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Home » Course Materials » IT521: Pro-seminar in Instructional Technology as a profession

IT521: Pro-seminar in Instructional Technology as a profession

This course, IT521, qualifies as a core IT Masters in Science course; but does not count toward the Graduate Certification in Online Teaching and Learning. Use the jump links below to move within this web page and access IT521 course materials.

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What is Instructional Technology as a profession?

Instructional technology is an amalgamation of three different professional fields, all closely related but having distinct differences. Those fields are: Instructional Design, Educational Technology, and Human Performance Technology/ Workplace Learning. Any graduate program in instructional technology will have faculty whose foci are in one of those three areas. These three generally share professional organizations and their literature base, along with the core concepts and procedures they use to do their work. The contexts they work in however, are very different.

What is the difference between this course and the others?

This course is professionally oriented and is meant to give the learner an overview of the field of instructional tech as it is seen by those who work in one of the three contexts mentioned above. This course will equip the learner with the tools to successfully complete the IT Masters curriculum. This is not a general education course.

How often is IT521 offered?

This course is offered every fall. Please keep in mind that the call number may change as the program it serves may change majors within the departmental restructuring. The IT program itself will not change; nor will the role of this course.

What will I do in this course?

  1. You will read and discuss the origins of IT as a profession;
  2. read and discuss the major theories that distinguish professionals in IT from individuals who practice without a formal education;
  3. read and explore the professional associations that advocate for the field and provide professional leadership;
  4. create a web framework for your professional portfolio in IT;
  5. draft an initial concept of the field as you see it and your likely role in it;
  6. interview a practicing professional in IT, and lastly,
  7. in a group setting, conduct a usability test of a learning tool.

Does this course require programming skills or other computer skills?

The following skills are required:  saving word docs to sharable locations (clod computing), using tracked changes, using commenting, and organizing your files via a hierarchical nomenclature. (You will need to develop this early on as  websites can sometimes accumulate hundreds of files.)

All of these skills can be learned via learning tools supplied to you by your mandatory technology fee through the office of information technology (OIT). If you are not familiar with the editorial functions in MS Word, such as commenting, keeping tracked changes, and comparing document versions, UT offers Lydia courses for free that teach those skills. There is also UT tech support that helps in a pinch: (865) 974-9900 or click here for asynchronous OIT help. These are wonderful resources for students. If you find Lydia too detailed, places such as Common Craft offer simple overviews, such as this excellent one explaining cloud computing.

Am I required to buy the text book?

No. Rather you are required to READ the text book, and cite it in your papers. I don’t care how you get your hands on it, what edition it is, or whether the text is shared among you in virtual or other ways. I do require that you cite it and understand the points it is trying to make. If you move quickly you can buy the texts before other Masters Students at other universities do. Come late September, prices for used copies go up, and this is a popular book. UT expects you to buy at the VolShop, but most of you I expect will buy from Amazon or ebay. There are other online options for purchasing this textbook online as well.

  • Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. V. (20??). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (3rd or 4th ed.). Allyn & Bacon, or PEARSON books for the 4th edition.



Instructional Technology 521: Instructional Technology as a profession I

  • Course Section:  001 | CRN: 17037 (when registering for the course, email the program admin assistant with this number)
  • Meeting Time and Place: Tuesdays 5:05PM- 7:45PM (In ZOOM unless otherwise noted; Craig’s ZOOM room here)
  • Course Credit Hours: 3
  • The name of the learning management system (LMS) is Canvas
  • The course text is Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. V. (20??). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (3rd or 4th ed.). All supplemental texts are available via the password protected Readings folder linked below.
  • This syllabus was last updated on the 8th of August, 2017

Faculty Contact Information:

  • Craig D. Howard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
  • Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling (EPC)
  • 517 Bailey Education Complex; (865) 974-8642;
  • Do not use Canvas internal messaging as a means to contact me. I will not get your communication.
  • Virtual office: Zoom (ID: 648 060 7829)
  • Der Eintrittswort fuer die geheimes Mappe ist 寿司.

Office hours and communications: Wednesdays 12:00-3:00 online, but I do enjoy meeting my students face to face. I am on campus several Wednesdays this semester for faculty meetings. For technical issues or help troubleshooting Canvas or any other UT software such as Zoom, or downloaded software such as MS Word, please contact OIT at or call the helpdesk at 865-974-9900.

