Monday, December 5, 2011

JHMI Internship: Looking Forward (to Phase 5)

     This being the final journal entry for me for during this internship which will officially end in a couple weeks, I just wanted to give a brief overview of what items I have left to complete during Phase 5.  Probably the most outstanding item which I may have a chance of getting done is the completion of the course evaluation survey by the SME.  If time permits, again, I hope to be able to revise the modules and include any requested changes for the final technology product I will submit (a major deliverable for this internship). 
     Otherwise, as mentioned previously, the other remaining items are probably all out of reach within the timeframe left.  This primarily involves getting all the Language of Caring modules deployed onto the LMS which will not happen until all information (i.e. survey link and contact information) has been defined.  Another feature which I unfortunately didn’t have time to research was the creation of supporting materials through mobile learning.  
     That being said, besides the final technology product I need to submit, I am looking forward to the final reflection paper which is another major deliverables for this internship.  In the paper, I hope to review the Language of Caring project in further detail while reflecting upon what I learned throughout the course of this internship experience in general.   
     As an additional note, although the internship will officially end in a couple weeks, I will continue working in order to see the MRI training to completion.  Although the Language of Caring modules provided me with good beginner experience on an ISD project, I think the experience with designing/developing a completely online course such as the MRI Safety training will be really invaluable.  Not to mention, it will give me another project to add to my growing portfolio.

JHMI Internship: Phase 4 - Week 10 (starting 11/28/11)

     The first highlight of this week was attending the training review meeting with MRI client/SME.  This was special for me because my onsite supervisor let me present my solution to the group.  Using my design document as a guide, I first explained how I reorganized the slides and broke the course up into 5 main areas.  I then went onto to describe the concept of the guided tour and how the objectives and assessments were based on the content areas.  The client/SME took well to my proposal and was confident that the training solution would not only meet, but exceed their expectations.  A tentative date for a functional prototype was set for January 10, 2012.
     Needless to say, this favorable feedback was a real confidence booster for me.  I now plan to go through each of the content areas one by one and develop the necessary slides/interactions.  One thing that may present a challenge though is that I proposed the inclusion of some animations.  I had found several videos online depicting the animations I was interested in having, but it appears that obtaining the permissions to include them may be tricky.  Therefore, I need to find a way to recreate the animations using the images available to me.  I don’t feel that the end product will look as professional, but I will do my best.  This actually raises a point I’ve come to learn during this internship: in addition to having knowledge of ISD processes/models, having some graphical design experience is extremely helpful in the field as well.
     The second highlight for me this week was finally being able to deploy the first module of the Language of Caring course onto the LMS.  Similar to the publishing process, the deployment process was also pretty straightforward and required checking a bunch of different settings, adding necessary descriptions and uploading the packaged course in the end.  As my supervisor walked me through the process, we only touched on a small portion of all the capabilities available in the LMS so I’m hoping future iterations will give me exposure to some more advanced features.  This is because I’ve noticed from past employment searches that LMS experience is a highly sought after skill.  Furthermore, my supervisor explained to me that throughout her career, she’s worked with several LMSs and that they’re all similar so by learning one, you’ll be able to learn others with ease.
     Once I had the module successfully deployed, I proceeded to develop a course evaluation survey.  While searching for examples on the internet, I actually came across a really handy tool called Training which is designed specifically for generating training evaluations.  What’s also nice about this tool is that it provides a huge resource bank of questions to choose from, all based on the Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model (KEM) which I got some exposure to a couple weeks back during the ISD Club presentation.  As mentioned before, KEM consists of 4 levels including Reaction, Learning, Behavior (or Transfer), and Results.

     The questions I decided to focus on dealt with the first (Reaction) and third (Behavior/Transfer) levels.  As the second level (Learning) follows assessment results, I decided not to include any related questions as the modules don’t include any assessment.  Additionally, the fourth level deals with how employee performance following the training affects the business as whole (e.g. return on investment or, ROI).  As the training module has yet to be implemented, trying to make such predictions on how it may affect the business seemed to be a bit beyond scope.  I ended up drafting a 15-question survey (10 level 1, and 5 level 3 questions) based on 5-point Likert scale ratings, as well as a couple open-ended questions for additional feedback.  Once I have it reviewed by my supervisor, I will forward it to the SME to complete.

     Just as Joe mentioned in his presentation a couple weeks back, completing this evaluation was really beneficial because it allowed me to think about various issues (especially related to the user experience) that never crossed my mind during the design phase.  Although the modules I developed are only supplements to f2f training (and not full-fledged courses), the issues may not be so relevant now.  However, they are definitely things I will consider in the future.

JHMI Internship: Phase 4 - Week 9 (starting 11/21/11)

     As this was a shortened week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, time was of the essence.  My first goal was to try and get all my Language of Caring modules published and deployed onto the LMS.  However, after discussing with my onsite supervisor, it didn’t make sense to go through the process of publishing and deploying all 9 modules because not all the required information is available at this time.  Namely, the survey link (for employees to fill out upon completion of each module) and the point-of-contact information have yet to be defined.  Instead, my supervisor suggested that I publish/deploy only the first module for the SME to review and give their feedback.  Since all 9 modules follow the same format, and changes requested can easily duplicated to the remaining modules.
     The publishing process was pretty straightforward which Articulate automates based on the settings one chooses.  The setting of utmost importance during the process is the SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) setting.  SCORM is a technical specification for packaging and deploying eLearning course.  It is the SCORM wrapper that makes courses universal and able to run in any LMS that is SCORM compliant.  There are currently three versions of SCORM including 1.1 (the first and most buggy), 1.2 (most widely adopted with numerous 1.1. fixes) and 2004 (aka 1.3, the newest but not yet widely adopted).  The company LMS works best with SCORM 1.2. 
     This experience was beneficial as I got a better understanding of SCORM (a term that I heard many times in the past, but never really understood), and the publishing process in general so I will be able to do it on my own in the future.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints, there wasn’t enough to deploy the course onto the LMS so that will have to wait until next week.

     In addition to going through the publishing process, I also had to complete the first draft of the MRI design document I had been working on in preparation for a meeting next week with the client/SME.  The remaining sections of the documents that needed to be done dealt with the defining the learning objectives (both terminal and enabling) and the matching assessments.   As the course will have 5 main content areas, I decided to have an enabling objective for each particular one, with an assessment to accompany it. 
     I’m a bit excited about this project because not only will developing such a course concept (i.e. a guided tour) be a new learning experience for me, but the matching assessments as well.  A couple of the assessments I have planned include things like sorting images (e.g. whether they pose an MRI danger or not) and branching scenarios (e.g. If patient X has such and such symptoms, what would be the best course of action to take?).  I hope the client/SME will approve everything.

JHMI Internship: Phase 4 - Week 8 (starting 11/14/11)

     This week was dedicated primarily to working further on the new MRI project I described last week.  As mentioned previously, the concept I am considering revolves around a guided tour.  I got the idea from a template I found through the Articulate community forums, although it is a bit limited in scope and will require significant additions. 

