James Girouard


Jamie Girouard


Fraser Academy




Rapid digital transformation of classrooms is currently being forced to adapt to online models because of a global health crisis. Instructional Design principles applied to specific technologies backed by evidence-based learning theories provide a solid framework to lead administrators and teachers in this transition.


Instructional Design, Learning Theories, Rapid Digital Transformation, ADST


Click the link that follows to access the video resourcesAdapting to Change: Moving ADST Online (3:00).


Educational facilities around the world are currently undergoing a forced digital transition in response to the global pandemic that is resulting from the COVID-19 virus. Despite this unfortunate impetus, this change marks a step in educational evolution. In quickly adapting to online education, high schools should strive to continue to deliver pedagogically sound learning through digital classrooms to best support students. This review summarizes literature on the subject of instructional design (ID), and attempts to apply it to Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST) courses to fit this imminent need through a framework supported by evidence-based learning theories. These courses are particularly challenging to digitally adapt because of their hands-on nature. How can learners be best supported in these classes in online platforms?

Literature Review

A digital transformation in education will continue to see people learning transferable skills and knowledge (National Research Council et al., 2013). In adapting to online education in order to maintain current, and likely, ongoing social distancing protocols, educational facilities must quickly adapt their contexts to deliver educational content. A model of step-by-step instructions that create materials for instruction in hopes to best facilitate learning is at the heart of Instructional Design (ID) (Seel, Lehmann, Blumschein & Poldolskiy, 2017) and ID infrastructure can be applied to many situations to design instruction.

Ideally, this digital transformation in education should be well-planned and follow a model that allows the simplification of the process and reflects teaching and learning philosophies of the user (Siemens, 2002). A process that is based on analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation, commonly known as the ADDIE model (Gardner, 2011) is recommended as a framework for implementation. It is a ubiquitous and straight-forward model, that is flexible enough to accommodate many types of instruction with mechanisms for evaluation and implementation (Bond & Lockee, 2014), but other models exist that may be suited to specific purposes or philosophies of learning.

Underlying learning theories that reflect philosophies of teaching, should be identified to inform structures by which instruction will occur (Siemens, 2002). Moving courses online provides learners with new and different opportunities to relate in communities of practice or inquiry (Bond & Lockee, 2014). Students will be well-poised to construct their own learning through cognitive development with the right supports (Hannafin & Hannafin, 2010).

Technological and pedagogical aspects of the digital transition should “treat teaching as an interaction between what teachers know and how they apply what they know” (Koehler & Mishra, 2007, p. 61). Ideally, resources that facilitate functional deployment and training in the form of professional development and support exist to create a usable system (Bates, 2019; Rozitis, 2017). How will educational staff be supported in learning how to effectively deliver and operate systems that are new to them? Staff must be well-supported by their administration in using the systems that are created and used during this change (Sherer, Shea & Kristensen, 2004).

Most importantly, how will the delivery of online education be received at the student level? Consistent ID will be useful for students to understand the methods of delivery among classes (Bates, 2019). Teachers and administration must work collaboratively to build robust systems that transfer well. In the use of digital platforms, opportunities to best capitalize on motivation, collaboration and interaction, technology interfaces, and staff training (Hofmann, 2004) will be critical in creating positive online presence in digital learning environments (Campbell, 2014).


Challenges for ADST at FA

In upending the established system of classroom instruction, and quickly transitioning to online delivery, there are many challenges. Some may be anticipated, while others will likely appear as time goes on. ADST Teachers may be specifically tested by how well they can adapt to online delivery. ADST courses are largely hands-on classes such as Culinary Arts, Food Studies, Media Design, Drafting, Metalwork, Woodwork, and Textiles that see students learning through making. These classes require supplies, tools, and resources that students likely do not have access to at home, or may be dangerous to use without proper supervision. How then, can teachers effectively deliver this kind of programming without the context of a physical school?

ADST curriculum is centred on the constructivist application of a design cycle. Students are asked to use design thinking processes to: understand and define context, ideate, prototype, test, make, and share their processes. Learning is accomplished through doing (BC Curriculum, 2018). This is most often delivered via project-based learning in accordance to tenets of Activity Theory, through the manipulations of artefacts by classes of students, in order to create curricular outcomes (Podolskiy, 2012). Through the use of technology, students can continue to explore the ADST design cycle through their home contexts in novel ways, but with some caveats.

