Author Archives: ThaisG

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Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

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Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of ideas, words, or illustrations produced by other authors (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006).

With the growing field of online education, instructors have now the challenge of using tools to detect plagiarism in the online assessments and educational activities that students submit in the online environment.

Fortunately, there are many software tools available in the market to help instructors in detecting the reproduction of ideas without proper use of citations and referencing to the original source of information. Some of these software are (Pappas, 2013):

  • Dupli checker.
  • Copyleaks.
  • PaperRater.
  • Plagiarisma.
  • Plagiarism Checker.
  • Plagium.
  • PlagScan.
  • PlagTracker.
  • Quetext.
  • Viper.
  • Turnitin.

However, instructors should first try to find ways to prevent plagiarism and cheating by designing learning activities and assessments that incorporate collaboration and discourage cheating (Laureate Education Producer, 2010).

For example, assessments could be open book exams instead of closed book exams where learners are expected to remember content by the top of their heads. Other type of assessments could be working on projects where students have to apply the concepts into a more realistic situation and where they have to interact and collaborate with others to achieve the results. These assessments are even closer to the real life situations that students will face when they are working and they will have availability of information. But they will need to prove skills in other areas such as communication, collaboration, and working in teams who are encouraged in collaborative tasks or projects. Instructors could also help learners in using proper citation and referencing techniques to use content from others but always respecting copyrights and sharing the real source of the information. And finally instructors could use the help of librarians to find tutorials about plagiarism and guide students in researching techniques that are so critical for the learning process in the face-to-face and online environments.

Other ways to prevent plagiarism is to guide students in the code of conducts or the honesty policies of the institution. This information should be available and discussed with the students during the first week of the course. Additionally, instructors can add in their welcome messages a couple of sentences to let students know that the instructor is there to help because it is the best interest the success of the student and if there are difficulties, the instructor can assist the learner to overcome obstacles.

References:

Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Education Research Complete database.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file].

Pappas, C. (2013). Top 10 Free Plagiarism Detection Tools For eLearning Professionals (2017 Update). Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/top-10-free-plagiarism-detection-tools-for-teachers

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Impact of Technology and Multimedia

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What impact does technology and multimedia have on online learning environments?

Technology plays a critical role in online learning environments because they allow learners to collaborate and work in groups to create knowledge and use a constructivism learning approach to build their knowledge. For example, technology tools such as wikis and blogs are user generated content tools that allow learners to collaborate, create content, and post comments (Laureate Education, 2010).

Multimedia enhances the learning experience y allowing learners access content in a more dynamic way with videos, audio files, simulations, games, and other interactive tools. Dr. Mayer (2007) documented several principles of multimedia learning after doing an extensive research on the benefits multimedia elements have to promote deep learning.

What are the most important considerations an online instructor should make before implementing technology?

Boettcher and Conrad (2010) indicated that “technology should serve pedagogy” (p. 63). This means that before considering the technology tools for the online learning environment, instructors have to go through a learning design process where the starting point is to identify the learning outcomes or goals that must be achieved. Once those learning outcomes are determined, then learning experiences are designed to ensure those goals will be achieved.

What implications do usability and accessibility of technology tools have for online teaching?

Betts, Riccobono, and Welsh (2013) mentioned “many individuals with disabilities enroll in online learning because it may provide easier access for them due to their disabilities” (p.4). Because of this, and also because one of the main purpose of online learning is inclusion of different types of learners, it is necessary that the technology tools of the learning environment to apply accessibility standards to accommodate students with disabilities.

What technology tools are most appealing to you for online teaching as you move forward in your career in instructional design?

The Web 2.0 technologies where learners create content and can comment in the work of their peers. Technologies that can incorporate tools such as Youtube, wikis, and blogs.

Also Articulate Storyline is a very powerful tool to create engaging online courses.

What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

Instructors in the online environment have to get the familiar with the technology that is going to be used during the online course because before the launching of the course they have to configure the learning environment with the content and the tools that learners will be using. Digital technology tools help learners achieve the learning goals in the online environment (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010) because they facilitate communication among students and with the instructor, and because they also allow instructors to include resources in different formats such as multimedia, games, and simulations; therefore the importance for instructors and learners to get familiar with the technology.

