AECT Standard 3 (Learning Environments)

Candidates facilitate learning by creating, using, evaluating, and managing effective learning environments.

eLearning Strategies for a F2F Classroom

Currently, I am an instructional designer for a local university. I am in the process of redesigning our semester long Desire2Learn (D2L) Brightspace (a Learning Management System that we use) faculty courses that newly hired faculty take during their first semester of employment.

I have found that D2L is a little bit difficult to navigate at first, so I have purchased Clarify-It for our eLearning team (we have four staff members, a director, and student workers). I have used Clarify-It to make tutorials on how to use D2L and the tutorials are housed in our helpdesk portal called Freshdesk. I have also embedded the html code directly into the courses so the steps are right there for the faculty members. Having adequate troubleshooting and tutorials helps eliminate the cognitive load required to develop online courses, which in turn can provide more opportunity for the creation of BETTER online courses. However, I have a lot more work to do with this process, which I’ll explain in the rest of the paper.

Interactivity between students and faculty is a frequent issue in all education institutions. My plan is to provide a certification program teaching the faculty members about the Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007) . I created a course on this topic in a different class I took, and therefore, I already have a lot of the graphics and content ready. I’d like to propose including the CoI Framework in the optional Mastery and Leadership level D2L courses we already teach for continuing education unit or college credit. But, most importantly, I have to model what the CoI Framework and optimal course design looks like.

Faculty members may also struggle with accessibility, and many may refrain from doing videos in their online courses because they do not want to caption the videos. I plan on having videos available that demonstrate the process I go through to caption the videos I create for them. I’ll demonstrate creating the script, filming, editing, and captioning. I’ll keep the videos under 10 minutes. I’ll then place the videos in our helpdesk portal, but also email the videos, as many of the faculty cannot attend face-to-face trainings. I also plan to provide trainings face-to-face, film them, and place them in a location for faculty access. I want to demonstrate that it is possible to caption a lecture, as many of the faculty may feel it is impossible. It does take time, but it can be done.

Overall, I want to continue my practice of taking face-to-face faculty members and demonstrating how many of the same things they already do can be transitioned into an online environment. Essentially, I have the exact opposite task of what was asked for this paper, but I wanted to offer a different perspective.

References

Garrison, D.R. & Arbaugh, J.B. (2007). Researching the community of Inquiry
Framework: Review, issues, and future directions. The Internet and Higher Education, 10(3), 157-172.

Project #8: Worked Example Screencast

This week was a bit difficult for me as I was tasked with creating a worked example screencast for one of my courses.  Worked examples are not a foreign concept for me, and are often created by the math faculty at the university in which I am employed.  I was initially going to create a worked example on how to use the Lightboard technology we have, but I needed more training on the process.  Therefore, I asked my co-instructional designer her opinion on what we needed a worked example for, and we decided I should create one on how to create an accessible syllabus.

I was lucky that I already had so many technology options at my disposal because of my job.  I decided to use Camtasia to record my screencast and audio.  Before I could even begin recording, I had to revise the syllabus template we were using previously and send it off for approval.  Then, I had to write my script.  I wanted to use the quizzing feature within Camtasia, so I wrote a brief quiz for the video.

Finally, it was time to record.  I had difficulty with my mic, but eventually figured it out.  I was able to use my mic, but not my headphones as I only have on plug-in, but two cables for my headset.  I recorded the video and audio in sections, spliced the sections together, and then added call-outs, captions, a title screen, and arrows to show where I was clicking in the video.  All in all, the entire process from start to finish probably took about five hours.

I’d like to describe my video in greater detail.  One of the things our eLearning department requires is for instructors to create an accessible syllabus.  We are looking for the syllabus to be properly set up for a screen reader to easily relay the information to the screen reader user.  Headings and blank characters have been the main problems in the syllabi we have reviewed in the past, therefore those two areas became my focus, along with how to run an accessibility checker.  For the purpose of this assignment, I will not be providing the documents shown in the video as I do not have permission.  The content within the video is meant for GFCMSU faculty only, but could become Creative Commons if I pursue it.

