Project B Reflection

Upon reflection, I would say that the outcome of Project B was positive. I designed an instruction set aimed at existing college faculty who did have much, or any, experience creating and managing online discussions in their classes. By the end of the instruction, the learners felt much more comfortable thinking about the feasibility of online discussions and were able to create their own, participate in the class discussions and also manage their forums and topics.

Sometimes when interacting with instructors who are teaching online for the first time there is a healthy skepticism about the realities of offering a class in an online format, particularly when it comes to trying to mimic the experiences that students have in the classroom such as discussions. By the end of this instruction, students could identify the aspects that make online discussion meaningful as well learn and practice the tools that allow them to manage those discussions so that they can be engaging and effective.

When comparing the design process for Project B to the process for Project A, this second project felt a lot smoother, mostly because I knew more of what to expect and had a better idea of how to pace the project. I also think that while the technology used in the first project (Body XQ app) was more exciting and/or interesting, the instructional materials that I created for the second project were stronger and more helpful to the student. In both cases, I felt like my evaluation was a bit lacking. I did get good and positive feedback from both groups, but it was definitely more qualitative than quantitative.

In both projects I found my client’s feedback to be the most valuable. Peer feedback was good, but since our peers did not know the project as intimately as the client, it wasn’t as helpful. I have a great working relationship with both of my clients and I think that was definitely to my advantage. I know that it can be a lot harder when you are working from scratch to establish that rapport. Both clients gave me feedback that I was able to use and apply to the overall design and the instructional materials.

I am so grateful that not only did we get to do two projects, but also that it was in the format of a 16 week class. I just cannot imagine having to do all that we did in eight weeks and having it be a meaningful learning experience for us as students. Two projects really allowed us to learn from our mistakes and fine tune our process a bit and 16 weeks allowed us to fully absorb what we were doing and make it meaningful. Thanks for a really great class!


Instructional Design in General and Lessons Learned from the Semester

I have learned an exceptional amount about instructional design this semester. My background and my job are all based within the field of education, so in many ways my existing knowledge was actually limited to thinking of instructional design form solely and educational perspective. It was actually pretty interesting to have a textbook that presented many other applications and perspectives for instructional design that I had not really given much thought to previously. As an example, I knew that large companies and industries carried out institutional trainings, but had never considered how they did that or the similarities of implementing instructional design in a setting outside of traditional education.

Upon reflection, I have really learned this semester that instructional design and development is an organic process with many opportunities for collaboration and evaluation. Using the ADDIE model as a guide for that process has been extremely helpful in terms of breaking down the steps in the process into manageable chunks where we can really see and experience first-hand how the process works and builds upon the steps. I learned that while it is extremely important to have that roadmap or model to work from, the process has so many uncontrollable variables and flexibility and communication are key. Time is also not controllable, but making sure that you have a realistic timeline for implementation also helps in overall project success.

With regard to the evaluation of the product, I honestly think that I learned that my evaluation needs to be more robust and well developed. This was the one area or step in the process that rose to the top for me in terms of needing more attention. My evaluations were adequate, but I think that if they had been more robust and well developed, I would have received more helpful feedback. For next time, I will make sure that my evaluation component is stronger with more detail and specificity.

I think that I am a better instructional designer now than I was at the beginning of the semester because I more fully understand the process and how to actually implement the ADDIE model as well as more of the theory behind each step. I think it was extremely valuable for us as students in the course to have two opportunities to design and implement an instructional design project. So much more knowledge is internalized and absorbed by being able to actually apply concepts to real world scenarios. I am grateful that the class was structured that way and that it was offered in the longer format. I also think I now have a better appreciation for the importance of actively listening to what the client needs and wants and fully understanding their overall and specific goals and objectives.

What it Means to Actually Design Instruction

Instructional design and what it means to actually design instruction intrigues me due to the constant variety involved in the process. No two clients, learner groups or projects are ever the same. In addition, the skills that get used in the design are also always changing. This diversity in tasks and tools is what I get the most enjoyment from. To me, designing instruction means the systematic or methodological approach to creating materials for learning. In this class we focused on one of the most commonly used methods; ADDIE. The components of ADDIE: analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation each play an important role in building a solid instructional design to fit a particular need.

