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Producer, Coordinator, Facilitator: the Instructional Designer

Driving home after a long and worthwhile week at work I was meditating on why I love being an Instructional Designer. I decided to share the reasons in a short article:

Instructional Designers Produce– We create instructional materials. We make videos, we make guides, we produce training sessions and workshops. We bring content and learning materials to the audience as their needs require. If we don’t have the skills to do these things ourselves, we work with very skilled people to accomplish our design goals.

Instructional Designers Coordinate– We connect people with the right content. We might not know everything, but we work with Subject Matter Experts and work hard at finding information that is needed to make instruction successful. Connecting people to their needs is exciting!

Instructional Designers Facilitate– We share ideas and instruction to make things easier for our learners. We facilitate learning so our audience can do their work better.

learningAdults need to know why they need to learn something and how it benefits them. Making this transparent is the start to good Instructional Design.

Learning should be about connecting to the content and then sharing your knowledge and interests with others.

Adults learners need to interact with the content, demonstrate their use of the content, and share the content with others to help retain the learning.  Designing instruction for hands-on practice and collaboration makes for intriguing and exciting training.


The Technology Challenge

After discussing with the Director of Project Holodeck, Nathan Burba (@NathanBurba), his goal of completing one new programming tutorial a day, I decided to create a similar learning goal. With the Technology Challenge.

I believe this is a good challenge for me because I have only finished my MBA Degree for under a month and I am already getting antsy about what to do with my free time. Don’t get me wrong, I am gainfully and happily employed. But I love learning! And I feel a piece of me missing when I don’t have a new challenge or project. With that said, by posting this Technology Challenge on my blog, I am making myself accountable for pursuing the stated goals—I don’t want to let you down!

I also realized that my resume may be good, but my portfolio could better showcase my Instructional Design skills and adeptness of exploring new Educational Technologies. Enter the Technology Challenge!

What? The Technology Challenge

1) Research a new (or not so new) technology tool

2) Learn that new technology tool

3) Create an instructional deliverable with that new technology, applying adult learning theory, ADDIE, and Instructional Design Principles


1) Learn

2) Innovate

3) Build a Portfolio

4) Demonstrate my EdTech and Instructional Design Skills


1) Biweekly

2) Create a deliverable

3) Blog a post on each piece that summarizes the tool, demonstrate an application of the tool, and results in a portfolio piece

The tools (in no particular order, and will be added to)?

1) Flash

2) Adobe Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign

3) Pixton

4) WordPress / Blog / Edublogs

5) PollEverywhere or TurningPoint

6) Prezi

7) PowerPoint

8) Evernote

9) SnagIt

10) Wordle

11) ScribD

12) Piazza

13) Quora

14) OpenStudy

15) GoogleDrive

16) Big Blue Button

17) Vialogues

18) Xtranormal

19) Wiki

20) Articulate

21) Learning Management Systems (Sakai, Moodle, TWEN, BlackBoard)

22) Captivate

23) Camtasia

24) Web Conferencing Systems (Wimba, BlackBoard Collaborate, ATT Connect, Panopto)

Feel free to leave suggestions for tools I should challenge here as a comment or Tweet @julietausend!

Avoiding the “T” Word

Engaging Faculty in the Use of Technology Without Using the “T” Word

danland_logoI’ve added “Wind” to the “Windy City” this week.  I co-presented at CALIcon13: Conference for Law School Computing in Chicago.

My topic can be useful for any EdTech Professional. It covers how to communicate and reach your Faculty about technology without evoking fear, stress, anxiety and dissonance. These feelings typically hinder innovation and adoption of Educational Technology.

You can view the content slides with notes in PDF Format or watch the hour-long recording starring yours truly (and co-starring the man that signs her paychecks):

Key Points include:

  • Advocate for the person who uses the tool, not just the tool
  • Support people, who in turn, support the Educational Mission
  • Don’t find a problem for the tool, find a tool for the problem
  • Craft your message and language specific to your audience
  • When communicating, be Simple (concise), Specific (give every detail necessary, but only the necessary details), and Visual.
  • Know what you are saying
  • Know who you are saying it to
  • Build relationships to build trust to build collaboration

Dynamic Online Education

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Although my current position doesn’t afford me the opportunity to work in online education, I have had many years of experience in online education. As an Instructional Designer, I assisted faculty in adjusting their traditional classroom pedagogy for online instruction. I have also taken over 60 credits of online courses in my pursuit of an MBA in Technology Management. And lastly, I have designed curriculum for an online course that I instruct. Stating these credentials is essential for the point I am to discuss because it illustrates that I have different perspectives of online learning as an instructional designer, student, and instructor:

Online learning needs to be more dynamic.