I thoroughly enjoyed creating this worked example.  It provided me with the understanding of just how time consuming it can be to create excellent content.  I can further empathize with the instructors I assist because of this assignment.

Photo of instructor Alyssa Finch using a light board to teach math

Project #7: Google Slides Presentation

Click here to view slideshow

This week I was tasked with creating a static multimedia slideshow using Google Slides.  I have used Google Slides for a few years, and I appreciate the simple templates that, if used properly, tend to meet the best practices for multimedia design.  I also like that you can view the speaker notes when presenting, which is how I recommend you view my slideshow that I have linked to above.

If I had more time for this project, I would have integrated some higher-level thinking questions to improve the transfer of learning.  While the presentation itself is not an example of the Worked Example principle, I can definitely integrate some of the principle’s recommendations into the presentation.

I felt it was important to include some of the ways the college I work at uses the Worked Example principle, and I think I explained the Lightboard technology rather well.  I plan to utilize the Lightboard to create next week’s project.  Interestingly enough, the Worked Example I will be creating is “How to Use the Lightboard” as many instructors are not aware of how to use it.

Although this is included in the first slide of the presentation, I want to note that the presentation was based upon the following book:

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction, 2nd                           edition. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.

Project #6: Digital Story

I recently learned about the Personalization Principle, which promotes the use of conversational scripts as a way to present content.  I was able to practice implementing the Personalization Principle by creating a digital story.

The process I followed to create my story was creating a script, selecting media, arranging the media to follow the script, recording narration, exporting the final product, uploading the product to YouTube, and then applying captions.  The most time consuming portion of the whole project was creating the script as I initially had difficulty coming up with a story.  But, then I remembered a story I always told my students in the Introduction to Statistics section of the courses I have taught.

The story is about a friend I had growing up named Mode.  He was always there to help me, and he truly lived up to his name, given that mode is the piece of data that appears the most within a set.

You can view my digital story by clicking the video below:

Project #4: Prezi

View the presentation here: http://bit.ly/2mXjrgA

For the past two weeks, I have been working on a narrated Prezi presentation on the Modality Principle.  Essentially, the Modality Principle determines when narration versus on-screen text would be the best mode of content delivery for graphic-based presentations.  I explain more about the Modality Principle in the link above.

The Prezi was very easy to create.  I selected a template from the variety of templates available.  I chose a balance as the Modality Principle is all about balancing the learners’ cognitive load.  I then chose a color scheme that had good contrast.

The interesting thing about Prezi is that the presentations as path-based, meaning that there is a larger graphic and the presentation then zooms in on smaller sections of the graphic.  This visual helps learners understand that the small sections of content are a part of something much larger.  I really like the analogy presented in this manner.

I did not experience any problems while creating my Prezi or voice overs.  It was very easy to add narration to the pathways.  I only wish that there was a setting to zoom in more on the graphic, such as a “grow” effect.  However, this is just a personal preference.

In summary, creating a narrated presentation with Prezi is a breeze.  If you have any feedback on the presentation, I’d love to hear it.

Best Practices for Color and Depth in Graphic Design

Instructor Profile (1)

 

This week I had the opportunity to experiment with color and depth while creating a graphic for my Community of Inquiry Framework course.  A few pieces of information stood out to me when I was learning about color and depth.  I was not aware of the three color attributes; psychological, physiological, and learning related (Lohr, 2008).  In my past studies, I had only learned about the psychological impact of color, so it was interesting to learn more about how color can represent meaning, such as white and the connection to purity.  I immediately thought of a design documentary I had watched a long time ago (the name escapes me now) that discussed how the Diet Coke designers deliberately chose a whiteish hue to for the main part of the can and red for the logo to indicate a “reversal” from the sugary regular Coke’s red with white logo design.  It was a psychological color choice, for sure, but the white hue also made consumers associate Diet Coke with words like “clean” or “pure”.

