| Complex Learning Pathways


Within the planning and (re)design phases of all educational projects that I have undertaken, mapping learning pathways has always been a critical step. Understanding what the eventual goal of a course is one aspect to effective instruction. However, exploring the various permissible pathways to get to that goal and any interconnections within or between pathways is critical to making a well-rounded product, and even more so if these pathways can offer a bespoke pathway for different learners.


I implement learning pathway discussion as an early part of the end-to-end process (i.e., in the Discovery stage; see the Project Kick Off example for further information). This method has a number of benefits, including but not limited to: ensuring the team understand what the main educational goals are; promoting discussion of how learners get from start to finish and the most appropriate manners of instruction for each step; and plugging any gaps in the learning journey that could hinder progress.


I used collaborative visual software, such as Miro, OmniGraffle or Microsoft Whiteboard, to begin the pathway mapping process with an agreed start and endpoint. Using open questions on educational theory and specific subject matter requirements, I encourage the team to comment on all aspects of the pathway, such as individual learning points, assessment procedures, and pre-requisite or results-based path deviations (e.g., an assessment score leading to the next lesson, a more advanced lesson, or a requirement to re-take previous lessons). No pathways is ever ‘set in stone’ at this point of the process to ensure that maximum amount of flexibility and innovation in pathway creation.

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An example of three finalised 'Role Proficiency' learning pathways. Various conditionals are used to permit a more bespoke pathway for each learner (e.g., if they are proficeient in first-level content and can demonstrate this in the initial assessment, then they can choose to move directly to the second pathway).


All teams that I have worked with and led have commended the use of these collaborative techniques, used alongside the questions I use to scaffold pathway discussions. Collaboration ensures that those with a vested interest in the product have their say on how it will look, and the visual nature of more complex branching or conditional pathways has been praised as accessible and more comprehensible than a sequential written list of steps.

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