Examining Instructional Design Models… What have I been doing!

In unit 1, we are examining various models of learning design and instructional design as they relate to digital learning environments. It has been interesting to read and reflect on how more traditional Instructional Design Models (IDMs) like ADDIE, Blooms, and UDL have been used and/or adapted for use with online learning, and also how newer models like David Merrill’s “Pebble in the pond”, or Open Learning are emerging to meet the ever growing intricacies of online learning.

Working in corporate learning, my experience has been that many workplace learning solutions are designed haphazardly, without extensive consideration given to the model or method of design. With that in mind, many of the design processes that I have been witness to most closely resemble ADDIE or Blooms Taxonomy (perhaps, because they are two of the most well-known, and therefore assumed to be superior?). In reflection, I wonder how programs could have been improved, or learner experiences and performance objectives amplified if they were developed by following an intentionally appropriate IDM.

As I continue on the readings, I am further of the opinion that no one design model is “better” than another, and that a combination of factors must be considered when choosing the model that is most appropriate for the task or problem at hand. For example, a K-12 environment following a mandated curriculum should of course consider the individual learners needs or cultural dispositions, but primarily must focus on what is to be learned and therefore is less able to be agile or flexible in the design process. Conversely, a performance based learning objective is more flexible, and can be designed with the learner at the centre (like the pebble), and then built outwards, with the ability to be more flexible and less prescriptive.

In my practice, I have typically taken a ‘learner first’ approach to designing learning – Who are they, what do they need to know, why do they need to know it, and what are their barriers to learning. Again, this is because I have worked almost exclusively on performance improvement, and as such the Kemp Model most closely aligns to what I have followed to date. The more I read about IDMs, the more I realize how little I know.