U3:A1 Adopting a Theoretical Framework

 

 

Photo by William White on Unsplash
Photo by William White on Unsplash

For the focus of my applied research project (ARP), I am leaning toward the adoption of a social constructivist lens as the broader framework to guide my research. The idea that learning can occur through meaningful social interactions with others (Dron & Anderson, 2014) underpins my interest in how a community of practice (CoP) model might contribute to organizational learning and employee development. Assumptions around social constructivism perceive reality as a social invention, knowledge creation as a product of meaningful and authentic interactions, and that learning is a social process (Kim, 2001). A CoP model is reliant on the social process of learning and situating that learning in an authentic context with individuals who participate in this process together.

Situated learning which emerged from Lave and Wenger’s (1991) seminal research around group interactions disputes that learning is not only about receiving information, rather according to Lave and Wenger it is fostered by increased participation in a CoP (as cited in Smith, Hayes, & Shea, 2017). Situated learning revolves around the notion of authentic learning situations that involve a social community to create meaningful learning (Northern Illinois University, n.d.). To this end, social constructivists view individuals “and the social society as interconnected…[and] assert that learners arrive at what they know mainly through participating in the social practices of a learning environment” (Woo & Reeves, 2006, p. 18). Given the emphasis of social and collaborative learning, situated learning, authentic tasks, and problem-solving which are all tenets of social constructivism (Dron & Anderson, 2014), I see this framework as a strong fit for my research. However, I am wondering if for the purposes of the ARP it might help to narrow in on a specific social constructivist framework? Activity Theory is one of those frameworks I am considering.

Activity Theory (AT) is associated with social constructivism (Dron & Anderson, 2014) and “focuses on the interaction of human activity and consciousness (the human mind as whole) within its relevant environmental context” (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999, p. 62). Since I will be examining how the practice and context of a CoP might impact learning and knowledge transfer in the workplace, AT might help in analyzing the relationships between the community, domain and practice that make up a CoP. From what I have learned in preliminary research around AT, activity comes before learning and that it is the activity of doing that provides this learning (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999). At this point, I have only touched on the tip of Activity Theory, so I am uncertain of its fit with my research topic. I would welcome any insights you might share on your familiarity with Activity Theory, and if you see its usefulness in supporting my examination of the Community of Practice model. Any suggestions, and questions are most welcome. Thank you!

References

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching crowds: Learning and social media. Edmonton, AB: AU Press, Athabasca University. Retrieved from http://klangable.com/uploads/books/99Z_Dron_Anderson-Teaching_Crowds.pdf

Jonassen, D., & Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999). Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development47(1), 61-79. Retrieved from https://link-springer-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/content/pdf/10.1007%2FBF02299477.pdf

Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://www.fp.utm.my/websim/doct/Social%20constructivism.pdf

Northern Illinois University, (n.d.). Situated learning. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/facdev/_pdf/guide/strategies/situated_learning.pdf

Smith, S. U., Hayes, S., & Shea, P. (2017). A critical review of the use of Wenger’s community of practice (CoP) theoretical framework in online and blended learning research, 2000-2014. Online Learning, (21)1, 209-237. doi: 10.24059/olj.v21i1.963

Woo, Y., & Reeves, T. C. (2007). Meaningful interaction in web-based learning: A social constructivist interpretation. Internet and Higher Education10(1), 15–25. doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2006.10.005

U1: A2 Thinking Ahead to Sharing my Research

I am still trying to hone in on my research topic, so thinking about how I might disseminate this research when it is completed is somewhat of a stretch, but a good way to get me in the zone. Since I am leaning toward creating an artefact that supports the work I am currently doing in my professional context, I would most likely present my research findings at a conference or in a professional development workshop.

The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), for which I am a member, is comprised of continuing education professionals from across the U.S. and Canada. Although the idea of presenting a conference paper on my research mortifies me, I can see the value in eliciting feedback to improve upon the research I would have started in the MALAT program through the Applied Research Project (ARP). The eDesign Collaborative is an interest group and networking space I belong to through UPCEA and it could be a good fit for dissemination of my research, also serving as a resource to draw from as I work through my project.

Another alternative in distributing my research would be in a professional development workshop. My institution is part of a state-wide system in which there are 23 campuses. Each year, a CSU Counterparts meeting is hosted by one of the campuses that brings together Professional and Continuing Education (PaCE) colleagues to share best practices, troubleshoot, and tap into available resources specific to our university system. Since the sessions are more practically oriented, a professional development workshop that draws from my potential topic, fostering a blended/online Community of Practice (CoP), could be relevant in the need to develop more informal avenues for PaCE employee development and growth in the CSU system.

