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Affordance Based Instructional Design

Page history last edited by ted.coopman@... 9 years, 10 months ago

Affordance Based Instructional Design (ABID) Draft 10/15


Of the many lessons of the current economic crisis, one that stands out for San Jose State and the CSU is that we have finite (or even decreasing) resources to accomplish our mission and that this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Resource issues include but are not limited to:


Classroom Space

SJSU is hemmed in by downtown leaving expansion unlikely or prohibitively expensive. Building physical infrastructure such as new buildings or expanding existing building is expensive and time consuming.



Limited or decreasing funding is likely to persist which requires more novel and low cost solutions to meet institutional goals.

Logistical Limits: allocation of physical space has become increasing complex especially considering the poor utility of legacy facilities such as large lecture halls. Colleges, departments, and faculty compete for finite space during prime scheduling times and days. Much like freeways, facilities such as classrooms and parking and designed for peak demand times so we are faced with facilities that fail to meet increasing peak demands yet sit idle for much of the “off” time.


Sustainability and Environmental Costs

Demolition of older structures and the construction of new facilities have high environmental costs. Flooding students and faculty into the university during typical commute periods cause traffic congestion, degrades public infrastructure, produces pollution, and consumes limited resources.


Moreover, the university systems were developed or have evolved over time to serve an economy and student population that for all intents and purposes no longer exists. The type of flexibility and adaptability demanded by the economy and our students is constrained by outdated legacy systems. The refusal or inability of higher education to respond to societal demands reinforces the idea that universities (and their faculty) are ivory towers divorced from the “outside” “real” world. This endangers the status of universities as economic engines and a pathway to upward social mobility.


Obsolete university forms and functions are increasing seen as irrelevant and even detrimental to the lived experiences of our students (and taxpayers).  Student populations are largely older and have multiple responsibilities outside of school such as full time work, families, and caring for elder parents. Limited course availability and schedules require shifting schedules every term and increase the amount of time (and the expense) of getting a degree. The university experience becomes less a life enhancing experience and more of an ordeal that must be endured. This is makes for a poor work/learning environment where students are more concerned about the ends (grades, passing) than the means (learning, thinking).


Pedagogical research over the past 20 years has brought new insights to how students learn and best practices that are at odds with many of the instructional forms that have become standard practice and formalized by institutional rules and requirements. New forms of pedagogical practice including the use the information and communication technology (ICTs) bring many opportunities that cannot be realized because institutional constraints. 


Traditionally, instructional design and scheduling has been a factor of tradition, custom, comfort, and decisions made by administration and/or senior faculty. Affordance Based Instructional Design (ABID) is the concept of designing courses from the ground-up based on the interaction of learning objectives, the affordances of instructional techniques and venues, and pedagogical research. These are in turn grounded in the culture(s) of the profession, institution, department, and sub-discipline as well as comfort of the instructor and student population. Moreover, it rejects the outdated mass production industrial revolution model of education that fails to meet the modern demands of students, faculty, or institutional missions.


ABID starts with the learning objectives for the particular course and factors of:

     • Resources: available technology and physical class space, instructor and student time, training and support.

     • Participant willingness and ability to adopt particular instructional strategies.

     • Optimal use of the best tools (mediated/F2F) to meet learning objectives based on pedagogical research and instructor experience and         training.


Rather than starting from the expectations based on the false dichotomy of either a face-to-face or an online course, ABID looks to instructional design based on the best application and use of resources.


ABID has many benefits:

     • Places Learning Objectives at the center of the instructional process instead of something contained within a pre-set structure. 

     • Allows for experimentation with new teaching techniques and technologies.

     • Takes into account the life-needs and demands of modern students such as scheduling challenges and co-location expenses instead of         operating on outdated assumptions about student life and behaviors.

     • Maximizes the use of and reduces competition for scarce resources such as classroom space and parking.

     • Reduces the need for expensive and unsustainable expansion of physical university infrastructure.

     • Reduces environmental impacts by reducing and/or consolidating commute trips for both students and instructors.

     •  Allows instructors the freedom to design courses and adopt technologies and instructional techniques based on their expertise and                   experience as professionals.

     • Recognizes that not all course subjects require the same instructional techniques and may benefit from non-standard scheduling and                  interaction strategies.



However, this does not remove the need for a degree of standardization in order to maximize the benefits of “third-way” scheduling for the use of classroom space and student and instructor time.




Social Media Classroom and Collaboratory (Howard Rheingold)



Welcome to the Social Media Classroom and Collaboratory.  It’s all free, as in both “freedom of speech” and “almost totally free beer.” We invite you to build on what we’ve started to create more free value.  The Social Media Classroom (we’ll call it SMC) includes a free and open-source (Drupal-based) web service that provides teachers and learners with an integrated set of social media that each course can use for its own purposes—integrated forum, blog, comment, wiki, chat, social bookmarking, RSS, microblogging, widgets , and video commenting are the first set of tools.  The Classroom also includes curricular material: syllabi, lesson plans, resource repositories, screencasts and videos.  The Collaboratory (or Colab), is what we call just the web service part of it.  Educators are encouraged to use the Colab and SMB materials freely, and we host your Colab communities if you don’t want to install your own.  (See this for an explanation of who “we” are).

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