A Framework for Phronetic LDT Theory

The only thing I’m unhappy with in this book chapter is the title (and, correspondingly, the name of the framework). I was trying to be true to the underlying theory, but really it’s just too confusing and gets in the way of people understanding it and picking it up. The basic idea is that there’s a type of theory that attempts to store knowledge in an external, rule-based system, and there’s a type of theory that helps professionals tune their own sensitivities to situational factors, but that ultimately recognizes that people make wise choices, not theory. This chapter (which won 2nd place in the 2021 AECT Theories to Influence the Future of Learning Design competition) categorizes different kinds of these orienting and attuning theories, to guide researchers who seek to inform practice.

From the abstract:

My purpose in this chapter is to offer a reimagined view of theory in the field of learning design and technology (LDT). Instead of viewing theory as an external storehouse of knowledge, or a rule-like system for professionals to apply, in this framework theory is viewed as an orienting aid that supports practitioners as they refine their personal capacities for perception, discrimination, and judgment. Theory plays this orienting role as it offers insights into LDT-relevant practical knowledge, productive heuristics, points professionals towards opportunities to act, or identifies significant patterns and forms of excellence to which they can pay attention as they attempt to improve their craft. The chapter concludes with some implications for this framework for future research and practice in the field.

At Academica.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Direct link

Reference:

McDonald, J. K. (2022). A framework for phronetic LDT theory. In Leary, H., Greenhalgh, S. P., Staudt Willet, K. B., & M.-H. Cho (Eds.), Theories to influence the future of learning design. Ed Tech Books.

Preparing instructional design students for reflective practice

This was a fun little chapter I wrote that synthesized some of the scholarship on reflective practice, and teaching students to become more reflective practitioners. I also came up with a couple of my own pedagogical ideas for planning curricula to integrate reflective practice. What I’m particularly happy with is I was able to describe the two senses of reflective, and how both need to be addressed by design educators: the first in the sense of thinking about your own work, and the second in the sense of reflecting back through your intuitive responses the saliences the world presents you (like the way a good jazz musician reflects the contributions of collaborators during a performance).

From the introduction:

Typically, the formal processes, frameworks, and theories that characterize the field of instructional design and technology provide only a starting point in the work of expert practitioners. Professional designers tend to base decisions on reservoirs of prior experience and practical judgment that are flexible and adaptable, and that allow them to cope with the variability, nuance, and paradoxes that characterize authentic working conditions. In the literature this is known as reflective practice, or being a reflective practitioner. Given the importance of these capacities in instructional design, especially when solving the difficult problems that designers often face, helping students develop into reflective practitioners should be a key outcome of instructional design education. My purpose in this chapter is to provide guidance to instructional design educators in pursuit of this goal. I do this by reviewing the importance of reflective practice within professional contexts, and by describing strategies educators can use to help their students nurture the dispositions associated with reflective practice.

At Academica.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Reference:

McDonald, J. K. (2022). Preparing instructional design students for reflective practice. In Stefaniak, J. E., & Reese, R. M. (Eds.), The instructional design trainer’s guide: Authentic practices and considerations for mentoring for ID and ed tech professionals (pp. 29-37). Routledge.

“This uncertain space of teaching”: How design studio instructors depict design critiques along with themselves when giving critiques

Finally, the last article from my intensive study of design studios and the design critique has been published. In the first article, The Design Critique and the Moral Goods of Studio Pedagogy, we described studio instructors as balancing a host of unique, and sometimes competing, moral goods. This article dives into the idea of them being balancers more completely. We used our interview data to create a sketch of areas in which instructors thought they had to balance, and dispositions they developed to help them balance.

Abstract:

In this study we explored how design studio instructors depicted the design critique, themselves as people offering critiques, and what can be learned from their depictions about improving instructors’ abilities to offer critiques. To investigate these issues, we conducted a case study of studio instructors from design programs at a university in the United States. Our data consisted of three semi-structured interviews and one class observation each with six instructors from different programs, organized into a thematic structure that revealed insights into participants’ self-interpretations. We found that our participants depicted critiques as being a complex challenge, often placing competing demands upon them that they were required to reconcile. They depicted themselves as meeting these challenges through their cultivation of four dispositions that helped them balance tensions they experienced. We report these challenges and dispositions using our participants own words as much as possible. We also discuss implications of these findings for helping studio instructors improve their ability to offer critiques; assistance should take into account the inescapable need instructors will face to balance challenges that arise during critiques and should also help them cultivate affective dispositions that will help them successfully respond to critique situations.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Link to full-text

Reference:

McDonald, J. K., & Michela, E. (2022). “This uncertain space of teaching”: How design studio instructors depict design critiques along with themselves when giving critiques. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 22(1), 48-66. https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v22i1.30888