I check email once a day, but not on weekends. I do not check Canvas internal messaging. It is laborious, and ineffective. I do not regularly check my office voicemail messaging. I respond to emails as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. Note that I do not require documents be printed, ever. IF you mail me something through campus mail, it may take quite some time for me to get it. Please do not ask for handouts, slides, or printed texts. All papers, presentations, class handouts and other materials will always be digital, and available on this website, or the university appointed LMS. All assignment submissions will process through the LMS only.

Revision is a staple part of graduate writing and employed in this course. When submitting revisions, remember tracked changes must be visible and to add R1 to the end of your file name after my initials. Please read my policy on long form written work prior to asking questions about revisions. In teaching academic writing for over 20 years, I find this strategy is by far the most effective.

I am happy to arrange virtual meetings via ZOOM, Skype, or by telephone on an individual basis, if that would be helpful. In online courses, I find learners pose questions via private messages that are actually quite common, and the answers to which would be helpful for all to hear. In a face to face course, my answers would be broadcast to all, so I often broadcast my responses to such questions via media. If your email is confidential, you would like your identity withheld, or not to be associated with the content of the response, please clearly indicate this in the body of your original mail. Otherwise, I may answer to everyone.

Course Description/Information:

This course is designed for both Master’s and Doctoral students interested in instructional technology as a profession. Participants will reflect on issues related to the definition of the field, ethics, and career options. Through these reflections, participants will identify their future role in the field and develop personal goals with accompanying plan for achieving those goals. Participants will be introduced to media evaluation and visual design principles within the context of electronic media development. Master’s students will begin designing their portfolio for the program and doctoral students will begin exploring a topic of interest in the field and conduct a literature review based on seminal and current works.

Unique requirements:

This course requires an internet-connected computer and a headphone/mic set so that you can participate in class– a high-speed Internet connection, webcam, headset, microphone, and backup storage device are assumed. I strongly encourage you to develop a facility with cloud storage if you do not yet use this type of system.

Learners will be required to take part in a group usability test which results in design artifact to be used on the final graduation portfolio from the IT masters degree. Contribution statements are a required component of this program for all final projects to be used in your graduation portfolio.

Value Proposition:

This course will expose you to essential areas of discussion in online learning scholarship today. Your learning in this course will prepare you for meaningful learning in both application and analysis of online learning as it relates to the professional engaged in instructional design. This is essential knowledge for professional practice in Instructional Technology, Instructional Design, and Educational Technology that deals with any type of at-a-distance configuration.

Learning Objectives:

Learners will:

  • Identify and develop participation strategies for becoming members of online communities of practice in instructional design.
  • Explore instructional/educational technology as a field (masters and doctorate);
  • Explore and identify career paths within instructional/educational technology and examine personal roles in the field (masters and doctorate);
  • Evaluate electronic media for instructional purposes (masters and doctorate);
  • Design an electronic professional portfolio (masters only), and
  • Explore and develop a research agenda within the field (doctorate only).

Students are responsible for logging into class prepared and staying on task during the meeting sessions. Please turn cell phone ringers and vibrating controls off, and do not web surf or check email during class. I expect learners will check email and course communications daily, as I do.

Programmatic Outcomes / Department Goals:

This course fulfills the following alignments to standards:

  • AECT Standard 2 Content Pedagogy: Candidates will be encouraged to grow as practitioners within a supportive community of practice that enables them to demonstrate effective implementation of educational technologies based on content pedagogy.
  • AECT Standard 5 Research: Candidates explore, evaluate, synthesize and apply systemic methods of inquiry to enhance learning and improve performance.
  • ISTE.NETS-C 1 Visionary Leadership
Technology coaches inspire and participate in the development and implementation of a shared vision for the comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformational change throughout the instructional environment
  • ISTE.NETS-C 4 Professional Development & Program Evaluation
    Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs, and evaluate the impact on instructional practice to student learning.

Learning Environment:

This course is delivered primarily through Canvas for asynchronous interactive components, but not for email as Canvas times out, email is not preserved, and attachments are difficult. For synchronous meetings,we use UT ZOOM. Create your UT Zoom account login here, and log into this course here (user guide: ZOOM). To ensure that you are available for all synchronous course activities please make sure that you are available for the set course hours. Additionally, please make sure that you have access to an audio headset (with a microphone) for optimum participation in the synchronous sessions. If you choose to engage in activities that are unprofessional, disrespectful to others, or disruptive you will lose points toward course participation.

