Final Week – 6020 Class Summary Thoughts

Write a reflection about class overall. What did you learn? What would you like to learn more about in the future? Did the course have any real impact on your life and your professional work as you see it going forward?

This class is the sixth class that I have taken in the Learning Technology curriculum.  It has been the most practical classes in the offering, so far.  At the foundation of my learning for this class, it became apparent that there is no shortage of learning models that are under consideration.  The primary learning models like the behavioral/objectivist and the constructivist approach were very important anchor points for me since they were core philosophies about learning.  I look at each of these approaches within the context of history and how they involved.  I have been challenged in my thinking about the influence of technology with respect to instructional design.  On one hand it is obvious that there is so much more to be accomplished in the teaching and learning process if the technology could be effectively communicated and understood.  On the other hand, I can see where technology can be used as a shortcut and actually bypass some of the required interactions that enable higher learning.

What I like most about the class was the group engagement.  I sense for the first time the instructional design process that our instructor actually used with us.  That process was more Problem Based Learning.  We were given the opportunity to be in charge of how we went about solving the problem – which was to create some real world curriculum.  I really enjoyed having my cohorts presenting the various ID models.  The professor added the right amount insights and guidance but really insisted and encourage each class member to take ownership and collectively contribute to the learning process.  The team project approach required us to reach beyond the regular class schedules and to meet and interact as a small group.  Using GoToMeeting and Google Docs and DropBox brought some new tools into my domain of understanding.  I also enjoyed learning from my project group.  I am not a teacher as a professional, but they are.  I really learned a lot from their perspective and personal experiences.

My professional work is centered around consumer education, specifically educating people in the realm of financial wellness.  So this has direct application to my line of work.  Instead of using a didactic, objectivist approach to instruction, I believe that the constructivist approach that gets the participants more involved with be much more beneficial.  The practice of peer review is very powerful.  On the job, it will be more important to have all of the stakeholders involved in a project to have time to review the project throughout the development process.  Another value point from this course that applies to my professional work is the element of research.  I am finding it easier and more practical to do research to see if there are more dimensions to an idea or concept that I am evaluating.

My goal is to find the right combination of Instructional Design techniques that I can consistently use and improve.  I would like to explore some of the prescriptive models in the future to see how effective they will be for crowd sourcing of education.  Overall, this class was meaningful and valuable.  My knowledge and perspective increased significantly.  I am interested in further studies along this line.

Week 13 – ID Project – Peer Feedback

Write a reflection about the feedback you received from your peers on your prototype. Is it appropriate? Will you incorporate everything they said? Why or why not? Is this process all that you thought it would be? 

The peer feedback has been an integral part of the process through out the project.  In addition to the feedback on the initial design document, we received very specific feedback from the instructor as well on the design feedback.  The most valuable prototype feedback came  in the form of questions following both of our presentations.  It was good to hav two presentation sessions which gave us an opportunity to internalize our insights but also presented an opportunity to hear directly from our peers on what they thought of our work.  I think people are more open with feedback and review when they have a chance to present it verbally.  This allows them to interact and question and go deeper with the feedback based on further discussion.

The most important review comes from the instructor.  We were impressed with the level of detail and clarity provided on the design document.  To make improvements it is necessary to get review from someone who has the knowledge, experience and insights for improvement.  This direct feedback allows us to rethink what we are doing and further assess the problem or issue and to collectively discuss the ways that we can make improvements.  The peer feedback was not as thorough as the instructor feedback.  I know that when I review someone’s work, I do not necessarily feel qualified to provide expert opinions, since my knowledge level is not sufficient to make good comments.  This knowledge increases however when I see and study professional feedback from the instructor.


Week 12 – Advanced ID Prototype

Write a reflection about the feedback you received and how it influenced your design document.  Do you like your role in the creation of the prototype? What makes sense? What is difficult so far?

The feedback we have received has been very encouraging.  The instructional models makes sense.  The idea behing Guided Inquiry is to establish the role of the instructor to direct, guide and coach.  This is in alignment with the Guided Inquiry process.  We came up with an original approach for the lesson guide too which is Explore, Reflect, Accomplish and Connect.  The Explore component is the basis of inquiry based learning.  Each lesson has the students discuss and share ideas on what they were trying to learn.  The group discussion is meaningful.  We actually want to see what they have learned and accomplish.  We do that by having them connect to the real word with a final worksheet that allows them to demonstrate their knowledge.  We wish we had enough time to actually try the lessons with a small group of students so we can evaluate the reaction, learning, behavior and results.

Think also about how you are structuring your prototype and how that document guides what you are doing next.

