The Value of Reflection

My goal for creating a digital learning resource for LRNT 527 in the MALAT program was to get back to basics and keep it simple. Initially, the “less is more” approach referred to using tools provided by my school district: Macintosh applications (Keynote, GarageBand, Quicktime, and iMovie) and Office 365 applications (Teams, PowerPoint, Forms, and OneDrive) to present a simple, familiar design. Since students are familiar with these applications, navigation would be easier. However, to address the problem of practice: not all students received the support they needed to develop skills to move forward in their learning, I decided to introduce Genial.ly to demonstrate my excitement and challenge in life-long learning. It is important to continuously try new tools and find ways to maximize their effectiveness to improve teacher effectiveness.

Genial.ly is not perfect, and I was thankful to rely on familiar Macintosh and Office 365 tools to enhance accessibility. However, now that the resource is ready for testing, I realize “less is more” means more than just the tools to create a simple design. I view “less” as the level of my facilitator role and “more” as the level of user activity and what users gain from using the digital learning resource. I am a firm believer in constructivism and authentic experiential learning. Therefore, designing a digital learning resource must be a delicate balance between presenting the “just right amount” of content and allowing users the freedom to discover, experiment, and construct their knowledge while interacting with the design.

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

Participating in the design thinking process and designing and developing my digital learning resource was ever-changing. It was a challenge to stay focused on the problem of practice because, throughout the process, I kept discovering more problems. I was surprised at how complicated the design process is and was very grateful for documenting the process. As well, I uncovered an interesting point about accessibility. Accessibility isn’t exclusive to students with visual and hearing impairments but all learners. We all have times in our lives when we need accommodations, like while battling a pandemic or a local forest fire, and technologies should help not hinder these situations.

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

The suggestions for improvement of the digital learning resource were:

  1. to increase user accessibility
  2. to simplify user navigation
  3. to provide a straightforward user guide for the potential complex technology

I was not surprised by the feedback because I was already struggling to address these issues. My response to the feedback was:

  1. to add “play icons” in small sections throughout the learning guide with me reading and explaining each
  2. to offer students the PowerPoint version for “drawing” or “inserting” math formulas (In my experience, teenagers respond well to extra one-on-one attention through private chat or email) 
  3. to offer answer keys, notes, transcript of videos, and textbook pdfs in Teams.
  4. to decrease the number of slides and present approximately one week’s worth of work on each slide (assuming a semester system)
  5. to include a user guide to address anticipated student questions with “play icons” to read the text and provide further explanations

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

The next step in building this resource is to test with students. As well, one of my former students (from the early 90s) has agreed to have a look! I anticipate modifying the design based on further feedback.

What reflection channels and processes do you prefer (in addition to or instead of blog posts)?

To date, LRNT 527 has been one of my favourite and most practical courses in the MALAT program. I am hopeful that revisiting and practicing the empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test stages in creating digital learning resources have strengthened my teaching practice. I felt more comfortable sharing work in a private environment (forums) rather than public blog posts (on the course WordPress blog), but I hope to share an open resource someday soon. Lifelong learning means trying new technologies, using old technologies to improve and adapt to new ones, finding ways to maximize the usefulness of all technologies, and sharing with the world. 

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

I realize the importance of empathizing with users in the design process and, in the future, will focus more of my attention on this stage.

One thought on “The Value of Reflection

  1. Hello Wendy, thank you for sharing your insights and the challenges and benefits you experienced using design to create your projects. I appreciate your observation that active learning design requires careful attention to the amount of content and learner autonomy, it’s always a tricky balance. I’m also glad you noticed the intent of accessibility is to make the mode of delivery for content useful for all learners, not just learners that may require specific means of representation. I look forward to seeing your final project and I’m glad that you see the future in terms of using strategies and models from this course as you go along.

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