Developing a Taxonomy for Learning Designs

Developing a Taxonomy for Learning Designs

Barry Harper, Ron Oliver
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-861-1.ch010
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This chapter describes the development of a taxonomy of learning designs based on a survey of 52 innovative ICT-using projects that formed the basis of a grounded approach to classifying high quality learning designs. The concept of learning designs has the potential to support academics in the process of offering high quality ICT supported learning settings in the higher education sector. The taxonomy is proposed as a mechanism to explore ways in which learning designs can be made accessible to academics and to help with the understanding of the goals of the learning design movement. The development of the taxonomy is described, and user review of the representation of learning designs in a Web context is discussed. Finally, the current gap in the literature about accurate and effective taxonomies describing and distinguishing between various forms of learning design is discussed in relation to future research agendas.
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In higher education, an effective educational setting is characterized by high quality teaching based on contemporary views of learning (Boud & Prosser, 2002). Whilst much of the influential research in learning has been school based, higher education has developed a significant history of research interest focused on moving what has traditionally been instructivist practices in teaching to practices based on contemporary theories of learning (Schön, 1995) or the so called “new pedagogy.” Governments worldwide are supporting this growing awareness and emphasis on high quality teaching as they implement policies within which “learning has been explicitly identified as the main catalyst for economic competitiveness and growth” (Cullen, Hadjivassiliou, Hamilton, Kelleher, Sommerlad, & Stern, 2002, p. 12). Mechanisms for quality assurance for learning in higher education sectors are being used to drive these policies. Consequently, as funding models for higher education has shifted to user-pay systems, both students and their institutions can no longer afford to tolerate high levels of student attrition or poor learning outcomes related to poor teaching (DEST, 2004).

Some countries have moved toward explicitly supporting academics in improving their teaching process. National bodies, government policies, and forums encouraging innovation in teaching practice have been established across most western countries. For example, in the United States, there is a range of support to foster high quality teaching such as The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (, support these processes with government policy moving toward teacher qualifications for new academics. The Carrick Institute was launched in August 2004 to promote and advance learning and teaching in Australian higher education. Its vision is to promote long-term change through a focus on systemic change in the higher education sector in Australia. The initiative represents a significant investment in learning in the higher education sector in Australia.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Exemplars: Learning design description that are know for quality learning taxonomy—the practice and science of classification.

Learning Designs: Refers to a variety of ways of designing student learning experiences, that is, the sequence of activities and interactions. The scope of a learning design may be at the level of a subject/unit or subject/unit components.

Learning Objects: A digitized entity which can be used, reused, or referenced during technology supported learning.

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