April 26, 2005

Final Entry...Yes

I enjoyed listening to the different projects that everyone had planned out for the end of the semester. I thought Cheryl’s was really neat and demonstrated what could be done if we, as instructional designers apply what we have learned in each of the classes we have taken through the year(s).

I like the way Theano applied a project that she completed in one class to an idea that she has in another. It makes the classes seem less isolated and more a coherent group that have a goal or a purpose in mind. (Sort of a hands on experience for the way that instructors what their students to treat their leanring experience.

I had one suggestion that could enhance Tina’s or Theano’s or Cheryl’s projects. Why not put the voice-overs in the language that you are trying to teach with a “bouncing ball” that shows the student the individual words that the computer is saying. Sort of like the way some international students learn “Conversational English”. They use the close captioning that is provided on US televisions and read the words as they hear them during a show they are watching. Why can’t we do the same thing with a foreign language? I think it is a crime that students are not required to learn a second language until they are in high school, when it is a proven fact that children learn languages better before the age of 10. But then if the school systems begin to require a “second” language, then you would have the problem of which one would be the required one? We have a melting pot of individuals and their uniqueness is what make this country great, and by choosing a second language it is almost as if you are saying to immigrants that their language and culture isn’t worth. Maybe that is why the US doesn’t require students to learn a second language as a fundamental requirement of their elementary education. Just a thought and a crime, but one I don’t think can be helped without a lot of attitude change in the US educational system.

Posted by spenc054 at 9:39 PM · Week 15 & Final Entry... YES

First Presentation

I enjoyed the final presentation on this night. I thought that the final website should really be interesting and hands on, when it was finally put together. I liked the lay out of the links and how the site will look once it is complete. I’m surprised that other businesses haven’t thought of the site, themselves. The U of MN still has a benefits office and you still meet with “counselors” to get investment information. The “counselors” know less then you do. All they do is hand you the pre-arranged materials and wish you luck. Maybe if the U had something like the Benefits Website, I would understand better what I can and can’t do as I prepare for my future. The site makes planning for your future easy because it is at your own pace and you don’t feel like you are being pressured to choose one or another plan just because you call on 800 number over another. It is very ingenious, if you ask me.

Posted by spenc054 at 9:37 PM · Week 14

April 14, 2005

What's in the Can?...No Class

April 5th class made me think about what I take for granted. I've been opening cans of soup since I was a kid and never really thought about the process, but for someone who has never had soup in a can, the directions need to be clear cut... Makes me wonder how much more I take for granted. In EdPsy, we talked about the "logical" placement of things. For example, if you have to explain how to use something, then it isn't logical and you need to redesign the product to be logical. The soup can needs to be redisgned to "make it logical". People shouldn't have to think to make something work. A concept that we need to take into the Cyper World... People shouldn't have to think about the interface. They should be thinking about the information that you are trying to pass onto them...

Posted by spenc054 at 4:03 PM

April 3, 2005

Merrill

Merrill states that “Information is not Instruction.”; “If a learner fails to obtain your instruction, it is a waste of time!”; and “Does our instruction really teach or does it merely entertain?”

We all know as teachers that information is not instruction, and with the federal influence of the “No Child Left Behind Law”. Teachers are going to have to be more then the “all knowing” instructor and more of the guide on the side. Students are going to have to have the skills to find the information they need more and more as they get older and older and the federal government gets more and more involved with the actual instructional processes of the teacher.

We know that if a learner fails to obtain our instruction it is a waste of time. We will spend more time getting the student back on track then we spent doing an instructional process that didn’t reach the child. We all know that the key to a good teacher is a teacher that can change his or her instruction based on the feedback that he or she is getting from the students themselves. This is the one element of instruction that is the hardest to recreate in a computerized instructional environment.

The last statement of Instruction or Entertainment is the hardest I think for an instructional designer to get past. We know that our instruction is actual instruction. It is more then drill and practice. It is more then a book on a computer. It is an interactive teacher to an interactive student. The student is more then a passive person in the instructional atmosphere. It is our job to see to it that the student is engaged and is not just being “fed” the information.

