What I’m all about

Modern forms of education (technology-mediated education, online learning, etc.) still tend to be flat, thin, and dull, despite researchers’ attempts to develop strategies and techniques to make them richer, more engaging, and more effective. This is true even when they have been intentionally designed using contemporary design thinking practices. But what if the problem isn’t the strategies we use?

What if we considered being an instructional designer to be a mode of existence and not just a job or a person who applies a set of processes/methodologies? And so we were as concerned about their character and dispositions, and the perceptual capacities and affective responses associated with designers’ styles of inhabiting the world, as much as we were with the specific skills they employ? Then we could consider whether those are sufficient to sustain the practices designers need to successfully cope with educational situations. And if not, we have a more robust foundation from which to investigate what can be done to reorient them so they see, feel, and act differently.

This is what I study. Some of the specific topics this includes are:

  • The place of instructional designers’ practical, embodied know-how, and the risks of designers over-relying on detached, instrumental knowledge.
  • The field’s tendency to reduce and flatten all issues to technological problems/solutions, and what’s left behind in the translation.
  • How instructional designers can resist the field’s hyper-rationalization and technologization, and come into their own as designers committed to sensitively responding to the demands of unique situations.
  • Understanding instructional design practice as it is lived and experienced by designers, along with how designers become the kinds of people they are.
  • How instructional designers cope with tensions that arise between the realities of work situations and the pursuit of high ideals.
  • What do various moral issues look like in the context of instructional design (e.g., drawing distinctions of worth, conscience of craft, taking stands and making wholehearted commitments).