Before taking this course I knew little to basically nothing about instructional design.  Essentially, I began this course blind.  As a teacher, I have taught and used several different curriculum.  Each curriculum was written by a different set of authors and came with an instructor guide, some more detailed than others.  A few times I thought about how nice it would be to create curriculum from scratch in order to meet the needs of my students and the required standards.  Those thoughts were not very detailed and I now understand more than before.  I was really unaware of the actual time and process that would be required to do something like that.  It was always just a random thought and nothing that I ever acted upon.  Now at the completion of this course, it was eye opening to really understand the process that I went through to design one project that targeted one standard.  All I can say is thank goodness for curriculum designers!  

As for the instructional design process, it is just like planting a crop.  From the outside looking in, you think you place a seed in the ground you give it some water and you wait for it to grow.  In the end, you have a bountiful crop.  When in all reality that is far from the process.  There are many steps that take place in order for the crop to be bountiful.  When planning begins, the end is always in mind.  Fields are worked and made ready to plant.  There are experts that explain what fertilizer to use that will benefit the crop.  The crop is tended to everyday in some way or another.  The farmer continuously is checking the crop to make sure it is on the right track.  If there are any problems, an expert may be called upon to help remedy whatever is going on.  After months of working hard to raise a crop, it is ready for harvest.  Some years the crop yields are good, some higher than others and some not as high.  The farmer reflects, reevaluates, and makes the necessary changes when planning for the next year’s crop.  Adjustments are made keeping last year’s crop in mind, the weather for the current year, and estimated prices.  This process is similar to instructional design.  As the instructional designer starts to plan a project, he keeps the end in mind.  He starts with an idea, or a seed, lays the foundation, talks to the subject matter experts, thinks of every detail making sure to keep the learners in mind.  He tends to the target audience, working hard to make sure the intended content is included and that by the end of the project, the students are ready.  At the end of the project, just like farmers do after harvest, the instructional designer, along with the instructor, reflects, reevaluates and makes any necessary changes for the next target audience.  They keep the data collected in mind and consider it when planning for the next time the project is implemented.  Some crops are bountiful and some are not.  Some target audiences meet the intended learning goals and some don’t.  An instructional designer is continuously looking for ways to improve instructional content and implementation.  

Learning so much about instructional design will forever change the way I look at any lesson.  I have learned to make sure you think of the end before you begin the planning process.  I also learned that one of the most difficult tasks involves removing my teacher hat and replacing it with an instructional designer hat.  It is definitely challenging.  During phase one of the project, gathering data through the needs assessment was valuable and provided me with detailed information about my target audience.  There were skills and knowledge that I assumed were already in place that were not.  This impacted the design of the rest of the project.  The Needs Assessment is a valuable step in the process just for that reason.  Phase two of the project was the boise challenging piece.  This is where I learned the most.  When you sit down and write a rationale for the project, it really causes you to articulate the reason and importance for the project.  I have read through learning objectives before, but have not spent much time creating my own.  Although phase two was challenging, I feel like this part was where I learned the most.

I have already noticed that due to all that I have learned about instructional design so far, that it has changed my way of thinking when it comes to teaching.  I don’t think it is realistic to go through this process with everything that I teach, but when creating new lessons, I will think about the design from more of an instructional design standpoint instead of just from a teacher’s perspective.  I already find myself thinking of ways to improve lessons.  As a direct result of knowledge learned in this class, I am now better equipped to design lessons and wear that instructional designer hat with pride.