Tag Archives: Instructional Design

Has the IBO always gone overboard with criteria?

At the Nanjing International School, we use both the IBO curriculum and we are trying to adopt NoTosh’s ideas about Design Thinking.

I might argue that since we are trying to follow both the IB Design Curriculum AND Design Thinking we ask students to choose from at least one strand in each criterion.  In my teaching career with MYP, I have noticed most times every item from the IBO’s level 7-8 criteria does not make sense for students to complete.  They are not realistic and rather than student being informed by the process, they are bored out of their mind.

A case example:
If students would like to make a website, they might only choose:

Criterion A: Inquiring and analysing
The student:
i. explains and justifies the need for a solution to a problem for a client/ target audience
ii. constructs a detailed research plan, which identifies and prioritizes the primary and secondary research needed to develop a solution to the problem independently
iii. analyses a range of existing products that inspire a solution to the problem in detail 
iv. develops a detailed design brief, which summarizes the analysis of relevant research.

Criterion B: Developing ideas
The student:
i. develops detailed design specifications, which explain the success criteria for the design of a solution based on the analysis of the research (in this case, a website layout)
ii. develops a range of feasible design ideas, using an appropriate medium(s) and detailed annotation, which can be correctly interpreted by others
iii. presents the chosen design and justifies fully and critically its selection with detailed reference to the design specification
iv. develops accurate and detailed planning drawings/diagrams and outlines requirements for the creation of the chosen solution.

Criterion C: Creating the solution
The student:
i. constructs a detailed and logical plan, which describes the efficient use of time and resources, sufficient for peers to be able to follow to create the solution
ii. demonstrates excellent technical skills when making the solution. 
iii. follows the plan to create the solution, which functions as intended and is presented appropriately
iv. fully justifies changes made to the chosen design and plan when making the solution.

Criterion D: Evaluating
The student:
i. designs detailed and relevant testing methods, which generate data, to measure the success of the solution
ii. critically evaluates the success of the solution against the design specification based on authentic product testing
iii. explains how the solution could be improved 
iv. explains the impact of the product on the client/target audience. (IBO, 2014)

Following this idea, teachers would still have something to mark for every criterion, but it would be more succinct and we could enable the FUN back into the learning.  I would emphasize that we would want the students to choose and (verbally) justify why they have chosen those criteria.  Along the lines of Design Thinking, we want the kids to: “be immersed, synthesize, ideate, prototype, and then display” (NoTosh, 2015).

I think it is important that we follow the rules, but as educators we need to realize when the rules should be broken if we are ensuring that our students are not enjoying the subject matter.



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Instructional Design – Weeding

This video is the next in a series about instructional design and technology integration.  It focuses on “weeding” (Mayer and Moreno, 2003 as cited by Mayer and Clark, 2010, p. 308).  Note the video in this post: where cognitive overload occurs because of the split attention effect.  As a viewer, you are trying to focus either on the writing at the bottom of the screen or the verbal explanation.  The videos are nearly identical; however, in the video in this post most subtitles and music while speaking occurs was removed.  The effect is that it reduces extraneous processing by the viewer.


Mayer, R. E., & Clark, R. C. (2010). Instructional strategies for receptive learning environments. In K. H. Silber, & W. R. Foshay (Series Ed.), Handbook for improving performance in the workplace: Vol. 1. Instructional design and training delivery, (pp. 298-328). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Education, Technology


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Instructional Design – Cognitive Overload

This is the first video in a series involving key ideas in instructional design.  It has technology integrated through authentic means in the lesson.  It is meant to induce cognitive overload, but embeds a lot of information about instructional design in doing so.  Watch this video as a comparison.  This video specifically explores: 

  • Split Attention Effect
  • Cognitive Overload
  • Learning Styles
  • Primacy and Recency
  • Presentation of the Whole Task (Pebbles in the Pond)
  • Searching for Misconceptions
  • Looking for Evidence
  • Multimodal Presentation
  • Prior Knowledge
  • Creating an Atmosphere of Problem-Solving
  • Instructivist and Constructivist Techniques
  • Motivation
  • Choice
  • Differentiation

References and Resources

Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-459.

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.

Dunn, R., Beaudry, J. S., & Klavas, A. (2002). Survey of research on learning styles. California Journal of Science Education, II(2), 76-98. Retrieved from

Hattie, J. (1999). Influences on student learning. Retrieved from

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. A. (2007). Scaffolding and achievement in problem-based and inquiry learning: A response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006). Educational Psychologist, 42(2), 99-107.

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experimental, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.

Kozma, R. B. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 179-212.

Lovelace, M. K. (2005, January/February). Meta-analysis of experimental research based on the Dunn and Dunn model.  Journal of Educational Research, 98(3), 176-183.

