tech-ucation reformation

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Sssshhhhhh – On The Air! May 6, 2015

My Technology-Based Learning Environments course mates and I are in the final weeks of class which means we are now finalizing our courses including the job aids, final peer reviews, and last reflections.  This is the last blog required for the course, but we will have to complete some reflections which will not be blogged.  I am certain I will post some of those thoughts to my personal blog, and I definitely plan to go back and read my previous blogs for this course to develop my final reflections.

As for what needs to be done with my course, I am still creating the videos for the course due to the delay in production – thank you spring allergies!  This year seems to be especially crazy; I have seen more wildflowers than ever.  The allergies are now under control with the help of several medications, but now kids, pets, and a spouse keep hindering getting the videos done in a timely manner.  I need to have a space dedicated to creating them without interruption, but I do not see that happening until I have a professional designer job, so I just need to chalk it up to a lesson learned.  This does give me something to think about if I intend to do any remote or freelance work.  Having my family around with constant interruptions is usually not a problem because I am adept at helping them with their needs quickly and getting back to the task at hand, but video-recording is a whole different game.  Now I understand why radio stations have those “on air” lights and special recording rooms!  I am not quite finished with the text pieces of the course either, but that will easily be done because I already have it all worked out in my head.  Plus I am waiting for peer reviews to come in; perhaps I can head off some work by taking their ideas into account before the final additions. Then again, I am prioritizing other projects right now which also demands my already limited time.

As for the possibility of implementation, I am sad that my course will not get to be, at least at this point.  Perhaps one day in the future, I will have the opportunity.  I am even considering selling parts of it.  But at this point I have no prospects to, and this, of course, will make evaluation impossible, but it will be alright.  I am really pleased with the topic and nature of the course.  Somebody in the future will like it too and want to use it, so then I can get valid client feedback.


Too Busy Doing My Job To Do My Job May 5, 2015

Filed under: 5510 — S. Michele Holmes @ 9:41 pm
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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.


Considering What is Left March 30, 2015

Filed under: 5510 — S. Michele Holmes @ 4:17 am
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My Technology-Based Learning Environments class is at the halfway mark of our course development. My course mates and I are continuing to add information to our courses as well as presenting what we have done with the rest of the class via online presentations. We have been asked to consider what is left to be done, what challenges we have dealt with, and if we will meet our completion timeline.

I feel as though I am quickly catching up to where I want to be with my online course development. Although it appears as if I have not done nearly what I need to complete, so much of what I have left will go quickly because I have a consistent method for how I am developing the course. As for what is left to complete, the punch list is long. Under each module exists a page for each day of the week; I still need to update about half of those. Luckily, I spent a great deal of time updating my design document, so part of process is already completed – the list of activities. I just need to elaborate on what specifically will need to be completed each day. I also need to complete most of my instructional pages. I have been saving those for last because I want them to be more visually stimulating. I know what I want to go in them, I am just still exploring how to make them more than just reading material. Speaking of more than reading material, my plan is to incorporate multiple short videos throughout the course to explain how to complete various projects, conduct peer reviews, and use the programs. I anticipate this to be my biggest challenge and plan to complete most of them in the next few weeks. I do feel I have taken on quite a large undertaking and worry I may not be able to meet my timelines perfectly, but the course will be finished before the due date even if adjustments to the course must be made to meet the final deadline. The creation of original materials is what will challenge me to meet the deadlines. Teachers usually just use the materials they have been given and rarely make their own. I consider myself to have a knack for pulling together the best of the materials which already exist; I mean, why reinvent the wheel? But because Canvas has made it so easy to create and edit material, especially if the material will be reused again and again, the recreation of the materials I am pulling together should go smoothly.

I am unclear about my ability to implement this course because it is not being built specifically for a client or even me to implement immediately. I plan to keep it in tact until I need to implement it. My plan was to create the course in such a way that certain aspects of it can be modified for other needs. Perhaps a client wants to implement it over a semester. Other than changing due dates and the name of the daily pages, it should be fairly easy to modify for a variety of needs. I have been working more and more with the rubrics to evaluate the projects. Canvas makes it so easy to create, copy, modify, and save rubrics. So yes, I have a long way to go, but my plan is well-established. I am, however, really excited to switch up peer reviewers for the rest of the course to obtain some different feedback on the development so far.


