Tag Archives: Instructional Design

Getting started with eduMOOC 2011: Into the fray

I’m participating in the new eduMOOC: Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow,  which started on Monday. This is a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) sponsored by the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois-Springfield (UIS). So far, well… I’m learning, listening, and looking for resources.

There’s a lot to do and read. There are study groups, discussion forums, weekly panel discussions, participant blog posts, Facebook and Moodle groups, and a host of other items to review. It seems with a group this big (2450+ people in 65 countries and counting) you can be a little selective – attend to the parts that make sense for you, seek out the resources that meet your needs and fit your interests.

The other MOOC members represent a wide range of roles in higher education and K-12 – senior leaders, administrators, faculty members, graduate students, tech specialists, advisors and counselors, and librarians. I am going at this from the perspective of an instructional designer and education writer/blogger – How is the MOOC structured and moderated? What technologies are involved? How are the logistics coordinated? What are the most popular topics? Where are people gathering and what are they discussing?

To help focus my efforts, I’m following another participant’s lead and going in search of (my own) learning objectives. Yes, these are loose and more designed to keep me going back to the site than anything else. I suppose a better phrase might be “learning and participation objectives:”

  • Attend the 8 panel discussions. (or review the recordings before the end of each week). These are panel discussions held in Elluminate, but broadcast on a UIS system that also streams the Twitter feed. Slides are provided as a PDF.
  • Try new technologies, tools, and techniques. So far I’ve posted my introduction using Google Sites discussion threads, and added my location to the Google participant map, both new to me. There is also a demo of etherpad going on.
  • Join a study group. With this many people it may make sense to find a sub-group. Hopefully one will center on instructional design…
  • Identify new resources in the form of blogs, twitter accounts, journals, and more. And add these to my PLN and Feedly.
  • Develop a list of specific ideas and concepts for further investigation, reading, and writing.
  • Exchange ideas and perspectives. So far I’ve already connected with another participant in New Zealand (Hello, @VirtualMV!) who has a cool wiki.
  • Add my voice to the mix, where I can and it makes sense to do so – hope to contribute and not just add to the fray. Began with a tweet during today’s panel discussion. Lots of description of the benefits and challenges of for-profit models, but it wasn’t apparent that anyone on the panel had worked at a for-profit. Assumptions, I think, are prevalent on both sides, for-profit and non-profit.
  • Spread the word with re-tweets, blog posts, bookmarks and the like.

Have you considered joining? There’s still time! There are also resources you might want to track, even if you decide not to register:

And in case you are wondering, “What’s a MOOC?” here’s a great explanation from Laura Pasquini.

Image credit: stock.xchng

RSS Reader Review: Feedly

If you are like me, you’re trying to stay current, to manage the flow of information, and it seems like an uphill battle. After several failed attempts at Google Reader I decided to try Feedly.  I’m about two months in at this point and am glad I made the move. Feedly isn’t new, but if you are looking for something to organize all the stuff you want to read online, you might want to check it out. Here are a few of the reasons Feedly is working for me.

Cover page format – Advertised as “magazine-like” I have found this to be true, and I think this format is the key to me coming back to actually read. It offers a nice, simple layout and combination of headlines, text, and images. On this main “cover” page, and in the other views as well, you can view the details of each post, many in full text, before deciding whether or not you need to go on to the site. This page also gives you a quick look at the headlines.

Categories – You can assign each new blog or website you add to your Feedly account with a category. This works well to keep the work related streams separate from other interests for example. This feature also allows you to view just the feeds related to a specific category you’ve created.

Tie-in with Twitter – It’s extra easy to send a link out via Twitter within the Feedly page. You need to link your accounts then you are ready to share. Feedly offers several social networking elements that might be interesting to you. You can also share via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Reader, Instapaper, Tumblr, and others.

Tie-in with Delicious – I am a diehard Delicious fan and Feedly allows me to quickly add a link to my collection there. You can also add to Evernote, Pinboard, Diigo, and others.

