About the Project

The Open University

The OU Learning Design Initiative (OULDI) started with institutional strategic funding in 2007 and has been funded by JISC under the Curriculum Design programme since September 2008. Our work is focused around several key questions:

In what ways can the efficiency and effectiveness of time spent designing learning be improved?
How can we capture and represent practice; and in particular innovative practice?
How can we provide ‘scaffolds’ or support for staff creating learning activities, which draw on good practice and make effective use of tools and pedagogies?
What does a quality design process look like?

Our aim is to develop and implement a methodology for learning design composed of tools, practice and other innovation that both builds upon, and contributes to, existing academic and practioner research. We have been working across several OU faculties and with 4 other universities to pilot curriculum design activities and relevant supporting tools and to contribute to the broader academic work in the subject. We have produced a range of tools which include:

CompendiumLD: software for creating and designing visual representations of a learning design. Support material includes an introductory sheet and videos, two tutorials and reference sheets.
Cloudworks: a social networking website used by indivduals and communities of practice for sharing and discussing learning and teaching ideas and designs.
Course Map: a template for creating an ‘at a glance’ representation view of a course or module (in paper or Excel formats)
Course Features Card Sort: around 45 cards to help module teams decide on and describe their course (available as standard printable cards)
Activity profile:  is designed to help teachers (and learners) map different types of learning activities across a course or sequence of learning events (in paper or Excel formats).
Information Literacies Facilitation Cards (OU): sets of cards relating to different academic levels that will help effectively integrate 4 information literacy skills areas into modules or programmes.

Additional outputs include:

Research and Reports: including interim project reports, Cloudworks development and use interim report, and updates from partners
Personal narratives: case studies of individuals talking about their use of the tools, design practices and ideas developed by the project.
Images and Photographs: examples of designs and photographs from workshops. From: Reading and Brunel
CloudEngine: the Cloudworks source code that can be installed on local systems

Our is underpinned by an ongoing programme of empirical work, aimed at getting a richer understanding of educational design processes. Data collected includes interviews, surveys, observations, web statistics, focus groups, as well as gathering data at workshops and other events we run. The Open University Learning Design Initiative project is funded by the JISC Institutional Approaches to Curriculum Design Programme until May 2012. After this date many of the project deliverables will continue as part of the university’s on going work or business processes.