A look back at some challenging times in the 'academic world'
Over the past months the writer has been heavily involved in the development of requisite skills for assessing, analyzing, designing, developing, and formatively evaluating instruction. This taxing task was carried out in two “tough” but rather interesting and challenging courses: 8001/8002 blended as Instructional Design of Instruction.
The course goal for 8002 was for each participant to apply a systematic approach to planning for design, developing, and evaluating instruction. The topics that were addressed are: Instructional Systems Design, Needs Assessment, Instructional Analysis, Objectives and Assessment, Instructional Strategies, and Instructional Strategies and Media Selection. The first assignment (Assignment 1.1) was for the writer to conduct a needs assessment and identify an instructional goal The need was established for “Learners to integrate the use of e-mail to facilitate learning.” A Needs Assessment was conducted to ensure that instruction was an effective and efficient intervention for resolving the “needs”. Data were collected to assist in this endeavor. After a hectic period of writing and rewriting, the writer was satisfied with the final draft of the Needs Assessment. The aspect of the Goal Statement was a “headache”. The writer was unable to write a comprehensive Goal Statement after numerous trials. However, with the availability of literature and some examples from the Professor, the writer was able to half-heartedly accept a most suitable Goal Statement.
The second assignment (Assignment 1.2) was for the writer to conduct required analyses for instructional design and development. Thus conducting: a Goal Analysis, an Instructional Analysis, a Learner Analysis, and a Context Analysis. The writer did numerous flow charts for the Goal Analysis and Instructional Analysis. The Goal Analysis, although simply stated that it should be done/described in a step- by- step fashion. To the writer’s surprise, this was not as easy as stated, because sometimes a single step may require a decision followed by several alternate paths that can be pursued. This got the writer into a lot of messy work at the start It was not until the writer started the analysis of the goal, then questions arose about how large a step should be and how much can be included in a step. The writer was able to utilize the techniques from Dick and Carey (1996) and Hirumi (2000). Hence a workable Goal Analysis and Instructional Analysis. For the Instructional Analysis though, the writer realized after a long and drawn-out contemplation, that the instructional analysis process is critical to the design of instruction. The writer was able to identify the skills that were needed by the learners to achieve the terminal objective and to help exclude unnecessary skills
For the Learner Analysis, the analysis was done under the following categories: Entry Behavior, Prior Knowledge, Attitudes toward Content and Delivery Systems, Academic Motivation, Educational and Ability Levels, General Learning Preferences, Attitudes toward the Organization giving the Instruction, and Group Characteristics. At first the writer thought that this was just an unnecessary ‘work load’ but after much rethinking, it came across, that a better understanding of the characteristics of the learners will undoubtedly shape what is taught and how it is taught. Much data sources were gathered: Interviews, Observations, Questionnaires, Records/Files, and Test Data. All these were hectic but necessary and helpful.
For the Context Analysis, the analysis was done under the following categories: Managerial/Supervisory Support, Physical aspects of Site, Social aspects of Site, and Relevance of Skills to Workplace. It was determined that not only was it necessary to labor with the Analysis of Learners but also the context in which the instruction will be delivered and the context in which the skills will be used. Here also much data sources were gathered: Interviews, Records, and Observations. This was also a necessary endeavor.
The third assignment (Assignment 1.3) was for the writer to create an Instructional Treatment Plan. This has four related parts: Performance Objectives, Assessment Instruments and Procedures, an Instructional Strategy, and Media Selection. For the Performance Objectives, the writer had difficulty in the initial stage to create a sound performance objective. However, after reading Hirumi (2000) and Dick and Carey, the necessary links were made: “a detailed description of what students will be able to do when they complete a unit of instruction”. According to Hirumi (2000), the four major components of a performance objective are: (A) Audience, (B) Behavior, (C) Condition, and (D) Degree. Hirumi’s summary was quite helpful for the writer as this made the writing of the objectives much easier.
For the Assessment Instruments, the writer developed assessments that were parallel to and measured the learners’ ability to perform what was described in each objective. This venture was a rather tedious task as the writer had to write, rewrite, and scrap material until alignment was achieved between the Objectives and the Assessment Instruments. In the future the writer will pay closer attention to the objectives designing Assessment Instruments.
