Design Principles

If you teach, in informal or formal settings, you are a designer.  I like this idea because it is at once simple and accessible and quite nuanced.  On the one hand, duh. We are making decisions about teaching and learning so this is design.  On the other, we must ask the following questions:

  • WHO (whom?) are we designing for?
  • WHAT are we designing for?
  • What are the underlying principles through which we understand our design?
  • What are the principles that are implicit in our existing processes and design decisions?
  • And, perhaps most importantly, how do we design for more equitable and just learning opportunities for ALL students? (partial answer to question #2)

On my first day at DPL, I’m pondering all these ideas.   As an instructor in mainly online environments, these questions seem to take on some extra weight.  You have a multitude of tools at your disposal (many of which I’m not personally comfortable with) and my main goal is to help forge relationships between students, teachers, and concepts.  This is, in fact, what I would deem to be one of the main goals of educational instructional design.   So, perhaps it’s that we start with the tools prior to the questions above is where we get into some “design trouble”.  The tools start to dictate the experience, rather than the underlying principles that are set forth for the learning experience.

Other questions I’m now pondering:

  • What is “design trouble”?
  • Who gets to set the design principles? What would it look like for students to help set these and continue negotiating them throughout a course?
  • What are the non-negotiable principles that must drive critical instructional design?

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