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.

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.

IPT Seminar Oct 9th: IPT Student Awards

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

On October 9th, we heard from the winners of this years best research paper, best teaching assistant, and best student project.

First up was David Dean, who won best student project for the year.  His project was MandaClu, a mandarin Chinese translation web app which David built.  I was amazed at the execution on this project, and while there wasn’t great UX or UI to the project, I was really amazed that a student could pull off a project of that complexity.  David’s justification for the project was well thought out, and his reasoning really spoke to the many different uses that a person can take with the app.  The app can be found at http://www.mandaclu.com.

The second presentation was from Dan Randall, who spoke of the digital badges project that he has been working on in conjunction with IPT 286.  While I have heard Dan talk about this project in several different venues, it was nonetheless good to hear more about his justification for the project.  While I am really all about alternative credentialing, I’m still not sure if badges are the model that can be taken seriously by businesses and colleges.  I would love to see this same concept re-framed as something else — something that is closer to a traditional degree/certificate/credential.

The last speaker was Bryce Bunting, a PhD student who has been doing research around peer mentoring at the undergraduate level.  While that’s not a particularly interesting area for me, he did discuss legitimate peripheral participation, which is a learning theory that I have a lot of interest in.  I think this is something that I would like to look more into — particularly in its application in workforce education.

IPT Seminar Sept 18th: Dr. Andrew Gibbons

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

I know that I am a little late in reporting on this, but I wanted to give some thoughts on Dr. Gibbon’s seminar from Sep 18th.  In this seminar, he discussed some research that he had been doing on developing a new mentor-based model of a LMS.  I was pretty intrigued by this, not because I have a particular interest in mentoring, but rather because I have been doing some research with Jon Mott recently about an idea for a more open iteration of an LMS.

In the seminar, Dr. Gibbons referenced a quote from Cecil Samuelsen (president of BYU) which advocated for more mentorship opportunities among the student body.  This led into a discussion about a need for more group work and collaboration among undergraduate students, and how faculty need to try to push their students towards knowledge production. This is definitely something that I have been thinking about a lot in the past few weeks.  It seems as though the predominant paradigm of education right now is based on an “Acquisition Metaphor” (Sfard 1998).  Our students come to school to gain the information necessary to jump through a series of hoops and get out of school quickly so they can move on with their lives.  (For some reason I have this image of American Ninja Warrior popping into my head)  What is difficult about this, is that I think that employers are increasingly looking for not just degrees, but innovative thinking, for knowledge production.  If a student is going to be simply satisfied with a degree, we may continue to have the issues that we face in terms of the employment of our college graduates.  If we can shift the paradigm, and instead get our students to view school as an opportunity to participate in the knowledge creation process we will undoubtedly have stronger students and stronger college as a whole.

To foster a part of this, Dr. Gibbons proposes an idea for a mentor-based LMS system (you can find a summary of their research here) wherein students enter into contracts with mentors and roles are changed drastically from what we have seen in the traditional LMS.   Speaking of this, roles seem to be a major issue in the current implementation of the LMS. The current roles are inflexible and additionally reinforce power relationships in the classes. I would like a redesign that makes these roles more egalitarian, and I think that Gibbons and Chapman may be onto something in this regard.

Overall, I would love to talk with them more about their thoughts for a more ideal LMS because it is definitely something that I have been thinking about a lot these days.

So what are your thoughts?  How would you like to see mentoring implemented in a Learning Management System?  How can we encourage our students to be creators of knowledge?

IPT Seminar Sep 25th: Dr. Ken Plummer

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

For our graduate seminar this week, we had the privilege of hearing from Dr. Ken Plummer. Dr. Plummer is a graduate of our program and is currently working at the Center for Teaching and Learning at BYU.  The topic of Dr. Plummer’s seminar was their developed method of “Back-flip” design.  This course design methodology, incorporates Backwards Design, a model originally proposed by Wiggins and McTighe and the concept of a “flipped classroom”.

The backwards design component is something that seems ubiquitous in higher education.  It is basically the idea that when designing a course, we should start out by thinking about the main outcome that we want students to learn in the course.  This main outcome should subsume all other outcomes in the course or as Dr. Plummer put it, it should be “one outcome to rule them all”.  By setting this outcome and working backward, you will ensure that all of the content and formative outcomes will be working towards pushing students toward the main outcome.  The flip part of “back-flip” design comes from using the “flipped classroom model” in working toward those individual outcomes.

While Dr. Plummer’s framework seemed pretty commonsense, I was particularly intrigued by the idea of explicitly stating outcomes to students.  In higher education, we seem to devote a lot of time to the creation and correlation of learning outcomes.  I even recall the several times that I’ve spent at the beginning of a semester reading through course outcomes with a student (I hate to say it, but many times I have skipped through those outcomes with my students in favor of getting to the interesting part of the syllabus).  What do those course outcomes mean to the student however?  Are they simply assumed by the student when they take a class in a particular topic?  Are they only in the class because it is a required credit?

What I appreciated about Dr. Plummer’s examples were how the designed outcomes were tied closely to tangible competencies.  The example that he gave was a groundwater geology class (if my memory serves me correctly).  The main outcome of the class wasn’t assessed by merely taking a comprehensive exam, but it was assessed through the compilation of a detailed proposal and report done by the students, something that would mirror what they might do in the real world environment.  So while the “back flip” model doesn’t explicitly state it, it seems that in achieving the stated outcomes of the course, there is an attempt to create some more authentic and beneficial forms of assessments for the students.  That is always something that I appreciate.