The good, the bad, and the ugly of the all-or-nothing approach to technology integration
If we were to consider different points of view regarding the value and usefulness of technology in education, then we would find no two opinions more polar opposites than those of Neil Postman and Roberto Joseph.
Postman is of the opinion that technology reduces an individual’s options (Postman, 1993). He suggests that school is primarily for socialization of a child into the larger society and that individualized learning and digestion of information is not an outcome or goal of participation in school (Postman, 1993). Finally, Postman feels that technology has served only to create a glut of useless information that is in turn undecipherable by any reasonable person (Postman, 1993). Ultimately the tone of Postman is one of preference for the ‘good old times’ and a desire to embrace a simpler life.
Joseph conceptualizes the historical purpose of schools to be one of sorting children for future roles in the workforce as labor and management — the system was designed to provide the most resources to intelligent individuals destined for management and very little resources to those who would comprise menial labor (Joseph, 2002). He suggests that individualized learning would better serve the advancement of every student rather than a select few (Joseph, 2002). Joseph advocates the use of technology for cognitive development and nurturing of problem solving skills (Joseph, 2002). According to Joseph, conceptual learning gained through interaction with simulations that eventually lead to community based learning would be an ideal solution for the needs of a modern, collaborative workforce capable of independent thinking (Joseph, 2002). Ultimately, Joesph believes that if we take the time to consider new uses of existing tools, rather than teaching old methods with new tools, we will realize increased return on investment both for infrastructure as well as human resources utilized in delivery of instruction (Joseph, 2002).
So on one side we have an author who thinks technology is bad and another who believes that technology is essentially good and a necessary element of a successful future. Neither author touches on the differences that are unique to each individual learner. Some people learn better by interacting one-on-one in a verbal and visual fashion while other learners make better connections by seeing examples (whether in a book, diagram, or online), practicing, revising, and trying again. Some people feel psychologically intimidated by technology (e.g. there are a lot of unknown buttons, menus, and things to navigate). Others feel like they need more buttons to press — just so they can press each one to see what will happen.
A good teacher is able to connect personally with their student and nurture conceptual knowledge and understanding to the point where the student can apply and transform the knowledge on their own. These outstanding teachers know how to help us acquire the necessary experience to reach the point where suddenly the new stuff all makes sense. A teacher has to be quick and able to adapt in reaction to their audience. If a lecture or activity on a topic results in blank stares, then we have to try something else to get the knowledge and message across. I think one of the disadvantages for technology right now is that we spend a lot of time building a tool that doesn’t lend it self to being customized on the fly. While we can consider the different learning models, cognitive theory, and psychology associated with education – we struggle to un-make our lesson and transform it into something more effective at connecting with our student when our dazzling PowerPoint falls flat.
For me, all or nothing is a blind and stupid way to approach using technology in education. Personally, I think I have missed out on learning and being challenged as much as I could have – because this degree is taught completely online. Granted, I am a different learner in some respects — I had 10 years of experience using technology in higher education prior to starting the degree. Most of the tech stuff wasn’t that new to me. Though if I were to compare the online courses to the research methods class I took in Summer 1 (which was face-to-face) I would have to say that there was no comparison. The course was challenging and kicked my butt (new concepts and methods for me). The instructor really was a gem (mentally sharp and quick, lots of experience and examples to share that were relevant). I felt more engaged and learned more interesting things in that one course, than I think I have learned thus far in this program (apologies and much love/respect to Dr. Horvitz — I think he kicks butt and takes names as a prof.).
What I am trying to say is that technology ideally should enrich the communication, conceptualization, and visualization of concepts. There should be a human dialog as well as an engaging narrative. If you find one student needs the basics — get them the basics. If you have an advanced student — help them to get the most out of their time with more advanced things. Share ideas. Help them to build their own personal connection with and awareness of technology’s potential. Use the tech where it makes sense, use the old stuff that “ain’t broke” for the rest. Dialog, listening, nodding, talking is still an amazing thing. Personal attention is an magical thing.
One other opinion I would like to share is that students should NEVER be experimented on with untested technology. It ruins the educational experience for everyone involved. Just because we can do video-interactive-everything doesn’t mean we should. Don’t overdo it — technology isn’t an elixir that cures all ailments. A mix of the classics along with that ‘hip new sound from way out’ may get you the maximum return on your investment.
Reigeluth, C.M. & Joseph, R. (2002). Beyond technology integration: The case for technology transformation. Educational Technology, 42(4), 9-13.
Postman, N. (1993). “Of Luddites, Learning, and Life.” Technos Quarterly, 2(4).
Reflections on Blogs, RSS, Dale’s Cone, and Siegel
I am a huge fan of blogs and RSS feeds. I have been using Googler Reader for quite a while now and am a regular reader of about 200+ feeds on topics including marketing, design, education, technology, popular culture and more. I like how individuals, through blogs, are able to present their own unique point of view, or provide investigative reporting on topics they enjoy.
Blogging has become more of an accepted format over the past few years. Credibility has been brought to the format by professional journalists like David Pogue, of the New York Times, who provides personal commentary on technology. Blogging also results in fun parodies, like Fake Steve Jobs (FSJ) who for months wrote clever commentaries — as if he were the real Apple CEO. The unmasking of FSJ earlier this year was a blast for everyone too when the New York Times figured out the FSJ was in fact Daniel Lyons a senior editor at Forbes. Blogs can be both informative as well as fun.
Last week Google made me the happiest Google Reader users ever by adding a ‘search’ tool that had been painfully needed. In addition they added the ability to see how many unread items you had (in the past it maxed at 100, now it goes to 1000 — which is perfect for me).
When considering Dale’s Cone, I think that the activity of writing a Blog has the potential to easily be classified as a ‘direct, purposeful, experience’ where the author is ‘learning by doing’. The act of interacting with Blogging technology results in development of specific technology literacy (e.g. using a Web browser, creating an account, configuring the blog, writing, editing, managing posts). In addition the act of investigation of topics, linking to other resources and sharing ideas is a repetitious activity that over time is refined as the author gains more experience. Reading a Blog or RSS feed can also result in an ‘iconic experience’ — if information is presented with media that supplements the text (e.g. a video, diagram, illustration, graphic). We can expand upon our conceptual knowledge by experiencing how others describe details and perceptions of topics, issues, or artifacts. Many of the Blogs I read are written by individuals I would consider to be experts in their field (Ray Kurzweil, John Nack, David Pogue, Guy Kawasaki, etc) — many of these experts present video tutorials on topics including how to present, graphic design, and product development — these videos are demonstrations that help me to enhance my knowledge. There are many other aspects of Dale’s Cone that could be used to describe Blogging — I have covered two, and will stop at this point.
