Reflections on a first trip to Asia – and implications on (Instructional Design) training

The MSc I studied is no longer offered as the awarding university opted against running any further cohorts (declining student numbers against a need to update the content).  This is a shame, in my opinion, as it was about the only course I could find, in the UK at the time, that specifically called out “instructional design” (ID) in its content.  The take on ID was probably different to how the more numerous American ID courses viewed the subject but ID was there nonetheless.

Anyway, due to work I recently found myself in Malaysia – my first ever trip to Asia.  All in all, this was an enjoyable experience.  One very obvious thing in Malaysia was the clear messaging that the distinct ethnic groups in the country should support its “unity”, for example this fountain:

Malaysia three bowl fountainMessage of Malaysian unity

This was particularly interesting as I was there during the week of the Scottish Referendum vote, not to mention the ongoing fragmentation within ethnic and religious groups the world over – not least in Syria and Iraq.

On coming back from Malaysia it was then coincidence to see an article on instructional designer training in that country:

On becoming a civic-minded instructional designer: An ethnographic study of an instructional design experience

Now the model created in the article:

The civic-minded instructional designers framework
Source: sorry, I seem to have lost the link to the site this was on

could, in many ways, be applicable to any profession/industry.  However, the suggestion of social responsibility for all is, no doubt, missing in most university education.  Would training bankers in such a way have helped avoid previous crashes?

The article suggests a focus on simply technical skills fails to develop designers of the type that are needed.  This made we wonder – perhaps if there was more universal consideration of social responsibility there would be less reason for so many companies to feel the need to train staff into values that cross-borders and get everyone onto ‘the same page’?  My hope would be, from a Learning and Development perspective, that any values or other cultural change program does not ignore the wider environment (as included in the above ID training model).

The conclusion of the article suggests the need for civic responsibility to increase in the balance against the “career-centric and technically orientated” content of most courses.  However, perhaps too much of a shift would have a negative impact on Malaysia in decreasing the technical ability to compete with, say, India in the global ID marketplace?  “The needs of the design industry” perhaps need to be better articulated with more cross border understanding of ID as a concept, after all my UK MSc almost certainly took a different angle to the predominate North American viewpoint.  Here, through ID, is an interesting example of where we could look to benchmark skills globally whilst providing what a society feels it needs locally, regionally and globally (or micro, macro and mega).

Anyway, something of a rambling post but interesting that some of what I could see as an issue for a country in general is quite clearly embedded into the professional conversation of what it means to be a (ID) professional.

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader ( and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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