Ethnographic Experiences in Learning Design

I was invited by Jill Stefaniak at the University of Georgia to help edit a special issue of TechTrends on ethnographic experiences in learning design. I think this is an important topic, and I’m pleased that we solicited such high-quality manuscripts to explore the difference modes of life that constitute learning design and instructional design as a professional field. This entry links to the introduction to our special issue, and the full issue is available at the TechTrends website.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

Reference:

Stefaniak, J., & McDonald, J. K. (2022). Introduction to the special issue on ethnographic experiences in learning design. TechTrends, 66(1), 2-3. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-021-00691-9

Expecting the unexpected: A collaborative autoethnography of instructors ’ experiences teaching advanced instructional design

A couple of years ago I wanted to take a deeper dive into instructional design education. Interestingly, most research on ID education has taken place in introductory courses. So we don’t know a lot about more advanced design teaching or learning. Nor have we any really good, qualitative studies of the ID education experience. This article is the first to come out of my inquiry into these kind of issues, conducted with two colleagues who teach advanced ID. This article focuses on teachers and teaching. Our data set includes a lot of information from the student perspective as well, which we will analyze for future articles.

Abstract:

Most of the prior research concerning instructional design (ID) education has taken place in the context of introductory courses. However, teaching advanced ID students differs from teaching novices because advanced students are capable of independent action, but also still need some targeted instruction to develop their own design skills and identities. To increase understanding of advanced ID education, we conducted this collaborative autoethnography of teaching advanced ID courses. Through autoethnographic reflections from two advanced ID instructors, supplemented by interviews conducted by a third researcher, and jointly analyzed by our research team, we studied some of the work involved in teaching advanced ID stu‑ dents. We identified three themes through our study. Advanced ID instructors: (a) helped students reflect on design; (b) helped students recognize and adapt to design challenges; and (c) balanced direct instruction with guidance and coaching. We conclude by discussing implications of our findings for other advanced ID educators.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Reference:

McDonald, J. K., Stefaniak, J. & Rich, P. J. (2022). Expecting the unexpected: A collaborative autoethnography of instructors’ experiences teaching advanced instructional design. TechTrends, 66(1), 90-101. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-021-00677-7

Instructional design as a way of acting in relationship with learners

Using the philosophy of Hannah Arendt, in this chapter I described a vision of instructional design centered around the relationships between the people involved, rather than considering the field to be a design field that makes things. As I said in the introduction:

My audience in this chapter is designers who have experienced this kind of ten- sion. While they want to see themselves as important contributors to the form that educational experiences take, they struggle to articulate a view of instructional design that does not place ultimate responsibility for learning in the instructional strategies or technological forces that are under their (the designers’) control. It is difficult for them to conceptualize approaches to their work that do not at least tacitly assume that the designer is the primary agent responsible for learning, even though they resist this conclusion and continue to search for alternatives. My pur- pose is to present a view of instructional design that can serve as such an alternative. First, I describe different ways that designers have historically assumed they were primarily responsible for students’ learning. Second, I discuss how similar issues are still a concern even with recent evolutions in the field toward human-centered design practices. Third, I present a view of instructional design, based in the phi- losophy of Hannah Arendt, that considers it to be a type of relationship that design- ers enter into with learners, rather than principally being a process for making instructional products. In presenting this, I also suggest how a reframed view pro- vides new ways of considering designer responsibility, helping designers better understand what they are influencing when they design. This can lead to designers being better partners with learners in pursuit of the unique disclosure of all parties involved, which is a type of achievement that could not be attained without viewing learners as equal contributors to the learning relationship. (pp. 41-42)

I’m pretty happy with the direction this took, but there’s still work to do to make the argument clear and actionable.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Reference:

McDonald, J. K. (2021). Instructional design as a way of acting in relationship with learners. In B. Hokanson, M. Exter, A. Grincewicz, M. Schmidt, & A. A. Tawfik (Eds.), Learning: Design, engagement, and definition (pp. 41–55). Springer Nature Switzerland AG. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-85078-4_4

Balancing competing goods: Design challenges associated with complex learning

This was another fun little chapter coming out of the playable case study project. We inserted an ethical dilemma into one of the simulations, where a trusted partner in the simulation asked students to violate the contract they had with a client. Would they listen to their partner? Or stick with the bounds of the contract?

After the simulation was over we surveyed students about what they did. In this chapter we report some of those findings along with our analysis of what that means when you’re designing learning environments that are more complex (such as is the case when helping students navigate ethical issues).

