Competency 2:

Designing learning environments, including systems for direct instruction, constructivist learning, collaborative work, and performance support

Reflection on Mastery

Compared to needs assessment and evaluation, I have a much more natural knack for designing learning environments.  I heartily enjoyed learning the science behind how to craft effective and engaging learning environments in my MEd classes.

My 4 core values in designing learning environments are:

  1. Usability,
  2. accessibility,
  3. readability and
  4. measurability

Backwards design, which I encuontered in the very first unit in IS LT 9471 Instructional Systems Design. After using it that semester to build course matierals, it quickly because my preferred approach to designing courses, both as an instructor and as an instructional designer.  I first read about backwards design in chaper 1 of Understanding by Design.

This can be difficult for faculty members new to this process, ones that are used to a content-first approach, so one needs to have a plan for winning over such skeptics. Using backwards design bakes measurability into the core of the course and helps to keep content-bloat and student-overload at a minimum. IS LT 9485 Design & Implementation of Online Courses and ISLT 9471 Instructional Systems Design were crucial in developing the skills necessary to implement backwards design and Mager's approach to designing course objectives.

But, no matter how well the course is designed in terms of measurability of mastery, if the contents of the course, from the syllabus to the lectures, are not created with usability and readability in mind, students will struggle.  This is where ISLT 9461 Interaction Design was a tremendous boon.  In the course, I focused my time on understanding the essentials of usability and readability.  Concrete, forward-loaded and simple became my buzzwords as I learned to write and edit course materials so that they were scan-able and responsively displayed on a variety of devices. 

Accessibility is of tremendous importance.  Not only is it the law and critical component in ethical design, but if one designs with accessibility in mind, one will find that one also often will also have designed a usable and readable set of course materials.  It is difficult though.  It is all together easy to take shortcuts or to deploy tools that are flashy, but are not accessible.  So doing things slowly and correctly the first time is important.  The last thing a time-sensitive course design needs is content-experts, instructional designers, and technologists scrambling to revamp content to make it accessible.

Evidence of Mastery

Artifacts: Materials from Work at Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies

Passwords for the materials can be requested from me, Henry Imler, via email at the bottom of the page.

Reflection

These artifacts are bundled together because they, taken together, give a snapshot of my work at HGSAS as an instructional designer while I was in the MEd program.  Since taking the job as an instructor of Philosophy in Fall of 2014, I've lost access to much of my work at HGSAS.  I was able to locate some documentation of my work at HGSAS, particularly some of the documentation we used in the 2014 HLC site visit.  Here are some of the relevant materials:

  • Course Development Sequence (password protected) - This document communicated to the reviewers our timetable to develop all of the courses necessary for the degree program we were planning on launching.
  • Backwards Design Worksheet for CF-606 Course Design (password protected) - This was the worksheet I designed and used in the course development process at HGSAS.  It helped us map out how exactly the content mapped to the objectives. In this particular course, we pioneered the use of VoiceThread to center our discussions around artifacts and present group projects.
  • Sample Welcome Announcement - Part of the training and course support materials used.  Demonstrates my approach to creating course materials.

Demonstrating my mastery and utilization of this competency during my time at HGSAS is difficult when I no longer work there and have accordingly lost access to most of my work there.  The performance review is provided to help document, from my supervisor's perspective, the quality of work and what I brought to HGSAS from my coursework at MU.  The review, with a summary of my director's comments can be found here:

My success at HGSAS is directly attributable to my coursework at MU in this program.

Utilization

My artifacts show, in part, how I have used this competency at HGSAS. Presently and ongoing, I will be using what I've learned in this degree program as an in-seat and online instructor at MACC. Each semester (and each time a new text is selected), I will be using what I've learned to build, via backwards design, courses that incorporate direct instruction and constructivist learning in collaborative learning environments.