Plan to be present in online synchronous sessions. I define presence in an online class environment as listening to others as well as participating where appropriate and not driving, traveling, supervising others, or multi-tasking. Please plan accordingly as these non-presence activities not only detract from your learning, but also from the sense of community we build in online synchronous sessions.

Please do not log into synchronous classes via a mobile device (tablet, cell phone, or Apple brand equivalents of these) as this will limit your ability to interact and participate. Also, by EPC policy, driving while engaged in an online class is prohibited.


  • Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. V. (201?). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (3rd or 4th ed.)
  • Other readings as assigned, via dropbox readings
  • American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.** I actually use OWL instead. It’s free.

Grading Schema:

Major Assignments an approximate values (for due dates, please see the detailed schedule)

  1. Participation (7%)
  2. Discussion forum on professional organizations (5%)
  3. Discussion of Portfolio tech questions and insights (5%)
  4. Anti-plagiarism certification (3%)
  5. Concept map of the field with professional statement (20%) 
  6. Interview a professional in the field, report and discussion (15% report; 5% for the discussion)
  7. Usability test of a Web authoring Tool (this is a group task- 20%)
  8. Prototype of your portfolio (masters) / Literature review (doctoral) (20%)

I use points to reflect percentages in the LMS. Points in the LMS should add to 100.

Grades are updated regularly (once a week) in the LMS. Final grades will be given according to the UT grading scale:

F=59% and below

Collaboratively written policy on group work: Our Values

The following ground rules were written collaboratively by the students in IT521 on Tuesday Aug 28, 2018

Our  rules  should follow  from our values.  

What  are our  values?

  • Treat others as you would like to be treated
  • Be respectful of each others time/opinions/input
  • Act in a professional manner (colleagues are equals)

Discuss  your classroom  values and come  up with the makings  of a policy statement that  expresses the values we believe  in. Your policy statement MUST cover  the following:

Learner  to Learner mutual  expectations for collaborative  group work

  • Professional disposition statement
  • Each group member will complete the agreed upon tasks
  • Work to each members’ strengths if feasible, collaborate in areas where necessary or practical
  • Synthesize ideas, use critical thinking skills, provide meaningful input – avoid just restating existing information
  • Feedback, criticism limited to productive scope. Possible solutions. Keep positive.
  • Avoid strong-arming. group effort

Late  work to  classmates  during collaboration:

  • Group members are adults and understand that unexpected events will happen – avoid miscommunication by letting group know in advance when possible
  • See professionalism in “peer communication”  

Attendance during  small group out of  class collaborations

  • Explore way to meet synchronously if needed (Zoom, FaceTime)
  • Establish preferred methods of communication
  • Agree to use a texting app (i.e. Group Me) or talk by phone

Learner  to learner lag-time or  turnover for correspondence

  • Dependent on due dates or circumstances (with 24-48 hours being the norm)
  • Agree on turn-around time in initial group meeting

Peer  communication

  • Communicate with group members, answer emails/texts/Group Me chats etc.
  • Be courteous of each others time
  • Act in a professional manner (colleagues are equals)


Craig’s note: Fostering successfully collaborative designers is one of the hallmarks of this program, and groups are not disbanded frivolously. However, I have disbanded groups in the past on the request of students. I will use your policies here to make a judgment call as to whether or not I feel justified in disbanding a group. Asking me to disband a group will not automatically result in me disbanding a group; furthermore, members mutually agreeing that they do not want to work together will likewise not result in the disbanding of a group. I will hear the position of each learner before I make an executive decision such as allowing group members to separate from the group and submit a collaborative task individually.

Miscellaneous items:

