Reflections on Technology Integration

Integrating learning and technology (EDU625) has introduced me to several new applications for a variety of learning technologies.  Although I was already familiar with each of the major technology categories, I was unfamiliar with specific applications and enjoyed investigating how many of them work, as well as struggling to determine how these tools can be used by students as well as teachers.  

Of all the technologies I worked with over the past eight weeks, presentation was the form I enjoyed the most.  This may be partly a result of my comfort and familiarity with it.  Applications such as Powerpoint, Google Slides, Prezi and PowToon have been around for many years and I had experimented with them in the past.  The presentation tool that I used in my project, Educreations, was new to me.  Although there were some challenges to using this tool (such as having a device that allowed the use of a stylus for writing and talking at a reasonable pace, volume, etc) I concluded this would be a valuable way for students to share their learning in a nontraditional way (as opposed to a lab report or other written response).  Another tool I found to be valuable, although I did not personally enjoy using it, was video with image and voice.  I am very uncomfortable in front of any type of camera but concluded that this, too, along with presentation tools like Educreations, is a great way to get students to share what they know without the barriers posed to some students by written assignments.   

The technologies I least enjoyed working with in the past eight weeks were “real-life data” and “virtual worlds”.  Although I believe that each has its place in education, I did not feel virtual worlds currently has applications appropriate for secondary science education.  In my experience, these worlds were merely a gimmick and did not enhance the learning of science content, processes, or skills.  This is not to say that such tools do not exist or could not be developed.  In addition, through my research on the topic, it appears that there are applications in other fields of study that do enhance learning and/or help students to connect with learning on an emotional level which can then engage them more deeply in learning.  I am hopeful that I will be able to integrate this type of technology into my teaching in the future.  Real-life data is another “technology” that I enjoyed using less than anticipated.  Finding information that is relevant to secondary education chemistry was very difficult. In fact, I was not successful in locating anything that I would be able to use in the courses I teach.  Like virtual worlds,  this is not to say there is not valuable data, just that it may be more appropriate for other areas or levels of study.  

kids-using-technolgoyAs a result of this course, I have deepened my desire to put technology in the hands of students.  I am thinking more about how students can use technology.  Of course, I have to be familiar with the various forms of technology if I expect my students to use them, but I am thinking more about how they can use technology to enhance and/or communicate their learning. In a blog post at the beginning of the course, I wrote, “To me, learning is the integration of knowledge and experience that can be used for application in situations or scenarios DIFFERENT from the learning experience.  Learning happens through the conscious effort to connect what is read, heard or observed with prior knowledge and experience.  Learning happens when preconceived thoughts or ideas are influenced and possibly changed by new information”.  As a result of this course, I am convinced that students can use technology to communicate this learning.  I plan to model the use of technology on a more consistent basis and have students use technology to communicate their understanding.  However, in all cases, I must remember to start with why students are learning particular content, processes or skills and evaluate the effectiveness of technology in each case.    

Technology is bound to be a driving force in the evolution of education over the next ten years as it has been in the last ten.  I hope that technology will make learning more customized, allowing students to learn at a pace appropriate to their current knowledge and skill level (as opposed to at their own pace which seems to suggest that they can go as slowly as they like, rather than what is appropriate).  This will be possible as a result of improved feedback technology that will automatically customize (remediate or accelerate) learning.  I also think that students will be required to use technology on a deeper level as technology skills are integrated into curriculum from an earlier age.  It is entirely possible that coding will replace cursive (although in most places cursive has already been ousted) and students (and teachers) will be expected to have a much deeper understanding of the technology we all use.  A more knowledgeable student body will consequently change how that technology is used.  Finally, I think that mobile learning in various forms (social networking, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc) will allow for greater connections between life outside of school and classroom learning, allowing for more meaningful connections and increased transfer of learning.   


Do you think current standards in your teaching area (Common Core, N.G.S.S., etc.) promote for the integration of technology by students?  What is the most effective way for schools to insist on the integration of technology based educational communication by students? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

See my entire project by going to EDU625 under the “Portfolio” heading.

