Designing the lessons in module 4 for the course instructional technology for faculty focused on using two principles from Andragogy. The first was self-concept meaning that a mature adult knows who he/she is and thus can self-direct their learning. The second principle was orientation to learning meaning that an adult needs to have learning that is contextualized with the ability to apply immediately into their profession. I envisioned the faculty in my course to be new to technology but having expertise in their subject area and serving as leaders in their fields. It was important to provide guidance but also the flexibility for them to direct their own learning. One way that I incorporated this principle was the list of resources provided in the module. It covered specific categories of information that I felt were essential to understand blended learning (definition of blended learning, best practices, examples, and rubric to measure quality), but I didn’t require all materials to be read or in any specific order. The reason was that I expected them to use the resources as the starting point to develop ideas for exploring their own path to achieve understanding. In reference to contextualized learning, the activity of developing a personal rubric was used. It allowed students to create a personal rubric that would be practical because they could use it as a guide whenever they created a blended lesson.
An instructional strategy that I used in creating a module was a discussion board. It’s effective for developing cognitive, social, and instructor presence, and works well in a blended environment to support in class activities. It requires the student to analyze and synthesize different resources and then to summarize and apply them into a practical situation. Students make their writings available for others to read and comment, and so learning becomes a social experience. The instructor has a key role in setting up good questions to get students to use higher order thinking and provide the guidelines so that students make comments that add new insights into the discussions. The second strategy was critical thinking in creating a personal rubric. Students had to analyze different rubrics and consider each of the criteria to measure the quality of a blended course. They then had to evaluate the ones they felt were most essential by considering their background and experience in teaching. Both of these activities take into account experiential learning. Students are asked to acquire information and knowledge and apply them into authentic tasks. I talked about two, but other authentic tasks include designing a lesson to teach, evaluating and reporting an online tool or course, and using small groups to collaborate and construct a learning product.
I think most challenging but also interesting about developing an online course is the amount of preparation and analytical thinking that goes into creating an instructional product. To provide an example of the process, when creating a lesson you have to write learning outcomes and objectives that are clear and measurable, consider methods for assessments thinking about their advantages, and then create activities that are sequenced and aligned to both the objectives and the assessments. If a module has an outcome with multiple objectives with each of them connected to learning objectives, the process can quickly become complex, if in addition to that, we consider different strategies, theories, and learning principles into the mix. I think any instructional designer will find this work stimulating because it’s like solving a puzzle. The goal is to create the perfect instruction that accurately achieves the desired result but layered in a ocean of variables that can change the direction of the outcome. In essence we try to map how the mind works through research, theories, instructional best practices, continuously modifying instructions, analyzing outcomes to determine its effectiveness, and more. Based on the complexity of how the mind works we still have a long way. I feel good knowing this because new developments are waiting to be discovered.