Either channel, conference or workshop, would afford the opportunity to disseminate my research in a way that I hope could be practical and meaningful to continuing education professionals from a variety of contexts. As I begin to develop my research topic and question, keeping in mind these two channels will help me to consider the needs of my audience.

The Adventure Begins – Final Facilitation Plan

 

Photo by Katie Drazdauskaite on Unsplash

 

 

 

Facilitation Plan for Group 3 (October 6-12th, 2019): Melem Sharpe, Phyz Wilkes, & Tanya Heck

Our group has made final touches to our facilitation plan on the topic of student motivation and engagement for our LRNT 528 cohort. Captured here is an updated version from our last week’s posting. We hope everyone enjoys the next step of our adventure together during week 7!

Topic: Fostering student motivation and engagement in an on-line or blended learning environment 

Learning Goal:  The learner should be able to identify and formulate strategies on how to promote student motivation and engagement within blended or online learning environments. 

 Learning Activities

  • Welcome message and initial instructions will be created in Mattermost.  This will cover instructions for how to log into google classroom as well as instructions for creating a google account, should the student not have one.  For students that do not have, or do not want to use google classroom, a word document with hyperlinks and instructions will be provided via electronic mail.
  • Students will listen to a recorded facilitator introduction in which the 3 co-facilitators discuss the importance of motivation and engagement, connecting to each of their individual contexts ( less than 10 minutes).
  • Students will watch a short video clip to connect the learners to an understanding of student engagement (1:15 minutes).
  • Students will be asked to read 2 articles related to motivation and engagement. The following articles are under review and final selection will be determined prior to our facilitation week:
    • Deschaine, M.E., & Whale, D.E. (2017). Increasing student engagement in online educational leadership courses. Journal of Educators Online 14(1). (approx. 20 min. read)
    • Ferlazzo, L. (2015, March 19). Creating the conditions for student engagement. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/creating-conditions-for-student-motivation-larry-ferlazzo (approx. 5 min. read)
    • Halverson, L.R., & Graham, C.R. (2019). Learner engagement in blended learning environments: A conceptual framework. Online Learning, 23(2), 145-178. (approx. 30 min. read)
    • Taylor, L. & Parsons, J. (2011). Improving student engagement. Current Issues in Education, 14(1), 1-32. Retrieved from http://cie.asu.edu/ (approx. 15 min. read)
  1. Using Flipgrid, students will reflect and explain 1 example from their own learning/teaching context in which they felt motivation and engagement were lacking. (Maximum 3 minute response)
  2. Students must view at least 3 other student reflections and comment on at least 2 offering potential approaches that could help increase motivation/engagement. (Maximum 3 minute response). If a reflection already has two comments, students will  choose an alternate video to respond to. In this way, each learner will be provided with feedback from their peers. 
  3. Facilitators will provide a final summary. Evidence of learning will be highlighted and missed points will be covered. The summary will be posted at the end of the facilitation week (Sunday, October 13th) in Mattermost and Google classroom as a follow up to the weeks’ activities.

Chosen Technologies: 

Audacity – will be used to record an audio discussion between the co-facilitators on their shared insights about student motivation and engagement in online learning. A copy of the audio file (less than 10-minutes) will be uploaded in the google classroom and a link sent to our Mattermost channel so students can listen to it. Audacity has been chosen because it is a free open-source audio recorder and editor that can easily be used  to record our 3-way conversations. Learners will not need an account to access the audio recording, they will only need to click on the link provided and listen to it. A transcripted version will also be made available to ensure accessibility.

Flipgrid– will be used to post the video reflection activity. Flipgrid is a social learning video based platform that is simple to use whilst engaging. Flipgrid offers all features for free, to educators. This tool is easy to use and gives learners the opportunity to record and share their contributions in short video clips. This tool was selected because learners had prior knowledge and experience using this tool. This foundation will serve as a basis to provide an environment for students where they can be comfortable, sharing their reflection amongst their colleagues. Students will be required to keep their video responses to a maximum of 3-minutes.  Students will be required to sign in with either a Microsoft or Google account. As they have used this technology in a previous course, we do not foresee any problems. In the event that there are any problems, students can contact facilitators through Mattermost or email for assistance. 

