To develop a learning programme you should consider your target learners, their needs and context, and how they learn.

You will:

  • plan your learning approaches

  • consider your delivery methods

  • make your learning programme inclusive

  • plan how you will assess the learners

  • and you may procure educational resources from external bodies

Planning

See Standard 1.2 of NHS Education for Scotland’s ‘Quality Standards for Digital Learning Resources’ (NES 2017) for a useful checklist focussing on the learner/user of the learning programme.

Learning approaches

Learner-centred learning

'Learner-centred’ (or ‘student-centred') learning refers to learning which supports individuals to

  • approach activities in their own way and learn at their own pace

  • learn “anytime, anywhere” rather than in a traditional classroom setting

  • make choices about their own learning and contribute to the design and development of the learning

  • provide evidence of their learning in a variety of ways

  • learn collaboratively and using web technologies

  •   learn through enquiry and discovery

In addition, the theory of multiple intelligences is that all learners have a unique and complex mix of intelligences and that education should take this into account. The idea of learning styles – and how individual learners learn best – developed from this theory.  

Learners process information in different ways, either visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinaesthetic (touching). Your learning programme could be designed to take these different learning styles into account. However, some educators now question whether evidence shows that taking account of learning styles improves learning. What do you think?  Could you share and discuss your views with other educators?

Active learning

To design a learner-centred programme, you could use the concept of active learning which involves learners in engaging with their learning, applying knowledge and in reflecting on the outcomes.    

There are a number of key theories associated with active learning shown below.

Active learning results from enquiry-based or discovery learning where learners are asked to generate their own ideas, discuss peer to peer, share views and question others.

Collaborative learning is a key aspect of active learning – it uses a range of approaches where learners work together to solve problems.

Experiential learning means that the learner learns by doing, for example, through work experience or study programmes. Learners reflect and analyse their learning, learn from their mistakes and are accountable for their own learning.

Flipped learning is an approach which uses websites, applications and social media, known as ‘Pedagogy 2.0’. Pedagogy 2.0 uses interactive technology to support learners to collaborate, co-create and share content.  Learners undertake activities in advance of classroom or group sessions such as reading, listening to or watching material/content. This means group time can then be used to enhance understanding through discussion with peers and problem-solving.

Further Information

For further information on learning styles see:

 For further information on active learning:

 For further information on experiential learning:

 For further information on flipped learning and Pedagogy 2.0:

Considering delivery methods

There are three main types of delivery methods for learning programmes

  • classroom based – face-to-face sessions with a teacher/facilitator

  • e-learning (or ‘online learning’) – learners engage with online learning programmes, using web 2.0 technologies

  • blended learning – classroom-based teaching combined with e-learning e.g. webinars with independent study

The delivery method you choose for your programme depends on your learners, your learning aims and outcomes and where your learners are, as well as the resources and time available!

Your learning programme should include a description of the delivery method(s) you have used and a rationale for this.

Differentiation

Whatever your delivery method, you should consider how you will cater for different learning needs.  Differentiation means adapting learning content and activities so that all learners can access the learning. It takes account of the learner’s readiness to learn, needs, interests and motivation. You can differentiate by 

  • task (setting different tasks for learners of different abilities)   

  • group (using mixed ability rather than ability groups)  

  • resources (using a range of materials and media) 

  • outcome (learners evidence their learning in different ways) 

Further information

For more information on differentiation, see 

Making your learning programme inclusive

A wide variety of personal and social characteristics can impact on learning. Making your learning programme inclusive means considering these characteristics and designing learning to remove any barriers which might arise from them.

