The Blend Podcast

#7 What is Instructional Design?

February 10, 2021 The Blend Podcast Season 1 Episode 7
The Blend Podcast
#7 What is Instructional Design?
Chapters
The Blend Podcast
#7 What is Instructional Design?
Feb 10, 2021 Season 1 Episode 7
The Blend Podcast

This week Tom and Brendan talk about Instructional Design. What even is it? The guys try and wade through the waffle and make sense of instructional/course/e-learning design and what really is important when designing learning for people!

Find us at Blend for more information!



Show Notes Transcript

This week Tom and Brendan talk about Instructional Design. What even is it? The guys try and wade through the waffle and make sense of instructional/course/e-learning design and what really is important when designing learning for people!

Find us at Blend for more information!



Intro/Outro:

Welcome to the blend podcast with Tom and Brendan, discussing all things eLearning, digital marketing, design and entrepreneurship. The podcast is brought to you by blend interactive content, find us on LinkedIn, or www dot Blend dot training.

Tom Payani:

Hello, Brendan, how are you?

Brendan Cox:

Hey, Tom. I am good.

Tom Payani:

Nice to speak to you. And, um, this week, we're talking about instructional design. And I think this is quite a good podcast episode to do. Because, you know, there's a whole industry around this, and no one really knows how to define it very well, or you hear so many different definitions of what instructional design is, or what it even means and sometimes gets a bit ridiculous, doesn't it?

Brendan Cox:

Yeah, it seems to be a bit of a well, I know, it's got different definitions. But it's like a catch all term for all sorts of different things. I mean, the official version of it, is that it's basically it was it started as instructional systems design, which is basically a framework for learning. And it's kind of rooted in cognitivism, which basically is focusing on how people learn and like the, like the learner at the centre of it, and their approach to stuff. So that was kind of around in the 50s. And basically, it's just a framework for like, how to build like materials for instruction and learning?

Tom Payani:

Well, I think a nice way to describe it, as you know, obviously, I'm from an educational background. And, you know, a big part of my my work before was was curriculum design, you know, designing courses, designing curriculum for students. And instructional design is just a variation on that really, you know, more focused in for the E learning world in this whole elearning industry that has started to grow more and more. Anyway, that's how it's helped me understand what instructional design is about. And obviously, at blend, our roles are pretty, pretty defined in quite a clear way, where I sort of do the instructional design. I mean, obviously, we, we talk about ideas together, don't we, and we plan things together. But what I mean is, you know, your, your expertise is designed in a more traditional sense, or, you know, motion design, animation, etc. And I'll try and fit in, we'll try and build a course around the assets, you design for me into whatever projects we're doing and designing the course. And the steps of that course, is the instructional design part.

Brendan Cox:

Yep. Yeah, at the end of the day, I'm basically my background is in storytelling and yours is in teaching people how to do something. So basically, at the start, we we chat about it, we analyse it together, and then you work out what they need to learn to what what they need to be able to do. And then I help you make the content that work, like gets them to a point where they can do it.

Tom Payani:

Yeah, I think it's a nice way of put it, putting it maybe is like the meaning of telling someone or helping someone to learn something by using storytelling. I think storytelling is where we meet in the middle, isn't it? You've got the design background, I've got the education background, and well we meet in the middle, where you know, where we have a common ground is is how we love storytelling and how we try and implement storytelling into whatever we're doing.

Brendan Cox:

Yeah, I think that's the thing is that basically, I've been doing storytelling for commercial reasons. And once we start doing it for learning, or learning purpose, it's suddenly I kind of levelled up into songs of purpose. And like the the satisfaction that comes from it, and I think that's part of the thing is that basically, being able to create quality content free learning, has a massive payoff in terms of like, you've actually helped someone achieve something.

Tom Payani:

Well, yeah, you know, you said yourself, you use storytelling for commercial purposes before. And we were sitting there scratching our head saying, Well, hold on, why can't we use storytelling for? We're creating elearning? You know, and I think as much as instructional design is super important, and that is the, you know, the core framework of everything we do, why can't we add that creativity in there? Why can't we add those storytelling elements in there? And I think that's our main sort of mission at all times, isn't it? Whenever we're creating something?

