Learning Design Voices offers the work of authors located in 13 countries. With over 30 chapters and 50 authors, Learning Design Voices is not a simple ‘how to’ book. It aims to show the challenges, tensions, excitement and innovation in learning design.
What might learning design become in the post-COVID university?
In this provocation, Sue explores the field of learning design, where it has come from and how it has shaped the field. Questions of learning designer identity and roles come into play, and how this will look in the future in universities.
The role of learning designers
In the South African context, learning design and the specific job title of “learning designer” has recently become more prevalent. The value of learning designers is also becoming increasingly recognised. Yet, while learning designers have become more prominent, often leading course teams in blended and online course development, their status in a university is still something that is being established and negotiated.
It took a pandemic to help us contextualise the value of learning designers in higher education
Much has been written about burnout, the difference between a learning engineer and a learning designer, and the plight of adjunct faculty. We wanted to find out how those whose role was within the learning design domain experienced compassion fatigue and burnout. Stories illuminated the notions of identity that are intertwined with the idea of learning design practice, work-life balance, and personal and professional selves. Through review of relevant literature and interviews and focus groups that examined the ways in which the participants experienced compassion fatigue and burnout during the pandemic, the following themes emerged: 1) toxic work environment, 2) care and fatigue, and 3) life-work balance. This exploratory study gives insights into the interconnectedness between identity, care, and life-work balance that learning designers in higher education experience. Before and during the pandemic, learning designers have led with an ethic of care; now we, the broader educational community, needs to care for them. Recommendations include supporting time-blocking calendars, communicating clearly to supervisors what the current workload is, and educating leadership so that they better understand the work.
Open learning designers on the margins
Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, learning designers and adjacent professionals worked closely with educators to develop technologically supported and enhanced learning opportunities – often particularly within online education spaces, though increasingly also in blended learning contexts. In the rush of pandemic mitigation, educational equity fault lines were exposed and exacerbated, as classroom-based teaching was rapidly redeployed into online and digital spaces. The authors offer this chapter as a reflection of their work as learning designers, but also as practitioners of open education, as part of a necessary collective effort to do better, through the open sharing of strategies, discoveries, questions and uncertainties. Here we propose the application of the concept of third space to illuminate the position of learning designers in higher education, especially as they attempt to navigate and negotiate a practice of open(ing) learning design that is intentional, equitable and reflective. Third space is explored as both a site of identity-building for learning designers and as a challenging, liminal, boundary-spanning location for learning design practice. We share some principles of open learning design and learner readiness. We share a contextual application for learning that prioritises students in the learning equation. As learning designers, we suggest that, to engage and inspire learning, our practice must be grounded on ethical considerations for human care, equity, criticality and openness.
The pedagogical advisor as a weaver of the learning design process
This chapter proposes that learning design is interdisciplinary teamwork which depends on and is influenced by two key aspects: the characteristics of university teachers, and the attributes of their universities. My argument is derived from working as a pedagogical advisor in four Colombian universities over the last 14 years, where I collaborated with university teachers designing courses aimed at undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. This chapter presents a reflection on learning design in virtual, blended and face-to-face environments in Colombian higher education institutions. The first section provides background context on higher education in Colombia and briefly describes the concepts of “learning design” and “instructional design”, highlighting how each of the two approaches can guide the team responsible for learning experiences. The second section is about the characteristics of university teachers. Given that “university teachers” do not make up a homogeneous category (Hernandez et al., 2009), the most important thing to consider about them is what defines them individually. The first consideration is their teaching skills and training needs. The second is teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning, and the third aspect concerns the multiple literacies demanded by incorporating ICTs into teaching. The third section describes the institutional contexts and attributes of the educational institution as determinants of learning design, particularly as relates to policies that emphasise educational innovation and teacher support. The fourth section concludes by describing how the pedagogical advisor works as a link between teacher and institution to develop an appropriate plan in a way that responds to both the needs of the teacher and the requests of the institution in a coherent way.
