Friday, October 24, 2014

The Future of Instructional Design Programs

#AECT14
In two weeks, I will be participating in a panel discussion at the 2014 AECT International Convention. with four incredible scholars: Drs. Vanessa Dennen, David Merrill, Charles Reigeluth, and Wilhelmina Savenye. I thought I would write out some of my thoughts on the future of the ID programs in this blog post and will share these thoughts in the panel discussion.

The Context: Shift to Knowledge Society
We have seen a major shift in the last several decades to the knowledge society, and with this shift comes a change in the skills and competencies required. And because instructional design is very clearly knowledge work (what could possibly more knowledge work that the design of learning and instruction?), our designers must develop and gain these competencies.

Our ID students must be gain the following skills. How well do we teach these abilities in our programs?


I am not stating that instructional design programs do not teach some or most of these competencies, nor should necessarily teach all of these skills and competencies. However, we should think about how our instructional design programs fit within the context that requires these abilities.

Problem: Lack of Perspective and Defending the Turf
As I have spoken with managers of instructional designers over the last several years, a common complaint  is that instructional designers often want to operate in a manner that is disconnected from the organization in which they work. There seems to be a struggle on the part of the designer keep their art and science, as learned in graduate school,  intact and pure, without influence from the organization in which the work is taking place. Defending their turf in this manner can keep instructional design work entirely disconnected and irrelevant to the organization in which the work is taking place.

Solution: Integration of HPT
We must help students see that design must align with the role and purpose of the organization which it serves. Students must gain knowledge on how their performance fits into the performance of the entire organization. They must also understand how to adapt what they are doing to fulfill the needs of the organization. Remember that work in the knowledge society is interdisciplinary and varied, and sticking to regimented (even antiquated) ID strategies without adapting to the organization's needs is not sustainable. Students must, therefore, gain the ability to see the big picture of the organization. The highly related field of Human Performance Technology can provide students with this capacity and can also give them many tools for effectively supporting the organizations in which they work.

Need: Complexity and Human Management
Many instructional design program graduates end up managing trainers and instructional designers. However, in their training they appear to receive little training on how to effectively manage those individuals in their work.

Solution: Integration of Project Management
Our ID programs should give our graduates the ability to manage projects, a vital piece of effective instructional design. Instructional design projects are often complex, requiring the coordination of multiple employees, processes, and technologies. We must provide our students with the capacity to manage, organize, and manage large projects effectively.

Solution: Integration of Management and Leadership
In addition to project management capacities, our students must gain skills in management and leadership. They must develop the capacity to motivate and direct the work of those they lead.

Evolution of The Three Tools 
We may (or may not!) agree that the three major tools of the instructional designer are (1) theories, (2) technologies, and (3) processes. These tools will continue to change as the nature of our work changes, and I note the following questions and comments about these tools.

Theories
Do the theories we espouse and teach in our programs help learners gain the competencies required for success in the knowledge society? Do they enable independent learning and problem solving? Do they enable learners to achieve internal motivation and the attitudes necessary for a successful career?

The concept of "instruction" seems to imply the delivery of detailed information about how to accomplish a task. Perhaps we are still teaching our students to design in ways that are more directive in nature. There is and will always be some need for this, but our designers must also know how to teach their learners "how to fish" instead of simply "giving them a fish?"  

Technologies
 Technology options will like continue to grow, and they will also continue to become easier to use. As they do so, what will separate us from an individual with no formal understanding of instructional design concepts? As a field we need to be able to demonstrate that we are relevant and add value based on our knowledge. Our students must also be willing to continually adapt to the technological needs and preferences of the learner.

 Processes
While I have a great deal of confidence in the general process of instructional design (ADDIE), We must teach our students the importance of continuous improvement. The competitive environment in which we work requires increased efficiency, and designers must be able to analyze, change, and improve the design processes they use. The integration of HPT into ID programs will likely assist in making this shift more effective. In addition, design processes must enable IDs to create appropriate learning solutions while still maintaining efficiency and quality output. The balance will be difficult to find, and designers must know how to work toward that balance.

*        *        *        *        *

Well, I look forward to the panel discussion. It will be great to hear the ideas of the other panelists, and I hope I can contribute to the conversation. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Leadership Development: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. As part of this program, I attended a presentation by Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff, the Dean of the College of Health and Public Administration at Franklin.

Karen Miner-Romanoff teaching 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at Franklin's Leadership Development Program.

Dr. Miner-Romanoff's presentation was focused on Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of highly effective people, a set of principles for achieving balance and success in life. One thing I thought was particularly cool about her approach was that she reviewed the essays written by people in the LDP Leadership attributes from our essays - she used our quotes throughout the presentation.

