I’ve been wrapping my head around where instructional design theories and models came from and where they are heading by creating an infographic that includes some of the key players when it comes to instructional design theories.
Of these theorists I am a big fan of Gagne and Sweller but what have the other guys contributed to the development of sound instructional design in the 21st century? First of all, what did these guys say about instructional design?
Edgar Dale’s (1946) Cone of Learning was a model that explored what people are able to remember/process and achieve. To look at the model, it appears like a possible pre-cursor to Bloom’s Taxonomy in that the element of the model that looks that the outcomes people can achieve shows a progression from low to higher order thinking. The model shows that people remember more of the content they engage with if they engage with it in the higher order levels of creating, evaluating and analysing.
B. F. Skinner (1954) made a significant contribution to the world of instructional design with his work The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching. “Based on his theory of reinforcement the development of programmed instruction and outcome-oriented instruction was born. Characteristics of Programmed Instruction: behavioral objectives, small frames of instruction, self-pacing, active learner response to inserted questions, and immediate feedback regardless to correctness of the response” (from Instructional Design Timeline).
A very big name in teaching and learning is Benjamin Bloom who published an incredibly influential taxonomy in 1956. Bloom’s taxonomy is described as a classification of learning objectives and the taxonomy divides learning objectives into three domains: cognitive, affective and psychomotor. To me, the taxonomy demonstrates a progressions from rote learning activities to higher order processing of information to embed it within long-term memory. It’s a scaffold for planning learning from the early stages of gaining new knowledge, to the later stages of using that knowledge to do something new.
I’ve discussed Gagne’s work before and I’m definitely a fan of his. Gagne’s work and the Nine Events of Instruction are still very relevant and real today and has been applied to game design as well. Becker’s (2005) paper How Are Games Educational? Learning Theories Embodied in Games clearly identifies how Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction fit so seamlessly within game design.
The Dick and Carey model (1968) could be compared to Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction perhaps, this could be because Dick and Carey’s model is an iterative cycle made up of nine steps. These steps systematically guide a learner from goal setting to summative evaluation. I like the model, however, I believe Gagne’s model is a lot more user-friendly and relevant.
The ADDIE model, refined by Dick and Carey is very similar to the PLANE learning design, which is a taxonomy that goes from explore, contribute, create, implement, share/reflect to mentor. The ADDIE model stands for analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation and is very much a progressive model that begins with the exploration of new knowledge, however, it’s believed that there is up to 100 different variations on the model. It’s a broad model that I would apply in combination with another more fleshed-out model I think but it depends on how much scaffolding is desired really.
The 1990s saw the development of Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory (see earlier blog post), which greatly impacts instructional design, and then there came the resurgence of constructivsm. Constructivism was huge in the 1930s and 1940s classrooms, however, in the 1990s it returned as a major learning on how people learn, thus informing how teachers should design instruction. The basic premise of constructivism is that teachers design lessons in a way that allows students to guide their own learning and construct their own meaning from their experiences.
Ok, so what does that mean for modern-day instructional design? Well, I believe these models definitely still have a place in the design of teaching and learning experiences but its about embracing the here and now context in which our students learn and play. Teachers need to know how their students learn these days and a lot of it is through playing or experimenting with technology, and this should be considered when designing learning experiences. I strongly believe that game design is the way we should all be heading in our instructional design for the 21st century.