Posts Tagged With: learning

Instructional design, learning theories, and instruction…oh my!

Thinking - Please wait

(M., 2008)

This week we were required to read three articles. An article provided by our professor, one of our own choosing and one that a peer chose. All of the articles pertained to instructional design, a learning theory, and instruction, whether it was online or blended.

What resonated the most for me from the Savery and Duffy (2001) article, which focused on problem based learning and constructivism, were the concepts of how learning is socially constructed and how important it is that students take ownership of their learning. In their article, they discuss how facts are not facts because of some universal truth but are facts because there is overwhelming agreement about that information (Savery & Duffy, 2001). Until I read this explicitly stated in black and white, I had not fully considered, or understood, how social constructivism truly functions as well as the weight that shared knowledge holds. Knowledge and understanding is based on a give and take and it does require more than one person for this to occur. I see it and experience it daily in my job. In addition, they stress the importance of giving the student ownership of the problem, the solutions, and the entire learning process (Savery & Duffy, 2001). I really like this concept but I think that I need to learn more about the delivery and implementation of it. How do you design learning so that this is possible and that it occurs?

The article by Artemchik (2016) was right up my alley. It focused on a librarian who developed online information literacy tutorials to use in a business course. As I am a business librarian who is interested in learning more about creating online tutorials, I was ecstatic to happen upon this gem. While this article did not explicitly state any theories, it most closely aligned with ADDIE for instructional design and cognitive constructivism for the learning theory. Her tutorials allowed the students to be self-directed learners but still required them to be active participants to construct their knowledge. What stood out the most for me with this article were the authors best practices, i.e., her lessons learned. Artemchik (2016) recommends working closely with the course faculty member to ensure that the tutorials are relevant and relate to course content, that the tutorials are embedded at a point of need for the students so they will use them, that the tutorials contain learning outcomes that are targeted to students so that they can relate to them and will clearly understand the purpose of the activity, and ensure that the tutorials are easy to navigate and use. I would like to learn more about writing learning outcomes that students can easily relate to and internalize.

The article by Loftus, Stavraky & Urquhart (2014) focused on designing multimedia instruction for a nursing course. The authors relied on Merrill’s five principles of instruction and Mayer’s principles for multimedia instruction (Loftus et al., 2014). In this article I was happy that they shared both Merrill’s and Mayer’ principles. I especially like Merrill’s (2002) principles which state that learning should be problem-centered, activate prior knowledge, use demonstration, allow application, and promote reflection and exploration. I plan on reviewing this article throughout this semester as the information will be helpful and relevant for my course design. The main takeaways I have from this article are that multimedia learning needs to incorporate multiple modalities, such as text, images and sound, and that the design of the instruction should help not hinder the learner. For this to occur, extraneous information should be excluded, outlines and headings should be used, placement of images and text should be considered, information should be presented in multiple formats, and the delivery of the content should not overwhelm the student, i.e. cognitive load theory (Mayer, 2014). I have read about this information before in previous classes; however, reading about it again with a different mindset of applying this knowledge brings about new insights and reflections for me about how to design instruction to incorporate these concepts.

All of the articles will impact my design. For my course, I want to create an online information literacy course that focuses on business library resources. To deliver the information, I want to create a series of online tutorials. I want the course and its content to be engaging, interactive, hands-on, easy to navigate and that teaches the students concepts that they will be able to use throughout their entire undergraduate career. It all sounds a bit overwhelming to me at this point, but I know that all I need to do is complete each assignment to the best of my ability. I am excited to embark on this journey.


Artemchik, T. (2016). Using the instructional design process in tutorial development. Reference Services Review, 44, 309-323. doi:10.1108/RSR-12-2015-0050

Loftus, J., Stavraky, T., & Urquhart, B. L. (2014). Design it yourself (DIY): In-house instructional design for online pharmacology. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 19, 645-659. doi:10.1007/s10459-013-9492-2

M., W. (2008). Thinking [Digital image]. Retrieved from

Mayer, R. (2014, July 8). Principles for multimedia learning with Richard E. Mayer. Retrieved from

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50, 43-59.

Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (2001). Problem based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. (Center for Research on Learning and Technology Technical Report 16-01). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University.

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Designing instruction

Prompt: What does it mean to design instruction? What skills do you think you need to have in order to do it professionally?

