My Philosophy of Instructional Design

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As an instructional designer, my role extends beyond evaluating or creating learning tools. To be effective, I need to have a deep understanding of the organizational cultures of my clients.  For the best outcome, I should be clear about the purposes, functions, and challenges of implementing my solutions (Wade, Rasmussen, & Fox-Turnbull, 2013).

The purpose of integrating technology into the classroom is to enhance learning. Digital tools should not be a distraction to learning but a valuable component in the learning process. Done right, technology integration can increase motivation (Green & Hannon, 2007), enhance critical thinking (Pacific Policy Research Center, 2010) and improve problem-solving for students (Wade, Rasmussen, & Fox-Turnbull, 2013). Student performance is an important measure of teaching efficacy. Contemporary education professionals should value projects, presentations, and portfolios as assessment tools (Lombardi, 2008).

Successfully incorporating technology requires rethinking the roles of teachers and students. Instead of being “empty vessels” into which teachers pour knowledge, students become collaborative partners in learning (Lombardi, 2008).  In this environment, students take an active part in defining their learning goals. and making choices about how to demonstrate new skills as they acquire them (Wade, Rasmussen, & Fox-Turnbull, 2013).

Change requires focus and commitment by all parties. A disconnect between the vision of the instructional designer and the reality of the instructor is one of many barriers to successful technology integration (Snoeyink & Ertmer, 2001). Organizational culture plays a large role in the success or failure of development programs (Snoeyink & Ertmer, 2001). There are three main factors of organizational culture that directly impact role as an instructional designer:

1. Allocation and use of technological resources

2. Interaction with key technological players

3. Support for technological innovation (Adamy & Heinecke, 2005)

The organization provides an important context for the development of technological adoption (Adamy & Heinecke, 2005).  In a complex organization such as a university, an individual can’t implement changes to the methods and modalities of learning without the support of the institution.  As an instructional designer, my mere presence likely represents a shift in attitudes toward learning.  Not everyone will be enthusiastic about such a change. It makes sense, therefore, for me to have a keen awareness of the history, attitudes, and beliefs of the organization. 

Some still perceive technology in education as a novelty. I’ve met many people who only think of computers as vehicles for social media and games. They associate digital devices with recreation, not education. This may be because each generation reinterprets the meaning of technology.  (Wade, Rasmussen, & Fox-Turnbull, 2013).  The only interactions most 80s kids had with computers were early video games. It’s hard for this generation to grasp using digital devices to enhance learning.

This was an important thing to understand. I assumed that everyone saw the inherent value of technology for learning.  The biggest evolution in my thinking is that the concept of my role has changed. Originally, I thought I’d create solutions, maybe help pitch them and my job would be done. I see now that successful implementation requires more.

I once thought I only needed to consider the “what” and “how” of instructional design. Through my studies, I realize that the “why” is more important. I also realize that “What’s in it for me?” is the most important question to answer for all stakeholders. The perfect tool is pointless if teachers/trainers feel their current method is easier. They need to understand how they will benefit personally. In designing solutions. I understand now that I need to include features that simplify things for teachers.

Because most of my classmates in this program are in K-12 education, I’ve felt that my business background was a detriment. I understand now that my business background will be an invaluable asset as I transition into instructional design. I’m in a unique position to speak with confidence about the fiscal benefits of a well-designed training program.


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