After about a year, I have finally edited my portfolio from the Instructional Technology master’s program at Virginia Tech. I needed to redirect a lot of links in order to make sure everything functioned. Feel free to check it out if you are interested in that sort of thing. A link to it has a permanent home in my left sidebar under Links.
I have a question for those of you who are instructional technologists or are thinking about it. What degree programs are you aware of that can help teachers who want to work with other teachers on integrating technology in their classrooms? I’m thinking of programs in preparation for being an educational technologist, instructional technologist, or technology integration specialist (or similar).
I am not interested in going back to school right now, but I’m curious as to what is out there for anyone preparing to move into this area. I chose Virginia Tech’s online instructional technology master’s program, and I’ve had reasons to regret the choice, but I’m not sure what else is out there for others who are interested in becoming instructional technologists. Mainly I think the program is in need of some updating for new technologies and tools as well as research. I also think students need more room to pursue their interests in the field and more flexibility to do assignments in different ways. I have been asked a few times for advice, and I feel less qualified to respond without knowing more information. Please do share what you know about other programs in the comments.
The Differentiator sounds like a professional wrestler’s stage name. It’s a cool tool, though. When I took Instructional Design as part of my Instructional Technology master’s, one point that the instructor and my text both emphasized was that objectives needed to be clear and measurable. One of my favorite methods for constructing objectives was the ABCD method advocated by Smaldino, Lowther, and Russell in Instructional Technology and Media for Learning, which was my textbook for Instructional Media (my favorite text). The ABCD model for writing objectives considers 1) audience—the learners; 2) behavior—what you want your audience to know or be able to do; 3) conditions—under what conditions (environment and materials) the objective will be assessed; and 4) degree—what will constitute an acceptable performance or demonstration of learning. The key with the “behavior” or verb in the objective is that it must be measurable.
Mager criticizes use of verbs that are not measurable in Preparing Instructional Objectives, a suggested text for Instructional Design. For instance, how would you measure whether students “appreciate” something or even whether they “learn” it? Smaldino, Lowther, and Russell say “[v]ague terms such as know, understand, and appreciate do not communicate your aim clearly. Better words include define, categorize, and demonstrate, which denote observable performance” (p. 93). A table on p. 93 of Instructional Technology and Media for Learning entitled “The Helpful Hundred” includes a great list of verbs for writing objectives. Of course, these types of charts are available everywhere, and maybe you even have a good one that you use. What I liked about the Differentiator is that you can use verbs organized via Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy to build objectives. The list is somewhat limited, but it’s a good start. Most of the verbs are measurable, too (I’m not sure how you would measure whether students “value” something, but that’s the only verb that struck me as difficult to measure and unclear to students). Using this model, you might write an objective like “Using a computer with word processing software, ninth grade students will write an essay with a score of 4 on a 5-point rubric where 5 = exceeds expectations.” (A similar example can be found on p. 94 of Smaldino, Lowther, and Russell.)
Mager’s model for writing objectives includes three major parts: 1) performance—what you want students to be able to do; 2) conditions—tools students can use and circumstances under which the performance will take place; and 3) criterion—the description for criteria for an acceptable performance. Using this model, you might, for instance, write an objective that reads “Given a computer with word processing software, students will write an essay with a score of 4 on a 5-point rubric where 5 = exceeds expectations.” The conditions are the computer and word processing software. The performance is writing the essay. The criterion is that the essay is at least meets expectations, earning an overall score of four.
A poor example of an objective with a similar goal might be “Students will know how to write an essay.” Using either model I’ve described will help you determine whether or not students know how to write an essay; they will also allow you to determine the degree of success and under what conditions you expect that performance to take place.
The Differentiator can help you write objectives similar to both of these models. I do think the content part of process is somewhat confusing and maybe unnecessary. For instance, I used the Differentiator to write “Students will construct a model of the solar system.” The missing piece is the criteria for an acceptable performance, but you get the idea. At any rate, it’s fun to play with and see what happens. I think it has potential to help teachers write higher order objectives more easily and perhaps help teachers remember to ask deeper questions.
It might seem somewhat cold or clinical to think about teaching this way, but it has made me think about what I what students to know or be able to do with much more clarity, and it has also made me think about how I will know students have learned something.
Turning in my portfolio was the last thing I needed to do to complete my degree. If it’s accepted, I’ll have a master’s degree. I am happy to be finished, and I feel the portfolio was a great way to show what I’d learned. I do wish that my program had worked in opportunities to build the portfolio throughout the coursework rather than just at the end, but in the end, I think I did learn from the program, particularly during the last three semesters when I took Multimedia Authoring, Project and Report, and Portfolio Evaluation. I had a truly great learning experience in Multimedia Authoring. I learned how to use Flash and built a little grammar game. My instructor for that course was the best instructor I had in the program. Project and Report was great because I was able to create my own project, and I learned a great deal about manipulating digital audio and video and the Fair Use doctrine of copyright law. Assembling the portfolio allowed me to reflect on my learning. I have already begun using some of what I’ve learned at my school as a member of the Technology Committee.
On an unrelated note, I have been meaning to share a former student’s new blog with you for some time. Jake was an absolute pleasure to teach, and I enjoy seeing what he’s up to as he makes his way in college and the world. I was really pleased that Jake not only felt comfortable sharing the blog with me, but also with my sharing it with you. Jake’s an amazing photographer, and I’m very proud of him. Hope you enjoy it!
I began really working on my ITMA portfolio yesterday. It seemed like a huge task because I wasn’t really sure what was expected. After I started working on it, I found myself really enjoying it. I liked the freedom to choose artifacts. In choosing documents that illustrate my progress with design, I included my project from Instructional Design, which I am decidedly not proud of, simply because I was proud of subsequent designs in Multimedia Authoring and especially Project and Report. I knew I had learned a lot, and showing that progress was important to me. I am enjoying writing the reflections, too. Once I’ve completed the portfolio sometime later this semester, it will have a permanent home on my website.
Speaking of reflection, I was wondering the other day why writing over at my book blog is giving me so much joy lately. It’s not the conversation, exactly, because aside from a few regulars, I don’t actually receive that many comments over there. I keep meaning to update my education blog, but I think that grad school, coupled with work demands, seems to be sapping so much of my energy lately. And my education blog suffers because I associate it with work. My book blog, on the other hand, I associate with reading and escape from work. So it’s probably no wonder I am feeling more like hanging out over there lately. The upshot is that I graduate this December, and maybe I’ll have more time then. Then again, maybe not. I just have to tell myself that’s it’s really OK if I need a little break. I certainly don’t want this blog to feel like one more thing I have to do.
photo credit: Massimo Barbieri
If you would like to check out the finished product, visit the wiki.
The first thing I thought when I woke up this morning is that I didn’t have to work on the project today because it was finished. I am hoping to enjoy the last couple of weeks of my summer and not work on anything.
photo credit: ThisIsIt2
I feel like I’ve been lazy. I haven’t done much work on my project this week. I have been playing Guitar Hero, reading a little bit, and goofing around on my computer. I can’t seem to get motivated, so I decided maybe it was my brain telling me I needed to take a break from it. So I have been. I do need to get to work on it soon, or else I will be pressed to finish on time. I’m just glad I had worked on it so hard in June. I think I am about 70% finished with it.
We are going to Salem, Massachusetts next week: somewhere I have always wanted to visit for English teacher geek reasons. It will be so much fun teaching The Crucible this year after my visit! Plus we will swing by Concord and visit my friend Ha and see Walden. Last time I visited, it was frozen over. It will be interesting to see it in the summer. I can’t remember if I mentioned it on this blog or not, but I won this trip in a sweepstakes, if you can believe that. I’m not a particularly “lucky” person, or I don’t view myself that way anyway, but every once in a while I enter sweepstakes thinking it takes a minute or two, and the worst thing that happens is you don’t ever get that minute or two back and you don’t win a trip. It was online, so I wasn’t even out of a stamp. Well, I won. I know, right? No one wins those things. Here is my package:
Here is what’s included:
- 2 signed copies of The Map of True Places
- 2 paperback copies of The Lace Reader (my review is here)
- 2 nights at the Salem Waterfront Hotel and Suites
- a copy of America’s Membership Libraries
- dinner for 2 at Sixty2 on Wharf
- dinner for 2 at the Hawthorne Hotel
- a year’s membership to the Salem Athenæneum
- a cruise on the schooner Fame for 4
- 2 adult and 2 child tickets to the Salem Witch Museum
- 2 adult admissions to the House of Seven Gables
- 2 adult tickets for the Salem Trolley
- 2 tickets for the City View Trolley Tours in Boston
- 4 one-way tickets for the Salem Ferry to Boston
- 2 general admission passes to the Peabody Essex Museum
- 2 guest passes for a tour at any museum from Historic New England
- $500 toward travel expenses
I’ve actually been using Evernote to plan the trip. Really handy! I haven’t used Evernote very much for myself before planning this trip. We are driving because airfare is just too expensive, and we are also taking two kids, so we will need to pay their way, but you really can’t beat it!