Designing instruction means being open to learning new tools and techniques, thinking of innovative ways to apply instructional theory and pedagogy, and planning out learning events or experiences that will be meaningful for students. In order to design instruction professionally and effectively, one needs to have many different skills. Two of the most important skills needed are related to organization and communication. When carrying out the steps in any design methodology, the designer needs to be good at communication and listening to the needs of the client. They also need to be organized in order to keep themselves and the rest of the participants on track. The designer must be flexible, but have good time management skills as well which can sometimes feel contradictory.

It is also extremely helpful to have a background in education and have some experience teaching others. Firsthand experience in the role of the teacher or implementer of a design is valuable for perspective. Knowledge of instructional design theory, educational pedagogy and best practices as well as current educational trends is also helpful. Familiarity with a particular methodology for designing instruction is also a useful skill to have. It is comforting to have a go to plan especially in difficult or stressful design situations. The designer also needs to have the ability to see the big picture and then devise a way to manage the little pieces to reach a goal. Lastly, the designer must have a willingness to step back and critically self-evaluate and then go back and correct elements of the design that may not have worked as well as they could have.

Like anything else, individuals can have very different ideas on what it means to design instruction and what the role of the instructional designer actually is. In my experience, most people (even in the field of education) are still not quite sure of what that person does or how they can help them and be a resource for their instruction. In many ways, I see our role as instructional designers needing to incorporate the education of teachers in how we can help them more. The more teachers understand the role of instructional design, the easier the job will be (hopefully).

Reflection on Self-regulation and Communication

In Project A, we were new to the ideas and underlying theories behind instructional systems design, specifically the ADDIE method of design. In those first few weeks of the course we really needed the guidance and enforced time frame of weekly deadlines and due dates to regulate ourselves so that we ended up with a product at a specific point in time. That externally imposed regulation of our time and accomplishments allowed us to experience what the flow and pace of a project would be like. Project B has been much less regulated by a strict weekly class schedule. Instead, we have had to manage or self-regulate our actions and behaviors in order to be successful and not overwhelm ourselves with trying to complete a large project in a small amount of time at the last minute.
To me, a large component of self-regulation is knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. If you can rely on those strengths and then pinpoint the weaknesses so that they can be addressed head on, the project outcome will be better, it will run more smoothly and it will causeless stress. A second component of self-regulation is making use of planning and organizational skills. When undertaking a project such as this one, it is worth the time to step back and evaluate how much time you have to accomplish it as well as what the overall goal or end product is. Setting reasonable smaller goals and objectives along the way allows you to make progress and build upon your work in each consecutive step.
While this sounds relatively straightforward, it can be significantly challenging when working with others such as team members or clients. Just as you have to communicate with yourself about strengths and weaknesses and making a plan, you have to communicate even more with the people involved in the project. Everyone has a different idea of what it means to self-regulate as well as different ideas about how a task should be accomplished. Again, it is well worth the time to step back and make sure that everyone is on the same page in terms of the overall goals and objectives. I think that developing a sense of teamwork and allowing participants to be stakeholders can be very productive. Part of achieving this requires dedication to communication. Most often, when people think of communication, they think of talking, but listening is also extremely important especially with something such as instructional design.
As we have discovered, one of the most important parts of the ADDIE model is analysis and effective analysis consists of asking the right questions and really listening to the answers. Often times these sorts of projects evolve over time and can change along a continuum from slight to drastic. Communication and sharing of expectations is essential to making sure that the project moves forward. Clients who are extremely busy can be a challenge, so in those cases, it is even more important to be organized and know exactly what you need from them when you get their time and attention. Having a schedule with preplanned meetings can also be helpful to fostering communication and achieving the objective of the project.