So, let’s turn to Siegel’s concept of “computer imagination”…
Blogging and RSS are tools that facilitate authoring and sharing of electronic content. One way that these technologies could be used in an ‘imaginative’ way to facilitate collaborative learning is described below:
Problem: How to we leverage our combined strengths and interests as a group to research and share information?
- Find out who likes specific types of knowledge (e.g. one person does technology, another science, someone else does news/media, another does productivity techniques)
- Each person starts a blog on that subject.
- Each person researches journals, Web sites, etc. and writes up an overview, literature review, or top ten list with links to the source materials (for use in future reference, or to dig deeper)
- Use Google Reader to subscribe to all of the Blog RSS feeds.
- Create a shared RSS feed in Google Reader that utilizes the feeds from all of the other blogs.
- Have everyone subscribe to the ‘shared’ feed.
- Each team member is now able to gain the expertise of all of the authors.
This is what we would refer to as a Mashup.
(Another way to do this is to create one Blog on Blogger.com and provided ‘author’ access to all team members — have each member tag/label their posts — so that later on it is easy to find posts only about ‘x’ subject)
It is amazing what can be done with a mix-mash of different technologies. However, as with anything — it ain’t gonna work overnight. There is not an ‘easy’ button. If you want to do anything with technology (e.g. author content, teach with it, make stuff) — you have to gain experience and enhance your literacy with using the tools. Learn the basics first, then find interesting projects (or make a project up), use the technology in the project, fail lots of times, break stuff, learn, grow, and eventually you’ll be perceived as a guru. It all takes time.
Reflection: Using a Wiki, how to use as a teacher
This week’s reflection in EDT 5410 is based upon the Tim O’Reilly’s article titled “What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software“.
I think Wiki’s are an interesting technology. They are versatile in that they can be used for distribution and collection of knowledge — which we have seen in with wikipedia.org. In addition to being used as a repository or dynamic encyclopedia, a wiki can serve as a collaborative tool for group work, projects, and collaborative team development. On campus, a few members of the web users group are prototyping how they think a wiki could be used to archive past technology solutions (e.g. how to link in a video, how does css work, what are the university colors in hex), while other departments are thinking about how they can use a wiki to develop their departmental web site — the later group intends to conduct ongoing presentations and conversations as well as design prototypes and examples within the wiki. It is very interesting to watch these technologies be adapted in both similar and different ways for a variety of purposes.
For instruction, other than building technical literacy, I am on the fence about the usefulness of a Wiki for instruction. Someday they could serve as a replacement for textbooks?
I like having individual development, learning portfolios, projects etc, on blogs — the format works for me: you can post, think, share, and have comments going on. Forums are nice for community chatter and requests for support. In the end I like wiki’s as a place to put what the finished work or solution was.
So for me:
- Blogs: personal, work-in-progress, historical look back at personal development (it’s my notebook)
- Forums: everybody blabbing about stuff, or asking for help and exploring solutions (the classroom, lounge, computer club)
- Wikis: the rock that we chissel in the final word/answer/solution — with the ability to make corrections if needed (also nice for historical reference or use) (the textbook)
- Blogs are a personal notebook (mine)
- Forums are the classroom (gathering place)
- Wikis are a freakin’ huge textbook (agreed upon knowledge)
Reflection: Social bookmarking
The value of social bookmarking for instruction, collaboration, support
As a tool for sharing personally created directories of useful Web site links, social bookmarking tools like del.icio.us are an effective way to present links along with meta-information regarding categories for classifying the type of information related to the linked resource. An added advantage of an automated online tool for organizing bookmarks is the ability to verify the “health” of the bookmark collection—weeding out links that are no longer available.
The social aspect of sharing bookmarks could be a useful way of locating new materials and resources that we were otherwise unaware of.
Where social bookmarking misses the mark
In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage of a social bookmarking tools is that links are presented without context. Meaning, there is no explanation as to why the person who bookmarked the Web site found the information available there useful.
For example, in my del.icio.us account, I linked several support sites related to resizing a Windows XP disk partition in a Parallels virtual machine. At the time I bookmarked the sites I knew that I was doing so in order to be able to reference them later in the day—as I was rebooting my machine several times trying different options for addressing the technical problem I was trying to solve (and I didn’t want to reload bookmarks within firefox over and over again).
The del.icio.us site doesn’t seem to really know what their main purpose or market is for sure. They do social bookmarking, yet their main home page is much more like Digg—they are showing what sites are being bookmarked the most. While their tags hot list is like a billboard magazine index or
blogpulse.com version of what overall categories are most popular.
What other efforts have been done to collaborate on or share bookmarks?
Similar efforts to group information socially have been attempted. In 1996 the first Yahoo index/directory links were suggested and maintained by humans—relevant categories were used to organize information. DMOZ, another online link directory, attempted to provide useful and relevant information by using a collective/community to maintain information. The new Mahalo is the latest effort at powering relevant search results with people.
We seem to be in an ongoing cycle where we socially group, gather and classify information, then some other search and filtering technology (e.g. HotBot, MetaCrawler, Google) finds a better way of sorting, searching, and evaluating all of the repositories of collaborative, useful, detailed mess we create.
Personally, if I was an instructor, I would favor using blogs instead of social bookmarking tools. Blogs enable you to post images (so you can have a visual history of information or resources), you can add meta-tagging information to classify your posts and/or links, and you can provide a context for why the links are valuable. Most modern blogging tools (I really like WordPress) enable you to search past posts to quickly find what you need. You can also have social interaction regarding the posts by using comments—which you can’t do with del.icio.us.
Maybe I’m too set in my ways—but I prefer using blogs much more than social bookmarking sites.
Reflection: Definitions of educational technology
I associate educational technology mostly with the tangible products selected through an instructional design process. From this point of view, educational technology consists of those things we use: a course management system, projectors, laptops. Learning objects that include images, sounds, video and other related media are also products of an instructional design process.
So in terms of staff and roles, an instructional designer creates media and things used for instruction, while a technologist might recommend the best tools to support education.
