“Instructional design is lesson planning on steroids.” So said a colleague of mine as I began my first true instructional design project, following the ADDIE model. This assessment filled me with some trepidation; as a teacher with over a decade of experience in the classroom, lesson planning was already a time and labor-intensive effort. How much more work would be involved when I was tasked with responsibilities of comprehensive analysis of learner needs, in-depth lesson design, development of engaging learning materials, implementation of my plan, and evaluation of the results? Not surprisingly, A LOT. Creating and implementing an instructional design project from start to finish (and if you are true to the process, you never really “finish”) is a labor of time and resources well beyond the requirements of weekly lesson planning. Along the way, however, I discovered the beauty behind a central but perhaps overlooked aspect of instructional design: design itself.
As discussed in a previous post on this blog, it is helpful to consider those who practice instructional design as “designers”. From this perspective, instructional design becomes an art. As a conservatory trained musician, I am intimately aware that art is a process. As Steven Pressfield writes in “The War of Art”, “the most important thing about art is work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying”. So it is with instructional design, although with the added caveat that the work you are doing is itself designing a pathway of work for others. With that in mind, here a few design-related inspirational quotes, each followed by a brief project-related reflection:
“Design is thinking made visual” –Saul Bass
The instructional design process forced me to articulate and either defend or reject positions on teaching and learning that have guided my instruction for years, based on having to produce lesson design based in deep analysis of instructional goals and learner needs.
“It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.” – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Design, revise. Develop, revise. Get feedback, revise. Implement and Evaluate… revise. Instructional design is not a straight-line process, but rather a web of interconnected cycles of revision, with the goal of developing and delivering instruction that is maximally effective.
“There are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser
Yes, it took a lot of work. No, I did not sleep much during the process. But when I completed and implemented my project, it was something that I could be proud of, and that those who it was designed for absolutely loved.
On to project 2…