Three Variables in the Instructional Design Process

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In Part 1 of our series, we discussed why Instructional Design is important, and some ways that the Edvance360 Learning Management System can help you design effective, easy to navigate and maintain, courses. In Part 2, we are going to take a closer look at three variables in the Instructional Design process - Methods, Conditions, and Outcomes. Simply put, “methods are ways to achieve desired outcomes under your unique conditions” (Reigeluth). Let’s unpack that statement a little and take a closer look.


Methods

Methods is the most far-reaching of these three variables. It covers everything from pedagogical approaches to how grades are calculated. If you teach or design more than one course, it is important to have standardized procedures across courses. Commonly referred to as "Best Practices", Edvance360 clients may vary in the demand for adherence - some demand total adherence while others consider it a suggestion.

In Edvance360, tools such as the Learning Object Repository make it easy to share standards, Best Practices, and rubrics across all departments or inter-departmentally. Edvance360's Rubrics Tool is user-based, which means that once designed, that rubric is always available across all courses to the faculty or instructor who designed it. This saves time and reduces error since it is not having to be redone each courses or semester. Learning Outcomes Management pushes competencies and skills to course designers and faculty to ensure they are incorporated in the course assignments and Gradebook. Lessons and the Course Template settings allow for a full range of per-course customizations from zero customizations allowed to full customization per course per instructor. 

Standardization makes courses easier for course designers or faculty to create and facilitates their navigation by learners and instructors. However, as great as standardization is, it is also important that your procedures be responsive enough to extenuating circumstances that they can be flexible. This brings us to our next variable, Conditions.


Conditions

Conditions are those things which are unique to a particular class or section of a class. Does the timeframe for this class coincide with a major holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas? Are there assignments due immediately after a short break? Does this class incorporate more videos or a different type of assignment than most classes in your institution? Edvance360 has tools to help with all of these and other situations that may arise.

Using Edvance360 tools, you can set reminders for assignments due after breaks, send students memos regarding tricky parts of assignments, or offer live or peer-review feedback on those unique assignments. Mentor and apprenticeship tools provide a live component for courses that otherwise would become boring or hard to follow. Our platform is designed to be highly customizable so that you can design your course to fit the needs of the unique conditions your learners will experience.


Outcomes

Outcomes are probably the most self-explanatory of the three variables - they are simply how things turn out! To determine these, it is often helpful to ask yourself three key questions: “What did I want participants in this course to learn?” “What did participants in this course actually learn?” “What did this course fail to convey to its participants?” It is, of course, best to answer this first question for yourself as, or even before, you design your course - if you don’t know where you want to go, it is impossible to get there. The second two questions are best answered with some careful evaluation of the course - this can be done at set times during its duration, after it is completed, or both. Our analytics tools, surveys, Learning Outcomes, pre-testing and post-testing, can help you answer these questions.


Of course, these three variables are not static; rather, they are constantly interacting with one another. If your Outcomes are not what you were expecting, then you need to evaluate your Methods and decide if there were any special Conditions you should account for next time. Remember too, that Conditions are more than just special circumstances. If you are attempting to teach college-level concepts to a 6th grade class, that is also a Condition which, while not impossible, will need to be taken into consideration.

With careful consideration and evaluation, you can optimize your Methods in order to account for all present Conditions and achieve the Outcomes you desire. Happy course building!

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