Developing both a face-to-face and online version of the same workshop has been a great experience. I would recommend it to any instructor. Just when you think you have organized your course content in a way that is crystal clear, a workshop participant asks a question that alerts you the fact that it is not! Until I started receiving feedback from online participants, in my mind, I truly thought that the same amount of content covered in a face-to-face workshop would be covered in the online workshop in the same 3 hour timespan. In hindsight, I realize that that was a ridiculous thought. Participants were not required to start and finish at the same time therefore the learning community required to complete some of the required activities was not readily accessible. Asynchronous discussions can not be rushed, so that created an issue that I had not taken into consideration. Also, in the face-to-face setting, I could simply review how course content was being displayed in the participants building section. For some reason, I did not consider the fact that I would not be able to do that for online participants therefore the assessment of “Building a Virtual Learning Environment” become quite a bit more complicated as it required participants adding me as an auditor in their build class section. Not a big deal, but not something that I had fully considered!
It’s been challenging to outline daily activities for a technology center monthly report because the technology specialist in the center does not do alot of his work at a central location. He manages an instructional technology lab but alot of the support seems to be provided outside of the lab: trouble shooting in the classroom, in faculty offices, or as phone support. Oddly, the fact that the technology specialist’s daily activities are so unpredictable is one of the things that appeals to me as I consider my future career goals. I spend at least 30 minutes a day trying to write a report that presents a complete picture of the role the center plays on the college campus.
The center analysis has been difficult for me because I’m not quite clear on the perspective I should be viewing it from. In other words, am I analyzing its role as it relates to the overall technology plan for the college or am I analyzing it as a stand alone unit? Today I visited the Director of Academic Technologies on the Georgia Perimeter College Lakeside Campus. The majority of the technology support staff is located on this campus. She emphasized that their actions are for the most part “faculty driven.” Her primary goal is always to listen and be responsive to faculty in order to provide the instructional support that they need, when they need it. In order to do her job efficiently and effectively, she requires networking & infrastructure support as well as support from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning for the evaluation of various pilot programs currently being implemented in classrooms on all GPC campuses. She highly values the input received from the Academic Technology Advisory committee which is composed of faculty members. Her advice to someone following in her footsteps is simply, “Don’t try to do it all at once. Pace yourself!”
Working on an online version of a face to face course can really help with fine tuning the details of both! I find myself getting realizations about the clarity of my explanations and expectations all the time. In other words, I don’t think my planning for the face to face workshop would be as well thought out without the things I’ve discovered when trying to make my expectations clear in my online copy. At this point, I’m thinking about some requirement of the practicum just about all the time that I am not working. I go to sleep with ideas in my head and I wake up with ideas! It’s hard to say exactly how much time I’m investing but at least 1-1/2 hours each day goes to some aspect of workshop development. I just keep telling myself: it will all be over in May!
At this point, I am working on the resources for my online instruction: creating screencasts and presentations. Recordings are generally a challenge for me because I tend to have issues maintaining consistent voice tone throughout an entire presentation. I am in the process now of “tweaking” my scripts which means I repeat them over and over trying to effectively communicate the message using as few words & images as possible. I spend an hour or more daily working on some aspect of this workshop and I still feel like there is so much left for me to do!
Still “tweaking” my lesson plans. I started working on the online instructional tutorial component of my practicum. It has really helped me to narrow my focus and clarify objectives. When you are posting instructions online, you tend to want to be as concise as possible. Going through the process of translating my “face to face” workshop plans to my online tutorial is helping me because I have to choose my words carefully and be very clear about what I expect from students. Not a day goes by that I don’t spend at least an hour reviewing my plans. One of my challenges is to reduce the time committment for the faculty so practically speaking being able to link to online resources will provide additional instruction even for the “face to face” workshop participants.
I think of my workshop like a puzzle. The picture is slowly but surely coming together. My past teaching experience was with middle/high schoolers, so it is very different to prepare instruction for adults. Not only adults, but adult “educators.” My workshop is based on effectively using the current learning management system (LMS). The technology resource center and instructional design resource center at the college already have a variety of resources available for the faculty so my ultimate goal is not simply to reinvent the wheel. In order to avoid that, I have to really know my target audience. I spend at least an hour a day “tweaking” the lesson plans. Though there is some aspect of presenting “step by step” instructions, I know there are already alot of good resources that provide that. My objective is to encourage discussion & collaboration by including various activities designed to increase their motivation to use the tools.
At this point, I am spending approximately 2 hours a day (non-consecutive time) crystallizing my thoughts on the staff development workshop and documenting my instructional plan. Like a puzzle, it is all coming together. Preparing instructional strategies directed toward the adult learner has been somewhat challenging because my previous practical experience involved developing lesson plans for middle school students.