Purposeful Learning DesignTM - Why People are at the Center of Everything We Do - O'Donnell Learn

Purposeful Learning DesignTM – Why People are at the Center of Everything We Do

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 15, 2021

I’m often asked why our company is so good at collaborating with  faculty. The first time I heard this question, I didn’t realize clients found this unique to O’Donnell Learn. We’ve always been great partners  because people are at the heart of everything we do. In fact, our entire design philosophy – Purposeful Learning DesignTM – is anchored around people. 

It starts with this truth: learning is for people. As such, learning design should be grounded in empathy and it should promote success for both learners and faculty. Purposeful Learning Design is the philosophy we embrace to ensure we never lose sight of this truth. It is comprised of six key considerations.

People-Centricity: As designers and learners, we fully embrace the needs of everyone involved. For example, we collaborate with faculty who need to bring their expertise alive in engaging learning experiences. We also begin with empathy for the learner to understand how key elements of the learning, from how content is delivered to generational differences, might affect learner success.

Evidence-Based Best Practices: Our practice is guided by a large body of research in both learning practices and learning science. Our process validates these best practices, because we encourage built-in feedback loops to help faculty evolve the experience by listening to their students.

Accessibility & Inclusivity: It’s impossible to create great learning experiences without considering the needs of all learners. Ensuring equity, parity and access for all learners means creating flexible learning experiences that provide alternative pathways of access and choices for how to engage and learn.

Collaboration & Engagement: In learning and design, people achieve more together. We live this every day. Our entire company is virtual. One of our greatest strengths is our practice of collaboration, which fosters each other’s strengths. The same is true for faculty-to-designer, peer-to-peer and faculty-to-student. We all thrive better together.

Backward Design: If learner success is the goal of the learning experience, then you need to define success by creating clear, measurable outcomes. Once you know where you want your learners to land, designing the path for getting there is clear. What’s really beautiful about backward design is that it focuses us on mastery and giving learners the path(s) to achieve success.

Active Learning: People learn by doing. There’s only so much that can be learned without the action of applying new knowledge and experiencing the results. Without the “doing”, there’s no success or failure, no understanding what works, what doesn’t and why. And no opportunity to improve and grow.

When I launched O’Donnell Learn 30 years ago, it was because I believed technology could change the way people learn. I wanted to be part of that. Helping evolve and improve learning, helping advance learner success. And while where we started is different than where we are today, people have always been – and always will be – at the heart of what’s important to making that happen.


4 Ways to Use Peer Learning to Increase Learner Engagement

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Feb 22, 2021

Peer learning has long been shown to increase student knowledge over lecture-dominant methodologies, particularly when unpacking and understanding difficult concepts. Think about conversations in your everyday life. How dialogue among your peers helped you gain new knowledge and examine different points of view. The same can be true for the classroom. Not only is peer learning effective among students, it is especially well-suited for the virtual environment. The beauty of peer learning is it brings small groups of students together to effectively collaborate, communicate and think in both critical and creative ways. Additionally, fostering peer learning inside the classroom naturally encourages sustained dialogue and authentic learning outside the classroom.

Hope for Navigating Mental Illness in Online Learning: Connection, Community & Compassion

Published By Cathryn Mattimore
on Feb 12, 2021

Learning to navigate mental illness challenges as a higher ed student is something that especially resonates with me. I’m currently working towards a Master’s degree in eLearning and Learning Design while managing a significant mental illness that can be debilitating. Aside from my own experience, I’ve seen the prevalence of mental illness amongst my peers, particularly since the start of COVID.

Building Learning Communities in the Classroom and with Faculty

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Feb 09, 2021

In our latest webinar, “Building Learning Communities in the Classroom and with Faculty”, O’Donnell Learn Founder and CEO, Carrie O’Donnell, and I offer practical ideas and examples for helping students take their learning to the next level through connection and community. We’re also passionate about cultivating professional learning communities among faculty and offer ways to develop this critical support to overall faculty satisfaction.