Classifying the Learner

As an Instructional Design and Trainer, it is essential to have a complete understanding of how people learn and that students have different learning capacities.

The Intuitive Learner – encompasses all of us in early childhood as we are all intuitive learners from birth to the age 7, when education in schools transform children into traditional students.  However, it is not uncommon that intuitive learners can extend beyond the age of seven.  Intuitive learners are typically more motivated to learn due to the hands-on approach for learning.

The Traditional Student – are students from the ages 7 and up are traditional students.  A traditional student is one that that learners gains knowledge from teacher lectures, books, and data.  Traditional students are taught to remember and regurgitate information, but not are unable to apply the information into real life situations.  Traditional learning does not support effective learning for all students, due to the fact that not all students have the ability to conform to a traditional student.  There are also are disadvantages for traditional students such as a lack of motivational learning and critical thinking.

The Disciplinary Expert – are those people who are able to take the knowledge of a traditional learner and apply that information to real life situations.  Disciplinary experts are those that base their learning more on inquiry based learning rather than standards based learning.  To become a disciplinary expert, a learner needs to be able to achieve higher order thinking when learning and assessing information in either a traditional or intuitive way.  Critical thinking is an essential part of being a disciplinary expert.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

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M-Learning (Thesis Volume 5.2: Implications for Teaching/Training)

In an era when teachers try to justify field trips, developing a program that that requires both field trip preparation and post field trip assignments in the classroom provides students the opportunity to retain more information from the field trip, and can be found more beneficial.  The Ocean Institute Podcast Program provides a structured program addressing these concepts providing teachers with an alternative to developing their own lesson plans to capture the same academic success.

Multimedia is another motivational tool used in the classroom; podcasts have become a popular multimedia format over the past few years and used my various organizations including museums and schools.  Many museums offer professionally produced podcasts as a directional guide as visitors travel through the museum experiencing what the museum has to offer.  In schools, many teachers provide their lectures in the form of podcasts, while other teachers help students develop podcasts instead of speeches or book reports.

This project is unique in that all it will combine the critical elements provided by museum and school podcasts.  Many informal educational facilities such as the Ocean Institute pride themselves in what they have to offer students; however, the general visitor does not have the opportunity to experience the same programs students complete nor do they understand the impact these facilities have on local students.  This program will generate a platform for the general public to experience the same programs as students; while at the same time, showcases the work of the students on a world wide scale since the podcasts would be downloadable on iTunes as well as the Ocean Institute’s website.

By Higher Power Training

M-Learning (Thesis Volume 5.1: Summary and Conclusion)

The Ocean Institute seeked to develop a model for integrating technology effectively into the classroom.  Teachers desperately need assistance in how to integrate technology into the classroom, while students need to be continuously challenged and motivated in the classroom.  Podcasts speak the language of the students, and with structure and direction, this popular technology can be a huge asset to both students and teachers.  Technology fluency, mentoring skills and leadership qualities are traits that will help students succeed in high school, college, and the workplace.  These traits were developed with the podcast program.  The five-year vision would showcase a large digital library of archived podcasts created by students that can be used as a valuable resource for students in the future.

The Ocean Institute hosts 90,000 students and 40,000 public visitors per year with certain expected outcomes:

1)      Best Buy, Ocean Institute, and Orange County high schools will establish a successful and ongoing working partnership.

2)      1,200 middle and high school students will produce educational podcasts for the general public.

3)      90,000 students’ experience at the Ocean Institute will be enhanced with use of podcasts on field trips.

4)      40,000 public visitors will be educated by student-produced podcasts at the Ocean Institute.

5)      Teachers will be more comfortable with using new technology in their classrooms.

6)      Teachers and students will have access to Ocean Institute podcasts to enhance classroom curriculum.

Ultimately, some of the biggest roadblocks teachers face in today’s classroom includes budget constraints, motivating students, and integrating students.  The hope is that the Ocean Institute Podcast Program has been developed in a manner that would eliminate these roadblocks and provide both students and teachers with a program that they could build on.

