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Unit information: Designing Technologies for Learning in 2021/22

Unit name Designing Technologies for Learning
Unit code EDUCM0044
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Oldfield
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit focuses on how research (educational and non-educational) can inform the design of effective learning technologies and how the design process can inform our understanding of learning. It reviews relevant learning concepts from a range of diverse perspectives and how these may be creatively interrelated in the design of learning approaches that exploit new and emerging sociotechnical developments. This might encompass exploring new challenges such as those arising in cloud computing, mobile platforms, data-driven learning and assessment, creator culture, agile approaches to change and open content and through a fuller understanding of the educational potential of developments such as in the social and semantic web, and in augmented reality and immersive environments. Concepts spanning education and the sciences of mind and brain will be brought together in this unit to enable students to develop insight into learning with and designing new technologies.

Unit Aims

  • To develop an awareness of how current models of learning can support the design of technology aimed at supporting learning.
  • To develop a critical awareness of the many, complex and interacting factors influencing effective design of technology aimed at supporting learning.
  • To develop a critical appreciation of how to carry out research-based design and design-based research, and the relationship between these concepts.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Through successful completion of this unit, students will be able to

  • Follow a user-based process in the design and development of a learning resource for implementation on a computer platform.
  • Integrate user feedback, concepts from educational research and knowledge regarding human-computer-interaction to make reflective and cogent design decisions regarding educational technology.
  • Reflect critically upon processes and outcomes arising from attempts to design and implement educational technology, demonstrating a critical awareness of the relationship between design and learning in context.

Teaching Information

This unit will be taught using a blended approach consisting of a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities including seminars, lectures, reading, discussions and group work

Assessment Information

Summative assessment for this unit consists of two parts. Both parts relate to the process of designing a technology to support learning, which will be developed and supported throughout the unit sessions. Both assessment parts are also to be submitted at the end of the unit.

Part 1 (25%): Portfolio of the design process (1,000 word equivalent) - As part of the unit, each student will create and maintain a portfolio of their design idea and process. This portfolio will record and describe the development of the design idea and critically reflect on the design activities and ideas that are developed both in and outside of class. The portfolio can be in a form or medium of the students' choosing. A scrapbook or an e-portfolio are equally acceptable and students are encouraged to be creative in their portfolio development, as long as they systematically record the ideas and decision-making processes that contribute to the developing design idea. Tutors will provide formative feedback on the portfolios at least once during the term.

The use of the portfolio supports the iterative, reflective nature of the design process and the various factors that contribute to it. The in-depth documentation and recording of this design process will also help in the completion of the second part of the assessment. (ILO 1, 2, 3)

Part 2 (75%): Written essay (3,000 words) - This piece of written work should critically reflect on the design process of a learning technology. The essay will both analyse design-related activities conducted during the unit and draw on concepts from theoretical and academic literature relevant to the design process. The essay is not a report on the actual technology that students design but is instead focused on an understanding of the design process. As such, the content of the paper should demonstrate a critical analysis of design processes and the multiple influencing factors. Students' demonstration of understanding this design process should draw upon:

  • Relevant literature and current thinking around the context and learning that the technology design supports
  • Relevant literature around design processes and considerations, such as user-centred/human-centred approaches, HCI, and cognitive theories
  • Reflections arising from a number of practical workshops
  • Feedback students receive from others - whether these represent experts, learners or other potential users such as teachers.

(ILO 1, 2, 3)

To help gain understanding into the design process, students will spend considerable time during this unit trialling and discussing different parts of the design process and receiving feedback on their own idea for a technology for learning. These sessions will help develop and be incorporated into the final assessment.

Formative assessment

To support this summative assessment, formative feedback will be provided through classroom discussion and activities, peer group work and individual feedback on design processes.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EDUCM0044).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.