Fractured paradigms: What’s next in learning design?

I started this post back in October of 2014. Talk about getting distracted for a bit! Two blog posts that I read at the time really nailed some critical issues with learning design in the current higher education climate.

First,  Design Patterns and the Coming Revolution in Course Design highlighted through a vivid architectural metaphor, the current challenge of rigid ID models that arise out of military models in environments (the architectural equivalent of the planned subdivision) when what learners really need the course design equivalent of a meandering, varied New England downtown. I would argue that although the ID models are taught through traditional ID programs, there has been plenty of research that instructional designers in the field don’t really use ADDIE. We continue to teach these methods as a foundation for ID practice, but at the core of most ID models, the spark of what creates an engaging learning experience is missing. We have all the structure, but layering on the creative spark is not at the heart of traditional ID.

Second, too much of elearning, as Keith Hampton points out in  Stuck in the 90s: Online Course Design in Traditional Higher Ed is moving lectures from the classroom to online and patting ourselves on the back that we made it “electronic.” As a result of simply translating f2f course design practices to the online environment. The bottom line is that without true investment and institutional buy-in to develop complex learning systems–  such as adaptive learning and immersive interactive simulations– higher education really sits at a point in time where online learning design has great potential but few players to demonstrate the capabilities. I think it’s fair to point out that MOOCs are an area where institutions HAVE invested a great deal of resources in production teams

The challenge is that to move past the model of online learning that’s “stuck in the 90s,” the culture of learning design would have to change. Investment is one part of it, but shaking up the culture of how courses and programs are designed would be necessary. The new landscape of learning platforms that are cropping up due to MOOCS may shake up the the LMS and LCMS options. An institution with a culture of strong collaboration across academic and support services will be in a unique position to leverage the possibilities. Which one will it be?

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