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If everything is design...

So the concept of design has been grabbing a hold on my brain much the same way my 70lb dog grabs a toy and dangles it barely being held in his mouth by two incisors. He WANTS the 45lb mutt to make an attempt to get away with the thing, but just by clamping down his jaws, he knows he'll never REALLY have to give it up.

I "get" the general ideas of what we're talking about in class, and I can really understand how each of the stages and elements involved in instructional design plays a role, but I have a hard time putting it into concrete applicable knowledge for myself moving forward in projects.

I feel like I am often being struck by seemingly random thoughts of "oh, THAT'S some good design" to a degree that my brain never really took it before: not just "cool!", but "No, really, there was some good planning on that aspect there. They must have really paid attention while conducting their learner analysis..."

Like today. I got an email that alerted me to the fact that I had, as of yet, failed to take a mandatory staff training online regarding sexual harrassment. I opted to click on the link in the email and finish it up right away. Immediately I started noticing things that might normally have ticked me off, but now really got under my skin because I could SEE myself taking steps to prevent my own annoyances, but just didn't have access to the original to make the necessary tweaks.

First off, I don't remember there being any info on time expectations. When it became clear that this might actually take more than a half an hour of my time, I began to wish I had saved it for later. I was distracted by wanting to get it over with because it became clear (like the teachers in our recent case study) that this wasn't the kind of thing I was going to find useful if I felt like it was taking up too much of my time. The training was designed so that I HAD to go through each step before it would report back that I had completed the workshop. At the same time, however, it had poor planning in areas like movie clip controls and menus.

I can understand the necessity of "forcing" each participant to view the whole movie clip, but more than once, just towards the end, I missed something because of environmental distractions, so I tried to go back and review what had just been said. Sometimes I could use the menu to jump back to the beginning of the WHOLE SEGMENT, but I never had the oportunity, having seen it once already, to just skip to the part I was interested in repeating. Also, if I accidentally clicked on the pop-up menu (think Windows START menu), it would partially visually block the segment I was in the middle of, and would NOT CLEAR without selecting one of the segments listed (the current one since it wouldn't allow you to skip ahead), and then it would start that whole segment over again! @#*#$@!

On the other hand, there were a variety of "activities" that I thought really were good examples of well-thought-out tools. Things that I wished I could save as examples for later, or refer back to as a model. The training was trying to change behavior, just like in our first case study. There were also sections that felt like they were trying to encourage a constructivist approach by letting the user view multiple video clips representing various viewpoints, and then simply asking some open ended questions to provoke thought without trying to push "right" answers. Other segments were assessments that required true-false or reality-myth distinction where there WERE right or wrong answers, and I felt like I wanted to purposefully get some "wrong" to see if the tool was designed to be adaptive or not. (I didn't want it to report that I was socially inept or pathological, though, so I didn't.)

So I find that I am feeling comfortable RECOGNIZING what goes into "good design" when I see an example of it, but applying it consciously to my work is a lot harder. I even lie awake at night trying to plan out my final project or apply some instructional design concepts to projects at work, but I find that my brain is more preoccupied with design of much less "instructional" things, such as a new wall/door partition for the bathroom, or a wiring pattern to hook up some new porch lights to an "optical eye" light sensor AND a motion sensor at the same time. I realize that some of the steps in planning are perhaps not too far off, but it feels like there's something there that I'm just not grabbing.