EDU 625 Unit 2 Reflection

Key Issues and Concepts

With the ‘invention’ of the internet just 25 years ago, gathering and analyzing content has changed significantly.  Digital literacy and citizenship is being taught more regularly at all levels with the hope that users can decipher which content is valuable, credible and applicable to their needs. Although I think that some of this unit’s tools were more interesting or applicable to my own work, I found several to be less desirable or credible for some of the reasons mentioned below.  The following are considerations when evaluating online content and tools:

  1. Is the information current?  Is there a date on the site as to when it was last updated?
  2. Is there a sound writing style for the site or product?  Is the site design appropriate and acceptable or is it distracting or uninviting?  Are there grammar issues?
  3. Is the site/content ‘pitching’ something or trying to persuade you to make an investment?  Is it just an advertisement?  Is there a cost or is it non-profit?
  4. Does the site or tool use references or citations when necessary or are wild claims made with no support?
  5. Is there any acknowledgement to competitors or the other side of the ‘argument’?
  6. Is your personal information shared?
  7. Is there an author for this content or tool?  Is the information peer-reviewed or is the author accomplished or published?
  8. Is the tool or product from a .gov or .edu site which tends to be more credible?  Or is it from a .org site which tends to be more for-profit and may have an agenda?

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(Picture taken with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

Many of these questions can be used to discuss with students or teachers to differentiate between credible content and content that may have other motives. In our technology literacy courses at the middle school, our students are given ample opportunity to learn about and identify content that is both credible and not credible.  The result is a more informed and responsible user that can quickly identify information that helps build their argument or critique someone else’s ideas (P, 2014).  Many of the survey and mind-mapping tools referenced this week are free however more robust versions are offered at a cost to the user.  This does not necessarily imply that the tool or product isn’t credible rather that the organization or individual seeks compensation for profit. 

My Experience in this Unit

As part of my investigation for this unit, I used Google Forms to create a survey for my boy’s tennis team that I coach.  Google Forms is an easy way to collect information and the results are funneled directly into a customizable spreadsheet.  A Google account is free and it offers email, cloud space, a calendar, access to an entire app suite and many other collaborative tools. As with anything new there is a slight learning curve but Google is user-friendly and has many helpful resources to assist any learner.

I attached the survey and results in the discussion board thread to share with my classmates.  I didn’t use any of the mind-mapping tools because the questions from my survey were all open-ended.  However, I did like Instagrok and I would consider using it as a mapping tool for almost anything. 

Image

(Picture taken with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

Observations and Questions

When gathering data in any organization it’s imperative that the conclusions drawn from the data are reliable and valid.  The data must measure what it’s intended to measure and deliver consistent results over a period of time or multiple tests (Cherry).

Using surveys and mind mapping tools are an excellent way to gather and organize data in a visually engaging way. I will refine my survey for next season and deliver the same way as my players were far more engaged completing this electronically. They also liked being able to see a spreadsheet with everyone’s responses which led to better discussion on how we were going to accomplish our goals.

The only question I see as it pertains to the school district I work in is continuing to find appropriate blocks of time to deliver opportunities to learn new technologies like Google Forms or Survey Monkey.  There are so many tools to choose from as well and there is much needed guidance to direct teachers to find the most appropriate tool to assist them and their students.

Conclusions

This unit has been extremely valuable and applicable to my field as an instructional technology specialist.  Allowing opportunities for investigation and reflection affords the learner the chance to actually ‘figure things out’ and to see how a tool could be used to enhance instruction and improve student learning.  Mind mapping in particular fosters an environment of engagement and allows for visual organization of complex ideas or problems.  Google Forms is also an easy way to collect information quickly and share it with any number of people.  Collecting results couldn’t be simpler as it automatically populates a spreadsheet with the results to analyze.

Resources

Create your own Google Form: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/87809?hl=en

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab: How do you know if a source is credible? https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/588/02/

Reference

Cherry, K. (n.d.). What is reliability?. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/researchmethods/f/reliabilitydef.htm

P, M. (2014, January 29). How can I tell if a website is credible? Retrieved from https://uknowit.uwgb.edu/page.php?id=30276

EDU623: The Design Process and Models

This is the first blog post of a four part series for edu623 Designing Learning Environments.  Today’s blog post focuses on some of the key components of the design process as well as different instructional models to consider when planning a project.

The ADDIE instructional design model is one of the most widely used models used by designers and developers. It consists of 5 components that progress in a cycle: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation.  Each phase is flexible in nature and allows for adaptation to different environments and conditions (Hodell, 2011).

As Gustafson and Maribe (2002) point out, “No single ID model is well matched to the many and varied design and development environments in which ID personnel work.  Hence ID professionals should be competent in applying (and possibly adapting) a variety of models to meet the requirements of specific situations” (p. 16).  With an understanding of the need for flexibility, Heinich, Molenda, Russell and Smaldino created the ASSURE model which is a classroom-oriented instructional development model that offers structure and stability for the k-12 environment.

