The Future of Instructional Design Programs

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

Facilitator: Anne Mendenhall, University of Nevada Las Vegas
Presenters: M.David Merrill, Retired Utah State University; Vanessa Dennen, Florida State University; Joel Gardner, Franklin University; Charles Morgan Reigeluth, Indiana University; Wilhelmina Savenye, Arizona State University

Opening Comments

David Merrill:  Instructional design needs to move to undergraduate. If you have a Masters, you’ll be a manager and you’ll manage people who aren’t trained in instrucitonal design – you need to create templates and tools to support the people under you.

Vanessa Dennen: Everything new is old; and everything old can be new again; a new label is added to something – we panic; but actually we have foundational knowledge that still applies to the new tools. We have a challenge with accreditors looking for those classes on social media on your transcript, and of course they aren’t there; need to show how we apply foundational knowledge. I resonate with this; where my social media and videoconferencing expertise is not represented on my academic transcript, but instead via my digital footprint.


Charles Reigeluth:  Transfer from teacher-center to learner-centered systems. The implications for instructional theory; implications for what graduates will do when they finish.

Joel Gardner:  What are instructional designers actually going to be doing when they are working; what is the context in which they will be working; working with people, managing projects, using interdisciplinary knowledge; direct people to do instructional design; being a leader or manager – those with Masters or PhDs will be leaders or managers and may need skills in that area.

Wilhelmina Savenye: Where are these degrees within our colleges; are we ed tech? we aren’t just that? how do our institutions see what we do?; tension on proving our value; graduates are going into corporate, non-profit, government; there’s a lot of opportunity to prove our worth.

Online Boom = Boom for Instructional Design?

Audience question: Will the online boom transfer into a continued boom for instructional design and instructional technology? (Noticing – it seems some in the audience are using instructional technology and instructional design interchangeably)

Merrill: Putting things online is getting easier and easier and the quality of the instruction is getting worse and worse; MOOCs the ultimate level of “shovelware” – put stuff online; study of 175 MOOCs to see if any of them have the First Five Principles of Instruction; a lot of stuff out there without quality; our contribution is not just HTML but that we have something to add in terms of instruction. We definitely need to continue to sell ourselves. Instructional design is an underappreciated academic discipline, and so is education in general. The way to sell, is to work with a few, the ones who are willing, and use those as examples to show what instructional design can bring to the quality of online courses.

Gardner: In higher ed, a greater push to show accreditation that we have outcomes connected to what we are doing, instructional designers are especially able to do this.

Reigeluth: We need more tools created that help SMEs create high quality instruction – when we have those tools, we won’t need as many instructional designers; the tools can support the design in the future

Dennen: The issue of how many instructional design programs that we need; at the moment we probably need more instructional designers than we have; to put more students through our programs – what will they do? maybe we will have more faculty development jobs – doing workshops for faculty, for example; how do we evangelize for ourselves

Instructional Design or Learning Design?

Question: What about names – change from Instructional Design to Learning, Design, and Technology; or Learning Design and Technology; the word instruction or instructional is seen as pejorative. Should we be changing names?

Dennen: If names are changed, does anything else change?

Reiguluth: Learning is what happens inside your head; instruction happens outside your head. Instruction facilitates learning.

Thinking. How does this conversation connect with the strands of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism in AECT thinking? Pegi Flynt’s dissertation.

Advice for Young Instructional Designers

Question: What ideas or rules do you have for young instructional designers?

Dennen: Know your learners, your context, your objectives. Don’t let the technology drive the instructional design process. Instead of following a shiny object; start with what I know about supporting the learning process. Media selection is an important part of instructional design models and it always has been. What is happening now is that tools come out so quickly and are so accessible to everyone so quickly.

Merrill: First Principles of Instruction – those principles are critical for whatever delivery mode you have – online, MOOC, face to face, blended, with ipads, etc. etc. Story: How to select the media. Put on a blindfold and go to your media closet and pick something. It’s not the media that matters. It’s the principles of instruction that matter.

Brain-based Learning

Question: Connections with brain-based learning?

