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Towards a working definition of Instructional Design

Before starting my journey into the world of ID, I need to understand some key concepts, which sometimes we used interchangeably in a broader sense but that are essential to this discipline. This are not academic definitions, just a general idea to start figuring out the essential components of ID.

Instruction: purposeful activity intended to cause, guide or support learning.

Training: experiences that are focused on acquiring very specific skills for immediate use

Teaching: learning supported by a "teacher" (human interaction)

Education: formal and/or informal process. Life-long.

Magliaro and Shambaugh (2006) highlight that ID is process that construct models to guide the design of learning environment. Their idea of model is intrinsically linked to the notion of system, in that they are an internal representation of a network of concepts (and an explanation of their current functions and possible future interactions). This systematic approach puts the important aspects of learning at the forefront of the designing process.

De Jong, Weinberg, Girault et al (2012) point out that because of its learner-centred character, some authors refer to ID as Learning Design. Also, in relation to the quality of teaching, they argue that ID helps maintain a coherent pedagogy by formalising an unified format of pedagogical design and sequencing.

Merrill (2002) -as a response to criticism against ID- identify a set of principles of instruction which (a) most ID theories and models agree upon, (b) can be implemented using any delivery system or architecture and (c) relate to creating learning environments.Those principles are: problem-based; activation of prior knowledge; demonstration of skills; application of skills and integration of those skills into real-world activities.

As a general statement, we can accept Brown and Green (2016) Instructional Design definition as a process in which available research into how people learn, think, uses ICT and methods of analysis are utilised to create an environment where learning can effectively occur.


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