These characteristics can include

  • disability (eg, sensory impairments, physical impairments)

  • differences in cognitive processing (eg, specific learning differences like dyslexia, factors which affect concentration or memory)

  • differences in educational experience or background (level of education; national systems of education; social or cultural differences in educational experience; different educational disciplines)

  • generational differences in learning experience

  • digital skills – including the critical use of digital resources for learning

  • literacy

  • speaking English as a second or other language

  • gender

  • other social characteristics, particularly in social learning

These characteristics can influence or impact learning, for example 

  • Physical access to learning 

  • Digital exclusion  

  • Reading ease/fluency/comprehension 

  • Having or not having the right context or background knowledge 

  • Understanding assessment processes and being able to carry them out 

  • Group dynamics in learning – in classroom, small groups or projects 

  • Critical skills or analysis 

  • Physical skills or manual dexterity 

Disabled learners have a right to equality of opportunity at all stages of learning. Inclusive learning is an approach which helps us to deliver this legal responsibility. To make your learning programme as inclusive as possible, ensure that you make reasonable adjustments for any specific learning needs. Talk to learners about how specific issues affect them. Ask the learner about specific requirements or concerns and agree together how you will support him or her. Be flexible in how students provide evidence and how this will be assessed.

 

Digital accessibility

The 2018 accessibility regulations require online content to conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) AA standard. This helps to ensure that our digital education can be used and understood by everyone, including people with disabilities such as visual, hearing, or motor impairments, or learning difficulties like dyslexia.

Digital accessibility means considering the different ways that people might use our resources. We need to do things like:

  • provide captions for videos
  • check that documents are compatible with screen readers
  • make sure that resources can be navigated using a keyboard.

Ensuring that content is accessible may require you to develop resources in a new way, so it’s important to consider at the planning stage. It is also much easier to build in accessibility features than to try to fix issues once a resource has been created.

Standard 3 of NHS Education for Scotland’s ‘Quality Standards for Digital Learning Resources’ (NES 2017) provides a useful summary of the issues around inclusion for e-learning.

Further Information

For practical advice on inclusive learning design, see:

For more information on reasonable adjustments, see

For more information on how to make digital content accessible, see:

For more specific information on supporting learners with additional learning support needs, particularly in the areas of literacy, ESOL and digital skills, see the Skills for Learning at Work website.

Assessment

As learners, we all have experience of educational assessment, including formal examinations for qualifications, knowledge checks in e-learning modules, practical demonstrations of competence (such as the driving test) and so on.  But choosing the best assessment and getting it right requires some careful thought. This section of Guidance for Educators will point you towards some key considerations. 

Why is assessment so important? 

Assessment is an often-omitted part of the teaching / training / development journey. But it is a vital part of this journey. If we do not assess learning, we do not know how much or how well people have learned or what they still have to learn.  

If we do not have any evidence as to what people have learned, we have no way of knowing whether they will go on to apply any new knowledge in the workplace. 

We can also use assessment to find out what people still need to learn, and to support and streamline their future learning

What do we need to think about when we think about assessment? 

The first thing we need to consider is why we are assessing. What is the purpose? Is it to make sure someone has sufficient knowledge to be safe in a clinical situation? Or to find out where a group of learners are at before they begin their learning journey? Or any number of other reasons. 

Once we are clear what the purpose is, and who the people taking the test are, we can think about everything else: 

  • What to test 

  • How to test  

  • Where to test. 

It is important to always think about the impact of the assessment, how practicable it is and how you will ensure its quality. 

Further information 

See Standard 1.4 of NHS Education for Scotland’s ‘Quality Standards for Digital Learning Resources’ (NES 2017) for a summary of the assessment issues that should be considered during the planning process. Although aimed at those creating digital learning resources, most of the standards are equally applicable to other types of teaching and learning.

Procuring educational resources from external bodies

When commissioning resources from external bodies, early engagement with your procurement team will influence the quality and consistency of approach and is likely to save you work and streamline the process to procurement and beyond. See Standard 5 of NHS Education for Scotland’s ‘Quality Standards for Digital Learning Resources’ (NES 2017).

Further resources

The Knowledge Network's K2A Support Centre provides guidance and tools to help you find, share and use knowledge to make sure your educational resources are based on the latest available evidence.  

Resources include: