The Five Instructional Stances

The instructional stance is always determined by the learner and the learning goal. Subsequently, the instructional stance will, in turn, determine which tools to use within the various instructional designs.

One instructional stance is pedagogy. Pedagogy has a  strong connection to behaviorism.  It is heavily instructor-centered and bases learning on environmental conditioning and stimuli. Another instructional stance is andragogy. Andragogy has a powerful connection to cognitive constructivism, as it is more learner-centered and accepted as an instructional approach for mature learners. However, cognitive constructivists believe that development precedes learning. Hence, “in andragogy, the learners themselves directly and significantly influence the curriculum, based on their interests and needs” (Bangura, 2005, p. 28), because of their development and maturation.

Ergonagy, like pedagogy, is an instructional stance with a strong connection to behaviorism, as with this instructional stance, learners are expected to learn for vocational purposes. Bangura (2005) submitted that “ergonagy supports a continual blending of academic and vocational education for improved work opportunities throughout individuals’ lives, whether in one or several careers” (p. 31). Hence, this instructional stance is centered on a technique. This instructional stance may or may not require specialized knowledge, depending upon the training objectives.  Heutagogy, like andragogy, has a powerful connection to constructivism and the newly identified theory of connectivism. Heutagogy is fully learner-centered, as this instructional stance allows learners full autonomy over the curriculum. Lastly, ubuntugogy, which has its roots in Afrocentric philosophy, has a connection to social constructivism. Unlike cognitive constructivists, social constructivists believe that learning precedes development. Ubuntugogy is heavily group centered and founded on the principles of dialogue, consensus building, and religiosity. Bangura (2005) argued that ubuntugogy has the potential to surpass all of the aforementioned instructional stances.

Once the instructional stance is determined based on the learner’s needs, the instructional designer will then determine which tools, analog and/or digital, will work best for his or her designs. Tools for both the learner and course authoring should be carefully examined, as tools are a huge part of learning. Ira Socol (2008) submitted that instructors should consider that learners, like instructional designers, also need experience with deciding which tools will go into their toolbelts, as each toolbelt is unique to its user. For this post, I will consider course authoring tools.

 

Reference:

Bangura, Abdul. (2005). Ubuntugogy: An African educational paradigm that transcends pedagogy, andragogy, ergonagy and heutagogy. 22. 13-53.

Khademi, M., Haghshenas, M. and Kabir, H. (2011). A Review On Authoring Tools. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fac5/9b388f822adac8bf3338fbb98b4a0690629b.pdf November 6, 2019

Socol, I. D. (2008) Toolbelt Theory. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/iradavidsocol/home/toolbelt-theory October 23, 2018.

The Instructional Designer’s Hierarchy of Needs

According to Maslow, there is a hierarchy of needs that are necessary for learning to occur. Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, I believe that there is a hierarchy of needs for instructional designers.  Maslow has five levels of hierarchical needs. They are as follows:

  1. Physiological needs
  2. Safety needs
  3. Belongingness and love
  4. Esteem and accomplishment
  5. Self-actualization/Achieving one’s potential

 

  1. Image result for maslow hierarchy of needs

Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, I’ve decided to tweak his theory for instructional designers who design learning experiences.  Assuming that Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs have already been met, the following are the instructional designer’s hierarchy of needs:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of learning theory
  2. Knowledge and understanding of individual learners
  3. Knowledge and understanding of David Rock’s SCARF Model
  4. Instructional toolbelt

IDOL Hierarchy of Needs

For starts, instructional designers must have a solid knowledge base of learning theory. In other words, instructional designers have to be familiar with the learning process and effective conditions of learning from a pedagogical stance, andragogical stance, heutagogical stance, or an ergonagical stance. Learning theory has been described by behaviorists, cognitivist, constructivists, and of late, connectivists. Hence, instructional designers should be familiar with each school of thought on learning in order to have a full understanding of the various dimensions of learning.