By Higher Power Training

M-Learning (Thesis Volume 4.3: Project Evaluation – Discussion)

Although the data analysis is limited at this point, the assumption is that the primitive data collected is a reflection of continued feedback.  Some of the key data identified is the enormous improvement of results from pre-test to post-test.  Although this data is positive and believed to be a true reflection of academic growth through the program; the addition of data collected by standardized testing can potentially confirm the success of students who participate in the program.  The student surveys confirmed the program’s success in providing motivation for students through hands-on activities and exotic animals.  An unforeseen result was the opportunity for students to see the ocean for the first time.  The podcasts produced also accomplished their objective as Ocean Institute visitors welcomed them and found them both educational and critical to the overall experience of the exhibits.  This feedback is a reflection that the students not only understood the information they learned but were capable of producing podcasts that could be appreciated by their peers and adults.  Although the teachers have not been formally surveyed, unofficially, many of the teachers have made comments about both the delivery method as well as instructional design.  The feedback concerning the delivery has been positive; by presenting the information via a website, teachers have encouraged their students to study the program at home as well as in the classroom.  Teachers have also been in favor of the instructional design; many teachers feel that the content allows the teachers to perform as a facilitator rather than an actual teacher, which has placed less pressure on them and has required less prep time.  Other teachers have commented that the program provides enough flexibility for pro-active teachers to modify components where they feel necessary to accommodate their class.  The biggest concern expressed by many of the teachers was how the program addressed state standards.  This concern was confronted throughout the instructional design process and has impacted the classes selected to participate in the program; is should be also noted that by modifying the field trip component, this program can fit any set of state standards desired.

When integrating technology into curriculum, especially when curriculum is presented by the aide of technology, it is important that the technology enhances the program rather than distracts from the lesson plans.  The OIPP website, consisted of online flash videos, graphic animations, downloadable PDF files, and online testing.  To formally evaluate the delivery, the C.R.A.P. method by Williams and Tollet was used to assess the OIPP website:

Contrast:  The blue colors used throughout the site represented the marine theme of the program; the darker blues were used to enhance the lighter blue text.  Fellow Master’s student, Scott Bania understood the concept and had this comment, “The site itself has a great “look and feel” and reflects the theme of oceanography.”  Against the dark background, the links were easily identified with the color red or white; the left navigation bar used red dotted lines to highlight the links while the top navigation bar used a white rollover font; red font was used for links buried in the content of the page.  Large red font was also used to aide in identifying the title of each page.  The header was also very distinguishable with the black background which complemented the blue background within the content area; the black background also allowed the colorful OIPP logo to standout in the header.

Repetition:  The clarity and similarity between pages was very consistent.  The location of navigation buttons remained consistent while content was always located in the center of each page.  The layout of the online curriculum was also similar to the PDF downloadable versions of the curriculum.  Flash tutorials also remained consistent and allowed students to navigate through the site ensuring they did not miss any vital information.

Alignment:  Navigation bars were placed on the left and top of the screen and were clearly identified by rollover images.  The pages that included a video tutorial were well balanced with content text located beneath the video; this avoided distractions for the students at they watched the tutorials.  All content was centered whenever possible; some pages such as the podcast sample page were a bit obscure in alignment due to the unbalanced content to be shared on the page.

Proximity:  The layout provided enough separation between navigation, text, and video tutorials to place an emphasis on all aspects without being overwhelming to the viewer.  Navigation buttons were clearly identifiable and easy to click.  Content, whether video or text, were centered and emphasized by being towards the top of the site.

Aspects not addressed within C.R.A.P. included graphic design, flash animations and other aesthetics that contributed to the site looking very professional.  The flash design used in the introduction helped to build anticipation and set the theme for the technology rich program.  The music selected also maintained a technology feel and was designed for the middle school and high school audience.  The graphic design throughout the site was limited so that it would not conflict with the educational components to the site.  The only true graphic design was represented within the logo design; the design was integration between iPods and the Ocean Institute Podcast Program.  Other aesthetics included rollover images and text as well as appropriately designed video tutorials.

