Lesley's learning journey, 15th January 2013

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Lesley Shield
15 January 2013

Today I:

  1. forgot there was a synchronous event so didn't attend (wouldn't have been able to anyway, as a last mnute lunch invitation came up and it would have been rude to take my tablet with me)
  2. discovered Cloudworks' formatting is editable on my laptop - I've been tending to use my tablet to write reflections. So, back to reformatting earlier clouds.

Both useful lessons; I should have a) made a note of the event rather than muttering to myself about 'need more notice than this' and b) checked out the affordances offered by tablet and laptop sooner than this rather than muttering, 'bah, can't format, what use is that...'

Note to self: strive to be a 'glass half full' person.

And now, some thoughts about learning design... I need to relate these to the MOOC experience, I feel, but that's for another day, another musing. For now, some thoughts on experiences that have fed into my view of successful learning design over the years... I find it helpful to include examples as they remind me of why I've come to certain conclusions. You may prefer to do it another way, but please bear with...

What have I learned about learning design so far? What do I think it is? Well, to answer the second question first, I think this has been answered quite eloquently elsewhere, particularly in the post that says teachers do it all the time, the implication being that there isn't a need to formalise it. And I suppose that leads me to the question about whether learning design can be 'taught' formulaicly? Isn't there a possibility that we could end up with inflexible templates? Or even templates that are faintly flexible but all have the same aftertaste? Is that what we want? Brings me back to my question about individuality. 

I've been pondering on what it was about the pedagogy of teacher I remember that made them memorable. It seems that the teacher I remember best - for the right reasons - was the one who, if a child asked a question such as, 'How long is a piece of string?' would encourage them to find out for themselves.  She'd give us the tools, suggest how we might get started and then stand back, ready to provide support if we couldn't take it further ourselves. She introduced us to 'learning how to learn', not popular in the very early 1960s! So, for me, to some extent, learning design is giving learners the tools - artefacts, approaches, a spirit of enquiry and scaffolding them as they develop as learners. 

And that takes me to something a friend of mine once said in a keynote. She knew, she said, that she'd succeeded in creating a successful learning experience when students complained not about the technology, not about the lack of navigation aids, not about the lack of support; instead, they'd say, 'It's all very well, but we're doing all the work What are you doing?'

Learners thought they were doing everything themselves because they couldn't see the huge amount of work that had gone into making this experience seamless; invisible scaffolding and ghostlike support, leaving them to develop in the directions that suited their learning goals, whether self-defined if they were aware of things they wanted to achieve of 'guided' if they weren't.

I like that view of learning and learning design. I strive towards it. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there, I think.

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