CECS Instructional Sytems Design

Issues in Instructional Design

Educational technologies, online Learning Management Systems, and communication technologies have impacted the field of instructional design and have opened up new possibilities for instruction and learning. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), a hot topic in education, have made it possible for many people to access instruction who did not previously have the opportunity. I have not taken a MOOC yet, but I have reviewed several courses and I’m excited about the possibility of participating in one in the future.


In his article, “The Future of Instructional Design- or My Heart Belongs to ADDIE”, instructional designer and blogger Tony Bates discusses four queries and trends that will impact instructional design and designers in the years to come which were under debate at an Educational Technology conference in British Columbia. The first area of discussion was the future for instructional designers as professionals. Will there be less demand and work for instructional designers? There has been a move to constructivist theories of learning in public and university education, placing the teacher as more of a facilitator. If teachers are properly prepared to be facilitators instead of instructors of content, it may “undermine the… value instructional designers being to the task.” While I understand this point, I also think that the continuous developments in instructional technologies will keep instructional designers relevant and necessary for teachers and students.


The next topic for debate dealt with questions of the ADDIE model, with questions similar to those discussed earlier in the semester. Is ADDIE effective in developing instruction? Or as some have said, is it a “fake” concept that “no one uses” and is “based on false or no science.” At the conference, designers discussed if ADDIE works with constructivist learning theory and learner-centric instruction. From my personal experience as a novice designer, I have found the ADDIE model to be essential in developing instruction, and I do not see that it has caused issues in developing constructivist-based instruction. The designers determined that ADDIE was beneficial because it required the designer to look at design from a “systems perspective”, even if the design was not strictly followed.

Another issue in instructional design is developing engaging and authentic activities to support those constructivist aims. Their concern was that with the recent surge in online learning might make it difficult to engage and keep some student’s interest. Social learning could help in this area, but other students might not respond well to social learning. From what I seen, though, students who may not enjoy regular social learning activities may thrive in online social environments.


Bates, T. (2010). The future of instructional design- or my heart belongs to addie. Retrieved from http://www.tonybates.ca/2010/06/08/the-future-of-instructional-design-or-my-heart-belongs-to-addie/

Self-Regulated Learning

Self-regulated learning (SRL)  involves metacognition, strategic action, and motivation. It requires the learner to take control and responsibility of his or her own learning as well as behaviors. Barry Zimmerman, who authored Becoming a Self-regulated Learner: An Overview, further states that self-regulated learning is not just “detailed knowledge of a skill”, but takes “self-awareness, self-motivation, and [the] behavioral skill[s] to implement knowledge appropriately” (as cited in Weimer, 2010). Successful self-regulated learning demands the learner “manage [his or her] learning at every stage”. It is not a process that all learners are good at and the student must be responsible, confident, motivated, organized, self-reflective, able to restructure learning if necessary (Weimer, 2010).

There are strategies and skills that can help a student be a self-regulated learner. These are research-based and the acquisition of the skills will improve independent learning. One of the most significant skills, according to researchers, is “goal setting.” There are two distinct goals: a process goal, which is attaining a specific skill (i.e. “what you are going to do”), and an outcome goal, which is the intended performance or outcome (i.e. “what you want to achieve”). The student benefits from focusing on the process goal first, and then shifting to the outcome goal. This seems “backwards” from how people normally approach goals since more focus on the outcome, but the process goal is key to achieving the outcome goal.

For example, if the outcome goal is to pass  a class, what skills and strategies and behaviors will contribute to achieving that goal? These could be attending every class meeting, keeping all assignments organized, submitting all work punctually, and developing good study skills. As the semester progresses the student should monitor his or her achievement of those process goals, find strategies to maintain performance, and readjust or add  goals if necessary. For example, if the student begins to fall behind or doesn’t understand a concept, which then causes him or her to fail a test, the student may have to set a new process goal of attending after-school tutorials 3 days a week to get back on track to passing the semester.

