Design fail? Learning Environment Modeling (LEM) can help!

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

We’ve all been inspired at some point to completely overhaul our course design in order to improve student outcomes.  Why then does intent sometimes fail to take flight?  What happens if the objective is not achieved?  We’ll show you how to efficiently navigate each twist and turn along the course redesign and/or refresh process using a set of tools and techniques to transform the student learning experience. 


Debbie Ezell is the Director for Health and Physical Education at Harford Community College. Her pre-HCC professional experiences include clinical research in obesity, nutrition, and exercise at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, clinical treatment for obesity at Johns Hopkins, and workplace health promotion for Social Security Administration and Centers for Medicare/ Medicaid. Debbie has spent the last 10 years in Higher Education course instruction and online course design. She was the first on campus to pilot the usage of mobile technology for on-line and classroom usage.

Extended Abstract

Storyboarding is an efficient course design and development process that allows designers and instructors to visually conceptualize innovative ideas.  Harford Community College has adopted Learning Environment ModelingÔ(LEM) to simplify the reimagining process and bridge the gaps between course design, innovative practices and great learner experiences.  Developed by the University of Central Oklahoma’s Institute for Learning Environment Design, LEM contextualizes characteristics of a learning environment and guides the workflow from starting point to course and/or learning objective achievement.

Debbie Ezell has used LEM to redesign her online nutrition course to address problems with student time management and subject mastery issues.  Richard Smith has used LEM to redesign his own courses, as well as worked with numerous faculty in the design of a variety of courses.

Participants will be challenged to critically think about the movable parts of course design and instruction and will leave the lab experience with immediately usable ways to identify and fix course design problems using LEM.   


We will begin the session by asking participants, “What do you wish you could change about your course and why?”  Participants will then be directed to form teams of 2 to 3 that are based on mutual change objectives.


Richard Smith will use 5 minutes with a whiteboard to demonstrate the process he uses to get faculty to “re-think” the design of their courses.

Debbie Ezell will use 5 minutes with a whiteboard to demonstrate incorporation of gamification principles into her online nutrition course using LEM to guide module workflow.

All teams will have 10 minutes to practice LEM by constructing 1 member’s existing learning module.  Teams will be encouraged to select a module that “needs an overhaul”.   


Teams will then be randomly assigned one of 2 challenges, to identify and fix a learner problem associated with their existing module, or, to identify and fix a facilitator problem associated with their existing module.  While keeping the practice LEM intact, teams will brainstorm ideas and use LEM to redesign the module.

Each team will then have 1 minute each to present a comparison of the existing and redesigned modules in the context of their assigned challenge.