Mattermost-  will be used as a communication tool between learners and facilitators. It has been chosen for learners’ current use and prior knowledge of the platform. As an open source communication platform, learners and facilitators can communicate asynchronously. It has been chosen for the mobile, desktop feature as well as the instant message and notification system. Mattermost will mainly be used as a convenient way to contact facilitators for questions and provide updates to the learners. The bulk of the course material will be housed in google classroom. 

Google Classroom-  will be used to outline course activities as well as house course readings and documents. It will be used as a learning management system (LMS) to indicate the flow and order of the course material, allowing learners to keep on task and meet deadlines where applicable. In addition, google classroom supports multi-functional platforms, making it easily accessible for learners. Instructions for joining a google classroom are listed below. Students will be required to sign in with a Google account, and go to classroom.google.com. They will be provided with a class code to sign in to the class. For students who do not have, or do not want to use google classroom, a word document with hyperlinks will be provided so they can access the same materials.

Flow:

During the one week facilitation, the flow of activities for learners will be chunked into manageable elements giving learners the opportunity to reflect and process the information curated from the content and amongst their peers. Learners will be asked to complete readings and reflections within the first 4 days (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), complete responses to others the following two days (Thursday, Friday) to allow facilitators time to draft a summary and send out by Saturday evening.

Facilitator Roles:

The three facilitators will serve as co-facilitators in the introduction to the topic. They will divide up co-facilitation of the communication throughout the week. For example, one facilitator will be assigned to update google classroom, another facilitator to monitor and post in Mattermost, and a third facilitator to provide any troubleshooting and technical support should issues arise. For the learning activities, as students are watching peer videos and posting their response in Flipgrid, 2 facilitators will monitor comments and highlight some of the responses in Mattermost to ensure momentum of conversation and draw attention to connections with the assigned readings. The third facilitator will begin to make note of these highlights in preparation for the draft summary in which all co-facilitators will provide input.

 Communication:

Communication will occur through a combination of Google Classroom, Flipgrid and Mattermost.   The course information, instruction and flow will be in Google Classroom. Reflections will take place in Flipgrid.  Mattermost will be used for access and communication with facilitators and any other further conversation that occurs.

 Teaching, Social, and Cognitive Presence:

    • Social Presence – sharing of examples from personal experience, participation in reflection. Thus providing students with an environment to be their authentic selves.
    • Cognitive Presence – making connections to the assigned readings and drawing from them while applying potential approaches that could contribute to increased engagement and motivation in an online context.
    • Teaching Presence – designing the facilitation week; commenting on student reflections; summarizing key takeaways for the week.

We look forward to feedback from our cohort when our facilitation comes to an end on October 12th.

A1: Community of Inquiry (CoI) for PaCE Programs

Professional and continuing education (PaCE) programs offered through public higher-education institutions address current workforce needs through a variety of educational offerings and delivery modalities (The California State University, n.d.). Program developers, instructional designers and instructors strive to create programs for PaCE contexts targeted toward the educational needs of professionals looking to skill-up or advance their career. However, a demand for online learning in the PaCE setting still needs to consider how a community of learning can best be designed and facilitated to promote collaborative and social learning. Dissatisfaction with learning can result when learners feel disconnected from one another in an online learning environment given a lack of social presence (van Tryon & Bishop, 2009), and this dissatisfaction can result in increased course attrition. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) could lend itself well to re-imagining PaCE online courses by cultivating meaningful learning experiences through the facilitation of its three interrelated elements.

Social, cognitive and teaching presence are the three interdependent elements that make up the CoI (Garrison et al., 2000) with facilitation of the three presences critical to its effectiveness (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013). Social presence consists of the social and emotional interactions necessary to support cognitive presence which enables learners to form meaning through reflection and discourse (deNoyelles et al., 2014). As a PaCE instructor for online or blended learning environments, strategies to strengthen not only the social presence for the facilitator, but also the learners require cultivating an open and personable environment in which interactions can occur. As learners within the online community begin to develop trust, feel safe and engage with one another, facilitating academic interactions through critical discourse and reflection so learners construct meaning shift “the community from social presence to cognitive presence” (Vaughan et al., 2013, p. 54). Teaching presence, not to be confused with a teacher presence, is the design and facilitation of the environment (Vaughan et al., 2013), can be a shared responsibility within the community (deNoyelles et al., 2014), and serves as the thread through which all three presences connect (Anderson, 2017; deNoyelles, Zydney, & Chen, 2014).

