A Toolkit to Guide the Design of Effective Learning Activities

A Toolkit to Guide the Design of Effective Learning Activities

Karen Fill (KataliSys Ltd, UK), Gráinne Conole (The Open University, UK) and Chris Bailey (University of Bristol, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-980-9.ch009
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The DialogPLUS Toolkit is a web-based application that guides the design of learning activities. Developed to support the project’s geographers, it incorporates well-researched pedagogic taxonomies that are presented as drop-down lists with associated ‘help’ pages. Toolkit users are encouraged to consider and specify factors including learning and teaching approach, environment, aims and outcomes, assessment methods, learner and tutor roles and requisite skills as they design any number of tasks within a learning activity and select the tools and resources needed to undertake them. The output from the toolkit is a design template that can then be used to guide the instantiation and implementation of online learning activities. The designs are saved within the toolkit, forming a database of designs, which other toolkit users can view. This chapter will present the rationale for the toolkit and the detailed taxonomies. It will describe and illustrate the software design, development and implementation, including the approach to contextual ‘help’, provide examples of learning activity designs created using the toolkit; and present and discuss feedback from users.
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Practitioners are faced with a potentially bewildering array of tools and technologies to support learning and teaching. However, “while it is clear that technologies are having an increasing impact on institutions … it is equally apparent that their potential for enabling new styles of learning is not yet being realised” (Conole et al., 2005, p. 3). Practitioners designing and creating learning activities need to make a complex set of inter-related decisions. Examples of the questions they ask themselves, and others, include:

Which tools should I use to promote dialogue between students – chat, a discussion forum, video conferencing?

How can I set up an activity to encourage students to collaborate on a shared problem?

What is the best way to create a collaborative shared space of resources?

Some practitioners are confused by the ever-expanding range of tools and theories and need support in deciding which might be appropriate for a particular learning activity. As a result, in recent years there has been considerable interest in gathering examples of good practice and providing scaffolds, or design support, to aid practitioners as they create new learning activities. However, defining case studies of good practice and articulating the steps and processes involved in learning design is far from trivial. Our aim was to create a toolkit which would guide teachers through the decision making process of creating learning activities. This built on previous work (Conole & Oliver, 1998; Conole et al., 2001), with the intention that the learning activity toolkit would be designed to present relevant information to the user on a needs basis. The output would be an outline design of a learning activity and the key associated components. This outline would be held in the toolkit database so that it could be searched by other users.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Lou McGill
Chapter 1
Philip Rees, Louise Mackay, David Martin, Gráinne Conole, Hugh Davis
Technologies offer a range of tantalizing potentials for education—in terms of providing access to media- rich context and for students to visualize... Sample PDF
Developing E-Learning in Geography
Chapter 2
Samuel Leung, David Martin, Richard Treves, Oliver Duke-Williams
In contrast to other Web-based resources, e-learning materials are not always exchangeable and shareable. Although transferring electronic documents... Sample PDF
Exchanging E-Learning Materials, Modules, and Students
Chapter 3
Helen Durham, Katherine Arrell, David DiBiase
Collaborative learning activity design (CLAD) is a multi-institution approach to the creation of e-learning material from the design phase through... Sample PDF
Collaborative Learning Activity Design: Learning about the Global Positioning System
Chapter 4
David Martin, Philip Rees, Helen Durham, Stephen A. Matthews
This chapter presents the development of a series of shared learning materials prepared to facilitate teaching in human geography. The principal... Sample PDF
Census and Population Analysis
Chapter 5
Stephen Darby, Sally J. Priest, Karen Fill, Samuel Leung
In this chapter we outline the issues involved in developing, delivering, and evaluating a Level 2 undergraduate module in fluvial geomorphology.... Sample PDF
Using Digital Libraries to Support Undergraduate Learning in Geomorphology
Chapter 6
Jim Wright, Michael J. Clark, Sally J. Priest, Rizwan Nawaz
There is an inherent antithesis between environmental management as professional practice and as concept or philosophy. Not only does this... Sample PDF
Engaging with Environmental Management: The Use of E-Learning for Motivation and Skills Enhancement
Chapter 7
Louise Mackay, Samuel Leung, E. J. Milton
In our experience of earth observation (EO) online learning we highlight the usefulness of the World Wide Web in terms of its software... Sample PDF
Earth Observation: Conveying the Principles to Physical Geography Students
Chapter 8
Helen Durham, Samuel Leung, David DiBiase
Academic integrity (AI) is of relevance across all academic disciplines, both from the perspective of the educator and the student. From the former... Sample PDF
Generic Learning Materials: Developing Academic Integrity in Your Students
Chapter 9
Karen Fill, Gráinne Conole, Chris Bailey
The DialogPLUS Toolkit is a web-based application that guides the design of learning activities. Developed to support the project’s geographers, it... Sample PDF
A Toolkit to Guide the Design of Effective Learning Activities
Chapter 10
David DiBiase, Mark Gahegan
This chapter investigates the problem of connecting advanced domain knowledge (from geography educators in this instance) with the strong pedagogic... Sample PDF
Concept Mapping to Design, Organize, and Explore Digital Learning Objects
Chapter 11
Terence R. Smith, Marcia Lei Zeng
We describe a digital learning environment (DLE) organized around sets of concepts that represent a specific domain of knowledge. A prototype DLE... Sample PDF
Semantic Tools to Support the Construction and Use of Concept-Based Learning Spaces
Chapter 12
Richard Treves
Teaching geography at university level involves students in study of complex diagrams and maps. These can be made easier to understand if split into... Sample PDF
Simple Geography-Related Multimedia
Chapter 13
Karen Fill, Louise Mackay
This chapter is concerned with the evaluation of learning materials and activities developed as part of the DialogPLUS project. A range of... Sample PDF
Evaluating the Geography E-Learning Materials and Activities: Student and Staff Perspectives
Chapter 14
Louise Mackay, David Martin, Philip Rees, Helen Durham
In this book we have illustrated the materials, software, and experience of developing and delivering geography e-learning courses and learning... Sample PDF
Reflections, Lessons Learnt, and Conclusions
Chapter 15
Sally Priest
This chapter discusses the design, technical development, delivery, and evaluation of two online learning activities in environmental geography. A... Sample PDF
Online Learning Activities in Second Year Environmental Geography
Chapter 16
Dion Hoe-Lian Goh
With the rapid growth of digital information, there is increasing recognition that digital libraries (DL) will play important roles in education... Sample PDF
Learning Geography with the G-Portal Digital Library
Chapter 17
Shivanand Balram
This chapter describes the origins, boundaries, and structures of collaborative geographic information systems (CGIS). A working definition is... Sample PDF
Collaborative Geographic Information Systems: Origins, Boundaries, and Structures
Glossary of Terms
About the Contributors