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Learning Design

Page history last edited by Ida 10 years, 8 months ago


Learning Design Definition and Learning Design Models


Ida Brandão

12 Janeiro 2012

Professors:  Yishay Mor (Open Univ.), Simon Walker and Peter Bryant (Univ. Greenwich)


Learning outcomes:


  • Explore a variety of definitions of learning design
  • Initiate own learning/curriculum design project
  • Define learning design, as a field of research and a practice
  • Identify some of the grand challenges of using a learning design approach to the design of learning in the 21st Century
  • Identify specific topics of interest for further exploration




In the launch session of OLDS MOOC, Yishar Mor presented a PREZI with several definitions, by different researchers, on the concepts of Curriculum Design, Learning Design, Instructional Design and Educational Design Research




OLDS MOOC follows a learning design cycle that is represented in this visual cycle

Yishar Mor offers a diagram meant for learning design in the science field:



Searching on the Internet, I found many definitions and selected the following ones:


Learning design vs. instructional design (Grainne Conole)


For me learning design is broader than instructional design – it’s about the whole suite of tools, resources and methods that might be used to support the design process. Instructional design has a very specific history and associated research field. In Europe the term lower case learning design has emerged in the last ten years ago. For me it’s also about bridging in different theoretical perspectives - for example I draw on socio-cultural perspectives a lot, others have different theoretical perspectives. I think also the issue about the term is a characteristic of our area and its changing nature. The same arguments have occurred in the past about learning objects, e-learning, OER, technology enhanced learning etc. I do think it’s useful however sometimes to stop and reflect and try and come to some consensus about the field and terminology or at least recognize different positions even if we can't agree to agree! (discussion - http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/2536)


Universal Design for Learning


As I work in Special Needs field, the concept of Universal Design for Learning is an important one. It is an inclusive approach that deals with the differences of learners and cares about marginalized ones. The concept is based on the recent developments of neuroscience.




UDL guidelines provides multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression and multiple means of engagement.




Instructional Design


Instructional Design (also called Instructional Systems Design - ISD) is the practice of creating "instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing." The process consists broadly of determining the current state and needs of the learner, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some "intervention" to assist in the transition. Ideally the process is informed by pedagogically (process of teaching) and andragogically (adult learning) tested theories of learning and may take place in student-only, teacher-led or community-based settings. The outcome of this instruction may be directly observable and scientifically measured or completely hidden and assumed. There are many instructional design models but many are based on the ADDIE model with the five phases: 1) analysis, 2) design, 3) development, 4) implementation, and 5) evaluation. As a field, instructional design is historically and traditionally rooted in cognitive and behavioral psychology, though recently Constructivism (learning theory) has influenced thinking in the field(  in Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructional_design)


What is Instructional Design? (http://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/htm/IDC_instructionaldesigndefinitions.htm

In short, instructional design is the systematic process by which instructional materials are designed, developed, and delivered. The terms instructional design, instructional technology, educational technology, curriculum design, and instructional systems design (ISD), are often used interchangeably. Below are a few instructional design definitions from various resources on instructional design, instructional technology, educational technology, curriculum design, and instructional systems design:


Definitions of Instructional Design?

"The philosophy, methodology, and approach used to deliver information. Some courseware aspects include question strategy, level of interaction, reinforcement, and branching complexity." Source: www.neiu.edu

"Instructional design, also known as instructional systems design, is the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of instruction. Instructional designers often use Instructional technology as a method for developing instruction. Instructional design models typically specify a method, that if followed will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitude to the recipient or acquirer of the instruction." Source: www.wikipedia.org


"Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities." Source: www.umich.edu


Definitions of Instructional Technology?

"The use of technology (computers, compact disc, interactive media, modem, satellite, teleconferencing, etc.) to support learning." Source: www.neiu.edu

"Instructional technology was born as a military response to the problems of a labor shortage during WWII in the United States. There was a definitive need to fill the factories with skilled labor. Instructional technology provided a methodology for training in a systematic and efficient manner."
Source: www.wikipedia.org


"Instructional technology is the systemic and systematic application of strategies and techniques derived from behavioral, cognitive, and constructivist theories to the solution of instructional problems. www.umich.edu


Definitions of Instructional Systems Design?

