I recently learned about a new tool called Video Ask. It’s an interactive video chatbot that allows you to get realtime feedback in a more personalized way. In this video, I discuss the tool and how I use it in my e-learning instructional designs.
I got the privilege to chat with Angela Powers about Freelancing in Instructional Design. Check out the interview.
The instructional stance is always determined by the learner and the learning goal. Subsequently, the instructional stance will, in turn, determine which tools to use within the various instructional designs.
One instructional stance is pedagogy. Pedagogy has a strong connection to behaviorism. It is heavily instructor-centered and bases learning on environmental conditioning and stimuli. Another instructional stance is andragogy. Andragogy has a powerful connection to cognitive constructivism, as it is more learner-centered and accepted as an instructional approach for mature learners. However, cognitive constructivists believe that development precedes learning. Hence, “in andragogy, the learners themselves directly and significantly influence the curriculum, based on their interests and needs” (Bangura, 2005, p. 28), because of their development and maturation.
Ergonagy, like pedagogy, is an instructional stance with a strong connection to behaviorism, as with this instructional stance, learners are expected to learn for vocational purposes. Bangura (2005) submitted that “ergonagy supports a continual blending of academic and vocational education for improved work opportunities throughout individuals’ lives, whether in one or several careers” (p. 31). Hence, this instructional stance is centered on a technique. This instructional stance may or may not require specialized knowledge, depending upon the training objectives. Heutagogy, like andragogy, has a powerful connection to constructivism and the newly identified theory of connectivism. Heutagogy is fully learner-centered, as this instructional stance allows learners full autonomy over the curriculum. Lastly, ubuntugogy, which has its roots in Afrocentric philosophy, has a connection to social constructivism. Unlike cognitive constructivists, social constructivists believe that learning precedes development. Ubuntugogy is heavily group centered and founded on the principles of dialogue, consensus building, and religiosity. Bangura (2005) argued that ubuntugogy has the potential to surpass all of the aforementioned instructional stances.
Once the instructional stance is determined based on the learner’s needs, the instructional designer will then determine which tools, analog and/or digital, will work best for his or her designs. Tools for both the learner and course authoring should be carefully examined, as tools are a huge part of learning. Ira Socol (2008) submitted that instructors should consider that learners, like instructional designers, also need experience with deciding which tools will go into their toolbelts, as each toolbelt is unique to its user. For this post, I will consider course authoring tools.
Bangura, Abdul. (2005). Ubuntugogy: An African educational paradigm that transcends pedagogy, andragogy, ergonagy and heutagogy. 22. 13-53.
Khademi, M., Haghshenas, M. and Kabir, H. (2011). A Review On Authoring Tools. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fac5/9b388f822adac8bf3338fbb98b4a0690629b.pdf November 6, 2019
Socol, I. D. (2008) Toolbelt Theory. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/iradavidsocol/home/toolbelt-theory October 23, 2018.
I recently got the opportunity to do some freelance work as a subject matter expert. It was exciting to be a freelance subject matter expert, even though it was a short-lived opportunity. Hence, this experience taught me a big lesson… Practice what you preach.
Hodell, C., & ProQuest. (2015). ISD from the Ground up, 4th Edition. Alexandria: American Society for Training & Development.
According to Maslow, there is a hierarchy of needs that are necessary for learning to occur. Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, I believe that there is a hierarchy of needs for instructional designers. Maslow has five levels of hierarchical needs. They are as follows:
- Physiological needs
- Safety needs
- Belongingness and love
- Esteem and accomplishment
- Self-actualization/Achieving one’s potential
Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, I’ve decided to tweak his theory for instructional designers who design learning experiences. Assuming that Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs have already been met, the following are the instructional designer’s hierarchy of needs:
- Knowledge and understanding of learning theory
- Knowledge and understanding of individual learners
- Knowledge and understanding of David Rock’s SCARF Model
- Instructional toolbelt
For starts, instructional designers must have a solid knowledge base of learning theory. In other words, instructional designers have to be familiar with the learning process and effective conditions of learning from a pedagogical stance, andragogical stance, heutagogical stance, or an ergonagical stance. Learning theory has been described by behaviorists, cognitivist, constructivists, and of late, connectivists. Hence, instructional designers should be familiar with each school of thought on learning in order to have a full understanding of the various dimensions of learning.
