The following is being written after arriving at an answer to the question. However, it will hopefully echo the process and discussions we went through, at least as documented in the various online artefacts (this blog, some Google docs, Trello) we used to support the process.
EDU8702 is a course that’s been around for a while as a course specification (e.g. here’s the 2014 course specification), but – as I understand it – it’s never actually been taught. In 2017, a group of us from the newly formed Office for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching were given responsibility for implementing the course. We had to design the course from scratch.
How do we design the course? What particular course model (i.e. how do we implement it on the LMS/Study Desk) do we use? What pedagogical model (i.e. learning theories) do we use to guide all of that?
We spent a fair bit of time understanding the course and pondering how we might go around teaching it and what topics should be covered. Early on we identified Community of Inquiry and Chickering & Gamson’s 7 principles as possible examples of “pedagogical” frameworks/models that might help. Some of that is captured in this early post on this blog, including some mention of the “ramble” model.
The ramble model and its flaws
The ramble model has its origins in 2012 in this thinking about another course at USQ. It worked well enough that it became the foundation for that course through to 2016. Given its familiarity to one of us and perceptions of its advantages over other approaches on the LMS, it was a strong candidate for a way of organising the course LMS site.
But it isn’t with out its flaws. In particular, a recent perceived flaw is that the learning paths (as the rambles grew to be known) had lost their “ramble” flavour. They had become too much of a straight jacket. Also, there wasn’t a lot of explicit learning theory behind the design. There was a lot of implicit, but little explicit. There was also little in common from learning path to learning path which limits students familiarity. The paths were becoming too large as they were fixed in response to student problems.
If the ramble model was to be used was there a particular pedagogical model that could help structure the learning paths and hopefully improve learner engagement and learning? Especially a pedagogical model that connected with the content of the course, our understanding of the learners, improve the quality of the learning design, and required a workload appropriate to what was possible?