Cartoon of a computer with a webcam icon on it. Wording "Webcam On or Off? The potential impact on learning.

Webcam On or Off? The potential impact on learning.

Introduction

Navigating the workplace can be daunting for anyone but it is often heightened for People of Color (POC), LGBTQIA+, and neurodivergent folks.  For some, the remote work option created an even playing field and allowed many who were discriminated against in the past a place in the workforce.  However, there are MANY considerations when preparing for inclusive virtual training to ensure the safety, equity, respect, and inclusion of those involved.  

Why should we care? As instructional designers, our job is to ensure knowledge acquisition across all learners, not specific groups.  Creating environments with only one population in mind can lead to reduced retention, impact the safety of a classroom, and above all is harmful to certain individuals.  Rothwell states, “adults must feel psychologically safe to learn” (Rothwell, pg. 1716) and as learning designers, we have to ensure not only is the content accessible and inclusive but the environmental conditions are as well.  

Computer screen with a zoom call, six faces and all their cameras are turned on.One of these environmental conditions is webcam use in the workplace which has been a hot discussion since COVID began, and corporate policies seem to be based heavily on company superiors’ beliefs or own experience.  Relying on personal experience when setting policies is dangerous, we all have biases and need to make sure you are researching, involving marginalized voices, and being considerate.  After reading a fantastic article “Do you show your face in Zoom meetings? Your gender may play a role,” I was able to see a clear correlation between allowing the option for webcams and better learner retention due largely to the impact it could have on cognitive load.  This lead me down a rabbit hole of research 

Feeling Safe to Learn

The [article by Zlati Meyer] is really interesting and I encourage you to check it out, it describes the link between gender identity, race, and webcam use.  Essentially men are more likely to show their faces on webcams during meetings than their female-presenting or nonbinary peers and people of color (POC). Additionally, when discussing the numbers between genders, women were found to prepare for using a webcam or chose not to use a webcam solely based on their beliefs about their appearance.   Culturally this makes sense as we place the burden of ‘beauty’ on female-presenting AND people of color disproportionately often with very strict white hetero normative “beauty.” 

One aspect that the article didn’t mention was the impact on neurodivergent learners, when researching for this blog I came across a great [youtube video by Challenge Solutions] in the video the consultant describes how to set up for a virtual meeting as a blind person.  She gives tips and tricks, but what struck me was the prep needed to prepare for a virtual meeting as a blind person.  She recommends having a seeing person set up the computer first to make sure the webcam has the correct frame. Another thing I didn’t think about was the fact that she needed a seeing person to tell her what would be in the background. This never crossed my mind, but you can see the undue burden that requiring cameras for a neurodivergent person could cause. 

Can you imagine having to do this in an impromptu virtual meeting?  What about rushing to put on makeup, a binder, hiding children, a messy house, or “nice” clothes?  When we account for the number of steps and thoughts that it takes to just prepare for a meeting, can you imagine being ready to take in learning after that? 

How Does This Affect Learning?

This idea of cognitive load is based on the idea that working memory has a limited capacity and that the brain can only do, remember and problem solve so much before its retention is affected. The prep required for someone to be on camera, or the effects of being on camera in class are called extraneous load.  Extraneous cognitive load is simply unnecessary information, activities (even sound), or stimuli that will affect a learner’s ability to attend and retain.  With the implication that turning on a webcam takes up many different problem-solving processes, a need for remembering, and emotional labor it is easy to make the connection between cognitive load theory and its effects on a learner.  

I feel like I have said several keywords over and over; autonomy (choice), respect, safe, and inclusive.  These are all based on adult learning theory and what researchers have found adult learners need in order to be open or comfortable enough to learn. Malcom Knowles created a set of [Adult Learning Characteristics] which is a generalized list of adult learner traits.  These traits are very important when we are talking about creating learning environments.  

According to Knowles, adults crave autonomy or the ability to make their own decisions and have options in their learning.  We need to treat adults as the wealth of knowledge they are, including their experiences and knowledge is crucial.  Emotional barriers happen, such as anxiety about a subject, environment, or life event.  Adult learners have potential physical and mental limitations, our learning should not be geared towards neurotypicals nor rooted in white culture.  Adults also crave community, and building a safe and inclusive learning community is important. And last but not least, adults have outside responsibilities that can impact their ability to learn, being mindful of this and potentially reduce the extraneous load for those who may be having a difficult time outside of training.

How Can We Reduce Cognitive Load?

First, give the learner the option to turn their webcam on for as long and in what capacity they wish. We are working with adults, who are able to manage their time, work independently and pay attention.  By providing the message of respect; “I know you will be paying attention whether or not your webcam is on” you are building a foundation of trust AND respect. 

