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Oct 2015

Becoming a lead learning designer

Blog posts



Shaping the future of learning

Have you ever wanted to be a learning designer but don’t know how to get there? This video shares the journey from teacher to designer and how Simon Rupniak made the move. 

As part of Learning Now TV’s ‘Learning Designer’ series Simon Rupniak, one of our learning designers talks about why and how he got into the role and a recent project he has been working on. Watch the video interview.

During Simon's teaching career he used a variety of methods to keep his learners engaged and involved with his lessons, from theory outside of the classroom to self-directed learning. This approach is incorporated in Simon’s work, not only to design effective elearning but to also be part of a blended solution that provides more of a holistic approach to learning for his clients.

In this short video Simon shares how he is using the latest learning technology such as virtual classrooms spread across continents and time zones to create a more collaborative environment for learners.

Want to know more about creating an effective blend with virtual classrooms? Then take a look at Simon’s 5 reasons you need to use virtual classrooms post for more insight.

Video transcript

I was the Head of Geography at a local secondary school and sixth form. One of the initiatives that I drove while I was there was this idea of a department blog where all the students, all the different ages could access it for current, what’s going on in the world engagement level stuff. So it could be links to YouTube channels and so on. I was also interested in the idea of flip classrooms, so the idea that you present the theory outside of school outside of college and then inside you create more of a workshop atmosphere where you work through a problem or a challenge. Arguably there is more value that a teacher / facilitator can add to those situations, drawing reference to what they have learnt and picking out the important bits to apply to the situation.

I think increasingly the idea of self-directed learning is an important one and you certainly see it in the corporate world as well. You’re building on an existing motivation there, if you want to find something out then you create the environment where you can find that out and explore that and learn from it. You get what you need and then apply it and that is a very different model to saying here is what you have to learn, sit down and learn it. The concept of discovery and work around constructivist methodologies is probably something I am fairly in tune to but again, it is so contextual and you really have to understand where you are and who you are talking to in order to create something that’s actually going to work and ultimately that’s what’s important.

When you look at how technology is used within the world of learning it can be used badly but it can also be used very well. I think that often you might find a bit of resistance when it comes to looking at mobile solutions, looking at tablet solutions and so on. But you’ve got to think exactly how are those devices being used and we have done some really creative and really interesting stuff when we have been given the freedom and trusted to develop a solution. It requires a good relationship with the clients we work with in order to make sure that we are going down the right route the whole time and we would never want to be creative just for the sake of it. So it’s making sure that all the time we are checking in with what the client needs and where we are going.

To give you a sense of the broader things we do, we often find ourselves working with clients who are working on a blended solution, so thinking a bit more holistically than just the elearning, but also appreciating where it fits in with a larger blend. Part of my job might include creating some of those facilitator led workshops, making sure that they have got their facilitator guides, resources they need to deliver them, whether we have a facilitator delivering content or some theory, whether the participants are tasting coffee or whatever is appropriate for that particular piece of training.

We have worked with clients to develop virtual classrooms as well so taking that facilitator led session and spreading it across continents, across locations and across time zones so that everyone can actually be in that same space at the same time. So that everyone can have many of the advantages that you get with being in the same room as people and collaborating on things. Those are definitely parts of my job and again elearning is that core bit of information and delivery that forms often a bit of a back bone behind the whole blend.

I personally really enjoy working with clients and it’s the upfront getting to the bottom of what’s needed, getting the different groups within organisations to come together and work together. They might not always have worked together in the past. Facilitating those and have really constructive discussions and getting some really good results out of it and a clear direction that everyone’s pleased with and to move forward. Workshops can be really creative ways of doing that. You’ve got your post-its, your flip chat paper; I guess I feel a little bit more at home in that kind of environment perhaps. The feedback is always a motivator, certainly when you get it from clients. We have got some really lovely clients who give us some fantastic feedback. Increasingly hearing about the success of an entire project, whether you have just worked on one part or not but just knowing how it has been implemented inside the organisation and the overall reception it has had is really nice to know and that you have had an affect.



Shaping the future of learning

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