OEB 2016: Gilly Salmon and “Carpe Diem”

At OEB 2014 I attended a workshop on Transferring face-to-face courses to online courses which included an introduction to what is known as storyboarding courses. The main idea is to make a fairly detailed plan for the sequence and content of student activities in the classroom as well as outside in order to create a logically coherent structure which will lead the students to the designed outcome of the course or module. Storyboarding differs from traditional course planning in that courses are planned backwards – teachers are required to consider if and how any given learning activity contributes to the learning goals. “Carpe Diem”, which was developed by Gilly Salmon, expands storyboarding by making a framework for groups of teachers or instructors for how to run the design process. Basically a “Carpe Diem” process is performed as a two-day intensive workshop beginning with a course blueprint and then adding storyboarding, the development of prototypes for course activities (especially those run outside of the classroom), a reality check with external participants reviewing the storyboard and the prototypes and finally a process of reviewing and adjustment.

If I go back to the 2014 workshop, I and a collegue who also participated in that workshop agreed that storyboarding would be relevant to implement in the revision of our distance programme but we failed to put this into practice. One obvious answer could be that our department hadn’t thought of making this an embedded practice in the review of course modules, so a “Carpe Diem” process for the Social Work programme might be the solution to the problem with introducing storyboarding.

Some sceptical perspectives on the “Carpe Diem” framwork could point to the fact that it is intrinsically linked with the learning goal-orientede way of running higher education. The storyboarding may on the one hand expand the domain of learning from the classroom to everything students do related to a specific course or programme while on the other hand limiting learning to a pre-set list of goals. The room for activities that are not initiated, controlled and assessed by a teacher may be so limited that students will learn how to encounter the unexpected and use their own curiosity in a learning process. In this way, the higher education institution and the formal education system takes – or at least aims to take – total control of students’ learning.

Another, very practical, issue might be that teachers are working on a number of course modules at the same time which may make it hard to run “Carpe Diems” on more that two or three course modules on the same time while planning also has to take the distributon of the work load of individual teachers into account. Similarly, the successful implementation of the “Carpe Diem” plan relies on the scheduling staff (and software) to respect the sequencing included in the plan.