Final Reflections from EDU 625

thinking man

 

Dear reader,

In this module, we were asked to explore different forms of technology and its impact on the learning environment. Each week we explored different types of technology to help improve teaching and learning. I have enjoyed this class so much. I feel that the learning challenges and projects have given me some really great ideas to incorporate into my classroom. I also got the chance to create some learning activities that I can use with my fourth graders this year. To me, the best learning experience is when I have things that I can take away and actually use.

Some of the technologies that I enjoyed this module include Easy Generator, Story Bird Digital Storytelling and mind mapping. Each of these technologies I can really see using in the future to increase student learning and motivation. Mind mapping is a great way to organize student’s thinking and ideas and reflects what goes on in student’s heads. With mind mappings organic curves and web-like design, students can add to the maps as they learn new things. Story Bird is a program that allows students to talk about their learning through digital storytelling. What I like best is that there are really nice, high quality pictures to help students tell their story. This will really help students who have an aversion to anything artistic and gives them a way to be creative without having to draw anything. Finally Easy Generator is a program that allows teachers to make e-learning courses for their students. The program is very user-friendly and students can share their results with the teacher.

Overall, my views on using technology in the classroom has not really changed. I have always viewed technology as an important addition to the learning process. If anything, this course has given me even more ideas to encourage student motivation and help them take charge of their learning.

When I think of how technology will be used in the future, it amazes me. I can’t even imagine some of the tools we will have in the classroom. Hopefully, every student will have a laptop, tablet or mobile device to learn with. I think that this is most important if students are going to benefit from all technology has to offer. I also hope to see some guidelines and best practices in place to help teachers incorporate technology effectively in the classroom. Overall, my hope is that the classroom finally catches up to the way students learn in the 21st century.

Keep Learning! 🙂

~Ashley

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Immersive and Mobile Technology in the Classroom

secondlife 1

Immersive Technology in the Classroom

A virtual world is described as an environment on the Internet where learners are able to explore a variety of things (3DLES, 2014). After reading about virtual worlds and exploring one for myself, I am not impressed with 3D virtual learning. I try to go into every unit with an open mind and try to see how I can incorporate the concepts into my teaching and student learning. As with anything, there are positive and negative aspects of using immersive technology in the elementary classroom.

Positive:

immersive technologyOne positive aspect of virtual learning is the increase in student motivation to participate in learning. With the use of virtual worlds, students can explore places they may never see in real life or cannot visit at all (3DLES, 2014). This makes learning fun and connected to the real world. According to Wankel and Hinrichs (2011), virtual worlds allow students to construct their own learning. Using 3D virtual worlds also challenges students by using multiple learning styles while making learning immersive and collaborative (de Freitas, n.d.). Finally this game based learning appeals to students of this generation (digital natives) and empowers learners.

 

Negative:

One negative aspect of 3D virtual worlds is the independence it allows its users. This worries me because of the high probability that students will come across and get involved in inappropriate content. In virtual 3D worlds, users will have to create an avatar. This avatar will explore different locations as well as communicate with other avatars (3DLES, 2014). The communication part worries me because essentially my students will be engaging in conversations with complete strangers. There is so much content out there that it seems impossible to monitor what all students are engaged in. I was also reading in one article that there was a teen version of second life, but the access by adults was limited.

Mobile Learning in the Classroom

mobile tech

Mobile learning, or m-learning, is e-learning that involves mobile devices (Hassan, Hamden & Al-Sadi, 2012). Incorporating m-learning creates an engaging and flexible classroom environment. When designing learning activities that involve mobile learning, there are many concepts that the designer must consider. To me, the two most important concepts are compatibility and mobility/perceived enjoyment.

Compatibility

According to Stanartyte, Washington, Wankel and Blessinger (2013), compatibility when designing mobile learning environments means that the ideas of the design are consistent with the learner’s and teachers value’s. When m-learning is compatible, the technology supports the teaching technique or method (Hassan, Hamden & Al-Sadi, 2012). The most important part of compatibility is that the technology does not overshadow the learning objective. The central focus should be the content that is being delivered. This includes looking at the learning materials, activities, objectives and assessments.

Design Strategies: When thinking about m-learning and its compatibility with the existing curriculum, the designer should:

  • Look at the curriculum, what are students exposed to before this lesson? What will they be learning next?
  • Look closely at the objectives and decide if the technology will be useful. Does this technology help students achieve the objective? Or, can the objective be achieved without it? Will the technology enhance the learning experience?
  • Is the technology compatible with the teaching strategy? Will it strengthen the teaching in addition to student learning?