Brendan Cox:

I think that's the thing because we both come from different backgrounds, and we're both flexibly approaching every problem. So I think we feel quite strongly that you should be flexible with the framework as well like learn the rules, and then start asking them question in what do we have to do this in such a rigid model? Do we have to do this in a kind of, okay, we analyse it, we design it, we develop it, we iterate, we evaluate, implement, sorry, yeah, that's why you're doing that part of the project. Yeah, cuz then the thing is, is like, well, maybe we can we can prototype more often. So maybe there's ways of, yeah, ways that we can evolve the process and apply the process to actually improving the framework itself.

Tom Payani:

Yeah, we found that pretty quickly that even though that ADDIE model is the go to framework. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the model, per se. But it can be limited if you're not flexible enough with it. I think it makes a lot of sense and it's a good framework to have, but we want to be more flexible with our approach. We don't necessarily think we have to stick to the ADDIE model 100%. You said the word iterate, but that's because we often do add iterations throughout the ADDIE model process, you know, even even the development stage, even in the design, the design stage, we keep going back and forth. And we don't want to only go to the next step until the previous one is completely won that we want that option to be flexible in our in our process. Another thing, that's really important, and I think that's where your background really helps as well, because we've tried to merge design thinking principles and concepts into these more traditional instructional design theories.

Brendan Cox:

Yeah, I mean, there's things like in design thinking, there's stuff like agile, which is the idea is, is that you come up with an idea, you prototype it as quickly as possible. And then you basically constantly iterate it and improve it. So you've got this really tight feedback loop that's used often for software development, because you need to constantly be on top of it. And whereas traditionally, like instructional design would be a long linear thing, where you'd evaluate it evaluated at the end, we're kind of saying, well, let's not lock ourselves down to that, I think there's a lot that can be achieved by just evaluating it along the way. And the best way to evaluate along the way is prototype.

Tom Payani:

And you're gonna save yourself a massive headache at the end, where you turn around and you give the the customer or whoever it is the end project. And they're like, no, this isn't what we wanted, because you haven't iterated and evaluated throughout the process.

Brendan Cox:

Yeah, I like I like doing a project where there's no surprises, it sounds like a weird thing to say. But basically, if you can, if you can prototype and evaluate a project at every stage, the chances that it goes off track are so small, that you can even shut down a project after the like a meet that like, we do a thing where we, we have a meeting, we run a workshop for an hour. And then you and I storyboard out a project, like literally onto one board. And it means that any, anyone can literally prototype the project at the stage where someone can be like, okay, yeah, we're not going to spend money on this, or perfect, let's go down this route. And everyone's in alignment. And I think that aspect of like, well, let's not make assumptions, let's not embrace surprises, let's just get everyone on the same page, and then make an informed decision. At each stage. It works. It saves a lot of time and money, I think.

Tom Payani:

Yeah. And, um, I don't really want to get into too many sort of buzzwords, and the boring sort of definitions of things. But I think, um, with instructional design, there are different approaches, you know, you can make and you hear words being thrown about, like cognitivism, and behaviourism, and constructivism...but I think, you know, really what that means is, it's just, what is your focus when designing a course? You know, how are you approaching the design and cognitivism is more learner focused. Behaviourism is like more learning objective focus. Constructivism is more building on previous learning. But I think the problem with these types of definitions is you can sort of pigeonhole what you're doing. And one thing I found is often, with instructional design with your course design, your elearning design, you're using a combination of different things, you know, you like we've said in previous episodes, you have this sandbox of learning, which is very much falling into, like the constructivism, sort of bracket, but that still needs to have some structure and framework. Otherwise, it's basically just play without a without any learning behind it. So you need to sort of tie all these things together. And I think this is one problem, at least I don't know if you agree, but I found when we first started delving deeper into this world was people were not very flexible with their terminology either. And they they got caught up in in categories and learning theory with without seeing the practicalities of how learning works, in my opinion. I don't know if you agree with that.

