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Needs for Learning Design Systems

The 2020 rush to emergency online teaching…

Universities do a lot to improve the quality of learnign and teaching - emplying instructional designers, providing professional development, sourcing technologies, adopting institutional policies and procedures (Bennet et al 2017; ??Ellis and Goodyear 2019??).

But limited attention is paid to how teachers design learning and more importantly if and how institutions encourage and enable the quality of that design work.

I’ve been following with interest the work of Joyce and Tim toward the adoption of activity-based design systems and processes. But my interest is slightly different. Both Joyce and Tim lead design teams. i.e. the “instructional designers” that Bennett et al explain above as one of the strategies adopted by organisations. Engagement with those teams can produce good quality learning and teaching, but engagement with those teams doesn’t scale to every course. A lot of teachers are still left to their own devices to engage in design.

My question here is

What are the systems and processes provided by an institutional L&T environment to help teachers (not working with design teams) engage in design for learning?

Bennett et al (2017) suggest that

A first step in building teacher design capacity, though, is to understand teachers’ current design practice.

My question takes an ecological perspective on understanding teacher’s design practice and how to build design capacity. The environment in which this work takes place can enable or hinder this work. My fear is that the current environment is more likely to hinder than enable. Does it? If it does, what might be done to improve it? In particular, how might it be changed to encourage a more activity based and forward-oriented approach to design?

By design for learning I mean

I’m interested.

But there are different possible concerns driving this interest. This post is an attempt to think about the concerns I’ve seen mentioned and those that I’ve observed.

Aim is to surface and test my reservation. Help think more. Identify different approaches

Feel free to add

Other takes on understanding or dividing this up

Wasson and Kirschner (2020) refer to


My focus is more on mapping out for me what’s required to engage in this task productively as a MLP within higher education.


Better quality, faster

It doesn’t scale

Some people don’t design

Support services are talking at crossed purposes

The IT/Facilities/Education divide from Ellis and Goodyear