Humans seem to be in a constant cycle of trying to define themselves and their relationship with the world. Often, we want to expand upon accepted definitions of words or transform meaning and rebuild connections associated with specific concepts. Yet, when it comes down to it, when we need help or seek assistance, we don’t necessarily say “Betty, I need an instructional designer”, or “Bob, could you ring up that educational technology expert to help us out here”. We seek out individuals we know can help us. We want assistance from someone who understands us and our needs. I think we could assign any label we want to what it is that we as professionals are doing in our field. So long as the people we help understand that we are helping them to essentially utilize available resources to support desired outcomes.
Instructional support guru/master might be a better concept to communicate what we do rather than educational technology/instructional designer. We borrow from psychology, sociology, planning, architecture, marketing, technology, graphic design, videography, and many other fields. We seek out the methods that will help learners to get the most out of available resources.
Let’s spend less time conceptualizing our understanding of ourselves and more time on building a diversified, holistic skill set. The people we help, they know why they seek us out. We don’t need to fully re-design the wheel of meaning and conceptualization in order to effectively do our thing. Tie promotion and marketing of our skill set to the needs expressed by our target audience, and move on from there.
Flickr vs. Picasa
So, this past week I played around with Picasa and thought about how it compared to Flickr. Playing around with the features of Picasa was a lot of fun. I fell in love with the embeded photo slideshow that can be put on any blog or web page.
I am working with WMU’s Department of Dance to put together a show called SexyTeenLoveIdol — which is a show about how online dating/facebooks/cellphones/relationships are moving so fast that we don’t connect as well any more. My role in the show has been to build a unique website that looks and functions like many of the social networks and online dating sites. The show will take place later in October. I excited because I actually get to be on-stage in the show — I’m playing a web developer and the site is used to segue between scenes. The reason I’m telling you this is because, using Picasa for photo albums provided me a very easy way (vs. hand coding in flash) as very attractive and interactive photo sharing tool for the SexyTeenLoveIdol site. So — I’m already applying a fun new tool from this class to my work life!
Comparison of the tools
Both of these tools have standard features:
- You can share photos online
- You can download a software application for organization and upload of photos
The features that make Picasa realy cool:
- Their desktop software is really great and intuitive for organizing photos (provides free alternative to iPhoto or Adobe Photoshop Album)
- Ability to embed an animated slideshow in a web page
- Can copy photos to any compact flash capable device
- Make or order prints
- Easy backup to CD or DVD
- Make gift CD(s) with slideshows
- Turn photos into movies
- Print posters
The features that are really cool about Flickr include:
- Ability to add map/location meta data to each photo
- Ability to add notes to specific areas of an image
- You can provide lots of alternate resolutions — specified by you
- You can order lots of other stuff based on photos (prints, cards, stamps, etc)
- Flickr has a plug-in that integrates with iPhoto or Aperture
- You can upload photos from camera phones etc.
Part of how these tools functions is based on their original intent/design. Picasa was a company that was purchased by Google. They really were aiming at making an easy to use desktop application for organizing, editing, and sharing photos. They did tie some of the funcitionality to the Web — but that doesn’t really seem to have been the main reason for making the tool. So, you tend to see more features that are related to collecting, fixing, and sharing photos.
Flickr was a Web 2.0 application from day 1. So, we see the ability to log a lot of additional information, like where the photo was taken (marked on a map), the ability to tag specific sections of a photos and add captions to each and every object in the image. Flickr has a lot more social networking aspects to their service too.
My overall reaction, is that I love them both. Whichever one I used would depend upon what I was trying to accomplish. Flickr is great for sharing and discussion and lots of detail. Picasa provides a slick way to embed stuff right in your page, make movies/DVD to share with others — it is more of a real-life, face-to-face sharing tool. Whereas Flickr is online collaboration/sharing.
How to use these in a classroom?
For digital storytelling, Picasa is a winner. It is free, you can add captions and create movies and slideshows easily. For learning more about photography, discussion and group work Flickr kicks butt and takes names. So, pick the one that will help support your learning outcomes/objectives.
Reflection on instructional design
The majority of my work has been in creating materials for distribution online. There are clear processes and approaches that have stood out over the years that help yield a consistent quality in terms of design and content while getting things out the door in a timely fashion. In a nutshell: you figure out what you are building and what it is supposed to do, you gather the content, you organize it, you create a visual design to support the information, you integrate the design and content, and you apply a final polish before finishing things out.
First and foremost, having a clear objective about what needs to be done is important. Projects that don’t have a clear goal are hell and take forever to complete. In terms of instructional design, knowing who your learners are, what they have learned before, what they need to get out of the activity or lesson, what their age is, and their overall anticipated learning approach are necessary parts of establishing a clear objective. As important as the learners, as a designer/developer, you need to get to know your client too. The faculty’s impressions of technology and instructional methods is important. Even if you are confident one approach is better, if the client hates it, your collaboration is going to get no where by pushing a specific approach that doesn’t gel well. So you have to balance your knowledge along with what the client will be comfortable working with. Some strong salesmanship and interpersonal skills will help you bridge the gap between your experience and what the client desires — but sometimes you have to let go and just do things a different way.
One thing that I didn’t think was discussed as much in the chapter this week is a review cycle. Yes, there are different steps of an instructional design process. But, the review cycle is important. You should touch base with your client/instructor on a regular basis to make sure the “progress” really is “progress”. If the changes you made don’t fit, it is much more helpful to know on a week-by-week basis vs. getting to the end of a 130 hr project only to find that you ran in the wrong direction.
In most cases user testing is a luxury that most project will not be able to afford. Ideally, you would run your instructional design past some real students to see how they interact with it. Unfortunetly, this takes time and money that you will rarely have. So, you’ll need to build experience of what works and what doesn’t by reviewing existing tools, auditing classes, and reading a lot of theory/articles/publications. It also helps to build relationships with peers in your field. Be part of a usergroup that discusses best practices. Lots of experience through varied projects and knowledge building will help you to replace user testing in many cases. One other note about working with real students — I think it is important to include a feedback mechanism — so if as students are working on a class or with a technology and they find a problem or something just sucks in terms of them learning a topic — it is better for them to be able to tell you so that you can fix it later. Nothing, repeat nothing, will ever be perfect the first time. Instructional design products should be considered organic — always improving, changing and growing.
