Thursday, October 12, 2006

Learning is ...

I am working on articulating this notion that PRESENTATION + INTERACTION always leads to LEARNING. While simple, this concept is also profound. Throughout our life we are constantly LEARNING! Instructional Designers are devoted to providing support and expertise in the area of creating presentations and structured interaction experiences in order to reach a learning objective. This is true regardless of whether or not it occurs face-to-face or online.
There are hundreds and even thousands of content delivery approaches that can be effective. Presentation or communication requires a source and a recipient. For example a textbook is the source and the reader is the recipient. Also, the lecturer is the source (S) the listener is the recipient (R). We should be aware of the reality that source reliability and recipient preparedness each contribute to the effectives of presentation.
After content has been received, interactions need to take place. These interactions are not limited to, but typically include, S+R, R+S, R+R, R+non-R, R (self-dialogue), and R+computer. The Instructional Designer should be skilled and crafting scenarios in which these interactions can be mediated and recorded, for later assessment. The biggest challenge is likely to be understanding those variables (gender, culture, religion, language, etc ...) which can have a direct impact upon how individuals/groups interact.
This is our business. This is our vision. Hopefully, this is our passion! We believe that everyone capable of engaging in the presentation and interaction and capable of learning. This learning then becomes the foundation upon which future learning can be built upon. While I don't think the term "student" is appropriate for the 21st century, we typically say that we are serving them. Yet, how focused are we on measuring the degree of learning? Also, how concerned are we that learners have retained what they have learned?
I realize that this might seem rather simplistic, but I am concerned that learners have not been adequately primed to learn. When was the last time that you heard or read, an introduction into how the learner would be learning the material? Just a though ... think about it.

IDOL Toolchest - 06

With the Fall 2006 semester in full swing and faculty managing lectures, grading assignments, advising students, and facilitating course discussions ... I am reflecting on a few tools that are proven to be quite useful for assessment. These tools are not free, but they get my stamp of approval for being innovative and robust.
Articulate Quizmaker -
Besides creating flash quizzes, this tool allows you to create questions with custom feedback, progressive scoring, question review at the conclusion, emailing the results to the instructor, printing out a certification of completion, and posting the results to the gradebook. Since the quiz is in Flash (swf) the questions can not be copied/pasted.
StudyMate -
This product is less expensive than Quizmaker and interfaces with most course management systems (Angel, BlackBoard, WebCT) seamlessly. StudyMate includes templates for ten different activities and games. Perhaps the most valuable tool is the multi-language spell checker. Educational discounts and site licenses are available.
Respondus -
If you build online assessments, this is the must have tool for instructional designers and course developers. You can create your quizzes in MS Word or another word processor and import them directly into the program. You can also assign randomization variables to the quiz or test bank. You can also combine test banks and create even more complicated assessments. Since this integrates with the major course management system (SCORM compliant) uploading and managing quizzes is simple. Educational discounts and site licenses are available.