Reappraising Design Practice

Reappraising Design Practice

Roderick C. Sims (University of New England, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-189-4.ch002
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Since the emergence of computer-based applications to support teaching and learning in the early 1970s, the practices of those responsible for the design and development of those applications have received considerable attention. The underpinning tradition for those designers and developers has been the practice of Instructional Design, a series of guiding principles to define and create artefacts and/or strategies to facilitate learning. However, as computer technology has evolved over the past 40 years, the successful application of that technology to education and training has not been consistently achieved. It is therefore timely to revisit and reappraise design practices to assess the alignment of these ‘traditional’ approaches with contemporary technology and pedagogy. This chapter argues that to design and develop learning and teaching environments that support an emergent, learner-centred pedagogy, especially in terms of the role and value of simulations, requires an alternative design mindset. To this end, the chapter elaborates an enhanced version of Proactive Design for Learning (PD4L) and its application to e-simulations as a set of principles that enable technology and pedagogy to align, through the synergy of both the attributes of networked, online technology and contemporary approaches to learning. By applying PD4L in association with an outcomes-based ethos, more effective learning through e-simulations will emerge.
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Design Traditions

In 1976, when I first encountered the possibility of using computers in a teaching and learning context, the relationship was crystal clear. The designer would use fundamental computer programming structures (variables, loops, conditions, indexes, arrays) to create applications that would be accessed by the learner, and which would allow that learner to interact based on the instructions within the program code. The applications which emerged in those early days of our field were pedagogically sound, graphically accurate, and enabled complex interaction between the learner and the subject matter. The design principles supporting the development of these computer-based learning tools were predicated on the fundamental principles of Instructional Design (O’Neil, 1979) and design strategies for specific applications, such as the simulation, were given explicit treatment (e.g. Alessi & Trollip, 1985). In addition, the competencies required to successfully undertake a development project were embedded in a subject-matter expert, an instructional designer, and a programmer. The design, development, and implementation of computer-based resources and environments aimed to enhance and/or facilitate the teaching and learning process were not only the result of pedagogical competencies, but also those associated with software development and the human-computer interface.

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