How to think of an Instructional Strategy?

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After a while…

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Of late I have been receiving lots of queries on Instructional Strategies. The most common query is: How to think of an Instructional Strategy?

Well, I do find it hard to respond to such queries.The reason is obvious. Devising Instructional Strategies has lot much to do with the context of the course to be developed, the course requirements and the target audience and much more to do with your creative thinking.

Before you think of an Instructional Strategy, make sure you are convinced with the Needs Analysis for the course. The Needs Analysis would set the strategy for the course.

In this post let’s pay more attention to the creative aspect in designing Instructional Strategies. Let’s say you know everything about the course requirements. You know your target audience and their requirements quite well. What next? You need to decide upon the macro (overall treatment of the course) and micro strategies (treatment of each module/lesson of the course) for the course.  How do you generate ideas/strategies for the course so that it appeals the target audience?

Instructional Strategies are unique. The instructional tools you use to make up an Instructional Strategy remain the same. By instructional tools I mean images, animations, videos,games, stories, cartoons, examples, scenarios, simulations and lot more of these. Your instructional strategy becomes unique when you combine all these tools in such a fashion as never done before and integrate it perfectly with the course.

If you observe Indian Cinema, the theme and sometimes even the story gets repeated across movies. However some movies are ranked much higher than the rest. Have you ever wondered why? The answer is simple.Its the unique visualization and presentation skills of the director who makes the familiar unfamiliar.

The same applies to Instructional Designing too.

You design an Instructional Strategy for a specific course requirement. The subject matter of the course always remains the same. You can add variety to a course by deciding on how to present it to the learner. What instructional tools would you use to make the course interesting is your choice based on the course requirements and creative skills.

For example in the course CSharp for Sharp Kids, the concept of programming is in tact. This course has been tagged as “for Kids” because the instructional strategies used is supposed to be meant for kids.
The instructional tools used in the course are common. Yet there is something unique about the course. The author has quite tactfully devised an interesting Instructional Strategy by cleverly combining existing instructional tools. The course strategy is a clever combination of instructional tools such as story, cartoons and analogy. This brilliant strategy has been devised in such a way that it integrates well with the course.

The story, cartoons and analogies add value to the course. They do not divert you from what is being taught- that is CSharp Programming. You learn programming through stories, cartoons and analogies.

In CSharp for Sharp Kids, you find references to lots of unrelated things such as animals, plants and birds, things that have nothing to do with programming. Yet the unrelated holds relevance because it is being used as a tool to teach you something that holds relevance to you.You will just not understand the concepts of programming if the analogies are not used. The concepts would be arbitrary.

In my opinion the course CSharp for Sharp Kids can be a good starting point for you to learn how to devise an instructional strategy.

The best way to learn construction is by deconstructing.

If you want to learn how to think of an effective Instructional Strategy, deconstruct the strategy used in Part II of CSharp for Sharp Kids.

Go through Part II of CSharp for Sharp Kids thoroughly.

  • Jot down instructional tools used. (eg: story, image, analogy)
  • Notice the use of cartoons
  • Analyze the relevance of images and cartoons
  • Analyze how the instructional tools have been used in a combination
  • Study how the instructional strategy gels with the course flow.
  • Measure the relevance of the strategy and the subject
  • Analyze the language used

If you think the strategy used in the course has really helped you learn the basic concepts of CSharp, then let’s celebrate the success of a unique Instructional Strategy.

In this post I haven’t taught you the rules to design an Instructional Strategy. But I am sure I have instigated you to rack your brains and think out of the box. You have the building blocks…. Start constructing…

Creative thinking happens when you yearn for it and work towards it.

So get started now… Let hell break loose…

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3 Responses

  1. I love your reference to Indian Cinema. What you say about unique representation of themes/concepts is so true. Sometimes I think we get so locked into how to do things effectively that we rely on prescriptions and best know methods too consistently, instead of trying to look at different ways to present or teach something. I’ve been going through sort of a rebirth in terms of understanding and learning how to apply technology to learning. I guess I could always learn about new ways of doing things, but I wasn’t always given the opportunity to apply them in my job. I came from working in a rather restricted environment (resources and application-wise), so I feel like I’m trying to apply and learn things that are not so new to a great many people, but new to myself.

  2. How to think of an Instructional Design Strategy? Here are the steps:

    – Look at your audience analysis
    – Look at the performance objectives
    – Brainstorm on three Macro ID strategies*
    – Pick one based on Cost/Benefit analysis
    – Brainstorm on micro ID strategies*
    – Pick one based on Cost/Benefit analysis

    * Experience helps here

  3. Hi Rupen,
    You are right..
    However, in my post I am focusing on creative ideas to design macro and micro strategies.
    You have done audience analysis, laid down the performance objectives….gathered all possible information…
    What next??
    As you have rightly used the word Brainstorm…… How do you generate ideas to make the course interesting?
    Can anyone teach you to generate creative ideas?
    These are some pivotal questions.

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