Brendan Cox:

I think they're basically the same. It is in our nature to categorise everything. I think when someone's put in a lot of work to work something out, in the same way that I'm precious over design, if I've spent a tonne of time making something, I'm almost almost offended past the point of reason. So there's like a lot of effort that's gone into work out these termini terms, these approaches, it's quite complex. So their level of flexibility of going to actually minds only a small part of the bigger thing, let's just get a balanced approach by considering everybody else's, there's almost like a an objection to, like the accepting that everything is just a component in someone's toolkit for teaching, and not, and multi tool that can be applied to everything. And I think that that's what's interesting at the moment, especially with E learning, changing the way that we approach everything is that you can't just stick to one of these ways, the, with the data that you get from using e learning, you can prove that actually a combination is always a better approach. And being flexible is always a better approach than just adhering to one strict kind of style.

Tom Payani:

Well, and also, you can't say that one's better because they are apples and oranges, because there's so many variables. Who are your learners? What's the subject matter? So it's pointless saying, you know, this is the best way, because it's going to change every time you do something anyway, you know, and then you've got all these other factors to consider, or are you teaching adults or kids or you know, adult, some more interesting, intrinsically motivated compared to kids. So you've got a bit if you're with if you're teaching kids or creating learning for kids, the chart, you've got to try and build motivation into the game, therefore, you're going to probably need a bit more structure or a bit more positive reinforcement, etc, etc. And then that might change the learning theory behind the instructional design you're implementing, or you've got different learning styles. You know, you have visual learners, people like pictures, videos, animation, infographics, you've got auditory learners, people who like listening to podcasts, people are like discussing things, we got kinesthetic learners role people who prefer roleplay, or hands on things, experiential activities, so all these variables will inform the type of learning design in the first place. So I think it's just you fighting a losing battle or trying to, you know, put yourself in one of these camps of, of how instructional designers should be, you should be created.

Brendan Cox:

I think that the thing is, is that when you normal teaching, I mean, I'm just guessing, but as a normal teacher, you apply what you teaching, but you build in a kind of like, you fill in the sand around the stones with your soft skills, your approach your your adaption to everybody. So like you don't just have around the hammer, Batman hammer down the whole point like the same points, you adapt them, you rephrase them, you explore them differently, depending on the student's needs. And the thing is, because e learning doesn't have kind of an organic analogue approach to it. So you can't just It doesn't just automatically adjust to everybody. It shows these holes in the methodology, because like a piece of content that you've taught in class will work really well, because you've put in the effort to actually personalise it to each person. But the same piece of content, when presented to a whole range of people digitally, doesn't have that buffer of a person in between them a teacher in between. And so that's where these where we have to be flexible. And we have to be filling those holes with a with more overlap between the different approaches, and use all the tools in the toolkit rather than just be like, I'm just using this one, and I'm on the download using my soft skills to fill in the gaps.

Tom Payani:

Well, yeah, and on top of that, you could teach the same thing to two different individuals. And give an the content you're providing for one of the users is more visual, and the other one's more auditory, you know, that guy in the same course itself? You know, and that's obviously coming back to how you personalise the learning, which is, which is key to any instructional design. Yeah, definitely. And then adding into that as well. How can technology help you inform your instructional design? or How can you use new technology to create content that is good for different types of learners? And I think one thing that we've spoken about before is virtual reality or augmented reality. And using that to help you know, the design of courses of learning of our instructional design, and the eye tracking idea was one, wasn't it?

