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Friday, September 23, 2016

In this weeks reading I got more out the examples than anything else. I thought it was interesting at the level of detail that is necessary for good analysis to take place. The one thing I am curious about is it seemed like the methods for gathering data were really only based on interviewing and observation. I am wondering with all the improvements in technology and analytics if there aren't other methods as well. One thing I can certainly say is that there is a lot more to this process than I ever would have guessed. Understanding the target population is one thing, a very big thing, but add to it managerial support, aspects of the site, relevance of the skills to the workplace, etc... Honestly after reading over all that I am bit overwhelmed, there is so much to consider and as 'details' person myself I get the need to know as much possible and that this is quite an exhaustive process to get the information that you need.

A few good tips from the chapter were to always find out what the site constraints are before starting as this may be a major problem for your instruction. If computers are needed for the instruction to take place you need to make sure the software is compatible, the network is capable of running the program, the computers are able to process what you are doing, etc... I have done trainings that have started out poorly because the projector didn't work or the wifi was slow or the program was blocked by the network filter. We couldn't do any of the training in the way that was planned because of these issues.

I did think it was important to note that as instructional designers work they go back to fine tune earlier decisions as they gather new information. I see instructional design as a process that is somewhat fluid as you are in the analysis section. You want to be able to make alterations as you find out information that will be impacted by your discoveries. I had a professor that always said, "the devil is in the details" I can definitely see that with instructional design. There are a lot of details and getting them right is what determines whether or not the instruction is effective.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Last week I said that the idea of substeps was a bit ambiguous, well that was before this weeks reading. There was a lot of detail on the process of substeps and breaking everything down into bite size pieces that guide the student in the learning process. I think that I have always understood this concept and have done this myself with my teaching, but not to this level of detail and not as well planned out as this chapter purports. Breaking things down into smaller segments makes sense, having a plan makes a lot of sense, I think that is where I didn't do as well as I could have in the past. Having an instructional goal and then building from there and making sure that each step along the way gets you closer and closer makes a lot of sense, I just feel that as a teacher I didn't have the time I needed to make this happen as fluidly as it should.

I really liked the guiding questions, "What is it that the student must already know how to do, the absence of which would make it impossible to learn this subordinate skill?" This question is helpful when determining subordinate tasks and what additional teaching, if any, is needed. I also really liked, "What mistake might students make if they were learning this particular skill?" I like this because it really makes you evaluate how you would teach the skill and prepare for mistakes.

Overall, I think that the issue for teachers is that while entry behaviors are part of design, if a student(s) has holes in their learning they may lack those skills. Certainly each grade level should build on the next but if students don't have some of these entry behaviors then remedial instruction in necessary. This is time consuming and if students have special needs it may require extra help that the teacher may or may not be able to provide. The idea of building from one year to the next is built into our education system and it works when students have learned the material. If they have forgotten or never learned it, it becomes quite problematic for the teacher. It is important to recognize entry behaviors and have a plan to remediate when students don't possess them.

Monday, September 12, 2016

So a few things stood out to me this week: writing goals from the learning standpoint (not teaching), being specific with each step, and determining if you need substeps or not

First of all, I thought it was interesting that instructional designers struggle at times between writing things in the way they would teach it as opposed to what the learner should be able to do at completion. To be honest I hadn't ever considered this and am certain that there are times I consider how I am going to teach something as opposed to considering what the learner should be able to do after instruction. I can really see how this line of thinking can help guide instruction as you have the student in mind the whole time instead of just thinking about how you would teach the topic. I feel that this really helps you be able to assess if the students are learning because you are explicit with what that process should look like. I know that many teachers have activities that they like to teach cause they are fun, but if you asked what the students are taking away from the activity they would have a hard time expressing just what that is.

Secondly, I thought the specificity with each step, while a bit tedious in the planning stage, can really help flesh out what you are trying to do and help you get there. I see the process as one that you will have to frontload, but will pay off because you are prepared and know how and why you are instructing. Also, the students should see each step as a natural progression, not as an arbitrary way that the material is presented. I always feel that it is of utmost importance for the teacher to know what the student is going through in the learning process and see this a great way to facilitate this process for instructors. It will help with design and overall knowing how to get from point A to Z in a much clearer and efficient fashion.

Finally I thought idea of substeps was a bit ambiguous, but I think that was the point. It is up to the designer to determine whether or not substeps are necessary and if so why? Really everything in the design process is getting the instructor to consider why they are designing the material the way they are and determining if there is a better way of arranging the material. I see substeps as a great way to make sure instruction is explicit and yet a place to make sure that you are not over or under doing it. When you look at the steps you need to question whether the steps can and should be broken down, if so then you do, if not then you don't. It sounds so simple when put like that, but in reality there is a lot more to making these determinations. Much like the second point I see this as a lot of work in the beginning but it definitely pays off in the end.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Identifying Instructional Goals 9/4

I really liked the ideas in this chapter. I am someone that likes to get to the root of problems and find solutions that actually fix the problem. One of my favorite examples about this process is about Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis who was an obstetrician in Vienna's General Hospital in the mid 1800's. An alarming amount of women were dying in through the birthing process from his section of the hospital. It reached such a high level that he stopped practicing to figure out what the problem was. In his absence the mortality rate normalized and he realized that he was part of the problem. He was unsure what he was doing that was the problem so he observed other doctors and found that he was using the same methods and techniques. The one difference he found was that he went and worked in the morgue before helping with the births. Upon closer examination what he was doing was bringing the germs from the morgue to the birthing center. There are a lot of things that had to be examined before it was figured out what exactly was going on.

When it comes to defining instructional goals I think it is of utmost importance to do a needs analysis and see exactly what the gap between the goal and the actual outcome is before deciding how to go about fixing it. When I am designing a course I spend a lot of time determining what the learner needs to be able do and how they can show that they have learned the material. The course is then designed to meet these goals. After reading this week I know that I need to be more specific as well as do more analysis before determining what the instructional goals are and then how the learner will show mastery. Overall I felt that zeroing in what is most important is truly the most important thing. One of my favorite quotes is "the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing." This statement is the key to instructional design and identifying instructional goals.