Learning Design Sprint inspired by Google and fuelled by Liberating Structures





I have tried this out a couple times now, and it seems to work well for those new to designing adult learning. Here is the general idea:  a “learning design sprint” based on steps fromGoogle’s design sprint process, facilitated largely with Liberating Structures activities.

As it evolves, I imagine adding options and layers to weave in other important considerations beyond basic learning design. And more Liberating Structures.  But for many, this is enough, and a good place to start.   Here are the steps:

  • Before Step 1
    • make sure all participants come with a 2-4 hour chunk of teaching to work on. A whole course is too big for one sprint. One class or content chunk seems to work.
    • Begin with a short “theory burst” or “mini-lecture” (I called it, Learning Design: The Least You Need to Know). This offers key points, self-assessments, and short activities about UDL, writing good Learning Outcomes, and the importance of alignment between Learning Outcomes-Assessment-Activities).
    • Provide handout that includes essential companion resources like a list of Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs, key points about UDL, self-assessment (“How UDL is your current learning design?”), and so on. This takes about 40 min
  • Step 1 Understand
    • Time: 10-20 min
    • Goal of this step: a useable Learning Outcome
    • Liberating Structure: 1-2-4-All
    • Briefly…this step is about getting a strong start with a well-written Learning Outcome. If participants are really new to writing learning outcomes, build in time to check each one to make sure they aren’t building on a weak LO foundation.
  • Step 2: Diverge 
    • Time: 30-40  min
    • Goal of this step: generate a bunch of ideas for Learning Activities and Assessment strategies that align with the Learning Outcome identified in Step 1.
    • Liberating Structure: Troika Consulting 
  • Step 3: Decide
    • Time: 10-15 min
    • Goal of this step: choose from among the options generated
    • Liberating Structure1-2-4-All  (modified – we did 1-2 and the “All” came at the end, where select participants volunteered to share their design story, and whetehr it was a “tweak” or an “extreme makeover”)
    • Note:  new groups if possible to ensure “max mix” and exposure to the most learning design ideas.
  • Step 4: Lesson Plan It
    • Time: 10-15 min
    • Goal of this step: create a “final product”/lesson plan with notes about required resources, space considerations, room layout, materials, etc.
    • Liberating Structure: n/a
    • Note:  this step seems especially helpful for new instructors who don’t already have a “go-to” method of writing lesson plans. In our workshop, samples of various layouts were provided and participants were free to choose among them or make their own.
  • Step 5: Validate (not done during sprint)
    • Time: unknown
    • Goal of this step: put the learning design into practice and see how it goes. Could be done individually or with others. Where possible having a community of practice or “critical friend” will enrich this step.
    • Liberating Structure:  many possibilities for discussing and debriefing as a group,  depending on size (e.g., What x 3, Shift & Share, Wise Crowds…)

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