Reigeluth: It’s important to understand learning theory and instructional theory. Brain-based learning theory isn’t as practical of what specifically to do in the instruction. Learning and instructional theory can help bridge to when to use different methods of instruction.

Leadership and Management in Instructional Design Programs

Question: Let’s connect back to leadership and management. My instructional design taught me about courses and modules; but I didn’t learn about selecting an LMS for my institution, for making decisions on personnel and resources, how to meet the requirements for programmatic and institutional accreditation. The accrediting bodies are now focusing on measurable student outcomes for the programs. The accreditors are parroting what we’ve said on instructional design, but they don’t know it as well as we do. Studies of ID programs found only 11% had leadership or management training. Are our programs able to provide this, or are we stuck too much at the course and learning outcomes level? Are we capable within our structure with meeting the higher leadership needs? or do we have to teach others what we know?

Gardner: Our program is Instructional Design and Performance Systems – this helps students to see the big picture and the bigger system. We teach them how to see the process; but not how to lead people. What are the skills for leading in a knowledge society? Critical thinking skills, leading others, etc.

Reigeluth: Our graduates go into so many different lines of work: museums, corporate, many different types of jobs. This makes it a challenge to provide what they need to be successful in their work.

Audience Comment/Question: This is an instructional design problem we are looking at. We could use an instructional design approach to offer the right level of training – and to realize that a successful graduate will not be able to rely on just what they learned. It seems we should work on minors, even ID as a minor. Another possibility would be to consider how to work across the university to have various specialties – instead of competing with one other. It’s the beauty of our field that it is applicable to so many areas. Instructional design could be a stealth component of any kind of design out there. We need to train our people with an eye towards
what market they want to go into – and what do they need to work in that area?

Dennen: There is also a right moment for training; and some of our young students aren’t ready for leadership because they haven’t yet had very many years of experience. As junior instructional designers they may not be ready to take advantage of leadership training. It may be the job of employers or organizations to provide leadership training.

Merrill: Moving ID to undergraduate level will allow for more credits and more opportunity. If we did that, then we could add some of these other skills to the masters level. A class example of having students work in groups to create a proposal for a real client addressing a real instruction problem. Then he’d mix up the groups and choose the team leaders by, for example, having a woman or international student be the team leader with a couple of
chauvanistic men. Lots of leadership learning happened as they tried to sell their proposal to the client while working within a group. In this class they learned to meet deadlines and work with others.

Gardner: So far our comments are around we use instruction to help people learn. Embedded in this discussion is the idea that we need to help people learn. We need to help our students learn how to be independent learners. I’ve learned by continuing to read after my PhD. We have to help people become independent problem solvers.


Question: I vote against teaching instructional design at the undergraduate level because they aren’t interested in learning. At the undergraduate level, you have to have classes at 40-50 students. How can you teach higher order thinking skills with such large class sizes? You need to have a certain amount of life experience in order to learn how to be an instructional designer. … We are starting to run into people in the field who are using SAM or AGILE and moving away from ADDIE. How do we address that?

Gardner: At our institution, the dean said we are going to be agile now and we’re going to do SAM instead; but our IDs don’t like it. It does seem the same as ADDIE, but there are more iterations.

Merrill: He’ll be debating SAM in an upcoming TechTrends. After 50 years in the field, it is fun to see the same ideas keep coming around and around. It’s possible to teach undergraduates and international students First Principles of Instruction at the undergrad level. There are ways to use technology to deal with 40-50 students.

Merrill: Don’t just design a bit; design a shell so that you give designers assignments to fill in the shell. Create an interaction template in PowerPoint; and then you can plug in other content. Teach masters students how to design a shell. You don’t need expensive authoring tools.

Rabbit Trails I Followed

Getting Professionally Published

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

Presenter: Donovan Walling

His latest book: Designing Learning for Tablet Classrooms

Understanding the publishing process is the key to getting published WHEN and WHERE you want to be published.

