Working through the fourth week of LT7100, I find it challenging to narrow down which readings have contributed the greatest change in my thinking about Instructional Design and Technology. The one topic that has stood out the most for me so far is reading about learners and the needs, analysis, and characteristics they have.
Several of the readings on learner needs, analysis, and characteristics have contributed noticeable changes in how I have been looking at my future roll as an IDT professional as well as my current role support design projects as a multimedia producer. Before these readings, I understood the importance of learner centered design but did not think much about who the learners are and what they need from the learning materials and environments. Nada Dabbagh (2007) mentions in their article that the audience of online learners is rapidly changing as new generations are growing up with increasing access to not just the internet but all the tools and communities that are available through it. What is also interesting is that Dabbagh references studies that are showing the changing population of online learners taking preference to distance education not as an alternative due to convenience but an attraction to it over traditional classroom learning (p. 219). I found this quite revealing working at a University that is pushing for the development of more online course offerings within programs that are not yet offered fully online.
Also, I have learned from the readings there is much more to advocating for the learner than making sure the objectives and instructional materials match. Carliner and Driscoll have introduced me to the diverse rolls we may have in the future working in training and development and that instruction comes in many forms for unique populations of learners. Before reading from Cennamo and Kalk (2019), I viewed the needs of the learner simply as addressing what instruction they need to learn to gain new knowledge or skills. I am learning that defining a need is just a small part of the define phase of a project as I have now discovered that even more important than their needs are their characteristics such as prior knowledge and cognitive abilities. This informs IDT professionals how the design activities and assessments will best suit the success of a project for both the designers and learners (p. 35). The different methods of conducting and creating learner profiles has been informative for the approach to instructional development in different environments outside of a college classroom as not all clients will have preliminary information to move directly into content development.
One factor of learner characteristics mentioned in our textbook is cognitive ability and the cognitive load theory. Paas and Kesther (2006) introduced me to a new context of cognitive load that I previously was only briefly exposed to in the research of cognitive load and multimedia instruction. In their article, I learned that cognitive load is not limited to the learner’s ability but is determined intrinsically and extrinsically by the interaction with the materials (p. 282). It is interesting that theorists describe a balancing act when designing instruction to manage intrinsic and extrinsic cognitive load due to the complexity learning environments.
Cennamo, Katherine, & Kalk, Debbie. (2nd Ed.). (2019). Real World Instructional Design: An Iterative Approach to Designing Learning Experiences [Kindle DX Version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
Dabbagh, N. (2007). The online learner: Characteristics and pedagogical implications. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 7(3), 217- 226.
Paas, Fred, & Kester, Liesbeth (2006). Learner and Information Characteristics in the Design of Powerful Learning Environments. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 281-285. doi: 10.1002/acp.1244