Instructor, Academic Bridge Program, Zayed University
November 1, 2013
On a number of occasions I have been asked to explain what I study in the Boise State University MET program. At the beginning of the program, I probably would have answered this question by referring to the use of specific technologies. In other words, I would have put technology at the center. While technology is obviously one of the core elements of this program, I would now answer that question by stating that technology is not pedagogy, ideally, at any rate. Rather, technology is simply a tool, which, applied in a systematic and research-based manner, can facilitate the achievement of learning objectives and foster learner-centered environments.
What follows is an overview my work and evolution as an educational technology practitioner over the last two years in the MET program. Equally important, this paper will demonstrate how this work reflects my own view of learning and teaching as exemplified in frameworks such as the National Educational Technology Plan 2010, where technology is deployed in a manner that engages and empowers learners by affording the opportunity to personalize learning through authentic, holistic and constructive project work, where assessment is designed to assess not only content knowledge but also foster 21st century competencies such as creativity and critical thinking, and where both learners and teachers have access to cutting-edge productivity tools to facilitate learning:
The challenge for our education system is to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures. In contrast to traditional classroom instruction, this requires that we put students at the center and empower them to take control of their own learning by providing flexibility on several dimensions. (U.S. Department of Education, 2010, p. 8)
This paper will provide a synopsis of each of the 10 courses I completed during the MET program. Each synopsis will include identification and discussion of projects that I completed as part of the course, how they align with the Association of Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) framework, and how this work contributed to my understanding and evolution as an educational technology specialist.
Standard 1 Design
Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to design conditions for learning by applying principles of instructional systems design, message design, instructional strategies, and learner characteristics.
1.1 Instructional Systems Design
Instructional Systems Design (ISD) is an organized procedure that includes the steps of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating instruction.
EDTECH 503 is an obvious example of mastery for this standard. EDTECH 503 was an excellent learning opportunity because this course reinforced the importance of aligning instruction with objectives and assessment. As an English teacher, I know this, of course, yet I would be disingenuous to claim I have always been careful as I should with this alignment. I can identify with Smith and Ragan’s (2005, p. 10) assertion that “most of us have had at least one said experience with the course in which goals classwork and tests were unrelated to one another, resulting in poor learning and attitude on students’ parts.”
In truth, my lesson planning, like many busy teachers, is typically informal. In the EFL contexts in which I have worked, there is often an established curriculum that must be implemented without extensive modification; most adjustments are small and generally does not require documentation. In addition, supplemental materials and activities generally do not reflect “a high-level of care and sophistication” (Smith & Ragan, 2005, p.6). Morrison, Ross and Kemp (2001) identify seven basic principles underlying instructional design process. The first premise is the instructional design process necessitates a systematic procedure as well as specific treatment of details within a plan: “Each element of the plan… must be applied with attention to precise details… attention to detail is critical… applying systematic procedures… you can design effective instruction” (p. 9). As such, the systematic planning and development of a detailed and thorough instructional design project was a great learning experience.
My Final ID Project, a tutorial on how to create a screen-cast, is a 30-page report in which I identified a learning gap, learning objectives, constraints, learner characteristics and, among other variables, resources. For example, as part of the ID report I provided a detailed description of the audience. Smith and Ragan (2005) stipulate that “[t]he most important factor for a designer to consider about the audience is specific, prior learning” (p. 69). The report also includes a detailed planning process in the form of a task analysis flowchart, an objectives matrix, alignment with Bloom’s taxonomy, a description of motivational strategies in the form of Keller’s ARCS table, as well as formative and summative assessment.
1.2 Message Design
Message design involves planning for the manipulation of the physical form of the message.
My final project for EDTECH 506 illustrates effective message design. In EDTECH 506 I created 22 separate and original images using Adobe Fireworks. These images form an integral part of a series of grammar lessons designed to be used on a tablet device like an iPad by students learning English grammar at Zayed University. More specifically, this unit of instruction may form part of the grammatical syllabi for each of the seven ‘Levels’ (7 to 14-week terms ) through which students must progress in order to graduate from the Academic Bridge Program (ABP), an English language foundation program at Zayed University in the UAE. As part of the grammatical learning objectives, each Level requires demonstrated knowledge of various grammatical structures and sentence-level syntax.
