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Trends in Instructional Design

Today we are going to take a look at some of the trends in instructional design that have been accelerating in recent years.

As a starting point, the ability of learners to access information when it is needed, using browser-based resources, is driving many of the changes in education.

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Technology is also enabling great quantities of information to become accessible in multiple formats—text, audio, video, simulation— adding flexibility to the learning experience.

Smart instructional designers recognize the need to help educators and students navigate the oceans of information to produce the best learning outcomes.

Interactivity is one of the cornerstones of the new approach to learning. This includes not only the use of online resources, but also face-to- face involvement in projects with other students and educators.

As interest in blended learning has grown, the efficacy of such programs has been studied by an increasing number of educational experts. Studies dating back more than a decade show that classrooms blending lecture, group study, and online aspects produce students who are more involved in their own education and more motivated to learn, resulting in higher achievement.

One trend getting a great deal of interest is learning through simulation. This mode of learning takes advantage of concepts and techniques popularized by the oft-maligned (by many parents and educational professionals) gaming industry. These resources use high- definition video and audio, animation, and branching strategies to virtually place the user inside the desired experience.

Perhaps the most far-reaching instructional design trend is the ongoing shift from one-size- fits-all learning to personalized learning. With personalized learning, individuals

  • take responsibility for their own learning.
  • have the tools to learn most effectively.
  • choose avenues of exploration and experimentation.
  • self-assess to enhance learning.
  • become more engaged in student centered classroom environment.

Technology is a primary feature of personalized learning, as without instant access and feedback such learning is difficult to sustain. Yet despite the emphasis on the learner, instructional design is still of utmost importance. The designer provides the initial guiding hand so that the individual can find appropriate materials and fit them into the course of learning. The designer also figures out the pathways that the learner can take and the knowledge nodes that must be covered in order to attain mastery of the subject.

In conclusion, web-based interactive learning can be a flexible and cost-effective alternative to traditional classroom learning, but it can also be a waste of time and money if implemented poorly. Despite the whiz-bang nature of new technology and strategies, sometimes the most effective learning is achieved through time-honored techniques. Good instructional designers understand that the best curriculum is the one that takes elements of all styles to meet the needs of the various stakeholders in the education process: learners first, then educators, and then the institution.

For more on the same topic, check out our recent webinar video: Instructional Design: Putting the A-ha Moment into Teaching and Learning.

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