I am so pleased to share the results of a project I’ve been working on for the past several years. in collaboration with Michelle Harrison from Thompson Rivers University, Irwin DeVries from Royal Roads University, and early foundational help from Tannis Morgan at Vancouver Community College, we are delighted to share the Rethink Learning Design Resource.
The project began in 2018 when a group of learning designers, educational technologists and developers met to discuss their experiences supporting learning design in the context of open education. Together, we decided to build a resource to support learning design that considered the affordances of open education with a goal to further develop the field of learning design to meet the challenges and opportunities of open education. Originally designed to be a resource to support the design of open educational practices, the scope expanded to include a rethinking of how such content might be presented in a way that would invite feedback and contributions from readers. We imagined a resource to support learning design that could itself be iterative, contributory, and shaped by readers’ experiences, feedback, and ideas. In effect, the presentation of the resources would be a demonstration of open education practices in action.
The project was informed by many conversations with learning designers. We spoke with participants at OER19 Conference held in Galway, Ireland; the Cascadia Open Education Summit held in Vancouver, British Columbia; and the Educational Technology Users Group held in Kamloops, British Columbia to gather feedback that formed the basis for a collaborative examination of current learning design practices with the goal of conducting a collective critical examination of practice.
Based on feedback from the conference sessions we started to map out the functionality and design of the platform to host a collection of resources on learning design. Working with a talented and thoughtful designer, Tom Woodward, we determined what could and would be possible building upon the open-source software, WordPress.
In January-May 2022, the platform was further reviewed, evaluated, and adjusted based on feedback from a small group of students who made use of the tool as part of their coursework. The experience of students and instructors using the tool was positive and many contributions were registered through the platform providing opportunities for the instructors to respond and for students to connect with each other’s ideas.
We then invited authors to submit contributions for the reader in critical learning design. In total, fourteen contributions were collected and went through an open peer review process. We are delighted to present these articles on the site and offer the functionality developed for the open textbook as a means for participants to further engage with the writing.
At present we are preparing another iteration of testing the functionality of the platform with a group of graduate students. The articles on the site will be used as resources for their coursework, and they will use the platform to reflect from a variety of orientations including, issues, lenses, role perspectives, and settings.
Several wonderful things came out of this project. Naturally, I was delighted to collaborate with Michelle, Irwin, and Tannis and engage with learning designers from around the world. In addition, we have developed the perspective matrix, which I believe can be a useful prompt for reflection on just about any topic, both online or face-to-face, with encouragement to explore topics from a diverse set of angles. We have published two articles on the development of the platform, available here and here. As well we have developed the WordPress plugin that drives the site functionality, offered open source. Additionally, we have the wonderful collection of articles submitted by our authors. Lastly, we are currently conducting research into the use of the platform with students. So there will be more feedback available soon that we can report on, with a goal to improving functionality for future use.