Introduction to the Learning Designer
The Learning Designer, produced by London Knowledge Lab, is a useful Web-based tool for creating and sharing learning activities. It allows you to create a series of teaching and learning activities (TLAs) which will help the learners to move towards their learning goals.
The Learning Designer asks you to specify your teaching aims and enables you to categorise your learning outcomes according to Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives (1956). Drawing on Laurillard's (2012) Conversational Framework, the Learning Designer prompts you to consider the type of learning experience that will help learners meet those outcomes, e.g. is learning happening through reading, watching, listening, discussion, practical work, inquiry, collaboration or content production?
You also specify the duration of each activity, the size of the group, teacher presence and teamwork.
The design tool helps you reflect on the planned teaching and learning activities so that you can determine whether or not your design is supporting the type of learning experience you have in mind.
It gives you feedback in two ways: (i) it compares the learning time needed for an activity with the time you planned for the activity; (ii) it creates a dynamic pie-chart showing the proportion of each of the different learning types so that you can see at a glance whether or not this learning experience is appropriate for your students.
Having reflected on your design, you can make adjustments in just a few clicks, e.g. change the type of learning and activity description, adjust the amount of time spent on an activity, change the group size, add a different resource, or even move the activity to a different learning 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 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 Read/Watch/Listen activity; a curation tool could be attached to an Investigation activity; a worksheet on a shared drive could be attached to a Production activity.
Learning designs can be uploaded to a user-generated directory of learning designs. The Learning Design Directory allows teachers not only to share their best ideas with other teachers but also use and adapt existing designs to their teaching context and discipline. In this way, it helps build community knowledge in effective teaching practice.
Watch the Learning Designer video tutorials playlist on the Learning Designer Community YouTube channel.
Suggested workshop activity
Come together with your colleagues and create a Learning Activity by using the Learning Designer. Specify the duration of each task, the size of the group, teacher presence and teamwork. Decide on the teaching and learning activities that will help learners meet the desired outcomes, e.g. is learning happening through reading, watching, listening, discussion, practical work, inquiry, collaboration or content production?