Technology Tools: Immersive Learning Technologies and Mobile Technologies

Immersive learning technologies refers to the use of digital virtual worlds where real people are represented by avatars and can interact with their virtual environment as well as with one another. Immersive learning technology is seen by some to be a fad or gimmick that only distracts from “real” learning and educational pursuits (Scopes, p.4) while others believe that this platform provides a way for social learning to occur, especially if learning is not classroom based (Scopes, p.6).  Although likely not appropriate for all learning, immersive technology seems to be particularly suited for the emotional learning domain.  While the other domains (cognitive, dextrous and social) seem to be achievable without immersive technology (although it can be used for these domains, too), effectiveness in the emotional domain is much more elusive.  Immersive technology may be a valuable tool in this regard.  role-playing

Because immersive technology allows students to participate in ways that would be impossible or unlikely in the “real” world, they can respond emotionally to experiences, as if they were actually occurring.  Immersive technology can allow students to role play, peregrination (or travel virtually), simulate, mesh (connect for designed purpose or outcome) and evaluate as part of learning (Scopes, p.9).  Several examples of emotional learning are provided by Scopes.  One is a gender role reversal assignment in a social sciences class where students were required to interact with others in a virtual world assuming the gender opposite their own (Scopes 18-20).  Students reported that this was a superior experience even to a real life gender reversal experience (Scopes, p.19-20).  Another example that seems to effectively address the emotional domain is one where students peregrinate (travel) to a Darfur camp in Second Life (SL), “…where unregulated government causes suffering and misery to its people who struggle with starvation and disease due to the lack of essential resources (bringing) awareness to the learners that this sort of thing is still occurring” (Scopes, p. 20).


This is where what may seem like a gimmick can be leveraged for real learning.  “Emotion is essential to learning…and should not be underestimated or misunderstood as a trend, or as merely the “E” in “SEL” or social-emotional learning” (Lahey, 2016).  Dr. Immordino-Yang, an associate professor of education, psychology and neuroscience at the University of Southern California says, “It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about” (Lahey, 2016).  

Although it would take quite a bit of effort to figure out how to apply this technology to some subjects, if the result were increased caring and therefore learning, it would be worth the effort.  Students in science might travel to virtual environments ravaged by deforestation, pollution, or the future results of climate change thus engaging their emotional response to the plight of people suffering as a result and encouraging them to think deeply about the causes and solutions of these problems.  The potential to reach students on an emotional level encourages me to investigate beyond my first experience with virtual environments which left me frustrated and discouraged.   Whether this was due to my own inexperience or the current sophistication of these platforms is unclear (although it is probably some combination of the two).  I am hopeful that, with time, these platforms will be designed by companies that make educational products and that they will be safe, available and user-friendly.


Another promising learning technology, for different reasons, is mobile learning technology, or m-learning.  Mobile learning may be no more than portable e-learning, meaning an e-learning platform that is designed for smaller screens with less powerful processing.  While this is very important for improving access to education, m-learning has the potential to offer learning that differs pedagogically from other forms of learning.  If designed as such, m-learning can be quite suited to the constructivist approach, providing a non-teacher centered experience structured by the learner (Ferreira et. al., 2013).  With such a design, students would, “…assist each other and directly interact with teachers or instructors.  All individuals involved (would) lean on each other and learn together” (Ferreira et. al., p. 67-68).  

One characteristic of m-learning may distinguish it from other types of learning by providing “continuity and connectivity among contexts- for instance, while the student moves through a certain area or along an event”.  Location information, timing information or both can help to personalize learning above and beyond that possible with e-learning.  Platforms that can read and respond to such information could make a significant difference.  

mobile-learning-kidsMy experience with m-learning thus far has been along the lines of portable e-learning.  Although I do not think this is revolutionary, it does provide learning that is situational, spontaneous, and provides some increased control and autonomy (Ferreira et. al., 2013).  Platforms that allow the “non-coder” to develop m-learning (such as EasyGenerator, AppyPie, MobinCube, etc.) are limited to providing content and simple quizzes that provide relatively simple, non-personalized feedback.  Although they do not provide a way to develop experiences that are pedagogically unique, they are easy to use and are a good stepping stone into m-learning development.  


Immersive learning technologies: Realism and online authentic learning.


Ferreira, J. B., Klein, A. Z., Freitas, A., Schlemmer, E. (2013). Mobile learning: Definition, uses and challenges.  Cutting Edge Technologies in Higher Education, 6D, 47-82.