References

Betts, K., Riccobono, M. & Welsh, B. (2013). Introduction to the special section on integrating accessibility into online learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17, 1-5.

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Enhancing the online experience [Video file].

Mayer, R. E. (2007). Five features of effective multimedia messages: An evidence-based approach. In Fiore, S. M., & Salas, E. (Eds.). Toward a science of distributed learning (pp. 171–184). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

TechTools

Technology Tools for Online Learning

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Setting up an Online Learning Experience

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What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

Instructors in the online environment have to get the familiar with the technology that is going to be used during the online course because before the launching of the course they have to configure the learning environment with the content and the tools that learners will be using. Digital technology tools help learners achieve the learning goals in the online environment (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010) because they facilitate communication among students and with the instructor, and because they also allow instructors to include resources in different formats such as multimedia, games, and simulations; therefore the importance for instructors and learners to get familiar with the technology.

Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

Because as mentioned by Boettcher and Conrad (2010), “clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected of learners and what they can expect from an instructor make a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction” (p.83). Additionally, because of the distance and different time zones characteristic in the online environment, it is important that learners know clearly how to communicate with the instructors, understand the course syllabus, the schedule of assignments, and procedures in case technology fails.

What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

  • Create an initial to introduce yourself but try to avoid posting your entire CV because only showing academic information create distance with the students (Laureate Producer, 2010). Instead add some personal information to facilitate the connection with the students.
  • Add in the initial post a video, a voice message, or images to show openness and encourage students to share some personal information too. This is going to establish stronger connections among the learning community and thus will be more likely to participate and stay motivated.
  • Encourage learners to ask questions, even the ones that might seem obvious. Post your contact details so learners know how to reach you.
  • Create an icebreaker activity at the beginning to encourage learners get to know each other.

In summary, the first two weeks of the course are critical to set the stage for the online course. This defines future interactions in the course and how learners perceive the learning environment. I have learned that making a presence, not only as an academic, but as a human who is there to guide learners for a successful experience is of high significance to create a welcoming learning environment where learners feel open and are willing to participate without feeling isolated or threaten by the technologies or the online learning experience. Particularly having a welcoming message with some form of multimedia element (voice message, video, or image) is a good strategy I will be using to set the online learning experience with a positive start.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from Walden Library databases.

 

learningComm

A supportive learning environment

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Online Learning Communities

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How do online learning communities significantly impact both student learning and satisfaction within online courses?

Learning communities significantly impact student learning satisfaction within online courses because they allow learners to make meaning of the content through social construction. Learning communities create the environment for collaborative acquisition of knowledge which is one key to the success of an online course (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011). This idea is also supported by Dr. Palloff who indicated that “the power of learning communities is learner-to-learner engagement” (Laureate Producer, 2010), and having students engaged in the online course will increase their satisfaction and as a result learning becomes a more positive experience for the learner.

What are the essential elements of online community building?

The essential elements of online community building are:

  • People: that will form the community. It can include learners, instructors, facilitators, and experts.
  • Purpose: this is defined by the main goals and attitudes that people participating in the learning community want to achieve.
  • Process: defines the way the learning community is established and how the members contribute in the community.
  • Method: this element emphasizes communication methods in the community because people might contribute using different ways such as participating in forums, synchronous discussions, live chats, or sharing files that others can access at different times.
  • Social presence: refers to how others perceive you online and how you present yourself in online media. Avatars and digital profiles are good examples of how people can establish a social presence.

How can online learning communities be sustained?

With an active participation of the people in the community, an instructor that assists learners in creating knowledge and maintaining a high level of interactivity and participation (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011). Also with a safe environment that makes students feel warm and inviting (Laureate Producer, 2010). Additionally, the online environment should be easy to navigate to promote participation.

What is the relationship between community building and effective online instruction?