Other Instructional Design Models February 15, 2015

Filed under: 5510 — S. Michele Holmes @ 5:31 am
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This week my Technology-Based Learning Environments course mates and I are now in the process of finishing our instructional design documents based upon the feedback we received from our professor and our peer reviewer. We have been asked to study an instructional design model we are not familiar with and report on what we find. I researched a model known as the Morrison, Ross, and Kemp Design Model (or MRK). What originally attracted me to this model was mention of how useful it is to classroom teachers because it involves them in the process (Gustafson and Branch, 2001). In our courses, my course mates and I typically utilize the ADDIE model: analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. While movement occurs both backwards and forwards through the ADDIE steps, the process occurs in order and eventually ends. The MRK model expands the ADDIE model into nine interrelated steps and forms them into a more circular process which does not have to be completed in a specific order (Akbulut, 2007).

As a teacher, I constantly reassess what I teach including how and with what materials. I also must adjust to the needs of my students each year and with each class or section. The MRK model is different from other instructional design models yet supports what I do because “it considers instruction from the perspective of the learners” and “puts a greater emphasis on how to manage an instructional design process” (Akbulut, 2007, p. 64). Speaking of the learners, the ADDIE model analyzes the learners’ needs as it identifies a necessity for a new instructional design. The MRK model subscribes to the idea that the instructional design will be used again and again but may need adjustments with each implementation based upon the learners’ characteristics. Another marked difference is that the ADDIE process often requires new resources to be created specific to the instructional need while the MRK process allows for the review and selection of materials which have already been created by other sources. As a teacher, rarely would I have created my own worksheets, reading passages, videos, or other instructional resources. Instead, I would have reviewed the resources and chosen which best conveyed the information. Because of these reasons, I feel I may have to keep this model close at hand for future reference.

It is important to understand that theoretical learning theories such as cognitivism and constructivism are different from instructional design models. Learning theories attempt to explain how the learner interacts with and acquires the content while instructional design models attempt to create a formalized process with which to create the content. Instructional design will identify and employ an appropriate learning theory as part of the process because ID models do not explain how learners learn. Also, learning theories are broad enough that may different instructional design models could be used. When considering what a client needs, this distinction is necessary because the design will often depend upon what and how the learners will learn.


Akbulut, Y. (2007). Implications of two well-known models for instructional designer in distance education: Dick-Carey versus Morrison-Ross-Kemp. The Turkish online journal of distance education, 8, 62-68.

Gustafson, K. L., & Branch, R. M. (2001). Survey of instructional development models ( 4th ed.). Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology.


Review of Instructional Design Research January 26, 2015

Well, I am right back to it with a bang! This semester I have begun my Technology-Based Learning Environments course by reviewing some research on instructional design. My classmates and I are charged with reflecting upon three articles: (1) an article discussing project-based learning utilizing a constructivist framework, (2) another addressing instructional design in our own interest areas, and (3) the last an article that one of my course mates reviewed. At the same time, we are considering project ideas which could drive our work for the rest of the semester.

The first article began with defining and identifying three characteristics of constructivism. “Constructivism is a philosophical view on how we come to understand or know” (Savery & Duffy, 2001, p. 3). Gaining understanding through our interactions with the environment is central to the learning theory, suggesting that learning is the construction of understanding given the learning prompts. Setting a purpose for learning and incorporating opportunities for social negotiation are also central to the theory. The authors also suggest creating authentic tasks, helping students with project ownership, and providing opportunities for reflection should also be incorporated into a constructivist lesson. The article then asserts that project-based learning utilizes the constructivist theory and explains why. I want to create a course which asks students to use new technologies to present newly-learned content, thus combining the learning of skills through interacting with software and the learning of information that interests them, which addresses multiple constructivist ideas.

