Activity 1: Theoretical Frameworks

For my research paper there are two theoretical frameworks that interest me and that I think could help guide me in answering my research question. First, the question that I seek to answer is: In what ways might blended or hybrid continuing education courses for adults in secondary school be designed to contribute to self-efficacy and student satisfaction?

The theoretical frameworks that I would like to explore further are adult learning theory and self-efficacy theory. These theories tackle the two aspects of my question with adult learning theory describing how adult learners learn differently from child learners (Knowles, 1973) and self-efficacy theory which notes the significance of self-confidence with regards to the completion of tasks (Bandura, 1994).

Adult learning theory has been very familiar for me in my work surrounding adult learners. Knowles (1984) made five assumptions for adult learners: 1) more self-directed, 2) coming from a place of experience, 3) more willing to learn once relevance has been determined, 4) learn better by “doing”, and 5) more intrinsically motivated to learn. Starting from these points, I could start an inquiry on what can be appropriate design for adult learners in a blended learning environment.

Self-efficacy theory is a bit more newer to me, but a theory that I find important as I feel that for students to do well, their own self-perception or confidence can have a major impact on outcomes. Bandura (1994) notes that these beliefs on one’s ability can affect cognitive, motivational, affective and selection processes which will invariably alter the learning experience.

Ideally I’d like to incorporate both these theories into my research, but I’m still contemplating the proper mix or if I can just utilize certain elements as a conceptual framework. Reading through Grant and Osanloo (2014), I think I have an idea of what the difference between a theoretical framework vs. a conceptual framework is, but breaking down a real example is a bit more difficult…

Any thoughts/comments would be greatly appreciated.

 

References

Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human
behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press.

Grant, C., and Osanloo, A. (2014). Understanding, selecting, and integrating a theoretical framework in dissertation research: Creating the blueprint for you ‘house’Administrative Issues Journal: Connecting Education, Practice, and Research. DOI: 10.5929/2014.4.2.9. 

Knowles, M. S. (1973). The adult learner: A neglected species. Houston, TX: Gulf.

Knowles, M. S. (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Activity 2: Disseminating Research

The prospect of disseminating research is always an exciting opportunity. After a long arduous journey creating a piece of work that one can be proud of, naturally you’d want to share it with the world.

For my potential research topic in looking at self-efficacy/satisfaction in adult students based on course design in online/blended courses, I think presentations at my own school board would be a good avenue to share my findings. I hope that some educators will see merit in what I come up with and it can inform practices and delivery methods. My school board is finally undergoing a paradigm shift in looking at global competencies and digital literacy and I think my research paper can hopefully be a small piece in that plan.

Subsequently, any conferences or academic journals that would seem like a good fit for my paper are welcome as well. Having presented at a few conferences and made some paper submissions, I’m well aware of the nuances and requirements of certain organizations and journals. There will definitely be more reading in the future to see where my research could potentially find a home.

Assignment 1 – Top 5 Online Facilitation Tips/Strategies

In the above infographic, I list my top 5 tips/strategies for effective online facilitation. These past few weeks I have considered what good facilitation in general means and have found that while there are some similarities between face-to-face facilitation and online facilitation, there are a number of considerations that must be made for an online environment. I will now outline my top 5 tips/strategies, which while important for any good facilitation, are especially important in an online environment.

The first tip is knowing and teaching to the audience. This is important in any environment, but the online setting can be a greater divide which can make creating connections difficult. A facilitator should know as much as they can about the learner to be able to adapt to learner needs. Bull (2013) describes this role as ‘big brother’, as it can be necessary to make sure that learners are getting the most of their learning experience.

The second tip is being available and accessible. Availability can be hard to define without physical presence. Going up to a facilitator in a face-to-face setting is straight-forward, but contacting an online facilitator can be more difficult. Therefore a facilitator should clearly lay out their availability and show that they are present. By posting or emailing, a facilitator can show learners that they are around even without physical presence (Boettcher, 2013).

The third tip is having clear expectations and instructions. Even if a facilitator is fully accessible and available, learners need clear instructions and know what is expected of them. The structure of a course or presentation needs to be clear and relevant as context could be lost in an online environment (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2018).

The fourth tip is being confident in your expertise and encouraging varying opinions. As a facilitator, you are the expert who guides the learners through the subject matter. Learners will be looking for confidence in the grasp of knowledge which can reassure the learner that they are in good hands. The other aspect of this role is to make sure that you are not intimidating the learner and be able to allow them to voice their thoughts and opinions even if they may be against the general thought. This is a balance between being the roles of ‘tour guide’, ‘learning coach’, and ‘valve control’ as coined by Bull (2013).

