What is design, especially as it pertains to learning? Design relates to the choices made about what to teach, how to teach it, and even when and where to teach it. Designers must consider how the course and lessons are structured, how to pace the material, what tools, strategies, and technologies to use, what learning theories to employ, how to assess students, and so much more. In the end, it’s a well-thought-out, strong design that makes the biggest difference in a class.

Project: Designing a Learning Experience

The story of this project

From start to finish, designing a learning experience takes significant thought, intention, and planning. Over the course of a semester, this course went from idea to plan to prototype to active class.

Click each item below to see the desgin process. The first two images will take you two papers – design guide and trial and assessment – and the third will take you to an overview of one lesson.

Learning Experience Design


Learning Experience Design guide.

Following the format of the Designing for Learners Design Guide, step one was to break down the intended outcomes, intended learners, tools and technology, time, resources, prior knowledge, and more, in order to give an overall structure and style to the learning experience.

Then, one lesson was built from warm-up to application in order to see the design come to life.


In the trial and assessment phase, the designer considered questions such as, “What evidence will demonstrate learning,” and “How will I assess it?” A technology called Vid-Grid allows the instructor to ask in the moment questions for formative assessment in an online setting. Self-assessment and reflection are key because the performance context is a timed essay in which the student has only themself as a resource. Thinking through assessments at this level creates meaningful, effective methods of evaluation.

Trial and Assessment


The final phase was to create the lesson formed in the guide. In this case, this happened inside Canvas, using Vid-Grid, discussions, and practice scenarios. This lesson now belongs to the College and Career Readiness Center, but the videos and other resources are hosted on a webpage for viewing. Click the image for an overview.

Other Design Projects


Good design can transform common items, like a syllabus, into visually appealing, organized, meaningful tools. This syllabus was delivered to me in terrible shape, with no structure or flow. Thinking through design questions led me down the path of a bright, cheerful document with easy to find information and relevant visual cues.


Designing a learning experience based on a particular theory poses new challenges, including balancing the needs of the learners and the educators with the intended outcomes of the learning experience. In this scenario, I was tasked with developing a learning experience based on Constructionism Theory. Not to be confused with Constructivism, Constructionism asserts that learners are best served when they build something from the ground up, mentally or physically, giving them tools and skills to become innovative thinkers. The Maker Space movement largely comes from this thinking.

This project is built on a need in my hometown. A robust music education program from elementary through high school dead ends once students graduate, unless they leave for bigger cities.

Students in the Studio


When developing my own ID Model, I studied the AGILE model and the Integrated Learning Design Framework, or ILDF. My final model more closely resembles AGILE than ILDF.

I appreciate the fluid and circular nature of this model that I’ve pieced together because it fits the real-world needs of IDs who also are instructors. With a variety of duties, they rarely have the concentrated time to work through a linear plan or to spend months creating something that they needed yesterday. But, they do have access to the people who need this the most – instructors and students – who are often able and willing to collaborate and provide feedback.