#etmooc Living (and designing) with Constraints

I read @jkunrein's Building a Seat at the Table for Design ASTD blog. She makes a some thoughtful points on how often SMEs and/or customers push a design approach. I'm not 100% clear on what kind of design she's talking about: instructional, look, feel, or something else.

What I want to comment on about it is this: constraints. We all have them. There's not enough time. We're pressured by lack of resources, usually budgets. Maybe it's the political climate or organization's culture that has us design something less awesome than we'd like. So yes, there are forces at work cramming design decisions down designers' throats. I think she's right-on about how we as designers should do the best job possible by the client. What has me concerned, however, is if we should push back at all.

I'd like to be able to use educational technology like polling apps or QR codes in my organization. I think they'd make for a much more immersive learning experience, particularly when it comes to learning and practicing in the real-world outside the classroom. Only I can't because of budgetary and union constraints.

I think that an important part of my job, particularly at the start or kick-off of a training project, is educating the customer on what is possible and why some things they want to do might not be in the best interests of the learner or the organization. If there is push-back it would happen at that time. I think that once a relationship between designer and customer has been established such push-back would be rare.

Which gets me to the subject of professional development. Unrein suggests learning a tools-set. The problem (constraint) here is that some tools, not all of course, are expensive. If your organization doesn't have them available for your use then once the trial version, if there's one available, times-out you're stuck. I advocate the development of soft-skills, storytelling for example, over hard-skills like being able to design in something like Articulate Storyline. If you can spin a story that catches the hearts and minds of your trainees then the tool really doesn't matter.


#etmooc An Ed-Tech for Me

Yesterday I listened to @jkunrein's Authoring Tools talk on the RelateCasts youtube channel. But that's not really what this post is about. Listening to the tools discussion got me to thinking about who uses the tools. Most of the tools she discussed are used to develop elearning. But even that got me thinking more about who.

You go back a few years and I was all about tools: most of the Adobe Creative Suite, Apple Final Cut Pro and others. But around 2008 I got focused more the instructional design side of things and less on development. My primary authoring tool morphed from Adobe Flash to MS Word. Where I'd once used Flash and its programming language ActionScript to create immersive visual learning experiences I transitioned to Word as a storyboarding, storytelling and communication tool.

In the corporate learning and development environment, where I spent many years, it's about designing courses and learning experiences for class sizes on one: an individual learner sitting in front of an employer provided PC. Serving class sizes of 1 it makes sense to go right to the authoring tool and use rapid design to get the job done quickly.

In academia, designing interactive distance education is an entirely different thing in terms of approach and learner experience. Where in the corporate learning environment a learner reads, clicks or drags what they see on their computer screen in higher-education it's more about what a group of students will be doing together: Read the syllabus. Read this week's lesson. Now get up out of your chair and do it. Then discuss it online with your peers whilst the instructor facilitates.

Most of the instructional designers I've met since 2008 are Word (or other word processing tools) users. It's rare that I've encountered an instructional designer that touches HTML5 or uses Flash, Hype, Lectora, Edge or similar applications. I think it comes down to the target population the instructional designer serves.

In my present instructional design role it's a bit of mash-up, tools and learning experience-wise. The distance education platform is simple. My peers and I create content almost exclusively in Word. We storyboard in Word. We prototype in Word. We accept content from subject matter experts in Word. This is definitely not what I learned distance education production was like when I completed ASTD's Rapid eLearning Design workshop some years back.

So what's the point of all this? Sure, authoring tools are important. They're part of what first comes to mind when one thinks of educational technology. But what I think they really are, at least in so far as how @jkunrein was talking about them, is multimedia/web design tools that can be used to produce content and online learning experiences.

My favorite authoring tool of the last few years is the No. 2 pencil. It's an amazing example of educational technology. I think we as educators tend to take it for granted at times. And don't get me started about all the sticky notes I use: Writing concise notes in such a small space helps me focus on what's important. I guess I'd say the pencil and sticky notes are the Twitter of an earlier age.

If you're an educator, instructional designer or in some other role and interested in educational technology I think it's important that you have a clear idea on who you are designing for. This more than anything else determines what you'll be using to create with.

