card. Available in ppt slide deck
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We’re going to start thinking about the first of the UCL cards, acquisition.

The acquisition card is on slides 1 and 2 in the full slide deck


Screenshot of card. Available in ppt slide deck
Acquisition – Front of card
Screenshot of card
Acquisition – back of card

Moving online

There are several ways to make the acquisition of content easier for students.

  • Divide videos into bitesize sections – it’s easier to watch a shorter section of video (easier to record, too!)
    Could you add in a short quiz part way through the video using Yuja?
  • If you’re setting an article to read – give students questions to think about when they’re reading it.
    Or perhaps give groups of students different papers, and ask them to write a short summary for the rest of the class
  • Is there an offline activity you could ask students to do between video sections? Something reflective, for example.

You might also find it useful to search for other content online that you can incorporate into your resource lists. We’ve got some information (see the Dundee Resources Section) about how you can find resources that you can use without having to worry about copyright and other issues. It’s also helpful to give students a guide on how much time they should spend on these types of activities.

In addition, you can always chat to your digital champions, school Educational Technologists, or come along to a CTIL drop in session (via My Dundee) and chat about your ideas – they might well be able to help you get your ideas onto the screen!

Longer live “lecture” sessions are rarely engaging for students, and can be exhausting for staff, so it’s a good idea to avoid them if you can!

Over to you  

In the comments area, reflect on these questions: 

  • How might you break up your content into smaller chunks?  
  • What issues do you anticipate attempting this?
  • What have you tried face to face? How did it work? How do you think you could adapt it for online? 

Other Dundee Resources.

In our first LearningX, we looked at how you might find Creative Commons or OER resources – to help you (or indeed your students) find resources. It’s Searching, Using and Sharing.

The Library also has a wealth of Resources. You’re hopefully used to looking at the LibGuide for your subject, but if it’s been a while since you looked at it, have a look – you might well find new gems, as the Library is working hard to collate as many online resources as they can to support you in the move to blended learning.

Ultra 101

The following sessions could be particularly useful

And finally remember to use Ally to make sure it’s accessible

Service Guides

Many of the guides cover adding content – but you could find these particularly useful


Staff around the University have been contributing to Recipes – looking at how they’re using different tools in their teaching

  • Adding Quizzes to Yuja – putting a few quizzes in a video can help to break it up and ensure the students have learnt key facts.

6: Discussion

Discussion card front - full text in the slide deck
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Next up is the second UCL card, Discussion

You’ll find the Discussion card on slides 5 and 6 in the full slide deck

Discussion card front - full text in the slide deck
Discussion – Front of card
Back of card - full text in slide deck
Discussion – Back of card

Moving online

There are several ways to generate lively discussion amongst your students, variety is the key and the more you can encourage your learners to contribute via discussion, the better!

Keep in mind that when moving online, some discussions will take place synchronously (live) whilst some will have to be asynchronous.

Your discussions may be…

  • Formal – a guided discussion based on a series of pre-developed questions
  • Spontaneous – self-generating, happens organically with no prior planning
  • Planned – encourage your learners to suggest solutions to their own problems, whilst still providing support. Get involved, but don’t direct too much!

It’s not just about a ‘comment’. Encourage your students to critique, debate and reflect and to expand and evolve the discussion.

These discussions may need to be organised in different stages depending on the tool/s you use but the beauty is that you can use the technology to capture them.

It’s worth considering the possibilities for evaluating your student contributions and if you are planning learning activities or even assessments around these discussions, get in touch for some further guidance.

We know that getting students to engage with discussion can sometimes be tough. Consider how you can improve your engagement. It’s worth taking a look at Gilly Salmon’s work. While she was primarily looking at socialisation, the model for supporting a group of students to become self moderating can be very valuable in discussions, as it helps the students to become self directed learners.

Over to you

Join our discussion now, we would love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments area.

  • How do you prompt and encourage discussion in your face-to-face teaching?
  • How and where could you use prompts to generate discussion in your online module?
  • How can you encourage a variety of discussions to best support the module material and learning outcomes?
  • Have you considered capturing these discussions? In Digital Wellbeing, when developing a “Chat-iquette”, we asked you to think about what you would, and wouldn’t record. If you do capture a discussion, how might you make the most of it?
  • Some of your students might be engaged but not necessarily ‘visible’ or demonstrating their engagement with participation. Why might they be reluctant to participate? Why might some students choose to contribute more asynchronously and how can you support this?

