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Design of Learning Environments


How can our society help people develop the understanding and skills they need to succeed in an increasingly complex world? -- SESP LS Program Brochure

As Learning Scientists we are interested in how to help people develop new abilities so that they can be successful, lead fuller lives, and create a better society. This forces us to make decisions about what we as educators should actually do with our resources. Design is the means by which create new products, services and technologies that intentionally fostering new understandings, skills and dispositions that we believe are important.

In this class you’ll practice how to make things that help people learn using a learner-centered design process. The class is project based and focused on giving you the tools to create successful educational designs. The design process draws on the practices of researchers and practitioners from cognitive science, interaction design and lesson study. As a result one challenge of the course is integrating many different tools on offer.

Alumnae of this class have created classroom courses, after school clubs, professional workshops, teacher trainings, mobile apps, video games and services.

In the last two years Design of Learning Environments projects have gone on to be...

... implemented in real learning environments:

  • Fieldtrip curriculum for K-12. Northwestern Geology Department.
  • Workshop for design research/observations, workshop and process guide section fo project scoping workshop. Design for America, Segal Design Institute (+13 other universites).
  • Curriculum for Digital Design for Change for Undergraduates. Northwestern SESP.

...published at conferences:

  • Phelan, P., Rees Lewis, D, Gerber, E., Easterday, M. (In Press). Using mobile technology to support learning design observations. Computer Supported Cooperative Learning 2013, University of Wisconsin, Madison. competitions:

  • “Design for America: A Badge Community for Innovation” Digital Media Learning Competition Grant supported by the MacAr- thur Foundation ($175,000, 1 year). 2012.

Alumnae have used techniques from this class in a number of jobs such as:

  • Designing Education Technology for K-8 (Education Technology Researcher at The Education Technology Center: Center for Children and Technology)
  • Designing Product on Interface Experiences (User Experience Specialist at GfK User Centric)
  • Designing on- and off-line interactions, process guide, and workshops for User-Centered Design Education (Instructional Designer at Design for America)
  • Designing for Management Education (Leadership Development Consultant at Allstate)
  • Designing and evaluating museum and zoo design (Researcher at Garibay Group)
  • Designing Learning Management System work tools for adjunct professors (Instructional Designer at Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University)

So with that, let's get started! Click on the process link at the top to begin the journey.