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Reflecting on the technology wheel activity

2 September 2019 Posted in: Articles, News Tagged: By: Gill Ritchie

At our annual event on July 3rd we ran 3 activities based around themes that are of particular interest at QMUL right now. One of these themes is ABC Learning Design which is a rapid design approach for blended teaching.

The approach has been developed by UCL, based on work from a JISC funded project and Dianne Laurillard’s work on Teaching as a Design Science. It has grown in popularity and now has a significant practitioner network both in the UK and beyond. We have been using aspects of the approach at QMUL over the past 18 months or so.

A module design represented by learning type cards placed on a storboard sheetThe heart of the ABC approach is a 90 minute highly interactive workshop in which staff work to produce a visual storyboard of the student journey through a module. As we only had 20 minutes at our event there was clearly not enough time to run a workshop but we wanted to do something give a flavour of what ABC is about and to generate some interest in the approach. We came up with an activity called “the technology wheel”. This was designed to get participants thinking about technology and the types of learning activity that it can support. Out of this we hoped that participants would:

  1. Get an introduction to the core concepts underlying the ABC approach
  2. Think about learning design in terms of the activities that students are engaged in
  3. Get an idea of the broad range of technologies available at QMUL

In a definitely lo-fi approach, the activity used good old paper and cards. In groups of 6 or 7 around a table, we asked the participants to consider the 6 different learning types:

We then asked them to look at a number of cards with the names of different technologies printed on them and to place these technologies onto a wheel according to the learning type(s) they thought they supported.

We got a number of interesting technology wheels created by the end of the activity.

We also encouraged people to add their own technologies through the use of the trusty post it note and we got a good few of those by the end of the session.

The activity sparked many interesting conversations:

  • Not everyone knew what all the technologies on the cards were. This gave an opportunity for people to find out more, especially about technologies that are supported at QMUL and the breadth of features that they provide.
  • There was lively discussion about which technologies supported which learning types. People shared thoughts about what the technologies might do while others were able to talk about what they did do as they were already using them
  • As people added their own technologies, we were able to find out the breadth of activity that people are engaged with and the common technologies that people like to use.

Feedback after the event tells us that people enjoyed the activity but felt they would like to have had some tangible “takeaways” or some follow up afterwards. We are currently in the process of updating our ABC Learning Design resources in response to this.

If you are interested in knowing more about ABC Learning Design, or taking part in a full 90 minute ABC Learning Design workshop, please get in contact with us on

Further information

ABC Learning Design page on the E-Learning Unit website.

Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology, Diana Laurillard, 2012.

The Viewpoints project a JISC funded project based at the University of Ulster where the storyboard and card designs originally came from.

Information on ABC Learning Design at UCL

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