Sunday, May 15, 2011

Brain theories and implications for instructional designers

For an instructional designer, the function and capacity of the human mind is very important as it has a profound effect on learning. How the brain develops and how it organizes, processes, stores and recalls information has serious implications for teaching and learning. There are many amazing websites on the internet that explore the wonders of the human mind and here are few of my favorites:

John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist who has been studying the human brain and how it organizes information. This website really explores Dr. Medina’s twelve principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school. I have had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Medina and have attended his professional development sessions and witnessed his passion for the workings of the human mind. What I like about this website is that it contains some very good videos that discuss the brain from childhood and through adulthood and the implications it has for learning. Explore the section on attention and Dr. Medina explains that the human mind is not capable of multi-tasking, a controversial idea for today’s learners who like to listen to music, text, surf the internet and write a paper at the same time, and so this poses some interesting questions for instructional designers.  Check out the news section of the website for some very thought-provoking articles.

The learning solutions magazine provides a wealth of information for the instructional designer on how to create effective e-learning courses. This particular article provides specific, research based strategies that the instructional designer can use to develop an effective curriculum. What I like about this article is that it explains clearly the findings of brain research and then translates these into tangible strategies. The article then gives a detailed description of the strategies and how they assist the learner in storing and processing the information. This is definitely worth checking out.

The learning compass website is an informative site about brain research and its effects on education.  Although this website may seem more appropriate for math and science teachers, there are many parts to this site that would apply to any course. My favorite is the chart on research and implications on teaching. There is a very good section on ways people learn; it looks at students from kindergarten all the way through to twelfth grade. This section has some good advice that can be utilized by instructional designers.

An article in the Maricopa Community College publication sparked my interest as it looks at brain based research and whether it is just a fad. This article has some very sound advice for educators on the dangers of implementing research before clinical trials have taken place.  The article then goes on to give a general list of acceptable research findings and implications for educational use.

This is the journal of an associate professor at the Colorado State University. I wanted to include this because she links brain research to online instruction. The journal is very informative about memory and retrieval, learning Styles, and the role of emotion. Each of these sections has some very lucrative strategies that are relevant to online instruction.  There is a section on brain based instructional suggestions that contains good tips for educators.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The ins and outs of instructional design

There is an array of knowledge on the World Wide Web about instructional design and for any beginner stepping into this field, it can be overwhelming. Some of the information is pretty much common sense but there is a wealth of it that can be extremely useful to new, and even veteran, designers. Some of these blogs will appeal to the avid reader and others to the visual learner. All in all there is something for everyone. Instructional design is one of those fields where change is imminent and so it is necessary to keep up to date with theories and trends. Check out the following blogs and web resources:

This e-learning blog really explains what instructional design is all about. The user friendly interface really connects the reader to the blog. It contains a really good video to make a valid point about how instructional designers need to ensure learners know how to make sense of information.  The blog really explores the role of the instructional designer and the information is broken down into sections. Each section is summarized with a key point.  What is really useful about this blog is that it leads to other blogs about instructional design. Some of the ones worth exploring are:

Here’s How to Make Your E-Learning Course Meaningful

The blog also has some excellent links to instructional design resources which leads to some pretty interesting blogs and blog posts. If you’re looking for something user friendly and manageable then this is worth a look. 

This web resource is a very thorough explanation of the ADDIE system. There are various systems that instructional designers can use to create and deliver their course content and ADDIE is one of them. The wonderful thing about this website is the homepage provides an ‘at a glance’ table of ADDIE. Immediately it can be seen how this model can be used from the preplanning stage of the program to the evaluation stage. The website is broken down into pages; each page explores an aspect of ADDIE. What I love particularly about this website is that it leads to many other websites. It covers everything from learning theories to copyright laws. This web resource isn’t just for the novice; even accomplished designers will be surprised at the range of information that can be found.  Do not be put off by the layout of the website; the information certainly makes up for it.

Although the thirty online resources blog is mostly common sense advice, there is an extensive list for the veteran instructional designer. There are some links embedded in the blog. However, some of these do not work but the ones that do, lead to some very valuable resources. The list of resources covers ways to improve learning and also technology that can assist the instructional designer.  It is worth checking out for the resources.

The aligning learning theory with instructional design blog is very appealing for the visual learner as it displays information through a key term cloud, a visual timeline and very informative table that matches different theories to different stages of expertise. The information is broken down into manageable chunks and the blog also leads to other interesting blogs that visual learners will enjoy.

This web resource is for those who want extensive details about instructional technology. It offers links to hundreds of other sites and maybe a good starting point for those who want to look at various learning theories to help design a program. The website also covers the following important areas such as instructional technology. 

Whatever the needs of the instructional designer, these blogs and web resources should keep everyone satisfied.