Scaling Content Creation

“Learners now demand more customization, voice, and practicality from learning arrangements, and can find it almost exclusively outside of formal, designed education” (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017, p. 180). Hence, our current content creation and delivery will have to change in order to meet these new learner demands. As I mentioned in an earlier post, much of what is currently being used is mass produced by publishers. Hence, the current learning arrangements that teachers have with students are strained because the specific learning needs of the students are not being met. 

Current state standards make it hard for teachers to implement learner-centered designs; instructional designs that give learners more customization, voice, and practicality. As Kalaitzidis, Litts, and Halverson (2017) mentioned, students can access much of their sanctioned Grade level content outside of formal education. Therefore, what is inherently valued within standards-based teaching and learning is not inherently valued within learner-centered designs, as learner-centered designs value “a complex system of authentic and legitimate learning activities” (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017, p. 183).

Content creation for learner-centered designs
What constitutes authentic and legitimate learning activities? Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson (2017), argued that authentic and legitimate learning activities have learning tasks that constitute the following:

  • tasks are personally meaningful
  • tasks honor disciplinary and/or professional practices
  •  tasks are assessable within the context of the production and learning process
  • tasks are linked to real world practices and communities of practice

For teachers to create such content like the tasks listed above, there will have to be a major overhaul of their current teaching practices. Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson (2017), argue that classrooms need to be converted into workshops,  since this format engages learners in a “collaborative production process through which they may pursue their own individual projects, yet work together toward the same ‘umbrella goal'” (p. 185). Hence, the standards-based teaching format will have to convert to a performance-based learner format where teaching is framed as a mentorship and “the roles and responsibilities of the ‘teacher’ and ‘student’… transform in ways that reflect distributed learning relationships in digital culture” (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017, p. 194).

By converting the classroom into a workshop, the leaners’ demand for more customization, voice, and practicality within learning arrangements can be met with a work-shop-style format. This particular format will enable teachers to assume the role of a mentor and distribute learning, teaching, and assessment within the workshop.

  • Distributing learning spreads the onus of learning across the entire class community.
  • Distributing teaching acknowledges and leverages the variations of learner interests as pedagogical opportunities.
  • Distributing assessment expands the objects of assessment to include peer review, audience reactions, mentor notes, and learner feedback about the instructional task (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017, p. 197). 

Scaling customized content
Scaling learner-centered designs that promote authentic and legitimate learning activities perhaps can be done with the assistance of the learners. In other words, more customization, voice, and practicality doesn’t have to come solely from the teacher. Simply allowing students to co-design content with the teacher will increase customization and voice in the classroom workshop. On the contrary, more practicality for students may not always be feasible if learning is centered around content and concepts that students deems worthless. Nonetheless, learner-centered designs and the learners themselves can help teachers scale content creation.

Reference:
Kalaitzidis, T.J., Litts, B., and Rosenfeld Halverson, E. Designing Collaborative Production of Digital Media in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. (2017). Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.

Exploring Student Interests for Personalized Learning

Most of what I am reading has defined personalized learning as learning that incorporates student needs, student interests, and student preferences. For many, there is no confusion around these variables, however, I became interested in student interests because I recently encountered a student who did not know what he was interested in, as he was not well read and he focused much of his time on playing video games. This intrigued me, as I thought about ways teachers could help students cultivate interests when students have limited interests in sanctioned subject matter.

I started researching this matter in the early part of the academic year and I came across a chapter in volume two of Instructional-design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, which linked student interests to motivation. “Cultivating interests and the desire to cultivate interests, based on the joy or utility they provide” is directly linked to motivational development (Martin & Reigeluth, 1999, p. 494). Martin and Reigeluth (1999) further noted that motivational development is linked to Affective Education. They defined Affective Education as education for personal-social development, feelings, emotions, morals, and ethics. What is particularly important about Affective Education is the discovery that it may actually dominate cognitive learning, and “serve as the mind’s primary architect” (Martin & Reigeluth, 1999, p. 488). So what does this have to do with cultivating student interests? Since student interests are linked to self-motivation, and motivational development is linked to the affective domain, then I believe that educators are obligated to consider incorporating objectives from the affective domain for students with limited interests in sanctioned content matter.

