ETAD 873 was the first course I took where I finally felt able to somewhat manage the workload and expectations as a student (even though I still struggled at times). 873 covered Instructional Design, a topic I found myself deeply engaged in and felt that it was very purposeful and practical for my life as a classroom teacher at the time. The course was structured to include discussion forums and peer groups. The major piece of the course was 4 assignments which would ultimately be combined to be our final project package.
I found it extremely valuable to go through a formal front-end analysis , forcing myself to clearly define and articulate goals and challenges of my design project. This is definitely a skill that I have taken forward with me and I now force myself to do front-end analysis-of-sorts with every large task I take on. Also, breaking down the learning outcomes formally and making concept maps and flow charts were valuable to show how learning will progress and identify need prerequisites and assessment opportunities. Specifying learning outcomes and categorizing them, allows for instructional designers to avoid inappropriate and ineffective procedures and evaluations (Smith & Ragan, 2005). Thirdly, identifying the major design choices and being forced to justify them proved to be challenging, but a useful exercise and practice for my current role where I make decisions like this on a daily basis. Throughout this entire process, it’s important to by aware of cognitive load theory and consider strategies to help learners, like off-loading, segmenting, and eliminating redundancy among many others (Smith & Ragan, 2005). Lastly, the need for evaluation emerged. Without having an evaluation, including usability testing and the like there is a missed opportunity to improve and make a better prototype moving forward. Smith & Ragan clearly articulate the need for validity (does it measure what its supposed to?), reliability (is the measurement consistent?), and practicality (is the measurement realistic to implement?) when considering evaluations of learning (2005).
For my major task, I again went for something practical and picked something that would be directly useful to my classroom teaching. I wanted to create blended learning resources that would be used by Math 7 students, and their parents in an effort to free up more class time for small group instruction and one-on-one instructor time. Although I was very pleased with my design plan, I wasn’t as pleased with the final results of the website I developed the prototype that was built never made it in front of my students. If I had more time or resources to dedicate to the topics, I certainly would have rectified this and made the modifications to get it to that level.
My biggest take away from this course was mostly a way of thinking, a way of approaching problems. Before jumping right into problems, I now know how valuable it is to take the time to define and articulate all aspects of the problems and use those learnings to inform design decisions. This is the course that took me beyond the flashy quick solutions and looking into deeper, more time consuming, solutions with very focused and purposeful intentions.
Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional design. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons.