Reflections on Learning about Learning


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)


Connecting Readers to the Classics through Transmedia Storytelling


You’ve probably noticed how effective the book-to-movie trend is at connecting people to popular fiction–and sometimes classics such as The Hobbit. This cross-media approach, which has really morphed into transmedia entertainment franchises (e.g., Game of ThronesStar Wars) in Hollywood is a great reading promotion tool for librarians.

But, transmedia storytelling is more than just a Hollywood thing–it’s quickly become an indie thing, thanks to the proliferation of easy-to-use digital creation and social media tools. And many of these indie transmedia storytelling projects provide librarians (and teachers) with fantastic opportunities to connect readers to classic literature, of all things. For example:

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Also, check out Ever, Jane–a role-playing game based on the world of Jane Austen.

For those who prefer Charlotte Bronte, The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is a modern adaptation of the story.

Want to introduce readers to the wonderful world of Anne of Green Gables? Check out Green Gables Fables.

Frankenstein MD offers an imaginative retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

A Tell Tale Vlog is sure to turn readers into Edgar Allen Poe fans.

These are just a sampling of the transmedia projects out there that have turned classic literature on its head. And they are just waiting for librarians and teachers to discover them and use them as tools to connect their readers to some of the greatest literature ever written!