The online learning experience will be effective if it is designed in such a way that engages learners to actively participate in the construction of knowledge. But if on the contrary, the instruction is not well designed, if the activities are not engaging, or if the online environment is not safe and welcoming, then learners will have a detrimental learning experience, their motivation levels will tend to drop, and this will impact participation levels in the online learning community, which ultimately will influence in the success of the community building process.

A final thought about becoming a better online instructor:

Finally, it is important to emphasize how relevant is being part of a learning community when doing online courses because this will eliminate the feelings of isolation students might experience in this type of environment.

To ensure online learning communities are welcoming and will succeed in engaging participants it is important to create an easy to navigate course, make the participants feel welcome by establishing open communication channels with the audience, suing icebreaker activities to let learners meet their peers and the instructor, share messages and a video to let the instructor present to the class, with an instructor actively communicating with the class and encouraging participation, with constructive feedback, and with the use of activities that will encourage reflection and sharing of knowledge and experiences.

References

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from Walden Library databases.

OnlineCommunity.png

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Insights from Program Evaluation

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ProgramEvaluation.PNGConducting a program evaluation is an essential process in any organization and should be taken seriously as a critical component in the organizational internal processes. To achieve this, internal evaluators will need support from the organization and the role of the evaluator will have to be included into the decision making processes of the organization (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2010). The evaluation process should be viewed as a problem-solving process, as a learning process, and not as a criticism process (Laureate Education, 2010a).

To effectively conduct a program evaluation, the evaluator needs to do a contextual analysis incorporating political, ethical, and human factors that are present in program evaluations (Fitzpatrick et al., 2010) and to do this it is necessary that the evaluator takes the time to learn the context where the program is taking place. Analyzing the context means, as Dr. Bledsoe mentioned (2010b) “trying to figure out exactly what is going on in the organization and trying to get a sense of the contextual factors that affect the program”. Knowing what is going on, stakeholders’ expectations, participants’ needs, organizational culture, political factors, the environmental context, different implementation settings, and observing the program in operation will be key factors to incorporate in the context analysis (Laureate Education, 2010b).

Once the different factors affecting the program evaluation are analyzed and the evaluator has a better understanding of the program evaluation context, in order to keep the objectivity required to provide accurate evaluation results, the evaluator would need to use a “framework approach to ethics” as suggested by Schweiger (2007, p.396) to base the evaluation practice on a set of standards and values such as the Program Evaluation Standards developed by the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation.

Additionally, there are ethical concerns the evaluator needs to keep in mind to make sure the program meets its purpose. The American Evaluation Association in its Guidelines Principles states that “evaluators will usually have to go beyond analysis of particular stakeholder interests and consider welfare of society as a whole” (As cited in Fitzpatrick et al., 2010).

Other strategies and then increase the validity of the evaluation, learn how to negotiate with the involved parties, clarify to the stakeholders that good and bad aspects of the program might be encountered as a result of the evaluation, always protect the credibility of the evaluation (Fitzpatrick et al., 2010), disclose conflict of interests, use quality assurance processes, and “keep records to demonstrate that proper evaluation methods were used”  as indicated by Mohan and Sullivan (2006, p. 13) .

Different stakeholders of the program will have different interests on the evaluation results and this is why the evaluator should start by planning the evaluation with a logic model that will keep the process organized to achieve maximum results (Molloy, 2006). An organized and visual model will help the evaluator in defining the evaluation questions and determining for each of them what will be the instruments to collect the data that will answer that particular question. This logic model will help as well in identifying all the stakeholders who might have some interest in the program or could be impacted by the program. As indicated by Fitzpatrick et al, (2010) “generally, the single most important source of evaluation questions is the programs’ stakeholders” (p. 316). Evaluation should be an inclusive process that involves critical stakeholders in the different phases of the process, from identifying the concerns, hopes, and fears of the program to planning stages and in analysing the data. Stakeholders’ involvement increases validity of the study, fairness, and it is more likely that results will be used due to an increased credibility in the process.

Additionally, keeping a constant communication with the stakeholders ensures the different methods to gather data and the different sources of information will remain reliable, valid, and will not impose any ethical or organizational breach . Negotiating with the stakeholders always protect the credibility of the evaluation (Fitzpatrick et al., 2010).

