Assembling the heterogeneous elements for digital learning

How to share design knowledge in design for digital learning?

The following are associated with an ASCILITE’2019 presentation. A full copy of the paper is available from this blog or the conference proceedings PDF. Below you will find:

  • Copy of the abstract;
  • Embedded version of the presentation;(Download the updated Powerpoint original for the full animated glory)
  • Pointers to the relevant github repositories;
  • References used in the presentation; and,
  • Attributions for the CC images in the presentation.


Higher education is being challenged to improve the quality of learning and teaching while at the same time dealing with challenges such as reduced funding and increasing complexity. Design for learning has been proposed as one way to address this challenge, but a question remains around how to sustainably harness all the diverse knowledge required for effective design for digital learning. This paper proposes some initial design principles embodied in the idea of Context-Appropriate Scaffolding Assemblages (CASA) as one potential answer. These principles arose out of prior theory and work, contemporary digital learning practices and the early cycles of an Action Design Research process that developed two digital ensemble artefacts for 7 courses (units, subjects) and in less than a year been used in over 60 sites. Experience with this approach suggests it can successfully increase the level of design knowledge embedded in digital learning experiences, identify and address shortcomings with current practice, and have a positive impact on the quality of the learning environment.


Slideshare doesn’t support animation, so some impact missing (especially slide 63’s animated GIF). One solution is to download the original Powerpoint file (which has also been updated).

Code and github repositories

This paper draws on the experience developing the Card and Content Interface. Javascript+CSS developed for Blackboard Learn at my current institution. It is possible to set these up to work at other institutions. The Card Interface would be the simplest. Both the Card Interface and Content Interface have github repositories.


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Behnke, J. (2018). Content editor HTML vs. PDF? Retrieved February 24, 2019, from Blackboard Community website:

Bennett, S., Agostinho, S., & Lockyer, L. (2017). The process of designing for learning: understanding university teachers’ design work. Educational Technology Research & Development, 65(1), 125–145.

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Fischer, G., & Girgensohn, A. (1990). End-user Modifiability in Design Environments. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 183–192.

Goodyear, P. (2015). Teaching As Design. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 2, 27–59.

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Image attributions

Why did the chicken cross the road? flickr photo by bortescristian shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

what flickr photo by Vikki-Lea shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How flickr photo by Infrogmation shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Why flickr photo by Jeremiah Vandermeer shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

KNOWLEDGE flickr photo by Troels Myrup shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Diamond road sign steep incline By User:Stannereden:Image:Diamond road sign steep incline.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

King playing cards
By Enoch LauOwn work (photo), CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Warning on the French Cigarettes Pack
By The original uploader was Arolga at English Wikipedia.
(Original text: Encyclopedia of Cigarettes) –, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Context is King flickr photo by _rebeccajackson shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Scaffold flickr photo by OiMax shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Sarah Ionnides – Conducting
By Izabel.zambrzyckiOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

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