Friday, July 15, 2016

Instructional Design

Instructional Design defined by Piskurich (2015) is a “way to plan your training program from the moment you have the idea for it (or the idea is given to you) until the moment you complete your revisions of your first effort and get ready to run the program again” (p. 4).  Instructional design is critical in order to develop professional development (PD) or courses which are responsive to the trainees’ needs so trainees walk away with knowledge they can easily apply. While reflecting on Instructional Design, I am viewing the subject through the lens of being a tech coach. My job as a coach is to provide appropriate, engaging, and relevant professional development to K-5 teachers.
This short video is a quick synopsis on Instructional Design:

When thinking about a bad design experience, my first thought went to my first experience as a tech coach. I was asked to present to the faculty of a school, and I was given the freedom to design anything I would like to present. This experience was a one and a half hour PD session on the first day back from summer break. This was my first whole-faculty PD session as a tech coach. The experience reflects bad design because I did not know my audience as I should have and the group size was too large to differentiate. I presented up-and-coming technologies in a “sit and get” format. The failure on my part came when I did not take the analysis stage of the Instructional Systems Design to the extent I needed to. Reflecting on the experience I realized many of the teachers in the room knew the new technologies and were already using them in their room. At the same time, many teachers in the room were very tech reluctant and were overwhelmed by the long list of new ideas. I also did not provide hands-on time to try out the new tools. The training did not meet the varying needs of the large crowd.
In comparison, two years later I was presenting PD to a group of teachers who served as our tech facilitators. They were the rockstar tech users on each grade level team at each elementary school in the district. While still varying in ability, the group overall was very tech savvy. Because of the varying needs, we decided to conduct the PD in EdCamp style. The teachers signed up to informally present to whomever came to the session. The teachers rotated through sessions they found interesting. This met the needs of everyone and the response from the end of session survey was glowing. Teachers enjoyed learning from their peers and the ability to choose what they wanted to hear.
Watch a video which quickly explains EdCamp:

From these two experiences and many more in between I have been able to see trends in good and bad instructional design experiences:
Good Design Elements:
  • Differentiated to learners’ needs
  • Pre- and post- surveys conducted
  • Small groups when possible
  • Hands-on activities and interactive
  • Specific to learners’ context (grade level, subject area)
Bad Design Elements:
  • One-size-fits all PD
  • Not fully going through the analyze phase of Instructional Design
  • Large group settings of “sit and get”

By fully implementing Instructional Design there are many advantages including developing professional development which “means creating training that helps your trainees learn the things they need to know” (Piskurich, 2015, p. 9). By spending the time in the beginning to fully develop training before it is delivered can take a lot of time, a big disadvantage. However, by one person spending more time at the beginning, it will allow the training to be highly effective and will save time for the trainees in the long run.


Lee, Su Hun. "Edcamp 101". YouTube. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.
Piskurich, G. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. New Jersey: Wiley.
Prometheus Training,. "What Is Instructional Design?". YouTube. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 July 2016.


  1. Melissa Wallis:
    I loved how you shared your experience of a professional development you conducted and reflected on the analysis phase of your pd. I think it is a phase many people skip over and I am guilt as well. Piskurich, as you stated, mentioned good and bad elements of conducting a pd and when you think about it many of those bad elements can be nipped if you have a good analysis stage.

    1. Sara,
      I can sympathize with developing instructional design and it not going as planned. I agree that knowing your audience is very important to the instructional design process in order to provide the best learning experience for all participants. Piskurich (2015) explained that thorough analysis of the learning group allows instructional designers to develop activities that fits the needs of individual learners in the training. I think applying this concept to design professional developments will allow us to develop more intentional activities for the learners.

      Piskurich, G. M. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.