The design process framework used for this project is based on Lohr’s (2008) analyze, create and evaluate (ACE) model. Lohr (2008) describes creation as the translation of analysis into physical form: “you essentially take your goals and objectives may learn something you can see” (p. 76). Lohr’s notion of PAT is another aspect of the design process, whereby principles refers to selection, organization integration – which I touched on above. Actions within the PAT framework refer to contrast, alignment, repetition and proximity. The last element of the PAT, tools, refers to type, shape, color, depth and space. Taken together, the ACE and PAT models provide a useful framework with which I designed this instructional unit.
You can see here how I incorporated these principles in the planning, design and development of numerous images. The resulting message design effectively utilizes principles of attention, perception, and retention, which, in turn, optimizes effectiveness of the lessons in the unit. For instance, I specifically arranged contrast, alignment, repetition and proximity for my English parts of speech tables. These design principles helped me to create effective images in order to maximize impact of message design. There is a good chance that you will remember my parts of speech images better than the majority of random parts of speech images found on the Internet because many of those random Internet images were not developed with these principles in mind.
I have always been a visual learner, and this course has taken my understanding of visual design several notches higher.
1.3 Instructional Strategies
Instructional strategies are specifications for selecting and sequencing events and activities within a lesson.
I will refer again to EDTECH 503 in order to illustrate careful execution of instructional strategies since this is a core element of the instructional design process. For example, in Part 2b of the final instructional design report, there is detailed description of learning and transfer context as well as a description of the learners. As part of the learning context, I report that motivation is an issue for the target learners. This has an important impact on the potential success of the instructional design; it is crucial the instructional module be effective and engaging to sustain learner involvement, reflecting Arias and Clark’s (2004) idea that “[i]f the instructional technology being designed requires users to undergo a learning curve, then motivation… must be addressed during the design phase” (p. 54). This is an example of the importance of establishing learner characteristics as part of instructional strategies.
Another example of alignment with AECT standard 1.3 can be seen in Part 1c, the rationale, where it is clear the strategy is approximately 85% supplantive in that most of the lesson will “explicitly and overtly provide much of the events of instruction” (p. 142). The rationale for a predominantly supplantive approach reflects Smith and Ragan’s principle that in order to balance cognitive load, explicit instruction is effective when – all things being equal – learners may experience anxiety, instructional time is limited and domain-specific goals are a high priority (p. 145), all of which may apply in this case. On the other hand, approximately 15% of the lesson is generative as learners are asked during the analysis and evaluation phases, to “construct their own idiosyncratic meanings from instruction by generating their own educational goals… and transfer to other contexts” (p. 141). Finally, the instructional procedure is relatively simple and linear as the instruction follows the most common path (Smith and Ragan, p. 191) as [i]t makes sense to teach the procedure has efficiently as possible” (p. 192). The authors maintain the decision to use supplantive or generative strategies is a balancing act, whereby“neither approach is universally superior… many factors may influence the efficacy of one of instructional approach over the other.” (p. 143).
My work on this project is an example of a thorough and detailed instructional design process involving careful delineation of factors impacting instructional strategy selection. My work in this course reinforces the idea that instructional strategies are best developed by taking a systematic approach to instructional design.
1.4 Learner Characteristics
Learner characteristics are those facets of the learner’s experiential background that impact the effectiveness of a learning process.
For this AECT standard I would like to briefly discuss the final synthesis paper I wrote for EDTECH 504. I am proud because an edited version, produced along with a colleague, was published. The title of the paper is A Strategic Proposal for English Language Foundation Programs: 21st Century Learning. The original – and published version – of the paper describes situations where English language preparatory programs at universities like Zayed University (ZU) in the United Arab Emirates promote their academic English language curricula as modern and cutting edge, when, in fact, it is actually more accurate to describe such curricula as traditional and behaviorist.
The paper argues that if English language foundation programs, particularly schools like ZU in the Gulf region, are to meet their stated educational missions, they must fully embrace 21st century learning approaches grounded in social constructivism and make strategic adjustments in four areas: mission statement, curriculum, information and computer technology and assessment. As part of the central thesis, the paper argues that a project-based curriculum which fosters 21st century skills and is grounded in tenets of social constructivism will result in a more effective and engaging learning experience for the target learners.
Motivation is central to effective learning, so motivation is a fundamental aspect of educational reform needed in these kinds of programs. Jonassen (2000), for example, argues that student-centered learning environments stimulate and engage more than traditional learning environments: “Learning actions in school are purposeless, whereas activities that give rise to learning in the real world are purposeful; they are motivated by intentions …Abstracted learning actions have no meaning” (p. 107).
