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.
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