Mobility/Perceived Enjoyment

Mobility refers to the freedom of space and time (Stanartyte, Washington, Wankel &Blessinger, 2013). With mobile learning, the walls of the traditional classroom disappear and independent, informal learning is promoted (Wang & Shen, 2012). M-learning also allows students to collaborate and interact with other learners around the world. With this type of student learning, student’s motivation and engagement increases as well as their enjoyment. Mobility also refers to the devices that the students are using. When designing m-learning, it is important to think about some design principles.

kids mobile learning

Design Strategies: When thinking about mobility, there are many design principles that need to be considered.

  • What device will the learners be using? Designers have to think about pictures and text that will fit the screens of smartphones and tablets.
  • Is the content easy for the learners to view? Designers have to consider the color of the background. Background music and sounds should also be avoided because it can be distracting.
  • Avoid redundancy, keep the information short and concise. Designers may want to chunk the information for easy learning and less frustration.

Classroom Connections!

Image from www.examiner.co.uk
Image from http://www.examiner.co.uk

Immersive technology has many benefits to teaching and learning. It can also be a great motivator for learners and keep them engaged in the learning activity. However, I do not see this being beneficial for elementary level students. I can see it being used at hospitals or in the military with older students. During the immersive technology unit, I tried using Second Life. I and many issues when it came to using this immersive technology with younger students.

  • The first issue I had is that the avatar selections were not really dressed appropriately for younger students. They said that you could change their clothes later, but there weren’t really many options to choose from.
  • After creating the avatar, you had to create an account with email and username, which was another problem I had with this program.
  • Then you had to download and install the software. This will be a problem because in my district, teachers and students are not allowed to install anything on the school computers; only the technology department.
  • It was easy to move around and you could see other avatars along the way. However, you could chat with them. This makes me nervous to have my students chatting with complete strangers.
  • You could also choose destinations to travel to. There was an adult room, that wouldn’t let you on, but gave you instructions on how to change the settings (something computer savvy and determined students would find a way to do).

However, mobile learning definitely has a place in my elementary school classroom. With mobile technology, I can see students being really engaged in the activities and motivated to continue learning. During this most recent unit, I created an e-learning course for teachers on student discourse. To help me create this e-learning course, I used Easy Generator. I created three information slides and well as an objective and assessment for the activity. It was incredibly easy to navigate this program. You did have to sign in, but after that, there was nothing further to download. Once you were ready to create your course, they gave step by step instructions to help you. It was as simple as typing the information into the designated areas. You could even upload information from Power Point. The program also allowed you to add in an assessment piece to keep the learners accountable. Overall, I was very impressed with Easy Generator. It was super easy and I think that it is a great tool for teachers (even those with little technology experience). I could see using this in my classroom. Our grade level has access to Chrome Books. I can see creating some sort of e-learning activity and having students complete it online independently. The results from the assessment piece can be sent back to the teacher; which is a major plus.

Check out what I created! http://elearning.easygenerator.com/56f84a79-f055-4f68-bd09-0cb3ccab90f2

 

References:

3DLES. (2014). Education in virtual worlds (English). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKzcSoD-QCc.

de Freitas, S. (n.d.). Learning in immersive worlds: A review of game-based learning. Retrieved from https://post.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-2595273-dt-content-rid-23009051_1/courses/EDU625.901013080932/Documents/Unit%206%20Resources/LearningInImersiveWorlds_v3%203.pdf.

Hassan, M., Hamdan, Z., & Al-Sadi, J. (2012). A new mobile learning content design process. International Journal of Academic Research, 41(1), 23-28.

Stanaityte, J., Washington, N., Wankel, L. A., & Blessinger, P. (2013). Increasing student engagement and retention using mobile applications: Smartphones, Skype and texting technologies. Bingley, U. K.: Emerald.

Wang, M., & Shen, R. (2012). Message design for mobile learning: Learning theories, human cognition and design principles. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 43(4), 561-575. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01214.x

Wankel, C., & Hinrichs, R.J. (2011). Transforming virtual world learning. Bingley, U.K.: Emerald.

Presentation, Content Delivery and Gaming in the Classroom

 

bored

Presentation and Content Delivery

A presentation is the way that information is delivered. When planning lessons, one of the most important questions I ask myself is “when do I use lecture style teaching rather than hands on experiences”? According to Jamison (2014) this decision is made by the teacher and is based on the needs of the learners and the objectives being taught. The bigger question is how do we, as teachers, keep our students engaged.

Digital storytelling is a way to keep learners engaged. Frazel (2010) states that digital storytelling blends media (image, video and audio) to enrich and enhance a presentation. This blend of multimedia helps to motivate and engage students.