Having a good design document is the most important element of this project.  Without it we would not have any consistency in the lesson plans.  It reminds me of developing software applications. Do not start writing the program until you have a specifications that defines every attribute of the project.  We all collaborated on the design document, but fortunately one of our team members was very experienced and did a good job a sharing some best practices which we all discussed and found agreement.  The design document allowed us to each go our own way and initially create our lesson plans.  Our internal peer review was most valuable since we were all working on the same project.  The peer review from other project teams was at a higher level of abstraction but gave good overview assessments of things to change.

Do you like your role in the creation of the prototype? What makes sense? I felt personally that I carried a fair load with my project teammates.  I learned a lot about lesson plans and have never developed one on my own until this course, so it was a huge accomplishment for me.  I now have a good mental model for what is involved.  It is a lot different than creating educational material for adults in business.  The entire Guided Inquiry model is really good and makes a lot of sense.  It is not unlike the Khan Academy flipping the model of doing homework at school and lecture at home.  Getting the students to take ownership and expand their role of learning beyond the classroom and have it crossover into the real world is a brilliant concept.  This concept will be valued in a world that is becoming more technological every day.

What is difficult so far?

Programming and demonstrating the use of the robot is something new.  So a very mindful approach is needed in order to make sure that the technology is perceived as a barrier.




Week 11 – Advanced ID Project Update

Write a reflection about your instructional design as it stands today. What has gone well? What has been problematic? How are you going forward from here?

Progress has been good.  We all understand what each of us needs to do.  By having the common design document completed we are all aligned to create our lesson plans. There is no confusion about our approach and methodology and our ongoing pull up review meetings keep everyone on schedule (so far). The social interaction with my project partners reminds of the project teams that we had in my company.  There are differences in opinions and the process of getting them resolved is working very well.  I think the deadline is well understood and that keeps any project creep from taking over and expanding the lessons.

Two of the lessons involve robots.  These are not the same kind of robots so that does not allow us to repurpose the lessons from a functional perspective.  The advantage of having each person own and entire lesson is the leverage in learning that takes place.  I can share my knowledge at a high level about my robot with the other two team members, so that they learn what is needed.  In the same sense, I have learned about another robot which is different than mine.  The interesting thing is the actual subject matter that we are trying to teach.  By getting the teachers prepared to be guides (which is what Guided Inquiry Learning is all about) actually requires us to learn a lot about gears and ratios and Golden Ratios (Phi) and Circles and Diameters and Pi.

The biggest problem is time.  Building a prototype of the course is a very big job.  Scoping that out for each lesson is different for each lesson.  The only person who can really do the job is the person in charge of that lesson.  So the added requirements of creating the design document, the lesson plans and the research paper make an accumulative mountain that we need to summit!  We are getting closer to seeing the final project come to completion as we prepare to make presentations to the group and solicit their peer feedback.


Week 10 – Advanced ID Project Progress

Write a reflection about your instructional design as it stands today. What has gone well? What has been problematic? How are you going forward from here?

The team we have assembled is well balanced and equally motivated.  Each persons has some very good skills that is lacking in each other so the complimentary synergy is very high.  At first the idea of using robots for teaching math seemed to be a little extreme.  By doing some basic research, I was able to find some new technology that would be robotic and fun and be used to help teach the concept of ratios.  This simple idea became a huge motivator for me personally, simply because I was learning so many new things.  Not being a teacher, I was not familiar with some of theTEKS requirements for courses, so that broadened my view on the teaching environment.

It was a good experience to see how we came up with a consistent theme in our lessons.  The lessons grow in complexity from fun and simple to a little bit more complicated into a final lesson that requires knowledge from the first two lessons.  The design document had a central theme for each lesson too.

Part One                Explore (Inquiry based learning)

Part Two                Reflect (group discussion)

Part Three            Accomplish (the assigned task)

Part Four               Connect to the TEK Math Standards

We collectively created a logo for the lessons and a brand name too.  We call it GoldMind.  The reason is that the first lesson is based on the Golden Ratio.  We have a lot more work to do in building the prototype.  We have taken on a big job with the robots, because there is a level of programming involved.  It is actually a fun project and I really enjoy the teamwork approach.  The next step will be in organizing and making everything consistent as if one person was responsible for the design.


Week 9 – Advance ID Project Scope

Write a reflection about the advanced instructional design model that your group chose for the project. Why did you choose it? How do you think you will approach it? How did you divide up the work among members of the group? What will be your timeline for completion?

Our group chose to create an advanced ID classroom delivered course that  focused on using robots to help teach eight graders one of the basic and important concepts of multiplicative thinking. One of the most difficult topics for middle school students to master is fractions, ratios and proportions.  Yet, mastery of this topic in middle school is essential to success in high school math, and some research indicates it is a general predictor of high school success. Robotics is an approach that engages students in math and science learning and integrates learning across disciplines.  Building on work to date, this instructional design project will use relatively inexpensive educational robots appropriate for middle school students to teach concepts in fractions, ratios and proportions.

Our approach is as follows.

The overall topic is fractions, ratios and proportions.  More specifically, these lesson plans are intended to provide real-world context to help students make the additive/multiplicative transition, which focuses on understanding ratios between measurements and applying proportional thinking to solve problems.  The three lesson plan topics are ordered and intended to build on each other to help students make the transition desired.  The topics assume students have basic familiarity with fractions and related operations.  Each lesson plan will cover a specific topic to move students towards a multiplicative thinking mindset.

Lesson 1:  Engage students; introduce big idea of ratios; have fun with ratios.
Lesson 2:  Apply ratios and proportional thinking in a simple, meaningful case.  Use directed inquiry to guide students to additive and multiplicative approaches.
Lesson 3:  Apply ratios and proportional thinking in a more complex scenario; move students who are developmentally ready to a multiplicative thinking mindset.

Each of us will be responsible for creating a lesson.  The framework is Guided Inquiry. The lesson plans will be based on constructivist theory and teachers will be guided in proper approaches for delivery through the lesson plans.  The overall project will include a design document, three comprehensive lesson plans and a research paper.  The timeframe for accomplishing this task is very short and will require a number of private group sessions in order to meet the end of class schedule.


Week 8 – Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Problem Based Learning:

It is not surprising that PBL would be developed within a medical school like McMaster University.  If I teach you the problem you can use this concept to solve another problem in the near future.   Each new concept links to previous knowledge   The idea is to transfer information to students so they can solve problems, but it does not generally work that way.  A student can pass a course  but can’t use the knowledge to solve problems.  When you place the student in the middle of the problem they can learn by practicing. The transfer of knowledge from the detailed context into the concept makes a lot of sense.  This allows you to take what you know and apply it to what you are trying to learn.  The problem actually become the motivation and stimulus to learn.

Wheeler states “we encounter problems every day, some of which merely take a minute or two to solve.  Others take days or even years to circumvent, and then often with no guarantee of success.  Problem solving is therefore a key component of the lifelong learning process, involving many cognitive resources and much commitment and practice.”

PBL is used in areas where there are a lot of problems to be solved.  So it is found in medicine, law, engineering, etc.  Being an engineer in my previous career role I can definitely see the process take place.  The problem is presented to the student, the instructor becomes a facilitator, the student becomes engaged and responsible and collaborates with others.  This approach has been used in medical schools over an again.  Usually what happens in medical school is the following.  The academic teaching doctor will tell you what has to be done, then then will show you how to do it, then have you do it and then have you teach someone.  By doing this, you transfer the basic knowledge into a deeper thinking model and can apply this to other problems that you might encounter as well.

Now I can say that  am rooted in constructivism and practicing a PBL approach of instruction and learning.



Week 7 – REALs and Inquiry Based Learning


REALs is of course an acronym for  Rich Environment for Active Learning and is related to the work of Vygotsky who is a Russian teacher and psychologist involved in developing social learning theories. Social learning theories help us to understand that we learn from each other and the impact that  learning communities have on us.  The social learning theory dictates that  we learn through our interactions and communications with our peers, teachers and other experts. Since the environment is very important, it should be rich with opportunity to interact with others and have discussion.  Consequently, teachers would want to create a  learning environment that maximizes the learner’s ability to interact with each other through discussion, collaboration, and feedback.  So I think of this not so much as a model but more of an environment that can be used with a constructivist approach.

Inquiry Based Learning

This has the most appeal to me and our group and will most likely be the method that we use for our project.  This is also know as Guided Inquiry Learning.  I have found two really good books that are recently published that demonstrate the value of this approach.  Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century and Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School .  These were written by a mother and her two daughters, all of which have many years of accumulative knowledge and expertise in this field.   In their book, Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari (2007) confirm the origin of Guided Inquiry Learning (GIL) is based on the solid theoretical foundation grounded in the constructivist approach to learning.  The constructivist approach is based on Dewey, Bruner, Kelley, Vygotsky and Piaget.  The constructivist approach holds that learners impose meaning on the world and construct their own understanding based on their unique learning experiences.

There is an eight-phase framework as the elements of the GIL design process.

