Creative Instructional Design

From E-Learning Faculty Modules


Contents

Module Summary

“Creative” instructional design refers to innovative online learning designs that manifest in the resulting digital learning objects, modules, and learning sequences. What makes an approach “creative” may vary, but this element introduces novelty, and it enhances the experiential engagement of learners and ideally enhances learning efficacy. The ability to bring in creativity to instructional design may be part of a designer and developer’s signature (a unique style). This short module addresses creativity in instructional design.

Takeaways

Learners will...

  • describe what innovative instructional design looks like (as compared to non-innovative instruction design)
  • identify some common opportunities to imbue creativity in instructional design
  • list some typical costs / inputs to imbuing creativity in instructional design
  • identify the most common design and development roles that contribute to creative instructional design
  • explain why creativity is important in instructional design and list the aspects of creativity in ID that are most critical to the final product


Module Pretest

1. What is “creative” or “innovative” instructional design? What does “creativity” in instructional design look like? What does an absence of creativity or innovation look like? Why is it important to be able to recognize innovation in instructional design?

2. What are some common opportunities to imbue creativity in instructional design? Why? What parts of an instructional design are the most open for creativity? (What parts of an instructional design are most regimented? Why?)

3. What are some typical costs (inputs) to imbuing creativity in instructional design?

4. What are the most common design and development roles that contribute to creative instructional design?

5. Why is creativity important in instructional design? What aspects of creativity in instructional design are most critical to the final product?


Main Contents

1. What is “creative” or “innovative” instructional design? What does “creativity” in instructional design look like? What does an absence of creativity or innovation look like? Why is it important to be able to recognize innovation in instructional design?

A flippant response to identifying creative instructional design is, “You’ll know it when you see it.” Generally, it helps to have an insider view of the learning domain and learners; in general, highly creative instructional designs are rare.

Ideally, creative instructional designs provide learners with a different and insightful perspective of the topic. They enable learners to approach a subject matter with a different sort of experience. Fresh learning designs help reconceptualize teaching and learning. For example, new methods may be introduced that were not common in a particular domain before; for example, the uses of virtual simulations in the teaching of physics or law or dramaturgy.

There may be fresh ways for learners to acquire understandings in abstract or elusive concepts and practices. For example, there may be fresh ways to introduce practice in computer science and coding, with instantaneous feedback.

There may be fresh ways of supporting learners in achieving problem-solving.

Or thought experiments are integrated into a curriculum.

There may be harnessing of technologies in fresh ways.

Or co-learners may be organized to achieve learning that would not be achievable otherwise.

Perhaps learning sequences are original and have not been attempted before.

Or new data has been captured for learning purposes.

Or, the innovations may be less obvious than a different experiential sequence. There may be fresh thinking behind instructional experiences. In other words, some approaches may be more subtle.

At heart, innovative instructional designs are most effective if they promote learning efficacy for learners (or subgroups of learners). Innovative instructional designs are ultimately about promoting more effective and engaging online learning.


2. What are some common opportunities to imbue creativity in instructional design? Why? What parts of an instructional design are the most open for creativity? (What parts of an instructional design are most regimented? Why?)

There are common opportunities to imbue creativity in instructional design in the following:

  • how the online learning is sequenced
  • how the contents of the online learning is presented (and what content is presented)
  • the types of assignments, learning experiences, collaborations, and assessments that learners will experience
  • what technologies are used to create and deliver the online learning

The way designers and developers conceptualize the topic will affect the teaching and learning. This is one reason why it is helpful to have diversity of all kinds o the design and development team and in the subject matter expert (SME) pool. Point-of-view matters. It helps to bring some solid forethought to a project before going into the design.

Usually, the creativity is tested out in the design phase. Occasionally, the creativity occurs in the execution of the design.

It helps to read broadly, but hold the ideas loosely (and to apply what is appropriate in different circumstances). It also helps to have close contact with the online learners, to understand what works for them and what does not.


3. What are some typical costs (inputs) to imbuing creativity in instructional design?

There are no “typical” costs in arriving at innovative designs, drafting the ideas, creating prototypes, and then executing on the designs…and then testing learning efficacy outcomes with learners. There are the typical costs of acquiring or creating digital contents, and then costs to applying particular technologies. The development work is often the most expensive part of an instructional design sequence.

That said, it is important to understand the necessary inputs to create the online learning.


4. What are the most common design and development roles that contribute to creative instructional design?

The lead role is important because creative designs invariably entail cost. There may be cost for acquiring or creating content. There may be costs to program a simulation. There will be costs for a look-and-feel. There will be costs to capturing data and using that in a learning sequence.

The other critical roles have to do with the instructional designers and developers, those who actually carry a plan to fruition…and create the deliverables.

The researcher / data analyst role is also critical because it is important to assess the online learning for learning efficacy.


5. Why is creativity important in instructional design? What aspects of creativity in instructional design are most critical to the final product?

The most important reason for creativity in instructional design is that creativity enables new ways of conceptualizing the target learning…and it enables ways to potentially more effectively structure the learning, in a way that appeals to learners.

The aspects of instructional design that are most critical to the final product are the innovations that enhance the teaching and learning…and that improve the experience of learners working with the learning objects.

Ideally, innovations would be common and applied as a matter-of-course. Creativity may be brought to bear when an online course is retrofitted or a learning object is updated.

Certainly, the technological requirements, the legal restrictions, and the processes…provide a lot of restrictions to instructional designs. Learning theories keep the designs grounded and practical. However, there is a role for blue sky thinking as well. It is a good idea to engage broadly with the world in order to feel inspired.

Examples

What are some powerful examples of innovations? This depends on the learning domain and the technologies.

A class of creative simulations include those enabled by Wolfram language in the (http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/ Wolfram Demonstrations Project).

Certainly, (https://www.khanacademy.org/ Khan Academy) and its “flipped classroom” enablements and worked-problems videos and video sequentiality and badging are unique and effective.

The advancement of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is important as well.

The application of online or virtual labs is important as well.

There are many smaller scale innovations which are high-impact, and many of these are in particular learning domains.

How To

What are ways to be creative in instructional design?

  • Explore broadly in all mediums and all topics.
  • Conduct an environmental scan about the available online learning and resources about the particular target learning.
  • Be open-minded about how to approach a design.
  • Expand technological skills and knowledge, so it is possible to execute on ambitious design plans.
  • Be practical. Make sure that the innovations enhance the learning. Make sure that the time and resources and efforts invested result in effective learning.

Possible Pitfalls

What are some risks in focusing on creativity in instructional design? Design and development are not about creativity for its own sake but about innovation in the service of online teaching and learning.

Module Post-Test

1. What is “creative” or “innovative” instructional design? What does “creativity” in instructional design look like? What does an absence of creativity or innovation look like? Why is it important to be able to recognize innovation in instructional design?

2. What are some common opportunities to imbue creativity in instructional design? Why? What parts of an instructional design are the most open for creativity? (What parts of an instructional design are most regimented? Why?)

3. What are some typical costs (inputs) to imbuing creativity in instructional design?

4. What are the most common design and development roles that contribute to creative instructional design?

5. Why is creativity important in instructional design? What aspects of creativity in instructional design are most critical to the final product?


References

Extra Resources