Designing for Informal Learning: The Case of a Mobile E-Reader

This article is a design case. Design cases are different than standard research papers. Rather than reporting the results of a study, the case describes a design in enough detail to give readers an experience of what the design process and/or product was like. This particular case draws on some experiences from my professional background, before joining the university. I tried to provide an honest view of the ad hoc and unpredictable nature of design throughout the case. I hope I succeeded.

Abstract:

This case describes the redesign of a mobile eReader application. The purpose of the redesign was to convert an existing eReader from a means of only reading books into a tool for informal learning. The case reports how the design team’s definition of informal learning evolved throughout the product development process, and how design decisions were influenced by this changing definition. Over the period of time covered in the case, the eReader evolved from a tool used for reading eBooks, into one meant for personal study, and then into a product that supported serendipitous discovery of inspiring material (built under a philosophy that informal learning meant that people were able to discover interesting and uplifting material without exerting effort to find it). The end point of the eReader’s evolution was as a subscription service for the company’s eBooks and digital audiobooks, to allow customers to continually use them for educational purposes. This case is structured around the four iterations of the eReader design process. Each iteration reports how design decisions were made and what kind of results were achieved.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Reference:

McDonald, J. K. (2019). Designing for informal learning: The case of a mobile eReader. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 10(1), 91-102. https://doi.org/10.14434/ijdl.v10i1.23546

Direct link:

https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/ijdl/article/view/23546/32661

“It’s So Wonderful Having Different Majors Working Together”: the Development of an Interdisciplinary Design Thinking Minor

This is a practitioner-oriented article that describes lessons learned from the process of creating the BYU Design Thinking minor. In it we discuss the growing interest in interdisciplinary teaching at the university-level, and how we developed our minor though the collaboration of four departments in four different colleges. We conclude by providing three suggestions for others interested in developing programs similar to ours. This article is an example of how I have connected my scholarship with my professional faculty responsibilities, specifically my responsibility to plan program innovations.

Abstract:

Traditionally, university students’ education is siloed into disconnected courses and programs. Increasingly, however, there is a trend toward providing interdisciplinary learning experiences to help students develop meaningful skills for becoming more successful in their chosen careers. In this paper, we describe an instructional design project in which we engaged to develop an interdisciplinary minor in design thinking at a university in the western United States. This effort involved uniting faculty from the colleges of education, business, fine arts and communications, and engineering and technology. After reviewing our needs analysis process, we describe the structure of the minor itself, and how it was designed to respond to our analysis. We also discuss the following lessons learned throughout our project: (1) common vision is the beginning, not the end, of interdisciplinary design thinking; (2) personal relationships are crucially important in interdisciplinary design thinking; and (3) iterative prototyping improves interdisciplinary design thinking. Using principles such as those discussed in this paper, we believe the field of instructional design can help lead the way in the development of additional interdisciplinary learning experiences in higher education.

At ResearchGate

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At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Reference:

McDonald, J. K., West, R. E., Rich, P. J., & Pfleger, I. (2019). “It’s so wonderful having different majors working together”: The development of an interdisciplinary design thinking minor. TechTrends,63(4), 440-450. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0325-2

The Design Critique and the Moral Goods of Studio Pedagogy

Part of my work in studio curriculum has been to try and understand better what it means to be a studio instructor. This is a very personal question to me. Since I am a studio instructor myself I’m curious about whether my experiences are normal, whether my struggles are typical, and whether there is anything I can learn from other teachers about how to cope with the challenges of a very difficult, but very rewarding, way of teaching. This paper is one of the ways I’ve gone about building my understanding. It’s a phenomenological look into what my co-author (a student research assistant) and I call a world of significance for studio instructors (borrowing the term from Hubert Dreyfus). I’m quite proud of this paper. I hope you enjoy it.

Update: May, 16, 2020. This week Esther and I were notified that this paper was nominated as one of six finalists for the best paper of 2019 in the journal Design Studies.

Abstract:

In this paper we inquire into the moral goods that are significant for design studio instructors, by examining how they talk about the way critiques fit into the studio as a social practice. We studied this issue using in-depth interviews with six studio instructors. Through these interviews, we found that critiques are how they structure the studio so they can pursue three types of moral goods: a) for student development; b) for their own self-cultivation; and c) for other stakeholders. Along with presenting these goods, we discuss what instructors say about multiple goods exerting influence on them at the same time. Finally, we discuss implications these findings have for understanding the studio environment, and why critiques matter within this environment.

At ResearchGate

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At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Reference:

McDonald, J. K., & Michela, E. (2019). The design critique and the moral goods of studio pedagogy. Design Studies62, 1–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2019.02.001

The Perceived Value of Informal, Peer Critique in the Instructional Design Studio

One of the first things we started when I came back to BYU was to integrate our curriculum, including finding ways for more advanced students to help those early in the program. This paper is the result of one study we did on using advanced instructional design students to give feedback on the projects completed by beginning students. A simple study, but insightful I think.

Abstract:

The purpose of this study is to investigate how instructional design students perceive the informal, peer critique as an influence in their studio education. Our participants were students enrolled in beginning and advanced studio courses in the department of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. Groups of 2–3 beginning students were assigned a reviewer from the advanced course, who then led critiques over two face-to-face class sessions with their assigned groups. Students perceived the critique experience to be helpful, although beginning students perceived greater value than did the advanced (possibly due to the time advanced students took to build confidence in the beginners). Students also reported ways in which the critique experience could have been improved, with the most common suggestions being to hold critique sessions more frequently and for longer periods of time. We conclude by discussing the role of informal, peer critiques in the instructional design studio, including how they could complement other forms of feedback that students receive. We also discuss how our findings could contribute towards future research into the value of critique in the instructional design studio environment.