For the development of Instructional Strategy the writer reflected on the numerous educational experiences that may be used to enhance student learning and performance. The methodology was adapted from Chapter 7 Instructional Strategies, Hirumi (2000) which provided enlightening information. Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction were chosen as this was appropriate for the unit of instruction. Each event was quite a challenging one for the writer because it was the first time that the writer was exposed to such form of instructional strategy.
For Media Selection, the writer thinks that there are prior decisions that should be made that relate to the selection of the appropriate media for the various types of learning activities. In the writer’s previous exercise, some hasty decisions were made in the selection of media and this was due partly to time constraint under ‘assignment’ condition. Now looking back, the writer would probably make different media selection. Some media are more effective for teaching verbal information, while others are more effective for other skills. In future, the writer would be more selective. The writer chose media as listed in ‘Media Selection’ (Ch.8) Hirumi (2000). Given the time to choose and ‘test out’ the writer would probably arrive at a better selection than what was used in Assignment 1.3.
The course goal for 8002 was for each participant to apply a systematic approach to planning instruction. The topics addressed were Technologies and Techniques, Instructional Development, and Formative Evaluation.
The first assignment (Assignment 2.1) was for the writer to Compare Design and Development Tools. Thus: identifying available tools and techniques used by designers, determine strengths and weaknesses of each tool and technique, and identify when each tool and technique is appropriate. The writer looked at the Functions and Features of a set of tools for Web-Based training/instruction e.g. WebCt, Photo Shop, Quick Time, and Real Audio. A definition was given for Web-Based Instruction (WBI), Web-Based Training (WBT), and Design and Development Tools, which provided a background for the paper. The writer initially was concerned about the techniques for developing instructional materials. The writer started looking at test materials, instructor manual, and student guide but then was guided to focus on the Technology-based solutions, so then, the writer researched the various related tools: Computer and Web-Based Training and Instruction. Research highlighted the difference between Development Tools and Development Techniques. After reading Dick and Carey the writer was still uncertain of how to approach the paper. But a detailed reading of ‘Enhancing The Dick and Carey Model of Systems Design’ by Hirumi (2000) Chapter 9- Design and Development Tools gave the writer much insight and information so that a viable distinction could be made among the major categories viz.: Web-Based Authoring Tools (e.g. Authorware, Blackboard, Director, WebCt, Web Course in a Box); Web Site Development Tools (e.g. Dream Weaver, Front Page, Net Objects Fusion, Page Mill); Web Page Development Tools (e.g. Netscape Composer, Freeway, Home Page, Word); and Multi-Media Resource Development Tools (e.g. Photo Shop, Power Point, Premiere). The writer is now familiar with development and delivery tools as the writer spent time surfing web-sites and examining some of the applications.
The second and final assignment (Assignment 2.2) was for the writer to develop and formatively evaluate an instructional unit. The writer went about the task working assiduously to develop student materials, student assessments, and instructional materials for the instructional units. Useful information was downloaded from a few web-sites that were recommended by the professor. The instructor manual was the most difficult to compile as on numerous occasions the writer had to: scrap, replace, rewrite, and re-insert text/graphics. The format selected for the instructor manual was to have student materials along the left side of the page and a description of the instructional activities along the right with the page layout in “landscape”. Consistent with the instructor manual was the student materials. Student material and student assessment were put together as was done in assignment1.1-1.3; (course 8001). This made life a little easier.
For the Formative Evaluation, the expert reviewers actually went through the developed materials and recommendations were made as necessary. A field trial was done with some individuals. This helped the writer to gain more insight as to how to make adjustments and one-to-one reviews were very helpful as this helped the writer to be in a better position to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Instruction.
As the writer reflected on the Instructional Design of Instruction course 8001/8002; it is now quite refreshing to view in retrospect that the exercise was quite a useful experience which has refocused the writer to a better understanding of Instructional Design. Hence the writer will now make use of all the techniques learned for future Instructional Designs.
Dick, W., & Carey, L. (1996). The Systematic Design of Instruction. New York, NY: Longman,Inc.
Hirumi, A. (2000). Enhancing the Dick and Carey Model for Instructional Systems Design. Supplemental readings. University of Houston. Clear Lake.