A Collaborative Training Environment

In a real-world situation, a new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. The staff is located in different offices and are unable to meet at the same time or in the same location. Simonson, Smaldino & Zvacek  stated that the keys to a successful distance education is in the design, development and delivery of instruction and is not related to geography or time (2015, p.9). As the company’s instructional designer, I will design a course using a learning management system and incorporate a means for staff to communicate with one another, share information in the form of screen captures as well as documents. To accomplish this I will consider the following web-based technology tools:

  1. Screencast-o-matic
  2. Screencastify
  3. Google Docs
  4. Google Drive
  5. Discussion board

The choice of these technology tools are taken under consideration based upon Holmberg’s theory of Interaction and Communication. Elements of his theory deals mainly with communication and the motivation the student has toward learning that is impacted by feelings of belonging (Simonson, Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015).  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory is a five stage model in which the third level contributes to the need of love and belongingness from relationships with friends and family that also involves social, community or religious groups (Atherton, 2013). The motivation of a student is a strong factor toward an effective outcome to the learning. The tools that I have chosen for the pending task I believe will enable the motivation a student in my course will have and promote a positive outcome to the training they will be undertaking.

Screencast-o-matic is an online tool from a website that offers a free means of recording what is on your computer’s screen, a webcam or both. The application is easy to use, allows the user to record up to 15 minutes of video in different formats for recipient compatibility and can be uploaded to YouTube for public viewing. To collaborate recordings with team members, all the viewer would need is an Internet connection and access to the YouTube site. The creator of the video would merely need to provide a link to the video they created. In the case there is a team member that does not have access to YouTube, an alternative for screen recording would be a Google extension called Screencastify. This extension is accessed through the Web Store that is found by clicking the Apps button on the Bookmarks bar located in the Chrome browser. After conducting a search for the extension, the user will add it to Chrome and it will appear to the right of the address bar and be associated with their Google account. Video files they create, up to 10 minutes in duration, can record what is on a webpage, the desktop or a webcam and will be saved inside of their Google Drive account or uploaded to YouTube where they would be able to share with other members of their team actual situations that are occurring from their own experiences with the new system. A long-standing method of categorizing the ability of media to convey information is the cone of experience introduced by Edgar Dale (1946) in which he states that real experiences are the foundation for learning (Simonson et al., 2015, p79-80) . Google Docs will be an ideal solution for the team members to use for collaboration on best practices, trouble-shooting issues or updating materials as prescribed by the framework for the approaches to education Dan Coldeway, of South Dakota’s State University indicates at the same time while in different places (ST-DP) or at different times while in different places (DT-DP) (Simonson et al., 2015, p9). The files they collaborate on can be stored inside Google Drive and made available to anyone that needs to access them with the ability to grant access level rights for editing purposes, making comments or view only access. Inside of the LMS system, there is a discussion board feature built in that can assign staff members to a group and allow them to communicate with one another on an ongoing basis. The learning management system under consideration is called Schoology and within the discussion board is the option to share files in a discussion from a third-party application such as Google Drive making it even easier to collaborate with members of the team with documents, videos and images. As an added bonus for ongoing collaboration amongst team members, Google+ also offers a means of communicating with each other while sharing information in a video call using Hangouts, the Google version of Skype. The following links provide some great examples and success stories of people that have used technology tools such as the ones described here for distance learning purposes.

Google products: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1k7yKKGZkmdDm3ouCecueIjlY7iKITYnCLo41AQgrU74/edit#slide=id.g1ed39be7_2_805

How Google Saved a School: https://youtu.be/xn9nSMypWxk

Screencast-o-matic: https://youtu.be/OvyuPYVi_08

Screencastify: http://etconnectoprf.blogspot.com/2015/04/this-is-awesome-with-amy-hill.html

References

Atherton, J. S. (2013). Learning and Teaching; Motivation [On-line: UK] Retrieved from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/motivation.htm

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. 6th ed.

