Designing Innovative Courses with Self-Determined / Heutagogical Learning Pathway Mapping

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Expanding upon last’s year’s customizable pathways session, this innovation lab will look at how to design courses that allow learners to map and follow their own personalized learning pathway. Based on the dual-layer MOOC model (DALMOOC / HumanMOOC), this lab will look at current ideas and future directions as well.


I am a Learning Innovation Researcher for The University of Texas at Arlington's Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) Research Lab. I have been involved in education since 1994. I created my first web page in 2000 - which I used to deliver supplemental materials to an 8th grade Science class I was teaching at that time. I have been involved in distance education in some way ever since then. In March 2007 I started EduGeek Journal, an online community promoting educational technology. I also regularly present at conferences, as well as lead instructional classes on different aspects of online learning and other issues. I am also part-time faculty at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, where I teach Masters and Doctoral courses in Educational Technology and Instructional Design. My goal in education is to bring a deeper level of professionalism to online learning by increasing learner agency and equality in every class I design or teach. Several classes that I have worked on have won awards from the U.S. Distance Learning Association for innovations in online learning.

Extended Abstract

Following the ideas discussed at last years’ Innovative Customizable Pathways / Dual-Layer MOOC Course Design session, this innovation lab will continue the conversation by examining methods for designing courses based on current pathways research. Customizable pathways design and dual-layer MOOCs have evolved into the idea of “self-determined learning pathway mapping.” Instead of focusing on the theory of how the course is designed, research has highlighted the need to decrease “design presence” while helping learners focus on creating their own custom pathway map. Learners will take the parts of the modalities and course content that they need for their specific sociocultural context, and mix those elements with their personal learning network to design their own learning pathway map.

Participants in this session will work collaboratively to transform current courses or design future courses with pathway mapping in mind. Since these concepts are newer/emerging to many, working in a group will help bring more ideas to the table for each participant. Group work will focus on transitioning from objectives to competencies, how to design assignment banks, how to lead learners in designing pathways, and how to use open rubrics to tie together assessment of diverse pathways.

At the conclusion of the session, participants will have the beginnings of an innovative course design that unleashes learner agency and self-determined learning (also known as heutagogy). This initial course design framework can be expanded into a full course and/or transferred to other courses as well. The take-away from this lab will be the initial steps along the path to realizing learner agency in a course.

This session will also look at the current and future research surrounding learning pathways. Participants will get to see how new technologies currently being developed – such as mapping software, ProSolo, and other options – will shape pathways mapping in the future. Additionally, we will also touch on how current tools such as WordPress and Storify can be used as DIY options for supporting learners as they move into self-determined learning.