Educational Redesign: Indicators, Risks, Global Trends
Instructional design models have evolved, building on the models before and reflecting the changing world. Objectivism is one of the first instructional design models and is very structured and predetermined, with the instructor controlling the learning process. Realities are given based on the notion that all learners perceive reality as the same. The constructivism movement gained momentum in the 1990s in response to objectivism and produced instructional models that are in place today. Constructivism deems learning as an active process that encourages students to use tasks like experiments or real-world problem-solving to create more knowledge. Many instructors have shifted from objectivism to constructivist teaching strategies to accommodate more meaningful, active learning and real-world engagement for their students (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018). As the world evolves, educational redesign continues to be a challenge.
We live in a VUCA world based on volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (Fadel et al., 2015). Environmental and human impacts make it difficult to predict the future. There is an increase in income disparity and population, resulting in reduced resources. Education has not changed with the times to address the new needs, and requirements students need to succeed.
Technology impacts the workforce through automation and outsourcing (Fadel et al., 2015). As a result, job creation focuses more on non-routine interpersonal and non-routine analytical skills. Technology will continue to be used to assist with work, not replace work in these new jobs. Students will need to learn how to use technology effectively through education.
The increased access to technology affects education (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018). Online learning has grown because technology is more powerful, easy to use, and increasingly available worldwide. Higher education pivoted to online learning during the pandemic and was successful when combined with faculty training and appropriate course development. Some students struggled with virtual learning. Each learner has a unique set of circumstances that can affect how they learn. This is not a new concept. Reiser and Dempsey (2018) break down adaptation and design suggestions into four categories: visual, auditory, mobility, and cognitive involvement. An excellent example of this is providing closed-captioning or transcripts of videos for virtual learning.
The Serious e-Learning Manifesto was launched in 2014 in response to quality concerns about poorly designed e-learning products (Reiser & Dempsey, 2018). The manifesto lays out design principles and standards for e-learning products, contrasting e-learning, and serious e-learning. The profound e-learning principles are consistent with a constructivist perspective and are much more student-centered and focused on meaningful, real-world active learning than traditional e-learning. Due to the pandemic, these principles and standards are critical to addressing the challenges students and instructors faced when they pivoted to virtual learning.
Many professors had difficulty transitioning to online learning during the pandemic because they did not have experience teaching virtually. There was a significant disparity in the student learning experience at GW. Community colleges that offered online learning as part of the academic learning experience pre-pandemic were able to focus on training faculty and students in the skills needed to instruct and learn remotely (Xu et al., 2021). As higher education offers hybrid learning, courses should be designed for both in-person and virtual delivery. Faculty development and training should be required to ensure content can be presented in a hybrid fashion with the same desired learning outcomes.
Income disparity and economic inequality have always existed but became more apparent during the pandemic—this disparity and inequality impact students’ access to the technology and hardware necessary to learn virtually. A study completed in April 2020 concludes that students’ ability to succeed in a remote-learning environment differs significantly by income levels. Over 60 percent of students from lower-income households report not getting the necessary equipment for remote learning. Almost 35 percent of students from low-income families do not have reliable internet access. Over 55 percent say their home environment does not support remote learning (Kim et al., 2020).
Fadel, C., Bialik, M., & Trilling, B. (2015). Four-dimensional education: The competencies learners need to succeed—the Center for Curriculum Redesign.
Kim, H., Krishnan, C., Law, J., & Rounsaville, T. (2020). COVID-19 and U.S. higher education enrollment: Preparing Leaders for fall. McKinsey and Company. https://www.mckiney.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19-and-us-higher-education-enrollment-preparing-leaders-for-fall#
Reiser, R.A. & Dempsey, J.V. (2018). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (4th ed.). Pearson.
Xu, D., & Jaggars, S. S. (2011). The Effectiveness of Distance Education across Virginia's Community Colleges: Evidence from Introductory College-Level Math and English Courses. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(3), 360–377. https://doi.org/10.3102/0162373711413814