What? Learning activities, as the name suggests, are activities designed or deployed by the teacher to bring about, or create the conditions for learning. The difference between a Learning by Design approach to employing various learning activities and other approaches to teaching relates to the pedagogical character or focal intent of the activities selected. What do I want to achieve with this activity? How will I achieve my aims? Which Knowledge Process is best suited to achieving my aim? With Learning by Design the teacher mindfully designs or chooses particular learning activities based on which Knowledge Process is activated by that activity. Some learning activities stimulate experiential learning, others mobilise conceptual thinking, while still others prompt students to engage in analytical discussion. The pedagogical effectiveness of a Learning Element – a teacher’s overall design – can be traced to (1) the mindful selection of learning activities based on the Knowledge Processes which those activities set in motion; (2) the establishment of direct links between those activities and the intended Knowledge Objectives; (3) and the careful sequencing of those activities such that they build on, or contribute to, the learning of earlier or later activities (see Coherence and Through-line).
Why? A teacher who is mindfully engaged with considering and choosing learning activities based on the Knowledge Processes which those activities activate is thinking through the purpose of those activities and what kind of work she wants her students to be engaged in – what kind of thinking-acting-being. The Knowledge Processes provide a name for these different ways of working and for the pedagogical character-purpose that these different ways of working involve. This means the teacher can base her choice of learning activity on her pedagogical intent – she can therefore be more deliberate-purposeful in her designing.