Lahey, J. (2016, May 4). To Help Students learn, Engage the Emotions. The New York Times. Retrieved December 09, 2016, from  

Scopes, L. (2011). Cybergogy of learning archetypes and learning domains: Practical pedagogy for 3D immersive virtual worlds. Cutting Edge Technologies in Higher Education, 4, 3-28. doi:10.1108


Technology Tools: Presentation and Game

Both presentation and games are controversial topics in education.  Presentation is commonly seen as the “old way” of teaching and games are often viewed as not teaching, but entertaining.  Nevertheless, both have a place in classroom instruction and student demonstration of knowledge or skills.  As a tool for teaching, presentation allows students to better perceive content (Morgan, n.d.).  This can be especially true in chemistry because much of the content is abstract.  For example, atoms and molecules are too small to be seen.  Presentation allows students to see what formerly could only be visualized.  Utilizing animations of molecules in motion in various state of matter or at various temperatures takes the guesswork out of drawing a picture with words and assuming that each student is translating those words into an accurate “mental movie”.  

Presentation is useful for students to communicate understanding or process. Digital storytelling requires students to start by writing a story and continue by making a storyboard, breaking up their text to correspond with their storyboard, collecting graphics, recording narration and combining these elements with a video-editing tool.  This type of presentation improves digital literacy, encourages engagement and reduces boredom by making the learning product customized, relevant, and meaningful, especially for “digital natives” (Morgon, n.d.).

girl-908168_1920 This type of product (as opposed to strictly written work) can help struggling writers.  Storyboarding helps them identify gaps in their written work, encourages awareness of purpose and form because the product is usually viewed by an audience as part of the assignment, and encourages fluency because the oral portion must be rehearsed for recording (Morgan, n.d).  

As I become more familiar with various video and video-editing tools such as Animoto, and LetsRecap, many of which are free and easy to use, I am inspired to implement them in my classroom.  Using Animoto to make a short video to help students with lab directions was very easy to do.  I think that presentation programs such as this would be especially useful for having students show process.  For example, my students were recently challenged to make their own thermometer with a few simple materials such as water, food coloring, clay, straws, and test tubes.  Although not all students were completely successful, they enjoyed the process and worked hard thinking about how to modify their design between repeated tests.  Making a video of their process would have been a great way for students to reflect on their work and show how they used engineering process skills along the way.  Implementing the use of presentation or “digital storytelling” with traditional lab reports may also prove valuable.  Although I think it is still important for students to be able to write an hypothesis, procedure, etc., following this up with a storyboard and narration will only make the process more engaging and meaningful.  As long as concepts and skills are the main focus of presentation activities, I think this will be an exciting addition to my classes (Morgan, n.d.).

Gamification refers to, “…the incorporation of game mechanics into nongame settings, which aims to increase users’ engagement of the product or service and facilitate certain behaviors” (Hsu, et. al., 2013).  The use of games or game principles can enhance learning by providing engagement and fun but, if done correctly, can also immerse the learner and/or provide an engaging challenge.  Few, if any, digital games exist that fit the bill of being highly engaging and highly educational and it is unreasonable to expect a classroom teacher to design and develop such a game.  However, incorporating one or a few game principles into instruction can enhance learning and is a reasonable expectation for classroom teachers.  Principles such as the story dynamic, the failure dynamic, the flexibility dynamic, the progression dynamic and the constructivist dynamic are implemented by game designers resulting in engaging and even addictive games (Using Gaming Principles to Engage Students, 2014).  The web site, Edutopia, suggests weaving these principles into teaching to enhance student experience and learning (Using Gaming Principles to Engage Students, 2014).  

  • The story dynamic can be implemented by grading the process (possibly by keeping a journal or video diary) rather than grading only the product.  
  • The failure dynamic can be implemented by using rapid prototyping and promoting constructive feedback.  
  • The flexibility dynamic can be incorporated in several ways such as building in multiple paths to success or using an “elective credit system” where students have certain required credits but can fulfill the rest of the credits in various ways.  
  • The progression dynamic can be implemented with traditional scaffolding and use of digital “Badges”.  
  • Finally, the constructive dynamic can be implemented by having students create something with a purpose.  


Although I believe it is unreasonable to expect teachers to design and build elaborate digital learning games such as those available for entertainment purposes, game principles can be incorporated to increase engagement and improve students’ learning experiences.  Today, small interactive games can be created with ease using one of several game creation platforms.  Although there is a learning curve, Inklewriter is an easy way to make an interactive story.  I think this program can be applied in an English or History course and, with a bit of creativity, other courses as well.  Students should map out their story and choices before attempting to enter it into Inklewriter to avoid confusion or frustration.

