Embracing the danger: Accepting the implications of innovation

When I came back to academic employment, a colleague encouraged me to start by putting a stake in the ground. The result was this manifesto-like essay.

Instructional designers are increasingly looking beyond the field’s mainstream approaches to achieve desired outcomes. They seek more creative forms of design to help them invent more imaginative experiences that better reflect their vision and ideals. This essay is addressed to designers who are attracted to these expanded visions of their profession. Innovative approaches to design can be considered dangerous, at least to the status quo. The author first discusses why this is so, and then explains how embracing the danger—accepting the risks that accompany originality and innovation—might also be what allows designers to develop experiences consistent with the high-levels of quality they seek. He concludes with some thoughts on the kind of habits and character designers should cultivate to sustain creative, innovative approaches in their practice.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

Design-driven innovation as seen in a worldwide, values-based curriculum

I’m fascinated by design-driven innovation. I’ll have to do more with it in the future.

While instructional design’s technological roots have given it many approaches for process and product improvement, in most cases designers still rely on instructional forms that do not allow them to develop instruction of a quality consistent with that expressed by the field’s visionary leaders. As a result, often the teachers and students using instructional products remain confined by equally limiting views of instruction and learning that cannot help them achieve the outcomes the designer originally envisioned. In this paper we discuss how a relatively new design approach, design-driven innovation, can give instructional designers additional tools to shape the meaning they and others have about instruction and learning. With the changes possible in a design-driven approach, instructional designers and other stakeholders can lay a new foundation for the instruction they develop, making more possible the achievement of the outcomes they pursue.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

A Biblical poetics for filmmakers

Another paper started when I was working in the film/media industry.

In this paper, we present a poetics, or guide manual, for making narrative films that resemble biblical narratives. It is similar to Aristotle’s Poetics, only his was for creating drama (though it is of course often used for film now) and was based on Greek dramas and epics. Our poetics is specifically for making films and is based on an even more ancient body of narratives—the Hebrew Bible. In articulating a biblical poetics for filmmakers, we draw heavily on the work of a few of the many biblical-narrative scholars of the last half-century, who draw in turn from the even more extensive research that has been done on narrative theory in general. Our project is one that Aristotle might have undertaken if he had read the Bible and its commentators and known about film.

At BYU Scholars Archive

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At ResearchGate

The creative spirit of design

A manifesto of sorts, calling instructional designers to grow into the spirit of creativity.

If instructional designers hold limited views about their practice they sometimes adopt formulaic routines that do not help them accomplish the goals they believe are important, or develop instruction of a quality envisioned by the field’s innovative theorists. Fortunately, designers can avoid these unfavorable results in part by understanding and exemplifying the creative spirit of design. In this article the author examines the creative spirit of design, exploring its imaginative, creation-oriented, and inter-disciplinary character. The author also describes how the creative spirit can help instructional designers remain flexible and perceptive in their practice, and by so doing be better able to create effective and innovative instruction of a quality consistent with their ultimate ideals.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

Resisting technological gravity: Using guiding principles for instructional design

Keying off an idea from my dissertation research. A short opinion piece.

Instructional designers face tremendous pressure to abandon the essential characteristics of educational approaches, and settle instead for routine practices that do not preserve the level of quality those approaches originally expressed. Because this pressure can be strong enough to affect designers almost as gravity affects objects in the physical world, the metaphor of technological gravity has been proposed to describe why designers choose one type of practice over another. In this essay, I discuss how designers can develop guiding principles to help them resist technological gravity. I describe three types of principles, in the areas of what instruction ishow instruction is made, and what instruction is for. By developing strong principles in these three areas, designers will be better able to resist the influences that pull them away from high levels of instructional quality, and so better create instructional experiences that are meaningful, inspirational, and valuable.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

Imaginative instruction: What master storytellers can teach instructional designers

A little paper I did on narrative, interviewing some great filmmakers.