Image

(Picture used with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

The A refers to ‘analyze learners’ and takes into consideration the characteristics of the participating learners (Gustafson & Maribe, 2002).  The S stands for ‘state objectives’ and seeks to identify the goals of instruction in clear and measurable terms.  The second S refers to ‘select media and materials’ and accounts for how teachers have limited time to actually create their own materials.  The U stands for ‘utilize media and materials’ and focuses on how the planning aspect of any project or initiative should be a primary concern for teachers.  And the R refers to ‘require learner participation’.  This phase concentrates on ensuring that the participants remain actively engaged and part of the learning process (Gustafson & Maribe, 2002).  Finally, the E stands for ‘evaluate and revise and is concerned with making sure outcomes are met and no instructional gaps remain.

In contrast to both the ADDIE and ASSURE model, the PIE model has three essential components: Planning, Implementing and Evaluating.  Here, technology and media is leveraged to create and provide instruction.  In true socratic form, the PIE model is “…a shift from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered classroom environment” (Gustafson & Maribe, p. 44).  Computers can be used to enhance instruction and allow for the learners to investigate and engage in more problem-solving activities.  The instructor, therefore, becomes more of a facilitator rather than a disseminator of information in a controlled setting.  Creating an environment where learners are motivated and engaged also plays a significant role in the PIE model.

Image

(Picture used with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

Reflection

I can identify with several models and see all of their potential value in a k-12 environment.  However, I believe the PIE model seeks to break tradition more than the others by seeking to integrate technology into the core of its methodology.  It provides ample opportunity for planning, delivering and evaluating but it creates a different role for the instructor, one that notably breaks from traditional models where teachers are the ‘controllers’ of information and how it is introduced into the classroom.  Today, all of the information is available with a few clicks online.  It then becomes the teacher’s role to teach the necessary skills to work with that information and assist the students in creations that demonstrate learning.  I believe allowing students to ‘figure things out’ and collaborate to solve problems has tremendous value but is not occurring enough in the traditional setting.

References

Gustafson, K. & Branch, R. (2002). Survey of instructional development models. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology.4h Edition

Hodell, C. (2011). ISD from the ground up: A no nonsense approach to instructional design. (Third ed.). Alexandria, Virginia: ASTD Press.

Additional Resources to consider:

 

The 8-Step Process for Leading Change: http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps

Socrative: Response system for student ENGAGEMENT: http://www.socrative.com/

EDU625 Unit 1 Reflection

Key Issues and Concepts 

My personal philosophy and vision for teaching and learning aligns best with Jerome Bruner’s constructivist theory.  In his 1960 text, The Process of Education, Bruner claims “We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development.” This claim supports Bruner’s belief that students build their own learning and can acquire knowledge at rates exponentially greater than their age may typically indicate. Knowledge is drawn and constructed from their own experiences and teachers are more facilitators to their growth. (Bruner, 1961)

I chose this theory based on my own experience as a teacher and as an individual lifelong learner.  The most meaningful and rich learning experiences I have created for students have all shared the common thread of me acting more as facilitator rather than an instructor that disseminates information to be memorized or regurgitated.  Similar to Socratic learning, students are offered leading questions that allow them to strategically solve problems using their own capacity to question, think and analyze information.  The instructor provides the framework for this learning and fosters an environment in which the student can reach their capacity at any age level across any discipline. 

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(picture used with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

My Experience in this Unit

Judicious and responsible use of social media can enhance student learning not just because it’s web-based but more importantly because it allow for collaboration and communication between students with the purpose of creating something that demonstrates understanding.  I believe for too long, schools have inadequately labeled social media as a distraction rather than an actual tool to engage students in learning.  If more resources, time and energy were spent on proactively teaching students how to use social media appropriately, I believe our students would be more informed and respectful of technology and their peers.  I do understand, however, that this can be abused and multi-tasking may be a deterrent to learning and absorbing information.  PBS video Digital Nation (2010) offers an intriguing look at how technology arguably serves more to distract rather than enhance learning for our students.  But in Korea, students in the second grade are taught to use their computers and the web responsibly.  Internet etiquette is taken seriously and ethics are incorporated into curriculum.  Why couldn’t this approach work everywhere in the United States and at a younger age?

As part of my investigation for this unit, I used Animoto to introduce myself to the class.  Having never used this tool before, I quickly learned how to embed pictures and videos into a concise yet informative product for the viewer.  I started off by using my iPad to film my introduction and then created 10 second clips to embed into the Animoto along with applicable pictures serving as connections between the clips.  Overall, I was happy to use a new tool and have already thought of ways to share it with my students and teachers I work with.  

