Phenomenography: Developing An Online Course

The science of andragogy is understanding and supporting lifelong learning in adult learners and developing the teaching of adult learners (Knowles, Holton & Swanson, 2011). This discussion on the main conditions around contemporary learning utilising a phenomenological theoretical framework environment is aimed to improve learning and the philosophy of knowledge.


A student centred educationally developed course, with the environment developed from the instructor having walked in the student’s shoes. “Instructors must then not only ask “What is learned?” and “What is transferred?”, but also “What should be learned?” and “What should be transferred?” (Marton, 2006).

Background on Phenomenographic & Variation Theory.

Phenomenography/Variation Online Course (E-Learning)

  • Variation would be the nature of the course to provide adaptability and agility of the course and the student (#interleaving)
  • Creating scenarios based on variances and differences to engage, investigate and change perspectives.
  • Advancing technology, use of an array of online resources to explore phenomena. Web based, gamification, point of view could all be included as part of this development.
  • Engage in scholarly discourse, to critique and discuss content to encourage a wide range of views and perspectives. Increases oral and listening skills also as an ongoing life skill.
  • Two way discussion for developing enquiry and negotiation skills.
  • As part of the exploration, look at both sides (pro’s and con’s, for and against, good and bad) to develop knowledge.
  • Encourage students to think outside the box.
  • Error free learning environment.
  • Facilitator must engage closely with students to ensure students understand the variations, diversity and phenomena.
  • E-portfolio for reflective practice and really understand their personal feelings, process and developmental journey.

Transformation Aims

Student skills development, especially focusing on experience, ability to critique and question and notice differences in the variations. A personal growth from the transfer of the learning and discern meaning out of the learning experience. Phenomenon based learning is to equip students with the skills to flourish in the 21st century technology driven era.

Keywords: transfer; phenomenology; Marton; agent of learning; e-learning; phenomenon based learning; PBL.


Knowles, M. S., Holton III, E. F., & Swanson, R. A. (2011). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development.

Marton, F. (2006). Sameness and Difference in Transfer. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(4), 499-535. doi: 10.1207/s15327809jls1504_3

Bloom’s Taxonomy & Constructivism

The use of Blooms Taxonomy to provide focus for the delivery of education and meeting educational objectives is a commonly used structure. The taxonomy can aid developing curriculum learning objectives, assessments and activities to align and scaffold education delivery. Organising levels of expertise of Bloom’s taxonomy categorises and orders from simple to complex and from concrete to abstract, and cover the learning objectives in the cognitive, affective and sensory domains.

Bloom's Taxonomy

For The Educator

“This connection between the ‘teaching objectives’ (what lecturers say they want to do) and their ‘teaching activity’ (what they actually do) – a lack of relationship between intention and performance. This unrecognised contrast between intent and the effects of teaching is often expressed as a distinction between the formal and the hidden’ curriculum” (Entwistle et al, 1971, pg. 12).

  • What are the aims of the education?
  • What level of knowledge and understanding is expected of the student?
  • Scaffolding towards critical thinking.
  • Guides and aligns type of assessment.

For The Student

  • What is expected of me (what educators want students to know)?
  • What am I going to develop by attending this course?
  • Are values, attitudes, and interests affected?
  • To understand and use concepts, to demonstrate particular skills.


The updated taxonomy by Krathwohl (2002) using the knowledge and cognitive domains states that “the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives is a scheme for classifying educational goals, objectives, and, most recently, standards. It provides an organizational structure that gives a commonly understood meaning to objectives classified in one of its categories, thereby enhancing communication”.


Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overviewTheory into practice, 41(4), 212-218.

Iowa State University (2016) Revised Blooms Taxonomy. Center for Excellence Learning & Teaching.

Nursing Education Network (2016) Intended Learning Outcomes

Nurse Educator Role: A Guide For The New Nurse Educator

Starting out as a nurse educator can be a daunting and ‘thrown in at the deep end’ experience. Teaching to students, colleagues and other nurses in the workplace or higher education setting presents an array of challenges. But now you’re in the role, your expected to be able to deliver many types of education and understand adult education theory. We will provide some tips on starting out and helpful resources in these first critical elements of the role.

