Conole et al. (2004) advocate the use of toolboxes as ways to bridge theory and practice. Practitioners don’t have time to wade through wads of theoretical papers. As a result many designs are based on ‘commonsense’ rather than theoretically informed. The authors argue that theory-informed designs would improve quality and that toolkits are the ideal instrument to realize this:
They distinguish toolkits from wizards (which are black boxes, hiding the underlying decision process) and conceptual frameworks (which offer little practical use).
Some characteristics and key terms on toolkits in the article:
- for non-expert users to engage with theories
- elicit assumptions and theories
- decision-making systems
- reflect beliefs and assumptions of creator(s)
- guiding framework
- offer flexibility for local context
- informed decisions
- offer common language
- provide examples (if linked database)
- promote reflective practice
The toolkit presented in the paper is represented by a model
Learning activities such as brainstorming or presentation of materials can be mapped with the model, prompting reflection on the overall pedagogical balance and the types of learning supported.
The paper contains a welcome synthesis of learning theories. I’m less convinced about the practical value of the toolkit. Publishing the paper in a closed-access journal is not likely to contribute to its adoption by practitioners.