Learning Design from a Student Perspective – Karina’s Journey Part 2

Karina’s Journey Part 2

Karina The Teacher

Here I take you on a short tour of my Learning Design project, created and developed during the Teachers as Designers session as part of EVO 2016.

The Design Inquiry of Learning includes the following stages:

Imagine > Investigate > Inspire > Ideate > Prototype > Evaluate > Reflect

If you haven’t read it already, please see my first post that covers my progress through the initial stages of Learning Design.


The Prototype

Now take a look at this short video which introduces you to my project, Mobile English:

This prototype video is multi-purpose: it helped me visualise my project, making it easier for me to spot things that may not work and flesh out my ideas (in advance of launching the project). I also shared the video with my peers on the course and asked them to give me feedback according to the heuristics that I set, whose invaluable comments helped me improve my activity. Finally, in the future, I will be able to show this video to my students as an introduction and warmer, before the activity begins.


The Updated Heuristics

Going through my original heuristics, and taking into consideration feedback from my peers, here is my evaluation of Mobile English thus far:

1.       Is the activity specific – (a) does it appropriately target young Chinese students ability to use their digital skills and practice language skills? (b) does it train students to give good feedback?

a) This activity requires students to use the voice record function of their phones. I believe they know how to do this already, but they may not know the associated vocabulary. This would be worth pre-teaching, maybe as a picture/word matching worksheet: app, voice recording app, record, stop, start, pause, edit, save, share, etc.

b) This activity uses a feedback sheet. It highlights three main areas to describe speaking fluency. By counting words for each speaking sub-skill, students will be able to give precise feedback to their partners. And realise what is expected of themselves. (This activity could make use of a rubric, whereby different ranges of the sub-speaking skills represent ‘fluent’, ‘quite fluent’ and ‘not yet/very fluent’. Perhaps the students could create this themselves, in groups, after this activity, based on what they have learnt. I could provide a model of a rubric. This could be another 90 minute lesson).

2.       Is the activity measurable – will students’ peer-evaluation and reflection be enough to determine if they have improved their speaking fluency?

The activity can be measured using the feedback sheet. If there is an improvement between feedback sheet 1 and feedback sheet 2, technically there is an improvement in ‘fluency.’ However, this doesn’t mean there is an improvement in accuracy. I could consider extending this activity into another 90 minute less by focusing on correct vocabulary and grammar.

3.       Is the activity  attainable – does the project allow for achieving the goal (i.e. developing self-autonomous learners inside and outside of the classroom)?

This activity supports students being able to self-asses inside the classroom. However, it does not currently support students outside of the classroom. I will consider setting a homework based on a new controversial statement which follows the 3 sub-skill framework and ask students to report on their findings and opinions in the next lesson.

4.       Is the activity  realistic – (a) is it realistic to expect that independent learning will be developed through this learning design? (b) is it realistic to expect young Chinese learners to be engaged by this activity?

a) This activity exposes the students to learning strategies that support self-directed learning and self-assessment. How much this will be enjoyed, absorbed and then repeated in the future by the students is currently unknown. However, repeating the framework of the lesson throughout the school term, would provide the opportunity to develop the skill of independent learning.

b) My students love their phones. Any activity that requires them to hold and use their phones will be welcomed. The challenge comes in trying to keep the students ‘on task’ and using the voice app, as opposed to using other apps. However, if the aim of the lesson is of interest to them (to be more fluent) and the instructions clear, they should be able to stay on task. The other issue is cultural. My students like to listen to the teacher talk. They are used to lecture-style teaching. And many don’t see value in speaking with their classmates. But again, if the task is engaging, we may be able to overcome the problem.

5.       Is the activity time-related – is one lesson (90 minutes) enough time to complete the activity and achieve the goal?

Now that I am at the end of the the prototype test, I think 90 minutes should be enough for the main activity. However, to be sure, I will write a lesson plan as my prototype consolidation. Also, now I see that there are a number of natural ‘spin-offs’ to the main activity – another 90 minute lesson focusing on accuracy, another 90 minute lesson on creating a rubric that represents ‘being fluent’ (and possibly ‘being accurate’) and if a homework is set, possibly (a part of) another lesson could be spent on discussing the opinions and findings.

(See Karina’s Journey Part 3 for the final lesson plan and a review of how the project went!)


The Learning Design Process

The Learning Design approach is an alternate way of devising solutions to problems. It’s a long process, with a number of stages, but each stage provides a scaffold toward a targeted, specific product that goes a long way to resolving the problem. I like the focus on iteration, and the need to test out your prototype before trying it out for real. I found that iteration works best when other experts provide comments. Indeed, I see the value of collaboration with teachers on projects, and a next step for me will be to be more active in different Communities of Practice.

In all, I am so happy to have met and collaborated virtually with all of the participants. I learnt that I am not ‘alone’. And, in fact, many teachers are in very similar contexts, albeit in a different country. Motivation remains a challenge, no matter where you are around the world!

I plan to test out my Learning Design activity this month (June 2016) and will update you of my progress soon!

In the mean time, check out more Learning Designs from the EVO 2016 session here:

Learning Design from a Student Perspective – Karina’s Journey Part 2
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