Years of Instructional Design – What does it mean for Moodle?

Pyramid diagram of the hierarchy of instructional design

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As an Online Learning Designer, it is something I am very passionate about and spend much time researching and reading about broadly, and that is instructional design (ID).  I have always loved a good model and when I start researching ID models I’m in heaven 🙂 This post may turn into a series of posts as I have read widely and have much to reflect on.  However, I read a great article the other night that whilst referencing some old research and ID models, was also addressing newer research into serious game design.  It was a very enlightening article for me and gave me much to think about.  The article is not extremely current but when compared with some of the ID models referenced it is very recent.

Gunter, G. A., Kenny, R. F.,  and Vick, E. H. (2006). A case for a formal design paradigm for serious games, The Journal of the International Digital Media and Arts Association, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 93-105.

Whilst the opening sentence of the article didn’t have me hooked, I kept reading and what I learned and came to reflect on was a rich history of ID models that can still to this day inform the design and development of current online learning experiences.  The opening line says: “Serious games have become an educational trend.” (p. 93) and that may be true, however, gaming is not just a trend but a way of learning, communicating and interacting with information.  It’s not new either, because gaming has been around for centuries in many forms, its shape and design just changing with the times.  Game design is therefore not new but is being more readily adopted by educators as a very effective way of motivating and engaging students in learning experiences.

Gunter et al. (2006) discussed and unpacked serious game design and along the way they reference the work of:

  • Robert Gagne (1985)
  • James Keller (1983), and
  • Benjamin Bloom (1956)

Before I get into how they referenced these models and related them to serious game design, I want to share what Gunter et al. (2006) outlined as the elements of serious game design:

  1. Scenario exposition
  2. Problem Setup
  3. Offer Challenge/Choice
  4. Provide Direction
  5. Elicit Action/Decision
  6. Discernable Outcomes
  7. Success/Failure Screens (p. 104)
Black background with instructional design mind map on top

License Some rights reserved by Rich_James

They then explore these and how the three psychologists’ models mentioned above can be applied and used to structure serious game design as well.  I might do separate posts for each of these and how they relate to serious game design but how can these serious game design elements listed above be integrated into a Moodle course as is?

1. Scenario Exposition – Outline the unit of work and its intended outcomes, providing an entry point for the learning experience.
2. Problem Setup – Explain the importance of the topic/concept being studied and demonstrate need for more knowledge and skill acquisition in this area.
3. Offer Challenge/Choice – This could be a Moodle activity that gets students to explore new content e.g. challenge students to create a wiki page that outlines new topic, engage students in a lesson activity with pathways that vary dependent on their answers to a series of questions or even just give them the choice to explore in-depth, one of many resources provided and produce a reflection for group.
4. Provide direction – This is so very easy in Moodle in so many ways.  The many various types of Moodle course formats can help scaffold learning experiences and the navigation of these experiences.  I personally love the book module and whilst it appears very linear in the table of contents, students could still go through sections in their own preferred order whilst still having direction provided.
5. Elicit Action/Decision – This could be getting a student to submit a task.  Students can submit work in many forms within Moodle, from submitting a discussion forum topic post to submitting a file through assignments, to submitting a page in a wiki and personal reflections in a blog.  I love all the Moodle activities and there is so much students can do with them when educators are creative about their use.  This step to me is about getting students to do something with what they have learned and Moodle definitely provides that opportunity.
6. Discernable Outcomes – Make sure that the above activity gives students the chance to demonstrate outcomes intended for achievement.
7. Success/Failure Screens – Moodle activities are also able to be automatically graded (many of but not all) and this can be a very effective and easy way to gain results and feedback on the successes and failures of students.  Get students to do a quiz, or fill in a feedback/questionnaire activity.
This is only a brief reflection on the bare bones of the article but stay tuned for further posts on this topic.
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