Graffiti of Willy Wonka with quote

MMID: Subversion and Instructional Design

MOOC MOOC: Instructional Design (MMID) is the sixth iteration of a mini, meta-MOOC designed to inspect different aspects of higher education, teaching, learning, and the digital. MMID will take place from January 25 – February 12, 2016. For more information, see the original announcement.

Learning is a subversive act, and so must teaching be — not out of compulsion, but from logical necessity. If learners are to move from what-we-know into what we do not yet know, then teaching must also deal in what we do not yet know. Instructional design bears a special burden: to initiate but not to conclude. Learning objectives, markers of mastery, principles of alignment, etc., these do not tempt subversive acts, but rather aim to control an experience of learning that’s not only tame, it’s probably not even learning. And yet instructional design is increasingly the praxis behind digital learning, whether hybrid, blended, or fully online.

As we begin to understand the limits of traditional learning theory in the face of the strange and digital, the praxis behind digital learning needs to push past those limits rather than reinforce them.

When I first set out to design MOOC MOOC: Instructional Design, I thought to scaffold the course so that we moved (almost narratively) from foundations to reinvention to emergence and pure imagination. But any effort on my part to scaffold (and effort to scaffold learning at all) would be colonial, patriarchal, and disempowering. Instead, I wish to lay upon the table before you the works which can — do, should, maybe will — inform what each of us also brings. Your content is going to be far more interesting than my content, I rest assured.

This can go any number of ways. There are no foregone conclusions, no learning objectives, and absolutely no assessments (outside of voluntary, reflective self-assessment). And I hope that we’ll inspect why these things are missing, and what effect they have on learning.

But, to help structure us as we get going, this week in MOOC MOOC we’ll be encouraged to investigate the ideas out of which most of current instructional design originates. We’ll look briefly at some of the foundations in educational psychology, at Bloom’s Taxonomy, at the ADDIE model; but we’ll also begin questioning those foundations right away. Scaffolding be damned. We will begin this week by calling out the assumptions we’ve had (and been told to have) about what instructional design does and looks like, what its aims and technologies and methods are.

We’ll also have the opportunity to join in discussion and collaboration. This year’s MOOC MOOC will include weekly activities that will help us apply directly the ideas we’re thinking about and exploding. For this first week, please join as you’re able in a Google Doc collaboration to rethink two of instructional design’s darlings: ADDIE and Bloom’s Taxonomy. We will also be hosting a Twitter chat using #moocmooc at Noon Eastern time on Wednesday, January 27th.

Throughout the week as you consider these questions, please feel free to post questions or thoughts to the #moocmooc hashtag, write about them on your own blog, discuss them on Facebook, or create activities for other MMID participants to join in. Be sure to tag your posts and conversations with #moocmooc and offer them up on Twitter so that the whole community can participate.

[Photo, “Wonka” by Daniel Lobo.]