“I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for my whole career”: Learning through mimicry and mentoring
Given the growing demand for learning design skills in South Africa and worldwide, a clear view of how the typical South African learning designers are currently hired and trained is increasingly important. As a pair of independent learning designers with over a decade of global experience, we have a unique perspective on how learning designers across the world are trained, and how this training reflects in the quality and impact of their work. We have further conducted surveys and interviews to define the profile, training, and responsibilities of South African learning designers in different sectors. We then used this data to identify key gaps in our national learning design skillset and suggest interventions to address these gaps. Our research shows that South African learning designers are typically not formally educated in learning design and often feel like they must master divergent skillsets if they wish to be marketable in their new professions. We further outline how learning designers’ profiles, responsibilities and skills differ across the secondary education, higher education, corporate and agency sectors. Finally, we discuss the impact of this on a South African learning designer’s ability to excel in their role and find stability in their employment.
Indigenous learning practices: Creating reflective spaces for growth and transformation
Western ways of “knowing” and “being” have dominated higher education for many centuries, contributing to the perpetuation of existing practices and voices within political and economic systems. In higher education / university / wānanga contexts, there is a need for learning design approaches that invite educators and learners to engage in diverse knowledge practices other than those associated with Western traditions, especially for learners who would benefit from education grounded in indigenous learning practices. This chapter focuses on a course that is founded on an indigenous te ao Māori worldview to illustrate the significant learning that can occur in an authentic, locally situated and context-specific practice environment. Its learning design showcases a way of decolonising the curriculum, learning environment and health professional education and practice. Interviews and observations with teaching staff and students informed the analysis of this hybrid learning environment. Taking an ecological approach grounded in practice theory, the analysis draws on the Activity-Centred Analysis and Design framework to examine how an assemblage of elements (including tools, tasks and social design elements of the course) influences its emergent activities. Four distinct learning activities from the noho marae (overnight stay) are described and evaluated using a learning design framework through an iterative process of “zooming in” and “zooming out”. The chapter provides operational details for learning design and argues that authentic, locally contextualised, culturally respectful learning practices can be highly effective for learners and their subsequent graduate practice. This design is in alignment with UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of good health and well-being (SDG3) and quality education (SDG4).
Compassionate learning design for unsettling times
Staff mental health has already been of concern globally before COVID-19. It has heightened interest in pedagogical approaches that would foreground the affective component of learning and teaching. Examples of these approaches are humanising online pedagogies, pedagogueies of care or trauma-informed pedagogy. In this piece, Daniela reflects on these approaches and the need to intentionally build these pedagogies into the learning design process.
Strategies for sustainable learning design: A response to Daniela Gachago’s “Learning Design Voices” provocation
Gachago (2023) proposes Compassionate Learning Design as a way to humanise education. However, much of the work relating to humanising pedagogies paints the perfect utopia. Only if learning designers and educators who do learning design work establish what is real and achievable in their own contexts as existing systems are well-entrenched and take time to shift, that we can promote a future where care, equity and justice are an integral part of learning design.
Critical compassionate learning design: Cases from South Africa and Egypt
This chapter explores the concept of compassionate learning design, which is influenced by humanising pedagogies and trauma-informed approaches, with a focus on equity and care. The authors define compassionate learning design as a critical praxis that results from a desire to enhance learner participation and promote social justice while acknowledging the significance of care and affect. The goal is to achieve "parity of participation," ensuring that all learners, including the most marginalised, have the opportunity to be involved in decision-making within their learning experiences. The authors share three case studies from universities in South Africa and Egypt and analyse their approaches to supporting educators with emergency remote teaching and learning. The cases provide a basis for reflection and analysis rather than providing prescriptive examples. The authors developed a framework based on their earlier work on design dimensions for context-sensitive networked professional development and theories of social justice to reflect on their own teaching and learning practices and hope that these may inform others' practices going forward.