Learners are who instructional designers work for, yet they rarely get access to them.  Nonetheless,  having data on learners is important because it will determine the instructional stance. For instance, if learners are inexperienced or beginning to learn new concepts and skills, then a pedagogical stance would be instrumental in this case. However, if the learners are mature and need less guidance, then an andragogical stance would work best. If the learner is a fully self-actualized mature learner, then a heutagogical stance would be appropriate. Finally, if the learner needs specific technical knowledge for technical problems, then an ergonagical stance would be perfect.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs includes safety. Therefore, learning can not occur in situations of perceived threat. Hence, instructional designers who create an opportunity for learners to experience Rock’s SCARF model are helping to reduce the learner’s perceived threat. Rock created a brain-based model that supports collaboration can can be affected by threats and rewards. SCARF stands for status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. This model is used to help individuals enhance relationships and improve connectedness with others. When SCARF is applied within an instructional design, it boosts learner connectedness as it reduces perceived threats. Here is how I see SCARF enhancing instructional designs below:

  • Status is about the relative importance of all connected individuals.
  • Certainty allows all connected individuals the ability to predict the future.
  • Autonomy provides connected learners a sense of control over events.
  • Relatedness provides a sense of safety amongst connected learners.
  • Fairness is the belief that fair exchanges will occur between all connected individuals.

In one of my earlier posts entitled Collaborative Production of Digital Media and the Tool Belt Theory, I mentioned Socol’s Toolbelt Theory. Socol argued that learners need to have access to a variety of digital and analog tools and understanding of the task at hand. He called this paradigm TEST. TEST stands for Task, Environment, Skills, and Tools. Hence, instructional designers can create learning experiences that assist learners in understanding the task, the environment that the task will take place, Skills necessary for the task, and the possible tools that can be utilized to complete the task. Also, the TEST paradigm allows learners to construct personalized toolbelts based on the task and skills necessary.

In sum, knowledge and understanding of learning theory, individual learners, Rock’s SCARF Model, and TEST are all elements within the hierarchy of needs for instructional designers. When each of these needs are met, highly effective learning designs are produced.

Reference:

Rock, D., & Page, L. J. (2009). Coaching with the brain in mind: Foundations for practice. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Socol, I. D. (n.d.) Toolbelt Theory. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/iradavidsocol/home/toolbelt-theoryOctober 23, 2018.

The Instructional Designer in a VUCA World

Today’s world has “turbo-speed changes created by technology” (Marquardt, Banks, Cauweiler, and Ng, 2018, p. 18). And with these turbo-speed changes come the constant need for learning and creativity. As conditions change, instructional designs that can be adapted to various learners and conditions become more prevalent than ever before. Hence, instructional designers have to “learn their way into the creation of something that does not yet exist” (p. 40).

business woman

Complex problems require complex solutions and complex solutions come with creative thinking. Michalko (2011) submitted that one cannot will himself or herself to change his or her thinking patterns no matter how inspired he or she is to do so. Hence, “creative thinkers get variation by conceptually combining dissimilar subjects, which changes their thinking patterns and provides them with a variety of alternatives and conjectures” (Michalko, 2011, p. 14).

Michalko’s (2014) Thinker Toys is an excellent resource that helps foster creativity. Actually, I was  impressed with this resource and I decided to do a series of animations on Thinker Toys. Below is one of the animations that was created based on Michalko’s Thinker Toys Handbook.

In sum, it’s not enough for instructional designers to know learning theory. Instructional designers have to be creative thinkers and problem solvers because instruction is more than a product to be delivered and a set of instructional strategies to be used in a training exercise.

Reference:

Gläser, W. (2018). VUCA World. Leadership Skills and Strategies VUCA World. Retrieved August 24, 2019, from https://www.vuca-world.org/

Marquardt, M. J., Banks, S., Cauweiler, P., & Ng, C. S. (2018). Optimizing the power of action learning: Real-time strategies for developing leaders, building teams and transforming organizations.

Michalko, M. (2011). Creative thinkering: Putting your imagination to work. Novato, Calif: New World Library.

Michalko, M. (2014). Thinkertoys: A handbook of creative-thinking techniques.

The Tyranny of the Urgent

Urgency

Functioning in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions creates a sense of infinite urgency.   Furthermore, ubiquitous exigencies make learning more difficult as the pressure to work seems to never cease. In such conditions, what is the learner to do? “Although we need more and more learning and training, the irony is that we have less time to acquire it” (Marquardt, Banks, Cauweiler, and Ng, 2018, p. 19).

Puzzle Black Man

Gagne (1985) proposed nine instructional events that provide a framework for creating optimal learning conditions. However, each instructional event requires time, something that learners lack. How then will the instructional designer construct optimal learning conditions for learners while maintaining fidelity to Gagne’s nine instructional events? The answer is with a heutagogical stance rather than a pedagogical stance. Blaschke (2012) defined heutagogy as “a form of self-determined learning with practices and principles rooted in andragogy” (para. 1).

