Week 13

I am now in Week 13 of CECS 5510. Only 4 more weeks left, and I’ll be done with this class and this master’s program! At this point I have finished a draft of my course in Canvas, and all I have left to do for the project is to review the course to make sure I didn’t forget anything and make final revisions based on feedback that I receive.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the most challenging part of the project has been paying attention to the details. It’s making sure that I have a rubric for each assignment, and that I have the “Use this rubric for assignment grading” box checked. It’s making sure that wiki pages have both teachers and students selected for who can edit the page. I just clicked through all the rubrics, for example, and saw that I had forgotten to select that “Use this rubric for assignment grading” box for about 10 different rubrics. There are so many different parts and options to consider that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. You just have to do the best you can do and reassure yourself that anything you miss, the students can point out to the instructor or you for course improvement. It won’t be the end of the world.

Fortunately, I was able to meet my timeline for completion. In fact, I actually beat it, since after reading about and completing assignments, I soon realized that the timeline I had drafted at the beginning of the semester did not align with the due dates of certain assignments (e.g., We had to have our entire course completed by last week, so that our assigned peer could review it this week). (So, for any future students of CECS 5510, keep that in mind when you’re drafting your timeline in Week 2!)

Being able to find wonderfully appropriate YouTube videos made by awesome teachers for my lessons helped a bunch. I am so grateful that I did not have to make those videos myself from scratch, because these teachers did a much better job than I could have done in my given timeframe. Why reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to, right?

The course structure of CECS 5510 does not have us implement and evaluate our designed course as part of the project, but I do hope to be able to implement and evaluate one day. Because my full-time job is in the corporate world, I will not be able to be an instructor for my designed course with an actual 9th grade class, but I do plan on sharing my course  in Canvas Commons, in hopes that a teacher will one day be able to benefit from it!

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Estimating the Professional Timeline

For this week’s blog post, my classmates and I need to respond to the following prompt: Given that many standard corporate ID projects last about 3 weeks and this is week 8 of the session, how do you feel about working on a professional timeline?

The major project for CECS 5510 is building a 45-hour online course in Canvas. This could be a 40-hour (1 week long) corporate training online course, a 40-45 hour six-week K-12 online course, etc. I chose to create a 45 hour six-week online course for ninth-grade students, focusing on Fahrenheit 451 and the Reading Standards for Literature from the Common Core State Standards. So far, it has taken me one hour to build approximately one and a half hours of course content; in other words, it takes me one hour to create a day’s assignments for the course (that would take students approximately one and a half hours to complete) along with accompanying instructions for the assignments in an instructor’s guide. If this task were for a full-time job, I should be able to complete this same project in approximately two weeks (this includes all steps in the ADDIE process, not just the development aspect). As a result, the typical 3-week professional timeline is definitely doable in this scenario.

However, I believe the professional timeline varies depending on how much the instructional designer already knows about the course subject. Because I was an English major in my undergraduate studies and a K-12 writer and editor for six years, I am already a subject matter expert on my course’s subject. If I had no knowledge about the course’s subject at all, I would need at least a week to study the subject myself. This was the case for the project assignment in CECS 5210. For that course, I built an online course on lens options for an optometric practice, and I had to spend a large majority of the instructional design time studying lens options. I would say that the research step is the most integral and most demanding part of the instructional design process. It ensures the accuracy of the course’s content so that the construction of knowledge can take place, and oftentimes, a lot must be learned in a short period of time. The more complex the subject material, the longer the professional timeline.

Wrapping Up Week 7

I have just completed week 7 of CECS 5510. This is the week where we are to have the first ¼ of our course reviewed by a peer and revised accordingly. My peer review partner provided some very helpful feedback. He provided a strategy that might hook some reluctant readers in the course introduction. He recommended that I include an introduction in each of my lessons that emphasizes how the skill being taught will help in understanding the novel. And he pointed out a place where I could have the students share their work with one another. I liked all of his suggestions and applied them in my improvements the course. Building a course in Canvas requires a great attention to detail, and I’m grateful to have that second set of eyes to help me catch some of those details.