Of course, technology plays an important role in the development of 21st century learning environments. Today’s students are often referred to as digital natives. According to Prensky (2010), today’s youth want (1) to not be lectured to; (2) to be respected; (3) to follow their own interests and passions; (4) to be creative [especially using available technology]; (5) to work with their peers; and (6) an education that is not only relevant, but also real. The US Department of Education led the development of the National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) 2010 that envisions technology to facilitate engaging, relevant and personalized learning experiences “that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures” (p. x).
This is certainly the case with students at ZU, who, generally speaking, are accustomed to traditional learning environments, yet they rise to the occasion when provided with an opportunity to participate in more active, personalized, constructive and engaging learning activity. The challenge is that a shift to this type of 21st century educational paradigm will not occur easily because
it appears to go against some of the most deeply held beliefs about teaching and learning … it questions the ideas that students bring little to the educational encounter and that the role of the teacher is to pass on … the commonly accepted stock of knowledge valued by society. (Morgan, Williamson, & Facer, 2007, p. 27)
Numerous contextual factors impede innovation at ZU. For example, many instructors are content with traditional methods, and management is slow to embrace change. Nevertheless, the EDTECH 541 paper is a good example of taking learner characteristics into consideration when attempting to apply learning and educational theory to practice.
STANDARD 2: DEVELOPMENT
Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop instructional materials and experiences using print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies.
2.1 Print Technologies
Print technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials, such as books and static visual materials, primarily through mechanical or photographic printing processes.
The teaching and learning guide I developed for EDTECH 542 is a good example of printed instructional materials. The six-page guide provides detailed information outlining performance products, required skills/knowledge, materials and suggested lesson plan procedures. Within the guide, one can also find web-based material via hyperlinks, and the required skills/knowledge is formatted to align with Bloom’s taxonomy vis-à-vis cognitive demand. This teaching and learning guide meets the AECT standard 2.1 because it provides a foundation for development and utilization of instructional materials that can be found on the associated unit website.
Another good example of alignment with AECT standard 2.1 is the syllabus to accompany an online course created for EDTECH 512. This is an even more detailed guideline that includes goals, resources, assignment schedule, assessment information/rubrics, and linkage to the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) NETS for Teachers standards. The difference between this syllabus and the learning and teaching guide is that it is more detailed, web-based, and it includes images in the form of screenshots.
What I gained from these three pieces of instructional materials is an appreciation for spending the time and effort needed to develop detailed instructional guidelines that include a number of resources such as alignment with standards, learning objectives, assessments, and so on. The truth is that prior to this program, I never spent much time or energy creating these types of educational materials, so filling this AECT standard 2.1 was been a beneficial experience.
2.2 Audiovisual Technologies
Audiovisual technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials by using mechanical devices or electronic machines to present auditory and visual messages.
It would be disingenuous to say that I am not proud of the digital story that I produced for EDTECH 513, Multimedia. For this project I created an explanatory video to be used in conjunction with EDTECH 512, Online Course Design. I created drawings by hand using a graphics tablet. Every element of the animation, except the student’s hat, the blackboard and the screenshots of Zayed University webpage, are hand-drawn. I put these images together in a PowerPoint presentation along with animations, downloaded sound effects, and voice-over recording read by a colleague, using a professional microphone. The target audience is faculty at Zayed University.
The video animation adheres to Robin and McNeil’s (2012) tips for digital storytelling, which include information presented in a clearly organized, narration that is easy to hear and understand, visually stimulating images that support and strengthen the story, and sound effects to maximize the impact. Fred’s story also matches qualities of a good story as outlined by Lambert (2003) in the Digital Storytelling Cookbook and Traveling Companion, whereby a good digital story has a clear point of view – in this case, Fred.
Cron (n.d.) relates that storytelling is an important aspect of human evolutionary development, in that, stories are a powerful, universal constructs because the ability to tell stories with language has been one of the most importance aspects of human development. Essentially, stories are simulations of future possibilities. Cron (n.d.) makes a compelling argument that the key to good stories is a protagonist who undergoes psychological and growth in order to achieve a goal. In other words, the protagonist should give up something – emotionally, intellectually and/or – in order to complete the journey. Think Lord of the Rings.
Importantly, the audience needs to see the change as compelling. In doing so, the audience may consider how the story is relevant to one’s own life as a lesson or an imagined possibility. As Cron (n.d.) rightly points out, we humans are wired to pay attention to what affects us. Fred’s story is also a good example of applying the personalization principle, whereby informal language and tone is applied to maximize user engagement. I believe that Fred’s story effectively communicates a message utilizing audio and visual technologies through the application of empirically-proven multimedia principles.
