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Setting Notes
ICT Contribution


Setting Notes


Implementation Tips

  • In this setting learners need to have reasonably well developed and self-sufficient skills in ICT. Students need to be able to access and retrieve resources from Web-based settings, maintain and use contemporary Web browsers and associated plug-ins to store and manipulate personal resources, share documents among other learners, use word processors and other productivity tools, use email and Web-based communication systems and troubleshoot their technology if they are accessing data from remote locations.
  • Learners need to have reasonably well-developed metacognitive skills and a capacity for self-regulated learning.

Preparing Learners

  • Students need to have some generic skills associated with the problem-solving process. This includes skills in problem decomposition and strategy formulation.
  • They need to have some experience and capability to work with others in a team setting.
  • Learners need to have some opportunity as the course commences to recognise their needs for the learning setting and to identify areas on which they need to work to make this learning design effective.

Guidelines for Planning

The following pages describe the process that teachers should follow when planning learning based on this learning design:

  1. Design the task first. Think about how you wish to set up the problem into the 3 tasks.
  2. Once the 3 tasks have been planned, the next stage is to choose the resources.
  3. With the resources chosen, the learning supports can then be planned.

Teachers looking to employ this form of learning design should address the following issues.


Learning Aims. The aims of the unit need to be expressed in terms of a capability or performance. This form of learning design does not work well in instances when the learning aims relate to content alone. The learning aims need to specify what students will be able to do at the end of the course and it is these capabilities that need to guide the selection and description of the learning tasks.

Describing outcomes in terms of a capability. If the unit has previously involved content alone, a useful strategy is to consider how/where students might be expected to use this knowledge in a real-world setting. This form of inquiry is needed to discover an appropriate context for the learning. The focus needs to be not on learning about the content but on learning how to meaningfully apply it. Once the teacher has decided how this knowledge will help someone in the workplace or in a real-world setting, selection of the learning tasks is made easier.

Planning the tasks. The examples in this description suggest how the tasks can be selected. It is important to plan the tasks so that they match what actually might be a real-life set of actions, so that one context can be used for all three tasks, so that there is a degree of open-endedness in the task selection enabling learners to make choices and so that they can take ownership of what they are doing.

Defined deliverables. The tasks need to be created so that they result in defined products whose quality determines the scope and extent of the learning achieved. It is useful to describe in quite clear detail what students need to submit when tasks have been completed so that their achievement can be assessed. Again, in relation to the authenticity, the deliverable should be a product as one might find in a real life setting and the criteria of its quality should be provided in terms of the setting in which the task is cast. (Teachers tend to provide academic criteria for assessment, thinking about real-life success measures helps to maintain the authentic approach).


Materials selections. The content and information students need to complete the tasks are determined after the tasks have been set. Try not to get this the other way around. Choose the content so that students can complete the tasks and can develop the underpinning knowledge and skills.

Instructional Independence. When creating resources for these types of learning settings, try to avoid the trap of creating instructional resources. With task-based learning, the best strategy is to ensure that all the instructional elements (your suggestions, the teacher’s directions, etc.) are in the task specification and the suggested learning schedule. This leaves the resources as content alone and generates a number of advantages in terms of how you organise the resources, being able to use them again in different places and utilising resources from a variety of sources.

Multiple sources. In the real world, when people seek information they tend to have to choose from among a variety of sources. This is a sensible approach to promote in this form of learning design. Try to include content that provides different perspectives and which will require students to make choices.

Avoid information overload. Too much information and too many resources can be counterproductive. Try to avoid too many web links and information points because this can frustrate learners. It is often more useful to make students seek information of their own. In this way they can stop seeking when they have what they consider to be sufficient information.

Dynamic resources. Contemporary Web sites have the capability to receive resources and to store them. If students can be encouraged to contribute their products to the course Web site, their work can have a significant impact on the learning of others who can use them for resources, exemplars, etc. Dynamic sites grow as the course is repeated and helps to maintain the resources and the cycle of continuous improvement. If students are encouraged to contribute solutions then the problems may need to be devised in ways that can accommodate different solutions. Alternatively, different sets of problems may be used in subsequent implementations.


