Unit 2 – Activity 1: Taking a Look at Practice

Following are some of the tools I used in my ID design, divided into 3 categories according to the classification proposed by Lachheb & Boling (2018).

Computer-based tools

Hardware (e.g., laptops, projectors, cameras, cables): when preparing for classroom-based courses, I use these tools lecture sessions and recordings to upload online for students reviews.

Instant messaging software: it is a widely used and most effective communication tools in digital environment, making it possible for teachers and students to contact by both asynchronous and synchronous models. Software such as Microsoft teams and WeChat are most frequently used in my design, particularly the latter one, which is a smartphone-based APP that incorporates multi-functions; it also serves as a platform for information publication and transfer.

Tools for mind maps (Mindjet Mindmanager): such tools are particularly practical in my illustrating and explaining problems such as logical reasoning and essay outline. The visual expression makes some hard to understand points easy for young students to follow.

Visual editing software: the most used ones in my design are photoshop and Coral Studio, Unlike students in classrooms, those in digital environment are prone to information in multimedia forms, such as audio and visual recordings which are convenient for them to listen or watch via portable devices. Therefore, professional visual editing software becomes an imperative tool in my design of course materials.

Online classroom platforms (Class-in): besides the core function of classroom, the platform serves as a management system, which provides dataveillance of students’ behaviors and academic performance during their online learning. The data is the reference for my adjusting the content, pedagogies, making the course align with students’ preference.

Searching engines (Google scholar): one of the most used searching tool to search articles, for which I used for my preparing course contents, assignment and other learning activities.

Social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook): I rely on social media as an alternative source to collect information that can be used as supportive materials, particularly the posts in some educators’ profiles offers useful information in both academic materials and methodology.

Analog tools:

Textbooks: they serve the same role as Google scholar, both are the most authoritative information sources of my material preparation.

Stationary (e.g., whiteboards, markers, notebooks): these tools still play a key role in my drafting course contents, sometimes a pen and a notebook work more practical than a laptop.

Methodological tools:

Brainstorm: to ask for other educators’ comments is an essential part in my course design, which helps me realize the blind spots ignored in my original design. The process also provides an opportunity for me to establish a mentality of inquire, as mentioned in the critical instructional design (Morris, 2018).

Feedbacks from students during the process of a course: as mentioned in agile instructional design model, students’ feedbacks are an indicator for designers to reflect on the efficacy of the course, and therefore make improvements accordingly (Bates, 2015).

Empirical knowledge based on my personal experience: such knowledge is personalized but works more practical sometimes than others’ theories or principles – it serves the very basis for the innovation of my design, because of my in-depth understanding of the local context in which certain pedagogies and tools are used, and the real effects these tools relative to my needs.


Bates, T. (2015). Chapter 4.7 ‘Agile’ Design: flexible designs for learning. In Teaching in the digital age.

Lachheb, A., & Boling, E. (2018). Design tools in practice: instructional designers report which tools they use and why. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 30(1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-017-9165-x

Morris, M. (2018). Critical Instructional Design. In An Urgency of Teachers.

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Eric Yu is a dynamic English Second Language Instructor in the areas of distant learning. He holds a Bachelor degree from the Shanghai International Studies University and is currently studying in the MS degree from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, Canada. Since moving to Canada in 2011, he acclimated himself to the local anculture, and quickly built a cross nation online learning practice, getting involved in IELTS teaching and other online training projects between China and Canada. Eric Yu currently lives in Shanghai, China and work as the team leader of online after-school education in Global Eduation of Puxin Limited. He loves music and is fascinated to search for rare CDs and LPs of rock and jazz musicians in 1960s. Eric Yu has performed well in a diverse range of team environments, from every corner of the world. He lives in Shanghai, China but travels around the world frequently both for work and leisure.

2 thoughts on “Unit 2 – Activity 1: Taking a Look at Practice”

  1. I enjoyed your visual Eric. I’m just starting to get into the use of mind mapping as well. I noticed that you made reference to Mindjet Mindmanager. Is this the first that you have used? What do you like about it?

    1. Hi Shelly,
      I’ve been used the mindjet for years. I have to say I am addicted to it in scrutizing multiple tasks and analyzing logical structure of an essay. Its interface is very user-friendly to me; the operation dashboard is similar to Microsoft office. And students’ feedacks are very positive when I use it on class to illustrate an essay skeleton – I use it in classes and online live to support my content.

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