Adventures of a Technology Challenged Online Instructor

Week 20: Instructional Design
Week 20:  Instructional Design avatar

Back at it again, later than expected – after my laptop crashed and had to be sent off for repair.  Not the best start to the summer term, but I am plugging through!

So this week’s reading material and videos were a bit confusing to me.  I guess I’d really never thought about “instructional design” or how the design of your course (either online or face-to-face) can really make a difference in student outcomes.  But after reading the material and reading through other posts on instructional design, I think I’m starting to develop a better understanding of it all.

A few things that stood out to me:

In Lanier’s article Does the Digital Classroom Enfeeble the Mind, he states, “Students conceive of themselves as relays in a transpersonal digital structure.  Their job is then to copy and transfer data around.”  This got me to thinking about the “research paper” I have students write.  That’s exactly what they are doing – tranfering data around.  If I’m lucky, they’ll actually summarize the data in their own words, but other times, students are literally cutting and pasting information.  This isn’t learning, they aren’t learning to think or learning to process the data.  Part of me thinks that writing a research paper is a “rite of passage” or something that they should know how to do as part of the college experience.  But then I question what students are really gaining by doing so.  Very little thought or processing is going on and I think it is more a practice in formatting than it is in learning.  So, now, off to rework that assignment and really come up with something that is going to engage the students instead of  seeing how well they can push data around.

I think the issue for educators dealing with technology in instructional design is that we are unaware of or afraid to use various technologies because we are not comfortable using them or familiar enough with the technology ourselves.  Then, if we do attempt to incorporate some sort of new technology (such as TV in Schwier’s example), we just go about teaching the same old way without regard for what the new technology could actually do for us.

Personally, I need to shift my way of thinking about technology (and teaching) from the “spray and pray method” (spray all the information at them and pray that they absorb it all) to a much more focused approach.  Now, back to the drawing board….


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