Archive for April, 2009

Which Learning Style?

April 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Most of my days are spent doing one-on-one type support over a large array of software and hardware issues. I’m like an in-depth tech support. Over the past month I have been able to do work with my favorite thing: online courses. It’s been great but it has also been extremely challenging. In my past experience with creating content for online learning I have had the benefit of knowing my audience was one that liked to learn online. This is extremely helpful. As we all know, teaching someone who is comfortable with learning online is a much easier task than teaching someone who is not comfortable with learning online. Suddenly, I found myself dealing with 6 courses worth of people (instructors) who taught online but did not necessarily learn well online. In the beginning, I had an idea what type of problems this would cause but really didn’t have a clue.

Problem #1 – The majority of the “students” really had no desire to learn anything new. They were being forced into it because we are changing the LMS whether they like it or not.

Problem #2 – The change from WebCT to ANGEL is pretty substantial. WebCT is a very structured area only allowing you to place content in specific locations. ANGEL is a very open area allowing you to create the entire design of your course on your own. There was a pretty even split of people who liked this and hated this.

Problem #3 – The majority of the “students” do not do well in an online format even though they are online instructors. We did provide the opportunities for them to come to face-to-face sessions but many did not attend.

Problem #4 – Due to the large number of “students” we had an extremely wide variety of learning styles. Creating content that suited them all in one shot was nearly impossible.

So I found myself (the only Instructional Designer and one of the only SME’s) juggling what I thought was best for the learner, what I could produce fastest (we are on a strict timeline), and what I knew the most about. This was not a fun juggling act.

I find interactive content the best way for learners to learn and retain information. So I created Captivate tutorials whenever possible. I also know from experience in this institution that people love to have printed out instructions of specific tasks. So I tried to incorporate as many printable references as I could while putting together afore mentioned Captivate tutorials. Thank goodness for ANGEL’s doc files they were so gratious as to give to us for our editing and using as we needed. It was much easier to simply splice a piece of their instruction manual to use as the printable reference rather than have to make one on my own. Much time saved there. I’m also thankful for their in-depth instructor reference manual, Tony Suess, and the ANGEL-L ListServ from which I attained a good portion of my ANGEL knowledge.

Where am I going with this? Really, I’m not sure. My brain is pretty much friend at this point.

I guess my point was, how do you successfully balance the learning styles without overkilling the audience on information? It is my hopes to go back through the course I made and add printable references for every Captivate tutorial. But I’ve begun wondering if I shouldn’t also go through and add simple non-interactive screen capture videos for each item also. This would be for the people who don’t like to read the printed version but don’t want to take the time of doing the interactive version. So many different ways of learning. How in the world do we cover them all cohesively?



April 24, 2009 2 comments

I mean tweet.

Twitter has recently taken over my life. It took me a few months to really sink my teeth into it and I’m still making my way. I’m really trying to figure out how to get the best wealth of knowledge by adding the right people and finding the right groups. I figure, since I’m a department of one, the more people I have on the sidelines to answer questions the better.

I’ve found many corporate ID people which are very helpful but I would really like to find the wealth of ID people in higher ed. They are out there, I know they are. I just haven’t tweaked my search criteria the right way to hit the motherload yet.

If anyone can give me a hint, please do.

Categories: General Tags: , ,


April 21, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m such a confused person. I’m never sure which way to go. I have so many ideas and they get all confused in my head. I sat down and thought about it this morning. I came to the conclusion….I should be confused! I have to look at things through the eyes of a learner but think like a teacher and get in their minds like a therapist. I’m schizophrenic!! Okay, okay, I know it isn’t THAT bad. Some days it just seems that way.

I think many of my issues stem from the fact I’m still pretty new to this whole ID thing. I haven’t found my niche. At the same time, I don’t WANT to find my niche. A niche insinuates being stuck doing the same type of things over and over. I don’t like that idea. I want to be open to changes and be able to continually learn. But I’m finding it hard to know what to concentrate on because there are so many directions to go and so many things to learn. One week I’m creating a website to house how-to materials. The next I’m doing a workshop on Office 2007. And the next I’m creating an online course (as both the SME and ID). While I like to think I’m a rather diverse person, and in theory would like to stay that way. In reality, it might be a good thing for my sanity to find a niche. On the other hand, when you are a department of one, how is that even possible?

I guess I’m not feeling so heroic this week.