Project A Reflection

The purpose of my Project A was to design an interactive learning experience for physical therapy assistant students who were studying cardiovascular system disorders by making use of an app called BodyXQ. The process of working through the ADDIE model was extremely beneficial to me as an instructional technologist and designer, but also as an instructor.

Last winter as part of a team I had the opportunity to design a course for college faculty called Developing Online Courses. The objective was to guide faculty through the design and creation process. We used a modified version of the ADDIE model to design that course. It was very hard to use the ADDIE model when designing a course on how to use and implement the ADDIE model. It almost made our heads spin. As a result, I was familiar with the ADDIE model methodology going into this project, but had not had the opportunity to apply it to a smaller and more manageable project that I was the lead on. This experience has really solidified the steps for me and has allowed me to identify some of my strengths and weaknesses.

The analysis portion of the project was great. I still firmly believe that this step cannot be overlooked and needs to be carried out thoroughly. I am very much a linear thinker and I enjoy having steps to follow or areas to investigate such as identifying the problem, analyzing the conditions and performance levels, figuring out the cause of the problem and brainstorming the learning goals and objectives. I also really like working with faculty and my client was very responsive.

I thought that the design portion went well as a result of strong analysis. The learning goals were well set already by the instructor and by the program and the learning objectives were not hard to formulate. The development portion was also fairly smooth, but I think could have been stronger in terms of the actual materials that I created for students to use. While the intent was to have students use the Body XQ app and that happened, I think with more time I could have developed more robust content and learning materials.

Implementation was not perfect since the topic had already been covered in the class and we met with fewer students. Implementation was offered to students as a review opportunity and we had a few students volunteer, but it was not the full class size. In this modified situation, implementation was successful. We did not have any technical difficulties or snags. Students seemed to intuitively grasp the technology and manipulate it to meaningfully interact with various cardiovascular scenarios.

The project evaluation was another area that I thought was adequate, but had the potential to be better. I do feel that I was able to ascertain that the students met the learning goals and objectives, but in future projects I would like to make use of pre and post-tests if applicable to the topic. The instructor does test the students on the topics as part of a larger exam, but I did not work on the design of that evaluation tool.

Overall, breaking down the ADDIE model and applying it as a methodology over the course of multiple weeks was valuable. We had the opportunity to spend quality time on each step and really learn and apply the concepts behind each. I think it is important to remember that any time you undertake a design project like this, it is not going to be perfect the first time. The whole point is to make it a circular process where you go back to the analysis and design phases after learning lessons from the implementation and evaluation. While each project is unique, I anticipate that my Project B will be a bit easier due to having the experience of Project A and that I will be able to design better instructional materials as well as a more definitive evaluation tool.

Reflection on the Method of Loci and Project Implementation and Evaluation

Method of Loci

For this exercise on employing the Method of Loci, I envisioned my kitchen because it is one of my favorite places in my house and I spend a fair amount of time there. I also chose it because it is a room that is organized such that it is easy to mentally move around in a sequential path. As I mentally walked around the room, I made note of several locations: refrigerator, cookbook shelf, counters, cabinets, mixer, stove, coffeepot, dishwasher, sink, trash and junk drawer. Of course the kitchen is a place of congregations, so my room included my family as well.

My understanding of the method of loci involves spatially assigning the things you want to remember to a very specific location so that in order to recall the items you mentally visit the location to retrieve them. For Part 1(“The learning community plans for and engages in knowledge-generating activities within the established framework of goals, conventions, and practices.”) I associated the goals with the refrigerator and thought of each goal as a meal that could be stored there for future use. For conventions, I located those in the cookbook shelf because for me conventions for education are a lot like following a recipe and practices are located on the kitchen counters because that is where the work gets done. For Part 2: (“Members of the learning community, including both teachers and students, observe and monitor learning and make needed adjustments to support each other in their learning activities.”) I assigned observe, monitor and make adjustments to the stove. For Part 3: (“Participants occasionally re-examine negotiated learning goals and activities for the purpose of improving learning and maintaining a vital community of motivated learners. This may lead to new goals and methods and cultural changes at all levels, from cosmetic to foundational.”) I assigned reexamining goals and activities to the coffee maker and new goals and methods to the sink.