I don’t mean that online learning needs to have synchronous course sections (which it should and oftentimes does), but there needs to be synergy between the delivery of the content and the contribution of students.

Take for instance a basic online course structure in a learning management system such as BlackBoard, Moodle, or Sakai. Students locate the required reading materials and lectures in a designated folder structure. They then move off that page to a discussion forum or assignment submission page and contribute to the class discussion.

If multiple readings are discussed within a given course lesson, it can cause confusion to the students because their discussion is not being effectively curated as it would in a traditional class or synchronous web conferencing session.

In addition, students may repeat the same general comments as their classmates (after probably reading their peers’ comments), therefore, not effectively contributing to the discussion. This results in students not being able to command the subject or demonstrate their understanding.

What I believe online learning should strive for is a re-design of the online classroom structure.

Students should be able to comment on and discuss the content right on the content page. For example, a student viewing a video should be able to add relevant and important contributions to the video at the timestamp that is being referenced. A tool that I believe does this is Vialogues (I hope to research this further). Students should also be able to contribute to a reading in an in-text fashion, similar to Microsoft Word’s Comment feature, pinpointing exactly where the student’s insight is referencing. These tools exist, but how we can apply them to online courses must be championed and designed by Educational Technologists and Instructional Designers.

Online learning has advanced so much in the last 15 years: the stigma of online learning has abated, tools make it possible for students and instructors to connect in real-time, group work is possible with collaboration tools, and secure exam taking is possible without proctors.

However, we, as Educational Technologists and Instructional Designers, should keep online education advancing.

We must innovate and stimulate change for a more dynamic learning experience.

If You Build IT They Will Come

ComputerThere are many thoughts regarding technology and innovation in Instructional Design.

The advice that is most often given is  Don’t Use Technology for Technology’s Sake.

What this means is that an Instructional Designer should not build instruction around the tool, but the tool should have a meaningful impact on the learning objectives. A tool should only be used if it will aid in the instruction and not hinder it. Technology will hinder instruction if 1) An instructor or learner does not know how to effectively use it and as a result, spends too much of instructional time trying to learn the tool, not the content and/or 2) The technology is so cool it’s a distraction.

In both cases the learner may lose out on the true purpose of the instruction because the focus is on the technology.

An Instructional Designer, therefore, must design the instruction with first, the learning objectives in mind, then design the instruction for the mode of communication (aka technology), whether it be Face-to-Face Instructor Led, eLearning, Mobile Learning, or self-paced study.classroom

However, let’s play devil’s advocate. What if we have an instructor that is so fearful (or afraid of looking incompetent) of technology that it dis-services its learners. An instructor that does not use technology to aid an instruction may be promoting an image of stagnation and as a result may drive away potential learners that were seeking “state of the art” education. Applying my business background here, it’s as simple as putting the right product with the right person at the right place. If the learners want technology-supported instruction, what’s stopping them from pursuing their goals at a competing institution that is giving them their needs?

As an Instructional Designer, is it best to force the technology, that is, build it into a classroom and instruction in the mere hope that the instructor will follow? Showing what technology can actually do in the real-life instructional environment may encourage the use of that technology. Or at least more so than a verbal description of the technology. In this way, showing how the technology can be applied to the instruction is a great way to stimulate the use. And the only way to show the technology is to have it.

And hence, taking from A Field of Dreams, If you build IT (Informational Technology), they will come. I hope.

EduSoCal Keynote by Wesch


At EduSoCal 2013 I was able to collaborate and speak with other EdTech and Instructional Design professionals.  EduSoCal (@EduSoCal), is “the premier face-to-face conference in California where you Meet/Share/Learn/Play with your local peers and colleagues working in the fields of Information and Educational technology.”

weschThe Keynote Address by Michael Wesch (@mwesch) was not only informational, but affirming as well. Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture and his speech gave some valuable insight on Transformative Learning Theory and new media.

Wesch stated, “asking questions is the most amazing thing humans do; questions are the beginning point of deep learning.” Therefore, his basic theme involved helping students “Learn to Learn”.

In designing his courses, he doesn’t design them for the sake of instruction, but for Transformative Learning. As stated in an earlier post, this learning theory focuses on how the learner will revise and interpret learning to change their point of view. Transformative Learning is the process of changing one’s frame of reference.

Michael Wesch discussed how in education we need to embrace Transformative Learning by enabling students to become adaptive experts rather than passive absorbers of information. His focus is on stimulating wonder. He stimulates wonder by allowing his students to A) pick a project and B) pick new media. By allowing the students to pick their projects and media it helps the students accomplish a goal without the want for a grade.