“Latest” view – Probably my favorite view at this point. Gives you a long list of what’s been posted most recently – one line per entry with the blog or site it came from and the title of the post. Checking this view has become part of my routine at the end of the day.

Apps for iPad and iPhone – When I first started using Feedly, I didn’t find an iPad  app and was a little disappointed. But that has been remedied! The app interface is a little different, but you still get that magazine like feel and the “latest” view option and tie-in with Twitter.

Firefox Add-on – Another component that adds to the ease of use is the add-on. Use this to quickly open your Feedly account at any point and to add a feed to your account from an open blog or other site.

While I still have many, many unread entries, I am able to quickly identify a handful each day to read in full. The format allows me to scan for issues that are important to me and to easily share what I find.

Building a Reading List

Deciding which feeds to read is an ongoing process of adding and deleting. If you try Feedly, or any other RSS reader, give yourself the flexibility to continuously fine tune and stay on the look out for new sites and authors. Here are just a few of the feeds I am now following and recommend:

What about you?

What sources should we all add to our lists? Your recommendations are welcome! Suggest a few of the blogs and websites that you follow to stay informed.

If you have tried Feedly, please consider sharing your experience here. If you are hooked on another reader, let us know which one! What are the features that make it helpful to you?

Join in! LinkedIn Groups for Instructional Designers

You may already have a LinkedIn profile. And perhaps you’ve joined a couple of groups. There are thousands of options right now that cover a wide range of professional and personal interests. Your employer may sponsor a group as well as your alma mater. With this post, I would like to introduce you to LinkedIn Groups focusing on instructional design.

Why join a group?

These groups are made up primarily of online discussion forums and so far I’ve found the to be helpful in multiple ways. Use LinkedIn Groups to:

  •  Stay current – With so many voices contributing to the conversation you’ll hear about new approaches, tools, and resources worth considering for your own projects. You’ll also find that a lot of others have questions similar to yours. The groups also allow for a kind of reality check.
  •  Find out about jobs – Many of the groups have an area to post job opportunities. These are particularly prevalent in the groups related to freelance work. You’ll see a range of part-time, full-time, contract, and teaching positions posted here.
  •  Increase your network – Your profile hopefully includes a solid summary of your experience and interests. You can extend the reach of  your profile by joining group discussions. Your profile will be linked to your posts encouraging others to take a look and possibly connect.
  • ???? – There is also an unknown factor to consider. By engaging in this kind of activity, you never know what new door may be opened or opportunity considered. One example – my most popular post so far, Tools for Freelance Instructional Designers, was the result of a LinkedIn discussion that was then picked up as a cross-post by Open Sesame.

There are different conversations going on in each group, some more active than others. Find the groups that are most relevant to you and your questions, and think about where you can contribute expertise as well.

Instructional Design Groups

The list below includes the instructional design groups I am currently following. You can use the LinkedIn group search page to find others related to your specialization – online, higher education, K-12, workforce training, social media…

Can’t find the conversations you are looking for? If you aren’t having the discussions you would like to be having, want to address a niche area, etc., consider starting a new discussion thread. You can also start your own group and send out invitations for others in your contact list to join. Check out LinkedIn’s Group Guide [PDF]. 

One note: I have found that the email can get a little overwhelming depending on how many groups you join, but you can alter the notification settings to better suit your needs.

I know there are more of these groups out there! Which ones do you recommend? Please add to the list.

Image credit: Coletivo Mambembe, Flickr

Blog as ePortfolio: Demonstrate Your Skills

Portfolios have many uses ranging from assessment in an academic program to personal marketing in the job search process. As I prepared for a recent conference presentation on career ePortfolios for students, I wondered how many instructional designers have portfolios. This post explores the possibility of using a blog as a portfolio presentation tool.

Why use a blog?

The features and functions of a blog lend themselves to both presenting work samples and reflection on the work itself. They allow you to tell the story of a project and demonstrate the result. Blogs are also low or no cost alternatives to having a personal website. And since blogging toolsare designed for those without advanced web design and programming skills, they offer quick set-up, a professional look and feel, and intuitive administrative dashboards.