Learners are who instructional designers work for, yet they rarely get access to them. Nonetheless, having data on learners is important because it will determine the instructional stance. For instance, if learners are inexperienced or beginning to learn new concepts and skills, then a pedagogical stance would be instrumental in this case. However, if the learners are mature and need less guidance, then an andragogical stance would work best. If the learner is a fully self-actualized mature learner, then a heutagogical stance would be appropriate. Finally, if the learner needs specific technical knowledge for technical problems, then an ergonagical stance would be perfect.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs includes safety. Therefore, learning can not occur in situations of perceived threat. Hence, instructional designers who create an opportunity for learners to experience Rock’s SCARF model are helping to reduce the learner’s perceived threat. Rock created a brain-based model that supports collaboration can can be affected by threats and rewards. SCARF stands for status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. This model is used to help individuals enhance relationships and improve connectedness with others. When SCARF is applied within an instructional design, it boosts learner connectedness as it reduces perceived threats. Here is how I see SCARF enhancing instructional designs below:
- Status is about the relative importance of all connected individuals.
- Certainty allows all connected individuals the ability to predict the future.
- Autonomy provides connected learners a sense of control over events.
- Relatedness provides a sense of safety amongst connected learners.
- Fairness is the belief that fair exchanges will occur between all connected individuals.
In one of my earlier posts entitled Collaborative Production of Digital Media and the Tool Belt Theory, I mentioned Socol’s Toolbelt Theory. Socol argued that learners need to have access to a variety of digital and analog tools and understanding of the task at hand. He called this paradigm TEST. TEST stands for Task, Environment, Skills, and Tools. Hence, instructional designers can create learning experiences that assist learners in understanding the task, the environment that the task will take place, Skills necessary for the task, and the possible tools that can be utilized to complete the task. Also, the TEST paradigm allows learners to construct personalized toolbelts based on the task and skills necessary.
In sum, knowledge and understanding of learning theory, individual learners, Rock’s SCARF Model, and TEST are all elements within the hierarchy of needs for instructional designers. When each of these needs are met, highly effective learning designs are produced.
Rock, D., & Page, L. J. (2009). Coaching with the brain in mind: Foundations for practice. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
Socol, I. D. (n.d.) Toolbelt Theory. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/iradavidsocol/home/toolbelt-theoryOctober 23, 2018.
Today’s world has “turbo-speed changes created by technology” (Marquardt, Banks, Cauweiler, and Ng, 2018, p. 18). And with these turbo-speed changes come the constant need for learning and creativity. As conditions change, instructional designs that can be adapted to various learners and conditions become more prevalent than ever before. Hence, instructional designers have to “learn their way into the creation of something that does not yet exist” (p. 40).
Complex problems require complex solutions and complex solutions come with creative thinking. Michalko (2011) submitted that one cannot will himself or herself to change his or her thinking patterns no matter how inspired he or she is to do so. Hence, “creative thinkers get variation by conceptually combining dissimilar subjects, which changes their thinking patterns and provides them with a variety of alternatives and conjectures” (Michalko, 2011, p. 14).
Michalko’s (2014) Thinker Toys is an excellent resource that helps foster creativity. Actually, I was impressed with this resource and I decided to do a series of animations on Thinker Toys. Below is one of the animations that was created based on Michalko’s Thinker Toys Handbook.
In sum, it’s not enough for instructional designers to know learning theory. Instructional designers have to be creative thinkers and problem solvers because instruction is more than a product to be delivered and a set of instructional strategies to be used in a training exercise.
Gläser, W. (2018). VUCA World. Leadership Skills and Strategies VUCA World. Retrieved August 24, 2019, from https://www.vuca-world.org/
Marquardt, M. J., Banks, S., Cauweiler, P., & Ng, C. S. (2018). Optimizing the power of action learning: Real-time strategies for developing leaders, building teams and transforming organizations.
Michalko, M. (2011). Creative thinkering: Putting your imagination to work. Novato, Calif: New World Library.
Michalko, M. (2014). Thinkertoys: A handbook of creative-thinking techniques.
Functioning in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions creates a sense of infinite urgency. Furthermore, ubiquitous exigencies make learning more difficult as the pressure to work seems to never cease. In such conditions, what is the learner to do? “Although we need more and more learning and training, the irony is that we have less time to acquire it” (Marquardt, Banks, Cauweiler, and Ng, 2018, p. 19).
Gagne (1985) proposed nine instructional events that provide a framework for creating optimal learning conditions. However, each instructional event requires time, something that learners lack. How then will the instructional designer construct optimal learning conditions for learners while maintaining fidelity to Gagne’s nine instructional events? The answer is with a heutagogical stance rather than a pedagogical stance. Blaschke (2012) defined heutagogy as “a form of self-determined learning with practices and principles rooted in andragogy” (para. 1).
