Engaging students in Learning Design: Experience, insight and co-development

Linzi Ryan, Lisa O’Regan and Iain Macdonald – Maynooth University

The Design for Blended Learning project was a collaborative initiative between the Maynooth University Centre for Teaching and Learning and Learning, and the department of Design Innovation. Using the MSc in Design Innovation as a pilot study, the project aimed to develop discipline capacity in curriculum design of blended programs, specifically at postgraduate level, and to develop an approach for supporting teams in the curriculum design and review of programmes for blended learning. Through a process of iterative piloting involving the MSC Design Innovation programme team and student co-designers, we adapted the ABC Learning model for the Maynooth context and for online facilitation given the move to remote teaching during the Covid19 pandemic. Developed by Clive Young and Natasa Perovic (2014), University College London, ABC is rapid development learning design approach. It involves a 90-minute structured hands-on workshop, where teams create a visual “storyboard’ of the student journey. Three key principles guided this project:
• To support a collaborative team-based approach to learning design.
• To embed user experience of staff and students within the process.
• To integrate students as co-designers in the learning design process.

Student partnership was embedded through the recruitment of four student researchers who collaborated in project management activities, adaption of the ABC model, and workshop toolkit generation. The students also participated in the ABC workshops as student partners. Pilot implementation involved a series of seven ABC workshops, one for each programme module. Each workshop was attended by the module lecturer, a ‘critical friend’ (to provide fresh reflection from a teaching perspective), two representative students (to provide a participatory perspective) and workshop facilitators (to provide clarity on tasks and manage workshop time). At the end of each workshop, the process was reviewed based on empirical learnings. The workshop process was then updated for the successive workshops. Post-workshop, module teams reflected and further developed workshop storyboards and further discussion was held as a department. This paper will outline the project approach, describe the adapted ABC approach developed in greater detail and share impacts and learnings from embedding student partnership within the project and ABC process.