Even more important than the professionalism of the site is the functionality of the site.  To evaluate this site, a formal web usability analysis as described by Jacob Neilson was performed.  The first element addressed was the flash intro; the advantage of using the flash was to present a professionally designed site, however flash intros can take a long time to load and flash players must be downloaded onto your computer.  Ultimately, the target audience for this site all had high powered computers with broadband Internet connection, thus eliminating common disadvantages related to flash intros.  To enter the site, a red label on the top of the screen was easily identifiable.  On the main site, all navigation buttons were easily located and enhanced with the rollover images.  The text of the navigation buttons were also clear and concise and provided specific directions for the viewer.  The content provided throughout the site also aided in navigation through the site as to ensure that all necessary content was provided to the students.  Fellow Master’s student, Jeannine Taylor had this to say about the navigation and layout of the site, “It was very easy to navigate through and it was very clear what was expected of the learner… The bells and whistles are definitely there, but they are not on every page, just where they are needed for introductory and instructional purposes.”  With the aide of C.R.A.P. and Jacob Neilson’s web usability, this site was designed successfully.

M-Learning (Thesis Volume 2.8: Review of the Literature)

Student-produced multimedia provides students with the opportunity to learn about technology, express themselves through creativity, and showcase their work to a larger audience.  Student-produced multimedia provides teachers with an efficient way to integrate technology into an established curriculum, design inquiry-based lesson plans, and assess student learning without having to use traditional tests.  One type of student-produced multimedia is digital storytelling, which incorporates images, audio, video, text, and image effects.  When creating a digital story, students develop the skills necessary to research, playwright, design, produce, and educate (Chung, 2007).  Digital storytelling integrates the arts, education, local communities, technology, and storytelling.  According to Chung (2007), students develop and apply multi-literacy skills, aesthetic sensitivities, and critical faculties to address greater issues of importance to a larger audience.  Digital storytelling is applicable for all school subjects, but as Chung (2007) points out, many schools in America have ample funds for maintaining a computer lab while funds for art supplies are either minimal or non-existent.  The implementation of digital storytelling offers art educators another avenue to implement an innovative and relevant art program for the technology-savvy digital generation (Chung, 2007).

One sample of podcasting in elementary schools comes from Jamestown Elementary: To align the podcasts with the curriculum, the teachers created handouts to help students produce their individual segments about a historical person or event from the Jamestown settlement.  The students could create their segments in different ways – as ‘am interview, a report, a poem, a word play, a skit, a Did you Know segment, or any other creative way to of communicating what you know and have learned’ (Long, 2007).  Producing podcasts can help students identify their strengths and help them to showcase their talents while working together in groups to produce a product that can be viewed worldwide.  By producing podcasts in groups, the creative writers record poetry, stories, or skits; the artists provide drawings or photography; musicians produce songs; and the technicians piece it all together (Long, 2007).

Digital storytelling is an example of a constructivist approach, which puts interactive technologies in the hands of student producers.  According to Brown (2007) when students are given creative freedom to construct with multimedia tools in an activity that is personally meaningful, they exhibit high levels of motivation and task engagement, develop skills through directed and needs driven episodes, exhibit higher order thinking, and individual differences are valued, accentuated, and expressed through interface design.  One approach to designing student produced multimedia for web based classrooms is to use competency-based learning (CBL), which is self-directed, individual, and a mastery learning method allowing students to achieve predetermined competency standards with the master knowledge and skills that they have learned (Chang, 2007).  According to Chang, since web learning has recently gained much attention in college, CBL on the Web has a certain level of demand and feasibility.

M-Learning (Thesis Volume 2.7: Review of the Literature)

In the Era of Technology, when every person has access to the Internet, multimedia in the classroom has transformed from the traditional educational television stations and video tapes to interactive learning websites and instructional podcasts.  “Internet resources are offering multimedia communications as a way to bring history, literature, science, and other topics alive for visitors” (Lamb & Johnson 2007).  A podcast is a media file, either audio or video file, distributed over the Internet for playback on personal computers and portable media players.  The word podcast comes from combining iPod, trademarked by Apple, and broadcasting.  Since 2001 podcasts have been developed played on mp3 and mp4 players, computers, and now televisions with the aide of Apple T.V.  “Between September 28, 2004 and September 28, 2005 the number of web pages found by the Google search engine containing the term ‘podcasts’ increased from 24 hits to more than 100 million.  Consequently, the New Oxford American Dictionary chose ‘podcasting’ as its Word of the Year for 2005” (Copley, 2007).  According to Lamb and Johnson (2007) podcasters provide a variety of programming formats and content.

