I put this presentation together for the final course in my Master of Adult Education degree. I started with Powerpoint slides, used Adobe Captivate to convert them into a video, record the narration, and upload it to Youtube.
Technological Transformations: Implications for the Administration of Adult and Continuing Education
This is a presentation I made for my Administration of Adult Education class:
I’m continuing to have problems with sound, so will need to experiment with this some more.
I’m using BuddyPress, which is a social network enhanced version of WordPress, and have loaded the BuddyPress Social Theme. I found this when researching to see if anyone else had starting using WordPress as an alternative to learning management systems, and discovered this very helpful article, which recommended using these tools. I have installed it on my Bluehost account, which I’ve been using for web hosting for a few years now, and have found to be stable, well supported, and fully-featured.
The couse is designed to allow anyone to use it at no cost. The target audience is global, as there are OJS users around the world, so a self-paced, distance course makes a lot of sense. Participants can register and join in the community (known as “members”), or they can join as part of a “group” (perhaps a few people from a single organization working together), or they can work through the modules independently.
The course also offers an optional certification process, which will require some assessment on my part before being awarded. The requirements are listed on the site. This will provide some official recognition of student effort as well as raise some revenue for my organization (to help offset the cost of developing free software). This kind of freemium model seems to be working for other open source projects (where the code is free, but extra services have a fee), so I thought I’d try it here.
The course content consists of 21 modules covering the basic requirements to get a new journal up and running with the software. I’ve created modules to match the most frequent questions I’ve been asked over the years working with OJS. There is also a course journal installation available (linked from the menu bar), which will provide participants with an opportunity to get some hands-on practice with what they are learning in the course. The evaluations are also listed in the menu. I’ve created four evaluations in total – the first evaluation provides some feedback early in the course, the second at mid-term, and third at the end, and a fourth to be done sometime after the course completes, in the attempt to measure how well the learning has transferred after some time had passed. The practicum link outlines the requirements for certification.
Each module consists of a learning objective, a descriptive video of the topic (I made these last year), some readings (based on open access articles or existing user documentation), a quiz (I still need to write more of these), and an opportunity for some discussion and commenting. Some modules also include an evaluation, a hands-on activity (done in the course journal), and a review of an earlier topic. This is usually framed as a problem-based question — for example:
You’ve just received an email from your editor, informing you that the journal’s online ISSN has changed to 5973-8512. She would like you to update it in OJS. Go ahead and give it a try. If you can’t remember where to do it, review the OJS User Guide.
I am hoping that this will provide enough variety for a diversity of learning preferences, some active learning, as well as some repetition and reinforcement of the content.
Inspired by ECI 831, I’ll also be creating a Twitter hashtag (#pkpschool) and a Delicious tag (pkpschool), and will display these on the site. Hopefully, the participants will be as active as the members of this class have been in sharing related material they come across. Because the course is self-paced, there will not be any synchronous sessions, which will reduce the sense of community around the course. I hope that with the discussion posts, comments, twitter, and delicious bookmarks, the experience will be a little less isolated than a traditional self-paced distance course. I am also planning to hold some Skype-based “office hours” at different times (to suit a variety of time zones), to allow for some direct interaction with users. Maybe using Google Calendar would be a good scheduling tool to embed in the site somewhere?
One of my goals for this course was also to build a useful workplace tool. When I do a face-to-face version of this course, I fear that much of the material is quickly forgotten. There is a lot to cover in one session, and some people can get a little overwhelmed with the technology and publishing workflows. With this course serving as an ongoing job aid, people can use it when needed — “just-in-time” learning rather than “just-in-case”.
I’m in the Project stream of the Adult Ed program here at the U of R, and my final project will consist of doing an evaluation of this course after running it for 4 months. It will be interesting to see what works and what doesn’t, conduct some interviews, send out a survey to the participants, and continue to re-think, re-design, and re-build it based on user input.
If you have a chance to look at what I’ve done so far, I really value your feedback. Any suggestions for additions, deletions, edits, or enhancements would be most welcome!