The final tip is using different mediums to present information. This tip is most relevant in an online environment, because motivation and keeping learners engaged can be a challenge. More activities that encourage interaction and reflections can create a community where there is inquiry learning that is full of peer support (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013).

 

References

Boettcher, J. V. (2013). Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online.

Bull, B. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Faculty Focus.

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). Online educators’ recommendations for teaching online: Crowdsourcing in action. Open Praxis, 10(1), 79–89.

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press. Chapter 3: Facilitation (pp. 45-61).

Activity 2 – The Reflect Phase

Upon completing my prototype and testing the digital learning resource, I felt a great sense of satisfaction that I had created something that could potentially be useful for both students and staff. The design thinking process allowed me to get into the mind of the user and create from their perspective. I am still surprised by what you can learn by just speaking with students and learning basically how they learn. The way people learn has been changing for thousands of years. Bates (2015) describes how the earliest form of teaching took the form of oral communication which evolved to written communication and eventually audio and video. All these forms are still used today, but newer technologies are appearing in classrooms. Social media is just one example of a new form. It should not have come as a surprise to me that many of the learners in my target audience were using their smartphones to access course content, but without initiating interviews, I would never have found this out.

My digital learning resource, instructional videos for introducing D2L (the learning management system at my school board) was evaluated as clear and being appropriate for the target audience. I am very happy with this assessment as during the IDEATE phase, I noted that in using the SECTIONS model (Bates, 2015) students would be the most important element of consideration. I took care in making sure that the speed of the video would not be too quick, language not too complicated, and not covering too many topics to be unnecessarily long due to cognitive concerns.

Of course there are also many areas for improvement. Accessibility in the form of captions was on my radar to begin with, but definitely something that was pointed out and should be incorporated. An interactive element was also suggested to allow the learner to try out what they just viewed; a split screen was suggested or some form of an application quiz. If I can get these elements incorporated, then it be something I would definitely like to test out.

Design thinking has now been explored in a couple of courses, but it is always nice to be able to try out a method in a real world working example. User considerations will definitely be at the forefront of any project that I am working on and design thinking with be a method that I will gladly share with peers. Thank you to all those who provided feedback on my resource. Your comments are greatly appreciated and will definitely inform my next iteration.

 

References

Bates, A. W. (2015). Chapters 6-8. In Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Vancouver BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd.

Activity 1 – The Test Phase

As our digital learning resources are now undergoing the Test Phase, we now turn our attention to the criteria in which these resources are evaluated and assessed. With the wide range of resources that are available from course modules, videos, presentations, guides, etc., I was thinking it would be very difficult to come up with an evaluation instrument that could cover various resources and tools. Some resources are more interactive than others. Some tools are meant to be more for reference than for new learning. The most important aspect from what I found working through my own resource in addition to exposing myself to others, is determining what the learning goals are. Without knowing the goal of the creator, one cannot determine whether the learning resource achieves success in what it was originally intended to be for.

One of the tools that I have looked at is the Learning Object Review Instrument (LORI), which has learning goal alignment as one of items for evaluation (Leacock & Nesbit, 2007). The other eight are content quality, feedback and adaptation, motivation, presentation design, interaction usability, accessibility, reusability, and standards compliance. Most of these criterion can be applied to almost any digital learning resource which makes the LORI tool attractive in my eyes. There needs to be certain flexibility after determining the learning goals in how each item is reflected in the resource. Keeping in mind this flexibility, most people can at least agree a resource should have good content, motivate students and be accessible among other factors.

Hadjerrouit (2010) notes that in evaluating web-based learning resources one must consider the technology, pedagogy, and content. LORI hits these three elements through the nine items outlined above (e.g., accessibility for technology, motivation for pedagogy, content quality for content, etc.). I believe an evaluator would have a much easier time working with nine elements versus three broader categories. Of course, adaptability could be limited when working with more rigid items, but that goes back to my earlier statement on determining the learning goals early on and seeing how these items fit into those intentions.

Due to the nature of LORI being in-depth enough for proper analysis by covering core components, but yet not overbearing in the effort and time needed to complete (Leacock & Nesbit, 2007), in my opinion it is a good option for evaluating digital learning resources which I shall explore using in the future.

