Friday, June 29, 2012

Brain-Stretching Resources for Instructional Designers

As a freelance writer and instructional designer, I have limited opportunities for guided professional development and enrichment, which is one of the reasons I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology at Walden University. At the suggestion of one of my Walden professors, I recently began exploring online resources in or related to the field of instructional design. Here is a round up of some of my favorite sites:

Subscription to the magazine is free, but I would gladly pay for it if I had to. (Note to the folks at Learning Solutions Magazine: Please keep your subscription free!) Marc J. Rosenberg’s June, 2012 article is one example of the topical enrichment I find in abundance at Learning Solutions Magazine. Based on the diversity of subject matter and contributor background, I believe this is a professional resource I can grow with for a long time.

With blog posts that include Conflict as Thinking, In praise of cooperation without coordination, and Everything is a Remix, I find this blog personally and professionally irresistible. “So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. This site, launched April 2007, is an ever-evolving work in progress, and you're an important part of it. Have an idea? We want to hear from you.” ( Accessed 062912.) Oh, you will, TED. You will!

“This digital salon, sponsored by The Chronicle of Higher Education, features leading bloggers from all corners of academe.” ( Accessed 062912.) In addition to informed opinion pieces, this blog features news, statistics, and online forums to expand my understanding of learning theory and application. The resources on this site are rich and varied.

I was drawn in by a June 25th blog post titled What works in real life, works in eLearning. From there I went on to explore the company website, and I found enough interesting content to make me want to visit again. Vivid Learning Systems is a provider of online training programs, and although their customer base is different than mine, I believe I can apply some of their strategies and resources to my own work. One of the ways I differentiate myself in the freelance market is by offering strategies to increase ROI of my customers’ training budgets. I am looking forward to learning more about Vivid Learning System’s “integrated retention tools that are built-in to every course, including interactive exercises, random test banks and multi-modal delivery templates.” ( Accessed 06/29/12.)

I love that this site is housed in the physics department at the University of Maryland, because my work does not touch the realm of physics, and I have no connection to Maryland, and therein lies the beauty of online learning. Technology facilitates connections that would not otherwise be made and delivers to my desk more and better resources than I could find using traditional methods of research. The site features information about the Peer Instruction technique, which is “a method created by Eric Mazur to help make lectures more interactive and to get students intellectually engaged with what is going on.” ( Accessed 062912.) Engagement is a fundamental issue for instructional designers, educators, and trainers. I am already considering ways I can incorporate Peer Instruction into the corporate training workshops I design.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will share your favorite sites with me here.

Sally Bacchetta


  1. Sally, I appreciate your eager attitude in tackling this blog assignment. Fortunately, there is a lot to learn. For my part in this critical assessment, I will review one of the links you provided for the assignment.
    To start with, I would like to address the technical features of the blog. A few in text hyperlinks would have helped me navigate the postings. It wasn’t until I clicked each title that I see you acknowledged the links there. Simply slip in a few hyperlinks at various junctures to areas you believe are relevant to the reader.
    Now with that out of the way, I will review your TED link. I have to agree that everyone likes TED. TED, not to be confused with the Set McFarlane movie of the same name is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading.
    I can recall some of the more interesting lectures from Brad Pitts "Benjamin Button" technology discussion, to more political speakers like Bill Clinton, or technology gurus like Bill Gates. It looks like in this case I am going to have to agree with you. This isn’t a choice I would have thought about incorporating into our assignment, but I am glad you did. By choosing TED, you found a site that is rich with new information and ideas. It’s these lectures that will help any instructional designer think outside of the box.
    Great Job!

  2. Hi Sally, I have enjoyed your blog thus far for our Walden Class. The layout is welcoming and your tone as a writer is pleasant.

    I took a look at a few of your blogs and the one that caught my eye was The Chronicle Blog Network. As I made my way to the site, one of the posts I saw was in reference to Kahn Academy. This peaked my interest because I use some of his lectures on history in my class. The most interesting thing about the article was the section that mentions what KA is not (a replacement for a classroom teacher). I could not agree more. As a history teacher, I try to engage students in learning in a multitude of ways and KA is a great supplement, but it is by no means going to put classroom teachers out of a job. Students need more than just a video to truly learn something and that is where a teacher can flourish in a classroom setting.

    The Kahn Academy videos are a great supplement to everything else we do in class. I have links to it on my class website and encourage students to view the videos two time before an exam, but the KA videos are only a fragment of the entire holistic approach to education. If we use technology as a tool to help educate, teachers and IDs will continue to be a highly valuable commodity when it comes to education.