In this module, I spent time developing a review plan for my ID project on blogging on wordpress.com. Oddly enough, the process of developing the evaluation revealed aspects of the project that I seem to take a bit for granted before I even had any of the material evaluated. The most prominent of these is the fact that I had an inherent assumption that i would conduct the lesson in a teacher-centered format. This has been the vie win my mind’s eye all along the course of developing the project. Despite early warnings to be a developer and not a teacher in this process, apparently, I had a difficult time truly separating these two aspects.
As I developed my evaluation questions, this became apparent and caused me to shift the format of this lesson. AS a student in this course, this worries me a bit since I have been assuming one format and now see the merits of a different format. As a developer of the instructional materials, I am happy this has happened because it has given me more clarity on the format of the final lesson. Rather than focusing on development of the live lesson, I am now going to gear my efforts towards a student-paced, virtual lesson in the form of a series of screencasts. The shift to this format achieves some specific objectives that I had not previouosly accounted for:
- The students can learn at a more individual pace. As a teacher who has been through a number of workshops like this one, I have always felt a bit frustrated when I wanted to move on or needed a review of something previously presented and the workshop just kept rolling in a one-size-fits-all fashion. As series of screencasts allows learners to pick and choose topics they need help with. I love the individuality this creates.
- This format also allows for ongoing PD for future years. If this was presented at a spring in-service, then that group of teachers would have been better for the experience (as least that is my hope), but the following year, new teachers would not have that experience. By establishing an archive of materials such as this, ongoing PD specific to our school environment can be created.
- Though not specific to this lesson, another benefit is that teachers work through a process that models how many students learn today. The process of searching out tutorials online and applying them to their own needs is common among students, but not always among the faculty. This gives at least some experience in this in a more guided fashion.
While I am more excited about this shift to a screencast series, I also realize that I have just made a major adjustment to my project and workload ahead. I feel comfortable with the screencast technology, so that is not an issue as I move on. I will need to set aside a bit more time for development of these individual units, however. With deadlines approaching, this will be my biggest challenge.
In this unit, both motivation and a variety of types of learning were explored. For me, both areas were very engaging and helped me make some specific connections to my own teaching.
As a high school science teacher, motivating students can be a challenge. Very often, the students enter my classroom with predefined ideas about science. They either love it or hate it. Those that love it need little motivation to engage in the learning. Those that hate it, can be disengaged and distant from the start. Helping these studnets to embrace teh learning opportunity is tricky business. I was especially interested in the ARCS model of motivation because it guides the teacher to ask and answer specific questions surrounding motivation of the learner. This provides a very specific framework for me to use as I design science lessons.
The different types of learning outline in Smith and Raga were incredibly helpful for me as well. In some was, I was already very familiar with these types of learning. Clearly, my students need to learn the meanings of words they come across sin a Biology textbook or identify specific structures. Building upon this learning to develop an understanding of principles, process and beyond is one of my main objectives in my Biology class. For too long, Biology has been taught as a collection of facts. This has caused many students to be turned off. The challenge seemed to be to be able to retain vast amounts of declarative knowledge. Those that can do that well earned A’s, those than cannot earned F’s. Many students were turned off of Biology and Science in general in the process. By understanding the relationships between the different types of learning, I feel better equipped to create stages of learning for my students that help them through many of the learning types. While I cannot dismiss the declarative portion of the class, I am better able to envision how to address each form of learning as a connection to the others. (I have to admit that I have a hard time seeing how I would engage them in the psychomotor type of learning, but, luckily, I am also a golf coach:))
This unit was all about goal analysis. Over the years, I have had a number of interests ranging from golf to triathlon to working on a Masters. One of the characteristics that has been a uniting factor in all of them is having focus. On many occasions, I have noticed that my progress towards any any desired result has been directly proportional to how clearly I had laid out the goal. When I have a plan with distinct and measurable benchmarks, I get to where I want to go more times than not. Without such a plan, where I end up is anybody’s guess. I guess Yogi Berra was right when he said “if you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else”.
When it comes to designing instruction, it is hard to overstate the need for clear goals. As a teacher, I have always had an idea of what i wanted my students to get out of a given lesson. The lessons have been designed around conveying some information or just general ideas. As I worked through this unit, it finally became clear that the hit-or-miss success of these lesson is likely due to a lack of focus on the goals of the lesson. That is my take away: when it comes to figuring out the path to a destination, I must become more diligent about specifically defining the destination itself.
Now, I have known that setting goals or learning objectives is important for some time (even if I haven’t always been great about sitting down and doing it formally), but I have also realized that there is a great deal of importance in making sure you know that you have arrived. Again, as a teacher, i have relied on grades. if students are getting A’s, clearly my objectives have been reached. Viewing objectives through the lens of ID has made me realized that the grade may not be a clear indicator of reaching the goal. Specificity is important, but so is the ability to recognize when a goal has been reached. “The students will understand…” has started many objectives in my planning. The problem is that ‘understanding is very subjective and may be very difficult to measure.
Just as has been the case in my many other goal setting experiences, setting clear and measurable goals for my students is critical to their success.
Like any good Biology teacher, I am going to get to my definition of educational technology through dissection of the term itself.
As far as I am concerned, “education” refers to any experience that leads to learning. Whether that learning comes in the form of personal experience (“I never lick steak knives…anymore”) or experiences communicated from another person or source, knowledge that wasn’t present, is now there. This is a very broad definition, but is a brief, but decent view is education.
