Learning Design

What is learning design and how does it differ from Learning Design?

Designing learning is a standard part of the teaching role. However, a more specific concept related to learning design and elearning arose from 2004 on – Learning Design (note the caps!). This refers to a formal specification used for designing online learning courses/materials.

Conole 1 states that learning design ‘ refers to the range of actions associated with creating a learning activity and crucially provides a means of describing learning activities.’

Britain 2 considers the wider concept of learning design and identifies three key ideas (emphasis added):

  • ‘The first general idea behind learning design is that people learn better when actively involved in doing something (i.e. are engaged in a learning activity).
  • The second idea is that learning activities may be sequenced or otherwise structured carefully and deliberately in a learning workflow to promote more effective learning.
  • The third idea is that it would be useful to be able to record ‘learning designs’ for sharing and re-use in the future.’

She states that: ‘not all learners are equally capable of effective and efficient learning on their own’ and that ‘most if not all, benefit from some level of guidance and support.’

Agostinho 3 describes learning design in terms of a notation system that represents teaching and learning practice that enables it to be shared or replicated.

Beetham 4 explains that ’emergence of Learning Design as a dominant paradigm can be taken as a sign that activity is being reinstated as the focus of concern. Design for learning should therefore focus primarily on the activities undertaken by learners, and only secondarily on (for example) the tools or materials that support them.’ (p26)

  1. Conole, G. (2011) ‘Learning activities’ and ‘learning design’, In H800 Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates, The Open University, (online) Available from: http://learn.open.ac.uk/site/h800-11b.
  2. Britain, S. (2004) A Review of Learning Design: Concept, Specifications and Tools, JISC E-learning Pedagogy Programme, JISC, (online) Available from: www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/ACF1ABB.doc (Accessed 30 March 2011).
  3. Agostinho, S. (2006) ‘The use of a visual learning design representation to document and communicate teaching ideas’, In Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Ascilite Conference: Who’s Learning? Whose Technology?, Sydney (online) Available from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/sydney06/proceeding/pdf_papers/p173.pdf (Accessed 1 April 2011).
  4. Beetham, H. (2007) ‘An approach to learning activity design’, in Beetham, H. and Sharpe, R. (Eds) Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age, Oxford: RoutledgeFalmer.

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