The recent UNFOLD meeting in Braga, Portugal concentrated on IMS LD level C (notification), and some of the practical workflow mechanisms surrounding the implementation of LD, especially templates and taxonomies.
Modelling real-life pedagogy in LD is a task too complex for most ordinary teachers. Different approaches have been presented that try to take the pain out of creating UoLs. Templates that can help users in authoring learning activities were one suggestion. I have my doubts about this, mainly arising from templates available in other software packages like Word (fax, letter, report templates) which find very little use. The other objection I have is that templates invariably restrict creativity and reflection. It is the latter that I believe is potentially the biggest benefit we might get out of Learning Design: Lecturers asking themselves why they are teaching in a certain way. Templates almost prohibit this potential benefit and replace it with form filling.
The DialoguePlus project attempts to map existing practice onto a model that supports a wizzard style toolkit. They create a taxonomy for so-called nuggets (another name for UoL). Whatever the approach – and there are several – all of them serve one purpose: a clear, usable, shared vocabulary that (a) practitioners can use without special training, (b) can be used as a classification scheme for archiving UoLs, (c) explains what the UoL is about. Taxonomies are a translation mechanism between IMS LD and real life vocabulary. They also sit at a higher level by describing whole UoLs whereas IMS LD describes parts within.
The most usable approach I have seen so far was the 8LEM (Eight Learning Events Model) developed and used by the Université de Liège, Belgium. This uses a very usable terminology, which would not require a steep learning curve. Their 8 basic notions reflect what the student does: creates, explores, practices, imitates, experiments, receives, debates, and meta-learns. The model builds on this the instructional interaction by the teacher, e.g. student creates – teacher gives feedback; student explores – teacher provides selected resources, guidance or useful links.
It is clear that a human-LD interface is required to provide a sustainable and useable basis for the implementation of IMS LD. This is critical not only for the purpose of authoring but perhaps even more importantly for retrieval and interpretation in reusing UoLs.
Some approaches like DialoguePlus and LearningMapR did not have some fundamental collaborative notions of learning identified, so I suggested to them to include in their models the notions of “defending” and “negotiating” knowledge – which are common themes in higher education learning.