Design for Better Learning Experiences

Introduction to Learning Environment Design: An Open CourseScreenshot of the ILED open course page

In May 2016, the University of Central Oklahoma, Institute for Learning Environment Design launched an open course called Introduction to Learning Environment Design. This course is the first is a series of seven courses leading to a certification – Certified Learning Environment Architect (CLEA).

The introduction course is comprised of interactive content and applied exercises that help people plan and create diverse types of learning situations. We have professional educators from around the world sharing ideas and experiences about how to design courses, training programs, and even staff meetings.

This experience has led to an interesting result – Introducing new perspectives on what a learning environment is for many people.


What is a Learning Environment?Screenshot of ILED open course virtual gallery

I wrote an article on this question titled, Defining Learning Environments where I described the different dimensional characteristics of the spaces and places where people learn. This helps to make the point that learning environments are not only physical spaces, but rather collections of different spaces and places where a person learns.

While establishing new perspectives on what a learning environment is was a welcome outcome of the introduction course, we were also encouraged to see a deeper and more critical thinking about how to solve learning problems within larger environments. We use a visual technique in the course called Learning Environment Modeling as our common language for communicating learning design ideas.  This takes us beyond instructional design to defining our roles as architects of learning environments – not only creators of course materials or programs.

Implications for Educators

While we are embarking on a large research initiative aimed at better understanding the interface between environments where learning happens and learning experiences, there are some initial implications for educators to consider.

  • Begin with the Evidence in Mind – We often being designing learning experiences using content or objectives to drive our ideas. We have to focus on what matters by connecting the outcomes with anticipated evidence of learning. For example, you may need learners to analyze a particular event; however, what evidence would be created that shows the outcome of this learning?
  • Find your Idea Canvas – One of the concepts we discuss in the course is the “idea canvas”. This is our way of taking ideas about designing learning environments and displaying them in ways where others can understand and contribute. This allows our ideas to grow and connect with other educators’ ideas. How do you share your knowledge about learning design techniques?
  • Iterate Constantly – Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we forget to go a back and improve learning environments that have been in place for a long time. As educators, we must first recognize that learning environments are always changing and influenced by many factors. As architects of these learning experiences, our job is never done. How sustainable are the learning environments you design?

Join the community

The Institute for Learning Environment Design is growing a community of experts that are passionate about designing exceptional learning experiences. We welcome you to join the community and connect to the exciting work that is going on.

You can get started by joining the open course Introduction to Learning Environment Design. You will immediately join a vibrate community of professional educators with many ideas that you can use right away.

You can also join our live, online Design Sessions that are held every other week.

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