"A formal process for designing training, be it computer-based or traditional instructor-led training. The ISD process includes analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. Also known as System Approach to Training (SAT)." Source: www.neiu.edu

"Systematic guidelines instructional designers follow in order to create a workshop, a course, a curriculum, an instructional program, or a training session” Source: http://edutechwiki.unige.ch


Instructional Design as a Process:

Instructional Design is the systematic development of instructional specifications using learning and instructional theory to ensure the quality of instruction. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; and tryout and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.

Instructional Design as a Discipline:

Instructional Design is that branch of knowledge concerned with research and theory about instructional strategies and the process for developing and implementing those strategies.

Instructional Design as a Science:

Instructional design is the science of creating detailed specifications for the development, implementation, evaluation, and maintenance of situations that facilitate the learning of both large and small units of subject matter at all levels of complexity.

Instructional Design as Reality:

Instructional design can start at any point in the design process. Often a glimmer of an idea is developed to give the core of an instruction situation. By the time the entire process is done the designer looks back and she or he checks to see that all parts of the "science" have been taken into account. Then the entire process is written up as if it occurred in a systematic fashion.

Instructional System:

An instructional system is an arrangement of resources and procedures to promote learning. Instructional design is the systematic process of developing instructional systems and instructional development is the process of implementing the system or plan.

Instructional Technology:

Instructional technology is the systemic and systematic application of strategies and techniques derived from behavioral, cognitive, and constructivist theories to the solution of instructional problems.

Instructional technology is the systematic application of theory and other organized knowledge to the task of instructional design and development.

Instructional Technology = Instructional Design + Instructional Development

Instructional Development:

The process of implementing the design plans. (http://www.umich.edu/~ed626/define.html)

Gagné Assumption


The history of «Instructional Design» dates back to World War II and to the pioneering work of the american educational psychologist Robert Gagné who trained pilots for the Air Force and designed instruction on the assumption «that different types of learning exist, and that different instructional conditions are most likely to bring about these different types of learning». Gagné model has roots in behaviourist and cognitivist theories.


In Wikipedia we can find a good summary of his theory, namely, regarding categories of learning:




and ways of learning, the 9 events of instruction:



Other models of instructional have been designed since then which retain basic concepts of Gagné.


ADDIE model


The ADDIE model is based in 5 main instances of instruction design - Analysis - Design - Develop - Implement and Evaluate.


Kemp Model


The KEMP model builds on ADDIE model


Dick & Carey Model


In the 70's, Dick & Carey build on ADDIE model introducing a more dynamic approach:



ARCS Model, by John Keller


The ARCS model, developed by John Keller, focus on motivation and is more learner centred.



eLearning Model of Marcel Lebrun


With the generalized access to the Internet and elearning, new dynamic models have been developed in the last decade, one particularly interesting model is that of Marcel Lebrun, that is explained in this article published in 2004, framed in constructivist theory of learning.


«As we will see, this figure may act as a check-list in order to properly design or evaluate textbooks (the nature, the structure, the attributes and the lay-out of the information), pedagogical softwares (the context of the proposed activities or the directives to be followed), educative Websites (the activities proposed to the students or the place of the Website in the pedagogical scenario), pedagogical plans (individual and collaborative activities well weighed up), students’ outputs or finally to boost, design and evaluate innovation inside an institution (Lebrun, 2002).

In the centre, the three rectangles are inspired by the constructivist approach: roughly, information is transformed in knowledges by the student activities and these new knowledges feed the following process (systemic loop). This process is enabled by motivation factors and sustained by interaction (from environment (functional interaction) or from other students and from teachers (relational interaction).»


A video of Prof. Marcel Lebrun explains his approach 


Learning Evaluation, by Donald Kirkpatrick


Kirkpatrick's has defined 4 levels of evaluation:

  1. Reaction - what participants thought and felt about the training (satisfaction; "smile sheets")
  2. Learning - the resulting increase in knowledge and/or skills, and change in attitudes. This evaluation occurs during the training in the form of either a knowledge demonstration or test.
  3. Behavior - transfer of knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes from classroom to the job (change in job behavior due to training program). This evaluation occurs 3–6 months post training while the trainee is performing the job. Evaluation usually occurs through observation.
  4. Results - the final results that occurred because of attendance and participation in a training program (can be monetary, performance-based, etc.)




