Critique of an Instructional Design Blog: Online Learning Insights

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Online Learning Insights is a blog about online education written by Debbie Morrison, an instructional designer. Her blog post entitled ” Course Design and Online Group Collaboration–What’s the Connection?” posted on March 14, 2015 describes the benefits of collaboration such as engagement, gaining communication skills, and fostering deeper learning. She also lists course design strategies to make the assignments meaningful, challenging, structured but also flexible, timed appropriately, and with clear instructions. I have had projects that had confusing instructions, were poorly timed, and did not aid in gaining deeper knowledge. I have also had some highly engaging tasks with clear instructions about what to do, but had a choice of methods to reach the end goal.  As the recipient of both excellent and poor online activity design, I believe this blog post should be read by all instructors designing group activities.

Her blog post entitled “Five Alternatives to the Talking Head Video for MOOCs & Online Courses” that was posted on February 15, 2015 had the interesting factoid that “talking head” lecture videos should be six minutes or less. I was also surprised that personally-created videos rather than professional-looking ones were more desired by students. I knew that tutorials using software on which the lecturer could write and point out items was more engaging. I do think short videos and tutorials are very useful, as the student may replay them to gain understanding. Podcasts do allow one to listen on the go and to take notes, but I find the lack of visuals annoying, allowing me to become distracted. Interviews can be very insightful if a true expert is queried about a topic. I absolutely love simulations. I used a simulation of a manufacturing company to graduate with my master’s degree in business administration. I have never seen or used weekly recaps, so I may want to look into this further. I also agree that the professor for an online course can use YouTube videos and not do any “talking head” instruction at all. I am currently attending a university, getting my degree in education and bilingual education, with no “talking head” videos at all.

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Overall, I find her blog insightful, useful, and interesting. The author also takes care to attribute where she has gathered the information, so I may use these for further reading if I choose to do so. I have subscribed via RSS feed to her blog, and plan on reading new entries in the future.

References

Morrison, D. (2015, March 14) Course Design and Online Group Collaboration — What’s the Connection? [Web log comment]. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/

Morrison, D. (2015, February 15) Five Alternatives to the Talking Head Video for MOOCs & Online Courses .[Web log comment]. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/five-alternatives-to-the-talking-head-video-for-moocs-online-courses/

Blogs About Instructional Design

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I am a university professor in South Korea. I am taking a course in instructional design online, and I was assigned a blog finding three different blogs helpful to instructional design professionals, I took on the challenge, and here are the results!

I started my Web search at: https://www.google.com/search?q=blogs+about+instructional+design&rlz=1C1CYCH_enKR621KR621&oq=blogs+about+instructional+design&aqs=chrome..69i57l2j69i59j69i65l3.5453j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8. This will get you started if you want to find more blogs on the subject.

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Blog link 1: The Rapid eLearning Blog http://feeds.feedburner.com/RapidElearningBlog

This blog is an offshoot of Articulate, makers of educational software. There are articles on visual thinking skills, sharing e-learning courses, and web sites with free stock images. I read a blog post by Tom Kuhlmann about active vs. passive engagement. It explained something I had not thought of in the context of eLearning. The classes I currently teach are face-to-face, and I use strategies to actively engage learners such as intonation, modeling, and having students speak to each other. Learning how to actively engage learners online is an interesting concept, and one I had not considered before. This site has useful techniques for instructional designers, such as being visually appealing to users, and thus is worth a look and, perhaps, a subscription via email or RSS feed.

Kuhlmann, T. (2007, October 23), Create Engaging eLearning Courses You Can Be Proud Of [Web log comment] Retrieved from http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/create-engaging-e-learning-courses-you-can-be-proud-of/

Blog Link 2: The eLearning Coach http://feeds.feedburner.com/theelearningcoach?format=xml

The eLearning Coach website has different areas, such as Podcasts, eLearning Design, eLearning 2.0, and Cognition. The site also has content on best practices for blended learning, books for learning professionals to read, and a podcast on digital badges, otherwise known as micro-credentials, learners earn for showing particular skills in the digital environment. I read a blog post in eLearning Design about the ten qualities of the ideal instructional designer. I had not realized the sheer amount of work it would take to become an instructional designer, and the qualities or quirks needed to do well in this field. One must be skilled at teaching, visualization, writing and video, brainstorming, and be highly interested in learning. I have contemplated this field, and the checklist in this blog is a great place to start. This site has obvious uses for me to learn about instructional design, specifically on things I had not considered, such as digital badges. The design of online coursework involves components I simply had not considered, despite my current pursuit of my second online master’s degree. Any tool in the toolbox is valuable, especially if it means it can make learners more motivated to learn or to be able to use the course easily.

Malamed, C. (2009) 10 Qualities of the Ideal Instructional Designer [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/10-qualities-of-the-ideal-instructional-designer/

IDD Blog http://feeds.feedburner.com/InstructionalDesignAndDevelopmentBlog?format=xml

This blog is a faculty service for Instructional Technology Services at DePaul University in Minnesota. There are articles on discussion prompts, poor online course design, strategies to enhance virtual conversations, and educational games. I read an article by Sharon Guan on Under the Dome, a wildly popular documentary by a Chinese mother, Chai Jing, with millions of views worldwide. Guan says this was more of a TED talk, without a lot of the technological bells and whistles accompanying TED talks. Guan talks about how stories are still important to add meaning to online content, and that simplicity may tell a story much more clearly than a complicated technological gizmo would. IDD Blog has some blogs with lots of links to other sites. It is quite easy to spend hours poking through the blogs, picking up more and more information, tips, and tricks on instructional design.

Guan, S. (2015, March 9). Under the Dome: What a Documentary on Air Pollution Taught Me about Instructional Design [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.iddblog.org/?p=2119

Instructional designers, take a look! I hope this helps!