In my research into and consideration of adult learning and andragogy, I came across learning by design (LBD). This was not necessarily a new idea to me but I did start thinking more about how it applies to teaching and learning in Moodle. In a nutshell, learning by design is project-based inquiry. I have trained in the Intel Teach Essentials Online Master Trainers course in project-based learning (PBL) and have studied the inquiry learning model as well but what is the difference in it being termed learning by design? A number of sites specifically identify learning by design as pertaining to science as well, a project-based inquiry approach to science. Another thing to consider in its translation into Moodle.
Kolodner et al. (2003) is quoted on EduTech Wiki as saying that the design of LBD:
“ […] has been to use what we know about cognition (see, e.g., Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999) to fashion a educational approach for middle-school science appropriate to deeply learning science concepts and skills and their applicability, in parallel with learning cognitive, social, learning, and communication skills. Our intention was that the approach would lay the foundation, in middle school, for students to be successful thinkers, learners, and decision makers throughout their lives, and especially to help them begin to learn the science they need to know to thrive in the modern world”.
This post from Kendra Shimmell entitled ‘Learning by Design: It’s Not What You Know, But How You Think‘ sums it up for me perfectly. Learning by design is designing for individual and optimal learning experiences, catering for the different needs of the students, based on how they learn. It’s helping learners to become more aware of their own learning and to enhance metacognition. I can relate a great deal to the post in that I often found it hard to learn in the traditional way at school but left to my own devices, I would seek out learning in my own way and succeed more than in class. Once I got to uni and learned more in educational psychology about how people learned, I harnessed it and my learning has become easier in many ways.
So, what does it look like to cater for individual learning needs in Moodle? and to integrate inquiry-based learning and project-based learning? Conditional activities come to mind straight away, as does groups. If you have not yet experienced these or utilised these in Moodle, make it your mission to take it on!
Groups, if labelled specifically, could define the custom string of activities a learner goes through based on their selection or choice. For example, get your students to do the Multiple Intelligences test and then set up groups with the title of each element from the multiple intelligences. After students have determined what their predominant intelligence is, ask them to enrol in the group of that name. Those groups can then have tasks specifically designed to cater for that intelligence, and that’s not to say that the tasks can’t be used by another intelligence group but each group will not need to see all of the materials for every other intelligence group either.
Conditional activities can help scaffold and guide the learning experience as well. Inquiry-based learning and PBL rely a lot of good questioning techniques and scaffolds. PBL is very methodical and sequential. Set it out in steps using conditional activities so that students do the tasks required, in the order required. Also, by setting it out on Moodle like this, you can provide as much or as little help as you wish. We started PBL tasks in class today at school and we do not plan on giving any answers to questions as we want students to develop minds that inquiry and seek to know and explore for themselves. If this was set up in Moodle, we could even just mark the role and sit back to observe amazing learning take place. I would find that extremely exciting!!
Design your learning to take advantage of Moodle and all it offers. Don’t limit what you do because the online environment doesn’t seem flexible enough. Create your own flexibility and cater for all differences. Get to know Moodle better and play around with what is possible. Stretch the boundaries and go outside the box! Design your teaching and learning by Moodling 🙂