The Blind Expert
I was introduced to education by accident. After being continuously employed in the broadcast industry in Winnipeg, Manitoba for ten years, I moved to London, Ontario for family reasons and found myself without work. I spent a couple of months applying to every job that I felt I was qualified for, until I saw an opening as a “Broadcast Support Advisor” at Fanshawe College… a fairly ambiguous job title. After reading the job description, which included mention of mentoring student broadcasters in the field of sales and promotions, I saw that it was something that I could do and applied. Upon getting the job, I quickly learned that it was far more than mere mentorship, and that I was a teacher of sorts. After about a year, upon realizing that I wasn’t completely incompetent, my employers asked if I would like to teach a course on marketing and then it was official… I was an educator… and have been now for eight years. So, my introduction into teaching wasn’t something that I pursued and I basically fell backwards into it. Something that surprised me… I love it. Something that’s less surprising… I didn’t know what I was doing. My recent time spent pursuing a master’s program in learning and technology has solidified my understanding that while I have a skill for making my subject matter entertaining and can engage with my students on a personal level, I have much to learn about learning theory and instructional design.
I’ve built courses from scratch, created lessons, taught face-to-face and online, but have never used a design model in the creation of my courses. Any process guiding my decision making in developing courses has been influenced by practical experience, intuition, and a profound sense of responsibility to my students. My reading this week has been a real revelation. It’s so exciting to learn about the research and theory behind concepts such as the ADDIE design process, and while I’ve put my teaching on hold to pursue my own education, I’m enthusiastic to get back to it so I can apply what I’ve learned. But how might I do that? There are so many models! Dousay (2018) recommended that when deciding which model to use, it’s wise to begin with considering the delivery method (p. 7). Is the course you’re developing going to be delivered in person? Is it going to be online? Will it
be synchronous or asynchronous? Additionally, Dousay suggested considering the environment in which the course will be taught. Will it be in a classroom, or are you developing it as an instructional tool for some other group? There are many things to consider, and each situation has a suitable model.
Of everything I read this week, I was most excited about the Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction (Merrill, 2002). A lightbulb went off for me while going through the article and it occurred to me that I’ve been approaching teaching from the wrong direction. Merrill’s principles, including Activation, Demonstration, Application, and Integration were eye-opening for me and put many other learning models into perspective. While I know that I wouldn’t have been able to manage working full-time, teaching part-time, being a dad, and pursuing this program… there’s a part of me that really regrets temporarily giving up teaching. I’ll now have to wait to put these extremely valuable lessons into practice.
Dousay, T. A. (2018). Instructional design models. In R. E. West (Ed.), Foundations of learning and instructional design technology. EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/lidtfoundations
Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development 50(3), 43-59. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02505024