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Engineering Education and Online Learning Environments

Engineering Education and Online Learning Environments


This quarter-long project is an opportunity for you to learn and apply learning design principles and methods to create an effective technology supported learning environment.  As part of a design team, you will design an e-learning activity for a curriculum module in an educational domain your team chooses.

The project has phases and milestones, with specified steps and due dates. In essence, these milestones are homework assignments that build on each other toward your final project.

Phase 1: Focus:  You will assemble your team, pick a domain for your e-learning curriculum module, answer some contextual questions, and identify relevant resources you will use in the design process.  

Phase 2: Understand: You will employ simplified cognitive tasks analysis methods to precisely specify the educational goals that students should achieve from your activity. In this phase, you will develop benchmark tasks and perform a rational cognitive task analysis as a first pass at goal specification.  You will then use data to refine your goal specification and summarize in a model that indicates what concepts, skills, and/or dispositions students should develop from your activity.

Phase 3: Define: You will clearly articulate the learning goals for your activity and design sample assessments.

Phase 4: Conceive: You will employ learning principles to design and create a simple prototype of instructional activities intended to help students as effectively and enjoyably as possible achieve the learning goals you defined. 

Phase 5: Build:  You will further refine, prototype or implement your learning activity.

Phase 6: Test: You will test your design on your target learners.

Phase 7: Present: At the end of the quarter you will present your project to the class and submit a final write-up of the project, summarizing the final design product and justifying the design decisions you made using the methods and principles you employed.

You will post the products of each phase in our LOFT studio.  We will ask you to review the products of other teams in the class.  


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 should actually do with our resources.  Design is the means by which we create new products, services and technologies that intentionally foster new understandings, skills and dispositions that we believe are important.

 We use LOFT and design this course as a design studio.  We ask you to review other projects as an opportunity for you to further reflect on, and learn about, the methods and principles this course teaches and to experience a wider set of learning design examples. The peer reviewing process will also provide you with a greater breadth of feedback on your project.

Choosing Methods

We will use basic human-centered design techniques from cognitive science and interaction design.  In each phase of the process, you will see suggested techniques to use in that phase.  For example, in the understand phase of the process, you will practice techniques such as expert interviews or think alouds to understand the knowledge, skills and dispositions learners must develop and the learning challenges they face. In the Conceive phase, you will practice basic interaction design techniques to generate and sketch possible instructional solutions. In each phase we will recommend a particular technique but also will provide information on additional methods and techniques that you may explore if you choose. As time allows, interested students may also design a research plan for testing a learning principle used in the design.


Let's get started! Click on the Focus link at the top to begin the journey.