Design is….

Top down? iterative? collaborative? creative? hard work? systematic? hard work? stimulating? fun? messy?

This week my head has been full of design. We’ve had a Bootcamp workshop on Developing your Design and I’ve had some healthy conversations with colleagues as we scope out a NEPS unit on Programme Design. From where I sit now, all the descriptions above apply.

I’m intrigued by the fact that there is no one answer on how to design learning. We’ve been pointed to the Learning Design Family Tree – demonstrating the ongoing evolution of approaches (and tools), and at curriculum level Mick Healey collates a treasure trove of approaches.

Constructive alignment provides a sturdy skeleton for both programmes and modules but it needs to be clothed and we need other perspectives to inform and evaluate the many potential answers to “how?”. I had a chuckle when I read Jenkin’s Ouija board metaphor describing how curriculum design is influenced and shaped by forces: Assessment as Learning, student time, pedagogy, costs and resources, subject benchmarks… these are all super relevant. But rather than seeing them as forces – I view these as helpful factors which enable us to work within a smaller design space and provide us with insights that help us iterate towards better design.

For both of these task I’ve referred to (our Bootcamp module and the NEPS unit) we are the slightly messy idea generating stage, but importantly, the conversations that we are having now hold the aims and values of both. Convergence isn’t that far off.

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