Below, I have linked an example of digital storytelling. The lesson involves students learning about Native American culture and the Trail of Tears. After students learned about the Trail of Tears, they had to put what they learned into their own words. To create this digital storytelling example, I used a free program called storybird.com. This program allows teachers to set up a classroom account where students can share their creations. Students are able to create virtual books using the many art pieces supplied by the website. Click here for my example!

Digital storytelling also helps struggling readers and writers (Morgan, 2014). Digital storytelling helps learners with sequencing events and punctuation. Digital storytelling also helps students visually express their ideas and practice writing for an audience.

gaming blog

Gaming Technology

Using games in the classroom is another way to get students engaged in their learning. However, it is important to understand that “gaming” in the classroom is different from the games students play for fun at home. Games in the classroom have meaning and connects to student learning. “Gamification” also increases student engagement, collaboration, fun and achievement. Games also help students build interpersonal relationships (Hsu, Chang & Lee, 2013).

According to Jamison (2013), meaningful games have five important elements.

  1. Meaningful games are story like. They have meaning and a purpose.
  2. Meaningful games force players to make decisions that will impact their progress in the game.
  3. Meaningful games let players fail.
  4. Meaningful games let players use their imagination.
  5. Meaningful games let players know what they must do to win.

Classroom Connections

Image from www.examiner.co.uk
Image from http://www.examiner.co.uk

I really had fun creating the lessons using digital storytelling. I used the free website story bird.com to help students express their ideas and what they learned about the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee Nation. I really like this website. It is easy to use and teachers can set up a classroom account where students can share their work with each other (very similar to Google Classroom). The website also provided the user with different picture options. By searching the categories, students could find pictures and works of art that best fit their project. I thought this was an interesting feature because some students do not like to do anything related to art and drawing. At just the thought of creating a book with illustrations, some students will shut down because they think they cannot draw. This gives them a way to create a meaningful piece with beautiful illustrations. I definitely want to use this program in my classroom. 🙂

I am in the middle when it comes to using games in the classroom. I see the benefit if they are used correctly in the classroom. However, to be used correctly, there has to be enough time; and time is something that teachers do not have a lot of. Students need time to play games that allow them to follow a story and make important decisions that impact whether they win or lose. According to Big Think (2011) the traditional classroom would have to be redesigned into something more flexible. Teachers can teach the content, then give students opportunities to play these meaningful games during lab time. Unfortunately, it is hard for me to see this happening. Right now, there is not enough time with all of the state standards and district testing.

What are your thoughts on gaming in the classroom? Let me know in the comments below.

References:

Big Think. (2011). Playing Games in the Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA7KuOyH3PQ.

Frazel, M. (2010). Digital storytelling guide for educators. Eugene, Or: International Society for Technology in Education.

Hsu, S. H., Chang, J., & Lee, C. (2013). Designing attractive gamification features for collaborative storytelling websites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 16(6), 428-435. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0492

Jamison, J. (2013). EDU625 unit 5. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNiwkozFMk0&feature=youtu.be.

Jamison, J. (2014). EDU 625 unit 4 presentation. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/kusbq5-y_lml/edu625-unit-4-presentation/.

Morgan, H. (2014). Using digital story projects to help students improve reading and writing. Reading Improvement, 51(1), 20-26.

Learning and the Greater Community

social media cube

 

Learning is no longer confined to the four walls of the classroom. With the use of technology, learning has expanded to include the greater community. This unique approach to learning allows for students to participate in the community, gather and analyze data from the community and use all of the resources the community has to offer.

Participating in the Community

With the use of technology, students are able to share what they are learning. Social media is a great way to have students share their learning and participate in the greater learning community. Edudemic (2015) states that social media brings the real world into the classroom and extends learning to experts in certain fields. Using social media also increases student motivation in the classroom. With the use of social media in the classroom, there is some concerns. One concern deals with students being able to separate the use of social media for personal use and academic use. According to Davis (2015) these two types of socializing are very different and should not be confused. Some other concerns involve online etiquette and the proper use of social media for learning. Despite concerns, I believe that students can be taught how to use social networking in the classroom properly to create relevant and engaging lessons.

Want to learn more about teaching students to be good digital citizens? Click here to read more from Edutopia. (Borovoy, 2014)

Gathering and Analyzing Community Content

Web-based surveys are a way to get community feedback about important information. Web-based surveys have many benefits. According to Bakla, Cekic and Koksal (2013), web-based surveys are easy to deliver, low in cost, have the potential to have a variety of questions and can reach a large population of people. However, there are issues and concerns when using web-based surveys. On the development side, web-based surveys can be time-consuming. They also require the designer to have some web design experience. The surveys can also potentially experience technical issues (Bakla, Cekic & Koksal, 2013). Also with web-based surveys, the participants need to be motivated to answer the questions being asked of them (Simmons, Bickart & Lynch, 1993). Simmons, Bickart and Lynch (1993) states that the answers participants give to questions can be based on previously asked questions; this creates a bias in your survey. Designers also cannot assume that people have prior knowledge about the topic being surveyed. This can result in spontaneous creation of answers which can be problematic because we are making assumptions and drawing conclusions based on this data.