Affective Objectives

Martin and Reigeluth (1999) argued that, “attitudes are the crux of all the affective dimensions of development. An attitude can be defined as a state of readiness or as a learned predisposition to behave in a consistent way. It is made up of cognitive, affective, and behavioral elements” (p. 496). Hence, teachers can help cultivate student interests byway of attitude training. Attitude training involves focusing on the non-cognitive and non-technical skills, also known as soft skills.

  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork capability
  • Negotiating skills
  • Self-management
  • Time management
  • Conflict management
  • Cultural awareness
  • Responsibility
  • Etiquette and good manners
  • Courtesy
  • Self-esteem
  • Sociability
  • Integrity / Honesty
  • Empathy
  • Work ethic

When students have soft skills, then they have the attitude necessary for a learning predisposition that will make them available for developing motivation and interests in sanctioned subjects. So how best can attitude training be implemented in the classroom? And how does it link to personalized learning? The answer to both of these questions is Project-based Learning (PBL). “Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge” (BIE, 2018). Below is a list of steps for getting started with PBL.

  1. Teacher uses standards to define the learning
  2. Teacher plans an entry event into the project
  3. Students are presented with a driving question
  4. Students generate their need to knows based on the driving question
  5. Teacher helps students to map out the project and create partnerships with stakeholders
  6. Instruction is planned based on student needs
  7. Project is carried out and evaluated

In sum, PBL is the vehicle for ushering in personalized learning and incorporating the much neglected affective domain of learning. I would also argue that PBL can recapture those students who are academically dormant and uninterested in sanctioned learning.

Reference:

Buck Institute for Education (2018). What is Project Based Learning retrieved from https://www.bie.org/about/what_pbl October 12, 2018.

Martin, B.L. and Reigeluth, C.M. (1999). Affective Education and the Affective Domain: Implications for Instructional-Design Theories and Models in Reigeluth, C. M. (2012). Instructional-design Theories and Models: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory, Volume II. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

The Perilous Task of Creating Marvelous Online Content

When building courses or media for online consumption, content creation and calibration takes the lions share of development. Depending upon the purpose of the content, its creation and calibration is both perilous and perpetual. Whether it’s a general blog post, video, or podcast, content creation and calibration tends to flow through the Alpha testing stage of development, given that its creator is satisfied with the outcome. The designer of the content most likely has a special affinity for it because he or she has lived with the content for several months; has worked with stakeholders and subject matter experts on the content for several days; and has bore the labor pains during the birthing and delivery of the content for several hours. Given this process of content creation and calibration, it is no surprise that the Beta testing stage of content development rarely happens in academic settings, perhaps because the content creator simply wants the consumer to consume.

Content is the lifeblood of a course, hence, “you want to create something you’re proud of” (Branson, 2018). This means that content worth pride needs to be created in the same place that babies are made. A healthy baby develops in 9 months, as a result of the romance of two. However, in most cases, content creators don’t have the luxury of nine months to develop healthy content. One might ask, what goes into content creation and how often should content be calibrated?

Content creation

Monthly, I contribute content to ulimionline.com and thewordconsciousclassroom.com.  As the old cliche goes, it’s both challenging and rewarding. To help me create content consistently, I used advise from Amy Porterfield. Amy suggested Mega-Batching content by doing the following:

  1. Brainstorm content ideas
  2. Break the content ideas down into six topics
  3. Based on the topic, what question is being answered for the audience
  4. List resources needed to create content for that topic
  5. Decide how the content will be shared (i.e., blog post, video, podcast)

Click here for a link to a planning tool that I created, based on Porterfield’s advice.

Content calibration

Once the content is published, that is not the end of the creation process. It is actually the beginning. Like the development and maturation of a child into an adult, content is constantly in need of calibration and recalibration as contexts and audiences change. It is almost always necessary to reuse, revise, remix, or repurpose content, thus the calibration and recalibration of content is constant. Borrowing from the principles of creative commons, below I define the four Rs for content calibration and recalibration:

  1. Reuse – content might have to be reused across different platforms, hence having an archiving system for content is important.
  2. Revise – content might have to be revised based on updated information or the needs of the audience. Hence, keeping raw content is important for future revisions.
  3. Remix – content may be combined with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup) (Wiley, 2018).
  4. Repurpose – content might have to be adapted for use in a different purpose. Hence, blog posts might be repurposed for a white paper or a book chapter.

