- Design2Learn Team
The relevance of LXD for schools and universities
Schools and universities constitute what we have referred to as the formal education sector. Formal education takes place in a distinct, institutionalised environment, with learning goals that are externally set, and generally the same for all the learners of the given setting.
The learning progress is monitored and assessed, with recognition given at the end in the form of a diploma or certificate subject to an exam or other test (Chisholm and Hoskins, 2005). Curricula in the formal education sector are different from country to country, or between school districts even.
However, in this article, we have aimed to locate more overriding strategies and approaches applicable in the formal education sector. Some of the reports reviewed are of global organisations, including UNESCO, whereas a few of our sources are European.
All in all, they give us a useful insight into how learning experience design figures in schools and universities.
As such for the formal education sector, the following documents have been selected and reviewed:
‘Teaching Thinking’ and ‘Thinking to Learn’: An Urgent Curriculum and Pedagogical Design Challenge, by UNESCO
Teaching for the Future: Effective classroom practices to transform education, by OECD.
Innovative Teaching And Learning Research - 2011 Findings And Implications
National Initiatives in Learning and Teaching in Europe, by the European University Association
From analysing the documents above, there are clear and recurrent issues. On the one hand, the limitations and challenges of the current educational system and its institutions, which often struggle to effectively change outdated visions of education with their focus on knowledge acquisition, teacher-centred approaches, and lack of authentic collaboration between teachers, between institutions and with other stakeholders. On the other hand, research shows that there is significant data that has been supporting new practices for quite some time, and many projects implementing innovative approaches in formal education settings.
Through an examination of basic and often implicit assumptions about teaching and learning, a deeper understanding of educational processes and outcomes is gained. This implies an open discussion and critical reflection of teachers’ own behaviours, roles and practices, as well as of school culture, customs and structures. Several strategies can support the process: Action research, coaching, mentoring, and collaborative and collegial decision making.
The literature on professional learning communities suggests a shift of focus from teaching to learning.
Especially when it comes to focusing on learning and on creating learning experiences, it is worth mentioning that the literature on professional learning communities suggests a shift of focus from teaching to learning. It is up to the teachers to help all students to find their individual route to knowledge and competence. This implies a strong sense of responsibility and accountability for student outcomes.
It is also confirmed that in most countries there are national policy documents that support innovative teaching. The problem is the gap between the documents and what really happens in the classrooms.
Very often teachers lack the guidance to understand and especially know how to implement the policy in their everyday teaching.
While innovative, high-quality teachers are key for all our education systems, the concurrent challenge now is to move forward on developing innovative schools and supporting whole school change management. Schools can no longer be considered isolated learning environments. As technology continues to pervade every aspect of society, there will be an increasing need to link formal, non-formal and informal learning opportunities that take place in and out of school. There will be an increasing focus on connecting the school with its community.
For this reason, Learning Experience Design seems to be a skill needed in the field.
Providing more training for teachers on this topic would:
build teachers’ capacity to critically rethink and discuss their role
guide them on how to develop a learner-centred approach;
help them to understand the need to cooperate with other stakeholders, primarily from the non-formal sector;
support them to gain self-confidence to implement new strategies in the classroom and create a vivid learning environment for students at all levels.
This article is included in our project research report "Learning experience design in the school system, youth sector, and museum field", written in February 2020. Check more information here, and download the full report here.