Those are my thoughts on this topic for this week. 🙂
A collection of screen shots from past projects
I grabbed these images from my Web page on WMU’s homepages server. These images are screen shots from past Web projects I worked on.
Project: Anthropology Rich Internet Application
Created with Macromedia Flash, ColdFusion MX and Flash Communication Server. I coded the Web site and application from scratch. It enabled an Anthropology curriculum to be distributed from WMU to two high schools associated with the grant that funded the project.
Here you can see the entry page where a general intro message was presented, an enter button, and general system requriements.
Students were able to go into main rooms and group rooms. The four panels in the center each provided a space where students could connect a Web cam for live chat and interaction. The text box bellow provided real-time text chat.
This is a picture of the lecture hall room where the instructor could run a live video presence and use an interactive whiteboard. Students were able to submit questions via the live chat below.
Canterbury Cathedral Project
The Cathedral provided a way for students in history and art to utilize an interactive floorplan to access and view hundreds of images of the interior and exterior of Canterbury cathedral. Each location on the map had potentially 16 different views. The project was designed to simplify content maintenance so that a non-technical person could easily append or update text information and photos. One of the earlier prototypes included a more immersive 3-D perspective. Overall the tour included instructional modules, slideshows with text commentary, projects, explore on your own sections, and a detailed bibliography. The project was created using Flash, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver.
That’s all folks
Maps a plenty
Here are two maps showing places I have been in the past few years.
I had the opportunity to attend the 2005 WebCT conference in San Francisco, CA. By far, San Francisco is one of the best places I have ever been. The city is vibrant with art, culture, and tradition. It is easy to walk to just about anywhere. The food is excellent — the overall experience is life changing. If you ever get a chance to go, visit SanFrancisco!
One year later I attended a UniPress Footprints conference in Las Vegas, NV. This is also a very cool city. However, I really do prefer San Francisco. The night life, as you can imagine is out of this world. At the conference, I met a very nice couple who were also attending the session. One evening we walked the whole strip. We saw the pirate ship sink at Treasure Island, we walked through Madam Tusdauds Wax Museum, we saw the volcano outside the Rivera, as well as the stunning fountains of the Bellagio. I played $20 at a few table games, and eventually was up to about $200 on the roulette table — then of course, I went bust. On my way back to my room, I hit a huge jackpot on a slot machine and won $100 — which I spent having a wonderful dinner at a Mexican themed restaurant in the Luxor. Good times. 🙂
Reflection: Will the Internet and Web have a major impact on K-12, Higher Education, and/or Adult Education?
In a nutshell: yes and no.
The impact of the Internet and Web on K-12
Presently, the Internet and Web have the least amount of impact on the education and learning that occurs in K-12. In my opinion, this is because this portion of our educational experience is foundational. Much of the information and activities available via the Internet and Web simply do not apply to the conceptual learning that occurs at this level. Many research articles indicate that computer time for students can be utilized as an incentive for students to complete required tasks or interactions. Doing photographic or video projects is certainly fun — yet doesn’t really replace the outcomes that can be obtained with basic face-to-face and hands-on arts, crafts, and drama classes. The personal attention and interaction that occurs between a teacher and a student is the most important thing. Someday artificial intelligence may advance to the point where it can compare to the value of tangible human interaction — but we are not there yet. So, for now, I would say that for the early part of K-12 the Internet and Web are as essential and valuable as television based instruction was found to be in the 1960s. Otherwise said — not essential at all.
Students who are further along in their K-12 education (e.g. middle and high school age) can gain skills in information literacy, research, mathematics and engineering that would effect their post-graduation employment opportunities. Though I would still consider literacy with technology to be only a small part of essential skills required for success in adult employment.
The impact of the Internet and Web on Higher Education
The Internet and Web have had an impact for the administration of a higher education institution. Distance education programs that were tape delayed, teleconferencing or video based have evolved into online courses. There is value to the student in this instructional medium: students can learn when they want to, they can interact with other students, they can complete activities without ever entering a classroom. I personally still favor face-to-face courses. The conveniences of an online course are not justified by what we miss in being part of a true learning community and face-to-face course where the instructor can more effectively gauge if we are ‘getting it’ or not.
From a research standpoint, the Internet and Web have been a huge plus for higher education students. Our library at WMU is the strongest example I can think of. We have electronic access to millions of journal publications and documents. We are able to quickly locate new materials by using sophisticated databases and meta data. I am extremely thankful for the Web and Internet because of how it supports my access to knowledge, perspectives, and collaborations that I would otherwise not have access to.
The impact of the Internet and Web on Adult Learning
So, once we have learned the basics in K-12, and advanced knowledge and learning abilities in higher education — as adult learners the web and internet are a wonderful thing. We already have basic understanding of a lot of different things — we are able to learn independently. Because of this, online learning modules, interactive applications, and electronic reference (which can be e-mailed, printed, bookmarked, and had notes added to it) are an ideal way for us to continue adding to our existing skills and knowledge. In addition to this, having support available through e-mail, instant messaging, and video chat (made possible by the Internet and Web) is best suited to our needs within the workplace and our adult lives.
There is a time and place for everything. Technology is not a solution that solves every problem. Being able to look at what is really needed, and considering if technology adds real value is important. Be open, try new things. But don’t force it. Everything in our educational experience does not have to be digital — and not everything has to be face-to-face. Balance instruction with value and convenience for the student.
SexyTeenLoveIdol.net production notes
The show has been in production/tech week for the past three weeks. We have had many many long nights — getting up at 6 a.m. to go to work, after work going to the show till about midnight. The show opens Thursday night and runs through Sunday. For more information, read the WMU press release regarding the show.
Here are a few screenshots of the of the Official SexyTeenLoveIdol.net Web site:
Week #7 Reflection
Applying concepts and processes of HPT/HPI in everyday life
One of the things I like about systems like HPT/HPI is that they provide a formalized model and process for evaluating what is present, discovering what is lacking, assessing options, implementing change, and then re-evaluating the results.
In some cases, a lack of productivity in the workplace can be the result of essential pieces of an HPI system not being present or clear. For example, it has been my experience that we don’t always clearly communicate what our desired outcomes or objectives are. It is very challenging to be productive if we don’t know what we are trying to accomplish. If an outcome or objective is not simple and clear — then I would bet that there will be trouble found during our pursuit of success.
