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Sandra Wills

OLnet Fellow Sandra Wills

Screenshot from IET Coffee Morning video


Sandra Wills

Project Title

Learning Design Descriptions for Online Role Play and Simulation

Dates visited the UK

30 August to 6 October 2011


University of Wollongong, Australia

Project Summary

In order to contribute to OLnet’s research agenda (building a robust evidence base to support and enhance the design, evaluation and use of OER), this fellowship aimed to:

  • build researcher discussions within Cloudworks around two existing rich collections of learning designs on online role play and simulation
  • refine frameworks for description of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning designs
  • test visualisation metaphors for accessing learning design descriptions in repositories.

The project built on four long term projects in which Prof Wills was involved.

  • Learning Designs Project, a grant from the Australian Universities Teaching Committee to distill the essence of design from more than 100 previously funded AUTC multimedia projects, of particular relevance the learning design for online role play (Wills & Ip, 2002; Oliver et al., 2007)
  • Project EnROLE, a grant from the Australian Learning & Teaching Council to establish a repository and community of practice around online role play (Wills et al, 2009)
  • Her PhD which was a longitudinal study of online role play in Australian higher education (Wills, 2010)
  • Over ten years of work at University of Wollongong establishing Teaching Research Nexus, Peer Review and Promotions Criteria for Teaching

Dates visited OU UK

30 August to 6 October 2011


University of Wollongong, Australia

Biographic information

Professor Sandra Wills is Executive Director, Learning & Teaching, Academic Services Division as well as Foundation Chair of Educational Development at University of Wollongong and founder of Project EnRoLE. She has been at the University of Wollongong for over 18 years as Director of the centres responsible for academic development and e-learning.

Major recent projects include the University's Strategic Plan for eLearning and Teaching; implementation of a new Learning Management System; Peer Review of Teaching in promotion procedures; review of student surveys; review of University Teaching & Learning Course Policy; framework for a new Graduate Certificate in Higher Education; guidelines for academic progression based on teaching; support of sessional teaching; the Learning-Teaching-Researching Nexus; The UOW Learning Experience; Learning Leaders leadership training for Heads; First Year Experience; review of English Language Proficiency; innovative learning spaces.

Sandra has 40 years international experience in the field of education and technology from primary through to university education including teacher training, curriculum development, software development and senior management. She has authored over 150 publications, is active on the international lecture circuit, and recently achieved her 100th invited keynote address.

Main Output

“The OLnet Fellowship was personally rewarding in providing me with time to follow up on my previous research in conjunction with invigorating conversations with the highly experienced Open University colleagues. It was also beneficial to my university as I was able to return with clearer plans for ramping up our open educational practices.”


  • Presentation to OLnet Team
  • Presentation (video open access) to IET Coffee Morning about project EnRoLE
  • Presentation to SCORE Fellows
  • Cloudscape for researcher discussions around an existing rich collection of learning designs on online role play and simulation (
  • Developed business case and gained approval for University of Wollongong to join OERUni consortium as foundation partner
  • Revised University of Wollongong Strategic Plan for eLearning to more explicitly have one of its goals focussed on Open Educational Practice


IET Tech Coffee Morning – Enrolling academics in sharing teaching ideas: building a community of practice about online role (2011), cloudworks, 14 September [online], (Accessed 20 December 2011)

Oliver, R., Harper, B., Wills, S., Agostinho, S. & Hedberg, J. Describing ICT-based learning designs that promote quality learning outcomes. In H.Beetham & R.Sharpe (Eds.) Rethinking pedagogy for the Digital Age. Routledge

Wills, S. & Ip, A. (2002) enRole, Research, React, Resolve, Reflect: Developing and using online role play learning designs. Retrieved September 20th 2010, from Learning Designs Web site:

Wills, S (2011), ‘EnROLE’, cloudworks, 15 September [online], (Accessed 20 December 2011)

Wills, S. (2010). Factors influencing the design of reusable e-learning activities in higher education. unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Wills, S., Rosser, E., Devonshire, E., Leigh, E., Russell, C. & Shepherd, J. (2009). Encouraging role based online learning environments by Building, Linking, Understanding, Extending: The BLUE Report. Australian Learning and Teaching Council ISBN: 978-1-74128-173-6. Retrieved September 20th 2010 from (Accessed 20 December 2011)

Update Since Fellowship

“I am continuing development of the Cloudworks site with a view to launching an online discussion with the community at a relevant face to face event (with possible joint publication later).  This might have happened at the LAMS conference in December, but it clashed with a quality audit I was chairing.  It is likely that reporting on the discussion will be at ICEM2012 in Cyprus in September”.

“I have carried out further testing of the Simulation Triad as a valid learning design description for role play, games & simulations at an international working conference in Sydney to write a book. My chapter is the lead chapter and maps most other chapters onto the Simulation Triad: Wills, S. (2012) The Simulation Triad. In Transforming university teaching into learning via simulations, games and role plays, Libri Publishing (pending).

“We are now working to revise UOW Intellectual Property Statute around Creative Commons Licensing.

“I intend to return to the Evidence Hub to enter design factors for reusable e-learning activities (from my doctoral research) to compare and contrast with Pegler's doctoral outcomes on a related topic (with possible joint publication later).”