Remember, you can also chat to your digital champions, school Educational Technologists, or come along to a CTIL drop in session (via My Dundee) and discuss your ideas with us!

Other resources

There has been a lot of work into engaging with students through online discussion, you may well have come across them in the past.

  • 10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions – One of Educause’s sets of tips – it’s mostly common sense, but always worth reminding yourself of these points
  • Discussion Boards: Valuable? Overused? Discuss. As Discussion boards have been around for so long, many may see them as “old fashioned” – this gives some ideas for innovation in their use (after all, books are much older – but we can still find a good use for them!)

As this is a field with a wealth of research, if you have some favourite papers – we’d welcome you sharing them!

Other Dundee Resources

We have a range of resources that can help you.

Ultra 101

The sessions that you might find particularly useful are

Service Guides

Have a look at these service guides for more support


Staff across the University are contributing to recipes to look at ways of using the tools with students

7: Collaboration

For full text, see the slide deck
Reading Time: 3 minutes


Next up is the fourth UCL card, Collaboration

You’ll find the Collaboration card on slides 3 and 4 in the full slide deck

For full text, see the slide deck
Collaboration – front of card
For full text, see the slide deck
Collaboration – Back of card

Moving online

There are many ways to support collaboration and collaborative activities. Keep in mind, that there is overlap with this learning type and ‘Discussion’ as well upcoming ‘Practice’ and ‘Production’.

One way that can help to distinguish them is to see collaboration as a group producing a joint output, where discussion is related to supporting students develop an understanding of a subject, and production is an individual output. Often, of course, a single item of work may have elements of all four. You may have also seen this called “Online group work”

There are several tools available to you to facilitate learner collaboration, all depending upon the design of your activity and your learning outcomes.

We know that encouraging students to work together can be tough face-to-face and even more so online so making meaningful connections with and between your learners is crucial.

When you design your Collaboration, activities consider how to make this easier for your students. How can you build in opportunities for learners to mix and become ‘socialised’ in the online space?

Engaging your learners in collaboration can take more time than you might expect and requires support and encouragement, so factor this in when you design the activity.

Some ideas could be:

  • Collaborative wiki – what do we know about …?
  • Develop a shared bookmark list – using Endnote
  • Mentor other learners. If you looked at Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model in the discussion learning type, you’ll have noticed that stage 5 is getting students to mentor each other.
  • Office 365 allows users to create a shared Word Document, Powerpoint, OneNote Notebook

For real collaboration – what ideas might the student have for platforms and ideas that they could collaborate on?

Over to you

Join our discussion now, we would love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments area.

  • What have you tried collaborative activities in your face to face teaching? How did it work? How do you think you could adapt it for online?
  • We asked you to look at on online learning experience for yourself, if you have done that, how did you feel the collaborative activities went?
  • If you’ve tried online collaborative activities with groups of students, how did they go?
  • What challenges do you anticipate when designing your ‘Collaboration’ activities? How might you overcome these?

Other Dundee Resources

If you want to get your students to create a shared resource list, why not get them to use Endnote – that will help them learn to use a Bibliographic tool, and it’s got an Online version that allows for shared list creation. The LLC has a libguide on Endnote

LearningSpaces – this site! We’re using this site for a blog, however, you can also have a space to use as a Wiki, if you’re interested you can request a site

Ultra 101

If you’ve missed the Discussion post , then you’ll find a list of the tools that are useful for students to discuss – a key part of collaboration.

Service Guides

As Collaboration is when we’re thinking about getting students to create an artefact, some of the service guides that are relevant are:

  • Workaround for adaptive release for groups. Sometimes you might want to have different material for different groups, but not necessarily have a formal submission via My Dundee
  • Padlet Padlet is often used by groups of students to co-create artefacts

Further reading

Online students don’t have to work solo  – ideas for online collaboration between students.

Energize your Online Course with Group work – a blog post from Harvard with a range of ideas that you might want to use.

If you have found other links that you think work well for you – or perhaps something you’re hoping to try – share in the comments area.