Brendan Cox:

Yeah, so we were chatting to someone about the idea of the idea that basically each learner had different types of learning that appealed to them the most. So like what you were saying before with the auditory, the kinesthetic things like that, and using their kind of tracking their reaction to Kind of like a benchmarking question, set of questions to answer like, I understand what actually got their attention the most. And obviously, everyone's a bit of a combo of everything. But often, say, for example, I am highly auditory. And so if someone's talking off in the distance, and I can hear there's a voice, I cannot concentrate on what I'm doing, because it's, it's wanting to listen to that instead. And the thing is, is that if you could build something with AR or in VR, that allows you to monitor someone's reaction to different types of content. In theory, you could basically build the same, the same curriculum, but through different approaches, that meant that you could you could appeal toand make a bigger difference to all different types of students.

Tom Payani:

Well it is personalised for each user who plays it.

Brendan Cox:

Yes, sensory personalization. And I think that's something that would be really cool to, to introduce. And like that idea of more flexibility in like personalization for users. And learners, is where instructional design can definitely improve.

Tom Payani:

Yeah, there's so many things you need to consider an instructional design. Another one is you've got types of learners in terms of their Sensory Learning, you know, visual, auditory, etc. But then you've got different types of intelligence. And for me, this comes full circle all the way back to Episode One of the podcast we did, where we feel the education system as a whole is quite narrow in terms of how it defines intelligence, you know, it's, it's very focused on academic intelligence, learning how to take tests, memorization, this sort of stuff, whereas there's certainly different forms of intelligence, you know, everyone's got that may, who is fantastic linguistically, you know, and just wins every argument or got the chat, you know, can get themselves out of any dodgy situation by Charmin on or whatever, you know, you've got a friend who is just amazing, like, practically, you know, give them something broken, and they'll fix it, you know, just give them a bit of time, and it will come back completely fixed, that handyman type friend, and these are all different forms of intelligence. And this also needs to be fed into instructional design.

Brendan Cox:

So you just made me laugh, you made me laugh, because you were basically describing the A-team. And I had to stop you, otherwise, you were gonna get all the way around to like describing Hannibal, and I wouldn't be able to contain myself any further.

Tom Payani:

No, it's just these types of intelligences that also need to need to be considered. And I think, if you address those in your instructional design, whether that's through gamification through social proof, in the sense that if you do this hands on, you'll get social proof to other people playing the game to know you're good in this way, you know, you have this form of intelligence, or, you know, you can create a piece of learning where you need these varieties of skill set, and you work within a team. So different people can play to their own strengths, a team style, or crystal maze style, or whatever, using their their strongest forms of intelligence to help with a process, then this, for me is really good. elearning really good instruction design, because that's how life works. Me and you in Blend - you do aspects of the business, I do aspects of the business, because we are playing to each other's strengths. That's the point. That's how the world works. So why should learning be any different?

Brendan Cox:

Yeah, I think that's the thing is that basically, just kind of forcing every peg into a shaped hole doesn't benefit the peg at all.

Tom Payani:

You would not have a football team, where you had 11 players who were jack of all trades,

Brendan Cox:

I would because I'm terrible at football.

Tom Payani:

You'd be a terrible manager, because you'd want your specialist wouldnt you. And that's the way the world works. And for me, I don't really understand why this is not addressed more in learning. You know, why are we teaching everybody in our in the mainstream education system to have the same set of skills when we're all different? I understand everyone needs to learn to read and write. And of course, I'm not, I'm not dismissing key skills like that. But once you progress in your education, once you start to understand what type of learner you are, what you're good at what you're not so good at. This is where your learning should should tie into that.

Brendan Cox:

There was something that I'll have to try and remember - what book it is, it might come to me in the end, but if not, basically the gist of it is they were talking about is that it's much much harder to fill in the void in your skill set than it is to take what you're already good at. And then push yourself so you master it. That might be it actually, it might be Masterclassing or something. Basically, yes, the idea that it's much much easier to enhance something that's already there than it is to fill in a hole. So completely build up a skill from scratch. And I think that's something that's really important is that everyone somewhere, given the right environment, has the skill, and has a natural ability in something.

Tom Payani:

Yeah. And that should be acknowledged, because then you've got another set of problems where people feel stupid, or people feel like they don't have you know, any form of intelligence, because they don't have the one particular intelligence that is being upset, being assessed in the in the learning or at school or whatever. And this is also a wider problem. And again, this just leads on to this idea of learning needs to be personalised. And that blend, you know, we try and do it in different ways. You know, I mean, you can personalise in loads of ways can't hear by the name, by the content that's being provided by the media that's being provided by the learning objectives for each specific user. By branch scenario learning this Choose Your Own Adventure style learning by you know, even easter eggs, you see easter eggs in video games, you know, so there's all these ways you can personalise learning, or using gamification to help personalization. And again, we know it seems like we talk about this every week, but it's because these this is the way learning is going. And this is the way learning has to go.

Brendan Cox:

Yeah, yeah, it's mastery by Robert Greene. That was it. So check that out, we put it in the show notes. I think that's the thing is that basically, I think, like everything, when you've got enough of a the bar, the industry is there, there's enough. Like, it's all going in the direction of elearning. The thing is, is that the process and the frameworks will be developed and iterate and they will organically changing. And I think just by like, it was almost like a eureka moment when both of us came together. And we were like, hang on this instructional design and also, kind of my production design. There's a massive overlap, because if you think about like, what we're what we're doing, they're basically in commercials, the goal is to basically get the audience to buy something. So you analyse them to understand them, you engage them in the best way possible. And you basically lead them to a point where they, they want something. But for a learning goal, you're getting the audience to be able to do something. So again, you're still analysing them to understand them, you're engaging them in the best way possible. And then you lead them through the content, to where they're able to actually do the thing that you would set out at the beginning. And the thing is, when you compare the results of against the goal of the end, you still come back and iterate and you you try and improve. So the like the overlap is huge. And I think that one of the things that commercial and production, the business side of design, the design thinking aspects of things that are used a lot is that they focus on iterating, quickly prototyping and evaluating quickly too in the in the service of evolving the solution. In the same way that Elan musk Chuck's up loads of rockets to work out how to build the best rocket because he does it quicker and faster than NASA who took ages. And so I think that because there's that overlap, there's lots of opportunities to actually improve the process. And as long as we're flexible, and in it towards instructional design, there's lots of elements that can that can be improved and sped up and actually make it more in the service of putting your time into actually making good content, rather than worrying about are we following the structure of it properly. And one good example is actually the, the action mapping. So like Kathy more kind of developed this. And she's basically like properly, like, if you ever hear an interview with her, she's like, really, to the point, she like properly cuts the fat off of planning a project. So what she does is she just goes, right, you just the idea is is you map out the actions you need to do to hit the goal. So don't go Oh, they need to know all this stuff and make assumptions about what it is and put in all the content in an ideal world. What she does is she just goes right, focus on the goal. What are the actions that you need to do to meet that goal? So what does the learner need to do? Specifically, then you pick the scenarios, so which which kind of arena best helps and practice those actions? And only then do you start talking about what knowledge or information that person needs. And that way, you're not spending all your time building a tonne of content, you're putting a bit of time into the beginning, cutting all the fat off, and suddenly you get a really super clean bit of elearning. So I recommend checking, checking that out. She's written a book called action weapon. It's really good. And that's basically it's a design thinking approach is it's taking the instructional process and chopping the fat out, improving the decision making aspects of it, and basically improving the ability to just iterate and prototype along the way. It's really cool.

Tom Payani:

Nice, cool. Well, Brenden, as always a pleasure to talk to you, and also lots of things to digest there for sure.

Brendan Cox:

Yeah. And I think the thing is, is that it's going to keep changing. People's definition of instructional design is going to keep evolving. The processes and the tools that they use as part of it is going to keep evolving, a bit like design thinking, it's just gonna keep iterating and getting smarter, I think.

Tom Payani:

Nice one. Anyway, I will catch up with you soon.

Brendan Cox:

Yeah, chat next week.

Intro/Outro:

Thanks for listening to the blend podcast. It's available on Spotify, Google and Apple. You can find blend interactive content on LinkedIn, or www dot Blend dot training. Don't forget to like and subscribe. See you next time.