Exclusive IGI Global interview with Prof. Elspeth McKay

Navigating Instructional Design to Improve Education with Prof. Elspeth McKay

By Abdoul Amadou on Apr 13, 2018
Prof.McKayPhoto Education can undoubtedly be considered as one of the hallmarks of civilization. Since immemorial times, people have engaged in learning activities, be it learning how to hunt or how to polish stones. In the 21st century, there is a constant need and effort to come up with ways designed to make the acquisition of knowledge more efficient and more effective. Co-editor of the publication, Macro-Level Learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Strategies and Predictions for the Future, and an expert in Instructional Design, Prof. Elspeth McKay from RMIT University, Australia, took the time to share her insights on current and future research trends she has identified in this field.

What inspired you to pursue research activities in your research area?

My undergraduate students were my inspiration to pursue research activities related to investigating instructional strategies on database knowledge acquisition. I noticed a marked difference in their reactions to receiving written material and drawings (or graphical descriptions) of the database-knowledge constructs. For instance, some people had difficulty learning how to design relational database files in order to make queries. This activity involved students conceptualizing the digital file relationship attributes in both the abstract (the relationship) and concrete concepts (the database attributes). I noticed that some people found this activity very difficult, while others were more comfortable.

At the same time, I was undertaking my own Graduate Certificate of Applied Science Degree in Instructional Design. This qualification equipped me with the leading instructional design theories, including these well-known masters of instructional science: Robert Gagné, conditions of learning; David M. Merrill, teaching concepts and the component display theory; Charles Reigeluth, the elaboration theory; Robert D Tennyson, instructional design and computer-based instructional systems for adaptive education.

Consequently, my Ph.D study investigated whether there was any effect of cognitive instructional preference and learning outcomes. The findings led to further research studies that focus on online learning pedagogies.

Why are your respective areas of research important to the field at large?

My fields of research include: instructional design (ID), human-computer interaction (HCI), cognitive instructional preference styles, cognitive performance measurement, instructional systems design (ISD), and learning analytics.

Consequently, the combination of all these research areas is important to the field at large because of the synergistic effect and the transdisciplinary nature of the fields I work in. These fields are no longer disparate due to the complexity of the online environment. ID provides the underpinning instructional psychology foundation to establish appropriate ePedagogies that ensure achievable instructional outcomes.

HCI provides the technological know-how (machine dimension), while the human dimension articulates how people react to their computing activities. This is the juncture where researchers can examine how the cognitive preference of individuals will dictate their digital skills and performance. I firmly believe these aforementioned areas of research culminate in the effectiveness of the resulting ISD. Finally, the area of learning analytics are beneficial as well, for they provide the metrics between the instruction and the learner/trainee.

Macro-level Learning
What are the future directions of your research areas?

Future directions of my research include, firstly, advocating for effective instruction systems design (ISD) that meets the complex digital skills development of tomorrow’s world. Secondly, I see the broadening of virtual online instructional environments calling for the development of appropriate measurements of learning analytics models. Finally, I will continue my PhD supervisions that innovate cutting-edge solutions to wicked digital skill problems; This means being involved in the dissemination of research results and participating in collaborative projects with other researchers.

What are some other evolving research trends you have observed in your industry/field over the past several months and what would you say are some of the innovative research directions you foresee in the future? How do you feel your publication sets the pace for these innovations?

I see continual trending of industry-led research outcomes, which will lead to technological breakthroughs that will benefit developing nations. The digital environment now has a truly global reach. In the future, this means that there will be multilingual mobile device application development, which will provide people with seamless access. In terms of setting the pace for these innovations, publishing my research in academic journals would be a fast avenue to stay on top of emerging trends. However, edited books, which can be considered as a melting pot of contributing authorship, are also a good alternative, because they elicit a wider forum for reporting trends in progress.

What has your experience been like publishing with IGI Global?

My publishing experience with IGI Global has been rich and rewarding. I have valued the comprehensive instruction kit that commences the book publishing journey and leads the editor/publisher relationship in a gentle yet well-managed sequence of events. Finally, I am convinced that with targeted marketing on both sides of this relationship, there is added benefit for both parties that is realized in the ongoing nature of the royalty payments.
IGI Global is grateful for the opportunity to work with Prof. McKay and we look forward to seeing more collaboration that will result in the publication of invaluable content such as her book, Macro-Level Learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Strategies and Predictions for the Future. We would like to thank Prof. McKay for helping IGI Global cultivate and disseminate emerging concepts and theories in the field of Education.
For more information please check out these related publications and recommend them to your library.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
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