This Week’s Reflections on Instructional Design Articles

There is a lot of literature on various elements of instructional design, especially related to online learning. This week I reviewed three articles that each looked at instructional design from a different perspective. Regardless of how many times I design and develop training content, I always learn ways to improve the process and the product after reading what researchers have to say.

In their article, Lim, Morris, and Kupritz (2007), discuss the outcomes of a study conducted to see if learner perceptions and learning outcomes differed between blended and online courses. They found that there is a significant difference in the learner’s perception of the experience, with blended courses having higher favorability outcomes; however, there were no significant differences noted in learning outcomes. I have been promoting the idea of blended learning in the corporate environment I currently work in with little success. In some ways this article provided me with ammunition to further promote the idea by highlighting some of the pitfalls associated with 100% online learning. It also provided statistical data that shows an increase in learner satisfaction in blended courses. In other ways, this article left me feeling worried that since the ultimate goal of improving performance is not significantly impacted when training is delivered using blended methods, I will continue to have difficulty selling the idea to the decision makers in my organization. Given that this article was written a decade ago, I hope to discover that additional research has been done that shows a positive, quantifiable correlation between blended courses and job performance.

After reviewing an article by Savory and Duffy (1995), I was reminded of some basic principals of instructional design that quite frankly I don’t always follow. The principles provided in the article work well when creating content based on constructivist theories and values. One specific principle that stood out to me this time was the concept of giving the learner ownership of the process used to develop a solution.  According to the researchers, when you provide the solution, you are dictating or proceduralizing thinking. Currently, I am part of a development team tasked with teaching managers in a technical call center how to conduct root cause analysis to determine the underlying behaviors driving performance. The development team has developed a specific model and the goal is to teach managers how to use the model to accomplish the goal. After reading this article, it occurred to me that we are dictating how to conduct root cause analysis and expect all managers to mimic what is being taught in the course. Ultimately, this may negatively impact adoption and on-the-job-performance since managers motivation and sense of ownership in the process may be low. I sent my thoughts and concerns to the development team and I am looking forward to their responses. I don’t anticipate a change in direction, but I do hope that they will at least challenge their own thinking and keep this in mind for future trainings.

Student perceptions of the learning experience is another instructional design area I took at look at this week as part of my literature review. Picciano (2002), conducted a study where he attempted to understand issues that arise around presence, interaction, and performance in online learning. What he found is that the more interaction and sense of presence students perceive, the more favorable the students rate the learning experience. While there is not always a direct correlation to performance, there is evidence that students’ perceptions and students’ outcomes are linked in some ways. This  study focusses on a specific graduate course and the outcomes and details provided in this article will assist me as I look to convert a classroom-based course to a 100% online course for this class. I am going to remain very aware of how I am creating presence, belonging, and interactions within the course. I am going to be on the hunt for additional studies and resources that help me identify specific ways to accomplish this goal.

Resources

Lim, D. H., Morris, M. L., & Kupritz, V. W. (2007). Online vs. blended learning: Differences in instructional outcomes and learner satisfaction. Journal of       Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(2), 27-42.

Picciano, A. G. (2002). Beyond student perceptions: Issues of interaction, presence, and performance in an online course. Journal of Asynchronous learning networks, 6(1), 21-40.

Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (1995). Problem based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. Educational technology, 35(5), 31-38.

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