Today, we’re taking the ILED workshop experience to the fabulous city of Stillwater, where our friends at Oklahoma State University are hosting the event.

Dr. Chris Ormsbee was kind enough to offer the ITLE training room for the event, and Elaine Johns provided great support for organizing the day. And all that has translated into another fantastic group of people  for hands-on learning about Learning Environment Modeling (LEM).

SWOSU Workshop -- Getting Startedimage-1

Here’s the agenda for today’s workshop.

ILED Workshop OSU - Agenda

Planning a Vacation

As always, we begin the workshop with an exercise designed to contextualize the idea of environment modeling for our participants participants. We do this by having everyone design the process for planning a vacation. Some of the participants used their workbooks to build their models, while a couple of intrepid souls worked on one of our new whiteboard tables.

ILED Workshop OSU - Planning a Vacation 2 ILED Workshop OSU - Planning a Vacation 1 ILED Workshop OSU - Planning a Vacation 3

Sharing Workshop Goals

After familiarizing everyone with our basic building blocks, we then ask participants to discuss their goals and potential projects for the workshop. This is always a period of fairly intense discussion as people begin to realize the potential of LEM.

ILED Workshop OSU - Project Selection 1 ILED Workshop OSU - Project Selection 2 ILED Workshop OSU - Project Selection 3

The result of these discussions was rather impressive list of useful goals.

ILED Workshop OSU - Goals

Learning Design Challenge Cars

Now we’re ready for one of my favorite portions of the workshop, the Learning Design Challenge! This is a game we play by having participants select design challenge cards and then creating models for those challenges.

ILED Workshop OSU - Design Challenge 1

The groups drew cards with challenges ranging from buying a new car to planning an awards banquet. Here are images of their designs.

Buying a New Car

ILED Workshop OSU - Design Challenge 2ILED Workshop OSU - Design Challenge 4

A Case Study Exercise

ILED Workshop OSU - Design Challenge 4ILED Workshop OSU - Design Challenge 7

Planning an Awards Banquet

ILED Workshop OSU - Design Challenge 3ILED Workshop OSU - Design Challenge 5

While working on these design challenge models, our participants came to a number of useful realizations.

  • You don’t have to include every building block in every model
  • Focusing on evidence first, provides useful filters for deciding what we include in our models
  • There are many different types of feedback that can be used for a variety of learning purposes
  • Using LEM, participants are able to quickly discuss and design simple and complex processes
  • Instructors and course designers generally begin the process from one of these three orientations: 1) learning objectives; 2) desired experience; 3) learning topics. LEM helps shift the discussion to experience
  • It’s helpful to look at feedback as part of a dynamic, ongoing loop throughout the model that helps keep learners on a productive path

Uses for Learning Environment Modeling

Next, we take the time to discuss possible uses for Learning Environment Modeling.

ILED Workshop OSU - DIagnos

Here are some of the uses discussed.

  • Program evaluations (diagnostic)
  • Program design (design)
  • Looking at and evaluating past courses (diagnostic)
  • Designing new courses (design)
  • Pre-consult visuals for design meetings with faculty (diagnostic)

Analog and Digital Examples

Learning designers work with both analog and digital tools when employing LEM. We find that analog works very well in the initial stages of a project design process, while digital works well in the latter stages.

ILED Workshop OSU - Analog and Digital

Creating a Learning Environment Model

After lunch, participants begin to work on their proposed project models for the workshop. The first step is to finalize the project idea.

ILED Workshop OSU - Finalizing Project

Once teams have selected the general project idea, they are ready to use the Focus Board to clarify their ideas and the desired outcomes.

ILED Workshop OSU - Focus Board 1 ILED Workshop OSU - Focus Board

With projects clearly scoped and defined the groups are now ready to do the actual learning environment modeling.

One group is working on “flow and challenge in the writing process.”

ILED Workshop OSU - LEM 3ILED Workshop OSU - LEM 1

Another is focused on modeling student engagement options for faculty.

ILED Workshop OSU - LEM 7ILED Workshop OSU - LEM 8

And another is designing a photography class is a remote location.

ILED Workshop OSU - LEM 5 ILED Workshop OSU - LEM 4


The design teams wrap up their work by sharing the narratives represented by each of their designs. These narratives provide an additional opportunity to reflect on the model, and also provide valuable feedback from other participants.