Thursday, October 16, 2014

Understanding HPI/HPT with a side of podcasting

Week 7 Podcasting reflection
I searched for podcasts that would have something to do with Human Performance Technology, but the pickings were slim. One podcaster that had an episode about it is one I will profile. Called EdTech Dojo and hosted by Dr. Joel Gardner and his brother J. Clark Gardner, it focuses on instructional design. I found two of their episodes enlightening.

In one, Dr. Joel Gardner reports from an International Society of Performance Improvement conference in Toronto and gives an overview of what Human Performance Improvement means in the real world. I enjoyed that it’s a discussion between 2 peers, and the questions J. Clark asks are some of the ones I would ask. Some of his digressions are aggravating, but take the good with the less-good, it’s free.

A second podcast has Dr. Joel Clark interviewing Kristy Bloxham about continuous improvement and assessment as it applies to online instruction. I found the way she described using continuous assessment (with real life examples THANK YOU!) very helpful. 

She described giving surveys to students 4X per class, anonymously. The students responded much better (75% compared to 5% ) when given a small extra credit incentive. The instructor provided a global response to the class. The outcome was that students were more engaged in the class, and the feedback was generally constructive. She even suggested tossing out a 1 or 2% negative response right off the top, and only paying attention to more widely held responses. Yes!

Her study (2010) is located here: "Using Formative Student Feedback: A Continuous Quality Improvement Approach for Online Course Development

What I will use in my professional lifeI found the reading (Reiser & Dempsey, chapter 14) unmoving. It’s a comprehensive history of HPI/HPT, but doesn’t tell me in a useful way how it works in practical applications. A source I found more informative is the ISPI rundown of the profession.

It's not about numbers
The important takeaway for me on this topic is that most people want to improve the way they perform. If they are included in the process of making that happen, a lot of the negative connotations of maximizing performance and turning people into “robots” is taken away. It’s not only about increasing productivity, but about achieving a better result. The idea of gap analysis is also a helpful way to frame an approach to a solution. With the University’s emphasis on assessment, it becomes important to remember the softer side of making human performance improvements. A focus on numbers is the wrong way to implement change that anyone will buy into.

Another helpful resource
I searched for a podcast that would feed my interest in creativity and education and found a series of podcasts called Speed of Creativity by Wesley A. Fryer, of Kansas City, MO. Although I can recommend his series–it’s so vast–I am still not sure why he uses Creativity in the title.

There are hundreds of podcasts in Mr. Fryer’s library, and the descriptions he gives are extensive enough to let you know what you are likely to hear. The quality of content and audio varies in an entertaining way. Some are recorded in studio, others while he’s driving on a highway. I listened to one in particular (2014-03-04) that was an hour-long presentation he gave at a Kansas City Professional Council conference. He taped himself giving the presentation that included embedded video. I downloaded the .mp3 file to my phone and listened while I was walking in the morning before work.

Adding value to everyday worklife
I have never truly warmed to podcasting, I’m just not an auditory learner. Unless I am able to take notes as we talk I will certainly forget what you said, I simply don’t recall conversations well enough to report them verbatim. It’s a tribute to the podcasts that I profiled that I was not bored or wandering. I was intrigued all the way through.

One way to use podcasts professionally in my work would be to attach short audio clips to emails to a wide audience that illustrates a point about customer service. An example of good technique can sometimes help people model positive behavior.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Theoretical Foundations, week 6 reflection

In this week’s reflection on a reading in Reiser and Dempsey’s Instructional Design and Technology, chapter 4, I consider a couple of ways to teach students about calculating unit cost and price per ounce. These projects are based on my limited understanding of educational theory, and additional readings to fill in gaps in my knowledge.

Using Situated Learning Theory:

Students work for a ‘paycheck’ by picking grain on a ‘farm’. Teachers will create a tedious task like sorting or counting pieces to introduce the idea of monotony for pay.

Some of the pay is ‘taxed’ and taken by a student in an Uncle Sam costume. Another student collects ‘rent’ and ‘utilities’ depending on the size or color of the student’s backpack to demonstrate the unequal distribution of burden.

With their remaining allowance, students visit a ‘grocery store’ and are asked to purchase the most product (let’s say oatmeal) possible, based on the product variations shown on a shelf. They can scoop their own bulk amounts, or purchase the most attractive packages placed at eye level (usually the worst value). The best bargains are in another part of the store entirely, not located where anyone would guess.

Or they may choose to shop in a ‘Price Club’ which requires a separate admission, and gives free samples which can be counted as part of the total purchased. Here the value may be the greatest, but the calculation of actual price is complicated by the membership.

A checker assists students with purchases, and treats them well or poorly depending on their status-choices. They get together with a group of classmates afterward to prepare the oatmeal together and review their strategies.

