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Hear From Expert Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew

How is Instructional Design Adapting for the Future?

By Brittany Haynes on Oct 24, 2019
Maximizing and adapting learning design within education is a key part to the success of evolving instructional methods, especially as technological advances continue to develop online learning. Accordingly, the form, function, and even style of instructional design must be adjusted to ensure effective educational experiences for students. To better understand these changes within instructional design in conjunction with the influences of online learning, Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew, from Kansas State University, USA, shares her latest research on this topic from her publication, Form, Function, and Style in Instructional Design: Emerging Research and Opportunities, in an IGI Global interview below.

What inspired you to pursue research activities in instructional design?

Daily, research is part and parcel of instructional design work to learn about the learning content that will go into the designs, the discipline, or domain; common approaches to the teaching and learning for the target learners; the necessary authoring tools and technologies; and so on. For every instructional design (ID) context, there are different ways to solve the design and development challenges; unless there is direct testing of learner performance, it is hard to know which designs are the most effective. On-ground, given the high costs of instructional design and development, we usually go with the ID’s and/or collaborating team’s best sense of the optimal designs. Of course, these are the best on-the-fly designs possible, given the limits of content resources, equipment, time, money, and talent.

In a few rare cases, some grant funding may allow some research to enable data-informed decisions; however, these are rare. In general, the instructional designer has to continuously learn and shore up skillsets, in order to be ready for whatever comes in terms of work challenges. It’s not usually feasible to acquire whole new skillsets in software suites or technologies or learning domains when the need arises, so it helps to have some background already. It also helps to be willing to jump in headfirst and to take on untested challenges and then learn frantically. (To do this work well, a person has to be willing to spend personal time on nights and weekends to get the skills right.)

This work also requires constant creativity.
  • How do you capture target learner attention and interest?
  • How do you design multimodal learning resources that sequence a learning experience effectively?
  • How do you design a visual that is informative, accurate, memorable, and difficult to misinterpret?
  • How do you ensure that a learning resource is future-proofed? Culturally? Technologically? Pedagogically?
  • How do you “version” learning to learners from different age groups?

And then on the personal front, how can one be constantly creative and refreshed? How can one work in one’s lane but also outside of that false constraint? For me, it helps to immerse in culture and media…and to explore others’ learning creations.

In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of the research in your publication to its community of users?

Some of the benefits from this edited collection, Form, Function, and Style in Instructional Design: Emerging Research and Opportunities, is that it includes a range of perspectives on how to maximize learning designs. There are practical ideas and theoretically sound approaches by authors with decades of experience in many cases. How can learners be modeled intergenerationally? What are some cognitive load concerns with designing learning? How can the uses and gratifications approach inform design for online learning contents? What are curricular infusions, and how are these achieved? How is serialized online learning created? How can learning paths be designed for lifelong learners? What are boutique instructional designs, and how can these be optimally created? How can time-based events be designed for instruction? What exactly is the role of research in everyday instructional design?

In this work, I wanted to surface tacit understandings from the instructional design field to the level of consciousness and to enable more sophisticated and effective learning designs. ID work requires problem solving involving complex dimensions of human learning, technologies, and domain knowledge, and there are so many dependencies to creating quality work. Articulating what goes into the work helps make the ID lessons replicable and explorable by the self and others.

How has your research evolved over the last ten years?

One major change is that instead of creating research instruments and then using them for human subject research (after going through IRB review), I am using available data and more sophisticated coding and qualitative data analytics approaches. I am using some of the work methods in instructional design. I am more willing to go with research works which stem directly from practice. That’s one change.

Another change is that I am more willing to go with theorizing and following ideas that way. A recent work, Electronic Hive Minds on Social Media: Emerging Research and Opportunities, is of that sort. A work that I’d envisioned years ago about the “hidden Web” never quite took off, but that’s par for the course when following ideas of interest. I like ideas and approaches that are somewhat more “long tail” than mainstream. To put in the tough work of researching and writing and revising and editing, an idea has to be alluring and captivating; if not, the work stops partway and never fully actualizes.

What has stayed the same over these years? I think that’s fair to look at as well. I’ve always tried to conduct thorough reviews of the literature, in order to be informed of general research approaches and findings. I’ve always liked including computational analytics in research, even if it’s only a small part. I have always like data-fying what is available, with some recent works including social image analytics.

What are the future directions of your research areas? What topic or subject you have previously researched would you consider revisiting?

The irony about instructional design is that even though I’ve completed several authored and edited books on it, I feel like I have not really even begun to plumb where ID can go. Part of this is because I do not have access to the various spaces where ID is practiced, such as massive open online courses (MOOCs), customized applications, more complex game designs, K12, and so much more.

In terms of future research and publishing projects, I am very open to what inspires and to serendipity. I cannot predict with any accuracy what I’ll be working on project-wise in instructional design (based on what is funded)…and it is the same with book projects. Some publishers will encourage revising a former work for a newer publication, but I generally tend to avoid that. I prefer to engage new works, or lay new tracks, if you will, rather than rehashing what has been addressed in the past.

What are some other evolving research trends you have observed in your field over the past several months and what would you say are some of the innovative research directions you foresee in the future? How do you feel your publication sets the pace for these innovations?

In ID, I see a spillover effect of computation and coding into teaching and learning, with technologies doing the heavy lifting of customizing learner experiences and enabling adaptivity. There is a turn to data of all sorts, small to big, to inform designs. There are various methods for versioning, to enable an initial build that can be distributed in various ways to different learner audiences. I think automation has not fully been explored yet and still holds so much unexplored promise. Research Potential: What are some effective programs for adaptive learning? What are some ways to use available data about customized learning? What are some effective methods for versioning different learning designs in creative ways?

The open-source and open-sharing movements are still going strong; however, the quality of the shared learning resources are not particularly impressive (in most cases). I am not seeing individual or small-group creations challenging what well-funded content creators can field. The byline credits and even the digital badging are not sufficient incentives to encourage people to build for free with all the liabilities that come with publishing contents to the broad public. Research Potential: I think there is a lot of data from open-source and open-shared learning resources that has not been exploited in the academic literature.

Of course, there is always room for innovative research methods, creative and analytical hypothesizing, informational elicitations, properly exploring available data for fresh insights, and rich types of data coding (computational, manual, and mixed).

As for this new book, Form, Function, and Style in Instructional Design: Emerging Research and Opportunities, I see this as a complementary text to some of the more mainline instructional design ones. This work contains chapters that explore practical facets of the field but also idiosyncratic approaches.

What has your experience been like publishing with IGI Global?

Publishing with IGI Global has been very productive for me. Over the years, I’ve seen how IGI Global’s technological capabilities have come to the fore with their book publishing system, which vastly simplifies the process, particularly the uploading of manuscript contents, the double-blind peer review process, and the book proofing. IGI Global has given me a way to speak to the larger world about important research and work.

For me, I like contributing to other editors’ projects as well. Not all chapter proposals are accepted, and this is how it should be. However, many are, and it helps to receive solid peer review in the double-blind peer review process. It helps that IGI Global vets their editors and supports their respective work. This trust helps lower the potential risks and frictions of academic publishing.

IGI Global would like to thank Dr. Hai-Jew for sharing her research on instructional design. For more information about this research, view the publication here.
Dr. Hai-Jew's publication, Form, Function, and Style in Instructional Design: Emerging Research and Opportunities, is available through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore and world-renowned InfoSci®-Books, a database of 5,300+ reference books.

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