When conducting a web-based survey, it is important to be able to tell if the information gathered is credible. According to Phillips, Aaron and Phillips (2013), because of certain errors when giving surveys, bias can be present. Coverage error is one type of error when conducting web-based surveys. Online surveys will limit the coverage of a population because not everyone will have access to computers or the Internet, limiting the responses collected. Online surveys also only sample a small subset of a population and the results could be skewed if there are no responses. I think that the most important thing to remember when looking at information from surveys is to realize that you are only looking at a subset of any population and there can be bias present with the sampling. I think students have to be taught how to tell if the information is credible. When researching topics on the Internet, one of the lessons I do with my students is teaching them how to tell if the information is reliable. We look at the source of the information, the date, the publisher, etc to see if we can trust the information that is given. The same type of explicit teaching needs to be done when looking at and analyzing the information gathered from surveys.

Resources from the Larger Community

Global information allows students to connect with the greater community through the Internet. This includes all real-time data that occurs over an extended period of time. Global information also allows for authentic learning and can potentially break down the walls of the traditional classroom.

As with social networking in the classroom, there are concerns when it comes to using global information in the classroom. Information can be found all over the Internet, but the concern is can students take that information and organize it into something meaningful. Blagdanic and Chinnappan (2013) states that students go through phases when trying to organize real life data. My concern would be making sure students are indeed moving through those stages and using global information effectively.

First, students should be able to take already gathered information and organize it into a graph. The data in this step is decontextualized, but students need to be able to make an appropriate graph to show the information. Next, students use real life data in context by collecting their own data and making an appropriate graph. Students then should be able to create many different types of graphs and choose the one that will display the information most effectively. Finally, students should be able to draw conclusions from their graphs. One common problem is students are able to make the graphs, but cannot tell what they mean or what the information shows. According to Blagdanic and Chinnappan (2013) students will have to be able to do these things on their own to be statistically literate.

It is also important for students to be able to tell if the information is credible. This is the same as seeing if an informational resource from the Internet is credible. Students and teachers should ask themselves:

  • Where is this information coming from?
  • When was this published?
  • Who is the publisher?
  • Where is the information coming from? (for some data the location and time can impact the results)

Classroom Connections

Image from commons.wikimedia.org
Image from commons.wikimedia.org

The past three units were filled with good experiences with the above topics. This is especially true when it comes to my own teaching. Creating the lessons and activities that I did to include these different concepts really made me think about how I approach the lessons I will teach in the future.

  • Mind Mapping– Mind mapping is a very different way to take notes. According to Petro (2010), mind mapping is a visual diagram of information. The information is organized around the main idea and key concepts. Free flowing branches allow students to connect ideas to the topic while using both sides of their brains (Petro, 2010). This way of taking notes never really occurred to me, being that I am a more linear thinker. But as I created one on my own, I saw the benefits it could have for some of my students. Mind mapping really lends itself to visual learners. It is also a fun and engaging way to take notes. Especially if students can add in pictures as well as text.
  • Surveys– Surveys are something that I do not use all the time in the classroom (with the exception of at the beginning of the school year). After analyzing my own survey, I saw how this could be useful when asking the right questions. With surveys, students are thinking about their learning and making learning their own. This helps increase student engagement and motivation.
  • Real-time Data– This was my favorite unit! I loved creating a lesson that involved real-time data in the classroom. I can see my students being engaged in the lesson and being able to be “scientist” and use real life data. The lesson I created involved using data from buoys located in the Long Island Sound. Since my fourth graders study Connecticut and the Long Island Sound, I can see students being motivated and excited to use this real live data. The lesson becomes much more meaningful when students can see the real life application. How we analyze data and create graphs are an important skill that students need to learn early on. The use of real-time data will help with these essential skills. Time might be an issue, but with careful planning I can see how this would be a great tool to incorporate into any lesson!

Here is the lesson that I created using data from the Long Island Sound Buoys! Real Time Data Lesson PDF

Want to learn more about using real life data in the classroom? This video is of a high school classroom that analyzes real-time data to help them make evidence based decisions (Teaching Channel, n.d.).

 

References:

Bakla, A., Cekic, A., & Koksal, O. (2013). Web-based surveys in educational research. International Journal Of Academic Research, 5(1), 5-13. doi:10.7813/2075-4124.2013/5-1/B.1

Blagdanic, C., & Chinnappan, M. (2013). Supporting students to make judgements using real-life data. Australian Mathematics Teacher, 69(2), 4-12.

