Monthly Archives: February 2014

What I learned watching the Gagne/Merrill video and the More Design in ID video

It was very interesting watching the Gagne and Merrill interviews. These two gentlemen had such a profound influence on the way people looked at instruction and learning during their lifetimes, and yet, their theories were only the beginning of a complete revolutionary change related to the way we approach instruction and learning. Gagne’s theories which led to his nine events of instruction, though student-focused, were still firmly rooted in behaviorism and direct instruction. Yet out of his theories we begin to trace the origins of cognitism. Listening to Merrill speaking about his Component Display Theory, I heard him mention the value of gathering information from others and thought to myself – there are the first stirrings of social constructivism.

They talked about meeting during AECT. This interview took place five years before AECT drafted their first definition of instructional design. It would have been incredible to have been around during the establishment of a new career, or to be known, as Gagne was, as the father of instructional design.

The other video by Allen Interactions discussed the need for more design in instructional design. In this video, Richard Sites and Angel Green discussed an instructional design model with which I was not familiar which they referred to as SAM. I looked up their blog to find a definition of this SAM. It stands for Successive Approximation Model, and it uses an iterative approach combined with collaboration between the designers, SMEs, and learners, to shape the design of the project and make adjustments designed to move the product closer to its final state. The image below shows how SAM works.


The two designers discuss the differences between instructional design and developing instructional materials. Unfortunately, too often the latter is the role faculty put me in, expecting me to transform materials that may not even be appropriate for their online course rather than allowing me to assist them in a course redesign based on online best practices and pedagogy.


Reflections on Thursday’s Advanced ID presentations

I appreciated the two different perspectives on problem-based learning (PBL) that were presented during class this past week. Alicia’s presentation, in addition to being very professionally presented, discussed PBL from the perspective of its use with middle school children. In this instance, PBL was a perfect solution for motivation and engagement of students in an otherwise largely teacher-centric environment. It gives students greater control of their own learning and provides an authentic learning space where students can feel as if they are a part of something larger than themselves. Alicia tied PBL to Connectivism and Social Constructivism theories, and spent time defining the terminology including a new term, hybrid PBL. This term included the authentic, student-based nature of PBL while allowing that students might not be fully prepared for solving messy, ill-structured problems on their own, thus permitting some lectures and other interventions to bring just-in-time information to students to assist them in the solving of their problem.

Brandi also talked about PBL, but addressed her presentation from the concept of PBL through Communicative Action (the guiding principle of this course). As Brandi presented both the concepts behind PBL and the challenges associated with it, she effectively drew parallels to LTCA theory and demonstrated how PBL could be an advanced ID theory through this analysis.

Buddy presented the ASSURE model as an advanced ID model. This model allows for the creation of stand-alone technology-assisted training with less reliance on instructor lecture and requires active learner participation for successful application. The model is ideal for online learning, where much of the learning takes place asynchronously and where reliance on and incorporation of media and technology is a necessity. Buddy related his model to Gagne’s nine principles of instruction.

Stacey’s presentation centered around brain-based learning and it was a topic of particular interest to me in light of a recent presentation I attended at the Educause Learning Initiative annual meeting. Her model reinforced what I learned about the brain at that conference and presents exciting possibilities in terms of new ways to approach learning and teaching.

I found all four presentations insightful and interesting. While I’m not sure that I agree with each student that their particular project reflected an advanced instructional design principle, I would be likely to use all three models represented when appropriate. The one I felt least fit into the category of an advanced ID model was the ASSURE model, as it fits pretty well within the ADDIE framework, and Gagne’s behaviorist model, though learner-focused, could hardly be considered advanced. That said, as a designer of online instruction, I can see the application of this model as a valuable resource in my tool belt, and plan to teach it to faculty who struggle with the appropriate application of media resources into their online courses or for whom designing engaging online experiences is a particular challenge.

