1 Hellenic Open University (GREECE)
2 Technological Education Institute of Western Greece (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 7431-7439
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Developing educational content in Higher Distance Education is a challenging task in the field of Instructional Design. The main aim of the current research paper is to provide practitioners with tools and templates that facilitate the Leaning Design (LD) process. In particular, the use of LD tools and well-structured templates allows designers to focus on the adaptation of the most founding didactical principles in their teaching procedure. Therefore, this paper pursues a twofold goal: the first is to enhance the LD process and the second is to provide a general ad-hoc design tool, namely the General Learning Designs (GLDs), which are templates that are based on sound pedagogical strategies and that facilitate the design of learning activities by the practitioner. The current framework is based on Hellenic Open University (HOU) needs and the continuous effort to improve the educational material.

The general objective of the current work is to contribute to the knowledge of e-learning environments by showing how instructional strategies can be designed to contain several didactic principles, and how such instruction strategies can be integrated in an e-learning environment. To this end, a series of GLDs has been developed in HOU. GLDs were developed to support instructional designers and tutors in the phase of the development and enhancement of educational material which is based to specific learning objects for distance education courses at HOU.

GLD templates provide the main building blocks that tutors can use to create new and potentially richer activities. More specifically, a tutor can use a template by filling in certain fields that were defined in the structured phases that characterize the development of the GLD template. Additionally, GLD templates supply comprehensive instructional strategies. Each instructional strategy is firmly rooted in a number of didactical principles and contains a complete didactic scenario on how to teach students various theoretical concepts or specific competences. In particular, a didactic instructional strategy refers to an organized and systematized sequence of activities and resources that teachers use in the teaching process. The basic conception is to facilitate the learners' learning. For this reason, in our approach, we adapt both learner-centered approaches (like Problem Solving) and teacher-directed approaches (like Presentation) in order to achieve a quality learning experience.

The instructional strategies in our case are:
(a) Problem solving,
(b) e-Role playing,
(c) Presentation,
(d) Case study,
(e) WebQuest and
(f) Project.

Furthermore, a digital environment has been adapted to provide tutors with the necessary tools for the construction and the distribution of GLD-based activities.

In conclusion, the objective of the current research is to propose a more effective way for designing and developing e-learning activities using a sound pedagogical framework which is based on the needs of stakeholders of HOU. General Learning Designs (GLDs) are representative forms of instructional strategies that consist of prescribed phases, steps and guidelines. The adaption of those templates is a valuable way to gain a deeper, richer and more diverse understanding of the role of integrating innovative educational tools in e-learning environments.
Learning design, learning activity, design tool, guidelines.