Unit 2 Activity 1 Blog post -Taking a look at practice

In reading the conclusion of Chapter 13 Online distance education: Towards a research agenda by Campbell & Schwier (2014) I made the following notes about how instructional design (ID) were defined: “lots of hats” and “seems lofty, almost superhuman.” Now, into unit 2 we are to consider our superpowers associated with instructional design. I’m going to argue, it’s not superpowers, it’s a lot of work and effort that to the outside may look superhuman.

Let’s talk cooking, specifically cooking over an open flame. Cooking over an open flame is inconsistent heat in comparison to your stove top at home. That’s the metaphor I would like to use to explain my graphic. You can follow your tried and true recipe but that open flame causes all sorts of unknowns.

Lachheb, A., & Boling, E. (2018) defines ID tools very broadly “tangible and theoretical/methodological tools play an important role in instructional design play an important role in instructional design.” (p.35). With such a broad definition, it is very difficult to break it down to a few tools.  Lachheb & Boling  (2018) in their study categorized ID tools into 3 areas: Computer-based, Methodological/theoretical and Analog ID tools (Table 6, p. 44). I used these categories to break down some common tools that I use and represent them on my graphic as the ingredients.  I added in Human Factor as represented by the open flame and Boiling et al. (2017) discussed the understudied aspect of designer core judgment.

“My Recipe for ID” While not a complete list of what I use, these are the most common.

Computer Based

Tech has become instrumental in the ID process.  My most frequent is LMS, specifically Moodle that provides structure. ROC (Radiographic Online Critique) is a special program designed by our in-house IT to allow students to share images in an “open withing a closed loop” way so that they can demonstrate their ability to critique the quality of an x-ray image without breaking confidentiality and privacy regulations. Video conference and PowerPoint are very key tech that I use. Because not all tech is the be all end all, folding in other tech as needed is always an important consideration lest you restrict yourself to already established tech.


Constructivism as stated by Ertmer &Newby (2017) “equates learning with creating meaning from experience” (p.55). According to them, the tasks of a designer are to instruct students to construct meaning and design authentic learning experiences that can be experienced in relevant contexts.

I do this partially via modelling/demonstration of x-ray procedures and simulation, where students work together to create an authentic scenario similar to what they will see in clinical apprenticeship.

The dash of Behaviourism comes as while a good amount of my design incorporates the elements of constructivism, modelling and simulation, there is a “dash” of behaviourism in some instances. In healthcare field, there are many times, especially if the learner is more intermediate or senior where constructivism is the better design in crafting critical thinking. When students are beginners, however, behaviourism is still a consideration, especially in our design of the clinical learning environment.

Ertmer & Newby (2013) stated that in behaviourist theory a “learner must know how to execute the proper response” (p.50). In healthcare there is often a proper or “right” response. For instance, as an automatic procedure, patient identity must be confirmed before providing care; else risk conducting the wrong intervention on the wrong patient with possible life threatening or ending consequences. It is the designer’s role in behaviourist theory to create learning environments where students can safely learn to conduct an elicit response, (like confirming patient identity) consistently and competently. As I said it’s only a “dash” as constructivism design is what I use as learners progress beyond basics.


When tech fails or doesn’t quite meet up with your vision, good old pen and paper, post-it notes are just the thing.

Human Factor

Lastly, the open flame, the most unpredictable component, the human factor. Some things associated with the human factor that I consider important are to know your audience, incorporate empathy and your personal values to design considerations. Boling et al (2017) demonstrated that the role of designer judgement in ID is rarely researched but showed that designers do appear to bring core judgements to view of designing and these should not be discounted.

How to use all these tools together with the human factor is like cooking over an open flame.  It’s not always going to turn out the same way every time and adjustments may need to be made on a regular basis.


Boling, E., Alangari, H., Hajdu, I. M., Guo, M., Gyabak, K., Khlaif, Z., … & Bae, H. (2017). Core judgments of instructional designers in practicePerformance Improvement Quarterly30(3), 199-219.

Campbell, K., & Schwier, R. A. (2014). Chapter 13: Major movements in instructional design. In Zawacki-Richter, O. & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a research agenda. Athabasca, AB: AU Press.

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

Lachheb, A., & Boling, E. (2018). Design tools in practice: instructional designers report which tools they use and whyJournal of Computing in Higher Education30(1), 34-54.

One thought on “Unit 2 Activity 1 Blog post -Taking a look at practice

  1. Shelley,

    Thank you for mentioning the “human factor”. As education professionals who are often forces to dabble in design, it is easy to get caught up in technology, methodologies, etc., and sometimes undermine leadership as a means to facilitate motivation and success in students. In my experience thus far as an educator and designer, core judgments are commonplace in learning design, instinct and common sense being two common attributes that certainly do impact design decisions, for good or bad. In my opinion, consideration of one’s core values should always be considered in the design process, for this is one way to control design biases and perhaps a way to promote innovation or new ways to approach design.

    Thank you for the reminder to keep it human!

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