I have read the book and listened to many presentations of these habits over the years and have been very impressed with their depth and quality. I've found that nearly every quality self-help or success work eventually emphasizes one or more of these habits. I usually think of these as simply tools for personal success, but when they are analyzed they truly are tools for leadership. 

I'll flesh out my notes taken during the presentation and will give some reflective thoughts as I go. My own thoughts and ideas will likely intermingle with those presented in the meeting.

Habit 1: Be Proactive
To be proactive is to take responsibility for your actions, to choose to respond to situations positively. 
You have a great deal of control in your life, and you are proactive when you focus your energy on the things you can control. As you develop awareness of where to focus your energy, you increase your personal power to achieve success and happiness in life. You have the capacity to choose happiness, courage, joy, and success. You have the capacity to choose life, health, and contentment.

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
To begin with the end in mind means to look forward to the end of your life and identify exactly what you would like to accomplish in your life. Ask yourself the following questions: What do I want to be? Where do I want to go? What do I want my relationship to look like with my family? With my church and community? With my employer and coworkers? When I die, what do I want people to say about me at my funeral? 

As Karen presented, I wrote that I would like people to believe the following about me when the describe who I am at the end of my life: "He loved everyone. He was kind and gave everything he had to others. He worked to make people's lives better. He was a good daddy, a kind husband, an honest worker. He loved God and served Him with all his heart."

Habit 3: Put First Things First
When you put first things first, you spend your time and energy on the things that will help you reach the outcomes you desire in life. You actively choose to engage in productive tasks, and you choose not to engage in tasks that do not achieve your goals. You must prioritize and focus on one task at a time, the most important task for the day and the moment.

For me, I use the following method for prioritizing my time at work:
  1. At my work desk, I post my performance goals for as agreed upon by me and my supervisor. I refer to these as I plan my day, my week, and my month.
  2. I open a Word document and create a list of the priority actions to accomplish that day. I do my best to ensure these actions will help me accomplish the goals I committed to. 
  3. I prioritize this list and have the most important priority on the top of the list, and I do everything I can to focus all my attention on the top task until it is finished. This can be very difficult, but I have found that it keeps me focused on accomplishment.
I also put first things first by setting aside time for each of my areas of responsibility on my calendar. In a typical workday, I have about 30 minutes set aside for exercise, 30 for reading, 9 hours for work, 1 hour for commuting, and 4 hours for family. I also set aside Saturdays for family and housework and Sundays for service in my church.

Habits 1-3 can be seen as personal habits, those which deal directly with the individual and how he or she lives life. Habits 4-6 can be seen as interpersonal habits, which focus on how we interact with and relate to the people around us.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win
When you think win/win, you enter your discussions with others assuming that all parties involved can achieve success. This approach can be difficult for some people - some have an "I must win" attitude, and others have a "I always lose" attitude. Which are you? Do you go for the win? Do you assume you will lose? Or do you think that having everyone come out winning is an option?

The win/win approach enables collaboration and creativity between parties. If everyone assumes the same goal and receives benefit from working toward the goal together, it is more likely to be achieved.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
When you seek to first understand another's perspective and needs, you do your best to find out what it is that that person would like to happen in a given situation. This requires active listening, asking good questions and verifying that you fully understand the other individual. It requires that you actually care about the person and want to understand them and their needs. It requires a lot of empathy and takes a great deal of energy to accomplish. However, the long-term success of your work will be much more powerful if you take this approach.

You also need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively so that the other individual can easily understand your position. This requires clarity of thought and patience in explaining your position.

Habit 6: Synergize 
When you synergize, you are using the strengths of all parties to create the most powerful, effective strategy possible. Synergy implies that working together effectively actually produces more than could be produced separately. Part of this is recognition of  the foundations built by others which provide you with the opportunities and blessings you enjoy.  

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
When you sharpen the saw, you are renewing and improving yourself. This can be done through exercise, sleep, good nutrition, prayer, meditation, scripture study, and professional development. You are, essentially, making yourself the most useful instrument possible so that you can accomplish your purposes more effectively. This requires a commitment to development, personal growth, and self-improvement. The great quote from one of the student essays is "When you are through changing, you're through!" You must become a lifelong learner.

If you want to achieve your personal goals, you've got to do what it takes to prepare yourself to succeed. You are the resource through which you engage in your life.

Self-Evaluation
I've evaluated myself on each of these habits below.

