Unit 1: Examining Current and Emerging Models of Design – Activity Two – Exploring Design Models

The message is clear, there should be fuzzy, permeable, and changeable borders between isolated organizational spaces, where innovation can emerge and seep through the organization, without the bottlenecks and filtering of artificially imposed hierarchical layers. Dron, J.(2014)

At the beginning of my teaching career, I found myself teaching 8 to 10 classes a day in a country I knew very little about, and with very little experience. Out of fear and having only one other teacher at my school who was also in their early 20’s and was also very inexperienced, we relied on the teachers’ guides and lesson plans. After sometimes teaching the exact same lesson in the exact same way, it became clear that every class was different and that no matter how much you prepared or lesson planned, there was no guarantee that the lesson would yield the results our class had hoped for. I realized that it was better to have a rough plan and be open to all the things that you cannot plan for. Those unexpected roadblocks are the moments when real learning begins.

After many years of planning lessons for other courses and teachers, creating curriculum for proposals for government funding and designing instruction to present to accreditation organizations like PCTIA (Private Career Training Institutions Agency), I can understand how lesson planning and instructional design are different yet they both need to allow for that fuzzy grey area where teachers or trainers can work between the lines and be granted the freedom and creativity to do what they do best. 

Right or wrong, I generally make decisions that resonate with my experiences as a teacher. I am not always sure that this is the best way but until LRNT 524, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore different models. Working for a nonprofit, although a large one, time and money always seem to be the most important factor for our organization when making decisions. If too much money is spent on the design process, there will be less money for things such as settlement and lodging. This can be frustrating for those of us on the education side of things.

Now, when I am given the opportunity to make decisions in the design process, I generally use a model I have developed over the years. If I compare it to the models I have learned in the last two weeks, it is a hybrid of microlearning and Gagnes’ 9 Events of Instruction. The process is highly segmented and quick paced. It uses everything from sensory memory, to working memory and long-term memory. At the beginning, it is important to get the learners attention. There is also a short presentation section that can take many forms followed by practice and then production. There is also time for recall of prior learning that can be at the end or the beginning to encourage retention. The lesson can also be broken down into smaller units that can be moved or elaborated on. Although far from perfect, it has served me well. I try to, as Van Aken says, make small evolutionary adjustments over time and design a small hatch in the roof that lets in light and air like a “sun roof” (2005). With students who are from all over the world and many who have literacy issues in their own languages, there must be great flexibility. There is also a high possibility of culture clash. For instance, sometimes there is pairwork or teamwork with students who come from countries that have been historically at odds. All of these factors combined with continual enrollment and daily intake creates a dynamic and unpredictable learning environment. 

This week learning so many new models has been invaluable for me to understand how I make decisions and reflect on the many parts and pieces that can be refined and improved upon. Could this be a new beginning? Will I have a new awareness of what I do and have done over the last 20 years? How can I apply it to my practice? Can instructional design help my colleagues and I navigate this new hybrid learning shift at ISS of BC? What have been your experiences? Please let me know in the comments section below.




Brown, A. H., & Green, T. D. (2018). Beyond teaching instructional design models: exploring the design process to advance professional development and expertise. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 30(1), 176-186.

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. Athabasca, AB: AU Press.


4 thoughts on “Unit 1: Examining Current and Emerging Models of Design – Activity Two – Exploring Design Models

  1. I love this Sam! I agree that each class is different. It’s like it has its own personality that is made up of the combination of the learners (with their own motivations and backgrounds), as well as the instructor (with their own motivations and background as well).

    That’s the thing that e-learning misses, I think. It’s like having that instructor with the exact same motivation and background every time and learners have to fit themselves to the course, rather than having a relationship between the parties that invites learners in to learn. Like you, I have also developed a similar type of system as Gagné’s and wrote about that in my blog as well. I go through the material before and after each class to see what could be tweaked to be better. It’s really nice to see that there are others who feel the same!

    From the point of view of where we stand at this point in 524, what have you applied already in your work? What do you want to try next?

    1. Thank you so much for your insights, Corry. From this point of view of where we stand in 524, I am applying much from the readings and the ideas of our classmates in my daily work, but if I had to choose one thing, it would be the confidence this course is giving me to be braver in my choices and have the lexis to express what I do and share it with others in my organization. I had not realized that I was at such a disadvantage until now. I do have experience, but I do not have the educational background in teaching as many of my colleagues do. I know that I am a good teacher but I always question the decisions I make when creating and designing and wonder if I am doing it ” correctly”.

  2. Hi, Sam,

    We love how you started with a story about your early years as an educator and your realization that it was “better to have a rough plan and be open to all the things that you cannot plan for. Those unexpected roadblocks are the moments when the real learning begins.’ The openness and flexibility come with experience to handle the unknown! Your eventual connection of your approach to some existing models is an excellent example of constructivist learning.

    You bring your experiences, learn new theory, compare and contrast and make iterative adjustments to continue your evolution as an educator. Well done!

    Lisa & Leeann

    1. Lisa & Leeann,

      Thank you for your words of encouragement. The course has been exciting and quite challenging so thank you both for your feedback. This week while exploring my notes, I reflected on how so much emphasis is put on our technological performance and individual performance within my organization and that perhaps there could be more organizational support to ensure our success as an organization during these challenging times. I love what Kathy Moore said, “Knowledge and behavior are not mutually exclusive.”


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