Image

(picture used with permission from http://www.creativecommons.org)

Observations and Questions

I believe the structure of this class will be of more value to me because it will require me to actually investigate and use various tools.  Being able to share and reflect upon what my colleagues use too will only enhance my experience.  I learn and retain more when I actually ‘do’ rather than learn in a more passive environment.  Each tool I investigate also allows me to reflect on how it could be used in my work with students and teachers.  The only question I might have is if this ‘socrative’ approach could be implemented more throughout our program.

 

Conclusions

This unit has been extremely valuable and applicable to my field as an instructional technology specialist.  Allowing opportunities for investigation and reflection affords the learner the chance to actually ‘figure things out’ and to see how a tool could be used to enhance instruction and improve student learning.  Social media is one tool in particular that, if used appropriately and introduced early, could in my opinion foster an environment of collaboration and engagement for all students.

 

Resources

Project Based Learning that builds student ownership: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMCZvGesRz8

Socrative: Response system for student ENGAGEMENT: http://www.socrative.com/

  

Reference

Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of education. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 33.

Bruner, J. S. (1961). The Act of Discovery. Harvard Educational Review, 31, 21-32.

Constructivist theory (Jerome Bruner), (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html

PBS. (Producer) (2010). Frontline: Digital_nation [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/view/

EDU624 Reflection

For almost eight weeks I have engaged in conversation about how we learn, what motivates us and how to develop a robust eLearning experience.  With limited previous experience in creating an eLearning environment for others, I knew this course would inform and challenge me to think and produce in a different way.  Not only did EDU624 not disappoint, but it opened up to me a promising new virtual world of gaming and creation that I had never seen before.  Today, I share a few highlights of my experience along with hopes for the future.

Web 2.0 Tools

Web 2.0 tools have been impacting instructional design and delivery to teachers and students everywhere for many years now.  With a plethora of new tools (and many of them free), the designer, or teacher, can leverage existing technologies to integrate Bloom’s Taxonomy with the ultimate goal of creation.  A Learning Management System (LMS) like Black Board, Moodle or Edmodo offer the forum to host many of these types of tools as a designer creates a learning environment for participants on any level.  Skills are not necessarily being taught, rather there is more of an emphasis on project–based learning which incorporates communication and collaboration amongst colleagues and with a teacher as well as speaking and listening skill development which is most notably a key component of the new Common Core State Standards.

It has been my experience that web 2.0 serves as a tool box with countless options to create, explain, design, demonstrate, evaluate, etc. The task then becomes to be able to develop the skills to select the most appropriate tool(s) to demonstrate understanding and learning of anything. As a teacher in the technology field, I would say the only hindrance is trying to become familiar with so many different types of tools out there…it can definitely be overwhelming to teachers as they aren’t sure which toll to use nor do they always have the time to investigate and learn.

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(Picture from creative commons with permission) 

Post Industrial World

Education and its delivery has changed dramatically in this postindustrial age. Reiser and Dempsey (2012) highlight these changes as more learning-focused, learning-centered, attainment-based, customized, collaborative, and enjoyable.  More learning occurs by doing from the students and the teacher has developed more into a facilitator rather than the ‘sage on the stage’ or instructor that disseminates information to a large audience.

The current school that I work at is indeed a high achieving district however I would argue it still has many industrial-age tendencies. Far too often students are listening and taking notes rather than collaborating and engaging with one another to create a product. I’m currently working with a science teacher encouraging her to incorporate technology into her unit on the circulatory system. In the past she has taught from various resources by instructing the classroom and giving a lot of information for students to listen to and digest. With some encouragement from me and our media specialist, she has agreed to revamp her entire unit and to allow for independent thinking and creativity in a different format. She has put all of the ownership onto her students by having them research in the library various online journals and resources as well as incorporating smart notebook and Powtoon, which is a web-based presentation tool. The task of the student groups are to collectively gather and understand their material and be able to present their new knowledge to the rest of the class for an entire 40 minute period.

This may seem fairly normal to some however this is a big change for the teacher has she has to relinquish control. The result so far has demonstrated the lack of experience the students have had previously doing projects independently. This experience has identified the deficiencies many of our students have because they have been ‘spoon-fed’ so much information for most of their academic careers. I am assuring the teacher that she is taking the right approach and she is preparing them for what they will have to do in high school and college even though the road has been rocky.

My hope is to share the experience of this teacher with the rest of our faculty to demonstrate the various shifts in instruction we have been discussing this unit.  Students will be asked to create rather than regurgitate information back on an assessment. The communication, collaboration, and problem-solving that occurs along the way for each group and each member of that group only enhances their social and interpersonal skills as well as their cognitive ability to address complex issues. Reiser and Dempsey explain “… to prepare the student for lifelong learning, the teacher helps each student to become a self-directed and self-motivated learner” (2012, p. 79).