One more thing: One piece of ed-tech I hope to learn more about this year is the TinCan API. I basically know only one thing about it so far: It's not an LMS (Learning Management System). It's going to be challenging figuring out what it is and how I can use it since it's not something I'd use at work. I'm thinking my personal learning network, basically the people I follow on Twitter and whose blogs I read, will help get me where I think I need to be.

In closing: I think educational technology leverages learning: our own and the learning of the people and organizations we support. Set up your personal learning network, pick something to learn and share your experiences along the way.


#etmooc Not a four letter word (anymore)

Two days have passed since the collaborative #etmooc experience. I'm catching up: The weather is much improved and I have a reliable Internet connection with which to move data. The point of this post is the cMOOC (connectivist Massive Open Online Course) as described during the #etmooc Orientation Week Activity.

A few days before #etmooc began I read in a research paper where elaborative interrogation and self-explanation were found to be highly effective learning techniques (Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan & Willingham, 2013). The self-explanation part I understood right off: framing what I read or experience within what I already know. I'm coming to understand, finally after a couple years groping for meaning, that the elaborative interrogation piece comes (best for me) from connecting with others of like-mind.

So there you are: dawning understanding of how research, educational technology and social media come together to foster learning.

More later.


Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K.A., Marsh, E.J., Nathan, M.J., Willingham, D.T. 2013). Improving Students’ Learning with effective Learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Retrieved January 16, 2013 from the Psychological Science in the Public Interest website at http://psi.sagepub.com/content/14/1/4.full.pdf?ijkey=Z10jaVH/60XQM&keytype=ref&siteid=sppsi


Et Tu #etmooc

So I had every intention of participating in last night's #etmooc introductory collaboration meetup. Only by the time I got my campsite set up I saw there wasn't enough zip in my mi-fi wi-fi. I'll be taking a look at the recording later this week (tonight?) to see what I missed.

I spend as much time as I can outdoors. I'm fascinated by the night sky. I haven't ever used a telescope or binoculars for star gazing, preferring to use my eyes only.

It's this thought that brings me to one facet of educational technology that troubles me: the idea that the technology part of ed-tech has to be the latest stuff. I don't think so. It has to satisfice, be good enough.

As it happened I didn't spend too much time looking up at the stars: It was wayyy too cold, the mercury having dipped to something like 16F in the part of far southeastern New Mexico where I spend most of my time these days. Even so, I spent as much time out in the open as I could. I want my instructional designs and educational technology deployments to get learners excited enough to not want to let go of them too quickly.

I'm sure being in #etmooc will go a long way towards getting me there.

#ETMOOC Assignment #1 Introduction

Who is he?

I'm Urbie Delgado. I'm an instructional designer working for US Customs & Border Protection in New Mexico.


What's the guy's educational background?

I have an M.S. Ed. in Education with a specialization in instructional design for online learning. It was awarded on December 31, 2008 by Capella University. My undergraduate degree, a BA, is in Behavioral Science awarded August 31, 2006 by Western International University. I have three certificates:

  • Multimedia Production Management, August 31, 1998 through UC Santa Cruz Extension
  • Continuous Improvement and Quality Management, July, 1996 through UC Santa Cruz Extension
  • Electronics Technology, March 31, 1976 through Devry Institute of Technology


What's he do?

I've been with US Customs and Border Protection for almost three years. I produce instructor-led and distance learning courses in support of front-line agents. A significant part of my job involves coaching lead agents in the design and development of interactive instructionally sound instructor-led courses. I've also produced courses, learning experiences and content in the K-12 space for Pearson and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I've supported customer service and technical support workers for Wells Fargo, Qwest and Intel. I have taught office automation and multimedia design courses for Executrain, New Horizons and Sterling-Ledet and taught Flash design, development and animation as an adjunct instructor with Estrella Mountain Community College.


Why's he taking the course?

Basically, I'm taking the #EDMOOC to connect with peers from around the world. The course will give me an opportunity to be a little more creative than I usually am at my day job.


Anything else?

I'm actually on my third career. I've been a sailor (US Navy cryptologic technician — 6 years), electronics technician (semiconductor manufacturing industry — 16 years) and education (since 1993). I've been married to Diana (return to work specialist) for going on 22 years; we have three children: Ashley, Allison and Amy. Oh, and I have three tattoos: Popeye, Snoopy and Woodstock on my upper arms.

You can learn more about me and the stuff I do by browsing http://www.urbie.com