Wouldn’t it be great if we shared a common language and approach to working on projects? If we all knew how to utilize a system like “HPT model of the International Society for Performance Improvement” then we might be able to trouble shoot and resolve challenges experienced while completing every day tasks and collaborative work.
I think that this system does have an application in an educational setting. Learning objectives and outcomes really are not that different from the types of objectives and outcomes we are given in our professional lives. If students knew how to utilize an HPT system then they could theoretically figure out what was lacking in their existing knowledge and abilities, seek out the necessary new knowledge or skills, train, and re-evaluate their abilities. Younger learners might need the assistance of a teacher or mentor — but once the system was learned, it could easily be re-applied in many different contexts.
What added value might podcasting have in your professional setting (company, school, etc.)?
I think that podcasting is a trendy technology. For the most part, people have found value in entertainment applications of podcasting. Yet, educational, professional development, and collaboration might be well suited to the podcasting medium. My mother in law recently purchased her first iPod — one of the models that supports video. She was delighted to learn that she could download cooking podcasts, documentaries about the beatles, and yoga exercises. She demonstrates some characteristics of a visual learner — so maybe the podcasts suit her well.
For me, I tend to prefer text based materials that are supplemented with graphics, animations, and videos where necessary. I find podcasts to be a little frustrating because I can’t easily notate or bookmark them. It is also not possible to use a search engine to locate tidbits of information I found valuable. Hence, on my personal blog, when I do link to a podcast or video, I tend to provide a textual description of why I found the video to be valuable. So, that at a later date I can easily search for and find media samples to share with others.
Reflection: Week 8 – Instructional design in business and industry
Instructional Design and Technology in the private sector
The two things that stood out the most, after reading the most recent chapter, were rapid prototyping and evaluation methods. Public universities in Michigan have faced ever rising concerns related to operational costs while needing to deliver higher quality and competitive services. A core to any business’s success is the qualities and abilities of the staff and teams who deliver services. In order to adapt to the ever changing needs of the community a university serves it is necessary to support staff and professional development.
There are many different approaches to implementing a staff development program or system. Yet, in order to be responsive to the changes in technology and needs of the target audience we need to be able to complete projects in weeks or months rather than quarters or years. Rapid prototyping paired with evaluation is one of the few ways we can quickly try new methods and determine if they are viable and scalable solutions.
I would add to this that teaching individual staff how to use rapid prototyping methods, formative and summative evaluation would enable all areas of an organization to grow and develop in the skills and abilities areas they deem necessary. By empowering everyone with a similar learning/development skill set you gain an organization full of individuals who are able to identify areas they need to improve in, able to prototype solutions, evaluate results, and revise as necessary. Of course, the final and most important step is sharing the overall results and methods.
EDT 5410 course/assignment review/opinion
I give the course a thumbs up. I have enjoyed being a part of this class.
“How challenging have you found the assignments?”
Overall, the technology has not been challenging for me. The delicious bookmarking was a new thing for me — I was aware of the tool, but was just too lazy to get around to trying it out. I have continued to play with that tool ever since. I do like the meta tagging abilities etc. Though, I still am somewhat partial to the SiteBar web server install/firefox extension solution — because it lets me have total control of my data.
“What support didn’t you get that you would have appreciated (or what support did you get that you did appreciate)?”
Support has been fine from my end. The instructor responds rapidly to my requests/comments etc. — I really appreciate his ongoing presence in the course.
“Are excited, frustrated, both?”
I am a slave for technology, so I am a kid in a candy store.
“Do you think you’ll find ways to incorporate some of what we’ve done in your professional work?”
Of course. I still play with delicious, and the picasa photo albums — both of which were tools I had not really adopted. I also have been enjoying dabbling with blogs and podcasts.
The thing I really like about this course is that we are using personal blogs for our work — which means a year from now when I want to reference something from this course I still can. When everything is in WebCT I have no ability to retain a learning portfolio without exerting a lot of extra effort. The one downside is that it can take a little more effort for student to interact with one another. Though, I think we could get around that by using rss feed mashups etc.
Week 9 reflection: Trends and Issues in P-12 Educational Change
Piecemeal vs. Systemic Change
In our reading this week, the section on Piecemeal vs. Systemic Change stood out to me. My experiences thus far had led me to believe that piecemeal change is not a desirable thing. It seemed like tinkering with something could cause more trouble than good. The text points out that piecemeal change can actually be ideal if the system or thing being changed is relatively stable. Though, the text also indicates that change in one area can, and often does, affect other pieces of a complete system. A minor change could result in a piece of the system that no longer works or fits with anything else. After having read this, I’m not completely clear on what the author’s position is: is it good or bad to make minor changes? Further on in the chapter the authors led us through a description of perspectives on what systematic change means to different stake holders and members of an organization or community. Ultimately, we are led to the conclusion that ecological systemic change, which takes the whole system and effects of change into account, is an ideal way to implement change. According to the authors, to be successful in implementing change one must make improvements on work being done by partners in the system, with the leadership, and with the external community.
From past experience, I know that change can be difficult — particularly when you are attempting to change something other than what you have direct control over (namely, ones self). I don’t agree with the authors that one must move on multiple fronts in order to have successful, long lasting, and meaningful change. I think that systemic change can be achieved by forming smaller partnerships with associates. The result of the collaboration, if perceived to be a positive one, can and does have a lasting impact on other areas.
Guidance System for Transforming Education
The section on the Guidance System for Transforming Education (GSTE) also was a stand-out and thought provoking section. I really liked that the GSTE had core values associated with its process. The values enable participants in a change process to have a common vision regarding intent and desired outcomes. I like processes that are organized into phases and steps. Knowing where we are at in a process, where we are going, and what steps remain can help a team stay focused and motivated while participating in a large scale project. I also liked the clear and simple list of ongoing events that occur when using the GSTE: evaluating and improving the process, building support, keeping a strong motivation and momentum etc.
In my opinion, the three strengths of the GSTE are:
- Team members are able to agree upon the goals and associated intent of a project
- Everyone understands that participation and process in the project is ongoing and organically changing over time
- That there are specific steps and phases required for achieving the desired outcome
Of all the systems and approaches listed in the chapter, I think that all could be easily adapted for both large and small scale projects. This chapter provided a good cookbook of ideas that we could utilize in order to realize success in our day-to-day jobs.