Good instructional storytelling engages students’ attention and cognitive abilities to the end of more effective learning, and instructional researchers have discussed whether the principles of storytelling could lead to the same or similar results if applied to educational situations beyond only telling traditional stories. But despite this potential, the principles of storytelling are seemingly underutilized by today’s instructional designers. This study investigates what instructional designers might learn from another design field that is more experienced in the art of storytelling, specifically that of film production. Eight filmmakers who have successfully produced films that motivate, inspire, and educate were interviewed to discover what they know about the topic of creating effective instructional stories. The results of these interviews, which will help instructional designers learn and apply storytelling principles, are analyzed to help further illustrate an inventive approach for the creation of instructional environments.

At BYU Scholars Archive

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Technology I, II, and III: Criteria for understanding and improving the practice of instructional technology

Based on my dissertation research.

In this paper we describe the criteria of Technology I, II, and III, which some instructional theorists have proposed to describe the differences between a formulaic and a reflective approach to solving educational problems. In a recent study, we applied these criteria to find evidence of a technological gravity that pulls practitioners away from reflective practices into a more reductive approach. We compared published reports of an innovative instructional theory, problem-based learning, to the goals of the theory as it was originally defined. We found three reasons for technological gravity, as well as three approaches some practitioners have used to avoid this gravity. We recommend that instructional technologists adopt our three approaches, as well as the criteria of Technology III, so they may better develop instruction of a quality consistent with the innovative instructional principles they claim, and that best characterizes the goals they have for their practice.

At BYU Scholars Archive

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At ResearchGate

Translate to communicate: Facilitating client understanding of design languages

A chapter I wrote for The Handbook of Visual Languages for Instructional Design: Theories and Practices.

In this chapter I discuss how principles of natural language translation can help instructional design- ers communicate instructional design languages in ways more natural to their clients. I argue that instructional designers should focus more on the fundamental meanings they are attempting to com- municate through their design languages than on the mechanics and style of those languages. This can lead designers to nd representation methods that help their clients better understand design meanings than if designers only used the language conventions with which they were already familiar. My hope is that this contribution to the literature on instructional design languages will lead to new language conventions that help designers more easily communicate their intentions and plans to all those who have an interest in a design’s overall success.

At BYU Scholars Archive

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Technology I, II, and III: Criteria for understanding and improving the practice of instructional technology

My dissertation.

In an earlier era of instructional technology, researchers proposed a set of criteria to help practitioners understand what assumptions about their work could help them develop well-designed instruction, as well as what assumptions could lead them to develop rigid instruction that did not characterize the goals they had for their practice. They named these criteria Technology I, II, and III. Technology I presupposed that using physical hardware improved instruction. Technology II presupposed that using formulas or strategies improved instruction. Technology III was the belief that good instruction could consist of many different product or process technologies, but that technology use alone did not define good instruction. Rather, good instruction was the realization of improved systems in which learning could take place. I used a historical case study method to analyze the major themes of Technology I, II, and III, as well as reasons why some practitioners might limit themselves to only Technology I or II. My purpose was to discover how to help instructional technologists better accomplish more of the goals they want to achieve. I compared the original goals of two instructional technologies (programmed instruction and problem-based learning), along with twelve case study reports of actual practice of these technologies, against the criteria for Technology I, II, and III. I found that Technology I, II, and III can describe the goals and practices of instructional technologists. Additionally, I discovered four reasons why instructional technologists may limit themselves to Technology I or II, and therefore might not achieve all the important goals for their practice: (a) distracted focus (or compromised integrity); (b) status quo adherence; (c) solidification; and (d) deliberately chosen Technology I or II. I also discovered three methods to help instructional technologists to avoid limiting themselves and more consistently practice Technology III: (a) legitimate evaluation; (b) adopting guiding principles for practice; and (c) using opinion leaders to disseminate the value of Technology III. This study also provides recommendations to help instructional technologists use Technology III to help them better develop flexible instructional technology that better characterizes their goals for their practice.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At ResearchGate