In sum, content creation and calibration is a constant, and it doesn’t stop once it is published. In other words, in order to fulfill its purpose, content incessantly evolves. Like anxious parents wanting the world to see the beauty of their baby, content designers want users to see the beauty of their content and find purpose with it. To increase the chances of the world seeing their baby as beautiful, some parents might opt for acquiring a designer baby. While content designers may not have that option yet, to increase the chances of beautiful content, some designers might opt to create and calibrate content along with a their content audience, thus extending the romance of content making to its users.

References:

Branson, R. (2018). Greatest Quotes. Business Blogs.Retrieved October 06, 2018, from https://www.businessblogshub.com/2012/09/richard-branson-greatest-quotes/

Wiley, D. (2018). Defining the “Open” in Open Content and Open Educational Resources. This material is based on original writing by David Wiley, which was published freely under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license at http://opencontent.org/definition/.

Digital Media Design and Blended Learning

Blended learning can be defined as a formal education program in which a student learns partly online and partly face-to-face. Blended learning is also an exciting way to personalize learning for students however, creating and calibrating assignments for different blended learning models can be daunting.  Blended learning has many models (i.e., station rotation, lab rotation, individual rotation, flipped classroom, flex, a la carte, or enriched virtual) and assignment/task creation for each model depends upon the purpose of the learning task and the learning path that the students are on. 

Specific blended learning models can be used to fit the differentiated need of learners based upon the instructional learning goal. Using Coil’s (2010) Horizontal and Vertical Differentiation Model, learning experiences can be tailored for specific students according to their specific learning needs. The table below shows how blended learning can be meshed with Coil’s (2010) Horizontal and Vertical Differentiation Model in order to consider how to design and calibrate assignments and tasks.

Much of the current content for assignments and tasks being used for the various blended learning models are pre-packaged by publishers, hence, transferring those materials to a district’s online learning management system as well as converting materials into digital media can be quite time consuming and overwhelming. Hence, when creating assignments for the different blended learning models, the standards of learning, the instructional procedures and the students’ learning stages and learning processes are essential to the creation and calibration of content design and digital media design.

Creation and calibration of assignments and tasks considers whether one should use analog or digital tools within the design while examining best practices for streamlining online assignments with other activities. If digital tools are to be used, then students can help co-design the digital media that will be used to enhance their learning. The following is a list of questions that teachers can use when creating digital media content:

  1. In order for this assignment/task to work, what gaps need to be filled with other tools/strategies?
  2. How will this assignment/task evolve?
  3. Does the assignment/task as intrinsic value for students?
  4. How can learning be distributed to students by students using digital tools?
  5. How will the learning be assessed?
  6. Can assessments be organically built into the assignments or tasks?
  7. How will the assessment be used to enhance student learning?

In sum, Kalaitzidis, Litts, and Rosenfeld Halverson, stated that “Instruction and the design of it should not be rigid, top-down activities. As learners grow, create, and demand new resources, the design of instruction must adapt to meet their needs. Instructors should elicit ideas for these refinements from learners themselves” (p.177). This suggests that instructors should keep assignments and tasks flexible and dynamic.

References:

Coil, C. (2010). Teaching tools for the 21st century. United States: Pieces of Learning.

Kalaitzidis, T.J., Litts, B., and Rosenfeld Halverson, E. Designing Collaborative Production of Digital Media in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. (2017). Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.

Content Creation and Calibration

Let’s be honest, it is hard to truly personalize learning when there are established standards for learning. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not arguing against standards for learning, I’m simply trying to reconcile the ideas behind the two approaches to distributing and measuring learning. I call this ideological dissonance, the instructional dichotomy. The table below illustrates my ideas on the difference between standardized learning and personalized learning:

Table: The Instructional Dichotomy

Learners vs. Students

Why am I interested in this topic? To answer this question, I must first start with a quote.

“If you consider anyone who is learning at any age and anywhere a “learner,” then you give the responsibility for the learning to the learner. When the institution or anyone who is teaching students are accountable for the learning — not the learners — the responsibility falls on the teachers for what “students” learn. Doesn’t this seem backwards? Where is the incentive and motivation to learn if all the responsibility is on the teacher? If you change the thinking behind the terms, then using the term “learners” makes more sense” (Bray & McClaskey, 2014). 

