Initial Thoughts on Instructional Design

Design

As an avid mountain biker, design plays an enormous role in my life. Bike design has developed exponentially in the past decade through a relentless cycle of analysising rider needs and evaluating rider feedback. This enables riders to continue pushing the limits of body and machine. Design not only encompasses creative solutions to complex problems, but it does so in an aesthetically appealing way. Take a look at any current mountain bike magazine and you will see beauty and attention to detail designed into every frame and component. Design is the marrying of form and function to meet specific needs.

Instructional Design

“The term instructional design refers to the systematic and reflective process of translating principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials, activities, infromation resources, and evaluation.” (Smith and Ragan, 2004) To me, this means that through careful analysis, designing opportunities for learning is developed and implemented under constant evaluation. This analysis establishes clear objectives and guides the systematic development process. Therefore, it seems to me, instructinal design is a valuable process capable of enhancing the effectiveness of instruction.

Systematic

The inclusion of the word ‘systematic’ ameliorates greatly the meaning of ‘instructional design.’ First, it focuses attention on using models and processes to achieve greatest results. Second, it establishes the idea of a repeated processes by being iterative in nature. By this, I mean that, as a designer (or trained educator), one repeatedly reapplies the process of design in most instances of instruciton.  And finally, “it is a systematic process [because] every component (i.e., teacher, learners, materials, and learning environment) is crucial to successful learning.” (Dick, Carey, and Carey, 2005)

Experience

As a native EFL instructor working in a Korean university, I function almost completely autonomously. By this I mean I am given a course title and left to develop and implement lessons falling with this title. In many ways this is wonderful as I can do almost anything I like and that I feel will best allow for student improvement. Therefore, at the start of each semester, my students are provided a survey that functions in three ways. First, through careful wording, questions are designed to provide me a basic understanding of students’ abilities. Second, it asks the students what they would like to learn. And finally, it asks the students to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses. Once I have collected and collated this data, I am able to adapt the contents of the course to address specific student needs. Many of the topics and learning goals expressed by students repeatedly appear on the survey which allows me to refine and reuse previously developed lesson plans. One of the ways that I refine these plans is by finding ways to effectively incorporate technology.

Because I see my method of creating lesson plans and learning activities as bordering on instructional design and I feel that technology is a powerful tool for enhancing learning, the connection between them becomes apparent. Educational Technology is an essential element of education and instructional design must harness and teach these tools. Together, form and function provide exceptional opportunities for learning.

Project

My project in instructional design will achieve the following goal.

To better scaffold the reflective process in a problem based learning project, my university students will be able to proficiently create, collaborate on and manage a weebly.com blog after two hours of hands on instruction.

References:

Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. O. (2005). The systematic design of instruction. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.
Smith, P. L. & Ragan, T. J. (2004). Instructional design (3rd Ed.). Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons
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