Unit 3- Considering the Need for Innovation in Designing Learning in My Own Context

“Dirty Lights…” by evil angela is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

Our cohort is in its last week of this course on learning design and innovation. We explored and applied various learning design techniques and principles, such as empathic design, universal design learning (UDL), open education resources (OER), and even created our design challenge!

Unit three focused is on the need for innovation in designing learning. How timely it is that I am grappling and struggling with this notion as my team at my workplace is confronted with trying to improve efficiency in our learning design processes to increase effectiveness. I am convinced my situation is not unique and most of us in this cohort may be experiencing the challenges of trying to keep up with the growing demands of increasing efficiency and effectiveness in delivering education and training. The emerging innovation in computer information technologies (ICT) is forcing us- educators and facilitators, to keep up with the fast-paced and dynamic environment of upgrades, user request changes, and on-demand training. However, resources and time are scarce. Weller (2011), who coined the term “pedagogy of abundance,” asserted that the digital era had produced an “abundance and scarcity” in the education realm. Weller is referring to the abundance of the education content afforded by the innovation in digital tools and the scarcity of time for learners to sift through and curate open resources on the web. I believe this can also be applied in the context of learning design. There is an abundance of tasks, mini-projects, and large-scale initiatives, but the resources to do the work is scarce and time is most often being crunched to speed up the implementation timelines. It is vital to find a process that will accelerate design and development without compromising the quality and effectiveness of learning to overcome the challenge of growing demands to innovate and enhance the learning approach with limited time and resources.

The TAPPA (Target, Accomplishment, Past, Prototype, Artifact) model developed by Moore (2016), proposed an alternative process to design and development. The idea of the iterative process combined with the empathic design in designing learning is an innovative practice that my team is trying to adopt. Although for other organizations, this may not be considered as new or innovative, it is definitely in my practice. One important lesson I learned from this course is the idea that innovation is a continuum and hardly that something novel is being created in the workplace, but rather an enhancement or change in practice. This idea resonates with me, and I will remember as I continue to challenge the status quo in my practice.

What about you, what is one lesson that you learned from this course that you would take with you as you continue to innovate your practice?


Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing distance education content using the TAPPA processTechTrends60(5), 425–432.

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundanceSpanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249, 223–236.

One thought on “Unit 3- Considering the Need for Innovation in Designing Learning in My Own Context

  1. Hi Sharon. I appreciated your reflection, it resonated with many of the tensions I feel in my educational context. A “pedagogy of abundance” (Weller, 2011, p. 228) sometimes doesn’t feel like a good thing. As you’ve observed, the speed of change and availability of technology means options are numerous and time is scarce. Are we spending the time considering each choice we make, or rushing to keep up and move along at the pace of the crowd?

    One lesson from this course I feel will stick with me is a phrase by Dron (2014): “[Learning technologies] are not, and have never been, neutral agents” (p. 260). In our rapidly changing technological world, we’re making trade-offs with each technology we adopt. Maybe it’s a little privacy here, some cookies there, a TOS update we skim through and accept. We make these decisions consciously as individuals, but as educators we also make these decisions for our students. Technologies are entering classrooms, perhaps with the best intentions, but they are not neutral. Each one comes bundled with “ethics, socio-economic circumstance, legislation, belief systems, histories, and desires” (Dron, 2014, p. 260). Each new technology is also often tethered to a cloud, feeding data into corporate hard drives.

    With a scarcity of time, are educators being given the opportunity to step back and question the technologies their students are being exposed to? This topic struck home for many educators this past December when Instructure, the parent company for the popular Learning Management System (LMS) Canvas, was acquired by a private equity firm (Edweek, 2019). All of the student data collected by Canvas and stored in its cloud servers now belonged to a different company. The CEO of Instructure was caught on record boasting that the company had “the most comprehensive database on the educational experience in the globe” (Edsurge, 2020, para. 5). What could this new company do with this data? With the considerations of non-neutral technologies and rapidly-adopted change, these kinds of events can make an educator uneasy about proposed innovations. What can schools do to give educators more time—not less—to slow down and apply a critical eye to the innovations happening in today’s learning spaces.


    Dron, J. (2014). Innovation and change: Changing how we change. In Zawacki-Richter, O. & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a research agenda. (pp.237-265). Athabasca, AB: AU Press. Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/books/120233/ebook/09_Zawacki-Richter_Anderson_2014-Online_Distance_Education.pdf

    Edsurge. (2020, January 17). As Instructure Changes Ownership, Academics Worry Whether Student Data Will Be Protected [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-01-17-as-instructure-changes-ownership-academics-worry-whether-student-data-will-be-protected

    Edweek. (2019, December 4). Instructure—Creator of Canvas LMS—Acquired by Private Equity Firm for $2 Billion in Cash [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marketbrief.edweek.org/marketplace-k-12/instructure-creator-canvas-lms-acquired-private-equity-firm-2-billion-cash/

    Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249, 223–236.

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