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Design-Practice Activity 2 - 'The Design Lifecycle'

Cloud created by:

Paul Mundin
5 April 2011

This activity will take about one hour.

  • Read the Resource 'The Design Lifecycle'
  • This will give you a brief overview of one example of a design lifecycle, its possible stages and some likely activities undertaken in each stage.
  • Do you use a similar design process when designing a learning activity?
  • Can you draw it?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages for you of constructing a learning activity in such a framework?

You could:

  • Post your thoughts/comments about the use of a design process for constructing a learning activity in this Cloud.
  • Spend some time reading and responding to the postings of other participants to the Cloud
  • Respond to replies to your posting
  • If you have been able to draw your own design process - upload your own design process model for comment

What's next? - Design-Practice Activity 3 - 'Representing Designs'.

Extra content

Embedded Content

The Design Lifecycle

The Design Lifecycle

added by Paul Mundin


Manfusa Shams
8:17pm 28 April 2011

Interesting 'Design process lifecycle' model, can be useful to design  a learning activity.

I wonder if there can be another stage, 'refinement' / 'reformation' , which can naturally come after 'adapt'.

The stages can be on a linear relationship to show step by step processes rather than cyclical nature, this could help answer the question - how 'adapt' stage leads to 'vision' stage?

We do use such stages, however, they remain implicit in our thinking. The advantage is that having a structured framework helps to shape up thinking and related activities, with a scope for evaluation. The main disadvantage is lack of flexibility and uncertainty about effectiveness. 


Richenda Power
6:09am 15 May 2011

Q 1: Do I use a similar design process?

A: Probably, yes, but it is useful to see what operates in me at perhaps an almost subconscious level these days, being articulated in this very conscious, systematic and abstracted way.

However, I find that the 'gathering' and 'visioning' (don't like that word: what is wrong with 'imagining'?) do not run, in my case, in separate chunks.

An example: often I'll be chewing over how to make a concept understandable, or how to trigger thinking on a subject, i.e. as part of the overall course or session outcomes, when I'll notice a material object or a picture, which I'll pick up and think of as suitable to use. So that is Gathering, at the same time as Imagining/'Visioning'. Indeed, I would say that sometimes the Gathering comes first and triggers my 'Design' imagination.

Q 2. Could I draw it?

A: Probably, but I don't have time today to attempt this rather complex process, if it does mean much tracking between parts of my brain and the environment! But I shall try, and return here, or bring my sketches with me when some of us get the opportunity to meet.

Q 3. So, I think I am in agreement with Manfusa, saying 'such stages' are 'implicit in our thinking'. 

Advantages: I need time to go away and think about the processes outlined, in relation to a couple of tutorials coming up in the next ten days. One I've run with reasonable success four times, face to face, but I shall probably have the opportunity to re-design it for my first Elluminate tutorial for a few days later; I'm also in the middle of designing and conducting an evaluation of a project I set up for children a while ago. So, having read this, I'm going to be more conscious of what I'm up to, and shall try to make some jottings on the experiences, to bring back here as feedback.


Ariana Yakas
4:03pm 17 May 2011

  • Do you use a similar design process when designing a learning activity?

            I use a very similar process based on the Kolb learning cycle - something that can be used not just for designing a learning activity but for any type of activity that has requires a learning process to be built into it.

  • Can you draw it?

           I tried but could not paste into here.  Must be doing something wrong.    It is basically Observe, Evaluate, Plan, Act and then it starts again

  • What are the advantages/disadvantages for you of constructing a learning activity in such a framework?

           Advantages are that it is interative and so helps with ironing out any issues plus it has a learning aspect in built.  Not entirely sure what the disadvantages are :(

Isabella Brown
6:26pm 18 May 2011

I found this activity much more straightforward and to my style than the previous one. Perhaps as I am more comfortable with specific instructions and examples for those instructions and this clearly gave them. I felt that from this document I could understand the learning design process and would feel able to use this when designing some learning activities for Elluminate, as I need to do within the next few weeks.