Gagne’s nine instructional events include the following:

  1. Gaining attention
  2. Informing learners of the objective
  3. Stimulating recall of prior learning
  4. Presenting the stimulus
  5. Providing learning guidance
  6. Eliciting performance
  7. Providing feedback
  8. Assessing performance
  9. Enhancing retention and transfer

Gagne proposed these nine instructional events during the industrial age, when training was very much trainer-centered and less learner-centered. Hence, Gagne’s nine instructional events are pedagogical in nature, which helped to set a pattern for traditional education. When a pedagogical stance is utilized in training, the trainer makes the assumption that learners need external factors such as Gagne’s nine instructional events to occur in order for learning to happen.

On the contrary, when a heutagogical stance is utilized in training, the learner takes ownership of his or her learning, thus Gagne’s nine instructional events become nine heutagogical learning events. Heutagogy encourages learners to challenge their theories in use, their values and assumptions rather than providing a basic response to tasks. Gagne’s nine instructional events through the lens of heutagogy shifts learners into action by having them “study the process of how they came to their conclusions, how this process can lead to other solutions, and how their own assumptions changed through the process” (Eberle, 2009, para. 7). In my view, heutagogy converts Gagne’s nine instructional events into nine learning events. They are as follows:

  1. Learners awareness is raised towards observing a task or problem
  2. Learners choose or construct their learning objective(s)
  3. New learning is created with different solutions or strategies
  4. Meaningful, purposeful learning experiences are provided which are relevant to the learners’ needs
  5. Independent and collaborative learning with peers and colleagues is encouraged and supported
  6. The instructor facilitates exploration, collaboration, and self-actualization
  7. Critical reflection, universal feedback from peers, colleagues, and instructor are provided
  8. Learners are encouraged to self-diagnose his or her learning via knowledge application
  9. Facilitator promotes action learning for solving complex problems of the 21st century

As stated earlier, more and more learning is necessary because of the “turbo-speed changes created by technology” (Marquardt, Banks, Cauweiler, and Ng, 2018, p. 18). As such, the instructional designer should consider designing optimal learning environments using a heutagogical stance. The tyranny of the urgent will probably never end, so, the response to this phenomena should be with more open-ended learning and less conditioned learning.

References:

Blaschke, L. (2012, January ). International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning. Retrieved July 2019, from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1076/2087

Eberle, J. (2009). Heutagogy: What your mother didn’t tell you about pedagogy and the conceptual age. In Proceedings from the 8th Annual European Conference on eLearning, October 29-30, 2009. Bari, Italy.

Gagne, R. (1985). The conditions of learning (4th Ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Marquardt, M. J., Banks, S., Cauweiler, P., & Ng, C. S. (2018). Optimizing the power of action learning: Real-time strategies for developing leaders, building teams and transforming organizations.

Socol’s Tool Belt Theory

Sophisticated digital tools allow texts to be annotated, videos to be produced, interactive learning experiences created, all of which further enhance student learning. However, “The only way to allow students to assemble [an] essential toolbelt for information and communication is to throw open your classroom and let the world in” (Socol, n.d., para. 17). This is a powerful quote, as it is essential for teachers to not only stock their toolbelt but to help students stock theirs too. Socol (n.d.) goes on to say,

How will your students know which calendar works for them – the one on their phone, Google Calendar with SMS appointment texting, Microsoft Outlook, or any of a dozen paper systems unless you allow them to try them out? How will your students know whether they ‘get’ a novel better by listening to an audiobook, or reading it on paper, or using text-to-speech, if you don’t let them experience all repeatedly and help them decide? Will their choice be the same when they are reading history texts? Math texts? Again, how will they know? How will they know which is the best way for them to write, by hand (either on paper or on a tablet system), by keyboard (and which keyboard), or by voice, if they do not get to try out all the kinds of writing they need to do with all these tools?

They won’t know. And you – the school, the teacher, the education system – will have deprived them of these essential skills.

It matters for all students, of course, but- as always – if you are “rich, white, and normal” it matters a bit less. You will have fewer needs, your parents will buy you more supports, you will be surrounded in your daily life by sophisticated tool users. So not bringing Toolbelt Theory into your classroom just exacerbates inequity – yes, of course – as school does in most things.

After reading those paragraphs, I felt a sense of urgency to figure out how I will implement the Toolbelt theory into my practice. How will I equip students with “Tasks – Environments – Skills – Tools” (T.E.S.T.) that show them how they learn best (Socol, n.d.)?