In addition to revisions based on peer feedback, I have also made some revisions to my design based on the structure of the Canvas LMS. Because of the online structure, I realized that students will have to do quite a bit of writing even though the focus of the course is on reading literature, not writing. As a result, I went back to my syllabus and included a section on “Writing Practice and MLA Format.” I used this section to emphasize to students that even though the class is not a writing course, it will help them practice their writing and require them to write in paragraph format and MLA format. According to The Writing Lab at Purdue University, “MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities” (Purdue Online Writing Lab, 2014). As a result, I decided to enforce the style in this online course to help prepare students for literature courses in college. Unfortunately, this also meant that I had to go back through the already existing pages to ensure it followed MLA style. (My studies in this master’s program have made me used to APA style, making my MLA style knowledge a bit rusty.) The work was worth it, however, and I now believe the course has an even greater potential to help students hone their skills for college and the real world.

Overall, the constructivist design model that I’ve chosen for the course continues to work well for me. I think students will enjoy learning from each other through the collaborative activities and seeing what they can accomplish together, and I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be able to implement the course and witness its effects. Perhaps I’ll be able to share the course in Canvas Commons so that other teachers may benefit from what I’m creating.

References

Purdue Online Writing Lab. (2014). MLA in-text citations: The basics. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/02/

Developing in Canvas

For CECS 5510, my colleagues and I have begun building our courses in Canvas.  The entire process has been going well for me so far. Because my development is centered on the constructivist learning theory, I’ve tried to incorporate collaborative learning as much as possible. Students will construct their own knowledge and skills through discussion boards, wikis, and blogs. According to M.U. Paily (2013), “This emerging technology which is characterized by greater functionality, interoperability and connectivity helps in knowledge creation through open communication and collaboration” (p. 39). The Web 2.0 functionalities incorporated in the Canvas learning management system facilitates student reflection, communication, and collaboration so that knowledge can be constructed.

I was particularly relieved to learn that Canvas had wiki functionality built into its interface. It took some time for me to find it, but by creating a page and selecting the option “Teachers and students can edit this page,” students have the ability to edit the contents of a page and view the page history, so that knowledge can be constructed together.  Howard Community College has some training modules to assist its faculty in building courses in Canvas, and one of its pages explains how the wiki works (Howard Community College, 2011). With sources such as this to help me in development and Canvas’s user-friendly interface, I haven’t experienced many issues.

The most challenging aspect is paying attention to the details and the big picture at the same time.  For example, right away, you have to consider the big picture of how students will be assessed, what the assignment categories should be, what percentage of the grade should go to each category, and how many points are designated to each category. Then you have to think about each individual assignment in itself, how many points each assignment should be worth, how each assignment should be graded (i.e., rubrics), etc. Then, for each assignment, not only do you have to create instructions, materials, and the space for the student on how to complete the assignment, you have to create instructions and the tools for the teacher on how to facilitate the assignment.

There are so many little things to consider, that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. As a result, I have several little spreadsheets to help me keep track of everything, and I’ve learned to appreciate all the thought and work that has gone into all the online courses I’ve taken thus far!

References

Howard Community College. (2011). Using wiki pages. Retrieved from https://howardcc.instructure.com/courses/32484/pages/using-wiki-pages

Paily, M. U. (2013). Creating Constructivist Learning Environment: Role of “Web 2.0” Technology. International Forum of Teaching & Studies, 9(1), 39-50.

The ARCS Model

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, a theory is “an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events,” and a model is “a set of ideas and numbers that describe the past, present, or future state of something (such as an economy or a business)” (Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, n.d.). Jihyn Lee and Seonyoung Jang (2014) describe models as follows: “In a general sense, models are simplified representations of reality, which includes factors, structures, functions, systems, tasks, events, orders, or processes. An ID model, then, can be defined as a set of core factors and tasks by which instructions can be designed. As a systematic tool, an ID model assists designers in understanding related instructional variables and/or guides them through the process of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating instructional products. In this sense, an ID model can provide guidance on both conceptual and procedural levels, and can serve as an essential component of ID theory” (p. 743). With these definitions in mind, I see an instructional design theory as a broad set of ideas intended to explain how people learn and an instructional design model as a more basic and concrete map, helping to guide an instructional designer’s process in designing an effective learning experience.

