Terminology Tuesday: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


In the 1950s, psychologist Abraham Maslow sought to determine what motivates people. He identified a set of needs and desires that individuals attempt to fulfil. The needs and desires have been modified over time,  but the comprehensive hierarchy includes:

  • Transcendence – An altruistic means of helping others identify their own potential – this form of self-actualization is a higher form, considering not just the self, but others.
  • Self-Actualization – Realizing our own potential and achieving self-fulfillment
  • Aesthetic – Symmetry, order, beauty, balance
  • Learning – Knowing, understanding, and mentally connecting to content
  • Esteem – Achievement, competence, receiving approval, becoming independent
  • Belonging – Love, family, friends, affection, community
  • Security – Protection, safety, stability
  • Physical – Hunger, comfort, thirst

Maslow’s needs are viewed as a hierarchy where transcendence is at the peak of the hierarchy, and physical needs are at the bottom of the hierarchy. As Maslow viewed it, you had to move from the bottom up, without moving to fulfil higher needs prior to fulfilling lower needs. Since it’s inception, research has found that individuals today fulfill needs simultaneously versus sequentially.

Without considering this hierarchy, most appeals are to the basement – the physical or psychological needs that are closer to the bottom of the hierarchy. In considering the hierarchy, you can design instruction to appeal to higher motivations, such as Learning, Self-Actualization, and potentially Transcendence.

Within Instructional Design, there are many ways that the development of training and/or instruction can appeal to most of the needs in Maslow’s hierarchy.

Physical needs are typically met before students come to the instruction, but you can appeal to physical needs by structuring the instruction in order to provide ample opportunities for students to take breaks; this is often observed with self-paced e-learning, as the student can take breaks at any point to satisfy physical needs, such as eating and drinking. Another example of appeals to the physical need include school breakfast or lunch programs.

Security needs can be appealed to by creating supportive environments that don’t trigger an individual’s need for security. You can do this within the design and development phases, supporting instruction with calm audio or imagery that allows learners to feel safe and secure. A good example of this is pixelthoughts.co, which is a 60 second meditation tool. This tool teaches individuals meditation tactics, while appealing to the security needs of individuals.

Belonging is an easy one; you can appeal to the belonging need by designing your instruction to support a community-based approach (e.g. including opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction and engagement).

Esteem – The no child left behind act is an example of education appealing to the esteem need, but it’s not necessarily the best example, and can often backfire. A better example of appealing to the esteem need is to design instruction with frequent opportunities for reflection, discovery, and frequent feedback.

Learning – Learning is also an easy one; to appeal to the learning need, instruction needs to be designed in such a way that learners can achieve knowledge, skills, or attitudes. Promoting curiosity can also help appeal to the learning need

Aesthetic – In appealing to aesthetic, you can design and develop aesthetically pleasing instruction, based on proven design principles.

Self-Actualization – To appeal to self-actualization, instruction needs to be designed to include opportunities for reflection, goal setting, check ins (on those goals), and opportunities to track progress.

Transcendence – By attempting to appeal to all other needs, your instruction can be designed in such a way to offer an opportunity for transcendence; although this is hard to come by.

Terminology Tuesday: Instructional Design Models


For those unfamiliar, the concept of Instructional Design (ID) Models can be confusing. For those familiar, which ID model to use can seem overwhelming.

Instructional Design Models

ID models are just that – a model for ID. But what does that mean? It means that an ID model will represent different elements of an ID project, such as project management, design, development, etc. Within each phase, like items will be represented. For example, within a design phase, you may group elements such as: instructional strategies, style guides, branding, assessment plans, authoring tool to be used, etc.

They’re tricky to explain because they’re designed to make more complex concepts easier to understand by breaking them down into palatable chunks of similar items. They create a project to do list of sorts, and some team members may work in one phase or another or they may work linearly across all. The model you choose will ultimately dictate the process used throughout the project.

With ID models, the possibilities are really endless. You can create your own or you can use an existing model. One size does not always fit all, and you can adapt models as necessary based on your needs.

Examples of ID Models

Popular ID models include:

E-Learning Challenge #144 – Slide, Drag, and Hover Past Boring Next Buttons #FREE


This week’s challenge was to create an example that allows users to navigate without using a traditional Next button.


I started out with my free course starter template – you can download it here, and then I removed the next and previous buttons and added a slider. I then programmed the slider to move to the next slide when the slider meets a certain value, and to move to the previous slide when the slider meets another value.



Click here for the full demo | Click here for the free download

Terminology Tuesday: Embedded Learning


Somewhere along my social media refreshing this week, I came across the phrase ’embedded learning’, and it caught my eye. I won’t lie, I immediately linked it to Leonardo DiCaprio and inception (a dream within a dream), but it’s not quite the same…and Leo probably isn’t there.

What’s Embedded Learning?

Embedded learning is an instructional strategy that occurs often in early childhood education, and it involves teaching and learning experiences that happen during the course of everyday activities, and is geared toward enhancing the learning experience.

Examples of embedded learning could be following directions (a more complex concept that becomes less complex when the students learn that it’s part of the process for completing a task), or learning to greet people. These are tasks that many of us likely take for granted, but we probably learned how to do both of them through embedded learning experiences (e.g. parents saying hi to neighbours/family/friends, or knowing that reading the directions is usually step 1 in putting something together).

Within the professional context, you the tell-show-do model of training could be a more complex version of embedded learning, as learners are essentially observing the training completing a task until the learner can then complete the task. The same goes with the concept of job shadowing.


As an adult, I go back to Starbucks when I think about modelling. Modelling involves displaying the behaviour you wish to see from others. Be the change you want to see in the world. This is an especially critical concept when it comes to training and development, because it’s an easy way to inadvertently train people! If you work in a busy cafe and are constantly cleaning/stocking/preparing for the next rush when there are periods of downtime, the people you’re working with will likely model this behaviour (even if it’s just to seem as though they aren’t being lazy).

Within the higher education context, I often seek out faculty members who are doing fantastic things with their course sites, and ask them to participate in our departmental expos or peer-to-peer sessions. When faculty members share what one another are doing, others are more likely to do similar things!