Underpinning Knowledge. Learning in task-based modes does not mean that learners have to discover the content or underpinning knowledge for themselves. It is very important to ensure that the learners are guided in their approaches by the existing knowledge. A way to ensure this is to provide a suggested learning pathway that highlights the information that you think should guide their actions and their decision making.

Collaborative Learning. A very strong support for student learning is the process of working collaboratively with others. Students will need to be guided as to how they might collaborate in meaningful and efficient ways.

Workplace Mentors. Many students .who undertake e-learning have workplace jobs and these can be used as strong supports for learning. If the tasks are created in an appropriate fashion, learners can be encouraged to undertake tasks at the workplace and with the support of their line managers and peers. These people can provide substantial support for this form of learning design and assist the learning process in a number of ways.

Online Discussions. Online learners expect to be involved in online discussions where ideas are viewed and debated. Try to ensure that the discussions you plan have direct relevance to the task and that learners are aided in their task completion through participation in the discussion activity. It is important for learners to see relevance in these activities and to see reasons for participation that are related to the learning outcomes sought and the product(s) being developed.

Learning Pathways and Schedules. One of the big problems with learning designs like this is that learners often are discouraged by the open-ended nature and the size of the task that confronts them. The provision of a learning schedule as a guide is a strong scaffold that learners can fall back on if they are overwhelmed and that can provide them with guidance to proceed.

Recognise Individual Differences. Learners come to the class with differing backgrounds and experiences. Providing degrees of openness to the tasks enables those with significant previous experience to avoid having to wade through materials and resources with which they are already familiar. On the other hand some learners will want teacher help so there must be supports for learners with minimal backgrounds so that the completion of the tasks is within their realms of possibility.

Learning Diaries. Learning diaries are personal reflection spaces that learners can be encouraged to establish and maintain as support for their metacognition and self-regulated learning development. The provision and use of electronic diaries also enables the teacher to gain insights into problems and difficulties learners may be having and facilitate proactive actions on the part of the teacher to overcome these.

Guidelines for the Tutor/Facilitator

Any teacher/tutors implementing this form of learning design will need to have some skills in teaching online and these skills can be obtained from a variety of sources. The forms of e-learning skills that delivery in a course of this form will require include:

An ability to moderate online discussions. Online discussions form an integral component of elearning and tutors need to be able to manage the discussion boards in ways which encourage involvement and maintain student interest.

Learning communities. Teachers need to be able to support the development of learning communities among the learners in the class. The development of learning communities is a task which teachers in most online settings seek to achieve. There is a substantial body of literature which can guide teachers in their actions in this aspect of online delivery. It is a skill which develops with experience but which is aided by appropriate use of discussion boards, the establishment of collaborative groupings within the class, encouragement of open discussion and respect for fellow learners, the sharing of information and ideas help to develop a sense of community among participants.

Appropriate feedback. This form of learning setting can involve protracted periods of time when learners are working without direct feedback from tutors. It is important to include processes and procedures that will enable student activity and progress to be monitored so that potential problems caused by the teacher-student distance can be pre-empted and minimised.

Proactive involvement. This learning design is student-centred and is based on empowering the learners and giving them some degrees of independence from their teachers. An important part of the teacher/tutor role is to respect this independence but to be available and interested. This requires proactive activities on the teacher's part but activities that encourage and support rather than demand in helping students to keep to deadlines, meeting requirements, collaborating with peers, seeking feedback etc.




The strategy used in this learning design is a problem-based approach and has been applied to a subject in a graduate certificate of online learning although the strategy could be used in many undergraduate and postgraduate subjects.

  • This learning design is useful in instances when the learning being sought applies processes and procedures of a conceptual nature, for example learning how to evaluate, learning how to design, learning how to inquire and explore.
  • It can be used where the learning seeks to develop some form of capability based on an understanding of underpinning principles. The learning design helps students to acquire some expertise and ability in a course seeking some form of performance-oriented outcome and provides teachers with the capacity to assess the resulting performance capability achieved.
  • It is well suited to courses where there is some particular context in which the learning is to be applied (as distinct from courses where the aim is to build knowledge and understanding without a strong contextual basis).