A Reflection on Learning Theories

As an instructional technologist in a school district huddled around a conference room table, I can recall countless planning sessions where we discussed our next redesign of training materials to introduce a new version of an application as well as how we were going to design the next online training module. These planning sessions were usually focused on what skills we felt the learner needed to know and modules were built to suit specific learning objectives. We did our job and trained them, but the nagging question has always been, did they learn anything? To help students learn, we have developed training content based upon auditory, visual and kinesthetic (McCarthy, 1981) learning styles. In reflection, I have realized that besides a person’s learning style, there is so much more to consider such as the motivation of the learner, the capability of a learner based upon their multiple intelligences, and what adult learning theory is applicable to the type of learning the student is participating in when it comes to the andragogy of adults and how we learn.

Malcolm Knowles, the father of andragogy, the art and science of helping adults learn, proposed five (5) factors involved in adult learning that include someone with an independent nature directing one’s own learning, an abundance of life experience, needs that are related to changing social roles or “climbing the corporate ladder,” a problem-centered orientation with an interest in the immediate application of new knowledge and someone driven by internal motivation factors (Merriam, 2001, p. 5).

During the course of this Learning Theories class, I had the occasion to offer training sessions to Grade Reporting Secretaries on downloading reports from eSchoolPlus and preparing the report in Microsoft Excel to be used as a source for a mail merge in Microsoft Word.  Before each class, I found myself pondering about the motivation of each person signed up to take the training and I reflected on the three models of motivation in an achievement-related setting.  The expectancy-value model is an expansion of Atkinson’s (1958) model, which defined expectancy and value as motivational constructs. The basic premise of the model is that students’ expectations of success and the value they place on success are important determinants of their motivation to engage in achievement-related behaviors (Wigfield & Eccles, 2002a, p.91). The second model, goal orientation, refers to “a set of behavioral intentions that determine how students approach and engage in learning activities” (Meece, Blumenfeld, & Hoyle, 1988, p. 514). The third model is attribution theory that addresses individuals’ thoughts, emotions, and expectancies following an achievement-related outcome (Weiner, 1980b ) .

I have come to realize that my learning process is much more involved. I have always been a hands-on person and the kinesthetic learning style has worked for me. This course has helped me to make sense of how I process information and has offered me different approaches to the ways I may learn best whether I am preparing to facilitate a training class or one day design an online class using steps of the ARCS model of motivational design (Keller, 1987a, 1987b) that provides a systematic, seven-step approach (Keller, 1997) to designing motivational tactics into instruction. The learning style model classifies students according to where they fit on a number of scales pertaining to the way they receive and process information (Felder & Silverman, 1988, p. 3). Recently in my department, we received dual monitor, adjustable arm workstations that were going to be assembled and installed on 10 desks for trainers. Two of us were in charge of setting them up. We had talked about installing them for a while, but I was having a hard time visualizing how it was going to look at each desk. When the boxes can in, I unpacked the first workstation and layed all of the parts out. As I began to assemble the arm of the workstation that would hold the monitors, I could visualize what it was going to look like and everything started to make sense. After reading the instructions and putting together all of the parts, I handed the assembled workstation off to my partner for installation to the desk and I never needed to refer to the instructions again.

In this moment, I learned how learning styles, adult learning theories and multiple intelligences play a part in my learning process. We talked about this project on several occasions, but for me, I could not visualize what the end-product would look like. Once the workstations were delivered and I was able to start putting pieces together, it all made sense. When I look at the four (4) learning theories related to adult learning, Action and Experiential learning theories helped me in this situation. Action learning is the approach to working with and developing people, which uses work on a real project or problem as the way to learn. Participants work in small groups or teams to take action to solve their project or problem, and learn how to learn from that action (O’Neil, 2000, p.44). Experiential learning is learner-centered and operates on the premise that individuals learn best by experience. A good way to describe this theory is “learning by doing”. Experiential learning thus has the learner directly involved with the material being studied instead of just thinking and talking about that material (Conlan, Grabowski & Smith, 2003).

