Category Archives: LRNT 524

It is like Magic…

A good Instructional Designer (ID) is like a magician.  He/she can take a situation and change or modify it while not having to be in the physical space or know every detail.  As I was reading Ertmer’s and Newby’s (2013) article, I realized that IDs can design courses for subject matters in which they have no experience by applied the right educational theory (p. 45).  As I discussed in a previous blog post, the title Instructional Designer was new to me when I started MALAT (Moore, 2019, para. 2).  I realize now that my initial perception was that an ID had to have experience in the field in order to create a successful design.  After reading more about the IDs’ roles and tools, I now see that by appropriately applying theories to designs it allows students to change throughout their learning, thus absorbing information and converting it to knowledge.  Just like magic.  Granted, there is more to it than magic, but a well-designed course can feel like it to the students.

As innovations come into the field, it is the responsibility of IDs and educators to balance the changes while keeping the goal of educating learners in mind (Moore, 2016, p. 425).  Since changes and innovation are constant, new ideas on how to focus on the goal will make IDs and educators stronger.

What are the best ways to guarantee students are at the centre of every design?


Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (2013 Online). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.

Moore, K. (2019), Virtual Symposium 2019 [Blog post].  Retrieved from

Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing distance education content using the TAPPA process. TechTrends, 60(5), 425–432.


When you hear the word innovation, what is the first thought that comes to your mind?  Innovation does not apply to all change.  There are times when change means an addition to software, moving a physical item, or introducing a completely new technology.  In my experience, I have found that when people hear the word change, it causes concerns about what is to come.  However, sharing the word innovation gives people hope that something better is coming.  Innovation and change can, and do, work together, as Dron stipulates, “innovation and change tend to happen at the edges between communities when people are able to shift between systems, communities, and disciplines” (Wenger as cited in Dron, 2014, p. 523).  Technology is a common area for both change and innovation as new designs come forward on a regular basis and anyone who works in education needs to aware of the effects (be they large or small) on learners (Dron, 2014, p. 260).  Reading about this topic made me wonder, who is responsible for managing the waves of innovation and change that come into the world of education?  Who is there to ensure the students have a smooth experience in amongst all the new ideas and tools?


Dron, J. (2014). Chapter 9: Innovation and Change: Changing how we Change. In Zawacki-Richter, O. & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a research agenda. Athabasca, AB: AU Press.

Risk and Learning


“Information becomes education when it is shared” (Moore, 2019).  In order for adult learners to take intellectual risks and be actively engaged in their learning, they need a learning environment that provides support and positive challenge.  As online learners studying instructional design, we followed the Stanford University’s design thinking process to identify shortcomings and propose a prototype for improving current learning management systems (LMS).


We considered our experiences as both teachers and learners in online learning environments to identify our problem statement and develop our prototype.  Our focus is to promote a safe place for intellectual risk-taking and active engagement through the lens of adult learners in formal fully-online learning environments.

Our backgrounds include formal face-to-face and online teaching, administrative support, and face-to-face and online learning.  We are currently online students in the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program at Royal Roads University.

Problem Statement

We reviewed the results of our design thinking process and discovered the following key points:

  1. Adult learners in online formal learning environments can struggle to take intellectual risks and to be actively engaged in their learning.
  2. Misdirected challenges such as technological frustrations, lack of efficient communication, and lack of connection with peers can cause strain on adult learners.
  3. Learning environments should create a balance between providing a safe environment where learners can have confidence to engage in intellectual risk taking, while minimizing the challenges that do not offer positive learning opportunities.

These elements led to the problem statement below:

Reducing the ineffective challenges of online learning promotes user-centered learning in formal online learning environments by increasing learners’ potential to not only learn program content, but also gain confidence within a digital learning environment.


According to Crichton and Carter (2017), if students receive an abundance of information, their ability to work with the content is hindered and they resort to seeking exactly what is expected of them, rather than absorbing the information (p. 25).  We are proposing a prototype that addresses ineffective challenges, such as an overload of information, and promotes user-centered learning. As a result, we propose a number of modifications to current LMSes.