Additionally ensure that you have communicated training dates, times, and expectations clearly with enough notice to allow folks who need extra time to prepare to do so. Go the extra mile and provide an agenda ahead of time, this will allow those with children at home the ability to plan ahead, build in breaks for those who may have to take a break or medication, cognitive load theory states 7 minutes is the maximum length of attention by an adult learner. By providing time to prepare before the meeting, you are starting with respect, which is essential for building a community.   

Next, use breakout rooms to facilitate safe, small group learning, employing learner choice on group roles, webcam use, and giving a structured activity.  This will not only break up learning, and provide connection but the autonomy and community adults crave. We all should be checking for understanding throughout our courses but providing multiple modalities for response including; chat, observation, speech, etc. will provide a more inclusive and less stressful learning environment.  One of my favorite methods for this is Waterfall which asks a question to the class and asks everyone to input their answer in the chatbox but not send it until you say “okay” this reduces the stress of having to answer and with all of the answers flying at once its a lot more comfortable for learners. 

Ensure you have captioning active and are checking chat often for those participants who may not be comfortable speaking.  Additionally, ensure your mouth is visible for participants who may need to lip-read. Sending out the PowerPoint or links to activities ahead of time allowing learners to prepare is also a great idea. Providing wait time and utilizing an order for responses will be more inclusive for those with cognitive disabilities. 

Conclusion

Building a safe community for learning starts with very simple acts of respect, learner choice, and forethought.  As architects of learning, designing for who is coming to your building is just as important as the visual design or cost of your building. And as always, check your own biases, our learners are diverse and our methods must be anti-racist, trauma-informed, and inclusive in order to produce an even learning field for all of our learners.

Do you require webcams to be turned on? Were you surprised by the data in the article? Let me know below!

References

Mavilidi, M. F., & Zhong, L. (2019). Exploring the Development and Research Focus of Cognitive Load Theory, as Described by Its Founders: Interviewing John Sweller, Fred Paas, and Jeroen van Merriënboer. Educational Psychology Review, 31(2), 499–508. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1007/s10648-019-09463-7

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2013). Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/boisestate/detail.action?docID=1376941

Meyer, Z. (2020, June 23). Do you show your face in Zoom meetings? Your gender may play a role. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/90514033/do-you-show-your-face-in-zoom-meetings-your-gender-may-play-a-role

Rothwell, W. J. (2020). Adult learning basics. (2nd ed.). ATD. ISBN: 978-1950496143

About Video Conferencing – OneHE. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://onehe.org/resources/about-video-conferencing/

Business, S. M. K., CNN. (n.d.). Stop making employees turn on webcams during meetings. CNN. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/24/tech/webcams-workplace-meetings/index.html

Challenge Solutions. (2021, March 29). Zoom Etiquette for the blind and Visually Impaired. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1J9VdNW6X0

Characteristics of Adult Learners. (2019, September 28). The ELearning Coach. https://theelearningcoach.com/learning/characteristics-of-adult-learners/

Cheetham, J., & Thomson, S. (n.d.). Webinars: Webcams off or on? 2.

Chin, M. (2021, January 28). University will stop using controversial remote-testing software following student outcry. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2021/1/28/22254631/university-of-illinois-urbana-champaign-proctorio-online-test-proctoring-privacy

Gilmour, A. (2021). Let’s talk about webcams, and a pedagogy of kindness. Compass: Journal of Learning and Teaching, 14(2), Article 2. https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v14i2.1177

Neurodivergence and online learning through the pandemic: What is neurodiversity? (Post 1 of 3). (2022, March 4). #ALTC Blog. https://altc.alt.ac.uk/blog/2022/03/neurodivergence-and-online-learning-through-the-pandemic-what-is-neurodiversity-post-1-of-3/

Student Video Equity Assessment – Ethical EdTech @DigCiz. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://ethicaledtech.digciz.org/index.php/student-video-equity-assessment/

Webcam Anxiety from a Neurodiversity perspective during Covid-19. (2020, April 7). Exceptional Individuals. https://exceptionalindividuals.com/about-us/blog/webcam-anxiety-from-a-neurodiversity-perspective-during-covid-19/

Why forcing people to turn on their Zoom cameras isn’t inclusive. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/why-forcing-people-to-turn-on-their-zoom-cameras-isnt-inclusive-110251431.html

Coffee cup with a heart inside, title of blog is Emotional Intellegience & Performance Improvement

Emotional Intelligence & Performance Improvement

A co-worker shared her recently acquired knowledge of Fika, a Swedish tradition.  Fika means “to hava coffee” and is a coffee break, commonly occurring at 10 am and 3 pm. Instantly I asked why those seemingly random times, she responded that Sweden reviewed accidents in the workplace and found that they often happened at 10 am and 3 pm.  In order to combat these accidents, Sweden implemented Fika, to not only give workers a break but encourage emotional intelligence.  