Dr. Warren made a comment to a previous blog post where I summarized some of the things I learned at Dr. Medina’s lecture on the brain. He asked how we might design a course to take these principles into account and suggested that this question might be a dissertation topic. Up until now I had not focused on a particular area of interest that could be a dissertation thesis, but this brain research is fascinating to me, and I’ve done at least one presentation that dealt in part with it. I think this is an area of research I would really enjoy and could be passionate about. After hearing Stacey’s presentation, I feel more so that way than before. I plan to do more research into this field and begin asking questions which could lead to a dissertation topic.  

Problem-based learning as an advanced instructional design strategy

Problem-based learning (PBL) is the example of an advanced instructional design model that I’ve chosen to present to my peers. Although several of my peers have also selected this model, we each are focusing on different aspects of this model. My focus is on the use of PBL to enhance faculty professional development. There are several reasons I believe it fits the category of an advanced instructional design method.

PBL requires that you start with an ill-defined problem for which there is no one right answer. Unlike most instructional design strategies, students drive the learning process in PBL and are responsible for their own learning, even to the development of their own learning objectives (Hung, 2013). The benefit of this is much deeper learning and development of “soft skills” such as collaboration and critical thinking skills (Duch, Groh, & Allen, 2001).

Additionally, pedagogy is different for instruction than for many instructional methods. Rather than using direct instructional methods, teachers take on the role of a facilitator, guiding students as they direct their own learning and providing resources. Stepping into this new role is difficult for some instructors and requires training and support (Dickie & Jay, 2010; Liu, Wivagg, Geurtz, Lee, & Chang, 2012; Spronken-Smith & Harland, 2009).

While some research exists relating to PBL as a method for training faculty in a professional development setting, it is difficult to sort it out from the myriad of research related to professional development about PBL. This has confounded my research and may present a problem in finding appropriate literature for my report. I have been able to find several reports and of course there is plenty of research about PBL from a general standpoint. The challenge is in finding the right search terms to locate the articles I need.


Dickie, C., & Jay, L. (2010). Innovation in postgraduate teaching: mixed methods to enhance learning and learning about learning. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(1), 29–43.

Duch, B. J., Groh, S. E., & Allen, D. E. (2001). The Power of Problem-based Learning: A Practical “how To” for Teaching Undergraduate Courses in Any Discipline. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Hung, W. (2013). Problem-Based Learning: A Learning Environment for Enhancing Learning Transfer . In NEW DIRECTIONS FOR ADULT AND CONTINUING EDUCATION, no. 109, Spring 2006 © Wiley Periodicals, Inc. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR ADULT AND CONTINUING EDUCATION (Vol. 137, pp. 27–38).

Liu, M., Wivagg, J., Geurtz, R., Lee, S.-T., & Chang, H. M. (2012). Examining How Middle School Science Teachers Implement a Multimedia-enriched Problem-based Learning Environment . Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 6(2). doi:10.7771/1541-5015.1348

Spronken-Smith, R., & Harland, T. (2009). Learning to teach with problem-based learning. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 138–153. doi:10.1177/1469787409104787

Reflections from the first day of the ELI Annual Meeting

Wow! I’m not even sure where to begin. I’m on information overload but I really feel like I came away with a lot of new and valuable information today.

One of the poster presentations I visited was entitled “Extreme Makeover: Course Edition”. These creative individuals from San Francisco State University have created a professional development session for online faculty which looks fun and informative. It uses the best of instructional design and learning theory by combining social constructivist principles and opportunities for problem-based learning into the curriculum. Faculty are presented with a students’ perspective in the style of an “Extreme Makeover” video as motivation for changing their practices. Though a mixture of some direct instruction and opportunities to work together, faculty must create learning modules for instruction you would not usually expect to find online. These instructional modules are fun and light; how to do the Tango or how to make a rueben sandwich, but they require creativity and problem solving when presented online. I was very intrigued and am rethinking my own professional development models for my faculty.