Other important factor to take into account in a program evaluation process is the biases and values that will affect the analysis and interpretation of the data. To mitigate biases, stakeholders’ involvement is necessary to give room to different opinions and ideas, not only during the planning stage of the evaluation process but also in the analysis of data and reporting of findings (Fitzpatrick et al., 2010). Develop a comprehensive evaluation criteria with measurement techniques and instruments for reliability and validity (Vassallo, 2004b). The evaluation criteria should include the seven qualifications identified by Vassallo (2004a) such as validity, directness, objectivity, adequacy, quantitativeness, practicality, and reliability. If those qualifications are the foundation throughout the evaluation process then biases could be under control.

Finally, in the reporting phase it is important to develop a strategy to specify the reporting methods that will be more effective for the different stakeholders and what pieces of information and results are relevant for each stakeholder. Because delivering the critical information to different users will increase the likelihood of the evaluation results being used in a post evaluation phase.

References:

Fitzpatrick, J., Sanders, J., & Worthen, B. (2010). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010a). Challenges in program evaluation [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010b). Contextual factors [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Mohan, R., & Sullivan, K. (2006). Managing the politics of evaluation to achieve impact. New Directions for Evaluation, 112, 7–23. doi: 10.1002/ev.204 Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Molloy, L. (2006). Strategic program planning: A recipe for success. Camping Magazine, 79(2), 1–6. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Schweigert, F. J. (2007). The priority of justice: A framework approach to ethics in program evaluation. Evaluation and Program Planning, 30(4), 394–399. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Vassallo, P. (2004a). Getting started with evaluation reports: Answering the questions. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 61(2), 277–286. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Vassallo, P. (2004b). Getting started with evaluation reports: Creating the structure. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 61(3), 398–403. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

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Analyzing Scope Creep

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In my current position as Senior Design and Development Officer in a government agency in charge of public transport services, I had to develop an induction program for new employees consisting of seven courses and a final practical day. Each course is part of a nationally recognized training package for the transport, logistics, and infrastructure industry.

Some of the units consist on railway fundamentals, manual handling techniques, work, health and safety procedures, and fatigue management.

At the end of the induction program, participants need to demonstrate a series of competencies on those units through different assessment methods.

With the initial requirements and information available, the induction program was developed and implemented. Due to the similarity in some topics within the different courses, some assessments and topics were clustered into groups to maximize efficiency and try to maintain the induction program to one week duration.

In this case, the specific scope creep issue occurred when the new manager of the department reviewed the induction program and realized that clustering units in groups and fitting the seven courses into one week was not complaint with the national laws for registered training organizations like ours. We found out that each unit had to be delivered and assessed spending a certain amount of hours per course to be actually a validated and accredited course. This means, that some of the courses consisted on forty hours courses that we were delivering and assessing in eight or even less hours.

In this case, we needed to reformat the entire training program and the seven courses to actually meet the amount of hours stipulated for each course according to the national organization that ensures training providers can deliver accredited courses.

Supervisors and colleagues in the Learning and Developing Department experienced high stress because we could not deliver the induction program to new employees until we changed everything, and unfortunately those days we were expecting a big group of new staff required for a higher demand of tram drivers in the operational department.

Supervisors dealt with the issue by meeting with managers in different areas of the organization that were expecting new employees to handle the training requirements until the induction program was reformatted. As a result of those meetings, the manager of Learning and Development decided to subcontract external parties to deliver the courses of the induction program for the new employees. This gave us time to the designers and developers to reformat those courses and then deliver them in-house as we normally do instead of using external providers.

The only inconvenient with this approach was that using external providers of those courses meant that the content of the courses lacked context related to the railway environment, which is something we always include in our courses.

To handle that issue, in the Learning and Developing Department we quickly designed logbooks with meaningful activities to allow new employees practice in the railway environment and under supervision the knowledge gained in the courses delivered by the external providers. By doing this, learners could accumulate hours towards their courses and get an accredited certification while practicing their new knowledge in a real work environment.

