Unit 2 | Critiquing and Designing Digital Learning Resources

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash


In this unit, you will be engaging in a variety of learning and practice activities focused on supporting you to hand in a draft version of the digital learning resource you proposed in Unit 1. Before you build your draft resource, you will explore some additional resources about learning theory and consider what type of theory might influence your design choices. You will also learn more about the evaluation of digital learning resources and the technology choices you may or may not want to incorporate in your design.

Your team activity as part of this unit will provide you with an opportunity to co-create an evaluation rubric that will be used by your faculty member to grade Assignment 3. This collaborative activity, the building of a good rubric, will present opportunities for you and your team to consider what elements of the design of a digital learning resource might be measured, evaluated, and possibly improved with feedback (the building blocks of a well-designed rubric).

In Activity 4 of this unit you will learn more about open educational resources (OER). This learning may help you decide whether or not you want to build your resource as something available to other practitioners that they can use for their work. Finally, you will produce and turn in a draft (prototype) of your digital learning resource for review and feedback.

This Unit addresses Course Learning Outcome B: Design and create a digital learning resource and C: Critique a digital learning resource.

Learning Activities and Assignments

  • Activity 1 – Theory-Informed Learning Design
  • Activity 2 – Evaluating Digital Learning Resources
  • Activity 3 – Co-Creation and The Value of Peer Review
  • Activity 4 – Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Activity 5 – The Prototype Phase
  • Assignment 2 – Team Rubric and Peer Assessment
  • Assignment 3 – Prototype – Draft Digital Learning Resource

Activity 1 – Theory-Informed Learning Design

Before making any decisions about how to implement your ideas and the choice and use of various digital tools for your digital learning resource, you should also consider the various learning theories and instructional design principles applicable to your instructional context. Learning theories and instructional design principles provide a foundation for the use of digital technology in teaching and learning and can influence the choice of digital tools as well as the approach taken when creating digital learning resources.

You are probably already familiar with many of the prominent learning theories and instructional design principles at this point, but take a moment to read or re-read the following required articles and apply one or more of the learning theories described to your digital learning resource proposal (and your proposed learners) Anderson (2016), Bates (2015), and Kay and Knaack (2008). Another inspirational reference (optional) to consult, and then follow on with new learning theory explorations is Richard Millwood’s (2013) amazing diagram called simply Learning Theory.

If there are other theories you’ve explored as part of your other courses you are welcome to use any that resonate with you and that align with your proposed resource.

Take Action

Draw or use a favourite concept mapping tool to begin to diagram connections from learning theory and instructional design (ID) frameworks to your proposed learning resource. You will add to your diagram to the Unit 2 Discussion Forum after completing Activity 2 below. Explain the elements of learning theory and ID frameworks that you believe influence and can connect with your proposal. Include theories and practices that are relevant in your professional context and the context of your learners.

Activity 2 – Evaluating Digital Learning Resources

At this point in the course you probably have many ideas for potential resource solutions and you may have already identified some digital tools that can be used to create your digital learning resource. If you are looking for some ideas for digital tools, you can start by looking at the list of common tools for learning provided by Jane Hart. Take some time to check them out and consider which could fulfill the requirements you have identified.

The next step in the design thinking process is to narrow down your ideas and to select the most promising ones. When dealing with the creation of a digital learning resource, there are a variety of theoretical frameworks that can be used to help you make effective decisions about the choice and use of various digital tools. Some prominent frameworks include the SECTIONS model (Bates, 2015), Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) model (Koehler, Mishra & Cain, 2013, and the Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) model (Hamilton, Rosenberg, & Akcaoglu, 2016). You may already be familiar with most of these frameworks, so please skim the articles as needed for a review of the models. An additional resource for you to explore is Anstey and Watson’s (2018) Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation.

Take Action

Consider how you might be able to apply one or more of these technology evaluation frameworks to narrow down your resource design ideas. Select one or more frameworks and add to your drawing or concept map (related to learning theory and instructional design frameworks above). Share your diagram in the Unit 2 Discussion Forum – Connecting Theory, Instructional Design Frameworks, and Educational Technology Evaluation Tools to Users and Resources and provide feedback on postings from your peers.

Activity 3 – Co-Creation and The Value of Peer Review

While the majority of the content and activities for this course were pre-designed, before you began the course as an element of quality assurance, one element was left as a task of co-creation for you in partnership with a team – creating a rubric to be used to evaluate Assignment 3. The purpose of this activity is to provide you with a collaborative task to practice teamwork and a voice in the criteria that will be used for some of the assessment in the course. Hopefully part of your learning will be relevant for how you design your digital learning resource. You may consider including a learner-created option or component as a means of empowerment and engagement.

Bovill (2019) contends that there is great value in what she describes as “whole-class co-creation” activities, versus select group co-creation (often students that are already excelling in their comprehension and assessment in the course). Take the time for a deep read of this article and include some of the findings and discussion in your Assignment 2 written summary (if you and your team agree they have value).

In their article Improving the Quality of Assessment Grading Tools in Master of Education Courses, Christie, Grainger, Dahlgren, Call, Heck, & Simon. (2015) provided some insight on the value of rubrics in the context of postgraduate education. The specific context of their research was Master of Education study, and they argued, “…Master of Education courses can be improved…via a shared understanding of assessment principles and a reform of existing assessment practices, including the instruments used to grade student work” (Christie, et al, 2015, p. 30). As you read, consider in what ways the elements of your team rubric might reflect evidence-based research.

