Merrill’s (2002) seminal paper asserted that there are profoundly similar core principles of learning shared between various instructional design theories; and cross-compared distinct models, which identified standard ideologies. While this paper was written nearly twenty years ago, the identified fundamental principles are still widely used as an effective tool for analyzing the pedagogical quality of course design. Several scholars have supported the effectiveness of these identified principles since publication, including Gardner’s (2011) study on the impact on student performance when these standards were put into practice. These principles synthesized by Merrill (2002) resulted in a pragmatic framework that has provided a standard blueprint for instructional designers to use; nevertheless, what about the consideration for the modernized shift from instructional design to learning design? Muddy is the waters surrounding the distinction of these terms. There has been a shift in design approach over the past decade with rapid advances in educational technologies, and open pedagogies. The focus is much more learner-centered, with significant consideration of the needs of learners, and the design of the learning activities (Beetham & Sharpe, 2013; Conole, 2014). As I begin to carve out my designer identity, (current title ‘teaching and learning with technology strategist’), I acknowledge that my role is underpinned seemingly by both models, and I am toggling between them throughout my practice; Merrill’s (2002) principles can provide a foundation on which to build in these modernized approaches. Are new considerations required which demand a re-thinking of pedagogical approaches? Otherwise, are we just wrapped up in job title semantics?
Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2013). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Designing for 21st century learning (2nd ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/lib/royalroads-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1172901.
Conole, G. (2014). The 7Cs of learning design: A new approach to rethinking design practice. Paper presented at the 9th International Conference on Networked Learning 2014, University of Leicester, pp. 502-509. Paper retrieved from http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2014/abstracts/pdf/conole.pdf
Gardner, J. (2011). Testing the efficacy of Merrill’s first principles of instruction in improving student performance in introductory biology courses. (Doctoral dissertation, Utah State University, United States of America). Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/etd/885/
Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.
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