8: Practice

Full text in the slide deck
Reading Time: 4 minutes



Today’s topic will give you the opportunity to think about learning through Practice, and consider how this learning type could offer students active engagement in the blended and online mode to enhance their learning and build opportunities for knowledge application using simple technological methods.

Full text in the slide deck
Practice – Front of card
For full text, see the slide deck
Practice – back of card

You’ll find the Practice card on slides 9 and 10 in the full slide deck

Practice is considered as the most challenging of the six learning types. Moving practice online is not straightforward and requires considerable thought and organisation to make it work well to blended and online learning (Young 2020). Let’s take a look at the Practice learning type card (slide 10) and think about how you would make good use of technology to address the types of learning activities listed.

Is there one learning activity in particular that would work well for your teaching context? If so, how might you start to address this for moving online and ensuring that the learning outcomes, learning context, and criteria for assessment are constructively aligned to the technology?

Moving Online

Recognising what digital technology can offer to achieve effective blended/online learning experiences is within your grasp and has the potential to ‘engage your students as active, critical and reflective learners’ (GCU Curriculum Design & Development Toolkit for Staff p14). The digital technology available at UoD offers learners the opportunity to Practice social, personal and methodological skills, for example if a more learner-centred approach is important, could online role-play using asynchronous and synchronous tools enable learners to experience true-to-life scenarios where access to physical environments may be restricted?

If the technology is implemented thoughtfully, learning by practice can offer students a variety of blended/online experiences to enable them to engage and become active learners.

Online Role Play

This would require the tutor to make decisions about the content, structure, setting up the activity, and pace of the event. In the School of Education and Social Work, traditional role-play is well established on the BA Social Work programme and is an effective way of delivering training scenarios to first year students, who take on the role of a social worker meeting a service user for the first time. To help students prepare, the tutor stages the exercise, assigns roles in a group and are given a brief case scenario of the background and context to the case. The students conduct role-play interviews, sometimes with an additional student who observes and gives feedback, and alternatively the social worker and service user alone. The exercise is then followed by a class discussion to guide and further consolidate learning.  

Moving this traditional activity would work well online by employing just a few key tools that offer opportunities for communication and collaboration. The tutor goes far beyond their role as the subject matter expert, who would be responsible for a variety of group facilitation tasks: setting up the activity, providing instructions and netiquette guidelines, assigning group roles, monitoring progress, providing feedback, and drawing the activity together at the end. Supporting tools such as the discussion board or blog (asynchronous) or video conferencing (synchronous), would work well for this type of scenario, offering students to actively immerse in an activity-driven exercise to help build knowledge application for what they will be doing in practice.  

Tools available in Dundee

Over to you

When designing a learning activity like a discussion, it is important to plan and think about the practicalities for administering it. In the comments box below, share your thoughts in a few sentences on how you would plan, implement, assess and evaluate a practice learning type activity using the affordances of digital technology. Look back at the practice learning type card to give you some ideas of the activity types listed. It could simply be the implementation of a self-test feature to formatively assess student progress.

This topic was to help you familiarise with the learning type practice and get you to think about how technology can be adopted creatively to help transform your existing teaching approach. We are looking forward to reading your contributions, so let’s get practising!


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

Other resources

– You’ll probably find this whole book useful – it’s online. In this particular case, have a look at Section 20 – Role Play (p 63)

Technology Enhanced Learning at SHU. (2020, July 4). Role-play: An Approach to Teaching and Learning. Accessed June 22nd, 2020


9: Investigation

Full text in the slide deck
Reading Time: 5 minutes


Investigation is a large part of student work – and in the earlier years is often seen as preparation for the final dissertation. As with all the learning types that we’re looking at, it isn’t distinct, and you may well have aspects of the investigation that overlap with collaboration or production learning types. We’ll try, however, today, to think about the investigative stages.

Investigation also includes inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning and typically involves students developing their own lines of narrative as they investigate, analyse and review their ideas and thinking. Students can make use of resources that cover both physical and digital formats including, books, video and audio recordings, pictures, animations, illustrations, databanks, libraries and collections. This approach helps students to become active participants in their learning as they critically think and evaluate data and information and discuss and explore concepts that are relevant to the real world and to the development of their disciplinary practise

Full text in the slide deck
Investigation – front of card
Full text in the slide deck
Investigation – back of card

Moving Online

As we start to think about moving investigation type learning online to help avoid “digital overload” it can be better to use My Dundee as the starting point, but to then get the students to move away from it and signpost them either to other tools, or, ideally, something they can do offline.