  • If you find that you need assistance with your writing, please visit the university’s free Writing Center housed in the English department: They do not proofread or edit your work, but they can help with idea development and organization – key elements of successful academic writing.How to Be Successful In This Course:Please be aware that EPC expects the following of students enrolled in this course:
  • Be prepared by having read assigned materials thoroughly and critically.
  • Check your UT email & LMS space regularly for announcements.
  • Do not message your instructor in hard to locate venues, such as Canvas.
  • Enthusiastically participate in group discussions.
  • We will engage in a lot of small group work, so please let me know in advance about any irregularities in your attendance &/or participation.
  • There are no excused absences or excused delays for assignment completion. As adults it is your choice whether or not to attend class and how to participate in class. My position, of course, is that you should be in every class. I am not in the position to give or withhold permission for you to miss class. I simply ask that you let me know whether or not we can expect you in class each week.
  • Late arrivals, early departures, absences &/or assignments submitted late are all likely to negatively impact your grade.
  • You are expected to complete your own work. You cannot re-submit work here that was done for previous classes unless we’ve specifically talked about that together.
  • No incompletes will be given.
  • If you plagiarize, you will receive a zero on the assignment, and I will contact your academic advisor for further consultation.
  • Be aware of any tendencies to multi-task during our sessions. I ask a lot of questions and students who multitask usually experience embarrassment.

Professional Dispositions

  • As a participant of an Instructional Technology Program course, course participants are required to review Program Participant Professional Dispositions policy and engage in continual development as a professional. See the Professional Dispositions blog post on this website, or the EPC website for details.


Schedule of topics and readings



Topic and in-class activities

Readings & Assignments due

1 8/28 Course Introduction, Create  Ground Rules, and discuss Instructional/Educational Technology History

We will meet Synchronously


  • Reiser (2011) in Reiser & Dempsey (Eds) Ch. 3 “History of IDT
  • Lehman, & Conceição (2014)
  • Motteram & Forrester (2005)
2 9/4 Instructional/Educational Technology as a Field and Definition of the field


We will meet Synchronously



  • AECT (2008) in Januszewski & Molenda Ch. 1
  • Reiser (2011) in Reiser & Dempsey (Eds) Ch. 1 “Defining and naming the field”
  • Branch & Merrill (2011) in Reiser & Dempsey (Eds) Ch.2 “Instructional Design Models”
3 9/11 Understanding How People Learn and Designing Learning Environments

  • Learning Theory Discussion
  • Learning Theory Matrix




We will meet Synchronously


  • Driscoll (2011) in Reiser & Dempsey (Eds) Ch. 4 “Psych Foundations of ID”
  • Richey, Klein, & Tracey (2011) Ch. 4
  • Robinson Molenda & Rezabeck (2008) in Januszewski & Molenda Ch. 2


  • Complete/Submit the graduate-level anti-plagiarism test (linked here). Upload your certificate to LMS.
4 9/18


Instructional/Educational Technology as a Profession and Professional Associations

Your initial asynchronous post is due 9/19 at 11:59pm and your comments to other participants (+matrix) is due 9/24 (Sunday) at 11:59pm.

Portfolio Assessment, IT Online Master’s Portfolio, Web Hosting, File Structure, and Web Authoring


We will meet Synchronously


  • Reiser (2011) in Reiser & Dempsey (Eds) Ch. 26 “Getting an ID Job: Personal History”
  • Gabriielli & Branson (2011) in Reiser & Dempsey (Eds) Ch. 27 “Getting ID Jobs”
  • Klein, Rushby, & Su (2011) Reiser & Dempsey (Eds) Ch. 28 “Professional Organizations in IDT”


  • Complete matrix asynchronous discussion in the LMS
5 9/25 Visual Literacy

We will meet Synchronously


  • IT Online Portfolio Requirements
  • Johnson (2010) Ch. 1, 2, & 3
  • Krug (2005) Ch. 1
6 10/2  



UT Fall Break: We will not meet synchronously


  • None. Write your professional statement instead.


  • Submit Concept Map and Professional Statement in the LMS
7 10/9  

Media Evaluation and Usability Testing



We will meet Synchronously


  • Rao (2018)
  • Rubin & Chisnell (2008) Ch. 1 & 2
  • Krug (2005) Ch. 10


  • Conduct your interview to be later drafted into a report
 8 10/16 Essential Web Design and Development Skills for your Portfolio I; Basic HTML and Google Sites

Discussion Board throughout the week (Portfolio tech questions and insights)

We will meet Synchronously


  • Lloyd (2011) pp. 21-41
  • Google Sites Help
  • More popular: WordPress


  • Complete discussion on Portfolio tech questions and insights
  • Share/post your Interview Draft with other classmates by 10/15 in asynchronous discussion forum.
9 10/23 Essential Web Development Skills for your Portfolio II WordPress and WIX

Your portfolio URLs are due before our normally scheduled synchronous session time, and voluntarily posted to your own thread in week 8 discussion board “Share your URLs”, thereafter, help each other in the discussion board throughout the week by checking out their wire-framed websites. Notice this is not a requirement to complete the full website; just create a URL that you will likely use.