An example of one such project is when students decided to research the accessibility of a city by bicycle. They used a free source Internet Map (similar to GoogleMaps) to map out dangerous areas for bikes. The result was visible evidence of how poorly the city was designed for bikes. Even more significant, the project caught the eye of city council and brought on change to the infrastructure.

When asked, which three instructional tools/techniques he’d bring to a deserted Island (while ignoring the logical problems of this scenario) to teach. He described a three step process:

1)      Make sure that the Project is Real and Relevant. Real meaning that the instructor does not know the answer. And Relevant means that students will work on it even if a grade is not associated with the project.

2)      The project must Build Community (like the biking community).

3)      The project must Leverage Technology (like the bike map).

What is also important is that the core assumption for IT people should be that of connecting people. Don’t use technology for technology’s sake. Use technology to connect or build community. My goal of this blog is not just to use a blog, but to gain a following of like-minded people or people also interested in EdTech and Instructional Design.

Finally, a poignant statement made by Wesch is that “technology is a Trojan horse for changing education, but it needs an army inside the horse.” What he meant by this is that technology is a great way to change education, however, you still need a slew of people or EdTech professionals (the army) to conquer (change) education.

Now, I’ll leave you with one last thought (and please comment below or tweet @julietausend): How do you convince administration and other colleagues to not only support but design a Transformative Learning experience with the appropriate technologies?

EduSoCal ’13 Presentation: Social Media in the Classroom

It’s a special treat for my regular followers, you’re hearing from me twice this week!


But it was an even better treat for myself, as I was able to collaborate and speak with other EdTech and Instructional Design professionals at EduSoCal 2013. EduSoCal, is “the premier face-to-face conference in California where you Meet/Share/Learn/Play with your local peers and colleagues working in the fields of Information and Educational technology.”

A follow-up post on the Keynote Address by Michael Wesch has been written. Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture and his speech gave some valuable insight on Transformative Learning Theory and new media.

I presented on the topic of using social media in the classroom- “Help! My Students are 3,000 miles Away! Using Social Media to Interact with Online Students”. (View a PDF version of my presentation slides- EduSoCal13Presentation)

Video Syllabus

What do you do when you teach an online class 3,000 miles away from your students? Many would say, use Web conferencing to hold synchronous or live class sessions.

I would typically whole heartedly agree. However, not only am I teaching students located in Ithaca, New York while I am in Los Angeles, I am also working a full-time day job with at least a 90 minute commute. This means the earliest I’d be able to meet online would be 8 pm PST or 11 pm EST for my undergraduate students. In addition, five of my students are studying abroad in London. Therefore, unless I want to torture my students late at night or during the weekend, synchronous Web conferencing sessions are just not possible.

So, again, I ask, what does an instructor do when they teach students who are in different time zones?

My solution was simple. I created a “Video Syllabus” to introduce the course, the course environment, and my expectations in regards to requirements. I used lecture capture software that allowed me to record both my Web cam and my desktop, along with audio, at one time. I navigated to the online course environment to show exactly where the students needed to go to obtain relevant course materials. As I moved my cursor, the lecture capture system recorded the moves. This makes it easier for students to visualize where they need to go, as opposed to reading text directions.

In addition, having my Web camera record me as I spoke, allowed for a better interpersonal connection. Students liked that they were able to see me and put my face and voice together with the person who was lecturing and responding to Discussion forums. It shows that there’s an actual instructor involved in the course and not a random group of people hired as graders.

I saw a decreased number of emails asking for clarification on requirements compared to semesters when I did not us the video syllabus.

Social Media: Facebook and Twitter

Another hurdle I’ve faced is “how do I get my students excited in the content, when I’m 3,000 miles away?” This is an obstacle that many online instructors have to overcome. Since this course is only a one-credit course and my students are undergraduates, I decided to take advantage of the interests of the millennial generation by using Twitter and Facebook.

The class is designed based on discussion relating to topics of: Career planning, Professional Culture, Networking, Work Life, Professional Development, and Work Place Professionalism.

The Facebook Group is SEPARATE (as in I don’t friend my students) and PRIVATE (as in only those on the course roster are invited). Participation this term was optional. I had 90% of my students use Facebook, and of those, 100% were active. Twitter had a 75% user rate, with 80% of those users being active.

The Facebook and Twitter accounts also have varying levels of interaction from the Passive class announcements and reminders, to supplemental materials to be read, to the more interactive extra credit assignments, and the highly interactive Guest Speakers.

