Why is design important? From the casual observer, there might not be a difference between something that is naturally created and something that is specifically designed. As a designer it can be difficult to recognize as well. When something is designed, it not only is appealing, but it also serves a specific purpose. For example, a very nice house is not only designed to be artistically appealing, but also highly functional as well. Food wrappers and packages are designed to be appealing and to attract you as consumer for purchase.
So, what about education? To the casual observer, curriculum is a simple measure of content that is presented to students in such a manner that the students immediately learn it. The problem lies in that when this perception is made, there is not an immediate connection to the thought that goes into designing a project, lesson, or unit of instruction. When teachers implement instructional design, they do so in 6 stages.
Stage 1: They identify the Topic that they wish to focus on.
Stage 2: They identify the standards (TEKS in Texas) that apply to this topic focus.
Stage 3: They unwrap the standards to examine the exact skills and content that they need to address.
Stage 4: Teachers then brainstorm different ideas to employ.
This stage 4 is probably the most critical. During this stage teachers are simultaneously mixing content, pedagogy, and technology together with the intentional purpose of keeping students engaged. This is because no significant amount of learning occurs without student engagement either between the student and the teacher, the student and their peers, or the student and the content.
Stage 5: Narrow down the ideas to create a list of artifacts to give the students or implement during the lesson i.e.: handouts, quizzes, briefs, rubrics, etc.
Stage 6: Teachers then shift from design to planning. With this step they map out the calendar dates for implementation, the reservation of any extra facilities, and of course the creation of artifacts (see Stage 5 for list).
This whole process can take between 3 and 6 hours for each lesson that is designed. If this is done correctly, neither the student, nor the student’s parents know the extent of design that goes into the lesson itself. They simply see a lesson that was fun and exciting to the student and lent itself to self-regulated learning.