     Anyway, I met with my onsite supervisor early in the week to discuss my ideas and got the concept approved.  However, my supervisor also brought to my attention that some of the things I wanted to do may not be possible in Articulate.  For example, as the course is broken down into 5 main content areas, I wanted to give users the freedom to navigate the course in any order they choose.  Allowing users some sense of control in their learning has been proven to help with motivation.  Additionally, this would give the course the appearance of being more dynamic as the experience could vary from user to user based on their selections (although all the same content would be covered).
     The problem with this is that if users are given the freedom to jump from one content area to another in no particular order, there is no simple way to track which ones they’ve completed.  Hence, ensuring they’ve completed all the content areas by the end of the course is difficult.  This fact causes me to grow wearier with Articulate and its limitations and start thinking about alternatives which may allow more flexibility such as Adobe Captivate and Trivantis Lectora.  However, as time is somewhat limited, changing the technology solution is not really feasible at this time but something I will definitely keep in mind for future projects.
     Following our meeting, my supervisor asked me to start working on a design document for the course.  As I began to work on the document and accompanying storyboard, I noticed that the slides we had been given from the MRI group were in need of serious reorganization so I spent a good amount of time doing that first to have all the subject matter in order based on the 5 main content areas.  I then proceeded to develop a storyboard using a flowchart in Microsoft Visio (similar to the Language of Caring project).  I particularly like using flowcharts for storyboarding because they’re fairly easy to create and easy for others (e.g. SMEs, supervisor) to understand.

     Besides the MRI project, this week was also special because my supervisor was sponsoring a special lecture as part of the ISD Club she coordinates for the company.  The ISD club is basically a group of all the instructional designers working throughout different entities who get together every so often (monthly, bi-monthly) to sit in on a guest lecture and discuss issues of interest.  For this particular meeting, the guest speaker was Joe “Captivate” Ganci who is an Adobe Captivate (a course authoring tool) Certified Expert and is also a member of the Adobe eLearning Advisory Board (learn more about Joe here:
     The title of his presentation was "The Top 10 Blunders in Developing e-Learning".  Joe mentioned several good points, but there were a couple in particular that resonated with me the most.  The first of these points was “Tip #4: Not estimating the work correctly”.  This tip deals with the fact that a common problem faced during an ID project is scheduling.  Joe discussed how work is often underestimated and can lead to issues later on during the ISD process.  In order to do the best job estimating, Joe advised to be weary of several factors including quality assurance, money vs. time, and choosing the proper team members (e.g. instructional and graphics designers, field testers, etc.).  This point caught my interest because, as I mentioned last week, I am beginning to feel a bit of a time crunch as my internship is coming to a close and I still haven’t completed all my tasks.  Granted this is my first such project and I am now simultaneously trying to work on a second project, it has been a bit of a challenge.  However, as with all things, I think it’s something that will become easier and more familiar with time.
     The second point that struck a chord with me was “Tip #10: Not evaluating the results”.  Joe stressed the fact that in a lot of organizations, it’s very typical for training to be released and never evaluated for effectiveness (usually because of time/resource constraints).  However, Joe mentioned that this is a mistake and some effort should be made on evaluation in order to measure results to see if and how training can be improved (or even scrapped altogether).  As a solution for evaluation, Joe talked about Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model (KEM).  The model consists of 4 levels: Reaction (of student to training), Learning (of student following assessment), Transfer (of skills by student into work-related tasks), and Results (of company due to worker performance following training). 
     I think KEM is a pretty straightforward model to follow and can help provide insight into various areas that trainers may not think about.  I am also particularly interested in this issue because, as previously mentioned, I would also like to do some level of evaluation for my project.  Using KEM, I think I will try and devise a survey for the SME (and any other interested parties) to fill out.  With the limited time I have left, whether I will actually be able to make any changes to my modules based on the feedback is another story.

Monday, November 14, 2011

JHMI Internship: Looking Forward (to Phase 4)

     Looking towards Phase 4 (11/14 - 11/25), I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma.  On the one hand, to stay on schedule, I need to complete the packaging/publishing process for my original project so the modules can be migrated onto the LMS.  On the other hand, this MRI safety training project has now surfaced on my radar and appears to be a bigger priority than my original project.  While I welcome this new assignment (especially since it appears more interesting), I still have to keep in mind that I have a schedule to meet for this internship which has major deliverables to be completed in the near future which depend upon completion of the project as a whole.  Although the development is more or less complete, I’m not sure how much of a learning curve there will be for getting acquainted with the LMS and migrating the modules onto it.  Furthermore, my onsite adviser confirmed that some field testing will be done with the help of the SME and possibly others.  All that being said, I think I will need to consult with my onsite adviser on the best approach to take with the limited time remaining.
     Considering my current situation, although it presents a challenge, I actually appreciate it because I know it is indicative of the real world (of work).  In general, I think employees in general (and instructional designers in particular) have to be flexible to handle multiple assignments.  How well they are able to adapt when curve balls are thrown at them proves how dynamic they can be.  Looking back, I think was nearsighted when creating my schedule for this internship as I envisioned my main project would be the only thing I would have to work on (unless completed in advance, of course).  However, I now realize the importance of considering worst case scenarios and being prepared to encounter road blocks at any time.  Again, needless to say, I am learning so much from this experience which will undoubtedly make me more ready when entering the work force full-time upon completion of studies.

JHMI Internship: Phase 3 - Week 7 (starting 11/07/11)

     This week I was determined to complete my remaining six prototypes and publish/package them in preparation for LMS migration.  Although I was able to make them all functional, an old bug I encountered during development of the first module resurfaced where some of the text on one of the slides is hidden for some reason.  I brought this to the attention of my onsite adviser before and we were able to remedy the problem by resetting the layout properties in that particular slide and making the necessary changes (e.g. adjusting fonts, positioning, animations, etc.) to it again.  The reason for this being that my adviser explained that Articulate is kind of buggy and doesn't like when users start making changes to pre-existing layouts/templates. 
     However, what worked last time failed to resolve the issue this time, unfortunately .  After several hours of troubleshooting and researching online, I finally discovered that the text was disappearing due to a sound effect I had included on the same slide.  I actually found this out by accident when I clicked the pause button while the slide was playing.  I'm not exactly sure what the relation between the sound effects and text is, but something I will try to research via the Articulate community forums when I have more time.  In the meantime, I decided the benefit of having the sound effect didn’t outweigh the time/effort required to try and get it functioning correctly so I deleted it (with the consent of my onsite adviser) in order to complete development of the remaining modules.
     Besides working on the modules, I also had to switch gears about mid-week when my onsite adviser informed me that the clients for the MRI safety training course (described last week) changed their mind about having us a develop a course for them and said they would just use their PPT presentation instead.  Not exactly clear as to why the clients were have second thoughts, my onsite adviser thought it would be in our best interest to develop a quick mock-up/prototype as soon as possible to see if we could get them to reconsider.  She envisioned some kind of interactive scenario and asked me to see what I could come up with. 
     After reviewing some samples together from the Articulate website, I then got down to work.  This included doing further research online (specifically for MRI safety compliance training) as well as downloading, dissecting and modding templates in order to meet our particular needs.  By the end of the week, I came up with a concept which basically revolves around a guided tour where a new employee shows up to work on the first day and he/she is not aware of the MRI safety regulations.  In turn, a nurse at the hospital walks them through the various aspects they need to know (i.e. the subject matter).  At the same, assessments are incorporated by the nurse asking them (i.e. the new employee/trainee) review questions along the way.  I will review this with my onsite adviser next week.