Map activity: My trip to New York City
This past Sunday, I went to New York City for the first time in my life. I was there for three days for software training with a vendor the Admissions Offices works with. I arrived at noon on Sunday, and had the first day to myself. The map activity listed below shows my walking path, and photos of what I saw. If you are interested in seeing more (I took a ton of photos, and have yet to caption them all) visit my Picasa Galleries (note: these links were removed when Picasa was decommissioned and may be added back at some point in the future):
- Day 1, Sunday, October 28 – Highlights: Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building
- Day 2, Monday, October 29 – Highlights: NYC Public Library Interior, Grand Central Station, City Hall, Ground Zero
- Day 3, Tuesday, October 30 – Highlights: Today Show, Finalists in Ms. Horrorfest Competition Finalists
Google Maps Activity: My Trip to New York City
How the map creation lesson would be used in a course
Students would be given an assignment to create a map showing photos of a recent vacation or trip they had been on. The participants would be encouraged to explore how digital story telling could be utilized with maps, photos, text, and video. My New York City trip would serve as an example of what the finished project might look like. Outcomes from the activity would include increased technology literacy, writing/narrative skills development, and public speaking/sharing abilities (students would present an overview of their trip/map to peers).
Week #10 Reflection: Instructional Design/Technology Contexts and Implications
One consistent trend observed in the business, P-12, and higher education contexts is that of change. Technology, resources, and goals as well as the needs and desires of our target audience are each influencing an ever increasing rate of change. According to the authors of our text, the role of an instructional designer in each context has shifted from being one where an individual works on a single project from beginning to end to a role of collaborative development or advocate/agent of change. What this means is that rather than producing complete electronic learning materials or supporting learning with technology over extended periods of time an instructional designer is much more likely to utilize established or discovered design patterns that reduce development time while partnering during the development process with a community of practice.
I believe that we will continue to see the roll of instructional designers shift as we progress into the next decade. In the business world we see share holders and venture capitalists wanting to see a product produced at little cost, of high quality, and at a rapid pace. In many cases if a product is considered to be “good enough” additional development is abandoned in favor of rapid distribution to realize a return on the investment of time and resources. In higher education, I often have observed faculty utilize instructional designers for general labor or data processing rather than for pedagogical best practices or expertise in learning theory. In both professional and educational contexts the attitudes of those individuals considered to be in positions of authority or in charge of a final decision tend to lean in the direction of having the instructional designer build what was specified by the boss or client and to produce the product quickly and with few errors. There often is not time or desire on the part of the client or management to entertain the musings of theory and practice or efforts to improve the result of the work and effort exerted. It seems somewhat idealistic in the current environment for an instructional designer to hope for collaboration or to be an agent of change.
Another perspective on the current situation found in business and educational contexts is to consider what we observe as a wonderful opportunity. If an ideal partnership can be found and developed then an instructional designer can leverage their expertise in learning theory and development processes to produce amazing things. When a collaborative approach to development is utilized the resulting product is often far superior. We have seen the result of online collaborations in the open source software market. Teams of developers, each with varying levels of talent, come together (often virtually) to develop software that many of us find invaluable. The Firefox web browser, Wikipedia, and RSS each were developed and distributed utilizing a collaborative approach.
The implications for our day-to-day jobs and work environments is this: to maximize our results we should utilize development cycles, change management, training, collaborative communities for learning as well as for development, increase our credibility by grounding knowledge and practice in professionally published literature, embrace life-long-learning, and become advocates who openly share all knowledge and approaches. By building partnerships and participating in collaborative projects with our peers and associates we will ultimately enjoy our work and produce amazing things.
Week #11 Reflection: Competencies for Instructional Design and Technology Professionals
Strengths and opportunities
I am thankful for the many opportunities and professional responsibilities I have enjoyed at Western Michigan University. When I began working full-time in 2000 I had many strong technical skills in multimedia and web development. My supervisor was a gifted, kind, and wonderful mentor who helped me to grow throughout the several years I worked with him. In 2005 I changed offices and began my first management job. I had some training to prepare me prior to starting the new job — but I learned a lot about working with and for others. There were many things I did not expect to learn or experience — but I grew and gained project management experience, enhanced my large scale planning abilities, worked with process mapping, and more. Roughly one and a half years later I started in my current job working with some of the most amazing leaders who are responsible for running key parts of the University. There are some days, when I look at the people sitting around the table at meetings, and I wonder…how did I get here? When caught in the moment it is easy to forget all of the experiences and opportunities that make us who we are.
What am I working on today?
I am going to generally talk about things I am currently working on and am interested in. There is overlap into the Instructional Designer, Training Manager, and Instructor roles. Rather than trying to weave the language of the book into my life, I am going to focus on the language and terms I am comfortable with.
I am interested in a lot of things, a few examples are listed below.
Being able to do this makes impossible things achievable. By having the ability to slowly chip away at a bigger problem, to break it into smaller pieces, to utilize the strengths of multiple people rather than working as an individual — these things are project management.
Using the idea from the computer industry: cheaper, better, faster. There is always something new. Today we laugh at what we did in the past. In the future, the present will seem just as primitive. Getting better at process improvement is always a good investment — it helps you innovate and move towards the future.
Productivity and task management
With so much to do, knowing how to get things done is golden. Do I need to say anything more?
Developing stronger presentation and pitching/selling skills
If you can’t tell a story, explain value, engage listeners, and do it quickly — then you will never be able to achieve your full potential.
Developing stronger collaboration networks, relationships, and skills
Wonderkids can do a lot on their own. Collaboration and networks will help you to become an unparalleled guru. Play with the other kids — you will be able to build a bigger fort or control a larger mountain than ever before.
Expanding my development abilities to include modern 3D game development tools
Halo 3 made 170 million the first day it went on sale. If you don’t see the impact of games on our culture, communication, and learning processes, then you aren’t paying attention.
Demonstrate, promote, and encourage open communication
Keeping it all a secret only hurts you. Tell everyone what you are up to, get others interested, share so that others who want to learn and reach the level you are at have a path to follow.
Learn more, maybe get another M.A. or pursue a Ph.D.
Never stop learning. Think about advanced degrees. Just because you are great doesn’t mean a thing to strangers. Letters after your name will give you the credibility to open the door, get the big grants, and to do new stuff you never dreamed of.
Becoming a stronger writer
The pen is mightier than the sword, no? Write well, clearly, concisely, and simply.