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Goleman’s theory of Emotional Intelligence is based on the idea that EQ affects personal outcomes more than IQ (Merriam & Bierema, 2013)  Bierema describes it by saying, “The premise of emotional intelligence is that IQ comprises only a small portion of intelligence and that the ability to identify and manage one’s emotions, and anticipate those of others, is a key interpersonal competency” (2008).  On the recommendation of our book I actually went to Berkeley’s Emotional Intelligence Quiz and scored above average.  What was interesting was that the test was solely on human facial expressions, I got some wrong but I ended up with 14/20.

So what do Goleman, facial expressions, and performance improvement have in common?  A lot actually, imagine a software engineer who has amazing coding abilities but struggles to work with others.  The engineer can do the job, and has the skills but if they don’t feel comfortable starting conversations or connecting with others, what happens when they get stuck on a project? Will they be able to innovate alone? 

For those who work in emotion labor positions, it is even more crucial to teach and encourage emotional intelligence. This is everything from police who must stay calm in stressful situations, or to those who must appear “authentically” happy as a customer service workers. Essentially this pretending interferes with attention and adds to cognitive load which is a “key factor contributing to job exhaustion and job satisfaction.”    

Conclusion

So how do learning designers include emotional intelligence in their courses?  First, check your own biases, look inward, and assess your feelings before you begin a course. Next, include a lot of space for retrospectives and feedback for both learner and instructor. Third, create a safe learning space for discourse and encourage discussion around feelings and emotions (Bierma, 2008).  And last, we often look at learner motivations with a narrow lens, I encourage you to take into consideration all feelings that a learner could have, including; fear of failure, trauma surrounding being wrong, confusion or worry, imposter syndrome to just name a few. Use empathy with your learners, encourage empathy among your learners and create a safe space for all learners to not only acquire knowledge but keep it!


References

Bierema, L. L. (2008). Adult learning in the workplace: Emotion work or emotion learning? New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 2008(120), 55–64.

Emotional Intelligence Quiz. (n.d.). Greater Good. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/ei_quiz​

Fika—A Very Swedish Tradition—How to Fika Like a Swede. (2016, June 16). Hej Sweden. https://hejsweden.com/en/have-coffee-breaks-called-fika-swedish/

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2013). Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/boisestate/detail.action?docID=1376941

Brain with arrows coming out of it with the words Experiential Learning Theory

Experiential Learning Theory

My blog has always been one of reflection. I often advocate for teachers and the hard work they put in. I try to highlight the similarities between teaching and instructional design, but this week I had a breakthrough. In classrooms, we are told what strategies and theories to use, these are often provided by the “latest” research, curriculum or a book your principal happened to read.  As teachers, we go all in, we read the books, research the theory, and put it into practice. Hattie’s work on visual learning was HUGE in my school district before I left, we were receiving training, books, and more but it was only ONE theory.    

     As I have been reflecting on what we have learned so far, I started to realize my own biases. Before today I would tell you that there are just some good teaching practices and some bad.  Being neurodivergent I often think in black and white, but learning is not black and white, corporate performance issues are not black and white!  So where am I going with this? Each learning theory I have discussed is built to tackle different learning topics or audiences, it’s not a one size fits all nor should it lend to a specific preference.  When designing learning experiences you must take a step back from your preferences and look at what the goal of the course is and find the appropriate learning theory to support this. 

It may not seem like a big deal to some, but this adds an additional step to my design process and something I have been missing for a while.  To transition, last week we discussed transformative learning theory which promotes transformative change, and community building and provides a fantastic framework for tackling hard to discuss topics.  This week we will be reviewing experiential learning, at its core is learner experience, whether that is leveraging past experiences or working through current experiences with practice and mentoring.  Experiential learning is great for job processes that may need modeling and cognitive guidance, I will expand on the strategies below. (Merriam & Bierema, 2013 pg 108)

Reflective Practice

Personally, I love the science behind learning. It’s fascinating to me how the brain works and the impact simple things like reflection can have.  Reflective practice is a strategy that can be used before, during, and after a learning experience.  This practice is something I would encourage no matter what learning theory you are using and it is crucial as IDs to include this in our professional practice. 

Recently I finished a large learning project, it spanned several months and it was a highly anticipated course.  It was also one of my first at my current employer, coming from teaching where you are often “thinking on your feet” I employ what our texts call ‘reflection-in-action’ a lot. Meaning I think about what I am doing, reflect on what I could do differently/better, and then institute those changes in live time. However, without communicating those to my team it may not seem like I learned anything from the deployment. In comes post-mortem reviews! 