The CoI offers a viable pathway to guide PaCE educators in developing collaborative and meaningful learning opportunities particularly suited to an online or blended learning environment. Strategies such as those outlined in this infographic could prove useful for instructional designers and experienced instructors to facilitate the CoI presences.

To view a larger version of this infographic (in which the fonts appear correctly), please click on this link

References

Anderson, T. (2017). How Communities of Inquiry Drive Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age. Contact North.

deNoyelles, A., Zydney, J. M., & Chen, B. (2014). Strategies for creating a community of inquiry through online asynchronous discussions. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 153-165.

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). Online educators’ recommendations for teaching online: Crowdsourcing in actionOpen Praxis10(1), 79–89.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Khoo, E. G., & Bonk, C. J. (2014). Chapter 1: Introducing TEK-VARIETY (PDF) (pg 7-12).  Adding some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ activities for motivating and retaining learners online (PDF). Open World Books.

The California State University (n.d.). Professional and continuing education (PaCE). Retrieved from https://www2.calstate.edu/attend/professional-and-continuing-education

van Tryon, P. J. S., & Bishop, M. J. (2009). Theoretical foundations for enhancing social connectedness in online learning environments. Distance Education, 30(3), 291-315.

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).

The Start of our Facilitation Adventure…

Photo by Matthew Sleeper on Unsplash

Draft Facilitation Plan for Group 3: Melem Sharpe, Phyz Wilkes, Tanya Heck

Our group will be facilitating a learning experience on the topic of student motivation and engagement for our LRNT 528 cohort. As this is the start of our adventure, we have drafted a facilitation plan to guide our facilitation week. We welcome any feedback or suggestions to help us strengthen this plan as we prepare for this new experience!

 Topic: Fostering student motivation and engagement in an on-line or blended learning environment

 Learning Goal:  The Learner should be able to identify and formulate strategies on how to promote student motivation and engagement within blended or online learning environments.

 Learning Activities

  1. Students will watch a short video clip to connect the learners to an understanding of student engagement. (1:15 minutes)
  2. Students will be asked to read 2 articles related to motivation and engagement
  1. Using Flipgrid, students will reflect on 1 example from their own learning/teaching context in which they felt motivation and engagement were lacking and explain how they could approach it differently drawing from the readings.
  2. Students must view at least 1 other student reflection and comment on potential approaches that could help increase motivation/engagement.
  3. Facilitators will offer feedback to learners throughout their reflections
  4. A final summary will occur. The summary will be posted in Mattermost or Google classroom as a follow up to the weeks activities.

Chosen Technologies:

Flipgrid– will be used to post the video reflection activity. Flipgrid is a social learning video based platform that is simple to use whilst engaging. This tool is easy to use and gives learners the opportunity to record and share their contributions in short video clips. This tool was selected because learners had prior knowledge and experience using this tool. This foundation will serve as a basis to provide an environment for students where they can be comfortable sharing their reflection among their colleagues. 

Mattermost–  will be used as a communication tool between learners and facilitators. It has been chosen for learners current use and prior knowledge of the platform. As an open source communication platform, similar to Slack, learners and facilitators can communicate asynchronously building on each other’s contributions in collaborative discussions. 

Google Classroom–   will be used to outline course activities as well as house course readings and documents. It will be used as a learning management system (LMS) to indicate the flow and order of the course material, allowing learners to keep on task and meet deadlines where applicable. In addition google classroom supports multi-functional platforms, making it easily accessible for learners.

Flow:

During the one week facilitation, the flow of activities for learners would be chunked into manageable pieces, giving learners the opportunity to reflect and process the information curated from the content and amongst their peers. Learners will be asked to complete readings and reflections within the first 3 days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), complete responses to others the following two days (Thursday, Friday) to allow for a summary to occur by Sunday.

 Communication:

Communication will occur through a combination of Google Classroom, Flipgrid and Mattermost.   The course information, instruction and flow will be in Google Classroom. Reflections will take place in Flipgrid.  Mattermost will be used for access and communication with facilitators and any other further conversation that occurs.

Teaching, Social, and Cognitive Presence:

  • Social Presence – sharing personal experience examples, and participation in reflection. Thus providing students with an environment to be their authentic selves.
  • Cognitive Presence – making connections to the assigned readings and drawing from them application of potential approaches that could contribute to increased engagement and motivation in an online context.
  • Teaching Presence – commenting on student reflections; summarizing key takeaways for the week.

