As an instructional designer some days you are more creative than others. I’m afraid that after a day of project planning or strategic meetings, teachers who meet with me about their online or blended course design run a particular risk of getting short-changed.
Coffee helps, but what you really want is a menu – a range of options to get you started. I’ve found that Exploratree and the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods are two inspirational sites which can help me break through ‘designer’s block’. Each provides a list of visualisation methods, which can provide the basis for a learning activity at any cognitive level from remembering through creating.
The Periodic Table created by Ralph Lengler and Martin Eppler, is a listing of 100 methods, including methods like the Cycle Diagram, the Evocative Knowledge Map or Mintzberg Organigraph (and that’s not the only one I’ve never heard of). On hovering over the method, an example appears in a pop-up. Chris Wallace has created an accompanying page which links each method to its Wikipedia page and a stand-alone version of its example.
Exploratree goes a little further. Although you can certainly use the ‘thinking guides’ just to spark ideas, with a free account educators and/or students can create, edit and save the thinking guides online. Users can share guides and so collaborate on projects.
The two sites above contain many methods that can help a teacher and students explore, critically examine, fully map or actively discuss almost any topic. And provide a kick-start for an instructional designer with designer’s block. Usually once I’ve created the first activity, it’s all downhill from there.