Thursday, March 10, 2011

Section 7: New Directions for Instructional Design and Technology

1. Five Examples of Distributed Learning
Academic Distributed Learning Example:
Bethany University Santa Cruz: School of Distributed Learning

“The mission of the School of Distributed Learning is to provide excellence in education through varied delivery systems for the academy of Bethany University.” Bethany University offers students a non-traditional education. Non-traditional academic programs are delivered in various formats such as cohort modular degree completion, distance systems, and experiential learning assessment. The School of Distributed Learning, formerly the External Degree Program, was developed in 1992 to meet the rising need for innovative delivery methods. The School is responsible for all non-traditional delivery methods at Bethany University. It is committed to being as close to the cutting edge of educational delivery as possible.

Hybrid Classes Example:
West LA College

West LA College offers students a “Weekend College” online course component. Weekend courses are hybrid classes that include six face-to-face meetings at West and the requirement that students spend between four to five hours online per week. All courses take place online using the ETUDES-NG course management system. The face-to-face meetings allow students to collaborate and interact with their peers and instructor in a traditional classroom setting, while the online component allows students to work independently and with their peers in a “virtual classroom”.  The online component requires students to participate in a variety of ways including posting and reading the discussion board or online forums, collaborate with peers on group work, and interact with material provided online by the instructor. Hybrid classes are offered in the areas of Cinema, Computer Science, English, Geography, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Humanities.

Distributed Learning via Virtual Institutions
Virtual High School Global Consortium

The Virtual High School Global Consortium provides high-quality online education to schools through a global, cooperative school membership that allows students and teachers alike the opportunity to participate in a worldwide community of learners.  All virtual courses are teacher facilitated. Class sizes are limited to 25. There is an emphasis on interaction between teachers and students through student-centered, discussion, and group activities. Classes are offered entirely over the Internet with no need for special software or hardware. Classes are in a scheduled asynchronous mode, which means that classes follow a semester schedule and assignments are due at specified weekly intervals. Students can complete work anytime during the week as long as it is posted by the deadlines. Classes are monitored regularly and adhere to the National Education Association’s recommended course guidelines for high quality online courses. Courses are offered by semester and full-year length.

For-Profit Distributed Learning

SkillSoft is a provider for on demand e-learning and performance support solutions for global enterprises, government, education, and small to medium-sized businesses. The company offers business organizations ways to maximize business performance through a combination of comprehensive e-learning content, online information resources, flexible learning technologies, and support services. This company offers an extensive list of e-learning courses ranging from Web Design to Management and Leadership collections.

Free Distributed Learning

Distributed Learning System (DLS)

Distributed Learning System (DLS) is a government program that offers free training programs to Soldiers and DA civilians. The programs are accessed through the Army Knowledge Online system and can be accessed anytime. All that is needed is web-accessibility. Soldiers are able to take courses, including information technology, personal development, business and foreign languages. Soldiers can take the courses anytime and anywhere, including movie theatres.

2. Reusability
Reiser and Dempsey (2007) define reusability as “the ability to use the same resource multiple times in multiple ways and in multiple contexts”. In thinking of the Master’s level courses that I have taken in the past year that used digital resources, I really cannot say that any of the courses had poor reusability characteristics. When I answered the four questions to test the reusability of the resources used, the answers to each of the questions was “yes”.  I did take several Master’s level courses in 2002 and 2003, but the courses really did not use digital resources. It would have been nice if they had, therefore I will focus on one of these courses to explain how the course could be redesigned to improve (or in this case create) reusability without changing the underlying content.
One course in particular, SHED 579 History and Principles of Career and Technology Education comes to mind. This course’s content was very dry and filled with facts. Because the content was so dry and came straight from a textbook with no digital resources, it was not interesting to me. It became a chore to memorize instead of really learn the historical events and principles that shaped Career and Technology Education. It would have been nice to have digital resources, such as videos or online articles that related to the history to make the content come alive and become real to me.