  1. Collaborative projects include those podcasts that have an interactive component.  Some websites invite listeners to participate in local and global projects.
  2. Current events are accessible by most news sources that are now producing podcasts, such as CNN.
  3. Many government documents have been translated into podcasts to provide students a different format to learn and understand well-known documents such as the Declaration of Independence.
  4. Interviews of experts in content area fields are also accessible via podcasts.  These podcasts can reinforce concepts, provide personal examples, and generate interest in current events.
  5. Controversial issues are also accessible via podcasts.  They can provide unique perspectives and thought-provoking discussions.
  6. Podcasts can also be created for language lessons and how-to projects specifically designed for instruction.
  7. Critical reviews of books, television, movies, and games are also accessible via podcasts.
  8. Podcasts can also be produced to provide virtual tours of museums and zoos.

For educational purposes, podcast integration can be developed in one of two ways; either teacher or SME produced podcasts designed to enhance classroom lectures, or student produced podcasts to demonstrate and assess students’ academic growth.  One scenario of podcast integration into higher education is as follows:

A physical education teacher directs her students to the class web site.  The web site contains a link to an audio file that the students can download and listen to at their leisure.  The teacher instructs her students to listen to the file in preparation for their next class.  The file contains information about the reduction of heart disease risk from increased physical activity.  The file concludes by asking the students questions that they should be able to answer after listening to the recording.  The next day, students arrive in class and immediately begin to engage in a discussion about the audio file and its contents.  The teacher was able to use minimal class time to instruct students on the topic to review information and to assess students’ assimilation of the content.  She was immediately free to move into higher-order teaching strategies and content applications (Mikat, Martinez, Jorstad, 2007).

In the higher level education, some universities are embracing the new technology to the point that they are distributing iPods to college students as a part of enrollment.  Drexel University’s School of Education distributed free iPods to their students in hopes to spark innovative uses of the technology.  Professors will record and post lectures online for students to download; students will record study-group sessions and interviews using microphone attachments handed out with the iPods (Read, 2005).  The Drexel program was modeled from the original Duke Giveaway program which passed out iPods to all incoming freshman in 2004.  Podcasts have been so popular in the higher education platform that Apple responded by launching iTunes U in 2006, a platform for universities to upload and access podcast resources of classes.  Although using podcasts is becoming a much wider accepted practice in higher education, K – 12 schools have shown more reluctance.  However, K – 12 schools have been exploring the process of integrating the production of podcasts into classroom curriculum as a motivation and assessment tool.

M-Learning (Thesis Volume 2.6: Review of the Literature)

One of the biggest keys for a successful online educational program is the web page usability; without a properly designed website, the greatest instructional designed programs will fail to reach its potential.  The Internet contains links to virtually hundreds of definitions for usability.  Jakob Nielsen, called “the guru of Web page usability” by The New York Times, defines usability as, “a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.  The word “usability” also refers to methods for improving ease-of-use during the design process.”(Nielsen)  He goes to state that usability is defined by five quality components:

  • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  • Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  • Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  • Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  • Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “usability testing is the process by which the human-computer interaction characteristics of a system are measured, and weaknesses are identified for correction. Such testing can range from rigorously structured to highly informal, from quite expensive to virtually free, and from time-consuming to quick. While the amount of improvement is related to the effort invested in usability testing, all of these approaches lead to better systems.”(Conrad & Levi)  Ultimately, if students have the ability to work through the website or software with greater ease, more likely students will reap the benefits of program.  As Martyn Sloman states, communication is the key to the successful integration of e-learning.  Sloman identifies five principles that should be addressed in an e-learning program:

  1. Recognize the limitations of the population being targeted.
  2. Relevance drives out resistance.
  3. Most learning requires an intermediary to advise and direct the learner.
  4. E-learning should be linked with instructor – led courses when possible.
  5. Support and automate.

As technology advances, methods for learning are transforming from E-learning to M-learning (mobile learning).  “Desktop solutions that require presence at a static screen are less tolerated by many young people.  Young people on the move expect not to be tied down with static equipment and e-learning that does not respond to this may be limited in future” (Cunningham, 2007).