Four students having a discussion.

Dynamic Design in Education


Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma (4 course program) towards the MEd Interdisciplinary


Fully Online


One year (4 consecutive terms)


Graduate Program Administrator:
Cheryl Ohly

Academic Coordinator:
Dr. Michele Jacobsen

Program Overview

Teachers design learning experiences for their students. Design occurs when teachers intentionally change a learning experience, or deliberately re-design or rethink learning environment conditions to improve learners’ experiences. When educators reflect and decide on the approach they take with learners and the nature of resources, technologies, and questions to support and extend learning, they are designing their own and students’ learning opportunities and influencing learning experiences. At the same time, educators often invite students voice and choice into learning designs. For instance, when teachers and students rearrange the desks and shelves in a classroom or compose a new blog on the class webpage, they are designing together.

Dynamic Design in Education sponsors an immersion into the sciences underlying learning to help educators and leaders understand the strengths and benefits of good learning design and the many challenges that teacher designers face. As you engage in this cohort-based learning experience, you will come to appreciate designs for learning and assessment for learning, collaborate with your peers to create new designs for learning and research, and develop new insights and competencies in the evaluation of learning and learning environments – for learners and for teachers. For those new to design thinking, this graduate certificate engages you in recognizing yourself as a designer of learning in your subject of expertise to transform your students’ learning experiences across different learning environments (formal and informal; online, face-to-face, and blended).

Program Details

Courses in this program are offered fully online. Courses are held in both an asynchronous environment (D2L) and a synchronous (real-time) environment (Zoom) which allows instructors to virtually meet and talk with students and experience a live exchange of ideas, hear class presentations and do group work with access to a whiteboard. For additional information regarding online delivery, refer to the eLearn website.

These courses will provide you with the knowledge and experience needed to understand the role of design in learning, teaching, assessment, research, and practice. Equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility are values and considerations that are intentionally woven through ALL four of the courses, and further amplified by the contemporary Learning Sciences research with which students will engage. You will learn how to observe and critically analyze what you see in learning contexts. A critical analysis is oriented to building knowledge, initiating change and innovation, and is focused on continuous improvement of conditions for learning. This four-course topic of study in the MEd Interdisciplinary is designed using signature pedagogies, hands-on design and evaluation work, and ongoing interactive professional and academic dialogue as we explore foundational learning theories, design-based research, principles of interaction and engagement, design-based professional learning, research practice partnerships, and how to become a designer who thinks, acts, and reacts. As a teacher or school leader, in schools or on campus, you will be able to bring this knowledge and experiences into your classrooms, schools, jurisdictions and or post-secondary contexts.

The program should be of interest to anyone who has responsibilities for the design of learning settings and learning experiences, which includes PreK-12 and post-secondary teachers, curriculum leaders, administrators, and others involved in diverse educational contexts. All courses will be structured around ongoing examination of the phenomenon of learning, with pragmatic concerns addressed through the topics of design-based learning, design-based assessment, design-based research, and design-based professional learning.

A registration package will be sent to new students after they have been admitted. Registration for the summer term will be available in late winter. Fall and Winter registration opens in the spring. Your Graduate Program Administrator will send more information about registration to you.

Fee details are available on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

The University of Calgary offers multiple ways to meet the cost of your education. Please refer to the Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries page to learn more about options available to students. For additional information, please contact Student Financial Support.

Program Schedule & Course Descriptions

  • Program begins each Summer term (refer to the Academic Schedule for specific dates)
  • Outlines are normally available 1-2 weeks prior to the start of term in D2L
  • 3 units per course

Term 1 - Summer

Design-Based Learning

This course focuses on expanding your view of design and your role and goals as a designer for the students in front of you. Educators are designers not just enactors – Design is an everyday act for educators. Design is a continuous process within affordance and constraints that opens up possibility in curriculum. Central to the idea of design in this course is the possibility of reframing and reconsidering how we think about our roles, our schools, our students, and the curriculum. Curricular design is a public space/enactment of a public/world making. Fundamental challenges can’t be addressed with the frame in which they arose (e.g., knowledge worth learning is only created by experts); however, New Frames can create new ways of seeing and acting on challenges.

Registration info:
EDER 678.80 L01 (50448)

Term 2 - Fall

Design-Based Assessment

Extending the topics addressed in Design-Based Learning, this course focuses on conceptualizing and designing assessments in ways that simultaneously afford educators insights into learners’ interpretations and progress and provide learners with feedback and cues to extend their own learning. Topics will include examining the range of information sources that might be used in formative and summative assessments, dynamic revisioning of evaluation tasks, and deliberately structuring feedback loops into a learning environment.

Registration info:
EDER 678.81 L01 (71913)

Term 3 - Winter

Design-Based Research

This course focuses on how educational researchers design, support, and study learning innovations in realworld learning contexts. Design-based research is described as a methodology designed by and for educators to increase the impact, transfer, and translation of education research into improved practices. DBR involves the building of research informed solutions to complex learning problems, the systematic generation and testing of theory in naturalistic settings with the goal of impacting both educational theory and educational practice. In contrast to experiments that aim to describe how learning occurs under given conditions of instruction, designbased research focuses on the iterative design, implementation, and evaluation of new instructional interventions in complex, naturalistic learning environments. Data and analysis techniques are used in both formative and summative ways to inform the next steps in instruction, design, and research, and to inform theory.

Registration info:
EDER 678.82 L01 (11803)

Term 4 - Spring

Design-Based Professional Learning

Situated within a community of practice and research-practice partnerships in the learning sciences, design-based professional learning is complementary to design-based research and incorporates active learning processes and cycles of knowledge creation, and collaborative design and inquiry in pursuit of a common domain. In this course, students will critically explore the theoretical and practical aspects of this frame that can be adapted as a design solution in dynamic, innovative, and technology-advanced learning contexts for a sustained and continuous approach to learning with peers and engage in a culminating capstone project. Topics will include communities of practice/inquiry, research-practice partnerships, professional learning, knowledge building/knowledge creation, complexity, computer-supported collaborative learning, artifact analysis, and activity theory.

Registration info:
EDER 678.21 L01