Component details:

  1. The beginning of each module includes a concise, informal video from the instructor summarizing details.
  2. The anticipated time frame in which the instructor will reply to posts is clearly published (e.g., within 24-hours).
  3. An informal space is available from the first day of the program, similar to a student lounge, which offers students a casual environment to share their thoughts.  Program faculty and administrators would not have access to this space.
  4. When students post questions in the LMS, they have an option to identify their posts as low, medium, or high level of importance.
  5. Synchronous sessions would include a photo of the participant, when video is not engaged, rather than a generic image.


Recognizing that learners must move beyond their comfort zone in order to fully engage in the learning and that comfort levels vary for each learner, we are seeking feedback and feedforward from our readers regarding the following:

  1. Do you feel that our prototype helps to promote safe learning environments for learners  to take intellectual risks while minimizing elements that constrain learning?
  2. What problems do you foresee?
  3. What modifications would you propose?

“Risk is inherent in learning” (Koh, Yeo, & Hung, 2015, p. 95).  In taking our own risk as learners, we welcome your comments. We will reply to all responses received before December 4, 2019 at 11:59 pm PST.

Co-authored by K. Moore and S. Ruth


Crichton, S. & Carter, D. (2017). Taking Making into Classrooms Toolkit. Open School/ITA

Great Schools Partnership (2014). Student engagement. Retrieved from

Koh, E., Yeo, J., & Hung, D. (2015) Pushing boundaries, taking risks. Learning: Research and Practice, 1(2), 95-99, DOI: 10.1080/23735082.2015.1081318

Moore, K. (2019. October 13). The Printing Press and Education [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Stanford University Institute of Design (2019). A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking. Retrieved from:

Strohmeyer, D. (n.d.). Intellectual risk taking [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Empathic Learning Design

Instructional Design is critical to successful learning.  According to Mattelmäki, Vaajakallio, and Koskinen (2014, p. 70), for students to be open to learning, the design should be based in their existing environment (not a physical environment); meaning, in order for the instructor to have success in the classroom, the designer needs to be aware of the students’ emotions.  This connection permits the designer to create a design that will allow the learners to be open to the learning, regardless of whether the students come with an active interest in the topic.  This idea made me wonder about how instructional designers could know the emotions of students they have not met.  Mattelmäki et al. did outline four pillars for empathic learning design (2014, p. 68) which do help explain the beliefs behind the concept; however, much of each pillar is built upon learners’ real life experience and I am curious to know how that data is discovered in the design stage.  In my experience, as a student, I have found that the instructor gets to know the students as the course progresses, but that relationship builds after the course is designed.  Does this method of design reach the students by introducing a different environment in the classroom (be it seated or online)?  Is the learning design model how we move from the model of a sage on the stage to a guide from the side?


Mattelmäki, T., Vaajakallio, K., & Koskinen, I. (2014). What happened to empathic design?. Design Issues, 30(1), 67-77.

How is Learning best Accomplished?

As I read articles that discuss different learning principles, techniques, and models, I keep wondering how one makes the right choice on which to use.  Merrill (2002) discusses five principles in his article, each of which sound as though they would work just fine, but I think it is fair to say that not every principle would work for every topic, student, or environment.  Does this mean that the perfect teaching style is a mix of many principles?  If that is the case, how does one create the perfect blend?  I have limited teaching experience (which is one reason I am taking the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program), as I gain more experience I would like to assess the subject matter I teach and blend learning principles to see how well the blend works for both me as the instructor and the students.  I think the same concept applies to learning theories, the right one or ones depends on the topic.  In one of my previous blog posts, I discussed my use of constructivist learning theory (Moore, 2019).  As I revisit information regarding theories, I realized that the collaborative problem solving theory would also fit the limited teaching/coaching that I do in my current role.  The steps outlined by Nelson (Nelson as cited in Merrill, 2002, p. 54) would help learners to feel confident in the lesson presented to them as they learn in order to bring that skill to the working world.

While I have worked with Merrill’s article (2002) before, I enjoyed revisiting it and seeing how my perspective has changed.  I am looking forward to one day implementing these theories and principles in the classroom, and in curriculum design and development.



Merrill, M. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.