Please pardon this book report: these are my notes from the book, not the usual wry and insightful commentary.
"Instructional design", as near as I can tell, is a movement to apply some rigor to lesson planning & curriculum planning, piggybacking on some theories of learning from psychology.
I've been reading some I.D. books. They seem to hammer on some points that are "old news" to tech writers... but they keep hammering on them so maybe they're not such obvious points. When trying to teach some material, you have choices about how to present that material. There's no one best way.
- Depending on the material... To teach someone how to tie their shoelaces, a video's much better than a verbal description. To teach someone a computer programming technique, a cut-and-pasteable web page is better than a video... and code example might be better yet.
- Depending on the learner... Some people like to attend live lectures, some people like to go read in a corner
- Depending on the presenter... Some people like to present live lectures, some people like to go write in a corner
"As to theory, this book reflects the instructional design model of M. David Merrill, one of my mentors during my doctoral work at USC... Guidelines for the design of textual materials are based on the work of Robert E. Horn and are available in Information Mapping(TM) seminars... Finally, the illustration of instructional methods applied to two media--workbook and computer--is drawn from the instructional method/instructional media distinction of Richard E. Clark."
A set of steps
- Needs assessment "What task do people not know how to do that they should?"
- Task analysis "The people who do this thing right, what do they do? What do they know?"
- Learning objectives "What do we teach?"
- Assessment "How do we know whether they learned? How do we know whether the lesson/curriculum is working?"
- Try Out--Revise
- Provide to students
This book attempts to categorize things to learn. Other books do too, and of course they don't agree on categories. This book's schtick is a matrix:
|Apply||Classify new examples||Solve a proplem/Make an inference||Perform the procedure||Solve a (hazy) problem/Make a (deeper) inference|
|Remember||Remember the facts||Remember the definition||Remember the stages||Remember the steps||Remember the guidelines|
A great way to teach things: force students to apply the knowledge. As they use it, it weaves into their brains.
Facts Unfortunately, there's not generally a way to "apply" facts. If you have multiple related facts to present, try to show them in a list. In text, call out facts in some way. Suggest mnemonics. Set up "job aids" (references/"cheat sheets")
Concepts Definitions. Ask people to differentiate: which of these is/is not a ____? When teaching start with the "platonic ideal" example, work out to border cases.
Process This is a set of steps, but it's not a set of steps to carry out. It's like describing the "Life of a Chassis on the Assembly Line". This is useful if a car emerges with no wheels--you can ask at what stages something might have gone wrong.
Procedure A set of steps that someone might carry out. To assess--ask them to carry it out.
Principle High-level judgement calls. State the principle. Provide examples, non-examples. Sometimes analogies help.
Planning lesson/curriculum at the high level: Make sure that you start with an overview. Tell the students what they'll learn before they even sign up--so they're sure that they want to sign up. "Knowledge-based" vs "Job-Centered" -- group topics by similar topics or similar-time-applied? Knowledge-based good for long-term, high-level; job-centered good for immediate.
A section on computer-based training... that reminds us of how far computers have come along in the last few years. Nowadays, this section is about as useful as the Chicago Manual of Style's explanation on how to make an index from index cards.
Labels: book, instructional design