JHMI Internship: Phase 3 - Week 6 (starting 10/31/11)

     The majority of this week was focused on trying to develop the remaining modules in my course.  Having the first one completed to a point I was satisfied with, I then went on to develop the remaining eight.  However, what I thought would be a fairly straightforward process actually required more time than expected.  This was partially due to what I had initially feared – making any changes in the overall look and feel later in the development process would require me to backtrack and replicate them in the modules completed earlier to ensure congruency.  Needless to say, constantly checking to make sure the modules were aligned with each other was very time consuming and allowed me to only have three completed by the end of the week.
     Looking back now though, I’m wondering about steps which could have been taken to help streamline the process and make it more efficient.  One idea that comes to mind would be to just keep developing each module (one based on the previous) and not worry about replicating changes until I have the last one (in this case, the ninth) completed.  By this point, the ninth module would ideally have all the elements to be changed incorporated within it such that I could just go back and compare it to the previous modules, make note of the differences, and make changes accordingly.  My only issue with this though is that I fear small changes which may not be so obvious could be overlooked.  In that case, I could try to diligently take notes on a piece of paper (or word processor) of any changes made in certain modules to have as a record to ensure sure all changes are accounted for.  This is something I hope to address with my onsite adviser as I’m sure the issue will resurface in future ISD projects in my career.
     The only other major event this week was a kickoff meeting my onsite adviser arranged for a new course that needed to be developed.  I refer to this event as “major” because it was the first time I got to experience the interaction between clients (requesting training), SMEs and instructional designers to decide upon training requirements.  The client is from the radiology department and they are requesting a course be developed to train clinical staff on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) safety due to the growing number of incidents that have occurred across the country.  The clients/SMEs provided a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation with the information to be included in the course, but what was presented lacked organization, intuitiveness and interactivity (i.e. another typical boring course).  As our department (i.e. training) seeks to get away from these types of courses, we provided them some possible ideas for how course could be improved.  The end result was that the clients/SMEs said they would go away and rethink their strategy based upon the discussion during the meeting to draft a new proposal for the course content.  At the same, we (i.e. the instructional designers) said we would also try and develop a simple mock-up/prototype solution.
     The main thing I took away from this meeting was the fact that as an instructional designer, I need to be better prepared when attending such meetings in the future.  What I thought was going to be more of an informational session on the course content actually ended up being focused more on logistics (e.g. course packaging, delivery, etc.).  Not to say these issues aren’t important, but I didn’t expect them to be of greater concern than rudimentary aspects of the course itself (especially from the outset).  That being said, I think part of the problem may also have been due to the fact that the clients/SMEs may have expected us to already have a grasp on the content based on the PPT slides they provided.  At any rate, I think the best approach for such meetings in the future would be to do my own homework on the subject matter and come prepared with possible training solutions to offer.  Then again, this was the first time I attended such a meeting so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

Monday, October 31, 2011

JHMI Internship: Looking Forward (to Phase 3)

     Although I am still on schedule, I feel that I could actually be ahead.  Some things which have held me back include slow PC performance (as mentioned earlier), and establishing a look and feel for the course that I am comfortable with.  I must admit, I am a bit of a perfectionist so I’ve been changing things quite a bit which has also used up a good amount of my time.  My motivation behind this was that I’d rather implement the majority of changes now in one module, rather than across nine down the road.  However, now that I have a template in place for my remaining modules, the rest of development should ideally run quicker.  Not to mention, this being the first course I’ve ever formally developed, I think requiring more time than usual is expected.  Furthermore, with more practice, the skill should come more naturally and will allow me to output quicker. 

     That being said, for Phase 3 (10/31 - 11/11) my goals include developing my remaining eight modules and publishing/packaging them on my local machine.  Depending on how long this takes, I will then try to import them online via the LMS (this is actually scheduled for Phase 4). 

     Additionally, as mentioned last week, another task formerly on the schedule which I have not been required to complete is some type of formative evaluation (e.g. survey).  I’m not exactly sure of the reason why, but I think it may have something to with the fact that the course will not actually be used until after I leave.  Another issue could simply be that the benefits of going through formative evaluation don’t outweigh the time/cost involved (especially when there are many other courses waiting to be developed); another important point to keep in mind for future ISD work.   At any rate, again, I feel it would still be a beneficial learning experience for me to take part in so I hope to discuss with my onsite adviser about finding a way to possibly do some local field testing.  This will ideally generate valuable user feedback which can help identify problems and make the solution more effective.  Perhaps the SME is another resource that can be tapped into to aid in this effort (either by providing testers and/or acting as a tester himself).

JHMI Internship: Phase 2 - Week 5 (starting 10/24/11)

     This week I finalized my prototype and reviewed it once again with my onsite adviser.  No major changes were requested so I can proceed to develop the remaining eight modules.  I plan to use my first module as a template which the remaining modules will be based on, and will just change the information for each accordingly.

     During our meeting, we also reviewed the publishing process in Articulate in preparation for rolling out the course to the LMS.  This process basically entails ensuring several settings are put in place; however, I can see how it may be easy to neglect some if one doesn’t pay close attention.  Therefore, the solution must be reviewed multiple times before being delivered on the LMS.  After reviewing this process, my onsite adviser also asked me to draft a document explaining the process for future employees in the group to use as reference.  When I actually start to complete the process on my own, I will try and draft the document at the same time.

     This week was actually shorter than usual because my onsite adviser arranged a special meeting for us with a senior instructional designer at another location.  This meeting was actually even more special for two reasons: the first was that this particular designer is interested in gaming and I am taking a game design course as part of my Masters program this semester; the second was that I had actually already connected with this designer online through Twitter and was finally going to meet him face to face.  After providing a general overview of what activities go on within his entity, he went on to describe his role and showed samples of his work (both current projects, and ones before he started working for the company).  At the end, he allowed me to ask questions of interest dealing with instructional design best practices at work, and the role of gaming within training.  I also got to share some ideas for projects I am considering (both work and school related) which he provided feedback on.  To say the least, the meeting really beneficial not only because of what I learned, but because I was also able to connect further with an experienced designer who can hopefully mentor me in the future.

JHMI Internship: Phase 2 - Week 4 (starting 10/17/11)

     This week I focused on developing a functional prototype for my course.  I have nine total modules to create which will all have a similar look and feel.  Therefore, if I can get the first one down to a point where I like (and on my onsite adviser approves), developing the remaining eight should be fairly straightforward.

     Once I had a static model ready, I reviewed this with my onsite adviser who offered some suggestions for improvement.  Besides this, we also discussed logistics of where some of the course information was placed which I thought would be hard for users to find.  Rather than being tucked away in the course, it seems that it would be better off in a more a visible place (e.g. the course introduction within the LMS).  In the end, we agreed that the information should exist in multiple places, allowing for maximum access.  

     Following our meeting, I incorporated the changes requested and also proceeded to add a few more elements to my module such as animations and sounds to make it more visually and auditorily pleasing.  This is something I will need to review with my onsite adviser again next week.

