Developing an engaging and positive learning environment for learners, especially in a particular course, is one of the most creative aspects of teaching. Learning design supports the design of interventions, which are pedagogically informed, promote student-centered learning activities and make effective use of appropriate resources and technologies. In the context of this work, a framework is proposed for teaching learning design issues in tertiary education which interweaves teacher-centered activities with student-centered activities. The students are engaged in lab activities and in a learning design peer assessment project. Sustainable feedback practices are considered an integral part of the whole process. Findings drawn from an empirical study carried out during two consecutive academic years reveal that the interweaving of instruction and assessment may contribute to the understanding of the main learning design issues and to the cultivation of skills both in the development of educational applications as well as in the design of technology enhanced learning activities.
In this paper we present a small-scale study investigating the use of the MicroWorlds Pro multimedia programming environment as an authoring tool for constructing models, simulations and multimedia applications with students of Senior High School. We implemented the cross-thematic educational scenario ``Free fall simulation development'' as an open and flexible framework for activities in actual classroom circumstances, exploring two alternate instructional strategies: a) simulation development from scratch and b) use of a preconstructed microworld, and we observed how the students collaborate and interact with the programming environment. The findings highlight the overall process and the differences in the students' levels of engagement and performance, indicating some special features of the programming environment that contribute to or cause difficulty in the creation of an effective learning environment. We attempt to contribute to the discussion on the main parameters of designing, developing and implementing an effective constructionist approach aimed at engaging students in simulation development as a cross-thematic multimedia project.