 

U3-A2: Reflections from the Testing Stage

Photo by Rick Medlen on Unsplash

Throughout our LRNT-527 course, we have employed the design thinking process to create a digital learning resource (DLR) to meet the needs of a targeted population. I created a new-employee on-boarding digital tool to help new employees in my department learn about my unit and our work. As a result of the design process, we were asked to reflect on the following questions.

1. What was the most surprising thing that you learned by participating in the design thinking process and designing and developing your digital learning resource?

Most of my work in the past few years has required coming up with innovative ideas to generate growth and revenue. Scanning industry trends, conducting advisory boards, and tapping into academic expertise have been the rule of thumb – although all these methods are valuable and serve a purpose, the end-user perspective was usually the last to be considered! The design thinking process puts the end-user perspective first and foremost throughout the process. I was more focused on a solution when I first began designing a tool to support new employee on-boarding. As a result of starting with the empathy steps, I was able to see how previous methods I approached in creating deliverables might not have incorporated an empathetic viewpoint and considered the end-user. Without an empathy step, the outcomes did not therefore always align with end-user needs and deliverables were not sustainable long-term. However, through a human-centered approach, design thinking balances a user-centered view within the process and guides the design toward relevant outcomes aligned with user needs (Woolery, 2017).  In turn, these outcomes evolve as does the design.

2. What suggestions and improvements did you receive? Did you get any feedback that you did not expect? What feedback needs further investigation?

The feedback and suggestions I received through the test stage have all been helpful and will continue to inform improvements on the prototype. What stood out for me were areas that I had not really considered or spent as much time examining and would like to explore further.

Suggestions/Improvements and Further Investigation

Consideration of a contingency plan for the adaptability and changeability of information in the DLR is important (Clemens & Linds, 2019) especially given my context in which staffing information provided in the DLR could easily change as employees leave. One of my goals with this DLR was to introduce our team asynchronously yet create a social presence in which team members contribute their own voice either through audio or video. However, the downside is that if the resource is highly dependent upon staff involvement and the content is tied to their ‘persona’, once they leave, it could require significant content changes. Campbell (2003) advised that the development of learning objects benefit from a comprehensive, educationally sound purpose, and yet also need to be containable in that they can be easily reused (as cited in Leacock & Nesbit, 2007). Further exploration of this aspect in the current DLR will therefore need to be explored.

The socialization necessity of new employee on-boarding came up through the various stages of design thinking process and warrant further investigation. I recognize that part of my bias as a returning employee is the desire to forgo a lot of the face-to-face on-boarding meetings because I am already familiar with the organization having worked in this department for 12+ years. New employees will have a stronger need to form working relationships and less familiarity with the organization, whereas I already have those relationships intact. I can see now why feedback provided emphasized the need for socialization opportunities which would need to be further explored as a larger aspect of the new employee on-boarding program. This tool is only a small component of that program and could potentially supplement face-to-face team specific on-boarding meetings if modified to suit those purposes.

Another area which warrants further exploration and improvement is the re-examination of learning goals to make them more measurable (J. Christie, personal communication, August 11, 2019). Although the learning goals are straightforward, they are open-ended without consideration of evaluation of their achievement. Activities within the DLR function as knowledge checks for the content provided, and there is a final reflection activity at the end of the micro-course; however, Leacock and Nesbit (2007) advised to meet alignment with learning goals, any activities “should be sufficient to provide learners with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the assessments, and the assessments should measure student achievement of the learning goals” (p. 46).

3. What are the next steps you would like to take to build upon your digital learning resource?

Given the feedback, and suggestions for improvement, I plan to test a modified version of the prototype in an upcoming face-to-face new employee on-boarding meeting. The prototype will be shortened and still encompass key areas, but it will be sent out in advance to new employees before we meet in-person. I will be including a survey to elicit participant feedback as to the usability of the design for their learning purposes, and incorporating changes based on the feedback provided in this test phase from our LRNT-527 course.

4. Consider how you might utilize the design thinking process for the design and creation of digital learning resources in the future, or for other tasks that you may encounter within your instructional context.

