On Demand Instruction

Especially when educators include significant amounts of deeper, active, and authentic activities in their classrooms, there is frequent need for students to be reminded of how to perform certain tasks or to solve particular problems. This need often arises at different times in different students as they study independent inquiries, therefore demand is irregular and for small groups. In these situations, the tasks become relevant in a manner they were not previously, so the situation becomes what my education professors in the mid-1980’s called “teachable moments.” With technology, educators can point students to instruction that is stored as video or other presentations, and provide information just when it is needed. 

On-demand instruction improves performance for certain types of curriculum. Knowledge and skills that can be broken into steps and that can be clearly assessed and evaluated (tasks and skills that are tame) can be addressed through this approach.

When working with emerging researchers to compose their first research papers in which they are expected to follow specific formats for the references page, I often will give a lecture on how to properly format references. I present a slideshow that includes a step-by-step example. After that lesson, the slide show is available in the virtual classroom, so that students can refer to it as they finalize their research papers. This presentation is also made available to other teachers in the school, so they can refer to it when they assign research papers. Typically my presentation is given to students early in their careers, and then it is accessed on an on-demand basis through virtual classrooms later.

On-demand instruction can also be used to explain complex concepts to learners. When designed with full multimedia functions and combined with user control of the speed of presentation and the number of repetitions, on-demand instruction resembles the customized playlists and other individualized programming options that characterize how members of the digital generations consume media.