Co-Creation – Shifting towards More Inclusive Learning

Approaches of co-creation in online learning address more than just the question of how to distribute the workload for instructional design and media development. Traditional instructional design processes are often based on top-down approaches. In these conventional content development strategies, the pedagogical all-knowing instructional designer defines objectives, content and methods of learning while learners are stuck with the role of the recipients.

Co-creation shifts to a more inclusive learning design process. Clients, stakeholders, instructional designers, subject matter experts and target group representatives embark on a joint journey to define the learning products together.

Well implemented co-creative learning design embraces and combines ideas from critical pedagogy, agile development and design thinking. The iterative and co-creation learning design in developing and designing learning products thus becomes an organizational learning process in itself in which the organization learns as much (if not more) than through the implementation of the finalized courses.

The eLearning consultants at common sense in Vienna (Austria) have been implementing co-creation processes with eLearning teams in more than 200 projects in 60+ countries.

One of the clients of common sense – eLearning & training consultants GmbH is an Austrian Hospital Network with approx. 10,000 staff. For the past 5 years, common sense has supported the training department through co-creation processes with a wide variety of groups.

Course development projects for these groups are usually set up with a number of different stakeholders. In the beginning of a project, the common sense team assembles them all to jointly draft the process and design the curriculum. A project on Data Security, for example, includes administrative staff, doctors, nurses, the corporate lawyer, representatives of patients, etc. Together, they decide in a creative process, which contents might be useful for the individual, and which processes will support the organizational requirements best. The contents then are being developed in cooperation with the individual stakeholders or their representatives. Instead of the presentation of factual knowledge they bring in their application contexts in the format of stories and case studies.

The co-development process for example of the data security compliance training led to a lively training format with engaging interactive video sequences based on realistic scenarios. These were filmed at the hospitals with staff as actors. The development process on the one side led to institutional learning on what data security means in the context in the hospitals and on the other side on the individual learner level to relevant learning content, which even gained a high popularity (which is rare for data security compliance training!).

In international development cooperation projects, co-creation approaches assist to ensure the local relevance, adequateness, and applicability of learning solutions, which will be demonstrated with the following example. On behalf of the German development cooperation agency GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) an African ministry was been supported by common sense and its partners in the integration of learning technology teacher training in primary education.

The project was implemented in the wider scope of a curriculum reform, changing the teaching paradigm from traditional teaching to inquiry-based learning approaches. In the scope of this project, a course on using ICT in teaching and learning was developed. The first batch of trainees were included in the training design and were subsequently trained as trainers of trainers for the following course iterations. These were closely monitored and the training was jointly revised after each round. The revision included both the further development of the content (for example to include approaches that were locally more relevant) as well as technical improvements to ensure the accessibility of the course for participants in different environments.

This iterative and agile approach was required, because no systematic local experiences in teaching and learning with ICT in primary school teacher education were available. The iterative adaptations helped to gradually tailor the course to the local needs and requirements and to continuously improve it. All partners involved, from international consultants, the contractors from GIZ, the Ministry of Education, the Teacher Training Colleges were all part of the same learning experience – together with the participants.

These two examples for eLearning-related co-creation processes in Europe and Africa  highlight a number of experiences

Let’s summarize them in the form of some important “lessons learnt”:

  • Ownership: Courses and content co-developed with members of the target group usually generate a higher uptake, and participating learners tend to promote courses where they not only participated, but which they co-created.
  • Usefulness and relevancy of content and courses: Courses created in Co-Creation processes tend to be more useful to participants, since they match the reality of users and creators alike. They tend to properly capture the existing requirements and frameworks. Users usually feel that such courses are actually useful and support their individual growth as well as corporate or organizational development.
  • Motivation and improved learning outcomes: Courses that are more relevant lead to higher motivation amongst learners. Lower drop-out rate, higher grades or higher levels of uptake are the results.
  • Learning Organization: Co-Creation engages participants of the learning process on different levels, from content matter experts to learners to course management to organizational development. This way, it is one building block of the culture change towards the Learning Organization. The development of learning content and courses is already part of the institutional learning process.
  • Meaningful Learning: According to critical pedagogy, meaningful learning never happens top-down, but in a joint process of creating awareness and naming things and processes. In this sense learning is never a ready made product, but an iterative process. By including the learners and their organization in the setup and creation of learning content and processes, their learning process already starts through the co-creation process and thus leads to more meaningful results.

Written for OEB21 by Andreas Hörfurter (Managing Director) & Arndt Bubenzer (CEO) of common sense. Make sure to meet with common sense at the exhibition to hear more about their activities

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