As the teacher there are ways to help students become self-regulated learner: through our own behaviors, feedback we provide, and strategies we can teach. Instructors can teach students to manage their “thoughts, behaviors, and emotions” in relation to the learning process. Zumbrunn, Tadlock, & Roberts (2011) present a model of SRL with three phases that might provide students a clear, cyclical  process to follow. The phases include (1) forethought and planning, (2) performance monitoring, and (3) reflections on performance. During the first phase students set goals, both process and outcome and then make a plan to meet those expectations. Teacher assistance might be crucial in this stage if students are unfamiliar with the content or have little experience setting good goals. The second phase consists of using proven strategies that can lead to successful knowledge construction and skill acquisition.  Once again, teacher assistance (through monitoring and feedback)  can help a student to evaluate a strategy’s effectiveness and relativity to the goal. The final phase asks the student to reflect on learning, strategies, and goals. Teacher modeling can help students to see the right questions to ask themselves. After reflecting students should use that information to make adjustments, new plans, and begin the cycle again (p. 4-5).


Schunk, D. (2009, December 23). Self-regulated learning. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/self-regulated-learning/

Weimer, M. (2010, July 30). What it means to be a self-regulated learner. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/what-it-means-to-be-a-self-regulated-learner/

Zumbrunn, S., Tadlock, J., & Roberts, E.D. (2011). Encouraging self-regulated learning in the classroom: A review of the literature. Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium. Retrieved from  http://merc.soe.vcu.edu/Reports/Self%20Regulated%20Learning.pdf

The Method of Loci

The Method of Loci is an imagery mnemonic device that can be traced back to Roman and Greek rhetoricians and is thought to be wide utilized through the medieval period. While many have now forgotten the memory strategy, researchers believe that it played a significant role in developing Western thought and intellect. The techniques used in Method of Loci were originally devised to help orators remember speech points in the correct order (Thomas, 2013). But as this exercise shows, the Method of Loci could be used to remember almost any set (or sequence) of data/information.

It was an interesting technique, but it was very difficult for me to really get the hang of. This particular activity had some limitations, which made it difficult, for me at least. Because the information (to be remembered) was presented with text it was difficult for me to get it into the room, so to speak. The text is a visual element and so was the room imagery; the two conflicted with one another in my mind. With this activity, the process of mentally placing bits of information in a room would be easier, I think, if it was directed by another person. The person could be reading you the pieces of information (in this case the four components) as you move your way through the room. This would provide two forms of input, verbal and visual.

This makes me wonder if the process works well with new, unfamiliar information. I’ve never heard of the View of Situated Instructional Design and it was difficult to read through it, understand the concepts, and then use the Method of Loci. Perhaps the information needs to be somewhat familiar and “learned” before attempting to associate it with the mental imagery.

All in all, I did not find the Method of Loci helpful for me for remembering the View of Situated Instructional Design, for the reasons I stated above. I do, however, think it can be a useful strategy. It might be a good activity to include an instructional design that dealt with learning steps in a process. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable including into a design I am currently working on, because I have little experience with the process. I do plan to continue to experiment with the method and possibly utilize it for my own studying, as well as suggesting for clients completing a training I have designed.


Thomas, N.J.T. (2013). Ancient imagery techniques. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mental-imagery/ancient-imagery-mnemonics.html

Reflection on Project 1

This was my first venture into full-blown instructional designing. As I mentioned in a previous post (“Instructional Design & ADDIE”), I have experience writing and developing lesson plans as well as creating instructional materials. While I still see the similarities between the two processes and hold to the points I made in the previous post, I also realized one very significant difference that holds the two apart.

When writing lesson plans I am completing them for myself and my own classroom/instruction. Therefore I am the “expert” on the content, standards, students, resources, and potential obstacles. I also have a more direct control over those obstacles and other factors that may impact instruction (e.g. students’ behavior, time consuming distractions). However, with instructional designing you don’t have the benefit of this “first-person perspective.” This, in my opinion, is what makes instructional designing significantly more difficult and involved.

The majority of the challenges I faced when designing and implementing the instruction dealt with unexpected things that came up. For example, at the last minute the client lost access to one the technology resources I had utilized in the design. Therefore I had to think of a way to complete the same activity using a different tech tool. The designer has little control over these issues and must either write alternatives in the design document or be prepared to alter it if needed. Some of these issues can be avoided if you complete a thorough and in-depth analysis of the instructor’s needs, the environmental resources, and challenges, needs, and weaknesses the instructor may have. My experience with the entire design process confirms my understanding that the analysis phase is critically important to the entire process and done properly/improperly can “make or break” your instructional design.