Everyone has potential and Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, sought to broaden the scope of human potential beyond the confines of an IQ score. He developed eight (8) intelligences to map a broad range of human abilities. During my project, I was able to call upon my logical-mathematical and spatial intelligence. Logical-mathematical includes sensitivity to logical patterns and relationships, statements and propositions (if-then, cause-effect), functions, and other related abstractions. Spatial intelligence involves sensitivity to color, line, shape, form, space, and the relationships that exist between these elements. It includes the capacity to visualize, to graphically represent visual or spatial ideas, and to orient oneself appropriately in a spatial matrix. By putting my hands on the material, I was able to link past experiences with the current project and learn what was needed by doing. Once I was able to visualize how the end product would be, I identified the logical steps needed to successfully construct the workstation. Needless to say, I was motivated to engage the project, but the reasons behind it would entail an extensive new set of theories that we will leave for another time. As I continue my career in instructional design, remembering moments like this will empower me to look at situations differently and listen to the words they use (linguistic intelligence) with more insight about how someone might learn a task or take on a project and successfully complete their goals.

In reflection of this class, I have learned that there is a method, a style, a reason and a motivation behind everything we endeavor upon. The connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technologies and motivation is like one big puzzle. To teach a class or design online courses may take motivation and skill, but there are many more pieces that must be considered before going live or teaching that first class. Theories and styles give us a road map toward reaching our students in a way much deeper than we otherwise would have. Like the 12th century theologian and author John of Salisbury said, “We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants” (phrases.org, 2014). We are able to see more and do more, not because we are better than others or more superior. We can because of the roads others have traveled that allow us to apply better methods to our instruction. We are all unique and bring a distinctive style to the way we learn and the way we teach. By making the right connection between learning theories and styles as well as educational technology, with the right motivation, we can really make an impact on our student’s learning potential.

References

McCarthy, B. Educational Leadership. March, 1997. Volume 54, Number 6, “ How Children Learn,” Pg 46-51. Retrieved online: http://online.sfsu.edu/hdomizio/824/4Mat_Learners_McCarthy_97.pdf

Web Article: Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from  http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

Article: Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).

Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.Available in the Walden Library databases. Chapter 1, “The Foundations of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences”. Chapter 2, “MI and Personal Development”

Martin, Gary (2014) The meaning and origin of the expression: Standing on the shoulders of giants Retrieved from: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/268025.html

Gredler, M. (2009). Learning and Instruction, Theory in Practice. 6th ed.

Fitting the Pieces Together

I have always considered myself an analytical person and as an instructional designer, I consistently gave a lot of thought to how I presented training material to my students in an effort to engage them and help them to learn a skill. The foundation of how I structured my approach to learners was based upon the type of learners McCarthy (1981) identified pertaining to visual, auditory and kinesthetic or seeing, hearing and doing. Over the past weeks, after being exposed to different learning theories and learning styles, I have come to realize the simplicity of my ways. I understand that in a classroom environment I may have learners that want to sit and listen as I explain how to do something, as others may want to see the task as I talk about it, while another group wants to walk through it on their computer as I explain, but this is merely the beginning.

There are learning theories that can change your approach to how the material is presented and ways you can assist the learner in remembering what you taught them.  Also the intelligence or abilities of your student, based upon the Multiple Intelligence theory (Armstrong, 2009), can help you to appeal to their potential strengths and weaknesses in learning. As a student and life-long learner myself, I realize that the type of learner I am fluctuates with the material that is being presented, but to some degree, that is expected. You can’t learn how to swim while laying on the carpet in your living room. When it comes to learning styles, one theory I can relate to is the Cognitive Learning theory which focuses on the conceptualization of students’ learning processes and addresses the issue of how information is received, organized, stored, and retrieved by the mind. Technology plays a role in my learning by helping me to organize my thoughts into chunks. I prefer thirds. Like a book that has an introduction, body and conclusion, I rank my sources in order of importance for retrieval.

References

Armstrong, T. (2009). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.Available in the Walden Library databases. Chapter 1, “The Foundations of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences”, Chapter 2, “MI and Personal Development”

Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~witteje/ilsrj/Journal%20Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf