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Evolve or stay the same? May 9, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in high school, instructional design.
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Does it not make sense that as the world changes, education has to evolve with it? Shouldn’t education prepare a student for the world in which they live? Wouldn’t it make sense to educate high school students with the skills they require to survive in today’s workplace?

Two recent articles/posts that I have read both relate to the same issue but focus on different aspects.

In Karl Kapp’s blog post “Hire that Kid!,” Karl highlights the void of technology in the classroom and the need to update the schooling system. Stemming from an article that discusses the banning of iPods from classrooms to deter cheating, he makes very valid points that the use of iPods and other technological gadgets by students displays an ingenuity that is valuable in today’s workplace.

I know personally, friends come to me with all of their technology issues and questions. I never claim to be an expert on selecting the best hard drive or networking the computers in a household. But what I do know is how to “google.” I often joke that I should open a company where people can contact me with a search request or a question and I will google it and get back to them with the answer.

In a somewhat related issue, The Story-Centered Curriculumaddresses the defunct high school system. His suggestion to enhance the learning and better prepare students for the real world is to teach students through a series of realistic projects that mesh together different subjects and facilitate group learning. Each project then builds upon the previous one.

I see this being highly effective. With the student in the center of their learning experience, and the teacher filling more of a facilitator role. I would be very eager to see how this curriculum is received by students and learn more about actual story-centered projects.

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It’s great to go back. April 24, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in instructional design, other.
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Last week I attended the CAC Conference at Bloomsburg University. Basically it is a chance for alumni of the program and those in the learning industry to get together, share ideas, support the students and program, and network. Since I have graduated from the program in 2004, I have been back to all but one CAC conference. I find it to be a great learning experience, a lot of fun, and I just love being able to contribute something back to such a great program.

This past CAC conference was no exception. I learned a lot from the CAC member presentations on Wednesday. Presenting myself for the first time at CAC was a good experience. It felt good to go back and have something to share. I hope to continue to do this.

Many great solutions to the RFP were presented by the students on Thursday. I always find this to be the greatest feat of the three days. With the program being a year long, and even though you have a semester or so of class before getting into this capstone course, applying the strategies and thinking creatively as a new learning professional is a challenge. I remember my experiences – and I am thankful for how I have continued to grow outside of the program in my working experiences. The presentations this semester were very well done, with a lot of great ideas and some great demonstrated instructional strategies. When I first experienced the student presentations as an attendee of the conference, I remember feeling so much for the presenting students. The longer I am out, the less I feel nervous for the students and the more I just appreciate the experience this grad program provides.

Needless to say, I brought back a lot of ideas to work. I hope to never stop going back to this conference. I feel like I learn just as much by going back as I did presenting. Life is a continual learning experience. Just because I have finished my degree doesn’t mean I stop learning…

The Great Homework Debate March 28, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in high school, instructional design, other.
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I was watching tv last night and a commercial came on for what was upcoming in the news at 11:00 pm. One of the stories had to do with homework. Someone was on tv talking about how homework is hurting our children. Although I did not see the actual news program, it got me thinking about homework.

For someone to go and say that all homework is bad seems very irresponsible to me. I think back to when I was in grade school, and although I do not believe that all homework helped me all that much, I could not have imagined making it through some subjects, such as math, without doing homework. It gave me a chance to practice what was just covered that day and reinforce the learning.

In a website I just found, Nancy Kalish writes about how homework is extremely harmful to a child’s desire to learn or read or such. She believes that there is no evidence that homework helps studenst. I just cannot believe that. I distinctly remember my experience with homework and know that for me its not true.

My papers and projects I worked on in school gave me the skills to produce papers and write documents in college and even now in my job. It was the foundation for future learning.

However, that does not mean that I dont think that in the schools today some teachers overdo it with homework. I definitely believe they do. Just as you must do things in moderation, homework is no different. Teachers must separate “busy work” from truly necessary reinforcing homework.

I also believe that for the most part, homework should be a reinforcement for learning. It cannot replace the teacher. Guidance by a teacher is still necessary. However, you cannot wipe homework out.

So I think that the people who argue to get rid of homework need to rethink their approach. Homework is not all bad. It depends on how homework is used in the scheme of learning. And I think the teachers need to rethink their approach to assigning homework. They must have an instructionally sound reason for doing so.

Expanding the Learning Scope: Websites March 6, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in instructional design.
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I believe that learning is more than traditional “courses.” Of course, it exists everyday in the little tasks we do, or in conversations, or in browsing a newspaper. But sometimes, there are realms that, as designing, sometimes are forgotten as an environment in which to learn.

My latest project at work happens to be the design of our website. We have done all of the preliminary work – setting up the global links, deciding what will be a part of each section. Video and audio has been requested in the site. All of this is great, but I believe a website is another way to teach someone something. Our goal is to teach a viewer what we are about. And that requires a careful design of textual content, visual placement of components, and media to support.

Our main goal, I feel, is to utilize the technology in a way that we do not overuse the technology. To put everything we can possibly do onto the site with little regard for the user would be foolish. It is, in the end, all about that user. What will make them learn the most from this website?

 We have decided to create a site with global linking (a good idea for any site). However, I feel that to make a website serve its purpose, it must instantly tell the user what its purpose is and lead him or her in the right direction. The key to this (on the home page) is to put together a series of “quick links” that highlight the most important areas of the site. Although a user can find these areas by using the global links, someone not familiar with the site could be presented with this quick link button, be intrigued, and visit the page. Thus, we are teaching the user what we are about by highlighting the areas of our site.

These “quick links” must be simple and catchy. Add too much animation or interaction and you lose the user. There is always a fine line between cool and interesting and too much.

Transforming the Conformed February 23, 2007

Posted by stacey27 in instructional design.
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Back in the day someone thought it was a good idea to create these super-packed, super-long courses. The more that was in the courses, the better they were. So we have these courses now, with awesome content, yet not many users that have the time to take them. How do we transform the conformed? How do we convince those that designed the large courses that big is not better. Once again, I am not sure…

Learners of today have 15 minute chunks of time and not hour long breaks. Information is better transferred in chunks.

It is a fight for good instruction. So many elements must come together to make it good. So now I mus ttry to transform the conformed. Someday…