Instructional Design and Work Study Training Prep

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When I am asked what Instructional Design is about, I usually respond with something like “instructional design is student focused and built backwards.”  A little prying will get me to go further:  “After identifying the learning objectives, an instructor must determine how student learning will be evaluated; then s/he must put in place the steps/instruction that will get the students to that objective successfully.  The best instruction builds on prior or establishes new baseline knowledge, involves some demonstration, and then engages the student through practical, hands-on, real-world application.”

Or something along those lines.

This philosophy is based both on my years of teaching and the research of countless of smart people.  Robin Smith suggests states that “Most effective learning environments . . . involve four distinct phases of learning:  Activation of prior knowledge, demonstration of skills, Application of skills, Integration of these skills into real world activities”  (Smith,  2008).  Similarly, David Merrill’s study reveals that learning is promoted most effectively when:  “learners are engaged in solving real-world problems…existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge…new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner…new knowledge is applied by the learner…new knowledge is integrated into the learner’s world”  (Merrill, 2002).

Now, with 15 years of face-to-face instruction under my belt, and a couple years as the Media & Design Specialist for Academic Technology at Carleton College, I’m eager to see how instructional design plays out when I launch my online training course for our thirty work study students next fall.  The good news is that “3.9 million students … took online classes in 2007” and “more than 80% [of those] were undergraduate students,” (Johnson, 31).  Since then, the numbers of students that already have some online learning experience has continued to grow.  So, I’ve got high hopes that with some good instructional design, my undergraduate students will quickly master the requirements of serving the media and event support needs of Carleton faculty and staff.

I’ll report back next year with the results.

Dann Hurlbert

Media and Design Specialist for Academic Technology




Johnson, Kevin and Susan Manning. Online Education for Dummies. By Kevin Johnson. 1st ed. Hoboken: Wiley, 2010

Merrill, M. David. “First Principles.” ETR&D 50.37 (2002): n. Mdavidmerrill, 7 Jan. 2010. Web. 5 May 2016.

Smith, Robin M. Conquering the Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Online Course Design. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Web. 03 May 2016.

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Dann Hurlbert

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