The final component of Caffarella’s Interactive Planning model focuses on managing the facilities for a program, including finding an adequate space and arranging the layout of the room (e.g., table setup, etc.). It is a great chapter for those offering an in-person event, but is not so important for my online project.
One element in this component that is relevant to my work, however, is Caffarella’s discussion of establishing the right kind of environment in the learning space. Although she is writing in terms of a face-to-face event, this is equally true online. From Garrison, Anderson & Archer (2000), we know that establishing an appropriate social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence will help with the success of an online program, through increasing participant connections — with the instructor, with the content, and with one another. As well, ensuring that a climate of mutual respect, support, and constructive criticism is important to encourage everyone to participate more fully and share more readily. Many online forums have a bad reputation for flaming, and this cannot be tolerated in a healthy learning environment.
OK, I made it through all the components! I can’t recommend Caffarella’s model strongly enough (I bought a copy, as I plan to use it again and again). It is a wonderful, practical, advice-filled book, rich in useful examples, guides, and worksheets. I believe that following this model has resulted in a clearer project and improved its objectives, design, and potential outcomes. In my next post, I’ll provide a link to how far I’ve gotten (still a little more work to do first) and provide some description of what I’m trying to accomplish with it.
Accurate budgeting is an important part of ensuring the sustainability of a program (excessive costs can threaten its long-term viability) and providing a level of accountability to my organization, by reporting the details of what the program’s expenses (fixed and variable) and revenues. By comparing the costs and outcomes, less the revenue, I will be able to deliver a good sense of the return on investment (ROI) for my organization.
Costs will include my time to design and develop the program, to facilitate the courses, and to do a thorough evaluation. Because I am on contract, I already record each hour I work every month, along with a brief description of my activities. By tagging each hour spent on the program, I will be able to report exactly how much my time has cost. The time spent by regular employees is often overlooked in budgeting the true costs of any undertaking in organizations, which can lead to significant under-estimates of real costs. Other costs include technology hosting ($8/month via Bluehost.com) and the membership fee for ongoing updates to the BP Social Theme ($40/month). There are no costs for using BuddyPress, as it is open source. All instructional materials are open access, also eliminating the need for licensing fees.
Revenues are also being built into the program. Although the courses themselves will all be free and open to all, official certification (based on my evaluation of participant performance) will only be available for a fee (not sure how much, yet — $400? $500?). This will ensure that everyone has access to participate, but those, for professional reasons, requiring formal certification have that option. Increasingly, job postings for systems librarians are specifically asking for experience working with our software, so providing this kind of certification could become of increasing value to job seekers and as well as organizations. Building some kind of revenue stream into the program was an important part of ensuring the financial sustainability of the program, as well as some level of accountability to my organization.
An effective marketing plan is an important part of ensuring the success of a program. If no one knows about it, it won’t get many participants. Caffarella provides a number of useful suggestions in promoting programs that may at one point become necessary. Initially however, the program will be aimed at our existing software community, and will be promoted via our contacts with this community (e.g., blog posts, support forum messages, Facebook group announcements, announcements on related message boards (e.g., libpub). Additional methods could include direct email messages to community members, although we try not use this method too much, to respect the inboxes of our supporters.
We are also in the process of developing a more formal sustainability and marketing strategy for our organization, and this program will be included in the promotional materials. For example, organizations that sponsor us will receive a free certification from this program.
Marketing is another role for me to play, and one that needs to be continually evaluated to make sure everyone in our community is aware of the program, and the benefits it could provide them. If participation is too low, I’ll know that further efforts will need to be invested in getting the word out.
In this component, Caffarella outlines five major program formats: individual learning, small-group learning, large-group learning, distance learning, and community learning. I think that my project could potentially draw on all five categories. In terms of individual learning, my project will be available as a self-paced set of modules that anyone, anywhere can work through on their own. It will consist of readings, reflection, simulations, and online video. For those with a more independent learning style, this should meet their needs well.