My primary goal in learning about the design thinking process is to consider how it could be effectively applied to my workplace. So far, our team at work has already begun trying it out in smaller projects where applicable and we plan to use it for the revision of a larger training program. I see the design thinking process as a valuable tool for an instructional context, that can extend to other contexts in my every-day work for organizational development.

References

Clemens, J., & Linds, A. (2019, August 13). Critique of Digital Learning Resource – Melem Sharpe. Unpublished manuscript. Royal Roads University.

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

Woolery, E. (2017). Design thinking handbook. Retrieved from https://www.designbetter.co/design-thinking

 

 

U2: A3 New Employee Onboarding Design Plan

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Description: The purpose of this digital learning resource (DLR) is to provide an online tool that will support a new employee general onboarding process. As a learning resource, it will familiarize new employees to our department and provide an overview of the people and the functions in each departmental unit. Serving as one aspect of the general departmental onboarding, it will serve as a supplementary resource in addition to an employee networking event that runs twice per year. Employees also go through job-specific training in their respective units, and will be mentored by their peers when applicable.

Learning Goals – As a result of this DLR, new employees will:

  • become familiar with the focus of each departmental unit, what they do and who are the staff;
  • increase their understanding of how the work of each unit supports ties into the mission of the department;
  • be able to identify key contacts for each unit.

Intended Audience: The audience of this DLR will be new employees hired into the department.

Rationale: The DLR will provide new employees with a consolidated resource that replaces the need for extensive face-to-face meetings and serves as a standardized collection of information. The DLR enables employees to learn about the organization at their own pace and convenience and follow up with lead unit contacts if in-person meetings are needed. Since our HR unit would like to standardize how each unit delivers information, a DLR that consolidates individual unit overviews using set templates will also help to create consistent learning experiences.

Tools: I am planning to use an e-learning authoring tool, Articulate Rise 360. This platform enables a anyone to create interactive courses or presentations which can be developed for any device. Because of its easy to use interface, range of templates and content as well as the ability to embed videos and audio, I believe it will be manageable for employees of other units to build their presentation and/or mini-courses into this platform. The following supporting tools will be used within Articulate Rise 360.

Video – a welcome video will be made by the key contact or unit lead welcoming new employees into the department. The video will also help new employees to put a face to the unit.

Audio – audio recordings from each unit team member will be embedded into the course to explain specific responsibilities that pertain to that particular team member.

Assessment/Evaluation Plan: There will be no formal assessment used, however, knowledge checks will be incorporated in the overview for each unit to check for general comprehension of the information covered. To ensure that new employees view the resource, HR will track completion rates for each new employee accessing the courses and follow up with a google survey once all mini-courses for each unit have been completed to elicit overall feedback.

Learning Theories & Instructional Design Principles Used:

Learning Theories: Kenner and Weinerman (2011) posited that the field of organizational development prompted adult learning theory “where the focus on learning theory is seen as a way of providing employees with the tools they needed to perform better in the workplace” (p. 88). The intent of this DLR is to equip new employees with general organizational knowledge. The assumption is that new employees will use this resource as a starting point to further their knowledge and skills as related to their work. In this way, employees will take responsibility for developing their knowledge. Knowles (1974) identified adult learners as being self-directed, who possess a depth of experience, are likely to engage in learning, and are task motivated (as cited in Kenner & Weinerman, 2011). Since this DLR is being used in a professional development context for employee onboarding practices, the principles of adult learning theories will inform the design of this resource.

Instructional Design Principles: Using relevant elements from the SECTIONS framework (Bates, 2015), integration of digital technology as an appropriate DLR for this context will be used. Additionally, the TAPPA Process (Moore, 2016) is a model adequately suited for micro-instruction which would lend itself well to this current context. TAPPA (Target, Accomplishment, Past, Prototype, Artifact) provides significant flexibility while providing a framework to effectively “move through the design, development, and implementation process” (Moore, 2016, p. 429).

Instructions for Use: New employees will be introduced to the DLR during their meeting with our department’s internal HR coordinator. The coordinator will provide a brief overview of the DLR ensuring that all new employees have access through the department intranet. New employees will be asked to view the min-courses in the DLR during their first six-weeks of being hired into the department. The HR coordinator will confirm with the new employee’s supervisor when all courses/presentations have been completed. Unit leads will be responsible for updating content as needed in the DLR.

Plan for Use: Employees will be able to use this onboarding resource any time and it will be available for both new and current employees. It will not be an open resource since the content will be specific to our department and therefore may contain confidential information.