 

References

Hadjerrouit, S. (2010). A conceptual framework for using and evaluating web-based learning resources in school education. Journal of Information Technology Education, 9, 53-79.

Leacock, T. L., & Nesbit, J. C. (2007). A framework for evaluating the quality of multimedia learning resources. Educational Technology & Society, 10(2) 44-59.

Activity 3 – Developing a Design Plan

Description: Some adult students do not feel prepared or even informed enough to tackle the complexities of going from a traditional face-to-face learning environment to one that is blended with some learning taking place in an online learning management system (LMS). The digital learning resource that I have chosen to create in hopes to assist students is a series of instructional videos on how to navigate and utilize the various facets of the LMS that the adult continuing education students at my school board use. I plan to create one video initially to gauge effectiveness. After considering the literature and feedback from peers, either a series of instructional videos or a preparatory course would be the best options. Given I do not have the resources to create an online course, the videos seemed to be the best path forward.

Learning Goals: The main goal of this digital learning resource to is have a series of multimedia instructional guides that can inform students on how to do various tasks within the LMS. A secondary goal is to help students become more comfortable in using the LMS and by extension other similar online platforms, by seeing how features and functions are properly used. By having online videos, students should be able to access them at any convenient time as many times as they so wish.

Intended Audience: The intended audience of my digital learning resource composes of the adult continuing education students within my school board who are or will be enrolled in a hybrid (blended) course. It is anticipated that students who may not be in continuing education could find some of the material useful as well. Students who are taking fully online courses could also use this resource, but the extent of usefulness may be limited as these students are typically more technically adept if they are choosing to enroll in online courses.

Rationale: Some adult students have voiced their opinions on the fact that they feel there is not enough preparation or resources to help them adjust to learning online. At this point, the majority of support they get is from their teacher which cuts into valuable class time that needs to be used for teaching the course matter. Adult students who are having difficulty navigating online need to be given a resource that is easily absorbed and familiar to them. In the focus groups, the majority of students mentioned having seen videos online (mainly Youtube). They were viewed on both mobile devices and computers. By using a platform that students are already aware of and comfortable with, the learning curve is diminished and students can focus on learning the LMS instead of trying to learn how to access and navigate training modules.

Tools: Time and resources are limited for the purposes of this course, but I will be using a screen capturing program Kaltura to record my actions navigating the LMS. Students will learn by seeing how to perform different tasks and it will be apparent where tools and buttons are with a live course being presented. Editing will be done in Windows Movie Maker as that is what I have access to. This will allow me to emphasize certain points of the video as well as provide captions where necessary. The platform where I will store these videos is Youtube, due to the open accessibility and the existing familiarity with the intended audience.

Assessment Plan: As this is not a formal resource for all learners, there was no formal assessment plan (i.e., not all students may need this). Usage of the digital learning resource can be tracked from the view count on Youtube. In addition, comments can be left to see whether students are finding the videos useful and also suggestions can be made. Even though this is a supplementary resource, teachers could be encouraged to quiz students (e.g., through clicker quizzes) on aspects of the LMS after either referring students to view a video or viewing it together in-class. Students can also be surveyed at the end of their course on whether they used the video series and if they found it useful.

Learning Theories & Instructional Design Principles Used: Two learning theories will primarily inform the design of my digital learning resource. The first is adult learning theory which recognizes that adults learn differently from children. Knowles (1984) made 5 assumptions regarding adult learners: 1) adults are more self-directed, 2) adults are coming from a place of experience, 3) adults are more willing to learn once relevance has been determined, 4) adults learn better by “doing”, 5) adults are more intrinsically motivated to learn. The second learning theory is cognitive load theory which will relate to the length, content and structure of the videos. As the working memory can only process a set amount of information at a time (Sweller, 1988), the length and content of the videos must not cognitively overload the student by either being too long in length or have too much extraneous material.

Instructions for Use: As these videos will be for reference, students should be encouraged to access them whenever they feel they need to learn or brush up on a skill or ability to complete a task. Links should be sent out to each student’s email with the Youtube channel that the videos will be hosted on. The teacher can also go over the videos at the beginning of the first class as part of their orientation. Students should be encouraged to pause the videos and try out for themselves what they see in the videos within their own class shells in the LMS.

Plan for Use: As mentioned earlier, the videos will be on Youtube on a public view setting. At this moment there does not seem to be an issue with having such videos public. Students from outside adult continuing education can access the videos if they so wish, but the content of the videos planned thus far will remain at the basic level. Other educators can also use the videos if they wish, but the content would be very specific to the LMS at my school board so the transferability of the resource may be limited.

