Deeper learning experiences are needed by our students. Not in two years, not in six months, not next week. Deeper learning experiences are needed by our students today. Right now. This very moment. We need to structure environments where students are deeply engaged in their lives as they are living them.

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Sean, center, group outing during Wondercon 2011 in San Francisco.

I know this is true because during the last days of the 2010/11 school year, the worst fear of every teacher was realized for me. My student was murdered. Sean (15), and his younger brother Kyle (13) tragically died in a murder/suicide, killed by their father. Sean was my favorite that year. In fact, Sean was my favorite student of all time. He was the kid I wished I could have been at fifteen. He swaggered into school with confidence, intelligence, and a never-ending stream of comic book superhero references. …

In traditional classrooms we start the learning design process by taking a quick inventory of the resources we have to work with. How many chairs are there? Where is the projector? The entrance? The whiteboard? As we get a feel for the possibilities and constraints of our classroom we can then start building a learning experience for our students that optimizes both who they are and the resources we have.

The same goes for online learning. We need to assess our resources before we can design online experiences. Problematically, especially for teachers new to online learning, the online classroom bears little semblance to traditional physical spaces. …


Patrick Yurick

Director of Experience Design at the High Tech High Graduate School of Education. Founder of PYD.Studio,, and Podcation.

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