Boldly Awakening The Ordinary (4.0): Designing For Human-Centered Learning
Pre-Conference Workshop Session 2
In this DIY-style workshop, you’ll explore the deep connections that digital learning has to design theory. Much more than a sit-and-get session, presenters will introduce open-source (free!) tools and the collective genius in the room to reimagine and redesign learning materials, processes, experiences and even systems. Come explore fundamental design considerations you can use to create engaging learning experiences, and get a treasure trove of resources and tools to take home!
Design can be difficult to pin down. After all, has many definitions and is at work in countless domains of human activity. But at heart, we believe that the core of design is the praxis of human inquiry and action toward creating something better. As nobel laureate Herbert Simon (1969) famously wrote, “everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” For those of us who are educators, then, we must consider ourselves designers - be it service of expanding learning opportunities, advocating for student equity and voice, or to scale an online program nationally or internationally.
When we think about how we design across the various within education spaces we inhabit , whether for a course we lead or as a module inside a comprehensive online program, we face a plethora of choices, challenges, and constraints. What information do we want to convey? What do we want students to learn and do with what we create? How do we want them to react or feel? How do we get them to engage with and wrestle with and synthesize the concepts and ideas and prompts in the ways we plan? And how do we do all of that within the constraints of the available tools and capabilities we have?
We have a few answers, but mostly some provocations that we think will provoke you, too. And, perhaps more importantly: we have each other! And we want to share this with you in this come-as-you are workshop on design for human-centered learning.
Japanese designer and theorist Kenya Hara (2007) has offered that design “is the energetic acknowledgement of our own living through the making of things and through communication,” where our making can be understood as our attempt to “boldly awaken our everyday existences, which seem ordinary” (p. 411). From an educator’s lens, we see Hara’s words as a challenge to enliven our intentional acts of design, and to push learners to see beyond the mere directives of a syllabus, the interface of the LMS, or the text of the presentation slides. Rather, we are compelled to awaken new experiences, connections, and possibilities for their own learning, and ultimately, for their own lives.
Building on this, design has important implications far beyond attempting to make things aesthetically pleasing or fancy, particularly for educational contexts and learning experiences. For example, the way a course looks or even feels can impact how people engage with it as a part of their everyday. Embracing teaching and learning from a design perspective (or even just honing in on a few elements of visual design) offers rich possibilities for engaging students and helping to make the often implicit elements of a course more explicit, and thus more effective for teaching and learning. And because this work happens in and through our everyday existences, as Hara suggests, we face real constraints: most faculty have enough to do beyond worrying about how to hire or find a graphic designer to create professional designs for their courses. Moreover, few institutions have support staff in place to scale branding and design for every instructor and/or every course. Even so, instructors who aren't design professionals can still create unique and engaging learning content, DIY-style.
Now in its fourth iteration as an OLC workshop, we'll spend most of our time in this session doing hands-on work to help you practice and play with building good design principles and practical design elements. Bring your own materials to work on, or use some of the prepared materials we have provided! We'll also unpack some of the research supporting visual design considerations for learning, as well as share a plethora of our favorite open resources for visual design!
Hara, K. (2007). Designing Design. Baden, Switzerland: Lars Muller.
Simon, H. A. (1969). The sciences of the artificial (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.