Thursday, October 23, 2014

Training inspiration

This week, I'm considering ways commercial concerns use Instructional Design and Technology and finding applications and inspiration in my own professional life. I want to highlight a source I use that implements several user-friendly features.

I love Lynda.com
What started as one woman’s training-on-CD resource for graphic designers has expanded to include other areas of computer-based practice, and even business topics. While the instruction is mostly demonstration, the way the instruction is presented and packaged is top-of-class.  


You can select the speed you want a video to play at.
Yes, it becomes a bit Bugs Bunny-ish if played too fast.
But comprehension doesn't degrade.
Videos can be played at user-chosen speeds–this alone is a useful feature. A video is usually a linear progression at the same pace for all and this is an acknowledgement that people learn in different ways. 

Each 'class' is broken down into very short segments, with topics well labeled. One small thing at a time makes it easy to pick up where you off.  See this example called Managing Project Quality and preview a free clip.

How I used it:
I enjoy that the subscription model is so basic and has remained unchanged for years. It costs $25 per month for everything on the site. I purchased a year’s subscription at my previous place of employment and several co-workers were able to use it in ways they found helpful. It is training that acts as a constantly-available reference. 

The assessment factor for measuring a student’s outcome is missing, but there’s little doubt in my mind that learning occurred.

The features I would emulate in my projects (if money and time were no object):
  • Time-choice for video viewers (an HTML 5 capability, I think)
  • Easy to read script that follows along with the narration, so if you missed something, a quick glance will tell you what.
  • Visuals that explain and demonstrate, not a talking head telling.
  • Remember to break new information into small chunks when I try to explain new initiatives to people. 
Trends and issues in Instructional Design 
While it was thin (again) on real-life examples, the assigned reading noted a couple of trends and issues that are immediately relevant to my work. 

One trend is designing for a cross-cultural audience (p182). This factor influences the way I communicate both in writing and graphically. I am very aware that the University is composed of students from all over the world, and the messages I craft for the health center need to be understood by everyone. Idiomatic phrasing is not going to be understood by some portion of non-native speakers of English. Plain speaking explanations are best. When in doubt, I consult with peers across campus before a message is published.

Using Google Maps to locate painting subjects

In this example, I explore a way to integrate art history and map-making. Students would choose an online collection like The Hudson River School featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They would choose a painting from the collection to research and locate the likeliest spot where the painting was sourced or painted. In some cases this will be straightforward, like a view of a specific formation or landmark. In other cases, the student will need to do some research to determine facts about the artist’s life or journeys to locate a place on a map.

Colburn's Butte, South Utah,
by Thomas Moran. Property of
Metropolitan Museum of Art.
For example, a student might choose the watercolor and gouache work Colburn's Butte, South Utah by Thomas Moran, made in 1873. The student would start by reading the description on the Met's site that locates the scene near Kanarraville, Utah, north of Zion National Park.

After some google search sleuthing, a Student might locate the location at this place, based on user-submitted photos. A traveler in the 19th century and today would likely find the same natural feature impressive, and the way google links images to locations make this view findable. Further searching could reveal that another researcher, Kevin J. Avery, was similarly intrigued and published a detailed finding in the Metropolitan Museum Journal (Vol. 44, 2009). The writer notes a source who located the butte 5 or 8 miles south of the place now called Kanarraville. [Fun fact: Avery is also mentioned in the museum's notes as the honored recipient when the gift was made by donors to the museum. The connection between the researcher and the donors merits further inquiry.]

Along the way a student would encounter 19th century history and art history, as well as details about the difficulties of travel in West. For their map, students would annotate key locations in their search, including the museum and source material. Students could color-code their pins to identify “verified” or speculative” locations. They might use a drawn area to indicate a wider guess. It might look like this:

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.