Thursday, June 16, 2011

49_The Importance of Instructional Design

The New Frontier: A Case Study in Applying Instructional Design for Distance Teacher Education

Joy Egbert, Michael Thomas (2001). Journal of Technology and teacher Education 9 (3), 391-405

I was attracted to this article by its title about instructional design - a passion that I have come to nourish since my first encounters with technology in education and later with interactive technologies and online learning.

Some quotes from the article are worth considering, and overall there is a basis of truth to its approach - however, maybe because it was written 10 years ago, or maybe because it only counts for one specific experience of an institution that tried a way to design an online course when online deliveries where just beginning to take over the field, I felt a bit disappointed by its suggested ways to create/design an online course per se.

The idea of adapting or creating from scratch a course for online delivery is, in my opinion, a much more iterative process, where foundations are needed whether they be in research or through anecdotal experience and analysis of the local context and culture of the institution. But foundations are not placed and used in a linear process. A lot of ideas laid on the ground at the beginning of the designing process often require revisiting and even changing of directions, as certain realities do not appear crystal clear at first take.  Either way, it is important to consider the specific process explained in the article, as it could reflect the experience of many other institutions, and understanding where one comes from allows us to build bridges and ease communication.

Here the key findings and learnings I took from this read:

  • "however, it is becoming clear that the educational landscape has forever changed and whatever direction this online revolution takes, it is clear that it will, in some way, affect the way all of us live and learn." (page 391) - This quote was prophetic in its own right! Before the advent of Web 2.0 tools and the use of mobile learning!
  • Instructional design is put forward in the article as one of the key ways to address the needs to deliver online learning that is of quality and effective. This point has been supported by a number of different articles, already covered in this blog. Analysis more than deliver seem to be the one crucial factor to assure positive outcomes in online learning.
  • through the analysis of the case study in the article, the idea of the most useful activities that can be conducted in a learning environment resurfaces again, as a familiar theme: students working together, interacting in meaningful ways and building knowledge. The old social constructivist paradigm never fails to appear in this type of conversation!

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