I have become increasingly excited about the idea of learning design. Not to be confused with instructional design where the emphasis is flipped around and focused on how the flow of the instruction; materials, assessments, et al. It bidirectional. What will the teacher do to instruct the lesson and how will the learner show that they are learning.
Learning design flows the opposite way. The emphasis is on the experience. Experience being the optimal word. How will the learner experience the learning. When a learning experience has really been thought through, it can make a lasting impression on a learner’s life. Learning design takes a human centered approach with the design of the learning experience.
My example is reading the book Lord of the Flies in 10th grade, it was an incredible experience. My English teacher designed this experience with empathy and creativity. She turned her classroom into the island. Throughout each class she put us in complete control and left the decisions up to us as a class on how we would study the themes of each chapter. Her twist came on the 3rd day of reading the book, presented as a mid-term exam. It changed the entire hierarchy and social dynamic. Much like in the book, small factions broke apart from the larger group and began their own studying. Less serious groups pushed back. At the conclusion of the book she held a trial where we put the characters of the book on trial for murder. We each role-played a role from within our legal system, but we were expected to discuss the society of the island and relate it to the society of our classroom during the reading of the book. We had a lot of interesting discussions about right and wrong and power vs absolute power.
It has been a quarter of a century since I read this book in the 10th grade and I can still recall the experience, how I felt, what I learned and how that all tied together into the themes of the book. She designed a learning experience. The emphasis was multi-directional. Learning came from the environment, the other learners in the room and was allowed to happen organically. She never interfered. Just like in the book. We kids were completely on our own. It was brilliant! And the experience has stuck with me for all these years later.