As always any feedback on my preliminary design plan would be greatly appreciated.

 

References

Knowles, M. S. (1984). Andragogy in action: Applying modern principles of adult education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive Load During Problem Solving: Effects on Learning. Cognitive Science, 12, 257-285. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog1202_4

Activity 2 – Selecting Promising Ideas

After going through the Ideate phase, there are a number options that I could proceed with in terms of tackling my design challenge: How do we prepare and inform adult continuing education students in transitioning to hybrid learning?

In trying to think outside the box, I tried to have some variety in terms of how best to approach the issue. Training seemed to be at the crux of the problem, so naturally all the options revolved around that factor. An additional course, a video series, a technical manual were some of the thoughts that went through my mind and plotted in my mind map; each one having it’s own pros and cons (see padlet wall). At this juncture, I’m going to examine one of these ideas through a theoretical framework to see if it is up to snuff in serving the needs of the students and my organization. I’ve decided to try the SECTIONS model (Bates, 2015) on my idea of having a video training series. The criteria of the model seems to fit with my organization while remaining simple to assess in terms of my idea.

The first criteria is Students:

  • Focus on the students is very important for a school board so this criteria being the first one makes sense. The demographics of adult students comprises of a typically older and potentially less technologically-versed population. In speaking with the students though, the majority of them seemed capable of viewing videos on platforms such as Youtube (usually for non-school related content). Access via at least mobile devices seems to be there.

The second criteria is Ease of Use:

  • I think this criteria is very much linked to the Students criteria. As students are already accessing video content, duplicating that process should be method that should be explored. Students should not have to learn another platform or view from a site that they’re not already familiar with.

The third criteria is Cost/Time:

  • Creating a video series could potentially be costly and time-consuming, but it all depends on the strategy used towards making it happen. Outsourcing of the videos is an option if the resources allow, but creating them in-house can save on costs and potentially time. In addition, those who use the technology the most (i.e., the teachers) are in-house  and therefore they would know best on what content to include.

The fourth criteria is Teaching:

  • Learning can be enhanced by the addition of media, but it must be done right and not just for the sake of adding audio/video. Videos have been used in courses to a high degree of success on teaching various topics. I have not yet decided on how these videos will be structured, but potentially they could be similar to ‘how-to’ videos on completing various tasks.

The fifth criteria is Interaction:

  • While videos won’t be very interactive for the students, it will be possible to crudely gauge the interaction between the students and the videos by view count. Also discussions and referencing the videos in class when appropriate could reveal whether the videos are making a difference on student learning.

The sixth criteria is Organizational Issues:

  • The method of a video series luckily should not have too many hurdles from an organizational standpoint as the videos could be viewed outside of class time and do not interfere with the regular teaching and learning of the class. A potential organizational issue revolves around branding and proper school board protocol if/when the videos become standardized resources for board usage.

The seventh criteria is Networking:

  • I find this criteria to be similar to Interaction as it involves creating connections with others. Videos don’t provide much opportunity for networking as it lacks the student to student connection. Perhaps allowing comments on the videos is something to consider if there is a benefit that students will find in this.

The eighth criteria is Security and Privacy:

  • The benefit of online video is that students do not need to provide any information to access videos in a public domain. If the videos do touch upon proprietary information, there may need to be a secure login for students to view them. This can be done via student logins with which they already have access to a range of services such as the Google suite.

By going through this framework, I can see where the strengths of a video series shines and when there can be potential complications. Overall I think SECTIONS has shown that an online video instructional series can accomplish the purpose of preparing students for hybrid learning. Now to consider various learning theories such as adult learning theory and cognitive load theory and see how they would affect an online video instructional series.

 

References

Bates, A. W. (2015). Chapters 6-8. In Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Vancouver BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd.

Activity 4 – The Define Phase

Completing my composite character profiles has given me some new insight into the adult student population that I often work with. It’s been around 3 years since I’ve started working on the hybrid learning project, but very rarely did anyone stop to think “as” the student. Instead we were thinking what “we” thought the students needed. Drawing from the focus group interviews and survey, I’ve been able to create 5 distinct students who would be taking courses in our adult high schools. Naturally some unexpected information was uncovered from speaking to students. For example, one would think that the reason a student attends a high school is to get a high school diploma, but for the majority of students spoken to (and surveyed), it seems that is not the case. Learning English, along with upgrading courses (already having a high school diploma) were the top reasons. Now that we have this knowledge, hybrid learning should adapt to the goals of our learners and not our perceived goals for the students.

