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Designing for learning in the higher education sector is a complex task, especially in light of the increasing diversity of the student body. With research pointing to an inverse relationship between student engagement and attrition rates, lecturers need to be mindful of a wide range of student ability levels, socio-economic backgrounds, learning styles, and specific curriculum requirements when designing for their students’ learning. Learning design is a professional activity for which many of our academic staff are not trained. There are examples of learning designs which apply the most recent research into learning but a number of studies have shown that they are not widely utilised in all universities. This current study took a mixed methods approach to explore whether generic templates (a learning design pattern to which subject content can be added) could be used to share well-researched, high quality learning designs across a range of disciplines. The results revealed that generic learning design templates can provide a means for lecturers to access a broad range of learning designs but there are barriers to sharing these in the higher educational sector. At a time when providing students with a quality learning environment is considered highly desirable, it might be time these barriers were reviewed. By using generic templates, lecturers might be encouraged to explore new learning designs and reflect on how their existing teaching approaches affect their students’ learning.
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