Learning designer tool

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The Learning Designer is a tool to design learning designs. It was developed by a team led by Diana Laurillard at the UCL Knowledge Lab and is free for anyone to use. ABC LD is an equivalent, maybe simpler, paper-based solution by the same team.


First time use

Key elements

A learning design is defined by one or more Teaching and Learning Activities (TLAs). Let us quote from the Learning Designer crib sheet produced by Eileen Kennedy:

The Learning Designer helps you design learning experiences as sequences of teaching and learning activities (TLAs) that will help your learners move towards their learning goals. The Learning Designer invites you to specify your teaching aims and outcomes, which you can categorise according to Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy of educational objectives. The Learning Designer then supports you in designing the teaching and learning activities that will enable learners to meet those outcomes.

The Learning Designer prompts you to select from a drop-down list of six learning types that best describes each activity you create: is it learning from acquisition (Read/Watch/Listen)? Learning from inquiry? Learning from practice? Learning from production? Learning from discussion? Or learning from collaboration? These learning types are drawn from Laurillard’s “Conversational Framework” (2012) – a model of what the teacher needs to put in place for learners to learn. Laurillard (2012) argues that learning requires cycles of communication to take place between teachers and learners, and learners and their peers, and that these are promoted by the combination of the six learning types.

The Learning Designer then asks you to specify the group size and how long each activity is meant to last, even if it is something the learner is doing at home, or online. This helps you take account of the entire learning experience, not just what happens when the tutor is present.

The Learning Designer will add up the learning time as you work, so you can check you are not asking the learners to do too much, which is critical to maintaining their motivation.

The following screenshot (also reproduced from the Learning Designer crib sheet, shows that the designer has to define some global elements, including learning objectives. At the bottom, one can partially see three teaching and learning activities (TLAs).

Screen capture of Learning Designer. Source

The following screenshot zooms into the definition of a TLA

Screen capture of Learning Designer. Source

Each TLA includes a combination of smaller activities defined as one of the following types: learning from acquisition, from inquiry, from practice, from production, from discussion, or from collaboration. For each of these one must define time, number of students per group, and teacher presence vs. home work.

One also can attach links to resources and tools, as the following screenshot shows

Screen capture of Learning Designer by DKS, of the curated writing about theory design.