Addressing Common Challenges

Moving from where we are to where we want to be.

The 7Cs of Learning Design work with and support academic course teams systematically in terms of pedagogic design, production and presentation.

Where we are Where we want to be

Modules are usually allocated to individual tutors or external consultants

A team approach to learning design

Individuals ‘write’ their distance learning (DL) course materials in silos, with little collaboration or support

Teams design courses rather than ‘write materials’

Production is content-focused, with little understanding of sound DL pedagogy or learning design

Pedagogical, technical and library support available from the start

Content is just one component of the course; pedagogically sound tasks (or ‘e-tivities’) are central to all designs

There might be resistance to using high-quality resources developed by others

Existing high-quality content such as open educational resources are integrated into courses

Printed versions of materials are often shipped to DL students at great cost

Printing costs are reduced through smart uses of technology, including e-book readers

Modules are ‘delivered’ to students, who work entirely at their own pace and require personalised, expensive support throughout the course and fail to benefit from peer input

Structured, participative task-based collaboration provides DL students with focus and cohesion


Some tutors may lack basic e-moderating skills

Tutors are skilled e-moderators

‘Cohorts’ may not operate as such; structured group work can be minimal or non-existent

‘Flexible cohorts’ maximise the impact of tutor input and peer collaboration

Assessment is very traditional

Assessment is considered right from the start of any design process

Assessment is innovative and capitalises on the online work carried out during the course

Pedagogical innovation is largely under-utilised

Good practice in DL informs on-campus learning and teaching

The affordances of technologies are not fully exploited

Appropriate technologies are embedded within sound, consistent learning design

Associate Tutors are on a range of different contracts with different responsibilities

Associate Tutors’ contracts, responsibilities, skills and support are agreed and consistent

Learner isolation increases and retention drops

Increased learner motivation and retention through peer interaction

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Further information

If you are interested in applying the 7Cs of Learning Design to your course, please contact in the first instance:

Terese Bird