Microcore: Using Online Playable Cases to Increase Student Engagement in Online Writing Environments

Microcore was the first playable case study developed by the research team I work with. I hadn’t actually joined the team when it was finished, but it is still being used and has been experienced by more students than possibly all our other simulations put together. This particular study grew out of a student project, and I joined the writing to help get things cleaned up and out the door.

Abstract:
This case study explores a type of educational simulation, an alternative reality game we call a playable case study (PCS), and how its use influenced student engagement in an online writing classroom. The goal of the simulation was to help students create professional communication artifacts and experience real-world professional communication situations. This article reports the effectiveness of the playable case study as a tool specifically for online writing instruction (OWI). The context of our research was a PCS called Microcore. Acting as interns for a company, students are asked to investigate a serious problem that occurs and present a solution to ensure similar problems do not occur again. Forty-seven students in two sections of an online professional writing classroom responded to pre- and post-survey questions and prompts that gathered their perceptions about writing, understanding of workplace communication, and levels of engagement. Responses were coded and analyzed for thematic trends. Results suggest that playable case studies like the one reported here may be effective in countering primary OWI difficulties, including disengagement; lack of social presence; faltering self-efficacy; and unclear, unproductive perceptions about writing assignments. Students responded positively to the simulation and appeared to develop more realistic views about workplace communication.

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Reference:

Balzotti, J., Haws, K., Rogers, A. A., McDonald, J. K., & Baker, M. J. (2022). Microcore: Using online playable case studies to increase student engagement in online writing environments. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 11(3). https://edtechbooks.org/jaid_11_3/_microcore_using_onl

Considering What Faculty Value When Working with Instructional Designers and Instructional Design Teams

This paper originally started as a two-page, mini case study on how design can’t be understood in process oriented terms. It was combined with the data that ended up in the paper Objectivation in Design Team Conversation (also originally meant to be a two-page case). It quickly became clear each case deserved to be its own paper, since while they could be used in service of the broad point I was trying to make they were also interesting contributions in their own right that deserved to be built out completely. I’m glad I took the road I did, both for the other paper and for this one. They make much better contributions on their own.

Abstract:

The purpose of this research was to study what university faculty valued when working with instructional designers and instructional design teams to develop educational simulations. We did this through a case study of three faculty, where we analyzed what they discussed among themselves or communicated to other team members about what mattered to them about their team relationships or the design processes they employed. We structured our case report around three thematic issues that expressed how our participants depicted good relationships and processes. Our report concludes with a discussion of how instructional designers could use our findings in their practice.

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Reference:

McDonald, J. K., Elsayed-Ali, S., Bowman, K., & Rogers, A. A. (2022). Considering what faculty value when working with instructional designers and instructional design teams. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 11(3). https://edtechbooks.org/jaid_11_3/_considering_what_fa

Introducing Undergraduates to Instructional Design in a Graduate Studio: An Experiential, Model-Centered Approach

The other faculty author on the paper, Scott Howell, does a great job recruiting students into research projects. The first two authors are students from one of his instructional design classes, reporting on an experiential learning trip his class (along with one of mine) participated in. Both students were undergraduates when they started the paper. Now they’re both Master’s students in our program at BYU. My contribution to the paper was to organize the trip under discussion. Other than that, all credit for this paper goes to the other authors.

Abstract:

This case study describes a combined graduate and undergraduate instructional design studio that introduced undergraduate students to instructional design in a multifaceted, holistic, and applied way. Reviewing the experience of the undergraduates in the course, this design case describes four learning interventions used to create this applied experience: (1) instructional design team projects—one non-profit and the other in higher education, (2) weekly seminars and biweekly training sessions from field experts, (3) an experiential out-of-state trip, and (4) weekly reflection journals. These studio-based learning interventions are presented within the context of the Experiential Learning Theory and Model-Centered Instruction. Overall, the course introduced the undergraduate students to the field of instructional design in an applied and experiential format.

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Reference:

Zundell, R. S., Sowards, W., Howell, S. L., & McDonald, J. K. (2022). Introducing undergraduates to instructional design in a graduate studio: An experiential model-centered approach. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 11(3). https://edtechbooks.org/jaid_11_3/introducing_undergra

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.

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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.

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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).

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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

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