Armed raised in the air holding a computer mouse

Image courtesy of Wesley Fryer, (design by Bill Moseley) published at Flickr.Com, and used under a CC 2.0 license.

Interesting read of the week: Design Patterns and the Coming Revolution in Course Design

This is a thought-provoking read that draws on design principles from other design fields to illustrate challenges in instructional design. Having worked in a somewhat ‘institutional’ environment in a previous position, I related to Mike’s observations about stifling process and prototyping. Fortunately, my team had the freedom to continuously explore process in light of what, I think, is a natural tension between method and imagination, prescribed and organic…perhaps even on a cosmic scale, order and chaos. Or, maybe it’s late, and I should get some Zzzzs.

I was surprised at how refreshing I found it to read someone ‘confessing’ the abandonment of 16-month prototyping and such. Everything is getting more nimble, so should design. Yet, I could almost feel Mike still grappling to work out design abandon and creative spark against empirically based decisions. What I accept as natural tension appeared to be something Mike wants to see resolved once and for all. As he writes, these ideas have been kicked around for decades, so I think ‘…the coming revolution’ in his title sounds a bit more neoteric than may actually be the case.

To this point, though, perhaps people have grappled with this tension, and might always, because the “right” balance is a seriously complex mixture of unique people, environment, resources, values, etc. that often changes without warning given fluctuations in the these elements and their relationships to one another. It might explain why there aren’t Keene downtowns everywhere by now…

For some reason, what I keep seeing in personal experience, when reading about learner communities, and listening to advocates for more participation the design process, is this notion that it is right and good for both every individual involved and the produced ‘thing’ that we inspire broad involvement and collective thinking. Mike’s discussion of the Learning Hearths as a manifestation of community values was great.

My early observations, with a little over two weeks in my new position, is that Notre Dame’s academic, teaching, and technology departments, particularly the Office of Digital Learning, are off to a great start in this regard, and I deeply value this spirit of partnership and collaboration.

What was your reaction to Mike’s piece?