Life is Beautiful When Theory Meets Practice.

The Journey

There have been very few times in my many years when theory actually transferred to practice.  So, imagine my joy when I found that the stuff that I have been learning actually works in real-time!

Task at Hand

Specially, this week, our class was tasked with building our first online course using Canvas. The 40-hour training program had to address the following theories of learning and instructional system design:

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) theories of learning domains;
  • Habermas’ (2015) theories of teaching and learning as communicative acts;
  • Romiszowski’s Taxonomy (1988) theories of learner-centered instructional design;
  • Maslow’s (1943) theories of the Hierarchy of Needs;
  • Kirschner’s (2002) theory of cognitive load
  • Thiagarajan (1993) theories for Just-In-Time instructional (JIT) design; and
  • Piskurich (2005) and the Kemp Design Model theories for Rapid Instructional Design


While this at first seemed to be daunting, I turned to Thiagarajan’s  JIT and followed the below steps to get the job done:

Strategy 1: Speed up the process. I built shortcuts into various phases of the design and development process and combined instructional design activities whenever possible.

Strategy 2: Use a partial process. While I was unable to skip any phases in the instructional design process, I was able to minimize efforts on those components that were unnecessary or superfluous.  I found by deciding not to include extraneous information in the design, I was able to focus on creating intrinsic germane schemata. As a result, the course is designed to allow the brain to prioritize and quickly transfer cognitive load from working memory to long-term memory.

Strategy 3: Incorporating existing instructional materials. I used a systematic approach to analyze the learning needs of my targeted learners based on a diversified and well-cited pool of research and data.

Strategy 4: Incorporate existing noninstructional materials. Because I used generically and widely cited and accepted research, I found a plethora of instructional materials developed by subject matter experts. This prevented me from trying to reinvent the wheel.

Strategy 5: Use templates. I developed a template to ensure the look, feel, content, sequence, activities were uniform. This enabled me to copy and paste “placeholders” for each module to guide their build-out. The results are a seamless and consistent presentation and design. (Looks good too. Yes!)

Strategy 6: Use computers and recording devices. Technologies have advanced significantly since Thiagarajan first introduced JIT in 1993. Therefore, technology enabled me to efficiently and effectively incorporate multimedia into the course in the form of embedded videos.

Strategy 7: Involve more people. Ms. Mighty Peer partnered with me again for this project. I plan to use her expertise and experience to refine the course. As Bandura (2003) has repeatedly argued, positive feedback from a respected peer performs wonders for improved feelings of self-efficacy. (Thanks again, Ms. Mighty Peer.)

Strategy 8: Make efficient use of subject matter experts. While researching my subject, I discovered the fantastic works of Angeles Arrien.  I allowed her materials, which are based on her many years of research, studies, and experience in the fields of anthropology, psychology, and comparative religion focused on universal beliefs shared by humanity. Use of her work guided me while creating the design.

Strategy 9: Involve trainees in speeding up instruction. This one was easy. I am a member of the targeted audience. So, I was able to determine what I felt I would need to become engaged and successfully complete the course.

Step 10: Use performance support systems. My instructor has been an excellent facilitator. He has taken the role of a metacognitive coach that pretty much stays on the sidelines and calls the game. When we cry out for help – he’s there. This makes learning under his guidance and influence an enriching and rewarding experience.


As a result of using Thiagarajan’s ten JIT instructional design strategies, the process of creating my first Canvas course was challenging and enjoyable.  In fact, I feel exhilarated.

Jennie’s Perspective

Ah. If only all life could be this easy.



Arrien, A. (2007). The second half of life: Opening the eight gates of wisdom. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Bandura, A., & Locke, E. A. (2003). Negative self-efficacy and goal effects revisited. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 88(1), 87-99. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.88.1.87

Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.

Forest, E. (n.d.). Kemp Design Model – Educational Technology. Retrieved from

Habermas, J. r. (2015). Theory of communicative action.: (Reason and the rationalization of society). United States: Polity Press.

Kirschner, P. A. (2002). Cognitive load theory: Implications of cognitive load theory on the design of learning. Learning and Instruction, 12(1), 1-10. doi:10.1016/S0959-4752(01)00014-7

McLeod, S. A. (2017). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved from

Piskurich, G. M. (2015). Rapid instructional design (3 ed. ed.). US: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Romiszowski, A. J. (1988). Designing instructional systems (Repr. ed.). London: Kogan Page.

Thiagarajan, Sivasailam. (1993). Just-in-time instructional design. In Piskurich, G. (Ed.) The ASTD Handbook of Instructional Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill.





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