Looking back at this experience I would still have done what the manager did of subcontracting external providers to deliver the courses until we redesigned and developed the whole training program. I would have additionally, getting extra staff in the form of temporary contracts or even as internship students to develop resources required for the new induction program. This would have added extra resources that were lacking those days.

Additionally, I would implement a change management procedure as suggested by Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008) “where changes can be introduced and accomplished with as little distress as possible” (p.346). This change management procedure would include the documentation and analysis of changes before attempting to include them in the initial scope of the project.

Create a compliance committee to review ensure all content and courses developed in the organization are complaint with the national laws for accredited courses.

And finally, I would communicate more frequently with all the stakeholders to keep them inform about the progress of works and possible issues that might come up during the project. This can be achieved using formal and informal communications, and having a clear, concise, and focused communication approach with all stakeholders (Laureate Education, n.d).

References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Project Schedule and Estimating Activity Duration

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Planning an instructional design project requires that the project manager, instructional designer, or person in charge of conducting the project to an end applies skills of project management while using the systematic and iterative approach of an instructional design model to ensure proper learning techniques and strategies will be integrated in the final refined solution (Harvey, 2005).

In order to do this in an organized way I have found two resources that can help me in getting my instructional design project schedule ready:

The first resource I found is an “Action mapping for teams” in Cathy Moore blog (2016).

Link: http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2016/05/new-job-aid-summarizes-action-mapping-for-teams/

This resource consists on a workflow chart to identify project tasks, persons responsible for each task, and deliverables.

What I liked about this tool is that it begins with three initial steps to determine if training is actually required instead of jumping straight away with steps towards to the design of an instructional solution. Additionally, these initial steps are helpful to have a goal statement which sometimes might get lost in advanced phases of any project. And it allows to have a list of behaviors or what is desired and expected from learners to achieve at the end.

Depending on those first steps, a decision will be made in regards to proceeding or not with a training solution. And if training is the solution, then the chart has a series of tasks to start the designing processes of the solution.

The most useful feature I found in this tool is that it is designed to include iterations and reviews of the prototypes developed until it is refined and approved to a final version. And the use of some simple icons to indicate key deliverables, who is responsible for taking decisions or generate content, and a reminder of stakeholders that should be included for certain tasks.

I would use this tool to define each task of my instructional design projects, assign the tasks to team members, and identify deliverables for each task. I would add to this tool another column to specify duration of each task and expected time for deliverables.

Finally, I can support the development of my project plan with an interactive graphic in Cathy Moore blog (2016) to illustrate its use in a more graphical way.

action-mapping-workflow-infographic

Action Mapping. Source: http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2016/05/new-job-aid-summarizes-action-mapping-for-teams/

The second resource I found is a “High level eLearning project plan” in “The eLearning Network” Website (2017).

Link: https://elearning.net/high-level-elearning-project-plan/

This second resource is a series of charts with specific tasks for each step of the ADDIE instructional design model. For example, in the “analysis” step includes tasks such as review the storyboard, review scope of work, and get sign-off which are relevant steps of a project management approach.

What I found most useful about this tool is that in the context of the ADDIE model it has very specific tasks including resources required for each task. And the tool has already a good list of tasks for the development of an online learning solution, but this can be easily adapted to any other type of instructional solution.

I will be using this tool in parallel or even as a combination with the first tool in order to keep the systematic steps of the ADDIE model. Dr. Stolovich stated “you don’t want to lose track of the ADDIE process because then things can get messy” (Laureate Education, n.d). Thus it is important to keep using an instructional design model as a framework while incorporating all the information necessary to manage a project successfully.

References:

Cathy Moore. (2016). New job aid summarizes action mapping for teams. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2016/05/new-job-aid-summarizes-action-mapping-for-teams/

eLearning.net The eLearning Network. (2017). eLearning project plan sample. Retrieved from https://elearning.net/high-level-elearning-project-plan/

Harvey, B. (2005). Learning objects and instructional design. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 6(2),. Athabasca University Press.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d). Creating a project schedule [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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Communicating Effectively

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In this post I am analyzing how different modalities of delivering a message can affect the way that message is interpreted.

Text (Email): first I have a message delivered as a text mode using an email as shown in the following picture.

Email

Image taken from Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The Art of Effective Communication [Multimedia File]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

I interpret that Jane (the sender of the message) needs data that is on a report that Mark has. Mark (the receiver of the message) seems to be busy in a meeting the entire day. Jane is worried that she won’t be able to meet her deadline. She is even asking for the data in a separate email as an alternative option to Mark. She is also asking when Mark could be able to provide the data. The email is written in a respectful tone and I can tell a little bit of urgency of the matter.

Audio (Voicemail):

Second, I can listen to message that is now delivered via voicemail. This time, I understood basically the same as the written message but I also picked on the detail that she needs Mark’s report in order to finish hers or that she will not be able to finish her report without the information that Mark has. This information is also available in the email but this time I got a stronger emphasis on this idea. In the audio I also noticed a friendly tone besides of the respectful tone perceived in the email.

Face-to-Face (Video):

This time the message is a face-to-face conversation or at least is Jane delivering the message in a conversation. In this opportunity, I could see Jane smiling which means she is not stressed and she is making her request in a friendly manner.

In the video I can appreciate as well the body language and movement of her hands and head. And this emphasises more the part of the message when she is presenting options to Mark as how he can help her to finish her report. She is specifically moving her hands when she is saying that she needs Mark’s report or alternatively the data that is in that report. So this time is clearer that she is offering options to Mark in order to get the data she needs.

In the video I did not receive any new information about her particular request but I got a better idea of the urgency of the matter, the options she is offering to get the information, and her tone when making the request.

What are the implications from this exercise for communicating effectively with members of a project team?

By doing this exercise, I realized there are factors from each way used to deliver a message that affect the way the message is understood. For example, in the email or written text, factors such as punctuation and wording influence how a message is perceived. In the voicemail, the voice, tone, and pauses are key elements that affect the message. And in the face-to-face conversation, the body language, movement of hands, head, facial expressions such as smiles, and the tone of voice are factors that influence the message.

Because there are more factors affecting the message in a face-to-face conversation, then there is more information available that is not delivered in the form of words, such as the urgency and importance of the message that can be interpreted by non-verbal communication such as the facial expressions, body language, and tonality (Turaga, 2016) of the people involved in the conversation.

What did you learn that will help you communicate more effectively with others in the future?

This simple but very illustrative exercise has taught me that different ways to communicate a message might be more or less effective depending on the recipients and the content of the message. For example, I personally prefer a face-to-face conversation or phone call followed by an email, minute, or some sort of written document to record the ideas previously discussed because sometimes working in a very diverse group means people with different accents and expressions that sometimes I might not understand, but later on when I read the written records I clarify different aspects of the meeting. So even though with this exercise I found more valuable the face-to-face meeting, I still find very useful to have the written form or records of the conversation as a reference for monitoring and future review.

I have also learned that the best approach to communicate effectively with all the members of a team is to offer different methods to cater for different styles. Some stakeholders of a project might communicate better and then contribute more if they have face-to-face conversations, others with more introvert personalities might prefer emails or written texts, and others might prefer the flexibility of a remote conversation via teleconference, a phone call, or a more private conversation rather than attending meetings with a big group of people.

The important factor is to establish effective communication with all the team members and stakeholders, and for this, a variety of forms of communication will be required. As Zofi (2012) mentioned “the aim is to keep communication lines open and transparent” (p.8).

And finally, I learned from this exercise that it is important to maintain the message clear, concise, avoid ambiguity, and provide relevant information to facilitate the transmission of the message and thus making communication flow easily. In all three forms of communication used in the exercise, I would have added a timeframe and a clear sentence specifying by when exactly the information is required. Adding more details of what is expected from the recipients is a good way to ensure an effective communication.

References:

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The Art of Effective Communication [Multimedia file]. Retrieved from https://class.walden.edu

Turaga, R. (2016). Organizational Models of Effective Communication. IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 10(2), 56-65.