Organization

Blog pages allow for easy organization of portfolio artifacts. Think about structure before you get started. Two approaches to consider:

  • Resume/CV – use typical resume sub-headings to create your blog and present related information (Education, Experience, Certification, Publications, etc.)
  • Standards/Competencies – consider using an existing list of standards or professional competencies to frame your portfolio (AECT, ASTD, IBSTPI, etc.)

Selecting Portfolio Artifacts

  • If you decide to include current or past coursework assignments, review and modify, tweak, to make as perfect as possible. Only your best work should make it into the portfolio!
  • If you decide to include current or past work projects, make sure you have permission to make them, or elements of them, available online. This work is usually owned by your employer or a client, so prepare accordingly.
  • Build something from scratch for the purpose of the portfolio if you don’t already have something available.
  • Focus on what you want to do in the future and choose artifacts that demonstrate skills and experience related to your goals.

A Few Examples

Resources

A lot of portfolio/ePortfolio advice is available online. Here are a few sites to get you started:

Share your portfolio! Do you have a web-based portfolio? If so, please share your lessons learned (and your link!) in the comments area.

Image credit: Plearn, Flickr

 

Instructional Design and Technology Skills in Demand? Career Outlook Resources

Job and Career OutlookOver the last couple of weeks, I’ve fielded questions from people interested in making the move from instructor/trainer to instructional designer/technologist. Two previous posts Breaking into the Business and Jobs in Instructional Design and Technology provide a few job search resources and recommendations for documenting your experience. But is anyone hiring? This post outlines two resources I recommend to anyone considering a career change.

Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)

The OOH is published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics that provides information about hundreds of occupational fields.  The categories of information provided include: education and experience requirements, salary data, job descriptions, and employment projections. The current projections are for 2008-2018. You can also find specific data related to your State.

To get to the information most closely related to Instructional Design, you’ll need to drill down from Professional to: Education, Training, Library, Museum > Instructional Coordinator.

Other related occupational groups to explore include Art and Design and Media and Communication Related.

O*Net Online

Published by the Department of Labor’s Education and Training Administration, O*Net offers a different format with more search options and a detailed framework of information designed for career exploration. The two entries below are a good place to start.

Using these resources:

The detailed information, thorough descriptions, and wealth of data provided on these sites can be helpful in several ways.

  • Look for keywords and phrases you can use as starting points for writing about your job-related accomplishments in your resume.
  • Look for descriptions of knowledge, skills, and abilities that you can speak to in interviews and provide evidence of in a portfolio.
  • Use these sites as a launching pad. Explore. Each career page includes a list of links to related occupations and other related sites.

Instructional design and technology are still relatively new as occupational fields. Hopefully information provided in the OOH and O*Net will expand as the career fields expand. Defining instructional design and technology is a topic in and of itself!

Overall the OOH and O*Net forecasts for jobs in instructional design and technology look good, with job growth “much faster than average.” Include this information as part of your career research and job search. (Don’t neglect networking!)

Have you recently entered instructional design as a second (or third) career? What were your favorite resources for researching the field?

Image credit: stock.xchng

What I learned at WordCamp 2011: Messages for eLearning

Last weekend I attended WordCamp Miami. This was my second year at this event and I highly recommend it if you use WordPress or are interested in blogging. WordCamp is…

“…a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users…. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.” – WordCamp Central

This one-day event featured three tracks – beginner/blogger, marketing/design, and development/coding. I felt like I fell a little in between the tracks – not a beginning blogger, but also not a skilled programmer. That being said, I really enjoyed the sessions I attended and left with a list of ideas that will keep me busy for some time to come.

Getting started with WordPress:

If you aren’t familiar but want to find out more, take a look at this Introduction to WordPress presentation from Adam Warner. It’s a nice place to start.

Take-aways for eLearning:

I found that many of the presentations spoke not only to bloggers and WordPress users, but also to designers and developers of online education experiences. We’re concerned about a lot of the same things. The ideas and tips described below could be adapted for use in instructional design and development.