Designing Learning and Assessment in a Digital Age by Ferrell, Smith, and Knight (2018) contains great broad-based advice for the design of digital learning resources. In particular, for Activity 3, review the chapter and and explore some of the additional resources in the Assessment portion of their work.

A final reading for this activity is Kearney’s (2013) exploration of the use of self- and peer assessment as a means of improving engagement. While it is only a small element of your grade for this course, your evaluation of peer support and contribution in the team task may provide a moment for you to consider in your professional context and in the design of your digital learning resource the value and challenges of peer assessment components.

Take Action

Using collaboration tools, meeting options, and rubric design mediums you and your Team prefer, design and submit a co-created rubric according to the instructions for Assignment 2. Be certain to complete a written summary of your work citing relevant literature, and complete the reflection and peer review task.

Activity 4 – Open Educational Resources (OER)

OER is Sharing by Giulia Forsythe is in the public domain

You may already be familiar with open educational resources in your work, certainly you will have seen these resources in your MALAT courses. All of the basic content of each course in the program is licensed as follows:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License unless otherwise noted.

You can use the link above to explore what that means if you’re not certain. If you’d like to learn more about OER, and consider the possibility of designing your digital learning resources as an OER, explore the following OpenLearn (n.d.) open course, Creating Open Educational Resources with a particular focus on Unit 1 – What is open learning and why OERs?

Additional (optional) Resources

  • Creating Open Educational Resources – Covers the basics of what are OER, what are open licenses, how do you create OER, where can you host OER, the importance of providing editable technical formats, and links to some examples.
  • Open Licensing for Instructors – Provides a good primer on licensing considerations and Creative Commons licenses.

Take Action

Consider whether or not you would want to design your digital learning resource as an OER. Form some questions and some rationale one way of the other and you will engage in discussion with your classmates in the Unit 2 Collaborate session.

Activity 5 – The Prototype Phase

By taking into consideration the theoretical frameworks and the learning theories and instructional design principles you have reviewed, you should be able to select at least one promising idea for a digital learning resource that you think would meet the needs of your end user. Examples include, but are not limited to, the creation of an instructional module, a series of learning objects, a series of tutorials, an app, or any other tool, technology, or resource of your choice. You need to begin to build a prototype based on the following concepts (these should be included in your evolving Design Note as you go):

  • Description: Clearly and concisely describe the purpose of your digital learning resource.
  • Learning Goals: Clearly describe the intended learning goals of the digital learning resource.
  • Intended Audience: Identify the intended audience for your digital learning resource.
  • Rationale: Explain how the digital resource will solve your problem of practice and meet the needs of the intended audience.
  • Tools: Provide a summary of the tools that you would like to use to develop your digital learning resource and clearly justify why you would like to use them using one or more educational technology evaluation models.
  • Assessment/Evaluation Plan: Describe any assessments that you will use to ensure the audience has achieved the intended learning goals (if applicable), and/or any evaluation methods that will be used to measure the effectiveness of the digital learning resource.
  • Learning Theories & Instructional Design Principles Used: Identify the specific learning theories and instructional design principles that you will use in the creation of your digital learning resource and include an explanation of how the theories and principles will inform the design of your digital learning resource.
  • Instructions for Use: Clearly and concisely outline instructions for use of your digital learning resource.
  • Plan for Use: Describe how the digital learning resource will be used. If it is an open resource, how will you share it publicly, and if it is not an open resource, why not, and how it will be shared/used in context etc.

You are encouraged to share your evolving Design on your course blog and seek feedback from your peers and your Users (if you have easy access) and your course peers as you iterate.

One strategy that you can use to seek (and provide) feedback, which is often used in the design process is the “I Like, I Wish, What If” method. Using this method, you can provide open feedback by providing three types of statements for your peer:

  • “I Like…” statements convey the aspects that you like about the draft design plan
  • “I Wish…” statements share ideas about how the draft design plan could potentially be enhanced or modified
  • “What if…” statements express new suggestions that might not have a direct link to the draft design plan, but might open up possibilities for new ideas that your peer can explore

Another strategy you can use for peer feedback of the draft design plans is a Feedback Capture Grid, which includes four quadrants to note your likes, wishes, questions and ideas. You can use the following template to guide your feedback if you choose to use this method.

Consider making your digital learning resource open so that it is publically accessible for others to copy, use, adapt and share. Please refer to the OER resources in Activity 4 from this unit.

Take Action

Combine the readings and tasks, learning and feedback of the course to date to create your draft digital learning resource for Assignment 3.

Assignment 2 – Co-Created Rubrics for Evaluating Digital Learning Resources

The purpose of this assignment is to provide you and your team an opportunity to design a rubric for the assessment of Assignment 3 – the Draft Digital Learning Resource and Design Note. Peer review of resources in the context of graduate education is a critical component of learning and this assignment will support you and your team to practice researching and debating how “high quality” might be defined in the context of digital learning resources. This assignment helps determine your achievement of course Learning Outcome C – critique a digital learning resource.

Assignment 3 – Draft Digital Learning Resource and Design Note

The purpose of this assignment is to create a draft of the digital learning resource you proposed to create in Assignment 1. Based on feedback from your faculty member for Assignment 1, you will refine your idea (Ideation) and create a prototype of your design based on your reflection of your problem of practice, your exploration of learning theory that informs design, and what you have continued to learn from the potential users of your resource. You will add information about your Empathy, Ideate, and Prototype design phases to your original Design Note. This assignment helps determine your achievement of course Learning Outcome B – design and create a digital learning resource.


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