As you can see I am a metaphorical thinker, but I am also very spatially oriented which is part of the reason I think I was so attracted to geography as a first discipline. The Method of Loci really appeals to me, but in order for it to work for me so that I can actually recall the list, the location in which I assign items has to make sense or have an analogy or even a story in order for me to remember it. I am reminded of a memory game that I occasionally play with my kids called “I am going to the zoo and I am going to see….” in which each player takes turn naming an animal in alphabetical order and has to recall all the animals in order each turn. We just played this game in the car the other day and it is interesting to me that for many of the animals, I created a mental picture of them in their habitat to help me remember what they were. Even though this game is more about short term memory and the Method of Loci is more about long term memory, by associating a place with the animal I was in a way engaging that use of spatial recognition and storage.

I found it very interesting to read a little bit more about the history and origin of the Method of Loci and to learn that its origins are from the Greeks and Romans and was used by famous historical orators. I found the following two web sites helpful.

Using the Method of Loci take practice and time; these are two things that we can all sometimes be short on. However, I believe it would be well received and beneficial to students as a learning technique and could be incorporated into an instructional design as a reflection or as a visual exercise with good results. When I teach geography, I start out my unit on maps with students drawing a map from memory of how to get from a common location, say school, to another common location, such as the airport or the mall. They then have to exchange maps and decide if they could actually get from one point to another. It is very interesting to see how each person’s mental map is so incredibly different and most include landmarks or loci.

Project Implementation and Evaluation

While I have not actually had the opportunity to implement and evaluate my instructional design yet (scheduled for next week), I am really interested in how it will be received by students and how well they will learn from it. I feel that the Body XQ app that the instruction is designed to utilize is very intuitive and I am hoping that students naturally gravitate to it and also find it easy to use and manipulate. I don’t think I will make any more adjustments to the implementation. I did follow the advice of my peer and included the instructional design document with the instructional materials and my client’s feedback did not include any specific recommendations.

Reflections on the ADD of ADDIE

So far in this course and the current instructional design project we are working on, we have moved through three of the five phases of the ADDIE model. Using our own clients and their needs, we have worked through analysis, design and development with implementation and evaluation phases still to come.

I mentioned in an earlier reflection post that the analysis phase is analogous to the foundation of a building and that it needs to be thorough and strong. It is essential that in the analysis phase the designer accurately define the problem and the ultimate objective of the training. Attention must be paid to detail and the accrual and evaluation of preliminary data, but at the same time, one needs to be able to define the goals, expectations and big picture of the instruction. During the analysis and assessment, the right questions need to be asked and the resources and audience also need to be evaluated.

The design phase is where we start to build the structural framework for the training. Just as in a building, not many people see the framing or the trusses that support the finished product, and not many see the elements and efforts that go into effective design. The design phase is a series of careful considerations and decisions made about the training including the setting, the delivery method, possible constraints and the objectives (Piskurich, 2006). Most of the time I imagine my instructional design work will be for instructors in a traditional instructor led classroom. However, I also design instructional materials for a class I teach faculty on how to teach online as well as help documents for students and faculty using our LMS. Some of these materials would qualify as technology-based training and/or job performance aides (Piskurich, 2006). In terms of the delivery method, the classroom lecture and lab is still the most common means in the college environment. However, I teach in an online setting and support faculty members who are using online and blended approaches. I see technology as a tool, enhancement, or support mechanism for instruction and not as a replacement for solid and well thought out instruction. I would agree with Clark that media and/or technology is not in itself an instructional method (Clark, 1994). Rather, the media and/or technology is usually a medium of instruction, not a method in the sense of making use of cognitive processes. During the design phase, attention must also be paid to the situational constraints that may exist. For instance, constraints may fall into the following categories: logistical, stakeholder, design, training methods and resources (Piskurich, 2006). All of these potential limitations or factors can greatly influence the training that can be designed and offered. Last, but certainly not least, during design, objectives must be written with the student or trainee in mind.