AECT Week: We will NOT meet Synchronously.

**AECT Kansas City, Missouri
October 23 – October 27 2018**


  • Comment on others’ interviews by 10/22.
  • Incorporate comments from peer Interview Reports from 10/22 into your paper for next week.
10 10/30  

What do instructional technology professionals say about the field?




We will meet Synchronously.



  • Make any revisions you feel are needed to your interview after reading classmates comments and interviews
  • Upload your revised interview final version by FRIDAY, OCT 29, 11:59pm, in ASSIGNMENTS- this is separate from the discussion upload last week
11 11/6  

Instructional Technology Ethics and Digital Citizenship

We will meet Synchronously





  • Yeaman, Eastmond, Napper (2008) in Januszewski & Molenda Ch. 11–Skim most, Read 283-290 (stop at Historical Background) and 295-299 (Start at Code of Ethics section and stop at Reconceptualization)
  • Smaldino, Donaldson, Herring, (2011) in Reiser & Dempsey (Eds) Ch. 35 “Professional Ethics: Rules Applied to Practice”
  • Finalize Usability Testing of a Web Authoring Tool report with team
12 11/13 What have you learned so far about Instructional Technology as a Profession?



We will meet Synchronously


  • Submit Usability Testing of a Web Authoring Tool (each group member submits a copy)



No Class Meeting:


 14 11/27 Portfolio Prototype Showcase/Literature Review Presentation

Share the link to your portfolio on assigned Canvas Discussion

We will meet Synchronously


  • Complete Development of Portfolio Prototype
  • Confirm URL is accurate in the LMS posted in forum the evening prior
  • Present your portfolio
 15  12/4 Portfolio Prototype Showcase/Literature Review Presentation

We will meet Synchronously (if necessary)


  • Remaining Portfolio Presentation
  • Link posted in forum the evening prior
  • SUBMIT REVISED PORTFOLIO / Revisions paper
  • Submit reflection
    • If you presented 11/27, these are are due
    • If you presented today, these are due 12/10


Assignments: There are six tasks in this course. They are linked below. Submit your MS word doc via the university LMS. (Sorry, I cannot accept pdfs at this time.)

  1. Anti-plagiarism task (save and upload your certificate into the Canvas Dropbox) 
  2. Definition concept map and professional statement
  3. Discussion forum directions for professional organizations
  4. Masters: Portfolio prototype, presentations guide, and reflection direction   & Doctoral: Literature review and presentation guide
  5. Interview a professional directions
  6. Usability test of a web authoring tool

Policy on written work

Overview of why I grade the way I do, via comments and tracked changes

Not all instructors will offer a guide on how they deal with written work. I am addressing this because I have found it useful in the past to add some rationale to why I grade written work the way I do. Graduate students generally work with multiple professors for a reason; each has their own approach to writing and scholarship, and those multiple perspectives help learners see different aspects of the process from different angles, providing a more nuanced understanding of the task and the content of learning itself. I encourage you to read this rationale statement prior to handing in written work in one of my courses. I also encourage you to check out my blog,, where I dive into more reasons why I teach the way I do.

My pedagogical perspective

I view written work in longer formats (over 5 pages or so) as a formative task, not a summative one. This does not mean I don’t use rubrics; I do. I see them as a means for the leaner and instructor to view the work and negotiate meanings. However, rubrics do not learners with customized instruction, which i what I believe learners usually need. Rubrics must generalize, but we must teach and learn with specific cases to make sense of what rubrics actually mean. I endeavor to grade without making summative claims about performance while still respecting learners’ autonomy as graduate students. A simple number seems very unsatisfying and frankly, I don’t think you’ll learn much from just a number. So grading via a rubric doesn’t accomplish my goals as an instructor. Here’s how go about the act of grading long form written work. This policy does not apply to CMC (emails, discusison forums, etc…).