Reiser and Dempsey (2007) explain that there are five layers of learning resources that affect reusability in different ways. These layers consist of content, context, pedagogy, structure, and presentation. I will try to address each of these layers in explaining how the course could possibly be redesigned to improve reusability.
Content is the crucial element of any learning resource. In this case, the content came only from the textbook. The class was divided into teams to give presentations over specific sections in the book which did add to the interest level, but after each team made their presentations, you were never able to access them for future reference. If a web site had been created where the PowerPoint presentations could have been uploaded for future reference, the content would become more reusable.

Since content is interpreted within its context, context becomes an important layer that will affect reuse. In this case, the instructor could have broken down the content into the same sections as were assigned to the teams of students to create modules on the website. The instructor could have added explanations, videos, or any other visuals that would aid the learner in understanding the content in that particular module. At the end of the module, the presentations of students could be added each year to enhance the context of the content even further. Before instructors uploaded the student presentations, they would need to be inspected to make sure that any cultural assumptions are appropriate and to consider their effectiveness to the understanding of the content.

In adding digital resources to this course, the instructor could easily change the setting of this particular class to become either a blended learning environment or an online course. The instructor could assign different modules each week based on the textbook content. Teams could still create their presentations through online collaboration using Google Docs or other collaboration applications as an assessment of learning.

The digital resources for the modules of content would need to be structured into smaller conceptual and physical units. For the conceptual units, the modules would need objects such as introductions, principles, explanations, and examples. For the physical units, each module (or chapter) could be separated into different web pages with the web site with identifiable links on the home page. This would allow learners to revisit the site and go directly to the content needed for reuse.

The presentation layer is essential in creating a consistent look throughout the website. Each page should be similar in graphics, color, fonts, and layout. By using a website such as Google Sites, page settings can be created to keep a consistency in the presentation of each module. This will allow the look and feel of the site to be the same without changing the content.

3. Rich Media
The following rich media video tutorial was found at The video describes how to use Photoshop and After Effects programs to create distressed text.

Surface Features:
The surface features of this visual include video, sound, screen captures, and animation. I found other Photoshop tutorials that simply used screen shots and instructions without video or animation at I enjoyed the video tutorial, but I feel that I would probably be able to really use the screen shot tutorials more effectively in class so that students could work at their own pace and refer to the screen shots as needed instead of having to pause and replay the video.

Functional Features:
The communication functions of the video included the following:
·    Decorative: The animated video introduction added visual appeal at the beginning of the video to capture attention.
·    Representational: The video included screen captures so the instructor in the video could walk learners through the process using the actual software.
·    Transformational: The video demonstrated the changes in the creation of the distressed text as each step in the tutorial was completed.
The psychological functions of the video included the following:
·    Support Attention: The screen captures drew attention to the important elements in the instructional tutorial and did a very good job of minimizing divided attention.
·    Activate or Build Prior Knowledge: If the student has been introduced to Photoshop before this tutorial, the student would recognize the toolbars and elements of the program in the screen captures in order to build and support the acquisition of new knowledge.
·    Minimize Cognitive Load: Just having the screen captures and voice of the instructor throughout the majority of the video was very effective in minimizing unnecessary mental work for working memory during the learning process.
·    Build Mental Models: The visuals created in the screen captures of the program and the visuals of the product from beginning to end should help learners create new memories in long term memory that will support a deeper understanding of the content.
·    Support Transfer of Learning: The screen captures using the actual program will promote a deeper understanding of the features and capabilities of using the software program.
·    Support Motivation: The video did an excellent job of keeping interest. The video itself was relevant to the skills that students will be learning in class as well as skills that will be needed if they pursue a career in the digital graphics field.

Overall the video captured my attention and did an excellent job of demonstrating how to create distressed text using Photoshop. I will be teaching a new class next year called “Digital and Interactive Multimedia”. This assignment allowed me to explore the different online tutorials offered for the teaching Photoshop. I will definitely be using this website as well as others that I found in introducing Photoshop techniques and strategies for creating digital media.

4. Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the science of engineering matter on a molecular scale. Nanotechnology deals with devices that are sized between 1 to 100 nanometers in at least one dimension. To get an idea of what size this really is, I did a little research. I found that a piece of paper is 100,000 nanometers thick—so between 1 to 100 nanometers is extremely small. In researching the possibilities of nanotechnology in the near future, I found everything from using nanotechnology to create new types of phones to using nanotechnology for treating cancer patients. I chose to discuss these two particular uses to explain how nanotechnology could be used to improve a task and a job in the medical field.
Mobile phones are a part of our daily lives. If you walk down the street, you will see a cell phone in the hands of just about every person you pass. These mobile devices have become a literal need and extension of most individuals. Where many years ago people wouldn’t leave their house without their wristwatch, now you won’t leave your house without your cell phone. What if instead of putting your cell phone in your purse or pocket, you strap on your cell phone like a watch? Nokia and the University of Cambridge have teamed up to create a Morph Phone that uses nanotechnology to allow users to change the shape of the device as they choose. It can be stretched from a flat card size to become a round shape so that is can be worn like a bracelet. It is also transparent, self-cleaning, and includes a 3D surface with nano-sensors that can learn from the environment. Nokia claims that the nano-sensors can detect airborne threats and alert users to them. This phone would simplify the task of keeping up with our cell phones as well as expanding the capabilities of their uses in our everyday lives.  

In the medical field, nanotechnology is becoming prevalent in research to improve the job of administering chemotherapy to cancer patients. Cancer is a subject that is never easy to discuss. I have had several family members and friends who have died of cancer, and my aunt is currently in the advanced stages of this dreaded disease. From my experience, the chemo treatments cause as much or more harm to the body than the actual cancer in some cases. The way that chemo is administered now allows it to attack the cancerous cells as well as good cells. Scientists are experimenting with using nanotechnology that will allow devices to be placed inside the body loaded with targeting information and powerful cancer treating drugs. The targeting information allows the devices to find the specific cancer cells followed by that area being doused with the drugs in hopes of only treating the cancerous or precancerous cells instead of also attacking the good cells. I pray that research will continue in this area to increase the likelihood of finding a cure for this disease.
5. Straight (Strait) and Narrow Road vs. Broad and Inclusive Road
As Reiser and Dempsey (2007) explain the differences between traveling the “Strait and Narrow Road” and the “Broad and Inclusive Road”, I find myself wanting to travel down each. The Narrow Road focuses on improving our accepted methods and practices, while the Broad Road encourages openness to new ideologies and methods while striving for the same common goals as the Narrow Road. There are several key elements from Table 32.1 of each road that I find myself agreeing with. Those elements are as follows:

The Straight and Narrow Road
·    Emphasis on established refereed outlets
·    Apply methods and technologies known to work through research and validation studies
·    Validate local solutions via systemic tryout and revision
·    Tighten up boundaries to ensure expertise
·    Encourage strong credentialing, certification requirements
·    Possible risks of resistance to positive change and increasing lack of fit with real problems of practice
The Broad and Inclusive Road
·    Maintain flexibility and a commitment to pluralism in ideology and theory base
·    Always be open to change in the canon and entry of new ideas and models
·    Greater attention to other sciences, other professional practices, and humanities
·    Full range of reasoned inquiry, including: qualitative and quantitative methods, design and development research, action research, documentation of best practices, and local and applied research
·    Established refereed outlets plus: web-style self-publishing and sharing; conference-style forums online and face to face; water-cooler meetings and communities of practice
·    Possible risk of internal disputes that threaten coherence
·    Good chance of finding innovations to adapt and move forward.

If I had to choose only one road to follow for the future of instructional design and technology, I believe that I would take the Broad Road. This road has the same common goals as the Narrow Road, while allowing room to expand and grow. In instructional design and technology, opening our ideals to innovative change is a must. As technology and society continues to change and evolve, instructional design must also be willing to move forward and expand into new realms of change and evolution.

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