My previous learning design is only very loosely described as such as I effectively work out what I think needs to be covered, find the factual information, some example activities and so on. In other words I don’t think that I undertake any formal learning design at present. If I was to relate this more precisely to learning design then I do generate the ideas about what I think might be a useful way of presenting or learning about a specific topic and then search to see whether these exist. This is possibly the wrong way around but until i am confident designing the activities for myself then I do have to rely on resources from other people at times. These could include animations or processes, suitable pictures, videos and also a series of instructions to investigate a given topic. I think that using the framework in the document here would be a better way of specifically working out what needs to be done and why.  I presume it is similar to the use of technical design documents or requirements documents that are used within software design processes.

Advantages are that specific stages must be kept to, meaning that each stage of the process must be undertaken, although this could be restrictive.

Isabella Brown
6:27pm 18 May 2011


I read the adapt to be the refine / reform that you mention. Could you explain how you mean these to be different then?


Genie Gabel-Dunk
10:25pm 18 May 2011 (Edited 10:57pm 18 May 2011)

Do you use a similar design process when designing a learning activity?  yes;  this will be the first occasion that I have explicitly analysed and identified the components of the thought processes

 Can you draw it?

I completed a graphic to paste here; however, the formatting was lost in the transfer and so I include something much simpler.

  imagine                     observe        synthesise      run       review          refine                            conceptualization       gather               plan                          assess         adapt

 What are the advantages/disadvantages for you of constructing a learning activity in such a framework?

advantages: makes the thought processes explicit, identifiable, visible; more readily transferable; consistentdisadvantages:  misunderstanding of terminology; rigid, inability to respond to random stimulus

Keylor Murillo Moya
11:26pm 25 May 2011


I do use a similar design process when I am designing an activity. I'm not sure if I follow every step of the process every time and if I do it consciously. Every activity is different and has to be adapted to its context and this affects inevitably the whole designing process. Some activities are quite simple and short, so they don't require as much planning as a longer and more complicated activity. The process I try to follow looks like this:

Set up objectives needed - Imagine an activity for these objectives - Look for materials available - Create an activity - Plan and design the activity (time, students, etc.) - Perform the activity - Correct or modify.

Constructing an activity in this framework helps me to identify problems within the designing process. I have noticed that I don't pay much attention to feedback either from students or from my own colleagues and that id something that I should add to my designing process.

Disadvantages? It is definitely not a formula which can be applied to every activity or to every context. It can be very time-consuming.

Alison Clayton-Smith
4:26pm 26 May 2011

As I'm a trainer background I've been trained in instructional design and in other more broader approaches, like Kolb's learning cycle. I don't consciouslly go through these processes in a structured way as I've been designing for years - of course that could mean bad habits have crept in! But I'd also agree that it is much more of an iterative, moving back and forth process. Also, it is very different designing something very facilitative face-to-face do something which is going to be online used again and again.

Susanne Winchester
10:29am 2 June 2011

Design-Practice Activity 2 - 'The Design Lifecycle'

Apart from the terminology, my design process looks very similar. However, as already mentioned I don’t necessarily see gathering and assembling as separate stages.


 (I have tried to insert my diagram but all formatting was lost - I see it as a cyclic process, with 'observation being the starting point).

Observation/Vision - how to improve students performance in a particular area of the subject – based on error analysis, feedback, general observation

Planning/Gather - researching  ways of addressing the issues, deconstructing the problem and addressing its individual parts by designing activities centred around these, formulating specific learning outcomes, reflecting on appropriate ways of assessment and evaluation

Design/Assemble  - sequencing of individual activities to that the learning outcome can be met; decisions about media used

Practice/Run  - making activity available in practice session

Assessment-  assessing if learning outcomes have been met

Evaluate - formal or informal evaluation of activity by students and tutor (or through more general reflection)

Adapt - make changes to the activity based on observation and feedback/evaluation


The advantage of such an approach is that the activity is constantly refined in terms of student needs. At the same time, continued research by the tutor means that fresh approaches are considered and  a variety of means of delivery explored.









Manfusa Shams
3:09pm 6 June 2011

Hi Isabella and colleagues,

I am sorry for the delay in replying to you, however, I was involved in heavy marking until last week.

The additional stage - refinement / reformation could be a stage of natural progression towards 'vision' in the cycle. Refinement may imply 'reflection of ideas, creative thoughts and tangible outcomes, and contemplation of further fine tunning the learning cycle. It could be an experimental stage incorporating all previous stages in the cycle, and a practical implementation stage for further exploration of the learning exercise. A metaphorical example is adjusting volume of a microphone and / computer screen  before presentation in a face to face learning session.