Bray and McClaskey’s (2014) quote caused me to examine the notion of personalized learning in a standardized classroom.  How can teachers possibly shift the onus of learning from the institution to the learner?  And how can teachers employ individualized instructional procedures that are in sync with each students’ learning stage and learning process? There is no straight answer for this. Nonetheless, Kalaitzidis, Litts, and Rosenfeld Halverson (2017), asserted that today’s communities of learners “thrive upon innovation in tools, meanings, and ways-of-knowing, and favor distributed, emergent, and egalitarian methods for achieving goals” (p. 179). Hence, to authentically personalize learning in a standardized classroom, teachers will have to adopt “design identities” and learn to distribute learning, teaching, and assessment across the entire class community (pp.195-197).  This will require ontological and paradigmatic shifts towards learner-centered instructional designs (Kalaitzidis, Litts, and Rosenfeld Halverson, 2017, p. 182).

Action steps for personalizing learning in a standardized classroom

Developing “design identities” will take time to cultivate and implement in our schools. Nonetheless, I have created some action steps that I believe teachers can use to help address the instructional dichotomy of personalizing learning in a standardized educational field. Let’s begin by stating, true personalized learning starts with the student and his or her learning goal. However, to remain in compliance with the State’s required standards, I suggest starting with the standard and help students contextualize their learning goals within the required State’s standards. The student’s learning goals can be converted into competencies that align with the State’s standards. Below lists the remaining steps in my action plan:

  1. Identify Learning Objectives and Learning Outcomes – aligned with the standards and converted into “I Can” statements
  2. Identify Student Learning Goals and Student Learning Goal Attainment – aligned with the learners
  3. Identify Instructional Methods and Procedures: How will the learning objectives be achieved? (e.g., direct teaching, games, simulations, lab, multimedia, discussions, reading, field trip, drills, demonstration, brainstorming, etc.) – aligned with the standards
  4. Identify Learning Stage: What learning stage is the student in? (e.g. acquisition, fluency (reinforcement), generalization (maintenance), adaptation (experiential)) – aligned with the learners 
  5. Identify Learning Process – Doing something (Concrete Experimentation), Thinking about it (Reflection), Doing some research, Talking with others and applying what we already know to the situation (Abstract Conceptualization), Doing something new or doing the same thing in a more sophisticated way based on our learning (Active Experimentation) David Kolb – aligned with learners
  6. Teacher provides feedback to student – Feed-up, Feedback, Feed-forward; (Feed-up – clarify the learning objectives; Feedback – Respond to Student Work; Feed-forward – Modify instruction for future lessons). – aligned with the standards
  7. Student provides feedback to teacher – Feedback – aligned with the learners

In sum, I still believe that it is hard to truly personalize learning for students when there are established standards for learning. Nonetheless, to help address this instructional dichotomy, I suggest that we continue to start with state standards and help students contextualize their learning goals within those standards.

References:

Bray, B., & McClaskey, K. (2014, March ). Building Personalized Learning Environments. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from http://www.advanc-ed.org/source/building-personalized-learning-environments

Fisher, D; Frey, N. (2009). Feed Up, Back, Forward. Educational Leadership. Retrieved September 12, 2018, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov09/vol67/num03/Feed-Up,-Back,-Forward.aspx

Kalaitzidis, T.J., Litts, B., and Rosenfeld Halverson, E. Designing Collaborative Production of Digital Media in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. (2017). Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.

Paideia Proposal 2.0

To this day, I’m still fascinated with Mortimer Adler’s Paideia Proposal. I first heard about it in 2002 in a Graduate course at American University. I admired Adler at the time for his work as an Educational Essentialist and advocate for critical thinking. His model, the Paideia Curricular Framework encompassed both pedagogy and heutagogy concomitantly. His model worked well for his time, however, if updated with the citizenship component from the 5Cs for 21st century education (fig. 1 below), I’m sure that it can be fit for teaching and learning of today.

In an earlier post, Finding the sweet spot in personalized learning, I wrote about the Paideia Proposal as an additional scaffold for personalized learning. What I noticed is that Adler’s Column 1 is directly linked to pedagogy while Column 2 and Column 3 is linked to heutagogy. Pedagogy is defined as a learning and teaching approach that is primarily reserved for learners that are new to concepts, procedures, and topical knowledge. Heutagogy, on the other hand, is defined as “a learning and teaching  approach that is primarily self-directed or self-determined” (retrieved from https://www.educatorstechnology.com/). Table 1 below lists the attributes of pedagogy, andragogy, and heutagogy. For the purpose of this post, I will only be focusing on pedagogy and heutagogy.