The post-mortem review allows me an avenue to not only reflect and adjust but communicate to my team what was my success and areas of improvement.  Smartsheet listed some of the benefits of a post-mortem as; streamlining workflows, fostering team collaboration, improving efficiency, celebrating success, and learning from mistakes.  I have sent out surveys to all of the stakeholders and will be reviewing my process from their eyes. I am also preparing a document that will discuss my reflections and suggestions for future projects.  

Situated Cognition

Situated cognition is the idea that where we learn is significant, Merriam & Bierema mention research by Jean Lave who asked study participants to figure out what items in a store were “best buys” some participants were allowed into the store and able to see the aisles and communicate with the community within the store. (2013)  Others were asked to figure out based on paper and pencil via looking at sales, costs, etc. Lave found that those who were inside the store obtained the correct answer with 98% while paper and pencil participants scored 59% (p. 118).   This idea of situated cognition makes clear the impact of “context and social interaction” on learning versus thinking all learning happens within the brain. 

Cognitive apprenticeship is a great example of this, not only is the mentor demonstrating what they are doing but also walking their apprentice through what is happening cognitively.  This is used in tandem with faded support, meaning that as the apprentice gains ability and knowledge, the master teacher fades out their support. One very useful tool when designing this would be to look at the prompt hierarchy which was designed for students with autism but very helpful when thinking about the support we provide to learners.  Prompt hierarchy is a spectrum of prompts starting at restrictive or less independent up to more independent. It starts with full physical (guiding the person, potentially hand over hand) then partial physical, maybe the learner just needs their hand placed on the right lever, next is modeling, then verbal prompts such as “Don’t forget” or “Look at the symbol on the screen”, next is gestural which would be pointing to the correct lever and last would be visual, we see this every time we go to the bathroom at a restaurant and there is a visual prompt for workers to wash their hands.      

Community of Practice

Community of practice is a strategy that is used to bring together learners of varied experiences for the purpose of growing on a specific topic.  This is one I use on a daily basis, I am a part of Reddit and many discord channels which have brought together a lot of different people together for one common purpose, to learn more about video games, share and answer questions about video games, and other topics.  Not only do those new to the topic learn, but those who are teaching others are also growing in proficiency.

At my organization, we use Slack, which is a secure web-based messaging platform, it allows employees to create their own channels, join channels of interest and interact with their department.  Working at such a large organization there is a channel for literally any topic, profession, community, and more. These channels are hosted by departments to support others using tools or on specific topics like security.  It brings together employees from all different walks of life, and experiences and promotes learning.  It has been one of my favorite features and has been crucial in my growth within my current company. 

Conclusion

Whenever I was asked what was the most important trait for a teacher to possess, I almost always included reflection. It was a crucial part of my practice then and it is still just as important within the instructional design.  My hope is that sharing my own revelation on learning theories will proactively help a transitioning teacher, research learning theories, and gather more tools for that toolbox! 

Have you ever heard of a prompt hierarchy? Do you think it would be useful within the adult learning space? Let me know by leaving a comment below!


References

Guide to Post-Mortem in Business | Smartsheet. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2022, from https://www.smartsheet.com/content/business-post-mortem

Learning by teaching others is extremely effective – a new study tested a key reason why. (2018, May 4). Research Digest. https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/05/04/learning-by-teaching-others-is-extremely-effective-a-new-study-tested-a-key-reason-why/

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2013). Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/boisestate/detail.action?docID=1376941Steps for Implementation: Least-to-Most Prompts. (n.d.). Autism Spectrum Disorders, 13. Retrieved March 18, 2022, from https://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/sites/autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/files/Prompting_Steps-Least.pdf

Road Map for Growth

Creating Corporate Roadmaps for Change Using Transformative Learning Theory

This past year I went through a major transformation, I went from a High School Special Education teacher to a corporate Instructional Designer.  The journey I took is much like a road trip, I spent time planning, I stopped and admired the view and the experience changed me forever.  In transformative learning theory, we (instructional designers) create the road trip in order for learners to grow and change.  

Transformative learning uses community to build support around a learner, this connection and orientation of others into the learners’ world are essential. Transformative Learning creates a safe learning space for discourse and disagreement.  This discourse is one of the anchors of Transformative Learning, the ability to respectfully discuss hot button issues while also coming up with reasoning, using metacognition to think about their beliefs/learning, and reorientation based on the discourse.  While often used in corporate settings to transform learners on sensitive topics such as racism or sexism, research backs up the idea that transformative learning theory strategies are just good learning.  

