MOOC MOOC: Instructional Design

On Tuesday, February 16, 2016, I will begin my new job. Actually, I will officially begin my new career. In 2014, after 30 years in the field of accounting and business management, I bailed on my job and directed all of my energy toward earning a Master of Arts in Educational Technology.

I recently graduated from that degree program and am now diving into the world of higher education as an Instructional Designer for Boise State University’s eCampus. I’ll be working with professors to help create effective and engaging online classes. This is exactly what I want to do.

During the M.E.T. program, I kept an open mind as I studied various elements of educational technology. The research of learning theory in the context of emerging technologies was fascinating. The Evaluation process integrated my accounting and business skill sets in the educational program domain. Web design and content creation combined my logical thought process and ability to focus on details with my creativity. Any one of these would have been a reasonable direction to take my second career, but it was Instructional Design that really intrigued me, and gave me pause.

In a final reflective piece for my Instructional Design course, I wrote the following words:

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings” (Fukuoka,1978). I believe that the same can be said for Instructional Design (ID). The real goal is much bigger than the tangible product. With this perspective, I’ve come to think of ID as an organic farming process, and learners growing and flourishing in thoughtfully designed fields, skillfully tended by farmers….

The ID process is a human creation. After going through the experience of developing a learning goal, analyzing the learner characteristics and needs, the learning context and tasks, and then the deliberate planning of the objectives connected to the appropriate learning domain, instructional strategy, and assessment method, I now realize that, at its core, this is a process much like other inventions devised by humans. And like other human designs, it must be constantly modified in response to changing cultures, technologies, and scientific knowledge.

The critical role that ID plays in education and the need for creativity and continual renewal of the process draw me to this profession. My interest in educational technologies was sparked by the potential that new and rapidly developing technology brings to adult education. Now, I am also intrigued by the challenges that these changes will bring to Instructional Design. Just as farming adapts to changing cultural norms, new technology, and science, I am curious about how Instructional Design may also respond and transform. I’m not sure what role I will play in this new future, but I do know I want to be a player. “

In August of 2014, when I wrote those words, I didn’t find like-minded others. My peers didn’t seem to question the fact that the models we studied all emerged out of a time when predominate instructional methods were greatly influenced by behaviorist thinking. Others weren’t concerned about the current use of models that were created in an environment very different from our highly technological and connected society. I doubted myself. Luckily, I have now found that I’m not alone in my questions.

MOOC MOOC: Instructional Design is designed (or not designed) to explore the very questions that have been running through my mind. The cMOOC will run from January 25 – February 12, 2016. I feel so fortunate that I will be able to more deeply explore these questions with the guidance of a true community of practice. And I am doubly blessed that this coincides with my move into the field as a legitimate participant.

Without a doubt, I have a lot to learn. I must get into the guts of the LMS before I will fully understand the challenges of the instrument. I must wade into the institution of higher education before I fully grasp the complex forces in play. I must continue to build my ID and technical skills and confidence before I will openly question the models and systems. There’s much work ahead of me, but the fact that I’m about to jump into all of this armed with the knowledge that there are others out there who are asking the very questions that have brought me to this field is encouraging. I couldn’t be more thrilled.