IPT Seminar Oct 2: Mike Griffiths

This post is connected with IPT 690, a graduate seminar course in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University.

On the 2nd of October, we were able to hear from Dr. Mike Griffiths, who was a graduate our program from a few years ago.  Mike related some of the experiences that he had after graduation, which led his family to BYU-Hawaii where he helped develop their online program, and currently to the Missionary Training Center, where he helps develop curriculum to train outgoing full-time missionaries.

What impressed me most about Mike’s discussion was how firmly he believed in the tools that he used as a graduate student.  During his studies, Mike had done some research with Dr. Charles Graham about the use of asynchronous video in online classes, and when he started to develop the online learning program at BYU-Hawaii, asynchronous video became a large component of their instructional model.  My impression thus far in the program, is that instructional design models and theories are basically tools to use as professional designers. I had assumed that in the design process, most designers take a rather eclectic process, forgoing a strict adherence to theoretical beliefs, and instead using whatever tools works for the situation.  Mike however, seemed to double down on his belief in asynchronous video, and it seems to have been successful for BYU-Hawaii.

One comment that Mike made that I found especially interested in was his discussion of how asynchronous video in an online class allows the instructor to build a personal relationship with the students, and while I agree that this is probably so, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the investment that such interpersonal communication requires.  If I were teaching an online class, and I had, let’s say, 30 students.  All of that communication would be fairly taxing.  Mike discussed how the outsourced a lot of the feedback to part-time student tutors, but such a model doesn’t seem scalable, especially for a smaller institution.  While I think that this would be an interesting experiment to try in a class, I think that I would have to set some expectations regarding asynchronous video communication between myself and students.

Overall, Mike encouraged us to take the tools that we were learning as instructional designers and go “change the world” — in whatever way we define that phrase.  I’m glad to see that Mike is going down that path, and I am interested to see how I will live up to that challenge.

  • Mike Griffiths

    Rob, almost everyone reacts with the same concern. But I have personally taught classes using this model with 50 students and have given them all personal replies via asynchronous video and it was never any more taxing than any class with the same amount of students who were using other methods to produce work and get feedback. It is scalable because the teaching materials are canned, and the teacher can spend their time on feeback. Tutors can be hired to verify that students are participating in discussions or they can grade some work. We had thousands of students taking our 50 classes at BYU Hawaii online and the cost of delivering the classes is at least 10 times lower than on-campus classes.

    • robnyland

      Mike, thanks for the comment. It’s great that you took the cost savings of online delivery and pump it back into the support of learners. I think that the overall tendency is to pocket that margin and feed it back to subsidize some of the other on campus activities. What types of activities are they giving feedback on? Are there specific rubrics associated with the assignments?

      • Mike Griffiths

        Sorry, I only just saw this. Some activities are answering very specific and objective questions (describe how a cell functions – Biology) which have very specific rubrics. Others might be less objective (explain all the main points made by the teacher in their video) others might be subjective (give your own analysis and interpretation of x) and others are based on responses to other students (watch the 3 students who posted before you and agree or disagree and develop their arguments). There is a almost always a specific rubric.