Tools and examples for planning the student learning journey

Woman with long hair facing a whiteboard and pointing towards text. The text is illegible.We have outlined some potential approaches to planning the student learning journey below. You will find  templates you can download, and guidance and signposting to more in-depth resources.

We have also created some examples to show how typical modules in different disciplines might be transformed and planned for blended learning.

If your department would like support in planning out your curricula for digital and blended learning, please contact the Elevate Team to discuss how Elevate advisers can help. Individuals are also welcome to sign up for one to one appointments to discuss planning for their own modules.

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When planning how to adapt your curriculum to blended learning, you might find it helpful to break down the components of an existing programme or module and then rebuild these using the perspective of the student learning journey.

  • What will be the shape of the overall course?
  • What will each week look like from a student perspective?
  • Will any elements of the course be taught face to face (e.g. small group teaching in a core module)? How will you use this time in a way that is most beneficial for the students?
  • What will be the content of the course - the key concepts students need to grasp?
  • When/how will students be assessed (both formatively and summatively) and when/how will they be given feedback?
  • How will you communicate with your students and ensure they have all the information they need?
  • How will students interact with their peers and build a sense of cohort cohesion and community?
  • How will students develop their skills in different parts of the course?
  • What support will students need to achieve learning objectives?

If you want to explore some of these aspects (e.g. assessment and feedback, building community) in more detail, you will find links to further guidance on our landing page for support and guidance for 2020-21:

Index of guidance

Bear in mind that the deadline for significant amendments to programmes and modules for 2020/21 has passed. You can find information about processes and deadlines for changes to programmes from the Academic Programmes Office:

Changes to programmes

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Tools at Programme and Module Level

Programme Level

At a programme level the values of the PLA approach are more relevant than ever:

  • Take a team approach.
  • Articulate our programmes.
  • Engage the student voice.
  • Provide quality assessment and feedback.
  • Prepare our students.

It might be useful to return to the programme learning outcomes (PLOs) and the module learning outcomes (MLOs) to remind yourself of the core of what students are trying to achieve. You may already have done this work as part of a previous curriculum review or as part of PLA mapping. Here are two templates you might find useful, either for mapping out how the programme currently runs, or planning out a revised programme.

Programme learning outcomes against Module Learning Outcomes

Programme learning outcomes against learning and assessment activities

After taking this overview of the programme, you might wish to consult within the department on potential ways to streamline or simplify a programme - for example by (at least temporarily) decreasing the number of optional modules, or by streamlining assessment. Streamlining has the potential to decrease some of the additional pressure on staff workloads by consolidating resources and building stronger teaching teams.

You could also think about developing a consistent approach to student communications and support across the programme (for example by considering the role of personal tutoring, communications regarding departmental policies and so on).

Module Level

At the module level, you might want to start simple initially and try to map out what the overall shape of the module might look like along a timeline, with regards to the categories  laid out in the first section of this webpage (content, assessment and feedback, skills development, building community, communication with students, support offered).

The template here shows one way of doing this using a gantt-chart type layout (the first version of this uses merged cells, so if you are using a screen reader please use the second, screen reader version).

Gantt template for simple module planning

Gantt template for simple module planning - Screen Reader Version

The file also contains two examples of what this simple map might look like for a typical lecture/seminar module format, and a STEM module format with lab work, translated into a blended approach.

Remember to think about how each module fits into the overall programme, to avoid duplication of effort and to create a coherent experience for students. This is more important than ever as digital learning and teaching is more demanding for both staff and students. Keep in mind the principles of taking a Programme Level Approach. Speak to your programme leader for guidance if needed.

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Week by week planning (including examples)

Once you have a sense of the overall shape of the module by stripping it back to its key components, you then need to start building it up again and working out how this can be achieved using blended learning and digital teaching, and what each week will look like from the student perspective.

When planning from the student learning journey perspective, the six learning types outlined by Diana Laurillard for the ABC planning method can be useful. Not to be confused with ‘learning styles’, the six learning types refer instead to the types/categories of learning activity that students will be doing (whether synchronous or asynchronous). The six types (with example activities) are:

  • Acquisition (read an article, listen to a video, podcast or lecture recording)
  • Inquiry (find and evaluate information, plan a research project)
  • Discussion (webinar discussion, discussion forum, peer feedback)
  • Collaboration (group project)
  • Practice (reflection, peer feedback, MCQs with feedback, role play, lab work)
  • Production (essay, report, video, blog, portfolio)

The ABC method of course design then involves ‘storyboarding’ these activities onto a timeline of the module.

For more information on the ABC planning method, see ‘Further information’ below, or watch our video on Introduction to ABC Learning Design (9 minutes). 

Our resource on choosing appropriate learning activities for blended and remote teaching may also be useful to review at this point.

This is a worked example of a typical lecture/seminar format module, reworked for blended and digital teaching, and with the student activities categorised according to the six learning types. The comments in the document provide more detailed information.

Lecture/Seminar week by week

This is a worked example of a typical STEM module, reworked for blended and digital teaching, and with the student activities categorised according to the six learning types. The comments in the document provide more detailed information.

STEM week-by-week example

This is a blank version of the template used in the above examples:

Blank week by week planner

We have also developed a Trello board for module planning, based on both the ABC methodology and on the considerations outlined at the beginning of this webpage. Instructions on how to use it can be found in the top card of the first column. To use with your team, please make a copy of the board and save it to your own account (click ‘show menu’ in the top right hand corner, then ‘more', then ‘copy board’. If you don’t already have a Trello account you will be prompted to create one) rather than modifying the template:

Trello ABC Planning Tool

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Further information on the ABC method of planning

The ABC approach

This is an approach developed at UCL based on the ‘conversational framework’ concept by Diana Laurillard, which introduced the six learning types referenced above. Using the ABC approach, you construct a ‘storyboard’ of your module, mapping out where students engage in the different learning types, and the activities that are used to support those.

The concept is explained in great detail on their website, and materials are available to download. We have also made a video to talk you through the approach.

Visit the ABC website

Watch a video on ABC learning design

The UCL team has also further developed their list of activity types specifically for the move to digital teaching.

The UCL Learning Designer is an online tool which you can use to implement the ABC approach yourself (registration required).

The Elevate advisers are also available to facilitate a workshop based on ABC principles with departments, upon request. Email the Elevate Team for further information.

Further information

JISC Digital Pedagogy Toolkit