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Reference:

Neupane, A., Gedris, K., Mcdonald, J. K., Hansen, D. L., & Balzotti, J. (2021). Balancing competing goods: Design challenges associated with complex learning. In B. Hokanson, M. Exter, A. Grincewicz, S. Matthew, & A. A. Tawfik (Eds.), Learning: Design, engagement and definition (pp. 181–190). Springer Nature Switzerland AG. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-85078-4_14

Understanding Distinctions of Worth in the Practices of Instructional Design Teams

This is another article about the design practices of the playable case study research team. Here I (along with two graduate students) looked at some of the affective dimensions of design. The philosopher Charles Taylor developed a notion he called strong evaluation. By this he meant the personal judgments we make about whether our participation in life practices are leading us towards a sense of being people who are either noble or base. Using this as an investigative lens, I studied how members of the design team judged themselves as creating a worthwhile form of life (or not) by their work on the simulations.

Abstract:

In this article we report our research into the concerns and other matters of significance for members of instructional design teams. Specifically we studied how members of a design team depicted the quality of their own motives while participating in team pursuits. This is a type of self-evaluation known as drawing distinctions of worth. Our research took the form of a case study, focusing on an instructional design team at a university in the United States. Based on interviews with team members and observations of their work, we devel- oped an account of our research participant’s distinctions of worth organized around three themes: (a) distinctions of worth could guide their decision-making more than did the goals of the project; (b) competing distinctions of worth could be difficult for them to reconcile; and (c) their distinctions of worth could be accompanied by unanticipated costs. Over- all, these themes reflect that distinctions of worth were a real aspect of our participants’ team involvement, and not merely their subjective responses to situational factors. This has implications for those managing teams or otherwise helping teams improve, which we dis- cuss. We also discuss how research into instructional design teams that only focuses on external dynamics team members experience, and not on factors such as their distinctions of worth, cannot fully account for what it means for people to contribute towards team outcomes.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Read-only copy of article

Reference:

McDonald, J. K., Jackson, B. D., & Hunter, M. B. (2021). Understanding distinctions of worth in the practices of instructional design teams. Educational Technology Research and Development, 69(3), 1641-1663. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-021-09995-2

Objectivation in design team conversation

Part of my work with the playable case study research team is to understand the design processes of the team itself. As part of that I (along with a couple of graduate students) decided to look at the team’s interactions through the lens of objectivation, a concept from sociological research that describes how people turn abstract thoughts into social objects they use to bring certain types of order and structure to their interactions. This is one of the most fascinating studies I’ve done. It was also one of the most intense. I’m very pleased with the results.

Abstract:

In this article we report our study of objectivation in the conversation of a design team. Objectivation is the practical work in which groups engage to produce social objects that facilitate orderly collaboration. We observed how design team members came to agree on specific details about an educational simulation they were designing, as they treated simulation features like independent social facts that could be affected by and have effects on other simulation features, and that had discrete benefits that made them an asset within the product. In our report we describe patterns of objectivation in their conversation that produced these results. We conclude by discussing how our study relates to, and enriches, the findings provided by prior design research.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Reference:

McDonald, J. K., Bowman, K., & Elsayed-ali, S. (2021). Objectivation in design team conversation. Design Studies77, Article 101045. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2021.101045

Increasing Cybersecurity Career Interest through Playable Case Studies

I’m a member of an interdisciplinary research group at BYU, studying a type of instructional simulation we call a playable case study. This has been a very fruitful line of research, resulting in publications about the simulations themselves as well as using the simulation design process as a window into some fundamental issues about design itself. This article belongs to the former category, studying student perceptions after using a playable case study in a university course.

Abstract:

In this paper we introduce an approach to cybersecurity education and helping students develop professional understanding in the form of a Playable Case Study (PCS), a form of educational simulation that draws on affordances of the broader educational simulation genre, case study instruction, and educational Alternate Reality Games (or ARGs). A PCS is an interactive simulation that allows students to “play” through an authentic scenario (case study) as a member of a professional team. We report our findings over a multi-year study of a PCS called Cybermatics, with data from 111 students from two different U.S. universities who interacted with the PCS. Cybermatics increased student understanding about certain key aspects of professional cyberse- curity work, improved their confidence in being able to successfully apply certain skills associated with cybersecurity, and increased about half of the students’ interest in pursuing a cybersecurity career. Students also reported a number of reasons why their perceptions changed in these areas (both positive and negative). We also discuss design tensions we experienced in our process that might be encountered by others when creating simulations like a PCS, as they attempt to balance the authenticity of designed learning experiences while also sufficiently scaffolding them for newcomers who have little background in a discipline.

At Academia.edu

At ResearchGate

At BYU Scholar’s Archive

Read-only copy of article

Reference:

Giboney, J. S., McDonald, J. K. J. K., Balzotti, J., Hansen, D. L. D. L., Winters, D. M. D. M., & Bonsignore, E. (2021). Increasing cybersecurity career interest through playable case studies. TechTrends65(4), 496–510. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-021-00585-w

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