Music is my Medicine

So we are in the middle of chaos. A place where everything is erupting, spilling over, flowing out to sea. And we are teachers and parents who need to somehow make sense of it all to our students and children. We must somehow ground ourselves and our youth in this current reality, and that ground seems to have transformed into a live wire—sparking.

Is this really happening? streamed through my mind in the first months. Soon replaced by How are we going to get through this? and then When will it end? These are big questions for everyone right now, but for anyone looking into the eyes of a child these questions quickly become existential. How do we create safety now that physical contact can be potentially lethal? How do we build vital human-to-human connections within the confines of rules that require distance and isolation? At what point do we draw the line between safety and the reality that life involves risk, and survival means more than just health? At what point does the protection of life become too heavy a burden to carry? No easy answers there.

We are faced with our limitations as human beings on a daily basis, and confronted by a seemingly impossible task of nurturing and growing young minds in this new place, not just a COVID-19 place, or a Civil Rights crisis place, but a place so many of us humanists have adamantly avoided—a digital place, a touchless place, an authoritarian place.

And then there is Peace Train. A song to get us through.

Or what about this one created by my dear, young (genius) friend Anthony Arya for his latest album (yes, at 17 this is his second album) Is it All Too Much? Listen to this and tell me you don’t feel an upwelling of catharsis (it’s okay, just let it all out).

Anthony Arya graduated from high school during COVID-19 and will be attending Stanford as the first-ever class of freshman facing a global pandemic.  Read more here

So here in this place, Santa Cruz, California, circa 2020—a year that got sideswiped by chaos— a place where there are no easy answers, musicians can provide us with a connection to the internal, eternal human connection we all crave.

Our brains and bodies respond to sounds automatically. Neuroscience tells us that our brains constantly review inputs from the five senses in order to determine our present state of safety. Our brains learn over time which sensory stimuli signal safety. Music can literally soothe us from the inside out. We can retrain our brains to associate certain seonsory stimuli as safe through practice with calming strategies, such as regulated our breathing patterns, affirmations and meditation. By engaging in these strategies over time, we can develop a toolkit of calming sensory strategies to help us regulate our nervous systems, and a regulated nervous system can feel calm in the face of chaos. Music can be a universally calming intervention for many people.

My advice to you is: Seek out the musicians that soothe your soul and ideally share this experience with the children or students in your life. Talented musicans also can tell stories about life, they teach us history, they provide an alternate view of the world around us and they inspire us to move our bodies. All of this is good medicine and helps connect us in a deep and meaningful way during a time that seems determined to force us apart. I play music or nature sounds as the beginning of each online session to provide a place of transistion, a predictable transistion.

What music soothes your soul? Share it…ask the youth in your life to share what calms them. Develop a playlist together. Discuss the meaning of songs, explore the history and context.

Seek music out on You Tube, Alexa, Apple ITunes, Spotify, whereever, but find the music that moves you in this time of chaos. Practice deep listening and breathing. Practice focusing only on the the music for a few minutes each day. Eventually, you may move toward classic meditation and leave the music behind, or not. Music brings us to the present moment in a way that can calm our interior monologues.

Because these artists are doing what words alone can never do; they are providing us with a way of feeling, of being in this moment of chaos and processing it on a level that is beyond words. Like gems that get flushed out from the earth in the upwelling—bring these songs forth in your classrooms. Marvel at them. Hold them up to the light of day and ask: What does this make me think about? What do I feel? How does this help me understand where we are today and where we have been collectively as a human species before today?

Or just get up and dance: Movement in digital educational spaces.

Use music and reflection in your homes and classrooms, to ease the suffering, to bring us back together, to connect us to our uniquely human spirit through the joy of listening, creating, sharing. Or maybe just to sway back and forth in front of our cameras together, to remind us we are all right, we are all right now, we are all here right now…

Meet My Friend ADDIE


In higher education, we don’t usually talk about ADDIE much, but she is still the most popular model in the world when it comes to instructional design. In my opinion, the most important aspect of ADDIE is the first A: Analysis. Only I prefer to think about this first stage with another important A word: Ask.

I remember as a young writer, I loved to dream up characters and scenes and introduce conflict in the imaginary world I had created on the page. How would this character feel in this situation? I would get used to asking myself. When I transitioned to non-fiction and started writing for magazines and newspapers, I loved “investigative reporting” the Freedom of Information Act became my new best friend. Really, I can get that document? On many occasions, I tracked down public records and poured over research until the stars were snuffed out by a pale predawn blue. But what I learned as a reporter was that the truth is only revealed in the asking. And until you ask, you really aren’t going to get at the reality of a situation—if that’s what you are after. The key aspect of Analysis then becomes asking. Your learners’ answers will prepare you to deliver an effective set of learning activities that will help them build transferable knowledge.