I have been pondering some project ideas, and the idea of designing an online course for gifted students is at the top of the drawing board. When I read Thomson’s (2010) article on this very topic, I found that the guidelines found in the research and suggested as best practices were the very same elements I am experiencing in my own online classes. Perhaps the perfect way to show what I have learned these past two years is by reflecting back my own interpretation of an online technology course is with the same idea but with a population I have more experience with. What an opportunity to explore my passions for technology, online learning, and gifted education. I plan to incorporate the instructional design suggestions from the article to the best of my ability: a well-organized course, frequent and prompt feedback, high-quality and appropriate learning materials, a mentor relationship with each student, and individualized and differentiated content.

Much interest in the emotions of gifted students has already produced considerable research. Gifted students often display emotional intelligence well beyond their years, yet many experience misunderstandings because their emotional maturity was over-estimated. I was surprised to find one of my course mates reviewed an article on instructional design considering emotions. In this article Astleitner & Leutner (2000) provide suggestions to address the five emotions in the FEASP instructional design approach: fear, envy, anger, sympathy, and pleasure. The suggestions for sympathy and pleasure were especially engaging and support two elements, cooperative learning and gamification, I would like to incorporate into my project.


Astleitner, H., & Leutner, D. (2000). Designing instructional technology from an emotional perspective. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 32(4), 497-510.

Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (2001). Problem based learning: an instructional model and its constructivist framework. CRLT Technical Report No. 16-01, 1-17.

Thomson, D. L. (2010). Beyond the Classroom Walls: Teachers’ and Students’ Perspectives on How Online Learning Can Meet the Needs of Gifted Students. Journal of Advanced Academics 21(4), 662-712.



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.


Thoughts on the First Instructional Design November 2, 2014

Filed under: 5210 — S. Michele Holmes @ 2:09 am
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My Instructional Design course mates and I have finished our first projects and are in the beginning stages of our second projects.  We have been asked to stop and reflect upon our experiences with the first project and consider how these experiences have prepared us and will affect our work on the next project.  Perhaps the most important part of the first project was to walk through the entire ADDIE process step by step. Although each of us had completely different projects and outcomes, the ADDIE process could be applied to all of them.  Plus, the ADDIE process is not at all what I have experienced in public education (see Analysis & Design Working Together), so it has been interesting to experience the full process and compare it to what I do at work on a regular basis.  While my course mates and I will still work our way through the ADDIE process for the second project, we will have fewer benchmark activities to turn in.  I view this as an opportunity to go through the steps more quickly perhaps even allowing more freedom to move in and out each step with less structure.  I should feel more intuitive and less organized but more authentic to what a professional instructional designer would do.  After all, they are likely to be accountable only to their clients and themselves.

As for what worked, my clients were highly knowledgeable of how their content should be structured and organized.  Their insight was valuable to the analysis and design phases of the project.  I felt these were the strongest aspects of this particular project.  However, the development of the actual materials was to me the most exciting and creatively rewarding phase despite the parameters I was bound to.  Because the analysis and design were well laid out, both these steps took very little time.  I ponder how working with a client who does not have clear objectives or vision and how much longer these phases could take.

As for what did not go so well, the limitations created by the learning management system were difficult to work around.  For example, if I created an activity or quiz and found there to be a mistake (which often happens) it was not possible to correct the mistakes without great difficulty, especially if course participants had already worked within the assignment.  The lack of computer experience among the young users was also a logistical issue my clients and I had not anticipated.  These both made the implementation of the project the weakest aspect, but perhaps the most valuable in learning the craft.  As I transform into an instructional designer, I must consider the weaknesses inherent in the implementation process.  Some can be anticipated and managed prior to roll-out, but others cannot.  It is our job as designers to minimize these weaknesses to the best of our ability and quickly address glitches.

That being said, I would like to go in a completely different direction with the next project and not use a learning management system.  Sure, tracking student progress will be a major consideration, but the freedom of using a website format to relay information will be a wonderful learning experience.  But perhaps the information could be structured in such a way that the users only access what they need to move them along with their projects.



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