What is learning design?

When you plan learning activities and content, the term 'learning design' is used to describe the form of the learning environment. There are countless ways to present material to learners. The concept of a learning design helps designers to choose appropriate learning experiences for both the learners and for what is to be learned.

The learning design used in online learning materials describes the strategies used by the learning designer to engage the learners. It is a plan for learning that comprises a deliberate set of learning tasks, resources and supports. The actual learning tasks are structured so that the learning is stepped, sequenced and scaffolded. Resources and supports assist in this scaffolding.

While there are many ways to design learning tasks for an online learning environment, there are some environments which promote learning more than others.

Online learning settings are often very large and comprise multiple modules. Within modules, there are typically topics and sections where the actual learning activities are found. The learning design describes the planned learning experiences at the module level.

An important aim in designing any online learning setting is to create a learning environment which can optimise the learning opportunities for the many different learners who will use the resources. By articulating and describing specific forms of learning design, it is possible to provide models that designers can use to ensure that the learning materials created provide the best learning experiences for the target audience.