MeMyself&I

Posts Tagged ‘instructional design

I am reflecting on another recent success of my authentic learning research that has become a part of my being. I submitted a paper to HERDSA for the first time this year. My intention when I submitted was to get feedback on my work, I heard that HERDSA has a very good reputation for its rigorous review process.

And rigorous it was, the most informative feedback I’ve received by far. The only ever time I was asked to respond to every reviewer’s feedback and suggestions. I was required to document my reaction/response to each and every recommendation made by the reviewers. The learning for a relatively new researcher like me had been tremendous. There were many praises and encouragement as well included in the reviewers’ feedback, which was motivating for me and my co-researcher.

At the HERDSA Conference in Darwin, I was informed by folks from Sydney University that my research had influenced their presentation on role play, which was surprising to know. However, the biggest surprise came during the closing ceremony when my name was called to receive the best paper award for authentic learning. I couldn’t help but reflect on what the conclusion of my PhD thesis holds. I dream of contributing to knowledge to improve educational practice. With the two recent successes at conferences, I wonder if I am on track to make a difference.

Well, the PhD journey has just began, it is a while to go yet. It is good to know for now that interests in my research project continue to come my way. I have been invited again to present at another university on the same topic below. 

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The 2minuteMoodle motto
“Where before there was a spectator, let there now be a participant.” ~ Jerome Bruner 

Scaffolding can be characterised as acting on this motto (Bransford et al, 2000), and the aim of the 2minuteMoodle is to provide students additional scaffolding in the learning and teaching process at CQUniversity.

What is scaffolding?
In educational setting, scaffolding is a metaphor used to describe learner support mechanisms, which may be delivered by human and/or embedded in computer-based technological tools. Proponents such as Shaphiro suggest that scaffolding provides learners with a “support structure that aids them in attaining a higher level of achievement” (2008, p. 29).

What is involved in instructional scaffolding?
Scaffolding involves a number of activities and tasks. Here are some examples adapted from Bransford et al ( 2000): 

  • Motivating students, by recruiting student’s interest to the task.
  • Identifying critical features of objects to be learned.
  • Providing some direction in order to help the students focus on achieving the goal.
  • Demonstrating and defining the activity to be performed.
  • Simplifying the task to make it more manageable and achievable for students.
  • Controlling frustrations and risks, e.g. providing guidelines for engagement.

How to provide additional scaffolding for students?
The 2minuteMoodle approach provides some quick and easy scaffolding techniques, which involves preparing and recording answers to the following questions on a weekly basis:

The 2minuteMoodle instructional scaffolding approach

The 2minuteMoodle instructional scaffolding approach

Next, do the following:

  1. Choose the media type for the delivery, e.g. audio or video
  2. Do the recording – duration must be two minutes
  3. Provide access on the Moodle course site and/or via RSS
  4. Test that the file is accessible.

Note: It might help to refer to the activities and tasks for instructional scaffolding listed above.

Why two minutes?
It is assumed that other scaffolding techniques are already embedded in the way course sites have been designed in Moodle, as well as in other instructional materials such as Study Guides. The spoken format of the 2minuteMoodle is designed to complement these other techniques. Here the specific aim is to deliver a more personal message. As Gardner Campbell in his well-cited EDUCAUSE article asserts “There is a magic in human voice, the magic of shared awareness… Photographs are undeniably powerful, and perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words but a few words uttered by a dear voice may be worth the most of all (2005, p. 40).

References

Bransford, J. Brown, A.L.,  & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. (expanded edn.) Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 

Campbell, G. (2005) ‘There’s something in the air: Podcasting in education’. Educause Review.

Shaphiro, A.M. (2008). Hypermedia design as learner scaffolding. Educational Technology, Research and Development (56)1, 29-44.

My University has recently adopted the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS)  to replace Blackboard. The Curriculum Design Team in which I am a member is actively assisting in the implementation, one of our tasks is to help academics enhance learning and teaching practice with the use of LMS. I have finally put into paper an idea that has been in my head for sometime about helping academics develop capacity to provide scaffolding in the learning process, which incidentally supports at least four of the 7 Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987). I spoke to an academic about this idea and he is very keen to take it up, one of the reasons is the ease with which he can produce a two-minute voice recording once a week in his iPhone. 

