The requirements of your design

Before starting to design the learning environment it is important to analyse the requirements you need to consider before designing the learning activities.

The target group
What are the main characteristics of your target group? Gender? Age? What educational level? Is it homogeneous group? Their preferences? Learning style? Think of all the characteristics that might be relevant related to the target group.

The learning outcomes
Which learning outcomes the student has to reach?

In writing learning outcomes it is important to focus foremost on what a student should know and be able to do and the ways in which this knowledge and skill might be demonstrated through evaluation or assessment. When writing learning outcomes we should bear in mind:

  • the kind of knowledge and skills that are involved;
  • the level of understanding it is desirable for students to achieve;
  • how this learning is to be demonstrated.

A common way of approaching this is to use Bloom’s taxonomy of knowledge.

Remembering Recall facts and basic concepts Define, describe, draw, find, identify, label, list, match, name, quote, recall, recite, tell, write
Understanding Explain ideas and concepts Classify, compare, exemplify, conclude, demonstrate, discuss, explain, identify, illustrate, interpret, paraphrase, predict, report
Applying Use information in new situations Apply, change, choose, compute, dramatise, implement, interview, prepare, produce, role play, select, show, transfer, use
Analysing Draw connections among ideas Analyse, characterise, classify, compare, contrast, debate, deconstruct, deduce, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, organise, outline, relate, research, separate, structure
Evaluating

 

Justify a stand or decision Appraise, argue, assess, choose, conclude, critique, decide, evaluate, judge, justify, predict, prioritise, prove, rank, rate, select, monitor
Creating Produce new or original work Construct, design, develop, generate, hypothesise, invent, plan, produce, compose, create, make, perform, plan, produce

Another well-known requirement for describing learning outcomes is that you have to write them SMART:

  • Specific: Is it clear what the participant will learn?
  • Measurable: How can we measure whether the training objective has been achieved?
  • Acceptable: Does the participant believe in the training objective?
  • Realistic: Can the participants achieve the training objective in the specified time?
  • Time: What are the time parameters for the training objective to be achieved?

The pre-knowledge
What pre-knowledge is already available concerning the learning outcomes? The language skills of your target group? Their IT skills? And when the pre-knowledge is completely unknown you might have to integrate some part in your design in which you measure or assess the pre-knowlegde of the students.

The learning setting
What is your learning or training setting? Is it formal, non-formal or informal?

Formal learning is a carefully controlled and structured training which is organised and delivered by a school or institute. Non-formal learning is purposive but voluntary learning that takes place in a diverse range of environments and situations outside the school situation e.g  at home, at sport club, visiting a museum, etc. Informal learning on the other hand from the learner’s standpoint at least is non-purposive learning which takes place in everyday life contexts in the family, at work, during leisure and in the community. It does have outcomes, but these are seldomly recorded, virtually never certified and are typically neither immediately visible for the learner nor do they count in themselves for education, training or employment purposes.

The learning conditions

What are the terms and conditions that has to be taken into account?  For example, the resources that are available or regulations that has to be followed.

When you have analysed all these requirements you can start designing the learning environment.

Designing your learning activities or interventions

There are a lot of resources available on how to design learning activities, learning environments, learning interventions, e-learning etc.

The video from Education Elements give you some inspiration on blended learning models.

Main thing while designing the learning intervention it is very important that the learning intervention matches the learning outcomes. Which learning interventions are suitable therefor depend on the learning outcomes and the can vary a lot.

The company anewspring (website – here) a specialist in learning with technology has developed an inspiring open source cookbook on how to develop blended learning. They distinguish the following learning interventions related to knowledge level, skill level and attitudinal level.

The different types of learning interventions are described extensively and clearly in the book. The link to the book – Inspiring Learning Cookbook – How to become a Blended Learning chef

Designing testing or assessment

Within formal learning it is important to establish the effects of the learning interventions. As within non-formal or informal learning it might be motivating and fun to do this. Therefor it is always important to think about testing the effects of the interventions.  Main question to be answered are: did the student reach their learning outcomes? And on what level?

Testing can be divided into two types of testing: evaluation and assessment.  They are often intertwined but mean different things. Assessment is a systematic, ongoing process in collecting data to inform instruction. Evaluation is a fixed process measuring the outcomes on one moment in time.

Rebecca Burton has posted an inspirational video on You Tube “Evaluation and assessment” and discusses different practical examples. See also discusses the differences in formative and summative assessment.  Formative assessment is an important part of the instructions process itself. Summative assessment helps for go/no go decisions after the instructions.

Sources and Further reading

  • Four key challenges to the design of blended learning: A systematic literature review – here
    Co-creation MPP news – here
  • 5 Steps for Designing Effective Blended Learning Courses – here
  • Short and concrete tips for making learning experiences – here