Designing a Roadmap

When thinking of designing a curriculum for your workforce, I am brought back to the concept of a road trip.  While there are different ways to make it across America, each route depends on several things; road conditions, mode of transportation, season, and destination.   We evaluate where we are and keep our ultimate destination in mind, designing our road trip around the many variables that come with any project;  our intended audience, tools, objectives, and ultimate learning goal.  Below I have included a quick video on a mock proposal I created using transformative learning.

Now that we have an idea of where we are, where we want to go, and what mode of transportation (transformative learning) we have to determine the strategies that will benefit our learners most and are specific to the performance goal.  Start by researching, find a scholarly article that is peer-reviewed and measured, specify conditions such as farming or automation, corporate or education, and get reading!  Erika Boney wrote an excellent article that gives some great applications of transformational Learning in the corporate setting.  

The Strategies

Merriam & Bierema described the work of transformational learning as “…accessing the unconscious world and incorporating it into our conscious being, our ego.” (2013) Transformational learning is about the process the learner endures and how they change in the end. This “soul work” is tied to premise reflection which is a deep thought process, Mezirow describes it as “why we perceive, think, feel, or act as we do” (1991).  

With this in mind, some of my favorite strategies are personalized learning paths, scenario-based eLearning, and metacognition.  Personalized learning paths are beneficial on many levels.  For the learner, it gives them the autonomy to decide how, when and what they will learn.  Learning paths also cut down on work for administration as the learner is driving their knowledge, and becoming more independent.  Serving small pieces of learning within a larger pathway provides better learning retention and can make learning more understandable as well (Gautam, 2021).  

Scenario-based elearning has deep ties in academic literature as well, it is a great strategy to use and works well with transformational learning.  Scenario-based elearning is all about immersive decision-making with the goal of having the learner reflect on the processes, know where to find their resources, and learn by doing.  eLearningIndustry.com cites several perks to using scenario-based elearning including; increased learner engagement and knowledge retention, confidence building, and a safe place to fail and learn (Hout, 2020).  

Last but not least is metacognition, which I love implementing in corporate learning environments.  Metacognition is about the journey of problem-solving, it happens before instruction such as having a learner make a goal or decide on a pathway.  During instruction such as having learners reflect and rate their performance on a task.  And after instruction in a retrospective of what went well, what didn’t, and what to change for next time. Hattie once said;  “We need to develop an awareness of what we are doing, where we are going, and how are we going there; we need to know what to do when we do not know what to do. Such self-regulation or meta-cognitive skills are one of the ultimate goals of all learning” (Hattie, 2012).

The Conclusion

It may sound cliche, but whoever said: “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” was right!  By building road trips for our learners, we are using evidence-based practices that yield high engagement and knowledge retention.  Research additional strategies that fit your company’s needs, there is so much literature written on transformative learning you shouldn’t have a problem finding something.  Good luck and happy road tripping!

Do you use transformational learning theory? Have you ever heard of the 16 Habits of Mind? Let me know in the comments below!


References

Boney, E. (2018, December 19). Fostering A Culture Of Transformative Learning 

Through Informal Learning Experiences [web log]. Retrieved March 5, 2022, from https://elearningindustry.com/transformative-learning-informal-learning-experiences-fostering-culture.

Day, A. (n.d.). Metacognition Importance and Overview. Missouri EduSAIL. Retrieved March 

14, 2022, from https://www.moedu-sail.org/lessons/metacognition-importance-overview/

Hout, N. (2020, February 26). The Benefits Of Scenario-Based Learning In Customer Service 

Training. ELearning Industry. https://elearningindustry.com/scenario-based-learning-benefits-customer-service-training

Lorenzetti, L., Halvorsen, J., Dhungel, R., Lorenzetti, D., Oshchepkova, T., Haile, L., & 

Biscette, K. (2019). Community-based mentors and journey guides: a transformative learning approach to social work education. Social Work Education, 38(7), 875–893. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1080/02615479.2019.1593956

Maiese, M. (2017). Transformative Learning, Enactivism, and Affectivity. Studies in 

Philosophy & Education, 36(2), 197–216. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1007/s11217-015-9506-z

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2013). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice

John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Owen, R. (2021). Using Mindfulness to Promote Transformative Learning in Implicit Racial 

Bias Training. Adult Learning, 32(3), 125–131. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1177/1045159520981165How Personalized Learning Paths Can Put Learners in the Driver’s Seat. (n.d.). Training Industry. Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://trainingindustry.com/articles/content-development/how-personalized-learning-paths-can-put-learners-in-the-drivers-seat/

My-Post-Copy

My AhHa Moments building a Scenario-Based eLearning Course

The final project for OPWL 551 has been a massive undertaking, even though I currently work in the field of instructional design I never imagined one project would wrap my mind as this has.  While I am confident in my design abilities (always room to grow) and even my technology skills in Articulate, pulling it all together to create a massive branching Scenario-Based eLearning project was astounding!  I have found throughout my process of building my portfolio I struggle without concrete examples or topics to work from. In my position now, I am given projects and I fly, but thinking up a random topic to build a course around has been difficult in the past.

