Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Instructional Design - more of an Artist, less of an Architect

This week's Change11 topic on Slow Learning reminds me of discussions I've had with friends and colleagues about Instructional Design in general.  When I started my instructional design career officially and went to school to learn about ID, my university taught the Dick and Carey model. As part of the course my instructor, Mary Hopper, has us examining other models as well for our group projects and ADDIE, ASSURE, ARCS* and HPT models came up and we discussed them by themselves (and maybe in relation to Dick & Carey, I don't remember).

What I do remember, is that subsequently there had been discussions about which model is "better" (among students and graduates) and since Dick & Carey is what the program taught and what we had most exposure to, it is the model that was deemed "better" by those discussing it.  Me...not so much.  It's not that I think that there is one model that is better than the other, and I don't think that these models are "dead"‡. I think that these are process models that direct a designer to think about certain aspects of designing instruction, but they are not the end-all-be-all of learning design.  As Clark writes in his seed post, and in his re-thinking e-learning article on Learning Solutions Magazine we tend to approach learning as an event, and in our case that event is a course.  Of course not all learning interventions are distinct events, but they may be part of your regular day. Blindly following an ID model, any ID model, isn't good for the designer†, for the instructor/SME or for the learners.

Thus, I think that just as Steve Jobs saw our computing needs as the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, so too we instructional designers need to think of our jobs as the intersection of the Artist and the Architect.  Too much of either yields a poor result, and from what I've seen (at least on my corner of the internet and f2f  life) it seems like the Architect is winning out over the artist. Time to get back to a balance, so that learning outcomes can improve :-)

* this website is the official site of the ARCS model, and it has an annoying jingle playing as soon as the page loads...what is this? 1996?

‡ seems like many people are fond of having the "is ADDIE dead" discussion every now and again on the internet.

† I tend to think of people following a model blindly as dull knives. If you follow the model blindly it's like you don't take the opportunity to sharpen the blade in-between uses.
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