For those that like to learn in small groups, I have also designed the opportunity for a small cohort to work together (e.g., several people from one worksite). To do this, I am making use of BuddyPress, which is a version of WordPress, but with additional social networking features such as groups. I have enjoyed working with WordPress very much, and wanted to keep using it for this project. Doing some online research on ways others have successfully used WordPress for this purpose led me to this interview, which pointed me to some successful examples, BuddyPress itself, and the BP Social theme by WPMU Dev.
I had tried Moodle (you can see an early prototype here, but I found it too inflexible for what I wanted to do, and I missed the user-friendly design of WordPress. I was also skeptical of the less than open nature of course management systems in general, and this was reinforced with David Wiley and Jon Mott’s article “Open for Learning: The CMS and the Open Learning Network , where they identify the shortcomings of CMSs. The things I wished to experiment with in this project, modeled on the success of MOOCs such as ECI 831, required a very open environment.
Based on what I’ve learned about open learning and MOOCs, my project could also allow for large-group work. As it will consist of open courses that anyone can participate in, there is the possibility for a large number of people to get involved. The main ways they will interact is through posting their comments on the public forums in the courses, and by contributing to the Twitter feed and Delicious bookmarks, very much as we did for ECI 831. I found this a very valuable way to stay in contact with everyone in ECI 831 throughout the course.
My project will, of course, also be a distance format — Caffarella’s fourth format. This is a requirement, as the participants are located around the world, travel budgets are being cut for everyone, and the necessity to bring an instructor and a group of students together into a shared physical space for this kind of learning really isn’t necessary. If I get the design right, this online course will, I believe, be even more useful than the in-person versions I have done in the past. It will allow for a wider group of people to participate, increase the connections that can be made, act as a job aid and reference tool once the course ends, and may lead to the creation (hopefully) of an ongoing personal learning network for the participants.
Finally, the program will also be a community learning project. To refresh your memory, my plan is to develop a program of online courses around the software created by the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), including Open Journal Systems, Open Conference Systems, Open Harvester Systems, and Open Monograph Press. There are currently thousands of people around the world using PKP software, and they currently form a distributed virtual community, largely around our online support forum. My project will provide the opportunity to further build this community, though more connections, communication, and shared learning.
The second part of this component involves scheduling the program. As this will be an asynchronous, online program, scheduling isn’t an issue for me.
The third part of this component discusses the staff requirements to fulfill the program responsibilities. Here Caffarella outlines several roles that must be played, including the program designer and manager, the event coordinator, the instructor/learning facilitator, and the program evaluator. This reminded me of Stephen Downes’ 23 roles of the educator. I’ll be taking on all of these roles myself, and while being a challenge, I have learned from my co-students that it can be done! Learning from Stephen though, I will try to find opportunities to share those roles with others wherever possible and appropriate.
This part of the plan involves activities that will happen after the program has been running, so I’ll spend less time discussing it now. This component of Caffarella’s Interactive Program Planning model consists of first gathering the data from the evaluations and using it to determine the successes and failures of the program. While it is important to celebrate the successes, failures need further analysis.
Based on the work of Sork (1991), failures can be divided into four types:
- Type I Problems: where planning for the program is partially completed, but is terminated before launching. This is usually associated with unclear goals or mandate, ill-defined client systems, incomplete knowledge of resources constraints, excessively costly design process, or a lack of follow-through.
- Type II Problems: where the program is launched, but lacks sufficient enrollment. This is often due to inappriopriate pricing, scheduling, or location, lack of interest by potential participants, poorly focused or timed marketing, better alternative options, too many similar options, and inadequate student support services.
- Type III Problems: where the participants don’t receive what they expected. This can be the result of poor instruction, poor coordination, unclear objectives, mismatch between content and participant needs, and poor quality of non-instructional resources.
- Type IV Problems: where the program is offered, the participants are satisfied, but the program failed to achieve its wider goals and objectives. Likely causes here include ineffective instruction, unclear objectives, miscommunication of objectives, unrealistic expectations, mismatch between objectives and program format/instructional techniques, and inadequate provisions made for learning transfer.
