Instructional Design as Knowledge Management: A Knowledge-in-Practice Approach to Choosing Instructional Methods

  • McIver D
  • Fitzsimmons S
  • Flanagan D
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Abstract

Decisions about instructional methods are becoming more complex, with options ranging from problem sets to experiential service-learning projects. However, instructors not trained in instructional design may make these important decisions based on convenience, comfort, or trends. Instead, this article draws on the knowledge management literature and specifically the knowledge-in-practice framework to develop a theoretical process for choosing instructional methods. This process classifies the underlying knowledge structure of learning objectives along the dimensions of tacitness and learnability, then matches the knowledge structure with instructional methods that will be the most appropriate fit for students working toward that learning objective. We propose that the integration of knowledge management with instructional design offers valuable insights into the process of choosing appropriate instructional methods, and our framework can help instructors determine which instructional methods are the best match for their learning objectives. Keywords knowledge management, instructional methods, instructional design, learning objectives, knowledge-in-practices, pedagogical style As management instructors, when we are offered a new course, it can feel like we are being given a blank slate. Beyond developing learning objectives, we must design instructional methods that will help students achieve those objectives (Reigeluth & Carr-Chellman, 2009b). Instructional design deci-sions are critical, yet the abundance of choice can be overwhelming. Some instructors may stick with the tried and true, using face-to-face lectures and individual assignments. Others may be drawn to newer methods, such as simulations, service learning, and internship-based education. We argue that current frameworks, including the dominant Bloom's taxonomy, usually end with learning objectives, a step prior to the final step of choosing instruc-tional methods (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956). This challenge is metaphorically related to the last-mile challenge of package delivery services; they can move packages to within a mile of the end destina-tion relatively efficiently, compared with the resources expended to move packages the last mile. In the same way, instructors now have guidance shap-ing instructional design up until the point of choosing among instructional methods, yet that final decision is crucial to the success of all previous deci-sions. Instructional methods ought to be applied mindfully, based on an understanding of each method's appropriateness with respect to the intended learning objectives, yet frameworks give minimal guidance on how to make these decisions. Given the current profusion of instructional method options, instructors would benefit from a theory-based rationale for determining which instructional methods are more likely to help learners achieve the intended learning objectives. Our purpose in this article is to develop guide-lines to help instructors make their " last-mile " decisions, by helping instruc-tors choose instructional methods based on the underlying knowledge structure of learning objectives. Instructional methods refer to teaching and learning techniques, such as lecturing, the case method, simulations, homework problems, or assign-ments. Research tends to examine their effectiveness in terms of student out-comes (Bernard et al., 2004), based on the assumption that methods found to be more effective on average ought to be applied more often. However, methods found to be effective for achieving one type of learning outcome may be inappropriate for achieving another (Magni, Paolino, Cappetta, & Proserpio, 2013). Although it is now commonly understood that instructional methods have varying levels of effectiveness and efficiency for different at MCGILL UNIVERSITY LIBRARY on December 30, 2015 jme.sagepub.com Downloaded from

Author-supplied keywords

  • instructional design
  • instructional methods
  • knowledge management
  • knowledge-in-practices
  • learning objectives
  • pedagogical style

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Authors

  • Derrick McIver

  • Stacey Fitzsimmons

  • David Flanagan

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