  • Intended Learning Outcomes: Start and finish with intended learning outcomes. This gives focus to your teaching, helps to keep on track and guides the students in what they should be getting out of attending the learning session/s (more information on intended learning outcomes).
  • Lesson Plan: Create a lesson plan to deliver focused education sessions. Make the most out of the valuable teaching time by being organised (lesson plan template).
  • Education Philosophy: First resource to consider is reading Malcolm Knowles’ The Adult Learner (link here). In nursing, the constructivist pathway for nursing proficiency is standard, so using Patricia Benner’s (1984) Novice to Expert framework is a good starting resource (link here).
  • Taxonomy: Anderson & Krathwohl (2001) revision and understanding of Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy provides consideration and assessment of different levels of knowledge, in particular for setting learning outcomes to guide the nurse educator (link here).
  • Social Learning Theory: Group work and collaboration are encouraged for adult learners, we are social learners. Can you replace the lecture with a case study or simulation for more hands on and real life learning scenarios? Make it team based or collaborative approach. Help facilitate communities of practice (CoP’s).
  • Facilitation Style: remove the traditional teacher approach and you quickly move your style to that of facilitator, encouraging adult learning and increasing engagement from the students. Adults engage in authentic learning tasks so link content to their professional environment. (#Heutagogy)
  • Flip & Prepare: If you’re an organised educator then provide a link to the content or topics to be discussed for your students to access. Maybe provide a key reading so students attend ready to get straight into the topic. Remember, the flipped classroom approach requires a motivated group who will complete any pre-reading (link here). When work and life is busy, you will find yourself finishing presentations at 02:00 on the day of the talk, so sometimes just getting through the day is an achievement.
  • Presentation Skills: Avoid death by powerpoint, go along the visualisation pathway (Slide-ology). Add quizzes into your talk to engage and test your audience. Break down session times to meet attention spans of your students, rather than fit into a set timetable. Be flexible, if the group look tired or need a break, give it to them and start again after a coffee fix. Here is one for the bored audience Presentation Bingo. 
  • Timing: This is important to ensure the aims of the session are covered, trying to fit in too much content is common at the start. A mixture of preparation, practice and experience seems to help with timing. When you become comfortable with the content and environment, it all seems to fall into place. Sometimes it can all go wrong with room bookings, guest presenters are late and equipment malfunctions, this is when you get creative and ‘wing it’. Try to have a back up plan, imagine you have no electricity or devices, how could you deliver the session in the best alternative method.
  • Handouts: You can find education research arguing for and against handouts. Some state that providing handouts makes students switch off as you have provided them with the content so they don’t bother engaging, so instead hand them out at the end. When you don’t provide handouts, you will find students complain, as they like to make notes. You will find students have a mix of handwritten and electronic note taking methods. Consider providing some brief outlines, key readings and space for students to take notes (provide either a paper or an electronic format).
  • Peer Observation: Observe other educators and use some of their approaches that you see students respond to or you believe in. Remember what seems effortless may well have taken them many attempts (a few fails along the way as well), so resist comparing yourself to them, they have developed their expertise over time.
  • Feedback: Ask for constructive feedback from your educator colleagues (#developrhinoskin).
  • Evaluations: Evaluations can be very helpful, just remember to collect a representative sample to provide a true evaluation of your teaching (link here).
  • Workload: Spread your time to make it all count and prioritise tasks. You have to make sure you catch up with all your students and keep up with other work commitments, which can be tricky to make sure everyone feels adequately supported. If you promise to see a student but are too busy or just forget, just provide an apology the student will likely be understanding. Try the one minute preceptor approach when days are busy and remember the “what is ……?” and the “why this intervention?” questions (link here).
  • Feedback Delivery: Giving effective and honest feedback can be a challenging experience. It’s not always going to be positive, but just remember to go along the constructive feedback pathway rather than destructive. Here is some advice from Nursing Times (link here) and below in the references are 2 articles on feedback from Clynes & Raferty (2008) and Duffy (2013).
  • Educators Education: You will find plenty of courses both formal and informal in developing your education and learning, so take a broad view depending on your time frame and budget. Don’t forget the opportunities social media brings to create a personal learning network and links to current topics and resources (#FOANed).


Anderson, L. W. and Krathwohl, D. R. (2001) A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Allyn & Bacon. Boston, MA (Pearson Education Group).

Benner, P. (1984). From novice to expert. Menlo Park.

Clynes, M. P., & Raftery, S. E. (2008). Feedback: an essential element of student learning in clinical practice. Nurse Education in Practice, 8(6), 405-411.

Duffy, K. (2013). Providing constructive feedback to students during mentoring. Nursing Standard, 27(31), 50.

Knowles, M. S., Holton III, E. F., & Swanson, R. A. (2014). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. Routledge.

McNamara, P. (2016) A Nurse’s Guide To Twitter.

Race, P., Higgs, B., & Potter, J. (2008). In at the deep end: starting to teach in higher education. NAIRTL.

Sayers, J., DiGiacomo, M., & Davidson, P. (2011). The nurse educator role in the acute care setting in Australia: important but poorly described. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 28(4), 44-52.

Nursing Education Network (2016) Adult Learning (Androgogy).

Nursing Education Network (2016) Learning to Learn, Understanding Understanding.

