Publication 1796

Scott B., Shurville S., MacLean P. & Cong C. (2007) Cybernetic principles for learning design. Kybernetes 36(9/10): 1497–1514. Fulltext at
Purpose: This paper aims to present an approach from first principles to the design of learning experiences in interactive learning environments, that is learning designs in the broadest sense. Design/methodology/approach – The approach is based on conversation theory CT, a theory of learning and teaching with principled foundations in cybernetics. The approach to learning design that is proposed is not dissimilar from other approaches such as that proposed by Rowntree. However, its basis in CT provides a coherent theoretical underpinning. Findings: Currently, in the world of e-learning, the terms instructional design and learning design are used to refer to the application of theories of learning and instruction to the creation of e-learning material and online learning experiences. The paper examines the roots of the two terms and discusses similarities and differences in usage. It then discusses how the processes of learning design fit into the larger processes of course, design, development and delivery. It goes on to examine the concept of a learning design pattern. Originality/value – The paper contends that, whilst learning design patterns are useful as starting-points for individual learning designs, learning designers should adopt the cybernetic principles of reflective practice – as expressed in CT – to create learning designs where received wisdom is enriched by contextual feedback from colleagues and learners.


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