Cracking our own Codes: Creating Instruction for Increased Clarity and Appropriate Control

By Mark Stoner, Steve Higgins and Diego Bonilla.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic Free Download

Throughout the process of designing or redesigning courses and curricula, understanding exactly what our curricula mean to instructors and students is essential. Curricula employ symbol systems that function as codes that point to outcomes featuring reproduction or production by students. That these codes may be appropriated for better course design has strong implications for manageable reform or development of higher education. Recognizing that the boundaries of disciplines is imposed by socially constructed and ordered classifications and frames allows us to creatively explore boundaries of our disciplines with an eye to repositioning our curricula and courses in conscious and sophisticated ways that encourage the development of potentially valuable new knowledge and skills. From relevant communication, semiotic, design and pedagogical theory, we explore the coded nature of our instructional designs; from that we have constructed a tool which individual or groups of instructors can use to determine what design changes may be needed for any course or curriculum; it can be used as well for developing grounded rationales for change or maintenance of present instructional designs.

Keywords: Code, Reproduction, Production, Communication, Meaning, Instructional Design

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp.229-248. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 950.698KB).

Dr. Mark Stoner

Professor, Communication Studies, Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Department of Communication Studies, California State University, Sacramento, California, USA

I am in my 28th year in higher education. My Ph.D. is from The Ohio State University (1987) in rhetorical theory and criticism; my M.A., also from OSU (1982) was in communication theory. These areas continue to ground my research and teaching. I am the lead author of Making Sense of Messages: A Critical Apprenticeship in Rhetorical Criticism (2005). In my 2006 sabbatical, I was Visiting Fellow at University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and Lancaster University and taught a short course at University of Zurich; all three postings surround the topic: principles of instructional communication. I have been recognized for excellence in teaching at California State University and by the Western Communication Association (representing the Western region of the United States). I serve as Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at CSU Sacramento. Finally, I do consulting for the State of California on communication issues.

Prof. Steve Higgins

Professor of Education, School of Education, Durham University, Durham, UK

My research interests include the areas of effective use of information and communications technology (ICT) and digital technologies in schools, understanding how learner’s thinking and reasoning develops, and how teachers can be supported in developing the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms. I have a particular interest in the educational philosophy of Pragmatism and the implications for teaching and learning. I am currently a member of the TLRP/TEL-funded SynergyNet research team, investigating the use of multi-touch tables in classroom learning. I joined the School in September 2006 from Newcastle University, where I was the founding Director of the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching.

Dr. Diego Bonilla

Professor of Communication Studies, Department of Communication Studies, California State University, Sacramento, California, USA

My areas of interest and expertise are in computer-mediated communication and instruction; critical thinking in electronic informational environments; new media engineering; digital storytelling; data tracking; immersive virtual environments. I serve as consult regarding developing computer-mediated communication strategies and methods for virtual communications among scientists of the Amazon basin countries; coordinating “Amazonian Dialogues” events online with the participation of scholars and NGOs; producing interactive videos for training researchers in the use of STATA; making recommendations about the design and implementation of a Geographic Information System; and coordinating synchronous online training sessions in grant-writing for researchers of the Amazon.


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