After my post over the weekend about designing learning experiences in wikis I spent some more time thinking about the whole thing. Much of it seemed to crystallize yesterday as I sat and talked with Chris and Scott over a pint. I thought I would try to capture a little of what is playing in my head at the moment about this ...
Let's start with an assumption or two as they relate to the learning design process ... first of all I am assuming a team approach to design and development. That means there are people like instructional designers (maybe more than one), subject matter experts (maybe faculty), graphics and media developers, Q & A people, copyright folks, and so on. What this means is that the learning experience should be a rich media tool that enables students to gain a real appreciation for the content through appropriately designed learning activities and exceptional contextual examples. I am also assuming that a majority of the course readings, activities, and assessments happen via the web. This does not assume a distance learning model. In fact it could be a standard 15 week lecture-based course with the real difference being that the core materials have been designed specifically for the course. The course could be delivered completely at a distance, but that isn't my bag.
OK, on to the thoughts that are driving me crazy and begging me to put a team together to investigate them. First a screen shot of the D3 interface that only the design team got to see ... the output was much different and in my mind's eye, much less engaging then the screen below.
D3: Content, Context, and Design Specifications
Again I will return to the Digital Design Document example from the other day ... my wife was our Manager of Instructional Design back at the Solutions Institute and she had this crazy idea to release the entire CMS content basis as the learning environment, not just the polished html output of the course content. In other words, she wanted to let students and faculty to see not only the content, but all the instructional design and media notes that we managed along side the content in the repository. At the time I thought it was interesting, but crazy. I was always saying to the design team that great ePages consisted of content, context, and activity ... we spent thousands of hours making sure as many screens in courses contained those three elements. It was obviously not always possible and now that I think back on it, exposing more of the design and the conversation that went into the design would have gotten us closer to that goal.
Now after several years and looking at how the tools have transformed the way we think about publishing, managing, and controlling content my mind has moved to the extreme notion that a course would be a hell of a lot more powerful if it were exposed from the ground up. In other words, share the original manuscript for the learning objective, expose the notes that the design team pushed back and forth from one another as they debated how best to meet the objective with the appropriate instructional strategies, show off the story boards the media team uses when creating an embeded interactive exercise, and so on. Then imagine that as a page with multiple semesters of faculty and student notes attached to it as comments. It would reveal quite a bit about what is really going on with the content. For the right fields it would make the ultimate incidental learning tool. Think of how something like that would work for an Instructional Design course ... sort of like Dick & Carey for the new millennium.
I am sure this is a rambling mess, but I think that future textbooks would be well served to include not only footnotes for citations, but comments made by readers. This can happen in the online world ... I am still figuring this out, but I can see a very rich learning environment emerging from this type of activity that would really alter the notion of eLearning materials. Does this make any sense? Would it be an interesting design experiment? I know I will be working to come up with a way to expose the design for a new course I am working on. Any thoughts?