Martinez, M. E. (2010). Learning and cognition: The design of the mind. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Silber, K. H. (2010). A principle-based model of instructional design. In K. H. Silber, & W. R. Foshay (Series Ed.), Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace: Vol. 1. Instructional design and training delivery, (pp. 23-52). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

van Gog, T., Ericsson, K. A., Rikers, R. M., & Paas, F. (2005). Instructional design for advanced learners: Establishing connections between the theoretical frameworks of cognitive load and deliberate practice. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 53(3), 73-81. Retrieved from

van Merriënboer, J. J., & Ayres, P. (2005). Research on cognitive load theory and its design implications for e-learning. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 53(3), 5-13. Retrieved from

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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Education, Technology


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Connecting around the world (within Timezones)

One of the projects on the back of my mind for our school is to buddy different classes or grades with “sister school” throughout the world.  Where this most often becomes is through technology, authentic needs and projects, and through meeting synchronously at the same time.  To alleviate this last worry, I was examining the idea to limit the schools we would connect with to those within our own timezone (for now).

Time Zones

Time Zones

This would mean that we could still get a cross-cultural feel for how things are in different parts of the world, but never have mix-ups or hiccups because of timing.  I can envision it now:

“Ok, great.  We’ll Skype with your class at 2pm then.”

“Wait, 2pm your time or mine?”

“Oh, ours.”

“Oh, we will already be gone home.”

This preplanning could fix all of this hassle down the road.  Because I am in Istanbul, this gives me a wide gamut of places and schools to consider, for example, Finland, Kiev, Bucharest, Cairo, Lubumbashi, Pretoria, Cape Town, and the list goes on.

Asynchronous conversations would end this worry and could be done through ideas like: Edmodo, Wikis, Blogging, Google Docs, Twitter, Twijector, and more.  However, there is definitely something about connecting in real-time.   I am excited about the idea and will comment further about the progress and the new problems we may face.


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Creating a Wiki?

Some advice that I would give to someone creating a wiki specifically for a class working synchronously:

  1. Students must write their information in Word first – for better grammar, but especially for back-up.
  2. Create separate designated pages for each student to work on – possibly name the pages with their name embedded to be changed out later – as the wiki creator, you may be the only one to have the page creation rights.
  3. If you know multiple people will be working on the same pages at the same times, allocate time buffer zones that people may post – for example, if 4 people work on the same page, one may post between 4-6pm, another between 7-9pm, another between 10-12pm, and another between 6-8am.

There are always Revision histories, but having 15-30 students post on the same page at the same time DOES NOT WORK. Separate the tasks and times as best as you can.

I would actually recommend Google Docs or Microsoft One-note if you are networked and have that option.  It depends on your final goal of the project.


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Theories, assumptions, and philosophical traditions as benefits to the instructional designer

If instructional designers have a lens with which to view or to reflect on a design process it can help support their practice altogether.   This lens can be the knowledge of foundational theories, assumptions, and philosophical traditions of instructional design.  Christensen (2008) writes it “helps later [to have this knowledge] when it comes to designing the instruction, but also serves as a guide for deciding how to analyze the learning tasks or content and how to assess learning.”

Smith and Ragan (2005) explain these three reasons to reflect upon philosophy and theory as an instructional designer:

  1. Theories are the sources of principles from which many of the prescriptions for design arise, and understanding of the base helps both the learning from the text and ability to engage in application in the field.
  2. Writers in this field need to acknowledge their bases of conclusions and recommendations.
  3. Theories allow designers to explain why they make the decisions they do.

These justifications are all well and good, but instructional designers would be wise to take heed to the advice of Rod Sims (2006) who states you should “assess the relevance of theories and frameworks informing the design and implementation of those environments.”

Examination of the examination is a pertinent component for instructional designers who focus on the lessons and courses, but who want to think about the big picture in doing so.


Christensen, T. K. (2008). The role of theory in instructional design: Some views of an ID practitioner. Performance Improvement , 47 (4), 25-32.

Sims, R. (2006). Beyond instructional design: Making learning design a reality. Journal of Learning Design , 1 (2), 1-7.

Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional Design, Third Edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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Apologies and Explanation

Dear readers,

As you may or may not know, I have recently started a PhD about Instructional Design for Online Learning. This in itself is a full-time job, especially given that I am taking two courses at once, per quarter. Add to this the fact that I am also working at a new job in a new country.

But to top this all off, two days from now I will be having a new baby boy. His name will be Mickey Thomas (some Thai name) Johnson. He will be born here in Turkey, fifteen minutes from my home at an excellent hospital named Medicana. I am both nervous and excited.

With these new additions in life, my posting for the next three years will not follow the: “Attention, Proof and Strategy” format I have set out to do. It will however showcase and sometimes call for feedback about some of the assignments or thought processes I will be working on.

The theme, “Technology, Design and Education” will still be prevalent with my forthcoming posts, just the formatting will be different, be miscellaneous, be wacky and be wild.

I look forward to writing more and hope you understand my rationale for this (temporary?) change.

Tom father-to-be Johnson


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