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.

Kenner, C., & Weinerman, J. (2011). Adult learning theory: Applications to nontraditional college students.  Journal of College Reading and Learning, 41(2), 87-96, DOI: 10.1080/10790195.2011.10850344.

Moore, R. L. (2016). Developing distance education content using the TAPPA processTechTrends60(5), 425–432.

U1: A4 Deeper Layers Revealed: Reframing the Problem

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I recently conducted a human-centered needs assessment to explore an educational need for the design of a digital learning resource (DLR) to improve delivery of information presented in general onboarding sessions in my department. My findings based on interviews, observations and secondary data revealed employee needs and insights that are critical to consider if I am to develop a DLR that places the end user at the forefront of the design.

As part of the empathy process, I uncovered a gap between employee needs and interests for general onboarding in relation to their own work experience and business acumen. Employees who are starting their career and who may have limited work experience seem to be more interested in attending face-to-face general onboarding sessions to meet new co-workers and learn about the department. While employees who have worked in higher education previously and have been in the workforce for several years were selective of the onboarding meetings they would need to attend. Some employees prefer to attend onboarding sessions that are relevant to their current work and role with the option to learn about other units in the department through other means. In this way, they are able to set up their own onboarding meetings with internal stakeholders (from other units) to become better acquainted with their work.

Given the insights obtained through empathy mapping, I used the Point of View (POV) Madlib as a define method to help narrow and reframe my design challenge. The POV Madlib allows you to synthesize user needs and insights collected through the empathy stage to create a problem statement (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016; Woolery, 2017). The original design problem at the start of this needs assessment was to create a meaningful DLR that would support understanding of content presented in the general onboarding sessions. Based on the findings from the field research and by reframing the problem, my new problem statement places more emphasis on the end user needs as opposed to only the creation of a deliverable. I am hopeful that with this reframed problem statement, I can now explore actionable solutions that might better address the user needs in this design process.

New Problem Statement:

New employees need to understand the overall work of department units in a way that relates to their work and meets their learning preferences to help them effectively process information and feel more knowledgeable in their job.

Through completion of the Empathy and Define phases in the human-centered design process, I have a greater appreciation for the time it takes to conduct these phases. I consider myself to be empathetic but faced with time constraints and limited exposure to end users, I wonder if I am truly empathetic as I could be if I had further time. For example, although I conducted two interviews, a larger range of interviews would most likely have provided a more in-depth experience in understanding a range of perspectives. As it was, I could only interview two employees and draw from past experiences in onboarding sessions. Despite these limitations, using new methods such as empathy mapping and the POV Madlib proved to be very insightful as I was able to step back from immersing myself in the end user experience, and then evaluate it as objectively as I could. The POV Madlib, in particular, was helpful in revealing deeper insights into the problem.

References

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

Woolery, E. (2017). Design thinking handbook. Retrieved from https://www.designbetter.co/design-thinking

 

U1 A3: Using Empathy to Understand the End User

“Bauer (2010) noted that effective onboarding has short-term and long-term benefits for both the new employee and the organization, explaining that employees effectively assimilated into an organization, have greater job satisfaction and organizational commitment, higher retention rates, lower time to productivity, and have greater success in achieving customer satisfaction with their work” (as cited in Caldwell & Peters, 2017, p. 29).

Context:

We have all shared the experience of starting a new position while juggling efforts to make a good impression, understand the position’s roles and responsibilities, become acquainted with the organizational culture and build relationships with new team members. Depending upon the structure of onboarding sessions, the size of the organization and the complexity of information, it can quickly become overwhelming trying to process all the information provided. Employee onboarding should therefore be treated not as a formality and one-time event but viewed as a journey that can make the difference in employee success.

In my current context, new employees meet with a minimum of 15 teams separately over a six-week time frame for multiple onboarding sessions. Handouts are provided in each meeting; however, there is no consolidated digital repository in which employees can access information. As a result, new employees are often overwhelmed by information provided and lack resources to support organizational understanding. My interest, therefore, lies in creating a digital learning resource to support new employee onboarding.

Empathy Method

To better understand the needs of a new or returning employee partaking in the onboarding process, I have chosen a combination of direct observation and interviews. For the purposes of this blog, I will narrow in on interviews as the chosen empathic method. I value the opportunity to hear from users about their experiences and consider this an important step in the research process. IDEO (2015) emphasized that in human-centered design, the value lies in hearing directly from people you will be designing for what is important to them. I want to understand what the onboarding process is like through the eyes of new or returning employees to our unit.

