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Ideas of online learning

Online learning Models


Following the Content Model of curriculum development, set out your course over the number of weeks that have been allocated for the course. Flexibility is in course development is provided through your use of linear, spiral or thematic curriculum design models.

Then for each week, use one of the models outlined below. Choose one model and stick to this, as this needs to be a template for the each week of the course. This will support learners to understand how the course is set up.

Good practice is to have Week one as the introduction to the course and exploration of the online material, assessment and submissions. The first task should be to get the learners to introduce themselves as visual as possible (Video/animation)


Key elements of online learning to consider:

  • How will information be presented (video, audio, PowerPoint)? Stick to the same type(s) as much as possible to support learner’s navigation and expectation
  • What will make the activities used to develop learners’ skills or knowledge interactive online?
  • Where will the social interaction element of the course be? Are there options for peer-assessment?
  • When will the tutorials take place and which media will these use (Google Hangout, Skype)?
  • What do you need to assess and how will the learners be able to gather digital evidence and upload it to the platform? 

Nelson’s Online Relative Model Learning Environment




(1 – 2 minute video or podcast)




(Interactive activity)




(Interactive Activity – different context)





(activity outside of the system that is uploaded for peer review)






FutureLearn Model



The Week Ahead

(1-2 minute intro video)




(10 minute video max)




(2 activities)




(1-2 minute summary video)



Next Week

(30 sec trailer)




Digital Learning News EP02

Welcome to episode TWO of Digital Learning News, a multimedia newsletter highlighting what is hot, what is not and what you can try today in Digital Learning


What is Hot?… Gamification
What is not?… YAHOO is cutting 15% if it’s workforce
What can you try today? …Google docs


My name is Richard Nelson and in this episode what is hot is Gamification, a term used to describe game mechanics applied to everyday tasks. ( describes three unusual ways gamification has been applied to life. ONE, Purchasing decisions – loyalty cards encourage you to collect points to win prizes. is on unusual example in that they encourage you to stay loyal by offering to level you up the more you spend. The higher your levels, the better the offers. TWO, Credit scores are also gamified. Several factors, including regularly paying your bills improves your scores. The Sesame Credit system in China does it a little differently in that it ranks individuals on social responsibility. If you buy comics and computer games the system thinks you are lazy, therefore, a lower score. A parent that pays bills on time is more responsible and gains a higher score.


Three, gamification of education. This concept comes from the issue of trying to keep people engaged in learning, especially if it is online. There are a number of ways to offer learners a level up on success or deduct credit for incorrect responses. reports on particle example of the language learning site, As learners work through the task they can earn lingo money and work up leaderboards. Experience leads to levelling up and demonstrating success. If a learner fails a task they loose a life and if they loose too many they have to start the task again.

What is not?…  Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo’s revenue has fallen and it is struggling to grow in a market dominated by rivals Google and Facebook. They are cutting around 1,500 people and streamlining its business portfolio.

What can you try today?… Google Docs. Google docs allow you to create and shared an online document. You can share this document with an individual or a whole class and they can all add information to it. The best features of Google docs is that the editing is real-time. As one person edits the document, all users can see the typing as it happens. This make is truly interactive. I have eaten it used in class where groups of learners add their research to one shared document.


Let me know how you get on with Google docs and let me know if you have found any other great digital learning resources that we can all try today.


You follow updates on for Digital Learning news on twitter using the #digitallearningnews


This newsletter is also available as text at, downloadable as audio and watchable as  a video on youtube.


Please contact me with your experiences of Digital Learning Technology or ideas for future episodes to

Digital Learning News Ep01 (pilot)


Welcome to episode ONE of Digital Learning News, a multimedia newsletter highlighting what is hot, what is not and what you can try today in Digital Learning


What is Hot… the free blended learning course on the FutureLearn Platform starting on Monday 1st Feb
What is not? …TV is history
What can you try today? …capture videos easy and free with screencast-o-matic

My name is Richard Nelson and in this episode what is hot is the Free Blended Learning course on FutureLearn starting on Monday 1st Feb. You can jump and discover ideas and tools for embedding blended learning in your practice and within your organisation (
It is the second part of a two part course learning all about blended learning, but they can be studied in any order and  if you have not done part ONE, in which you can explore different case studies of using Digital Learning Resources, you can still do this course on the 1st Feb and then revisit part ONE in March

What is not..TV is history…. research from Childwise, reported by the BBC (, has shown that the time youngsters are watching more material online than they are on the Television. Young people spend 3 hours online and 60% watch TV vie phone, tablet or laptop.
AND he study shows children’ ownership of Tablet computers has increased 50%. What impact and opportunities do you think this could have for education? Feel free to comment below.

