Notes & Sketches

Town Planning as a Learning Design Aid?

image The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities – by the great Jane Jacobs – lessons for learning design?

Town Planning like Learning Design is (or should be) a contested space. And Learning design is in dnager of falling into the Ed-tech trap of narrow context free operation, which is one of the things I am tackling in the handbook. Been reading an interesting article about how locals are breathing life back into their high streets and it  mentioned the work of some influential town planners like Brent ToderianJan Gehl. To that list I would add the work of the late great Jane Jacobs on city living  who I studied at College. Her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities made a big impact on me – a slow burner if ever there was one! It has got me thinking if any of this can be transferred to the concept of learning design and our use of technology like VLEs / LMSs? Very likely is the initial answer, I know designers like Don Norman, Achille Castiglioni , Ezio Manzini, and Pelle Ehn already are informing my work on the handbook.

Given the fact that Patrick Lambe in his essay The Autism of Knowledge Management mentions Jacobs is a good sign. I came across his work when I was involved in the learning object ed-tech bubble in the early noughties. Many of the online courses I have seen are not very good at all – best that they are behind a login wall! Some feel like deserted run down chaotic neighbourhoods that no one cares about and people (students) only go to when they have to. Others are like the work of modernist city planning – look efficient but are functionally useless to the people (students) who are supposed to use them. Have to tease this out a bit more and I realise I now add a list of influential designers and disciplines to my handbook…more later.