Reflecting on my first project, I think there were strong aspects of the instructional design and some that could have been improved.

Strong points:

-clear and detailed Job Aid

in-depth analysis

-productive communication with client

-pedagogical foundation

-and instructional activities that correlate with constructivist theory


Aspects that need Improvement:

– for a shorter project (only a week of lessons), it would be better to narrow my scope of instructional activities and expectations. This became an issue during the implementation when the instructor had less time than planned and had to extend some lessons over a day. I think I could have focused only on reading comprehension (and not spelling as well) and had a more effective design. In the future I would include a different concept in a different plan/design. If I had done this, I think my goals/objectives would have been clearer and easier for the instructor to follow. I plan to focus more on one area and develop two goals both related to that knowledge/skill.


Client Feedback

After sharing the design document with my client, I felt there were some changes I needed to make based on her feedback. As I was developing the Job Aid I made some changes and included some things that I had not planned to before receiving her feedback and hearing some her concerns. Her concerns dealt mostly with the technologies she would be using.

Her first concern was using the iPad apps. She has only just received an iPad from her school, and does not have a lot of experience using it. Also, in general, she is not comfortable with technology due to a lack of training and experience. While I was planning to included a section of my Job Aid that assisted in using the specific apps for instruction, I decided it would be necessary to give a very thorough, step-by-step breakdown of downloading apps, creating videos in the app, and sharing the video via email. I have heard back from my client that the job aid was helpful in figuring out how to use the app.

She had similar concerns about using a graphic organizer because she had never used those either, which surprised me. As I explained how to use a graphic organizer and the purpose of using them, she realized that although she hasn’t technically used a formal graphic organizer (like the one included in the instruction) she had used strategies that were based on the same concept of extracting and taking note of certain information. She described the process she used, which was very similar to the graphic organizer I developed, and I decided to alter the headings on my graphic organizer to match what she and her students were used to using. This proved successful with the students who could make a connection between this new concept and their previous knowledge.

For the most part, I took into consideration all the feedback my client provided and did not choose to “ignore” anything. She did have some concerns with the backing learning theory that the design involved after she read through the description on the design document. However, I assured her that she should have few/no problems. When developing the Job Aid I made sure to make references throughout the activity descriptions connecting her objectives with the constructivist approach. She was wary of undertaking the instruction, but after sharing her concerns with me and reviewing the Job Aid I believe she was prepared.


Lateral Thinking & Elasticity

     Gunpei Yokoi was a video game developer who created the Mario video games, Game Boy portable gaming system, and the cross shaped button still used on video game controllers today. His work at Nintendo can be seen through these and other technologies that the company still produces. Yokoi developed a philosophy he called “Lateral thinking of Withered Technology”  Lateral thinking is the idea that problems can be solved using a creative, untraditional approach (“Lateral Thinking”, n.d.). Yokoi applied this concept to “withered technology”, which is technology that well developed and cheap. Yokoi wanted to find new, innovative ways to use technology some may consider “outdated.” He believed that concern over utilizing exciting, expensive technology could interfere with developing a good, new product. By employing this philosophy, Yokoi developed the Game Boy using simple technology, which was also used in calculators and cheap to incorporate (“Gunpei Yokoi”, n.d.).

     Lateral thinking of withered technology can lead to success for a company, as it often did for Nintendo, but I think it can also hinder progress. The Wikipedia article “Gunpei Yokoi” asserts that the philosophy prevented Nintendo’s N64 from competing with other gaming consoles because it was attempting to use “old” cartridge technology instead of the new (and would later prove superior) laser discs. However, if a developer does not have access to a innovative or superior technology, i.e. only has the “withered technology” as an option, then I think that Lateral Thinking can prove to be a successful in developing a new product. I think that any time one is able, they should look at a problem from a different perspective and think critically and creatively. This will more likely lead to a constructive solution that efficiently meets your goals (“Gunpei Yokoi”, n.d.).