Level 1: Reaction

This level measures how your trainees (the people being trained), reacted to the training. Obviously, you want them to feel that the training was a valuable experience, and you want them to feel good about the instructor, the topic, the material, its presentation, and the venue.

It's important to measure reaction, because it helps you understand how well the training was received by your audience. It also helps you improve the training for future trainees, including identifying important areas or topics that are missing from the training.

Level 2: Learning

At level 2, you measure what your trainees have learned. How much has their knowledge increased as a result of the training?

When you planned the training session, you hopefully started with a list of specific learning objectives: these should be the starting point for your measurement. Keep in mind that you can measure learning in different ways depending on these objectives, and depending on whether you're interested in changes to knowledge, skills, or attitude.

It's important to measure this, because knowing what your trainees are learning and what they aren't will help you improve future training.

Level 3: Behavior

At this level, you evaluate how far your trainees have changed their behavior, based on the training they received. Specifically, this looks at how trainees apply the information.

It's important to realize that behavior can only change if conditions are favorable. For instance, imagine you've skipped measurement at the first two Kirkpatrick levels and, when looking at your group's behavior, you determine that no behavior change has taken place. Therefore, you assume that your trainees haven't learned anything and that the training was ineffective.

However, just because behavior hasn't changed, it doesn't mean that trainees haven't learned anything. Perhaps their boss won't let them apply new knowledge. Or, maybe they've learned everything you taught, but they have no desire to apply the knowledge themselves.

Level 4: Results

At this level, you analyze the final results of your training. This includes outcomes that you or your organization have determined to be good for business, good for the employees, or good for the bottom line.

(in http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/kirkpatrick.htm )


Design based Research 


The key criteria of Design Based Research are collaborative, utility-oriented, theory informed, interventionist, iterative, rigorous and relevant. Yishar DBR cycle is shown at the top of this article, but other diagrams can be found, such as this one,based on Reeves model:


Figure 2: Design-based research (Reeves, 2006, p. 59)


A good article on DBR can be found in http://projects.coe.uga.edu/dbr/FAQ.html, describing its steps:


1. Begin with a meaningful problem
Perhaps the most essential differentiating aspect of design-based research is its emphasis on addressing meaningful problems faced by teachers, learners, and others. Design-based research requires an enormous long term effort by all involved and thus it should not be targeted on trivial problems.


2. Collaborate with practitioners
To begin with, researchers need to be actively involved in a real world design project collaboratively with other participants such as instructional designers, curriculum developers, teachers and evaluators when conducting design research. Two distinguishing features of the process of design-based research are being grounded in real-world settings and working closely with other stakeholders in those settings.


3. Integrate robust theory about learning and teaching
The whole process of design research is guided by the most robust existing theory about teaching and learning. Through the process of design-based research from design to enactment, to analysis, and to redesign, researchers hope to reveal what works, what do not work, and how it works under certain conditions in a specific context. Ideally, the researchers will continuously modify designed interventions and apply them to another setting for generating design knowledge or principles grounded in broader contexts.


4. Conduct literature review, needs analysis, etc. to generate research questions
Like other research methodologies, design-based researchers conduct a critical literature review and needs analysis to identify problems or gaps, thereby generating research questions (Bannon-Ritland, 2003; Joseph, 2004).


5. Design an educational intervention
To begin the process of solving the meaningful problem with which the design-based research initiative began, an educational intervention grounded in a robust theoretical framework is designed and placed in real-world contexts for testing. Ideally, design-based research can narrow the gap identified by the needs analysis by redesigning the interventions and/or refining the theory-based design principles.


6. Develop, implement, and revise the design intervention
Development of the design intervention is interactive with and responsive to iterative stages of formative evaluation and re-designs. From the initial design of educational intervention, a development team constructs and articulates a prototype, and develops a more elaborative intervention based on feedback given from evaluation of the intervention in practice (Bannon-Ritland, 2003). The iterative and responsive process may involve multiple design-test-revise cycles.


7. Evaluate the impact of the intervention
Design-based researchers gather data to reveal how well the intervention addresses the problems and how well the selective theories explain the learning process and outcomes. Evaluation of the design is formative in that the data may require the researchers to refine the initial design theories and, in turn, to develop a more detailed design intervention accordingly (Collins et al., 2004). Over time, the more fully developed intervention will be implemented in the same setting, other similar settings, and broader settings so that researchers can describe the interplay between design theories and multiple practices.