Both ID models and ID theories are effective and necessary in an instructional designer’s work, and the distinction is important so that an instructional designer doesn’t seek a step-by-step process in a theory or a broad set of principles in a model. A client may be interested in such differentiation if both a model and a theory are presented in a design document, and providing applicable supporting evidence for each may help convince the client to accept the design.

One model that I recently learned about is called the ARCS model. It was created by John Keller, who defined the model in his 1983 article titled “Motivational design of instruction.” I wasn’t able to get a copy of this article, but I was able to obtain a copy of a different article written by him titled “First principles of motivation to learn and e3-learning.” In it, John Keller (2008) describes the model’s theoretical foundation in the “first principles of motivation that are common to all learning settings:” “In brief, we can say that in order to have motivated students, their curiosity must be aroused and sustained; the instruction must be perceived to be relevant to personal values or instrumental to accomplishing desired goals; they must have the personal conviction that they will be able to succeed; and the consequences of the learning experience must be consistent with the personal incentives of the learner” (p. 176). The ARCS model was developed to represent this theory; it helps guide instructional designers in motivational design. The letters in the acronym stand for each principle listed in the aforementioned quote: attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.

The instructional design model that I’m most familiar with is the ADDIE model. The ARCS model is different from ADDIE in that it focuses on only the motivational factors of learning instead of the entire instructional design process. It is similar in that it is also an acronym that guides the instructional designer in designing learning. I can see the ARCS model in being helpful in the design of the course I’m working on for CECS 5510. I want my course to motivate students to read literature, and if I can capture the students’ attention, make the content relevant, maintain the students’ confidence, and help them meet their learning goals, then my course will be that much more successful.

References

Keller, J. M. (2008). First principles of motivation to learn and e3-learning. Distance Education, 29(2), 175-185.

Lee, J., & Jang, S. (2014). A methodological framework for instructional design model development: Critical dimensions and synthesized procedures. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(6), 743-765.

Model. (n.d.). In Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, Retrieved September 13, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/model.

Theory. (n.d.). In Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, Retrieved September 13, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theory.

Revising My Design Document

This week, my peers in CECS 5510 and I are to reflect on our experiences revising our instructional design documents based on peer feedback. The peer who reviewed my design document was very kind in his feedback and could not find much to critique. However, the two suggestions that he did provide did help me improve my design.

The first was a question regarding the Common Core State Standards. I referenced the standards in my Purpose, and his question made me realize that I should elaborate on what the Common Core State Standards are for those who are not familiar with them. The second suggestion helped me incorporate environmental aids for visually impaired students. With online technology becoming more prevalent in education and the Department of Justice’s ever growing dedication to enforcing ADA in online educational environments, it is more important than ever to make accommodations for students with disabilities (Cooley LLP, 2015). Applying my peer’s recommendation, I added a Braille version of Fahrenheit 451 and a screen reader to the environment for students who may need them.

My instructor also provided some helpful feedback in improving my design document. He recommended that I format my citations in APA format, eliminate the use of first person, avoid ending a paragraph with a citation, and reconsider my chosen assessment for one more aligned with my chosen learning theory. He also recommended that I provide a more thorough discussion regarding my course’s learning theory, purpose, and problem. He reminded me that because this document is oftentimes the only thing that gets to the decision maker, it needs to provide a good argument for its approval.

After seeing the detailed and well-supported descriptions provided in the design document that I peer reviewed, I clearly saw how my design document was lacking. In writing the first draft of my design document, I had simply followed the formatting I had submitted for CECS 5210, and the instructor for that class had not taken the time to provide the helpful feedback that Dr. Faulkner provided.  I revised my design document with Dr. Faulkner’s comments in mind, and I can now see how much stronger my design document is. There is always room for improvement, and I am grateful that in my final semester in this master’s program, I have a professor who will help me improve.