Game principles I intend to implement are the story dynamic and the progression dynamic.  Students will need to keep track of their process (by making notes and taking pictures of each prototype) the next time they are given an engineering task and, to implement presentation, students will be required to keep a digital diary including images and narration in addition to writing.  To incorporate the progression dynamic, I will be developing digital “badges” using OpenBadges for various skills in chemistry and 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and character.   I already incorporate the failure dynamic in my level two chemistry classes by implementing a mastery based grading system where students are assessed multiple times on a single skill so they can use constructive criticism to improve without penalty.  

Both presentation and games or gaming principles can enhance students’ learning experience.  


Hsu, S. H., Chang, J., & Lee, C. (2013). Designing Attractive Gamification Features for Collaborative Storytelling Websites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(6), 428-435. Retrieved November 21, 2016.

Morgan, H. (n.d.). Using Digital Story Projects to Help Students Improve in Reading and Writing. Reading Improvement, 51(1), 20-26. Retrieved November 21, 2016.

Using Gaming Principles to Engage Students. (2014, October 14). Retrieved November 22, 2016, from  


Technology Tools: Social Media, Surveys, and Real-time Data

When deciding to implement a technology tool in an educational setting, the value of the tool for helping students reach a goal, or producing a product, must be considered.  Technology tools can be implemented effectively when used to help move students from LOTS (low order thinking skills) to HOTS (high order thinking skills) according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, 2016).  All technology can be effective in the hands of a skilled or creative teacher.  However, each technology is accompanied by very real concerns and teachers must know their population and decide how or when technology will be used.

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

Social media is one of the most intimidating technology tools to employ with an adolescent population.  It may help to create interest and excitement, but the potential for distraction and privacy concerns make delving into this technology murky waters.  Some students respond positively to the idea of creating their own material and sharing it, as well as reading or viewing the work of others and responding or commenting.  Since anything that creates interest can also result in increased involvement and likely increased performance by students, social media may be a viable option.  Blogs and posting videos not only help teachers check for understanding, but allow students to move higher in Bloom’s Taxonomy by providing opportunities for analysis and evaluation when they view and respond to the work of others.  Sometimes, the creation of these products is the end goal allowing students to reach the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy (creating).  Using social media in schools provides students practice using this technology in an appropriate and effective manner (Edudemic Staff, 2015).  With a supportive school administration and parent population, social media can help bridge gaps between teacher and students, students and peers, and school and home.  Additionally, when using social media, students may take their work more seriously if they know that peers, parents or the general population can read or watch it (Edudemic Staff, 2015).

Social Media and Education

Social Media and Education

Social media can also be used for education as well as to educate.  Allowing educators to easily share ideas is impacting education, enabling teachers to read about many different approaches to a topic.  This saves countless hours of searching or prevents mistakes by reading about other teachers’ experiences implementing a lesson or activity.  It is difficult to find fault with this use of social media for education.

Technology tools can also quickly survey populations for educational purposes.  Surveys can provide information about a population including what motivates them and what is important to them.  They can solicit opinions, comments, or feedback (Wyse, 2012).  Classroom uses may include determining how students feel about certain types of learning, how they feel about their learning progression and numerous other topics. A survey can also generate discussion (Wyse, 2012).  Students can be asked an opinion question and then discuss or search for support for their opinion or the opposing view. They may also be used to elicit responses from the broader community.  Teachers may use surveys to make decisions about their teaching based on feedback from their students rather than just what they perceive their students want or need (Wyse, 2012).  This tool can also help teachers monitor students’ ideas, thoughts or opinions over time (Wyse, 2012).  For example, a teacher might survey a class at various intervals regarding their opinion about various religions or cultures in a social studies course to see if lessons are impacting students’ world view.  A science teacher may survey students about their recycling and energy use habits to determine if lessons are impacting students’ behaviors in this area. Like social media, the application of a survey determines whether it is used for education or to educate and also determines if it requires LOTS or HOTS.  Survey data can be analyzed and evaluated by students, making it an effective method for increasing thinking skill level.



Real-time data can engage and motivate students by connecting them to the world outside the classroom.  Students can use primary source data either collected themselves or data collected by people or instruments located off campus (possibly on the other side of the world!).  This allows students to use data collected anywhere from the deep sea to outer space.  This type of data can be useful and engaging for students from preschool through postsecondary education.  Again, the value of this data, like the value of surveys and social media, lies in how it is used.  Tasks can be simple data collection requiring only LOTS or they may require engineering or innovation, both HOTS.  