What can you try today? Screen-cast-o-matic ( allows you to make up to 15 minutes recording of your screen with a voice over or embedded video of yourself discussing what is being seen. Where do you think we could use this?
You could consider video tutorials for assignments in which you video the word document on the screen while you talk through the best way to approach the assessment. What about a summary video of today’s session so the learners can watch again and again. Let me know how you get on with Screencast-o-matic and let me know if you have found any other great digital learning resources that we can all try today.

You follow updates on for Digital Learning news on twitter using the #digitalearningnews
This newsletter is also available as text at, downloadble as audio and watchable as  a video on youtube.
Please contact me with your experiences of Digital Learning Technology or ideas for future episodes to
You can watch this newsletter on the Youtube Channel:

Research Interviewing

The Interview is one of the many useful methods in gathering qualitative data in educational research. In this post I will be looking at interview types, developing interview questions and exploring issues to consider in carrying out an interview for educational research.

Interviews can be used on their own or to support other methods of research, such as observation (Maxwell, 2013). When used with other methods of research, interviews are often quoted as offering triangulation to validate the other method(s). However, it is interesting to read the Greene (2007) argues against using triangulation, as it is overemphasised in generating any validity. Instead, Greene suggests the research views the interview and the other research method(s) as different viewpoints of the same data.

There are a number of different interview types (Turner, 2010):

  1. Informal Conversational Interview
  2. General Interviews
  3. Standardised Open-Ended Interviews

In an Informal Conversational Interview the interviewer relies on the interaction with the participant to generate spontaneous questions. This allows the interview to be flexible and explore different issues as they arise. However, it does mean the data is unreliable and inconsistent across interviews.

The General interview has prepared questions that are used to guide the interview and to cover the relevant topics, making it more structured than the Informal Conversational Interview. This has the benefit of a more consistent coverage of the topic across interviews and supports the interviewer through the process. However, spontaneity is lost and therefore some useful insights may be missed from the research.

The Standardised Open-Ended Interview has a specific set of questions that are discussed in every interview conducted. This does differ from a questionnaire, as all of the questions are designed to illicit open-ended responses to gather detailed information. Interviewing in this way does generate consistency across interviews and ensures all of the key aspects of the research are discussed. However, as the data collected is discursive it is difficult to code to look for themes and patterns.

When designing any questions for an interview it is good practice to ask a fact question before an open question, to help contextualise the data and put the participant at ease (Boyce and Neale, 2006). The interview questions should focus on specific events (Maxwell, 2013) and not make any assumptions of the participant’s values, thoughts and feelings (Turner, 2010).

Weiss (1994) suggests that interview questions should be presented by the interviewer in past tense, as this recalls specific memory of events. For example, what happened when you used that…? Rather than present tense, which can create a more generalised response. For example, what happens when you use…? The questions should also allow the interviewer to supplement with more probing questions (Boyce and Neale, 2006). For Example, would you give me an example of that? Or, could you explain that further?

There needs to be a consideration of who is going to carry out the interview. Interviewing is a skill and it is possible to hire professional interviewers. However, this does cost money and may not be practical for small-scale educational research. The researcher acting as the interviewer would avoid any costs, but their interest in the study may bias the data gathered.

Along with the moral dilemma of bias, there are also ethical considerations in conducting interviews. These range from the question ‘who has the power in the interview relationship?’, being honest about the where the data will be stored and presented, and the vulnerability of the interviewer. Ebbut (1981) highlights that it may not be the interviewer that has the power, as one would expect, but the interviewee. The interviewer needs the interviewee more than the other way around, and could avoid difficult questions. There is also the possibility that employment position of the interviewer could make them vulnerable if they are interviewing participants with a more senior role.

Hoinville and Jowell (1977) outline the following as suggested guidelines in conducting an interview:

  • Arrange a time
  • Relax the interviewee and reduce wariness
  • Discuss the research and audience
  • Only continue if you have been accepted as an interviewer
  • Avoid long catch-all questions
  • Avoid leading questions
  • Use any silence effectively, let the participant think and then talk

It is always good practice to pilot the interview with a participant who is not part of the research study. A pilot interview will enable questions to be refined and an examination of potential data to be carried out, to see if there are any gaps (Turner, 2010).


Boyce, C. and Neale, P. (2006). Conducting in-depth interviews: a guide for conducting in-depth interviews for education input. Watertown, MA: Pathfinder International.

Ebbut, D. (1981). Girl’s science, boy’s science revisited. In A. Kelly (ed) The Missing Half. Manchester: Manchester University Press

Greene, J. (2007). Mixed Methods in Social Inquiry. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Hoinville, G. and Jowell, R. (1977). Survey research practice. London: Heinemann.

Maxwell, J.A. (2013). Qualitative research design: an interactive approach (3rd Ed) London: SAGE

Powney, J. and Watts, M. (1987). Interviewing in Educational Research. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul

Turner III, D.W. (2010). Qualitative interviewing: A practical guide. Qualitative Report, 15(3) 754-760

Weiss, R.S. (1994). Learning from strangers: the art and method of qualitative interviewing. New York: Free Press