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Hweeshan's OLDS MOOC Learning Journal: Week 3 - Designing a Learning Experience

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Tay Hwee Shan
4 March 2013

I have been too busy over the past few weeks to catch up on the MOOC since Week 2, and now it is Week 8 of the course. I will now attempt to catch up as much as possible before the MOOC comes to a close, as I am still very much interested in being part of this new way of learning, especially when the topic is Learning Design itself.

That being said, here's my inputs for Activity 1 of Week 3 - Spend 10 minutes thinking about the last time you needed to design a learning experience (for other learners or for yourself).

The experience I will be talking about is a very simple one - teaching the concept of Cells to a 10-year-old. 

  • Which part/s of the design do you usually think about first when you begin a new learning design? Do you start with – the learners, the technology, learning approach, previous designs, resource constraints, time constraints, institutional strategy, or ... ?

I began by thinking about what the learner knows. i thought of using the concept of familiar to unfamiliar, to slowly drive the learner towards the direction of the eventual learning objective. The lesson must start with something familiar to the learner, in order to gain the learner's interest and attention.


  • Where do your ideas originate? From colleagues, from conferences or events, from student data or feedback, from personal experience, from case studies, or ...?

Being unexperienced with Learning Design, the idea of using familiar to unfamiliar in a learning activity came simply by thinking about the learner, and my personal learning style. I am more of a Kinesthetic and Visual learner, hence I love visualising new concepts. In order to do that, I need to start from something familiar, then slowly modifying the "visualisation" to what I am supposed to grasp.


  • What difficulties do you encounter when trying to describe your design ideas to colleagues or to yourself?

In the context of this experience, I was working with Cells, and needed to find a way to enable the learner to visualise how a cell looked like and its relative size to common objects around us. The challenge was to find suitable common objects to start off with, and how to go about narrowing them down to the level of cells.

Eventually, I found a really good Flash animation online that allowed learners to scroll up and down, to zoom in and out of a collage of different everyday objects, like a teapot. Upon zooming in, a new object would appear to allow learners to compare their relative sizes, for example, a teapot and a spoon. This continues until it reaches the level of cells, bringing learners one level deeper each time they zoom in. I felt that it was an especially useful way of engaging the learner, as the interactivity was well-integrated and allowed better visualisation of the concept of cells. The challenge was at what point should the interactive animation be introduced to the learner, in order to create the best learning experience possible.

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