Instructional Design

Online Learning – Real Interactivity vs. Baby Interactivity

By Zachary Fruhling March 30, 2020

In today’s online educational environment, it is more important than ever to create genuinely interactive online educational experiences, above and beyond the out-of-the-box, cookie-cutter interactivity provided by most educational content development tools and learning management systems such as simple quizzing functionality and flashcards, which I often refer to as “baby interactivity.” So if most out-of-the-box… Read More

Techniques for Working with Course Writers

By Zachary Fruhling May 23, 2019

As an instructional designer, working with subject matter experts and course writers can be a complex process with many potential challenges, from setting expectations and discussing requirements to navigating the multitude of personalities and challenges you may encounter from course writer to course writer. The following overview covers some of the many aspects that are… Read More

Leaving the Ivory Tower

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD May 17, 2019

By Tom Armbrecht I changed careers in 2016 when I stopped being a French professor and became an instructional designer. In the eyes of some my former university colleagues, my resignation meant that I effectively switched teams when I abandoned my “noble vocation” as teacher and researcher for a job at a for-profit enterprise. Although… Read More

Just as a carpenter or an architect each has a set of essential tools for his or her craft, so does the working instructional designer come prepared with a set of essential instructional design tools. These essential instructional design tools vary from instructional designer to instructional designer based on his or her own experience as… Read More

Pros and Cons of Traditional Instructional Design Models

By Zachary Fruhling April 30, 2019

I did not begin my career as an instructional designer. Having spent several years in the classroom as a college- and university-level instructor of philosophy and logic, I stumbled into instructional design by way of educational content development as a learning design author and subject matter expert, combining my classroom experience and subject matter expertise… Read More

Don’t Build a Faster Horse

By Zachary Fruhling April 22, 2019

The following quote, along with its many variants, is usually (but perhaps mistakenly) attributed to Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company: If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse. — Henry Ford Regardless of whether Henry Ford ever actually said these words, the principle about innovation… Read More

Hanging Indents in HTML and CSS for Instructional Designers

By Zachary Fruhling March 29, 2019

Although opinions differ about the role of hanging indents in the post-print digital era, from time to time you may need to add hanging indents for things like APA references in your online course materials. Unfortunately, the WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editors in many Learning Management Systems do not give you… Read More

Pro Instructional Design Tip: Use Embedded Media

By Zachary Fruhling March 20, 2019

Anyone old enough to remember the mid-1990s internet browsing experience will remember largely text-based web pages with some number of hyperlinks to other web pages. As I have described in a previous article, Rediscovering the Power of the Link, the ability to hyperlink to other pages has an almost magical quality, opening up a world… Read More

Evergreen Online Course Materials

By Zachary Fruhling March 5, 2019

An important part of maintaining online course materials is keeping them up to date. Over time, an online course can become out of date as textbooks are updated, current events change, or new research occurs within a particular field of study. Sometimes the motivation for updating online course materials is pedagogical: It’s clearly important pedagogically… Read More

Precision and Creativity: Difficult-to-Teach Qualities

By Zachary Fruhling February 19, 2019

Having spent over a decade training and mentoring educational content developers and instructional designers, I have come to the conclusion that there are two qualities (or perhaps personality traits) that are nearly impossible to teach to someone who doesn’t already possess them: precision and creativity, both of which are important for creating effective and engaging… Read More

Sometimes I am struck by how much the world has changed within the scope of my own meager lifespan, whether in the world of education, in the world of technology, or in the realm of day-to-day life. There are many features of the contemporary everyday educational experience that were in the realm of science fiction… Read More

Google Translate: Freund oder Feind (Friend or Enemy)?

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD November 19, 2018

Google Translate is an astonishing program. It converts words and even whole sentences back and forth from dozens of languages through multiple modalities; you can type, handwrite, scan, and even say whatever you want to communicate. Its accuracy—at least in French, German, and Spanish, the three languages that I speak—is surprisingly good. At worst, Translate… Read More

While the pedagogical creativity inherent to creating an engaging online learning experience should not be understated, an equally important aspect of online course design is the production workflow. The creation of any product, whether tangible or intangible, has constraints of time frame, checkpoints, and quality control, all of which are important aspects of online course… Read More

Learning from the Other Side of the Podium

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD October 10, 2018

Recently, I went back to school for the first time in 20 years. Although I was at the university every day teaching until about two years ago and have often taken adult-education courses, I hadn’t been a student in a class for credit since 1997. (In case you’re wondering, I recently celebrated my third 28th… Read More