Designing a Learning Journey

Designing a Learning Journey  

The learning development process typically involves five phases in a cycle:  

  1. Plan  
  2. Design  
  3. Develop  
  4. Deliver  
  5. Evaluate  

You are likely to have many practical questions about the types of media and technology you use when teaching. Before thinking about the practicalities of delivery we first need to consider the pedagogies you select to enable students to learn. 

 This guide takes you through the five steps to develop your pedagogies for learning which includes digital content and activities where appropriate. 

Accessibility and inclusivity

How we support students and staff with disabilities and create an inclusive environment for all our students is at the heart of student education at Leeds. Considerations for accessibility and inclusivity should occur at each step of creating an online course, whether at a top-level plan, in developing learning materials or in teaching a live session. 

The University’s inclusive teaching website and digital accessibility website support staff through the provision of written resources, student and staff testimonials, and information about how the University is aiming to embed inclusivity into all taught student education. 

1. Plan

Your first step should be to consider your students’ needs. To make sure your teaching is student-centred, consider who your learners are and assess their requirements.

  • What is their educational context?
  • What are your students’ pastoral and support needs?
  • What are your students’ capabilities for learning which includes digital content and activities?

A simple template is available for you to use to help consider your students’ needs and how they might impact your teaching.

You might not have the answers about how to meet your students’ needs at the outset; however, identifying them early on can help you make decisions which will benefit your students later.

Next steps

The Plan stage also involves thinking about the context of your teaching and the logistics of how your teaching will be delivered. Some of the practical elements you will need to consider are as follows:

  • The institutional or faculty requirements
  • The learning priorities for you and your students
  • The amount of time you and your students have

You can combine this with the SCALA Module Delivery Template (Word doc) to record your plan for digitally enhanced learning. This is being updated as part of the work being done in Curriculum Redefined but provides useful guidance in the interim.

2. Design

A learning design consists of the experiences and activities that you intend for students to engage in following a defined pathway or journey through their learning. A rich and engaging online and hybrid learning experience is likely to include a combination of learning activities: 

  • Synchronous (live) teaching events involving discussion or collaboration 
  • Asynchronous (not live, any time) interaction and collaboration 
  • Independent study activities or exercises 
  • Video, library reading and learning materials made by the teacher 

The final design that you come up with will depend on the nature of the subject and the resources you and your students have available. 

It can help to start with live sessionyou wish to teach. The key benefit of a live session is the ability for students and teachers to interact with one another. So when designing a live session, you should play to these affordances, ask yourself: 

  • What interactions do you want your students to have with one another and teaching staff? 
  • What can students only learn from interaction and with immediate feedback from a teacher? 

Once you have an idea of how you would like your students to learn by interaction you can ask yourself: 

  • What skills or knowledge do students’ need to have learned in order to interact effectively? 
  • How can students further develop or test what they have learned from live interaction and feedback? 

These questions will help you define pre- and post-session activities. You can use this simple framework to design block or unit of learning: 

  • Pre-session 
  • In-session 
  • Post-session 

This framework form the basis of a design workbook you can use to create your Learning Journey. 

Asynchronous activities 

Just as you will collaborate with your peers asynchronously (in a non-live environment) via email, on collaborative documents or in Microsoft Teams, your students can learn and collaborate in this way too. 

As you design your teaching sessions, consider whether there are activities where students could work together over a longer period without having immediate contact with one another or their teacher. For instance: 

  • Developing a formative or summative project using a collaborative document with communications using the comments 
  • Informal peer-review and feedback on a summary or perspective on a topic shared in a forum 

These can supplement your pre-, in- and post-session activities to create a rich and diverse learning experience. 

The workbook template contains a table you can use or adapt to record designs for your learning activities: 

3. Develop

The development stage covers the work you need to do to create your learning materials and bring them together on Minerva for students to access. Development can cover a broad range of work including:

  • Writing instructions for synchronous and asynchronous learning activities such as discussion prompts and questions or group work activities
  • Making your own video or audio recordings
  • Selecting library resources, links to websites, pre-existing videos and other external materials
  • Writing your own learning content

This also includes connecting these materials with a written narrative that puts them into a cohesive journey which students can follow. Guidance for this work falls under the content delivery strand of SCALA.

Selecting technologies

A key aspect of the development stage is selecting the right technologies to deliver your learning. These technologies should support the learning activities and materials that you have designed and developed.

Three technologies you are likely to use in digitally enhanced learning are:

  • Minerva
  • Leeds Mediasite
  • Collaborate Ultra

Minerva is the University of Leeds’s official Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Minerva must be used as the main platform to provide learning content to students.  You should use Minerva to build online components for your modules and communicate with your students.

Mediasite is an online space to store, record and publish video recordings. You can use Personal Capture from Mediasite to record and edit videos that you can then add to Minerva.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a web-based interactive session platform. It includes audio, video, text chat, an interactive whiteboard, PowerPoint display, application sharing, breakout rooms, live closed captioning, polling and session recording.

Visit the DES Systems website for guidance on using these technologies.

4. Deliver

Once you have planned and designed your teaching and have developed your learning materials, you are ready to start your module. Your focus will now be on implementing strategies to engage with your students as they learn. This could include how you:

  • Elicit informal feedback from students to understand their progress
  • Guide students to support one another in their interactions
  • Engage with students when presenting materials in a session

Further guidance can be found under the Content Delivery and Assessment and Feedback strands of SCALA.

5. Evaluate

It’s strongly recommended that you seek formal feedback from your students on how things are going both early on and mid-way through your module.

Students may have multiple modules running concurrently that seek similar feedback. Students may also be asked for feedback from your school or faculty, the wider university, professional services, Leeds University Union as well as national bodies. For semester 1, there is a risk that students will be overwhelmed by requests for feedback. So, it is critical that your feedback is easy for students to complete and has a clear benefit to them.

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