Get inspired by ‘Dora the explorer’ for your next instructional design and development


It is the duty of every instructional designer to create the instructional tutorial that captures attention of the learner. However, we always end up questioning, how do I seize attention of my audience? The answer is simple yet complicated. ’Develop a learning environment that involves the learner.”

For ages, we are entertained by various children shows, television series, cartoons, etc. Most of them has one element in common and that is ‘entertainment’. Only a few stand out that entertain kids as well as educates them. One such animated television series for preschoolers is ‘Dora the explorer’.

If you are like me, a pre-school child’s mom, you are aware of ‘Dora the explorer’ and the potential behind the interactive video.

Dora is a young girl who jumps on a trip in every episode to find either a missing character or to help somebody. While she is on the quest, she asks the spectators at home to help her find the paths to reach her destination. On the way, she educates the audience Spanish language as well as introduces them to new words, numbers, colors, etc. Dora involves the audience to get up, solve a mystery, tells them to repeat with her. The interactivity engages the kids by providing an activity, a challenge and a feedback.

The interactive activities and the learning essentials in every episode is the key essence for its success and that set’s it apart from other preschooler’s shows.

The developers of ‘Dora the explorer’ use Howard Gardner’s theory of ‘multiple intelligence’ as their guide. The theory demonstrates that humans show seven kinds of intelligence and that the educational activities need addressing those seven types of intelligence towards the target group to meet a great success.

Children literally get so involved in the fun that they are not even aware about the intellectual knowledge they are gaining at the same time.

How can instructional designers get inspired by Dora and develop instructional material for adults?

Adult learners cannot be much differentiated from children when we talk about capturing their attention as well as making them involved in the learning practice.

Learning has moved from instructor-centered to learner-centered.

Designers have to keep in mind that, to make an effective and efficient learning occurrence for the learners, they need to create their instructional material with elements of interactive learning activities to involve and engage the learners, which will eventually encourage an outstanding learning experience.


‘Seven Principles of Good Practice’ to follow in designing Online Education

[tweetmeme]Good quality training material is defined differently for every individual. A definition must be substantiated, the quality of education must be assessed and evaluated regularly.  As an instructor or an instructional designer, we must look at a variety of indicators to get an evident picture of the quality of educational material that we design for online students.

‘Seven Principles of good Practice’, was developed by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda Gamson in 1987 and was later revised in 1996 with a focus on technology. These principles offer suggestions on how to assess and evaluate online education. “The principles were based on a research in teaching-learning activities that produced improved outcomes” (Ehrmann, 2000, p.38). The research has set the groundwork for education systems standards and the implementation of the seven principles of good practice-a foundation used by higher educational institutions everywhere.

Given below are the Seven Principles of Good Practice in online education –

  1. Good practice encourages contact between students and instructor – Frequent contacts between a student and an instructor right from the commencement of the class through the end of the class needs to be encouraged to motivate and have the students involved. E.g. Communicating with students via; Web conferencing, Email, Discussion board, etc. By communicating with the students, the students won’t feel isolated and therefore, will be encouraged to continue the education.
  2. Good practice develops reciprocity and cooperation among students – Collaborative learning develops thinking and expands understanding. Working/studying in a team enhances involvement in learning. E.g. Team project work.
  3. Good practice uses active learning techniques – Students must present reflective write-up about what they are learning, instructor may encourage writing that relates to their past experiences, and apply those to their present situation. Encourage students to participate in asynchronous tools like discussion boards to present their write-up and respond to their peers. By discussing/Critiquing peers work, students are motivated and get involved in learning.
  4. Good practice gives prompt feedback – Recognizing whether you are right or wrong benefits in focusing what you learn. Students at any stage always need help in assessing their existing knowledge competence. The students in online education usually anticipate to two types of feedback; informative feedback and acknowledgment feedback. Informative feedback motivates students and helps them to move further with confidence. Acknowledgment feedback is to inform the student that they have received an assignment and so on.
  5. Good practice emphasizes time on task – Allocating a quality amount of time will always lead to effective learning for students as well as for instructors. Online education needs to have timely deadlines for the students to stay on track and avoid procrastination.
  6. Good practice communicates high expectations – Instructors need to expect high expectations from student’s performance. They can maintain this by assigning challenging project or assignment work throughout the course. E.g. Faculties can show examples of work from older students and explain to the students, how the example work met her expectations. Make your expectations very clear in the beginning of the course work.
  7. Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning – Make tailored course work. Allow students to choose their own project/ assignment work rather than assigning them a particular topic. This will always bring out student’s self-confidence as it would encourage bringing out their talent as well as sharing their own perspective.

Do you accept the ‘Seven principles of good practice’, or are there other principles you consider should also be looked at when assessing quality in learning?


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.