Humanising online learning through the lens of engaged pedagogy
The chapter will focus on humanising with technology, learning and spaces, regardless of context. Careful consideration will be given to multiple modalities of connection with students, providing as much flexibility as possible. As learning technologists, our work focuses on inclusion, diversity and accessibility, and, whilst it is underpinned by critical digital pedagogy (Stommel, 2014) and pedagogy of care (Noddings, 1995), it is deeply rooted in practicality, ensuring care for ourselves as educators as well as for students. We will view learning design through the lens of bell hooks’ “engaged pedagogy” (1994, 2003). We have facilitated several events on ‘care’, specifically critically exploring the narratives of resilience and well-being. At the core of these events was the exploration of how educators can care for themselves and students in the face of difficulties and an increased emphasis on the “banking model” in higher education (Freire, 1970). The outputs from these discussions and contributions as well as our lived experiences are collated here under three broad categories: presence, socialisation and engagement, and digital (un)tethering and self-care. “Presence” will explore perceptions of visibility and highlight the benefits and dangers of students occupying online spaces. “Socialisation and engagement” will examine differing views of how student engagement is enacted and how designing humanistic approaches can help build a strong learner community. “Digital (un)tethering and self-care” will highlight the importance of designing in self-care and implementing activities that ensure flexibility, autonomy and social contributions to help circumvent overload and burnout.
Harnessing the student experience for inclusive online learning design
Traditionally, student leadership development within the co-curricular space has been a synchronous and in-person learning process. However, the advent of COVID-19 created a catalyst for the adoption of online learning in the co-curricular space. This chapter explores the theory and practice of online learning design from a student development practitioner perspective by means of a case study at the University of Cape Town. The case study serves to demonstrate the humanising of learning design practices using a participatory curriculum development process and adopting a students-as-partners approach. Furthermore, the case study concludes by reflecting on the benefits and challenges experienced by incorporating a participatory curriculum development approach into a learning design process.
“Open Mind, Open Heart and Open Will” – Applying Theory U for developing meaningful learning in the context of COVID-19
In this interview, Sandhya Gunness and Rubina Rampersad from the University of Mauritius, discuss their adoption of a Theory U approach to learning design during the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion unfolds to reveal the unique challenges faced by the small island of Mauritius, with a shrinking student population and the emergence of private universities. The interview delves into the equity concerns arising from the shift to online learning, highlighting the challenges faced by their course participants in their own individual teaching contexts. The interviewees surface the subtleties of societal differences in Mauritius acknowledging the challenges and nuances within their community. The core of the interview revolves around the Theory U approach adopted for their education leadership module, emphasising the importance of building relationships over the duration of the course and creating supportive learning environments for adult learners. Sandhya and Rubina share their experiences of creating a space for open communication, vulnerability, and intense collaboration. The emphasis on care, empathy, and meeting students where they are becomes a key takeaway for learning designers, highlighting the necessity of building relationships and adapting to diverse student needs.
Designing and adapting for community with Intentionally Equitable Hospitality
In August 2020, Equity Unbound collaborated with OneHE to curate community building resources for online teaching. We, Maha and Mia, together with Autumn Caines, in our roles as leaders of Equity Unbound and Virtually Connecting, were the lead curators. The resources themselves were a response to multiple global inequities. In the context of the pandemic, community building was more important and urgent than ever, it needed to happen online and few people knew how to do it well. The OneHE-Equity Unbound resources were created and shared with Intentionally Equitable Hospitality (IEH) with the following in mind: anticipating potential inequalities faced by learners and offering adaptations for educators according to their own context. Diverse educators from the Global South and North were involved, so the creation itself was an inclusive process. In this chapter, we start by describing Intentionally Equitable Hospitality (IEH) followed by our experiences of practising it when doing introductory activities, warm-up activities and finally ongoing engagement and Liberating Structures.