Becoming a better illustrator, photographer and painter
I love visual communication and color. I may never be Monet, Warhol, or Ansel — but maybe I will be Michael VanPutten.
Becoming a better guitarist
Playing the guitar helps me to think and makes me feel good. Singing, smiling, and laughing are a great way to get everyone to open up.
Doing something artistic that makes others feel something
I want at least one thing in my life to last longer than my life.
Helping others to do amazing things
Doing something for others is as motivating, if not moreso, than all of the recognition in the world. Some friends tell me this is kind of what having children is like.
Establishing a life not grounded in work
If I die, and my tombstone says “He went to work”, I will slap myself in the afterlife.
Enhancing relationships that enrich my life
No person is an island. I have gotten to where I am by interacting with others. The more people I meet, the more I learn and experience. This, is a good thing.
Pursing activities that support the above items, outcomes, etc. will make me a more complete professional and individual. There are a lot of things I want to do. There is a lot of time left to do them.
I am presently very happy with my job and place in the world. I hope to enjoy the ride as long as possible. Someday, I may be asked to step up to take on another role, work with others, accomplish other tasks. For me, the amazing thing is that I have come this far without a specific objective. Desire to learn and collaborate, to grow, to have fun and do neat stuff has brought me to where I am. When I was growing up, my father said “You get a lot for just showing up.” In many respects that has been my life. I was there, I said yes to opportunities, I worked really hard to develop and learn, I evolved and started the cycle all over again.
Using Google Page Creator for education
Using Google Page Creator, I drafted a site about Music History and Culture. Note that the assignment required posting an image, in place of an image, I used a bunch of embedded videos — which are similar in that they are a visual piece of media.
What was the concept for this site?
So, here is the concept: to use music and videos to discuss and comment on historical events and culture — to discover how does music reflect the life and times of current events. I selected one song for each year in the current decade, wrote a reflection on themes and culturally relevant issues presented or discussed by the song. I included artist, album, year and title information. A full music video embedded from YouTube, and the lyrics for the song. In addition, a question intend ended to generate discussion is posted in the right column of each page.
How could this be used in your class room?
Visual, audio, and text can stimulate learners in different ways. The site provides an example of how media can be mixed to discuss the historical and cultural contexts represented in popular culture.
In a class, you could ask your students to expand upon the theme, have them pick songs they like, or work their way back through the decades to create a collaborative/shared learning object. The activity could also be modified to utilize any material culture artifact to discuss themes and issues: clothing, movie posters, magazine covers, television shows etc.
The activity could be used in a history class, anthropology, sociology, psychology, art, music, and possibly other subjects.
The activity strengthens a students technical literacy, digital story telling, critical reasoning, composition, historical, and research skills.
Week #13 Reflection: Using Rich Media Wisely
The two using rich media wisely concepts that I want to focus on for this weeks reading reflection of Resider and Dempsey’s “Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology” are:
- The cognitive process of learning
- Visual design principles
- Improve learning by using relevant visuals to illustrate content
- Design relevant visuals based on their functional properties rather than on their surface features
At work I provide leadership, support and maintenance of several key Web sites utilized by prospective and newly admitted college students. I also preside over the campus Web users group. One of the goals in communicating via the Web is to engage students, assist them in creating connections to our institution, guiding them through the process of choosing a major that supports their career goals, evaluating university services holistically, and ultimately applying, being and admitted and enrolling.
Podcasting, as we all know, has been gaining a lot of popularity as a rich media communication tool: we can have audio, audio and pictures, or even video. We have a small learning community of professionals who are learning how to use podcasting to help students to learn about campus services, connect with the diverse community, and transition to a collegiate environment.
By considering the cognitive learning process when developing podcasts we can build a simple checklist to evaluate if the rich media being creative is effective. For example, a checklist could include the following questions:
- Attention – does the podcast have a clear focus and message, or are there more than one or two key points being communicated? If the message is overly complex, the attention of the viewer will be confused and distressed…resulting in an ineffective connection.
- Activation of prior knowledge/encoding – is the message being delivered presented with language and concepts that a high school student would be familiar with? If the message is not free from jargon — or a conceptual bridge related the jargon to something else familiar is not presented, then the viewer may not be able to connect to the information effectively.
- Transfer of learning – does the podcast refresh or relate new serialized episodes to previous content (e.g. “last time we were talking about ‘x’ as it related to financial aid…’y’ is also important)?
- Management of learning – does each podcast have a clear message, are there tracking statistics that show visitors revisiting previous episodes, how are the long term traffic/viewing patterns related?
- Motivation – is there actionable information presented in the podcast? Is there something the student could do each time — like visit a landing page that provides notes about the topics covered as well as links to more detailed information? Is the tone of the podcast upbeat and energized?
Each of these characteristics associated with the cognitive learning process could assist a group to produce a successful podcast series.
The visual design principles also can contribute to a well developed podcast. A podcast should be designed to deliver the right kind of supporting information. Creating a slide show with audio narration or a video podcast for the sole sake of having a visual that the designers think would be fun is not an effective design process. A video podcast should have imagery that is relevant to the message being communicated. For example, if we were wanting to demonstrate that the campus has a vibrant and engaging community with lots of activities, then a video showing bronco bash, very quick impressions/endorsements by student attendees, a football game, the band, other social clubs — these are relevant images that support the message. Simply having students vocalize that they like the campus and that it is vibrant does not strongly support the message. Talking heads on a podcast is video for the sake of video — it is not engaging, and does not draw in the audience.
Online application review
For my online application review I am going to focus on the Google suite of applications.
The biggest strength of Google’s online applications is the ability to easily share and access information with your colleagues, family, and friends. Another strength is the ability to access documents from any location with a computer, web browser, and Internet connection — no other expensive or special software is required.
Let me give you a simple example of the power of Google Calendar. My wife and I have a complex life where each of us has a variety of activities, meetings, and tasks that need to take place. We share a car — so we have to coordinate effectively. Before we used Google Calendar, to schedule a doctors appointment:
- My wife would call the doctors office to find the available times for an appointment
- She would then hang up and call me
- Assuming she got a hold of me and not my voice mail, she would tell me what dates were available, and we would see if we could make it work
- She would then call the doctors office back, and either confirm or ask for alternatives
- Repeat a few more phone calls back and forth
- Finally, the appointment was confirmed
As you can see, there were a lot of steps. Today life is much simpler, thanks to Google Calendar. I keep my entire schedule online including: work related meetings, meals, exercise, study, gatherings with friends and family, annual leave, sick leave, doctors appointments, and more. Each and every category is color coded for visual ease, when any event is created it has a default 10 minute warning/alarm specified. These are all features you would expect from an ordinary calendaring tool — but Google Calendar is not ordinary.
