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Design Thinking and Learning Design

Matt Bower (Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

Design of Technology-Enhanced Learning

ISBN: 978-1-78714-183-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-182-7

Publication date: 3 August 2017


This chapter unpacks ‘design thinking’ as it relates to educational design, and highlights how developments in the field of Learning Design may be of assistance to educators. Design is defined as a creative, scientific, and complex process, underpinned by several design thinking qualities. Teaching, it is argued, should be positioned as a design science, based on its nature, practice, and intentions. Learning to design is characterized as a challenging pursuit that is supported through practice, refection, examples, and expert guidance. Based on the literature, the pursuit of designing for learning is explained as a process involving the creation of accessible and aligned designs that cater to students in order to achieve desired learning outcomes. Educational design models by Laurillard, Siemens, and Conole are contrasted and evaluated in order to critically reflect on the general utility of such models. The field of Learning Design is introduced as a discipline area that aims to help educators develop and share great teaching ideas. Six approaches that support the description and sharing of learning designs are briefly described (technical standards, pattern descriptions, visualizations, visualization tools, pedagogical planners, and the Learning Activity Management System) so as to illustrate how the Learning Design field has evolved and how educators can capitalize upon it. Directions forward are recommended, which center around reflection, collaboration, and a design orientation.


Bower, M. (2017), "Design Thinking and Learning Design", Design of Technology-Enhanced Learning, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 121-158.



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