     As a side note, one setback worth mentioning that I’ve had to deal with lately during development is the poor performance of my laptop.  Although Articulate doesn’t ask for much in terms of system requirements, it runs relatively slow on my machine which has played a factor in not allowing me to progress faster.  I had someone from IT support make some adjustments to it, but it hasn’t seemed to make any substantial difference.  As there are no additional machines available, I will just have to make the most of the situation.

     Besides working on my prototype this week, I also had two beneficial professional development meetings.  The first was with a current employee who, like me, worked as an intern while in school.  They shared a lot valuable insight and tips for seeking more permanent employment within the group following the completion of my internship.  The second meeting was with my onsite adviser where we spoke about the organizational structure of the hospital in general, and training in particular.  I got a better feel for how training is distributed within the company, and who the major players are across the various training sectors.  Again, I feel such information will aid me for future employment searching.

Monday, October 17, 2011

JHMI Internship: Looking Forward (to Phase 2)

     As of now, I am on track with my proposed schedule. For Phase 2 (10/17 - 10/28), now that I have my design document complete, I will work on populating my slides in Articulate with the relevant information.  I will also review them with my onsite adviser and update them accordingly.  Additionally, I need to verify whether the SME will be involved in this review process; however, I don’t think so as my onsite adviser seems be my main point of contact. 

     Depending on how quickly I can complete a functioning prototype for my course, I may be able to get ahead of schedule for publishing the course online via the LMS.  This is especially true if indeed the SME will not be part of the review process.  In addition, I have learned that I will not be responsible for generating the formal evaluation survey as planned earlier; however, I may still try and generate a short in-house survey for my own benefit.  Removing these two components, although not really characteristic of the typical ISD process, will help me save time.  On the other hand, it could come back to haunt me if problems with the course are discovered down the road which could have easily been addressed having them; something else to keep in mind for future ISD projects as well.

JHMI Internship: Phase 1 - Week 3 (starting 10/10/11)

     I continued to work on my design document and completed a first draft of the learning objectives.  Although the training materials provided include learning objectives, I found that most of them are not really measurable (e.g. use words like know, understand, etc.).  Therefore, I had to re-write most of them to use action verbs instead (e.g. describe, demonstrate, etc.). 

     To help me in this effort, I used Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning.  Bloom's Taxonomy is a classification for learning objectives and is divided into three domains: cognitive (dealing with mental processes), affective (dealing with attitudes) and psychomotor (dealing with motor skills).  As my focus deals primarily with the cognitive domain, there are six associated steps: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  In order to maximize learning, it is suggested that one progress through the steps sequentially, as each increases in mental challenge than the one before.

     As the only proposed form of assessment at this point is basic multiple-choice quizzes provided in the training materials, I decided to not include objectives further than the application step. I also discussed this issue further with my onsite adviser and I was informed that the majority of online courses developed within Interactive Learning generally don't reach far into the later steps.  In the end, I decided to include one objective for each of the first three steps in my course.  It should also be noted that since course participants aren’t receiving credit for completing the course, there is no formal assessment requirement (i.e. it’s optional).
     Upon completion of my course learning objectives, I reviewed them with my onsite adviser.  She approved of them, so I continued to work on completing the remainder of the design document.  Once I completed it, I met with my onsite adviser once again to get her feedback.  I took note of the changes she requested and updated my document accordingly. 

     Another important point that was discussed in the last meeting with my onsite adviser, despite being a bit late, was the need for the LoC training program in the first place.  I learned that each department within Johns Hopkins has a set of surveys completed by various entities (e.g. patients, auditors, etc.) and that the results of these surveys have direct implications on certain types of funding received.  Therefore, to help ensure results are at the highest level, Service Excellence initiatives such as the LoC program are put into place.  Again, it would have been ideal to have this information earlier in the project but, because a formal needs analysis was not required, it slipped my radar.  However, it is an opportunity for me to learn from and pay special attention to for future ISD projects.

JHMI Internship: Phase 1 - Week 2 (starting 10/03/11)

     I began to draft a storyboard for my course interaction, based on the information I acquired during the meeting with the SME.  This being the first time I designed a storyboard, I consulted with my onsite adviser regarding my options.  I was assuming that the storyboard should be more graphical in nature, but she showed me some examples using both Word and PowerPoint.  In the end, I decided to use Microsoft Visio which is a great tool for creating flowcharts.  I thought this would be more intuitive to add later on to my design document.

     As I am not developing a full-fledged course (i.e. my course will supplement the face-to-face training workshops), the interaction in my course is fairly basic.  It will consist of the following components, arranged sequentially: Title, Objectives, Video, Review, Supporting documents and Point of contact (POC) / Survey link.  I reviewed this with my onsite adviser and received her approval.

     Once I had I my storyboard complete, I then proceeded to work on the design document.  I was given a previous in-house document to use as an example.  This document includes the following major components: Training Requirements, Overall Goal & Purpose and Learning Objectives.  Several sub-components are also included such as Audience, Assessment and Seat Time.  Going through the process of drafting a design document has helped me even further to give clarity and definition for my project.

     In addition to the sample design document, I was also provided with an in-house template I will be using for my course.  I began to put together a prototype in Articulate based on the storyboard I drafted.  Once I complete the design the document and have it reviewed, I will begin to populate my course slides with relevant information (e.g. objectives, videos, etc.).       

     Last but not least, I was given the opportunity to attend two m-learning vendor presentations.  During the presentations, each vendor proposed their m-learning solution in an effort to convince JHMI to contract with them.  As mentioned earlier, JHMI is seeking an m-learning solution in an effort to improve their engagement with their international patients.  Some components of the solution sought include appointment reminders, guest services information, policies/procedures and most importantly, performance surveys.  In general, I found the presentations to be very informative as they helped provide me with some useful insight into the JHMI m-learning strategy.

JHMI Internship: Phase 1 - Week 1 (starting 09/26/11)

     Upon completion of all administrative tasks, I was finally presented with the content for my assignment: a training program entitled The Language of Caring (LoC).  The purpose of the training is to enhance communication skills of hospital employees with customers (i.e. patients, families and staff) in order to make their interactions have a sense of compassion, rather than solely based on business.  

     It consists of 9 "skill-builders" that focus on individual communication skills.  Each skill-builder is designed to be a separate face-to-face workshop, to be administered by respective managers.  Each workshop is setup in the following format:
     1) Introduction: Welcome, presentation of objectives
     2) Warm-up: Short introductory activity and discussion
     3) Video: Further explanation and sample skits
     4) Apply It! Activity: Learners try to use new skill
     5) Hard-wiring Activity (optional): Follow-up activities to be completed outside of workshop
     6) Conclusion: Short review and closing remarks

     As the included materials in the program are plentiful, I had to work with a subject matter expert (SME) to find out exactly what should be included.  The SME for my project is a supervisor who works within the Service Excellence group for the Nursing department.  Service Excellence is an initiative within all of Johns Hopkins to improve upon customer relations.

