By now my Technology-Based Learning Environments course mates and I should be finished with our courses and ready to conduct peer reviews and make final refinements. We have been asked to stop and reflect on whether or not we have finished our courses and why, any technology and people challenges we have faced, our thoughts on working within professional deadlines, and our strengths and weaknesses as a designer.
I have to be honest and say that my course is not finished at this point. My biggest impediments have been human conditions – mainly my own – which cannot be helped and time management. I usually am quite adept at time management, but this semester has truly come to be the “when it rains, it pours” semester. Luckily I have not really faced any technical problems, mostly just trying to figure out how to use another video editing program – a transferable and therefore fairly easy task, just extremely time consuming. I do have other video editing programs to use with which I am already experienced, but they do not capture computer screens, only footage I have taken with a camera. Also, the video editing program I am using to capture my computer activity is very expensive, so I intended on attempting to capture all my video within the 30 day free trial period. Well, about four days into the trial, I had a major allergy attack and subsequent cold symptoms for more than a week. When I recorded the videos, I sounded horrible. Sure, I can edit out the sneezes and coughs, but the tone of my voice was bothersome even to me, so I was concerned about how I would sound to others. I could have asked someone else to record them for me, but then I would have to spend time writing a script and coaching them on what to say when. As for time management, I have already mentioned I usually have no problem, but this semester has been one of the most difficult of my life for personal reasons. I am in the process of moving to another state, and all that that entails. I am still working my full-time job, taking my two graduate courses, trying to sell a house, trying to find a new house remotely, trying to find a new job online, in addition to obtaining a license to teach in my new state. Then, just when I thought things were about to clear up allowing me to concentrate on the course, the 1st round of STAAR scores came in, and I was added to the remediation team without being asked. While I am a team-player, this has added a whole new level of stress to my already packed schedule. I have come to the point to where I will have to lower my own quality standards for everything I do. Luckily the house has sold, and we just have to deal with inspections and paperwork. I have given up on the job hunt until after the school year is over. The snags I have encountered to become certified in the new state will have to wait a few more weeks, and my regular full-time job duties will also have to wait for another week or two. I just keep telling myself it will all be over soon no matter the outcome.
Wow, I am really getting off topic and sounding like I am having a pity party. The point is that I love the design work I am doing in school and the new career I am breaking into, I just want to do a super fantastic job. But that is the problem – the doing! In the future, I will need to have time dedicated to the instructional design job. If that is the main job, the one I will be getting paid for, then certainly the time will be there. Unfortunately right now, it is not. The hardest part has been realizing that all of this was unforeseeable. Had I known all these issues were going to happen, I would have only taken one class and saved the last two for summer. So how does this apply to professional instructional design? People have lives outside of work, and sometimes life just gets in the way. The sacrifices we make to improve ourselves and become better both professionally and personally are often greater than we should handle. Learning how to say no and only taking on the projects you can handle will be important. If working for a company, they will be able to provide insight into the level of quality expected so you do not get overwhelmed by going overboard or overextending yourself. But in the end there will be an end, there will be a point of no return. Professional companies likely will not micromanage a designer by asking for regular reports or quarterly deadlines. The designer will have to self-manage and stick to their own deadlines.
As for my strengths, I have an uncanny ability to see the overall big picture and break it down into parts. In fact, I prefer it that way – I need to see the whole first before I can logically break it down into smaller, manageable pieces. I also am very good at organizing information to make it more comprehensible to other people. As for my weaknesses, I am often very wordy and need to think about making directions more succinct. I am just somewhat good at anticipating issues before others know they can be an issue and addressing them head on. So my instructions, especially to young children, must also include what NOT to do.