by Eileen Kennedy and Joanna Wild
What is it?
The Learning Designer is web-based tool to help in the creation and sharing of learning designs (e.g. lesson plans) and to support the integration of learning technology. A learning design is displayed as a sequence of activities, similar to a lesson plan, with all its main properties visible and editable.
The Learning Designer helps you organise a series of teaching and learning activities (TLAs) to assist in creating a set of learning experiences for the learner to move towards their learning goals. Drawing on Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy of educational objectives, the Learning Designer asks you to specify the type of learning necessary for the learner to meet their outcomes.
Is it learning from reading or listening? Is it learning through discussing, or practicing, or inquiring, or collaborating, or producing something? You have to decide how long each activity is meant to last, even if it’s something the student is doing at home, or online. And as you work the Learning Designer gives you a bit of help.
The Learning Designer helps you reflect about the planned teaching and learning activities (TLAs) for you to determine whether or not your design is supporting the type of learning experience you have in mind.
It gives you feedback in the form of a pie-chart showing the nature of the overall learning experience you’ve created. Since you specify the duration for each learning experience, you can see at a glance whether or not this was the type of learning experience you feel is appropriate. The adaptation of your design from reflecting about the experience is just a few clicks e.g. change the type of learning and activity description or the amount of time on an activity. This supports the well established iterative reflective design approach used by teachers from all areas of education.
Using technology effectively
The Learning Designer supports the effective use of technology in teaching and learning by asking the teacher to consider what kind of learning is required. The learning type identified gives an indication of which tool would be most appropriate to use. For example, tools such as wikis or shared documents can be used to facilitate collaboration and production, while forums or the comment function in blogs can facilitate discussion.
The Learning Designer enables the teacher to attach links to Open Educational Resources (OERs) anywhere on the web. For example, a presentation on SlideShare could be attached to a Acquisition TLA; a curation tool could be attached to an Investigation TLA; a worksheet on a shared drive could be attached to a Production TLA.
When learning designs have been created with the Learning Designer, they can be uploaded to a user-generated library of learning designs. You can, therefore, search for and adapt existing designs to suit their context and discipline. The adapted designs can be added to the library to contribute to the shared pool of teaching knowledge. The Learning Design library allows teachers to share their best ideas with other teachers. In this way, it helps build community knowledge in effective teaching practice.