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

At ResearchGate

At Academia.edu

Reference:

McDonald, J. K., Rich, P. J., & Gubler, N. B. (2019). The perceived value of informal, peer critique in the instructional design studio. TechTrends63(2), 149–159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0302-9

Teaching Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) in a Supply Chain Context: A Paper Football In-Class Activity

This is an article based on the work of one of my students. She developed an in-class teaching activity for her Masters project, and this report both describes the activity as well as reports on an evaluation of its efficacy.

Abstract:

We develop a single-class period learning game for the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) improvement cycle. The experiential activity walks teams through the PDSA problem- solving process as they create paper American footballs and improve their performance using each step of the cycle. The game is one of the first to focus on PDSA. Key benefits include increased student attention, engagement, and learning. Empirical tests show that participant pre- and post-test scores regarding their understanding of each phase of PDSA improved 21.2% after completing the game. Additionally, the treatment group performed 16.6% higher than the control group. In participant perception questions, 85% of participants felt the game was more effective than lecture or reading, 93% felt the game was fun, 95% felt the game improved their understanding of PDSA, and 98% felt the game was engaging.

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

At ResearchGate

At Academia.edu

Reference:

Brau, R. I., Gardner, J. W., Webb, G. S., & McDonald, J. K. (2019). Teaching plan-do-study-act (PDSA) in a supply chain context: A paper football in-class activity. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education17(1). https://doi.org/10.1111/dsji.12171

The instructional design studio as an example of model-centered instruction

This is an analysis of the attributes of various design studio cases that have been published in various fields. My intent was to situate the aspects of studio pedagogy in some kind of framing that would allow people interested in the studio to more intentionally plan how they implement different studio components.

This was the first paper I wrote when I came back to the university, but it took two years of reviews and revisions (and three different journals) before it found a home. There’s a lesson in that somewhere, I suppose.

Abstract:

This study describes how instructional design (ID) educators can better understand and implement design studio pedagogy, by comparing the approach to the principles of model-centered instruction (MCI). I studied this issue through a focused literature review of recent cases of ID studio implementations, comparing features and activities in each case to the conceptual principles of MCI. In aggregate, this analysis provides seventeen individual options for how educators can structure the ID studio. Additionally, comparing studio practice to MCI may also help ID educators experiment with their own studio improvements in a more systematic manner.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

Direct link

Reference:

McDonald, J. K. (2018). The instructional design studio as an example of model-centered instruction. Journal of Applied Instructional Design7(2), 5–16. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.28990/jaid2018.072003

Preparing the next generation of instructional designers

This is an action research project that I conducted along with colleagues from two other institutions. We wanted to understand  how the community of instructional design educators can better support each other in preparing new design professionals. Our model has a lot of applications, and we are using it again in a project this year.

Abstract:

The ability of novice instructional designers to become skilled problem- solvers, who select and apply appropriate instructional design (ID) models in their work environments, are key competencies generally sought after in introductory ID courses. Yet, the proliferation of ID models, coupled with varied philosophies and practices about how ID is taught may pose challenges for ID educators seeking to prepare the next generation of leaders in the field. With little empirical research or documented best practices, ID educators are left to their own judgment about to how to navigate the practical challenges that can arise in the pursuit of their teaching goals. This paper shares insights on how ID educators across institutions teach introductory ID under varied conditions, and how ID educators can support each other in addressing challenges faced by those teaching introductory ID and seeking to improve their own practice. Using action research methods, we engaged in cross- institutional collaboration, sharing teaching approaches, philosophies, modes of delivery, instructional strategies, resources, models, and products of instructional design with each other as a means to understand and improve our own teaching practices. We also developed a model for cross-institutional faculty collaboration that is immersive, cyclical, and theory-based, and provides a guide for other ID educators to collectively engage in the work of supporting each other in the common goal of preparing the next generation of instructional design leaders.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

Reference:

Slagter van Tryon, P. J., McDonald, J. K., & Hirumi, A. (2018). Preparing the next generation of instructional designers: A cross-institution faculty collaboration. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 30(1), 125–153. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-018-9167-3

Empathy in distance learning design practice

I was invited to be part of this paper due to my interest and some professional experience in encouraging instructional designers to be more empathetic towards those they serve. The first two authors were students at the time this research was conducted.

Abstract:

The notion of designer empathy has become a cornerstone of design philosophy in fields such as product design, human-computer interaction, and service design. But the literature on instructional designer empathy and learner analysis suggests that distance learning designers are generally quite removed from the learners with whom they could be empathizing. We describe a qualitative study conducted with practicing distance learning designers across the United States. We selected designers in varying sectors within the workforce, and interviewed our participants via videoconferencing. Our inquiry uncovered important tensions designers live with regarding empathy in practice. Designers struggle to know how much learner analysis is sufficient, which of many stakeholders to empathize with, and navigating constraints. Future work in this area could help designers practice more empathically and, in doing so, improve the learning environments they create for learners.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

Reference:

Matthews, M. T., Williams, G. S., Yanchar, S. C., & McDonald, J. K. (2017). Empathy in distance learning design practice. TechTrends, 61(5), 486–493. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-017-0212-2

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.

Abstract:

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

Reference:

McDonald, J. K. (2016). Embracing the danger: Accepting the implications of innovation. Educational Technology, 56(6), 14–17.

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.

Abstract:

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

Reference:

Hadlock, C. A., & McDonald, J. K. (2014). Design-driven innovation as seen in a woldwide values-based curriculum. Educational Technology, 54(4), 15–22.