The usual sentiment is to go with something you know, so I originally thought about something teaching-related. I built a project plan for using accommodations within the classroom but felt like it wasn’t something I wanted on my portfolio so I went back to the drawing board.  I realized my answer was staring me right in the face, currently enrolled in Tim Slade’s eLearning Designer’s Academy, I remembered the case study I was working on and the project that I was intended to create to complete the course. With a new sense of focus, I crafted a new project plan using Tim’s template and submitted it.

From there I began to design the branching scenario, I knew I wanted to focus on customer service for phone representatives of a web company.  After reading Clark’s book I knew that I wanted to have a pretty complex branch, with three options for answers; Best, Adequate and Inadequate as well as having three pathways that had varied interactions with the customer based on the Learner’s previous choices but always allowing them to make it back to the main “best” path. Additionally, immediate and personalized feedback seemed best, so I made sure add that in for every choice.

When I started to design the pathway, it was difficult to visually understand how this would translate to Articulate so I started to do some extra research and a post on the eLearning Heroes community helped me visually see how to take a branched scenario and put it into Articulate. I also reached out to Tim Slade who pointed me towards one of his own projects, allowing me to reverse engineer it – I often kept this open while I worked through mine to ensure accuracy.  I started to design my branching scenario and ultimately came to this:

My Scenario-Based eLearning Branching Scenario Flow Chart

One major aspect of this design was color coding, for my own neurodiversity I was able to see the path more clearly and understand how the choices would influence a movement between the scripts.  I wanted this to be interactive, every choice made the interactions more difficult but always gave a chance for the learner to “redeem” themselves and make it back to the “green” path which Clark wrote was essential for designing the branching scenarios.

Once I got this done, I printed it and started to build the course, I could check off the terminals as I created the slide, and it was highly efficient in keeping me in line.  I wanted to push myself a little in Articulate and included some strategies like personalization, during the introduction Learners input their names and the next slide allows Learners to choose an avatar, both supported by Clark’s book and a recommendation from Tim Slade’s “Dealing with Angry Customers” project.

Another piece of the color-coding was using intrinsic feedback, on each feedback slide, the customer has a background based on their mood (and the response from the Learner.)  This was why it was so important to include different slides/interactions at each challenge level, I wanted the interaction to be authentic.  I previously have worked for both Netflix and Amazon in their call centers, so I used a lot of my own experiences with customers to craft logical and plausible interactions. When dealing with customers, they do not just go back to “happy” or “green” unless you go above and beyond to problem solve and fix the interaction, it was something I wanted to be central to this project.  While the project was a massive undertaking, it pushed me to use slide masters, become even more efficient at creating slides, and thinking about the large picture of where the learner would be going.

When I started to build my storyboard, which I did do in tandem with some light Articulate design (again I prefer to SEE the layout etc.) I got stuck again, trying to organize all of the choices, the personalized feedback for each slide, and the multiple challenge questions…I decided to build my own storyboard and make it color-coded.

An example of my Storyboard, the box is one slide (green path) with the options underneath based on Best, Adequate and Inadequate.

In closing to this long-winded post, I am so glad to have taken this course and learned so much about scenario-based eLearning that I plan to continue to grow in.  I already have an idea for a course at my current position that would use a different style that Clark mentions which is an interface for more diagnostics approaches and I am excited to get started!  In future projects, I feel like I am getting a flow down, and realizing that while there is a clear design and application process each project will have its own process, and that’s okay. The more I am able to research, adapt and change the better! And now…I can finally sleep for a week before the fall semester starts!   

Teachers Are Instructional Designers

Teachers ARE Instructional Designers!

After 8 years in the classroom, I started my journey to transition outside of the classroom in early 2021, I was fortunate to find several great communities that were instrumental to my growth, I have written about them here and here.  Now I hope to give back to other teachers who are making their transition.  This post aims to advise others on what I did to get noticed, what my interview process was like, what I did in my job search, and provide any resources I have used.

First, get connected. When I was applying to positions by myself, I had no idea what I needed to reframe, adjust and focus on. Teaching: A Path to L&D opened up my eyes to the idea that I could not only make it out, but it gave me clear guidance on what I needed to adjust.  I use; adjust because teachers ARE instructional designers, curriculum designers, LMS handlers, hard workers, expert multitaskers, we simply need to reframe our experience and education.  Spend regular time on LinkedIn, I found TWO real job leads from LinkedIn. The one I am in now came directly from putting Instructional Designer as my tag line and being followed by someone in my area.  This person then posted a job listing, I reached out, we spoke over the phone and the rest is history!