The central idea is to record a two minute audio in MP3 format which will then be made available in the Moodle course site and/or provide RSS to the two-minute weekly podcast. The academic will use the questions in the 2minuteMoodle framework (see illustration below) to provide an advanced organiser for his/her students, focused on the idea of scaffolding. Academics who prefer a more visual approach (also useful for hearing impaired students) may be shown how to use Voicethread, which can also be embedded on the Moodle course site. But it must be no more than two minutes duration – the rationale for this I have now documented but will be discussed in a separate post.

 

The 2minuteMoodle instructional scaffolding approach

The 2minuteMoodle instructional scaffolding approach

 

Another purpose for introducing the 2minuteMoodle approach is that I believe it supports the “Learning by Design” framework for academic development that I have been pursuing to embed in my instructional design practice. By providing academic staff a situated context for why, how and when a particular technology might be used in learning and teaching, an academic is empowered to develop knowledge of both technology and pedagogy to complement their content knowledge (Mishra & Kohler, 2006).

My next post will describe the 2minuteMoodle approach in more detail.

References

Chickering, A. W. & Gamson, Z. F. 1987, ‘Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education’, AAHE Bulletin, vol. 39, no. 7, pp. 3-7. 

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record 108 (6), 1017-1054.

As I engage in my PhD work and get feedback from ‘critical friends’ I am seeing a slightly different path to how I’ve originally conceived how my thesis will unfold. The new title summarises or captures a more definitive focus for the thesis. This reframing was also heavily influenced by recent readings and updates to my literature review. The literature review is still in progress and it could change again, but I thought I should record my current thinking and see the complete evolution of my PhD journey 🙂

A special thank you to Tim Lever for capturing the essence of my original proposal better than I could, Tim suggested a more focused topic for my work. 

Research topic/title

Enculturation into discipline specific ways of thinking and acting whilst at university: Comparative evaluation of approaches in higher education to preparation for professional practice

Background
The educational issue that my research proposes to address is that traditional learning environments do not represent the values or practices of the profession for which educators intend to prepare students. In these types of environments students acquire abstract and decontextualised knowledge coming from teaching approaches that tend to separate “knowing” from “doing” (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989). In approaches where the interdependence of situation and cognition are ignored, the students do not perceive the knowledge acquired as being useful in solving real problems outside university, so what they develop is only “inert knowledge” (Collins, Brown & Newman, 1989). This is a type of knowledge that people can recall when prompted but cannot recall in problem solving situations (Bransford, et al, 1990; Cognition & Technology Group of Vanderbilt, 1990; Herrington & Oliver, 2000). Within the accounting domain, for example, researchers and practitioners both identify inert knowledge in graduate accountants, claiming that graduate accountants accumulate a storehouse of technical knowledge they cannot apply to solve real world problems (Catanach, et al., 2000, Freeman, 2008; Sundem, 1994).

Aims
In response to this educational dilemma, the central aim of my research is to propose, exemplify and test alternative approaches to learning and teaching in higher education that provide students bridges rather than gaps between learning at university and professional practice. Re-engineering the traditional learning environment, and developing and testing prototypes form part of this aim, in which the design of curricula integrates opportunities for students to perform authentic practices and activities that practitioners and experts engage in during real problem solving situations. 

Methodology
I envisage adopting an iterative empirical approach, which will be guided by an experimental framework known as ‘design-based research’ (Brown, 1992; Collins, 1992). Design-based research ‘blends empirical educational research with the theory-driven design of learning environments [thereby shaping] an important methodology for understanding how, when and why educational innovations work in practice’ (The Design-Based Research Collective, 2003, p.5). Consistent with the principles of design-based research, both quantitative and qualitative methods will be employed in the iterative cycle of design, implementation, analysis and modification. Ethnographic approaches will be used as it provides qualitative methods for looking carefully at how a design plays out in practice and how social and contextual variables interact with cognitive variables (Collins, Joseph & Bielaczyc, 2004). Additionally, the quantitative method of administering survey questionnaires provides a means for evaluating the effects of independent variables on the dependent variables (Collins, Joseph & Bielaczyc, 2004). The adoption of mixed methods is useful for the description of phenomena reflecting the complex issues that should be addressed (Brown 1992).

Expected outcomes
The conclusion of my PhD will deliver a greater understanding of how students build their knowledge in learning environments where preparation for professional practice is the explicit aim. It is also anticipated that the outcomes of my research will include practical guidelines for designing learning environments that facilitate better prepared students for their chosen professional careers.