  • Keep mobile development in mind – “The mobile web is growing”, says Steven Mautone. Check out this presentation: WordPress for Mobile. Kevin Zurawel’s presentation on Responsive Web Design recommends developers plan for mobile delivery first, then look at the rest.
  • Let data drive your decisions – In a session on analytics, the stress was on gathering data about blog members and visitors. What data do we collect about online students? How can we better leverage the existing information to improve learning and the online experience? For WordPress users, several presenters mentioned WP SEO by Yost.
  • Improve user experience – We know we don’t ask our students and faculty enough about their experiences with our online courses. How can we get better at this? A user experience checklist might help. Jeremy Harrington presented a User Experience Flight Checklist for a WordPress site that could be adapted for use in eLearning.
  • Prepare to hand-off to your client – In this case I think we could consider both instructor and student “clients”. Too often we complete course development, upload the course pages, then more or less walk away. What can we do to make the transition easier? Tammy Hart discussed future proofing and tips for simplification.
  • WordPress as an LMS – I have friends at the University of Hawaii who are using WordPress to develop and deliver online courses. They are not alone in taking WordPress beyond the blog. Take a look at this presentation by Josh Guffey about using WordPress as a CMS to create a portfolio site. How could students do this for study and/or career portfolios? This plug-in was lauded for making the admin side a lot easier – CMS Tree Page View.
  • Take a long-term approach – It takes time to develop a quality product of any kind. Multiple presenters, especially those talking about the art and science of blogging, stressed this point. It takes time…and practice. And you get better.

Thanks to all:

Thanks to the organizers and speakers for a great event! Lost of positive energy and ideas, all at an affordable price. Visit the WordCamp Miami website for more information about the event and additional links to presentations. If you are at all interested in blogging, social media, or the WordPress platform, find a WordCamp in your area and go!

See you in 2012, WordCamp Miami!

Writing Learning Objectives

Last week a colleague asked me if could recommend any resources to help out with writing objective statements. I had to admit right from the start that I, too, could use a refresher.

The Basics

It may not be the most glamorous part of the design process, but it is oh so important to nail down before moving on. The learning objectives serve to clarify the purpose of the experience you are about to create. Key questions to consider as you get started:

  1. How should the learner be changed after completing the lesson?  Will they know something they didn’t know before, be able to do something they weren’t able to do before?
  2. How will you know the change has taken place? This leads to how learning can and will be assessed. (Good to start thinking about this now.)
  3. At what level are you writing these objectives? Objectives can be written on multiple levels – program, course, module, lesson – and should be connected. Have higher-level objectives already been written?
  4. Do performance standards already exist that might guide your work? Depending on the context of the learning experience you are creating, and the content topic (think medical training, teacher education, etc.) there may be professional organizations or regulating agencies that provide standards that need to be met.

All too often the writing of learning objectives is rushed or left out completely resulting in a product that is not effective as intended – failing to provide the learners with what they need to achieve that ‘change’ that was required and expected.

Who writes, reviews, and approves learning objectives? A Subject Matter Expert may provide the learning objectives or the Instructional Designer may draft for review. Ideally, this is a collaborative process – there is a lot to consider in terms of expected outcomes, content, delivery, and assessment.

A Few Resources

  • A Quick Guide to Writing Learning Objectives – Big Dog Little Dog – There are a lot of nice posts on this site. This one provides templates and examples.
  • Writing Learning Objectives – The eLearning Coach – Another favorite blog. This post is Part 1 of 3 in a series.
  • Guide to Writing Learning Objectives – NERC – A comprehensive document with writing prompts, and lots of good and bad examples from a professional organization/industry perspective.
  • Action Words – There are a lot of these lists available online. This one seems to be one of the more comprehensive versions out there and is organized according to Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Share your experiences!

What’s the most difficult part of writing learning objectives? Who on your team writes, reviews, and approves the learning objectives? What tips would you offer others asking for help?

Image credit: Mark Brannan, Flickr