Adler’s Paideia Proposal is perfect for personalized learning because the 5Cs are natural by-products of his framework (Table 2 below). What I would like to add to his curricular framework is the notion of student lead instruction rather than the teacher led lectures and an over-reliance on one textbook. In other words, how can students take more onus of the features within column 1 vis-a-vis digital learning tools? I propose that blended learning could be the answer to this question. By incorporating online learning, teachers are more free to facilitate the acquisition of organized knowledge within their classroom and function as a learning coach rather than an absolutist.

What about columns 2 and 3? How can students take more onus of the features within those columns? Column 2 looks very much like an apprenticeship while column 3 looks like inquiry. I propose that project-based learning (PBL) or problem-based learning (PBL) could be the answer to this question. However, to make authentic learning experiences connect with each of the 5Cs, I suggest that the projects or problems that are embedded within the learning experiences be related to citizenship, an important C from the 5Cs that is often neglected. In other words, what projects or problems could be embedded into a learning experience that would benefit the community in which the student is a citizen of? What resources and persons could students have access to that would further develop the student’s intellectual skills while enlarging their understanding of ideas and values?

All and all, Adler’s Paideia proposal is still relevant and necessary for the current teaching and learning course within curricular model theories. Furthermore, by using digital tools and PBL that incorporates community engagement and civic responsibility, Adler’s Paideia Curricular Framework could be upgraded to a 2.0.

Renewable Learning

When the last  tissue is used, one does not expect that the tissues within the box will renew themselves. Instead, the tissues and the box have to be replaced. Curriculum Theory Models are like an empty tissue box because they don’t generate renewable learning experiences.  The focus of Curriculum Theory Models is on meeting standards, teaching methods, maintaining a learning pace within a finite amount of time, and assessing cognitive behaviors.

Linear pacing guides and standardized assessments that seek predetermined answers leave little to no room for enrichment and extensions of learning within Curriculum Theory Models. As stated in an earlier post, enrichment and extensions of learning aligns with the student’s interest, student’s desired knowledge, and the student’s preferences, thus enabling personalized learning. It is my opinion that renewable learning occurs when learning is personalized for each learner.

tissues-1000849_1920.png

Instructional Design Models use learner centered specifications that meet desired competencies and proficiencies for learners.  Unlike the disposable learning of Curriculum Theory Models, Instructional Design Models incorporate enrichment and extensions of learning based on the learner’s analysis, thus creating renewable and personalized learning experiences. Using the tissue box analogy from earlier, I liken instructional design models to a handkerchief, which is more robust than a tissue, and it serves more purposes than for just wiping the nose.

For starts, in Instructional Design Models, the design of learning is centered around the learners’ Zone of Desirability. The Zone of Desirability is defined as the gaps between the learner’s current knowledge state and his or her desire to know. This gap becomes an irritant to the learner, and creates a strong craving for information that could potentially fill the knowledge gaps. In some cases, the information received may not be correct, thus forming misconceptions for the learner.  Nonetheless, the learner satisfies his or her desire to know by seeking information from self-designed learning experiences that can possibly fill the knowledge disparities, thereby creating new knowledge for the learner. The figure below illustrates the process of cognitive behaviors within the learners’ Zone of Desirability.

Zone of Desirability

Many learning institutions are trying to make a shift to personalized learning without considering Instructional Design Models. Fitting personalized learning into Curriculum Theory Models is like fitting a square peg into a round hole.  This is because Curriculum Theory Models start with a standard rather than with the student’s Zone of Desirability.  As mentioned earlier, it is the Zone of Desirability that promotes renewable learning. The figure below illustrates the linear process of Curriculum Theory Models.

In addition to Instructional Design Models, the theory of personalized learning also makes learning renewable because it promotes student identity, student agency, and student “productive” power. Moje and Lewis (2007) defined productive power as  power that “is produced and enacted in and through discourses, relationships, activities, spaces, and times by [students] as they compete for access to and control of resources, tools, and identities” (p. 5).

Student power is “a complicated and challenging construct, simply because the working of power in [student’s] learning lives is often neglected or is relegated to a position of an outside agent (the teacher) acting upon the subject (the student)” (Moje, 2007). However, personalized learning is a person-centered learning theory that allows students to negotiate relationships, discourses, and activities in order to effectively share control of resources and tools. Thus personalized learning supports the students’ right to exercise their “productive power” within the classroom.

handkerchief-2639321_1920

In sum, Instructional Design Models are more equipped to usher in personalized learning than Curriculum Theory Models simply because Instructional Design Models capitalize on the learners Zone of Desirability and the productive power of learners. If student “productive power”, voice, choice, and agency are factored into the learning design, then learning will always remain renewable.