The term “technology” will almost always evoke images of computers, smartphones, or other hardware with all the wonderful software that allows us to communicate with one another (or shoot birds at pigs). Though not as exciting perhaps, the vast array of technologies from which our modern devices evolved, would have to be included as well. But what about the microscope in my classroom. Not a single wire or circuit in it. Just glass, metal and some empty space. It is however, an application of human knowledge that has allowed people to see aspects of the world that were not seen before. So does that count as “technology” or is that a tool? If it is the latter, what about a telescope? Same principle, just turned around. What about the Hubble telescope? Clearly, I make a jump from the type of telescope you see under a pirate’s arm to one that sits in space and peers into galaxies light years away, but somewhere along the way, we go from tool to technology.
Taking an approach in the reverse direction, it seems clear that a RSS feed that sends great articles that I read would count as technology. That same job used to be done by newspapers exclusively. As the output of a printing press, is the newspaper technology? Same for a book?
The themes that seem to run through the quasi-definitions are communication and extension of the senses.
It is no wonder a definition is hard to pin down. Educational seems too broad a term, so I am going to reduce it to “formalized instruction in a given field or fields”. For the part of technology, I think that “devices or tools developed to enhance human senses, communication or experiences, real or virtual” will do for now.
That leaves me with a definition of educational technology that is : “The application of any device or tool developed to enhance human senses, communication or experiences, real or virtual, to formalized instruction in a given field or fields.”
Hmmm. Leaves me wanting more. I look forward to reading some of the other definitions.
EDTECH 503 ID Job Posting
PART 1 – SYNTHESIS
Holmquist Academy is seeking a motivated and creative Instructional Designer to join our small, 7-12 grade school community for the upcoming school year. Holmquist is a boarding and day school of approximately 230 students that has a rich history and tradition. While maintaining this history is vital to the school, Holmquist is also looking for a creative ID specialist to help develop new and innovative additions to our curriculum. Job description and candidate requirements are as follows:
The candidate will:
- Design, develop and evaluate a variety of forms of instruction including classroom instruction, online learning and blended learning.
- Work with teachers to evaluate and enhance current teaching methods and lesson formats.
- Design effective faculty training to better all faculty understanding of instructional design principles and available technologies.
- Help faculty to adapt to and best use the Learning management System (Moodle).
- Review new technologies in terms of their application and effectiveness in reaching desired learning outcomes.
- Work with teachers to better help them utilize various forms of multimedia in their instruction.
- Assess the needs of the school in terms of the effectiveness of instruction.
- Keep current with educational trends and best practices as they relate to instructional design.
- A Bachelor’s Degree in Instructional Design or related field.
- Understanding of Learning Management Systems. Experience in the use of Moodle is preferred.
- Ability to seek out, learn and evaluate new learning methods, especially those related to technology.
- Understanding of basic Instructional Design principles.
- Masters degree is preferred but not mandatory.
- Experience in educational settings, preferably teaching, is a plus.
- Our ideal candidate will be passionate about instructional design and have an eye towards the changing trends in educational technology and it’s application to our unique community.
PART II – REFLECTION
The process of developing this fictitious job description for a Instructional Designer position at a school similar to my current school was certainly an enlightening exercise. It has allowed me to both learn about the role of the instructional designer in educational and corporate settings and has given me a glimpse at some of what a school needs to help it keep it’s educational experiences focused, effective and relevant.
When it comes down to the time in the classroom, the teachers are the ones that have the day-to-day interactions with the students. They must connect with each student in a meaningful way and help that student make progress in their given subject. Teachers are often-if not always- called upon to individualize instruction for each students specific needs, while also keeping the whole class on the path to the same learning outcome. While teachers enter into each class (or unit) with a plan, circumstances, such as unforeseen trouble with the material on the student’s part or difficulty with materials, often force changes to the plan. The teacher is the one with the expertise that allows for minor changes in direction that don’t cause a major deviation from the overall plan. Flexibility and the ability to adapt are key characteristics of teachers.
Instructional designers, ideally, help teachers develop an understanding of the best methods of instruction. In other words, they help teachers create that overall plan for the lessons. While not necessarily a presence in the classroom, ID specialists help teachers develop the best path to a learning outcome, which allows teachers to to effectively make progress in a class and meet the needs to each individual student. By keeping up with new and different forms of instruction, the ID specialist also helps to keep a school up to date in instructional methods. While this is important for public schools, it is vital for private schools that must compete with other institutions for students. Creating a variety of teaching methods and sharing those with the teachers helps keep the students and teachers engaged and enthusiastic about the work they are doing.
While there is clear overlap between the roles of teacher and instructional designer, there are differences in their roles as well. The teacher is responsible for the actual execution of the lesson that has been designed. This means that the teacher must work with the students and adapt as circumstances demand. The instructional designer, on the other hand, does not present the lesson that has been developed. Rather, they are a vital support for the teachers who may not be as aware of the various forms of instruction- especially those related to technology. A third key difference between the two is the focus of their specialty. Teachers often have a passion for their subject or for working with students in general. They may not have that same passion for instructional design. The ID specialist, however, provides the focus that is needed in terms of lesson format. It is the instructional designer who has an eye on the overlying view of how material can best be presented to students.
The more I explore the differences between these two groups, the more I come to realize that they are very dependent on each other. The best case scenario seems to be a fluid back and forth between the teacher and the ID specialist. Working closely together and sharing feedback with one another, they create a team that provides students with instruction that can be focused on specific goals, adaptable for individual needs and highly effective.
PART 3 – Job Posting URLs
Corporate ID Job Listing
Educational Job Listings
- Instructional Designer- Black Hills State University
- Instructional Designer- New River Community College
- Instructional Designer- Hiram College