Learning Design communities UNFOLD
Wilbert Kraan, CETIS staff
July 12, 2004

Not even Einstein could have conjured up something like the theory of relativity in isolation. For that, you need a community of practice. In that respect, implementing, teaching with or authoring Learning Design is no different. The EU sponsored UNFOLD project aims to provide the infrastructure and the expertise to help people form just such communities. The aim: the collaborative building of best practice in the Learning Design area.

Ever since web-based e-learning came onto the scene, people have sought to combine the flexibility and collaborative learning possibilities of the medium with interoperability. So far, no complete solutions have magically appeared out of top hats.

You can have pedagogically interesting learning experiences, but those are often limited to just that one activity in the one tool. You can also have interoperability, but that tends to be of the single learner, pile of content + test variety. Having both, and the flexibility to author and run those activities that you want turns out to be a collective aim rather than a single person's achievement.

But since so many want interesting and powerful on-line learning activities ASAP, it makes sense to speed things up by giving the community some infrastructure and common resources.

The UNFOLD project seeks to do that by starting with the IMS Learning Design specification. The partners in the venture —The University of Pompeu Fabra, The Open University of the Netherlands, Bolton Institute and the European Continuing Education Network— involve the original authors of the spec and some of the foremost experts in technology enabled learning. UNFOLD will pool that expertise and knowledge in knowledgebases and online fora for the three communities of practice.

But just gathering "the experts" is little use without the real experts: the people who will actually teach online, people who write re-useable learning designs and those who code the software that runs all that stuff.

They will be invited to participate in the fora, contribute articles and other documentation and join in online debates. Or just lurk on the mailing lists.

To provide some focal points for the process, some on and off-line events will also be organised. Beginning with an online session on Friday July 16th 2004, around a paper by IMS Learning Design co-author (and CETIS director) Bill Olivier on the latest developments around Learning Design implementations. A paper and possibly a set of slides will be available from Tuesday 13th. Following that, a face-to-face meeting is planned in Barcelona from the 8th 'till the 10th of September.


All information about UNFOLD, and a home for two of the communities are all to be found on the UNFOLD website.