  • Students assume the role of a cadet journalist writing stories for a newspaper.
  • The setting provides a context for this activity that mirrors some aspect of real life and in which they meet the challenges and traps but also experience the same successes as their stories etc. become published.
  • For example, the task can be to write a story on some late and breaking news.


  • Students assume roles within virtual organizations.
  • The roles require them to solve a problem (produce a report etc.)
  • To do this they follow the same procedures and processes as people involved with these activities in real life do.
  • For example, develop a business plan for a dotcom company.

Security Studies

  • Students assume roles as a security expert.
  • They are required to solve open-ended tasks that reflect real life scenarios.
  • The students are immersed in authentic activities and learn the content through the information they seek, the decisions they take, the collaboration with others and the outcome of their activities is a deliverable, the quality of which is indicative of the scope and extent of the learning.
  • For example, draw up a security plan for a pharmacy.





  • The assessment for this form of learning design is based on the quality of the solutions provided for the three tasks. The problems are chosen so that their successful completion is an indication of the forms of capability, knowledge and understanding sought in the course objectives.
  • The assessment needs to be based to a large degree on the quality of the solutions and the documentation supporting the decisions made.
  • The assessment should reflect the contributions of the students in its formulation. If it is a group activity, the assessment needs to recognise the contribution of the various learners. Students should not receive credit for efforts or achievements not demonstrated.


  • The assessment in this learning design is integral to the learning process. The assessment is the factor which encourages, motivates and drives the learners in the problem solutions. It ensures the alignment between the objectives and learning outcomes.
  • If the learning has been undertaken in a collaborative group, the assessment needs to incorporate components that recognise the students’ contributions.
  • The criteria for marking need to be those that would be used in the real world. The marking key needs a strong degree of authenticity.
  • Students can negotiate their own assessment criteria, and this can be part of the problem decomposition at the start.



The learning can be assessed by reviewing the quality of the finished products and supporting documentation describing the development process. The criteria are those by which similar products are judged for quality in the workplace.


Learning outcomes are evident in the quality of the reports and marketing plans produced. The items could be marked by several people, e.g. the tutor, peer assessment by other students, an industry expert. Criteria for marking should match real life.

Security Studies

Learning is assessed by the quality of the reports and the security designs according to industry standards. The reports and designs could be marked by several people, e.g. the tutor, peer assessment by other students, an industry expert.

Fig 4. Assessments in the unit IMM4141 are integrated learning activities and involve the development of authentic products


ICT Contribution



  • This form of learning design needs to be supported through the provision of ready access to resources of many media forms (could be CD-based).
  • It needs to facilitate communication and collaboration (could be telephone, fax).
  • It needs to provide the means for asynchronous communication (e.g. email)
  • A Web-based setting provides these capabilities in a single entity.
  • The most important aspect of ICT is its capability to provide a means for ready access to broadly based information and the ability to communicate that information among participants in an efficient and timely fashion.
  • The technology does not really need any unique capabilities (software) and learning environments based on this design can be implemented with standard productivity tools in a Web-setting.



  • The online setting could be created in the form of a virtual magazine. A metaphor of a newsroom floor could be created to provide access to the various resources produced for the setting. For example, tasks, resources and supports.
  • All the activities undertaken by students could be cast in real-life instances and accessed accordingly through links to the virtual setting.
  • The environment would need to support several forms of communication including asynchronous bulletin boards, email etc.
  • Necessary WWW elements include authentication for learners, groupwork supports, streaming audio, asynchronous chat, email. The setting could be cast in a LMS or designed as a customised interface.


  • The online setting could be set in an accounting firm providing this service to clients.
  • The setting could create logical links to the many forms of resource and support provided in the setting in ways that mirror how these elements might be accessible in the real life setting.
  • Necessary WWW elements include authentication for learners, groupwork supports, streaming audio, asynchronous chat, email. The setting could be cast in a LMS or designed as a customised interface.

Security Studies

  • The setting might be a series of well organised pages providing clear links to the learning resources organised around the task specification (learning elements and course administration), the various resources provided to aid student learning, links to the supports so that they are easily accessible.
  • Necessary WWW elements include authentication for learners, groupwork supports, streaming audio, asynchronous chat, email.

Fig 5. Technology is used in the unit IMM 4141 to provide a virtual setting where learners assume virtual roles


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