Borovoy, A. E. (2014). Five-minute film festival: Teaching digital citizenship. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-digital-citizenship.

Concord Consortium. (2014). Innovative Technology in Science Inquiry. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVSk7tiU0Uc.

Davis, V. (2015). A guidebook for social media in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/guidebook-social-media-in-classroom-vicki-davis.

Edudemic. (2015). How to use social media as a learning tool. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/how-to-use-social-media-as-a-learning-tool-in-the-classroom/.

Petro, Jr., N. J. (2010). Hate taking notes? Try mind mapping. Gpsolo, 27(4), 20-23.

Philips, P.P., Aaron, B.C., & Phillips, J.J. (2013). Survey Basics. Alexandria, Va: ASTD Press.

Simmons, C. J., Bickart, B.A., & Lynch Jr., J.G. (1993). Capturing and creating public opinion in survey research. Journal Of Consumer Research, 20(2), 316-329.

Teaching Channel. (n.d.). Statistical analysis to rank baseball players. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/statistical-analysis-lesson#.

Survey: Social Networking in the Classroom

Image from flickr.com
Image from flickr.com

For my new class, Integrating Technology into Learning, I have created a survey the deals with social media/networking in the classroom. It would really help me out if you would take a second to fill out this survey. It is only 5 questions and should be really quick.

Here is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SZMDTBL

Thanks! Your participation is appreciated.

Ashley 🙂

Project Management Series Part 4: Executing, Monitoring and Controlling the Project

Image from: www.flickr.com
Image from: http://www.flickr.com

Welcome to the fourth and final installment of the project management series. I hope that you have found this series to be informative and will use these resources the next time you manage your own project. In part four, we will discuss executing, monitoring and controlling a project.

Executing the plan

“Executing the plan” in project management involves being able to carry out projects as they are outlined in the project plan. When “executing the plan”, project managers need to mobilize the projects resources and carry out the intended activities (Cox, 2010). “Executing the plan” involves the steps needed to ensure that the project is a success.

“Executing the plan” involves:

  1. Acquiring the project team: This is a very important step. When the project manager acquires a team, both the work and team roles are defined. If the team requires development, it is done during this step. Relationships are also managed and sustained during this step.
  2. Distributing Information: This includes status reporting and implementing the communication plan.
  3. Selecting and acquiring procurement: During this step, requests and proposals for contractors and vendors are made and reviewed. Based  the project’s requirements, bids are made and a vendors are selected.
  4. Monitoring the project systems: During this step, the project manager measures how the project is staying on track in terms of scope, schedule, budget and quality.

Monitoring and Controlling the project

Change is an inevitable part of project management. However it can be resisted. When dealing with change, it is important to identify to all those involved what is at stake sand what will happen if changes are not made. Post University (n.d.) says that project managers should incorporate Kotter’s eight stage change process to help deal with resistance to change. Using Kotter’s eight stages will also help to quickly release product and keep up team member’s excitement. Kotter’s eight stages include:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency
  2. Create a guiding coalition
  3. Develop a vision and strategy
  4. Communicate change through every possible vehicle
  5. Empower broad-based action and get rid of obstacles
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Consolidate gains
  8. Anchor new approaches in culture (celebrate milestones and achievements)

Monitoring change also helps monitor quality control and assurance. Gundiach (2013) states that understanding the progress and status of your project leads to successful project delivery. Project managers can monitor projects through pulse meetings and program reviews. Both of these activities encourage frank and honest discussions to keep the project on track and the quality high.

  • Pulse meetings- According to Sheen (2012), pulse meetings are meetings to gather information and see if the project is on track. They can be face to face or virtual and usually last only a few minutes. Pulse meetings look at the day-to-day operations of a project. If there are any problems, pulse meetings can be followed up with an issue resolution meeting.
  • Program reviews- Whereas pulse meetings are more day-to-day, program reviews are more formal meetings with team members and team leaders. Program reviews look at the big picture and compare the current status of a project to the project plan.

Want to learn more about program review meetings to help monitor your project? Check out these two sources!

Project Connections: What is a monthly project management meeting?

Tips for Conducting Effective Project Review Meetings

Classroom Reflections

Image from www.examiner.co.uk
Image from http://www.examiner.co.uk

Change is inevitable and often resisted. This is definitely true in the education field. Despite all of the research that shows 21st century learners learn differently, there has been very few changes in classroom teaching. There are teachers still standing in front of the classroom lecturing while students take a passive role in learning. Thus, there is no increase in student learning. Naturally, change is often not liked. But I think it is important for teachers to realize that change is inevitable and needs to be addressed head on. I think that more schools and districts need to look at Kotter’s eight stages to change. With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, there are a lot of changes happening very quickly. I think if districts and schools applied these eight steps to their implementation of the new curriculum, teachers will become less frustrated and keep a positive outlook on changes.