To engage my students, I created a Facebook Group and Twitter Feed and arranged for “Guest Speakers” to join us in our social networks for specific topics. The Guest Speakers have the flexibility to respond anytime during the week, which makes commitment from our guests much easier than having to travel to campus.

Students are required to participate in the Guest Speaker sessions by posting questions to the guests on the designated topic. The students read short biographies of our guests and have asked questions that result in the reflection of our guests’ career and education experiences. Most of our guests are Ithaca College Alumni, so there’s already a bond created and a frame of reference for the discussion.

Since the discussion posts have been lengthy, our guest speakers have preferred to use Facebook as the communication medium. Therefore, I’ve found other uses for our Twitter feed. Class announcements, such as due dates, are a basic use of the tool. However, students have been using the Twitter feed for Extra Credit. For example, students were asked to attend a Job/Intern Fair and collect a minimum of three business cards. To earn the extra credit, they needed to tweet a photo of each business card and state what the company was seeking in an employee. Not only did the photos prove they attended (since I’m off campus and cannot provide an attendance sheet), but the tweets also alerted their classmates of the opportunities available. Next term, I’d like to utilize Twitter for concise and dynamic discussion, but I need to work on aligning pedagogy with the tool in order to accomplish the goal.

I saw a pattern in the discussion, with 75% of questions occurring the first three days of the lesson, 5% occurring mid-week, and 20% of the questions occurring the last day. The fact that students participated from an early start makes me believe that they were excited about how the Guest Speaker sessions are conducted.

The big question is- How are you using Social Media and New Media? Comment below!

Learning Theories

This week’s blog is going to be a short introduction to several different Learning Theories commonly used by Instructional Designers and Educational Technologists in designing and building curriculum.

Learning Theories are frameworks that describe how content or information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning. Four of the well-known learning theories focus on Educational Psychology. They are Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, and Transformative learning theory.

Behaviorism– Learning means acquiring a new behavior through conditioning. Two ways that a learner is conditioned is by classical conditioning or operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is where the behavior becomes a reflex in response to stimulus.  Operant conditioning occurs when a learner is rewarded or punished for their behavior.


Cognitivism– This Learning Theory states that learners generate knowledge through sequences of mental processes. The mental processes include recognition, recalling, analyzing, reflecting, application, creating and evaluating. Cognitive Learning defers from Behaviorism in that it looks beyond behavior and focuses on how human memory impacts learning.


Constructivism– The Constructivism Learning Theory is when learners have an active involvement in their education. The theory states that a learner does best when they are able to build new ideas or concepts based upon current knowledge and experiences. Instructional Designers must, therefore, understand what the learners already know in order to develop effective instruction.


Transformative Learning Theory– This learning theory focuses on how the learner will revise and interpret learning to change their point of view. Transformative learning is the process of changing one’s frame of reference. An important part of transformative learning is for learners to change their frames of reference by critically reflecting on their assumptions and beliefs. It is also important that learners consciously make and implement plans that bring about new ways of defining their worlds. This can be done through reflection, feedback, debating with those of different viewpoints, and critically examining evidence.


Gagné’s Theory of Instruction: A Learning Theory

Tausend Talks has covered several topics relating to Instructional Design and the practice of using design methods to create important and effective instruction.  In the next several posts, I will discuss different Learning Theories that are popular in the design of curriculum.

The first learning theory to be discussed is Gagné’s Theory of Instruction, which includes the well-known “Nine Events of Instruction”.

Robert Gagné was one of the first to coin the term “instructional design” as he began research and developed training materials for the military in the 1960s. His instructional design models laid the foundation for other theorists, such as Dick, Carey and Carey (The Dick and Carey Systems Approach Model), and Jerold Kemp (Instructional Design Model).


The Theory of Instruction has three components:

1.)    A Taxonomy of Learning Outcomes

2.)    Conditions of Learning

3.)    Nine Events of Instruction

A Taxonomy of Learning Outcomes defines how learning might be demonstrated and is broken down into three sub-components- Cognitive Domain, Affective Domain, and Psycho-motor Domain.

The Cognitive Domain has multilevel steps that students can use to demonstrate their learning. They are-

  • Stating Verbal Information
  • Label or Classify Concepts to demonstrate intellectual skills
  • Apply Rule and Principles to demonstrate intellectual skills
  • Problem solve and generate solutions to demonstrate intellectual skills
  • Use Cognitive Strategies for learning

The Affective Domain shows a learning outcome in which learners address their attitudes by demonstrating preferred options.

And the final sub-component of Gagné’s Taxonomy of Learning Outcomes, Psycho-motor Domain shows a learning outcome in which learners show motor skills through physical performance.

