Instructional Design in the Real World

I went to the gym today. I’d love to say it was to work out, but really it was to find instructional design in the real world. I tried to do the kill-two-birds-with-one-stone thing and also work out while I was there, but honestly, it was way too cold to swim in the lap pool today. It was cool morning combined with a smoothie for breakfast, so the lap pool “workout” was a failure. However, I did find two different examples of instructional design that I had some thoughts about.

 

The first was this flyer:

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This flyer is informing patrons of family swim times as well as the one real expectation for supervising your kids: 25:10 rule. It says in the little bubble that if your child cannot swim 25 meters unaided, then they must be within 10 feet of their parent. The goals seem to be to share what the family swim times are but also a reminder about the 25:10 rule. This flyer is somewhat effective for those who regularly attend family swim, and through experience they generally know what this information means. What is unclear for those patrons is whether or not the pool hours are also the family swim hours. At the top of the hours list is says FAMILY HOURS – 25:10 rule enforced, but it doesn’t really differentiate between pool hours and family hours. For first timers, or for those hoping to avoid family hours, this isn’t very helpful. For new members, this doesn’t tell you the whole picture. If your child cannot swim the 25 meters unaided, they also cannot ride the slide. Also, if your child can swim the 25 meters, it doesn’t tell members the expectation for where to be. For example, if they have a 10 year old who can swim the distance, is it ok for the parent to leave the building to run errands? If your child can swim the 25 meters, do the parents need to supervise their children at all? They also don’t tell you what families do after those hours. So, if someone wants pool time with no kids, it is assumed based on this flyer that outside of those hours, the pool will be kid-free. That is not actually true. Outside of the pool hours, families are often still in the pool; there is just no life guard on duty. Also, the 25:10 rule is not enforced. So, someone like me shows up on a Friday night at 9 pm hoping for a quiet swim would actually discover a chaotic mad house at the pool with kids of all ages and swim abilities generally unsupervised. Three things I remember every year for our outdoor pool is that it opens Memorial Day weekend (May 27th), the 25:10 is enforced during outdoor pool hours, and that the hours don’t always mean anything. According to Hoy, Davis, and Anderman (2013) in their article Personal Learning Theory, the first pillar of learning is that “Students must first understand and make sense of material.” If they cannot make sense of the material, it will affect their ability to remember it. As a result of my own uncertainty in this flyer, I can never really remember the outside pool hours. If I should up relatively early or late, I walk in fingers crossed that the pool is open.

 

Another piece of instructional material was the directions for sharing the lap pool lanes:

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The goal of the plaque is to share the expectations for a busy day in the lap pool to make “lap swimming safer, more pleasant and more efficient for all.” I think the instructions are detailed enough that they seem generally reasonable and uncomplicated. However, there are two things in the information that seem unclear, and 1 issue I have overall that might affect the  overall effectiveness of the plaque. First, under “Passing” it says to “Gently tap the swimmer in front of you on the foot.” This makes sense for two strangers in a lap lane when one is faster than the other. Just reach out and “gently tap the swimmer on the foot,” but then it also says “Pass only when they have stopped at the wall.” Tapping someone on the foot is the equivalent of yelling “LEFT!” when passing someone in your bike lane. You yell it, then go. So, tapping someone then waiting until the wall is confusing. If you don’t tap and pass, then what will happen is that everyone will just stop in confusion. I wouldn’t call this efficient. Also the idea of tapping someone’s foot while they are in full kick is also questionable, but honestly there are not many other options to get another swimmer’s attention without totally freaking them out. Second, at the bottom it offers some extra information: distance. At first, I loved this! I can never remember how many laps make a mile. But, what is actually missing is what kind of lap pool am I in? Is it 25 yards or 25 meters? It doesn’t say. Does it make the expectations less clear? No. But is it a design fail? Yes. If you thought far enough to include it, it is rendered useless if members don’t actually know which one you are swimming in. Why did you include both? You could have just included the distance that actually made sense for this pool. The final issue that may impede effectiveness is the description of this information as only “shared conventions.” Referring to this as only “shared conventions” implies that this information is optional. If I don’t feel like sharing the lane at all, then I don’t have to “share” the “conventions.” From this information I am most likely not to forget that when I share a lane, I might have a foot grab at any moment, share the lane, and swim counter-clockwise (keep right).

Instructional design should be part of every educator’s preparation program. Whether it is the university route or an alternative, instructional design should be the standard for teachers to lesson plan. My first year teaching college English was only a year after I taught high school for the first time. My Dean said, pick your book and look at the course outcomes, then get going! Had I never taught high school where design is expected despite never being taught in my alternative certification program, I would have fallen apart teaching my college classes. I know that whatever my next steps are in my career, instructional design is going to be a central component. Dr. Merrill said in his video that so many sites today are just “information dumps.” So many educators today use the internet and web tools to “teach” for them like some people use the TV to “raise” their children. However, creating an “information dump” site is NOT instructional. Could you imagine what your students would learn in health class if they were just told to Google “sexual health?” We must design how we will use the massive amounts of information available to us now. Google and Siri cannot be the new educators of tomorrow. 

 

References:

Hoy, A.W., Davis, H. A., and Anderman, E. M. (2013). “Theories of Learning and Teaching in TIP.” Theory into Practice52(sup1), 9-21. 

 

Merrill, David M., PhD. “Merrill on Instructional Design.” Youtube. Mdavidmerrill, 11 Aug. 2008. Web. 7 June 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_TKaO2-jXA&gt.

 

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