Does this sound like a good suggestion?

What other colleagues think about this?



Liz Middleton
6:25pm 8 June 2011

Sorry for late entry into this discussion around Activity 2 been very busy marking myself Manfusa and also delaing with sick parents.

Anyway my reponses:

The Design Life Cycle

  • Do you use a similar design process when designing a learning activity?

I have used a variety of different formats depending on the purpose of the activity and also any guidance and frameworks that have been given on particular education courses I have attended myself.

I still think that it is very difficult to be creative in any thinking of the structure is too formulaic and like other comments that have been made I think that you also need to build in some flexibility that allows some diversion from the suggested plan as long as this seems to be the way that a flow of ideas within a session is moving-difficult balance this-also depends I suppose where the main responsibility for the ‘control’ of the activity lies-most of the time as tutors we are tending to facilitate these between students-however I have been on courses recently where there is a greater and greater shift to students being responsible for what takes place ……

  • Can you draw it?

There has been mention of cyclical processes and going back and forth between stages continuously as needed. I feel as if this is what is happening to me at the moment as I am attempting to create a learning activity for students to help them with putting together a practical psychological report through an Elluminate session tomorrow evening. This will certainly be a major learning experience for both myself and my students and I have already stated that we are experimenting with this together from the start.

As I go through the processes I shall have this Design Life Cycle more-I might even adapt it for the purposes of how they create the report as well. It will be interesting to reflect on the results.

  • What are the advantages/disadvantages for you of constructing a learning activity in such a framework?

I see all creative work as quite time consuming anyway-what is more difficult perhaps is often converging and looking more at step by step processes so this type of thinking might help to focus more at certain points in the cycle.

Sandra Clare Barthorpe
10:39pm 8 June 2011

  • Do you use a similar design process when designing a learning activity?

Yes but as I tend to plan for very short tutorials ... 2 hours for 1 to 2 Units this is a less demanding process. So in reality I use your Assemble, Run, Evaluate, and Adapt

  • Can you draw it?

Yes, but I am more of a logical thinker and use bullet point lists. I can link with arrows.

  • What are the advantages/disadvantages for you of constructing a learning activity in such a framework?

I think it is advantageous if you are designing a module, or a series of related lessons. For what is one off tutorials about a month apart it is a little cumbersome.   

Inherently I use a much refined version with Learning Objectives as my starting point or vision!  


Hara Papathanassiou
1:57pm 9 June 2011

  • Do you use a similar design process when designing a learning activity?
  • Yes, though for my tutorials it is implicit. I followed one also while desinging and writing up
  • a couple of book chapters for a new course. However,  the cycle was follwed empirically by all parties involved, much in the way of not following prescribed acts for tasks that are well understood and common.
  • Can you draw it?
  • See below
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages for you of constructing a learning activity in such a framework?
  •  I see the "spelling out" of this design as imposing a management structure to the process of preparing and delivering learning material. It is essential when more people are involved, or for an extended course, module or programme,  but I hardly see the benefit for the desinging of a tutorial. Thus, I see as an advantage the potential of coordinating among various contributors and as main disadvantage the rigidity and unnecessary extra work.


Dee Ellidge
4:31pm 15 June 2011

HI everyone

When designing activities I don't think I have logically thought through a design process however the Design life cycle is similar to a reflection cycle and nursing process that I have used for years. I think  it is ingrained in me to follow the  assess, plan, implement, evaluate & ammend  process and probably something that most of us do subconsciously in developing a learning activity. I think it is good to have structure as it reminds us to approach design in a logical way so that steps are completed in an appropriate order to maximise the effectiveness of your design and it can be a way to help you to develop news ways of working through building on your experience. The processes I have previously used have had 4 - 5 stages however I think the 6 stages of this cycle work well. I also think that presenting it as a cycle rather than a linear process is important as it encourages continued evaluation with each presentation to ensure the activity continues to be fit for purpose.

I personally don't feel a refinement stage is needed I think it is inherent in the run, evaluate and adapt stages. For example whilst delivering a session,  practical delivery issues you would adapt as needed eg adjusting  the microphone volume when it came to your attention (run stage),  you would reflect on this adaptation in the evaluation stage & if needed note the action as an adaptation for future delivery.


thanks Dee


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