Implications of Learning Theories on Instructional Design — from by Jon-Erik Oleyar-Reynolds
Are you interested in becoming an Instructional Designer? Or are you just starting out in the world of learning theories? The focus of this article is to inform the reader of 3 unique learning theories while discussing the implications they have had in the field of Instructional Design (ID).


Behaviorist Learning Theory
Behavioral learning theory can be summarized as learning that occurs through the behavioral response to environmentally sourced stimuli. The foundation of this theory is built upon assumptions that “have little regard for the cognitive processing of the learner involved in the task”.

The focus of behavioral learning theory resides in the use of reinforcement to drive behavior. Instructional Design can benefit from the use of reinforcement as a means to train learners to complete instructional objectives that are presented to them.

Cognitive Learning Theory
The primary focus of learning is on the development of knowledge by the creation of schemas. Schemas are like catalogs of information that can be used to identify concepts or experiences through a complex set of relationships that are connected to one another. In short, the catalogs act like a database of knowledge for the learner. 2 prominent theories that will be discussed are Gestalt theory and information processing theory; these 2 have paved the way for cognitivism and its impact on the field of Instructional Design.

Information processing theory further supports cognitive learning theory. Similar to Gestalt theory, the focus of learning is on the individual. The processing of information by the learner is similar to the way a computer processes information. The memory system is broken into 3 stages based on this approach:

  • Sensory memory
  • Working memory
  • Long-term memory

…the working memory may require more rehearsal to establish a clear connection to the concept and store it in long-term.

One of the most widely used strategies could arguably be a rehearsal. The expression “practice makes perfect” may seem cliché, but it does fit very well when discussing cognition and development. As one rehearses, the working memory is exercised.

While working memory has a limit of 7 (plus or minus 2), creating a chunk of information increases the amount that can be worked with.

Instructional Design shifted in the presence of cognitivism and includes a more system-like design approach with a focus on the learners.


Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory focuses on the impact of learning based on factors related to the social environment. In other words, learning occurs in the context of a social situation that the learner is placed in.

Think of the expression “perhaps it rubbed off on me”. This has a direct relationship to social learning theory. Self-efficacy can be influenced by the design of lessons that allow for learners to view others of similar ability succeeding at instructional tasks. This could be achieved in a number of creative ways, but generally is most effective in collaborative activities where learners work in small groups. Overall, self-efficacy is the belief that one can be successful at particular tasks.

Collaborative learning groups and the use of peer review are widely used in many settings in which learning occurs.



From DSC:
I wanted to briefly relay an example that relates to the Cognitive Learning/Processing Theory — and more specifically to a concept known as Cognitive Load.  The other day I was sitting at the kitchen table, trying to read an interesting blog posting. But at the very same time, the radio was (loudly) relaying an item re: Virtual Reality (VR) — which also caught my ear and interest.

Which “channel” do I focus on? My visual channel or my auditory channel?

For me, I can’t do both well — perhaps some people can, but our visual and auditory channels can only handle so much at one time. Both channels request our attention and processing resources. I ended up getting up and shutting off the radio so that I could continue reading the blog posting. But for me, I think of it like a traffic jam. There are only so many cars that can simultaneously get through that busy highway that leads downtown.

So another application of this is that it’s helpful NOT to have a lot of auditory information going on at the same time as a lot of visual information. If you have PowerPoint slides, use graphics, photos, and/or graphs and use your audio voiceover to speak to them…but don’t list a long paragraph of text and then simply read that text and then also ask the learner to absorb other visual information at the same time. 




A Microlearning Framework — from and Pablo Navarro
This infographic is based on the experience of different clients from different industries in different training programs.


From DSC:
I thought this was a solid infographic and should prove to be useful for Instructional Designers, Faculty Members, and/or for Corporate Trainers as well. 

I might also consider adding a “Gotcha!” piece first — even before the welcome piece — in order to get the learner’s attention and to immediately answer the WHY question. WHY is this topic important and relevant to me? When topics are relevant to people, they care and engage a whole lot more with the content that’s about to be presented to them. Ideally, such a piece would stir some curiosity as well.





PD is getting so much better!! — from by Jennifer Gonzalez




1. Unconferences
2. Intentional professional learning communities (PLCs)
3. Choice Boards
4. Personal Action Plans
5. Voluntary Piloting
6. Peer Observation
7. Microcredentials
8. Blended Learning
9. Lab Classrooms




From DSC:
After reviewing the article below, I wondered...if we need to interact with content to learn it…how might mixed reality allow for new ways of interacting with such content? This is especially intriguing when we interact with that content with others as well (i.e., social learning).