Ideally, planning for these failures will help to avoid them, such as through the development of clear objectives and instructional techniques. This can be best done through frequent communication with potential participants and other stakeholders, to ensure that the planner (me) isn’t operating in a vaccuum, and making potentially mistaken assumptions about their needs.
Dealing with any failures that do arise consists of: 1) Identifying the area of the program that is having difficulty; 2) Recommending actions; 3) Proposing alternative strategies of action; and 4) Identifying the resources required to implement the recommended actions.
The planner also needs to prepare reports to various stakeholder groups. The report will discuss how changes will be made to improve the program, build support for the program by outlining its successes, provide a record of accountability, and be used for promoting and marketing the program (p. 272).
Caffarella outlines a number of formats that such reports can take, including formal written reports, briefing sessions, media presentations, etc. For the purposes of my project, I plan to provide oral reports to my managers and other members of my work team, and possibly develop a media presentation to market the program more widely. At this point, there are no requirements to develop a more formal report, but Caffarella’s chapter will be a useful resource if that does become necessary.
On to the next component!
First, she gives a solid definition of program evaluation: “a process used to determine whether the design and delivery of a program were effective and whether the proposed outcomes were met” (p. 225).
Second, she outlines why it is important to have a solid evaluation plan:
- To improve the design, delivery, management, and evaluation of program activities while in progress.
- To negotiate outcomes as participants apply their learning in their work or personal lives.
- To assess how the program context (e.g., political, economic, organizational) impacts program processes and outcomes.
- To know whether to cancel a program or course before it starts or while it is in progress.
- To assist in revising similar programs.
- To respond to needs and ideas identified for future programs.
Third, she discusses the importance of both summative evaluation (conducted at the end of a course, focusing on the outcomes) and formative evaluation (carried out while the course is in progress, to improve it as it continues). In addition, she also describes the importance of both systematic evaluation (conducted formally) and informal evaluation (based on the experiences of the instructor, chats with students, perceptions of how things are going, etc.). By including all of these in the evaluation plan, there are greater opportunities to get a reliable understanding of how successful the program has been, and how it can be improved.
Fourth, Caffarella introduces a number of data gathering techniques that can be used in evaluating programs. I plan to make use of 1) observation, watching the progress that individuals are making as they proceed through the courses, and the kinds of connections that are being formed (e.g., through commenting, twittering, etc.); 2) interview, with selected participants during and after a course, as well as with selected supervisors after a certain period of time has passed since a course was completed. This will help to understand the effectiveness of the learning transfer; 3) portfolios, students seeking certification will be required to produce some kind of demonstrable product of their learning (e.g., a plugin, a translation, some enhanced documentation, etc.); 4) written questionnaires, asking participants to respond to a series of questions about the program; 5) self-assessment, students will be asked to reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in the program and to offer suggestions for improvement they could themselves make and ways that the design of the program could be enhanced.
Building this into my project will be a challenge, but I think it is critically important. Going beyond the basic post-course evaluation questionnaire (“did you enjoy the course?”) is the only way to assess whether the program is meeting the objectives that have been set (or learning if those objectives are the right ones).
So much to learn, so much to do!
I’m continuing to work my way through Caffarella’s Interactive Program Planning model, and am now ready to tackle the component for Devising Transfer of Learning Plans. This is essentially a plan to help to ensure that participants are actually able to apply what they learned in the program. This is important, because the learners have invested their time and energy in the courses, and expect to see some positive outcomes. In many cases, organizations may have supported learners, through study time at work, for example, and also expect to see some kind of results for the investment.
So, what can be done to increase the likelihood of the learning transferring? Caffarella suggests there are areas where transfer can be assisted or blocked:
- Program Design. Here the designer has the most control and can work to ensure that the learning is active and that it closely matches real world applications. I’ve tried to build this into my project, by including a variety of instructional techniques (including hands-on simulations), and presenting real world problems to solve.
