Make your cake and eat it too

Make your cake and eat it too – recipe for online learning

So yesterday a colleague and I presented at this years MoodleMoot Au 2011 in Sydney. We presented on the process, template and overall designs for the skin, structure and stuff (content) in Macquarie Univeristy’s new Moodle LMS configuration. Anyway, the moot was inspiring in many ways and out of it some started spouting metaphorically about design for learning online. The count is apparently up to 7 but my #6 contribution was ‘cake’. I love metaphors and really, whenever I speak I should just use metaphors.

Cakes are a combination of specifically selected ingredients that are so picked to create a particular flavour and texture in a cake. A Marble Cake is one that has the consistency of any other type of buttercake, however, the mixture is split into three layers of colours that are mixed in a marble effect. The chocolate, strawberry and vanilla mixtures come together in a beautiful swirl of sweet, soft and sumptuous cake. Then there are cakes that are more magnificent in their makeup! I love cakes like the Mortal Sin (available at Gloria Jeans) whose layers of milk, white and dark chocolate mousse come together in the most amazing blend of symmetrical layers. The recipe blends these beautiful flavours to make a mountain of awesome cake, which is very appropriately named.

Ok, so what does this all have to do with designing for online learning. A good online learning course is made up of so many elements or ingredients and that is what we addressed in our presentation yesterday. Just like a cake has the basic flour, eggs, and milk, a course needs skin, structure and stuff or a template, a framework and content. Then, if the cake is going to be really good, it will have vanilla, jam and cream in the middle and a lovely white chocolate ganache with rasberries on top (totally wanting cake lol). A course may have a great template, framework and and content but those enhancements that a killer LMS like Moodle offers are going to really make that cake…ooops course, awesome!!

When you design a course you want to have ingredients that are complimentary, perfectly balanced and appealing to the audience. You don’t go nuts with the milk in a cake otherwise the cake will be nothing but a really weird milkshake, similarly, you shouldn’t go overboard with any one type of resource or activity in an online course because it will overpower the wonderful flavours of the rest of the course.

When someone eats cake, they will probably comment of the balance of ingredients that make the cake what it is. Students will evaluate courses in the same way. They will experience the course and will taste slices of it and probably make comments on the ingredients. What do you want them to say?

More thoughts on this soon…

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