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EdVee: A Visual Diagnostic and Course Design Tool for Constructive Alignment

By Dan Trowsdale and Alison McKay

A few years ago, we became interested in how design and engineering processes might be applied in the creation of new course designs. At that time, we were both involved in the development of online courses for our university. We initially explored how system engineering approaches and the systems engineering vee model might be applied to support team-based course design processes. In parallel, drawing on experiences in the design of 3-D products, where sketches are used to communicate design ideas through the entire design process, we were considering different ways in which course design ideas might be shared. This developed into consideration of how the vee model structure could be applied to enable the visualisation of snapshots of course structures. 

During any design process, one challenge lies in providing designers with quick ways to visualise design ideas. For course design, this is a particular challenge because pedagogical structures are difficult to represent. This paper introduces EdVee: a course design tool that integrates the pedagogical principles of constructive alignment with the systems engineering vee model. Through two case studies, it explains how EdVee can be used to visualise the alignment or non-alignment between learning outcomes, learning activities, content, and assessment in a learning design. 

The authors argue that creating a one page “snapshot” of the pedagogical structure using the EdVee template is useful in a number of ways, particularly in the collaborative environment of online course design. Early in a course design process, EdVee can be used to create visual prototypes suitable for sharing, leading to opportunities for ideation and the creation of multiple iterations. Having a “prototype” to share between team members from different disciplines, or between novice and experienced staff, can be useful to propagate discussions around pedagogical design early in the design process—before valuable time is spent on course construction. 

The EdVee template can also be used as a diagnostic tool to identify alignment or non-alignment in an existing design. We hope you enjoy reading our paper and would be delighted to hear feedback or discuss opportunities for integrating the template and the ideas behind it into your projects.

Read the full TLI article here.

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