Existing Online resources, tools and simulations.

You may well have existing tools or datasets that you will be asking students to use,, so remember to include clear instructions for the students. This is particularly important if students have to have use specific platforms to access them, as we need to ensure that all students have equal access. To get some collaboration, perhaps get different groups of students to explore different tools or data sets, then share their findings with others.
We know that many of you are currently researching resources from external publishers that have digital simulations and models etc., particularly those in the Science, Engineering, Medical or other similar fields.

Gathering data

There are many open datasets online, which may give additional sources of data, especially if it’s not possible for students to gather their data personally.
We also have tools such as Microsoft Forms that could be used by students to start to gather data, with appropriate support for the ethical and GDPR issues of data collection.

Web searching.

One key issue that you’ve probably found is that students don’t always find it easy to search effectively, but they don’t always recognise that. This can be difficult, as it’s difficult to teach people things they think already know.
It may be useful for the students to create a shared annotated bibliography, as they start to evaluate resources. (Sharpe, 2016, p. 33), suggests that you get students to do just one or two resources each – and to share how they have evaluated them – perhaps using a voice over. It’s often useful to demonstrate to the students first how you would make those decisions.


As students get more confident, could they start to use Twitter to find researchers in their field? This can vary by subject, as some fields have much more actively Tweeting researchers than others, but a bit of hunting can usually find a core of enthusiasts.
Rather than telling students to ignore Wikipedia, could you get them to evaluate and critique Wikipedia pages? You could even then get them to edit / create a new page. This also overlaps with “Collaboration” or “production” (depending on whether you are asking them to do this as a group or individually).

Blogging and journals

As part of this teaching approach you may also want to consider asking your students to keep a reflective journal or blog to outline their thinking and the development of their ideas. Another option is to create a class blog where students can publish the results of their investigations for the whole class to review or for a wider public audience.

Community projects and service learning

Many academic disciplines have developed relationships with various organisations across Dundee, Scotland and further afield which can also lead to inquiry type learning. For example healthcare professions students can be involved in quality improvement projects, design students in working to design briefs, whilst business students may undertake market research. These projects result in students presenting relevant results, outlining their thinking and proposals. In the digital space these presentations can be delivered online or through video or more conventional documents

Offline activities

We have already mentioned that it’s a good idea to encourage students to move away from the computer, to read, write offline. They might even want to try Sketchnoting or mindmapping – on paper (or digitally) to draw their ideas together – it doesn’t always have to be a Word processed report if the key focus is the investigation.

The library are also investigating the best ways to deliver books to users.

Over to you

We’ve given you a few ideas, no doubt you have others. It would be useful to know what you have tried, are thinking of trying, or, a wild idea you have – perhaps someone else has a solution that could work!
In terms of accessibility and universal design for learning, can you think of additional benefits of taking research online, but also additional barriers, when compared to campus based investigative activities.

Share your ideas in the comments section.

Other Dundee Resources

We have had some staff in Dundee getting their students to use Wikipedia for coursework, and the Dental School has participated in a number of Wikipedia workshops.
We’ve asked these teams for articles about their experience – so we’ll link to them once we have them.
The Medical School has used problem-based learning for many years – again, once we have an article covering this, we’ll share it here.

Other Resources

Griffith University has a very well developed set of teaching ideas – we are working on a set of Recipes for Dundee which will, eventually have as good (better ?!) range of ideas. For now, though you might find these two useful -and you may wish to browse others.

Problem based learning – CITL, Illinois University. A useful set of notes about Problem based learning. It’s worth having a look at other parts of their website while you are there.

While the following paper looks primarily at the role that Twitter can bring to academics sharing their work, the benefits can apply to students who want to stretch themselves. In addition, it’s got an open dataset, that you may wish to use with students as an example.

10: Production

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Reading Time: 4 minutes


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.

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Production – Front of Card
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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 Accessed June 26th, 2020

Young, Clive. (2020, April 21) Moving activities online with ABC – take it further. Accessed June 22nd, 2020

YuJa (no date) Video assignments and student recording. Accessed June 28th, 2020