Perhaps Mixed Reality (MR) will bring forth a major expansion of how we look at “blended learning” and “hybrid learning.”


Mixed Reality Will Transform Perceptions — from by Alexandro Pando

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Changing How We Perceive The World One Industry At A Time
Part of the reason mixed reality has garnered this momentum within such short span of time is that it promises to revolutionize how we perceive the world without necessarily altering our natural perspective. While VR/AR invites you into their somewhat complex worlds, mixed reality analyzes the surrounding real-world environment before projecting an enhanced and interactive overlay. It essentially “mixes” our reality with a digitally generated graphical information.

All this, however, pales in comparison to the impact of mixed reality on the storytelling process. While present technologies deliver content in a one-directional manner, from storyteller to audience, mixed reality allows for delivery of content, then interaction between content, creator and other users. This mechanism cultivates a fertile ground for increased contact between all participating entities, ergo fostering the creation of shared experiences. Mixed reality also reinvents the storytelling process. By merging the storyline with reality, viewers are presented with a wholesome experience that’s perpetually indistinguishable from real life.


Mixed reality is without a doubt going to play a major role in shaping our realities in the near future, not just because of its numerous use cases but also because it is the flag bearer of all virtualized technologies. It combines VR, AR and other relevant technologies to deliver a potent cocktail of digital excellence.





High-Tech, High Touch: Digital Learning Report and Workbook, 2017 Edition — from Intentional Futures, with thanks to Maria Andersen on Linkedin for her posting therein which was entitled, “Spectrums to Measure Digital Learning
Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Our work uncovered five high-tech strategies employed by institutions that have successfully implemented digital learning at scale across a range of modalities. The strategies that underscore the high-tech, high-touch connection are customizing through technology, leveraging adaptive courseware, adopting cost-efficient resources, centralizing course development and making data-driven decisions.

Although many of the institutions we studied are employing more than one of these strategies, in this report we have grouped the institutional use cases according to the strategy that has been most critical to achieving digital learning at scale. As institutional leaders make their way through this document, they should watch for strategies that target challenges similar to those they hope to solve. Reading the corresponding case studies will unpack how institutions employed these strategies effectively.

Digital learning in higher education is becoming more ubiquitous as institutions realize its ability to support student success and empower faculty. Growing diversity in student demographics has brought related changes in student needs, prompting institutions to look to technology to better serve their students. Digital courseware gives institutions the ability to build personalized, accessible and engaging content. It enables educators to provide relevant content and interventions for individual students, improve instructional techniques based on data and distribute knowledge to a wider audience (MIT Office of Digital Learning, 2017).

Nationally, the number of students engaged in digital learning is growing rapidly. One driver of this growth is rising demand for distance learning, which often relies on digital learning environments. Distance learning programs saw enrollment increases of approximately 4% between 2015 and 2016, with nearly 30% of higher education students taking at least one digital distance learning course (Allen, 2017). Much of this growth is occurring at the undergraduate level (Allen, 2017). The number of students who take distance learning courses exclusively is growing as well. Between 2012 and 2015, both public and private nonprofit institutions saw an increase in students taking only distance courses, although private, for-profit institutions have seen a decrease (Allen, 2017).










Online learning in Michigan, as delivered by Michigan Virtual and others, has exploded in recent years.

  • The number of K-12 students taking at least 1 virtually delivered course jumped from just over 36,000 in 2010-11 to ~91,000 in 2015-16 | page 9
  • Total # of virtual courses taken by Michigan K-12 students soared from ~90,000 in 2010-11 to 453,000+ in ’15-16 | page 9
  • In 2011, approximately 650 schools had at least one student take a virtual course. By 2015-16, more than 1,000 Michigan schools had at least one student enroll in an online course. | page 9
  • This growth highlights the success that Michigan Virtual and others have had in promoting online learning across Michigan, yet underscores the work that still needs to be done. Thirty-seven percent of Michigan districts did not have a single student take a virtual class in 2015-16, and only 6% of all K-12 students in the state took a virtual course. The statewide completion rate for all virtual enrollments has dropped from 66% in 2010-11 to 58% in 2015-16. So while online course participation has increased, it is still a small share of the overall market. Further, educational outcomes have declined, leaving opportunity for improvements in quality and online learning program implementation. This, combined with statewide efforts to make Michigan a leading education state, provides new opportunities for Michigan Virtual to advance K-12 digital learning and teaching through research, practice, and partnerships.