Second, research what you want to do and narrow it down.  Often, I hear teachers so desperate to leave (and I was one) that they are casting their net too wide.  It sounds cheesy but find something you know will bring you joy AND don’t worry about leaving mid-year, you can leave. While leaving teaching was the best thing I could do mentally and physically, I am still a teacher, and I miss my kids.  Without meaningful work, we won’t make it; I still fight the urge to return to teaching even after a month in a wonderful position.  Next, decide what type of company do you want to work for, do you want to work in an office? Work from home? DO you want an EdTech or Tech or Bank? With a lifelong love of technology, I set my eyes on the tech sector (although I ended up at a credit union!) 

Once you decide where you want to go, you can build your roadmap.  I was one year away from getting my Masters; and researched if Boise State had an ID program/certificate I could add.  I contacted the Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) and they worked with me and my credits to build a plan for my final year.  By summer 2022, I will have a Workplace Instructional Design certificate and a Masters in EdTech.  I also signed up for Tim Slade’s Academy, and I purchased LinkedIn’s premium membership for LinkedIn Learning.

My plan was to start the clock the day I left school for the summer, and complete 3 summer online courses through Boise State, eLearning Designer’s Academy and build a fleshed-out portfolio using my previous website (I had started branding while trying to make the jump to EdTech) and build a new resume with a focus on Instructional Design. My plans changed when I ended up taking an Instructional Design position a week after school was done!  In that application I was straightforward about my experience and my lack of formal experience in Instructional Design, they were impressed by my passion, the energy I had about Instructional Design, AND my learning plan. 

Third, ask questions. It seems simple but I had no idea who Cara North was, she posted an article and I messaged her about Instructional Design Academies. I was so confused if I HAD to pay for one and was getting approached by “academies” that just didn’t feel right.  She responded and pointed me to an amazing woman who had left the classroom a year before. She offered to mentor me and suggested Tim Slade’s academy.  It was an investment, but it has really pushed me and the mentoring by Tim has been invaluable. Request resume help through the Teaching to L&D group, I was lucky enough to spend time getting ready for my interview with my current position.  Heidi Kirby gave me a set of common ID interview questions that I was able to edit and type out my own answers – it was perfect after years of teaching interviews!

Fourth, stand tall and proud, you are a teacher, you can handle anything, and you are an asset to any company.  Spend time adjusting your resume and cover letter, I used this Reddit post and I have had good responses so far.  Get familiar with the programs, Articulate has been a lot of fun and very easy to pick up if you used PowerPoint in the classroom. The Articulate E-Learning Heroes Community has been a fantastic resource, I can look up ANYTHING I want to do in a flash, and I have learned best by jumping in.

You can do this journey for free using the resources I have provided, using YouTube etc.  You do NOT need to pay for mentorship or guidance. Everything we were taught about pedagogy carries over; it may have a different term but you already know the theory.  You ARE an instructional designer, customer success manager, problem solver, so put that as your title. We got this! /flex

clapperboard icon with Tech Nerd to Screencaster

Tech Nerd to Screencaster

OPWL 523 – Week 2

Growing up I was always a tech nerd, I am an elder millennial, so my time with the internet began with AOL in middle school.  The minute I started working with computers I fell in love, I taught myself graphic design and used it to create personalized graphics in games. When things went wrong on our PC I found I had a knack for fixing them.  And I still remember changing all my Mom’s program icons and sounds to Jim Carry as a prank. Being in this early time and also a female, I was told the internet wouldn’t go anywhere….graphic design was filled with no jobs…so I moved on. 

Somehow I landed in teaching, and I brought with me my love for gaming, tech, and graphic design.  It served me well and I quickly became known as someone to go to for troubleshooting to innovative technology teaching practices.  For two years I advocated for the use of computers within the classroom in order to provide accessible learning to my neurodivergent students.  When the pandemic hit, I suddenly was thrown into the thick of it, walking some teachers through how to open their emails from home while also helping solve systematic problems like scheduling Teams chats.  

I started a Youtube channel to support the teachers in my district while we were home. I pushed out content quickly and efficiently because we didn’t have time to always plan and edit. TechSmith’s ‘Ultimate Guide to Easily Make Instructional Videos’ resonated with me on several levels.  

First, it was helpful to see the breakdown in different types of instructional videos, almost all I did during the pandemic were screencasts so teachers could follow along, however, I do have some microlearning videos I did for kids and I personally watch Presentation videos almost weekly.  