Habit
Self-rating 
 (1 is poor, 5 is excellent)
Notes and Commitments
Habit 1: Be Proactive
4
I have worked hard to develop my ability to take responsibility for my life. I still struggle in some areas, and I will continue to improve by eliminating blaming from my thought pattern.
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
5
I am extremely goal-oriented and am constantly thinking about the future and the outcomes I desire. I will review some of my life goals again and will revisit my personal mission statement to see how I am doing on meeting my goals
Habit 3: Put First Things First
3
I do alright with this habit. I do very well in my work to accomplish my goals, but I could spend more time thinking about and doing things for my family. I will make a goal to do something more for my wife every week.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
4
I feel like this comes naturally to me. I have a continuous desire to help other people succeed in their goals. I am constantly looking for a way to help them succeed. When I facilitate meetings, I do my best to capture the perspectives of others and synthesize them into a way to move forward. I believe I could do better at this habit in my communications with my family members and commit to thinking in this manner more at home.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
3
I try hard to listen to the perspective of others and I think I have gotten pretty good at it. Still, I find myself becoming impatient, at times. I will increase my focus on understanding by using active questions more effectively.
Habit 6: Synergize
3
 I do what I can do synergize, but I worry that I sometimes miss opportunities because I am too focused on my own work and on accomplishing my goals. I will improve by spending time with others more at work and will go out to lunch with a coworker at least 1x a week.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
4
 I spend a lot of my time developing myself through reading, exercise, and prayer. However, I tend to neglect the importance of simply relaxing and having down time. I will improve by relaxing more and by spending more down time with my family. I will also spend time in nature at least 1x a month.

Thanks to Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff for her thought-provoking presentation. I appreciate the refresher on these habits and hope to apply them more fully in my own life.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How I Created Two Short Video Tutorials

I recently built two brief tutorials for a course I have been teaching in the IDPT Master's degree at Franklin University. I am teaching Foundations of Instructional Design, and in this course students are required to write an instructional goal, perform an instructional analysis, and perform a subordinate skills and entry skills analysis. I thought it would be interesting to document the process I went through to develop these tutorials (part 1 and part 2), and I will describe my ideas below.

The Background
When I taught this course in the past, I realized that the students needed additional guidance and examples of how to perform these activities. There were several examples from the course textbook and in the course website; however, all of these examples showed a completed example of the analysis, which (in my opinion) gives a false impression these analyses can be completed it in one draft. I wanted to give a real-world example of what it was like to work through these analyses in real time, showing that it takes some iteration and rework before getting everything in order.

Storyboarding and Visuals in Instructional Design
I realized as I worked on this project that I used visuals and rough storyboards throughout the process. In this blog post, you will see that I went through many different storyboards as I finalized what I wanted the presentation to look like. I think I use storyboards as a way to slowly and surely narrow in on what I want to accomplish. I start with general ideas and iteratively refine them as I get closer and closer to what I believe will work well.  My ideas went from (1) a giant sticky note to (2) a piece of paper to (3) a white board to (4) a PPT file and finally to (5) a finished video presentation. I thought it would be interesting to show how things evolved and show the visuals.

How to Record It?
I wanted to simulate how I have taught this kind of analysis in the classroom setting because I wanted it to feel more conversational in nature. My initial idea was to just get a camera and record me doing the presentation on a white board. I presented this idea to with my colleague/friend/elearning guru Julie Wuebker, who recommended using a SMART Podium so that I could draw it out on the screen capture it with a desktop capturing tool. This would, she reasoned, create a cleaner presentation and would allow me to stick to my goal to keep the presentation conversational. She drew out her ideas of how this would work on a giant sticky note as she explained her ideas in my office:

Julie's artifact - she used this to describe how I could use SMART Podium to record the videos.

Iterative Storyboarding
I thought about this off and on for a couple of weeks, and about a week before recording I brainstormed what I thought should be included in the presentation onto a blank sheet of paper. I tried to visualize the main pieces that I thought would provide an organizing structure and also provide examples of how to perform each of the tasks. I thought it through and mapped out the components I thought would be helpful. This was my initial storyboard:

My initial storyboard brainstorm. I tried to document everything I thought would be important to include in the short tutorial videos.

Whiteboard Storyboarding
The day before I recorded the videos, I wrote out some of the examples I thought I would use in the videos. I kept these pretty rough because I wanted to make sure the students could see the first attempt would not be perfect.

I wrote examples that I might use in the presentation on the whiteboard. This helped me to think roughly about what I would do.

After this brainstorming, I created a PPT presentation. I used this presentation (a) to present some of the concepts that I was teaching to the learners, and (b) to have a nice backdrop for the examples I would be sharing in the presentation.

My PPT file, which I used to present concepts and also used as a backdrop for the examples I was sharing.