8. Iterate the process
Through the successive refinement cycles, design-based research has a potential not only to construct more robust, applicable designs over time but also to generate well-supported design theories about learning and instruction (Collins et al., 2004), thereby resulting in deeper understanding of complex learning environments (Cobb et al., 2003).


9. Report DBR
Finally, it is important to report design-based research in the forms of in-progress reports, a series of interim reports, journal articles, and books because it is likely to evolve over time (Collins et al., 2004; Reeves, Herrington, & Oliver, 2005).


Larnaca Declaration on Learning Design


This paper - http://www.larnacadeclaration.org/ - is a recent one, from 2012, and deals with notions of «educational notation», «pedagogical neutrality», «abstract framework», «conceptual map of Learning Design approaches».


A simplist approach to LD may resume it to the everyday decisions about how to teach, how to design activities to help students to learn, as a practice rather than a static concept.


An analogy of LD  with music is made:

«The need for educators to adapt or “improvise” in the act of teaching in response to their interactions with learners seems one significant issue for deeper consideration. Perhaps Jazz music will provides an enriched music analogy – it is an example of music that can be retrospectively notated like other music, and yet the act of performance is often based on a combination of professional skill together with just the essence of some musical idea (as opposed to performance of a complete, static musical score).»


The learning takes place inside the learner, but an educator can carefully design teaching and learning activities that encourage learning to take place and this is «designing for learning».


Learning Design as a sequence of teaching, a plan for activities with learners, the implementation of a learning design with a particular group of learners


The following concepts emerge from this paper and its glossary:

  1. Learning Design Framework (LD-F) - a descriptive language/notational format/visualisation for describing teaching and learning activities based on many different pedagogical approaches
  2. Learning Design Conceptual Map (LD-CM) provides the link between the core concept of the LD-F (together with guidance and sharing) and the wider educational landscape. A map of the wider educational landscape as it relates to core Learning Design concept.
  3. Learning Design Practice (LD-P) consist of the day-to-day practices of the teachers as they design for learning. The action of applying Learning Design concepts to the creation and implementation of effective teaching and learning activities, also called “designing for learning”.


«Teaching strategy: An approach to teaching that proposes a particular sequence of teaching and learning activities based on certain pedagogical assumptions. Examples of teaching strategies are capitalised in this paper, for example, Problem Based Learning, Predict – Observe – Explain, Role Plays and WebQuests. A teaching strategy can provide a pedagogical rationale as well as a suggested structure of activities for a learning design»


Learning outcomes definitions can be found in the Analytical Quality Glossary - http://www.qualityresearchinternational.com/glossary/learningoutcomes.htm

For example:

core definition  

A learning outcome is the specification of what a student should learn as the result of a period of specified and supported study.

analytical review

One attempt to synthesise various definitions states:

A learning outcome is a written statement of what the successful student/learner is expected to be able to do at the end of the module/course unit, or qualification. (Adam, 2004)

The ECTS (2004) view is that:

Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after a completion of a process of learning.

The UNESCO definition identifies both outcomes and student learning outcomes although they do not differ much:

Outcomes: Anticipated or achieved results of programmes or the accomplishment of institutional objectives, as demonstrated by a wide range of indicators (such as student knowledge, cognitive skills, and attitudes). Outcomes are direct results of the instructional programme, planned in terms of student/learner growth in all areas. An outcome must be distinguished from an objective, which is a sought-after result. Generally, each outcome statement should describe one effect of the instructional programme, and not accumulate several into one statement. Also, the statements should be clearly detailed and easily understandable by all teaching staff and students in the given area or department.

Student Learning Outcomes: Statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand, and/or be able to demonstrate after completion of a process of learning as well as the specific intellectual and practical skills gained and demonstrated by the successful completion of a unit, course, or programme. Learning outcomes, together with assessment criteria, specify the minimum requirements for the award of credit, while grading is based on attainment above or below the minimum requirements for the award of credit. Learning outcomes are distinct from the aims of learning in that they are concerned with the achievements of the learner rather than with the overall intentions of the teacher. (Vlãsceanu et al., 2004, pp. 41–42)


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