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Patterns in Learning Experience Design

In: Commonplace BookDesignShowing my WorkWhat If Ideas

So I recently read this interesting article about content and display patterns in web design: The upshot of the article is these important bullet points:

  • In his excellent book Modular Web Design, Nathan Curtis defines a pattern as “a solution to a recurring design problem, such that you could use the solution many times and never use it in the same way twice.”
  • A Content pattern describes the types of elements within and can be rendered in multiple forms.
  • A Display pattern describes a specific rendering and can be applied to multiple types of Content patterns.

That coincided beautifully with one of the first things our team was asked to provide in our new project: a pattern of content that could be reused over and over again in the course as a framework for creation.

So that got me thinking, what are the modular, reusable patterns that govern elearning?

I’ve got a project on my to-do list of creating a website to explore these things (similar to Pattern Lab) but what I came up with this course (keep in mind that this is test prep):

  • Content Review
  • Practice
  • Assessment

I then broke that out further into atoms, borrowing from Brad Frost’s terminology, that would be used to build this pattern, including:

  • Content review (video, text, interactives, active learning)
  • Formative assessment
  • Spaced repetition
  • Interleaved practice
  • Deliberate practice
  • Self testing

I’d like to continue thinking along this lines into modular design of learning experiences and I wonder if the comparison holds. I also need to delve deeper into Atomic design and make sure that I am really understanding the concepts, but I do like the idea, in particular since, in my current environment, development work is not something that we do much of ourselves. I need to be able to teach others how to develop. I think patterns might be a great way of doing that. What do you think? What might be content and display patterns in online learning?