What we know and what the public perceives are two different things. As an instructional designer, we have an up hill battle to bring the computer and the instruction back into the classroom instead of being a drill and practice device. Getting the “public” to accept the computer, as an instructional tool is the hardest job for an instructional designer.

Posted by spenc054 at 1:46 PM · Week 11

March 29, 2005

Project based instruction...

I enjoyed the ID presentation on PBI. But I think Lynsey had a good point about "it" being a lot of work for the instructor. I know when I did individualized instruction at a private school in Mississippi. It was a lot of work on the front end. Each student has his or her own folder that had to be turned in at the end of the course. Inside the folder it had every assignment and every test that the student had to complete to recieve a passing grade in the class. All assignments and test were based on the state wide objectives and the student had to show mastery. I came into the school two weeks prior to school starting for the year, and I had to start form scratch. With the only knowledge that I had in had was the different objectives and state standards for 12 grade English as well as state standards for Exceptional students. Each student was tested for ability when the entered the school and I had to match their individaul instruction to their level of knowledge. It was time consuming in the beginning, but very rewarding in the end. I feel that this is the way PBI should be if done right. Lots of work in the beginning for the teacher, but lots of rewards in the end for the student.

Posted by spenc054 at 9:01 AM · Week 10

No class...No class

Well, I won't say at this point that "school's out...School's out, but it was spring break last week and the week before we didn't have class... ~smile~

Posted by spenc054 at 8:55 AM · Weeks 8-9...

March 6, 2005

Questions...Questions... Questions

The comment of standardize tests is still bugging me from Tuesday’s class. Of course, the class is right. The State Congress of the State of Ohio did not write the Social Studies test that the students in Ohio had to pass to graduate. The test was written by a “test writing company”. Probably one that makes big bucks trying to convince the general public what they think the students should know. But, since the parents had to fight to get the state senate to take the original written test, and the state senate couldn’t pass the test as written, one would assume that the test writers, the instructional designers did not do their job. They didn’t consult their SMEs-The teachers; they didn’t consult their learners-the students; and they didn’t inform their clients- the state congress what needed to be designed and how it should be designed. A real world example of what not to do and how it can really affect what happens to one of your learners down the road. Communication skills, like those talked about in Chapter 7 are the key to a good project, and were obviously not followed in the State of Ohio when the state got the big idea to “test” the students to allow them to graduate.

Now on to the question of the week…

Question: Do you believe that the audience, content, environment, objectives, etc. should and/or can influence whether you apply behaviorist, objectivist, information processing, post-modern, critical theory, etc. methodologies in your instruction. Defend you perspective.

Okay, first before I defend my perspective of this question, I have to understand the question…

Definitions:

Behaviorist- Someone who takes instruction down to the simplest terms and sees learning as a series of small chunks of information that is memorized and regurgitated on a test or in a learning situation. Or, something like that…

Objectivist- along the same lines of a behaviorist, or I seem to think. They are more worried about whether or not the objectives have been met in the instruction as not whether the students have learned the instruction or can use the instruction in a transfer situation.

Information processing- I would think this type of person is moving more towards a constructivist perspective. They see the role of the teacher as someone who give the information to the student and the student processes it in the different environment that the teacher sets up. The idea being that the teacher can come up with the majority of situation that the student will apply the information so that the student can transfer the information outside of the class room situation…

Post-Modern- I have no clue .. ?

Critical Theory- Someone who is more worried about whether the theory is applied correctly to the instruction. Their belief would be that if the theory is applied correctly the student will learn and can apply the information in any given situation. If the student fails to apply the information than the theory was not done correctly to begin with.

Constructivism is a situation where the student is given an authentic problem and asked to find the solution to the problem. The idea being that the student is in control of their learning and would come up with an answer that can be applied to other situations if the problem is authentic and structured correctly by the facilitator of the instruction episode-the teacher. The learning is student controlled. What they learn is up to them. How they learn it is up to them. The teacher facilitates the environment so that the student can acquirer the information needed.

