Learning Design Philosophy
Prior to starting on the path of my formal education as an instructional designer, I knew that I wanted to acquire knowledge that would position me to be more effective at serving others. Equally as important was having a creative outlet to analyze and solve problems where humans spend the majority of their lives – at work. When I think about learning design and workplaces, I have consistently heard individuals bring attention to the need for training to solve an organizational challenge. In those instances, I like to contribute to the ‘learning’ conversation by asking questions, critically examining the workplace, and advocating for the organization’s mission and its people.
I assess the context, people, and culture to make recommendations about learning interventions. If and when a learning gap exists, then I use exceptional communication to articulate the needs’ of the system. I do this by collaborating with stakeholders to design instruction that is informed by research-based best practices and supported by learning and motivational principles that are in consideration of both cognitive and affective motivational aspects.
Approach to Design
I approach the workplace as a consultant who strives to help organizations achieve their mission and impact employee performance. As a learning strategist, I center my work on instructional design and use these principles to assess barriers to performance, produce exceptional just-in-time learning support, and design instruction that is learner centered. For example, I consider the mental processes involved in learning such as cognitive load theory in my design. Cognitive load theory leads me to use strategies such as removing irrelevant material that may be distracting and overloading memory storage, which is detrimental to acquiring new knowledge (Kirschner, et al., 2009). The following sections define my instructional design philosophy and outline the various principles, models, and theories that inform how I approach my role as a learning strategist.
I use the ADDIE model (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) to design instruction. While each phase is important, analysis leads me to the reasons for developing instruction (Smith & Ragan, 2005, p. 43). I view the ADDIE model as a cyclical relationship framework where each phase contributes to the design (2005). While evaluation is listed as last on the model, I use evaluation alongside the entire design to design assessment for the learner and to assess my design process. For example, while conceptualizing the learning goals, I determine how the learner and their progress will be assessed in relation to the learning goals.
As a learning technologist, I approach my role as a curator of the most appropriate technology that will achieve the learning outcomes. I know, and the research supports, that the key to sound instruction are the instructional methods and design (and not technology) that support cognitive processes for the learners (Clark & Mayer, 2008). For example, I curate educational technology that supports learning by removing extraneous aspects as a technique to manage students’ cognitive load. I am confident in my ability to experiment with new technology while keeping the learning objectives, my learners, and the learning environment at the forefront of decision making.
My design is informed by Bandura’s social cognitive theory and sociocultural theory that emphasize that learning happens in a social context (Shuell, 2013). I prefer to use these theories because it allows me to examine the learners’ capabilities while recognizing that learning and behavior is part of a continuous and complicated process.
One of the most important elements of improving my design skills is to stay current and challenge myself to keep learning about this evolving field. I believe that my success depends on my ability to welcome advances in education, evaluate new technologies, stay current, and continue to improve and evaluate my practice. I view personal growth as vital to improving the work I do and serving organizations and its employees more effectively.
Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). Learning by viewing versus learning by doing: Evidence-based guidelines for principled learning environments. Performance Improvement, 47(9), 5–13. doi:10.1002/pfi
Kirschner, P., Kirschner, F., & Paas, F. (2009). Cognitive load theory.
Shuell, T. (2013). Theories of learning. Education.com
Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional design (3rd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN: 978-0-471-39353-5