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development

Zone of proximal developmentVygotsky’s “Zone of proximal development” describes how the learner moves cognitively from potential to actual development (a constructivism theory).

  • What the learner cannot do.
  • What the leaner can do with guidance.
  • What the learner can do.

This type of learning can only be facilitated through guidance and support (Moll, 2013). “Vygotsky’s social constructivism is an “outside in” approach as compared to Piaget’s “inside out” theory” Marti (2013, p. 58). To learn, scaffolding is required to build on the theoretical and skill development.

The zone of proximal development is defined as:

“the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86).

Vygotsky’s theory advanced the cognitive educational domain from the cognizing individual to that of interaction and social learning development (Tryphon & Vonèche, 2013). The zone of proximal development theorises the state at which the learner moves from potential to actual development, and the importance of the social interactions to progress the learner. This cognitive development processes from a stage of ‘what is not known, to what is known’. The learners are encouraged to demonstrate the capabilities of social aspects of learning (Moll, 2013).

For the nurse educator, the need to determine level of knowledge and understanding is fundamental. Maybe the nurse specialises in certain areas and is currently learning new skills or knowledge, they may well move between expert and novice so an array of strategies to support should be initiated. Constructive feedback strategies will be required for ongoing development, especially for the ‘what is not known’ aspects.

Keywords: cognitive; Vygotsky; constructivist; proximal development; scaffolding.


Vygotsky, L. (1987). Zone of proximal development. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes, 5291.

Marti, E. (2013) Mechanisms of internalisation of knowledge in Piaget’s and Vygotky’s theories. In Tryphon, A., & Vonèche, J. (pp. 57-84). Piaget Vygotsky: The Social Genesis Of Thought. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Moll, L. C. (2013). LS Vygotsky and education. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Tryphon, A., Vonèche, J., & Library, E. B. L. e. (2013). Piaget Vygotsky: The Social Genesis Of Thought. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Wikipedia (2016) Zone of Proximal Devlopment

Folk Schools: Adult Education

Background & History

Folk schools offer a variety of subjects and their common theme is the delivery of educational programs where the learner focuses on their own interests, abilities and personal growth. True learning occurs as the learners engage in subjects that really interest and motivate them. The aim of folk school is to challenge the whole person.

The concept of Folk school originally came from the Danish writer, poet, philosopher and pastor N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783–1872).

“One of the main concepts still to be found at the folk high schools today is lifelong learning. The schools should educate for life. They should shed light on basic questions surrounding life of people both as individuals and as members of society. To Grundtvig the ideal was to give the students a sense of a common best and focusing on life as it really is. Therefore, Grundtvig never set down guidelines for the future schools or a detailed description of how they should be run. He declared that the folk high schools should be arranged and developed according to life as it is and the schools should not hold exams because the education and enlightenment was a sufficient reward” (Wikipedia, 2016).

What is a Folk School?

Educational Aims

The Folk School Alliance (2016) brief history on Folk Schools explain that: “Steven Borish, a Grundtvig scholar, proposes four lessons that folk schools have to offer:

  1.  Real education begins with the communication of a sense of personal mission and purpose, and the belief that everyone has the ability to acquire the skills and knowledge to accomplish that mission.
  2. The principle of folkelighed, offers an alternative to nationalism. It is a form of patriotism that values culture and identity while emphasizing that other nations and cultures are equally as valued.
  3. Education should be for all aspects of life and lifelong.
  4. The movement that gave rise to folk schools was local, decentralized, and grassroots.”

Location of Folk Schools

  • Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Austria
  • USA

Traits of Folk Schools

  • for adults.
  • free.
  • no exams, marks or grades.
  • variety of subjects to choose.
  • face to face.
  • boarding school concept: a community.
  • personal growth.
  • teaching: same level dialogue.
  • students bring their experience.
  • non-formal education approach.

1800’s Theory: Relevancy In Today’s World?

  • Fits in with lifelong learning.
  • Fits in with personal learning networks
  • Fits in with Wenger’s (social learning theory)
  • “Schools for Life” theory by Grundtvig.
  • Free: cost effective approach to education for learners.


Borish, S. (1991). Land of the living: Danish folk high schools and Denmark’s nonviolent path to modernization. Nevada City, CA: Blue Dolphin.

Smith, M. K. (1996). ‘The development of folk high schools’, the encyclopaedia of informal education.

The Folk School Alliance (2016) A Brief History of Folk Schools.

Wikipedia (2016) Folk High School.

One Minute Preceptor

Known as the One Minute Preceptor or Five Step Micro-skills approach to educational situations. This approach provides a structure to educating on the go to ensure effective preceptorship and feedback is provided, especially in a busy clinical environment.

What is it?

