Through the curriculum of LT7100, the textbook and accompanying articles have been extremely valuable in providing background and foundational essentials to instructional design (ID) students. I appreciate the historical context of major developments, such as instructional events from Robert Gagné, the Dick and Carey ID model, as well as Cennamo and Kalk’s essential ID triangle and Five D phases of ID. While the beginning chapters of Real World Instructional Design (Cennamo & Kalk, 2019) are fundamental to the ID process, I would argue that heart of ID work is reflected in planning learning events (Ch. 4), developing instructional strategy (Ch. 5), and evaluation (Ch. 6). Early in the course my thoughts of “what IDs do” centered on these three elements. Moreover, from various other articles pertaining to the current coronavirus pandemic and remote learning, ID work principally involves planning, strategizing, and evaluating instructional learning.
The current crisis of classroom closures and higher education’s move to online learning presents instructional designers the challenge: what is the best way to expediently convert classroom learning to meaningful e-learning design essentially overnight? The short answer is that the fundamentals of ID should be fundamental while the nuts and bolts of online instruction involve rapid planning, strategy, and evaluation. What is at risk is student detachment, nonparticipation, and eventual lack of content learning if the quick process is performed inadequately. In contrast, if done well, e-learning design can be potentially effective and a long-term platform. Chapter 4’s learning events descriptions are central to ID planning.
As an ESL teacher without formal training and curriculum experience, I wished that I had the ID training and materials from this LT7100 since relevant planning and learning events would have been helpful. In fact, the six learning and instruction events in Chapters 4 and 5 not only are time-tested steps but are useful guides from beginning to the end of instruction. For an instructor to begin a lesson that focuses students on goals; activates students’ prior knowledge; introduces new learning content; provides activity and monitoring; synthesizes content knowledge and evaluates; and finally, extends and transfers knowledge to a similar context or application, already has the blueprint in place for students to achieve the goals of instruction. On the other hand, as a novice instructor I spent every lesson attempting to adapt instruction to student needs while losing the structure, organization, and planning of these learning event sequences.
Regarding assessments, what I did utilize were many formative assessments to gauge student understanding throughout lessons. In Finley’s (2014) article, “Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding,” there are numerous tools described that can be used for effective assessments. Some are quick while some require more thought on the part of students. Alternative formative assessments get to the center of ID planning and instruction: how do instructors know that students are learning the content in the lessons? The traditional model of teach and test is no longer the standard for every classroom application whether face-to-face or online. Examples of more creative formative assessments are: writing reflective thought about a lesson in a journal; using an analogy to explain a main idea; creating a mind map that diagrams linked ideas to a central theme; leading a K-W-L discussion that fosters what students already know, what they want to learn, and what they learned later; performing a dramatic interpretation; and other creative, thought-provoking knowledge tests teach to differing student modalities, strengths, and creativity. Also, the opportunity for students to express their knowledge in alternative formats empowers learners to own new content in personal, meaningful, and hopefully more lasting results.
Finally, the evaluation focus in Chapter 6 allows an ID to check an instructional design’s effectiveness. During the process of instruction, formative evaluations can help an ID make changes where possible to improve delivery or check for understanding while summative evaluations generate data after an instructional design project to measure effectiveness or areas to improve. Depending on the strategy, budget, and time constraints, thoughtful evaluation planning will hopefully lend valuable information for the next ID project or curriculum. Overall, our LT7100 final group project is a challenging culmination of all ID concepts to date. The opportunity to work collaboratively with others and utilize ID resources and techniques is a worthwhile, capstone exercise that ties together major ID learning areas.
Although the current situation of full-scale online learning is a necessary reaction to public health conditions, it will remain to be seen whether ID processes, techniques, and evaluation will accelerate e-learning methods or generate disdain for non-classroom instruction. What is certain is that instructional design knowledge and skills will continue to be highly regarded if the fundamental methodologies of planning, instruction, and evaluation are followed in creative ways. I hope to learn more ways to blend my knowledge of curriculum design with adaptive technologies to foster student learning in any field of education.
Cennamo, Katherine & Kalk, Debby. (2019) Real world instructional design: An iterative approach to designing learning experiences. (2nd edition). Routledge.
Finley, Todd. (2014). “Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding.” https://www.edutopia.org/blog/dipsticks-to-check-for-understanding-todd-finley