This week, as soon as I returned from the US, I started a new MOOC called OLDS MOOC, which is on “Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum”. I have got a lot out of other MOOCs I have participated in and am looking forward to learning a great deal from this one as well and working on a project too hopefully. During the first week of this MOOC we have been given a Prezi to ponder and to generate discussion on the topic of learning design. Before I discuss what the Prezi goes through and what my thoughts are on the presentation, I will say what I think is ‘learning design’. Learning to me is knowledge acquisition to be applied in different ways and different contexts and the design of learning is the planning, scaffolding and facilitation of knowledge acquisition and its higher order application.
For those interested, here is the link to the Prezi created and shared by Yishay Mor: http://prezi.com/b44jwdgvs8nl/olds-mooc-introduction/
Straight up, Yishay makes a very valid point about the inappropriateness of learning design in higher education institutions today for 21st century learning when he shares a quote from the work of Elkana and Klopper (forthcoming). Still so teacher centred, universities are still producing week after they deliver ‘learning’ through pages of reading and a lecturer standing in front of students and sharing what they know. I agree with Elkana and Klopper who say, “The new task of the university and its faculty will be to teach how to collect, select, organise and criticise information thus turning it into knowledge”. Universities are dealing with adult learners, yet spoon-feed them as if they were still maturing students. Heutagogy and other adult learning strategies should be considered in the learning design of university courses and the facilitation of self-directed and constructivist learning should be primarily informing the learning design.
Yishay asks an interesting question in the Prezi, “what’s been the single biggest innovation in education?” I guess it all depends on how you define ‘innovation’. Many definitions include the words to introduce something new, to renew, or to make changes. If innovation were simply that then I believe that Bloom’s taxonomy might be considered a pretty big innovation in education but if we are more specific as to objects and not theory, I would say that the Internet and computers in general have been sizeable innovations in the past but that today, games-based learning and other 21st century innovations will make a greater impact on education than perhaps any other innovations. It’s all very relative though and dependent on the contexts though.
The Prezi also included a rather interesting account of how ‘design’ in French translates to the word ‘relook’. The word relook means to give new shape, meaning and other things to an object. I love this thought as when I think of learning design, I do think of it being about taking information and reshaping it to facilitate a deeper knowledge and understanding of it. Of the definitions provided for learning design, the one by Conole (forthcoming) is one I am most a fan of. It simply states that learning design is a “methodology for enabling teachers/designers to make more informed decisions in how they go about designing learning activities and interventions, which is pedagogically informed and makes effective use of appropriate resources and technologies”.
I look forward to what the next few weeks of this MOOC will bring and I will enjoy thinking again more on what learning design is.