Using Design Patterns to Support E-Learning Design

Using Design Patterns to Support E-Learning Design

Sherri S. Frizell (Prairie View A&M University, USA) and Roland Hübscher (Bentley College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-861-1.ch006
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Design patterns have received considerable attention for their potential as a means of capturing and sharing design knowledge. This chapter provides a review of design pattern research and usage within education and other disciplines, summarizes the reported benefits of the approach, and examines design patterns in relation to other approaches to supporting design. Building upon this work, it argues that design patterns can capture learning design knowledge from theories and best practices to support novices in effective e-learning design. This chapter describes the authors’ work on the development of designs patterns for e-learning. It concludes with a discussion of future research for educational uses of design patterns.
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The instructional design of e-learning course materials directly affects student learning outcomes, but research suggests that many of the instructors developing online courses have not received training in interaction or instructional design (Braxton, 2000; Clark, 1994; Tennyson & Elmore, 1995). Hirumi (2002) found that novice course designers find it difficult to incorporate the types of meaningful interactions needed in online courses. Also, inexperienced educators can have difficulties in the application of learning theories to course design. According to Wilson (1997), theories are written as hard science, and novices require a different type of representation to support their initial learning needs. As further stated in Wilson (1999), “the plurality and multiplicity of models and theories can be daunting to both researcher and practitioner.” As a result, making the transition from this wealth of information to actual design practice can be difficult for all but experienced educators and instructional designers.

Design patterns have emerged as an approach for capturing design knowledge from theories and best practices in a form that is understandable and useful for novices (Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein, Jacobson, Fiksdhl-King, & Angel, 1977). Design patterns and their use in the development of effective learning designs are currently important areas of research.

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce design patterns as a strategy for representing and disseminating instructional design and learning theory research. First, a review of the literature provides a definition for a design pattern and gives the history of design patterns usage and reported benefits in other disciplines. We then examine how design patterns can be used in education to represent and disseminate learning theory research and educator best practices in the context of e-learning design. We discuss our current research with design patterns for e-learning design, which advocates the development of an underlying design framework and support environment for design pattern development and use. Examples of design patterns developed from this work are provided. Finally, we conclude with areas of future research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Pattern Catalog: A collection of related design patterns.

Pattern System: A pattern language and tools to support use of the language.

Learning Design: The use of learning design knowledge to design education.

Instructional Design: A process for the design and development of instructional materials and learning activities based on learning theory research.

Pedagogical Design Pattern: An approach for capturing, sharing, and disseminating design knowledge concerning teaching and learning.

Design Pattern: An approach for capturing, representing, and sharing design knowledge that promotes the reuse of design solutions.

Pattern Language: A structured collection of design patterns within a particular domain.

Learning Theory: Philosophies describing the learning process.

E-Learning: The delivery of educational content through computer and communication technology.

Learning Management System: A software application that supports the management and delivery of instructional materials and learning activities.

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