 

Happy_balloons

Thanks you for being part of the Project Management Series. I hope that you learned as much as I did on this journey to effective project management!

Ashley 🙂

 

References:

Cox, D.M.T. (2010). Project management skills for instructional designers: A practical guide. Bloomington, IL: Iuniverse.

Gundiach, M. (2013). Integrating project monitoring and control with other processes. Retrieved from http://www.brighthubpm.com/monitoring-projects/40904-how-project-monitoring-and-controlling-integrates-with-other-processes/.

Nag, A. (2011). Tips for conducting effective project review meetings. Retrieved from http://blog.commlabindia.com/elearning-design/project-review-meeting.

Post University. (n.d.). Motoring and controlling the project. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu627/unit7/index.htm.

Project Connections. (n.d.). What is a monthly project review meeting and what should it cover?. Retrieved from http://www.projectconnections.com/knowhow/burning-questions/new/monthly-project-review.html.

Sheen, R. (2012). Project management monitoring and controlling tools & techniques. Retrieved from http://www.projectmanagementguru.com/controlling.html.

Project Management Series Part 3: Effective Communication

Image from: pexals.com
Image from: pexals.com

Welcome back to part 3 of the Project Management Series! This installment will discuss the importance of effective communication to project management.

Effective communication is essential to productive project management. However like any other form of communication, there are some challenges and barriers. These barriers can cause a breakdown in communication and misunderstandings. According to Post (n.d.) it is essential to stop and ask for clarifications and check for understanding.

There are five major barriers to effective communication. These barriers include perception, beliefs, attitudes, values and noise.

  • Perception: Perception is the way that we take in, organize and make sense of information (Cox, 2010). No two people will perceive information the same way. These filters are natural and inevitable when communicating with humans.
  • Beliefs: Beliefs are your filters based on prior experiences, faith and confidence. Beliefs can also distort perceptions (Cox, 2010).
  • Attitudes: According to Cox (2010), your attitude is your positive or negative response to something. Attitudes are often triggered by your belief systems.
  • Values: Values are the basis of our beliefs. This filter is very resistant to change.
  • Noise: Noise can be any form of disruption in the communication process. This can be actual noise, in the facility or outside, or nonverbal noise. Nonverbal noise includes too much text on the page, distracting images or anything else that will cause the information not to be communicated effectively.

 

Effective communication can not be assumed. There has to be a plan in place to make sure all necessary information is communicated in a timely matter. Communication plans are customized based on the environment you are working in and your stakeholder groups. However, they should include:

  • Communication strategy: This will spell out what type of communications will be used to communicate important events and developments.
  • Kick off meeting
  • Roles and responsibilities of the team: This is a very important piece of the communication plan. This component will make sure that team members know their jobs and what is expected of them.
  • Status meetings and frequency: This will keep the project on track and within budget.
  • Change control communications: This will tell team members how to properly make changes in the project and how to notifying the proper individuals.
  • Project review meetings
  • Transitions from development to implementation
  • Closure meetings

Remember that open, high quality communication can produce high quality results and outcomes. However, it is important to not over communicate with your team. Sharing all small details, ideas and opinions can derail a project and make it hard to get back on track. It is important to make sure that there is a correct balance of communication.

Classroom Reflections

Image from www.examiner.co.uk
Image from http://www.examiner.co.uk

Like many of the concepts I have learned in this class, effective communication plays a huge role in the classroom. Teachers have to communicate effectively with students to make sure that they understand and learn. Teachers also need to be able to communicate effectively with parents, administrators and their colleagues. It is important to understand that the barriers to communication are natural and inevitable ones. It is also important that we understand how to overcome these barriers and be able to get our point across.

I have been in situations where there is a breakdown in communication. Something is communicated wrongly or for whatever reason the message is not received. This results in missed deadlines, late projects, confusion, frustration and other consequences. Knowing these strategies and techniques for communication planning will also help manage projects within a school environment.

Find out more about communication planning at http://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Knowledge%20Center/Communications_whitepaper_v2.ashx 

References:

Charvat, J. (2002). Project communication: A plan for getting your message across. Retrieved from http://www.techrepublic.com/article/project-communications-a-plan-for-getting-your-message-across/1061894/.

Cox, D.M.T. (2010). Project management skills for instructional designers: A practical guide. Bloomington, IL: Iuniverse.

Post. (n.d.). Unit 5- Project communications. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu627/unit5/index.htm.

Project Management Institute. (2013). Communication: The message is clear. Retrieved from

http://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Knowledge%20Center/Communications_whitepaper_v2.ashx .

