Today, I successfully defended my thesis to earn a MS in Instructional Design and Technology. The journey has ended. Or really, it has just begun!
I have learned a whole lot over the course of the last few years, especially about learning. And I have come to realize that understanding how we learn and how to design instruction for learning (learning spaces too) is centrally important to anyone who is involved in the educational world — both formal (schools and colleges) and informal (public libraries and museums).
Here are some things I learned in my IDT journey:
- Gifted teachers intuitively use the most effective instructional strategies to promote student learning
- Most of us are not gifted teachers, but learning about instructional design principles can make all of us better teachers
- Anyone who teaches should become familiar with Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction (not just Bloom’s taxonomy!)
- Good instructional design encompasses the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
- Strategies that are often recommended to support learning differences (scaffolding, graphic organizers, multimodal instruction) benefit ALL learners
- Instructional design is just as important for informal learning (e.g., library programs) as it is for formal learning
- Constructivism is a difficult concept to grasp without a strong understanding of constructivist learning theories (e.g., activity theory) — and really, constructivism is more philosophy than theory
- Never focus on technology first; ALWAYS focus on learning first, otherwise you fall into the trap of pushing for the use of “cool tools” rather than problem-solving tools
- HOW you use technology to meet a learning need is more important than the fact that it was used
- Understanding the learning affordances of different technologies is necessary for effective technology integration
- Even learning spaces benefit from instructional design (in my opinion, an instructional designer should absolutely be a part of the design team for a learning commons)