- Program Participants. The prior knowledge of the participants should be taken into account when designing the program, cultural differences are expected, and collaborative teams are created to get participants working together. I’m planning to build basic (no prior knowledge required), intermediate (some prior knowledge required), and advanced (extensive prior knowledge required) to help build on increasing levels of participant experience. I’ve tried to use common, straight-forward language to assist participants with English as an additional language, as well as to assist translators. I’m also going to use social networking tools to facilitate online collaboration and community-building, both during and after the courses.
- Program Content. Keep the content focused on real world applications (including simulations), keep the amount of content limited to digestible chunks and of an appropriate duration, and stay focused on both the learner and organizational objectives (identified in earlier posts).
There are other important factors identified in the model that will act as either enhancers or barriers of learning transfer, including the context of the learner’s own organization (e.g., are they supportive, will there be sufficient time to work through the modules?) and the learner’s wider social environment (e.g., will the learners be supported in their life outside of the organization, by family, community, etc.?). These are more challenging for a program planner to address, especially in a limited, distance program such as this one.
Specific techniques to foster transfer of learning include some of the following:
- Individual Learning Plans: individual participants should be given the opportunity to reflect on what they want to get out of the program, and continually moniter to see if those needs are being met.
- Job Aids. The content of the course modules should be designed in a way that will allow for later on-the-job use, minimizing the need to memorize the content, and facilitating easy to access resource materials. This is a strong reason to keep the course content open, and not locking it up in password-protected learning management systems.
- Transfer Teams. Coordinate a group of participants to work through the courses as a cohort from the beginning, working together to assist one another in their learning, and on the application of the learning once the courses have completed.
- Support Groups. Groups of participants who informally come together to collaborate during the course and continue to operate as a network after the courses complete. This is networked learning approach which is facilitated by designing an open model for the program.
- Follow Up Sessions. These can be done one-on-one or in groups, reconnecting the instructor and the learners some time after the courses are completed, via Skype, email, or other technologies. This will be an important opportunity to discuss the effectiveness of the learning transfer and to develop feedback for modifying the design of the program.
- Networking. Even more informal than transfer teams or support groups, this can be done through the creation of shared twitter hashtags, delicious tags, etc. It allows for a simple method of keeping the learners connected after the courses have completed.
The responsibility for transferring the learning of the classroom to the workplace is shared by both the learners and the instructor. Both have an important role to play in ensuring the time and effort spent in a course are translated into something of ongoing value to the individual and the individual’s organization. By paying attention to this responsibility, strategies can be designed into courses to increase the likelihood of success. It is interesting to see how important the concepts of open education and networked learning fit into this.
Caffarella describes the process of developing instructional programs as “designing the interaction between learners and instructors and/or learners and resource materials for each education and training activity”. I think I’d add to that the need to build in the connections between the learners as well. One of the contributions of Siemens and Downes has been to recognize the critical importance of these connections between the learners, in some cases going beyond the importance of the course content itself.
This chapter is divided into four sections, including the development of learning objectives, selecting and organizing the content, selecting the instructional techniques, selecting the instructional resources, and preparing for instructional assessment.
The first step in designing instructional plans is to develop the learning objectives for each education or training session. These are more narrowly focused than the broader program objectives described earlier. Unlike the program objectives, the learning objectives centre on the individual learners (but are informed by those broader program objectives). According to Caffarella, good learning objectives can involve five kinds of learning objectives: acquisition of knowledge, enhancement of cognitive skills, development of psychomotor skills, strengthening of problem-solving and -finding capabilities, and changes in attitudes, beliefs, values, and/or feelings. Drawing from Smith and Ragan (2005), learning objectives are seen as important for four main reasons:
- They provide a focus and clarity for the design of instruction
- They provide guidelines for choosing course content and instructional methods
- They provide a basis for evaluation
- They provide directions for learners to help organize their own learning
Learning objectives should include a statement of who (the learners), how (the action verb), and what (the content), as well as some description of the conditions under which the learning is to be demonstrated and the criteria for acceptable performance. Again, based on the ideas developed by Siemens and Downes, I’d be tempted to add something about the connections (or absence of) to each objective, the emphasize their importance. Based on this, I’ll need to develop learning objectives for each of my modules that look something like:
The learners (who) will demonstrate (action) independently (connection) their ability to create a custom review form in OJS (what) using the test journal installation (conditions) without any system errors (criteria).