Virtual Worlds

The virtual world resource that I selected is called Wilo Star 3D.  Essentially, Willow Star is a homeschooling program that caters to the students in grades six through 12. It boasts a fully accredited program and teachers and focuses on creativity and problem solving in an interactive online environment.  Students are able to create and customize their own avatars applicable to the theme of whatever the content is they are studying at the time.  Text and video are incorporated throughout the virtual experience in students can help build as well as respond to that environment.

I must say had very little experience with gaming and the virtual world and this amazed me with its potential. I could see how valuable this might be especially with students with special needs, who are gifted, or have ADD or Asperger’s syndrome.  I also think this a virtual world could be leveraged teach students and role-play around the use of social media and other important ideas like bowling and respect. The experience feels like a blend of a learning management system (i.e blackboard) with 3-D gaming which produces a heightened sense of interaction and engagement. I think this could be used with any student or class as a supplement to the more traditional reading and writing that might occur. But the real beauty of this is that the reading and writing is embedded into the actual avatar experience and with built-in functionality to allow the student to upload information and creates information to share with other classmates could really hit a lot of the common core state standards as well as the ISTE national technology standards. And with it being web-based and accessible anytime anywhere, you’ve created another way to reach students and might have normally fallen through the cracks.

Image

(Picture from creative commons with permission) 

Future Connections

As I progress through this program, I am hopeful to be able to be able to continue to look at how we all learn in a digital environment and most important-how to create engaging experiences that improve learning.  As a former teacher and current technology specialist, I spend most of my time empowering teachers in a k-12 district to learn new technologies that can enhance their current lesson plans and units of study.  I hope to have the opportunity to create more in-depth learning modules for training purposes to share with my peers.  I look forward to the next two classes and will bring my knowledge and experience from EDU624 with me.

 

References:

A shifting learning environment. (2011, May 4). Retrieved from http://teachteachtech.coe.uga.edu/index.php/2011/05/04/a-shifting-learning-environment-key-ideas-for-the-post-industrial-ageknowledge-agedigital-age21st-century-learning-and-instruction/

Common core state standards initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.wilostar3d.com/

Resier, R. & Dempsey, J. (2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (Third ed.). Pearson.

EDU627: Executing, Monitoring and Controlling the Project

This is the fourth and final blog post for edu627 Managing Instruction & Technology. In the first part we examined how instructional design and project management overlap as well as essential elements of project management and how it relates to technology.  The second post emphasized the initiation of the project and designing the document as it pertains to PM and ID.  The third blog post focused on some of the key components to consider when planning a project as well as how healthy communication could enhance the overall experience of planning and participating in any project.  Today’s post will focus on key components of project execution as well as managing change and ensuring quality.

In unit 6, I became familiar with the process of executing a project while applying these concepts to my own actual project. I’d like to share the background of this project and provide areas of concern for my project.

My Current Project:

Currently, the district I work in, Lyme-Old Lyme, is attempting to address the following question as it relates to the ISTE technology standards for student achievement: What type of digital learning environment does LOL want to offer its students?  With a multitude of questions revolving around types of devices, accessibility, learning management systems (LMS), professional development and overall technical support, this district is at a critical juncture to implement a new instructional design plan for how technology will be used with its students and teachers. An attempt to thoroughly address this question will serve as the purpose of this paper as the project manager will be collaborating with the director of technology as well as the director of curriculum to ensure project completion.  A strategic planning committee has been created to allow for ample discussion and testing of applicable technologies in response to the leading question of this project. The end goal is to develop a course of action that can be implemented at the start of the 2014-2015 academic year.

Executing the plan requires but is not limited to the following:

  1. Defining what the project is
  2. Determining what kinds of people you will need
  3. Creating team and select members
  4. Developing and managing relationships pertaining to this project
  5. Informing stakeholders and/or distributing information (pull vs push, email or face to face) (Unit 6)
  6. Organizing: services, technology (software/hardware), vendors, contracts
  7. Investigating of multiple products (due diligence)
  8. Developing a way to measure how well the project is going according to plan (i.e. scope and budget) (Cox, 2012)
  9. Assessing potential threats or risks to the project’s completion

Image

(picture from http://www.creativecommons.org)

Two areas of my project that are the least developed and concern me are communication of the project and risk assessment.  The communication that is occurring to all of our stakeholders and committee members is actually quite however there are many individuals absent for important meetings.  They do receive email with summaries and documents but it’s clearly not the same as if they were present so I feel that we are missing some valuable input that might help steer us one way or another.  My other concern is that the work of our committee is not being shared with the rest of the district and this causes unintended alienation.  How can we ensure that participants are fully informed and that other non-participants still are abreast of the important conversation that is going on within this committee? 

