Designing Education Outside of the Traditional Classroom

Designing Education Outside of the Traditional Classroom

Barbara A. Frey (D. Ed. University of Pittsburgh, USA), Richard G. Fuller (Robert Morris University, USA) and Gary William Kuhne (Penn State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-865-4.ch001
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Some General Principles Regarding Educational Design

Designing educational programs or courses is normally referred to as “instructional design” in education literature, a phrase referring to the systematic procedures utilized by educators when developing educational programs. Usually these procedures form an integrated process incorporating several distinct elements or steps. While often presented in a sequential fashion, most models suggest that the steps should not be followed in a strictly linear manner. While many models of instructional design have been proposed in the literature, despite the nuances of distinction within a specific model, most include a number of similar foundational elements. These common elements of instructional course design include:

  • 1.

    Assessing the learning needs in the targeted learners for the program.

  • 2.

    Establishing of learning goals and objectives based upon uncovered learner needs.

  • 3.

    Determining the curriculum and content to best fulfill the established objectives for the program.

  • 4.

    Choosing the appropriate mix of teaching and learning methods and strategies.

  • 5.

    Coordinating the support systems for delivery of the program.

  • 6.

    Evaluating the various learning outcomes for the program.

These primary elements in the instructional design process will be evident whether the courses are designed for traditional, face-to-face settings, or are delivered via distance education. Each of these elements (and other related issues) will be explained within this book.

Identifying needs is the critical root of all effective instructional design because learner motivation is related to the learner’s perception of whether an educational program actually addresses a perceived need. A variety of tools are used for needs assessment, including interviews, surveys, focus groups, expert opinion, and observation. Once the needs have been determined, the instructional designer develops specific learning objectives. Such objectives guide the development of content as well as create a basis for program evaluation. Learning objectives are usually organized according to the knowledge, skill, and attitudinal components of uncovered needs. Knowledge components refer to the facts, information, and thought processes essential to meeting a need. Skill components refer to the psychomotor, relational, and professional skills that must be connected to thinking to successfully address the need. Many uncovered needs will also have attitude components, which refers to the perceptions and perspectives needing developed in the learner to meet the uncovered need, such as being willing to adopt new value systems and beliefs.

Designing content for courses occurs as instructional designers take each of the identified knowledge, skill, and attitudinal components and determine the specific content to be learned to achieve each objective. Such content is often developed with the aid of content experts. After developing the specific content, instructional designers are better able to determine the appropriate pre-requisites for the course. The established content is then organized and sequenced by instructional designers, usually by starting with the familiar in order to create a link to existing schema and experiences of the learner and then building up to the new and more complex information. Instructional designers organize content using classifying strategies like taxonomies to help “chunk” information. Designers also use spatial learning strategies such as visual displays, frames or matrices, and concept mapping to organize the content, as well as bridging strategies to help learners apply prior knowledge to new information, such as advanced organizers, or creating metaphors and analogies. Finally, designers use rehearsal strategies to review material, asking questions, summarize.

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