SEDA Fellowships Annual CPD Event

ABC blended learning (re)design: how to engage your academics rapidly and at scale

13 November 2019

Location: Rum and Eigg Room, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Leeds City Centre

A workshop led by Clive Young and Nataša Perović, University College London

Open to: Holders of SFSEDA, FSEDA and AFSEDA, and registrants.

The event will commence at 18.30 with a buffet supper at approximately 20.00. It will take place in the Rum and Eigg Room.

The event is free for all Fellowship holders and registrants and £30.00 for others. Please book for the event via the booking form for the SEDA Autumn Conference 2019.


In these resource/time constrained times how can we design rich blended and online courses effectively and efficiently and/or help our time-pressured academics to do the same?  UCL has developed ABC LD, an effective and engaging learning design method, that is being used with great success in many European higher education institutions. In this 90 minute workshop colleagues work together to create a visual “storyboard” using cards to outline the type and sequence of learning activities, (both online and offline, required to meet the course’s learning outcomes). ABC is particularly useful for new courses or those changing to an online or more blended format. The ABC LD method is being used for learning design, academic development, strategic development, review of technical and support environment and analytics.

Description of workshop

The ABC is a card-based method of a curriculum design. The ABC workshop was developed from Viewpoints curriculum design method (Viewpoints project 2008-2012) and takes an activity-based approach based on Laurillard’s (2012) Learning types. The six learning types are acquisition; inquiry; practice; production; discussion and collaboration, and these form the ABC six-card set. On one side of a card, a learning type is defined (principle) and on the other side are conventional and digital learning activities (practice).  At least two members of the team involved in programme or module development attend a workshop. They bring the module specifications (or programme overview) with learning outcomes to the workshop. Several, if not all, modules in a programme are usually addressed in a single session

This workshop session follows the rapid course development format and will introduce participants to ABC tools.

Benefits of ABC

By necessity this rapid-development approach focuses on a simple set of pedagogic principles. Rather than being restrictive this has been found to generate discussion about the fundamental purposes of the programme and foregrounds the student experience. The workshop itself is structured to encourage collective discussion with a focus on collaboration and consensus, starting with the initial ‘tweet’ exercise. An important aspect of ABC is the staged progression from broad abstraction to concrete activities. Storyboarding provides a visual narrative that teams find easy to work with and the paper-based format encourages creativity and reworking. The cards themselves act as an aide memoire of potential activities, helping to bring pedagogic diversity to the design. Assessment and feedback also become a natural element of this form of activity-based design rather than driving the module structure. The workshop will show how this method can be used to engage academics. 

Objectives of the workshop

  • To introduce and use the ABC rapid course design method
  • To develop sample storyboard of a course
  • To familiarise participants with the Laurillard’s learning types
  • To review the applicability of this type of approach in their practice

Rationale for the importance/currency/need for the workshop

  • To help ourselves and our time-pressured academics design rich blended and online courses
  • To share a successful method used in a large research-based university

Format of the session (provisional agenda)

The seating in the room is organised for around a table group work. Each group is set up for work on one course which will be agreed by negotiation (so do bring along a module or course you’d like to work on). The workshop is organised in following manner:

  • Brief presentation introducing the toolkit elements and the pedagogical rationale.
  • The first task for the groups is to agree on a tweet size description (strapline, unique selling point, value proposition etc.) of the module/programme and write it on the workshop graph sheet. Group leaders/spoke-person also report this back to the facilitators.
  • The participants then draw the rough “shape” of their programme as they envisage it initially as represented by learning types on a spider graph (e.g. how much practice, or collaboration) and the envisaged blend of face-to-face and online.
  • Next the team plan the distribution of each learning type by selecting and arranging the postcard-sized learning types cards along the timeline of the module, represented by a large A1 sized paper ‘canvas’.
  • With this outline agreed participants turn over the cards. On the back of each card is a list of online and conventional activities associated with each learning types and the team can pick (by ticking) from this list or write in their own. The type and range of learner activities soon becomes clear and the cards often suggest new approaches. The aim of this process is not to advocate any ‘ideal’ mix but to stimulate a structured conversation among the team.
  • Once learning activities are selected and agreed, participants identify opportunities for formative and summative assessment, represented by affixing silver (formative) and gold (summative) stars to the activities.
  • By this point module/programme development team have a visual “storyboard” of the sequence and type of learning and assessment activities on the module/programme.
  • The storyboard can be used to highlight alignment with institutional strategies, create a narrative for students, prioritise areas of blended or technical development and so on.   

Presentation format

PowerPoint presentation.

Ways in which the audience is encouraged to participate

Hands on group work using ABC toolkit (paper based cards, graphs and design sheets). Participants use ABC method to design a module by the end of the workshop.


Outcome measures

By the end of the workshop engaged participants will:

  • Be able to identify and plan the blend of conventional and online activities for their course.
  • Organise learning types activities in the manner that is appropriate for their course.
  • Have an overview of a student journey on their course and understand how and why their course is blended.



ABC (Arena Blended Connected) learning design

Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. New York and London: Routledge.

Viewpoints project (2008-2013) Retrieved from:

Young, C. and Perović, N. (2016). Rapid and Creative Course Design: As Easy as ABC? Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 228, pp.390-395



Dr Clive Young is the Digital Education Advisory Team Leader at University College London supporting the adoption of UCL learning and teaching strategies across four Schools and numerous departments. He was for 10 years an associate lecturer at the UK Open University on the MA in Online and Distance Education. He has instigated and led numerous institutional, national and international projects and his current interests include institutional change models, media pedagogy and learning design. Dr Young is the co-developer of the widely-used ABC learning design method.

Nataša Perović is the Digital Education Advisor at University College London supporting the adoption of UCL’s learning and teaching strategies across the School of Life and Medical Sciences and implementation of ABC LD method across UCL. She also contributes to academic development sessions in UCL Arena Centre for Research-based Education. She has a background in science, web development and teaching and has been working on e-learning development in medical and allied health sciences in higher education since 2006. She is particularly interested in learning design, blended learning, open educational resources and use of media in education. Nataša is the co-developer of the ABC learning design method, now used worldwide and is a member of the Erasmus + project ABCtoVLE UCL team.


We look forward to seeing you there.

Sarah Wilson-Medhurst, SEDA Fellowships Co-ordinator


A member of the International Consortium for Educational Development
Registered charity no. 1089537
Registered company no. 3709481