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H809 – Wizards – Toolkits – frameworks (A7.4)

March 30, 2011

Wizards, toolkits and frameworks sounds more like features from a fantasy game 😉

No we, respectively Conole et al. (2004) is talking about tools that aim to improve teaching practice.

Wizard – software tool that makes decision on behalf of the user, based on solicited information drawing on pre-defined templates. The way in which these outputs are generated are normally hidden from the user. Restrictive, but easy to use software.

Toolkit – decision-making system based on expert models of a process derived from recognised theory’s and best practice. Toolkits are useful when a range of approaches could be used and where there is no single right answer to the problem, like in elearning. Provide a structured guiding framework, whilst also enabling flexibility and local contextualisation.

Framework – provides a theoretical overview of an area, can be used as a point of reference. Less restrictive than a toolkit, but as well less supportive because it is too general.Unsupportive  theoretical map.

Toolkits are somewhere between wizards and conceptual frameworks. They provide the necessary guidance, but are too to.

Conole et al. (2004) argue that the model has a number of used and applications:

  • as a framework for understanding learning theory
  • as a mechanism to locate learning theories and identify key characteristics
  • as a process of enabling practitioners to evaluate their own practice and making it more explicit
  • as a tool to help plan, design and profile learning opportunities

The authors claim that models serve two purposes:

  1. to visualising and categorising a theory space and to show the inter-relationships and connections between the different components
  2. to apply embodied theory to a particular application

Reading the rest of Conole et al.’s paper provided examples of the model in use which shed some more light how the model could be actually used. Although I think it is very important to review, analyse, compare, specify existing learning activities, to reflect how they could be improved as part of an iterative circle, seems Conole’s model pretty time intensive to apply. I can imagine that Conole’s model can be pretty effective for a general overhaul of a complete module or course. Applying it to my context as teacher I could imagine used it for an evaluation of a whole school year, reflecting what was good and what would need improvement.

Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M. and Seale, J. (2004) ‘Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design’, Computers & Education, vol. 43, nos. 1–2, pp. 17–33; also available online at (Accessed 2 December 2010).

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