Can learning design = mind control? How to avoid?

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Rebecca Galley
29 January 2013

@JeffWaistell sent me a tweet suggesting that learning design was even more messy, iterative, dynamic and political than the models and frameworks we are introducing in week 3 of the OLDSMOOC might suggest - and I didn't disagree. My view is that at the heart of our learning design practice is our view on what learning is for - and that is highly political. 

Jeff response was to ask:

"So learning design can = mind control? How to avoid? How to balance learning agenda by involving key stakeholders and views?"

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Rebecca Galley
9:37am 29 January 2013


Hi Jeff -  James Dalziel (LAMS) argues that Learning Design is pedagogically neutral and I see his point, but the templates and tools we use to design learning will clearly enable and value some discussions, ideas and concepts whist dis-abling others.  For example one could use the OULDI Course Map to describe a learning event of any pedagogy, but the view you get reflected back has student activity right at the centre of it whether the designer wants it to be or not!

Similarly for me, the notion of SMART outcomes at the centre of a design process has always felt uncomfortable becuase it doesn't quite fit with my political beliefs about what education is for. Don't get me wrong - they clearly have their place in formal education, and I'm a compete sucker for a bit of nice clear constructive alignment, but there is nothing much aspitational, optimistic, transformational about a SMART outcome in my opinion, so why should they be so central to design in primary, secondary and tertiary education in the UK? <<I should probably duck right now>>

However, I would completely dispute the question 'Learning Design can = mind control' on the contrary, a robust learning design process  can provide us with the space, language and self-awareness to investigate and openly discuss  the assumptions we are making in relation to learning and learners. 

Ida Brandão
10:25am 29 January 2013 (Edited 10:28am 29 January 2013)


I suppose the institutional context and the learning design method chosen establishes some frontiers, we can try to give more or less freedom, depending on the learning theory that influences us or the learning outcomes we wish to attain, probably dependind on the kind of knowledge field/discipline one is addressing. There are many variables that we may take into account.

When I think of ultimate freedom of learning I turn to O'Neill Summerhill - http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/ . Yesterday, I received their newsletter and at a certain point it was said that it was turning more into a «school». School inspections (Ofsted) impose some rules even if the original philosophy declines them.

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