I’ve been asked to revise the Grand Challenge Problem I proposed at the STELLAR Alpine Rendez-vous. At this point, I’ve been asked to provide a new summary. So here is what I produced:
Current technology offers us access to rapidly expanding riches of high-quality, low-cost learning resources in any topic we wish to engage with. This calls for a shift in the role of educators: from providers of knowledge to designers of learning experiences. Design, in this context, should be seen as a grounded rigorous creative process of perpetual educational innovation: grounded in a well-defined concrete context of practice, rigorous in its attention to scientific evidence and pedagogical theory, and creative in its approach to generating new solutions to educational challenges. A design attitude should be reflected in the production of new resources, as well as in effective configuration and customisation of existing ones. The call for such a repositioning of educators is heard from leaders in the field of TEL and resonates well with the growing culture of design-based research in education. Yet, it is still struggling to find a foothold in educational practice.
To address this discrepancy, we need to establish an open culture of Learning Design in TEL. Such a culture requires a set of common practices, supported by appropriate representations of design knowledge in education, and the tools to manipulate such representations. It needs the capacity to develop a common language and make this language accessible to the widest possible audience. Such a language, and the related media of interaction, should allow experts and novices to extract design knowledge from experience, articulate it in a coherent manner, connect, combine and manipulate it, and use it to resolve new challenges. This language should be supported by appropriate tools and community spaces, which will streamline the process of constructing, validating and utilising design knowledge, making it open, accessible and transparent. It cannot be a uniform, centralised entity – but needs to allow for a diversity of discourse by establishing a set of open protocols and standards over which an open process of massively collaborative knowledge building can thrive. This process needs to be embedded in the culture of the professional community.
Thus, we pose the following grand challenge: how do we create a platform for open, live, malleable, dynamic representation of design knowledge in TEL, supporting collaborative processes of design for learning, learning to design, and learning by design. Such a platform could promote the emergence of a new culture of educational practice, in which expertise is rapidly and effectively shared, critiqued and aggregated. It will provide for the wide proliferation of cost-effective and robust educational practices, making effective use of technological advances as they appear. However, such a culture will not be instigated simply by the existence of the right tools and representations. The existing learning design community needs to engage in a massive project of professional development, driving a new perception of educational profession, as a rigorous creative practice of perpetual innovation. The principles underlying the learning design approach, the practices reifying those principles, and the methodological framework binding those together need to be made explicit and communicated to the widest audience possible.