MDDE 620 - 60 Point Assignment Summary
The goal was to identify an actual educational technology product - software, hardware, support system, training program, to describe the product and its uses, then design a strategy for improving an aspect of the product through the use of systematic testing and evaluation.
It is important to remember that educational software, like textbooks, is only one tool in the learning process.
Neither can be a substitute for well-trained teachers, leadership, and parental involvement.
I chose this artefact because it represented an evaluation of the production department processes in my own facility. The contextualization rendered the evaluation meaningful and deepened my understanding of my work environment. The process took me into a realm that I had no previous experience with and taught me a whole new set of vocabulary surrounding course packaging and programming. It applied the topic of technology to my work environment at Open Learning and provided it with a direct connection to what my husband and I do in our own tech-based business, iDome Consulting.
MDDE 620: Technology in Education and Training: At the time of this evaluation I wasn't familiar with the production department or how we packaged courses into our learning management system for student access. This assignment was researched and prepared simultaneously while taking three M.Ed. courses, working fulltime, and running a business, which required organization of time, while adhering to structural constraints (6.5). My personal organization at the time would have benefited from a more rigid structure and schedule, however. The construction of this paper still lacked complete APA writing style integration, but I do however, recognize improvement in heading and reference implementation compared to previous assignments.
Artefact 2 Connections
This evaluation gave me the opportunity to better understand the Open Learning business and helped me develop a relationship with the supervisor through the interview process (1.4). Anderson (2008) states that “situated learning, or the application of knowledge and skills in specific contexts” (p. 17) helps learners to “contextualize the learning” (p. 17). This artefact was chosen because it had a direct workplace application. I felt challenged and informed by the process and it was satisfying to relay (4.1, 4.2) the workflow process (1.5) through charts and mapping processes (3.1); something that I haven't had to do before. I began to use MS PowerPoint in a new way for image creation and process presentation. I enjoyed the process of creating and compiling a variety of information including diagrams and charts (5.6, 5.7) to demonstrate my critical evaluation of concepts (4.6). The visuals that I designed and implemented aided in clearly demonstrating our workflow processes to my instructor and outsiders (4.4). This was a feat for me, because initially I didn't even possess a rudimentary understanding of our production process, nor did I have any programming or Html/Xtml experience. My research required adhering to ethical practice (5.11), while returning often to our supervisor (4.7) of production to ask questions (1.1-1.3, 5.1), define issues, and to clarify the process in order to arrive at logical conclusions (5.5). When it came time to summarize and synthesize my information (5.4, 5.6), I made certain to connect with my colleague, my mentor in the process, to make sure that I had correctly captured the process. The greatest impact of Artefact 2 development was the deeper comprehension (5.6) of what is required to move our educational content from a word based document, to the appropriate code, so that it may be correctly represented within our learning management systems for our students to access.
A variety of communication strategies (4.8) were implemented to collate and present information and research including email, skype, and the Microsoft office suite of tools (3.1). Primary source information was obtained through interviews in the workplace (4.7) and had the by-product of making me feel closer to my work colleagues and more connected to the work we do (5.9). I realized the role of our production supervisor as a change agent and how difficult that may be when many departments resist technological change. I also began to understand the development costs of courses and how important a good return on investment is when deciding to design, develop, and produce courses (6.4). Understanding this process provided me with a more holistic view of what we do in my workplace at Open Learning. A deeper understanding of the production staff and tedious workflow process helped me comprehend why there can be such a high staff turnover in this department and that non-financially, this affects moral, and financially, it affects training costs (6.2).
Reflection Made During Artefact 2 Development
Monday, March 3, 2014
I think that sometimes it is possible for employees to perceive the change agent as a used car salesman promoting and pushing a product or innovation that the client isn't even sure if he needs yet, especially depending on whether or not the employees in question have the determinist or instrumentalist mindset. I do like Havelock's breakdown however (Fahy, 2014), of the roles that a change agent should play. Havelock identifies 4 roles - catalyst, solution-giver, process-helper and resource-linker. His breakdown establishes someone who is willing to have a conversation with his client and not someone simply providing a convincing presentation. This breakdown depicts someone who is willing to build a relationship to establish what the client really needs. Furthermore, the purpose of the change agent in Havelock's description is to work to link the client to the tools he possesses and to the ones he still needs. Overall, the change agent appears to be more of an advocate for his client than an outsider temporarily on the inside to sell something.
The fact that Haverlock warns that the change agent may actually walk away if a situation doesn't seem to be bending toward a proposed innovation is important. Despite the neutrality of the change agent, he could be perceived as having his own agenda and as pushing his own product.
Connections to my husband’s business:
Right now we are seeing this in our own company with a client that we've had for 15 years. Upgrades are a necessary evil of being involved with technology, yet for months we've been touting the need to switch our clients' 40 terminals to windows 7 as windows XP will be obsolete and unsupported. All that the leadership saw was the financial outlay and felt the recommendation was "worthless nonsense", much like in Haldane's "four stages of acceptance" (Fahy, 2014, p. 184). We have since had to walk away to let the logical and obvious conclusion unfold. In 2 days when the XP expiration date comes and goes, this client will likely ask for a rush order and installation to take place and will respond with Clarke's 3rd stage declaring that it "...was a good ideal all along" (Fahy, 2014, p 184). Overall, one of the major qualities that will see us through these necessary changes for our client is the relationship that our owner has been able to establish over the last decade.
The interview (5.9) process allowed me to conclude that our production supervisor is our change agent and drives a lot of the new technology implementation to better package our courses. It's not an easy role and it comes with a lot of preparation, convincing, training and financial cost. It was informative to compare this struggle (5.8) with technological change to what we experience in our own technology related business, as outlined in the above reflection from March 2014. Even though our supervisor is on our team, she is still often times met with resistance, which is no different than being perceived as an outside salesman selling people something that users don't believe they need until they understand it better.
Today (Fall 2015), we are currently going through a learning management system change in Open Learning. Understanding the workflow process of our course production team has helped me to more broadly understand and justify (4.3) why it is so difficult to change learning management systems, and why it can be so time consuming (3.3). It requires compliance between the existing information and the new system or, it means starting over and building from the ground up which denies our students access, costs us money in training, design and product, and increases stress and anxiety (3.2). Preparation of this assignment allowed me to understand the ramifications of what could be perceived as simple changes and why, the process often takes longer than we think it should. It also demonstrated that the online delivery of a course is not accomplished by simply taking a f2f course and putting it on the web in its current form. There are not just design considerations to be made, but production ones that are critical for the realization of a great course.
Anderson, T. (2008). The theory and practice of online learning. Second Edition. AU press. Athabasca University.
Fahy, J. (2014). Technology in education and training. Study Guide. Athabasca University.