IPT Seminar: Nov 20th Emily Castleton

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

This week in seminar, we were privileged to hear from Emily Castleton from the Theater and Media Arts Department.  Emily, spoke about her experiences being a theatrical stage manager.  She most recently finished a stint as the stage manager for BYU’s production of the Operetta Die Fledermaus.  In her presentation, Emily took us through some of the systems that she has set up to automate the process of creating a perfectly executed stage production.  She has a notebook that she maintains that is essentially her script to the technical aspects of the show.  She refines this guide, night after night, all in the hope of making the show run as seamlessly as possible.

Dr. Gibbons was asking some questions of the IPT students to try to force some connections between Emily’s process and that of an instructional designer, and I think the parallels were plenty. We discussed whether the stage manager was the equivalent of the curriculum designer or the trainer.  I think this was a tough one to call — and as Emily plays the Stage Manager she is doing a bit of both.  As an instructional designer, our job (as seen by a certain portion of ID) is to create instructional systems that are consistent and effective. This is parallel to the process that Emily goes through as she scripts out the lighting cues, audio, props and other tasks that need to happen in order for the show to be executed flawlessly.  In that sense, she is designing much of how the show is going to run.  On the other hand, she is also responsible for executing her own design on a nightly basis.  She creates a guide because she knows that she will need to reference it to achieve “perfection”.  She can’t expect to just riff every night with the hope that everything will turn out okay.  In this way she is also the “trainer” or the person that executes the design.

What I resisted toward was this idea that every instance of a play or curriculum should be perfectly executed.  While its seems that perfection should be something that we should strive toward when we are building out a system that has a lot of moving parts, I’m just not so sure that is the system that we should always be striving for.  I’m sure that Emily would agree.  There are different levels of control that are exercised over an opera (which has orchestras, lighting cues, actors, etc.) than you would in an improvisation.  Each has a different goal, and as such a different system of cues, rules, techniques, for achieving that goal.

I was once involved in the theater and I loved that world.  Even though I’m sure there is something stressful about trying to execute your plan every night in front of a live audience, I’m sure that there is great rewards when your system actually works.

IPT Seminar Nov 13th: Jenn Price

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

On Nov 13th, we had a current doctoral student in IPT, Jenn Price speak to our seminar.  Jenn is a designer by trade, and she also teaches the graduate IPT course in graphic design (of which I am hoping to take next semester).  Jenn’s presentation was about some of the lessons that she has learned as a self-proclaimed “hacker designer”.  I would like to talk more specifically about two points that she made (please note that I am paraphrasing) during her presentation.

Design is like the tithing of the Instructional Design process: You should spend at least 10% of your time making it pretty.

Even though I haven’t formally finished an instructional design process (not counting my own curriculum that I’ve developed), I feel like this is a pretty good rule to live by.  I’m increasingly becoming a believer in the power of the user experience, and how that user experience affects the ways that we perceive a product.  Now while I don’t know if this is true for everyone, I know that I am especially susceptible to good design.  When looking for a new web-based tool, I will often choose that tool based on the design of the website.  I personally feel that good site design is a pretty good indication of good product design — it shows that the designers have considered the whole experience.

Why should you use InDesign instead of Word?  It’s all about control.

I’m also a big believer in this principal as well, and while I haven’t learned InDesign (something I am looking forward to), I’ve seen this numerous times in the world of video editing.  Yes, iMovie is fine, but as you learn more and more about video editing, you will quickly see its limitations.  A tool like Premiere Pro is more open and gives you more control.  Yes, the learning curve is more steep, but you will hopefully only be limited by the constraints of your design, and not the constraints of the tool.

While these are only a few of the things that Jenn spoke about, these were the two that were the newest for me.  I’ve considered myself a hack designer for a while and I really want to gain a little bit more legitimacy.  This seminar helped to reinforce the thought that I need to spend some more time learning and refining my design skills.

IPT Seminar Oct 30th: Doug Christensen

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

For seminar this week, we heard from Doug Christensen, who was a manager for many years in facilities maintenance at BYU.  Doug started out by giving us a lesson on silos.  How they function, what they are used for, and why they are still economical today.  This of course transitioned into a discussion of silos in our design and management processes.  Doug was a proponent of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which is a holistic approach to construction and facilities maintenance.  In this model, silos are eliminated to make the cost of ownership transparent to the stakeholders.  In a traditional model, costs are often short-sighted.  In budgeting a construction project, the stakeholders often only think about construction costs (one of the silos).  What TCO aims to do is to get the stake holders to consider the total cost of owning something over the lifetime of the object.

