my first year experiences as a blogger and as a member of the web 2.0 learning community, I realize that a lot of my focus over the last year has been on informal learning topics. I started this blog as a way to explore web 2.0 tools, partly to educate myself, and partly to contribute and share what I could with others about my experiences as I attempt to integrate these technologies into workplace learning. This got me thinking about how little of my explorations have been focused on instructional design for formal learning. Then I read this blog post Is Instructional Design Dying? over at the eLearning Authority this morning which compelled me to write this tonight.
I’ve been working in learning & development roles for a number of years. First and foremost I consider myself to be an instructional designer. And while I admit that I no longer spend as much of my time involved in rigorous design these days, it informs everything that I do. Yes, we are in the non-linear age of elearning programs and informal learning but does that mean we should abandon systems thinking? Just because we develop elearning rapidly, it doesn’t mean we have to do it poorly. Don’t we still need to analyze tasks and learner behavior to know what needs to go into a rapid elearning course? And even though we may not be able to prescribe the path our learners take as they pursue their learning goals through informal means, can’t we still be thoughtful and creative about what we place in their path?
Like many who are using rapid elearning tools today, early in my career my approach to instructional design was based on intuition. Trial and error was my course development process. I remember my excitement when I first encountered the Dick & Carey model. It allowed me to be more deliberate in my approach to design and my results were consistently better.
Some people criticize the Dick & Carey model for being too rigid and inflexible for learning in today’s world. To those people I would say, “It’s a model.” It is a representation of our reality, but it is not our reality. It is up to us as learning professionals to bring insight, flexibility, and creativity to the design process.
A few years ago, I gave away my copy of The Systematic Design of Instruction - a great reference book on how to apply the Dick & Carey model - to a new staff member in my department who was just beginning her career as a course developer. Earlier this year, I bought a new copy for myself because even though things are changing, it is still important to my work. But if I come across another enthusiastic novice course developer, I just might give this copy away too.