This strategic plan began with an extensive research and stakeholder outreach effort. This was designed to enhance our understanding of demographic and economic conditions, education policies and priorities, competitors and technology trends, stakeholder wants and needs, and views and perceptions of Michigan Virtual.

We interviewed or surveyed more than 425 individual stakeholders, including Michigan Virtual teachers, staff, students, and board members; the leadership and membership of leading educational organizations such as the Education Alliance of Michigan, the Virtual School Leadership Alliance, MASA, MAISA, MEMPSA, MASSP; and other leaders in education across Michigan. We also consulted research and data on technology trends, K-12 enrollment projections, state and national economic forecasts, education policies and priorities, and the competitive landscape.


  • It is expected that the Michigan economy will see modest growth in coming years. This will help state  revenues remain relatively stable, but it is not expected that there will be significant growth in tax revenues available for increased spending on programs including K-12 education.
  • The Michigan Department of Education’s Top 10 in 10 strategic plan was developed with input from a broad group of stakeholders and is expected to remain a guiding document, along with the state’s ESSA plan and the 21st Century Education Commission’s report “The Best Education System for Michigan’s Success,” in coming years. Education priorities at the federal level are not as clear, though we expect an expanded focus on choice and options for parents and their students.
  • Technology infrastructure is built out to extend high-speed Internet access to the majority of schools and citizens in Michigan, though in-home access is still not fully available in some lower income or rural areas.
  • Users of online programs and websites have come to expect instant access and user-friendly designs and interfaces that they can access on any device.
  • There is growing acceptance and use of online courses across Michigan, though there remains a need to identify and demonstrate best practices, communicate benefits, and ensure quality standards are adopted to improve student outcomes.
  • There is growing competition among online course providers, with many focusing on low-cost solutions that are appealing to budget-constrained schools, but that may not adhere to best practices and quality standards that are demonstrated to improve student outcomes.
  • The false perception persists among some that Michigan Virtual is a for-profit organization that competes with traditional schools.
  • Poverty and related issues, including mental health and behavior, were cited by educators from across the state as being the most significant student-related issues facing their schools. (*insert DSC)
  • The need for, and adoption of, online and blended professional development will increase as educators increasingly see the value of integrating digital resources into their traditional classrooms.
  • While educators see the value of integrating digital resources into their traditional classrooms, many do not know how or where to start. Most schools and districts also lack the expertise to develop and implement blended learning programs on their own.

Today’s digital-learning landscape could not have been predicted when Michigan Virtual was founded in 1998, or even when our last strategic plan was developed in 2014. Some areas of digital learning have been frustratingly slow to advance, while others have perhaps grown too quickly at the expense of effectiveness and student outcomes.

This plan was intentionally designed with an unpredictable landscape in mind. The plan printed here is static, but the actions to implement the plan are dynamic. Tactics for each strategy and goal will be evaluated at least annually to stay aligned with ever-evolving challenges and opportunities. However, the goals, when taken together, provide a formula for success regardless of how the landscape evolves. We will provide an awesome experience for internal and external stakeholders alike, build partnerships to scale and grow our success, and operate efficiently and as good stewards of our resources to ensure our financial viability. Doing this, in alignment with our mission to advance K-12 digital learning and teaching through research, practice, and partnerships will bring us to a point where our vision (every person can use digital learning to reach his or her full potential) is a reality.


* In teaching, “You can’t do the Bloom stuff until you take care of the Maslow stuff.” [Beck]




Plan now to attend the 2018 Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference — tour USC’s campus!

From DSC:
I am honored to be currently serving on the 2018 Advisory Council for the Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference with a great group of people. Missing — at least from my perspective — from the image below is Kristen Tadrous, Senior Program Director with the Corporate Learning Network. Kristen has done a great job these last few years planning and running this conference.


The Advisory Board for the 2018 Next Generation Learning Spaces Conference

The above graphic reflects a recent change for me. I am still an Adjunct Faculty Member
at Calvin College, but I am no longer a Senior Instructional Designer there.
My brand is centered around being an Instructional Technologist.


This national conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA on February 26-28, 2018. It is designed to help institutions of higher education develop highly-innovative cultures — something that’s needed in many institutions of traditional higher education right now.

I have attended the first 3 conferences and I moderated a panel at the most recent conference out in San Diego back in February/March of this year. I just want to say that this is a great conference and I encourage you to bring a group of people to it from your organization! I say a group of people because a group of 5 of us (from a variety of departments) went one year and the result of attending the NGLS Conference was a brand new Sandbox Classroom — an active-learning based, highly-collaborative learning space where faculty members can experiment with new pedagogies as well as with new technologies. The conference helped us discuss things as a diverse group, think out load, come up with some innovative ideas, and then build the momentum to move forward with some of those key ideas.