My experience using the above mentioned technology tools (as well as video recording and posting and mapping) has been very positive. Within the past few years, technology tools have advanced in design and interface to the point where little effort and investment is required to become a competent user of most tools.  Access to these tools has also become ubiquitous in most cases.  One technology tool that seems to be limited for teachers operating in a small budget is mapping tools.  Many quality tools exist including, but not limited to, Gliffy, Lucidchart, and MindMeister but they usually require a paid subscription which is not always an option for public school teachers.  Some of these offer either a free trial or a free membership with strict limits.  One tool that is free but not quite as user friendly, and with fewer customization options than the others, is MindMup.  It does, however, offer sharing for collaborative work which is a bonus.    

I have not spent much time using social media with my own students and would love to know how other teachers make this technology work for them beyond using it as a public relations tool.  I understand it can be valuable for connecting the broader community to schools, but have yet to see how tools such as Twitter or Instagram can be implemented for increasing the thinking skill level (re: Bloom’s taxonomy) of students.  

Survey technology may be useful in the secondary classroom but questions would have to be very carefully worded and used only in conjunction with other data such as assessment data.  Depending on the culture of a school, students may respond according to what is expected by peers (even if the survey is anonymous) in order to elicit a particular response from their teacher, peers or both.  The assumption that participants are being perfectly honest cannot always be made, unfortunately.  I would hesitate to use a survey to ask about class activities or lessons because students sometimes view these through the lens of whether or not it is entertaining rather than if it is valuable or necessary.  

In conclusion, it is undoubtedly important for teachers in the 21st century to be aware of all the tools available to help engage students, learn about their students, learn from their students, and help their students learn and perform higher order thinking skills.  However, these tools alone cannot bring teaching and learning to the next level.  Technology tools are only as good as the teacher integrating them into the lessons. Teachers must be encouraged to experiment with different technology tools, using them in different ways to increase learning for all students.

My Project:

Matter and Energy Concept Map with MindMeister


Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. (2016). Retrieved November 12, 2016, from

Edumedia Staff. (2015, January 12). How to Use Social Media as a Learning Tool. Retrieved November 12, 2016, from  

Wyse, S. E. (2012, June 29). 4 Main Reasons to Conduct Surveys. Retrieved November 12, 2016, from  

Part 4: Implementation

After analysis is complete and you have designed and developed your training or professional development you are finally ready to enter the implementation phase. Don’t be fooled this does not mean you pass off the project and kick back. There is a great deal for the instructional designer (I.D.) to do during the implementation phase. This phase should include pilot testing your training or professional development. Piloting includes collecting insight from others besides the instructional designer and modifying the training based on their feedback as necessary (Springer, 2014). The instructional designer should be sure to communicate with all the stakeholders during this (and every) phase. This may include administrators, managers, facilitators and learners. The I.D. will need to tailor the content of the communication to each stakeholder.

Training of instructors is part of the implementation phase (Gardner, 2011). Materials are shared with instructors with adequate time for them to prepare for their session(s). Instructors will need to understand all the details of the training or professional development including, but not limited to, objectives, activities, media and assessments.

Learners must also be prepared for the training or professional development (Gardner, 2011). Learners must know when and where the training will occur and what materials to bring. If there are any prerequisites (previous courses, experiences, readings, etc), learners should be informed and given time (when applicable) to accomplish these tasks beforehand.

Finally, the learning environment must be prepared (Gardner, 2011). This may be a physical environment where desks, chairs, papers, markers, etc. will need to be prepared, a virtual environment where digital connections (both audio and visual) will need to be tested, or some combination or physical and digital environments.

photo-1459749411175-04bf5292ceeaThe implementation phase is like the final week of rehearsal before a stage production. Adjustments are made so the event, in its final form, will no longer need the aid of an instructional designer who may already starting a new ADDIE cycle. At some point (or points), the project should be evaluated for its effectiveness in achieving the stated objectives and goals.   Therefore, the ID should neither “wash her hands” of the training/development nor be intensely involved by the end of the implementation phase, as the instruction moves from piloting to operational.

In teaching, developing lessons and piloting them is an ongoing occurrence. However, in instructional design, this process is somewhat different because the learners are unknown (as compared to students that I get to know well over the course of a semester) and the learning space is not necessarily my own. When implementing for another instructor, communication about content, learners and logistics is paramount. It is essential to ensure the lesson’s success..