     In our meeting, the SME explained what he envisioned for the online portion of the training.  It should basically act as a supplement for the face-to-face workshops, consisting of all videos for the nine-skill builders, as well as all accompanying documentation for managers and course participants to have access to.  He also said it should incorporate a link to a follow-up evaluation survey, to be completed by course participants.  He also noted that it should be available on the company Learning Management System (LMS) by the end of the year as formal training is scheduled to start soon after. 

     In addition, based on the suggestion of my onsite adviser, the SME also liked the idea of including a mobile learning (m-learning) function such that course participants could receive reminders and/or tips regarding course sessions via SMS text messaging.  This would be something voluntary that participants could opt into by supplying their mobile number (perhaps during the survey).  This is something I hope to look into as Interactive Learning (and JHMI in general) is interested in possibly adding an m-learning solution to their portfolio.  All in all, this meeting was extremely beneficial as it helped me get a better grasp for what the project really entailed.

     Following this meeting, I installed the software I would be using to help me build my course, Articulate Studio.  Articulate is a course authoring tool for designing engaging e-learning courses.  Rather than existing as a separate entity, it is a plug-in for Microsoft PowerPoint which shows up an additional tab.  The Studio consists of the following components: 
     Presenter - core tool used to create flash-based courses
     Quiz Maker - tool to create flash-based quizzes
     Engage - tool to add interactions for courses (e.g. timelines, situations)

     Besides familiarizing myself with the different tools offered in Articulate, I also continued to review the various LoC training materials, and tried to organize all the electronic training materials (e.g. documentation, video, etc.) accordingly on my computer.

JHMI Internship: Introduction

     This blog post commences the independent study / internship I will be embarking upon this semester as part of my Master's degree in Instructional Technology - Instructional Design & Development.  I will be working for Johns Hopkins Medicine International (JHMI), within the Interactive Learning department.  Interactive Learning is responsible for all web-based and instructor-led training courses for JHM.  
     As an intern, I will be responsible for designing, developing and delivering on online supplement for a face-to-face training program entitled The Language of Caring (to be described in the next post).  By completing bi-weekly blog posts such as this, I will be able to reflect on my experiences throughout the course of the project.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Final Project

Well, here it is - my final project.

The following is description of what was expected in our written paper and technology product:

Written Paper
You will create a unit of instruction on the topic of your choice within which a technology that you have “mastered” is integrated to improve student learning. The instructional unit, which acts as the setting within which this technology is integrated, should be described with a focus on the design process. This written portion of the project should set the stage for how the technology is used. This paper should show an understanding and ability to implement the design process and include topics such as: audience, definition of the problem, goals and objectives, learning and teaching styles, implementation, assessment, etc. As with all projects completed in this course, you are asked to use correct spelling and grammar, write in a scholarly manner, and use references where necessary to strengthen and support your ideas. All references should follow APA guidelines. This paper should be no longer than ten pages in length.

Technology Products
Depending on your project choice, your technology products should include 1) all technology-related instructional products you create for use in your unit and, when appropriate 2) a model of a student project resulting from your lesson.

As mentioned previously in Week 13, my unit of instruction was a teacher training course covering the use of social bookmarking for sharing resources online. As also previously mentioned, my social bookmarking tool of choice was Diigo, primarily because of its popularity, great mix of features and ease of use. I also developed my course using a free online course authoring called Udutu. I decided to go with Udutu rather one of the mainstream course authoring tools (e.g. Adobe Captivate, Articulate Studio, etc.) for a few reasons: 1) Cost (Udutu is free), 2) Ease of use (Udutu is fairly intuitive), 3) Accessibility (Udutu courses can be accessed from any computer). Although use of Udutu isn’t so widespread, I still feel like it afforded me a valuable first experience in eLearning course development.

Aside from the tools, working on the paper was also highly beneficial. Reflecting back on all the theories we covered over the term and actually applying them in a lesson was priceless. It felt like everything we learned about finally paid off.

All in all, no doubt it was a lot of work, but an experience I will value for some time to come. I honestly never expected to learn so much in just this one introductory course. I am really excited about what other opportunities future classes in the Masters program will present.

My written paper can be found here: Final Project - Paper (
My technology product can be viewed here: Final Project - Technology Product (
The accompanying storyboard for my technology product can be found here: Final Project - Storyboard (

My presentation is here (as posted in Week 14): Final Project - Presentation (

Any comments and feedback and greatly welcomed and appreciated.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Week 15 (May 10 - 16, 2011)

Well, after a short 15 weeks, the class has finally come to a close. In general, I really enjoyed it. Not only did the class incorporate a nice mix of theoretical as well as applied aspects, but the instructor was also very knowledgeable and easy to work with.

For the final class, we had an open forum where everyone got to mention what they benefited most from the class, and what they hope to improve on for the future. It was really interesting to hear what everyone had to say. We were also asked to make one final post on our blog space discussing resource challenges and personal/internal stressors over the course of the term. My post can be read below.

As for my final project details, I will be posting them later this week.

Resource Challenges
I think one project that was a (beneficial) challenge for me was the digital storytelling project. I’ve watched so many digital stories before, but never gone through the actual process of compiling one.

At the start, it seemed like it would be easy to complete but once I started going through it, I quickly found out I really did not know what I was getting myself into. I guess it depends on the effort one wants to put into their project, but between trying to write an entertaining story, recording yourself telling it, trying to mix in background music, finding good pictures to match, incorporating transitions between pictures, dealing with the mishaps of Windows Movie Maker (or whatever software used), etc., etc.

Basically, it took me a lot of time to get my project where I wanted, and I now have a much greater appreciation for digital stories and the effort people put into creating them.

Personal/Internal Stressors
I don’t know if I really had any stressors to deal with over the semester, but one thing that was new to me which I greatly valued was the material on learning/teaching theories. I’ve been exposed to technology for awhile now and have used it before in lessons, but I’ve never been able to give an educated explanation as to why it should be used other than something like “it’s cool.”

I also appreciate doing the final paper as it gave me the chance to finally put this knowledge to use and make a case for my technology integration proposal, supported with proofs. One small suggestion I have though for the future is to possibly make these topics worth more in the grading. I know the focus was meant to be on the design process, but I feel these are also very important prerequisites to the design process.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Week 14 (May 3 - 9, 2011)

We are in the final stretch as our final projects are due next week so, as you can probably imagine, no readings again this week.

Over the past week, I mostly concentrated on completing the storyboard and developing my course. So far, I have a pretty good portion completed. This week however, I need to focus more on the paper.

In addition, we also had to make a presentation in class discussing what are project is about. The following is a brief description of what was required:

During the final days of class you will be asked to present your project to your peers for the purposes of sharing, feedback, and evaluation. This presentation should be no more than ten minutes and describe the design processes used and how the technology was integrated. This presentation should be viewed as an informal time for you to share your ideas and views on the design process and technology integration.

My presentation can be viewed below.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Week 13 (April 26 - May 2, 2011)

No readings again this week as the term is winding down now and everyone is hard at work preparing their final projects.

I will use this post to briefly talk about the final project. The following is a summary of what is expected from us:

In the final cumulative project, you will create a unit of instruction on the topic of your choice within which a technology that you have “mastered” is integrated to improve student learning. You are encouraged to take advantage of the time spent on this project to create something that would be appropriate for a current or future teaching situation (if applicable). The project contains three parts: a written paper, technology products, and a brief presentation.