I like to think that a good example of this AECT standard is another project that I completed for EDTECH 513, a worked example, or screenshot tutorial. For this project I used the website http://www.clarify-it.com/ to create a tutorial for getting started with the website https://www.schoology.com/home.php. This tutorial adheres to a number of multimedia principles. For example, the segmentation principle is apparent, in that, the individual slides minimize cognitive load by allowing easy review (Clark & Mayer, 2011). As a result, there are fewer burdens on short-term memory, thereby facilitating integration into long-term memory.
This screenshot tutorial also reflects the redundancy principal, in that, learners need only read text. On the other hand, for some learners this approach may not be as effective given that the modality principal (Clark & Mayer, 2011), that people generally learn better when text is presented as narration along with visuals, was not deployed. However, as a free online platform, http://www.clarify-it.com/ is not a bad option considering that the final product can be exported into PDF format, and it was possible to create text hyperlinks, from which learners may access web-based quizzes that were developed to reinforce and assess comprehension. This is more difficult to do with a video.
This project is another example of utilizing visual technologies to create messages as part of technology-based instruction.
2.3 Computer-Based Technologies
Computer-based technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials using microprocessor-based resources.
The spreadsheet lesson I created for EDTECH 541 is perhaps a good example of deploying computer-based technologies, rather than paper/pencil, to create and deliver materials and instruction. For this assignment, I provided some examples of how students might use the iPad application Numbers to enhance their English learning experience. Numbers is a comprehensive and highly-rated iPad application for spreadsheets.
The majority of ABP students at ZU are females between the ages of 18 and 21. This demographic, along with the cultural norm of marrying at a young age – typically between the ages of 19 and 24 – means that young Emirati women benefit by acquiring language and developing skills associated with marriage and a household. Therefore, the family budget planner template within Numbers to track a fictional family yearly budget can be part of a larger unit on family, in which students initially spent time brainstorming language concepts related to family life. Likewise, the grocery list, menu planner, travel planner and weekly planner templates are all examples of ways in which technology can be deployed in a constructive, authentic and personalized manner.
The documentary project I created for EDTECH 541 is also a good example of producing and delivering digital instruction. The documentary project is a one-week, web-based project, which learners, working in groups of two or three, plan, shoot, edit and share a short [7-10 minutes] documentary film about a subject that is important to them. This project is a good example of leveraging technology to make learning more engaging, relevant, authentic and personalized, all of which are characteristics of 21st century learning environments as reflected in frameworks such as the National Education Technology Plan 2010, which stresses the need to integrate technology in a way that engages and empowers learners by providing them with a learning environment that is relevant, authentic and personalized.
2.4 Integrated Technologies
Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials, which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer.
As part of EDTECH 541, Integrating Technology, I created a PowerPoint presentation using the high-end software Articulate Presenter. The presentation is on the topic of the verb ‘to be’, and forms part of a lesson targeted at low-level English language learners in the ABP. The presentation is a combination of content delivery and interactive elements in the form flash-based quizzes, hyperlinks and video. The goal of this presentation was to create a visually and pedagogically sound artifact that reflects modern understandings of what good instructional design looks like. In other words, it avoided many of the pitfalls commonly associated with PowerPoint presentations by creating a presentation that relies on a minimum of text, the inclusion of high-quality images, and interactive elements correctly targeted to the end-user.
I like to think that final product is effective, engaging and appealing. This learning object is a perfect example of a hypermedia environment that allows interactivity, learner control, and the integration of audio, graphic and textual media.
A second example of the AECT standard 2.4 is the final project I created for EDTECH 512, Online Course Design. While this web-based course does not have the discrete, automated feedback evident in the PowerPoint presentation mentioned above, it is an excellent example of the AECT standard because it comprises extensive text, video and hyper-linked resources. This online course also features interactivity, in that, users are directed to interactive discussion forums as part of the learning process, thereby providing a considerable degree of learner control and interactivity. Finally, I am proud of this artifact as it is an example of instructional design targeted to the teaching of best practices using best practices: 21st Century Learning, Bloom’s Taxonomy, iPad Workflow, Flipped Learning and Challenge Based Learning – all current models of educational best practice.
STANDARD 3: UTILIZATION
Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.
3.1 Media Utilization
Media utilization is the systematic use of resources for learning. Utilization is the decision-making process of implementation based on instructional design specifications.
Referring again to EDTECH 541, I would like to bring the reader’s attention to an iPad lesson entitled Technology-Based Activities for Language Learners, A Health Unit. This unit incorporates numerous web-based resources as well as iPad applications for productivity, instruction and presentation. Each of these categories on the website features extensive discussion relating to integration strategy, relative advantages and expected outcomes. This is an example of a systematic approach to instructional design utilizing multimedia.
