Over the past decade, especially the past year, we have seen quite the shift in education and further learning. Not only has the way we teach changed but so has the way learners learn. The switch from teacher-focused to student-focused learning has increased the need for a learning designer to work on curriculum, material delivery, instructional videos, and the learner experience as a whole. Learning designers can create instructional material to benefit learners and allow them to reach new heights. And that means all kinds of learners, so read on and let’s see what a great learning designer can do and why you need one.
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. –Benjamin Franklin
This post has been updated in September 2021.
What is learning design?
What exactly is learning design? Is this something new? No, it’s actually not. Learning and instructional design have been around since teaching began because, essentially, this is the plan of how educational material is delivered. However, with the growth in technology and virtual learning, learning and learning designers have taken big leaps. Learning design is the educational process where instructors apply a pedagogical model to instruction and employ emergent technologies in different settings. These settings include virtual and in-person.
A learning design is a formal plan that includes the participants in the learning process, the resources, and the environments they’ll use to achieve their objectives. It also encompasses the sequence of activities along with thorough descriptions of everything. You’ll see a number of components utilized, and some of these include:
- Specifying both the teaching and the learning process and when and where it occurs along with what the teachers and learners will do to achieve the desired objectives.
- Listing the materials, resources, and support tools that the teachers and learners will utilize throughout the learning process.
- Creating an effective learning environment whether in person or through virtual learning. A learning designer will incorporate different components, materials, activities, and timelines.
- Designing a student-centered plan that will benefit all learners with the possibility of modification and adaptation for optimum success.
Where can you use learning design?
Remember, not all learning takes place in a classroom. And that goes far beyond K-12 and college virtual classrooms. The pandemic saw a rise in personal learning, from the Master Class series to learn a wide variety of creative and intellectual topics to Babbel for mastering new foreign languages and other learning platforms. Each of these has a great learning design, and it was a learning designer who created them all. Learning design isn’t just for traditional students. If you want to learn, you are going to see learning design. If you want to teach, you’ll incorporate learning design. You may be the actual learning designer as well, but you can also hire or work with one to create the best learning experience for your students. So if you want to teach something, think about your learning design and perhaps working with a learning designer.
What does a learning designer do and why do you need one?
So now that we know about learning and instructional design, let’s see what a learning designer actually does. And here’s a big question – is a learning designer the same as a teacher?
To answer that question, let’s look at which one does. First, a teacher is a person responsible for delivering the content to the learners. Let’s step into a 4th-grade classroom. Here you see maybe 25 students and a teacher. The teacher is sharing the content in ways that the 25 students can understand. She may have to share it in five different ways and may have to go over it the same way a number of times. She can get creative, she can be concise, or she can even utilize peer-to-peer learning. The teacher is the deliverer of the material.
What does a learning designer do?
The learning designer, on the other hand, is the one who creates the material and decides how it can be shared. The learning designer will use different mediums, platforms, and delivery models to allow the teacher to best share it. Some of what they may do includes
- using different authoring tools
- planning scope and sequence
- writing scripts
- choosing supportive media
- developing assessments
They also manage curriculum projects and evaluate the success of them. If the project necessitates training for the teachers, they can do this, too. Often a learning designer is the teacher, but it’s not the norm, or there can be a collaboration between the two. Sometimes a learning designer is a third party who works within parameters and instructional specifications. They may revamp outdated curriculum, create new ways of presenting it, and incorporate technological tools and games. Because they are the creators of the material, they often work closely with teachers, including training, implementation, and support.
We mentioned the 4th-grade teacher. Yes, learning designers can create content for this setting, but they also work in any area from K-12 to all levels of higher learning. They can create content beyond the scope of academia and reach into the corporate world, the medical field, and hybrid learning. Remember, any time there is teaching and learning taking place, someone designed the learning and instructional materials.
Do you need a designer for your learning materials?
The quick answer is probably so. As a teacher or instruction, you may or may not have the facilities to create all of your content. Even if you do have the skills, you may not have the time. Designers have proven skills that make them adept at creating instruction and learning plans for set groups of learners. They can fine-tune curriculum to coincide with teacher’s parameters within schools, classrooms, or any other settings.
A professional can also incorporate modifications and enrichment tools that are helpful in any setting, especially that of K-12 education. Think back to our 4th-grade classroom. Of those 25 students, not one of them learns exactly the same way. Sure, there are traditional learners who may get it on the first go-round, but other kids will need some remediation, while some may want enrichment. Some of the kids may get it better through visual or tactile learning, while a few others benefit from an auditory component. Teachers incorporate a variety of assessments and individual learning tools and tasks to help each child.
A professional learning designer can also help with online courses and components of learning. Often learning takes place far from the classroom, especially with the virtual learning we saw arise during the pandemic. In fact, there may always be a component of virtual learning from now on. Much to the chagrin of many students, some school districts will do away with weather and snow days now that they can incorporate virtual learning. And the virtual components are created by learning designers.
Some teachers may very well have the capacity and skills to create learning materials, but do they have the time? That’s a major reason to work with learning designers. Also, many educators have backgrounds in education, not design. Creating a team of educators, learning designers, and students creates an advantageous system.
Finding and hiring
Perhaps you don’t have to worry about finding a learning designer because that’s taken care of by your school system or curriculum department. However, maybe you have a fabulous projector you’d love to have created by a skilled designer. Where do you find one? Well, you’ve come to the right place because we have amazing pros at Bunny Studio who would love to handle your project.
Regardless of where you find a learning designer, make sure they have certain skills. Designers should be adept at creating the learning plans that you want and need. They should be willing to listen to you and adapt to your learners. Depending on your method of delivery, they need to be skilled in creating specific types of content on desired platforms as well. Another key skill is thorough content knowledge. Learning design is a combination of delivery and material, so a designer not only needs to know how to create viable content, but they also need to know the content. Therefore, if you need content for your engineering class at a master’s level, your designer has to know different things than the one creating content for that 4th-grade class.
When you find a learning designer you’re interested in working with, ask to see some previous work samples. This can give you a good idea of the work they do and you can see if it coincides with what you want. Some other ways to shortlist potential candidates are:
- Ask for references or read client reviews
- Make sure they are in line with your budget limitations
- See that they have worked in your area of content and with the age of learners
- Ask if they will provide ongoing support or training
The takeaway on learning designers
Learning designers are an important part of any educational field. From young learners in preschool to adult learners taking fun online courses, to all in between from high schoolers to doctoral students, learning design is the key to deliver the content. A good learning designer will work in collaboration with the teacher or educator and deliver appropriate and adaptable material.
As our world of learning and our technological capacities change and grow, we will see more and more need for learning designers. These are the guys who create the content that inspires learning. We need them. And we have top-notch pros here at Bunny Studio.
If you want to hire a learning designer, reach out to us and we can create a team for you to deliver exactly what you’re looking for.
You can spend your time teaching and working with the learners of today to get them ready to be the global citizens of tomorrow. Our learning designers can supply the tools to do so.