Karen LaBonte tweeted a link to Cathy Davidson’s post How to Crowdsource Grading. It’s an interesting approach, and something I think could work well in college setting. My grad school program allows students to resubmit work based on feedback, and I have definitely taken advantage of this perk several times.
The trouble I have with it in high school or even younger is the idea of peers being responsible for evaluation. I do peer editing in my classes all the time, but students are not graded on it (aside from simply a check for doing it). I think students should have some choices and some say about their work, but I’m not sure they’re always the best judges (at least high school and younger) of what to assess and how to assess it, so I wouldn’t put the grades in the hands of my own students.
I hate grades. I would do away with them if I could, but my school has them, so the fairest thing I can do is give students various types of assessments that measure what they have learned against my goals for their learning. My feelings about grades are complicated because as a student, I stress out about them. I actually get nervous when I check my grades online. I would do all the work my instructors asked me to do even without grades, and I think I’d be happier just learning rather than stressing about my grades (which I do even though they are good). On the other hand, I know that I am definitely not normal. Would the students do the work if they weren’t graded on it? Depends. I think you can structure an learning experience for students that isn’t graded and still get most students to buy in. The ones that don’t are usually the ones that don’t even with grades.
We recently had a lot of discussions about summer reading with other members of our department and our media specialist. Students must read three (four for AP) books over the summer. One (two for AP) is required. One is chosen from a list. The last is selected from among books the faculty members have chosen to sponsor. Book sponsors lead a discussion about their choices with the students who signed up for their book. Essentially, a fear was expressed that should we not quiz or otherwise formally assess students’ faculty selections aside from the discussion, the students would not read the book. I liked my department chair’s unorthodox response: so they miss a great learning experience. Too bad for them. The person who expressed the fear about students not reading wasn’t satisfied with this response. I added in, “Can’t they just read a book for fun?” It was very clear that this person was worried students would not do anything if a grade was not tied to it.
With college students, you’re working with adults, and while I’m not sure I’d want my grades in the hands of my peers, I could see some type of agreement about what constitutes “A” work being made among students. In my Multimedia Authoring course, one of my peers gave me really poor marks on my project (a difference of at least 9 points out of 50 when compared to the other two evaluators). I think she did it out of spite because when I evaluated her project, I pointed out that nothing in her PowerPoint worked. Wouldn’t you want to know that before it was graded? Or would you be petty because it was pointed out? I digress, but the point is that my instructor evaluated us on our evaluations of others. He docked me a percentage of a point because I gave a criticism in my comments in one area of the rubric, but still gave full points. His reasoning—if there was a problem, it shouldn’t have received full points. Probably true, but he was also a tough (some would say nit-picky) grader. I wouldn’t say nit-picky because I learned a lot from his class, his feedback, and his tough grading. And yes, I have wondered what kind of feedback my peer received for her evaluation of me.
A side note: I am receiving no grades for the major project I’m creating this semester. I’ve worked harder on it than anything else I’ve done. The fact that it won’t be graded hasn’t lessened my motivation. It has freed it. I don’t have to fret about what I might earn on it, so I can just do my best and create a project that I’m proud of.
I didn’t work on my ITMA project yesterday. I had a lot of trouble with the screencast I was trying to create the other day. I felt so frustrated. I decided to stop working on it for that day, and then I decided that since yesterday was a holiday, I would take the day off. I am finding it hard to become motivated to work on it again today. I am starting to feel burned out. Despite the fact that I have been trying to finish it before I go on vacation, perhaps the wisest course of action is to take a break and slow down the pace. I need to finish by August 1, and as far as I can tell, I’m not in any danger of not finishing on time. Still, part of me wants to just buckle down and work, even if I’m tired of it, because I am ready to get it finished. But it’s summer, too, and I want to take a break. On the other hand, I tell myself I can take a break when I’m done, and won’t it feel good not to have the project looming over me then? Maybe.
For my ITMA project today, I did quite a bit of playing around in Audacity and GarageBand. I have made a few podcasts, but I haven’t honestly played around with the software beyond recording and editing. I wanted to learn how to add music tracks to podcasts and how to diminish the music so it functions like an introduction.
Both programs allow you to add music and diminish it, but it’s much easier in GarageBand, and it’s also much more intuitive. I found I really liked GarageBand’s interface, too. I know that Audacity is free and available on multiple operating systems, whereas GarageBand is $79.00 as part of iLife ’09 and only available on Macs, but I would go as far as recommending using GarageBand over Audacity if you have a Mac. Everything I tried to do was just so much easier, and I had more options.
If you want to see what I’ve done so far with the podcast lessons, you can check out my work. I’m not done.
As of today, 98.25 hours on this project as a whole (150 hours required). I want to try to finish before I go on vacation in mid-July.