ID for eLearning

April 9, 2009 Leave a comment

It was pointed out to me by a friendly Twitter-er, another problem is instructional design for eLearning because “basic rules of interactive & multimedia storytelling often [are] not applied.” I didn’t even know there were basic rules of interactive and multimedia storytelling…I’m not sure if that makes me a bad ID or simply one that doesn’t do a lot of eLearning work. Anyway, my first thought, being an ID in higher education, is lack of professor knowledge about interactivity. It is a battle of knowledge. The ID knows or, in my case, has a good idea about how to implement interactivity but the professors are leery of allowing it to be used in their course. Or maybe the rules are not well enough known to be implemented properly. Or maybe the knowledge of how to use the software to create the interactive content is not known. There are so many variables that cause this problem that makes it an even bigger problem.

ELearning is SUCH a new concept for the vast majority of people. New and exciting things are happening everyday. There are so many universities and colleges moving to eLearning in large numbers, there just aren’t enough dedicated, great ID’s to go around. And as much as we would love to think professors and instructors want the best for their students, often they just want enough to get by. And that doesn’t include anything more than spewing their knowledge onto a computer screen in the only way they know how…..Word documents. It is giving eLearning a bad name….but what can we do??? We can’t FORCE instructors to teach in specific ways. We don’t have enough people or money to equip instructors with ID’s to put their content in a better format. Even when you equip an instructor with an ID, as I said earlier, it is still ultimately up to the instructor how they want their information presented. I’ve been involved, still am actually, in introducing instructors to better online teaching practices and it is a constant struggle. Basically, you can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink.


April 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Until I studied the term ADDIE using Google and Wikipedia, I had no idea what it was or what it meant to me as an Instructional Technology major and that was just 6 months before graduation. Some people would find this disturbing: To know that an Instructional Designer in training had no idea what the #1 used model of Instructional Design was. Now that I’m in the field, I actually find it refreshing. So many people run at ID full speed using only the ADDIE or other models to profess their knowledge and create their content. I use logic and personal experience. I also use my knowledge of andragogy and psychology to help guide my way. I’m sure my perfectionism doesn’t hurt any either.

I think it should be required of anyone who creates online content to participate in an online course. You get a whole new view of the world when you are looking through the eyes of a student. I also think there is something to be said of online instructors who do not learn well in an online setting….what are you doing teaching in a setting you, personally, don’t understand??? Anyway, that is off the point a little, I’ll have to talk about that one a little later.

I think ADDIE is a great model….but that is where people get confused…it is only a model…a process….a suggestion. It is a great way to structure how you go about making sure your content is complete but it doesn’t explain how to make sure your content is effective. People need to learn to use their heads. Put yourself in the shoes of others. Think about what you are doing. Think about how YOU would like the content to be prepared if YOU were the one taking the course. Think about how your thoughts differ from others. Think about how others might see things…..the key word here is THINK. Don’t just follow a cookie-cutter model….think about how the model should be used in your SPECIFIC case. The model gives you the process…you need to figure out how that process will work for you.

Categories: Content Creation Tags: , ,

Hello world!

April 6, 2009 1 comment

I thought the generic first post title was good enough for me. The content, on the other hand, needed a little work.

Oh, how often that little statement goes through my head. For the past 6 years, I’ve been staring at good courses gone wrong simply by trying to place them online. Ok, I really have no idea if they were good courses to begin with, but I can guarantee the vast majority (I’d say at least 95%) of the online courses I took in my college career (and it was 100% online) were BAD. And that was BEFORE I decided I was going to be an Instructional Designer. Honestly, that was probably WHY I decided to become an Instructional Designer. I knew there had to be more out there. There had to be a better way.

When I got my degree I had no idea what all Instructional Designers did. I’m still not sure I know what all Instructional Designers do. I’m not sure anyone knows for sure. I think it is a catch all/save all type role. We are the campus heros. Well, at least I think we should be. I like to think of myself as one.

Honestly, when I first started out studying to become an Instructional Designer, I thought I would end up creating online courses. I love that idea. I love putting content out there and trying to make sure it is in a way that is usable to nearly everyone. I had no idea I was about to become a campus hero. I know too much about random stuff and am more than willing to share my knowledge…apparently, that is what everyone needs. And now I’ve found my place in the world (or at least on my campus) and I have realized there is WAY more out there than online courses. I do still love them but I couldn’t be a campus hero if that is all I knew.

Categories: Campus Hero Tags: ,