This project is designed to allow you to express your understanding and experience applying the theories, concepts, and technologies taught within this course. This project should show a strong understanding of all concepts covered throughout the semester, including but not limited to proficiency with computer technologies, design techniques, and theories of learning and teaching. When designing this project, view this as your opportunity to experiment with the theories and technologies you have learned over the past semester.

For my project, I am planning to design a teacher training course on the use of Diigo (, a popular social bookmarking tool, as a means of sharing resources online. The technology tool I have decided to use in order to deliver the lesson is Udutu (, a free online course authoring tool. I am very familiar with Diigo but Udutu, and course authoring in general, is still new to me. Although, the assignment calls for us to use a technology we’ve “mastered” I discussed with my instructor my desire to get some exposure to course authoring tools, so I got the “OK”. Although I know this project will definitely be a challenge, I am highly motivated so am confident everything will work out.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Photoshop Essentials Workshop #1 (April 30, 2011)

They’re offering a 3-week Photoshop workshop on campus so, being I have limited knowledge in using the software, I thought it would be beneficial to attend.

The first session was a basic introduction to the various functions found in the software. We actually created three different pieces which you can find below.

The first piece (the blue and white ship) uses a technique known as contrasting.
The second piece (London text over photo) was done using a layer masking technique. This technique is commonly used in postcard printing.
The third piece (4 London photos) uses a colorization technique. Andy Warhol ( was especially known for using this style.

At the moment, I am fairly confident as all three were pretty easy to make. However, what the instructor has planned for the future sessions may not be so simple so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Digital Storytelling Project

Well, we’ve finally completed our digital storytelling projects this past week.

The following is a brief description of the assignment:

Digital storytelling incorporates audio, video, and still images as a form of multimedia writing – to tell a story. For this project, you will create a digital story on an instructional topic. Specific guide and tutorials regarding this project will be provided in class.

I know the instructions say our story should be “on an instructional topic”, but this was later amended to include a personal story as well. As I mentioned a few weeks back, I focused on my first experience working abroad an English instructor.

Well, I must say, this project was definitely harder than I thought it was going to be. Well, maybe not hard so much so as time consuming. I think what probably took the most time was recording my story and mixing in the background music (both done using Audacity). Finding the right images also took a bit of time as well. We compiled our stories using Windows Movie Maker and luckily, it didn’t give me too much of a headache. The only downside to the software is that it’s kind of limited in features, but perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to use. Anyway, yet again, another invaluable experience to have. I now hold creators of digital stories in much higher esteem.

You can view my final compilation here: Hostage Crisis - (
My final storyboard and list of resources can be found here: Hostage Crisis (Storyboard & Resources) – (

As usual, would love to hear any comments/feedback anyone would like to share.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Week 12 (April 19 - 25, 2011)

No formal readings this week as our gracious instructor gave us time to wrap up our digital storytelling projects, and start to work on our final term projects.

I’ll be posting my digital story project here later this week and will give more details about the final project next week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Week 11 (April 12 - April 18, 2011)

This week we investigated factors influencing technology integration. I found this to be yet another crucial topic in the field because it covers all the problems teachers are faced with in trying to integrate technology, and how they can deal with them.

We were asked to post on our blog space in Blackboard addressing the following objective/questions:

Identify potential barriers to technology integration to inform your future personal and professional technology integration plans.
What do you identify as your two or three top personal barriers to technology integration?
What are some steps you can take to address these barriers in your time at Towson?

Here is what I posted:

Based on the Ertmer (1999) article, I personally feel that my main problems with technology integration revolve more around first-order (external) barriers than second-order (internal) ones. Then again, my background is in IT and I’m still fairly new to teaching so this could have something to do with it. Anyway, although first-order barriers have been my biggest trial, I don’t mean to give the impression that they have been totally hampering my efforts. At the last institution where I worked, technology tools were pretty much at my disposable as classrooms were well equipped (e.g., each classroom had a computer, projector and SMART Board) so, no complaints from that view point. However, as Ertmer describes, there were other resource constraints I was challenged by.

As the majority of teachers will probably confess, lack of time in order to easily integrate technology has always been an issue for me. Although I was able to integrate technology on several occasions, I admittedly had to go that extra mile which I don’t think many of the teachers I’ve worked with previously are so willing to go. Their reasons vary, but the majority of them probably dealing with second-order barriers such as not seeing any benefit and “unwillingness to change” (Ertmer, 1999, p. 48). Although more work was required on my part, my main motivation was to enhance lessons (Oncu, Delialioglu & Brown, 2008, p. 34). Whereas Oncu et al. (2008) refer to enhancing lessons logistically (reducing time spent) and via content presentation (helping get across abstract concepts) (p.34), my aim was to also engage students more who often showed very little interest in learning.

Ertmer (1999) discusses many good strategies to help teachers deal with issues of time including “using block scheduling” and “reorganizing teaching loads” (p. 56). However, these strategies are really in the hands of administration and therefore, beyond the control of teachers. That being said, one of my goals during my program of study is to try and find ways to re-use technological products (e.g. Web 2.0 tools) in lessons in order to save time. Just as drawing up lessons from scratch requires valuable time, trying to integrate technology as well can entail even more time (especially for one just starting out). Therefore, re-use of technological products, especially ones which are flexible (allow for adaptation and customization), is highly favorable. Hopefully such knowledge will be offered in later classes. If not, I will have to resort to where I tend to get most of my information regarding the field; that is, online presentations and conferences.

Another issue I face in technology integration is knowing when and when not to use technology, and assessing effectiveness. In general, being so convinced of the opportunities technology integration can afford, when faced with instructional situations in the recent past, I’ve always been quick to try and find some technology to integrate into them.
However, as mentioned in the Oncu et al. (2008) research, perhaps this may not be such a good approach as I may end up doing something “that may not necessarily benefit (my) students” (p. 37).

Again, Ertmer (1999) gives some great examples of evaluation strategies for measuring learning processes/outcomes including electronic portfolios (e-portfolios), self-evaluation, and group performance tasks (p. 58). With respect to e-portfolios, I am a huge advocate as I feel they provide an excellent means for students to reflect on, as well as showcase their work. I actually began implementing such a project at my last place job although I unfortunately wasn’t able see it through due to a role shift. However, I could tell that the students enjoyed the initial phase we were able to complete together. Self-evaluation is also very beneficial, providing a means for assessment to go “beyond products to include information about students’ knowledge, skills, dispositions, and attitudes” (Ertmer, 1999, p. 58). I remember completing self-evaluations in an online course I took and they really helped give me a better appreciation for the skills I was learning. Lastly, the group performance task mentioned by Ertmer sounds intense and definitely seems to promote higher-order thinking skills.

Taking all this into account, throughout my program of study, I really hope to build on the strategies given by Ertmer, as well as continue to learn even more effective methods of evaluating student/worker performance. I believe there are courses focused on assessment in the Department of Education which I will look into. Once I learn to get a better feel for assessing effectiveness, I can hopefully in-turn start to realize when it is (not) appropriate to integrate technology. Furthermore, if I can successfully prove with concrete data that technology integration does make a difference in student learning, I am confident this will help a great deal in convincing other teachers dealing with second-order barriers.