According to Fink, when designing instruction an instructor should do the following:

1. Identify important situational factors and then use this information to make three sets of decisions;

  • What do I want students to learn? (Learning Goals)
  • How will students and the teacher know if we are accomplishing these goals? (Feedback and Assessment)
  • What will the teacher and students do to achieve the learning goals? (Teaching/Learning Activities)

2. Make sure that the key components are integrated. (2015, “A Model,” para. 1)

According to Piskurich (2006), designing instruction involves “a system . . . that helps you ask the right questions, make the right decisions, and produce a product that is as useful and useable as your situation requires and allows” (p. 1).  My takeaway from those two quotes is that designing instruction should always include analysis. In fact, before any type of instruction (and by this I mean a deliverable tool) is designed/developed, analysis should be the very first step that is taken.

What exactly do I mean when I say analysis? Well, I am talking about all types of analysis – learner, task, delivery, and assessment (Piskurich, 2006). The instructor needs to determine who the learners are, what their learning needs are, how they like to learn, in what type of situation/environment will the learning happen, what form will the lesson/training take, and how will the learning, or lack thereof, be determined. The answers to those types of questions and more will determine the instruction. If the instructional designer does not know her audience, her client, or the actual learning needs, the instruction is doomed to fail before anything is actually designed/developed (Piskurich, 2006).

In order to design instruction effectively, I think that a sound understanding of learning theories (Clark, 1994; Leidner & Jarvenpaa,1995) as well as knowledge of the ADDIE framework are necessary (Piskurich, 2006). I also think that knowledge of existing technologies as well as a willingness to investigate new technologies is helpful. I am not saying that technology should be used just to say it was; however, if a thorough investigation and analysis of learner needs shows that using technology would benefit the situation, then the ID should be familiar with the tools.

From a personal perspective, I think that patience is definitely a necessary skill. Designing instruction requires patience to deal with the various difficulties that arise during all phases of the design process. It also requires patience to manage and work with other people. Finally, time management is a needed skill. Although designing instruction is not done in isolation, there are times that the ID is the sole person in charge of the project. When that happens, it requires the ability not only to manage your time but also to manage yourself.

I hope that as I continue learning about instructional design that both my knowledge and my skills will keep expanding. I want to learn as much as I can and look forward to being able to continue my journey. If there is one thing that I have learned up to this point in my life, it is that learning never ends.


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

Fink, L. D. (2015). Designing instruction for significant learning. National Education Association. Retrieved from

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.

Piskurich, G. M. (2006). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

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Onward through multimedia, instructional design, & learning theories

Prompt: What have you learned in the course about designing instruction from a multimedia perspective? How would designing instruction be different from a constructivist perspective, based on what you read? Would it?

I would like to start off this post by expressing my gratitude that to assist with learning the software in this course we had access to trainings. I truly believe if I had not been able to watch the tutorials and follow along with the practice examples that I would have been unable to complete this course. Thank you to for making the training videos and thank you to UNT College of Information for providing us access to them.

That segue does dovetail nicely into the first question of the prompt: what have I learned about designing instruction with multimedia? Essentially, I learned that designing effective multimedia instruction is difficult and time consuming but rewarding when viewed from the perspective of the learner. As an example, look at me, Adobe software and this course. I was able to use multimedia in the form of video for the tutorials, text for the readings, and audio and text with the synchronous chats, to discover new content and amass new learning experiences. That does not mean that my journey was smooth sailing. No, in fact effective multimedia instruction causes learners, including me, to undergo mental dissonance as new experiences and new knowledge conflict with existing schemas (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996); however, by continuing to incorporate the various forms of multimedia into my learning quest, I was able to resolve my conflict by actively applying what I was learning to construct content of my own.

I also learned that effective instruction uses combinations of text, audio, video, and images but does not overwhelm the learner with all four of them at one time (Lang, 1995). One concept that was mentioned throughout much of the literature were discussions on cognitive overload (Barron, 2004; Braden, 2004; Daniels, 1996; Hartley, 2004; Koumi, 2003; Lang, 1995; Seels, Fullerton, Berry, & Horn, 2004) and how it is import to consider the impact the multimedia instruction will have on the learner. Will it impede the learning process because it is overwhelming the learner’s working memory which then means they won’t be able to effectively process the information? Either because the media are competing against each other for dominance or because the media does not fit the content. Or do the multimedia work in harmony together to aid the learning process? By engaging the learner’s attention and by appealing to both the audio and visual channels of the brain using complementary content so that the learner can successfully absorb the information and relate it to prior knowledge, which allows them to build new schemas (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Lang, 1995).