I also attended a general session presented by John Medina, a developmental nuclear biologist involved in brain research. His presentaion regarding what brain research can tell us about education was mind-blowing. I knew, for example, that we could hold up to 7 pieces of information in short-term memory for up to 30 seconds and that repetion was necessary to move that information into working memory. I did not know, however, that if that information was not repeated again within 2 hours, that it was lost. The implications that Dr. Medina pointed out for education is that our current educational model is based on 60-90 minute periods, but if we learn new information for 60 minutes and then don’t work with it again, in two hours it’s gone, so by the time a student gets home to do homework, it isn’t practice, it’s new information again. He suggests that perhaps a better model for eductaion would be to break the day into smaller sections of 20 minutes a piece and work on layered learning, where we work on the the same three subjects several times in a row for 20 minutes each time.

But even more mind-boggling than this was the amount of time that learning took to go from working memory to full integration in long term memory, where recall was perfect and immediate each time. While the time varies from person to person and with different items being learned, the average time is 10 years for full integration. So something you learn in first grade is not fully integrated into long term memory until you are a sophomore in high school.

Medina also stated that the brain was “designed to solve problems related to surviving in an unstable outdoor environment and to do so in nearly constant motion.” In other words, our classrooms provide a polar opposite environment from the ideal environment in which our brain likes to work. 

He has also done some research related to excercise and learning. His research shows that regular aerobic exercise can significantly improve fluid memory capacity.

I also attended a session on active learning. The instructional technologist spoke about Richard Mayer’s three metaphor’s of learning: response strengthening, information acquisition, and knowledge construction. He showed how with response strengthening you assess learning by performance, and with information acquisition you assess learning through recall, but with knowledge transfer you assess learning by transfer. If a student can take the knowledge they’ve received and apply it to a new situation, that is transfer, and that is the best kind of learning according to Richard Mayer. This speaker went on to say that knowledge construction is a form of active learning but that there were two problems with this kind of learning. The first is the potential for misconceptions to occur. For his example he asked the audience to think about why we have four different seasons, and then cites this YouTube video as an example of a misconception in knowledge construction:

The second problem with active learning and knowledge construction is the difficulty of generating ideas.

To aid students with correcting misconceptions the speacker suggested the use of social reading, which he equated to book clubs. He said that you could have students use a program like Adobe to highlight a document and then bring all their highlights together into one document. He stated that if you held a misconception and discussed it in front of your peers, a peer would be more than happy to straighten you out.

To resolve the second problem, the speaker suggested the use of graphic organizers. He had a long list of graphic organizers and suggested ways to use them.

I look forward to what I will learn tomorrow and how it might apply to what I am learning in school or what I am doing on my job.

Reflections from the LTCA activity

I was asked to reflect on what I value in regards to instructional design. Does my past training have anything to do with that? Is it in line with my worldview? Does the advanced ID model I’ve chosen to present to my peers reinforce my worldview and beliefs or help me grow?

I was trained on very basic foundational principles of instructional design. Although I was taught that ADDIE was a framework, not a model, I was taught a model based on the ADDIE framework. That said, my worldview is very eclectic and flexible. I believe there are appropriate times and places for about every learning theory and model. I value that diversity and the ability to select the appropriate model to fit the job and the needs of the students.

The model I’ve selected, problem-based learning, is reflective of that worldview, in that it can be used with a variety of models and works within the framework of several learning theories. I do, however, believe I will grow by learning more about it.

After reviewing the class video tonight, the major change I would make to this reflection is to state that I think I want to focus my problem-based learning model on the use of PBL as a professional development tool for faculty. The only other thing that comes to mind relates more to some of the information I learned today in my seminars at the Educause Learning Initiative annual meeting. I was fascinated today to learn that one of my heroes in ID, Richard Mayer, came up with a learning theory founded in research on three metaphors of learning. His third metaphor, knowledge construction, aligns with constructivist learning theory. Mayer also came up with his own ID model to help students with knowledge transfer (or construction) from expository text. This model was known as the SOI model, which stands for selection, organization, and integration, and it might actually be an advanced ID model. Although I am pretty interested in sticking with the PBL research, this model is also very interesting to me and I could be persuaded to jump ship since there are at least two other students already looking at PBL.