This is my final installment. Thank you for reading!

Getting to Know ADDIE: Part 4-Implementation

The Implementation Phase of ADDIE

The ADDIE Model: Instructional Design


Gardner, J. C. (2011, October 8). The ADDIE implementation phase. Retrieved April 18, 2016, from

Springer, B. (2014, April 20) ADDIE: Implementation. Retrieved April 19, 2016, from

Part 3: Developing Your Design

In the development phase of instructional design your project actually begins to take shape. No longer are you simply thinking about what should be done but are actually creating instructional materials…presentations, handouts, assessments, etc. that will be used during professional development or training. Effective instruction is both accessible and supportive of the overall design plan (Larson, 2014).

Effective instruction is accessible “technically, physically, and cognitively” (Larson, 2014, p. 208). Technical and physical accessibility may include considerations such as how learners will travel to a face-to-face training, internet speed available for a webinar, and limitations of learners such as physical disabilities, colorblindness, hearing impairments, etc.pexels-photo-59628

Instruction that effectively addresses cognitive accessibility will use principles of organization and repetition (Larson, 2014). Carefully considering where learners are, cognitively speaking, before training begins is essential to organizing instruction and providing the necessary scaffolding. Instruction must follow a pattern that is in line with the objectives. Organizational charts or concept maps (presented to or developed by learners as a part of instruction) will help learners make cognitive sense of information, ideas, or concepts in relation to one another and in relation to previous knowledge and understanding. Repetition is provided by repeating important “take home messages” and  can be accomplished subtly using different media: text, auditory, visual or a combination (Larson, 2014).

pencil-typography-black-designVisual design of learning materials is very important. Poor design can cause learners to feel overwhelmed, confused, frustrated or angry which will quickly derail training or development. Visual design includes choices about the learner’s visual field that pertain to cognitive load. “To address the needs of (field dependent) learners, the visual field must contain only pertinent information arranged in a way that makes communication meaningful” (Larson, 2014, p. 213). Adhering to some basic principles of graphic design can help to create such visuals. The acronym C.A.R.P. is useful when creating visual aspects of instruction. C stands for contrast, A for alignment, R for repetition, and P for proximity. A short lesson in the use of these basic principles will make good design look and feel exceptional.   Just as when meeting new people, first impressions last. Making a good visual first impression will ensure that learners are as open to your message as possible.

3 Graphic Design Principles for Instructional Design Success

The Ultimate Guide to Font Pairing


Larson, M.B. (2014). Streamlined ID: A practical guide to instructional design. New Your: Routledge.

Part 2: Design Does Matter

In what environment do you work best? Do you need clean surfaces and good lighting, like me? Do you need silence or do you prefer to work in a crowed café with background noise? Messy work spaceDesk- organizedIf our real world environment impacts our learning, it follows the same would be true on-line.  Whether learning is on-line or face-to-face, media that are cluttered or overloaded with color and irrelevant images can impede the learning process.

Streamlining content, using appropriate backgrounds and font choices, and choosing images that are relevant and professional can make lessons memorable (Nokes,, 2010). Images, including diagrams, are an effective way for learners to understand and recall information. Effective visualizations…”(improve) comprehension, memory, and inference” (Agrawala, et. al, 2011, p.60). Learners (whether formal or informal) are often overwhelmed with information. Well-designed sketches, diagrams, animations, etc. can greatly enhance the effectiveness of training.

With a background in science and education, design elements, such as media selection, can sometimes feel wholly outside my area of expertise. However, an experienced teacher can be invaluable in the process of selecting appropriate images as they may “…be best able to identify images that might be misinterpreted or unfamiliar to the learner group” (Ley, et. al., 2014, p.29). Although research by Ley and Gannon-Cook found that collaboration between designer-researchers did not ensure appropriate graphic selection (2014), it stands to reason that a healthy collaboration among people with different areas of expertise would likely result in appropriate graphics selection more often than with content experts alone. I am interested in learning more about graphic design and believe knowledge of this discipline will help me select images that truly help learners understand and recall content.

