My Instructional Systems Design course mates and I have been conducting our analyses for our first projects these past two weeks. We will use the information we gathered in the near future to create activities tied to the learning objectives we’ve created, but first we must reflect upon our findings. Although not specifically tied to the project, what I learned most from my analysis is how industry and education differ in how they approach the learning process. Education is ever evolving into more structured and standardized practices. It must function in repeating cycles of school years, semesters, and reporting periods. The state of Texas provides teachers with the expectations to be covered in each grade and subject, so a teacher’s yearly scope and sequence is divided accordingly from an ending point, such as a state assessment, back to the beginning of the year. She wants to make sure every topic is covered, yet allows for some flexibility in pacing should her students struggle or excel at a particular topic. So for a teacher, the whole creating objectives process simply does not happen because the objectives are already written. Also, the idea of a creating a lesson in response to a problem or issue is missing because the objectives are expected of all students without consideration of what they already know. In contrast, industry trains people according to the job to be performed or as a reaction to issues or problems. A new employee may already be familiar with some aspects of a job and not need as much training as someone with less experience. Or a new system or product will be introduced requiring training, yet it will likely only be taught once to current employees. The learning objectives are developed according to the learner’s needs and could be different for each employee. In either case, the verb stated in the objective limits possible activities. For example, if the verb is “explain,” then there are just a few ways to do so – verbal form, written form, or perhaps even some alternative form of expression such as a skit, video, or song. Regardless, the learner’s final product involves writing and/or speaking to explain.
As for my project, I considered both education and training paradigms in my analysis. I will be developing a training module to help students prepare for an academic competition. The competition will take place on a specified date, and the final expectation is the same for all student participants. These parameters are similar to current education practices because the learning must be completed before the deadline, and what the student does during the competition (expected outcome) is already determined. However, by thinking more like an industry trainer and analyzing past performance, I found a true problem for which a module can be developed in reaction to the need to increase performance. After all, this is a competition, and the student who answers the most questions correctly will be the winner, and my trainer client wants more students to place in the event. Therefore, the activities should include not only presentation of the material to be learned, but also repeated practice to increase performance. Essentially, my student clients will study 40 paintings including the name of the work and the artist. At the competition, 15 pieces will be chosen at random, and the students will be expected to both identify and correctly write down the title of the painting and the last name of the artist. Most of the training module will focus on ways to increase time spent studying the paintings and faster identification of the paintings. The trainer client plans to meet face-to-face with students to work on the actual writing down of the information, including spelling and punctuation. In an effort to increase study time, students will be encouraged to communicate with each other about what they are learning in a social-media platform.
When asked about how analysis and design are related, I must admit I am struggling with the idea because most of education is not “problem-centered.” ADDIE focuses on identifying a problem and creating a way to solve the problem. In education, the curriculum is already in place, so the design takes place without an analysis. Teachers have very little flexibility when it comes to designing lessons other than putting their own spin on what someone else told them they have to teach. As lesson designers they have very few “problems” to work with until the students have been exposed to the material and either don’t get it or already knew it. Then the real issue is usually the students are not prepared cognitively for what they were about to learn, they have a gap in prior learning, or they have become bored with the lesson. For example, how can a student truly understand adding or subtracting fractions when they don’t understand fractions? At this point, the teacher does not design a whole new lesson for the entire class; she pulls the student at another time and reteaches the lesson at a slower pace searching for the gap or clearing up the confusion. As for the student who already knows the material, the teacher must find a way to keep him interested by extending above and beyond her plan. This perpetual analysis and her response (redesign, if you will) to it happens so naturally, rarely are they seen as separate steps.
One thought comes to mind concerning the Information R/Evolution video and how analysis and design affect each other. First, understanding how information can be categorized and filed helps us see how the Internet can take the classification of information to a whole new level. Consider a comparison to the human brain. Humans store information in different areas of the brain, and the various parts perform different functions. So just as a human may store a memory but have trouble retrieving it because the neural pathways are not strong enough, filing information in drawers or on bookshelves only to be forgotten about because we didn’t create multiple ways to access it results in failure to quickly find it again. Using hypertext, tags, searches, hotlinks, and all the various ways to manipulate text on the Internet links information together creating stronger paths just as my repeated access of information in my brain creates stronger and more efficient neural pathways.