The WHO Workflow
Dr Christopher Blundell, Dr Shaun Nykvist and Dr Michelle Mukherjee
(version 9 April 2020)
The WHO workflow describes a process that educators can use to design learning experiences that are enabled by digital technologies. The workflow starts with establishing a purposeful intent and a clear vision for learning (why). After which, it focusses on how the learning will be enacted and how digital technologies will be used to facilitate the learning experience. It concludes with identifying the ways that students and educators will use digital technologies to monitor progress and reflect on learning outcomes.
Although the WHO workflow is intended to support all digital learning (face-to-face, online and blended), this page has been created to help educators use the WHO workflow to design online learning experiences.
The WHO workflow is grounded in our observations of educators who purposefully and strategically use digital technologies in learning and teaching. It highlights the importance of identifying the core elements of a learning experience and using this to guide the selection of digital technologies. The WHO workflow is based on three tenets:
Good learning design starts with the needs of students, which in turn leads to the selection of relevant pedagogies.
Digital technologies are tools for learning and teaching.
When selecting digital technologies, the content, pedagogy and context need to be carefully considered.
The WHO workflow is intended to complement rather than replace other planning practices. It relies on educators’ knowledge of the curriculum and depends on each educator’s ability to empathise with and understand their students and the context within which they will learn. The WHO workflow is intended to help educators to purposefully select from the many great tips and illustrations of practice that can be found online.
Outlined below is a guide that educators can follow to design online/remote learning using the WHO workflow. The WHO workflow is designed to be adaptable and to complement existing frameworks for planning, teaching, learning and assessment.
Using the WHO Workflow to Design Online/Remote Learning and Teaching
Identify the purpose of the learning experience, including the essential objectives and outcomes. This will help you to prioritise the core elements of the learning experience. At this stage, focus on the essentials of the learning experience, not the technology.
Envision the ways that your students will learn online, off-site. Consider the context in which they will learn and the ways they might need to participate (i.e. will they work individually, collaboratively or both? Will they participate synchronously, asynchronously or a combination of both?). Identify which of the 6Cs your students will need to enact: citizenship, character, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking (and problem-solving) and communication. This will help you to empathise with your students when designing the learning experience. Focus on the experience of learning online, not specific technologies.
Consider how your students will think during the learning experience. Use a relevant framework (e.g. Bloom’s taxonomy or Marzano and Kendall’s taxonomy) to identify the cognitions that students will need to substantially use. Seek out digital technologies that can be used to facilitate the identified cognitions.
With reference to the identified cognitions, focus on the students’ actions and your actions during the learning experience. Identify how students will access the content. Use these decisions to guide your search for and selection of digital technologies.
Decide how your students will simply and efficiently capture and store evidence of their learning. Match this to the mode of engagement, for example: taking photos of work written on paper; taking screenshots or screen recordings of app-based activities; audio recording reading; video recording a physical activity. Consider the range of media (text, images, audio and video) that can be easily captured by most technology. Also consider more creative modes of output, such as animations and video productions.
Develop a way for your students to monitor their progress by linking evidence of learning to the essential objectives and outcomes, including opportunities to share with peers and the educator. Identify formative assessment and feedback strategies as well as the curation of a folio of evidence at the end of the learning sequence. Plan how and when your students will share this with you. Consider quiz and feedback technologies, educational games and learning management systems. Explore applications with cloud-based storage that students can use to collect and curate their work, then share it with you. Ensure that your decisions comply with your jurisdiction’s data privacy and storage requirements.
Of particular importance to online, off-site learning is deciding how you will monitor your students’ wellbeing. Plan multiple ways and opportunities to connect with your students via a range of media: text, audio and video.
Provide your students with an opportunity to reflect on the process of learning; encourage them to speak to someone else about this. Select technologies that make the reflection easy, e.g. video or audio reflections. Decide how your students will give you with feedback about the learning experience using simple survey tools (e.g. Google Forms or Office Forms) and chat (text, audio or video).
Click on the images below to download a printable summary and poster.
How Does the WHO Workflow Relate to Other Research?
The use of digital technologies in learning and teaching has been the subject of research over an extended period of time. When used purposefully, digital technologies are valuable tools for learning because they can facilitate, amongst other things:
thinking (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2013)
activity and engagement (Zheng, Warschauer, Lin, & Chang, 2016)
opportunities to develop and then demonstrate understanding in new ways, for example animations / slowmations (Mills, Tomas, & Lewthwaite, 2019)
student-directed learning such as problem-, project- and challenge-based learning (Lindsay, 2015; Tamim, Borokhovski, Pickup, Bernard, et al. (2015)
more diverse and clearer evidence of learning and growth over time (Newhouse, 2015; Rosalia & Artigliere, 2012; Seitz, Baldiviez, & Vogel, 2017; Weir & Connor, 2009).
Michael Fullan (2013) argues that digital technologies can be used to activate personalised learning, but cautions, “don’t focus on technology – focus on its use” (p 11).
The WHO workflow responds to the following research findings about educators integrating digital technologies in learning and teaching.
It is important to have a clear vision of learning with digital technologies (Ertmer, 1999) and to conceptualise what that will be like for students (Fu, 2013).
This involves a balanced application of educators’ content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and technological knowledge when deciding how to use digital technologies, and includes careful consideration of students’ context (Koehler & Mishra, 2009).
These knowledges (content, pedagogical and technological) are often developed through the resolution of challenges (Angeli & Valanides, 2009) and a willingness to change practice (Fullan, 2013).
