Principles are important to the continued and successful design process and improve the overall experience of the user (Design Principles FTW, 2020). The following are universal principles that reflect best practices for learning, technology, and design. The following eight design principles are most pertinent to design for public, distributed learning school. The alliteration of the eight simple words also intentional to improve retention and recall.
1) Sound: Sound design is “free from flaw, defect, or decay” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). While it is impractical to believe that a design can be perfect, the aim for perfection is valuable. This aim is best met when the design meets the intended purpose in an authentic way. In this sense, it follows the same principle to promote instruction (Merill, 2002).
2) Safe: Safe design means users do not need to worry about making the technology inoperable (Badashov, 2017). The design can also be safe in that it does not isolate or offend users. Safety is a particularly important measure in K to 12 education where users are minors and more vulnerable. Safety is also relevant to cognitive theories that state that activation of the flight or flight response decreases our mental capacity.
3) Simple: Bandashov also recognizes the important of simplicity in design. His example from the UK government states how “[t]he people who most need our services are often the people who find them hardest to use” (2017). If the design is not simple, users will quickly dismiss the design.
4) Smart: The main goal of instruction design is to improve “the efficiency and effectivess” of the learning process (Rothwell et al., 2015, p. 5). Therefore, a smart design is intuitive to improve its ease of use and avoid deterring a user’s progress or increase their frustration.
5) Supported: In instructional design, the design needs to be supported within the whole organization, by administrators and educators at a minimum. Technology also requires supports to maintain the system and proceed with subsequent versions, correct fixes, and support users. This could be in the form of a help desk or adequate training. This value of a community of learners and leaders within a network of learning is supported by the connectivist model (Dron, 2014).
6) Soft: A soft design can adapt and react to user feedback or changing needs. Greater malleability offers greater options for innovation and change (Dron, 2014). A design that is adaptable will have more staying power. Similarly, technology is a fast-paced industry and adaptability is essential to staying relevant.
7) Space: White space, the unused portion of a document (Merriam-Webster), is necessary in visual design as it allows for rest and processing time. This is equally important in instructional design. Processing time for the user improves cognition and retrieval. A busy design is distracting to the user and can also reduce our other design principles such as “Simple” or “Sound”.
8) Shared: Shared design is accessible for all users. This includes those with learning or financial challenges. Just as technical designs should meet the current W3C world accessibility protocols, instructional designs must meet varying learner needs. A design can also be shared among relevant groups through open licensing to spur considerate debate (Baker III, 2020) and continued growth and problem solving. By participating in open sourced/common resources design can also practice and model the value of open (Morgan, 2019).
Badashov, A. (2017, February 8). Design Principles Behind Great Products. https://medium.muz.li/design-principles-behind-great-products-6ef13cd74ccf
Baker III, F. W., & Moukhliss, S. (2020). Concretising design thinking: A content analysis of systematic and extended literature reviews on design thinking and human‐centered design. Review of Education, 8(1), 305-333.
Cambron, T., (2016, May 24) Designing better experiences for people facing anxiety. Model View Culture (37). https://modelviewculture.com/pieces/designing-better-experiences-for-people-facing-anxiety.
Design Principles FTW. (2020). What are Design Principles Anyway? https://www.designprinciplesftw.com/what-are-design-principles
Dron, J. (2014). Chapter 9: Innovation and change: changing how we change. In Zawacki-Richter, O. & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a research agenda. (pp. 237-265). Athabasca, AB: AU Press.
Merriam-Webster (n.d). Merriam-Webster Dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com
Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.
Morgan, T. (2019). Instructional designers and open education practices: Negotiating the gap between intentional and operational agency. Open Praxis, 11(4), 369-380.
Rothwell, W. J., Benscoter, B., King, M., & King, S. B. (2015). Chapter one – An overview of Instructional Design. In Mastering the Instructional Design Process: A Systematic Approach. (pp. 1-16). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
W3C. Accessibility Principles. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aVlQupEr92bP_mYc9Oy1q1TYGWlsaG76NrXhXBS-5gI/edit#
**Edited, January 18th to add LRNT 524 category.