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Communication

Reflection

BlackboardArtifact:
ED795A Online Auditing Course Redesign

Related Artifact:
Analysis report for Needs& Satisfaction Survey; Survey Questionnaires; Final presentation

Go to ED 795A Assignments website

This artifact is the final product for my client project that I produced while enrolled in ED 795A – Seminar in Educational Technology. I applied and was accepted as a student instructional designer and consultant to work for an associate professor at the School of Accountancy in San Diego State University. I used several sources for guidance including The Performance Consultant's Fieldbook (Hale, 2007), Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load (Clark, Nguyen, & Sweller, 2005), and performance analysis model learned from EDTEC 541 and EDTEC 544. During the project, I had to communicate with the client, graduate assistant, students, and the instructor of the course, Dr. Marcie Bober-Michel, frequently and from a different time zone. Throughout this project, I demonstrated the communication standard, "Communicate clearly to achieve professional goals using visual and verbal modes to explain and persuade."

Project Description

The purpose of this assignment was to “work out in the field with a community-based client on a challenge” so that students could deeply review theories, techniques, and processes learned from EDTEC programs and learned to perform the role of an instructional designer and/or a performance consultant in real settings.

My project was the client who had taught two courses for many years and lately had moved a portion of one unit online to try a new blended teaching strategy. As an instructional designer and consultant, my responsibility was to evaluate the unit that had gone online, design new online units, and provide suggestion for continue improvement as well as future study.

My processes for completing the assignments were (as shown on the figure below):
  • Conduct an initial survey to learn to what extent the students were satisfied with the old online modules and what suggestions they would give for new modules;
  • Analyze the current instruction to know the characteristics of the audience, the actual teaching situation, and the vision for the optimal teaching situation;
  • Review literature regarding blended learning, online course evaluation, and instructional design;
  • Design and prototype;
  • Develop new online modules on Blackboard, the learning management system;
  • Conduct post-class evaluation using questionnaire after implementation; and
  • Write a final report to summarize the whole project.  

  • methodology

    Demonstrating Communication Standard

    Since the client and I were located in different time zones, communication has been challenging throughout the project. Most communication was done asynchronously via email and Google Docs. For synchronous communication we used Adobe Connect Professional, the computer conferencing tool, and Skype, the IP phone. When there was a need for immediate conversation, we discussed our project over Skype; when audio and text communication could not explain our meaning, we created computer conference rooms using Adobe Connect Professional in which we integrated graphics and slides to visualize abstract points.

    To keep the client informed of my progress, I created a time logs file that recorded tasks completed each day on Google Docs. When she had questions about my work, she would leave notes on the document and I would respond to her quickly.

    Fortunately, the time difference did not become a barrier because both the client and I were very responsive. My success in communicating with my client along with processes to complete this assignment outlined above demonstrate mastery of communication standard requiring me to communicate, explain, and persuade clearly using visual and verbal modes.

    Problems & Opportunities Encountered

    The main problem I encountered regarding communication was how to point out a bundle of defects in a short time without hurting the client’s feelings, or even become defensive. With the knowledge and working experience in distance education, weakness of the clients' work was so obvious that I could easily come out with a long list of problems that needed to be improved. Instead of making the list, I decided to look for supports from literature. I let the experts speak for me. As a result, the client not only appreciated the sufficient resources I provided, but also expressed a high level of willingness to move forward in the direction I suggested. My user survey was also a good way to reduce any sensitive feelings of reviewees. Comments submitted by end users pointed out some negative criticizes that should have come from me and eased embarrassment from delivering frank criticism.

    Another problem I encountered during the project was how to communicate abstract design concepts effectively. Prototyping proved to be useful in visualizing ideas. Since the course was constructed on the learning management system, Blackboard, prototyping was not very difficult.

    A technique I used for communicating abstract ideas was using examples. When I found the client had difficulty in describing what her ideal online course was, I provided three evaluation tools that elaborated the characteristics of an exemplary online course from which to choose. When she chose one, I knew that was what she considered to be exemplary.

    On the other hand, completing this online course design project provided me with good opportunities to learn to work efficiently under great time constraint and job pressure. There were only five weeks between the date I joined the project and the date the first online module was released to students. During the five weeks, I accomplished many tasks including front-end analysis, interviewing the client, designing the questionnaire and conducting the first survey which entailed collecting data, analyzing data, interpreting the results, writing and submitting the analysis report to the professor, discussing changes to be made with the professor, developing module content, proofreading, reporting defects, making modifications and releasing the final product. I have used a large portion of technologies with which I was acquainted, ranging from edit tools like MS Word and Google Docs, survey tools like SurveyMonkey; data organizing tool like MS Excel; graphic tools like Paint and Adobe Fireworks; presentation tools like MS PowerPoint and Zoho Show; and audio tools like Skype and Audacity. Fortunately, I completed my project on time and my contribution to the project was appreciated by the client.

    Lessons Learned

    The project enabled me to carry out a complete cycle, from analysis to evaluation, for creating an online course. On reflection, the most important lesson I learned from completing this project regarding communication was that strategy should be the first priority before moving down to details. Taking the project as an example, shifting traditional classroom teaching courses to web-based teaching is not simply transferring a portion of the content to the web. It involves a series of tasks concerning strategy, pedagogy, learning activity, and assessment. Without a clear idea in mind, technologies would not create a quality learning experience. Therefore, as the instructional designers, the first thing to communicate with the client when designing a blended course is to clarify strategy level questions such as “What is the right mix of online and in-classroom modules?”; “What topics should be selected for online?”; or “When is the best timing for starting the online learning practice?”

    Second, always remember to visualize survey summary in your final project report to the client. Information gained through survey questionnaires is trivial. Clients usually want to have an overall impression of the results before going into details. It is best if the survey summary could be described using charts, diagrams and a few concise texts that allow clients to catch meaning by a quick browse.