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Using the Learning Designer

Now we look at using the Learning Designer to support your design process, whether it’s for blended or wholly online learning.

Now we look at using the Learning Designer to support your design process, whether it’s for blended or wholly online learning.

How the Learning Designer Invites Good Design

The video talks through how the Learning Designer tool invites good design by making the learning types in your pedagogy explicit. It goes through the process of creating a simple learning design, and then works through how to make it wholly online, for when that’s necessary.

The illustrative topic here is basic maths – Using number manipulatives (online) – but the principles illustrated are pedagogic.

The framework helps with thinking about what the student needs to do to learn, by deciding on what kind of learning they need to do at each stage. The Learning Designer asks you to think about how much time they need for each activity, whether it’s for an individual, a group or the whole class, and whether it’s synchronous or asynchronous. Then the tool gives you visual feedback on the design in terms of the nature of the learning experience you’ve created for your students.

The Learning Designer is Collaborative

Because it provides links to all the learning designs teachers have made public in the Browser, the tool also gives you the means to share and build on each other’s ideas.

This brings us to a very important feature of learning designs: they can be shared across subject areas. They can even, to some extent, be shared across education sectors. A video presentation could not be shared so easily, of course, as the language, the illustrations, the assumptions, the pace, etc. will all be different even if the topic is the same. But we can share pedagogies, the design of the student learning experience.

This is not a big surprise when you think about it. For many centuries, teachers from primary to school to university have shared the pedagogies of teacher presentations, readings, 1-1 tutorials, small group discussions, individual exercises, practical sessions, class discussions, marked assignments, and so on. And the sequencing of these is often similar, even if the pace is different.

To see how this works, look at the Download ‘Learning how to do a literature review’. This is a context and topic specific design from a teacher in HE. It proposes a way of scaffolding the process of developing a cognitive skill. The design is written in a quite generic way, so we can easily express that same learning design in an even more generic way by changing just the topic words – see ‘Learning how to develop a skill’.

This generic version means that we can now adapt that design to any skill you choose, such as ‘using a search engine’, or ‘interpreting a dataset’, or ‘designing a poster’, etc. You do this by replacing all instances of ‘the skill’ with your own topic, and editing the guiding text to fit what you need for your students. The document ‘Learning how to design a poster’ in Downloads shows one example, derived from the generic version.

Learning Designer Can Create Knowledge-Building Communities

This opens up an exciting future for the professional teaching community. A design tool like the Learning Designer makes it possible for teachers across all subject areas to be a knowledge-building community for developing together our understanding of how to teach online. Can it work? Well, this is what we’re exploring in the Blended and Online Learning Design course.

The exercise invites you to try this sharing process as a way of exploring what you can do with the Learning Designer. You can print this out from Using the Learning Designer in Downloads, as a crib sheet.

Exercise: Using the Learning Designer

  1. Register on the Learning Designer, and explore the tool for yourself. It is free, and you only need to put in your email address.
  2. Compare the designs by linking directly to the Learning Designer versions for an online session on Learning how to do a literature review and its generic version Learning how to develop a skill and the new specific version Learning how to design a poster. Note that the pedagogic ideas are the same, only the topics are different.
  3. Click ‘Turn editing on’ (righthand side), and adapt the design for a topic of your choice. Click Save – do this frequently, just in case…
  4. Note the effects of changing the properties and timings on the learning experience feedback shown in the Analysis tab.
  5. Check your total designed learning time at the top, that it still matches your intended learning time.
  6. To share your design, click on the button Share, create a url for your design, and then post it onto the Padlet, with its name as the title, and your name, if you wish.
  7. Please also make your design public so that others can see it: In My designs in the Browser: click the box to the right of your design, and click the bookmark icon at the top to place it in your personal Public space.
  8. On the Padlet, browse through one or two others to see what they have done with the exercise, and leave a constructive comment on at least one other post. This helps us see what design ideas are important to the community.

You would not necessarily use this tool for all your planning, but it can be especially useful for thinking through how to teach a new topic, or how to teach in a new way, such as online learning.

That’s why it makes sense for us to work together, to borrow from each other, adapt and experiment, and so discover the designs that work well.

If you would like to export your design to Moodle, if you use it, the guide to this process is available in Downloads.


Can you see how using the Learning Designer might help with thinking through a new design?

How feasible is it for teachers to share design ideas this way?

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Blended and Online Learning Design

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