Reference:
Moje, E. B., & Lewis, C. (2007). Examining opportunities to learn literacy: The role of critical sociocultural literacy research. In. C. J. Lewis, P. Enciso, & E. B. Moje (Eds.), Reframing sociocultural research on literacy: Identity, agency, and power. (pp. 15-48). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Building an LMS is like Planning a Wedding

After experiencing many online course management ripoffs, and getting frustrated with losing half of my profits to open online marketplaces, I decided to build my own Learning Management System (LMS). As a result, I learned that building an LMS is like planning a wedding. It’s an exciting occasion that can easily turn one into a project manager-zilla.

bride-690292_640 (1)

For starts, the couple must chose a date for the big day of the wedding. Likewise, I had to choose the date for the premiere of the LMS. Given the amount of time needed for building the LMS and loading the course content, I chose to give the site a year for planning and development.

Next on the list is the venue. Where am I going to host the LMS? I decided to start with WordPress.com. They offered hosting, domain name registration, and website support. The ease of it all was a relief and I did not have to hire a web developer, or so I thought. After struggling with the LMS theme, and watching hours of Youtube DIY tutorials, I decided to hire a web developer to assist me with building the LMS. We moved the site from WordPress.com to Hostgator.com and registered a new domain name.

After the LMS was built, I decided to share it with a few family and friends. Much like sharing the theme of the wedding. I got immediate interest in the LMS as folk were generally interested in its content. Still, the LMS was loading really slowly and I became frustrated with it, as I needed speed to capture and keep potential clients. I asked my web developer how we could speed up the site and he suggested that we compress all of the images. As a novice, I had been using public domain photos and downloading the highest resolution thinking that it would yield better quality. To my dismay, those images were adding lag to the loading of the LMS and this was causing the project manager-zilla in me to appear. It took two days for me to compress the images and after all of that energy and work, the site still loaded slowly.

I made an executive decision to move the LMS once again. It’s like moving the wedding from a church, to a community center, to finally a gorgeous beach front property. I settled with using siteground.com web hosting and oh my gosh! The LMS loads within a matter of seconds. If I only knew what I know now, I would have saved myself so much money and time on the venue selection.

beachwedding.jpg

Assembling a competent LMS team ensues; quite similar to picking out a reliable wedding party. In addition to the web developer, I had to gather a team of content specialists. The LMS itself was a vehicle used to recruit content experts as well. I also used contacts on Linked In to get me started and I reached out to content experts on the Internet. I made plans to present the LMS at an international conference that I was attending and I tweeted out blog posts I had written to enlist content specialists. In the meantime, I created imitation courses to serve as placeholders on the LMS site just in case a user came to visit.

Finally, the time came to select the marketing strategy, much like picking out the wedding invitations. I had spent hours listening to Gary Vaynerchuk and planning out ways to promote the LMS. I used Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to bolster the LMS. As the LMS garnered more attention, I felt myself becoming afraid. Much like a doubting bride, I questioned what I was getting myself into. Am I doing the right thing? Am I making the right choices? But then Gary V’s words came to my remembrance.  “Legacy is greater than currency.” I realized then that I’m building a legacy, hence, my fear diminished and I continued the pursuit of building the LMS.

In sum, building an LMS is intense and at times scary. I must admit, I had to talk myself out of getting cold feet and leaving the LMS at the alter. However, I’m glad that I persevered through the project, as I now have an LMS dream and I’m looking forward to the honeymoon.

Reference:
Vaynerchuk, G. (2017). Crush it!: Why NOW is the time to cash in on your passion. New York: Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

McDonaldization of Education is eroding under Personalization

As personalized learning is becoming more prevalent in education, the pedagogy of instructors is being altered. In other words, by including the learner’s voice, choice, and agency in teacher designed tasks and lessons, this disrupts the smooth operation of the McDonaldized classroom.

The McDonaldlization of teaching and learning views learners as human nuggets rather than individuals. In a sense, many school districts have adopted the characteristics of fast-food restaurants by focusing on efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. How then has this phenomenon impacted student achievement?