Recording the Presentation
I used a SMART Podium. so that I could draw on the screen as I shared examples of how to do the instructional analysis. I wore a headset and recorded the raw video and audio using Microsoft Lync, which has a built in desktop capturing tool that is surprisingly easy to use (once you figure out where to go to start recording). I didn't write out a script for these tutorials because I wanted to maintain a conversational tone and show how the analysis might be done in a natural way.

I used a SMART Podium so that I could draw out my instructional analyses manually. I wore a headset and recorded video and audio using Lync.

Editing the Presentation
The recording produced an MP4 file which I uploaded from the computer with the SMART Podium to OneDrive for Business and returned to my office where I edited the videos using Camtasia Studio 8. I added in the visual call-outs with Camtasia. It took me about an hour to an hour and a half each to edit the videos into their final state.

My office where I edited the videos using Camtasia Studio 8. It took about 3 hours total to edit the two videos.

The Final Presentation
I published the videos from Camtasia as MP4s on my desktop and then uploaded them to my YouTube channel and also shared them with my class in the course website in our university's Learning Management System BlueQuill. Here are the final videos:



I am pretty happy with the quality of the videos, keeping in mind that one of my goals was to convey the iterative nature of an instructional, analysis. I am hopeful it will give the students a little more context and some more ideas for the work they are doing in the course.

I hope this has been a useful view into my process for creating these videos. It is a rather rough approach, but I hope it gives you some ideas.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Improving Your Instructional Design Process

In this post, I will share my ideas on maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of an instructional design process. A design process is integral to effective instructional design. It can increase quality and efficiency and decrease waste and errors. However, very often these processes are very general in nature, and the individual is left alone to determine how to implement it effectively. This can result in varying degrees of quality and can cause designers to waste energy recreating work that might be reduced through an effective, supported process.

Methods for Improving Your Instructional Design Process
Based on my experience, processes can be used to empower instructional designers and give them tools and support that will help them be more efficient and produce work that is of high quality. Below are some excellent strategies for improving an instructional design process:
  1. Document the process. Do a job analysis and gain some clarity on what the process and what the work entails. Be clear about what is going on and what is expected. 
  2. Clarify the goals and outputs for each phase. Make sure that there is clarity on exactly what the designer should produce for each phase of the design process.
  3. Provide rubrics and checklists. How can a designer know the work is done it properly? Create easy to use checklists and so the designer can easily pass his or her work on to the next phase.
  4. Constantly refine the process. Gather data, discover gaps, and work toward the ideal. Encourage and facilitate sharing and enable the designers to continuously improve. Designers are good at designing, so enable them to design how they design!
  5. Provide tools for design. Create and provide templates, examples, technologies, and other tools for making the work more efficient, effective, and enabling.
  6. Create a performance support page. (I describe this concept in detail near the end of this post). The support page should include the documentation, goals, outputs, rubrics, and tools for the design of the course.
Keep in mind that this advice is not given so that a manager or director can more easily control the instructional design process. The goal should be to remove barriers and enable the designer to be successful. Instructional design is a creative process, and the manager's goal should be to remove barriers, to eliminate wasted effort, and create a process that enables designer creativity and energy.

Criteria of a Quality Instructional Design Process
The general criteria of a good instructional design process include:
  1. Efficient - Your process should be efficient and waste as little time on unnecessary tasks as possible. You must identify what level of efficiency is possible and work toward that ideal through improved efficiency.
  2. Effective - Your process should create quality instructional products that reach the goals of the instruction. You must define what quality is and create a process that will support designers to achieve that level of quality.
  3. Enabling - Your process should enable designers and other stakeholders to design outstanding materials. There are always inherent restrictions in instructional design, but your process should enable and empower designers as much as possible.
An Instructional Design Performance Support Website
One effective method is to create a Performance Support Website that houses the goals, outputs, templates, rubrics, and other resources used in the ID process. The idea is that designers could easily use this site to support their work. The site should be something that is created collaboratively by the design team and that is constantly updating and improving. The image below is my very rough conceptualization of what that site might look like.
Layout of a generic Instructional Design Performance Support Website.
Evaluating And Improving Your Own Instructional Design Process
The following questions may help you as you scrutinize and work to improve your own instructional design process:
  • What is our instructional design process? Is it documented? If not, why?
  • How do we know our process is working effectively? 
  • How long does it take to build a course?
  • Where are we wasting our time or repeating work in an unnecessary fashion? 
  • How can we eliminate the time wasters and decrease overall time for building a course?
  • How do we measure the quality of our work? What is a better way to do it?
  • How do we evaluate and improve our process?
  • Does the process we use restrict or enable our instructional designers to create quality instruction?
  • How can we empower our instructional designers in their work?
  • What tools will make our work more efficient and effective?
  • What tools will enable our instructional designers to work with greater power?
  • What tasks can we eliminate, automate, or delegate?
There are my current thoughts on improving instructional design processes. I will continue to think about this as I work with and around the excellent designers here at Franklin. Do you have any insights on how to improve the process of designing instruction?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Article: What is Task-centered Learning

