A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Instructional Design

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How to Develop and Implement a Usable Training Database   (PDF)

The results of a Motorola human resources survey revealed an inadequate procedure for selecting training programs pertinent to specific job functions and individual career aspirations. A cross-functional team was formed to remedy the situation within one division. The team selected skill and knowledge criteria for career paths (early, middle, and late) in specific technical disciplines, such as applications engineering, technical communications, applications support, etc. The new training database also includes training, book, and article evaluations that other employees can review. In addition, the database provides access to the Motorola University training catalog and the Motorola technical libraries.

LeVie, Donald S., Jr. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Databases


How to Figure Out Your Learning Style

Learning style refers to your natural preference for having new ideas and information conveyed to you. It does not mean that you can't learn in other ways, only that you have a particular manner that suits you best. When things are not presented in your preferred method, it can become frustrating for both you and your instructor as you struggle to understand concepts which seem to be clearly within your grasp.

OEDb (2007). Articles>Education>Instructional Design


Improving Documentation with Learning Techniques   (PDF)

It is important to recognize that because we all differ in our experience and background the learning process is different for each of us. Consequently, in our documentation we should by to put users on an equal footing by, for example, clearly and exactly defining terms we use and including a glossary. We can also put everyone on an equal footing by using 'bridges to understanding,' from analogies, examples, and metaphors to mnemonic strategies. For overall comprehension, we can employ 'frameworks,' from conceptual maps to road maps, that give patterns of meaning to what we say.

Livingston, Dick. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Documentation>Instructional Design>Glossary


In Defense of Cheating

I am not in favor of deception, trickery, fraud, or swindle. What I wish to change are the curriculum and examination practices of our school systems that insist on unaided work, arbitrary learning of irrelevant and uninteresting facts. I'd like to move them toward an emphasis on understanding, on knowing how to get to an answer rather than knowing the answer, and on cooperation rather than isolation. Cheating that involves deceit is, of course wrong, but we should examine the school practices that lead to cheating: change the practices, and the deceit will naturally diminish.

Norman, Donald A. JND.org (2001). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Testing


Information Architecture 2.0

Modern Web technologies permit greater flexibility in navigation, search, retrieval, and display. At the same time, the quantity of information is growing exponentially, and users expect greater control over content.

Brown, Dan. UXmatters (2005). Design>Web Design>Instructional Design


Instruction-Writing Exercises (for High School)

These guidelines and 14 scaffolded exercises respond to the unmet need for a psychologically solid, work-relevant way to learn technical writing by students who are NOT facile writers already.

Girill, T.R. STC East Bay (2001). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Documentation


Instructional Design

This site is designed to provide information about instructional design principles and how they relate to teaching and learning. Instructional design, also know as instructional systems design, is the is the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of instruction. Instructional designers often use instructional technology or educational technology as tools for developing instruction

InstructionalDesign.org. Articles>Usability>Instructional Design>Methods


Instructional Design and Learning Theory

To students of instructional design the introduction and subsequent 'sorting out' of the various learning theories and associated instructional design strategies can be somewhat confusing. It was out of this feeling of cognitive dissonance that this site was born. Why does it seem so difficult to differentiate between three basic theories of learning? Why do the names of theorists appear connected to more than one theory? Why do the terms and strategies of each theory overlap? The need for answers to these questions sparked my investigation into the available literature on learning theories and their implications for instructional design. I found many articles and internet sites that dealt with learning theory and ID, in fact, it was difficult to know when and where to draw the line. When I stopped finding new information, and the articles were reaffirming what I had already read, I began to write.

Mergel, Brenda. University of Saskatchewan (1998). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Theory


Instructional Design and Software Quality Assurance, Part I   (PDF)

Describes how instructional design principles can improve documentation.

