Approaches that focus on learner centers lead to more meaningful co-design processes that implement student needs along the way (Engerman and Otto 2018; Engerman 2016; Engerman et al. 2019a). Bennett, Agostinho, and Lockyer found that regardless of the starting point in design these expert teachers iteratively considered, “learning outcomes, the scope of the content to be covered, their general ideas for learning activities, and their assessment strategy” (2017, p. 139). The findings suggested three critical features of learning design including designing for efficiency, broad considerations to specific details, and design and refining processes towards student success. These design features leave room to integrate student cultural competencies as assets to empower them and improve understanding. Co-designed approaches that emphasize connections to the content, digital asset building and reflective practices respect the sociocultural aptitude of students and empowers them to take true ownership of their learning processes (Scott et al. 2010; Hatley et al. 2017).
Designing for efficiency
For the instructors within the study, the starting point of the design work was determined by the nature of the nuanced design problems. As the instructors began to design their lessons, they redesigned class experiences for efficiency. Reasons for redesigning included addressing feedback from students and colleagues, updating the content covered, making changes to perceived problems for learners, and changing how content is delivered to include online components among others (Bennett et al. 2017). Efficiency was defined in terms of effectiveness and accommodation to student learning needs. Here we may see another opportunity for enhanced learning design as student’s diverse and cultural backgrounds can be assets in developing digital learning tools and instruction of content (Scott et al. 2013). CRP encourages the instructors to develop experiences that connect with students in social and cultural terms as well as provide opportunities for reflection. In their study on designing digital games, Scott et al. (2013) saw learners notice gaps in their own understanding, propose and implementing solutions as a result of their established connections, asset build and reflect on their processes. Efficiency as a CRP concept also ends with student growth into meaningful ownership of their learning processes.
Broad to specific detailed design
The instructor participants in this study described a macro to micro design as they needed to understand the unit’s overarching framework before filling in finer details. Broad frameworks create more opportunities for a co-designed process with students that can provide meaningful engagement through participation (Engerman et al. 2019b). Veteran educators understand that the broad structure of a lesson or unit allows room for students to respond and give feedback performance and knowledge gaps that need to be filled by the details of activities and content delivery methods. Considering the current digital age, students respond to the ability to participate in the digital communities they inhabit (Engerman and Otto 2018).
Iterative design processes
Seasoned instructors are able to be flexible in their approaches and delivery, which could mean a change in technology, content, or delivery methods. The study demonstrated the importance of designing before, during and after a unit’s implementation. Much like the professional instructional design process, these design processes were nonlinear as recursive design required interrelated components (Dick et al. 2015). Despite the multi-disciplinary faculty, we see cohesion around iterative design being well known within the instructional design profession. Iterative processes of design, refine, redesign is necessary to align student needs and improve performance outcomes (Dick et al. 2015). In order to meet students’ needs we must recognize that students often engage with content in class that align with their social orientations and cultural capital (Sanford and Madill 2006; Blair and Sanford 2004; Engerman 2016).