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Learning Design

Christina Smart
21 Jun, 2005
An Overview of the Learning Design theme of the e-Learning Programme.

While the e-Learning Programme and the e-Learning Framework covers all aspects of e-learning there are a number of themes or domains that are of particular importance. These themes are; Assessment, Personal Development Planning (PDP), Learning Design and Repositories. Some of these areas have been highlighted by the DfES strategy ‘Harnessing Technology: Transforming learning and children’s services’ as being key areas for development over the next five years and beyond. The e-Learning Programme is now starting to fund cross strand projects in these themed areas.

Learning design is a relatively new but rapidly developing area of e-learning. Britain identifies three ideas that are central to the concept of learning design:

* 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.

In its e-Learning Strategy consultation document ‘Towards a Unified e-Learning Strategy’ the DfES discusses the benefits of focusing on learning design rather than learning content:

Pedagogic design tools Teachers and lecturers are best placed to understand and discover how to use e-learning in their field, but they need the tools and the means to discover and innovate. At present, the focus is not on design tools for teachers, but on learning content, teaching materials, and resources. Engaging teachers and lecturers through simple e-learning design tools would bring them closer to experimenting with pedagogical design. Such tools could be created through collaborations between teaching practitioners, learning technology researchers, and industry partners.

As with some of the other Programme themes, learning design has a well developed specification the IMS Learning Design specification which provides a framework for describing in detail the learning activities that teachers and learners undertake.

Tools to support learning design are becoming available and are reviewed in Britain 2004. The Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) is currently being evaluated with practitioners under the e-Learning and Pedagogy part of the programme, and is providing teachers with a way of visualising the design process in a way that has not been possible before. There are also software and toolkit development project that relate to the learning design theme.

News items, features, projects, presentations and links on this site that relate to learning design have been collated into a list of resources for those with a particular interest in learning design. This collection will expand as more items become available. The most recent resource appears at the top of this list.


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