I think one possible solution is to encourage administrators to report back to their respective schools and inform all teachers and staff of any developments and also ask for any input even though they might not be directly involved in this project even though the results will surely affect all of them in the future.  I believe the more ownership there is for the project, the more difficult it will be for governing bodies like the Board of Education, to say no.  A second area of concern for me is assessing risk and the roadblocks that can occur along the way.  Right now, our Superintendent and several Board of Education members are actively participating in these strategic planning meetings and I feel their support.  However, with budgets being determined, hiring freezes and personnel issues occurring, their stance could easily change to meet other agendas-or worse their own.

In unit 7, we focused on change management and project quality.  Managing change in any organization can be a challenge. Humans are typically used to routine and desire security and predictability. With a tremendous influx of new types of technology in the workforce as well as in the educational world, this can be threatening to individuals that don’t have the confidence in themselves or in their leadership. Others may interpret change as a lack of pay off or ‘nothing in it for them’ in return. The rate of change is almost too quick to control coupled with economic conditions that change continually and affect how people interpret and perceive new ideas and strategies.  Managing that change, according to Kotter, is possible by creating a strong group of participants and owners of a project. Creating a sense of urgency as well as a strong vision and plan to implement something new can also help foster change. Finally, identifying and removing as many obstacles as possible as well as creating short-term attainable goals for participants to succeed in can help.

Quality management is comprised of product quality and process quality. Quality control and quality assurance focus on removing any part of the product or process that does not work and maintaining what does work. Creating measurable outcomes that are clear and identifiable can often enhance the final product. This can be done by testing out the product in small groups or individually for releasing to a larger audience. One quality model focuses on PDCA: plan, do, check, act.  This can be repeated multiple times to ensure overall quality is satisfactory.

Image

(picture from http://www.creativecommons.org)

With any project, there must be ownership from the people or participants. The more people that have a stake in what’s going on or can experience the benefits from a learning opportunity, the more likely they are to engage in that activity or project and share with others. It’s imperative then that the administration or individuals in power create an environment and culture that is inviting to this new opportunity and are expressive of benefits to students, learners or customers. Specifically in the educational world, there are many teachers that are resistant or reluctant to learning new technologies usually because they do not have a technological background and they are not digital natives. Learning does not come easy for some of these teachers and they are fearful because they think they need to master the technology in order to allow their students to use it. Convincing teachers that they do not have to be the ‘masters’ of a particular piece of technology and that their students can in many cases ‘figure it out’ on their own without being formally trained, can be a difficult task.

Reflection

Probably the most important components I’ve learned about these past two weeks have revolved around understanding how proper communication serves as the backbone of any well-executed plan or project and to plan for change with a backup or contingency plan.  The more people that feel involved in the process and are comfortable with having their opinion heard, the more ownership they will take in helping to implement change. Right now we are halfway through our strategic planning committee process and we are at the point where we will begin to investigate new and different types of technology that we may want to include as part of our vision plan for the next 2 to 3 years. This will require several participants to investigate new products and ideas and report back to the larger committee for review. This process only works if participants feel valued and part of the process. And along the way through this exploration, it will be important for us to acknowledge the hard work and efforts that all participants are giving for the betterment of our students and teachers throughout the district.

References

Cox, D. (2009). Project management skills: A practical guide. New York: iUniverse.

Unit 6 Lecture, Post University, 2014.

Unit 7 Lecture, Post University, 2014.

Additional Resources to consider:

Quality Planning Checklist: https://wiki.cac.washington.edu/display/pmportal/Quality+Planning+Checklist

Integrating Change Management:

http://www.change-management.com/tutorial-integrating-cm-pm.htm

Edu 627: Planning and Communicating the Project

This is the third blog post of a four part series for edu627 Managing Instruction & Technology. In the first part we examined how instructional design and project management overlap as well as essential elements of project management and how it relates to technology.  The second post emphasized the initiation of the project and designing the document as it pertains to PM and ID.  Today’s blog post focuses on some of the key components to consider when planning a project as well as how healthy communication can enhance the overall experience of planning and participating in any project.

In our 3nd unit, I became familiar with the process of planning a project while identifying concepts and sequence of events through the lens of my own actual project. I’d like to share the background of this project and provide the scope for examination.

Image

 

(picture taken from creativecommons.org)

My Current Project:

Currently, the district I work in, Lyme-Old Lyme, is attempting to address the following question as it relates to the ISTE technology standards for student achievement: What type of digital learning environment does LOL want to offer its students?  With a multitude of questions revolving around types of devices, accessibility, learning management systems (LMS), professional development and overall technical support, this district is at a critical juncture to implement a new instructional design plan for how technology will be used with its students and teachers. An attempt to thoroughly address this question will serve as the purpose of this paper as the project manager will be collaborating with the director of technology as well as the director of curriculum to ensure project completion.  A strategic planning committee has been created to allow for ample discussion and testing of applicable technologies in response to the leading question of this project. The end goal is to develop a course of action that can be implemented at the start of the 2014-2015 academic year.

