The promise of instructional design as we look ahead to the next semester

May 26, 2020

I discovered a new research area as a result of my earlier reflections on teaching in the age of pandemics. Yes, I said it. I hope that it’s not the case, but, as epidemiologists have pointed out, this outbreak is not over and there are many others that we can expect in the future in the absence of investment in public health. But, moving on to the new area of research that seems to be in need in this current crisis and that I have found to be very stimulating. What is it, you might ask? It’s instructional design.

Rather than provide a definition, let me share what I’ve learned about DE and the role that ¬†instructional design plays in planning a successful course for DE and, subsequently, ¬†“traditional classroom” teaching.

First, teaching remotely goes beyond the use of technology. It involves thinking clearly, critically, and creatively of how we use the knowledge tools at our disposal to reach course learning objectives. That is why it is important to: (a.) Clarify the course instructional goals (in the distance education setting), (b.) implement a smart course design, which involves clarity on how different kinds of interactions (student-instructor, student-student, student-content) and knowledge tools work together to achieve well defined learning objectives, and (c.) continually evaluate our course design and its effectiveness in response to the needs and capabilities of our learners. That, in a nutshell, is how I think thinking like an instructional designer can help improve our teaching. As I look ahead to the next semester, I ask myself whether we can learn from experts in DE so that there is no need to reinvent the wheel.