With my focus being teachers in my specific district with our specific tools, I really knew my audience which TechSmith lists as the #1 tip.  Being pressed for time, and the urgency strong, I was pressured into both not focusing on making sure it was perfect and worrying about my equipment.  I enjoyed making very short, to-the-point videos for busy teachers, and I quickly became recognized for it. 

TechSmith really does a great job of explaining the process for creating videos, it’s something I will keep to reference especially since I am currently taking a Storyboarding course. I am looking forward to doing a bit more work in overlaying audio and visuals, I never did this in my videos as I worked with screencast software like Screencastify. I am excited to start learning and working within Camtasia and finding out how I can use it to create professional videos.

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Teaching to L&D

Post #5 – OPWL 551

I recently watched the recording of Devlin Peck interviewing Sara Stevick on her transition from K12 to Instructional Design.  Sara has been a wonderful asset to teachers transitioning to the ID world, she has created a whole network of free resources for teachers to use to ease the transition.  These resources start with the Teaching a Path to Learning & Development website and the Linkedin group; it has expanded to include sign-ups for teachers to get 1:1 help with their resumes, interview practice, and just general mentoring.  Additionally, they have built some great connections within the Instructional Design field and have a fantastic job board.  

     This journey has been overwhelming at times, I often felt like I didn’t have what it took, and hearing from other teachers these feelings were normal were crucial in my journey.  While I have been waiting to start applying until I am done with many of these summer courses, I did apply for a local position and was able to sign up for a 1:1 call AND post in the group’s Slack channel for help or questions. 

Going forward I plan to continue to soak up any resource I can that will help me grow, and I would like to pay that back by helping in the group when I become established.  What so many of us teachers experience in the workplace is wrong, getting out is even harder because of the unconscious biases against teachers.  Knowing I have a large network of those who not only succeeded in getting out but are passionate about helping others is incredibly comforting. 

a seed growing into a flower with the wording a tangible growth experience.

Analyzing Content for eLearning Design

OPWL 551 – Post 3

Recently I went to an interview and they asked how I would know what I had created was engaging and would bring the learner in.  I was caught off guard, being a classroom teacher within a special education classroom I felt that I was a professional at being engaging, I often got kids engaged in learning whom no one else could!  However, during this week reading about scenario-based learning really opened my eyes to truly engaging content.

Scenario-based learning really pushed the idea of problem-based learning (PBL) to a whole new level.  As I reflected on the week, what I had learned and this blog post I realized that my relationship with students assisted in my ability to get them engaged.  However, in instructional design where we are building for a specific performance issue or task, I wasn’t there with my product to encourage, entice, or transfer my excitement.  The work I create has to be able to stand alone on its own, to pull the learner in wherever they are.  

During this same series of interviews, I also produced a very linear work sample, looking back with the knowledge I have now I could see that small tweaks would have helped make it even more dynamic and engaging.  With my presentation I could have added a more clear trigger event, I truly missed the mark here, while I “got into the mind of an employee” and chunked the information I should have started with a more immersive experience such as waking up and getting ready for work.  While the rest of my presentation was from this perspective, I think adding this trigger event would have pushed my presentation to the next level!  

Additionally, I am finding that there is SO MUCH more to instructional design and e-learning than I have ever imagined.  As I dig further I am finding more that I align with and I am finding more areas to grow in.  While I absolutely know what I would say to that interview question now, it was a tangible growth experience that makes me excited to continue to dive into the ID world. 

Horizons

OPWL Summer Learning

This summer I will be chronicling my journey through several Organizational Performance & Workplace Learning (OPWL) courses. My goal is to be keeping up with my studies and reflecting on my learning through this blog. My journey into Instructional Design started nearly 6 months ago as I began to find myself burnt out on Teaching. While I never thought I would ever pivot so much in my life, this year has brought to light some issues I had been having with work-life balance and the transfer of trauma from my students. Teaching Students have taught me so much over the course of the last 5 years, and I feel confident that I am skilled and able to take on any industry.

Originally I began applying for all types of positions within edtech and in the technology sector, I found a resounding “silence.” I had easily gotten teaching jobs but my resume was too “teacher” and my focus was too broad. While researching positions to transfer into, I found instructional design. The more I dove in, the more and more I realized the world of Instructional Design took all of the competencies I had but removed the stress and trauma. I began to research the field, finding a community of teachers who had escaped and were willing to help others escape as well.

What began as simple searching quickly turned into a passion, I began to purchase books and even connect with groups on LinkedIn. I reached out to my Masters program at Boise State where I was finishing a degree in Educational Technology and found the OPWL program. I made a plan, learn as much as I could within 2 months and begin to apply for positions once I had a completed portfolio and a redone resume and cover letter. Taking these summer OPWL courses is just the beginning, I am also working through Tim Slade’s eLearning Academy and part of several Instructional Design book clubs.

To new horizons!