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The Four Elements
The Learning Design Process
Four key elements of Deep Learning design enable teachers and students to design learning experiences that are: mapped to student strengths and needs; create new knowledge using authentic, relevant problem solving; and help students identify their talents, purpose, and passion. The four elements work in concert to create the most powerful deep learning experiences. These four elements are:
Dramatically new learning relationships that shift voice, control, and interactions are emerging and are at the heart of Deep Learning. Students and teachers aren’t only partnering with one another but are also creatively finding ways to partner with others across classes, schools, and countries and with parents, experts, and the community. The new relationships have the potential to reframe learning by connecting learners to authentic opportunities locally, nationally, and globally.
If we want cultures of learning that cultivate energy, creativity, curiosity, imagination, and innovation, then we need to create learning spaces where students feel safe in taking risks. This begins when teachers intentionally create norms of belonging in which every voice matters, model empathy, deeply listen to student needs and interests, and structure tasks so that students feel competent as learners.
The physical environment is also critical – multidimensional spaces that offer flexibility for large- and small group collaboration; quiet places for reflection and cognition; active areas for investigation, inquiry, communication, and documentation; and rich resources that are transparently accessible.
Making the walls of the classroom transparent is not merely about redesigning space; it requires taking stock of the ways we can connect inside and outside the classroom. When students are engaged, they begin to connect both inside and outside the school and make learning a 24/7 proposition.
As we move from asking our students to be consumers of knowledge to asking them to create and apply their solutions to real-world problems, the digital world enables collaboration and multi modal communication, new ways to create and share new knowledge, and opportunities to amplify, accelerate and connect learners and learning. Effective use of digital facilitates Deep Learning, regardless of geographic location or time of day, and supports students’ capacity to take control of their own learning both within and outside the classroom walls.
A critical awareness of the most effective instructional strategies helps us select those with the most impact. It’s not about throwing out what we already know; it’s about putting a new lens of depth over many of the effective pedagogies that remain essential for Deep Learning. It is also about eliminating the outdated, ineffective ones. These models most often require the teacher to take on the role of activator, enabling students to have choice in and take responsibility for their learning.