Learning Theories and the Design Process

The readings in unit 3 really intrigued me. Specifically, the article by Ertmer and Newby prompted me to recall the foundation of my introduction to instructional design and how revisiting theoretical approaches could help to underpin my design intentions moving forward. In particular, Ertmer and Newby’s concise explanation of each approach (behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism) and examples of a situational application is nicely summarized here.
…a behavioral approach can effectively facilitate mastery of the content of a profession (knowing what); cognitive strategies are useful in teaching problem-solving tactics where defined facts and rules are applied in unfamiliar situations (knowing how); and constructivist strategies are especially suited to dealing with ill-defined problems through reflection-in-action. (2013, p. 60)

The Moore article, about the Target, Accomplishment, Past, Prototype, Artifact (TAPPA) process further expanded on my experience of the Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation (ADDIE) model that I’ve used over the years. Despite its limitations, the ADDIE model has enabled me to maintain a sense of consistency and structure in my instructional design approach. I’ve always used it in a non-prescriptive, and non-linear fashion. Instead, I’ve concentrated on the importance of the analysis and evaluation phases to anchor my approach while incorporating the design, development and implementation phases as moving pieces of the overall puzzle. The TAPPA process also maintains a structured approach, but in a more modernistic, fluid,  and iterative manner. As Moore (2016) states, “The TAPPA Process is adaptive and responsive and provides the basic structure a novice instructional design practitioner or instructor needs and the complexity and flexibility an experienced practitioner seeks” (p. 431).

So, I’m curious if either of these articles resonated with any of you? Or if you had other ideas that you wanted to share and explore in this blog post? I would love to hear them!

Ertmer, P. A. & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71. doi:10.1002/piq.21143

Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing distance education content using the TAPPA process.
TechTrends, 60(5), 425-432. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/article/10.1007/s11528-016-0094-8

When are Open Educational Resources and Open Educational Practices too open?

In this unit’s readings, Bates and Merrill present rather polarizing viewpoints. For the sake of brevity, I’ll take some license in summarizing. The blog post from Bates (2019) suggests an open approach to learning where the learner and instructor roles are interchangeable. Whereas, Merrill (2002) paper focuses on a more traditional and structured approach of instructor-led design.

Interestingly for me, as an instructional designer who has worked in the field of corporate training for over a decade, it’s challenging to envision how open educational resources (OER) and open educational practises (OEP) could be incorporated. The challenge being the organization’s resistance to allowing such a level of openness in the realm staff training where certain considerations have to be evaluated. In particular the idea of compliance and regulatory practises that influence what can and cannot be ‘open’ within a corporate environment. That said, however, there are indications that my organization is moving towards a customizable, learner-centric approach to training which may act as precursor to a more open, learning platform in the future.

I was therefore intrigued when I read Bates’ (2019) blog post and how the ideas presented could be applied in a corporate environment. In particular, this statement resonated with regard to the emerging trend in new skills common to all learners, “…a learner-centered teaching approach that focuses on students accessing content on the Internet (and in real life) as part of developing knowledge, skills and competencies defined by the instructor, or learners managing their learning for themselves; however, content would not be restricted to officially designated open educational resources, but to everything on the Internet, because one of the core skills students will need is how to assess and evaluate different sources of information…” After all the students who are in K 12 and higher education now, will ultimately be the future learners in our organization. Their experience and expectations will shape how corporations educate and support employees in the future.

At the moment, I have more questions than I do answers, but I am very intrigued to explore this course to discover what opportunities are there for me as an educator as well as my organization to support our staff. Particularly as we move increasingly towards a mobile workforce, these questions and considerations become paramount in ensuring that we are successful in the larger reaching and longer-term strategic initiatives as they relate to developing and supporting our people.


Bates, A. W. (2019). Chapter 11.4 Open Pedagogy. Teaching in a Digital Age. [blog post] Retrieved from https://www.tonybates.ca/2019/09/26/chapter-11-4-open-pedagogy/

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/article/10.1007/BF02505024

Photo by Nuno Antunes on Unsplash