Gagne’s nine instructional events include the following:
- Gaining attention
- Informing learners of the objective
- Stimulating recall of prior learning
- Presenting the stimulus
- Providing learning guidance
- Eliciting performance
- Providing feedback
- Assessing performance
- Enhancing retention and transfer
Gagne proposed these nine instructional events during the industrial age, when training was very much trainer-centered and less learner-centered. Hence, Gagne’s nine instructional events are pedagogical in nature, which helped to set a pattern for traditional education. When a pedagogical stance is utilized in training, the trainer makes the assumption that learners need external factors such as Gagne’s nine instructional events to occur in order for learning to happen.
On the contrary, when a heutagogical stance is utilized in training, the learner takes ownership of his or her learning, thus Gagne’s nine instructional events become nine heutagogical learning events. Heutagogy encourages learners to challenge their theories in use, their values and assumptions rather than providing a basic response to tasks. Gagne’s nine instructional events through the lens of heutagogy shifts learners into action by having them “study the process of how they came to their conclusions, how this process can lead to other solutions, and how their own assumptions changed through the process” (Eberle, 2009, para. 7). In my view, heutagogy converts Gagne’s nine instructional events into nine learning events. They are as follows:
- Learners awareness is raised towards observing a task or problem
- Learners choose or construct their learning objective(s)
- New learning is created with different solutions or strategies
- Meaningful, purposeful learning experiences are provided which are relevant to the learners’ needs
- Independent and collaborative learning with peers and colleagues is encouraged and supported
- The instructor facilitates exploration, collaboration, and self-actualization
- Critical reflection, universal feedback from peers, colleagues, and instructor are provided
- Learners are encouraged to self-diagnose his or her learning via knowledge application
- Facilitator promotes action learning for solving complex problems of the 21st century
As stated earlier, more and more learning is necessary because of the “turbo-speed changes created by technology” (Marquardt, Banks, Cauweiler, and Ng, 2018, p. 18). As such, the instructional designer should consider designing optimal learning environments using a heutagogical stance. The tyranny of the urgent will probably never end, so, the response to this phenomena should be with more open-ended learning and less conditioned learning.
Blaschke, L. (2012, January ). International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning. Retrieved July 2019, from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1076/2087
Eberle, J. (2009). Heutagogy: What your mother didn’t tell you about pedagogy and the conceptual age. In Proceedings from the 8th Annual European Conference on eLearning, October 29-30, 2009. Bari, Italy.
Gagne, R. (1985). The conditions of learning (4th Ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Marquardt, M. J., Banks, S., Cauweiler, P., & Ng, C. S. (2018). Optimizing the power of action learning: Real-time strategies for developing leaders, building teams and transforming organizations.
I had the pleasure of presenting at the Virginia Society for Technology in Education 2018 Conference. I shared my ideas on Content Creation and Calibration with learners and I took feedback from the audience regarding the topic.
Some of the key questions were:
- How do I engage dormant learners in the design process?
- How do I provide support to dependent learners?
- How do I educate parents on student content creation and calibration?
I don’t claim to have the answers to these questions. Nonetheless, take a look at the presentation and provide your feedback. Is it really possible to have students create instructional content?
Sophisticated digital tools allow texts to be annotated, videos to be produced, interactive learning experiences created, all of which further enhance student learning. However, “The only way to allow students to assemble [an] essential toolbelt for information and communication is to throw open your classroom and let the world in” (Socol, n.d., para. 17). This is a powerful quote, as it is essential for teachers to not only stock their toolbelt but to help students stock theirs too. Socol (n.d.) goes on to say,
How will your students know which calendar works for them – the one on their phone, Google Calendar with SMS appointment texting, Microsoft Outlook, or any of a dozen paper systems unless you allow them to try them out? How will your students know whether they ‘get’ a novel better by listening to an audiobook, or reading it on paper, or using text-to-speech, if you don’t let them experience all repeatedly and help them decide? Will their choice be the same when they are reading history texts? Math texts? Again, how will they know? How will they know which is the best way for them to write, by hand (either on paper or on a tablet system), by keyboard (and which keyboard), or by voice, if they do not get to try out all the kinds of writing they need to do with all these tools?
They won’t know. And you – the school, the teacher, the education system – will have deprived them of these essential skills.
It matters for all students, of course, but- as always – if you are “rich, white, and normal” it matters a bit less. You will have fewer needs, your parents will buy you more supports, you will be surrounded in your daily life by sophisticated tool users. So not bringing Toolbelt Theory into your classroom just exacerbates inequity – yes, of course – as school does in most things.