Instead, all too often, we tend to dream up what we think students should know, need to know, and will know as a result of our teaching, but what we really need to do to is: Ask. Creating surveys, interviewing, gathering focus groups, reading reflections—and asking powerful questions about students’ experience, including what our students know and what they have experienced as participants in our courses, should be our first step and our last step in designing effective online education.


Teaching Mindfulness

There is lots of talk about mindfulness but how do we teach this valuable lifelong skill?

Here is a Website that helps address this void:

The problem with teaching mindfulness is this: to be authentic requires our own regular practice, otherwise it’s really tough to feel comfortable with the whole idea. Now that we are all online—this noble endeavor may seems even more challenging. BUT IT’S NOT!

Remember, one of the simple ways we probably already incorporate mindfulness into our lives is to focus on the breath. How about right now? Let’s take a few deep belly breaths. Belly breathing causes your abdomen to extend on the intake and compress on the outflow. Aim for three full breaths. Now.

How many of you quit before three? Ha! Me too! Well, then that’s our first challenge: practicing three full belly breaths twice a day.

Let’s try that again now. Yes, right now:) To help me focus on my breath, I close my eyes. If I’m really struggling to focus on my just my breath, then I count to six on the inhale. Pause. Then I count to four on the exhale.

Ahh. I feel better already. My shoulder and neck feel looser even after just a few deep breaths. So now would be a good time to do a nice forward neck roll. Drop your chin to your chest and just roll your head side to side. Try to keep those deep, calm breaths going. Then just turn your head from side to side, slowly, breathing. Roll your shoulders, still focused on your breathing. Now let’s set one positive intention for the day. A positive intention may simply be to eat healthy foods. Or to take a 15-minute walk at lunch. Or to place your hand on your heart and say “I love you.” Perhaps your positive intention involves sharing this support to your community, such as “I am going to smile kindly to a stranger today.” Or “I am going to sit and be present with my family for at least 30 minutes with no other distraction.” Or “I am going to wash my dog today with a fun towel dry.” Or “I am going to show support for someone in my online community.” Or “I am going to call a person dear to me just to check in.” Or, “I am going to reach out to someone who is struggling and offer my support.”

Set your intention. And with that, you have just started your mindfulness practice. Let’s try again tomorrow:)


Fourth Sector Ecosystem

As any start-up entrepreneur knows—there’s a whole world to figure out between idea and profit.

Who knew there was a name for this bewildering state of discovery? Apparently, “for-benefit” organizations (that’s me) need a more cohesive support structure. I agree! Thanks for this visualization that illustrates all the elements that for-benefit business models need to tackle.

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Click Here for More

Training Review

A review for my M.S. class…

  Serious eLearning Manifesto 

For the Student’s Choice Assignment, I completed an online training developed by the National Center On Safe Supportive Learning Environments. This online, interactive training was quite extensive with three separate online modules: Understanding Trauma and Its Impacts, Building Trauma Sensitive Schools and Leading Trauma Sensitive Schools. Each training module took about an hour to complete and included lots of performance support, including checklists, handouts and leader’s guides.

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The graphic elements and images balanced the text and narration throughout the training.

All three modules adhere to most of the Principles outlined in the Serious eLearning Manifesto, including Provide Realistic Practice, Motivate Meaningful Involvement, Provide Guidance and Feedback, Use Interactivity to Promote Engagement. However,  Provide Support for Post Training Follow Through and Provide Realistic Practice could have been improved to better Target Improved Performance. All three of these principles were only marginally introduced in the training and without more practice, and post-training support the Principle of Targeting Improved Performance will not likely be met. 

The purpose of the training is to create trauma-informed school systems. The authors overviewed these required elements of a trauma-sensitive school system:

■ Educating all school staff about trauma and its effects

■ Promoting physical and emotional safety in relationships and in the environment

■ Reducing trauma-related triggers in the school environment and eliminating potentially retraumatizing practices, such as harsh or punitive responses

■ Considering trauma in all assessment protocol and behavior plans Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package: Implementation Guide 3

■ Ensuring youth and family voice, choice, and empowerment

■ Addressing the secondary effects on educators that can occur when working with trauma survivors

The audience for the training is explained as “Although it was prepared for school and district administrators and staff, the Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package includes recommendations for involving students and families” (Implementation Guide, p.1). There appears to be federal or state-based school district funding that supports the dissemination of this material through professional development trainings. This training module just completed a pilot test test in 2018, and includes extensive level-1 assessment surveys in the training materials.