I think this is a good starting point, but I would still want to run these past other stakeholders ( including some of the learners) to confirm that I’m on the right track. As well, I’d want to be flexible while running the session, allowing individual learners to modify the objectives to better need their personal learning needs. In fact, encouraging students to become increasingly independent learners and to develop their own learning objectives should be built into the overall program objectives. Good thing this model encourages reflection and reiteration. I’ll need to revisit this.
Selecting and Organizing Content
Once the learning objectives have been drafted, the next step is to start selecting and organizing the content. As part of the selection process, Caffarella urges program planners to keep in mind what the participants must know, what the participants should know, and what they could know. By dividing the program up into basic, intermediate, and advanced courses for each software application, I think I’ll be able to effectively determine the most important content areas to cover in each course. Basic courses will cover what they need to know about the software, the intermediate courses will cover would they should know, and the advanced courses will cover would they could know.
In addition, she cautions against three common pitfalls: adding more material than what the students will have time to cover, adding more material than the students will be able to absorb, and discounting the context in which the learning will be applied. Again, I think breaking the courses up into basic, intermediate, and advanced sections will help to ensure that an appropriate amount (and level) of material will be included in each course. I’ll also build in examples of common workplace situations, to connect the course material back to the real world. For example:
Your Editor just called and wants you to add a new question to the journal’s review form. What information do you need and how will you do it?
If I’m right, this will help with both the transfer of learning back to the workplace, and also serve as a motivator, by grounding the content in the real world.
Selecting Instructional Techniques
Caffarella describes four key factors in considering instructional techniques, including 1) the nature of the learning outcomes (are they focused on the acquisition of new knowledge, enhancing cognitive skills, developing psychomotor skills, strengthening problem-solving, or changing attitudes, beliefs, etc.?); 2) the capacity of the instructor; 3) the characteristics of the learners; and 4) the context of the learning (where does it take place, is it formal or informal, etc.).
1. Learning Outcomes
This program is primarily a software training program, combined with the development of some scholarly publishing skills. As a result, acquiring new knowledge (how to effectively use the software) is an important learning outcome. Techniques that match this include lectures (I’ll be adding some brief instructional videos for each module) and asynchronous online forums (there will be opportunities for participants to post questions and answers, to both the instructor and one another). Psychomotor skill development will be another learning outcome. Participants will have the opportunity to practice in a computer-based simulation and practice the skills under examination in each module. Finally, the strengthening of problem-solving will be another learning outcome, with participants facing different scenarios and needing to think through the best ways to resolve the situation. At this point, I don’t foresee much in the way of cognitive skill development nor attitude changes.
2. Instructor Capabilities
My experience with web-based technologies has given me the confidence to try to develop an online course like this one. As well, my studies in the Adult Education program at the University of Regina have also given me the additional skills to begin to put something like this together. My work experience has also involved a lot of online instruction, interaction, and community-building. All together, this background puts me in a strong position to give this a try.
3. Learner Characteristics
The target learners for this program will come from around the world, a variety of cultural backgrounds, and differing levels of technological and publishing experience. This means that many will not have English as a first language, and I will need to ensure that all of the text is clearly written with simple, easy-to-understand syntax.
Most learners will share a minimum level of access to technology (the software requires internet access to use), but some may be in countries will intermittent connectivity or low bandwidth. To help with this, I am planning to develop a DVD version of the program, which can be mailed to participants experiencing problems with sustained web access. Most participants will also have some level of workplace support for their learning as the software is typically operated by academics or researchers associated with a university or research institute.
