April 3, 2006

On-the-fly ID

I was asked last week to help conduct a two hour workshop for a bunch of international fellows who were interested in learning to put together simple home-made movies. Since, unfortunately, we don't have Macs, and since, for the simple stuff on PCs, you really could do somewhat worse than Microsoft Windows Movie Maker, that's what we were going to use.

I was asked to do this last week, mind you, and the question even came up "should we prepare any advance materials?" My answer? No. I _LIKE_ to fly by the seat of my pants, and even though some premade materials might help, my other flaw is that I like to be somewhat verbose. In otherwords, if I were to make up some materials ahead of time, I would likely run into three main problems:
1.) I would be unlikely stick to my own plan.
2.) I would present way too much verbally, but not back it up in written format.
3.) Or I would simply not know where to stop writing, and want to include too much information, and therefore devote way too much time to prep work for what it was worth.

Now, granted, this was to be a group of only about 4-6 people that I would be teaching, so that might affect what a pro would have done in my shoes (more likely to do as I did and not bother preparing much ahead of time?). Never the less, the whole time that I was getting set up to do my schtick, I couldn't stop thinking that this would have been a good idea to try and practice the theory that I'm supposed to be internalizing in class.

Conduct a needs analysis, Determine.....

Yeah right. Ok, the first thing that you guys are gonna want to know about Windows Movie Maker is that... Another thing to keep in mind is that... Good question, to answer that were already going to have to get off track.... and so it goes.

Another part of me says, WAIT, isn't some of what we're learning hinting that maybe some of the design steps (at least some of the design MODELS, such as Rapid Prototyping) are really more a DEscription of what is already going on inside our heads, rather than a PREscribed formula that one must stick to in order to do things right?

When that side of my brain takes over (and wins), then my brain continues down the path of "so if that's a DEscription of what is happening, like an event log, then the rest of me can get on with doing what I was doing with out paying too much attention to what I've been told is the best way to do it."

The problem? Then what good are "best practices" doing for me if the part of me that wants to ignore them and get on with what I feel I can do somewhat naturally (as I fly by the seat of my pants) wins and I go into teaching moments without preparing?

Isn't there a way that good learning can happen without having to go through a bunch of prescribed steps?

March 27, 2006

ID Model presentation, a rapid reflection

I was pretty excited about our ID model presentation last week. Kim did a lot of work getting us some material to work off of, and Esther really got us rolling with the presentation PPT. I was excited because I remember hearing about RP from day one of class, but really had no idea of what it was. I also wasn't sure that I "got" what an ID model could be. Seems to me like something that everyone does in his/her/its own way, and that to try and describe one conformative model of such a thing would be somewhat a waste of time.

Well, I guess one thing that I got out of it was that in a way, trying to describe such a thing CAN be a waste of time, but at the same time, if you can approximate what is being done by some successful people, you can help others along with what they are attempting to do.

I was worked up about RP by the time we got to present because I felt like I understood both sides of that and how the pros and cons applied in this (RP model) case. In fact, that was the segment that I had spent the most time preparing for myself.

The downside of it was that I also felt like the class' energy was sapped after the long guest lecture. The vibe that my group felt during the Lego presentation was just not to be found with RP. And even with that paper airplane example! I found that online and that really jumped out at me since it seemed like a great concise way to explain what RP was all about. That exercise was itself what started my comprehension of RP in the first place, so I have to admit I had high hopes. It did seem like people had fun with the plane-making, but after that I felt like we had lost some people's attention/interest, and since it was my contribution to do most of the talking, I felt like that was my own weakness.

Topic Here

Using a design idea of a place holder for material yet to be added, I've put in just such a thing for the subject of this post. Why? Because my mind hasn't gotten around to the outcomes part of the analysis for this posting yet. In other words, I don't know what to say.

I guess last week's presentation was interesting enough, but it DID run a little (!) long, and upon reflecting later I think there were some considerable weaknesses.

1.) Don't talk at people for over 1.5 hours to tell them that direct lecture doesn't work. (Granted that's not exactly a fair analysis of what took place, but it really seemed like it was a 'guest lecturer', and not as much a 'pick the brain of' type thing.)

2.) So I'm just a budding web designer (professionally for the last 1.5 years now), but even I could tell you that there's nothing in Dreamweaver that automatically creates a great website for you (like adding accessibility features). You might get some plugins to help do some validation for you, but you're always going to have to do your own coding and analysis in order to make things as good as possible.

3. Frames. What else can I say? Frames were THE thing back in the mid-late nineties, but I haven't even HEARD anyone talk about using framesets lately (last few years) at all. They just aren't what you want to be using, for accessibility/compatibility/ and manageability issues.

There were some interesting points made about how to go about talking up the need for instructional design/analysis, and how to make things in a relatively modular way, so that you can have an easier time of it later when you need to plug in some content, but can re-use the format to cut production time, but I have to admit, that a week later, that's about all I can recall.

March 21, 2006

Rapid Prototyping

This entry was specifically planned to tie in with tonights upcoming presentation on Rapid Prototyping:

Attended a Communicators Forum workshop last week. One presentation in particular had to do with a whole ADDIE type approach to helping an organization map their workflow patterns to increase efficiency in communications. One relevant point made was that you should always bill for the service of writing up the proposal in the first place. This is because the evaluation work that you begin with is in itself a useful tool/document that the client can then later use with other consultants or even internally.

Then I had a contractor come out to our house and write up an estimate for some repair work we need done. He wants to charge us $200 for the time spent just writing up the proposal. My first thought was WHAT ABOUT FREE ESTIMATES???! but then the other part of me said "Oh.... yeah." Same concept.

Future prototypes of this post will need to include fleshed out thoughts on these topics

March 6, 2006

From stuck to meta-instruction

I was stuck in mud trying to define my own final project as an "instructional" type project, despite the declaration that all of life is ID (in class last week).

I just couldn't wrap my mind around the project in a way that would allow me to easily fit it to the types of analysis that we are expected to do in its preparation.

I find that one of my main weaknesses is that I might grasp the concepts of types of analysis, need for such, activities involved, and everything. However, when it comes to taking one concrete example from my own experience and fitting it to the model, then I have a hard time breaking it down (chunking it, if you will) to be able to describe it in the required manner.

That was my main problem up until the impromptu meeting with my boss (client) this afternoon. I finally got a chance to conduct what could be considered to be a more specific client interview to straighten out some of my perceptions of the learners, their needs, and for that matter, the objectives of this project.

The focus has shifted a bit from where I thought the project was, but now my challenge is that it has shifted to a meta-instruction project. Instead of having to eek out what could be classified as instructional aspects, my understanding of the goal now is to design an instructional tool that will help the learners get through what is essentially the instructional design process itself.

"The learner will learn to assess their learners' needs..." "The learner will assess the tools available to them in their project..." "The learner will state the intended outcomes..." " The learner will develop assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of their learners' development..."

That's essentially what MY objective statements now look like!

Now it feels like instead of struggling to figure out which of the aspects of Instructional Design are being addressed at any point, I'll be struggling to determine which layer of the whole process I'll be working on at any given time; defining my learner's needs assessment, or evaluating how well they have done their own needs assessment...

I'll basically be walking MY learners through the same process that I'm walking through myself. That is, unless I've already gotten myself lost! I have yet to see if anything has just gotten easier or not.

All of life is instructional design indeed.