A second example of this AECT standard is the Instructor Interviews assignment as part of EDTECH 541. For this project I interviewed a handful of instructors at Zayed University and then used these interviews as part of a screen-cast presentation created using Camtasia Studio. This was an interesting project because it offered an opportunity to survey professional educators regarding their attitude and use of multimedia integration.
The results of the survey, as seen in the video are interesting, in that, there is an obvious range of opinion and use when it comes to multimedia. For example, some instructors experiment with multimedia, while others tend to use multimedia to simply supplement what they already do, thus supporting Berrett, Murphy and Sullivan’s (2012) point that the challenge to making technology integration successful is to have a conceptual understanding of what the technology can do, and “tools must be useful to the participants in a way that enhances what they already do” (p. 216).
3.2 Diffusion of Innovations
Diffusion of innovations is the process of communicating through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption with an ultimate goal of bringing about change, the process includes stages such as awareness, interest, trial, and adoption.
There are two projects that immediately come to mind for this standard. The first is a vision statement written for EDTECH 541, in which I described at length the vital need to reform educational practices for new generations of learners who are digital natives (Prensky, 2010). Not only are young people today coming-of-age immersed in technology, but they also are entering an increasingly competitive, global and technology-based workplace.
In response to this call for new approaches to education, a number of initiatives have sprung up over recent years. For example, The Partnership for 21st Century Learning program (P21), founded in 2002, defines 21st century skills as the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in today’s world. The P21 framework is comprised of four major themes: core and 21st century subjects; learning and innovation skills; information and communication technology (ICT) skills; and life/career skills (Oxford, 2010).
Measured technology can play an important role by enhancing instruction methods, increasing productivity, motivating students, and helping them to develop technical, informational and visual literacy skills (Roblyer & Doering, 2010). Therefore, rather than traditional “desk-confined, textbook and whiteboard techniques… [technology offers a] …rich context for…social construction of outcomes, connections, cooperation and collaboration with others, and practical engagement and worthwhile real-world activities” (Snape & Fox-Turnbull, 2011, p. 156). The aim is “an authentic learning environment that creates powerful connections, collaborations, and creativity that promotes learning and challenges thinking” (Johnson, 2010, p. 174).
The second and obvious choice for this standard is the final synthesis paper that I wrote for EDTECH 504. In this 20-page paper, citing numerous sources, I argue at length for the need for a change the way English foundation programs in places like Zayed University, where, despite claims and promotion of progressive approaches, the reality is that curricular approaches and predominant teaching methodologies reflect a behavioristic view of teaching and learning. The paper argues that English foundation programs like that found at Zayed University can accomplish stated learning mission goals if they are willing to fully embrace 21st century learning approaches grounded in social constructivism, and make strategic adjustments in four areas: mission statement, curriculum, ICT and assessment.
This paper is a good example of an attempt to promote the adoption of innovative approaches. In fact, I am especially proud of this particular project because a final version produced with the aid of a colleague’s is the first published paper I have written.
3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization
Implementation is using instructional materials or strategies in real (not simulated) settings. Institutionalization is the continuing, routine use of the instructional innovation in the structure and culture of an organization.
The relative advantage chart I put together for EDTECH 541 is an example of instructional strategies and materials for real settings. By real settings, I mean to say that the chart identifies 10 real learner issues within the context of my own work at Zayed University. These issues include lack of motivation, time and study management skills, overr-eliance on instructors, and so on. For each learning issue the chart identifies a technology solution, the relative advantage of that solution as well as expected outcomes. This assignment was particularly useful because all technology solutions utilize the iPad and iPad-related applications, an important and ongoing project at Zayed University.
3.4 Policies and Regulations
Policies and regulations are the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology.
Perhaps the best illustration of this standard is the copyright scavenger hunt that I created for EDTECH 502. I like this project because it accomplishes several things. First of all, I created a webpage using Adobe Dreamweaver, which is something that I had little experience with prior to this class. Secondly, the webpage and project includes an embedded animation that I created. This multimedia element brings the page to life and reinforces the message. Finally, I believe this project was successful and achieves the AECT standard because it addresses a very real issue that plays out in my own work context, which is the fact that many instructors as well as administrators regularly violate copyright and fair use laws. Unfortunately, my project is not being used by the University, which is too bad because I think it would be a useful addition to the program.