Fraser Academy (FA) students have all been diagnosed with some kind of language-based learning disability. Often, this manifests in the form of dyslexia, which is frequently comorbid with other learning issues (Snowling, Hayiou-Thomas, Nash & Hulme. 2019). ADST at FA is based on BC curriculum and adapted to best support learners in reading remediation, Further challenges in delivery through online methods could impair the effectiveness of course delivery because of the common requirement of reading-based materials. Also, heightened issues with student motivation and attention in responding to online delivery of hands-on material may be difficult to manage.

Much of the student ADST experience at FA is centred on the methods of delivery. Specifically, many programs, lessons, and techniques are directly influenced by the immediate and face-to-face and hand-over-hand interactions with students. Also, development of self-regulation skills are particularly challenging in an online environment (Hannafin & Hannafin, 2010, Azevedo, Guthrie, & Seibert, 2004; Kauffman, 2004; Whipp & Chiarelli, 2004). Similarly, assessment of challenges experienced by students in traditional face-to-face classrooms (F2F), such as poor development of theories and metacognitive processes, may be more difficult to ascertain and correct in online learning environments (Hannafin & Hannfin, 2010). How can teachers assess how much material has been understood, or at what point students struggle without the personal connections that are regularly made in person?

There are also a host of other, less tangible factors that may impede a smooth delivery of courses. A lack of understanding of how to use technology could create inefficient or misplaced efforts (Bonk, 2009). More philosophically, political ideologies could contribute to teachers’ unease about future educational reform based on what was possible during the crisis. Generational differences in educational objectives, and preferences could also create opposition to change (Bonk, 2009) even though it is being forced. Also, how well will students be able to focus on studies during this health crisis? These issues may have serious effects on the deliverability of online programming.

Lastly, another challenge is the evaluation of the efforts of educators and students during this time. It is critical for students, teachers, and administration to be able to consider the usefulness of this stopgap emergency measure. How effective was it? How might it influence future educational development? Further, the BC MOE has already stated that every student will receive a final mark and all students on track to move to the next grade will do so in the 2020/2021 school year” (2020), so the effectiveness of assessment may already be a moot point.


The BC MOE has provided curricular goals and, at this writing, adapted guiding principles to suit the situation, most notably for schools to “provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.” (BC MOE, 2020). To provide content, traditional schooling must be adapted in ways that require teachers to make material accessible in different ways. Ideally, course content can be obtained anywhere, anytime and access can be infinitely repeated. In this convenience of delivery, ‘flipped’ classes may see the content learned at the learner’s convenience, so that class time can be used for homework, and development of deeper understandings, and perhaps even improve the teaching and learning experience (Schipke, 2017). Ideally, course materials are at least as effective as F2F models (Abrami, Bernard, Wade, Schmid, Borokhovski, Tamim, & Peretiatkowicz, 2006).

Despite the drastic changes that are imminent, schools that choose to move to online delivery may see some pedagogical benefits. Teachers can choose how to deliver materials and ‘reinvent’ their courses. Perhaps adding more theory or self-reflection may even aid in understanding. For example, in Murphy, Rodríguez, & Barbour’s (2011) metaanalysis between synchronous and asynchronous learning, benefits for the latter seem to prevail, especially in the context of the rapid deployment for many untrained teachers and staff in trying to adapt classroom lessons for online. They further linked achievement and attitude outcomes, and better classroom replication in asynchronous environments. The flexibility and personalization available online is also advantageous in the establishment of a community of practice, where teachers feel supported (Gotanda, 2014).

Fortunately, much of the ID work of adapting to online delivery has already been done at FA. Further, students already have digital devices to use through the BOYD policy. Additionally, much of the ID work has also been/is always being done. Most aspects of the school are constantly being analyzed in relation to literature with new programs being constantly designed, developed, assessed and reassessed (Fraser Academy, 2020). This existing infrastructure places FA in a strong position to transition rapidly to online learning. Creative thinking about the specifics of delivery will influence the effectiveness of this change.

