Reflections on Instructional Design & Technology
The Various Fields with Application for IDT.
Business and Industry
Corporations are motivated to pursue effective instruction because it translates to profits. Often, consultants from the IDT field are brought in to identify and solve problems with people and processes. Like military work, culture can have significant implications in instructional design. Language and tradition impact how businesses operate and can create problems for businesses. IDT professionals may experience pressure to make business faster and cheaper. This could provide some frustration if the professional felt that the business decisions made went against their expertise. Here, as in other IDT fields, relationships and negotiation skills can facilitate the work of IDT professionals.
Work in Instructional Design in the military requires a willingness to comprehend and appreciate the unique culture of the military. This would be more extreme than merely different companies and it would be important to take that into consideration before accepting work with the military. There were also demands for knowledge beyond what IDT education prepares students for. This work necessitates additional and ongoing professional development for effectiveness. The military work provided a rewarding sense of accomplishment due to engaging work and the opportunity to develop a wide breadth of IDT experience.
The changing landscape in IDT at the collegiate level was explored by authors from the US, Australia, and Japan. In each country, there is a struggle for balance between content and pedagogy. From Japan, Nemoto expressed his struggle to balance demands placed on him due to his expertise, the passion he has for research, and the work he committed to in blazing the trail with an entirely online university. Though Nemoto was positive about the growth in IDT in Japan, there was a tone of frustration interwoven in his explanation of his role in the field. I infer from Nemoto’s writing that a career in IDT can mean that you wear many hats simultaneously and must weigh your personal goals against those of the institution you serve.
Australia senses the impact IDT can have and shows support as a nation through federal funding. That sends a powerful message and likely contributes to a culture where innovation and the marriage of content and pedagogy are celebrated. Albion and McDonald spend a considerable amount of time in collaboration where they facilitate partnerships of content and pedagogy experts as they begin units. As the practitioners become familiar with the flow of unit design and implement feedback, they are increasingly independent. From their explantation of IDT in Australia, Albion and McDonald give the impression that Australia lies ahead of the curve in the IDT realm.
The United States presented a different set of challenges for Dempsey and Litchfield. They stressed the importance of forming relationships so that professors will open up to the trainings they provide. Both descriptions of IDT work in the US alluded to a hierarchical system where “freshmen” are the most captive audience and tenured professors avoid vulnerability and growth.
While practitioners from the three nations discussed challenges and frustrations in their work, they each seemed very engaged and motivated by parts of their work. Some themes that arose were relationships and empowerment. In order to affect change in instruction, we must first have a window into the learning which is taking place. People need to trust us in order to be vulnerable about their practice. The more symbiotic relationships described in Australia demonstrate how IDT can benefit students, professors, universities, and research. Empowerment was demonstrated as IDT professionals expressed how they felt when learners were thriving and when instructors reached increased levels of independence and flow in their unit design. The work of IDT professionals in the three nations developed potential in colleagues rather than maintaining control over their knowledge base.
I identified with the cultural implications that affect work as an instructional designer. Each school district and campus has their own culture. An IDT professional must come in and listen and watch to gauge how best to affect change. Sometimes, I may have to deal with a principal who is territorial with teachers or who doesn’t agree with district initiatives. I truly enjoyed reading about IDT in Post-Secondary education. There exists such potential to bring subject matter experts together with learner experts. I would like to see a shift in my position as I seek to bring teachers together who are learner experts and subject matter experts to capitalize on their strengths for the good of students. While there is no official tenure system in place anymore in K-12 public education in Texas, there is a hierarchy of teachers with more experience. Though many are fantastic, growth-minded teachers, some are cynical and resistant to the work of instructional designers.
Global Trends in IDT
The United States could benefit from further consideration of how culture and language impact instruction. We have experienced wave after wave of immigration and we cannot ignore the implications of language and culture on design, nor should we. From Korea, we can draw inspiration for developing global solutions to issues facing learners and instructors. Even in this, we as IDT professionals have the opportunity to model collaboration and innovation. If we do not collaborate, we will waste time and money.
It seems that Europe maintains the posture that learners should be driven by extrinsic motivation. Learners must value the work or they will not carry the learning past your course. I found that, by taking away homework, my students learned more at home than they had in previous years. They spent time researching and creating, reading, writing and teaching. I have spent time training other teachers on the beauty of a classroom where real world problems are discussed and students work to solve them.
Though there are teachers in the US pursuing rigorous, meaningful, problem-based learning, our system does not deserve credit. In Texas, the standards serve as mire that teachers get stuck on and lose sight of the vision. We need to be educating students to be the people we would be honored to work and live with. Our country and world have a lot of problems and we need to give kids more time to struggle through meaningful problems so that they develop skills to cope with this process (p21.org).
Tracey, M and Morrison, G (2012). Instructional Design in Business and Industry. In R. Reiser and J. Dempsey's, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 178-185). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Bratton-Jeffrey, M.F. and Jeffrey, A.(2012). Instructional Design Opportunities Military Education and Training Environments. In R. Reiser and J. Dempsey's, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 187-96). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Albion, P., Dempsey, J. Litchfield, B., McDonald, J. and Nemoto, J. (2012). Five University Roles for Desinger. In R. Reiser and J. Dempsey's, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 218-228). Boston, MA: Pearson.