Why should teachers design learning?

I have the feeling that I’ve posted about something similar before.  Just some general thoughts and questions about learning design (small ‘l’ small ‘d’).

The ASLD event was interesting and there were some learning design tools that I hadn’t used before.  I could see the potential uses of these but I found myself asking the “what’s in it for me?” question from a teacher’s point of view again.  One question spawned several more.

  1. Why should I invest the time to learn this tool and the theory behind it?
  2. Do I have the time to learn and use this tool even if it looks useful?
  3. Does my institution encourage me to try new things?
  4. What is the tool trying to get me to do?
  5. Do I want to change the way I teach or think about teaching?
  6. How will the tools affect the dynamics of my teaching, the classroom and the relationships between those involved?
  7. Does the tool work?
  8. Is there ongoing development of the tool and the ideas behind it?
  9. Am I interested?

Some thoughts on these from the teacher’s perspective.

  1. This is the “what’s in it for me?” question and teachers are right to ask it.  Most of the teachers I have worked with are hard working and conscientious.  But they are also pushed for time.  If something like learning design isn’t going to save them time and/or effort in the future or provide them with a better teaching experience to justify the investment of time and effort then they aren’t going to use it.  Or at least they won’t use it for long.
  2. Self-explanatory and leads on to the next question.
  3. Do institutions provide teachers with the time and encouragement to try new approaches to teaching?  Is it in their interest to do this?  What’s in it for them as institutions to budget for allowing teachers time to work on something like learning design?
  4. Do I like the way the tool is trying to get me to think?  To me there seems a big difference between providing a tool to support what teachers already do and a tool that tries to dictate how teachers should do what they do.
  5. Do I like the suggestion that I might be doing something wrong by teaching the way I do?  There might be tools that can make my lessons more engaging or interesting but do I like the suggestion that a tool might make me a better teacher?
  6. I’ve always been impressed with how good teachers can cope with the unexpected.  If as a teacher I have to plan everything in advance is there still room for spontaneity?  Can I ever include spotaneity in my design?  If I can’t then can my design ever be complete?
  7. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time demonstrating software to teachers, producing guides and handouts and generally persuading them to use it.  The winning combination has often been:  software is quick and easy to obtain a positive outcome from + software allows the teacher to do something they couldn’t do without it + teacher is interested in using the software.  If the result of these three tests was “true” then I’d often find that teachers were enthusiastic about the software in question.  Teachers might often stick with software that wasn’t particularly easy to use if they really needed to use it (they couldn’t get the required result any other way) but this was rare.
  8. Is a teacher going to invest their time and energy, potentially to alter the way they approach teaching, in a concept or tool that might be abandoned any time soon?  Would you use a proof-of-concept or research tool in a production environment?
  9. Can the teacher see the point?  If not then will they be interested in trying out the tool and the concepts behind it, however good they might appear to be to anyone else?

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