The training allows for self-paced review with guided narration and next and back buttons in an interactive module similar to Adobe Captivate. There were several effective ways the training created interactivity with the audience. For example, buttons were utilized for the audience to “compare and contrast the differences between a traditional school to a trauma-sensitive” school. A short scenario was provided and learners had the choice of selecting whether or not they viewed a ‘traditional’ or ‘trauma-sensitive’ approach to this scenario,  and this selection prompted feedback explaining the differences.

Another effective interactivity were Scenarios that profiled a teacher interacting with a student. Leaners needed to choose which aspects of her interaction were ‘trauma-sensitive’ and which were not. Both wrong and right answers received feedback. These practice elements were helpful, but did not extend into asking the learner to practice the skills presented in the material and this strategy would have better aligned with the transfer elements of of the Serious eLearning Manifesto, such as Target Performance Improvement and Aim for Long Term Impact.

One effective way the training did support the Provide Realistic Practice principle was by designing a discussion prompt that asks learners to discuss how to apply the information in the previous slides. This discussion slide supports the Motivating Meaningful Involvement Principle, and two-three “How-To” discussion slides were included in each of the three training modules. These slides asked the learners to “Pause and Reflect” with “your team” on the previous topic. The slide used a consistent visual pattern of a red octagon shape with a hand in the middle to signal this activity. This visual cue broke up the extensive narration and information and asked the audience to think collectively about applying the information they  just learned. However, if the training was taken individually, and the learner self-paced through the material, then this aspect that requires a group discussion would not be effective and the authentic practice environment would be lost on the learner.

Overall, the training was highly polished and professional. The left side menu-bar with clickable table of contents made the navigation very easy and encouraged learners to review and re-click areas of interest. Despite a large amount of information in the product, cognitive overload was kept to a minimum with a variety of thoughtfully placed interactive elements, scenarios, and user-choice buttons. The combination of narration, text and graphic images made for a well-paced and interesting training.

As mentioned previously, the only Principle that was less developed was the opportunity for learners to practice some of the recommended strategies, and there did not seem to be any follow through in regards to post-training communication. From the perspective of the Serious eLearning Manifesto, the training was highly successful and supported each principle at least in part, but could be improved by creating a community of knowledge or other communication-based strategies. In doing so, the training would both improve the number of opportunities for authentic practice, but also improve the follow up and therefore sharpen the Manifesto’s “Aim for Long Term Impact.”

Thank you for a great learning experience. This was an interesting and informative assignment. Great to see all of the Principles in action in this training.


Link to Implementation Guide

Link to All Training Materials

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This slide shows the interactive delivery. The buttons along the top allow the learner to choose the material by category of interest. These buttons allow learners to move in multiple directions through the information.

Making Change

In honor of the New Year, I hereby declare my new 2019 mantra: Change for good. 

After all, there are many changes that are not so good. Take aging, for example. One can succumb, and simply accept the inevitability of aging as though life were nothing more than a half-eaten loaf of bread forgotten at the bottom of the basket —destined to become moldy and undesirable. Or aging can bring a resurrection of the self—equipped with a new perspective, an all-seeing view like what you can only get from the top of the mountain— far reaching, expansive.

So which do you choose? Moldy? Or open to the 360-degree panorama of possibility presented by the first day of the rest of your life.

Change is really two parts then: 1) accepting change into your heart and 2) consciously deciding to change for good.

This two-step solution gets us only so far when we are talking about changing systems, however. Since we all operate in a system—this system can be a formidable foe to our change-for-good mantra. WE may decide to embrace change, but the residents of the system in which we reside may resist change, fear change, fight change.

So where does that built in blockade of resistance leave a change-maker?

In a battleground.

This is where the classic New Year’s resolution falls short—because change requires three steps, not just the two listed above.

Step three: Change-makers need to equip themselves with a solid plan. Because change is not just about a conscious decision, but rather about a series of new actions. Things that are new are harder, the learning curve is steep. And by the way, that view from the top—the expansive one–goes away as you drop down into the long slog through the valley of real change. Times can seem rough and doubt will fall like long shadows darkening the way.

Any change seeker needs a map out of that gloom—a reminder of the route. For without a serious plan, the change-maker risks becoming lost along the way and that, my friend, is the death of change-for-good.

So make sure you don’t get lost—develop your battle plan—the how-to change manual, a guide from point A (I am here) to point B (I will be there). Spend some time on that mental work—until you can clearly see your way through the valley and back up to the mountain top.  Best of luck to all my fellow change-for-gooders in 2019!

Here are my favorite systems-approach, change-maker graphics:

human performance technology model.pngdesign develop process.png

Chart Source: Reiser and Dempsey (2017) Trends and Issues in Instructional Design
Change requires more than just management, however. Change often involves deep learning of new systems and processes. So how do we design online environments that teach complex skills? ADDIE and Gagne are the big go-to’s for instructional design, but a lesser known model for developing learning systems was developed by Kirschner and van Merrienboer (2007). This model is design to fit inside the A and D segments of the ADDIE model. Great for complex task transfer, the authors propose a holistic view of the system, then a deep dive into “the analysis of a to-be-trained complex skill or professional competency in an integrated process of task and content analysis and the conversion of the results of this analysis into a training blueprint that is ready for development and implementation” (p. 252).


Link to article:

To aid in this process, the authors developed Four Components and 10 Steps as shown in the table taken from p. 246 of the article. This blueprint improves on former theories, according to the authors, because of its focus on successful transfer of skillsets. Kirschner and van Merrienboer (2007) explain, “Instructional design (ID) theory needs to support the design and development of programs that will help students acquire and transfer professional competencies or complex cognitive skills to an increasingly varied set of real-world contexts and settings.” Their goal, then, in proposing this “blueprint” was not to develop a complete training system, but rather to zero in on requisite skillsets required for complex tasks that must be transferred to the learner in order to participate effectively in this larger system. 

Blueprint Components of 4C-ID 10 Steps to Complex Learning
Learning Tasks 1. Design Learning Task

2. Sequence Task Classes

3. Set Performance Objectives

Supportive Information 4. Design Supportive Information

5. Analyze Cognitive Strategies

6. Analyze Mental Models

Procedural Information 7. Design Procedural Information

8. Analyze Cognitive Rules

9. Analyze Prerequisite Knowledge

Part-Task Practice 10. Design Part-Task Practice
The authors explain:
“There are many examples of theoretical design models that have been developed to promote complex learning: cognitive apprenticeship (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989), 4-Mat (McCarthy, 1996), instructional episodes (Andre, 1997), collaborative proble­m solving (Nelson, 1999), constructivism and constructivist learning environments (Jonassen, 1999), learning by doing (Schank, Berman, & MacPerson, 1999), multiple approaches to understanding (Gardner, 1999), star legacy Schwartz, Lin, Brophy, & Bransford, 1999), as well as the subject of this contribution, the Four-Component Instructional Design model (van Merriënboer, 1997; van Merriënboer, Clark, & de Croock, 2002). These approaches all focus on authentic learning tasks as the driving force for teaching and learning because such tasks are instrumental in helping learners to integrate knowledge, skills, and attitudes (often referred to as competences), stimulate the coordination of skills constituent to solving problems or carrying out tasks, and facilitate the transfer of what has been learned to new and often unique tasks and problem situations (Merrill, 2002b; van Merriënboer, 2007; van Merriënboer & Kirschner, 2001).”

Becoming Trauma-Informed

What a journey! After 16 weeks of reading and research, I have learned so much about Trauma-Informed educational models and Social Emotional Learning this semester! And yet if I were to estimate how much I have read compared to the amount of information out there—it would probably be about .001% of the total body of knowledge created by researchers and clinicians over the last couple of decades. The word burgeoning comes to mind when considering all the brain and learning science that has grown out of…well, technology, really. Because researchers before technology (BT) couldn’t measure the brain, map the brain or observe the inner-workings of the brain in action.

Despite all this empirical energy, enthusiasm, expertise, and technology, however, the revolution needed to transform educational models into trauma-informed (AKA Enlightened) models has yet to occur.

Why, is this the case, you ask?

It certainly isn’t that the need for these systems has decreased; there are no signs of traumatic events in American culture decreasing anytime soon. Perhaps, it’s that people have reached a higher plane of enlightenment through advanced practice of social emotional skills on their own, and so they are now better able to cope with trauma, get on with their lives freed from the bursts of emotion-based behavior that not only disrupts their own lives but the lives of everyone around them to the point of becoming toxic to self and others?

Currently trending Twitter feeds prove otherwise.

