This post is part two of a fourteen part series, Teaching Strategies, that is based on a series of education workshops. I’m documenting the content for myself, but hopefully it will also be useful to (1) librarians looking for more theoretical background for their own teaching and (2) for librarians looking to better understand education models as they look for new ways to support and participate in the educational missions of their institutions.
The first post in this series was on Instructional Design as a concept or framework and how it could be beneficial to librarians. This second post is about models of instructional design, and how they can be useful in the practice of planning a learning experience.
In my library’s workshops, participants indicated a high priority for learning more about active learning and group work, so instead of a lecture (or even a facilitated discussion), I used group work to get to the content.
- Why models are important
To start this class, we began with a discussion of why models are important. In this I talked about how understanding the steps in a process help you identify specific areas to target to strengthen. For example, when seeing a full model you might realize you set aside time for all steps but one, and in creating space to focus on that step you might strengthen your overall work. We talked about how models tend to be based in best practices or research, so in following established ones you know you are building on others’ work and are likely to be on a good path. We also talked a little bit about other models people use in their day-to-day life and how helpful they are.
- Divide up into groups and pick models to investigate
With this background, each participant then selected the topic most interesting to them and moved to that topic’s designated corner to investigate it. I used different ones in different iterations of this workshop, and some aren’t strictly ID models, but are related. Here is a representative sample: ADDIE, Fink’s Significant Learning Experiences, Design, and System Thinking.
- Groups researched their models, created a PowerPoint slide (aka poster) or presentation on their topic
Each group was given a book to start with, but continued searching online and with library resources, to familiarize themselves with the model. (This is really fun to see how librarians really approach research!) They were given 20 minutes to define the model, dive deep into some aspect of it that interested the group, and develop a presentation for the larger group.
- Presentation of concepts
I’ve done this in different ways: either as a representative of the group or the entire group. Either way, the information was presented to the larger class.
We concluded the class by talking about what the models have in common, how they inform our teaching, what we already do using these models (without knowing them), and how these models could improve what we do.
The cut to the chase version of this exercise is that most instructional design processes include some sort of analysis of the group, a period of intentional design of the class, creating content, teaching, and evaluating the teaching. The ADDIE model is exactly this, which is among the reasons why it’s the one I most frequently talk about when presenting on the topic.
If you’re this far into the post going, “Get to the models already,” here’s a quick version:
Analysis: This is the step in the process where you gather as much data as possible about your learning environment. Who are the learners? What technology background do they have? Have they ever used the library before? How sophisticated are they when it comes to using Google? What does the professor want them to know? How many students are there? What is the design of the classroom we’ll be using? What feedback have we gotten on this class in the past? You get the idea.
Design: The design process is where the magic happens. It’s where you take all the data you have and use that to develop a plan. You might storyboard a screencast or create a shell of a class in a LMS to help frame your thinking. You might create lesson plan templates to follow. Nothing is final at this point, it’s all hashing out the sketch in pencil. I also think of this as an art rather than a science. This is the step in the process in which you incorporate things like knowledge of learning styles, educational theory, curriculum mapping, matching learning objectives to measurable assignments, etc. Much of the rest of this blog post series will address this type of information.
Development: This is where you actually build content: creating a LibGuide, recording a screencast, making a worksheet, etc. This is all development work. You also employ graphic design at this stage in the process, muddying the waters between design and development, but it’s really all development when you’re making, building, and creating things.
Implementation: Maybe this is actually where the magic happens. It’s when you finally meet the learner with the content (whether face to face, online and synchronously, or asychrononously).
Evaluation: This is listed as the last step because summative assessment tends to happen at the end, but evaluation actually happens through formative assessments along the way. In fact, the quizzical looks students give you at some point can be a datapoint along the formative lines of assessment. Any evaluation you do is useful information for the analysis of phase of the cycle the next time through.
The Cycle: As mentioned above, it all starts over again with Analysis, only the next time you have more data to work with from your evaluation the first go through. Further, you can imagine this listed all in a very neat circle with arrows leading from one phase to the next, but in reality there’s a little bit of bouncing around. You continue to analyze the audience as the class progresses (and you get more formative assessment data). You might choose to redevelop something midcourse if you can tell that it hasn’t been working (worksheet layouts or assignments for example). So thought it’s listed linearly as ADDIE and can be drawn in a never-ending circle, all of it interplays with the rest.
The main points (I had) for the group as we discussed each model:
- Models give us a vocabulary for what we do and a framework to use when approaching a big task. This allows us to identify areas that need work and make improvements.
- ID Models can apply to a curriculum, a 3 hour course, a one-shot session, or even a handout. They’re macro and micro.
- The models are all really similar, so picking one and running with it isn’t a bad thing. I use ADDIE.
- These models are cyclical, so the evaluation from one phase feeds into the analysis of the next phase.
As far as the design of the exercise:
- The point of this class wasn’t to learn about the different models out there. It was to learn the commonalities between them and to recognize the trend. Every librarian doesn’t need to know every model, but it is valuable to see how the models can inform teaching behaviors. That’s all I wanted the group to take away.
- I knew that the models were pretty self explanatory. They should be; we all teach and have to use these models to do so. With this as the case, I knew they didn’t need me to teach in great detail about each system. That opened it up to allow for more group work. In the end, I just wanted the group to see how much we had internalized them and to see the areas that are perhaps overlooked in each of our individualized teaching personalities.
- Knowing that librarians who are adults and have completed masters degrees are quite competent in the tasks we’d be tackling, I just said “figure it out and make a poster in 20 minutes.” If the group had been undergraduates, I would have hand-held a lot more. I would have said something like “take 5 minutes to check Wikipedia, Britannica, and another source for definitions of your model,” then “take 5 minutes to discuss what the likely definition is given the information you found,” then maybe 8 on making the poster and 2 on finalizing what they’d say. I’d use a stop watch in class to time it and I’d spend a lot of time walking around and helping.
- My overarching goal for the day was to ensure everyone was exposed to some useful models that might help in creating their courses as well as to demonstrate the power of slightly structured group work and ownership of specific topics.
So all of this is very useful for anyone who teaches. And, frankly, I find the ADDIE model, or slight variations, useful in lots of non-obviously instructional contexts. However, it’s also useful for those looking to plug into the larger educational model. Understanding how the design process works is key: that is the time to plug into others’ instruction. When they’re planning the syllabus, the flow of the course, and how they plan to meet learning objectives, it’s a critical time for the library to suggest points of collaboration. For example, we all know the importance of teaching at the point of need, so targeting the right time for library instruction is part of the design process. Knowing learning outcomes can help us identify if there are any the library can directly contribute to meeting the instructor’s goals for the course. Design is a very useful step in the process.
But there are other places that make sense, too. If your library has a media lab and any media services, perhaps development is a good place to target involvement. I know of a few libraries with experimental classroom space. Those can easily target implementation. If you know when and how evaluation is taking place, you can have conversations with faculty about what information/media/digital/etc literacy issues are showing up in assignments and create a plan to target them the next time around.
Knowing Instructional Design as a model is as useful for connecting to the teaching mission of the university as it is for helping you design high quality instruction.
Luckily, in the course of these activities, someone inevitably points out that the models were missing the motivation piece of the puzzle. The next three classes–or blog posts in the series–discuss exactly that.