Anna Clifford

Anna Clifford

by Anna Clifford

Napkins and individual packages of cheese and crackers were handed out to the group of preservice teachers.  The professor asked them to couple with a partner  and make a Cheesy-Crackette!  One partner watched and took notes, while the other made the masterpiece, as instructed. However, there seemed to be some congestion with one group that gained the attention of the entire class.

Aynne explained, “I have never seen one of those things, and I don’t know what to do with it!  I am lost!”

The calming partner chuckled in dismay and stated,  “You have never seen a package of cheese and crackers and you have never experienced the red stick?” Girl, just grab the red stick and smear it on! It is all good! ”

Bewildered eyes cut across the class of preservice teachers in the instructional technology class. “What is a teacher suppose to do? “ asked the professor. There responses included: show her how, draw her a picture, let her figure it out, and give her some directions. “ Look at you!  Let’s give her some step-by-step directions,” concluded the professor.

Discussion continued, as they compared and contrasted their directions and edited and finalized a class JobAid for making a Cheesy-Crackette.

Will it work?  Who should try it? Aynne was selected to follow the JobAid. Her peers  watched as she made her very first Chessy-Crackette.   “It is delicious!” she sounded.

The conversation continued, as the preservice teachers began to close the teaching-learning gap. They agreed the concise JobAid for Aynee and a job aid could be posted on a computer, as needed to close the computer skill’s gap, as well.  In addition, teacher selected videos from YouTube (e.g.,   How to Insert Pictures in Word 2007) or  TeacherTube, (e.g., School House Rock: A noun is a person, place or thing), and  using the Help aids (e.g., Microsoft Office Word Help) within the software, were suggested.

“It just depends on the student and the student’s needs. So is this like …  learner adaptations or differentiated instruction?”  questioned another.

Red sticksThe red stick … waved another awe moment!

Guest blogger:  Anna Clifford is an associate professor in the School of Education at Union University.   She works extensively with preservice teachers in early childhood education, as well as, instructional technology.  Her background in Montessori education has shaped her philosophy.  Her research and interest focus on technology integration in the PreK-8 teaching-learning environment, particularly, its impact on the professional growth of teachers and preservice teachers.  She works along the side of colleagues and preservice teachers, planning and implementing effective technology integration into the current content curriculum. She completed her EdD in Instructional Design and Technology from The University of Memphis, where she is an adjunct professor.

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Charles B. Hodges

Charles B. Hodges

by Charles B. Hodges

I work in an environment where thousands of learners access web-based learning materials daily. Web-based learning is a major topic of research and discussion in the professional organizations to which I belong. I teach graduate-level instructional design courses, and I will soon be involved with undergraduate-level technology integration courses. Exploring the endless stream of new Web 2.0 tools that emerge and imagining (or reading in my friends’ blogs) how these might be used to facilitate learning is something I enjoy. Recently, I have found myself considering ethical issues surrounding all of these interests:

When designing instruction, how much attention should be given to making sure that instruction is accessible to all learners?

By accessible here I mean accessibility in terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In conversations with colleagues on this topic I have heard comments like: “If federal money is not involved, you don’t have to worry about accessibility.”, “Why worry about something that affects such a small number of people?”, “We’ll worry about accessibility when someone complains.”

These comments were both shocking and depressing to me at the same time. Shouldn’t we do the right thing for our learners, all of them? I often describe an instructional designer as being an advocate for the learners. I understand the difficulty involved with making accessible web-based materials. A great deal of my work has involved mathematics and the specialized symbols necessary for communicating mathematics brings the difficulty to the forefront quickly. I also understand the issues of cost during development in both time and money. However, for those that have commented to me about small numbers of people (which I am not sure I buy, by the way), I have tried to champion the case of accessibility makes for better usability for ALL. Who wouldn’t, for example, like to be able to search the text of a podcast for all the instances of a particular word or phrase?

