Design thinking, learning design and creativity

I am honoured to have been invited to do a keynote at the ICEM conference in September. Here is the abstract for my talk.

Design is arguably the key challenge facing practitioners today. Social and participatory media offer a plethora of ways in which teachers and learners can communicate and collaborate. Smart phones and tablets mean that mobile learning is now a reality; learners can learn anywhere, anytime. Virtual worlds and serious games offer authentic, immersive environments that can be used to foster role-play and problem-based learning. However, teachers and learners lack the necessary digital literacy skills (Jenkins 2009)to make effective use of these technologies.

Learning Design has emerged in the last ten years or so as a means of addressing this (See Beetham and Sharpe 2007; Lockyer, Bennett et al. 2008). The talk will consider these issues and present a new Learning Design methodology that aims to provide practitioners with guidance and support, to enable them to make pedagogically informed design decisions that make innovative use of new technologies. The methodology was originally developed in the Open University UK ( and also incorporates work carried out at Leicester University on a series of Carpe Diem Learning Design workshops ( Conole provides a detailed account of the methodology (Conole Forthcoming). The methodology consists of three aspects: visual design representations, mechanisms to foster sharing and discussion of learning and teaching ideas, and a series of tailored workshops. The talk will situate this Learning Design work within the broader context of design thinking and will draw analogies with related research such as instructional design, pedagogical patterns and Open Educational Resources (OER).

Our recent work, as part of the JISC-funded project SPEED (, will be presented. The project has collated a wealth of Learning Design resources and packaged them into an online offering, which will be trialled in the autumn with four partner institutions. This will also be used in a forthcoming Learning Design Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and will form the basis of a module on Learning Design as part of a new Masters in Learning Innovation at Leicester University.

Finally, the talk will conclude by considering how the Learning Design methodology presented can foster creativity and enable practitioners to think beyond content to learning activities and the ultimate learner experience. It will present the concept of a Learning Design ecology that illustrates a vision of design building on prior resources and designs, which harnesses the power of social and participatory media.


Beetham, H. and R. Sharpe (2007). Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital age: Designing and Delivering E-Learning, Routledge %@ 0415408741 %7 New edition.

Conole, G. (Forthcoming). Designing for learning in an open world. New York, Springer.

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century, Mit Pr.           

Lockyer, L., S. Bennett, et al. (2008). Handbook of Research on Learning Design and Learning Objects: Issues, Applications and Technologies, IGI Global %@ 1599048612 %7 illustrated edition.




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