Exploring Design

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What is Your Process? 

“First Processed HDR Image Using Rokinon 14mm 2.8 Wide Angle Lens” by Captain Kimo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

We are asked to discuss instructional design, and design processes as they relate to our own sphere. Rothwell’s (2015) definition resonates with me because I find it is precisely how I approach the work:

…analyzing human performance problems systematically, identifying the root causes of those problems, considering various solutions to address the root causes, leveraging organizational and individual strengths, and implementing the interventions in ways designed to minimize the unintended consequences of actions. (p. 3)

Currently, my job often requires me to re-design curriculum or design programs within existing programs (not computer programs – I am no programmer, that is for sure!) for students who have exceptionalities. Thankfully, I am given autonomy, which affords me the ability to trial ideas and change design flaws on-the-go. None of the designing I do is terribly innovative. I am typically bound by budgets, time and resources on hand. Nevertheless, I do tend to have a set of guidelines that I follow when I am working. The following is a set of questions or principles I tend to go through before I set to work on designing or re-designing:

  1. Who is the learner, and what are their specific learning parameters (i.e. gifts or deficits)?
  2. What outcomes are expected to be taught?
  3. What resources do I have available?
  4. What is the timeframe I have to put this all together?
  5. Does the learner have support, or are they expected to be autonomous?
  6. Is the learner online? If so, how comfortable is either a) the support person (i.e. the teacher, the parent or educational assistant) or b) the learner?

Once I have answered the above questions, I set out to find the best fit for all the players involved.

Instinctively, because I am a trained educator and have enough years of experience with special education, I rely heavily on learning theories such as cognitive constructivism and social constructivism to guide my practice. My resource library consists of old tried and true methods such as inquiry-based learning and a few newer, more innovative approaches such as gamification.

If I were to analyze my process, I follow very near to an ADDIE model of design, though I have never implemented this formally. I suppose I would say Bates (2015) has it right by adding ‘planning’ to the acronym, as I often spend the most time in that stage. It is yet to be seen how my approach may differ in design with technology at the core, but what is clear is that no one process of design can be exactly replicated to fit the next design (Dousay, 2017).


Bates, T. (2015). Chapter 4.3 The ADDIE Model. In Teaching in the digital age. BCcampus. http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage

Dousay. T. A. (2017). Chapter 22. Instructional Design Models. In R. West (Ed.), Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology (1st ed.). Available at https://edtechbooks.org/lidtfoundations.

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. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Design”

  1. I think I like the Dick and Carey Model a bit over the ADDIE model. Dick in Carey include the elements of ADDIE, but have but augment it with a step (a crucial step in my opinion) where you identify the audience. As you mention knowing your students, specially those with exceptionalities, is key. One design will probably not work for all students and will instead need to be customized for each student.

  2. Thanks, Patrick

    Knowing your audience is crucial, so I can see why Dick and Carey added it specifically into their model. For me, it is kind of naturally built-in at the ‘analyze’ stage of things since my work tends to be individualizing design.

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