Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Part 2 of the Assignement - Personas

So part 2 of my assignement in Instructional Design is to create three personas. A persona is a fictional person who might take my class. I actually really like this idea. It seems like a great way to come up with possible pitfalls/problems early on.
The first thing I need to state about these personas is that all three of them are Teacher Assistant students. That is they are all in a college program to certify Teacher Assistants.

Persona 1: Lila Pennyworth
Lila is a single mother of two in her late 20's. Lila dropped out of high school when she became pregnant at the age of 16. She recently finished her GED though and has decided to continue her education. She used computers in high school and during her GED training and has a basic competency with them. She uses the internet mostly to keep in touch with friends over Facebook. She is a caring person but sometimes seems guarded due to her shy and serious nature. Lila is no stranger to change and sees it as a necessary part of life. She is excited to be back in school. She wants to make her children proud of her while ensuring a secure future for them as a family.

Persona 2: Stella Lacombe
Stella is a married woman in her early 50s. Stella spent 10 years working as a TA but has not worked in 15 years. She would like to get back into it but has discovered that most schools in her area require a certified TA. Stella is not happy about that. "Leaning doesn't change" says Stella. She knows that 15 years of experience count a lot more than any peice of paper. Stella has not had a lot of experience with computers and feels that they are a bit too complicated for her. She doesn't understand people's facination with the internet. "Young people spend too much time in front of the computer", she thinks.

Persona 3: Travis Wentworth
Travis is a single 19 year old who lives with his parents. He took a year off after graduating high school to travel and has just returned home from Thiland. Travis grew up with a computer in his home and cannot imagine what life must have been like with out them. He is very active online. All of his social engagements are managed through tools like Facebook, Twitter and his email. He is never with out his iPhone. He plays in an MMORG (World of Warcraft) at least once a week and enjoys the social interaction he gets from it. He is very outgoing and gets along with a wide variety of people. Travis has a form of ADHD but has learned to manage it for the most part. It is because of this he has decided to become a certified TA. He remembers the help his TA gave him when he was in school and would like to be able to help other kids reach their potential.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Course Unit Topic for my Instructional Design Project

My new course is an Instructional Design course. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but after week 1 it looks promising. It is way more structured than my last course which was an introductory course to types of technology.
I have a major assignment in this course where I have to design a unit of learning. I love that there is no actual content. We just come up with the topic and design the ways to achieve the outcome. Our unit has to be very small so we can have between 4 to 6 learning outcomes and it should be applicable to our jobs or personal life.
I have chosen Critical Thinking and the Internet. Here are my ramblings which I hope to turn into an introduction this week.
This unit deals with critical thinking and the internet. By the end of the unit I want the learner to be able to, recognize what critical thinking is, why it is important when viewing the internet, learn some ways to evaluate webpages, and be able to identify possible biases in example webpages.
The target learners are at a vocational college level and they may not have completed high school. They must have at least a grade 12 english level though. Some of the students have not been in school for quite a few years. The students all live in a rural setting and most have not had a great deal of exposure to computers and the online world.
The institution is a small college with campuses spread out across a distance. All campuses service rural areas. The instructor will not be present for face to face contact with most students. The students can obtain face to face assistance at their campus but due to other students the staff are in high demand.
That is all I have right now. I hope it is a topic that works out because it would be great to turn it into a real min-course next year.
As always please share your thoughts and suggestions.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Inclusive and Induvidualized?

I was reading about Alberta Educations proposal to revamp the Special Education Program yesterday and I noticed a trend that I find interesting. In the Summary Report for Phase 1 of this discussion it was reported that a number of people want an Education System for all students. That is they don't want separate programs for students, they want one system for all children. At the same time they also want a highly personalised program for students. My question is can people have it both ways?
Is it possible to have one system of education while catering to individual needs? Are the two ideas mutually exclusive?
I am not sure but it is an interesting process to watch.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


There is a lot of writing out there about the problems with an LMS. Until recently however I had never really considered any of this. I have been working with Moodle for my job for the last little while and these ideas seem to be at the centre of my attention.
I guess the concern is that an LMS by nature is not open enough, there isn't enough sharing going on with the outside world. The term walled garden gets thrown about quite a bit. It is interesting that tools like wikis and forum chats are used in LMS systems and yet they are totally isolated to one group of students. The whole idea of these tools is to learn through collaboration. I appreciate that not everyone wants to share ideas with the public at large it just is a strange thing. The two ideas seem to be at odds.
Another concern is the institutional control over an LMS. In this world the people who created a course would have ownership of that course and be the ones to decide how to share it. But I also realize that institutions are essentially out there to turn a profit. They want to have some kind of control. If every course follows that cookie cutter pattern the institution knows what its product is. There is a clear way (at least on a surface level) to measure if a course is doing what it is supposed to do. Knowledge has become something which is owned not shared and it makes sense for an institution to want to be the owner. It was a sad day for me when I realized that a course or curriculum you design for an institution is not yours but the institution's. I don't really know though how to solve this problem or if there is a solution.
Obviously control is necessary for an institution. They need it for all kinds of reasons including public accountability. But also a certain amount of freedom is necessary for new and fresh ideas and learning to take place. There must be some kind of happy medium.
I guess it is that same old problem of measurement. It would be lovely if we didn't have to measure.