Tuesday 13th Webinar

Today’s webinar is about the opportunities and challenges of learning design for student-directed learning. We will have a presentation from Dr Panos Vlachopoulos (Macquarie University, Australia) who will focus on how a more student-directed learning design can support and empower the creation of togetherness and belonging in a community of distance learners in formal higher education.

What do we know about student learning?

It can be Teacher focused, student focused, teacher or student centred/directed/self-directed. Here are 4 useful resources which each state different ideas about this …



1. ‘Freedom to Learn’ bu Carl Rogers – How people connect together – teacher as fellow learner must participate and think like them

2. ‘On Becoming an Innovative University Teacher’ by John Cannon – Student directed learning from reflected practice approach, where learning is open for discussion

3. ‘The Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning & Teaching’ by Stephen Brookfield. The University’s aim is to create student directed learners. Exercise control over their lives. Choose how they are assessed etc …

4. ‘Teaching as as a Science’ by Diana Laurillard – University/inistituion  – think and plan for student directed learning

So what it (student direct learning) means influences approach you take. Can we allow students to do this? How much will we let them take control of learning? Are we brave enough?

Education – is political andtherefore has expectations for society. Do we feel there is enough freedom/choice to allow us to start thinking about student directed learning?

Some of the comments on the chat screen are:

“Plenty of scope for informal learning”

“QA will take precedence …as long as there are specific learning objectives/outcomes and that these are achieved I think we should be able to use whatever methods each individual should be deem appropriate and they are happy using”

“useful to remember that learning design needs to compliment the environment – remember reading some papers on learning design in ‘command and control’ professions such as police/fireservice etc

” I agree with the last comment you made and self directed learning must fit into a well designed structure

” think there is too much financial consequence for enrolment and funds distribution for there to be too much student led learning.

Panos then said that we must allow negotiation of learning outcomes if students are to take control of learning. If it is to be truly student directed there should be a period of learning during the activity.




It was interesting in this analysis of the task that he presemted that the hightest value accredited was for the Async discovery task and the Async guided tasks.But both of these scored low for community building. This is becuse Community building is seen as a synchronous activity – but think when to do this – if doen early on it might stifle creativity by the learners or to do this later in teh activity.

Therefore students who are empowered from outset with carefully designed activity which allows them more freedom to learn will find their way of interacting without needing strict monitoring of tutor. This is important for future online education being flexible and open. This means that the Teacher is a facilitator and not the director. Is about shifting responsibilities and developing abilities on both sides. It comes down to the fact that student directed learnign is risky and unsettling so there is resistance in the institution. Learning becomes more personally significant.

In summary at the start of the course you need to build relationships nad give some sort of direction or agreement towards the way forward. As it progresses you can give learners more agency and you would move towards asynchronous discovery. It is a sort of student evolutionary process as they go through the discovery process towards their end goal.

Extras for interest … He uses the VLE – good space for dominant space (dynamic space) but is asyncronous and then allow students to use own blog areas. Use it to create ‘rooms’ that they need or but also give them options to open up to extra tools (Google Docs) etc…

SNAPP – create visual interactions by students – SNAPP is great starting point http://www.snappvis.org/

Shared links –





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