Equity is not an add-on: Designing an inclusive training course for EdTech Advisors
A key challenge of online learning environments is exclusionary practices that continuously result in some students falling behind academically. As a way to begin to address this challenge, the University of Cape Town is rethinking approaches to redesigning courses in order to improve student learning outcomes. By extending support to teaching staff, the Redesigning Blended Courses (RBC) project trained and deployed a cadre of postgraduate students as Educational Technology (EdTech) Advisors. Universal Design for Learning principles and a commitment to social justice underpinned the training, which was designed by members of the RBC project. The training provided an opportunity to examine the concepts of accessibility and inclusivity, both theoretically and practically through learning scenarios, and to guide the EdTech Advisors in their work with learning designers. What made the design of the training particularly challenging was its ambitious goal of preparing EdTech Advisors for a dynamic role that is emergent and still in flux. In this chapter, we critically reflect on the design and implementation of the EdTech Advisor training. We highlight the importance of collaboration and integrating explicit learning design approaches from the outset, both of which are important elements for equity-oriented course design, as well as thinking about authentic learning opportunities for students. A potential benefit of this study is to improve EdTech Advisors’ training, enhancing their knowledge and skills in order to better support course teams in redesigning courses.
Promoting community and collaboration: Models underpinning an academic professional learning
This chapter examines the theoretical frameworks and models that underpin the design and facilitation of an academic professional learning short course at a research-intensive public university in South Africa. These principles for learning design and facilitation can be applied in a variety of learning contexts to promote community and collaboration. The “Facilitating Online” short course is facilitated through the adoption of an “ethic of care” perspective that promotes modelling, dialogue and the adoption of a critical digital pedagogy stance. The design and facilitation of the course is underpinned by the Community of Inquiry framework for online and blended learning that talks to the importance of three pronounced presences: teacher, social and cognitive. In our view, learning is a social phenomenon that manifests through collaboration between facilitators and participants. We focused on the establishment of a digital community to create safe spaces for learning to occur. Throughout the course, the need for active and responsive facilitation is emphasised. This is modelled for participants to encourage adoption within their own courses and for their own students. The chapter contributes a view of how frameworks and models can be used to inform the learning design and facilitation of courses that emphasise the importance of community and collaboration within a local institutional context.
How to insert design into the emergency online response – learning designers’ reflections
Like most other countries, South Africa experienced hard lockdown restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Higher education institutions across the country, including the University of Cape Town (UCT), were closed and teaching and learning moved online. In this chapter, we, two online learning designers at the Center for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) at UCT, document our experiences rapidly developing a short online course: the “Design Studio” for teaching staff during this unplanned pivot to take their teaching online. Our roles as online learning designers positioned us as experts to provide our reflections and lessons learnt through our practice designing and teaching on the short course that may resonate with the curriculum and course development sector globally. In Design Studio, we made use of three of Meyers’ strategies for reimaging online spaces as opportunities for transformative learning for students by creating a safe environment, encouraging participants to think about their experiences, beliefs and biases, and adopting teaching strategies that promoted engagement and participation. Critical reflection and orientations to student-centred design, specifically, Universal Design for Learning underpinned design choices in order to both support participants and model good practice.
The challenge of designing learning experiences
Learning activities engage students in the learning process and support them with achieving the intended learning outcomes. A critical analysis of design challenges in relation to pedagogy, technology, and content is presented based on theoretical aspects. A series of authentic scenarios have been included to stimulate reflective thinking of educators and those in the field.
Navigating the learning design landscape: A response to Shironica Karunanayaka’s “The challenge of designing learning experiences” 
Shironica Karunanayaka’s provocation, “The challenge of designing learning experiences’, articulates a selection of challenges and opportunities around the creation of learning activities. She asserts the importance of designing “learning activities with a clear purpose and supported with a strong theoretical view of how learning occurs’. This response invites the reader to consider the section in relation to three questions: What theoretical resources does each chapter bring to your learning design work and how do these theories intersect in your current landscape? How does the context from which this work emerges reflect or diffract aspects of your context? What does each chapter demand of us, as readers, as professionals? And how do we feel about those demands?
