Constructivistic Instructional Design

A colleague of mine, Catherine, had a wonderful blog post this week entitled ADDIE Deconstructed, which is somewhat related with my own recent posting on this topic, and is nicely juxtaposed with the work my students are doing with my online PPOCCID course.

Constructivist Instructional DesignThis area around ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate), which is an instructional design model I use all the time, constantly reminds me of issues of power and positionality that arise when we determine how others have to learn this or that. In many ways, this reminds me of a blog post that really stopped me to think about these issues, Why you want to focus on actions, not learning objectives. For those of us in the learning field, it is easy to either get so wrapped up in learning objectives that we neglect the learners as people, or to get so vague with our objectives that we can never really measure (or determine) if anything is learned at all.

All of this consideration of whose objectives we have to consider, and how that balance works within organizational dynamics, leads me to the text that Catherine pointed out and I just ordered, Constructivist Instructional Design (C-ID). This looks like just the right text to help consider some of these issues around ADDIE, which increasingly seems to be a simple model with grate implications.

More to follow . . .

A as in ADDIE

analyze-fingerprint.jpgI asked my students in my a PPOCCID class to do some searching for online references / discussions about the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) instructional design model. I find this model very useful in many applications (especially in project management of learning initiatives), though have recently been more intrigued with the A as in Addie.

What does it mean to Analyze the needs of the audience? Well, I have to make sure this is a need the training or learning or education or development can address. Who needs to learn what? Why do they need to learn this? What are the obstacles? Who are the proponents of this (often these are not the learners)? What do they want (and why)? Are the goals the learners have (if they even have any, and if they can be articulated) and the goals of the proponents of the learning the same (or at least close enough that they are not opposed)?

What roles does this power play, especially within organizational dynamics? Can what works for one be transferable to others? Have you ever found it is easier to analyze the needs of others rather than ourselves? Always more questions than answers; while this can be frustrating at times, I find this endless interest quite enlivening and engaging!

I suppose I am considering these issues right now as I am beginning a Module 3 in my doctoral program at Lancaster University. Nice how various parts of my professional, academic, and personal elements of my life tend to fit together from time to time!

Tools for Online Engagement and Communication ~ Blog

blog_logo.jpg One of the weekly assignments I have for the online class I am teaching, Principles and Practices of Online Course Creation and Instructional Design (#PPOCCID), is for my students to have a weekly blog post about something to do with the content of our class. I make the assignment rather broad, as I know that learning can take place at odd times and in unlikely ways, so I want my learners to feel flexibility in what they write about and explore.

With this in mind, I wanted to follow my own assignment and discuss something I found interesting in one of the readings from this past week’s class (where I ran out of time and did not discuss), Tools for Online Engagement and Communication by Richard S. Lavin, Paul A. Beaufait, and Joseph Tomei. In this chapter, the authors do an excellent overview of a number of current web-based technologies that are useful to help people  develop their online identities, communicate their stories with peers, and begin to engage in online community.

With the focus on blogs, wikis, and technologies to assist with digital storytelling, I am reminded of how I started blogging several years ago to explore my own thinking, and still use it to help me process my work, usually with the benefit of getting additional feedback that in turns helps me move my thinking forward.

With this in mind, I like how the authors of this chapter (who do one of the better introductions to blogs and wikis) begin it:

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are

few.” (Suzuki, 2006, p. 21)

In Zen Buddhism, there is a notion of beginner’s mind (shoshin in Japanese), in which a person seeking enlightenment is asked to look at things as they are, without preconceived notions. A goal of looking at things from learners’ perspectives is to see things the way new students do, and to anticipate problems and bottlenecks that they might face, a task that takes on added significance in light of the relative newness of online education. Online education acts as a universal solvent, dissolving many of the notions and axioms that we have taken for granted.

I have thought a lot about blogging, and have engaged in it for so long that my perceptions about it may be different from how those new to the concept of blogging may perceive it. I have seen learners grow in their sophistication, professionalism, academic prowess, and even reflective practice, and am so look forward to seeing how my current learners experience this.

Blog Posting Rubric

rubrics

I created a simple blog rubric for my online class, and am interested in some feedback on it.

The assignment, as stated in my syllabus:

Reflective Practice is a critical aspect of teaching and learning, and a fundamental element of teaching online involves acquiring a comfort with technology to communicate and collaborate.

