Learning Designs - Products of the AUTC project on ICT-based learning designs
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High Quality Learning




A crucial aspect of this project was the development of a mechanism to identify high quality learning designs. Two leaders in the field of learning in higher education (Professor David Boud and Associate Professor Michael Prosser) were commissioned to advise the project team about what constitutes high quality learning in higher education. Their ideas in conjunction with feedback from the project team led to the development of a set of principles for high quality student learning in higher education (Boud & Prosser, 2001). The principles describe characteristics of a high quality learning design in higher education from a learning perspective.

Boud and Prosser (2001) argue that a learning design needs to address the following four principles in order for the potential of high quality learning to be realised:

  • Engage learners:
    Considering learners’ prior knowledge and their desires and building on their expectations.
  • Acknowledge the learning context:
    Considering how the implementation of the learning design (be it a one class session, over the period of a few weeks, or the entire subject) is positioned within the broader program of study for the learner.
  • Challenge learners:
    Seeking the active participation of learners, encouraging learners to be self-critical and supporting learners’ ampliative skills.
  • Provide practice:
    Encouraging learners to articulate and demonstrate to themselves and their peers what they are learning.

In different learning contexts some of these principles may be more prominent than others, however, all four principles are considered important in any higher education context. The principles are holistic in that they incorporate both learning outcomes and learning processes and are based on the premise that learning arises from what students experience from an implementation of a learning design. Designers/educators need to examine their learning designs from the perspective of their impact on learning, that is, placing themselves in the "students’ shoes" and thus examining their learning designs from the student perspective.




Boud, D., & Prosser, M. (2001, April). Key principles for high quality student learning in Higher Education—from a learning perspective. Paper presented at a workshop held on April 27, 2001 for the AUTC funded project: Information and Communication Technologies and Their Role in Flexible Learning, Sydney, Australia.

This paper forms the basis of the project's evaluation instrument: Evaluation and Redevelopment Framework that was designed to facilitate the identification of high quality learning designs and to determine if such learning designs have the potential for redevelopment in a generic/reusable form.

Boud. D., & Prosser, M. (in press). Key Principles for High Quality Student Learning in Higher Education: A framework for evaluation. Educational Media International, 39(3).

The paper builds on their previous paper about the principles for high quality learning in higher education from a learning perspective.

Access website for Education Media International.

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