Scope includes:

  1. Formation of Strategic Planning Committee representative of teachers, administrators, technology staff, board of education members, parents and community members.
  2. Analysis of current technology used within district.
  3. Familiarization of ISTE (national technology standards)
  4. Identification of gap between how we currently use technology and the ISTE standards we are trying to meet. 
  5. Budget considerations and direction on spending pending results from planning committee analysis as it pertains to devices, human resources, software and professional development.
  6. Costs may include:
    1. Sub coverage for teachers during meeting time (to be determined)
    2. Evaluation of technology (to be determined and dependent upon trial software and hardware costs and products to be selected).
    3. $45K earmarked within 2014-2015 budget directly related to findings of this committee (i.e. software, tablets, etc.)
    4. Potential visits to other districts to learn from them (sub coverage, travel expenses-all to be determined).
    5. Time Frame: 6 meetings with Strategic Planning Committee have been planned already as our findings need to be determined and presented to board of education in March.

Scope Statement: This project will determine the optimal technology environment for Lyme-Old Lyme school district by March of 2014 with a cost of $960 and 534 man-hours of work (cost of man-hours to be determined).

In our 4th unit, we focused on creating an effective communication plan.  Components of such a plan consist of project credibility, outline creation, providing evidence and elaboration as well as providing information, instruction and persuasion. Making information available to all stakeholders and participants in a particular project is probably the most common form of communication. Objectives, scope, project expectations and individual or group responsibilities are part of this type of information that is communicated (Post, unit 5).  Instruction communication refers to the relationship with stakeholders and ensuring they assume ownership of the project, not just the project manager or a select few. Being able to communicate in a persuasive or influential manner can also be an asset to any project manager or instructional designer involved in a team project. Rather than dictating tasks and micromanaging, participants can increase comfort level if they feel part of the same team and have an opportunity to communicate their opinion or ideas (Charvat, 2002). Good project managers however will not allow for too much communication or too much information to be disseminated to the team (Charvat, 2002).

Image

(picture taken from creativecommons.org)

Credibility of the project hinges upon how information is shared with individuals and in what manner. The ability to display expertise by the project manager is crucial to gain trust from the group or learners involved (Cox, 2012). The ability to be polished and dynamic also has an impact on how information is communicated and perceived. Further, there must be a clear progression of stages or parts to a particular learning process and the ability for communication to occur verbally, visually and even psychologically. Cox (2012) points out how evidence communicated via statistics, charts, graphs, examples, analogies and details can only strengthen and enhance the purpose of the project.

Instructional design project managers also face many challenges that can impede the progress of their communication and overall project. As information is shared at the inception of any project, there are participants and outsiders that will perceive this information in a particular way. Individuals pre-existing attitudes, beliefs or values may also influence how well communication occurs.  This ‘noise’ can be detrimental to any process or part of the project as well as a lack of ‘noise’ or silence as Cox explains. When there is no feedback or communication in return, the only course of action could be for the manager to check for understanding as much as possible throughout the entire process.

Reflection

The past two weeks have not only helped me learn to plan for every detail of a project but to really think more critically about how important it is to convince those in authority that your project is important enough for them to make it a priority.  If you can gain the support of an administrator, your efforts and message will carry much more weight with the group you are trying to convince.  In the case of my project, we are trying to convince our Board of Education that we will need more resources to better prepare our students for the technological challenges they will face in college and the workforce.

I also learned the value of providing a clear avenue of support for when the project is over. Receiving training can be a beneficial experience but the learning needs to be able to continue well down the road after the learner goes through training.  A repository of pertinent training materials (handouts, screenshots, videos, links, etc.) could be centrally located on a network where all have access.

References

Charvat, J. (2002, November 13). Project communications: A plan for getting your message across. Retrieved from http://www.techrepublic.com/article/project-communications-a-plan-for-getting-your-message-across/

Cox, D. (2009). Project management skills: A practical guide. New York: iUniverse.

Unit 4 Lecture, Post University, 2014.

Unit 5 Lecture, Post University, 2014.

Additional Resources to consider:

ISTE National Technology Standards for students, teachers and administrators: http://www.iste.org/standards

The 8-Step Process for Leading Change: http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps

Using PowerPoint Effectively-What Research Tells Us: http://www.sicet.org/journals/ijttl/issue1101/2_Berk.pdf

edu624: Key Concepts

HPI & HPT

Resier and Dempsey provided the most clarity in differentiating HPI and HPT: “In one sense, human performance improvement is what we wish to achieve and human performance technology is the means we used to achieve it” (2012, p. 137).  With that being said, I believe both HPI and HPT impact my learning environment in the district I work in, however they do it in different ways but contribute to similar goals. Many of the projects I am involved in require communication and collaboration amongst different groups within our district (i.e. teachers, parents, administrators, students, etc.) and there is a strong desire for all voices to be heard for each group to be successful and feel they have contributed to the ultimate goal of the project. On the other side, we must be able to back up our claims and ideas with empirical data and evidence. HPT relies on scientific research and demands verification of results through formal analysis (Reiser & Dempsey, p. 138).

