For 2016/17 I am working with Research IT Services (RITS) to create wholly online versions of some of their face-to-face courses.  At present RITS are unable to meet the demand for training, the purpose of the online courses is to alleviate the demand by providing an alternative equivalent training provision.

This work is being undertaken with the Research Software Development and Research Computing Services teams within RITS who are the content owners and current maintainers and deliverers of the face-to-face training.

The courses that are having online versions created are:

  • Introduction to High Performance/Throughput Computing
  • Introduction to Research Programming (Python)
  • some elements of Software Carpentry

Research Software development and Research Computing Services are both active members of wider research support communities, and in the spirit of these communities it was agreed that the new learning resources created would be done so as Open Educational Resources (OER).

Learning Design activities (A1, K1, K2)

In the video below David Perez-Suarez from the Research Software Development team explains some of the activities I have undertaken with Research IT Services.

Preliminary preparation for development of these courses involved my observation of the face-to-face courses, for some sessions audio recordings were made for later reference. I also undertook a FutureLearn in Supercomputing by EPCC. (K1, V3)

Learning design tasks undertaken to date include:

  • Identification and agreement of learning objectives
  • Facilitation of an ABC Learning Design workshop in collaboration with Digital Education team colleagues
  • Identification of learning resources for modification, decommissioning and creation.
  • Review and selection of agreed eLearning creation tool – Morea Framework (K4)


Photo of whiteboard showing learning resource planning
Learning resource planning
Flowchart of potential tools for course development
Potential course development tools



All the activities that have been undertaken to date for this project have taken a lot longer than expected. This is largely due to underestimating how much time many of the activities would take, and how much could be completed in two days of my time. There has been a conflict of priorities for the RITS groups as they have a number of large on-going projects, and although they would like the online courses they are not a top priority.

One of the key things I have learned is that due to my background in teaching and learning, I have a vocabulary and knowledge base that my colleagues in RITS do not. This was apparent in the ABC workshop when I was asked what was meant by MCQs (multi-choice questions). The workshop itself went better than I had initially thought it would, I felt that my RITS colleagues came away with a much better understanding of learning design.

I have always had a strong focus on skills, knowledge and understanding (SKU) and have always felt that the knowledge and understanding were more important than the skill element. Whereas RITS course design has had a heavy skills development focus, this was highlighted in the mapping of learning type during the ABC workshop as they were predominantly acquisition and practice. I am hoping the new courses will have a little more balance.

At the start of the project there were no formal objectives defined for these courses, success criteria were also not defined. Defining learning objectives (LOs) was the first task I asked content owners to complete. I assisted in this process by encouraging them to work collaboratively and by sharing resources on Bloom’s taxonomy, encouraging the use of Bloom’s terms in the LO statements. These are structured in the form a question, followed by the LO statements, very similar to those used for Software Carpentry lessons.

The online courses are now currently in development, I am hoping that this will be completed in time for the new academic year.


Ambrose, S. (2010). How learning works : Seven research-based principles for smart teaching (Jossey-Bass higher and adult education series Y). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Seale, J. (2014). E-learning and disability in higher education : Accessibility research and practice (Second ed.).