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COMMUNICATION: Communicate clearly to achieve professional goals using visual and verbal modes to explain and persuade
artifact: (edtec 650) Self-Paced Learning Module • Incorporating Multimedia into Powerpoint
I have selected the Self-Paced Learning Module developed in Professor Bob Hoffman’s Edtec 650, Distance Education class to express the Communication Standards competency. Professor Hoffman’s approach to teaching Distance Education provided students a great deal of latitude. We used weekly class meetings primarily as a forum to address issues related to projects, review those design principles covered in the our text that we were utilizing in our project designs, and had occasional guest speakers working in distance education in different venues. Much of the responsibility for generating the remainder of the learning process lay with students in terms of utilizing the message boards to update our project progress and share our discoveries and questions related to design, development, evaluation etc.
Our text for this segment, Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning provided the template for my approach to the Self-Paced module’s design. (Allen, 2003) Allen’s concept of “Successive Approximation” played a large role in this process. Successive Approximation addressed challenges such as raising motivation, sustaining motivation and delivering results in the context of a self-paced learning product in a frank, and at times, highly critical manner. In comparison to most course and project related text I have been assigned in our Edtec program, Allen’s was the most “confrontational.” It added an intriguing element to my perspective regarding the achievement of professional goals through persuasion.
Challanges & Opportunities
Ultimately I embraced Successive Approximation, but was frankly a bit put off by the text. This challenged me to not dismiss Allen’s theories in spite of his writing style’s, at times, overly-critical approach. I frequently questioned whether promoting an new idea is best-served by brutally attacking it’s predecessors, particularly something like ADDIE. Previously I’d read and heard enough about the water-fall approach to design to concede it’s shortcomings, in his assessment, however, it felt like I was being accused of stupidity for recognizing any merit it might have at all. I appreciate frank, straight-forward discussion, but early in the book I wondered whether the author “doth protest too much."
There was merit to his concept as well. Allen’s emphasis on, realistic expectations, rapid prototyping and most significantly, interactive prototyping maintained my interest. I’d not been thrilled with my previous prototyping experiences in prior project work. In another artifact discussion I discuss my feelings that multiple rounds of prototyping seem to be necessary to achieve productive design, as opposed to one or two. What fascinated me was Allen’s simple assertion that by incorporating functions that typically appear in late prototypes – those crucial interactive elements – you immediately draw attention to the practical, less-conceptual issues. These are the ones that – in my experience – frequently haunt late stages of design and development and frustrate the designer, me.
This is germane to the design process in my learning module. I was better able to give “voice” to the user at an early stage of development which instructed me to give them greater voice throughout its use. I strived to keep their attention by combining the means of communication embedded in the module and that supported my commitment to an excellent and efficient communication process with the learner through interactivity. I made sure to place visual cues judiciously, in areas I discovered were most difficult to recall during the user’s simulated exercise. I felt I was able to better determine where the interactive instructions served most useful, when audio narration was appropriate, and when simpler means sufficed. I had the responsibility to include requisite explanation of learning outcomes, lesson content, practice and self-evaluation, but knew at an early stage to look for seamless opportunities to explore principles, such as video format and codec, on a deeper level and investigate peripheral functions in the timing and cohabitation of multiple functions per slide. I was cognizant of these desired functions earlier in the process.
Can you hear me now?
The first time I made a verbal presentation online I was about a minute into my presentation when I saw signals from my instructor and classmates that no one was receiving my message. I couldn’t hear my own voice over my headset and certainly couldn’t hear anyone else in the classroom. It was as if I was speaking to myself, and I was. I had to go back to the beginning and start again. There is that same danger in the design process of self-paced learning. You are sending your message, information, instruction etc. into a “feedbackless” space. How do you know you are effectively communicating with your audience.
With this learning module, my goal was to cover requisite material, understanding the potential to lose my learner at the get-go if I was not able to keep their attention. As simple as the concept of early prototyping is, in combination with a modified approach to testing both my ideas and my means of communication, I more fully understand – or at least potentially understand – my learner at the beginning of the design process. This impacted my design but also the use of resources. I realized after recording a great deal of the audio, that my microphone was shot. I went out purchased a new one and the difference is remarkable – apologies for leaving the lousy audio in the beginning, but it serendipitously serves as a good example.
Allen, M. (2003) Michael Allen's Guide to e-Learning, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.