I give lots of comments. Some applaud your work and they contain plus symbols (+), and some are meant to guide you toward better practices or notice something but are merely discursive and are not tagged. For each comment where I ask you to make a revision however, it is usually tagged with a minus symbol and I usually deduct a point at the end. That’s a point you can always get back via revision. By addressing each comment in a re-submitted paper, you evidence that you learned the point I had hoped to teach you; or alternatively, you evidence another strategy whereby my point is made mute. As long as you resubmit all your revisions as saved via tracked changes, I will check them and give full credit as the performance will display that mastery has been achieved. To make these required revisions clear, make sure your tracked changes are turned on BEFORE you revise your document. Remember, comments that contain a minus sign with a number, eg: -2 can be more egregious and cost you more points. they are however, equally as fixable as any other revision.

Comments preceded by a plus sign indicate that I was impressed with your insight or craft; but that doesn’t mean ignore them. They do not require revision, but I want you to keep doing the things that you’re good at. Comments with no marker are simply comments. Me talking to you. If I didn’t like talking to you, I would do a different kind of work.

At the end of the paper, I add up all the negative comments, subtract that number from the point value for the written work, and give the paper back to you. If you choose not to revise, the point value remains as it is. There is no partial credit on revisions. Either all of them are addressed or you get no points for any revisions. This prevents all of us from picking the easy ones and avoiding learning the important content, or squabbling over difficult revisions and easy revisions. I can’t see from my vantage point which comments are harder for whom, so I give them all the same value. We all have different skill sets, but the end goal is for every learner to reach competency. I feel that no number could ever carry with it the detail I need to express the complexities of the learning that needs to be accomplished via graduate school writing.

In some cases, an assignment’s instructions require a decision to me made. If the instructions ask for it, I require it. This is to reflect the harsh reality that in some cases one is forced to make judgements. Either a positive or negative conclusion on the subject of your investigation gains you credit, but no selection does not get you the credit for completing the task. Some learners can go deep into critiquing the entirety of the instructional design without concluding one way or the other, which is fine for non-professional discussion, but not for this context. Here, if you are asked to decide, you must decide and your decision must be clear.

Procedural tips

  • Read all comments on the entire paper before revising. Often, a single revision hits multiple comments.
  • Always submit your final with tracked changes. I can’t grade without them. If you don’t know how to work with tracked changes, follow one of these links about how to use tracked changes: MS Office, or com. I believe also has an extensive editing tutorial than contains instruction on using tracked changes. Lydia is paid for by your technology fee. Use it.
  • If my arithmetic is wrong, it only matters if you plan not to make revisions. Keep than in mind before you email me about a 1 or 2 point difference.