Zofi, Y. (2012). Why Cross-Cultural Communication is Critical to Virtual Teams and How to Overcome the Intercultural Disconnect. People & Strategy, 35(1), 7-8.

 

 

 

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  • 8

Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

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My first real practice developing an online course was a mixture of bitter sweet experience for me. On one hand I really enjoyed getting my hands on the field and applying what I have learned so far in instructional design. But on the other hand, I experienced frustration because the product did not get enough management support hence learners did not get motivated to use it.

This online course basically consisted on a short course of three modules explaining the basics of how to use a system that allows learners monitor and control an electrical infrastructure remotely. The online course was developed using Articulate Storyline and had interactivity, contextualised content, real work case scenarios, and assessments drawn from real work situations.

The initial plan was to get the operators of the electrical infrastructure to do the online course followed by a practice on a simulator and in a real setting. At the end operators did not complete the online course and preferred instead a simplified printed version that they could quickly read and re visit when needed. However, on a good outcome was that the practice on the simulator and with a real setting was successfully conducted with each operator.

What contributed to the project’s success or failure?

Some of the elements that impacted the project positively are the following:

  • The authoring tool Articulate Storyline allowed me to create a highly interactive tool without the need of using any other additional software or resources. Additionally, this software let me built a final product that was easy to implement in the organization’s intranet.
  • I was the Subject Matter Expert (SME) as well, so I knew the content and exactly what to include in order to make sure each module would stay relevant, concise, and easy to digest by learners. This was positive too in the sense that as an Instructional Designer I did not have to spend time and chasing SME.
  • Knowing the principles of multimedia learning, I made sure principles such as spatial and temporary contiguity, coherence, signalling, segmenting, personalize, voice, modality, and redundancy were followed (Laureate Education, 2010) in the multimedia elements in order to promote deep learning.

On the other hand, the elements that impacted the project negatively are:

  • There was no communication plan or a meeting to inform management about the online tool. It was developed in solo, because I was the subject matter expert and I identified the need for this training without getting management on board. In this case, being the SME influenced me negatively as I was not focusing on the project as an Instructional Designer. Additionally, during those days my department was going through organisational changes and at that exactly point there was no management to direct the department. All the employees were attending work and doing their roles without a clear direction.
  • Learners were not interested in an online course. They preferred face-to-face training followed by a practice on a simulator. As an ID I should have considered this requirement instead of trying to push a tool that I consider innovative and at the time I thought it would capture learners’ attention.
  • There were no project management practices in place for this task. I simply followed the ADDIE instructional design model with a very poor learners’ analysis to start the project.

Which parts of the PM process, if included, would have made the project more successful? Why?

Starting a project with a “Statement of Work” document would have set the project to start with the right direction. Identifying stakeholders using a RASCI matrix would have been also another important project management tool to get a clear list of the different roles and stakeholders that needed to be included in the project from inception (Laureate Education, n.d), as well as identifying their responsibility in the project.

Additionally, I would include a “Communication Plan” to make sure all stakeholders will be informed of different milestones and key pieces of information that can vary depending on their roles in the project (Lin, 2006).

Finally, I would have to include a complete project management perspective into the project rather than entirely focus on the instructional design part of it. This new perspective would give me the tools to stay organize and have a systematic approach to manage the project to a successful end. Project management practice would include tools such as a Work Breakdown Process (WBP) to partition the project into smaller and specific tasks, a Project Plan to specify tasks, milestones, and timelines; and a better strategy to fully engage all stakeholders as well as making sure learners’ needs will be addressed in the final product.

References:

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Triarchic model of cognitive load: Parts 1 and 2 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d). Defining the scope of an ID project [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Lin, H. (2006). Instructional project management: An emerging professional practice for design and training programs. Workforce Education Forum, 33(2).

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Project Management in Education and Training

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IDvsPM

Having a vast set of skills as an Instructional Designer is not enough to ensure that projects in Education and Training will have a happy ending. And that is why it is important as an Instructional Designer to develop skills in the area of Project Management in order to not only focus ID projects on learners, ID models, and instructional strategies, but also on budget, time, deadlines, people, and resources required to a successful project.

 

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