After reading those paragraphs, I felt a sense of urgency to figure out how I will implement the Toolbelt theory into my practice. How will I equip students with “Tasks – Environments – Skills – Tools” (T.E.S.T.) that show them how they learn best (Socol, n.d.)?
Socol (2008) proposed the Toolbelt Theory. This theory is “based on the concept that students must learn to assemble their own readily available collection of life solutions. They must learn to choose and use these solutions appropriately, based on the task to be performed, the environment in which they find themselves, their skills and capabilities at that time, and the ever-changing universe of high and low-tech solutions and supports. After all, few of us have a toolbox with just one screwdriver or just the tools we were given when we were ten-years-old” (para 3).
So, the Toolbelt is designed to:
• Break the dependency cycle
• Develop a lifespan technology skills
• Reduce and limit limitations
• Empower student decision making
• Prepare students for life beyond school
Socol (2008) posited the following example to illustrate his TEST model. You need to know what you need to do (the specific task: cut 20 sheets of plywood or cut down a Christmas tree, find a book to buy or find a book to borrow). You need to know where you will be doing this (the specific environment: in a forest, in a workshop, in a town with a university library and four bookstores, in a place with neither). You need to know your own capabilities (your skillset: I am strong enough to cut down a tree with a hand saw, I am experienced enough that I can cut a straight line with a hand-held circular saw, I can walk to the bookstore, I know the Dewey Decimal System). And you need to know what is available to you to help you, and how to use those devices (your toolbelt: My neighbor has a chain saw, I can rent a table saw, a bus will get me to the bookstore, if I go online and reserve that library book it will be waiting for me at the counter).
Hence, the task is the container for the learning objectives and content. To fully engage learners, tasks should be centered around an interesting problem. “An interesting problem is one that’s never been solved in quite this way before. It’s not always going to work. The stakes are high. It involves coloring outside the lines” (Godin, 2017). Ergo, the task will dictate what students learn and how they learn.
The environment is the location of the task. The more restrictive the environment, the less ubiquitous the task. In other words, if the task can only happen in a classroom, then learner access is restricted to the classroom. The more seamless the task, the more ubiquitous the learning. “The word seamless suggests that what was once believed to be separate, distinct parts (e.g., in-class and out-of-class, academic and non-academic; curricular and co-curricular, or on-campus and off-campus experiences) are now of one piece, bound together so as to appear whole or continuous. In seamless learning environments, students are encouraged to take advantage of learning resources that exist both inside and outside of the classroom …students are asked to use their life experiences to make meaning of material introduced in classes […]. (Wong & Looi, 2011, p. 2365).
Crystallized knowledge and mastered skills make up the learner’s skillset. Some learner’s skills are more developed than others, hence the need for a learner analysis in order to better understand learners and make necessary adjustments for their skillsets. Because of learner variance, it is necessary to have a repertoire of tools available to learners and any necessary training on how to use those tools in order to meet the demands of the task. “Choosing the right tool takes knowledge of yourself and the tools which are available. It takes practice in assessing the task and the environment. And in school, we don’t help students toward any of that. In school we prescribe methods and we require specific tools (the dreaded middle school planner, just as one particularly stupid example – the teacher-determined notebook style as another). In school, we tell students what they can and can’t do and we get very nervous when they really try to analyze their environment” (Socol, 2008).
In sum, “we are all tool users” and helping learners customize their toolbelts for a more complete process and acquisition of learning that leads toward individual fulfillment is paramount to the role of an instructional designer and learning experience designer. “Toolbelt Theory” suggests that we must teach our students how to analyze tasks, the task-completion environment, their own skills and capabilities, an appropriate range of available tools… and let them begin to make their own decisions” (Socol, 2008).
Socol provided a list of questions to consider for applying the TEST model to instructional design and learning experience design:
1. What needs to be done? (when possible, break the task down into component parts)
1. Where must this be done (or is typically done)?
2. Under what time constraints?
3. What is the standard method of task completion?
4. How does the person interact with this environment?
5. Who is the task being done for? (specifics of teacher, employer, other expectations)
1. What specific strengths does the person bring to this task?
2. What specific weaknesses interfere with that person’s ability to complete the task?
3. What is that person’s “tool acquisition aptitude” and what tools are they currently comfortable with?
1. What tool best “bridges the gap” between the current skill set and what is needed for task completion?
2. If the tool is not already “in the toolbox” (the person has been successfully trained in its use), how does the environmental timeline match with the needed learning curve?