The Idea

  • Publishing is a futures game – you want to know what is going to be of interest and salable 1-2 years down the road. It’s going to take 1-2 years to get published.
  • Think about new topics; current topics; and enduring

Information Gathering

  • Expertise – what experience do you bring to the project? What education do you bring to the project? What credibility do you bring to the project? What do you bring to the table as an author? What can you write about from your personal knowledge base?
  • Interests – how does your vocation contribute to the project? What are you really interested in?
  • Market research – what is the marketplace for your project? Know the journals in your field. Those journals are your specific journals. What specific market best suits your project? Does your project match the market? Most journals have a set focus. Find where you fit in. Don’t try to plow new ground. Read the journals. Read a book or two from the publisher you’re aiming for. What type of writing style and scope does this publisher look for? This may change over time, so look at recent editions. What will the market accept? Tailor your efforts to what looks like that market.

Four Trends in Publishing

  • Accessibility. How to get information out quickly. Abstracts. Keywords. Epublishing. Anthologies.
  • Personalization. Writing used to be more impersonal; but now we want a face and anecdotes.
  • Distillation. Be succinct, focused, concise.
  • Find the niche that fits your project.

Emerging trends

  • Book as presenter/instructor support. If you aren’t prepared to hawk your own book, they don’t want you to publish.
  • Buying E-Content: buying a chapter, an article, a piece, a section. If people can buy a piece of the work, that changes how the work is structured. i.e. chapters may need an abstract and keywords.


If you do your research, you should know whether you will be published or not. Find out what the editor really wants.

  • Article for a general issue of a journal – no, don’t query
  • Article for a themed journal issue – maybe
  • Article for an anthology or encyclopedia – yes
  • Book idea – yes – that’s the only way to get in for a book
    • Book proposal: introduction, follow their template, synopsis of the proposed book, annotated outline, sample chapter – usually not chapter 1

Submission Basics

  • Follow publisher guidelines, read them carefully and double check
  • Most academic journals do not have professional staff; someone is doing it on the side to their regular work.
  • You can always withdraw a piece of the journal accepts it but doesn’t get around to actually publishing it.
  • Be a partner with the editor – suggest reviewers; respond thoughtfully to critiques, revise as they ask, proofread carefully.

Post Publication

  • Afterwards, there may be reviewers for a Book Review, etc.
  • Where possible, link speaking and consulting to the publication; conference sessions, etc.
  • Extend through electronic networking, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Respond to your readers; engage in conversations around the work

Additional digital options: Electronic only; open source; self-publishing; website; blogging; be careful of vanity press concept

Think carefully why you want to be published…

His resources and PowerPoint are online at his site under Resources.

Bits, Pieces, and Tidbits from AECT

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

A few ideas and notes from three sessions:

  • Relationship between Learning Management System Self-Efficacy, Situational Interest, Self-Regulation, and Learning Engagement of Online Learners presented by SANGHOON PARK, University of South Florida; and Jung Lim, University of South Florida
  • Dissertations in an Online Doctoral Program: Mentoring, Challenges, and Strategies by Swapna Kumar, University of Florida; Catherine Coe, University of Florida
  • An Analysis of Professional Practice Dissertations in an Online Educational Technology Program Kara
    Dawson, University of Florida; Swapna Kumar, University of Florida
  • Breakfast with the Champions: Charles Hodges and Thomas Reeves

LMS and Learner Engagement

Instruments to investigate further

  • LMSSE (learning management system self-efficacy) – it’s a measure of how well the students can use the LMS
  • Situated interest
  • Self-regulation measured by (MLSQ)
  • Types of engagement – behavioral engagement, emotional engagement, cognitive engagement
  • Engagement scale

Results and Ideas

  • LMS self-efficacy was not a significant predictor of all types of engagement (consistent with Sun & Rueda 2012)
  • Course design factors related to situational interest and self-regulation strategies have to be considered.
  • Experimental Sampling Method – Hektner 2007 – a method to use to analyze user experience along with the data logs that come from the LMS; can use it to create a learning experience dashboard

