Monthly Archives: January 2014

Advanced Instructional Design

The book excerpt by Warren, Lee, and Najmi (2014) was a good review of the historical “periods” of instructional design. I especially liked how the authors related these periods to emergent learning theories of the time as well as to the prevailing technology. It was insightful to see how these two factors came together to popularize or generate a particular instructional design methodology. It was also helpful that the authors reminded us that these periods overlapped and that these instructional strategies are all still in use today. I was also interested to see simulations listed as an historical instructional design period. I would have categorized simulations as an advanced instructional design technique but this article categorized it not only as a basic technique, but one which was in the process of being replaced by a new paradigm.

In the article by Warren and Wakefield (2011) I see several mentions of more advanced instructional design methods, such as communities of practice and multi-user virtual environments. The second example of the use of Second Life as a virtual learning environment also addressed problem solving and touched briefly on some of the facets of problem-based learning.

While many of the advanced instructional design models appeal to me and I hope to spend more time working with multi-user virtual environments at some point in the future, for this class the model I plan to present is problem-based learning. There are several reasons I selected this model. First, I’ve already focused some research on this topic. Secondly, I think it is an overarching model that can be used successfully in conjunction with other instructional design models. For example, Warren, Dondlinger, and Barab (2008) participated in the Anytown project, which incorporated use of a multi-user virtual environment and problem-based learning to improve the writing skills of elementary school students. Another reason I’m interested in this model is that I am personally working on a project at work which incorporates elements of problem-based learning into the design.

I believe that problem-based learning has the potential to provide an authentic, engaging learning experience for students which can increase intrinsic motivation for learning. I also believe it can provide opportunities for learning far beyond the stated objectives, improving students’ problem solving ability, creative thinking skills, and ability to work collaboratively. These are some of the benefits to problem-based learning that draw me to this instructional design method.

Warren, S. J., Dondlinger, M. J., & Barab, S. A. (2008). A MUVE towards PBL Writing: Effects of a Digital Learning Environment Designed to Improve Elementary Student Writing. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(1), 113–140.
Warren, S. J., Lee, J., & Najmi, A. (2014). The Impact of Technology and Theory on Instructional Design Since 2000. In Spector, J. M., Merrill, M. D., Elen, J. , & Bishop, M. J. (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, 4th edition (pp. 89-100). New York: Springer.
Warren, S. J. and Wakefield, J. S. (2011). Instructional design frameworks for Second Life virtual learning. Cutting-edge Technologies in Higher Education, 4, 115–163.

Basic and Advanced Instructional Design Models

I have been an instructional designer for two years, although I practiced instructional design in my previous career as a technical writer without knowing what it was called. I first learned the theories behind instructional design and some basic instructional design models in my master’s degree program on the subject. I learned, as all good instructional designers should, about the ADDIE framework. While I have dabbled with other basic models, I have a favorite model based on Morrisson, Ross, Kalman, and Kemp’s (2011) Designing Effective Instruction. Today, most of my instruction begins with a design formatted at least loosely on this model.
I have been intrigued throughout my studies with many of the more advanced instructional design models. Although I have not had an opportunity to try designing anything that uses these models in real life, I took a course in simulation design at Old Dominion University, and my partner and I worked together to design and build a model of a simulation which would help instructors develop empathy when teaching English Language Learners, and then assist them in choosing classroom approaches based on best practices which were most appropriate for their ELL learners. Although our model was just a mockup of a simulation using some of the advanced coding available in PowerPoint, it was still very interesting planning the design and developing the model.
Other advanced instructional design models which have piqued my interest over the years with which I would like one day to experiment include games and gamification and 3D virtual worlds. The one advanced model with which I am currently attempting to work is problem-based learning (PBL). I’ve done a bit of research concerning this area and I think it has a lot of potential and promise in the area of student-led, social-constructivist learning. It is a wonderful technique for developing the soft-skills and higher-order thinking skills which are critical components in today’s workforce. It has the added benefit of adding relevance to learning, which is important for motivation and engagement. Of course, it is also ridden with pitfalls, from instructors unable or unwilling to step out of behaviorist teacher-led mindsets and into a facilitative role to students without the discipline or motivation necessary to take control of their own learning or the requisite prior knowledge necessary to be successful in the particular scenario the problem establishes. Other potential problems can include classrooms insufficiently equipped or situated for PBL or too high a student to teacher ratio.
That said, I think in proper balance with other methods, PBL can be a useful and powerful tool for instructional designers. I believe it is the technique I would like to focus on for the duration of this course.
Morrison, Gary R., Ross, Steven M. , Kalman, Howard K., & Kemp, Jerrold E. . (2011). Designing Effective Instruction (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.