To further continue the construction and building analogy, the development phase is the infrastructure such as walls, doors, windows, sinks and other fixtures and finishes that are actually seen and used by people. In the same way, the development phase entails creating a well thought out lesson plan and the necessary instructional materials that will actual be used by the student.

As mentioned above in the discussion of constraints, so much of the instructional design depends upon the situation in which the training is designed for. The situational aspects of instruction are always unique. Design must take into account the learning environment, the learners themselves and prior knowledge, time constraints, and existing cultural and technological factors (Piskurich, 2006). Some of these are conditional factors while others are product characteristics, however both are relevant considerations (Van den Akker, 1994). It is essential to remember that the instructional design does not exist in a vacuum, but is in fact going to be used and manipulated which highlights the need for the next two phases of implementation and evaluation. As Kozma (1994) wrote, “The design itself does not emerge until the users interact with it- take their turns in the conversation” (p. 17).

Consideration should also be given to the role that the person delivering the instruction plays. In the past I have taught high school and I went through a post-secondary teacher training program, but I am struck by the fact that we really did not receive much in the way of instructional design training. While working through the ADDIE model, this project and our readings, I keep thinking about how helpful this would have been as a teacher. Van den Akker makes a very important point about teachers and instructors and their need for reflection regarding their own role as teachers and the implications for their teaching (Van den Akker, 1994). As an advocate of constructive and hands on learning with real world applications, I was excited to read about the modules of Thinker Tools developed by White. These modules are phases that include motivation, model evolution, formalization and transfer (Kozma, 1994). These phases could easily be added into lesson plans to improve effectiveness of instruction. Kozma (1994) also wrote that knowledge and learning are a “reciprocal interaction” (p. 8) and this phrase resonates with me because learning is a cooperative endeavor that is often situationally driven.


Clark, R. (1994). Media and Method. ETR&D, 42(3), 7-10.

Kozma, R. (1994). Will Media Influence Learning? Reframing the Debate. ETR&D, 42(2), 7-19.

Piskurich, G. (2006). Rapid Instructional Design. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Van den Akker, J. (1994). Designing innovations from an implementation perspective. In Husen, Torsten & Postlethwaite, T. Neville. (Eds.). The International Encyclopedia of Education. 2nd ed. Oxford, U.K.: Elsevier Science.

Reflection on Analysis and Design

Part 1: What have you learned from the analysis? What are you planning to do with it? Do a little brainstorming about what activities tied to your learning objectives that you might include in the design of your lesson.

During this analysis I have learned that the course I am conducting this instructional design for (Pathophysiology for the Physical Therapy Assistant) is usually intense. The course is conducted over a shortened semester to allow students time for clinical rotations. As a result, students are covering large complex topics in short periods of time. For example, cardiovascular system disorders are covered in two class periods and entail two chapters of text. Other disease pathologies may be covered in one class period. In addition, the program is nationally accredited so there is very limited deviation from prescribed content and elements that absolutely must be covered. Students are expected to put in a lot of time outside of class studying and reviewing. In this class, there is no opportunity for a true lab experience, but students must grasp how various pathologies relate to physical therapy treatments.

This type of background information is essential to know, because I want to make sure that I design instruction that is not only informative, but that is also an efficient use of everyone’s limited time. I also want to present a resource that can be used in class as a teaching tool, but that can also be used by the student independently as a resource. Activities that I plan to include that are tied to my learning objectives are largely scenario driven and entail the student manipulating the BodyXQ app to see what happens to the heart under different conditions. There will be observation, comparison and critical thinking about the implications for treating physical therapy patients who may have, or be recovering from, these conditions.

Part 2: How are analysis and design related for you? Think about it in the context the articles and chapters we have read thus far. How closely should these two pieces of the model connect? How does the Information R/Evolution video affect each of these?

Analysis and design are very closely related for me and my work in instructional technology and design. I really view the analysis component of designing instruction to be the core or foundation of all the building that comes afterward. If the analysis is thorough and inclusive, then the design, development, implementation, and evaluations stages that come after it will not only be easier, but will also be more efficient and effective. However, this means that one has to be willing to go back and revisit, and even improve upon, the analysis if necessary. The other steps may also need to be revised as the instructional design process moves forward. It is not a strict linear process, but is rather organic as Piskurich mentions in his description of the cyclic and spiderweb models (Piskurich, 2006).

By my definition, analysis includes aspects of investigation, examination, study, and review. Conducting an analysis is usually precipitated by defining a problem that needs to be solved. Interestingly enough, sometimes defining the true nature of the problem requires analysis itself. Analysis means asking the right questions, but also being able to listen and then synthesize the needs of the client. Once the needs and the problem are defined, you can study and investigate current conditions, performance levels, and causes of the problem (Piskurich, 2006). Only when the designer has a comprehensive picture of the problem and the environment, can they move on to potential ideas for solutions and desired outcomes. In many ways, design will not work without careful and reflective analysis.

I find it extremely interesting that both Piskurich and Romiszowski use the analogy of a road or path and how the instruction we find along it delivers or guides the learner to a destination (Piskurich, 2006 and Romiszowski, 1981). I identify with this idea because I view learning as a lifelong journey with the destination or objective being to satisfy a curiosity. I know that we need more tangible or identifiable goals and objectives along the way of course, as waypoints if you will. Romiszowski (1981) actually uses the term “signposting” (p. 5) to describe helping learners move along the path and encourages the teaching of navigational skills in case the learner gets somewhat lost along the way. This fits so well with my own philosophy of education in which I believe that teaching students how to learn and the skills involved, is equally important as the content itself. Romiszowski (1981) also writes, “The learner should be instructed in such a way that he can continue to learn, without instruction, in the future” (p. 35). As the Information R/Evolution video so effectively illustrates, options for analysis and design are effectively limited only by our imaginations (Wesch, 2007). Information related to each, or any other topic, is no longer hard to find. The constraints we dealt with in the past regarding access to information are certainly removed as we have migrated to a digital base of information. However, I am continually struck by how with this abundant access, comes an even greater responsibility to teach people the critical thinking skills needed to analytically evaluate the source and the content of the information they are receiving. Granted, we still had to do that in the pre-digital environment, but it has become an increasingly important and necessary skill.

Lastly, using a systems-based approach to instructional design allows us to consider inputs, outputs, potential solutions, implementation and evaluation. As I mentioned above, this is not a linear process, but rather one that can circle back on itself many times. In addition, none of these elements should be considered in isolation, but should instead be considered and defined in terms of their connection and association with each other (Romiszowski, 1981).


Piskurich, G. (2006). Rapid Instructional Design. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Romiszowski, A. (1981). Designing Instructional Systems. New York, NY: Nichols.

Wesch, M. [Michael Wesch]. (2007, October 12). Information R/evolution [Video file]. Retrieved from

Personal Theory of Learning

For this reflection, we have been asked to expand on our personal theory of learning and answer the following questions: How has your personal theory of learning changed? How has it evolved?

The largest area of change for me in reflecting about my personal theory of learning has to do with stepping back and thinking more about the how and why behind my beliefs related to education. This has required devoting more thought to ontology and epistemology. According to the online quiz called The Basic Ontology/Epistemology Test, my view of the world (being and existence) can be characterized as post positivism (OkCupid, 2014). I found this to be interesting because I have always thought of myself as being more in the positivist category as a scientist who believes wholeheartedly in the scientific method. I suppose that this means that my world view borrows from both the scientific and the post positive idea that the world is complex and not entirely explainable. In terms of epistemology, the quiz Epistemology And You! revealed that I can be categorized as a pragmatist (Pro Profs Quiz Maker, no date). I think this is fairly accurate since I am pretty straightforward and practical. This carries over into my philosophy of learning which is very much in line with the constructivist viewpoint.

I believe that learning takes place in interactive environments and situations in which the learner gains knowledge through a combination of experience and the transfer of information. The individual learner does not exist in a vacuum devoid of social, cultural and environmental influences (Moore, 1998). As such, their learning, current and future, is influenced by their prior knowledge. Learning builds on foundations of exploration and utilization of the senses. Gibson’s affordances or characteristics of the environment that are perceived by the learner also contribute greatly to the acquisition of knowledge and the interaction between the instructor and the student to produce authentic knowledge through learning (Greeno, 1994). I was also taught as a child, and still believe, that it is more important to know how to learn than it is to become a repository of facts. For example, you may not know much about physics, but if you possess the skills to research, assimilate and apply information about physics then you are arguably more knowledgeable and educated than the person who can only tell you facts about physics at the expense of other subjects and/or their applications. In addition, I believe that the most effective learning takes place in collaborative environments that are integrated into, or foster, relationships with the community. As an example, the Montessori Method fosters self-directed learning and the idea of “olders” helping or guiding “youngers” as well as volunteering in the larger outside community at a variety of scales and involvements. In addition, emphasis is placed on the individual taking responsibility for their own learning and accomplishments.

The best way for someone to teach is to create a learning situation that facilitates new encounters for the learner in which they can experience, interpret and contextualize the experience within their existing framework of knowledge (Appleton, 1993). A good teacher does a lot of planning and research to provide the appropriate opportunities for the student and is a valuable resource when the student needs help accessing and interpreting new material. I agree with Clark that “It is what the teacher does-the teaching-that influences learning. Most of the methods carried by newer media can also be carried or performed by teacher.” (Clark, 1983, 456-457) The best teacher is the one who has a true passion for teaching or for a subject area. However, that is often times not enough. The educator must also be cognizant of individual learning styles, their own predispositions, and a variety of methodologies for the actual transfer or development of knowledge. The best teachers know how to use resources including technology in ways that allow the student to construct knowledge rather than have it delivered as Clark says, by a grocery truck (Kozma, 1991). I think of the teacher as being the guide and the student as being the clients. Ultimately it is up to the client to determine what they get out of the experience. As Merrill says, the motivation of the student comes from true learning, not flashy new technologies (Merrill, 2008). The guide can show the client what is available, but it is up to the client or student to construct meaning and produce a worthwhile product (Molenda, 2009).

In my opinion, behaviorism and its emphasis on proper responses to target stimulus and student practice of making the correct responses falls short of real learning and acquisition of knowledge (Ertmer, 1993). Under this theory of learning a lot of emphasis is placed on meeting standards and properly responding to cues. The cognitive process is overlooked and the lack of success with this approach can be seen in many of our schools today. A cognitive approach is more palatable to me in terms of the consideration that is given to the development of higher order thinking and problem solving skills. I can identify with the emphasis on the learner being an active participant and that the learning environment is instrumental in supporting the learning process (Ertmer, 1993). I think that students learn best when the material is meaningful and they are presented with information that adds to their existing base of knowledge. While I identify with many aspects of cognitive theory, it still falls short in that it (and behaviorism) treats the world as an entity separate and unrelated to the leaner (Ertmer, 1993). Constructivism expands the idea of learning environment to include the broader world and allows students to create (rather than acquire) meaning from the interpretation of experiences (Ertmer, 1993). Just as humans exist as part of a larger society, students should be able to learn in a context that is supportive, nurturing and thoughtfully constructed. Students learning within a constructivist approach would be allowed to experience situations as active participants. In a cooperative and collaborative learning environment, the emphasis is on creating a shared understanding through communicating, listening and active participation (Leidner, 1995).

It is no surprise to me that I most closely identify with the cognitive and, even more so with, the constructivist theories. I like that students are treated as individuals capable of self-direction and self-construction of meaning and therefore knowledge. No wonder my children go to a Montessori School and my own teaching style places an emphasis on making the subject matter and material meaningful for the learner. I think that one of the most interesting aspects of instructional design is examining how we will balance our personal theories of learning with new technologies and theories of learning in a world that is increasingly dominated by technology. It will be important for us as designers and technologists to keep in mind our own philosophies and instructional preferences, but also be open to other new theories and perspectives.


Appleton, K. (1993). Using theory to guide practice: Teaching science from a constructivist perspective. School Science and Mathematics; 93(5) 269-274. Retrieved from:

Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-459.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly 6(4), 50-71.

Greeno, J. G. (1994). Gibson’s affordances. Psychological Review, 101(2), 336-342.

Kozma, R. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 179-211.

Leidner, D. E., & Jarvenpaa, S. L. (1995). The Use of Information Technology to Enhance Management School Education: A Theoretical View. MIS Quarterly 19(3), 265-291.

Merrill. D. [mdavidmerrill]. (2008, August 11). Merrill on Instructional Design [Video file]. Retrieved from

Molenda, M. (2009). Instructional technology must contribute to productivity. Journal of Computing in Higher Education (21), 80-94.

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Real World Examples of Instructional Design

When one starts to look closely at the world around them, they begin to realize that there are examples of instructional design everywhere. Often times these instructions are taken for granted or we do not notice them at all because they are so ubiquitous. For example, warning labels on lamp cords, plastic bag packaging, hair dryers and power tools. In other situations we may have already mastered what the instructional design has meant to teach us. I no longer need to follow the instructions to make mac and cheese for my kids or my favorite recipes.

The instructional design that we pay the most attention to is the instructional design that teaches us how to carry out a task or how to apply a skill in a real world setting. When we spend the time to learn something, even if it is to read a set of brief instructions, we expect to gain some sort of knowledge that we can use. I decided to seek out examples of instructional design at a local grocery store and chose to examine the Redbox movie rental kiosk as well as the instructions on a family size frozen lasagna.

At the Red Box, the objective of the instruction is to help or guide the user through the process of renting a movie from an inanimate object. While this sounds relatively simple, the idea has revolutionized the movie rental business with many companies such as Blockbuster going out of business. In order for Redbox to be successful it must provide instruction in a simple and user friendly way. As such, the design of the instruction is meant to be easy to follow with options for rental or return and then prompts on the screen to follow for selection, payment, retrieval and/or return as needed. In addition, the instructional design incorporates the use of text, imagery, symbols and a touch screen. It also provides a phone number for people who need extra help. 


The instructions for using a Redbox are clear and effective. I am not likely to forget how to use a Redbox, but I will probably still have to follow the instructions to be able to search for a new movie. I will also not forget how to return a movie since shoving it in the return slot the wrong way does not work. Lastly, I will not forget that the company keeps my credit card information on file and remembers me based on my email which is always disturbing.

I also looked closely at the instructional design of the instructions for cooking a large pre-made frozen lasagna. What struck me most about these instructions was the use of pictures to convey the steps in cooking. The written instructions were there, but were not entirely necessary to get the job done. For instance, “prep” consisted of tenting the metal lid and “cook” consisted of 1 hour 55 minutes. Both of these were conveyed as simply as possible with additional written instructions below. In the design, consideration was given to the use of color, font, italics, imagery and text. I thought it was interesting that the temperature requirement was in italics as was the warning about how it would be hot.


This is certainly one of those examples of instructional design that I take for granted because I have eaten more frozen lasagnas than I care to admit. I am sure I could get the job done without reading the instructions, but I do always check to see what the recommended temperature setting should be. At the same time, I can see how these instructions are effective in teaching someone who has never cooked a frozen lasagna the best way to do so.

I think that instructional design is very important and is actually essential to both my current work and my future work goals. In my current position, I am often asked to create help documents for students and faculty that explain how to execute a task in our learning management system. When thinking about the design of the these documents, I try to consider the use of color, text and text styles, images/pictures, common symbols, layout, white space and the perspective of the reader/user. Many times it can also be helpful to use audio and video as well or a combination. I am excited about this class and what we will be learning about instructional design because I know that I can improve in this area.