1.) Open – this simply means to get the students attention and get them thinking.
2.) Immerse – requires building background knowledge to generate some interesting ideas to investigate.
3.) Explore – the ideas.  The concept of exploring means to ask and inquire.
4.) Identify –and clearly articulate the exploration question.
5.) Gather – the relevant information that is needed to learn.
6.) Create – organize the information so it can be developed into a creative presentation.
7.) Share – with others what you have learned.
8.) Evaluate – to reflect on content and process that you experienced.

Each of these phases in the framework helps to reinforce a connection and continuity between the curriculum and the student’s experiences outside the school.  The intent is to establish a framework that learning is a lifetime proposition.  It is not just something to do in order to get ready for a test.  When the student is encourage to think deeply on a subject and become actively engaged, they are more likely to stay motivated and pursue further learning.

GIL comes in flexible and can be used with a lot of flexibility.  The key ingredients have the students explore, reflect and accomplish as they learn.  This learning process should allow them to connect with the real world and not be limited to the classroom.  The key ingredients for the teacher is to guide, direct and coach the students.  This process of encouragement and empowerment established a basis for critical thinking and analysis.

Week 6 – Social Constructivism

I really enjoyed this presentation because I personally can relate well with it as an effective way of learning.  As a student, I feel responsible for my learning and have to try to make sense of what the instructor is trying to say or illustrate.  Until I construct it in my mind and establish a rational basis, I will not learn the material.  As an undergraduate engineering student, the concepts of higher order mathematics and physics and thermodynamics would not make sense until I constructed them in my mind.  I also agree with the concept that learning is a by-product of participation in a community.  Solving problems together is much more powerful than trying to do it on your own.

I learned about the zone of proximal development that was conceived by Vgotsky.  I really liked the graph that plotted level of competence v. level of challenge.  There is a certain amount that you can learn on your own and there is that zone where you really need help and then beyond that help you can move even further and construct more on your own.  So the constructivism approach is more appealing to me than the objectivism model.  As we approach our group project, it will be good to establish the constructivist approach enumerated below:

  1. Develop an activity framework
  2. Establish an accountability system
  3. Develop monitoring procedures
  4. Set up a common experience
  5. Ensure frequent repetition
  6. Repeat critical content
  7. Train in group interaction procedures

I am not sure how popular this approach was when it was introduced, but as the world has become more complex in terms of interactivity and collaboration, I can see why it has high appeal today.  I am personally ok in stating that I am a constructivist in my philosophy (so far).

I have noticed that several of the ID models fall under the constructivist framework: Problem-based instruction Situated learning and  Collaborative learning, which all make sense to me now.



Week 5 – Situated Learning, and Generative Learning

Write a reflection about the advanced instructional designs that were presented in class. Which ones made sense? Which would you use? Why? Which did you have problems with and what problems? 

Situated Learning:

The first presentation was Situated Learning.  Sounds like another catch phrase for another design model.  So here is the definition that was presented.

The theory of situated cognition…claims that every human thought is adapted to the environment, that is, situated, because what people perceive, how they conceive of their activity, and what they physically do develop together.  It has been positioned as a way to gain specific knowledge and has been deployed in technology based instruction.  The basis for this approach is that it must be authentic (very practical to what is being studied, so not a some level of high abstraction) and it involves social interaction and collaboration too.  Apparently what is learned is a result of the learning environment or situation it is actually learned.  This makes sense.  If you were teaching someone how to install a telecom switch, they would most likely learn better in a real world environment by being involved in that particular situation.

The key concepts for Situated Learning can be described as a function of the activity, not something that is abstract or out of context, involving a lot in interaction with others who are trying to learn.  You get more engaged as you learn more.  I can see moving from the sidelines into the game, once you start to understand the situation better.  Jared had a very good presentation and felt very comfortable with the subject matter.  He teaches technology and STEM so it is probable a natural and comfortable experience for him.

Generative Learning

So this model came across as another thought leader that wanted to coin or market a new method of learning called Generative Learning.  So starting with the founders definition, we can began to better understand what this really is and how it is different from the other models.  Generative Learning was defined by Wittrock as a process where the “learners should become accountable and responsible in learning and mentally active in constructing relationships between what they know and what they are learning.”  I personally can’t imagine where learners would not be accountable and responsible in learning and mentally active in constructing relationships between what they know and don’t know.  If I were learning how to extract square roots and did not know how to do it, it would make sense that I would build on my prior knowledge of multiplication and division to help me figure it out more easily.

I can see how it closely resembles constructivism and that the strategy is similar to cooperative learning.  It has you explore the perspective and context of what you are trying to learn and requires you to build upon your prior knowledge.  For me personally, I would have a tough time realizing that I was specifically using a Generative Learning approach.