Learning Design: European Approaches
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Original versionTechTrends. 2020, 64, 815–827. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-020-00498-0
Research on instructional and learning design is ‘booming’ in Europe, although there has been a move from a focus on content and the way to present it in a formal educational context (i.e., instruction), to a focus on complex learning, learning environments including the workplace, and access to learner data available in these environments. We even see the term ‘learning experience design’ (Neelen and Kirschner 2020) to describe the field. Furthermore, there is an effort to empower teachers (and even students) as designers of learning (including environments and new pedagogies), and to support their reflection on their own practice as part of their professional development (Hansen and Wasson 2016; Luckin et al. 2016; Wasson et al. 2016). While instructional design is an often heard term in the United States and refers to “translating principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials, activities, information resources, and evaluation” (Smith and Ragan 1999), Europe tends to lean more towards learning design as the key for providing efficient, effective, and enjoyable learning experiences. This is not a switch from an instructivist to a constructivist view nor from a teacher-centred to a student-centred paradigm. It is, rather, a different mind-set where the emphasis is on the goal (i.e., learning) rather than the approach (i.e., instruction). Designing learning opportunities in a technology enhanced world builds on theories of human learning and cognition, opportunities provided by technology, and principles of instructional design. New technology both expands and challenges some instructional design principles by opening up new opportunities for distance collaboration, intelligent tutoring and support, seamless and ubiquitous learning and assessment technologies, and tools for thinking and thought. In this article, the authors give an account of their own and other research related to instructional and learning design, highlight related European research, and point to future research directions.