Sunday, 8 June 2014

Planning Learning or Designing Learning

When we look at "what is powerful learning?" and "what is powerful to learn?" it is important to think about what are we trying to achieve.

As teachers, we often plan for our students, creating learning we think they need. By doing this you have to ask are we missing out on an opportunity? That opportunity been one of being responsive? By being over planned we can be drawn into being the teacher who has full control over the learning journey of each child. We miss student voice, we miss student choice, we miss the opportunity to respond to the needs of our students. The Best Evidence Synthesis talks of, "teaching being responsive to student learning processes." If we just plan learning can we do this?

Designing learning has a different spin. Designing learning allows you to manage the learning process to both meet the needs imposed on you as well, and more importantly, meet the personalised needs of the students.

In designing learning our job is to provoke wonderings and questions through engaging immersion. This immersion should start the day and link carefully with the NZC learning areas and the essence of those (I talked about the essence of learning in another post). When you design learning you allow for links to be created between experiences and ideas. It allows us to engage with the curriculum at a more purposeful level, creating links to deepen understandings. Designing learning creates clarity around responsibilities and shows the importance of relationships.

Designing learning means that application is happening all of the time. Dr Jane Gilbert talks of knowledge happening in real world problem based contexts. This happens naturally because of how you manage this.

Staff at HPPS are in the process of designing the next learning process for the students in their cohort (mixed age for a number of reasons). This designing is based around the deep reflection from the last design, the use of space as the third teacher, mixing values and dispositions into the design and having deliberate acts of teaching to allow for deeper understanding and application of the experiences. Staff are also designing the key learning outcomes and assessment tools needed to move the students forward as learners and ensure that they maintain the understandings they have been immersed in.

It is really exciting to be sitting back and watching the level of design happening now compared with this time last year. The movement in thinking, practice and learning design is still developing and long may that last.


  1. Great stuff. We been talking about learning design rather than planning learning just today. It's a neat concept which describes what both schools are trying to do.

  2. Yep, also leads to more conversations around learning and what's possible, rather than it being about what compliance tells us