Socol (2008) proposed the Toolbelt Theory. This theory is “based on the concept that students must learn to assemble their own readily available collection of life solutions. They must learn to choose and use these solutions appropriately, based on the task to be performed, the environment in which they find themselves, their skills and capabilities at that time, and the ever-changing universe of high and low-tech solutions and supports. After all, few of us have a toolbox with just one screwdriver or just the tools we were given when we were ten-years-old” (para 3).

So, the Toolbelt is designed to:
• Break the dependency cycle
• Develop a lifespan technology skills
• Reduce and limit limitations
• Empower student decision making
• Prepare students for life beyond school

Socol (2008) posited the following example to illustrate his TEST model. You need to know what you need to do (the specific task: cut 20 sheets of plywood or cut down a Christmas tree, find a book to buy or find a book to borrow). You need to know where you will be doing this (the specific environment: in a forest, in a workshop, in a town with a university library and four bookstores, in a place with neither). You need to know your own capabilities (your skillset: I am strong enough to cut down a tree with a hand saw, I am experienced enough that I can cut a straight line with a hand-held circular saw, I can walk to the bookstore, I know the Dewey Decimal System). And you need to know what is available to you to help you, and how to use those devices (your toolbelt: My neighbor has a chain saw, I can rent a table saw, a bus will get me to the bookstore, if I go online and reserve that library book it will be waiting for me at the counter).

Hence, the task is the container for the learning objectives and content. To fully engage learners, tasks should be centered around an interesting problem. “An interesting problem is one that’s never been solved in quite this way before. It’s not always going to work. The stakes are high. It involves coloring outside the lines” (Godin, 2017). Ergo, the task will dictate what students learn and how they learn.

The environment is the location of the task. The more restrictive the environment, the less ubiquitous the task. In other words, if the task can only happen in a classroom, then learner access is restricted to the classroom. The more seamless the task, the more ubiquitous the learning. “The word seamless suggests that what was once believed to be separate, distinct parts (e.g., in-class and out-of-class, academic and non-academic; curricular and co-curricular, or on-campus and off-campus experiences) are now of one piece, bound together so as to appear whole or continuous. In seamless learning environments, students are encouraged to take advantage of learning resources that exist both inside and outside of the classroom …students are asked to use their life experiences to make meaning of material introduced in classes […]. (Wong & Looi, 2011, p. 2365).

Crystallized knowledge and mastered skills make up the learner’s skillset. Some learner’s skills are more developed than others, hence the need for a learner analysis in order to better understand learners and make necessary adjustments for their skillsets. Because of learner variance, it is necessary to have a repertoire of tools available to learners and any necessary training on how to use those tools in order to meet the demands of the task. “Choosing the right tool takes knowledge of yourself and the tools which are available. It takes practice in assessing the task and the environment. And in school, we don’t help students toward any of that. In school we prescribe methods and we require specific tools (the dreaded middle school planner, just as one particularly stupid example – the teacher-determined notebook style as another). In school, we tell students what they can and can’t do and we get very nervous when they really try to analyze their environment” (Socol, 2008).

In sum, “we are all tool users” and helping learners customize their toolbelts for a more complete process and acquisition of learning that leads toward individual fulfillment is paramount to the role of an instructional designer and learning experience designer. “Toolbelt Theory” suggests that we must teach our students how to analyze tasks, the task-completion environment, their own skills and capabilities, an appropriate range of available tools… and let them begin to make their own decisions” (Socol, 2008).

Socol provided a list of questions to consider for applying the TEST model to instructional design and learning experience design:

Task
1. What needs to be done? (when possible, break the task down into component parts)

Environment
1. Where must this be done (or is typically done)?
2. Under what time constraints?
3. What is the standard method of task completion?
4. How does the person interact with this environment?
5. Who is the task being done for? (specifics of teacher, employer, other expectations)

Skills
1. What specific strengths does the person bring to this task?
2. What specific weaknesses interfere with that person’s ability to complete the task?
3. What is that person’s “tool acquisition aptitude” and what tools are they currently comfortable with?

Tools
1. What tool best “bridges the gap” between the current skill set and what is needed for task completion?
2. If the tool is not already “in the toolbox” (the person has been successfully trained in its use), how does the environmental timeline match with the needed learning curve?
3. If it is not possible to use the “best tool” within this environment what is the “back-up tool”? How do we pre-train so the best tool can be used the next time?