My good friend Dr. Greg Francom and I have recently published an article entitled "What is Task-centered Learning" in TechTrends. The article describes the foundations and fundamental principles of task-centered learning and describes several instructional models that exemplify many of the principles of task-centered learning. Below is the abstract of the article, and a pre-publication PDF draft of the article can be found on my academia.edu page. Thanks to Dr. Francom for inviting me to write as second author - he is an outstanding scholar and I have been grateful to write with and learn from him.

"What is Task-centered Learning?" Article Abstract:
Many recent models of learning and instruction center learning on real-world tasks and problems to support knowledge application and transfer. Of the many different approaches to centering learning on real-world tasks and problems, one main area in recent literature attempts to balance the efficiency of adequate learner support with the effectiveness of centering learning on real-world tasks. Names for the various models in this area have included problem-centered instruction, cognitive apprenticeship, elaboration theory, and task-centered learning/instruction. As yet there has not been much comparison or combination of the prescriptions of these task-centered approaches to learning. Therefore we compare and combine several task-centered learning models to outline essential prescriptive elements of a task-centered learning approach.
Article Reference:
Francom, G., & Gardner, J. (2014). What is task-centered learning? TechTrends. DOI: 10.1007/s11528-014- 0784-z





Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summary of 2014 Sabbatical Experience

Well, I am now wrapping up my Summer 2014 Sabbatical Experience, and I will return to regular work at Franklin this coming Monday. This has been a wonderful opportunity for me, something I have dreamed of doing for a long time. I am confident that this experience will be a pivotal point in my career - it has opened up many great opportunities for personal learning and professional growth. I've blogged throughout the sabbatical - below are blog posts on my sabbatical.

Travel

Hiking and Running

Self-Reflection and Writing

Visiting Scholarship at USU - Teaching Support in Higher Education
I Reached All Sabbatical Goals
At the beginning of this experience, I committed to my leadership at Franklin University that I would (a) write 2-3 scholarly articles, (b) visit Utah State University as a visiting scholar, and (c) apply to become a certified performance technologist. I am happy to say that I have completed each of these objectives, and I have learned a great deal in the process.

I Reached All Personal Goals
In my first blog post about the sabbatical, I also wrote that I wanted to (a) revisit my personal goals, (b) spend time with family, (c) run a marathon, and (d) broaden my knowledge. I can say with some satisfaction that I have been able to do each of these, as well. I have strengthened my goals, have run a half-marathon and a marathon, have spent a great deal of time with the members of my family who live in Utah, and have have read many books that have broadened my perspective.

I am very grateful to the leadership at Franklin University for giving me this opportunity. I have learned so much through my work at Franklin, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I have received. This was an outstanding opportunity to extend my professional knowledge and experiences, travel, read, write, and spend time with my family. Thanks again to the leadership at Franklin for making this experience a possibility and for supporting me as I have moved forward in my goals. And thanks to my coworkers at Franklin who took over my responsibilities while I was gone. I could not have done this work without them!

Presentation at Utah Instructional Design Summit


Here I am presenting as keynote at the Utah Instructional Design Summit. 
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am currently on sabbatical from my work at Franklin University. While working as a visiting scholar at USU, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at  the Utah Instructional Design Summit being held at Salt Lake Community College in July. The summit is a regular meeting of instructional designers working in higher education in Utah, and I was honored to be invited to speak. I am very aware of the great talent available within the group - I know several of the designers personally and have great respect for their work - so it was exciting to be asked to speak and interact with them.

The presentation was recorded - to view the presentation, click here.

What I Talked About
I usually speak about my scholarly expertise, particularly instructional theory and/or first principles of instruction. However, for this meeting I decided to focus on what I believe are fundamental habits of success in our society today, applied to the field of instructional design. Specifically, I decided to focus on:
  • What the Knowledge Society is and how it influences the way we work.
  • How Instructional Designers must adapt their design approach to meet the needs of the knowledge worker.
  • The importance of taking responsibility for actions and living with purpose.
  • Responding (instead of reacting) to the opportunities and obstacles that constantly come.
I enjoyed speaking on these topics and I believe they are critical to success in society today. I will likely continue my thinking on these topics and will continue to write and speak about them from time to time.