Adaptable ABC: Learning design for all
ABC Learning Design (ABC LD) was devised to offer educators an accessible and re-usable mechanism to plan blended and online learning experiences. ABC LD is fundamentally a framework and a curriculum development workshop to enable collaborative learning design. In approximately 90 minutes teaching teams work together to create a visual ‘storyboard’ of the various learning activities and assessments required to meet module or programme learning outcomes. This chapter was co-authored by teaching support professional staff who are deeply involved with the use, promotion, and adaptation of the ABC LD framework at Dublin City University (DCU), Ireland. They first share their individual reflections on how their philosophy of learning has evolved. The three authors will then describe how that thinking has influenced their institution’s adaptations of ABC LD by: harmonising Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and ABC, enabling meaningful student partnership in the design process, and empowering sometimes marginalised or isolated academics in course design decisions. Finally, the chapter collates local and international ABC resources that can be used – and indeed further adapted – by those who may think along similar lines.
Using Laurillard’s learning types as a lens for course design in a chemical engineering undergraduate course
The COVID-19 pandemic created a series of conditions that required the redesign of a Chemical Engineering course at a university of technology. Faced with constrained access to digital infrastructure, limited digital literacies and historically poor preparedness for engineering as a field of study, I sought to create a learning design that mitigated both the long-standing challenges of the context and the more immediate constraints posed by emergency remote teaching. This chapter discusses the application of Diana Laurillard's six learning types in the context of emergency remote learning in a second-year chemical engineering course. The learning types, Acquisition, Inquiry, Practice, Discussion, Collaboration, and Production, are connected to analogue and digital learning activities. Laurillard's framework is used to design a varied and responsive learning environment that includes digital tools such as YouTube, Zoom, WhatsApp, and others. The chapter reflects on the challenges faced during remote teaching, emphasising the importance of connection and community. Strategies like the "Buddy System" and building teacher presence through various tools are discussed. The study concludes with insights into the transformative learning experience, advocating for a continued shift towards innovative and flexible teaching approaches in the post-pandemic era.
Weathering the storm by using the Rapid Development Prototype model in online course design
In 2020, higher education institutions (HEIs) globally were faced with a new storm and none were adequately prepared to sail it. As Travis Meadows puts it: “Peace is not found in a calmer storm, it’s found in a better boat”, so too did HEIs have to look for better “boats” to weather the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic. To rapidly adjust from the traditional face-to-face modes of delivery to online learning, many HEIs had to adopt a model of rapid online course development. The shift to online learning fundamentally altered the environment in which institutions offering distance forms of higher education function — having a knock-on effect on their practices. This chapter provides a brief overview of the Rapid Development Prototype model and the experience of using it in online course design at a Namibian higher learning institution — the University of Namibia. Through the rapid model, instructional designers were better able to deliver the current needs of students at a rapid process to minimise interruptions to their learning.
Development of a blended course for continued teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: Experience and lessons
In this chapter, we share our collaborative practices of developing a Master in Information Systems course at Makerere University in Uganda at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The course development process involved a team of course developers and aimed to support teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic while promoting transformative pedagogy. The chapter provides an analysis of the course development approach used, the value of evaluation of blended courses as part of the development process, a proposed checklist of key aspects to consider when developing a blended course as well as lessons learned in the first-time journey to developing a blended course. We hope that this practice-based account can motivate and guide less-experienced but enthusiastic course teams in developing blended courses infused with transformative pedagogy, especially in countries like Uganda where e-learning adoption is still in its infancy, and transmissive pedagogy is largely the preferred approach to teaching and learning.
E-Learning tools for contrasting contexts
The historical background in South Africa has played a significant role in creating large gaps in the integration of technology in higher education institutions. Students from historically disadvantaged communities often remain marginalised with limited opportunities for online learning. In this chapter we unpack the different contexts within the country, describe their living circumstances and how this impacts on their exposure to online learning. We provide suitable intervention strategies that can be used to demonstrate how lessons can be adapted to achieve outcomes by adapting pedagogies and e-learning tools. The basis of these proposed interventions are governed by the SAMR technology integration model, ideas around humanising pedagogies and the reflective practice of our student feedback from different contexts.