Students who did well receive more ‘money’ to spend on the next simulated real-world assignment.

Using Gagne’s Theory of Instruction

Incorporating an enterprise schema to bring life into Gagne’s events of instruction (indicated by a parenthetical 1 to 9), students are first introduced to a concept of a banquet and are told they’ll be planning one for their school. That gets their attention! (1)

The local grocery store manager introduces them to the concept of value (2) for money in a short video introduction, alerting them to the way manufacturers contort sizes to create the perception of value.

The teacher hands back their previous homework about division and percentages and uses it as a review of portioning and simple calculations. (3)

Then, using the students lunches, the teacher shows the students several milk containers, all with the same product, but in varying sizes and prices and points out that the assignment involves calculating the unit cost for each item purchased for the banquet.(4)

Students are encouraged to take tools to make a label for the store shelf including barcodes explaining the cost per ounce or to make an advertisement of the products they chose as a way to help encode (5) the new learning more deeply.

Students take a field trip to the grocery store to elicit the performance of the skill, (6), where they get to choose the ingredients they will serve to the school. They track purchases with an app on iPads or smartphones, documenting the amounts they calculate.

The teacher follows along afterward with a scan-wand for the bar codes and lets the students know that they have succeeded or where they can improve (7).

Students share feedback and tips with each other about their experience (8) as a self-assessment tool.

To enhance retention of the lesson (9) students create displays about the unit cost to display at each dish in the banquet. Lunch is served!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

All about Woodcut art from multiple media sources

One of the art interests I have pursue is water-based woodcut printing–also called 'moku hanga' if you are working in the japanese tradition.

Here's an example of a woodcut I created:

And an explanation of the process:

Here's a slideshare presentation history of woodcut from Robert Ponzio 

How about a preview of Kalamazoo artist Mary Brodbeck's documentary Becoming Made about a gathering of contemporary woodcut artists in Japan on Vimeo.

Let's locate a popular subject of Japanese moku-hanga on a Google map, Japan's Mt. Fuji:

An finally, a interactive prezi about woodcut by Kristin Heap.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What could possibly go wrong? And how could it be fixed?

Why wouldn’t a hypothetical one-to-one, wifi-enabled, digitally-saturated laptop initiative imposed on a set of middle school classrooms have any effect on instructional practices?

There are several possible reasons to consider. Interestingly, they align with historical reasons why instructional media might have failed to revolutionize the educational experience, however beloved educational filmstrips were once.

While assigning responsibility to teachers’ resistance to change is convenient, it’s a blanket indictment of a group of people who may have very good individual reasons for not adapting to a changed environment.

How could this factor, if it is one, be minimized?
  • Start a smaller pilot program with a few enthusiastic or even neutral teachers. This strategy would allow an evaluation and a nimbler approach to adjustments as the year proceeded. It would also allow the early adopters to share their experience with their colleagues, pointing out ways to make the program work, before broad adoption.
  • It might also be mitigated with a suspension of the usual teacher-evaluation benchmarks. Resistance might come from fear of falling below a performance threshold. If the threshold were removed, it may free teachers to try new methods with less risk.
  • Providing more in-classroom support may help reduce the resistance. If instructors thought they would receive additional staff support to cover the start-up learning curve time they may be more willing to embrace change.
A second factor could be that the program was a top-down change mandated by administrators. Top-down directives are rarely welcomed, an finding a way to mitigate this factor would be difficult.
  • Top-down decisions could have been mitigated with a longer process to include teachers in the planning of the initiative. Allowing users to provide input all along the way increases the likelihood of success and cooperation.
  • Providing offsetting relief to balance the increased demand on teachers may mitigate the effect of a top-down order. Reducing class sizes, for example would give each teacher more time to adapt. 
A third factor could be equipment problems. Corners that were cut to purchase enough for every student may leave students with substandard equipment, and more time spent on frustrations and hiccups. Inadequate network infrastructure or difficulty operating the new tech tools also throws sand in the gears. Overcoming technical problems is often a matter of a lot of little improvements, not one big change.
  • Upgrading supporting infrastructure might be a solution to access or speed issues. A more seamless experience removes roadblocks to instruction.
  • Providing more training or access to support could help mitigate equipment problems. Assigning support staff to respond quickly, or providing staff lunchtime training sessions starts to fill in gaps in knowledge might also relieve the strain put on front-line instructors.

Monday, September 29, 2014

History holds lessons

My flickr link this week is to a photo album of historic instructional media, from a trip I made in 2010 to a German furniture company's corporate museum. The trip was sponsored by VS for a group of architects and a support person (me) to imagine the future of classroom design. More on that later, I bet.

Here's a preview photo that ties some of my interests together: