Designing a Pedagogical Scenario

Would you like to create a teaching scenario for your module but don’t know where to start? Or what tool to use? Here are some tips and a tool that will make it easier for you to create a useful, complete and understandable scenario.  


Why create a pedagogical scenario?

For the teacher

A scenario helps you think about your content, imagine learning activities, choose assessment methods and then organise all these elements within your module. This is all the more important in distance or blended learning as there is less room for improvisation and you need to ensure the coherence of your module, by linking synchronous and asynchronous times, or face-to-face and distance learning activities. .

Designing a learning scenario will also allow you to highlight any inconsistencies, gaps, questions or doubts that you may have about your course. It helps you take a step back and visualise the development of your scenario, to ensure that your learning activities are relevant to the learning objectives you are aiming for and that the assessment methods really do help you achieve these objectives. This is a back-and-forth process between developing your module and designing the scenario, with one feeding into and enriching the other, and vice versa.

For the student

The teaching scenario offers a clear and overall vision that guides the student through the semester on the different topics that will be covered, the dates of the synchronous or face-to-face meetings, the assessment modalities and the different deadlines. They can then organise themselves according to their other modules and obligations. It helps them better plan their work, and anticipate their participation in synchronous meetings, important deadlines, etc. This is of great benefit to the students as they learn better when they understand the course’s objectives, the syllabus and the assessment procedures.

This can also be a factor in allowing them to choose one module over another (depending on their availability or the different objects of evaluation).


What do we need to pay attention to?

To develop your module and scenario, you will have to make choices. Some of these will be clear to you when you write your script, others will be clear when you design the scenario. Here are the questions you need to answer:

  • Which topics you will cover in the module?
  • Which resources will you use and make available to students (scientific resources, PowerPoint presentations, videos, links, etc.)?
  • What learning activities should the students carry out? Are there any formative assessments? What are the deadlines for these activities? What feedback will you give to help the student develop?
  • How will the learning be assessed? Is the work done individually or in groups? How many assessment items are there? How is each item weighted? Are students assessed through a quiz, a written assignment, a video, an oral exam, etc.? What are the deadlines for these different activities?
  • What is the time line of all these elements? Do you have to finish a topic or an activity to start a new one? Can some activities take place in parallel? What are the deadlines for the different elements of your module? Which activities are synchronous and which are asynchronous? When do you offer online or in-presence class meetings?

A tool to create a pedagogical scenario

We developed a tool to help teachers and instructional designers to create a pedagogical scenario. We chose to use Excel as easy to access and most people have at least a basic knowledge of its functionalities. It can be used offline, or you can share it online to work on it as a team.

In the above file, you will find the following items:

  • A time axis, which you can divide into weeks, periods, months, or even a combination of different time frames (e.g. indicate periods and weeks). Choose what you think is most relevant for your module.
  • A row of topics you will cover. Each theme is given a colour, which is then used for all the related resources, activities, or assessments.
  • A row of resources you intend to make available. You can list the general resources that you will use throughout the module, or you can place a specific resource related to a particular theme or activity on the time axis.
  • A line for student activities and outputs: here we have chosen to group learning activities, formative assessments, and summative assessments. These require students to engage with the content to support learning. To differentiate the types of activity we use different formats (see legend): a white background and coloured outline for general learning activities, a coloured hatched background for formative activities and a solid-coloured background for summative assessments. The colours used are the same as for the theme they are related to. Finally, summative activities include their weight in the final grade (usually as a percentage).
  • A row for interactions: whether forums, face-to-face or remote meetings, asynchronous exchanges, collaborative work, etc., you should include all the required and suggested interactions between you and your students or just between your students. The clock symbol indicates when an interaction is synchronous.
  • A row for guidance: This groups all the synchronous or asynchronous interactions that you undertake to support students in their learning. For example, feedback, FAQ sessions, office hours, appointments on request.

A legend is integrated directly into the document. It has several functions:

  • Colour codes, symbols, hatchings, etc. are clear to anyone reading your scenario as their meaning is directly specified in the legend.
  • It saves you time as you can directly copy the elements of the legend and copy them onto your time axis, before making the necessary modifications (colour, content, etc.). For those who are less comfortable with Excel, the ‘Using this tool’ tab gives tips and images to help you use the items from the legend effectively (how to select several elements at the same time, how to group or ungroup them, how to modify the outline or background of a shape, etc.)

The legend covers the following elements:

  • The topics covered
  • Learning activities (white background and coloured outline), formative assessments (coloured hatched background) and summative assessments (solid-coloured background).
  • The social form of the different activities can also be specified: is the work done individually, in groups, as a whole class or is there a choice? This information is particularly important for assessment items.
  • The small clock symbol indicates that an activity or assessment is synchronous.
  • In addition, class meetings (whether online or in-person) are clearly indicated.
  • You can specify how you intend to give feedback to your students’ work (by email, directly via Moodle, via a synchronous meeting, etc.) Feedback is essential for the student as it allows them to understand what they can improve and how.
  • Finally, the arrows show the links between activities: what themes are linked, which activities are interdependent, highlighting the overall coherence of the activities.

What about you? Do you design a scenario for your modules? Which tools do you know or use? What criteria are important to you? Do you have any tips, anecdotes, advice, or would you like to share your experience of course design? Do contact us at the following address: edudl@unidistance.ch .

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