Tag Archives: Learning

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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Online Learning: Good or Bad?

I was recently in a forum where Berno Nilssonasked asked the question, “What do you think about online learning?”

My response was:

I believe that online learning is a growing educational forum.  I feel that all educators need to consider this as something that is not an alternative but is considered necessary integration in education.  Students today are living online.  We need to meet them in the arena they know best.

Judith Hammock, another responder, wrote:

I believe that online distance learning will continue to build momentum in the future. It brings education to students who do not have access to colleges and universities and provides them opportunities they never had before. Online teaching, to me, requires some special skills. These include the ability to show your enthusiasm for your subject matter through writing, good organizational skills, and the ability to engage your students without your physical presence.

Having had experience with online learning both with teaching and as a student, I feel that the best instructors provide a caring atmosphere which keeps the students engaged.

Conversely there is the argument that online learning takes away from the personal, humanness that we should nurture as we grow.  We need to tread slowly in this journey into the digital.  For example C. L. Max Nikias writes:
…between the ages of 17 and 22, a person’s mind and spirit open wide, as she begins to explore her world, her place in it, and what she intends to contribute to her society. It is during this age that some of a person’s most intense bonds and affiliations take shape. Because of this, the best undergraduate college or university education should be experienced in community, so that shared social, athletic and cultural experiences can be as mutually transforming as the intellectual experiences inside the classroom, library or laboratory.
My argument is also that online learning does not need to be separate from learning at school, especially in earlier years.  Teachers should be guiding students through ways to learn online.  I have a blog post that talks about Searching beyond Google and a page that Explores ways to Collaborate Online.

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