Nayar, Pawan. Intercom (2001). Articles>Documentation>Instructional Design


Instructional Design Models

Models, like myths and metaphors, help us to make sense of our world. Whether it is derived from whim or from serious research, a model offers its user a means of comprehending an otherwise incomprehensible problem. An instructional design model gives structure and meaning to an I.D. problem, enabling the would-be designer to negotiate her design task with a semblance of conscious understanding. Models help us to visualize the problem, to break it down into discrete, manageable units. The value of a specific model is determined within the context of use. Like any other instrument, a model assumes a specific intention of its user. A model should be judged by how it mediates the designer's intention, how well it can share a work load, and how effectively it shifts focus away from itself toward the object of the design activity. Models, like other tools, shape the consciousness of those who use them. The tool molds the wielder who molds the tool, ad infinitum. Our models frame the reality we impose on the world and the experience that is forged out of their use brings us to higher levels of understanding about the design problem, but only within the framework of the specific models we adopt.

Ryder, Martin. University of Colorado at Denver. Resources>Education>Instructional Design


Instructional Design: Choosing the Proper Authoring Tool   (PDF)

Searching for the right tool for your instructional design needs? Learn about your options through capsule reviews of instructional simulation programs and full-service authoring tools.

Holden, Gene. Intercom (2004). Articles>Documentation>Instructional Design


Instructional System Design

This process provides a means for sound decision making to determine the who, what, when, where, why, and how of training. The concept of a system approach to training is based on obtaining an overall view of the training process. It is characterized by an orderly process for gathering and analyzing collective and individual performance requirements, and by the ability to respond to identified training needs. The application of a systems approach to training insures that training programs and the required support materials are continually developed in an effective and efficient manner to match the variety of needs in an ever rapidly changing environment.

Clark, Donald. Instructional System Design (1995). Books>Education>Instructional Design>Methods


Instructional-Design Theories

Instructional theory describes a variety of methods of instruction (different ways of facilitating human learning and development) and when to use--and not use--each of those methods.

Reigeluth, Charles M. Indiana University (1999). Resources>Education>Instructional Design


Intentional Learning in an Intentional World: Audience Analysis and Instructional System Design for Successful Learning and Performance   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

How do we support successful, lifelong learners and performers and help them competently respond to rapidly changing opportunities in the 21st century. The answer to this question lies in how well we understand audiences differentiated by key learning differences and consider how these differentiations influence winning learning and performance. Historically, cognitive-rich explanations have tended to underplay the dominant impact of affective and conative factors on thinking and learning. Recently, these dimensions have gained considerable importance as contemporary multidisciplinary research has begun to demonstrate how intentions and emotions can influence, guide, and, at times, override our thinking and other cognitive processes. More importantly, research suggests that intentions and emotions are a dominant, powerful influence on learner success.

Martinez, Margaret. Journal of Computer Documentation (2000). Articles>Documentation>Instructional Design>Education


Interacting with Engineering and Industry, Using Instructional Technologies in Technical Communication Education   (PDF)

The evolving roles of technical communicators threaten the comfortable assumptions of many educators who see themselves as primarily writing teachers. These threats can become opportunities if we perceive ourselves as participants in the evolving paradigms. This new perception requires significant interaction with colleagues. As we start to see ourselves as collaborators at work, in education, across disciplines and boundaries, we can make larger contributions and can enjoy greater professional recognition. Technical communicators can be partners with engineering faculty in developing innovative curricula; can achieve educational objectives by becoming partners with industry and practitioners; and can lead the shift in education through instructional technology.

Davis, Matjorie T., Helen M. Grady and David C. Leonard. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Engineering


Keeping Current   (PDF)   (members only)

In any field of applied studies such as technical communication, you have to be aware of industry changes. Keeping current with research and academic journals is important, but so is keeping current with what is going on in your industry, particularly in your own city. If you are educating people to get jobs as technical communicators, then you need to be sure you are giving them the right training for the markets they are entering.

Campbell, Alexa. Intercom (2009). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Usability


Know Thy User

It's interesting to watch people using a Web site or online course you've built. When they click on the wrong button or mutter about not being able to find something, your instinct is to jump in to show them what to do. Or you may silently ridicule them for not understanding the obvious. But if we blame the user, we miss the point entirely. Navigating an online course should be easy. If the user is making lots of mistakes, it's probably the designer — not the user — who's dense. That's why it's so important to focus on usability when you're building an online course.