Dissertations in Online Programs

  • Top reason students finish their dissertation – the relationship with their mentor, dissertation chair, dissertation supervisor, depending on how it’s called at your university.
  • Literature in online mentoring is business and healthcare related; more research needs to be done
  • Students really wanted synchronous with their mentor; but they wanted feedback in writing, and track changes in Word
  • We won’t meet the needs for more and better higher education until professors become designers of learning experiences and not teachers. Larry Spence, 2001, in The Case Against Teaching
  • “Online teaching and learning is a wild ride.” Angelica Pazurek, University of Minnesota Learning Technologies
  • Brookfield’s adult learning theory – 2006 
  • FlipGrid – a different kind of discussion tool

Breakfast with the Champions

  • Research idea from the table for students working on theses and dissertations. Have a research fair where the students share their research every year… whether it’s their early idea idea or anywhere along the way to dissertation proposal to defending. Gives them practice in telling others about their research.
  • Self efficacy is very context dependent. Not just one instrument. Instrument will probably need to be revised if you select one.
  • You’ve heard of a cMOOC and an xMOOC, how about a pMOOC? Problem Based MOOC – making something for real clients. Thomas Reeves worked with colleagues in Australia to create a MOOC where participants were building OERs. Read about it in MOOCs: Let’s get REAL.

Say What? Designing, Facilitating, and Assessing for Intersubjectivity within Online Discussions

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

Yesterday Barb Hall and I facilitated a workshop on intersubjectivity. Our workshop materials are on our intersubjectivity wiki so you can explore further.

As always, when I work with Barb, I learn something new or find new concepts to ponder. I appreciate the partnership that allows for continued learning!

Notes, Ideas & Resources

Here are some notes, interesting ideas, and resources that came out of the workshop:

  • Conversation: Is constructionism a philosophy or a learning theory?
  • Remember: interaction is the process, and intersubjectivity is the product created when citing sources and peers in peer responses to synthesize new knowledge
  • We created synchronous intersubjectivity in the introductions – the participants talked to each other, and then came up with a table name and introduced the table (as opposed to just individual introductions)
  • Sentence starters can assist students in creating responses at higher levels – i.e. “I see it another way”. Accountable talk is a source for additional sentence starts.
  • Participant Representation of Intersubjectivity

    One of the differences to reach intersubjectivity is actually thinking about what the other person said and referring to what they said in your response

  • The difficulty of making connections or thinking of a way to bridge ideas. A safe place is needed online to practice these types of responses, a place that allows for experimenting with the ideas.
  • Taxonomies other than Bloom’s: Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrix of Webb & Bloom; Marzano’s New Taxonomy
  • When teaching adult learners, it is important to include their experience in the discussion prompt
  • For discussion prompts in the STEM fields, have students share how they solved the problem. There is a right answer, but there are different ways of getting there. They can learn from each other’s methods of problem solving.
  • It seems also that creating more structure and direction for peer responses would help. Some of the structures from this Critical Thinking site could be helpful for requirements for peer responses.
  • Tip for facilitators: use the IAM phase and try to work at phase 3 – modeling for the students making connections between the different peer responses.
  • I’m still mulling over the tendency to write discussion requirements about logistics (1 initial post, 2 replies, post by Wed, etc.) vs. the possibilities around writing discussion requirements that are content/intersubjectivity based.
  • F2F teaching techniques such as group roles, fishbowl discussions, 360 evals are all useful online as well.

IAM Phase Sentence Starters

1. Sharing and Comparing

  • I agree because…
  • Something like that happened to me when…
  • I saw the same thing happen…
  • What do you mean by…
  • So, you think the problem is…
  • How would you describe…

2. Dissonance

  • While you think, I actually think…
  • I am not sure I agree…
  • Is it that you think X, or is it that you think Y?
  • Consider that the textbook says…
  • I don’t think we really disagree, it’s just that…

3. Negotiation and Co-Construction

  • If we use your example, then…
  • So taken together, we’re saying…
  • While that may be true, consider…
  • While I still disagree with X, I do think you’re / we agree about Y…
  • So, you’re really thinking that X means Y, when I think that X means Z…

4. Testing Tentative Constructions

  • That hasn’t been my experience, though…
  • That disagrees with Author’s findings that…
  • This doesn’t make sense when you consider…
  • This makes sense when consider Author stated that…
  • I don’t know if that would apply for the X community…

