“The medium is the message” is an age-old saying, and it can offer a good starting point when thinking about the role of instructional design, as well as its application to classroom settings.
At its essence, instructional design is a systematic way of designing teaching solutions with the goal of maximizing their effectiveness. More specifically, it emphasizes the importance of delivery alongside content. Whether that’s introducing technology, improving curricula or adjusting communication strategies, instructional design helps to create a more efficient exchange of information. By developing a more effective structure for delivering information, instructional designers help enhance the learning process.
In the Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology online program from St. Thomas University (STU), students will learn the fundamentals of inclusive, effective instructional design and ways to apply those principles not just to classroom settings but also to a range of learning environments, from corporate training seminars to human resources application and beyond.
Instructional designers aim to create learning environments to suit all ability levels through the implementation of new technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic sparked new innovations, practices and strategies, and the use of remote and blended learning experiences is exploding.
When thinking about their role in designing learning experiences for students, instructional designers should keep a few key guidelines in mind.
Enhance the Learning Experience
The ultimate goal for instructional designers is to enhance the learning experience. They should strive to achieve what is called successful technology integration (STI). There are many ways that tech is used in modern learning experiences, an Edutopia article notes, but STI is “routine and transparent, accessible and readily available for the task at hand, (supports) the curricular goals and (helps) the students to effectively reach their goals.” The use of technology should be seamless and not take time or energy away from the lesson.
Maximize Available Technology
Unfortunately, budgets and other constraints don’t always allow for the application of technology in every classroom for every student. It’s important, therefore, for instructional designers to assess the level of available technology and create a learning experience that makes the most of that technology.
For example, a digital whiteboard is a dynamic tool that can not only utilize a variety of teaching tools but also serve as the focal point of a classroom in the same way as a traditional blackboard. Invite students to come up and interact with the whiteboard as well. Instructors can use digital whiteboards to engage students in new ways.
Edutopia offers several feasible ideas for using technology in classrooms, including having students record their own audiobooks or creating a class wiki for students to access anywhere.
Prioritize the Needs of Students
With instructional design, it’s important to shape content delivery around student needs. The best lesson plans are rendered moot if students cannot understand or engage with the content. Taking a student-first approach to content delivery helps instructional designers create experiences that maximize learning.
Ensure Equity and Accessibility
Technology integration can level the playing field for students who need additional support in the classroom. For those with physical or learning disabilities, there’s a world of new technologies that can accommodate a range of learning needs. Good instructional design aims for equity and accessibility, leading to optimal learning experiences for all students.