Now I will have to say that much of the terminology of Doug’s seminar was much different from the world in which I inhabit, but I do think it is applicable to the world of instructional design.  While I am not experienced in being an instructional designer, what I think Doug is advocating is taking a holistic approach to the design process.  We shouldn’t only think about how our individual silo of design is to be implemented, but we should think about the sustainability of the system as a whole.  How will the implementation of this design impact the construction of future designs.

Overall, I loved that Doug really didn’t understand his audience — I think that he really didn’t have a lot of understanding regarding what instructional designers do.  Because his talk wasn’t specifically directed to our context, it forced us as audience members to create those transpositions, and I think I learned some great lessons from that experience.

IPT Seminar Oct 23: Dr. Peter Chan

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

This week for seminar, Dr. Peter Chan, a graduate of BYU IPT and part-time faculty member gave a little background on the educational system in China as well as talking about some of the opportunities that are available to instructional design students to do projects in China.

In the overview, Dr. Chan did a good job of helping us understand the scale of the Chinese educational system and more importantly, the scale of change within the Chinese economy. The economy is growing rapidly, and will soon overcome the US in terms of size.  Still with this size however, China has a general dissatisfaction towards the education system, and many families are looking toward the United States to find a formal education.  Peter explained that there is prestige still found in these US-based schools.  I have seen the other side of the equation, as US-based universities and community colleges are looking at Chinese students as an additional source of revenue (because they pay out-of-state tuition and cannot receive financial aid).

What I was most interested in was a brief point that Peter made about China beginning to embrace open educational resources and technologies.  I spoke with Peter about this after the meeting, and he discussed how it is still in its infancy, but there are groups in China that are very interested in pursuing OER as a way to support their educational system.   Peter also mentioned that Chinese colleges and universities are looking for instructional designers to help them — maybe this could be the opportunity that I have for living abroad that I have been looking for.

My idea for an Open Study Guide Platform: IPT Seminar Oct 16th

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

This past week in our IPT seminar, we had a special event.  This is called the Hyde Park Soapbox.  The premise (I’m assuming) is based upon Mormon missionaries that used to preach upon boxes in Hyde Park in London.  In our iteration, volunteer IPT students get 4 minutes to talk about a particular theory, idea, or other rant that they might have.  While, there were many excellent presentations by other students, I wanted to spend a little time and talk about my presentation.

The genesis for my idea came while reading Opening up Education, in one of the chapters Clifford Lynch in speaking about internet-based learning resources says:

“The complex and uneven nature of the available corpus of information is very challenging to the isolated and self-directed learner…Some of these problems could be addressed, fairly inexpensively, by developing and maintaining high-quality, carefully reviewed study guides to various subjects and disciplines.”

Based upon this, I had an idea to create an open repository of study guides around several subjects.  These study guides would be crowdsourced, hopefully by professionals who are engaged in work related to topics.  Study guides would be broken down into outcomes, and the experts would post resources that they felt drove students toward particular outcomes. Community members would then upvote and downvote individual study aides in order to determine their validity in driving students toward their goal.

The purpose is to somehow corral the wealth of formal and informal learning resources that are available on the web, and put them into a sequence that would help the novice learner proceed through them in a somewhat linear fashion.  I’ve been amazed at the amount of more formal learning environments that have been popping up on the web.  Many of these sites are attempting to teach students how to code (Codecademy, Code School, General Assembly’s Dash), but these types of solutions are unlikely to permeate every discipline.  I think that a resource like the one I have described, could fill the gap for a while.

Where resources don’t exist, I would like to see OER authoring tools utilized to capture some of that knowledge to share with informal learners.

Ultimately, I would like to see this fit into the ecosystem of alternative credentialing.  As students complete a course of study they could upload an artifact showing that they had achieved specific outcomes.  Community members would somehow certify this artifact, and a badge, or other credential could be given.

I’m not particularly sure how I would build this infrastructure at this point, but its something that I would like to work on over the next few years.  If anyone has any ideas, please contact me, as I would love to talk more about it.