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Designing and Delivering Instructional Technology: A Team Approach

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

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Changes in how the faculty view their teaching. The view of the teaching and learning process as consisting of the instructor, the instructor's assignments, and the students must give way to that of one where teaching and learning is the product of an integrated group of individuals, many of whom are never seen by the students.


The posting below looks a some of the strategies needed for successful team-based design and delivery of instructional technology. It is from: Chapter 6, Designing and Delivering Instructional Technology, A Team Approach by Gerard L. Nanley, in Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning, Leading and Supporting the Transformation on Your Campus, Carole A. Barone and Paul R. Hagner, editors. EDUCAUSE Leadership Strategies No. 5. JOSSEY-BASS, A Wiley Company, San Francisco. Copyright? 2001 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Jossey-Bass is a registered trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis

UP NEXT: The "E" Is For Everything

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning


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Gerald L. Hanley

A Team Approach


An alternative to the scholarship model that is emerging within the instructional technology community acknowledges the success of team efforts. Team efforts can involve face-to-face contact, virtual contact, or both. Team efforts can be limited to a single campus community or can involve interinstitutional cooperation. The crucial skills within the team are content specialists, expertise in particular tools or programming languages, system integration and engineering, instructional and graphic design, usability, and project management.

Several kinds of changes are needed to embrace this new approach:

Changes and enhancements to academic administration in order to respond to the requirements of team-based design processes.

Changes in how the faculty view their teaching. The view of the teaching and learning process as consisting of the instructor, the instructor's assignments, and the students must give way to that of one where teaching and learning is the product of an integrated group of individuals, many of whom are never seen by the students.

Changes in the management of the entire life cycle of instructional technology projects. These changes are useful in that they will reflect the undercurrent of systemic change, which is a fundamental principle of transformation.

Four Phases of Successful Design

Successful team-based design and delivery of instructional technology has four general phases. Scalable and sustainable systems require planning and support for all four phases. An institution's culture will require administrators to translate each abstract phase into concrete procedures. Following are examples of how the CSU [California State University] implemented these phases.

* Concept Development Phase

This phase focuses on defining and validating faculty needs for course enhancement using instructional technology and developing design team membership. It involves recognizing institutional needs and developing a consensus on strategic are based on those needs. Institutional guidelines for defining the needs for instructional technology are critical and should be a central component of any request for proposals.

The CSU-CDL [California State University - Center for Distributed Learning] has developed and used standards and criteria for choosing proposals that have an excellent opportunity for success; they can be adapted for academic programs, campuses, and systems-level institutions.

Strategic applicability: Address a priority academic concern and is consistent with the purpose and values of the institution's strategic plan.

Quality and quality learning: Has a high probability of improving the quality of learning in clearly definable ways or will increase access to learning opportunities for a significant number of learners (or both).

Scalability: Is planned and developed once, is shared or implemented on multiple campuses, and is adaptable for use by multiple disciplines.

Sustainability: Can be supported through existing, stable sources of funding and approval processes and can deal effectively with the problems of technical obsolescence and need for continuous quality improvement.

Resource leveraging: Uses new funding as a means of attracting additional investment from other sources, for example, redevelopment of institutional resources, grants, and fundraising.

Multicampus participation: Involves significant, active participation of persons from multiple campuses in planning, implementing, managing, and evaluating project activities. For a single campus, involving multiple units, schools, or departments would be required.

Timely results: Provides early and continuous, measurable benefits.

Feasibility: Can be accomplished within the existing institutional, technological, and financial needs and constraints, including time frame and potential growth.

Acceptance: Can be implemented in a way that provides for ongoing discussion and validation of the approach taken.

Accountability: Provides academic, operational, and financial measures and metrics for monitoring the achievement of the project's objectives and outcomes.

* Demonstration and Validation Phase

This phase focuses on developing proof that the proposed concepts can became real solutions. Working models of the instructional technology, pilot programs, or prototypes are developed and tested to produce evidence that the proposed solution has promise for success. Instead of selecting projects based solely on written proposals, the CSU-CDL has required that projects develop a prototype to demonstrate in from of a review committee. We recommend establishing review committees comprising people with the collective skills, knowledge, and experience required to produce good instructional technology. The committee should include faculty from a variety of disciplines and academic technology staff. Demonstrating the concept also focuses the review committee's evaluation on the possible achievement of a project's objectives in addition to its academic justification.

* Detailed Design and Construction Phase

The focus of this phase is developing proof that the instructional technology will work well. It requires defining, producing, and integrating all work for the project's first-time implementation.

Two design control processes are critical for success. The first concern deals with the validation processes: Are we solving the right problem? The second process, verification, asks, Are we solving the problem correctly? Defining the right goals and performing regular assessment to see if the goals are being achieved are both critical processes.

The CSU-CDL has performed usability testing as a key design control process. Usability testing assesses four variables:

Effectiveness if the technology to achieve the users' goals

Ease of learning the technology by new users

Ease of using the technology by trained users

Preference for using the technology

Both validation and verification processes are performed at each stage of the design cycle and are critical in assessing whether the appropriate products are being developed correctly. To ensure that the management of the project is disciplined in following through in the design control processes, regular public demonstration of the progress of projects is important. Annual poster and demonstration sessions where funded projects show their efforts to the campus community are very effective and can lead to a broadening of faculty engagement as audience members are able to view concrete examples of new and innovative teaching applications. Faculty can include their presentations within their tenure and promotion portfolios as samples of their scholarship of teaching.

* Production and Operation Phase

This final phase focuses on using technology, including deploying, sustaining, and revising valued products. It has had the weakest support within higher education. Although the design of new instructional technology has many attractive features and is where a significant proportion of funds are allocated, the actual use of technology is the more critical activity and yet is the more critically underfunded. The scholarship culture does not regard the use of research to the same extent as the design of new research, and this bias applies to instructional technology as well.

Actual use of technology, not a theoretical discussion concerning the concept of its use, is what changes teaching and learning. Use becomes the field testing (verification and validation) of instructional technology.