Introduction to Instructional Design

By Stacie Green and Denise Snyder

I. Big Idea

In ED 103, I learned how the brain works. I also learned how to make learning interesting and appropriate for the audience. In past jobs of mine, I created several tutorials and have coordinated brown bag lunches to give peers my understanding of a particular topic in technology.. But I could sense that I did not succeed as a teacher. In the future, I am planning to be an UX designer and instructor. Thanks to ED 103, now I know how to create engaging workshops, classes, webinars and, more importantly, how to become a pioneer teacher like my father.

II. Learner Representation

My entire view about myself as a learner has changed. I used to think that I learn something quickly if the subject interests me, but now I realize that the ‘subject’ was never the problem. The teaching method was. I was not interested in the subject because it was not taught properly. Sometimes, the method of evaluation was so flawed that my interest in the subject matter never aroused me. There have been a few subjects that learned quickly and I thought maybe because I am interested in the subject. But now I realize, the instructors made those subjects interesting. I also realized I loved and learned the most in those classes where evaluation was not based on memorization skills. Thanks to ED 103, I now have a whole new view towards education and learning.

III. Project work

1. AppleDownload

What I learned? Why?

I learned how to develop a classroom course for students where they can learn the nutritional benefits of apples. I did not do well in the project, but projects like this are not available for students in India. So this project was not only a new experience for me, but also my first time doing an educational project.

In addition to the nutritional benefits we also wanted the students to understand how apples are treated in different countries. We wanted students to understand the difference between organic and non-organic apples and how to pick a good one.

We also wanted the classroom course to be interactive and informative and students to gain a hands on experience from facts and data.

What I could change?

When I read Stacie’s project feedback I realized that I did not apply the UbD framework to develop the stage 1. I wish I wrote how I want to promote their thinking. I could have written what gaps I could address. I knew what I wanted students to understand but I was confused between nutritional benefits and ‘how to select a good apple.’ I wish I knew a way to tie both topics together. I could be more specific.

Photo by Dolphia Nandi

2. CurationDownload

What I learned? Why?

It was my utmost favorite project out of the four. As I am an artist I learned a lot from it. I not only learned about early 1900 art but also about New York during that time.

By the time of this project I did little better with Stage 1 but creating Storyboard Activity was the most fun. I loved doing the research and brain storming activities I wanted to design for the students. More importantly, we had a team member who had a lot of background knowledge about art work which definitely helped me perform well in this project.

What I could change?

I wish I was more clear in my thoughts and writing. I was just grasping the content and I did not understand many of the terms properly. It clearly shows in my project. I could have changed my text, framing the flow of thoughts from stage 1 to 2 more smoothly.

I added resources but I did not write what students are supposed to do with them. I could have written about that. I did not write where learners are supposed to discuss the questions because I did not understand the assignment fully back then. I wish I did.

I did not add anything from the Make thinking Visible book which I should have added since it was asked for in the assignment. I could have framed the external links in better way. In retrospective, now I think I could have written the overview more succinctly.

When I was creating this assignment I did not think about the target audience which doing so could have improved the enduring understanding part I wrote.

Photo by Alfred Stieglitz

3. ListenwiseDownload

What I learned? Why?

It was a two part project where I chose to work on a NPR story : Story of Growing Up in Revolutionary Iran

Story of Marjane Satrape was so interesting I was tempted to learn much more about her. I did research on her and her book Persepolis. I read and watched Persepolis. I learned about Memoir.

However, I struggled with developing the course content.

I wanted students to learn what a memoir is and how to write one. But I wanted them to empathize with people whose country goes through religious revolution. I was so intrigued by the social issue I got diverted from the literature part in Part I of the project.

Stacie's comment definitely helped me to do Part II of the Listewise. I knew to stay on track with the literature while creating the class project. I made sure I did not divert attention to social issues like I did in phase I.

What I could change?

Stacie's comments definitely helped me find out where I could improve. I assumed some people have read Persepolis when I know that's rarely true. I could have shared a few interesting pages from the book which could draw the student's attention.

I proposed that students should write an empathy letter but I did not think it through. Should they write the letter from the present historical context or by imagining themselves in 1970? In the T chart I could have given more points so teachers know exactly what the project is. Stacie's comment is spot on that teachers will most likely skip the project if there is not much information in it. I should have used the term 'describe' rather than 'learn' as learn is not measurable (Taught several times by Stacie and Denise).

Photo by Film Education

4. WebinarDownload

What I learned? Why?

I attended several webinars in my life and I'm sorry to say but all of them ‘sucked’. I could never hold my attention during the entire webinar. During a webinar, I would check social media several times, reply to emails and chat with colleagues.

It took me 6 hours to finish the webinar from the assignment.

So when I got the webinar project I thought this is my turn to tell how to improve them. Most of the webinars including this one have good content but all of them lack something. I immensely enjoyed learning how to create an engaging webinar by adding small things like graphic elements, speech delivery, adding hooks etc.

