Archive for the ‘instructional design’ Category

The 2minuteMoodle motto
“Where before there was a spectator, let there now be a participant.” ~ Jerome Bruner 

Scaffolding can be characterised as acting on this motto (Bransford et al, 2000), and the aim of the 2minuteMoodle is to provide students additional scaffolding in the learning and teaching process at CQUniversity.

What is scaffolding?
In educational setting, scaffolding is a metaphor used to describe learner support mechanisms, which may be delivered by human and/or embedded in computer-based technological tools. Proponents such as Shaphiro suggest that scaffolding provides learners with a “support structure that aids them in attaining a higher level of achievement” (2008, p. 29).

What is involved in instructional scaffolding?
Scaffolding involves a number of activities and tasks. Here are some examples adapted from Bransford et al ( 2000): 

  • Motivating students, by recruiting student’s interest to the task.
  • Identifying critical features of objects to be learned.
  • Providing some direction in order to help the students focus on achieving the goal.
  • Demonstrating and defining the activity to be performed.
  • Simplifying the task to make it more manageable and achievable for students.
  • Controlling frustrations and risks, e.g. providing guidelines for engagement.

How to provide additional scaffolding for students?
The 2minuteMoodle approach provides some quick and easy scaffolding techniques, which involves preparing and recording answers to the following questions on a weekly basis:

The 2minuteMoodle instructional scaffolding approach

The 2minuteMoodle instructional scaffolding approach

Next, do the following:

  1. Choose the media type for the delivery, e.g. audio or video
  2. Do the recording – duration must be two minutes
  3. Provide access on the Moodle course site and/or via RSS
  4. Test that the file is accessible.

Note: It might help to refer to the activities and tasks for instructional scaffolding listed above.

Why two minutes?
It is assumed that other scaffolding techniques are already embedded in the way course sites have been designed in Moodle, as well as in other instructional materials such as Study Guides. The spoken format of the 2minuteMoodle is designed to complement these other techniques. Here the specific aim is to deliver a more personal message. As Gardner Campbell in his well-cited EDUCAUSE article asserts “There is a magic in human voice, the magic of shared awareness… Photographs are undeniably powerful, and perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words but a few words uttered by a dear voice may be worth the most of all (2005, p. 40).


Bransford, J. Brown, A.L.,  & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. (expanded edn.) Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 

Campbell, G. (2005) ‘There’s something in the air: Podcasting in education’. Educause Review.

Shaphiro, A.M. (2008). Hypermedia design as learner scaffolding. Educational Technology, Research and Development (56)1, 29-44.

My University has recently adopted the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS)  to replace Blackboard. The Curriculum Design Team in which I am a member is actively assisting in the implementation, one of our tasks is to help academics enhance learning and teaching practice with the use of LMS. I have finally put into paper an idea that has been in my head for sometime about helping academics develop capacity to provide scaffolding in the learning process, which incidentally supports at least four of the 7 Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). I spoke to an academic about this idea and he is very keen to take it up, one of the reasons is the ease with which he can produce a two-minute voice recording once a week in his iPhone. 

The central idea is to record a two minute audio in MP3 format which will then be made available in the Moodle course site and/or provide RSS to the two-minute weekly podcast. The academic will use the questions in the 2minuteMoodle framework (see illustration below) to provide an advanced organiser for his/her students, focused on the idea of scaffolding. Academics who prefer a more visual approach (also useful for hearing impaired students) may be shown how to use Voicethread, which can also be embedded on the Moodle course site. But it must be no more than two minutes duration – the rationale for this I have now documented but will be discussed in a separate post.


The 2minuteMoodle instructional scaffolding approach

The 2minuteMoodle instructional scaffolding approach


Another purpose for introducing the 2minuteMoodle approach is that I believe it supports the “Learning by Design” framework for academic development that I have been pursuing to embed in my instructional design practice. By providing academic staff a situated context for why, how and when a particular technology might be used in learning and teaching, an academic is empowered to develop knowledge of both technology and pedagogy to complement their content knowledge (Mishra & Kohler, 2006).

My next post will describe the 2minuteMoodle approach in more detail.


Chickering, A. W. & Gamson, Z. F. 1987, ‘Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education’, AAHE Bulletin, vol. 39, no. 7, pp. 3-7. 

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record 108 (6), 1017-1054.

As I prepare for the first conference I am attending this year, I started to think why I need to go and what I will get out of it.  My reflection began when I came across this…

Source: "Piled Higher Deeper" by Jorge Cham

Source: "Piled Higher Deeper" by Jorge Cham

 I disagree. It is fun to attend a conference because for me learning is fun and that’s what happens when I go to a conference – I learn. The biggest benefit I gain from attending a conference is connecting with kindred spirits, folks whose work I admire and which inspires me. Conferences have a way of renewing the passion that brings like minded people together, and being part of that is a privilege that I truly value.  Attending a conference provides an opportunity to learn from experts, share ideas with others, and identify new knowledge and  techniques in my field of instructional design. I think it is quite a productive experience for a PhD candidate, given the knowledge explosion in the current information-rich era. It is a great way to keep abreast of emerging themes and technology.

But it is also hard work. My attendance will always be tied up with having an accepted paper. Throughout my PhD journey and beyond, my aim is to get my written work reviewed, as well as receive oral feedback during presentation.  I could then ‘network’ with folks doing similar research who are likely to extend my ideas. I think it is a win-win situation, and it is fun! But I’m sure that others will have opposing views about attending conferences instead of concentrating on thesis writing… well I say horses for courses!

I was intrigued by my colleague Damien’s recent blog , within which reference was made to educational terms as “education buzzwords” or “eduspeak”. Damien asks:

 How exposed are academics to this language by curriculum designers (now known as edunerds – pronounced ed-u-nerds)?

Damien then provides “an initial list of eduspeak buzzwords”, some of which are technical language within the education domain, others are newly coined educational terms arising from the trends of information age and influences of new technology.

Upon reading Damien’s blog, I too couldn’t help but reflect on the difficulties I faced almost daily with the language of other disciplines, more recently the technical language in auditing, accounting, economics and finance as I engage in curriculum design work in business education. But the fact remains that I am very comfortable with the language of my discipline, as the academics I have been working with are comfortable with their respective discipline language.

Why might this be the case? One explanation is that of acculturation. We absorb the culture, values and practices of our discipline and we find meanings through written and spoken words. Without this common language, our world in this culture/discipline would be meaningless. The notions of natives and immigrants are apt here – it is a lot harder to learn  and master a second language!

But the interesting thing in the eduspeak debate is that criticisms of this nature are more prevalent in the world of academia, compared to say the world of medicine. As observers as well as consumers of the medical field, we simply accept that there are many medical jargon that will take us years to understand, but we try to anyway, perhaps out of fear, interest or simple curiosity.

On that note, I would like to share an interesting observation about the transformation of an academic who was totally “non-edunerd” when our curriculum renewal project began a year or so ago. She now finds herself proposing a PhD research on education-related topic. The language spoken in her PhD proposal was not one coming from a Finance expert but one who has developed an interest in educational practice. Sure, it is her second language, and she is finding it a challenge, but her decision to acculturate no doubt will alleviate many of her difficulties over time.

I guess it is about ones willingness to understand the culture and practices of a particular discipline that makes the difference. But at the end of the day this boils down to interest, motivation and the affordances of time.

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