Image Image

(photos taken from creativecommons.org with permission)

As a teacher, collectively knowing your students and identifying their needs is a significant piece to the puzzle when determining how people learn and what motivates them. Dirksen states “Learning experiences should be two way interactions, so you know when learners understand correctly, and when they don’t” (Dirksen, p. 56).  Bringing students or trainees in on the conversation and allowing them to take ownership of the learning can yield better results and success. How we get there can be through the use of technology to analyze information, draw conclusions and support an argument. Exposure to this information via technology is critical to the learning process and ultimately for the success of any project.

For Reflection:

In your profession, how could you leverage HPT to increase motivation for all members of your organization?

ACCESSIBILITY:

Accessibility to any sort of content or instruction can directly impact the motivation of a student or learner. Ensuring that each student’s needs are met to engage in the learning process is imperative to being a successful and fair teacher. “Accessible e-Learning is electronically-generated instruction that is equally accessible and usable to those whose sensory, movement and cognitive limitations interfere with the use of the computer” (Pulichino, 2005, p. 2).

ImageImage

(photos taken from creativecommons.org with permission)

In the district I work in, all instruction and materials must be accessible whether they are printed or in electronic form.  Software that has specific accessibility features built-in must be utilized and training needs to be provided so students are familiar comfortable-all of this impacts motivation to learn. Reiser and Dempsey (2012) further point out how the learning environment must be flexible and sensitive to different cultures. Knowing your students and their specific needs at the beginning of a class can only enhance their learning experience.  Appropriate accommodations should be identified and employed as efficiently as possible. Finally, the presentation of information needs to be clear as it pertains to font, text, graphics and other tools that are part of any documentation (Reiser and Dempsey (2012).  With more and more learning occurring online, it is imperative instructors are more sensitive to each student’s needs and how overall accessibility impacts the motivation level for all learners.

For Reflection:

With the implementation of more rigorous state standards throughout the United States, what role do you think accessibility should play now that testing will be conducted online?

References

Dirksen, J. (2012). Design for how people learn. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.

Pulichino, J. (2005). The e-learning accessibility and section 508 report. The eLearning Guild, Retrieved from http://www.elearningguild.com

Resier, R. & Dempsey, J. (2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (Third ed.). Pearson.

Additional Resource:

Combining Intrinsic Motivation and Student Autonomy for Sustained Success, click here

Edu 627: Project Initiation and Design

This is the second blog post of a four part series for edu627 Managing Instruction & Technology. In the first part we examined how instructional design and project management overlap as well as essential elements of project management and how it relates to technology.  For the past two weeks, however, there has been an emphasis on initiating the project and designing the document as it pertains to PM and ID.

In our 2nd unit, there was an attempt to clarify the difference between PM and ID as each pertains to the life of a project.  The Project management Institute (PMI) “…defines project management (PM) as the application of a body of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements, all of which are documented in the project management body of knowledge” (Rooij, 2010, p. 854).  With initiation serving as the first phase of project management, clarity to the purpose of the project is revealed. Cox (2009) illustrates how a project charter outlines the specific business need as well as provides an explanation of a particular product or service. Specific roles of individuals or groups of individuals are often identified in the project charter as well as stakeholder recognition and purpose.

PM supports ID and both share similarities. First, both can be structured into individual projects that are temporary in duration and result in a unique deliverable product. Second, both are considered successful if the project or product is delivered on time, meets the requirements of the stakeholders and is within budget.  According to unit two course notes and presentation from Post University (2014), “Project management supports instructional design through the application of these standard tools and approaches in the specific domain of instruction….these practices provide support and optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of your instructional design projects” (Post, slide 7).  The ID model of ADDIE helps establish the project lifecycle for delivery in a diverse environment. Rooij (2010) states “Project management complements the instructional design process by offering a set of repeatable processes with which to describe, organize and complete the work required for each phase of the project lifecycle…” (p. 855).  Rooij further clarifies how PM’s spend most of their time engaged in instructional design tasks (2010, p. 860).  Instructional designers and project managers have many skills that overlap and complement one another. 