 

Project Management Series Part 2: Initiating the Project and the Design Document

Image from: en.wikipedia.org
Image from: en.wikipedia.org

Project Management (PM) supports the instructional design process by giving it specific standards, structure, organization and by making the process more effective and efficient.

Initiating the Project

Initiating the project is the first phase of the project management process. This step defines the scope of the project which includes cost, schedule and performance. The project charter is an important document that helps define the scope of the project. The project charter will include specifics such as background to the problem, purpose, deliverables, schedule and stakeholders (Post University, n.d.).  A Stakeholders is any person that is invested in the project and can benefit of suffer from its outcome. Stakeholders can include clients and sponsors. The formality of this document and what it includes depends on the environment and organization.

This phase also includes stakeholder analysis/ mapping. According to Abbing (2011), this step allows the project manager to examine the relationship between them and the stakeholders. This includes what the project managers wants, what the stakeholders need and what resources that are already in place.

Designing the Document

This stage includes needs analysis and task sequencing. Needs analysis involves gathering data to see if a need for the project exists (Cekada, 2011). This often includes looking at the actual performance of workers or students and comparing this to the expected performance at the particular level. Performing a needs analysis will help find any gaps in skill, behavior, knowledge or ability. If there is a need, then a design document is drafted. A design document will include objectives, key concepts and learning activities. Performing analysis not only helps develop objectives, but also helps to understand the problem and all solutions.

Based on the analysis, jobs (tasks) can be sequenced. Sequencing involves ranking jobs by importance based on time spent, difficulty and significance (Cox, 2009). Tasks are sequenced into three levels. These levels are primary, main and supporting tasks. The primary task is the overall task. The main tasks include the tasks needed to be able to achieve the primary task. The supporting tasks are the tasks needed to be able to achieve the main tasks.

Want to learn more about task analysis in instructional design? Click here to find out how needs analysis links to Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation. This resource also looks at the needs that should be captured during this phase and suggests questions to ask during the task analysis.

Classroom Reflections

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As I continue this module, I try to look for connections to the work that I do in the classroom. Project management very much mimics what I do in the classroom. In the previous post, I talked about doing task and needs analysis before and after lessons. After lessons, especially when they don’t go well, I try to identify if there were any gaps in knowledge, skills and behaviors. This analysis will help me to develop objectives to future lessons to help solve this problem. Based on this analysis, I can also sequence tasks, or the jobs, that I want my students to do. Often, I have to think about the importance of the skills that I am teaching to my students. When planning, I have to think of these important skills and concepts and how I am going to get them to these different levels of thinking. Analysis of their skills and previous learning helps me make these decisions.

 

References:

Abbing, E.R. (2011). Stakeholder mapping: A quick guide to creating stakeholder maps that help you provide networked value. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/brandriveninnovation/stakeholdermapping-8274799.

Cekada, T.L. (2011). Need training? Professional Safety, 56(12), 28-34. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=1683dd09-900b-4ff3-9aab-23c0ab57e1bd%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=120.

Cox, D.M.T. (2010). Project management skills for instructional designers: A practical guide. Bloomington, IL: Iuniverse.

Post University. (n.d.). Project management overview. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu627/unit1/index.htm.

Post University. (n.d.). Unit 3- Designing the document. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu627/unit3/index.htm.

Project Management for Instructional Designers Series Part 1: Project Analysis

Image from: en.wikipedia.org
Image from: en.wikipedia.org

Welcome to another module and the beginning of another series! This module, I will be creating a four-part series that focuses on project management and how it impacts and influences the instructional design process.

What is a project?

According to Cox (2010), a project is something that is temporary. This means it has a beginning and an end. Projects also are defined as creating a unique product or service (Post University, n.d.) as a result of demands and any requests or requirements (Cox, 2010). Projects are a way of executing specific objectives (Cox, 2010). Haughey (2011) states projects are designed to increase the participants chances of success.

What are stakeholders?

Stakeholders are people who are invested in the project and its outcomes. Stakeholders have something to gain from the success of the project and something to lose if the project fails. Stakeholders can include:

  • students
  • teachers
  • team members
  • administrators
  • the community

Step 1: Analysis

Like the ADDIE model, the first steps of project management involve some analysis. Analysis involves looking at the content and audience closely to determine what is necessary and needed to begin the project. Click here to learn more about the analysis phase of the ADDIE model.

Cox (2010) suggests performing a needs analysis during the analysis step of project management It is suggested that designers use a survey to gauge where the problems are and where there are opportunities of learning. Cox (2010) suggests that the surveys be short and straight forward. It is also important to include areas for the participants to write in responses. This allows them to tell the designer, in their own words, what they see as the problem. From the results of the survey, designers can draw conclusions and see which direction to take the project.

