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The Learning Systems Design and Development Competencies:


The program focuses on three main competencies. The work featured below demonstrates my learning, understanding and mastery of them.


Conducting needs assessments and evaluating learning systems

Many times the initial response of organizations to a performance problem is to launch training. I discovered through the program that though this is sometimes needed, it shouldn't always be the first response. If we look at the ADDIE model, the first step is Analysis or Assessment. According to Rossett, "The challenge is to find the problem, to understand it sufficiently so that it can be solved…What is going on and why is it happening” (Rossett, 1987, p.8)? A needs assessment enables an organization to find these answers. “[A training needs assessment] is the systematic study of a problem or innovation, incorporating data and opinions from varied sources, in order to make effective decisions or recommendations about what should happen next” (p.3). Since training isn't always the solution the assessment should look at the problem holistically and not through the lens of what kind of training do they need? Instead, look for what is the expected performance, what is the curent performance, what is causing the gap between the two and how can we bridge it?


If training is the answer, there is another important step that must not be forgotten: evaluations. They take place during and after the design, development and implementation stages. The formative evaluation is performed while the training is in design and development. The formative is used to form or reform the product through testing and various evaluation tools. It enables the designers to see whether or not the training is working. Afterward, further adjustments to enhance and refine it can be made before its official full-scale launch. Once it is completed and fully implemented it should be evaluated again with a summative evaluation. This is used to make a final judgement: Was the training effective in accomplishing its goals? It can also be used once the training has been running for awhile, to evaluate if the training is still relevant: Are updates required because of changes in needs or technologies, etc.


Assessment begins a process that is not complete without evaluations. Engaging in both steps helps to ensure effective training. The artifacts below exhibit my competencies in conducting a needs assessment and evaluations:


Artifact Descriptions (Click on the links below):



Designing learning environments, including systems for direct instruction, constructivist learning, collaborative work, and performance support.

The design process is a systematic approach. Tasks analysis helps to determine the content of our instruction. Learning objectives define the goals and assessments for an effective and complete learning experience. Instructional strategies guide the path and pace to those goals. My experience as a student through MU Direct exposed me to the benefits and limitations of online learning. This further informed my process of designing instruction for the online environment. The learning has to be more engaging in the virtual classroom, without the physical presence of an instructor to motivate the students. Learning that is more collaborative creates a sense of community for that lone student staring at a computer screen. They are not learning alone. The constructivist philosophy of education proved to be a fitting perspective to guide this process.


But the main focus isn’t the instruction or the environment. It is the student. “Instructional design focuses on the individual and how to improve individual performance rather than on what content to cover” (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2011, p. 12). A thorough analysis of our learner ensures we will create more meaningful instruction that meets their needs and expectations. Learner and Contextual Analysis and concept mapping are some of the tools we used. And finally a process for evaluating to what extent the learning was achieved is essential in completing the process. It enables the student to know what is expected of them and determine if they are on their way to reaching that expectation, and thus learning what the instructor intended.


The artifacts below exhibit my competency in designing learning environments:


Artifact Descriptions (Click on the links below):



Developing learning systems applications or components of applications

In order to be successful in the development phase there are many considerations to keep in mind. Foremost, what do your users require from your delivery system and what is the best delivery method for your content? Is your content static or do you need an application that has interactive capabilities for a more immersive learning experience. Is the learner interacting with the content alone or in a collaborative manner that requires a system that supports multiple users synchronously? Will your users be accessing your learning from a desktop or on the go and need a mobile solution. These are just a handful of the questions I learned to consider when choosing the learning system application for my development phase.


Consideration of the user doesn’t end at the stage of chose. As the learning system application is developed a primary focus becomes usability. How is the learner interacting with your delivery method? Technology can be a hindrance or enhancement to the learning process. Too much interactivity can be a distraction or overpower the content. Too little may give rise to boredom during the learning process. The development of the learning system application must strike a balance between the two. Usability testing is an important tool to gauge where you are on that scale. It enables you to check in with your users and see how they interact with your content through your delivery system. It also allows you to learn from them ways to improve their experience. Or, is there is a better method for delivery?


The artifacts below exhibit my competencies in developing learning systems applications or components of applications through the use of Flash and the creation of a Mobile Web Application using HTML5 and jQuery.


Artifact Descriptions (Click on the links below):





References:

Rossett, Allison. (1987). Training Needs Assessment. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.


Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. R., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2011). Designing Effective Instruction. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



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