ID pep talk

Last from the MOOC.
Monday, June 11, 2012 11:05:22 AM EDT

Just a couple weeks late (if you were in Venice, what would you have been doing??).

As an instructional designer, rather than a subject-matter specialist (although if you want to know anything about where Jane Austen meets speech act theory, I’m your girl), I’ve been particularly interested in the medium’s interaction with the message over the last few weeks. Some ideas have crystalised for me…

I was reflecting earlier on the style-before-substance trap that is easy to fall into when confronted with new technologies (or any form of new instructional methods) and it seems to correspond more closely to the question of the ‘new’ role of the instructor than I anticipated in my second blog. Here’s what I think:

The mode of instruction has, in he past, been predetermined by available resources and tradition (more or less, and with notable exceptions). By this token it was distinct from the subject matter (again, with exceptions). With a huge number of new possibilities for innovation in instruction, however, there is the potential to reunite the mode with the subject. Likewise, as Jill Golden pointed out commenting on my previous post, the role of the instructor itself should be focussed on filtering already available information and guiding (or whatever term you want to use) students through concepts–and so new tools have the potential to bring the instructor closer to their subject as well (e.g. flipped classroom).

For instructional designers, however, this creates some new challenges. It’s no longer enough to look at the design process as a simple inputs-outputs exercise (you give me your content and I’ll put it into Captivate for you). We need to work much more closely with instructors from the inception of the course (or whatever it is) right through delivery. We need a firm grasp of pedagogy, and well as an in-depth understanding of the available tools and how they work. Just as importantly, we need to communicate the ethos of what we’re trying to do, whether it’s from a purely pedagogical perspective or specific institutional aims such as increasing accessibility.

So I’d better go do some of that now!

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