Standard 1

Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to design conditions for learning by applying principles of instructional systems design, message design, instructional strategies, and learner characteristics.

1.1 Instructional Systems Design
Instructional Systems Design (ISD) is an organized procedure that includes the steps of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating instruction.

Artifact: Using Bloomboard for Teacher Evaluations: Learner Training
Course: Edtech 503 - Instructional Design
Format: Scribd Document

Choosing an artifact to demonstrate my mastery of the first AECT standard took considerable deliberation. As I reviewed the standards, it became apparent to me that standard 1.1 encapsulates the core skills required for an instructional designer, a key component of my job function. I eventually decided to select one of the larger artifacts that I created in the Edtech program, my final project for Edtech 503. This 60 page paper is a comprehensive instructional plan for our district to use in its implementation of a Connecticut mandated teacher evaluation program. The project required me to identify essential learning goals, perform needs, learner, context and content analyses, build instructional content, develop a formative evaluation plan, and create an instructor’s guide. This artifact captures one of the pivotal moments in the BSU program for me, as it was the first project I was assigned as the district’s technology integration specialist. This culminating project required that I apply the ADDIE principles to solve a real problem, a problem that was now my responsibility. As I put this project into action, I not only looked like an instructional designer, but I felt like one. My decisions and actions were deliberate, based on research, and supported by evidence. I was confident in my approach because of the thoroughness of the ADDIE method and my understanding of instructional systems design.

1.2 Message Design
Message design involves planning for the manipulation of the physical form of the message.

Artifact: Universal Design - Apple EarPod Performance Visual
Course: Edtech 506 - Graphic Design for Learning
Format: Webpage

The challenge in the Edtech 506 universal design project was to identify performance issues in an instructional context from a real world example, and then explain how the key components of that design make it successful. When I think about world class product designs, Apple and its iPod/iPad devices jump to the forefront of my mind. Millions of these devices have been sold around the globe to people of every age and nationality because of the simplicity and effectiveness of their design. My expectation was that Apple’s printed documentation for these products would reflect this same high caliber. Using the approach explained in Creating Graphics for Learning and Performance: Lessons in Visual Literacy by Lohr, I realized that Apple’s documentation failed to embed the core elements of universal design. The instructions require the user to interpret a diagram and then refer to a chart to read a description of the feature. The design is only effective if you can read the printed language. The format is certainly not universal for either young or foreign users.  For my project, I attempted to address several of the document’s flaws, and I believe I created a design that is more effective than the original by replacing text labels with simple images, and using arrows and proximity to connect related pieces of information. The message in my revision is clear and easily understood by users across a wide age range, and is not limited by language barriers.

1.3 Instructional Strategies
Instructional strategies are specifications for selecting and sequencing events and activities within a lesson.

Artifact 1: Webquest: Westwoods Trail System
Course: Edtech 502 - Internet for Educators
Format: Website

Artifact 2: Jigsaw Activity: Free Online Courses
Course: Edtech 502 - Internet for Educators
Format: Website

I chose two artifacts from Edtech 502 to address standard 1.3 regarding sequencing events and activities within lessons. The first artifact is a Webquest which takes students on an orchestrated and systematic exploration of the Westwoods trail system, a local site for a sixth grade science field trip. The webquest lets students explore food webs, watersheds and ecosystems, as well as specific attributes of Westwoods, such as its vernal pools and the great swamp. Students perform research, and are asked to make a Google map illustrating how surface water moves across the landscape, and then write an essay predicting how pollutants could potentially impact the area. The activity is structured to first expose students to essential information, and then allow them to determine and present their own conclusions. A student rubric, in addition to the organization of the website, guides the entire instructional process.

The second artifact is a jigsaw activity which is based on the work of Elliot Aronson. This activity divides the topic of free online educational resources into discrete sections, and then assigns members of a team to become an expert on their individual area, such as Khan Academy or Coursesera. For the team to have a thorough understanding of the major topic, each member must explain their piece to the others. Everyone shares and contributes to the group to build a comprehensive understanding of the larger topic.

Both artifacts use sequencing events and activities to help present information in a manner that facilitates learning, by providing new material when the learner needs it. Edtech 502 is a particularly interesting class, in that it combines two separate skillsets in each activity. There is the web design principle centered on CSS (cascading style sheets), and then there is the application of a proven instructional method, such as jigsaws and webquests. By combining the two, the class allows students to create not only technically sound web pages, but also artifacts that are directly applicable to real classroom activities.

1.4 Learner Characteristics
Learner characteristics are those facets of the learner's experiential background that impact the effectiveness of a learning process.

Artifact 1: Constuctivism's Impact on Teachers and Technology
Course: Edtech 504 - Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology
Format: Scribd Document

Artifact 2: Walled Gardens
Course: Edtech 541 - Integrating Technology into Classroom Curriculum
Format: VoiceThread

My final paper titled “Constructivism’s Impact on Teachers and Technology in the K-12 Classroom” for Edtech 504 seems like a natural fit to demonstrate my understanding of learner characteristics. 504 was the class that created the most anxiety for me in the entire program, as it was the material I was least familiar with, but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding classes. As I explored the theory of constructivism, I started to recall instances where my teaching had been unsuccessful. This quote from Ertmer & Newby (2013) “Humans create meaning as opposed to acquiring it” (p. 55). stood out for me. It made me contemplate my role as an instructor and the approach that I take with my students. If knowledge is not acquired, then maybe my role needs to be something other than a deliverer of information. This paper also helped me understand how I learn. I came to appreciate why I enjoyed and excelled in one class and not necessarily in another. By gaining a better insight into myself, I gained a better appreciation for the needs of my students, and am now prepared to assist them in a way that I never would have imagined prior to this assignment.

Another artifact which I feel is connected to this standard, is a Voicethread project for Edtech 541 about walled gardens, and the notion of protecting students from technological dangers that might exist outside the safety of the physical classroom. While my first artifact addressed the psychological conditions that affect learning, this artifact looks at the environmental conditions that impact learning. If a student doesn’t feel safe in school and at home, then they are not in a position to be an effective learner. I am an advocate of knocking down the “walls” in schools and preparing our students so they feel safe both inside and outside of school. Schools do a disservice to students if we shield them during the day, and then let them fend for themselves when they go home. As I point out in the Voicethread, it’s the schools’ responsibility to educate students on the dangers of an online world, and provide them with the skills to navigate this world safely. Students that don’t feel safe, are not receptive to learning, and as our world expands due to the impact of technology, so must the safety net that schools cast.