tech-ucation reformation

Goodbye overheads and chalkboards! Hello virtual "paperless" classrooms!

My Personal Interview Strategies August 7, 2015

Filed under: 5580 — S. Michele Holmes @ 10:39 pm
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Because Readings Seminar in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems is the last course for this program, some of my course mates and I are working to find new positions and possibly even careers.  Interviewing is necessary for landing new positions, so we are discussing the do’s and don’ts of interviewing.

The Do’s
First, prior to any interview, one should fully understand the position for which they are interviewing by reading any job descriptions and comparing one’s own qualifications to the requirements.  The potential employee should also research the company including the culture and climate as well as any competitors.  Preparing for possible interview questions, developing a set of questions to ask in return, and collecting samples of work or letters of reference should also be done in advance.  On the day of the interview, one should dress for success, bring along any items to share with the potential employer, and arrive at the location well before the scheduled time.  After the interview, the candidate should send a short thank you to the interviewers showing appreciation for the interview, highlighting something from the interview that made them stand out, and adding something that may not have been covered in the interview.

The Don’ts
However, some things should just not be done during an interview.  The obvious one has already been mentioned in the do’s, so let us think about it another way.  Don’t wear clothing inappropriate for the position to the interview.  I have always heard to dress a step above the position as a general guideline.  Don’t say negative things about prior employers or positions.  Find a positive way to say why the separation was or is necessary, such as moving on to the next stage of a career.  Don’t stumble over your words or repeat the same anecdotes again and again.  Understanding what kinds of questions will be asked and having multiple answers prepared depending upon which version is asked will help.

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Professional Instructional Design December 10, 2014

We are wrapping up the semester and finalizing our 2nd projects in my Instructional Design class.  We have been asked to explain what it means to design instruction and identify what skills are required to do it professionally.  Designing instruction involves creating some form of media for the purpose of providing information someone is expected to learn.  How this is done may appear different depending upon the job, but the basic process will be similar.  One possible design process referred to as ADDIE involves analysis, development, design, implementation, and evaluation.  While this may work for most initial projects, designs are often revised and updated as the need arises.  So a shortened version of ADDIE may occur repeatedly.  Consider the implementation period.  Much of today’s digital designs are continuously implemented but still need revising on a regular basis.  Therefore, most educational software developers update their programs according to the school year and upload those edits during the summer.

Thinking of designing professionally, three key skills are necessary.  Being knowledgeable of design software and techniques is essential to creating successful design.  Designers must keep themselves updated with latest technology, trends, and software updates.  Consider how software also gets updated on a regular basis.  Sometimes the updates are simple changes, but sometimes the entire software product is revamped.  Even the experienced user and designer must spend time learning where the tools have been moved to.  Expanding one’s skill set will certainly increase how valuable one can be to future clients.  I ponder how clients often do not know what software would be best for their need or situation; perhaps they are not aware of all the possibilities.  It will be the instructional designer’s job to hear what the client needs and help their client choose the best vehicle to articulate their ideas.

Having a background in teaching, knowledge of national and state standards, and experience with a variety of educational materials is also a key skill to being an effective instructional designer.  Even with efforts to nationalize curriculum, state standards vary across the country.  I have myself experienced issues with materials created for national standards having to be modified to Texas state standards.  No matter how the company attempted to “fit” their materials into the standards, they did not fully address the expectations or all the specificities.  Also, the TEKS are revised and updated regularly, and although designers are not involved with this process, they will experience the brunt of revising and updating websites, textbooks, consumable workbooks, etc. once the updated TEKS are adopted.  Having actual classroom experience assures the designer will consider the logistics behind implementing their products.  Teachers rarely use materials at face value, so designers must consider how teachers will modify their products, pairing them down or expanding upon them.  Designers must consider the ages of the intended audience.  If the designer has no experience with the busy brains of a first grader, they may have difficulty creating materials the child can handle.

Perhaps the most important skill to an instructional designer is a combination of time management, communication, and organization skills.  Keeping up with benchmark and final deadlines keeps clients happy, but there is more to time management than deadlines.  Understanding the time involved with creating materials in various applications is essential.  The client may simply need paper-based materials to be converted to a digital form; this may not take very long unless the client has grand ideas about the interactivity of the digital form.  However, creating materials from scratch or into a form which requires a great deal of planning or involvement of many people takes more time.  Taking a project and breaking it down into smaller mini-tasks is something every designer must understand.  Speaking of involving many people, strong communication skills will keep all parties “on the same page” while addressing everybody’s ideas and needs.  Sometimes clients have difficulty articulating exactly what they want; they may not be able to put their needs into words.  Instructional designers well versed in different forms of communication can assist the client “flush out” their ideas.  Rarely would a professional handle one project at a time, so managing multiple projects at once requires the designer to keep all aspects of every project organized.  Using calendars, reminder applications, project management programs, folders, and other organizational tools will facilitate the designer’s effectiveness.

 

Regulation and Communication November 16, 2014

Filed under: 5210 — S. Michele Holmes @ 5:12 am
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My Instructional Design course mates and I are well into our second design projects.  Because the second project will require no benchmark assignments as we work through the entire ADDIE process again, we will be required to regulate ourselves and our clients on our own.  I see both advantages and disadvantages to this.  As a professional instructional designer, our clients and supervisors will not want to see all the ADDIE steps in separate documents at specified periods.  We may have to update them on a regular basis, but what it will look like could be different from project to project.  So the advantage of Project #2 is a more authentic version of what we could experience in the future.  However, having little experience with the process AND the freedom to work on our own schedule is . . . well, to be honest, somewhat scary.  At least we still have our safety net in place, meaning that we can contact our professor at any time for feedback and guidance.

So in this case, we must regulate ourselves and others to a greater extent to achieve the final goal.  As for self-regulation, we will have to set our own deadlines, be accountable to ourselves, and evaluate our own work.  Regulating our clients will involve guiding them through the process, helping them set timelines, and communicating with them more regularly.  Project #2 will be more challenging than the last because my client and I are creating the project almost from scratch.  We will not be held to the standards and guidelines of an outside organization unlike the last project.  Plus, my client is not experienced with either the needs of the population the project is being designed for or the technical skills required to create the project.  I have already been experiencing a greater degree of regulating my client because of all these factors.  On the other hand, I am finding the freedom to develop the design more liberating than I felt with the first project.

Communication will be even more necessary for this project because of what it entails.  The last project was much more structured and well laid out prior to me turning it into an online course.  The only real communication between my last client and I was to check-in with her about my own progress and obtain feedback as needed for my professor.  This time, my new client and I are starting with a loose idea I developed a few years ago.  We will basically be creating all aspects of the final product with no expectations other than our own.  Our communications already feel much different.  I see myself taking on a much larger role in the development and design stages because of the client’s limited experience.  She requires more guidance and support.  I anticipate future communication will occur more frequently and appear less formal.

 

 
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