Deeply integrating digital technologies in learning and teaching can lead to changes in roles, relationships and actions that require teachers to establish new teaching routines (Blundell, Lee, & Nykvist, 2019).
It also responds to research-based priorities for educator practice, including but not limited to:
intentionally and strategically planning for learning (Hattie, 2014)
setting objectives and designing activities that consider how students will engage cognitively (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001; Marzano & Kendall, 2007)
developing so-called global competencies / 21st Century skills (Fullan, Quinn & McEachen, 2018)
using formative assessment and feedback during learning (Wiliam, 2011), including seeking feedback from students about learning experiences (Hattie, 2014).
As a model grounded in practice, the WHO workflow continues to be refined through our own practice, use in initial teacher education programs, collaborative work with teachers in schools and via teacher professional development workshops.
Anderson, L., & Krathwohl, D. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing : a revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.
Angeli, C., & Valanides, N. (2009). Epistemological and methodological issues for the conceptualization, development, and assessment of ICT–TPCK: Advances in technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK). Computers & Education, 52(1), 154-168. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.07.006
Blundell, C., Lee, K., & Nykvist, S. (2019). Using Dual Systems theory to conceptualise challenges to routine when transforming pedagogy with digital technologies. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 25(8), 937–954. https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2019.1652161
Ertmer, P. A. (1999). Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(4), 47-61. doi:10.1007/bf02299597
Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2013). Removing obstacles to the pedagogical changes required by Jonassen's vision of authentic technology-enabled learning. Computers & Education, 64(0), 175-182. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.10.008
Fu, J. S. (2013). ICT in education: A critical literature review and its implications. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, 9(1), 112-125.
Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere - Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge. Toronto: Pearson.
Fullan, M., Quinn, J., & McEachen, J. (2018). Deep learning: engage the world, change the world. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.
Hattie, J. (2014). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising Impact on Learning. Florence: Taylor & Francis Group.
Koehler, M., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.
Krathwohl, D.R. (2002). A Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy: An Overview. Theory into Practice, 41(4), 212-218. doi: 10.1207/s15430421tip4104_2
Lindsay, L. (2015). Transformation of teacher practice using mobile technology with one-to-one classes: M-learning pedagogical approaches. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(5), 883-892. doi:10.1111/bjet.12265
Marzano, R., & Kendall, J. (2007). The new taxonomy of educational objectives (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Mills, Reece, Tomas, Louisa, & Lewthwaite, Brian (2019) The impact of student-constructed animation on middle school students' learning about plate tectonics. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 28(2), 165-177.
Newhouse, C. P. (2015). Using Digital Technologies to Improve the Authenticity of Performance Assessment for High-Stakes Purposes. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 24(1), 17-33.
Nykvist, S., Blundell, C,, & Mukherjee, M. (2019) Digital Learning. In D. Pendergast, & K. Main (Eds.) Teaching primary years: Rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Allen & Unwin Academic, Sydney, NSW, 400-421.
Rosalia, C., & Artigliere, M. (2012) Assessing the Effects of Digital Storytelling on Middle School English Language Learners. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012, Austin, Texas, USA.
Seitz, H., Baldiviez, J., & Vogel, M. (2017) The Alaskan JournEy Portfolio Project. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2017, Austin, TX, United States.
Tamim, R. M., Borokhovski, E., Pickup, D., Bernard, R. M., & Saadi, L. E. (2015). Tablets for teaching and learning: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from http://oasis.col.org/bitstream/handle/11599/1012/2015_Tamim-et- al_Tablets-for-Teaching-and-Learning.pdf
Weir, T., & Connor, S. (2009). The Use of Digital Video in Physical Education. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 18(2), 155-171.
Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded Formative Assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Zheng, B., Warschauer, M., Lin, C.-H., & Chang, C. (2016). Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1052-1084. doi:10.3102/0034654316628645
Examples of How to Use the WHO Workflow
The following mock-ups illustrate how to use the WHO workflow to design online/remote learning experiences.
Primary school example: Years 3/4 Health Education
Secondary school example: Year 9 Science
Tertiary education example: Problem-based learning
About the Authors
Dr Christopher Blundell
Chris is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His research focusses on design-based professional learning and the challenges of integrating digital technologies in teacher practice, including assessment. Chris has explored the use of digital in pedagogy, learning, and assessment through 26 years of classroom teaching and executive-level school leadership, and 4 years in pre-service and in-service teacher education.
Dr Shaun Nykvist
Shaun is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and Associate Professor with the DRIVE team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His research expertise is in the area of Higher Education teaching and learning, innovative pedagogical approaches, transforming teaching and learning spaces, and digital technologies to support and enhance learning. Shaun has over 20 years experience in using digital pedagogies to support students in schools and higher education.
Dr Michelle Mukherjee
Michelle is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research interests are located in: developing digital pedagogy in pre-service teachers' practice; digital pedagogy in science education, in particular, visualisation; and new generation learning and teaching spaces. Michelle has 10 years' experience as an educator in UK schools and industry, and 13 years in the tertiary sector (teacher education).
We acknowledge and are grateful for the thoughtful feedback that we received from our colleagues: Adam Ayling, Simon Corvan, Angela Francis, Matthew Heinrich, Katherine Hoekman, Nicola Jones, Dale Lopez, Dan Martinez, Gayle Neville, Emma Short, Sue Sutter.