More specifically in ADST, teachers are encouraged to collaborate to pool their resources. This will lessen workload for both students and teachers. Courses can be amalgamated to centre on the design cycle while applying various materials to it. Hopefully, students can make curricular connections through the design cycle. For example, students may be asked to design a meal and as part of the sharing phase, virtually create a wooden serving tray on which the meal may be prepared. Although this assignment may lack the authenticity that it would in the classroom, many aspects of design can be addressed through constructivist tasks like this.

There is already an array of technologies available for course delivery that can be used to deliver courses online. Appendix A is a list of Technology Education related online technology that can be used for a variety of subjects and tasks. More specifically to FA, students are already familiar with the use of Google products, particularly, Google Classroom. With this established administration of classes, much of the digital delivery infrastructure already exists and teachers generally need only adapt their teaching content and delivery methods to maintain continuity.


In attempting to adapt to the current health crisis that the world is facing, the general adaptability of educational systems to delivering more content online will be tested. The tenets of instructional design provide solid frameworks by which school courses can be modified as online platforms. What is most unclear, is a measure of effectiveness of what will be done. How can we measure the effectiveness of how well students have learned materials when our standard is so different? What effects will the new quarantined state of society have on student learning? These questions are qualitatively unanswerable, but we will learn a great deal about our educational systems through this change.


Abrami, P., Bernard, R., Wade, A., Schmid, R., Borokhovski, E., Tamim, R., .Peretiatkowicz, A. (2006). A Review of e-Learning in Canada: A Rough Sketch of the Evidence, Gaps and Promising Directions. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 32(3), 53.

Azevedo, R., Cromley, J. G., & Seibert, D. (2004). Does adaptive scaffolding facilitate students’ ability to regulate their learning with hypermedia? Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29, 344–370.

Bates, T. (2019). Teaching in a digital age: guidelines for designing teaching and learning. British Columbia: SFU Document Solutions.

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British Columbia Ministry of Education (2020). Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Continuity of Learning. [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/kindergarten-to-grade-12/safe-caring-orderly/bc-ministry-of-education-questions-and-answers-continuity-of-learning-k-12-education_system.pdf

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Fraser Academy. (2020). Our Programs. [Web page]. Retrieved from https://fraseracademy.ca/our-programs/

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Gotanda, L. (2014). K-12 Online: An Action Research Project on Professional Development for High School Online Pedagogy. 136.

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Murphy, E., Rodríguez, M. M. A., & Barbour, M. (2011). Asynchronous and synchronous online teaching: Perspectives of Canadian high school distance education teachers. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(4), 583–591. https://doi-org.qe2a-proxy.mun.ca/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01112.x

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Rozitis, C. (2017). Instructional Design Competencies for Online High School Teachers Modifying their own Courses. TechTrends, 61(5), 428-437.

Schipke, R. C. (2017). Using the Motivational Aspects of Productive Persistence Theory and Social Media Motivators to Improve the ELA Flipped Classroom Experience. In C. Young, & C. Moran (Eds.), Applying the Flipped Classroom Model to English Language Arts Education (pp. 33-57). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-2242-3.ch002

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Sherer, P., Shea, D., & Kristensen, T. (2003). Online Communities of Practice: A Catalyst for Faculty Development. Innovative Higher Education, 27(3), 183-194.

Siemens, G. (2002, September 30). Instructional Design in E-Learning by George Siemens. [Web page]. Instructional Design and Training. Retrieved from: https://sites.google.com/site/instructionaldesignandtraining/e-learning/instructional-design-in-e-learning-by-george-siemens

Snowling, M., Hayiou-Thomas, M., Nash, H., & Hulme, C. (2019). Dyslexia and Developmental Language Disorder: Comorbid disorders with distinct effects on reading comprehension. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Retrieved from http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/152728/

Whipp, J. L., & Chiarelli, S. (2004). Self-regulation in a web-based course: A case study. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(4), 5–22.


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Integration of Instructional Design and Technology to Support Rapid Change Copyright © 2020 by James Girouard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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