Competency 3:

Developing learning systems applications or components of applications

Reflection on Mastery

While in the Educational Technology MEd program I learned a lot about good design principles and the technical knowledge on how to make them a reality.  In my prior and current employment, I've had the opportunity to apply what I've learned in live educational settings.   

For me, the core front-end design principles I take with me are:

  • empathy - we have to care about our users and listen to them close enough to find out the story of how they are using the application and to discover how we might better design our iterative applications so that they are continually improving.
  • simplicity - The more elegant an application, the more focused it is, the more effective it is.
  • accessibility - It is a moral (and legal) imperative to build learning environments that are accessible to all of our learners and on whatever device they might be using.
  • The F-Pattern - Structuring your content in such a way that the formating of the text is a map that can be used to deploy the content.
  • Plain language in all assignments and directions - Using the F-Pattern and plan language to create our map of the course and assignments is important, for the less brain energy they spend figuring out what to do, the more they can spend actually doing the readings, lectures, and assignments.
  • mobile first, responsive design - if we start with the small view ports, it is much easier to design up to larger ones.

I elected to take quite a few front-end design and execution classes in my second half of my time in the program, taking ISLT 7361 Introduction to Digital Media, ISLT 7360 Introduction to Web Development, and ISLT 7370 Intermediate Web Development.  They were great follow ups to ISLT 9461 Interaction Design.  They helped me build the skills necessary to create components of learning system applications. I focused on front-end rather than mobile app development because most of my job duties have been and will likely be on the front-end.

However, one of the more important classes in this regard was ISLT 9473 Project Management.  It was integral for my work at the Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies and I've used the processes and techniques from the class several times at Moberly Area Community College. 

Because of the nature of the projects and the structure of the teams I was in involved in, I most commonly have used the waterfall method.  However, I was involved in a more Scrum-like agile project at HGSAS, but more so as a project member, not as a project manager.

Evidence of Mastery

Projects for ISLT 9473 Project Management

 

Reflection

In my project management class, I used the final project to work up early drafts planning a supplementary Moodle installation for HGSAS to augment the rather bare-bones LMS within the school's Populi installation.  Populi is designed to be a college wide system that can handle financial aid, libraries, courses, admissions, etc.

While the project eventually morphed into a Wordpress augmentation, the work planning out the proposed project and taking a close look at the risks involved were a necessary step to making the ultimate judgement to go in another direction.  If we had just forged ahead without going through these processes, we would have been left with a lot of sunk costs and an inadequate solution to our problems.

Additionally, I learned how valuable Gant charts are in communicating to upper level decision makers the true costs involved in projects, both in time and personnel costs.  Those two costs can be otherwise difficult to fully capture.

Artifact 3: LOGOS and OneRead site for MACC, Final Project for ISLT 7370 Intermediate Web Development

Reflection

I used my final project in ISLT 7370 Intermediate Web Development to do some committee work to put together the LOGOS committee's website.  It would be embedded within the school's website and would be a collection of resources both for the schools inaugural OneRead, but also be a growing warehouse for critical reading, thinking, and writing resources.

This showcases my design philosophies.

  • simplicity,
  • plain language,
  • easy navigation,
  • chunking, and
  • the F-Patern

Here I was able to put what I learned in the program to work, focusing on creating a lightweight, usable, responsive website.

Utilization

As described in my artifacts, I've already put the skills and attitudes learned in the program to work in multiple employment settings.  Going forward, I will be using what I've learned to help structure and tackle committee projects as well as build out my own classes. 

I hope to always be building my skillset when it comes to front-end work and application development.  Right now (Summer 2016), I am finally getting the hang of the bootstrap framework.  I'm using it to create the web version of the MACC Reading, Thinking, Writing handbook as well as this portfolio site.