This post discusses a recent article in TechTrends, by Jason McDonald—The Creative Spirit of Design. The article discusses three characteristics instructional designers, like myself, may exemplify, i.e., imagination, creation-oriented, and inter-disciplinary action. These will be tentatively discussed in subsequent posts individually. This “creative spirit,” as Jason discusses:
…is further meant to suggest the curious, playful, experimental, and sometimes rebellious attitudes that designers can exhibit. The creative spirit leads designers to be active agents, not just reacting to problems but vigorously searching out opportunities for change.
In the introduction of the article, Jason recalls Ivor Davies definition of ID which was described as a chess game. An instructional designer essentially engages in an intellectual activity which largely depends on the “character of the problem.” In chess there is often multiple ways to proceed in capturing the queen. There are various strategies that someone who learns to play chess can learn, but there is not one definitive strategy that works every time. The same is true in ID. Each course, image, module, message, etc. is analyzed, designed, developed, implemented, and evaluated uniquely. What works for one does not necessarily mean it will work for another. Or as Davies’ puts it, “… everything depends upon the situation, and the skills available.” Remember the age old “constraints” adage—Good, Fast, Cheep… pick only two (see Good, Fast, Cheep… pick only two > Rapid Prototyping)?
Jason goes on to discuss that by having a Davies’ “chess game” design perspective in mind, the designer can better develop instruction that can be aligned against measurable objectives as well as have an innovative, effective, and efficient instructional event. He states that “if a designer holds a more limited perspective, they sometimes translate innovative instructional approaches into formulaic routines.” I discussed the issue of “design rut” previously (see Fostering Creative Design Opportunities). There I discuss some tips that I picked up from music producer Brian Eno (U2, Talking Heads, Roxy Music) and applied them to instructional design. Jason proposes that:
This pull away from one’s ideals into undesirable routine is both common and powerful. It is like a form of gravity that draws designers toward an overly simplified view of their practice, blinding them to opportunities that might help them better reach the levels of instructional quality they aim to achieve.
I look forward to reading a previous article in Educational Technology of Jason’s that discusses how designers can develop “guiding principles for their practice” –Resisting Technological Gravity: Using Guiding Principles for Instructional Design. Thankfully my institution that I work at has a subscription to this journal…