When design is begun after a complete analysis of needs, learners, environment and situation along with a task analysis, the design choices will be much easier to make. These decisions should be made with the target learners in mind. Any photographs used should increase learner engagement and interest. This can be accomplished, in part, by making sure people in photographs reflect the learners, in my case, K-12 educators (Nokes, et. al., 2010). A complete analysis is necessary because design choices made must be supported by available technology in order to avoid disengaging and/or frustrating technical difficulties. ADDIE_Model_of_DesignThe analysis and design phases (the A and first D in ADDIE) are important first steps in designing instruction. Instructional design is an iterative process, however, requiring us to revisit of each step of the ADDIE process often. I will continue to refer to my analysis as I design a professional development for  the proficiency-based grading.


Agrawala, M., Li, W., & Berthouzoz, F. (2011). Design principles for visual communication. Communications of the ACM, 54(4), 60-69.

Ley, K., & Gannon-Cook, R. (2014). Vital signs for instructional design. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 15(2), 21-34.

Nokes, J., & Sappington, E. (2010). At first sight: Improving your training with good visual design. American Society for Training & Development, 64(8), 31-33. Retrieved March 22, 2016.

Part 1: Instructional Design Models and Processes (a 4 part series)

In this four-part series, I will be discussing various instructional design models and processes.  Each of the four posts will cover a different topic relating to instructional design and posted within the next eight weeks.

In these eight weeks I hope to learn more about design models, choosing the best model for each learning environment (on-line, face-to-face, blended, etc.) and applying instructional design models. I hope to apply one model to the design of instruction for my colleagues regarding the theory and implementation of proficiency based grading. This is a topic that I will likely be asked to provide professional development on during the next school year so it will be motivating for me to spend time thinking about a project that will likely be put into action.

Project Management: Knowledge First, Experience Required

Project management requires skills that are somewhat outside the scope of those needed for someone hired specifically for instructional design.  Although both work within certain constraints of time, budget and scope/quality, the project manager is involved with these on a larger scale.  For this reason, project managers must possess the ability to budget, manage a team, schedule activities, communicate, manage risks, manage project scope and resources, promote collaboration and analyze the project environment (van Rooij, 2011, p. 152).  Instructional designers, however, are often given some or all of the responsibilities of a project manager so it important that they have some understanding of what they are likely to encounter on the job.  Even if they are never asked to manage a project, they will be a part of a project team, making an understanding of their project manager’s responsibilities important for good working relationships.

There are many technical aspects of project management: project charters, scope statements, work breakdown structures, task analysis, stakeholder analysis, communications plans, risk analysis, and on and on…

Determining which of these aspects to incorporate into a project will depend on the size of the project, the size of the organization and/or project team, the scope of the project, etcetera.  However, it is the implementation of all this planning that is the difference between effective and ineffective project management.  Project managers must behave as leaders in order to be successful.  Although I am now familiar with these terms, I think that experience and mentoring would be the most logical and effective next step.  Having familiarity with the process of project management would definitely be helpful if I were to become a project manager and will help me relate to project managers as a member of a project team.

15 Project Management Quotes to Live By (Infographic)


van Rooij, S. W. (2011). Instructional design and project management: Complementary or divergent?. Education Tech Research Dev, 59, 139-158.  doi: 10.1007/s11423-010-9176-z

Project Planning and Communication Planning

Teachers are accustomed to planning and know that careful planning is often crucial to the success of a lesson.   Although planning is no guarantee that everything will go as expected, it increases the likelihood of handling the unexpected gracefully.  This is true for project planning as well.  Projects by their very nature are not likely to be unidirectional.  Work breakdown structures help make sure that team members are aware of tasks for which they are responsible as well as which member to address for information about each aspect of the project.   Even the most carefully structured team will have differences in work style, deadlines that are not met, stakeholders with varying expectations and a variety of other issues that threaten to derail a project.  The trick is to anticipate these changes with careful planning and enough flexibility to alter plans when necessary in order to ultimately achieve success.

A clearly designed scope statement, like essential understandings and objectives of a lesson, help a project manager and its team members to remain focused on the main goal of a project.  This scope statement should be at the forefront of the project manager’s mind as plans (and alterations to plans) are made keeping a project from going off the rails.

Including communication in this project plan is crucial.  Stakeholders and team members must be kept apprise of various milestones to ensure that time is used efficiently and a project remains on budget.  Robust communication enables stakeholders and/or clients to share their thoughts about a project’s progress and to tackle problems while they are more easily addressed, saving time and money.

Project Management for Instructional Designers

Project Management for Instructional Designers: A Pocket Guide for Project Management