The second component of Gagné’s Theory of Instruction are the Conditions of Learning.The Conditions of Learning are the required states needed of the learner to acquire new skills. They can be internal states or personal requirements of the learner, such as self-motivation. They are also the external conditions learning such as environmental stimuli that support the internal learning process, such as a quiet, well-lit classroom setting or having the necessary tools available.

The third and final component of Gagné’s Theory of Instruction is the Nine Events of Instruction.

Gagné believe that learning occurs in a series of events. The learning events must be organized in a hierarchy of complexity and must correspond with deliberate instruction. The significance of the hierarchy is to identify prerequisites that need to be completed at each level. Each learning objective must be accomplished before effective learning of the next outcome can begin. Essentially- you must learn how to speak before you can sing.

The Nine Events of Instruction, in order of Gagné’s hierarchical structure:

  1. Gaining attention: Before the learners can start to process any new information, the instructor must gain the attention of the learners.
  2. Informing learners of objectives: The instructor tells the learner what they will be able to accomplish because of the instruction.
  3. Stimulating recall of prior learning: A recall of existing relevant knowledge.
  4. Presenting the stimulus: The content is presented.
  5. Providing learning guidance: Understanding and encoding begins because the instructor presents the content with an emphasis on organization and relevance.
  6. Eliciting performance: Learners are asked to demonstrate learning.
  7. Providing feedback: The instructor gives informative feedback on the learners’ performance.
  8. Assessing performance: Additional learner performance is required and feedback is given again to reinforce learning.
  9. Enhancing retention and transfer: The learner applies the instruction to practical applications to show capabilities.

As an instructor and instructional designer, it’s important to understand how instruction and learning objectives can be deliberately designed for effective learning. It is evident that the Theory of Instruction provides relevant and useful information for doing just that. Stay tuned for a discussion on other Learning Theorists and their models.

Process of Teaching: Pedagogy and Andragogy

When I wrote  Instructional Design Defined on April 8, 2013, I gave a basic overview of the field I very much enjoy being a professional in. I promised that more information would come regarding terms and theories that I only briefly mentioned in that post.

This week, I will give more insight on the Instructional Design terms of Pedagogy and Andragogy.

Instructional design is often associated with Pedagogy or the “process of teaching”. As an instructional designer and an instructor, it’s very important to consider not only WHAT will be taught, but also WHO is being taught and HOW a lesson will be taught.

A successful instructor or instructional designer will consider the students’ background knowledge and experience. Some things to consider (but not limited to):

    • Is the student a Novice?

    • Is the student an expert seeking a refresher?

    • Has the student completed prerequisite courses?

    • Does the student use the topic daily?

It is also important that the instructional designer considers the situation, and the environment when designing a curriculum:

    • Does the lesson have immediate and important implication (such as safety protocols)?

    • Is the lesson being conducted in person or online?

    • Is the lesson self-guided or instructor-led?

In addition, a Pedagogical approach to instruction will consider the learning goals set by both the students and the instructor.

A related term is Andragogy or the teaching process developed for an audience of adult learners. Andragogy is intended to engage adult learners with the purpose of creating a meaningful learning experience. Adult learning theory typically states that learners are self-directed and autonomous in their learning goals and that instructors act as facilitators of learning.

Andragogy focuses on six assets (created by Malcolm Knowles):

  1. Adults need to know the reason for learning

  2. Learning through experience and making mistakes. Learn by Doing is a common phrase.

  3. Adults are involved in the decisions of their education including the planning and evaluation of their instruction.

  4. Topics should have immediate relevance to work.

  5. Problem-centered versus content-oriented.

  6. Internal motivators versus external motivators such as rewards result in better responses from adult learners

As many of you know, I have held several roles. Not only am I a Manager of Instructional Technology, but I also instruct an undergraduate course online and I have experience as a Graduate student taking both online and traditional classroom classes. This combination of roles has given me different perspectives as an Instructional Designer.

From my experience as an online student, my best experiences and learning outcomes were achieved when my professors designed the lesson structure for the online environment. Understanding that an online environment lacks synchronous interaction with students is important in overcoming a barrier to learning.

I’ve retained more information from classes that used a variety of tools to share the information. Examples include using voice recording over lecture notes and video demonstrations of content. In addition, classes that had me working on demonstrating my knowledge in the forms of projects, presentations, and exams were beneficial to my retention of knowledge.

However, my worst recall comes from classes that simply had PowerPoints of class notes available to read without any clarification or direction on how to apply those lessons to real life. Just because a class is conducted online doesn’t mean the instructor should take a “set and forget” approach to teaching.

Consideration and care of how the information is received and interpreted by students is important in the achievement of learning objectives.

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