Monday, May 3, 2010
Pros and Cons of Systematic Instructional Design
As the instructional design course I have been taking comes to a close, three highlights dominate my thoughts about the course: systematic stages of development, systematic repetition of those stages, and the joys and sometimes the frustrations of working with others on a project.
Negative Aspects of Systematic Design
I must confess I got distracted part-way during the wiki project. Feeling overwhelmed at times by the practical difficulties that can arise while working with others, I was amazed toward the end to recognize how well the work of different individuals had fit together into a comprehensive design. Working in this group, I negotiated and re-negotiated various differences of opinion. Later, work assignments had to be re-distributed as some members dropped out of our course. My teammates and I put a lot of hard work into creating our project which I intend to use with ESL classes in future years.
At the beginning of the course, we focused on concepts of instructional design. We read about a few selected design models out of the hundred or so models in use (Kruse, 2009). We compared and contrasted and discussed assigned models with the generic ADDIE model. I expressed the opinion that the Morrison, Ross and Kemp (MRK) model was impractical and would be better for studying the process of instructional design than it would be for creating an actual course, but as the weeks progressed, we used iterations of the MRK model to design our various courses, and I witnessed and experienced the value of a rigorously structured design.
Benefits of a Systematic Design
The benefits of a systematic design are obvious. Structure keeps us focused on what is important, and makes it easier to identify “rabbit trails” that may seem important to a project, but actually get in the way of a good design. Structure makes us consider aspects of our design that may get overlooked in our enthusiasm to produce quick results.
A structured approach insures we focus on knowing our learners and the learning environment. Characteristics such as age, culture, and social sub-groupings affect how groups of people learn. Environmental factors affect learning. Social “Orienting” context can affect attitudes about the importance of learning. Instructional context such as lighting, noise, and temperature have a bearing on learning. Transfer context affects the likelihood that learners will have an opportunity to use what was learned. (Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2007, pp. 55-67)
An instructional designer is responsible to match learner needs and skills to the breakdown of institutional goals and objectives. A structured task and topic analysis insures that learner needs and institutional requirements are matched appropriately with course goals and objectives, (Morrison & Ross, & Kemp, 2007a) and that instruction is appropriately sequenced to meet those needs and goals. (Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2007b)
An instructional designer is responsible to insure that instruction is effective, requiring evaluation before, during and after instruction. Evaluation before instruction can inform the instructor about learner needs and strengths, and provides a basis to gauge the effectiveness of instruction. Evaluation during instruction can inform the instructor about missed concepts that can be remediated. Evaluation after instruction can be used with a pre-evaluation to sum up individual progress or can be used to confirm that course objectives were accomplished. (Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2007c)
Future in Instructional Design
No one knows what the future holds for instructional design, but it seems obvious there is a growing demand for refactoring of traditional forms of instruction into online courses. As our society faces the challenge of reducing dependence on fossil fuels, teleconferencing and telecommuting will likely become increasingly important. I expect that schools will adopt these technologies also.
Virtual classrooms would allow schools to provide wider ranges of courses for their students. If students are absent from school they can continue to participate in classes from home. Virtual classrooms can provide for flexible scheduling for working adults. It is likely that new forms of communication and training will continue to evolve as new technologies make virtual classrooms even more effective. The field of online curriculum development will likely be expanding for a long time.
Some early forms of online instruction that I have seen appeared to have been built by transcribing existing printed materials. Entry fields were designed to guide learner responses and to limit possible answers to facilitate automated grading. The design made creative thought and construction of knowledge nearly impossible. Online instruction needs to be designed by educators, not programmers.
With my background in business, software design, and education and home-education, I envision my future as a person who re-factors traditional instruction, creating new kinds of instruction for K-12 text book publishers or as a consultant to local school districts.
Kruse, K. (2009). Introduction to instructional design and the ADDIE model. Retrieved from http://www.elearningguru
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp. (2007). Learner and contextual analysis. In Designing effective instruction (5th ed., pp. 55-67). Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Morrison, G. R., & Ross, S. M., & Kemp (2007a). Task analysis. In Designing effective instruction (5th ed.). Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp. (2007b). Designing the instruction: Sequencing. In Designing effective instruction (5th ed.). Danvers, MA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp. (2007c). The many faces of evaluation. In Designing effective instruction (5th ed.). Danvers, MA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Winnie, D. (2008). Can't see the forest for the trees. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwinnie/2766804058/