Course Design Theories

I have looked at the following two design theories:

  1. Curatorial Teaching (George Seimans 2007). Web 2.0 tools are changing how we teach and learn, we have moved from a geographical perspective of the world to a networked perspective of the world,  teachers and students all have the same access to experts and information so “the teacher is no longer the expert,  the teacher becomes the guide on the side”. However, we also know “information consumes the attention” of our learners – where is the knowledge in all the information? – the learner has to develop his/her own “wayfinding”. So the learner needs somebody to navigate the plethora of information. Technology may be changing but we are still human and we can’t expect our learners to be left to pure wayfinding strategies in these emerging technologies, what we need instead is a curatorial approach to teaching where the instructor is not a completely neutral being but also is not a guru who is going to impart all the wisdom.
  2. Social Constructivism: “According to the social constructivist approach, instructors have to adapt to the role of facilitators and not teachers (Bauersfeld, 1995). Where a teacher gives a didactic lecture which covers the subject matter, a facilitator helps the learner to get to his or her own understanding of the content. In the former scenario the learner plays a passive role and in the latter scenario the learner plays an active role in the learning process. The emphasis thus turns away from the instructor and the content, and towards the learner (Gamoran, Secada, & Marrett, 1998). This dramatic change of role implies that a facilitator needs to display a totally different set of skills than a teacher (Brownstein 2001). A teacher tells, a facilitator asks; a teacher lectures from the front, a facilitator supports from the back; a teacher gives answers according to a set curriculum, a facilitator provides guidelines and creates the environment for the learner to arrive at his or her own conclusions” (wikipedia, URL

These two similar theories seem to be an appropriate reference point for my module: Embedding Literacy and Numeracy into vocational courses for a number of reasons. Firstly, embedding literacy and numeracy into vocational courses is in some respects a new phenomenon and the teaching methods and strategies are still emerging and developing. Most certificate level vocational courses have focussed solely on teaching the vocational course content, not literacy and numeracy concurrently. The established or well known teaching methods and strategies for literacy have been drawn from either the ESOL or ‘remedial’ literacy and numeracy disciplines. The challenge for our vocational tutors is to adapt these known strategies to their vocational context without allowing them to swamp their curricula and taking over the programme. Essentially embedding L & N is about student centered learning and “good teaching” practice.

The tutor has to develop their own teaching methods and strategies themselves and learn to incorporate them into their own lessons. Where the curator or facilitator comes in is to “reveal key structures” (Siemens 2007) in the field and help to navigate the existing resources. The curator doesn’t “mandate what it is the learner needs to know”.



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