  • Efficiency: The optimal method for accomplishing a task.
    By focusing on efficiency, the onus for learning is placed on the teacher rather than the learner. Hence, the learner becomes passive and unable to process content on a deeper level.
  • Calculability: Learning objectives that are quantifiable rather than subjective.
    Quantifying learning objectives helps teachers to measure the learner’s knowledge attainment and skills acquired. However, the results of these various measures are examined and used to direct learning pathways for learners without the learner’s input. Hence, the learner’s test scores and grades are fundamentally decontextualized for him or her.
  • Predictability: Standardized and uniform services that are highly repetitive, highly routine, and predictable. 
    By focusing on predictability, the onus for learning is again placed on the teacher rather than the learner. Hence, teachers religiously use routines to design learning environments and tasks that elicit predetermined responses. As a result, critical and creative thinking tends to be suppressed within the learning environment.
  • Control: Standardized and uniform practices that establishes routines.
    By focusing on control, the learner’s needs, preferences, and interests are not considered while the teacher is crafting his or her standardized perfunctory practices. Hence, the learner becomes an entity that needs to be controlled rather than taught.

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Personalized learning, on the other hand, views learners as the unique individuals they are. Instead of mass producing general lessons and activities for the K-12 agglomerate,  personalized learning begets lessons that are made to order for individual students. Personalized learning tailors the environment and learning experiences by factoring in the learners needs, preferences, and interests.  How then will this emerging phenomenon impact student achievement?

  • Learner needs: What the learner perceives as a weakness or areas for improvement; what the data indicates as a weakness or an area for improvement
    By focusing on learner needs, teachers and learners may co-design learning pathways; forging learner agency and promoting the learner’s voice.
  • Learner Preferences: Tasks and environmental affinities that the learner has.
    By focusing on learner preferences, tasks and environments may be co-designed with the learner; forging learner identity and promoting learner choice.
  • Learner Interests: Topics, concepts, and/or theories that the learner has deep interests in and passions for.
    By focusing on learner interests, teachers and learners may co-design projects that are relevant for learners; thus forging learner power, also known as productive power.

In sum, McDonaldization of education is eroding. Student nuggets are now unique individual learners who use choice menus to co-design their learning experience. This shift has educators now saying, “welcome to my classroom where you can have it your way.”

Blurred Lines: Is There a Difference Between Online Learning at University or Udemy?

Is learning from a hobbyist validated learning? Does one have to learn from a certified trainer, college/university professor, or coach in order to have validation for his or her learning? With the expanse and abilities of the internet, most people can facilitate authentic online learning experiences for a variety of audiences and purposes. Still, are those experiences valid or are they ineffective? In other words, a college/university degree or a DIY badge, that is the question.

First let’s define learning. According to McCarthy, “learning is the making of meaning” (p.6). How each of us constructs this meaning is based on perceptions and processes that are extracted from our experiences. Hence, the meaning that is made from various learning experiences is based on how we take in the things we learn (perception) and what we do with what we take in (processes). “So learning grows out of this natural rhythm of perceiving and processing” information from the environment (McCarthy, 2000, p. 17).

Now, let’s define valid learning. According to the Collins Dictionary, “something that is valid is important or serious enough to make it worth saying or doing” (Collins, 2018). Hence, valid learning can be defined as the outcome of what the learner has perceived and processed as important within the learning experience. Hence, it is up to the learner to determine whether the learning experience was valid or not.

With the proliferation of online courses and do-it-yourself training programs in the west, many courses are being taught by presumed experts. Actually, it’s never been easier to launch an online course then it is now. YouTubers,  Vloggers, Instagrammers, Podcasters, and other online content creation gurus are bringing the spotlight to online learning and creating a potential disruption to higher education.

The rising cost of higher education is forming new opportunities in edupreneurship. Many inquisitive learners are opting to create their own learning plans by choosing to take online courses from online content creators rather than from universities and colleges. What is more, the question of whether having a university or college degree still remains relevant has arisen.

As Couros (2015) argued in his book, The Innovators Mindset, “your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about and pays off on what you can do with what you know and it doesn’t care how you learned it.” Hence, the future of learning may not solely be validated by college degrees, but by what the learner is able to create. In sum, if the learner perceives that his or her learning experience is valid, then regardless of the context, that learner has achieved learning. Therefore, through the lens of the learner, there is no difference between receiving information from a University or from Udemy.

Reference:
Collins English Dictionary (n.d.). Definition of Valid. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/valid

Couros, G. (2015). The innovators mindset: Empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.

McCarthy, B. (2000). About learning. Wauconda, Ill: About Learning.