Timetable
As this research will involve human participants approval for Ethics in Human Research will be sought by the end of Year 1. The study will proceed in three phases, as follows:

Phase 1: Development of framework – Year 1
This phase will involve a review of literature on educational innovations facilitated by previous research initiatives. The different educational approaches that have evolved will be contrasted, and I will identify the theoretical frameworks that align with the conventions of selected disciplines as case studies. The goal is to ‘specify the significant disciplinary ideas and forms of reasoning that constitute the prospective goals or endpoints for student learning’ (Cobb et al, 2003, p. 11).

Phase 2: Design and development of prototypes – First half of Year 2
Evaluation of the existing learning designs in use in selected discipline areas will be documented using both archived and classroom observation data. Evaluative comparisons will be drawn about features, strengths and weaknesses between the existing design in use and the intended design of prototypes. The curriculum design principles formulated in the previous phase will underpin the development of prototypes, within which intended learning outcomes, instructional materials, activity structures and assessment are central to the design. Because the focus of this study is on the design of a model of learning, the new learning design is reified in the learning environments. As Kelly (2004) observes, the exploration of research questions about learning are reified, explored, and tested by the design and use of the learning environment.

Phase 3: Implementation, data collection, analysis, and modification – Second half of Year 2
Multiple cycles of implementations and evaluations will be carried out in partnership with academic teachers at different campuses of a regional university. Both students’ and teachers’ perceptions of their physical and online “classroom” experiences will be investigated and, following the main tenets of design-based research, evaluation will be carried out using multiple strategies, e.g. online observations, recording of classroom episodes, survey questionnaire, individual interviews and focus group interviews.  

Within the different cycles of the implementation, the iteration process for analysis – prototypes modifications – evaluations will be documented in my thesis, and will focus on validating assumptions embodied in the prototypes, developing new ones, and finally refining and enhancing the different prototypes.

By Year 3 if not sooner, I will take leave of absence from work to take up full-time engagement in my PhD and complete the study. By the second half of Year 3 I envisage the writing and compilation of the thesis chapters will commence, which will include revisiting the literature review again along with methodological assumptions, following the lived experience of this research.

References 

Bransford, J.D., Sherwood, R.D., Hasselbring, T.S., Kinzer, C.K. & Williams, S.M. (1990). Anchored Instruction: Why we need it and how technology can help. In D. Nix & R. Spiro (Eds.), Cognition, education and multimedia: Exploring ideas in high technology, pp.115-141, Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Brown, A.L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Instructional Sciences, 2(2), pp. 141-178.

Brown, J.S., Collins, A. & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning, Educational Researcher 18(1), pp.32-42.

Catanach, A.H., Croll, D.B. & Grinaker, R.L. (2000). Teaching Intermediate Financial Accounting Using a Business Activity Model, Issues in Accounting Education, 15(4), pp.583-603.

Cobb, P., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R., Schauble, L. (2003) Design Experiments in Educational Research, Educational Researcher, 32(1), pp. 9-13.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1990). Anchored instruction and its relationship to situated cognition, Educational Researcher, 19 (6), pp.2-10.

Collins, A. (1992). Towards a design science of education, In E Scanlon & T O’Shea (Eds), New directions in educational technology, Springer, Berlin.

Collins, A., Brown, J.S., & Newman, S.E. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: teaching the crafts of reading, writing and mathematics. In L.B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: essays in honor of Robert Glaser. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Collins, A., Joseph, D. & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design research: Theoretical and methodological issues. The Journal of the Instructional Sciences, 13(1), pp. 15-42.

Design-Based Research Collective (2003). Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational enquiry, Educational Researcher, (32)1, pp. 5–8.

Freeman, M., Hancock, P., Simpson, L., & Sykes, C. (2008). Business as usual: a collaborative and inclusive investigation of existing resources, strengths, gaps and challenges to be addressed for sustainability in teaching and learning in Australian university business faculties. ABDC Scoping Report, March, 1-54. 

Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23-48.

Sundem, G.L. (1994) Scholarship in four dimensions, CA Magazine, 127(3), pp.39-44.

And so my research journey continues with an amazing reward that I never dreamed of getting.

