I should begin by providing some context for this particular learning design solution.
When designing any learning environment model, it’s important to begin by stating your desired evidence. What behavior do you expect from participants? What experience do you want them to have?
These questions help us define whether or not the model is successful.
With regards to discussions and discussion prompts, I’ll admit my own ideas have evolved considerably over the years. Early in my teaching career, I placed the burden for collaboration and learning entirely n the learner. I would ask sparse questions with little context and no modeling, and then expect participants to be creative, critical thinkers and provide the rest.
In my current work, I spend a great deal of time trying to contextualize and personalize discussions. I work to model the expected work while, at the same time, hoping to foster personal creativity.
Here is the opening to a discussion prompt in our open course on Learning Environment Design. In it, I give personal examples of my own Idea Canvas and creative processes.
By beginning this way, I contextualize the discussion, show the “why” of the activity, and also model its personal application. My hope is that such modeling gives learners permission to personalize their responses and explore the ideas presented more freely.
After providing contextualization through personal examples, I then frame the discussion itself in a way that links to the models I shared. I encourage learners to share their own experiences and to be good community members by commenting on the posts of other participants as well.
Here is my final learning environment model (LEM) for this solution.