General feedback I see regularly and may not call out with detail

  1. Describing multimedia via proprietary terms. This is problematic for many reasons, and some writers tend to employ company names to their own peril. Do not identify media by the names of corporations. For example, a medium cannot be  “Facebook-like;” because Facebook is bound by time, or dynamic, and is the name of a company, it is not a medium. Facebook is an example of a a social network site, where user messages may be multi-model and are presented in reverse chronological order. Because corporations’ platforms are dynamic, they cannot be descriptive. Instead, describe media with more persistent words, for example: the media platform is many to many, socially oriented, file sharing, graphically interactive, etc….  Simply saying what one might do with a tool also does not offer much utility;native Americans sent messages to their friends to. Telling me that one can use the device to send messages tells me nothing.
  2. Learners should use to the term affordance to explain what a tool is good for. Terms like “allows, supports, etc…” are verbs than concord with design affordances, and the verb form is affords, but that still does not describe it. I offer a faceted classification scheme to describe media; i can work with you on how to best describe what it is you have.
  3. Design failures need to be called out as such. A design failure is when a design does not meet the needs of a user, either foreseen or unforeseen. There can be design failures in assessments and measures as well. Those are usually called out via reliability issues or validity issues. Generally, design failures are followed either by a plausible solution or a statement about the design tension they create. Typical paragraph structure in papers that analyze instructional designs is to start with the design failure and go from there. Ending a paragraph with a design failure often confuses a reader, or presents the author as having given up midway through analysis.
  4. The caption is a necessary component of all images / artwork / audio / video. The caption does not simply label the item; rather, it explains how the item relates to the topic being discussed. In other words, the reader needs to be told what to look at in the image and why they are being shown it. There was once a publishers’ practice of putting artwork/images/graphics/multimedia in appendices. That practice is obsolete. It is fine if your other professors ask this of you; but you shouldn’t practice this in my courses. It may be helpful to remember that other professors were trained at a different time than you are being trained.
  5. Utilized is over-utilized and misused.  Utilize means an item or procedure was used for a purpose other than that for which it was designed. One cannot utilize an application to send a message. If the message system was built into the application, it was put there to be used. One can however utilize a computer for a paperweight. Computers are generally designed for much grader purposes. Another example, one can utilize a hammer to pick their teeth, but one cannot utilize a hammer to pound a nail. Please do not confuse “use” and “utilize.” More often than not, the learner should have simply used the term used rather than utilized. While this term is more often used incorrectly than correctly in lay print, I expect my students to aspire to be scholars and designers who write with far more accuracy.
  6. How to is simply slang for procedural knowledge or some form of procedural instruction. When you use this term how to to refer to either or both, it presents you as someone who does not make a distinction between instruction and learning. This is dangerous for an instructional designer. An academically trained ID uses more precision, and I expect this kind of precision from my students. You don’t need academic training to design well; there are lots of great designers who have not been academically trained. Having learned ID terms gives you the precision of expression you need to interrogate, explain and communicate about designs well, which is why a trained designer is oftentimes more valuable than a self-taught one.
  7. Headers are a rhetorical device, and I often require that they be used to break up the flow of longer pieces of text. “Headers” is also a term editors use to refer to the MS word function located on the horizontal ribbon. When I say “use headers” I mean both the text separated as a sub-title, and the formatting in MS Word. I often ask my learners to use the header function in MS Word because it makes a larger written work easier to navigate. Getting used to using headers earlier rather than later in your study saves you time. It only takes one long project, such as a dissertation, where you will reap the rewards for learning header use now.
  8. Citations’ purpose in research is often misunderstood. Citations are a rhetorical device. They can ground a statement in support, evidence a widely held misconception, or even make a joke. So citations can go many ways, both positive and negative. Therefore, I require each citation to be somewhat introduced, unless it is blatantly obvious why it is there. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:
  9. Multiple citations on a given point express just how pervasive the consensus among others is. Here is an example:
    • Inaccurate: This will be a Criterion-Referenced Assessment (Mager, 1997) to measure my students’ knowledge of each subject area based on the Common Core Standards. *
    • Accurate: This will be a Criterion-Referenced Assessment (see Mager, 1997) to measure my students’ knowledge of each subject area based on the Common Core Standards.
    • Explanation: This first citation says the author (Mager) coined the term. However, he didn’t. Rather, Mager explained the term, so you use the “see” prior to the citation.
  10. Citations can be misleading. For example, used in such a way as to imply an author did something which that author did not.
    • Inaccurate: “Participation has been argued to be an intrinsic part of learning,” (Wenger, 1998; Hrastinski, 2008) therefore the videos provide clients and their staff opportunities to learn about the features of the software during the course of integrated authentic performance assessment.*
    • Accurate: There is moderate consensus that participation is intrinsic to learning (Wenger, 1998; Hrastinski, 2008). Therefore, the videos were designed to provide clients and their staff opportunities to learn about the features of the software during the course of integrated authentic performance assessment.
    • Explanation: First error is a direct quote with two authors. Secondly, just because one author or multiple authors said something does not mean it is true. The reason we use multiple citations is to show agreement among researchers of the concept or phenomenon. What we have here is rationale, not fact. Therefore, the additional rationale of the designers is needed. If we jump to expressing this as fact, it has the potential of confounding concepts under scrutiny, and implying that the design became as it was directly because of what these authors had said, as if their words could change a design.
  11. Citations must always have a date, otherwise, they are not citations. Scholars often change their position on something over the course of their career, so the date is as important as the name. Also, is there really is no date, it is wisest not to include the reference unless you’re employing a different rhetorical strategy, such as mocking public opinion. For a detailed discussion of this, see my blog post on citing Wikipedia.
  12. Scare quotes have no place in formal writing. In the context of serious discussion, quotation marks convey important meaning. They identify a speaker. Who said what when is very important to serious discussions, but scare quotes muddle the field and confuse readers because they do not identify a specific speaker. If there is no speaker, the writing is unclear. Furthermore, scare quotes in themselves are vaguer still. Sometimes they signify irony, and sometimes they signify a common understanding, or even a common misunderstanding. With so much ambiguity surrounding the rhetoric, it is far wiser to avoid the practice all together.


Readings link.

Course Slides

Course slides are updated each week, but the basic frame of the course is here. Check the university LMS for the password, or email Craig. Please be aware that these are the basic slides and updates to individual slide decks happen every week.

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