Reflecting on the knowledge-identity nexus in the learning design of an online postgraduate short course
Learning design in higher education seeks to promote the development of learning experiences that enable students to meet the outcomes of a course while actively engaging in learning. The form that learning design takes should ideally differ depending on, among other reasons, who the learner is, the purpose of the course and where the learning will take place. In this chapter, I reflect on the development of a fully online Introduction to NVivo short course for postgraduate students at a university in South Africa. I draw on one of several distinguishing characteristics of postgraduate education – the knowledge-identity nexus – to frame the learning design of the course. My main argument is that postgraduate education poses a unique set of challenges for learning designers, and an awareness of these differences should ideally foreground learning design practices at this level.
"My Choice, My Voice!": Exploring the intersection of technology and pedagogy to foster learner-centred learning
The present chapter offers an in-depth exploration of students' experiences in an online learning environment developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the study entailed the creation of a comprehensive online English Writing course tailored for 20 undergraduate students at a Turkish state university that transitioned to fully or partially online education formats in March 2020. Emphasising meticulous attention to crucial factors such as academic knowledge, technology skills, cultural values, and socioeconomic status, the design process encompasses both micro-level and macro-level perspectives. Through a carefully sequenced progression of eight learning steps, the study explored various dimensions including learning needs, autonomy, content knowledge, learning awareness, and self-assessment and self-reflection skills. Drawing upon data gathered from surveys and student writings, the findings demonstrated that an emergent learning design process effectively facilitated and enhanced students' writing skills through scaffolding implemented at each relevant step. Furthermore, the findings underscored the significance of adopting a responsive design approach and incorporating diverse forms of interaction in online learning environments. The chapter concludes by providing an illustrative diagram outlining a responsive approach, comprising four key stages: pre-design, implementation, evaluation, and redesign considerations. Additionally, the chapter imparts pedagogical implications derived from activities that foster interaction among students, their instructor, and the learning context.
A trip to the supermarket: Towards authentic learning design in mathematics for underprepared first years
This chapter describes the design principles and outcomes of a learning intervention to improve the mathematics abilities related to mental arithmetic and arithmetic/operational skills to solve simple mathematics amongst a group of underprepared first-year Information Technology students at a large university of technology in the Western Cape, South Africa. Although these students had passed mathematics in the South African matriculation examinations, a university placement test showed that their ability in mathematics lay at Grade 6 school level. They had very little understanding of the basic concepts of mathematics as well as a general fear of the subject. Mathematics proficiency of South African school-leavers is generally poor and unequally distributed. The key drivers resulting in poor mathematics results include fear of mathematics, poor teaching, and inadequate resources. Authentic learning offers a means by which the mathematics proficiency of school-leavers can be addressed. Contextualisation develops mathematics concepts and authentic problems can be aligned with students’ careers. The use of everyday objects allows practical exploration, contributing to realistic mathematics. In a mixed method, sequential exploratory study, a series of learning events were designed using the Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate (ADDIE) model. Following the principles of authentic learning, students were given online learning tasks followed by a field trip to a supermarket, where they were exposed to everyday items of various sizes and proportions. With the aid of worksheets, they learned about proportions and fractions. While only 41.27% of the students passed the pre-test, 71.45% passed the post-test. A qualitative analysis of their interview responses showed an increase in their motivation and confidence to complete the subject. The chapter concludes with recommendations for the design of authentic learning experiences in mathematics, as well as suggestions for further development and research.
Design principles for developing critique and academic argument in a blended-learning data visualisation course
This chapter explores the challenges experienced by second-year journalism students in developing academic argument in a data visualisation course. The course focused on representing arguments that drew on aspects of educational inequality in Cape Town. Data is increasingly produced and circulated visually; and the means to generate data visualisations are becoming increasingly accessible. It is thus important to develop critical tools to engage with these kinds of texts. The chapter describes the principles for learning design that were employed to improve the blended-learning course into one that better supported students’ development as critical designers and engaged citizens. Some of the principles included delimiting the scope of the task, encouraging the use of readily accessible design tools, introducing a process approach, developing meta-languages of critique, and acknowledging different audiences. The chapter ends by analysing the work of two students in light of these learning design principles. We discuss some of the gains and losses of moving from one digital format to another (PowerPoint to poster), the ways in which students adapt texts to different audiences and platforms, and the emergence of a meta-level critique of the data sources.