Ertmer, P. (1999). Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research & Development, 47(4), 47-61. Retrieved from

Oncu, S., Delialioglu, O., Brown, C. (2008). Critical components for technology integration: How do instructors make decisions? Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 27(1), 19-46. Retrieved from

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week 10 (April 5 - April 11, 2011)

This week we started getting into the nitty-gritty of the instructional design process. The reading we were assigned was a tutorial entitled The Basics of Instructional Design which focused on the Holland Process Model (HPM).

The ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) model is considered to be the base for most other process models used in the field. ADDIE is “cyclical and iterative” as each component follows one after the other and “evaluation is ongoing throughout all stages” (Holland, 2005). The HPM builds upon ADDIE in that it includes a few other important components. An acronym to easily remember the components is DADDIAE (Define, Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Assess and Evaluate). Like ADDIE, the HPM is also cyclical and “evaluation is continuous in all phases” (Holland, 2005).

The following is a brief overview of what takes place during the various phases of the HPM:
Define: Identify the problem and ideal solution.
Analyze: Work with others to determine course content, draft ability statements (to be discussed), review existing materials and identify learning setting and tools.
Design: Draft ability-based objectives (to be discussed), matching assessments (to be discussed) and order of instruction.
Develop: Create student materials and instructor guide, and determine learning events.
Implement: Deliver instruction.
Assess: Review student learning vs. objectives, learner feedback and course content, and suggest any necessary changes.
Evaluate: Continuously question validity of instruction, whether a better approach exists and if learning is taking place (located in center of the HPM to highlight its importance).

After presenting the HPM, the tutorial went on to discuss how to write ability statements (part of the Analysis phase). Holland (2005) states that “ability statements describe what students will be able to do as a result of your instruction.”
A great way to easily remember the components of an ability statement is the following: Ability Statement = Action Verb + Object (or subject content reference) (Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2004, p.114; Norton, 1985, 157). Some examples include: DESIGN instruction, PRESENT material and WRITE lesson plan. A number of verbs that should be avoided are also mentioned because they cannot easily be measured; they include the following: Know, Understand, Feel and Enjoy (Mager, 1984, p. 20).

Ability statements form the basis of the next focus of the tutorial, drafting ability-based objectives. Ability based objectives address “the two most important questions an instructor should ask in planning instruction”:
1. What will my students learn as a result of taking my course?
2. How will I know they have learned?
(Holland, 2005)

Ability-based objectives are separated into two types: formal and informal.

Formal (or terminal) objectives are more detailed than informal ones. They consist of four parts: Conditions + Who + What + Acceptable Performance (Cook, 1977, pp. 18-19: Seels & Glasgow, 1990, pp. 134-141).
The following is an example: Working in teams (conditions), the History students (who) will be able to demonstrate their knowledge, by creating a timeline, of past events (what). To be acceptable, the timeline must include at least five events studied in class, in chronological order.
Informal (or supporting/enabling) objectives provide less detail than formal ones. They consist of (at least) two components used in formal objectives: Conditions (optional) + Who + What
The following is an example: Given background information on X (conditions, optional), the student (who) will write a report summarizing what interested them (what).

Ideally, at the time of writing ability-based objectives, one should come up with matching assessments in order to ensure agreement between the two. Three characteristics of good assessments include:
1. Clearly written directions explaining what the student is supposed to do.
2. An appropriate setting allowing for the student to complete the task.
3. Agreement between the objective and assessment (Dick, Carey, & Carey, 2001, p. 146; Gagné & Briggs, 1979, pp. 219-220; Gagné, Briggs, & Wager, 1992, p. 257; Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2004, pp. 270-271).

This last characteristic cannot be stressed enough as problems most often arise here. In order to ensure agreement, it is necessary to focus on the action verb in the ability statement of the objective. For example, if the ability statement requires students to WRITE a report, having an assessment where they EDIT one would be inappropriate.
The following is a sample objective and matching assessment:
Objective: The Drama student will to be able to ACT out a scene at random from the short play read in class.
Assessment: CHOOSE a slip of paper from the box with a scene written on it from the short play read in class. ACT it out for the class.

In conclusion, this tutorial was definitely insightful, to say the least. In my limited past teaching experience, I never knew so much thought could be required in order to create (good) learning objectives. I also appreciate the effort involved in devising matching assessments. I’m sure there have been several past occasions both I and fellow teachers have not properly assessed students thinking that any related tasks to the objectives would suffice. In actuality, it really makes sense to devise assessments at the same time of objectives; it’s probably easier too since it doesn’t require one to go back and try and rethink their thought process. I’m sure all of these tips will be a lot of help in not only completing the final project in this class, but future instructional design scenarios as well.


Cook, M. J. (1977). A classroom guide for the successful teacher: A systematic approach. Columbia, MD: John D. Lucas.

Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. O. (2001). The systematic design of instruction. (5th ed.). New York, NY: Longman.

Gagné, R. M., & Briggs, L. J. (1979). Principles of instructional design. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Gagné, R. M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager, W.W. (1992). Principles of instructional design (4th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College.

Holland, G. (2005). The Basics of Instructional Design. Retrieved from:

Mager, R. F. (1984). Preparing Instructional Objectives (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Lake.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Norton, R. E. (1985). DACUM handbook. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University.

Seels, B., & Glasgow, Z. (1990). Exercises in instructional design. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Technology Exploratorium

I also presented my Technology Exploratorium (TE) topic this past week. The TE was a chance for each student to learn about a new instructional technology and present it to the class (reminds of “show and tell” as a kid).

The following is a detailed description of the (two part) assignment:

a) Presentation: Over the course of the semester, each student will be asked to lead a 10-minute presentation on a technology of their choosing. Your presentation should aim to familiarize us with the particular technology, its features, and capabilities, and provide examples of how the technology might be useful in a formal or informal instructional setting. You may wish to include a discussion of the technology within the context of relevant course topics and themes.

b) Wiki Posting: In addition to the presentation, you will post a brief (200 word max) summary of your presentation, your slides, and a link to the technology resource on the Technology Exploratorium wiki. This is due the day of your scheduled presentation.

The tool I chose to explore was called GoAnimate ( It’s a free online tool for easy animation creation. I must admit, it was fun learning about GoAnimate and it really wasn't that hard to use. I just I wish I had more time to play with it. I know the use cases in ESL are endless, but I think it can easily be adapted for use in many other subjects as well (e.g. Language Arts, Social Studies, etc.).

You can see my presentation and wiki posting here: TE - GoAnimate (

As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week 9 (March 29 - April 4, 2011)

No readings this week as our professor is giving us time to work on our digital story projects. We were asked to produce first draft scripts.

For my digital story, I’ve decided to focus on a nerve-racking scenario I encountered during my first experience working abroad as an English Instructor.

Here is the script I drafted: Hostage Crisis (Draft Script) (

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week 8 (March 22 - 28, 2011)

Back from a relaxing Spring Break, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of the semester. We are gearing up for our upcoming digital story projects so, in order to prepare, our professor assigned us a couple readings covering this topic. I am definitely looking forward to the digital story project because I have seen so many, but have never actually gone through the process of making my own.

Of the two readings, the first was informative as it described a teacher’s first-hand account creating digital stories with some of her classes. However, most of the advice given was geared towards Mac users, providing a section called “iMovie Tips” (a program on the Mac operating system for creating home movies, as well as digital stories) (Banaszewski, 2002). As I am still a PC user, I couldn’t relate to some things mentioned, so I wasn’t completely interested.

On the other hand, I was actually quite fond of the second reading because it not only provided important background information, but a step-by-step process to follow as well called “The Seven Elements of Effective Digital Stories” (Bull & Kajder, 2004, p.47). However, the authors give credit to the originators of this process, Joe Lambert and Dana Atchley from the Center for Digital Storytelling at UC Berkeley, whose work back in 1993 built the foundation for digital storytelling as we know it today. The authors group and order these elements a bit differently from the originators, however the underlying ideas remain the same. The seven elements are described as follows:

A. Phases of writing: Stories are drafted, scripts revised and storyboards designed.
1. Point of view - the focus of the story should be on the writer; the first-person pronoun “I” should be used.
2. Dramatic question - the question that is posed in the story to hold audience attention; the answer (or resolution) should be given by the end.
3. Emotional content - the story should try and evoke an emotional response from the audience.
4. Economy - the story should not be too long (e.g. two-three minutes for one double-spaced page is a good measure) in order to make the construction process (see below) more manageable, and the story more focused.

B. Construction: Stories are constructed using a digital video editor
5. Pacing - the story should be told at varied paces (i.e. speeding up, slowing down) in order to help keep audience attention.
6. Gift of voice - the story should be told with the writer’s own voice, and should try and employ different voice strategies (e.g. pitch and tone).
7. Soundtrack - the story should try and incorporate a musical piece in order to add depth; copyright should also be accounted for.

Equipped with this knowledge, I feel a lot more confident going into the digital story project. Not to mention, if I ever have the opportunity to run such a project with a class of my own, I’ll be clued up as to what all is required and what pitfalls to be weary of.

Banaszewski, T. (2002). Digital storytelling finds its place in the classroom. Retrieved from

Bull, G., & Kajder, S. (2004). Digital storytelling in the language arts classroom. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(4), 46-49.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Week 7 (March 15 - 21, 2011)

We were actually on Spring Break this past week, so our kind professor was nice enough to give us the week off from our usual weekly readings/activities.

I was recouping from the research paper. :-)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Research Paper

Well, after about a month of extensive research, our research papers were finally due.

The following is a detailed description of the assignment:

The purpose of this research paper is to give you the opportunity to develop an understanding of ideas and theories driving educational technology and instructional design. This assignment asks that you research several terms that have many similarities as well as many differences. Within this assignment you are to define, compare, and contrast the terms educational technology, instructional technology, instructional design, and instructional development. Also, conclude with a discussion about where you see yourself fitting in now and in the future. You are asked to use scholarly resources found in peer-reviewed journals or book chapters online and/or at the university library to support your definitions and conclusions.

This paper should include at least five references outside of the class readings and follow referencing guidelines as described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition). APA style is picky and precise, and I will be looking closely at your use of in text citations, your reference list and your formatting, so please pay close attention! This paper should be no more than seven pages in length (excluding title page and references page) and exhibit proper spelling and grammar.

I must admit, writing the paper was a bit of a challenge for several reasons. First, the four terms we were asked to define are all closely related so trying to clearly distinguish between them was not easy. Second, we were restricted to seven pages (double spaced) so choosing what (not) to use was also another daunting task. Lastly, I can honestly remember only writing one paper during all of my four years in undergrad, and that was about eight years ago.

Anyway, in the end, everything worked out and I benefited greatly from the experience. We still have one more paper due at the end of the term, so looking forward to that (seriously).

You can read what I submitted here: Defining our field - A beginner’s attempt (

As always, any and all comments are welcome.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Week 6 (March 8 - 14, 2011)

The reflection I wrote this week was actually a bit longer than my usual (believe it or not), so I’m only posting a summary. If you would like to read my full reflection, you can do so here: Week 6 Reflection (Full) (

This week we got an in depth look at designing effective web pages. The first reading from the Web Style Guide focused on site design in general whereas the second, Web Accessibility in Mind, dealt more with accessibility issues. The readings were quite interesting because they brought to light several important aspects of web sites that we either often don’t pay attention to, or take for granted.

Lynch & Horton (2009) stress that when designing web pages, we should consider first and foremost our users’ needs, as opposed to satisfying our own desires. “No site succeeds because it has a cool home page” but rather, because it provides “great content and services” (Lynch et al., 2009).

The section on page structure covered three major areas including page headers, scan columns, and the content area. Page headers are “the most visible component of site identity,” found at the top of each page that provide for global navigation (Lynch et al., 2009). Scan columns provide similar features to page headers. The last piece discussed was the content area where the main content for any section of a site is found.

The reading then went on to explore page templates. In contrast to popular action, Lynch et al. (2009) emphasize the design of the internal page template (global page framework across the site) before that of the home page and secondary pages. The home and secondary pages actually play unique roles which will be described in a bit.

Internal page types vary depending upon “the range of content and user interface needs” (Lynch et al., 2009). Secondary pages act as somewhat of a liaison between internal pages and the home page, especially in a multi-tiered hierarchy (Lynch et al., 2009). As alluded to earlier, the home page should be designed last in order to play up “the larger navigational interface and graphic context of the site” achieved during creation of the internal secondary page templates (Lynch et al., 2009).

Moving onto the second reading, the focal point dealt with web accessibility in site design. At my previous job as a software engineer, I had some exposure to accessibility compliance issues, but my work in this respect was mainly to just come up with text-only versions for the some of the software we developed in order to allow for screen-reader compatibility. After completing the reading though, I know see that I was only exposed to a very small part of the puzzle.

First off, one of the startling facts the reading stated was “that about one fifth (20%) of the population has some kind of disability” (WebAIM, 2010). I never imagined the percentage was so large, so obviously not catering this group would not only be unwise for businesses, but potentially unlawful for education and government entities (WebAIM, 2010).

The reading also discussed “the major categories of disability types” which include visual (blindness), hearing (deafness), motor (limited fine motor skills) and cognitive (learning disabilities) (WebAIM, 2010).

The reading then went on to explain some concepts that were necessary to put forth before even trying to implement any type of accessibility. Besides having a general understanding of what accessibility is, the first of these concepts was a commitment “to ensuring accessibility” (WebAIM, 2010). Following a commitment to ensuring accessibility, the next concept mentioned was learning “how to implement accessibility” (WebAIM, 2010). The last concept discussed revolved around understanding legal obligations.

To close out the readings, several excellent tips were mentioned to keep in mind regarding principles of accessible design.

In conclusion, it’s pretty clear from the readings that there is no real mystery to designing effective sites. Although it is skill almost all developers aim for, probably only a small percentage attain it. However, if the necessary research and training is invested to properly understand and implement the best practices mentioned above (especially concerning accessibility in order to reach a wider audience), the goal can be more easily achieved.


Lynch, S., & Horton, P. (2009). Web style guide (3nd Ed). Retrieved from
• Chapter 6:

Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM). (2010). Introduction to web accessibility. Retrieved from