In terms of the Define methods, I believe that the Point-of-View Madlib (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016) along with finding themes (IDEO, 2015) makes the most sense as I have already been thinking along the lines of what are the needs for what groups. In addition, themes have organically been constructed revolving around access, time, knowledge, etc. I’ve found that many Define methods from the Bootcamp Bootleg and Design Kit are really closely linked together and can be used sequentially, if time allows. This process has really allowed me to step into the lives of our adult students and take a look around. Now for the next step of retreating out, so that I can put that knowledge into good use.

 

References

IDEO. (2015). Design Kit – Methods. Retrieved from http://www.designkit.org/methods

Stanford University Institute of Design. (2016). Bootcamp Bootleg.  Retrieved from http://dschool-old.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/METHODCARDS-v3-slim.pdf

Activity 3 – Empathy Methods

In reviewing the Empathy methods as described in the Bootcamp Bootleg (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016) and the Design Kit (IDEO, 2015), I believe that a combination of Composite Character Profiles and Group Interviews would be the best path forward for me in my quest to empathize with the adult students of my school board.

My design challenge revolves around the lack the of preparation and knowledge that the adult students in my organization have towards hybrid (blended) courses. Hybrid learning was originally introduced as a more flexible delivery method recognizing that adult continuing education students seeking to complete their secondary school courses have different responsibilities and backgrounds than standard high school students. They often have families to take care of and part-time or full-time work that they must attend to. By allowing these students to take some of their learning online, it was believed they would have an easier time to balance their school life with their other responsibilities. For the majority of students, this is the case. Unfortunately, for others it seems that new barriers are raised that include lack of technical skill to navigate an online environment and an overall lack of buy-in to this method of learning.

Currently I have 2 sets of data in the form of focus group interviews and pre/post course surveys. The breadth of information that I have access to is vast and I hope I can make the most use out of it. From the focus group interviews, I have spoken with many students about their successes, challenges, and suggestions to how hybrid learning can be improved; from the learning management system to the general course overall. By going straight to the students, I have learned first-hand how students are accessing their course and how they are faring in their own opinion. From the surveys, I believe that I can create a composite character profile which will also help me understand the needs of a demographic that is different from my own. I cannot say that I know what it is like to be completing 3 high school courses as a mature adult student while trying to raise a family with 2 children by working a full-time job simultaneously, but at least I feel I can start to empathize with those in similar situations. By having a few character profiles generated, I hope to be better able to understand the challenges that various groups have with hybrid learning and together with the feedback gathered from the focus groups, begin to design my digital resource.

 

References

IDEO. (2015). Design Kit – Methods. Retrieved from http://www.designkit.org/methods

Stanford University Institute of Design. (2016). Bootcamp Bootleg.  Retrieved from http://dschool-old.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/METHODCARDS-v3-slim.pdf

Unit 3: Activity 1 – Are We Overloaded Yet?

My group the DeeGees chose to explore the modality of video curated libraries through the instance of Lynda.com. It was a great experience to go through a course with not just the mindset of learning the material, but also learning about how the delivery worked as well (or not work). We each focused on our own issues (for myself, cognitive load theory), and set out on our exploration.

Cognitive load in itself is a very complex topic with varied effects due to multimedia. I’ve learned that there are a multitude of combinations of how video learning can be established mixing video, audio, text, animations, frames, points of focus, and many other factors. Each combination can in itself provide a rich learning experience, but have a negative effect on a learner’s cognition.

Key to most successful video and multimedia courses and modules seems to be a few general rules. Some potential solutions to cognitive overload include choosing audio over visuals when possible, providing breaks between videos, removing extraneous material, and avoiding duplication (Mayer & Moreno, 2003).

Of course this is only a sampling of remedies to cognitive load effects. The more I read into cognitive load theory, the more intricate I find how every learning environment will have different cognitive load effects. In short, course design needs to be conscious of the learner and the content being learned. What is the best way to transfer the knowledge? Keeping it simple seems to be an age old saying. There’s no need to be flashy and try to use every visual effect. Sometimes less is more and you know what, the learner may actually remember what the instructor was trying to teach rather than just their floating head.

 

References

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno R. (2003). Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52, https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326985EP3801_6