Designing learning digitally – How much is too much?

This week was another one of those weeks that so much information hit me at once, so this is another long post.

The lecture was all about reflecting on how we can effectively design digital learning. What does that look like in the classroom today, as compared to 10 years ago? Is it possible to have too much innovation? Is anything worse than death by powerpoint?



First we covered the basics, how should we lay things out, where do our eyes go to on the screen? We covered using a mix of media forms – pictures, videos, words and audio.

We also discussed what to me felt like the biggest problem. Our brains can’t actually multitask, even if we identify as female. So we can’t listen and read at the same time. We definitely can’t listen and write notes at the same time. So we need to make sure our resources, and any verbal teaching we are doing along with these resources complete the picture. Rehashing the same information in 5 different ways at once is boring and bombarding the student with 5 different things at once is also a surefire way to make them switch off. That makes sense to me. But what about the idea of having a few different approaches to learning covered in the one lesson? If you have a beautiful powerpoint up and you as the teacher are cleverly filling in the gaps with your succinct verbal explanations, have you catered for the child that needs to verbally process to learn? Or the child that needs to touch and interact with things to learn? Or you say “don’t worry kids, no need to write this lesson” but that one child really needs to write things down otherwise they just don’t stick? Or that same child really struggles with screen learning and would much rather have a pen and paper? (Maybe that child doesn’t exist anymore, maybe that’s just me?)

What is clear is that designing digital learning and effectively reaching every member of your class is about clever and involved planning, and then being flexible. With a good mix of self-aware students who can identify their best learning practices thrown in.

But moving off that first section of the lecture (I told you it was a bit of an info overload) and moving onto the fun, hands on section of the lecture. These are the bits of these seminars that I really enjoy, I get to play with new things and have experts and tech wizzes right there to help me if I get stuck.

We looked at a further range of DAWs and how most of their designs and set ups and similar – and how the similar design is appropriating the idea of ‘intuitive’ tech. The class separated up and had a play with the new software and gave a short demonstration at the end of class, including how fun, easy to use and intuitive they found it.

The software we looked at briefly that I know and have seen or used (to different extents) was Garageband, Logic, ProTools and Ableton Live. All of those need to be downloaded and none are free – except Garageband but I don’t count that as it’s a Mac only program.

Things I hadn’t used before and that were all browser based, so able to be used on any computer or device the student owns included…

SoundTrap – Elyse and I made this obviously genius mini song which you can listen to here. It is browser based and really simple to use. And pretty! You can customize the colours.

Soundation – which was similar to the standard DAW design but had a slightly different layout. You don’t have to sign up to use this one and it is browser based.


Audiotool – This one is a little different so our resident tech genius explored this one. (He is a 2nd year student who is taking this class early and also happens to be my personal friend who helps me with tech issues at least once a week – see picture to the left) This one is a pretty different set up, it is made to look like a DJ station and can be a little hard to work out. I could it being really helpful aspiring but poor DJs.



All in all a great and thought provoking lecture. It was also great to hear about the tech that had been designed especially for use in disadvantaged areas, and to hear about the strides being made in Googles working offline/cache programmes. As I learn about all of this, and as I know I’m going into a prac school that has everything I could want and more in terms of technology it is important to me to keep reflecting on accessibility, intention and what is truly effective. I think that you have to be incredibly creative to get digital learning to really be effective, but it is also important to realise that the flashiest programmes and apps are not always going to be the best tool for your classroom.


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