Online learning is a more networked experience than traditional face-to-face (F2F) learning. Thus, students are required to use a blog for this course. Students may use their own blog (if they have one) or create a new one (WordPress.com, Blogger, Epsilen, or elsewhere). Blog posts should be done at least once a week discussing some learning or a reaction to anything in the course.

Making at least two comments every week on other course attendee blogs is required.

As I am intending the student (all of whom are adults) blogs to consider any issue in class and then relate it to their practice, this is the rubric I created:

For your own weekly blog post(s), be sure to:

  • Post your blog entry before the due date ~ 0.5
  • Post a link to your Blog posting in the Forum  ~ 0.5
  • Discuss and develop some aspect of online learning / education ~ 1.0
  • Demonstrate that you are able to apply what you are learning to your professional practice ~ 1.0

Total = 3 points

I will ask them how this feels and if it works after we do our first assignment of this, so until then, I am open to other considerations for verbiage or total point (3 points / week) re-distribution. Thoughts?

PPOCCID Online Class Began Tonight

My new online class, Principles and Practices of Online Course Creation and Instructional Design (#PPOCCID) at NYU’s SCPS, began this evening. I am glad to see that there have been some nice improvements to the Epsilen online class platform:

PPOCCID

As I am asking my students to blog over our 8 weeks together, I thought I should continue to do the same (and as I have been so busy at work and with food poisoning and a paper to complete as well), I am far-enough behind in my sharing here that I have a lot to say!

Professors Regard Online Instruction as Less Effective Than Classroom Learning?

I just read this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Professors Regard Online Instruction as Less Effective Than Classroom Learning, which discussed the initial results of a survey about distance learning.

Interesting findings:

  • more work with less compensation and respect for faculty
  • worse learning outcomes for learners

Honestly, the results do not surprise me. There is a lot more work with online and distance education, and there is not compensation for all these additional efforts. It is a great challenge to engage and maintain the attention of people without the benefit of body language to assess attention, mood, and questions. Fostering a sense of community and shared learning(?!); do not even get me started on these hurdles . . . 

Perhaps this demonstrates how those of us who work in distance education are still considered pioneers (martyrs?) for a changing learning modality? Perhaps institutions embraced distance learning too quickly without considering the additional financial and personnel support needed (beyond the pricy systems themselves)? Perhaps these are the normal growing pains involved in every major shift in teaching and learning?

Let’s face it, changing any aspect of the status quo (and higher education changes very very very very slowly) is a challenge, especially when there becomes more of a flattening of authority in education (the teacher no longer is in front, much of human knowledge is a few keystrokes away, etc.). Whatever the case, I am glad I teach and learn online, as the many benefits of it changes the very dynamics of adult learning itself.

Online Course Discussion Board / Forum Suggestions

I just read an interesting paper by Ben Plumpton at Open University, entitled How students can make conferencing work. While it is not a research paper, there are many practical suggestions in it that I am planning to use for my Principles and Practices of Online Course Creation and Instructional Design (PPOCCID) course that just began.  I have previously used discussion forums to support our weekly synchronous session, though will increasingly rely on them as a student will be joining the course who cannot attend any of the synchronous sessions, and I need to establish a course esprit de corps for our work.

Plumpton had me when one of his paper sections was titled “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM?), which is one of the more practical and pragmatic concepts I know and use in my classes. He is right, as he says (p. 2) about online conferencing (use of discussion boards / discussion forums):

  • You get support when you need it (in exchange for giving support to others);
  • You have a richer vein of experience to draw on, because you can pool examples, references etc;
  • Very often a group can produce better work than an individual. One person might put forward a thought or idea, often not completely formed or finished, someone else picks up on it and takes it forward, that sparks off more ideas in others, and between them the group creates something much better than any could have done on their own;
  • Learning by ‘talking’ is more powerful for most people than learning by reading – you think about things more deeply, and are likely to remember things better;
  • The best way to check your own understanding is to explain it to others. Explaining things for your fellow students is good practice for the kind of explanations you’ll probably have to do in assignments.

I am planning to discuss this paper with some colleagues this week (online, of course!), and hope to get more of an understanding of it in the process. Perhaps others may find this useful as well?