What’s the big idea? With Jaclyn Doherty

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Learning Experience Design

Imagine if a learner was a learner at Lethbridge College, and all students, staff and faculty had equal access to interdisciplinary learning opportunities…all the time. This is an idea that can happen thanks to Learning Experience Design.

Why is this an important idea to consider?

Learning isn’t only about delivering content. It is about how we experience, process, reflect and contribute to fulfilling outcomes and become competent in something. At its core, the learning journey should be enjoyable, engaging, relevant, informative and tangible.

Lethbridge College, much like most other post-secondary institutions, is under significant pressure to build on learner success within the context of transition. This means establishing and implementing breakthrough teaching and learning models, innovative and collaborative learning partnerships, and creative uses of technology, all while respecting increased accountability and the need for a return on stakeholder investment. In our various roles at the college, we are obliged to do as much as possible to improve what we have while simultaneously building the conditions for new possibilities and solutions to emerge. We have a variety of thoughtful plans to guide us in this work. They provide the necessary frameworks for programs to build on existing research, knowledge and practice while creating a foundation for new course models, innovative learning space designs and assessments of academic progress while enhancing individual strengths and capabilities through the development of our faculty, staff and students.

That all sounds great. But how do you actually pull it off? How do you move from plans to action?

Fortunately, we don’t need to look far to find the answers. As learning experience designers, we work with most departments at the college and get to see incredible examples of teaching and learning happening every day across our campus, and not just the kind of learning you see in a classroom (although there are many great examples of that too!). All you have to do is look behind walls and over cubicles to see students, staff and faculty creating and nurturing a culture of learning within their discipline areas. They are already successfully operationalizing certain aspects of our current vision of leading and transforming education in Alberta. All across campus, you can see a full spectrum of students, faculty and staff learning and sharing knowledge and developing new skills. So in many ways, this is already happening! Unfortunately, all too often it is occurring behind closed doors. I often wonder, what would happen if we exposed it all – if we truly removed the barriers and deliberately took down the silos, opening the door to more interdisciplinary opportunities? What if we responded to existing policy, strategic plans and our provincial mandate by making those who are already doing great things more visible? What if we identified everyone as a learner and endorsed a mindset that fosters experimentation, encourages new ways of thinking and, most importantly, translates plans into action? What would this look like?

One aspect of learning experience design is putting theory into practice. Can you give an example of how that can happen on campus?

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