And so do the facts. According to Michael Moe, et al. (2018), in A 2 Apple News “Beary Merry Christmas” post: “In the United States, suicide rates are up 30% over the past twenty years. Opioid deaths increased 45% to 75,000 casualties last year alone. That’s more than the number of people who died in traffic accidents. Add it up, and life expectancy for U.S. citizens actually fell last year.”

The bottom line: Kids who have experienced trauma will continue to be in our classrooms for a long time to come.  These kids may grow up to be well adjusted adults capable of managing the impacts of trauma because they have adequate family support systems, healthy community-based relationships and enough emotional and financial resources to get back on their feet— or not. Some may get to the point of being high functioning, productive, valued members of society—that is for sure. Others may live on the brink of the abyss. Never certain what the next day may bring.

And what happens when you add climate refugees to our long list of traumatic woes? Alaska, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, California—all know the trauma that inevitably accompanies natural disasters. Never forget Paradise, California. Home to 26,000 people, Paradise burned to the ground in less time than most people spend on air travel. How can resilience thrive when your whole town is erased?

All of this indicates that our educational systems need to address the impacts of trauma, and in order to do this we need to 1) acknowledge the widespread impacts of trauma and 2) help educators build emotional safety, relationships and self-regulatory skills in the classroom.

Volumes of Learning Science research shows that the emotional regulatory capacity of the learner may be one of the greatest predictors of success—and also one of the key tools that we have to improve equity in our educational systems—so how come we see so few educational systems focus on building these self-regulatory skills?

Simple answer: we put too much of the burden on teachers. Even if we want to classify teachers as Saints there are practical pedagogical limits to what they can do in the classroom. I hate to beat the same drum here, but what we need to do instead of asking educators to do more in the classroom is to build better systems that will help educators: help educators, help students.

These systems should require only quick, micro-training or no training at all. The technology must be interactive and user friendly. Think iPhone. Think television. Plug, then play. Gaming environments, mobile devices, ipads can all deliver what we know teachers need. Teachers should benefit from these tools as much as students.

Like this one:

This is an example of a practical “help educators, help students” tool that provides a research-based trauma-informed toolkit—only you would never know it. Because it does something useful! It provides the framework that all kids need to build planning and self-regulation skills without calling attention to the other benefits embedded in its research-based instructional design. Love Sown to Grow! Hurray!

Or this one:

Love the awareness and inclusion built into this tool! Instead of receiving a one-way ticket to the principal’s office, KidConnect helps connect the behavior to the emotion behind that behavior allowing the teacher to better intervene and allowing the child to start self-regulating for learning. A win-win!

This one’s a bit pricey and extravagant for young kids, but older students and teachers would like this real time self-regulation gadget:

Heart Math

Did you know the heart sends more messages to the brain than the other way around? Hearts are the first responders when it comes to emotions apparently—so happy hearts lead the way to learning. Heart rate is a key indicator for dis-regulation, according to researchers, so thinking of heart happy activities in the first few minutes of class (instead of a quiz!) can get the brain ready for learning. What makes your heart happy? Movement, music, deep breathing, visualizations, visual imagery, massage, stretching, positive relationships, healthy conversations,  animals—rabbits, turtles, fish, dogs, cats, horses (!)—all make our hearts happy. Once our hearts feel calm and regulated then we are ready to learn.

Ultimately, only a systems approach can address the widespread impacts of trauma in education. So leaving economics out of the equation simply won’t work. Financial stability equals freedom and all the emotional skills in the world will only support half of  a career in a global, knowledge-based economy. So apprenticeships are a vital part of the trauma-informed equation. Kids need to see a path upward toward freedom and that motivation will drive change. Which is why programs like those featured in Doc Maker’s

Job Centered Learning:

are so important. Learning science confirms motivation and resilience are linked to learning. The power of knowing that your path forward promises financial stability cannot be overlooked.

Wrong Do It Again!

So proud of my collaboration with amazingly smart Team One in the MIST Program @CSUMB. We had less than a week to read multiple theoretical research articles and formulate an opinion on Behaviorism theory in Education. We hammered out this collaboratively written op-ed in less than three days despite hectic schedules. We require that you listen to The Wall while reading, however.