Reference:

Godin, S. (2017). Interesting problems. Retrieved November 8, 2019, from https://seths.blog/2017/02/interesting-problems/

International University of Lake Constance (n.d.). Seamless Learning. Retrieved November 08, 2019, from https://seamless-learning.eu/en/seamless-learning/seamless-learning/

Socol, I. D. (March 2008). Toolbelt Theory for Everyone. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2008/05/toolbelt-theory-for-everyone.html

Socol, I.D. (May 2008). A Toolbelt for a Lifetime. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2008/03/csun-2008a-toolbelt-for-lifetime.html

Socol, I. D. (n.d.). Toolbelt Theory. Retrieved from October 23, 2018, from https://sites.google.com/site/iradavidsocol/home/toolbelt-theory

Wong, L. H., & Looi, C. K. (2011). What seams do we remove in mobile-assisted seamless learning? A critical review of the literature. Computers & Education, 57(4), 2364-2381.

Beta-testing Designs with End-Users

Today, learners demand more customization, voice, and practicality from their learning environments (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017). Hence, instructional designers will have to upgrade learning environments in order to meet the demand of today’s learners. As discussed in an earlier post, content creation and calibration cannot be done in a silo. Content that is customized, incorporates the students’ voice, and is practical for students, has to be co-designed with students. Hence, content that is co-designed with learners is the ultimate form of personalized learning.  

Flow theory

Why should instructional designers include learners in the content creation process? First, by including learners in creating content, the learners themselves intrinsically set learning goals for attainment. In other words, when instructional designers introduce learners to the instructional objectives and learning outcomes for the units and lessons, the learners then can determine their own learning because they have been empowered by the instructional designer to customize and practicalize the content and they have been allowed to add their voices to the content creation and learning process.

Second, by including learners in the creation process, a learning flow that produces deep engagement and learner motivation can be established. Csikszentmihalyi (1990) argued that “clear goals, individual control, tasks that the individual is capable of successfully completing, and skills that must be learned” is what establishes a flow for deep learning and engagement. When learners co-create content, tasks are designed that are not too challenging or too easy. Students co-design tasks with teachers that align with their personal interests, thus placing them in a flow channel of learning.

Third, learner voice, choice, and agency are all embedded in co-designed instructional design models, as these types of models highly value empowering learners to make decisions about ends, priorities, and means (Reigeluth, Myers, & Lee, 2017). When students are empowered, then they are more engaged and thereby more capable of attaining their learning goals and the instructor’s teaching objective. 

Alpha vs. Beta testing

In many cases, after instructional designers have created their content without student input, they typically test the content in the alpha stage through the student view. For instance, instructional designers might make sure that the links work, that the dates of content release are correct, and that the aesthetics of the content is appealing. If the content passes the instructional designer’s alpha test, then it is delivered to the student without any trial run. Some would argue that this is a travesty, as students are being held accountable for content that was not given a trial run by the learners. Cars are test-driven, wine is taste-tested, and movies have trailers, all for the sake of testing the quality or operation of the product. Why then are students not given an opportunity to give their content a trail run?

Why content should be beta-tested with students

When instructional designers allow students to co-design and beta test the content, students are able to find bugs and fix them, improve content features, and optimize the distribution of learning, teaching, and assessing (Kalaitzidis, Litts, & Halverson, 2017). “In software development, the beta phase is an accepted, normal, predictable stage of product development” (Gonzalez, 2018). This is not the case in traditional instructional design. Gonzalez (2014) mentioned that “beta is a lifelong commitment to continuous …growth” (para. 4). Hence, shouldn’t instructional designers adopt beta-testing as a form of continuous professional growth? 

After doing some research on this topic, I created an instrument that not only supports mega-batching content creation but beta testing content with learners. For the instrument, click here. I also created a content rubric checklist for students that can be used for beta-testing content. This checklist is based on UC Berkley’s checklist. In sum, if instructional designers truly want to personalize learning for students, then they will not only have to incorporate the learners’ voice, choice, and agency, they will also have to incorporate co-designs that are beta-tested with end-users.

Reference:
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2009). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper [and] Row.

Gonzalez, J. (2014). Teaching in Beta: What We Can Learn from Software Developers Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/beta-teaching/ on October 14th, 2018

Reigeluth, C.M., Myers, R. D., Lee, D. (2017). The Learner-Centered Paradigm of Education in Reigeluth, C. M., In Beatty, B. J., & In Myers, R. D. Instructional-design theories and models: Volume IV.

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

 

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.

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.