M. Milani1, I. Pinelli1, N. Perović2, C. Young2

1Università degli Studi di Milano (ITALY)
2University College London (UNITED KINGDOM)
Like most leading universities across Europe, the Università degli Studi di Milano (UniMi) and University College London (UCL) have aspirational strategies to develop future-looking, digitally rich, flexible programmes, attuned to students’ expectations for engaging, professionally related learning experiences. Yet in both institutions only a few of the most pioneering teachers have the design skills, technology knowledge and above all time to remodel their programmes. Deep institutional change must by definition engage mainstream teachers, but traditional course and programme redesign processes, while effective, generally demand too much time and support. This contradiction frustrates educational ambition at both institutions. Recognising the need for a radical rethink, the digital education team at UCL developed high-energy hands-on workshop called ABC in 2014. The key to this approach is pace, engagement and collaboration. In just 90 minutes using a rapid prototyping format teaching teams work together to create a visual ‘storyboard’ outlining the type and sequence of learning activities (both online and offline) required to meet the module’s learning outcomes. Assessment methods, cross-program themes and institutional policies are also integrated into the process. ABC is particularly useful for new programmes or those changing to an online or more blended format. The method is highly transferable and has been tested successfully in universities in Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Chile, Canada and elsewhere.

The ABC method was initially trialled with two programmes at UniMi in early 2017. The trial was a success but the London and Milan teams realised that the key to adapting any “global” methodology was localisation. There is never ‘one size fits all’ in tertiary education and the workshop itself raises complex issues of learning design support; before, during and after. Language localization is one way to reduce barriers, the materials were translated into Italian. It is also vitally important that learning design is aligned with institutional strategies and priorities. The drivers for educational change at UCL and UniMi for example are analogous but expressed and implemented in different ways. This was built into the UniMi version. The workshops also uncovered differences in approach to assessment and the issue of post workshop training and development support, either online or face-to-face. Over the next few years the UCL and UniMi teams will work together with other like-minded universities to localise the method while retaining the advantages of a “global” methodology. Participants at the presentation will be invited to download, use and maybe even localise the ABC resources.

[1] Young, C., Perovic, N. (2016). Rapid and Creative Course Design: As Easy as ABC? Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume 228, pages 390 – 395

*Viewpoints project JISC
University of Ulster (2012). Curriculum design workshop resources. Available online: Accessed 28 January 2016.
Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. New York and London: Routledge.