Rethinking and recasting the textbook: Reframing learning design with open educational practices
Many notable developments have taken place in the evolution of open educational practices (OEP). Among these, we focus on two in particular. First is the proliferation of the use of open textbooks, which have become a major component within OEP. Second, there are ongoing efforts at rethinking learning design in the context of open education. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss how we challenged ourselves to rethink learning designs that can result from a rethinking of open textbooks as educational artefact. We position this in the context of centering equity and social justice in learning design through both challenging single narratives and taking advantage of the affordances of an open textbook. As part of this discussion and challenge, we outline a design-based research project where we are developing a prototype for a community-generated, non-hierarchical teaching and learning resource (“untextbook”) model that is open to ongoing extension and reframing. As we engage in the development of an organic, fluid resource, we invite learners to participate in ongoing cycles of extending and reframing the existing content to open new learning pathways prompted by considerations of relevant issues, lenses, roles and settings in a WordPress-based authoring tool. These cycles include a research project that is in the process of obtaining feedback and reflections from graduate students involved in courses where the prototype is being implemented.
The digital divide and the accessibility of print-based learning materials
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a rapid shift of face-to-face classes to online classes. Furthermore, globally, distance education is shifting towards online education. In the context of Namibia, characterised by high levels of unequal access to limited resources, I, an instructional designer at a Namibian university, maintain that the retention of conventional distance models, and the production of print study materials is key to both access and equity. While going digital reduces costs for the institution in some ways, it reduces the opportunities for students with limited access to digital infrastructure and digital literacies. Moving away from printed guides towards online-only materials widens the digital divide.
Ten principles of alternative assessment
Assessment design is an integral part of learning design. This work came to life due to the demand for alternative ways of assessing students highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This chapter presents a summary of ten principles for alternative assessment in higher education. The chapter is divided into four sections. In this first section, I locate myself and describe the context of the chapter. In the second section, I provide a brief background of why this chapter is needed. In the third section, I describe the theoretical frameworks that inspired my work. The last section contains a description of each of the principles. Within the description, there are concrete examples and resources that will help readers in the process of rethinking their assessment design. This chapter is significant to higher education educators as well as educational developers.
Reimagining authentic online assessment for large classes in a low-tech environment
The chapter is divided into two parts. The first part discusses the theoretical framework of authentic assessment proposed by Ashford-Rowe et al. (2014) and presents two case studies on student presentations to illustrate the principles of the framework. The second part addresses practical considerations for designing authentic online assessments in the South African higher education context, specifically for large classes with limited resources. The chapter provides practical examples based on the author's experience working with academics from various disciplines. The concept of authentic assessment is explored, emphasising its alignment with workplace demands. The eight principles identified by Ashford-Rowe et al. (2014) are outlined, providing guidance for the design of authentic assessments. The chapter further examines how authentic online assessment can be implemented effectively, considering the affordances of technology in a low-tech environment. Two case studies, focusing on video presentations and poster presentations, demonstrate how authentic online assessments can be integrated into courses. Challenges related to internet access and device availability are discussed, along with strategies such as flexible deadlines and alternative submission methods. Overall, this chapter aims to present a comprehensive understanding of authentic online assessment in a resource-constrained context, offering practical insights and recommendations for educators and academic developers in South Africa and similar environments.
Inclusive online assessment practices in distance learning education explored through autoethnographic narrative vignettes
Discovering new approaches to inclusive online assessment is a major concern for many educational institutions especially in online and distance learning settings. This chapter explores effective strategies used in the Teaching Life Sciences module of a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) programme offered through distance learning by a private higher education institution in South Africa. We identify and examine five inclusive online assessment practices namely, conversational, practical, collaborative, reflective and applicational. We also offer examples of each of these practices, based on our experience in the Teaching Life Sciences module. Drawing on these experiences and the unprecedented events of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we explore what the future holds for inclusive online assessment practices with a focus on maintaining academic rigour and validity while ensuring that student agency and freedom are not compromised.