Approaching Design: The Questions I Ask

How we inhabit our digital spaces matters. Increasingly, to connect is to learn. To share is to create knowledge. To be an instructional designer and content strategist requires me to consider pathways, interfaces, engagement, ethics, impact, and requirements. 

My design work has evolved. It began with the learning management system, first Sakai and then Canvas. It felt innovative to use an easily editable platform for course content that gives educators the power to manage their own course sites. But it quickly became clear that it's prescribed structure left little to the imagination and often replicates the traditional classroom consumption of a lecture.

My design approach encourages engagement, interaction and
co-creation of knowledge.

When I work with educators, I begin from this place. A place where the pathway to learning is an open community of practice where the community is the curriculum. I ask educators to bring students into the design process wherever possible. 

I often begin with these questions:

  • Who is your audience and what do you want them to learn? 
  • What are the core components to support your outcomes?
  • How do you want your audience to engage with your material, with each other and you as the facilitator?
  • What inspires you most about your content?
  • What do you hope your audience says about their experience? 

Often my design work incorporates storytelling, collaboration, open educational resources, co-creation of content, and community building. This can be done inside and outside of a learning management system.

Often a learning experience needs a "hearth", a living room that connects students to each other and to their learning. A learning management system can provide this and so can a hashtag, a blog, or a website. When designing for a university course, the "home" can act as a portal to the open web to encourage intentional exploration and engagement that also fulfills learning outcomes. 

I think deeply about the affordances of the internet. My design work values creating thriving, generative digital citizenship. Educators have the opportunity to help their learners not just participate in and consume the web, but to sustain, evolve and at times, resist the web.

It is a gift to help learners increase their digital fluency. Digital fluency requires understanding the complexities of technology both social, cultural and political. It also means understanding the risks. 

My evolving toolkit offers consultation on technologies that collaborate, annotate, peer review, tell stories, create media and curate content.