Monthly Archives: February 2015

Thoughts about instructional design

Prompt: What do you think about instructional design so far?

At this point in the semester, I have completed the Analysis, Design, and Development phases of the ADDIE framework for my project. So far, I am really enjoying my hands-on experience with instructional design. My client is awesome and extremely receptive. Not only is he patient with my mistakes and me because he understands that this is my first foray with instructional design but also he is willing to adapt. He considers my changes and ideas even if they are not what he first proposed. We listen and learn from each other. This really helps the instructional design process to progress smoothly and stay on track. I think that client/instructional designer relationship is the key to a good (or bad) design experience.

With this brief introduction into instructional design, I have learned so much! I have learned that analysis is without a doubt the most important step in instructional design. You must know your users and the tasks that they are expected to accomplish in order to move forward with the instructional design process (Leidner & Jarvenpaa, 1995). If a thorough understanding of users and the tasks is ignored or skipped over, the instructional design is pretty much guaranteed to fail. How is one expected to best meet a client’s needs without first learning about the client and the client’s constituents? The short answer is you cannot.

I have also learned that while media can and does influence learning (Kozma, 1994) the instructional designer  should first choose a learning theory that best matches the learning goals and objectives (Clark, 1994). In my opinion, it is backwards thinking to start with the educational technology first and design the lesson around that. Kozma’s (1994) examples clearly showed how the educational technology used furthered the learning. A great example from the reading were the videos and how they helped mitigate cognitive burden as users did not need to memorize everything and could refer back to the video when needed. In addition, they helped learners transfer knowledge. Students who watched the videos were able to apply those skills to similar learning situations (Kozma, 1994). It was also just as clear that those examples were based upon a sound learning theory. The instructors chose the learning theory first and then decided upon the technology to achieve the learning goals (Clark, 1994; Kozma, 1994).

I also am beginning to understand how instructional design functions. By this, I mean that I realize it is always an ongoing process. True instructional design never really ends. Yes, at some point, a product must be delivered to the client; however, the instructional designer still needs to monitor how the product functioned. Did it meet the client’s and the users’ needs? Did any trouble spots occur? What worked well and what did not? Then, the process begins anew. Changes are made and a new version is delivered.

I look forward to continuing my journey. I hope that the remainder of this project continues to be a joy and the second one follows the same path. I know that each project will bring its own challenges but I hope that my experiences stay positive. Learning is more productive when I am having fun.


Clark, R. E. (1994). Media and method. Educational Technology Research & Development42(3), 7-10.

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will  media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research & Development, 42(2), 7-19.

Leidner, D. E., & Jarvenpaa, S. L. (1995). The use of information technology to enhance management school education: A theoretical view. MIS Quarterly, 19, 265-291.

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Don’t assume – Listen

A word of caution to my readers: I am fighting a sinus infection as I write this post so I apologize if my thoughts are jumbled.

Part 1: What have you learned from the analysis? What are you planning to do with it? Do a little brainstorming about what activities tied to your learning objectives that you might include in the design of your lesson.

The main thing I learned from my analysis is not to make assumptions. Do not make assumptions about what you think are you client’s needs are and what the users’ needs are. As an example, my client asked me to revise a training document that he uses with all of his student assistants. When he first approached me with this idea, I thought the reason he wanted the redesign was due to a deficit in training outcomes. I thought that some part of the student training was missing and wanted to revise the document due to that. After my client interview, I discovered that the reason he wants the redesign is that the training places an unneeded burden on staff concerning the amount of time the training takes to conduct. He is happy with the training outcomes but not how the training is conducted! That is very different than what I thought was the problem.

To resolve the issue, I plan to reorganize the document based upon type of question and where it occurs in relation to the library. With the content of the training, I plan to make very few revisions. Some of the questions are outdated and no longer necessary and there are a few items that need to be added but mostly it will be about the look and design of the document. If I had skipped the analysis phase of ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation), I would have wasted both my and my client’s time and effort. This example really brought home to me the importance of taking the time to interview and determine your client’s true needs before diving into the instructional design process (Romiszowski, 1981).

Since my client’s need centers around a redesign of the original document, the learning activities will test the effectiveness of the redesign and are aligned directly with the training questions on the document. I plan to do a beta test of the new training document with a small number of staff and student assistants to 1) find out if the training outcomes are still effective and 2) observe how long the new document takes to complete. I will be watching to see if the training is conducted more efficiently without losing training outcomes. If the training takes less time and the organization makes sense to student assistants and staff and results in effectively trained student assistants, I will consider the redesign a success. 

Part 2: How are analysis and design related for you? Think about it in the context the articles and chapters we have read thus far. How closely should these two pieces of the model connect? How does the Information R/Evolution video affect each of these?

To my mind, analysis and design intertwine. Design is the overall destination and analysis is the road map that helps you get there. I really like the quote that Romiszowski (1981) used to begin his article:

‘Training’ is akin to following a tightly fenced path, in order to reach a predetermined
goal at the end of it. ‘Education’ is to wander freely in the fields to left and right of this
path – preferably with a map. (p. 3)

While I think that the words education and training are reversible in that quote depending on the goals and objective at hand, the idea stands. If the instructional designer does not know where she is going, the design will fail. Analysis is necessary in order to create a design aligned with learning goals and objectives. It does not matter whether you start with the instructional process, the content (the inputs) and or the performance (the outputs), analysis will directly affect the design in all parts of the cycle (Romiszowski, 1981).

I think that since information comes in so many forms today users, clients and instructional designers can be inundated with it. We can read, watch, talk, chat, message, draw, and more. As Wesch (2007) says in his video, we do not just find information anymore; it finds us. On the one hand, there are many tools to choose from to help instructional designers perform the analysis. On the other hand, how do we decide which tool(s) to include in the design? We do not want to overwhelm users but we also want to strike the right balance, which intrigues yet challenges them. I do not know if it will ever be possible to solve this issue but the journey is half the fun in instructional design.



Romiszowski, A. J. (1981). Designing instructional systems. New York, NY: Nichols.

Wesch, M. (2007, October 12). Information R/Evolution. YouTube. Retrieved from


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