Although the importance of learning styles may be overstated, it is still important to recognize that different people do have preferences in how they learn, and as a result, I will build in a variety of learning components, including video, text, quizzes, online discussion, etc. Hopefully, by providing a diversity of approaches to the content, most learners will find elements that best meet their needs.
4. Learning Context
Most learners will be participating in the program as part of their professional life — either in the publishing industry, in libraries supporting publishing activities on their campus, or as scholars operating their own publishing activities. They will also be located in different countries and in different timezones, making online, self-paced instruction the best option to meet their needs. Although we may offer an official certification for successfully completing the program and fulfilling a set of requirements, it will be an informal learning opportunity, with most completing the different modules at their own pace. Most will be doing the program from their office or from home, and most will be doing it individually. Because of this individual approach, I plan to build in some social networking features that will allow participants working on the program at their own pace, from their own home or offices to connect with others from around the world who are also working through the program. The Community of Inquiry model originally developed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000), let’s us know that it is important to build a sense of community in successful online learning, including the development of teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence. Tools to facilitate this will include instructor-narrated videos, active online asynchronous discussions, the creation of a dedicated twitter hashtag and delicious bookmark tag, and individualized access to the instructor. The use of these kinds of tools have been successful in fostering a sense of community in massive open online courses and will hopefully lead to a kind of community of practice to help learners work together in completing the course requirements and also lead to the development of an ongoing community of support as they continue their publishing activities with the software.
Selecting Instructional Resources
Because I want these courses to be open and accessible, I’ll need to be careful to select only open access materials. If I were designing this program for U of R students for example, I could select subscription-based materials included in the Library’s collection, but my students will be from around the world with a variety of institutional affiliations and differing access to subscription materials. Thanks to the rapid expansion of openly licensed materials, though, selecting open educational resources is becoming increasingly possible. Using open resources also saves on my own time, allowing me to pull in materials written by others (with attribution!), and let’s me avoid re-inventing the wheel. I will also be reusing many of the educational resources I have created for other purposes (e.g., documentation, video tutorials, guides, etc.). In addition, I’ll draw on a wide variety of open access articles and online videos on scholarly publishing.
Preparing for Instructional Assessment
Caffarella’s final section in designing the instructional plan is to prepare for instructional assessment. This consists of:
- Performing some kind of assessment of participants at their point of entry into the course, such as through a simple questionnaire of their background and previous experience with the program content and online learning.
- Assessment of the instructional process and resources, including some alpha and beta testing with a selected group of learners as well as other content and learning experts before formally launching the program; evaluation conducted during the courses (formative); and evaluation conducted at the end of the courses (summative). All of these should be used to review the effectiveness of both the educational resources and the instructional techniques used in the program. They are also useful in examining what is working and what needs to be changed in the program as a whole or in individual courses.
- Assessment of the results, which involves returning to the learning objectives and determining whether the desired outcomes have been reached. A variety of tools can be used for this, including an examination of the learner’s activities in the simulation, the successful answering of quiz questions, evidence of thoughtful reflection on the discussion forums, etc.
- Assessment of assist learning, to provide early, frequent, and constructive feedback on each learner’s progress to provide any necessary encouragement or to make any corrective comments that would assist with learning. Learners should not discover that they have been unsuccessful at the end of a course.
- Assessment for program evaluation. Assessments not only help us understand how well a learner is progressing, but can also provide data on how well the program itself is performing. If many learners are not achieving success, modifications in the program will need to be re-evaluated.
Finally, Caffarella includes a number of indicators for a useful assessment, including its need to be clear, specific, timely, ongoing and frequent, accessible, affirming, changeable, justifiable, and stated with care and concern. By following these guidelines, assessments can become valuable tools for enhancing learning for the participants, the instructor, and the program planner.
This chapter provided a great deal of helpful information on designing any instructional program. For the more limited scope of my project, there were many aspects that weren’t applicable, but still provided useful research and advice for any future programs I many need to plan and develop. This has provided a great deal to think about, but it feels like I’m ready to start pulling things together.