References

Cooley LLP. (2015). DOJ puts pressure on schools and ed techs to provide accessible educational technology. Retrieved from https://www.cooley.com/doj-focus-on-accessible-educational-technology

First Blog Post for CECS 5510

It’s now the Fall 2015 semester, and I’m now two courses away from completing my master’s degree! One of these courses is CECS 5510, Technology-Based Learning Environments, and this week’s assignment is to read and reflect on three articles: an instructor-assigned article, a self-selected article, and a peer-selected article.

The instructor-assigned article is “Problem-based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework” by John R. Savery and Thomas M. Duffy. It characterizes constructivism by outlining three primary propositions (“Understanding is in our interactions with the environment;” “Cognitive conflict or puzzlement is the stimulus for learning and determines the organization and nature of what is learned;” “Knowledge evolves through social negotiation and through the evaluation of the viability of individual understandings” [Savery & Duffy, 2001, p.3-4]). It then outlines eight instructional principles associated with constructivism and explains how the problem-based learning model successfully applies the instructional principles.

For the self-selected article, I chose “Online learning: Constructivism and conversation as an approach to learning” by Ken Allen. In it, he discusses how Talk 2 Learn, an online community that facilitates conversation, can support constructivism and Wenger and Vygotsky’s cognitive interactionist philosophy. He emphasizes “that before adopting any new educational technology we should first clarify the pedagogical basis on which we wish to proceed” (Allen, 2005, p. 254). The article reaffirms the advantages to a constructivist approach in teaching and learning. According to it, “collaborative learning, authentic tasks, reflection and dialogue, and the promotion of identities and learning communities” enables learners “to solve problems they are immediately facing and places an emphasis on everyday knowledge” (Allen, 2005, p. 254).

For the peer-selected article, I chose the article selected by my classmate Keri: “Understanding the ways in which design features of educational websites impact upon student learning outcomes in blended learning environments.” This article outlines the results of a study on the instructional design features of websites used in blended courses. The study found that “implementation ought to include features in which students engage in learning activities or discussions of content through the website” and that “functions which just present information do not seem to impact upon learning outcomes to any great extent” (Kember, McNaught, Chong, Lam, & Cheng, 2010, p. 1191).

All three articles support a constructivist approach in instructional design. This motivates me to further investigate how constructivism can be effectively applied to the course I will be developing this semester. In order for students to want to complete this course (or any other course I design), they will need to see how it will help them in the real world.

Savery and Duffy (2001) state that “learning must have a purpose beyond ‘It is assigned.’ We learn in order to be able to function more effectively in our world” (p. 5). This statement made me think about the majority of my learning experiences in K-12. I completed all of those assignments simply because they were assigned, without really thinking about how those tasks would help me in the real world, and I think this was largely because little to no emphasis was placed on how those tasks would help me in the real world. I think about many of classmates who hated classes like English. They could not see the point of reading and analyzing The Grapes of Wrath, for example, and, therefore, did not invest the time to study it. But if you really think about it, reading and textual analysis are essential skills in life. You must be able to read and interpret the directions on a tax return form. You must be able to read between the lines and understand what the terms in a job offer letter really mean. You must be able to read people, and figure out if they are really as trustworthy as they seem. If we can help our K-12 learners see the usefulness of what is taught in Reading and English Language Arts, then they will put forth more time and effort in mastering the skills, and we will begin seeing stronger readers and writers in our workforce and a more productive society. As a result, I think I will attempt to create such a course this semester. I’m thinking a ninth grade course on Fahrenheit 451. I’ll keep you posted!

References

Allen, K. (2005). Online learning: Constructivism and conversation as an approach to learning. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 42(3), 247-256.

Kember, D., McNaught, C., Chong, F.C.Y., Lam, P., & Cheng, K.F. (2010). Understanding the ways in which design features of educational websites impact upon student learning outcomes in blended learning environments. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1183-1192.

Savery, J.R., & Duffy, T.M. (2001). Problem based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. Indiana University: CRLT Technical Report No. 16-01.