Shank, Patti. TrainingMag.com (2002). Articles>User Centered Design>Instructional Design


Learner Access in the Virtual Classroom: The Ethics of Assessing Online Learning   (peer-reviewed)

Web-based instruction is often valued because of the way hypertext and dynamic visual media may enhance course content. The advantages of virtual space are framed in terms of 'access' - access to broader dimensions of ideas, access to academic and non-academic databases and information, access to diverse learning communities.

LaFond, Larry. Kairos (2003). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Lesson Planning for the University Classroom

Teaching in a university classroom requires preparation and a redirection of focus. The teaching is not about us; it’s about the students. One way to focus teaching on student learning is to create and work from lesson plans, plans that keep student learning at the forefront of class sessions.

Hara, Billie. Prof Hacker (2010). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Planning


Lessons Learned From Instructional Design Theory: an Application in Management Education   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Given that many doctoral programs do not provide extensive training on how to present course information in the classroom, the current paper looks to educational psychology theory and research for guidance. Richard Mayer and others' copious empirical work on effective and ineffective instructional design, along with relevant research findings in cognitive science, are summarized and adapted to the management education context. The goal of this article is to enhance instructors' ability to effectively relay course material and to offer specific advice for how instructors can implement prior research findings.

Burke, Lisa A. Business Communication Quarterly (2007). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Multimedia


Make It Sizzle: Designing a Dynamic, Memorable, Learner-Center Course   (PDF)

Avoid the coverage trap: Don’t overwhelm your students with content. Ask what you want to take away from your course. This will, of course, involve content knowledge, but also skills, conceptual frameworks, and disciplinary values or habits of mind.

Columbia University (2009). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>User Centered Design


Making Educational Software and Web Sites Accessible: Design Guidelines Including Math and Science Solutions

Students with disabilities are increasingly placed in inclusive classrooms where they learn alongside their peers. This poses a challenge to teachers and students because instructional materials may not be available in a form that is accessible to the disabled student. Inaccessible materials stigmatize students with disabilities by preventing them from using the same materials as their peers and can limit their educational opportunities. As technology becomes more prevalent in classrooms, students with disabilities face even more challenges in keeping pace with their classmates.

Freed, Geoff, Madeleine Rothberg and Tom Wlodkowski. WGBH (2003). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Making Learning Easy: An Interview with Lee LeFever of CommonCraft

In this exclusive interview with The Content Wrangler, Scott Abel interviews Lee Lefevre, Founder of Common Craft, creators of three-minute videos designed to help educators and influencers introduce and explain complex subjects.

LeFever, Lee. Content Wrangler, The (2010). Articles>Interviews>Instructional Design>Podcasting


Making the Grade, or How to Upgrade an Online Class   (PDF)

Because online technical communication classes, as well as classes with several online components, are no longer a novelty, teachers must plan coursework and technology use to better meet students’ needs. To improve my online teaching methods and plan future courses, I follow these guidelines: 1. Prepare students to use e-mail efficiently; 2. Prepare students to use the class chat room for meetings, office hours, and required discussions; 3. Maintain a flexible assignment schedule while enforcing the final deadline; 4. Help students gain access to computers; 5. Develop pleasant working relationships with technical support personnel; and 6. Develop course information for students with different learning styles.

Porter, Lynnette R. STC Proceedings (2001). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Merging Business Communication with Technology: Developing Successful Multimedia Modes for Distance Delivery   (PDF)

Learning no longer has to depend solely on text resources when learners have access to multimedia resources and developing technologies. The lecture is now encapsulated and available for replay and, like a novel, provides the user with direction not just destination. This paper highlights how technology adds value to the academic learning experience/environment for business communication with a focus upon televised courses, streaming videos, instant messaging and Web-based resources. Implications for the learning experience are: (1) oral and written language use become more dynamic; (2) learner outcomes are audience- and message-centered; and, (3) content instruction is analytical.

Fortune, Mary F. and John J. Staczek. Association for Business Communication (2004). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Multimedia



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