I wrote the recommendations to improve a webinar and gave the reasosn behind them. Those reasons are proven and written in several books. I was so glad to find those pitfalls and now I know when a webinar suck, it’s not the content.

What I could change?

I could have written more pros in favor of the webinar. I was not familiar with the subject so I could not write more. But I could have studied and write some insightful pros.

I could have written the suggestions with tact and presented them with facts rather than 'what I think'. I only proposed improvements for the webinar but I could add some mock examples of what I am proposing rather than simply talking about it. I have seen clients respond more effectively to examples rather than to words. I could have used professional language rather informal language like 'kickass'.

I could avoid 'lazy words'{Denise Mentioned}. I expected the author will have an idea of hooks or 40 words per slide principle which is not the reality. When I cited rules and principles, I could have added the source. Additionally I should have explained the terms I have written as a recommendation.

I pointed out the problems in the heading of each recommendation. I could have written the solution instead.

Screen shot from ASCD

IV. Blog

Blog entry that I am proud of and why?

I am very proud of this blog post because I finally got the answers I was looking for. I always wondered why I couldn’t pay attention in some of my classes and I gave the reason in this post. It has answers to some of the questions I have been searching for my entire life.

Blog 4 : Three things that got my attention.



I always wondered why I perform so terribly in courses and professional trainings that use the classroom lecture teaching technique. I was sent to a few software trainings where I could barely keep my attention span. Why? Like Prof Medina mentioned about the movie Mondo Cane, I was stuffed with information. I do well in the beginning but my interest in the subject drops gradually. 

My husband and parents blame modern technology, social media sites, and my short attention span for not paying attention in those classes. But it’s impossible to listen to the instructor when he or she is trying to stuff me like a Thanksgiving Turkey.

I attended a summer class at Harvard last semester (Human Computer Interaction).  The sessions were each twice a week and three hours long. The professor crammed into our head three books over a mere span of seven weeks. I forgot most of what I learned as soon as the course was over and absorbed only a tiny piece of the class material. I wish my instructors used Medina’s idea of hooks. It’s compelling and I am planning to use it when I design a course to hold the students' attention.


In my last class at Harvard--the one mentioned above--the professor showed video clippings and every time he showed something like that, I paid attention. During and after exam, I remembered that information much more than the PowerPoints he presented and the books I read.  I so agree with “Communicate with pictures more than words”1. Like he mentioned here about USA today, The New York Times does the similar technique with infographics. And like me, many readers learn so much more from those news articles than the regular ones.

The power point presentation should be the way he mentioned – 40 words per slide. I so wish the C level managers at my last company knew that! The departmental meetings were the most unproductive and the biggest waste of our time.

Importance of Music

In have a strong connection to the music that I listened to as a child. When I was five years old, my parents kept a private tutor to teach me Indian classical music. I never liked singing music and hated practicing. But music education got me in touch with the music of my culture. When I was six my mother said, "If you make music your best friend, you will always have a companion." Every since then, music is my companion. It stays with me and no matter how happy or sad I am, it never leaves my side.  Music soothes me. When I need to focus on something, I play Indian Classical Music on my laptop and at work. When I am driving or staying home alone I play music. When I read the chapter on music, it explained many questions I had. Like Henry Dryer “I’m CRAZY about music.”2

I also empathized with Prof Medina about laying off an LA teacher. You see, (like he mentioned there) learning music is very much different from listening to music. And it explained so clearly why music helped me so much despite my hating to learn it.

1. Medina, John (2014-04-22). Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (p. 196). Pear Press. Kindle Edition.

2. Medina, John (2014-04-22). Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (p. 202). 

Blog entry that could be improved and why?

This was my first blog post for the course and I did not understand the concept very well before writing this post. I wrote about my personal experience in the blog post. But I should have written how that personal experience ties in with the course material, meaning what did I learn in the course which made me share my personal experience. I could have written what enduring understanding Mr Levy is trying to teach. For example, why students should learn how much paint is needed.

Blog 1: The why or enduring understanding in Voyage of the Pilgrims

In ‘Voyage of the Pilgrims’ educator Steven Levy transformed his 4th grade classroom with an experiential/project-based instructional design approach. I think he believed that students learn better by working with real world rather than reading or finishing text books. In my experience when I was at fourth grade I was told to learn interest and principles, mathematics formulas and so many more. I learnt without knowing why I am learning these. What I am going to gain from here? I learnt because it was written in my course syllabus. I never knew the ‘why’ behind my learning. I learnt because I was told so. But in ‘Voyage of the Pilgrims’ students faced real life situation. They are learning how to deal with Banks and local community. They are learning how to do heavy mathematics calculation in a real world context. It was much more hands on experience. They know why they are learning something. Also learning wood carving, bread baking and managing gave them exposure to real world and life much more.

I wish I had class like that where I was exposed to real life problems. Most of my academic life I learnt stuffs which never really helped me in real life. Even until today, when I need to find out which bank is charging me how much interest, I rely on web apps like mortgage calculator.