Another example of this standard is the obstacles to integration post that I wrote for EDTECH 541. This subject is close to my heart due to the fact that in my own work context, management has been extremely slow in providing the guidance and resources necessary for effective technology integration. Dexter, Doering and Riedel (2006), for example, contend that the culture of educational institutions runs counter to change. The authors note that “technology integration in schools is commonplace,” and yet,
when the technology is introduced into the mainstream, the virtues quickly become less evident as the problems multiply; problems with hardware, the technology is broken, it’s too time-consuming, the technology does not align the curriculum, teachers use of the equipment does not fit with their curriculum schedule, and in essence the teacher puts the technology back on the shelf to collect dust. (p. 200)
The authors maintain that leadership and administrator ability to lead is a significant factor in determining the success of implementing a new technology. This is certainly the case at Zayed University, where management preaches technology innovation but fails to provide sufficient leadership, guidance and support required to effectively integrate technology across the curriculum. There is support, but it should be much better.
STANDARD 4: MANAGEMENT
Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to plan, organize, coordinate, and supervise instructional technology by applying principles of project, resource, delivery system, and information management.
4.1 Project Management
Project management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling instructional design and development projects.
I am pleased with the results of the course that I created for EDTECH 512. The title of this online course is “Mobile Learning Best Practices: An Online Course”. This six-week course is comprised of six modules available on a dedicated learner website. Each module provides video and text content related to current educational best practices. Learners have the opportunity to work independently and asynchronously on each module following an instructor-led schedule. The aim of the course is to instruct and encourage participants to adopt and apply the best practice principles in the classroom.
This course is an excellent example of meticulous, research-based planning and resource management. Planning is evident on the main EDTECH 512 website that I created for this course, which contains numerous links with detailed research and planning in the areas of analysis, evaluation planning, concurrent design, implementation and summative evaluation. There is also a syllabus, which addresses monitoring and controlling resource support systems and in the form of a course overview and goal, indication of resources, schedule and assignments, assessment information that includes rubrics as well as standards and screenshot graphics.
To illustrate the impact of careful planning, analysis findings suggested that motivation and technical learning curve are two potential learner obstacles. As Smith and Ragan (2005) make clear, the final product should be engaging, effective and appealing. As such, I worked to ensure that this web-based instruction, not unlike traditional instruction, is “designed in such a way that creates a clear pathway of learning for students” (Smith, 2008, p. 418). Similarly, many of the target learners possess relatively basic ICT skills, which means that these instructors may lose motivation if the course is difficult to understand or navigate. In this way, as the designer, I knew that my “role now is to make sure that information is presented in a way that is relevant, understandable, memorable, and useful to students” (Smith, 2008, p. 486).
4.2 Resource Management
Resource management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling resource support systems and services.
The final evaluation report that I produced for EDTECH 505 aptly demonstrates project management. This evaluation report focused on a one-day event related to the roll-out of iPads at Zayed University. To create this report, I conducted a thorough analysis of the context, program objectives, evaluation questions, participants and evaluation model/method. Qualitative and quantitative data collection instruments were designed, deployed and analyzed.
In line with this AECT standard, the EDTECH 505 course instructor placed great emphasis on simulation of actual project management . The final report is of a professional standard and features numerous graphics, including inforgraphs as well as a simulated project expenses projection, reflecting this standards achievement of recognizing cost effectiveness and resources.
I learned a number of things from this project and EDTECH 505. For instance, evaluation, like instructional design is, to some extent, an iterative process. Bolmetis and Dutwin (2011), for example, recognize that effective evaluation is a systematic approach accomplish by identifying the evaluation program cycle, which comprises establishing philosophy/goals, needs assessment, program planning, implementation/formative evaluation and summative evaluation. More specifically, evaluations often measure efficiency, effectiveness and impact. Other reasons include evaluating alternatives, identifying areas to improve, “make a case for new program” (p. 14), improve and/or change, and seek funding (p. 14).
Perhaps one of the most important lessons I took from this course is the importance of asking good questions. If the evaluator asks questions that have apparent answers or do not drill down deep enough, then the evaluation will not produce the kind of data needed to effectively assess a program. To illustrate, one of the problems with effective technology integration in my own work context has been fact that effective technology integration in the form of iPads has, until now, been evaluated against a low set of standards. In other words, many instructors and administrators are content using the iPad to simply replace traditional methodology. Therefore, unless the program sets the evaluation questions to a higher standard, then this technology will simply substitute and supplement traditional methods.
4.3 Delivery System Management
Delivery system management involves planning, monitoring and controlling the method by which distribution of instructional materials is organized.