As part of the interview process, I plan to use the Why-How Laddering technique which can reveal user needs and determine what is meaningful and actionable (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016). I would like to try out this technique because asking ‘why’ can elicit intangible responses, whereas ‘how’ questions in combination with ‘why’ can lead to actionable items (Stanford University Institute of Design, 2016). My hope is that through these interviews, I will uncover any gaps that can be addressed with the creation of a digital learning resource, and provide for a more meaningful onboarding experience.

Resources

For the interviews, I will need paper and pen to record responses. I plan to interview one to two individuals; one employee who has recently been onboarded into the unit, and potentially another employee who has been assisting with onboarding efforts. I will also be drawing from my observations and experiences having recently gone through onboarding several months ago as a returning employee.

Challenges

The unit I am part of is in a transitory stage as part of department-wide restructuring efforts. As a result, the onboarding has become even more disjointed, so in interviewing new/returning employees, their responses may be heavily influenced by this rather turbulent transition. Responses may therefore focus on issues that are beyond the scope of control in creating a digital learning resource for onboarding purposes. Additionally, time limitations are always a challenge, especially given the tight turnaround on gathering information in the next week which falls on the July 4th holiday (I am based out of the US). Although, I have already compiled notes from my own observations, these interviews will provide key data in reporting on needs.

I welcome any feedback and suggestions on how I might better support an empathic approach in understanding my end user, and/or overcoming challenges listed.

References

Caldwell, C., & Peters, R. (2017). New employee onboarding – psychological contracts and ethical perspectives. Journal of Management Development, 37(1), 27-39. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-10-2016-0202

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

U3 A1 Eyes Wide Shut (not the movie)

Photo by Quentin Dr on Unsplash

Throughout this last month in our LRNT 526 course, I have been exploring the use of Lynda.com videos and tutorials as an online instructional supplement and/or substitute for in-house instructor-customized recordings on similar topics. What I have come to realize during my critical inquiry is that my eyes have been wide shut – not to be confused with the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film of that same name!

At the start of this critical inquiry, my focus was evaluating how the adoption of Lynda.com videos, or curated video libraries could be used to supplement online instruction; mostly for cost reduction purposes. I was sidetracked by the abundance of topics, polished video quality, video speed variations, and content chunking of Lynda videos…in other words, all the ‘bells and whistles’. Through the process of critical inquiry into the implications of using Lynda.com from a pedagogical and business perspective, I realized my focus was not on how this technology could support learning, which I alluded to in my previous blog post.

Shifting gears to concentrate on pedagogical perspectives, one of the areas I explored was Merrill’s (2002) First Principles of Instruction who outlined five principles of instruction for problem-centered instruction:

“Learning is promoted when…

  1. learners are engaged in solving real-world problems.
  2. existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge.
  3. when new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner.
  4. when new knowledge is applied by the learner.
  5. when new knowledge is integrated into the learner’s world “ (pp. 44-45).

 

If we look at using Lynda.com or other curated video libraries through the lens of Merrill’s (2002) First Principles of Instruction then the technology in this instance is a tool and perhaps the broader question is if learning is afforded through the use of this tool (Lynda.com videos)? Offering up a cautionary line of thinking backed by research on the use of multimedia technology, Krippel, McKee, & Moody (2010) remind us that:

“The overriding conclusion would be that pedagogy must drive educational technology usage rather than the reverse. New technology is always accompanied by unrealistic expectations of its revolutionary advantages and universal applicability” (p. 6).

Although video-based learning is not a new phenomenon, Lynda.com has repackaged it into a rather convenient learning educational technology product. However, beyond its glitz and polished appeal, it is still one tool of many that can be used in combination of others within an appropriate context to support learning. I am hesitant to claim there is a depth and breadth of learning that takes place, especially without any means of assessment or feedback to learners who use it. Needless to say, my eyes are opening wider as a result of this critical inquiry.

References

Krippel, G., McKee, A.J., & Moody, J. (2010). Multimedia use in higher education: Promises and pitfalls. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 2, 1-8. Retrieved from Aabri manuscripts 09239 on February 3, 2015.

Kubrick, S. (Producer), & Kubrick, S. (Director). (1999). Eyes wide shut [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instructionEducational Technology Research and Development50(3), 43-59.