A digital first approach to curriculum design and delivery — Part 2

Here’s the second post following the workshop held at ALT-C in September 2015. Whilst it was the first TEL conference that I’ve spoken at, on reflection I was a little out of my depth and although I really valued the experience, there were a few lessons to be learnt for next time.

I think it reads well, but doesn’t entirely translate to a workshop. I also think that I’m a little out of date with my topic, as some people reminded me at the workshop — we’ve moved on. My own challenge was to tackle something that pushed me in terms of my specialism. I’m someone working to create media for learning and research, but I wanted to touch on some of the issues that we’re facing in implementing technology into education.

I thought it would be good to put this up whilst I’m spending a few days thinking about a paper that I’d like to submit for this year’s conference. Your comments as always are welcome.


Does a digital first approach offer institutions and individual educators a compelling story to support change both in their own practice and in the delivery of their teaching & learning?

Everyone from the “British Government to Starbucks is restructuring for the digital age”; a digital first approach is fast-becoming this ubiquitous phrase, from marketing to journalism to government, business strategies are being reformulated and planned to lead with a digital strategy, not just as a desire but as a first principle, as a progressive way to engage with audiences and users. Perhaps educators could benefit from being digital first, to better engage with learners, researchers and those in enterprise?

The following paper explores how we as educators might adopt the language of digital strategists to facilitate change amongst our institutions and whether parallels can be drawn in the way those in Marketing, Design or Journalism. tackled a changing landscape and those in Education.

A digital first strategy does not denote “only-digital”, instead it ensures an understanding of online or web accessible content, digital audio file, digital video or other digital media, that is enhanced through analogue means, for instance public talk, print literature, performance, seminar or object. In this way we see parallels in the adoption of flipped learning or blended delivery, with an emphasis on a changed approach to curriculum design and delivery. Digital suggests a new landscape, one of experiential design, agile project management and iteration, big data, MOOCs, journey mapping, social connectivism, hacking and mashing.

Learning design that implements the digital first principle could offer an opportunity to create a course that is blended, flips learning, uses contact hours more effectively; takes every opportunity for active learning; backed by consistent learning objectives, stretches and challenges, employs a variety of assessment tools and builds on two-way feedback. In this paper we will focus on Curriculum Design and Delivery as an example of where a Digital first approach could be readily adopted.

An educational institution might adopt a digital first approach for many of the same reasons a newspaper or marketing agency might, for instance it might see it as a progressive approach, an effective method of packaging “change” or it could be a recognisable and accessible concept that those in education can adopt just as easily, a common narrative for change, tackling head on the need for digital literacies and digital confidence as highlighted by ALT and JISC.


Delegates attending this session will explore how they could adopt this approach within their own institutions, addressing affordances and challenges. A proposed activity would include the opportunity to create a process for implementing a digital first approach to curriculum design. How would you begin? What would you need? What would a course designed in this way feel like? Using the The Post-it® Plus App to capture ideas, delegates would take the first steps to implementing this new approach.


ALT survey on the effective use of learning technology in …