The six-week course I created for EDTECH 512, Mobile Learning Best Practices: An Online Course, is also an example of this particular AECT standard, where the delivery system is central to the project. Given the target learners’ professional needs and busy schedules, online delivery is an appropriate solution. Citing Dick et al. (2005), Davidson-Shivers and Rasmussen (2006), for example, point out that “[d] determining an appropriate solution to a problem requires considering the instructional strategies, or methods, and the available delivery systems” (p. 78). Other factors include available time, resources, content, instructors, organizational procedures and proposed tasks (Davidson-Shivers & Rasmussen, 2006).
Smith (2008) recognizes that good web-based instruction is similar to face-to-face instruction, in that, it encourages faculty-to-student and student-to-student interaction, promotes active learning, communicates high expectations, facilitates time on task, provides rich, rapid feedback, activates prior experience, and offers the learner an opportunity to demonstrate newly acquired skills in an authentic and meaningful way. In sum, believe that this online course illustrates careful planning, monitoring and control characteristic of this AECT standard. At the same time, the course also fits Smith’s (2008) definition of good web-based instruction.
4.4 Information Management
Information management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling the storage, transfer, or processing of information in order to provide resources for learning.
The project-based learning unit that I created for EDTECH 542, Technology Supported Project-Based Learning (PBL), is an example of a systematic approach to information management. This online unit is hosted on a dedicated website and features a number of pages with information and resources to support learning: project overview, assessment, resources, project timeline, products/performances, a teaching/learning guide and instructor resources.
Larmer and Mergendoller (2009) justly recognize that “[t]he traditional model of schooling involves a lot of spoon-feeding, hand-holding, and pouring-of-information-into-empty-heads” (p. 81). Bender (2012) cautions, however, that “[w]ithin a PBL framework, students are directing much more of their instructional time than in traditional classes. Therefore, students will need planning and time organizational skills, cooperative learning skills and many other skills for successful participation in PBL classes” (p. 2454/4081). However, “it is not appropriate for teachers choosing to implement a PBL to assume that students know the requisite skills for PBL instruction” (p. 2457/4081).
The challenge is to create project-based learning experience for students who may not be ready for completely independent work. The target learners for this unit are generally eager to work on interesting activities like projects. However, these learners have limited previous experience working independently. To make matters worse, the University program in which they find themselves is still largely exam based, and many instructors continue to teach in a traditional manner, which makes it difficult for other instructors, like me, who try to wean students off worksheets and memorization. In this particular project-based unit I provided students with specific research links in order to maximize the amount of time students spend on understanding the language and content, without getting mired in surfing the Internet.
STANDARD: 5 EVALUATION
Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to evaluate the adequacy of instruction and learning by applying principles of problem analysis, criterion-referenced measurement, formative and summative evaluation, and long-range planning.
5.1 Problem Analysis
Problem analysis involves determining the nature and parameters of the problem by using information-gathering and decision-making strategies.
The evaluation project for EDTECH 505 involved data collection used to inform final recommendations. The evaluation project focused on answering five questions relating to specific aims of a one day event at Zayed University, which, as mentioned above, was conducted as part of a larger introduction of the iPad for use at the University by all students and faculty.
An objective attainment model was applied in the development of pretest and posttest online surveys to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Data analysis was conducted with the results displayed in a number of visual representations, including infographs. This data was then used as the basis of several recommendations in the discussion section of the report. The final project is professional quality and a good example of alignment with this AECT standard.
Another example of this standard is the final final instructional design report for EDTECH 503, Instructional Design. On page 6 of this report is a link to a 24-item online survey that was used to collect data relating to prior experience from target learners, mirroring Smith and Ragan’s (2005) notion that “[t]he most important factor for a designer to consider about the audience is specific, prior learning” (p. 69). The online survey also collected data on attitudes relating to the focus of the instructional design, online screen cast software. The attitude questions are based on the Concerns-based Adoptions Model (CBAM), which is “… a comprehensive approach to facilitating implementation… also data collection instruments, which proponents of an innovation may use to assess in their efforts” (Smith & Ragan, 2005, p. 307).
As part of information gathering, this report also includes a detailed description of the learning environment and transfer context. To illustrate the importance of conducting data collection, in this particular project , analysis of the target learners and learning context revealed that motivation is a significant factor that needed to be addressed, which highlighted the importance of instructional design that is effective, engaging and appealing, echoing, Arias and Clark’s (2004) capture this issue: “If the instructional technology being designed requires users to undergo a learning curve, then motivation… must be addressed during the design phase” (p. 54). Finally, it should be noted that a detailed task analysis flowchart created with an online flowchart maker, was included as part of the data collection aspect of this project.