Regarding designing multimedia instruction from a constructivist perspective, I must admit that I am still confused about the learning theories, instructional design and which one works best. I think part of my confusion stems from all of the conflicting opinions in the articles throughout the Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, including the 2nd edition and the first. Honestly, I do not think that there is one “right” theory. I do think that how you design multimedia instruction depends on the learning theory that you employ. If we take the constructivist approach, the multimedia instruction would depend on the learning objectives, or learning issues, that the students themselves decide upon (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). The students would determine the course of action as well as the educational technologies they would use and the instructional designer would be the guide/facilitator. Perhaps I am looking at this all wrong but that is my understanding of the matter.

From the learner perspective of my project, it is not constructivist as I had set learning goals and objectives the learner had to meet and to meet those goals and objectives they had to follow instructions in a specific order, which is a behaviorist approach. From my view of the project as both the instructional designer and learner, while I did have to meet set goals and objectives each week, I had freedom in how I wanted to meet those goals. I chose my own topic and chose how I wanted to represent the topic using the required media. In my opinion, my learning journey in this course was a combination of cognitive constructivism, which I think closely aligns with cognitivism, and sociocultural constructivism (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Ertmer & Newby, 1993). I think most learning situations follow suit in that they adopt a combination of learning theories and multimedia.

Overall, it has been an interesting experience. I am happy, proud, and relieved that I have made it through. I look forward to continuing my journey of instructional design and seeing what lies ahead.


Barron, A. E. (2004). Auditory instruction. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 949–978). Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Braden, R. A. (2004). Visual literacy. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Daniels, H. L. (1996). Interaction of cognitive style and learner control of presentation mode in a hypermedia environment. Retrieved from

Duffy, T., & Cunningham D. (1996). Constructivism: Implications for the design and delivery of
instruction. In D. H. Jonassen, (Ed.), Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology (170-198). New York: Simon and Schuster.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-71. doi:10.1111/j.1937-8327.1993.tb00605.x

Hartley, J. (2004).  Designing instructional and informational text.  In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research in educational communications and technology (2nd ed.(pp. 917-947)Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Koumi, J. (2003). Synergy between audio commentary and visuals in multimedia packages. Journal of Educational Media, 28, 19-34. doi:10.1080/1358165032000156419

Lang, A. (1995). Defining audio/video redundancy from a limited-capacity information processing perspective. Communication Research, 22, 86-115.

Seels, B., Fullerton, K., Berry, L., & Horn, L. J. (2004). Research on learning from television. In. D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.) (pp. 949-978). Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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Can you visualize this?

Prompt: Write a blog entry reflecting on what you have come to understand about the design of instruction that primarily or exclusively employs a single media such as graphics to teach. What did you learn about designing instruction from a single media perspective? What are its limitations? How is it beneficial? How can/will you use it for teaching and learning in the future?

What are the limits to the use of media in general for learning and teaching? If Clark is correct, why do we bother? How did this perspective change the way you think about learning and teaching?

Yesterday, I got my new iPhone 6 in the mail. As always, when I first turn on the phone, I stop and think about how beautifully designed the product is. I’m not just talking about the outside. I am talking about the entire package. The icons that appear on the cell top are simple, effective, and aesthetically pleasing. Looking at the icons on my iPhone, they quickly and clearly convey what the purpose of an app is. With a single glance at my phone, I can easily understand what each of my apps do. Yet, it wasn’t until our assignment this week that the true value of clearly designed images resonated with me. I never fully realized how difficult it can be to convey information until I was limited to the use of a single media, images. I had to reconstruct my text instructions from last week and transform them into image only instructions.