3. If it is not possible to use the “best tool” within this environment what is the “back-up tool”? How do we pre-train so the best tool can be used the next time?
Godin, S. (2017). Interesting problems. Retrieved November 8, 2019, from https://seths.blog/2017/02/interesting-problems/
International University of Lake Constance (n.d.). Seamless Learning. Retrieved November 08, 2019, from https://seamless-learning.eu/en/seamless-learning/seamless-learning/
Socol, I. D. (March 2008). Toolbelt Theory for Everyone. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2008/05/toolbelt-theory-for-everyone.html
Socol, I.D. (May 2008). A Toolbelt for a Lifetime. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2008/03/csun-2008a-toolbelt-for-lifetime.html
Socol, I. D. (n.d.). Toolbelt Theory. Retrieved from October 23, 2018, from https://sites.google.com/site/iradavidsocol/home/toolbelt-theory
Wong, L. H., & Looi, C. K. (2011). What seams do we remove in mobile-assisted seamless learning? A critical review of the literature. Computers & Education, 57(4), 2364-2381.
Today, learners demand more customization, voice, and practicality from their learning environments (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017). Hence, instructional designers will have to upgrade learning environments in order to meet the demand of today’s learners. As discussed in an earlier post, content creation and calibration cannot be done in a silo. Content that is customized, incorporates the students’ voice, and is practical for students, has to be co-designed with students. Hence, content that is co-designed with learners is the ultimate form of personalized learning.
Why should instructional designers include learners in the content creation process? First, by including learners in creating content, the learners themselves intrinsically set learning goals for attainment. In other words, when instructional designers introduce learners to the instructional objectives and learning outcomes for the units and lessons, the learners then can determine their own learning because they have been empowered by the instructional designer to customize and practicalize the content and they have been allowed to add their voices to the content creation and learning process.
Second, by including learners in the creation process, a learning flow that produces deep engagement and learner motivation can be established. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) argued that “clear goals, individual control, tasks that the individual is capable of successfully completing, and skills that must be learned” is what establishes a flow for deep learning and engagement. When learners co-create content, tasks are designed that are not too challenging or too easy. Students co-design tasks with teachers that align with their personal interests, thus placing them in a flow channel of learning.
Third, learner voice, choice, and agency are all embedded in co-designed instructional design models, as these types of models highly value empowering learners to make decisions about ends, priorities, and means (Reigeluth, Myers, & Lee, 2017). When students are empowered, then they are more engaged and thereby more capable of attaining their learning goals and the instructor’s teaching objective.
Alpha vs. Beta testing
In many cases, after instructional designers have created their content without student input, they typically test the content in the alpha stage through the student view. For instance, instructional designers might make sure that the links work, that the dates of content release are correct, and that the aesthetics of the content is appealing. If the content passes the instructional designer’s alpha test, then it is delivered to the student without any trial run. Some would argue that this is a travesty, as students are being held accountable for content that was not given a trial run by the learners. Cars are test-driven, wine is taste-tested, and movies have trailers, all for the sake of testing the quality or operation of the product. Why then are students not given an opportunity to give their content a trail run?
Why content should be beta-tested with students
When instructional designers allow students to co-design and beta test the content, students are able to find bugs and fix them, improve content features, and optimize the distribution of learning, teaching, and assessing (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017). “In software development, the beta phase is an accepted, normal, predictable stage of product development” (Gonzalez, 2018). This is not the case in traditional instructional design. Gonzalez (2014) mentioned that “beta is a lifelong commitment to continuous …growth” (para. 4). Hence, shouldn’t instructional designers adopt beta-testing as a form of continuous professional growth?
After doing some research on this topic, I created an instrument that not only supports mega-batching content creation but beta testing content with learners. For the instrument, click here. I also created a content rubric checklist for students that can be used for beta-testing content. This checklist is based on UC Berkley’s checklist. In sum, if instructional designers truly want to personalize learning for students, then they will not only have to incorporate the learners’ voice, choice, and agency, they will also have to incorporate co-designs that are beta-tested with end-users.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2009). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper [and] Row.
Gonzalez, J. (2014). Teaching in Beta: What We Can Learn from Software Developers Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/beta-teaching/ on October 14th, 2018
Reigeluth, C.M., Myers, R. D., Lee, D. (2017). The Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.
Kalaitzidis, T.J., Litts, B., and Rosenfeld Halverson, E. (2017). Designing Collaborative Production of Digital Media in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.