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Faculty: Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald


Teaching Professor



Contact Information

Office: 150-E MCKB

Phone: 801-422-3674



Brief Biography

I am a native of Provo, UT. Currently I live with my wife and youngest son in Spanish Fork, UT. Professionally, I spent much of my career in the instructional media industry, most recently as the director of digital products for the Deseret Book Company and a media portfolio director for the LDS Church.

Teaching Interests

I have taught both graduate and undergraduate university students. I have also taught in industry settings, both corporate and non-profit. Topics I have taught include:

• Instructional design processes
• Integrating technology in the classroom
• Product management
• Project management
• The history of instructional design
• Instructional simulations
• Human-computer interactions, user interface design, and usability practices
• Using stories and film for culture change
• Theories of learning

But what I really love teaching is design itself. This includes the philosophy of design, case studies of notable designs, the history of design, design culture, the lived experience of designers, and practical design techniques. My experience as a practicing instructional designer helps me effectively mentor students in all of these areas. I also love teaching how to blend instructional design with other creative practices.

Research Interests

Technology-mediated education and online learning still tend to be flat, thin, and dull, despite researchers' attempts to develop strategies and techniques to make them richer, more engaging, and more effective. But what if the problem isn't the strategies we use?

What if we considered being an instructional designer to be a mode of existence and not just a job or a person who applies a set of processes/methodologies? And so we were as concerned about their character and dispositions, and the perceptual capacities and affective responses associated with designers' styles of inhabiting the world, as much as we were with the specific skills they employ? Then we could consider whether those are sufficient to sustain the practices designers need to successfully cope with educational situations. And if not, we have a more robust foundation from which to investigate what can be done to reorient them so they see, feel, and act differently.

This is what I study. Some of the specific topics this includes are:
• The place of instructional designers' practical, embodied know-how, and the risks of designers over-relying on detached, instrumental knowledge.
• The field's tendency to reduce and flatten all issues to technological problems/solutions, and what's left behind in the translation.
• How instructional designers can resist the field's hyper-rationalization and technologization, and come into their own as designers committed to sensitively responding to the demands of unique situations.
• Understanding instructional design practice as it is lived and experienced by designers, along with how designers become the kinds of people they are.
• How instructional designers cope with tensions that arise between the realities of work situations and the pursuit of high ideals.
• What do various moral issues look like in the context of instructional design (e.g., drawing distinctions of worth, conscience of craft, taking stands and making wholehearted commitments).


Nancy Peery Marriott Excellence in Mentoring

David O. McKay School of Education, Brigham Young University


Research and Theory Division, Theory Spotlight Competition (2nd place)

Association for Educational Communications and Technology


Best Zone Paper

American Society for Engineering Education


Research and Theory Division, Best Book

Association for Educational Communications and Technology


Design and Technology SIG Design & Technology Outstanding Design Case Award

American Educational Research Association


Selected Publications

“I can do things because I feel valuable”: Authentic project experiences and how they matter to instructional design students

  • Authors: McDonald, Jason ; Rogers, Amy
  • Publication Type: Journal Article, Academic Journal

Objectivation in design team conversation

  • Authors: McDonald, Jason; Bowman, Kayla; Elsayed-Ali, Salma
  • Publication Type: Journal Article, Academic Journal

Understanding distinctions of worth in the practices of instructional design teams

  • Authors: McDonald, Jason K; Jackson, Brenton; Hunter, McKayla
  • Publication Type: Journal Article, Academic Journal

"This is My Vision": How Students Depict Critiques Along with Themselves During Critiques

  • Authors: McDonald, Jason; Michela, Esther
  • Publication Type: Journal Article, Academic Journal

Instructional Design for Learner Creativity

  • Authors: McDonald, Jason K; West, Richard Edward; Rich, Peter J; Hokanson, Brad
  • Publication Type: Book, Chapter/ Section in Scholarly Book

Towards a View of Originary Theory in Instructional Design

  • Authors: McDonald, Jason; Yanchar, Stephen
  • Publication Type: Journal Article, Academic Journal

The Design Critique and the Moral Goods of Studio Pedagogy

  • Authors: McDonald, Jason; Michela, Esther
  • Publication Type: Journal Article, Academic Journal

Empathy in Distance Learning Design Practice

  • Authors: Matthews, Michael; Williams, Gregory; Yanchar, Stephen C; McDonald, Jason K
  • Publication Type: Journal Article, Academic Journal