I am relatively new to research and getting my paper reviewed is always the aim when I submit. I figured that even if the paper doesn’t get accepted there remains significant learning to be had – the reviewers’ feedback is often very enriching. But getting a paper accepted at a prestigious conference gives me a different level of buzz. To me it means a possibility of getting a fair hearing for what I have to say and share, as well as getting valuable feedback.

I have a 100% acceptance rate to date, as I said I am very new to all this so this outcome alone I find overwhelming. One of my ‘critical friends’ advised me to “enjoy it while it lasts” that the longer my acceptance record keeps, the worst the feeling of the first rejection. I brace myself  every time and am always preparing for the worst. Well now I am throwing caution to the wind… as noted in my earlier post, I want to share this journey. Let this be the small beginning of my sharing.

My recent submission with a collaborator was at ED-MEDIA. When the reviewers suggested to consider submitting the paper to the International Journal of eLearning I was ecstatic because up until this point, I had been too scared to submit to journals. I have always been envisioning failure not success! 

Recently, I have been celebrating the paper’s selection to receive the Outstanding Paper Award, which will be presented in Honolulu, Hawaii the day before the allocated presentation slot at ED-MEDIA 2009. I have just finished preparing for the presentation, see the slides below or download the presentation notes pages version.

As I prepare for the first conference I am attending this year, I started to think why I need to go and what I will get out of it.  My reflection began when I came across this…

Source: "Piled Higher Deeper" by Jorge Cham http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=478

Source: "Piled Higher Deeper" by Jorge Cham http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=478

 I disagree. It is fun to attend a conference because for me learning is fun and that’s what happens when I go to a conference – I learn. The biggest benefit I gain from attending a conference is connecting with kindred spirits, folks whose work I admire and which inspires me. Conferences have a way of renewing the passion that brings like minded people together, and being part of that is a privilege that I truly value.  Attending a conference provides an opportunity to learn from experts, share ideas with others, and identify new knowledge and  techniques in my field of instructional design. I think it is quite a productive experience for a PhD candidate, given the knowledge explosion in the current information-rich era. It is a great way to keep abreast of emerging themes and technology.

But it is also hard work. My attendance will always be tied up with having an accepted paper. Throughout my PhD journey and beyond, my aim is to get my written work reviewed, as well as receive oral feedback during presentation.  I could then ‘network’ with folks doing similar research who are likely to extend my ideas. I think it is a win-win situation, and it is fun! But I’m sure that others will have opposing views about attending conferences instead of concentrating on thesis writing… well I say horses for courses!

I was intrigued by my colleague Damien’s recent blog , within which reference was made to educational terms as “education buzzwords” or “eduspeak”. Damien asks:

 How exposed are academics to this language by curriculum designers (now known as edunerds – pronounced ed-u-nerds)?

Damien then provides “an initial list of eduspeak buzzwords”, some of which are technical language within the education domain, others are newly coined educational terms arising from the trends of information age and influences of new technology.

Upon reading Damien’s blog, I too couldn’t help but reflect on the difficulties I faced almost daily with the language of other disciplines, more recently the technical language in auditing, accounting, economics and finance as I engage in curriculum design work in business education. But the fact remains that I am very comfortable with the language of my discipline, as the academics I have been working with are comfortable with their respective discipline language.

Why might this be the case? One explanation is that of acculturation. We absorb the culture, values and practices of our discipline and we find meanings through written and spoken words. Without this common language, our world in this culture/discipline would be meaningless. The notions of natives and immigrants are apt here – it is a lot harder to learn  and master a second language!

But the interesting thing in the eduspeak debate is that criticisms of this nature are more prevalent in the world of academia, compared to say the world of medicine. As observers as well as consumers of the medical field, we simply accept that there are many medical jargon that will take us years to understand, but we try to anyway, perhaps out of fear, interest or simple curiosity.

On that note, I would like to share an interesting observation about the transformation of an academic who was totally “non-edunerd” when our curriculum renewal project began a year or so ago. She now finds herself proposing a PhD research on education-related topic. The language spoken in her PhD proposal was not one coming from a Finance expert but one who has developed an interest in educational practice. Sure, it is her second language, and she is finding it a challenge, but her decision to acculturate no doubt will alleviate many of her difficulties over time.

I guess it is about ones willingness to understand the culture and practices of a particular discipline that makes the difference. But at the end of the day this boils down to interest, motivation and the affordances of time.


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