Check out these resources to help conduct analysis of your projects!

Questions for workplace analysis surveys

Prepping for a needs analysis meeting

Classroom Reflections

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When I think about the first step of project management, I compare it to the lesson planning that I do in my own classroom. Analysis is something that I do a lot of to help increase student learning. Although I might not give a survey to my students, I do analyze the needs of the students in my classroom. When looking at student work and assessments, I look to see where they are having difficulty. What seems to be the area of weakness? Are there any gaps in learning? Where did students show growth in their learning? What needs to be done, instructionally, to create opportunities of learning? When all of this is done, lessons are meaningful and student learning increases.

There are many stakeholders in the lessons that happen in the classroom. Teachers, students, grade level teams and the administration are accountable and invested in student success and learning.

 

References:

Cox, D.M.T. (2010). Project management skills for instructional designers: A practical guide. Bloomington, IL: Iuniverse.

Post University. (n.d.). Project management overview. Retrieved from http://www.coursematerials.net/edu/edu627/unit1/index.htm.

The ADDIE Series Part 4: Development and Implementation

ADDIE blog 4

Another module has come to an end. I can’t believe that this will be the last installment of the ADDIE model series. In the final installment, I will be discussing the development and implementation phases of the ADDIE model.

Development

When developing content for learners, designers also have to think about authentic assessment and student motivation. Authentic assessment has learners completing worthy intellectual tasks (Wiggins, 1990). Authentic assessments also include problem solving and higher level thinking skills. Authentic assessment is rooted in real world examples. Mueller (2014) says that authentic assessment also allows students to creatively apply their skills and knowledge to authentic situations.

Authentic assessments directly relate to student motivation. When learning is connected to real world tasks, the students see the value in what they are learning. As students become more invested in their learning, motivation increases.

Click here for more information about authentic assessment!

Implementation

According to Hodell (2011), during the implementation phase training and education take place. During this phase, designers also look at the first two levels of Kirkpatrick’s levels of evaluation.

Level 1- Reaction: These evaluations are based on the learner’s reactions to the training/education. Because it is their initial response to the training, it is important that it is done immediately. This will give the most honest opinion about the value of the training. Evaluations can be in the form of smile sheets, surveys, focus groups and interviews. Chapman (2014) says the benefits of these evaluations include that they are inexpensive to deliver and analyze the results. It is also a quick and easy to get data and determine if changes and modifications need to take place.

Level 2- Learning: With learning evaluations, all of the data is tied to the learning objectives. Designers are looking at the increase in knowledge from before the training to after. These evaluations are more formal and include tests, interviews and observations. These evaluations are clear-cut, quantifiable and reliable.

Watch this video for more information about the implementation phase of the ADDIE model.

Thinking About My Teaching

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Authentic assessment comes up a lot as I think about how to assess student learning. The question is: Do the standardized, multiple choice tests really show what students know and understand? By using authentic assessment, my students can see that learning is important. When they see how the lessons connect to the real world, their motivation increases. In my classroom, I try to use other ways to see if my students are learning. I have been using portfolio assessment a lot in my classroom. By using a collection of work, I can see students growth over time. More importantly, students can see their growth and learning. I have also been trying to incorporate more discussion into my classroom. To see if students are using the effective listening techniques, I have been using an observation checklist. I tell the students what I am looking for before they turn and discuss. It has been an effective way to assess whether students are using the techniques as well as their understanding. All of these forms fall into Kirkpatrick’s level two evaluation. These evaluations are tied to the objectives.

As I was reflecting on my teaching and the classroom, I do not do a lot of level one evaluations. I do not often ask them how they felt about the lesson. Level one evaluations are used a lot at the beginning of the year. To get to know the students, I do a lot of interest inventories. I like to see their attitudes towards reading and math and learning in general. But after that, I do not do them very often. I would like to try this with my math lessons, to see how they feel about the strategies that we are learning.

 

Do you use any of these steps when planning instruction? How has this impacted your teaching and/or learning? Let me know in the comments section!

I hope you enjoyed this four part series on the ADDIE model. 🙂

 

References:

Chapman, A. (2014). Kirkpatrick’s learning and training evaluation theory. Retrieved from http://www.businessballs.com/kirkpatricklearningevaluationmodel.htm.

Hodell, C. (2011). Isd from the ground up: A no-nonsense approach to instructional design (3rd ed.). Alexandria, Virginia: ASTD Press.

Mueller, J. (2014). Authentic assessment toolbox. Retrieved from http://jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/toolbox/index.htm.

Wiggins, G. (1990). The case for authentic assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 2(2). Retrieved from http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=2&n=2.