As far as instructional design for online learning is concerned, color and depth have to be used with a purpose in mind.  As Lohr (2008) indicated, color has the ability to enhance the learning process or detract from the learning process.  Additionally, depth, especially with text, has the ability to make words stand out from the page or screen.  Knowing this, I set off to create another graphic element for my course with color and depth in mind.

Note: The instructor profile infographic serves two purposes: 1) it introduces myself to the students that are taking my course, and 2) it is an example of the instructor profile I will be discussing in the teaching presence portion of the third unit.

Justification of Color/Depth-Considered Design

  1. Describe your users (people that will see the typography in the unit).

The users of my unit will be educators, either undergraduate or graduate level, that are learning the Community of Inquiry (COI) Framework in relation to online course design.  It is assumed that they are adults with at least one student experience in online education.  The users would be capable of reading college-level material.

      2. Why does your design solution work?

 

Color: The infographic I created uses contrast to separate portions of the infographic.  My website for the course will use various blues, grays, whites, and blacks.  I created the infographic with the overall color scheme in mind.  Gray, white, and black look professional and provide a good contrast for most users.  The blue color was added for the color’s ability to invoke feelings of serenity and tranquility.  The Community of Inquiry Framework is supposed to help educators connect easier with their students, but it can be a huge change for some educators.  I wanted to reduce the feelings of stress as the students (educators) learn about the CoI Framework.

Depth:  When I attempted to use drop-shadowing, I did not like the appearance.  Therefore, I used bold fonts in all caps for the heading categories to improve learner focus on the headings.  The adjustments made in regard to scale ensure that the headings do not blend in with the text.

3.  What did you learn from the “user-test”?

My user-test was performed on the same individual from last week’s assignment.  He did not have any suggestions and noted that the colors really “pop out” when he views each section.

4.  What changes did you make to the design after the user-test?

I have not made any changes because the feedback was positive.  I will if my classmates indicate a change needs to be made.

 

References

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle                    River, NJ: Pearson Education

 

Selection Principle in Graphic Design

cognitive-presence-1

This week I learned about the selection principle in relation to graphic design.  Lohr (2008) states that a graphic should be concise, concentrated, and concrete to maximize selection.  Additionally, the designer should consider the “figure”, or what the learner will pay attention to, and the “ground”, or what the learner will not pay attention to when designing a graphic.

My justification below highlights how I considered the three “C’s” when designing the above graphic.

Justification of Selection-Considered Design

  1. Describe your users (people that will see the typography in the unit).

The users of my unit will be educators, either undergraduate or graduate level, that are learning the Community of Inquiry (COI) Framework in relation to online course design.  It is assumed that they are adults with at least one student experience in online education.  The users would be capable of reading college-level material.

      2. Why does your design solution work?

Concise: I reduced the amount of visual information by keeping fonts and colors basic.  I had originally designed the graphic with a gray background and a black silhouette which caused problems with figure and ground by drawing the attention to the silhouette instead of the words inside the graphic.  The switch to a plain white background and a light gray silhouette helped solve the problem.

Concentrated:  I kept the information in the graphic to the key terms only, instead of defining what each word means.  The definitions of the terms will come in the instruction instead.  This graphic is meant to be a “quick look”, so being concise was necessary.  Additionally, only a silhouette was used in a non-attention grabbing color with the words written inside of the oval where the brain would be.

Concrete: The use of the graphic showing the words inside the brain makes it apparent that the words relate to the brain as a whole.

3.  What did you learn from the “user-test”?

My user-test was performed on the same individual from last week’s assignment.  He helped me determine that the random placements of the words inside the brain made it difficult to read the words, and he suggested I align the words in the way you now see in the graphic.

4.  What changes did you make to the design after the user-test?

I changed the word placement and alignment.  I also tested the black versus gray silhouette just to see figure/ground in action, and we determined the gray silhouette was needed to reduce where the learner’s attention is drawn.

 

References

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle                    River, NJ: Pearson Education