For now I have decided to take a middle road — demonstrating emerging technologies and discussing clever and interesting uses of them for education, while at the same time making it clear that there are real issues regarding accessibility for many new web-based tools and services. Is this the right thing to do? I am starting to see eyes roll when I bring up accessibility and I think that is progress. My interpretation of the rolling eyes is “here we go again.” They must be starting to remember

Guest blogger: Chuck Hodges has worked in higher education for nearly 17 years, all in math departments. He has earned degrees in Mathematics (B.S., M.S.) and Instructional Design and Technology (Ph.D. from Virginia Tech). Currently, he wears many hats in his role as manager of the Virginia Tech Math Emporium: facilities manager, researcher, logistics expert, stand-up trainer, and learner advocate. He will soon be surrendering all of those hats to move south and be an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at Georgia Southern University.

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Elizabeth Boling

by Elizabeth Boling

Years ago when I read Design for the Real World (Papanek, 1973), I was not anticipating ending up in a design field where the issues he championed would actually apply to my work. Over time, however, I find my thoughts returning insistently to the core of his message – most trained designers end up plying their trade to produce more stuff (or more experiences) for people who already have enough (or people who have too much! See The Plenitude, Gold, 2007). Furthermore, a world of design problems exists all around us, solutions to which are desperately needed but for which comparatively little funding is available and to which little glamour is attached. It’s easy to see that this is still true decades later when we contemplate the esoteric wine bottle openers and floor lamps, or the expensive office chairs and modular work systems that take up most of the space in product design publications. Even on the experience side, it is easy to see when we think about whether or not people too busy to sleep or to be civil to each other on the street really need another mobile communication device – especially one that will cost hundreds of dollars, require toxic materials to produce and rely on an unsustainable infrastructure to maintain.

But instructional designers … we’re the good guys of design, right? We improve people’s learning and their experiences of learning. We consider performance holistically and don’t just try to cram knowledge into people’s heads without regard for their circumstances or needs. We worry about school districts without computers, and we help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. Some of us even engage the objects of our design fully in the process and consider them collaborators in the design of instruction/systems that they will use. What could be wrong with that? Honestly, I am not sure there is anything very much wrong with it. I am just uncertain that we are offering our students the broadest view possible of instructional design’s potential in the world. If we had a publication that featured the most interesting and cool instructional design going on right now, how many of the projects featured in it would be focused in areas where people cannot find, or afford, instructional designers?

Guest blogger: Currently on sabbatical, Elizabeth Boling is an Associate Professor of Education and Chairperson of the Department of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University. She teaches and conducts research on the use of images in instructional materials, ISD as a design endeavor and on teaching design. She is also a designer of interactive multimedia and other forms of teaching and learning materials.

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Valentine's Day StudyHappy Valentine’s Day and welcome to the inaugural post of my new web site and blog, I hope you’ll find my blog interesting, provocative, funny and informative. I’m going to be considering design broadly, including instructional design, message design, interface design and graphic design. I’ll also be looking toward instructional development and learning technologies, such as e-learning, Web 2.0 and technology integration.

When I off-handedly mentioned mentioned the name of my new site to a group of doc students, one student (David S.) asked me what the name meant. So, I thought I would share a little bit about the name like I did for him. Certainly, a notebook is a catch-all: a container for unfinished and refined thoughts, a bound collection of related and dissimilar writings and a place for chicken scratch that hasn’t been fleshed out or found a home. Viral (rhymes with spiral) connotes the infectious nature and methods that so many good ideas are spread from one individual to another. So, hopefully, this site will become a venue for sharing. I hope you’ll help with that, too. And as the title suggests, “Show some love.” Comment and share. I welcome both.

As part of the launch for my site, I invited a slew of friends and colleagues from around the country to offer up their thoughts on topics they are currently pondering. I am pleased and honored to announce that over the next weeks, their posts will celebrate the launch of this site. Here’s the prestigious list:

  • Paul Ayers, International Paper
  • Elizabeth Boling, Indiana University
  • Rob Branch, University of Georgia
  • Ward Cates, Lehigh University
  • Jongpil Cheon, Texas Tech University
  • Anna Clifford, Union University
  • Chuck Hodges, Virginia Tech University
  • Corey Johnson, FedEx
  • David Lindenberg, Lebonheur Methodist Healthcare
  • Yuri Quintana, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Lynn Schrum, George Mason University
  • Sharon Smaldino, Northern Illinois University

Can you say, “Wow!”? This is an awesome list of experts, researchers and practitioners. I hope their thoughts will prompt you to comment on their posts, as well as either subscribe to the RSS feed or submit your name in the form on the right sidebar to receive email updates.