  • Educating on the go.
  • Make the most of teaching time.
  • Microlearning: Fits in with learners faced with time poor situations.
  • Effective preceptorship structure.
  • Role modelling.

Five imperatives (or micro-skills):

  1.  Get a commitment.
  2.  Probe for supporting evidence.
  3.  Teach general rules.
  4. Reinforce what was done right.
  5. Correct mistakes.

Aim of The Approach

  • Deeper level discussion.
  • Promote discussion.
  • Provide feedback.
  • Increase student satisfaction and learning.
  • Confidence to the preceptor.


Aagaard, E., Teherani, A., & Irby, D. M. (2004). Effectiveness of the one-minute preceptor model for diagnosing the patient and the learner: proof of concept. Academic medicine, 79(1), 42-49.

Neher, J. O., Gordon, K. C., Meyer, B., & Stevens, N. (1992). A five-step “microskills” model of clinical teaching. The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, 5(4), 419-424.


Innovation in Health: The Edge

Change in health can be slow and frustrating, especially as we stand in such a technological advanced era. The governance aspects of individualism matching national health systems and standardisation may often seem worlds apart. The vast number of specialties within health also challenge how to scale online communities to meet everyone’s need. So innovation to improve communication, access to health records and services are major factors. How to connect and engage across formal and informal health resources so patients are themselves experts and are empowered is an essential aspect of future transformation and innovation.

The Edge

About: “Think, Connect, Share, Change:  a free social platform committed to finding, sharing, curating and creating the boldest and most innovative new ideas in health & care”.


  • Healthy communities
  • Health innovation
  • Transformation
  • Collaboration

Social Media: 

They also have a ” School for Health and Care Radicals

Importantly The Edge is to think differently about how effective change practice can lead to better outcomes for patients.

The work they create is under creative commons licence which is also another great sharing aspect they have embraced.

7 Habits: Stephen Covey

Really busy, increasing workload, stretched resources, being creative, motivated, balancing, feeling tired, need a holiday, trying to plan ahead. During the really busy times when workload seems to be casting a shadow over life it is good to revisit some of our good habits to re-focus, work smarter and retain our own locus of control.

“We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world. “ (Covey, 1989)

Work from the inside out, for a deeper level of thinking and lasting solution we need to view inside part of self of our character and motives. A paradigm is what we see, the paradigm shift is the ‘aha’ or ‘light bulb’ moment.

Covey’s series of habits see progression from dependence via independence to interdependence.

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive (take responsibility).
  • Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind (develop a personal mission statement).
  • Habit 3: Put first things first (organising and time management).
  • Habit 4: Think win-win (human interaction and collaboration).
  • Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood (effective communication).
  • Habit 6: Synergise (creative cooperation).
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the saw (self-renewal and mindfulness).

Keywords: synergistic, empowering, win/win, perceptions, lens, attitude, behaviour, interdependence.


Covey, S. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people : Restoring the character ethic. New York: Free Press.

Covey, S. (1989). The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Fireside/Simon & Schuster. [sample here]





Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

Intended learning outcomes (ILOs) are explicit statements of what a learner is expected to achieve, and to what standard or level of achievement (Biggs and Tang, 2011).

When creating nurse education and training in the workplace, simulation centre or higher education setting, the importance of designing intended learning outcomes are vital. ILOs are central to the design of teaching and assessment so should be part of the initial planning phases.

Setting the aim of the learning activity and any related tasks provides a stage for effective teaching and engagement from the participant. The nurse educator needs to be committed to setting ILO’s, delivering content and then measuring outcomes of the delivered education.

Education Aims:

  • What is the purpose of the education?
  • What is the aim of the education?
  • What are the outcomes we hope to achieve?

What learning is to occur?

  • Pyschomotor- physical skills  
  • Cognitive- understanding and comprehending
  • Affective- values, beliefs and behaviours

Bloom’s Taxonomy

  • Who are your audience and at what level of higher order thinking is to be achieved?
  • Remember the authenticity of any assessments needs to be considered for adult learner engagement.
Bloom's Taxonomy

Educator Approach

  • Facilitator or teacher?
  • Learner centred.  
  • Avoiding surface learning and aiming for deep and meaningful learning.
  • Motivations for students
  • Set SMART goals


Other questions such as resources, sustainability, relevance and human factors also need to be addressed in the developing phases.

  • Skills: What students should be able to do at course completion.
  • Knowledge: What students should know and understand at course completion.
  • Attitudes: Students’ opinions about the subject matter of the course at completion.

Formulating ILOs


Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. Allyn & Bacon. [Revision available by Krathwohl, 2002]

Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching For Quality Learning At University (4th ed.). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education. [sample here]

Iowa State University (2016) Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved from