I recently explained how I more or less backed into my profession of instructional design, or ID — as in “I had no ID how to train those people properly” perhaps.
Let me explain a little more about instructional design, starting with a definition — or two or three…or four — there are plenty more out there.
- the practice of creating instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing. (Wikipedia)
- the systematic process by which instructional materials are designed, developed, and delivered (Instructional Design Central)
- a process that begins with an analysis of the intended student learning outcomes, identifies teaching strategies and student activities to enable students’ achievement of the outcomes, and ends with the development of multiple methods to assess whether and to what extent the outcomes were achieved (Ferris State University)
- the art and science of creating an instructional environment and materials that will bring the learner from the state of not being able to accomplish certain tasks to the state of being able to accomplish those tasks (George Siemens)
So you see how it’s a practice and a process and an art and a science.
Did I mention it’s also a discipline?
Perhaps you start to see the basis of my innate distrust of the terminology associated with learning and yes, the entire field of instructional design. Since its earliest inception in the mid-20th century, instructional design has experienced a proliferation of ID models and approaches, many with their own associated jargon, causing well-noted confusion.
Mind you, jargon can serve a useful purpose when practitioners of any process, art or science try to talk about what they do. It helps to have some sort of familiar linguistic landscape so we can better understand each other.
With that in mind, there are certain approaches and toolsets most instructional designers use, certain framing models we acknowledge, even if we reject them.
As in every field of endeavor, the key is to know which tool to use when and how to use it effectively.
Without going into any great detail on any of these at this time, here are several items I routinely use from my ID toolbox:
- Bloom’s taxonomy
- Instructional Systems Design (ISD), particularly as per the Dick & Carey model — almost considered synonymous with instructional design by some
- Mager’s Instructional Objectives
- Gagne’s Events of Instruction
- Kirkpatrick’s Levels of Evaluation
- And the big daddy of them all (for me, at least), ADDIE, that is:
Follow the links to learn a little about each of those through self-study if you wish.
This blog post mostly serves as an introduction to the concept of instruction design, so that I can explore how instructional design techniques can be used to improve learning experiences in later entries.