5. Statement & Application of Newly Constructed Knowledge

  • Let’s apply this new idea to X…
  • I could use this new idea when I…
  • In thinking this through, I learned that…
  • So if what we’re saying is accurate, then…
  • As a result of this discussion, I now think…

Getting to Know AECT Thought Leaders

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

I’m new to AECT, and some colleagues recommended that I attend the Breakfast with Champions on Thursday morning. I’m also new to higher ed educational technology. AECT seems to consider itself THE organization for educational technology and instructional design for higher education. My take is that it is much more research-based and less cool-tool-based than ISTE; more like AERA in it’s research and theory focus.

Because my training is in K12 ed tech, online learning, and leadership, I’m not yet familiar with the big names at this convention. So, I’m doing my own little investigation here to get a feel for the conversations that happen via AECT events.

So I’m listing here the names for the Champions Breakfast, and then linking to info about them, and what their main field/area of research seems to be at a quick glance. I welcome comments and corrections!

Top Professionals

Games-based learning for exploration and discovery

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

Preconference Workshop: Games-based learning for exploration and discovery

PresentersHannah R. Gerber, Sam Houston State University; Dodie J. Niemeyer, Sam Houston State University; Carolyn Stufft, Stephen F. Austin State University

Interesting Notes and Ideas

  • Minecraft snapshot

    Universities are starting to give scholarships for esports; the U.S. is starting to give visas to pro-gamers.

  • Watch out for gaming as a reward; students who could benefit most from this type of learning may not get to experience it
  • One way to gamify a whole course is to create role play throughout the whole course. I would love to do that!
  • Terms: Affinity space (as opposed to community of practice), paratext, metagame, ludology vs. narratology, makerspaces, machinima, fan fiction, walkthroughs, gamification, modding, edutainment, novice, feedback loop (assessment engine)
  • James Paul Gee
    • A video game is just a set of problems – you have to solve them in order to win. Connect that to problem based learning; problem posing learning – students learn to pose problems or forecast them.
    • The theory of learning behind games is quite different than regular learning. It’s much more complex than in school. If games couldn’t teach you, they would go broke. We teach the way we do because of the tests. We have to change the assessment, because it drives the teaching system. You wouldn’t be tempted to give a gamer a Halo test; if he finished the game, he already knows it. The learning system should be so immersive that the assessment is built in. Situated and embodied learning – can you DO stuff with your learning?
    • Learning – you need to be able to USE and ARTICULATE your knowledge.
  • Adaptive learning – you can’t move on until you are expert at that level. That’s a gaming concept also.
  • Games are one-on-one – the gamer is learning at their own level. It’s individualized instruction.
  • The differences of a game where the concepts are all connected in the game vs. where you answer a math problem and then get to move a car forward – but those two are connected.
  • One thing to watch out for with using off the shelf games is that students can be frustrated that the fun is taken out of the game because it’s been “school-ified”.
  • Game mechanics for gamification – feedback loops, iterative sequences for learning, levelling up with a reward system, may have real-life ramifications. Immediate feedback and self-reflection.
  • Issue of extrinsic motivation vs. intrinsic motivation. There aren’t enough studies to really say that extrinsic motivation are a detriment to intrinsic motivation.
  • The trick is really designing the curriculum around the game – and the creativity of the teacher.
  • Affinity space is the location, metagaming is the activity there, and paratext is the product of the collaboration/community.
  • There are communities around this – virtual communities, or playing with family, brothers, parents, uncles, in a real human interaction around the game. Well, of course! We have human interactions around Scrabble too! 
  • Types of writing around gaming: fan fiction, machinima, walkthrough, maker spaces.
  • How to gamify assessment:
    • health bar – to show how healthy your character is
    • a map to show where you are compared to everything else in the course
    • leaderboards?? maybe
    • XP – experience points
    • Present more challenges and opportunities to earn points
    • Quests and missions – students can choose these different goals and customize based on their interest
  • The idea of in course workshops (in the form of writing workshops) to support learning needed to be successful in the course game
  • How to do modification / modding – students can recreate parts of the class based on their interest

Resources and Links


Best Practice Workshop Presentation Tips

Things I noticed that worked well in how they ran the workshop.