5.2 Criterion-Referenced Measurement
Criterion-referenced measurement involves techniques for determining learner mastery of pre-specified content.
As part of the final evaluation project for EDTECH 505, pretest and posttest data was gathered to determine efficacy of the event, a one day faculty seminar at Zayed University. This event was staged to generate interest in the iPad for use at the University by all students and faculty. Far more than any previous project in this MET program, the evaluation project for this class demanded detailed analysis of data used to evaluate achievement of five evaluation questions relating to attitudinal and behavioral objectives. Analysis of this data can be seen beginning on page 5 of the evaluation report. Data was analyzed and represented in a number of visual graphics.
Findings of the evaluation concluded that while the evaluation objectives were largely met, there remained a great deal of ambivalence by instructors toward the integration of iPad technology. Recommendations included ongoing training and support and increased clarity vis-a-vis pedagogical rationale, which was apparently a major sticking point for survey participants. Finally, this report includes a significant amount of qualitative data in the form of open-ended questions, which were analyzed and categorized as represented in infographics that can be found in the appendix.
The instructional design project for EDTECH 503 is another example of criterion-referenced measurement to determine the efficacy of instructional intervention. An online survey was deployed to collect data relating to effectiveness of the design. Specifically, data was collected related to timing, effectiveness, engagement, appeal, explanations and the introduction. It was determined that these aspects of the instructional design should serve as criteria for success. Data was gathered from a subject matter expert (SME) as part of a review evaluation survey. The SME evaluated what was essentially the first draft of the screen-cast learning object. Results of this evaluation survey by the SME show that the learning object needed considerable revisions, especially given that “ID has as a goal efficient, effective, and appealing instruction” (Smith & Ragan, 2005, p. 356). Specific SME recommendations led to revisions incorporated into the final product. Results of this evaluation can be found beginning on page 28 of the final report.
5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation
Formative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this information as a basis for further development.
As with the previous standard, my final design project in EDTECH 503 illustrates attainment of these standards. The reader will find on page 25 a detailed explanation of a formative evaluation plan that involves an expert review by a SME, a one-to-one evaluation, a small group evaluation and a field trial. Smith and Ragan (2005) point out that formative evaluation is particularly important as part of instructional design process when, among other things, the designer is a novice, the content and/or technology is new to either the audience or instructional design team, accountability is high, and opportunities for later revision are minimal – all true in this case.
Smith and Ragan (2005) recommend an evaluation plan that includes learning goals, analysis of resources and constraints, task analysis, description of learning environments, indicators of success, identification of instructional elements and stages of formative evaluation. Formative evaluation for this project includes these aspects. Unfortunately, however, my evaluation project for this class does not actually include a summative evaluation due to contextual constraints at my workplace, so it was not possible to fully implement this evaluation plan. Yet, Smith and Ragan (2005) make clear:
One common error in conducting summative evaluation that causes them to yield fallacious data is conducting the evaluation too early in the implementation of the instructional program. If at all possible, the summative evaluation of the program should not occur in the first implementation of the instructional program” (p. 344).
In the case of my project, summative evaluation would occur after the screen-cast product was used by target audience.
5.4 Long-Range Planning
Long-range planning that focuses on the organization as a whole is strategic planning. Long-range is usually defined as a future period of about three to five years or longer.
The Technology Use Plan I submitted for EDTECH 501 is perhaps my best example of long-range organizational planning. The plan, available as a narrated PowerPoint presentation, is a draft of a technology use plan developed for the Academic Bridge Program at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, the UAE. This plan does not make specific technology recommendations, but rather it proposes a planning framework that would lay the groundwork for a more tailored and detailed technology plan. The plan itself is broken down into 10 elements: rationale, planning team, process, vision statement, goals/objectives, needs assessment, staff development, evaluation research, timeline and conclusion.
The plan’s conceptual pedagogical framework is grounded in principles laid out in the National Education Technology Plan 2010 (NETP), which is a framework “… of learning powered by technology, with goals and recommendations in five essential areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity” (p. 8), wherein technology is leveraged in order “… to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures” (p. 8).
I am a firm believer in 21st century learning approaches. The format of the plan is modeled after a technology plan guidebook by Al-Weshail et al. (1996). Therefore, creating this plan was a beneficial learning experience because as an instructional designer, I will need to be able to do this in the future.
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