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Sometimes the list of tasks can be overwhelming…where does one begin?  (Photo used with permission from creativecommons.org)

In our 3rd Unit, we focused on task analysis which is the process of determining what a particular learner needs to know or do as it pertains to specific objectives (Unit 3 lecture, slide 5).  With primary tasks serving as the most significant tasks to be fulfilled by the learner, main tasks involve things that need to be accomplished to satisfy primary tasks. And finally supporting tasks can be described as tasks that need to occur to help complete and satisfied the main tasks (Unit 3 lecture, slide 5).  Tasks can also be broken down further according to physical or cognitive (thinking) tasks.  Task sequencing logically dictates that “tasks be completed in the same order as the job that the learner will eventually perform” (Unit 3 lecture, slide 7). Here, tasks can also be ranked by importance which is determined by time spent, difficulty and significance (Unit 3 lecture, slide 7). 

The purpose of the design document is to allow for a clear overview of a particular training program (Cox, 2009). Once the design document is created as part of the project management side, the identified needs, as part of the instructional design side, can then be embedded within the design document. From that point, tasks can be categorized as primary, main tour supporting and identified within the document. It’s also important to build in performance measures to identify anything the learners or trainees will need to know prior to training as well as determining “… the amount of time and practice necessary to acquire knowledge and demonstrate skill and behavior at the desired level given the difficulty, significance, and time spent on the task” (Cox, p. 54).

Image

(Photo used with permission from creativecommons.org)

Reflection

I work in a small public school district on the CT shoreline and we are attempting to address the following question as it relates to the ISTE technology standards for student achievement: What type of digital learning environment do we want to offer our students?  With a multitude of questions revolving around types of devices, accessibility, learning management systems (LMS), professional development and overall technical support, this district is at a critical juncture to implement a new instructional design plan for how technology will be used with its students and teachers. As the project manager, and in part as a result of my new learnings from the past two units in edu627, I have decided to create a strategic planning committee within my district to allow for ample discussion and testing of applicable technologies in response to the leading question of this project. Careful analysis is occurring now and I am beginning to identify and sequence all of the tasks that will need to be completed for this project to yield reliable and valid results.

References

Cox, D. (2009). Project management skills: A practical guide. New York: iUniverse.

Unit 3 Lecture, Post University, 2014.

 

Additional Resources to consider:

1. ISTE National Technology Standards for students, teachers and administrators: http://www.iste.org/standards

2. This is a collection of blog posts all about project management and it’s updated weekly: http://projectnewstoday.com/project-management-blog/

 

 

edu627: An Overview of Project Management

This is the first blog post of a four part series for edu627 Managing Instruction & Technology. As we look at how instructional design and project management overlap, let us first examine the essential elements of project management and how it relates to technology.

Cox (2009) defines a project as “temporary…undertaken to create a unique product, service or result, and has characteristics that are developed incrementally as the initiative progresses” (p.2).  Projects have a distinct beginning and end and are a way to execute strategic objectives (Cox, p. 7).  Emphasis on the ADDIE instructional systems development model consist of: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. In accordance with this is the Four-Step Combo which consists of 1. Initiation, 2. Planning, 3. Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and 4. Closing.  With minimal previous exposure to these models, I found them both to be clear and rational approaches to planning for and solving problems.

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(Picture taken from Flickr with permission)

Of particular interest was the consideration of stakeholders and the role that they play within a project as well as the focus on the analysis portion of planning a project.  As Cox explains “The findings of the needs analysis reveal the gap in knowledge and skill and the decision is made to design, develop, and deliver a learning solution to close the identified gaps” (2009, p.16).  Further investigation allowed us to learn about Human Performance Technology (HPT) which essentially provides an analysis of the current state with a focus on identifying performance gaps and creating a plan to eliminate them (“International society for performance”).  Key components of HPT are: it focuses on outcomes or results, helps to determine causes and needs, and helps identify plausible solutions (“International society for performance”).

With these highlights in mind, it’s important to illustrate how valuable this new information has become for me in such a short amount of time. As in instructional technology specialist I have surprisingly had little formal exposure to project management although many of the projects I have been involved with have shared similar qualities of the ADDIE model in particular. After just one week I have a much better understanding of the analysis portion, value of surveying as well as clearly identifying your target audience and stakeholders.  As I began to outline a potential culminating project for this course, I was clearly more versed in the language of project management as well as the logical process by which problems within an organization can be identified, executed and evaluated.  This new knowledge will help me answer an important question for my district: what type of digital learning environment do we want to offer our students and teachers for the next five years?  So stay tuned for the second part to the series where I hope to share more about my project and new learning from our course readings.

Extend your Learning:

This short TED Talk is not a typical one you might find related to project management class however I think it contains several of the ADDIE model characteristics and it is a sensational example of how technology can enhance learning for all children across the globe.  Listen to Sugata Mitra here.

And try EVERNOTE for managing projects and sharing almost anything digital with your stakeholders.  It’s free and easy to use.  Visit evernote.com today!

References:

Cox, D. (2009). Project management skills: A practical guide. New York: iUniverse.

International society for performance improvement. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ispi.org/content.aspx?id=54

Mitra, S. (2010, September). Sugata mitra: The child-driven education. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html