Recurring Themes

Reflecting on some of the readings, our class projects and some of the issues which have arisen in my work environment, I see a number of recurring themes which relate to instructional design.

tandem skydivingThe first is the idea that design and evaluation seem to function in tandem with one another. In our text, “Designing Instruction for Technology-Enhanced Learning” Muilenburg and Berge (2002) assert that, “Evaluation of the students, the instructor, and the course materials must be conducted.” They further add that, “Evaluating student satisfaction, the quality of the instructor, and course materials will probably require the development of some customized instruments.” This type of evaluation goes beyond the formative and summative evaluations of the learners which must be conducted over the course of a particular learning experience. This type of evaluation, rather, is intended to gauge whether or not the instructional design and teaching methods have been effectively integrated into the learning environment. This is of particular importance for online learning, as it allows instructional designers to adjust and revise their design and teaching strategies throughout the delivery of a course.

Another recurring theme that has emerged for me is that of “training the trainers”. At a recent conference sponsored by the American College of Surgeons on simulation in surgical training, emphasis was placed upon the need to train experts in the field of surgical practice to teach and evaluate their students. Being an expert in field of practice does not necessarily imply that one is skilled in the ability to effectively teach and evaluate learning in that same area. As with many online experiences, training trainers is key to implementing successful simulation experiences in surgical training.

A third theme which has been reinforced for me both in the classroom and in the workplace is that of collaboration. Pulling together the expertise of practitioners, educators, researchers and instructional designers will maximize the design and delivery of course materials. In surgical education, and particularly simulation, there is much to be gained from the combined efforts of the practicitioners’ knowledge and experience, the educators’ craft of teaching, researchers’ abilities to design valid and reliable instruments to measure learning and analyze the effectiveness of teaching strategies, and the expertise from IT individuals in building and designing learning environments. The same holds true in many other areas of education.

So, with this idea of collaboration in mind, a few questions come to mind. What are the barriers in our various educational environments which prevent true collaboration of professionals? What models are there which yield insight into how these barriers could be addressed? What initiatives can be or are being taken in our own academic settings to build community and collaboration for future educational collaboration? Finally, is there a role for instructional designers in helping to ensure educational collaboration? Some food for thought.

Muilenburg, L.Y., & Berge, Z.L. (2002). Designing discussion for the online classroom. In Rogers, P.L., Designing instruction for technology-enhanced learning. (pp. 100 – 113). Retrieved from

This entry was posted in ADLT 642. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Recurring Themes

  1. Thank you for your insightful blog Wally. I think that some barriers in my own environment for collaboration of professionals is simply time. We recently instituted a twice a day “huddle” among key players – anesthesia, OB, nursing, and the NICU. Finding a common ‘time’ to all gather for fifteen minutes twice a day has proven to be quite a challenge.

    The SON has also partnered recently with medicine and pharmacy to do case study presentations with the students. Each discipline is represented and the students present it to faculty. They were going to do a trial run and had to postpone it due to scheduling difficulties — spring break, match week for the med students, faculty commitments, etc.

  2. You identify a real obstacle to collaboration in the medical profession – TIME! However, I love hearing about some of the creative approaches to making collaboration possible on our medical campus. Thanks so much for these thoughtful comments, Sara.

  3. rhettwilcox says:

    You have great points about the importance for instructional design to be evaluated along with teaching practices. That is a seldom occurrence in my organization, but it sounds like the importance is being recognized in medical education.
    You often hear the phrase “expertise in a subject does not mean you can teach it” but rarely is the “or evaluate” piece added in. That is of key importance also.
    I completely agree with you that collaboration is paramount, but there are often significant barriers. One barrier that my impact collaboration is the organizational hierarchy and the arguments of who is responsible for who/what actions take place. If one party controls the teachers and one party controls the designers, they must agree to collaborate for success of the whole organization.

    • Good point regarding the “organizational hierarchy” or perhaps even the “politics” of the particular workplace setting. I have to wonder how much money plays into decisions regarding who collaborates with whom. It strikes me that too often we find “competition” rather than “collaboration”.

  4. Our culture loves independence. And competition. Only recently have I seen real acceptance of collaboration as necessary rather than an add on as “group work.” We know that our individual expertise combined can make exceptional solutions… although we’ve heard often the derogatory remark “It was designed by committee.” Evidence that collaboration works BETTER must be supported by those “in control”. Most likely they are not aware of the research. The fact that your medical community is trying to add it to your day is a good sign.

  5. I think you hit the nail on the head with the idea of “competition”. Seems it is more popular than “collaboration”. You would think that we would know by now that one individual cannot produce the quality that the collective effort can. Yet, we continue to compete. Although there remain some barriers in the medical field, forces are necessitating that we move toward collaboration – a practice whose time has come.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s