  • Access prior knowledge by asking for a personal definition
  • Pass out terms related to the concept on an index card and have participants in pairs write down what they know already and what they want to know about the term (tactile KWL)
  • Silent reading time adds variety to an all day workshop

Student Reflection

Student reflection is designed to assist students in thinking about their learning processes, their learning experiences, and their metacognition. Reflection is a critical component for teaching students to be self-directed learners. Students should reflect on the course content and it’s application to their personal and professional lives.

Dee Fink’s Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning includes a series of questions for including reflection in course design (p 19-20).

Students reflect with:

    • oneself through journaling or learning portfolios
    • others through class discussion or others outside of class
  • Students reflect about:
    • the subject of the course: what is an appropriate and full understanding of this topic?
    • the learning process:
      • What am I learning?
      • Of what value is this?
      • How did I learn?
      • What else do I need to learn?
  • Students reflect via:
    • one-minute papers
      • i.e. What is the most important thing you learned in this module?
      • What was the “muddiest point” from this module?
    • weekly journal writing
    • learning portfolios

Need more ideas for designing reflection?

Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course.  Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet; Facilitating Personal Values Formation in Students in Online Religion Courses

Blogging at the Online Learning Consortium International Conference 2014

Renate Hood (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, USA)

Notes and Thoughts

  • How to help students form personal values and built affective competencies
  • Aims at affective maturity in terms of civic and social responsibilities
  • Types of courses: value exploration courses;  cultural exploration courses; service oriented learning;
  • How important is the affective domain in online teaching? for instructors; for the job market? How important is emotional intelligence for employers?
  • How do you teach students empathy? how do you teach empathy online?
  • How do you include reflection components so that students learn to care about topics/issues like service learning, social justice, etc. without telling them to care – it’s a tendency of some institutions; how do you help them grow on their own; and then how do you do that online?
  • “All reciprocal social interactions take place in “an ecological system” within which formation must be facilitated – Lowe & Lowe 2010
  • Socio-ecology is affected by transactional distance, social presence, existing personal values, and external interactions such as mentorships
  • How do we teach students to be more empathetic to those who learn something slower than they do? who can forgive themselves if they fail? who can work with diverse others? And then how do we do that online or in distance education
  • Mentorships in smaller measures incrementally in courses vs. waiting till the practicum
  • Make use of the community at large; designing offline experiences that include family and community interactions
  • In the course design – need higher social presence and lower transactional distance
  • Include more values formation elements: collaborative learning; learner centered assignments; include a degree of creative license; what is the role of the instructor in this situation?
  • How to allow for students to be honest on what they really care about or not; netiquette is important
  • Role play sites / cartoon sites / animation / avatars – to help students wrestle with affective content and act out situations
  • The big questions are around assessment of values – psychology could help design assessments and surveys

Thought provoking session.

Relationship Between Student Surveys of Teaching and Course Quality Assurance Components for Online Courses

Blogging my session at the Online Learning Consortium International Conference 2014

Here are the resources supporting my session

Several of the attendees in the room are also looking at the relationship between their student evaluations and components of their quality assurance process. This made for interesting discussions:

  • Ideas for refining process and research: Do an analysis to see if the questions on the course evaluation fit into the same concepts that we think we are measuring (for aligning our standards and the questions on the course evaluation).
  • Issues of measurement: What do student evaluations measure? What do the external reviewers measures? and the faculty member self-reviews? Issues with measurement of learning that happens outside the LMS – course activities in the publisher’s textbook site; live sessions; web 2.0 tools, etc.

The Community is the Curriculum

Blogging the Online Learning Consortium International Conference 2014

Keynote by Dave Cormier

I participated in the twitter stream this morning during the keynote, which was great! But I thought I’d just collect here some resources mentioned and shared in the twitter stream that I want to keep:

Lots of fodder to think about. Loved this keynote.