In Braden’s (2004) article, he discusses how relying solely on visual cues can be misleading and cause for misinterpretation. What I discovered during this project is that my version of an image doesn’t necessarily match other people’s schemas. My topic is how to check out a book from an academic library. Originally to represent the instructor assigned book cover and title, I had designed a copy of the actual book cover to convey that message; however, what I found when testing the images on people is that the image was confusing and caused the learning path to stop. They got hung up on trying to determine what the point of the image was and what it was supposed to mean. After talking with them about their confusion, I ended up redesigning that step in my instruction set. When I retested my audience, they all agreed that the new image made more sense and was easier to follow. What I learned from this is that it’s not enough to simply design images, the instructional designer needs to put some thought in the best images to use to replace the text and also to test them out on other people.

Benefits of good visual images are that they can help support learning. Research has shown that by combining text with corroborating visual images, i.e., images that match the purpose of the text, it helps learners retain and recall information (Braden, 2004; Kozma, 1991). Images can help explain complex topics by providing the learner with another way to process the information. For example, think about installation instructions. Invariably, the process is complicated with multiple steps. Good installation instructions contain images to visualize the installation process. I know that I always rely on the images to help me put my electronics and furniture together. Designing instructions with only images as cues is extremely difficult and not something I think I would continue to do in the future. For the future, I will use a combination of text with supporting images.

In Clark’s (1994) article, he states that “instructional methods are the underlying common element of all substitutable media and attributes of media” (p. 7). His issue with instructional designers is that they are more focused on the media that they are using than the learning theories that form the foundation for educational technology. He believes that regardless of the media used that it should always be tied to a learning theory and that the underlying learning theory is what produces the learning, not the media itself (Clark, 1994). I agree with Clark to a point. I agree that when designing instruction that before you decide on a medium, or media, a solid instructional approach must be chosen. Only after one has determined the learning outcomes and objectives should the media be picked. The point of using media should be to facilitate the learning and not make the media fit the instructional approach.

I disagree with Clark in that I really do feel that certain types of media increase learning (1994). For example, when I was learning computer science in high school, we had a lesson in writing our own code to create a graphic of our choice. Now, I could have read about the process and looked at pictures, but that wouldn’t have been as effective as actually using a computer to write my own code and seeing what the code did while I was writing it. In this case, the media, the computer program actually helped me to learn more. I feel that the combination of an effective instructional method with the use of appropriate media actually makes for a stronger learning connection, which is the ultimate goal of instructional design.


Braden, R. A. (2004). Visual literacy. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on
educational communications and technology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N. J.: Erlbaum.

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media and method. Educational Technology Research & Development,
42(3), 7-10.

Kozma, R. B. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 179-211.

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Color theory and visual design: an inseparable pair

Prompt: Write a blog entry reflecting on the use of color theory and visual design in instruction. How do you think they interact with each other to aid with teaching and learning? How is the use of visual design and color theory helpful? How can it detract from the learning process? How can you use it in development of media for teaching in learning? Do you think it transcends media formats?

Color theory is an attempt to classify colors in a way that effectively organizes color for meaningful visual applications (Cousins, 2012). Design theory is an attempt to identify essential perceptual experiences for maximum impact communicating a message, concept or idea (Lovett, 1999; Williams, 2008). Since color is one element of design theory, understanding both design and color theory should provide a synergistically positive impact on the overall instructional design process.

Memory falls into four categories: sensory, short-term, working, and long-term (Goldstein, 2011). Color theory and design theory both work together to draw the learner’s attention, which involves sensory memory. Once the learner’s attention has been successfully engaged then color and visual design work together to enable the learner to transfer the information from the short-term memory to long-term memory; thus, completing the learning process (Goldstein, 2011).

Proper use of color and design theory will help reduce the learner’s effort to organize the presented material, thus increasing the learner’s attention and short-term memory on the content of the information. Visually organizing the information will help draw the learner’s attention to the important concepts and help them make sense of what they are viewing (Williams, 2008). In Williams’s book, she discusses the design elements of Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity, or CRAP (2008). Effective instructional design should incorporate all of these elements. In fact, each of these elements cannot exist without the other when designing useful instructional content.