By Karin Pederson, Sondre Hammer Fossness, Shwetha Prahlad, Russell Fleming and Stacey Knapp

“Wrong, Do it again!”
“If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you
have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”
“You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy!”
Lyrics from The Wall, Pink Floyd (1979)

Pink Floyd’s lyrics memorialized a behavioristic educational perspective in this description of an English boarding school: “Wrong, Do it Again! If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding.” Early educational interpretations of the behaviorist model went as far as to include physical punishment as a behavioral deterrent—whether “stand still laddy” in Floyd’s lyrics imply a schoolyard paddling or not is unclear, but what is clear now is that, in its most extreme form—physical punishment— the behaviorist model no longer has a place in American educational systems. Despite this controversial past, instructional designers should take a second look at this historical framework in order to understand the powerful impacts and implications of the “conditioned response,” a central tenet of behaviorism. Without this understanding, educational technology products and instructional design could inadvertently be delivering a deleterious effect on learning.

While the 21st century educational landscape has erased physically “unpleasant” consequences, the behaviorist model is alive and well as demonstrated by the rampancy of meritocracy throughout our educational landscape. Skinner’s (1938) premise that an individual makes an association between a particular behavior and a consequence, and unpleasant consequences are not likely to be repeated (Thorndike, 1898) continues to hold value today. So if we leave a trail of positive feedbacks, then the learner will follow the path paved by rewards (and badges!) and avoid the pathways that lead to failure.

Not so fast! Designers should consider a few key behavioristic concepts, especially when creating merit-based learning environments:

Rewarding Laziness
The quiz is nothing new to classrooms, but the instant-feedback customizations possible in online educational environments require a deeper consideration of behavioralism than pen and paper quizzes of yesterday. Learners answer wrong, ‘and then what happens?’ For example, many online quizzing systems give students a chance to correct their own answer immediately after their first response. In practice, this means that it is fairly easy to click through a test and achieve high scores. From a behavioristic perspective, the student will experience a positive reinforcement in the form of a good grade regardless of their preparation. (Why read, if I get an A without reading?) As a result, negative reinforcement (the bad grade) is weakened and the potential for a positive reinforcement for under-preparation is strengthened.

Skinner introduced the principle of “operant conditioning,” which was based on Thorndike’s “Law of Effect” that states: a behavior followed by pleasing consequences is likely to be repeated. So what if incorrect behavior leads to pleasing consequences? By removing all negative reinforcement, it can be argued that, from a behavioristic perspective, the design encourages the “try and fail” method instead of making sure that the answer submitted is correct by reading over the material once more. In other words, students get pleasant consequences from lazy behavior.

Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Behaviorism in practice will ultimately be influenced by learners’ intrinsic motivation. And identifying positive rewards in context specific learning scenarios can be challenging. (While first grade students may find a trip to the candy jar or reading bean bag motivating, what motivates a highschool student?) Therefore, the learning outcome achieved by learners may vary greatly from student to student depending on intrinsic motivation. Such an uncertain variable makes behaviorism fall short as an all encompassing tool for learning, either in classroom or online.

Another important consideration for instructional designers to consider is whether or not receiving extrinsic rewards or punishments might become the rule of life for students. Researchers point out that students may require validation for every task, or expect positive reinforcements for even minor tasks which might not always come with a reward. In this situation, a student might stop caring or feel unmotivated to finish the homework if s/he does not get a reward.

Undesirable Rewards
Morrison (2007) explains that an individual may not particularly be interested in certain kinds of positive reinforcements. If “candies” are used as rewards for every correct response, then if the student was not “particularly interested in candies,” (p. 211) it might not be the best motivation for students to strive for (and, ideally obtain) correct answers. The author further argues that unless the student “could be given the choice between a number of different reinforcements so that they could choose one that was desirable for them” using particular positive reinforcements might not produce the intended result (Morrison, 2007, p. 211).

Pink Floyd’s famous refrain “We don’t need no education” was an unintended consequence of behavioralism in Britain’s 20th century educational system, and the album reached number 1 on the U.S. Billboard by 1980, eventually becoming one the top five greatest selling albums of all time. Instructional designers need to take a second look at behaviorist theory and consider unintended consequences when designing merit-based systems, or risk becoming as Floyd’s lyrics warn: “just another brick in the wall.”

Pink Floyd. (1979). The Wall. Los Angeles: EMI. (1979)

Reiser, R. A., & Dempsey, J. V. (2017). Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (4th Edition). New York : Pearson.
Thorndike, E. L. (1898). Animal intelligence: An experimental study of the associative processes in animals. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 2(4), i-109.

Morrison, Aubrey (2007): The Relative Effects of Positive Reinforcement, Response-Cost, and a Combination Procedure on Task Performance with Variable Task Difficulty. The Huron University College Journal of Learning and Motivation: Vol. 45: Iss. 1, Article 12.