Of course, these definitions are based on the context information that I am pulling from the question not from actually looking up the definition, but I felt that I should define the terms as I see them so that my response makes sense.

As to whether or not the audience, content, or environment having influence over how the material is taught, I would have to say yes. Looking at the audience, I would say the younger the audience of the instruction, the more behavioral the instruction is likely to be. It has been proven that the younger the student is the more concrete the instruction needs to be. The teacher needs to make the connections between the information and the learning for the student. The older the student is the more the teacher can allow the student to make their own connections and create their own learning environments based on when and where they have had previous successful experiences. Prior knowledge of information and educational environments allows for the teacher to be more constructivist in nature and allows the student more freedom in choosing the path and learning that he or she wants at any given time.

Environment- I think that even at a young age with a behavioral/structured approach to learning aspects, that the learning environment can be constructivist. Take for example, my kindergarten class. The teacher sat down with us and explained that we would have different centers each day. She told us that we would have a certain amount of time in each center and that our job was to have fun and learn all we could so that when we came back as a small group and talked with her we could tell her everything we had learned that day. She had centers on letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc. The objectives may have been behavioral in nature, but the environment that the teacher chooses to teach in was constructivist. By allowing us to learn what we could, she would change the centers based on our daily feedback. As everyone picked up the different objectives, the centers would change. Now, along with that, we had times where we sat in seats and did “teacher instruction”. Our teacher mixed the learning environments to prepare us for later years, knowing that the early years of elementary school is more behavioral then constructive in nature and the environment. She was building the prior knowledge that we would need to succeed in any and all environments that we would come up against in our formal educational settings.

Posted by spenc054 at 5:15 PM · week 7

evaluation

Evaluation was the topic of conversation this week. Is it good? Is it bad? When should it be done?

Well, according to the book evaluation should be done at every phase of design. A decision should be made and then the design team should move on and then move back to see if they are still on task. Circular motion is the key to a good product. Keeping the learner, objectives, goals, and tasks in mind. The one way to make sure this circular motion happens is by evaluating the process and the product. Never settle of okay, or it will do. Always make sure that the learner’s environment is the best it can be for that learner.

I think that the case study- the airplanes- that we looked at this week had two problems. First, the main character, Sam Gonzales didn’t evaluate the process until it was done. He didn’t show that the objectives were being met while production was going on. He makes no mention of test subjects or control groups. He seems to have done only half his job… Or wait a minuet; was it his job to do? Was he the one who was supposed to keep the learner first? Was he the one who was supposed to be the learners’ advocate? No, Linda McMillan was, Right? She was “the Instructional designer” on the project, and yet you don’t hear that she had done any evaluating of the project. One could assume that she did, because we are all training to be her, and we would all evaluate because we know how important it is. However, we also all know that when a project comes under budget or time constraints, the first thing to go is the evaluations… Formative, that is… Maybe the project was overtime or over budget. Maybe Linda McMillan never got a chance to do the evaluations. If she had, she might have been able to catch the problems that #1 and #17 talked about before they had to take the tests for their job performance.

Posted by spenc054 at 5:10 PM · week 6

February 23, 2005

Chapter 5... Things I like...Things I don't

Chapter 5 deals with the mode of instructional delivery that the teacher takes. It seems to be laying out different ways to approach the learner and the material depending on the environment in which the learner is expected to learn and use the material.

I’m not sure that I agree with the statement that “the classroom is usually the best option for presenting basic skills, orienting learners to new content or a new company…” I think that this part of the “classroom instruction” can be done any where as long as you have a motivated student. Basic skills can be taught on a computer, but it has to be done right. Computers can’t be used for drill and practice that doesn’t engage the student to think just do. That is the problem with most “basic skills” computer programs. They don’t engage the student to think they just want the student to turn into Pavlov dog and salivate every time they put the right square in the right hole, or add two numbers correctly. This behaviorlist approach to computer design is why I think the book states that the computer is not a good way to teach basic skills.

