CCK08: Assignment 2

“Conducting” Instructional Design

The origins of the word educate hearken back to the Latin root of the word, educare, meaning “to bring forward.” Instructional design (ID) is typically defined along the lines of “the systematic process of developing effective instructional materials.” Web-based technologies are transforming the educational landscape in both formal and informal learning environments. If the courses that instructional designers build are to remain relevant to learners’ needs, then the instructional designer must assume the role of conductor, allowing for the bringing forth of knowledge and learning in addition to the dissemination of information. However, at least in the K-12 system, the realization of this goal remains next to impossible due to the practical constraints placed on distance education teachers. Mandated curricula and the absence of time and support for teachers to gain expertise with new technologies limit the ability of teachers to explore alternatives.

Siemens (2008a) has identified a variety of “networked roles” (1) that educators may assume in the course of instruction: among these “metaphors of educators” are teacher as master artist (15); teacher as network administrator (16); teacher as concierge (16); and teacher as curator (17). In addition, Siemens also suggests that in accordance with these new roles, instructional designers are best described as educators of educators (18), providing technological and pedagogical support and suggestions to teachers.

In the initial stages of the ID process, teachers and subject matter experts do need to be educated about the guiding principles used to inform instructional design. In course development, one may also work with writers, editors, multimedia and graphics coordinators, graphic artists, programmers, production technicians, IT support staff and network administrators, among others. Bringing the talents of all of these individuals together is a way of making pedagogical music.

Instructional design can offer tremendous flexibility (Cain, 2008). There is no reason that ID cannot accommodate “clusters” of course attributes or components that might constitute learning ecologies, as described by Siemens in his Instructional Design and Connectivism presentation (Siemens, 2008b, Slide 16).

Traditionally, assessment has focussed uniquely on assessment of learning (summative assessment and evaluation). Policy-makers (WNCP, 2006) acknowledge the importance of also conducting assessment for learning (differentiating instruction) and assessment as learning—“the process of developing and supporting metacognition for students (13). The task remaining for instructional designers and educators is to identify the means to implement these strategies. Slowly, policy-makers are also introducing metacognition into curriculum frameworks. However, measuring metacognition in instruction will remain a challenge.

The adoption of new social software technologies for collaborative learning, alternative lesson plans, suggested supplementary resources, assessment rubrics, and alternative assessment strategies can all be provided as part of the instructional design process.

For online course delivery, Open Source LMS’s such as Drupal and Moodle are proving to be economically viable alternatives to using proprietary LMS’s such as Blackboard/WebCT. Moodle’s design, however, makes it most useful to teachers who are using a social constructivist approach to explore thematically-based material. Tinkerers may enjoy the flexibility of Drupal and Moodle, with their extensive selection of custom plug-ins; the reality, however, is that at least in the K-12 system, many DE teachers are challenged enough just maintaining the everyday management of student workflow and course delivery, given that DE schools typically offer continuous enrolment to students. In addition, “the class size and class composition limits defined by legislation explicitly exclude distributed learning from those provisions.” (BCTF, 2006, 7)

There is little in the way of ongoing professional in-service offered to these teachers, and they are often teaching high numbers of students in many different courses at once. One advantage of proprietary LMS’s is that customer support staff are readily available for DE teachers, technicians and administrators in the event that they run into difficulties.

Open content initiatives such as Curriki and WikiEducator may provide alternatives to proprietary courseware, but information mining is required to find the instructional nuggets that may be included in any given course. If a course has been developed for a curriculum other than that which is locally mandated, then areas of overlap and divergence must be identified. When a course has been specifically designed to align to a local curriculum, teachers needn’t be concerned with these issues.

So long as the “industrial mindset” (Alger, 2003) remains the driving model behind K-12 education, little will change for instructional designers working to support teachers in the field.


Alger, Brian (October 14, 2003). “Re: Is Instructional Design Becoming a Commodity?” Posted comment. Stephen’s Web. Available from

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (2006). BCTF Research Report: Distributed Learning in British Columbia Schools 2006-07. PDF document. Available online at:

Cain, Geoffrey (2008). “Instructional Design in a Connected World.” Blog post. Brainstorm in Progress. Available at

Siemens, G. (2008a). Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing Roles for Educators and Designers. University of Georgia IT Forum. PDF document. Available from

Siemens, G. (2008b). Instructional Design and Connectivism. Articulate presentation. Available from

Western and Northern Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Education (2006). Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind. PDF document. Available from





One Response to “CCK08: Assignment 2”

  1. CCK08: Week 10 Wild Flower Garden « Clyde Street Says:

    […] how to change mine.) This paper discussed Latin characteristics of education and training. Adrian brought another perspective to educare. Matthias looked at openness here. Lisa explored resistance, […]

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