If you haven’t already attended this conference, I highly recommend that you check it out. You can obtain the agenda/brochure for the conference by providing some basic contact information here.


The 2018 Next Generational Learning Spaces Conference- to be held in Los Angeles on Feb 26-28, 2018


Tour the campus at UCLA

Per Kristen Tadrous, here’s why you want to check out USC:

  • A true leader in innovation: USC made it to the Top 20 of Reuter’s 100 Most Innovative Universities in 2017!
  • Detailed guided tour of leading spaces led by the Information Technology Services Learning Environments team
  • Benchmark your own learning environments by getting a ‘behind the scenes’ look at their state-of-the-art spaces
  • There are only 30 spots available for the site tour



Building Spaces to Inspire a Culture of Innovation — a core theme at the 4th Next Generation Learning Spaces summit, taking place this February 26-28 in Los Angeles. An invaluable opportunity to meet and hear from like-minded peers in higher education, and continue your path toward lifelong learning. #ngls2018





Myths and Facts About Flipped Learning — from by Robert Talbert

Key Takeaways

  • The combination of rapidly-accumulating research on the effectiveness of active learning combined with improvements in technology have created an ideal environment for almost any instructor to move their courses from a traditional to a flipped model.
  • Many articles on flipped learning contain misconceptions that can lead potential practitioners into error or away from using flipped learning entirely, to the detriment of their students and themselves.
  • This article looks at some of the myths about flipped learning and provides contradictory facts about this pedagogical approach.


Flipped learning, sometimes called the “flipped classroom,” is a pedagogical approach which uses time and space in a different way from the way courses are typically taught. In traditional instruction, students’ first contact with new ideas happens in class, usually through direct instruction from the professor; after exposure to the basics, students are turned out of the classroom to tackle the most difficult tasks in learning — those that involve application, analysis, synthesis, and creativity — in their individual spaces. Flipped learning reverses this, by moving first contact with new concepts to the individual space and using the newly-expanded time in class for students to pursue difficult, higher-level tasks together, with the instructor as a guide.

Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach whose time has come. The combination of rapidly-accumulating research on the effectiveness of active learning combined with improvements in technology have created an ideal environment for almost any instructor to move their courses from a traditional to a flipped model. At the same time, despite its popularity and the efforts of groups like the Flipped Learning Network to explain and operationalize flipped learning, it remains a somewhat poorly-understood concept among many. Many published articles on flipped learning contain misconceptions that can lead potential practitioners into error or away from using flipped learning entirely, to the detriment of their students and themselves.

Let’s take a look at some of the myths about flipped learning and try to find the facts.




Video on Its Way to Becoming Education Norm — from by Dian Schaffhauser


Video has become as ubiquitous in higher education classrooms as big screens in the fitness center and Hulu in residential halls. The use cases abound. The most popular use right now is to help with remote teaching and learning; 73 percent of institutions in a recent survey report the use of video for that purpose. That’s followed by the showing of video in classrooms (70 percent), as supplementary course material (66 percent) and for lecture capture (65 percent). But video is also gaining steam in student assignments, teaching skills and recording students as they practice them, recording campus events for on-demand viewing, as part of library media collections, to deliver personal introductions and to give feedback on student assignments and instructor teaching practices.

These examples aren’t the only ones cited in the latest results of Kaltura’s “The State of Video in Education.” The 2017 survey, done in May and June 2017, drew responses from more than a thousand people, 81 percent of whom work in higher ed (the rest from K–12 and other educational organizations). Most of the survey respondents hold one of four primary roles: instructional design, IT, faculty and media. Kaltura is a company that sells video products and services.




Also see:

Survey: Blended Learning on the Rise — from by Rhea Kelly
Most faculty in our second annual Teaching with Technology Survey said they employ a mix of online and face-to-face instruction, and many are using the flipped model in their courses.


In a nationwide survey on the use of technology for teaching and learning, an increasing number of higher education faculty members said they employ a mix of online and face-to-face learning in their courses. A full 73 percent of respondents said they use the blended model — that’s up from 71 percent in 2016. And while 15 percent of faculty are still teaching exclusively face-to-face, 12 percent have gone fully online (an increase from 10 percent teaching online in 2016).

Those findings came out of Campus Technology‘s 2017 Teaching with Technology Survey, in which we asked faculty to dish on their approach to teaching, use of technology, views of the future and more.





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