Also, the book states that “new content” can be learned best in a classroom, I think that Jensen would disagree. He would state that learning is done best when it is self-directed and learner controlled. I tend to agree with this. My students learned more when I gave them a concept and an idea and let them figure out how to use that idea to the best of their ability. Now, unlike Jensen, I wouldn’t leave my student totally on their own with a concept. They had been taught too well by the behavioralist in the educational settings. They wouldn’t know how to handle the freedom. What I would do is act as scaffolding between what I wanted them to know and what they did know. Directing and redirecting learning as the students work their way through the activity or the skill.

The book does mention that the classroom is a good way to teach communication and social skill, and until, we as designers, figure out a way to make the computer more interactive, I think this will be the case. The cheaper technology becomes, the cheaper, in my opinion, interactivity will become on the computer.

The other thing that caught my eye in the book was the talk of standards in web page design and how web pages in the U.S. have to adhere to accessibility standards. I knew this, but I didn’t think was a requirement for most academic institutions. And if it is, then how come most web sites that I visit these days have such fine print that I have to adjust the print on my browser to be able to see what is written. To me, that doesn’t seem to be adhering to any accessibility requirement. If I have to adjust the type, I know someone who is visually impaired would have a lot of trouble.

The last thing in the chapter that caught my attention is the Copyright laws and the “availability of information on the web”. I thought that Dr. Hooper stated that web pages were seen as equal access pages. In other words, information on the web can be consumed by all without worrying about copyright infringement. Has this changed? Is it something I have to worry about when I enter the job force as a web page designer?

Posted by spenc054 at 3:53 PM · Week 5

February 15, 2005


Verbal Information; Intellectual Skills; Motor Skills; Attitudes; Cognitive Strategies; Metacognition; Subskills; Objectives: Audience, Behavior, Condition, Degree; Prior Knowledge; Personal Goals; Scaffolding; Chunking; Learning Event…

Just some of the terms in Chapter 3 and 4 that got me really thinking about how I would want to set up a learning event in a computer enhanced environment, if I had the chance. While teaching 7th and 8th grade English is Memphis, I got the “opportunity” to allow my students to “learn”/ “enhance” their English skills by completing a skills program. They had this glorious “opportunity” for 2 hours a day for a week during every 6 weeks because that was written into the school improvement plan, and they just “loved” it… I hope you can hear the sarcasm here…If not, let me enlighten you.

Instead of being a fun an enhancing experience, the computer became the bane of the students’ existence. They couldn’t wait to get back into the “real” classroom and start working on things that really mattered. “The computer was Stupid, annoying, and frustrating.” “Two hours in the lab were like having your tooth extracted without Novocain… It was painful for my students and me… And ever since I’ve taken my first IST class, I had hoped I could change that program and that learning experience for my students and the students that come after them.

The break down of the material in the chapters got me thinking about how chunked information that is attached to prior information with a strong dose of Metacognition on the part of the student thrown in for good measure could be used to make an English program more interactive. The main key would be to make the computer a walking Webster’s dictionary and thesaurus with style and grammar incorporated. One of the many drawbacks of the older computer programs is the fact that it couldn’t take into account the versatility of the English language. The fact that a word could be used as a verb in one sentence and an adjective in the next, really threw it for a loop. Also, the instructions were drawn out and boring. The students weren’t shown how to correct their mistakes. They were just told they were wrong and after the 3rd time I had to key in a password to allow them to move forward so they could make the same mistakes… I couldn’t see where they needed to go next nor could I see where they had made their mistakes, because the only one who had access to the computer data base was the computer teacher and she couldn’t access it as long as the students were still “logged” into the program, but she could get it to me next week, after they were done… Yep, that’s really going to help this situation.

Like I said, the idea of structuring a “working” English program that doesn’t just drill English concepts without instructions has been running through my head for a while, maybe by the end of my Masters, I’ll be able to snag some of these ideas, get them down on paper, and maybe on a web site… Chapter 3 and 4 got me thinking more and more about how I want to approach a working English environment that will build skills not tear them down because of the user’s frustrations…


Posted by spenc054 at 8:00 AM · Week 4