The problem with pedagogic planners . . .

. . .is the fact we can’t decide what we want them to be and who and what they are really for. Although this is said with my tongue firmly in my cheek, I’ve just been at a meeting hosed by Diana Laurillard (IOE) and James Dalziel (LAMS Foundation) where a group of people involved in developing a number of tools which could be collectively described as “pedagogic planners” spent the day grappling with the issues of what exactly is a pedagogic planner and what makes it/them different from any other kind of planning/decision making tool.

Unsurprisingly we didn’t arrive at any firm conclusions – I did have to leave early to catch my (delayed) flight home so I did miss the final discussion. However the range of tools/projects demonstrated clearly illustrated that there is a need for such tools; and the drivers are coming not just from funders such as the JISC (with their Phoebe and London Projects ), but from teachers themselves as demonstrated by Helen Walmsley (University of Staffordshire) with her best practice models for elearning project.

The number of projects represented showed the growing international interest and need for some kind of pre (learning)design process. Yet key questions remain unanswered in terms of the fundamental aims of such tools. Are they really about changing practice by encouraging and supporting teachers to expand their knowledge of pedagogic approaches? Or is this really more about some fundamental research questions for educational technologist and their progression of knowledge around e-learning pedagogies? What should the outputs of such tools be – XML, word documents, a LAMS template? Is there any way to begin to draw some common elements that can then be used in learning systems? Can we do the unthinkable and actually start building schemas of pedagogic elements that are common across all learning systems? Well of course I can’t answer that, but there certainly seems a genuine willingness continue the dialogue started at the meeting and to explore these issues more most importantly a commitment to building tools that are easy to use and useful to teachers.

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