I don’t know how to bake a bread. I have no idea how tables and chairs are made. I am much more paralyzed in real world despite having a masters’ degree and currently studying at Harvard. And this is a Harvard graduate can’t answer basic questions like ‘can you lit a bulb with a battery and wire?’ Because book knowledge is no help in real world.

Also I studied computer science and engineering for 6 years (4 years undergrad and 2 years in masters). I learnt so many things in computer science however I have not used any of the study materials in real life work. None of my work needed deep understanding of operating sytesm (which is mandatory in computer science) or solving complex algorithm questions (which is also mandatory). Many companies hire people by seeing these in their resume or asking you to solve algorithm questions. But working with real client does not require any of it. It’s not only me, every single person who studied and got job says that. I don’t know why I was taight or got evaluated on those metrics.

I wish the courses were more like what Steve Levy’s classroom. I wish I learnt courses that helped me in day to day living. I wish I had that chance. Education system should be designed in such a way so people know why they are doing something or learning something. It’s quite important to learn the why behind every educational decision or course syllabus. Once students know the the ‘why’ learning becomes fun and much more helpful.


Blog Feedback:

That I am proud of and why?

I felt I commented on this series quite genuinely and I tried writing my true feelings. I supported where I felt supporting and asked questions where I needed to ask. I am not great at peer reviews and I performed terribly on them in the past, but from this post I started understanding and grasping the concept of a peer review.

Blog 4 Feedback for Lucile Kenney

I did not know, you are a designer. That's great to know.


That could be improved and why?

It was my first peer review and I did not understand how much I need to write and what I need to write. I wish I wrote more than some general worlds like 'truly commendable.' I could have written what her real strength is in that post. I could have written what I learned from this post and that there is always a little room for improvement.

Blog 1 review for Cameron

V. I Used to Think, Now I Think

Throughout my entire life, I used to think that I am that moron who did not learn anything from a webinar, workshop or classroom. There have been several instances when companies I worked for paid a lot of money to sent me to crash courses. My parents sent me to grad school in Buffalo, NY to earn a Masters in Computer Science and I always felt guilty for not learning a thing from core Computer Science classes or CSS workshops or Java webinars.

I used to think that it was my fault that I don't learn anything from those classes.

But now I think it was never my fault. The evaluations of the classes at grad school were unrealistic. I used to think maybe my IQ is low or maybe I just don’t like the subject but now I think, the instructors did not make any effort for students to love those courses.

I come from a very different academic background. In our country we learn everything by memorization. I always wished classes were like 'Voyages of Pilgrim' where students learned through real life experience.

I used to think teachers only cared about finishing class materials and that’s how a new subject can be taught. But now I think teachers can foster understanding by encouraging mental activity and introducing interesting games like 'world peace game'.

I had never heard the term 'surface learning' until a few months ago, but throughout my entire life I was a surface learner. Thanks to this course now I know the difference between a surface learner and deep learner and how to foster deep learning in school.

I used to think teachers can snap at us when we asked stupid questions by saying ‘Stop asking idiotic questions.’ But now I think they could have asked ‘What makes you say that?’

I could never focus in long boring classes and my peers always blamed social media for diverting my attention. Now I think distractions were never the problem, poor class structure was. Instructors always wanted to stuff the students like a Turkey, how can some learn so much in such short period of time? Now I think teachers should use hooks, add interesting visual components to hold the students' attention if they are planning to cram information in our brains.

VI. The Spark

When I was doing the webinar assignment during Module 4 in ED 103, it dawned on me that a webinar could be improved if it is interactive. It means, if there are actual people presents during a webinar who can interact with the instructor a webinar could be much more fun.

I want to host a 3 part 60 minute interactive webinar around the Boston area where I want to talk about ‘changing careers – from development to design.’ If someone wants to join online, they will have the option but locals are welcome to come to the webinar and interact with me and the other two guest speakers.

I was a web developer for a long time. Since the beginning of this year, I've been working on switching my career from development to design. It’s not much of a change from an outsider’s point of view but it’s a huge change from a company’s view point. I want to share my stories with fellow attendees.

In the first 20 minutes, I want to talk about my background and how I am trying to change my career. I decided to change my career because design was my calling and I decided to follow my dream. I want to start a webinar with ‘why did I decide to change my career’ and ask the fellow attendees if any of them are thinking such. If yes, why are they thinking such? This part won’t last more than 20 minutes and it’s more like a meet and greet.

In the second 20 minutes of the webinar, I want to talk about finances. Changing careers is not that easy especially when it comes to finances. Staying unemployed for months is not that easy for many. So what kind of financial options do we have? Can we take out a loan? Can we do the dream job part time or as a freelancer? I want a financial advisor to come or attend as a guest speaker and interact with attendees.

In the last 20 minutes, I want to talk about my journey and the mental stress I went through. I want a psychologist to be there and talk about possible mental stress people can go through and how to cope. I also want people to ask the therapist questions during the webinar. They can also schedule 1-1 session with her/him.

I want to speak for at most 5 minutes in each 20 minutes’ block and therest of the time, I want it to be interactive. I want attendees to engage and speak rather than just passively listening.