     The Design and the Elastic Mind site is an online exhibition that displays the importance of “elasticity” in an age when humans are “inundated with information”, the world around them changes “scale and pace”, and communication is established often and in different manners (MOMA; Antonelli, 2008, 14-16). Due to this constant change “elasticity” in thinking is necessary. Antonelli says elasticity is “the ability to negotiate change and innovation without letting them interfere..with rhythms and goals” (Antonelli, 2008, 14). The site highlights several concepts I found particularly interesting. Thinkering is experimentation guided by engagement with the world and constructive collaboration between colleagues. Responsive design consists of elements that respond to our needs before we initiate. Visualization is the process of dealing with vast amounts of information that is miniscule or massive by visualizing it, and therefore understanding it. These concepts are significant for instructional designers because through the instruction the designer develops, the audience must experience, process and respond to the information presented in an effective manner which leads to understanding.

     The ideas found in both of these philosophies can be applied to the field of educational technology, technology integration, and instructional design. I believe that these concepts will continue to impact my understanding, teaching, and designing. In many school districts there are not funds to purchase the new and cutting-edge technology and the technology that is available is “withered.” When this is the case, it greatly benefits the teacher/IT/designer to approach technology integration with lateral thinking. The concepts from “Design and the Elastic Mind” can affect how we present information to students and how we, as facilitators or leaders, can control the flow of information within our classrooms or the instructional design we create.

Antonelli, P. (2008). Design and the elastic mind. Retrieved from http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2008/elasticmind/assets/pdf/Design_and_the_Elastic_Mind.pdf

Gunpei Yokoi. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunpei_Yokoi

Lateral Thinking. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_thinking

Museum of Modern Art. (2008). [Interactive website supplementing art exhibition]. Design and the Elastic Mind. Retrieved from http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2008/elasticmind/


Instructional Design & ADDIE

     While I knew someone was in charge of designing and developing instruction, before this course I was not aware that “instructional designing” was a career. In a previous course, I was able to work some with instructional design, kind of as a side project, but didn’t learn the technical and specific aspects of properly constructed ID. In this course so far I have had a good experience with instructional design so far in this course and already feel capable to put together a design (perhaps, slightly elementary at this point). Going step-by-step has been helpful in gaining an in depth understanding of each individual phase in the instructional design process. By focussing on the one phase for an entire module I felt I completed a stronger, more complete analysis.

     The ADDIE model is consider to be, by most, the “foundational element” in the field of instructional design and technology (Bichelmeyer, 2004, 4). Bichelmeyer goes on to say that ADDIE isn’t really a model but a conceptual framework. This is consistent with what I’ve learned through other readings. The U.S. Army’s diagram of ADDIE refuted the idea of a strict linear process and instead adopted an overlapping, cyclical method (as cited in Clark, n.d.) Both of these ideas lead me to a different understanding of the ADDIE “model” as a “frame of reference.” However, as a novice in instructional design, the ADDIE model is very helpful in directing my design.

     Having completed the analysis and design portions of my instructional design, many of my thoughts have been almost “in theory.” I have attempted to use researched-based activities and objectives and relied on analysis tools to obtain a complete picture of the client, audience, and problem. What I have written in my design is what I expect to happen and think will work and hopefully my design translates smoothly into development and implementation. I am looking forward to finishing this project- my first complete instructional design with ADDIE- and gaining understanding of the entire process, what is effective and not, and how to create better instructional design on my next project.

     The instructional design process reminds me of the lesson planning I’ve done as a teacher. I think that experience has helped to ease my transition into instructional design. There are many similarities- writing goals and objectives, explicitly connecting activities to the goals, gathering information about environmental resources, and others- between the two, but instructional goes more in depth, covers a larger amount of time, and must connect multiple lessons in a coherent and efficient way. So while, I familiar with planning, I am looking forward to becoming more proficient in long-term (relative to a one week lesson) instructional design.


Bichelmeyer, B.A. (2004). Proceedings from ACET 2004 IDT Futures Group Presentations: The addie model: A metaphor for the lack of clarity in the field of idt. Retrieved from http://www.indiana.edu/~idt/shortpapers/documents/IDTf_Bic.pdf

Clark, D. (n.d.) Addie model. [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/history_isd/addie.html