I can provide access to anyone I specify with varying levels of “rights” to each and every calendar I maintain. So, for Nicole, she can view and write to any and all of the calendars. So how does appointment scheduling work now?
- Nicole launches a web browser and loads Google Calendar
- She calls the doctors office
- She finds out what times are available, and schedules the soonest available onto my calendar
Presto! We just cut the confusion and time in more than half! And because I have Google Calendar open all day at work, I can immediately see when a new appointment has been posted.
Thank you Google Calendar! You made our life much easier, and now we don’t kill each other in the process of scheduling a simple appointment. But, wait there is more! I can also publish subscription feeds for each and every calendar. So, on my desktop and other devices that support the industry standard iCal format — I can now subscribe to Google Calendar. Having my appointments and everything in one place is bliss.
Overall, as you can see, I love Google Calendar. I do get a little frustrated with my other productivity tools (i.e. GroupWise) that are not yet smart enough to sync with the iCal format (though rumor on the GW developer blog is that the next version will support it). Google has done a great job integrating their apps across their product line — but they don’t always play as nice as I would like with everything else. But, they are always rolling out new features to an already strong tool.
Google docs is just as flexible at sharing information as Google Calendar. I was not impressed with earlier versions of the Google Documents suite — but since they purchased Writely.com (which provided online Microsoft Word style word processing) and further developed their Excel and PowerPoint applications — it is much better.
In the past six months I and many of my colleagues have led the way for adoption of Google Documents on campus. The best thing about Google documents is collaborative document authoring. Let me give you an example…
My colleagues and me are part of a sub-committee to look at ways to improve the portal for newly admitted students — ultimately presenting recommendations for what types of information would be on an ‘admitted student’ tab. It is a somewhat complex project that requires a lot of coordination.
Our team created a document using the Google Documents spreadsheet program to handle project management. There is a sheet in the document for goals, tasks, questions, recommendations, project member contact information, outcomes, and more. Each of us has access to modify the document. Using this shared tool, we have one place online where we can see what phase of the project we are in, what tasks are being worked on (when they were started, who is working on it, and what notes have been written thus far), and what conclusions we have reached. We can also see who is working on the document in real time, chat via an IM tool built into the spreadsheet program (this is one weakness — the IM tool is not present in every Google doc app — part of the risk of integrating purchased companies software ip). Without Google Documents, we would be in e-mail document sharing, MS Word track changes hell. Large scale collaboration such as we desire would not be possible without Google Documents.
The only weaknesses I have found are related to the product being so young:
- limited file upload size (though this may only affect power users who have documents larger than 10mb)
- invitation dialogs (to invite collaborators) are different between the word processing, spreadsheet, presentation applications — not all of the apps have been integrated into the suite fully.
- some of the more complex formatting tasks that are easy to do with a locally installed application like MS Word are difficult or not able to be done
- users must have a GMail account
Despite its flaws I am still in love with Google Documents, and all of their other online tools and applications.
Week 14 reflection and closing thoughts
“That’s so neat!”
As I read through chapter 31 of Reiser and Dempsey’s Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology much of the futurist perspectives presented reminded me of things I read back in the heyday of Wired Magazine. Rather than talk about what was outstanding in the chapter, I would like to talk about Ray Kurzweil.
Ray is a brilliant fellow who works at MIT. He has done ground breaking work in speach synthesis and heavily involved with a pocket sized device released in recent years that enables a visually disabled person to point a camera at a box of Wheaties in the grocery store and have the device read to them what the item is. Cool stuff. One can only imagine how such a device could be used to support education.
One of the other things Ray has been involved with is developing a babel fish like tool the utilizes advanced computing and algorithms. For those of you who don’t know what a babel fish is — it is a reference to a Douglas Adams’ novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy — you stick the fish in your ear, and any intergalactic language is translated by the fish into the language you understand. The sophisticated program can listen to words that you speak, and then with relatively small perceivable pause speak a translation in French, German, or Spanish. If you don’t get how big this is for education and everything else, then you haven’t been eating your Wheaties.
Ray is a technologist and a futurist who believes and argues that technology is advancing at an exponential pace. He believes that in a few years artificial intelligence matching and surpassing the thinking capacity of the human brain will be possible. Ladies and gentlemen, we live in exciting times.
Favorite activity of the semester
There is so much that I liked about this class, I am not sure where to start.
For me, this and the EDT 6480 staff development courses are the final two classes for my masters prior to doing the capstone project next semester.
This class, simply put, has been educational and fun — a delight to be in and participate with.
Let’s see, what were the strengths:
- a diverse set of tools were utilized and experimented with
- we got to use an open system for communication (blogs) vs. a closed system (vista)
- i now have an easily accessible copy of everything i did in the course that can be referenced and used later
- the participants approached everything with a relatively open mind, they also freely shared experiences and opinions — i really valued this
- there was a lot of freedom regarding how and when assignments were completed
- folks helped each other out — a huge plus
- the pace and flexibility worked well for me
What could have been done differently?
- while there were learning objectives and goals, and clear week-to-week tasks, participants might not have had a clear feeling of where they were heading and why — i.e. how what they were doing related to the big picture (though when you are new to technology and looking at new tools like these, there may be no way to really adjust for this)
- for some, the pace of the lessons might have been intense (i favor a baseline lesson/requirement structure that is loose — with the ability to increase difficulty/tasks for those who want to be all they can be)
- having a picture ahead of time, or a plan/path — like a learning map, might have been good — knowing how what we learn in this class related to those that will follow in the program (this is more of a curriculum development issue than anything else)
- i wish the tools we used were more personalized. i want to see a picture of my classmates, and general profile that helps me to remember who they are. developing the learning community or cohort more would have been ideal.
- coordinating some optional on-site events (for those who are around the kalamazoo area) would have been fun to participate in
- you could have helped me to develop and implement a winning lotto number picking program, so i could buy more cool toys — geesh! come on, why didn’t this happen?
But seriously. This was a good class, and I enjoyed it. Thanks to Dr. H. for a lovely experience. Cheers all.