Failure to understand design and color theory could result in a chaotic, or worse, failed learning experience. If the instructional content lacks organization, unity, purpose, and/or balance, i.e., an obvious and sound visual relationship, the learner may not be able to successfully understand and process the knowledge (Cousins, 2012; Lovett, 1999; Williams, 2008). If the content is visually unappealing, hard to read, or difficult to decipher, the learner may ignore the instructional material in favor of other less educational and untrustworthy materials that do catch their attention. Effective instructional design materials are aesthetically pleasing yet also effectively and clearly convey information using the design principles of contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity (Williams, 2008). Like items are grouped together, important details stand out, and the overall product has a cohesive design and feel.

Design and color theory are essentially ideas used to understand perception among human beings. As a result, both theories are applicable to any media format. Perception begins to direct our comprehension and learning with the automatic memory processes of our brains, such as sensory memories, and may continue to influence our entire learning process. Maximizing the benefits of learning and color theory may help reduce the comprehension and cognitive challenges of a learning task, thus increasing the possibility of a successful learning experience.


Cousins, C. (2012, February 28). Principles of color and the color wheel. Retrieved from

Goldstein, E. B. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Lovett, J. (1999). Elements and principles of design. Retrieved from

Williams, R. (2008). The non-designer’s design book: Design and typographic principles for the visual novice (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

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Media in teaching and learning

  1. What do you think you already know about the use of media for learning and teaching?
  2. Discuss some examples of instances in which you have used media to teach or learn personally and how effective you found it to be.

Seels and Richey define instructional technology as “. . . the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning” (as cited in Braden, 1995, p. 81). That would not be how I would have started my definition or explanation of what using media for teaching and learning, i.e. instructional technology, is. In my mind, instructional technology encompasses using media for teaching and learning, which is why I began this post with the definition. How I would define it is the following: any tool or technology that can be successfully used with learning or training, specifically what we think of as Web 2.0 tools. I say successfully because the point of teaching and learning is to impart and encode new knowledge. If learning is to occur, the knowledge must be successfully taught, understood, and internalized.

Based on the definition above, I think that my knowledge is scarce and scanty and is probably just enough to get me into trouble. By this, I mean that I know about educational and instructional technology tools because I use them in my daily job, and I know that it is important to use a variety of media when teaching/training so that the lesson resonates with all of the students as opposed to a few who appreciate that type of media. However, I do not know enough about the methodologies or rationales behind which tool to use when and why. I hope that through this class and the others in this program I will gain insight into how to structure and design lessons so that they have the maximum impact on the learners.

Some examples of media I have used in the recent past, and still use, are Prezi, Poll Everywhere, and PowToon. In the past, when giving presentations, I have used Prezi, which is a zooming presentation software. Its interactive interface lets you zoom in to focus on key points and zoom out to see the overall theme of the presentation. I found it to be effective at catching people’s attention but I’m not sure if it made a greater impact at retaining the material versus PowerPoint. At the time I used it, I found it to have some limiting features. At times the animations didn’t work properly, which defeats the purpose of having an interactive presentation. Also, it didn’t play nice when embedding other technology tools, such as polling software, which is why I stopped using it. As an aside, some people say all the movement makes them nauseous.

A tool that I use on a regular basis is Poll Everywhere. This is a free interactive polling software that can be embedded in PowerPoint, but not Prezi, or can be used online through the Web. What I like and feel is most effective about this tool is that is catches students’ attentions, since it allows them to use their cell phones to respond to questions. They can respond via text, web, and even Twitter. They like that they can respond anonymously during the session and that they can watch the results in real-time. In my presentations, I’ve found that the participation level for polls are higher than the typical “raise your hand” responses.

Over the summer, I created a presentation using PowToon. This tool uses cartoons and graphics to tell a story. At the time I created the PowToon, it didn’t show on mobile devices, which is a huge drawback; however, they recently updated it so that PowToons now play on those devices. You can export them to YouTube as well. As I haven’t started my workshops yet with students, I don’t have feedback about its effectiveness. The students I tested it on though all provided positive feedback and thought it was “cool.” So I do feel that it will catch user’s attention as it is fun as well as being a very different mode of displaying information.

All in all, I am familiar with using media for learning and teaching but not as familiar with the theories behind the media. I have used various types of 2.0 technologies in my presentations as well as standard technologies. I am excited to learn more media and how to effectively use it over the course of this semester.

Braden, R.A. (Ed.). (1995). [Review of the book Instructional technology: The definition and domains of the field]. Educational Technology Research and Development, 43, 81-83. Available from JSTOR:

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