The Institute for Learning Environment Design (ILED), a partnership between NextThought and the University of Central Oklahoma, is launching a new workshop series this Friday: Now You See It! – How to Create Courses That Help People Learn.
This series has been designed specifically for institutions of higher education in Oklahoma, and it’s focused on building capacity across the state for creating valuable learning experiences. The workshops are free and are being offered at four regional locations in September and October – Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC), Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU), Oklahoma State University (OSU), and Eastern Oklahoma State College (EOSC).
Our workshops feature engaging, hands-on activities that allow participants to design solutions for their specific learning needs and projects. As part of our efforts to scale quality online learning in the state, we’re going to curate workshop designs and make them available openly for others to use.
This theme of “Building Capacity” is a core part of ILED’s mission, and we believe that Learning Environment Modeling (LEM) provides a valuable visual toolbox for helping institutions and organizations achieve their goals. ILED Director Bucky Dodd and I speak frequently at events and workshops, and when discussing the process of building capacity, we often encounter the question, “How do you build capacity when resources seem so scarce?”
I thought it might be helpful to address that question within the context of our workshops.
1. Build capacity through open knowledge sharing
Using Oklahoma as an example, our state is rich in knowledge and information resources. We have experts and groups across our educational institutions that provide incredible resources. Unfortunately, the resources and expertise are not evenly distributed, which means some institutions lack adequate tools and support to deliver high-level learning experiences. By sharing our knowledge and information resources openly, Oklahoma institutions can build incredible capacity for delivering great courses.
In our workshops we address this in several ways. First, we make ILED knowledge and resources available for free. In addition, we’ve designed the workshops to foster idea sharing and collaboration. We’re also hosting events at different regional centers to encourage broader participation and a greater likelihood of sharing. And we’ll be curating ideas and project designs from the workshops and sharing them openly for others to use.
2. Build Capacity through connections
Bucky and I subscribe to a connected or networked learning philosophy. As a result, we understand that one important goal is to connect as many nodes as possible between instructors and course designers across our network of state institutions.
We’ve planned our workshops to encourage collaboration and to connect participants who work in similar disciplines, but at different institutions. Just as important, we plan to curate ideas and project designs from the workshops, categorizing them by areas of interest. We’ll encourage workshop participants and other contacts across the state to share these ideas and designs with instructors and course designers with similar interests.
3. Build capacity through replicable and scalable models
Perhaps most important for capacity building is the need to create models that are openly available, that are easy to use and reuse, and that can scale according to need. We believe sharing a common, easy-to-use visual modeling language like LEM is key to addressing this requirement. In our workshops, we introduce participants to LEM through games and hands-on learning. After this introduction, they’re able to create models for their projects that can be shared and modified by others. Our design principles emphasize the flexibility and scale wherever appropriate, so most models are created with scale as a guiding principle. Finally, the simplicity and visual nature of LEM, as well as our many open resources to support it, make the tool easy for non-participants to pick up easily.