Month: March 2014

Improving Health and Fitness by Instructing Consumers through Data

With the explosion of wearable technology to monitor almost every aspect of ourselves (heart rate, breathing rate, calories burned) and our daily activities (steps taken, stairs climbed, distance traveled, minutes / hours slept), we now have a wealth of health, fitness, and medical information that could potentially revamp how we live our lives and how we care for ourselves.  As instructional designers (IDers) in the health and fitness field, this is a great opportunity for us to help consumers and healthcare professionals educate themselves and their clients / patients about health-related issues.  However, the challenge now lies in figuring out how to collect these data and present them in ways that are easily understood and meaningful to consumers and healthcare professionals.  The ultimate goals are to empower consumers to take control of their health and to help healthcare professionals provide the best individualized care as possible.

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Accomplishing these goals will require IDers to look at the data critically and understand what is important to their targeted audiences.  Since wearable technologies can create huge amounts of data, IDers will need to work with data scientists and other data mining professionals to “weed out” the relevant data and present it in a way that is meaningful to consumers.  For example, data created by heart rate monitors and activity trackers could inform consumers about their current habits, and through personalized coaches / instructors / trainers, educate and coach them in making changes to improve their lifestyles.  Reports in the form of charts need to be viewed with a critical eye.  Are consumers provided with the ability to learn from the data?  Are the reports easy to interpret?  What sort of interventions can be created from the data?

My husband uses a sleep monitor called Beddit.  Every evening before he goes to bed, he syncs it with his smartphone.  Throughout the night, it tracks various aspects of his sleep – heart rate, snoring, time out of bed, and overall sleep.  When he wakes up, he stops the tracker and a report is generated.  The report offers him an easy-to-view snapshot of the previous night’s sleep.  Additionally, based on what it learns about his sleeping habits, it offers him education on how he can improve his sleep.  For example, if it detects that he is not falling asleep right away (through heart rate data), it offers him suggestions, such as not using his smartphone before bed, and presents him with more information on how he can facilitate falling asleep faster.

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With healthcare becoming front and center in today’s society, educating and instructing consumers on how to improve their health and lifestyles are important.  Though it may not seem so, wearable technologies and the data they produce will provide IDers with ample opportunities to impact the way people learn about not only healthcare in general, but about individualized instruction focused on improving health and lifestyles through the data collected by these technologies.  IDers will be called on to create the materials that interface with these data and provide appropriate learning opportunities for these consumers to be educated about the health-based decisions they make.  Charts, graphs, and other information-communicating visuals will need to be designed and presented in ways that easily coach and educate consumers about what they need to know about themselves and how to make changes as appropriate based on what they learned and what the data tells them.  Healthcare professionals can use this information to help them monitor their clients’ / patients’ current health status and advise and/or intervene as necessary.

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When New IDs Meet Old SMEs: Advice for Understanding Facultyspeak

As an instructional designer (ID) new to an institution of higher education, you are no doubt bright-eyed and eager to help improve university-level learning and to assist with much-needed faculty development and support.  Armed with your excellent education, great awareness of instructional design, comprehension of pedagogical theory, and technological know-how, you’re ready to dedicate yourself to the cause.  The problem is that nobody seems to want what you have to offer.

Perhaps the first slap in the face a new ID receives is a baffling lack of faculty enthusiasm for your subject and goals.  As Brenda Litchfield, U. S. Faculty Developer, writes, the hardest part of being a faculty developer might be “getting faculty to come to workshops” (Reiser and Dempsey 224).  Indeed, subject-matter experts (SMEs) are often resistant to IDs, despite the benefits each can offer the other.  At times, it may seem that teachers themselves are the ones getting in the way of good teaching.  If only IDs had a handbook for understanding SME language (aka Facultyspeak)!

According to Jacquie McDonald, an Instructional Designer in Australia, the ability to “’sell’ ID theory (which often means more work to time stressed staff) is a key ID skill” (Reiser and Dempsey 221).  I asked several SMEs at a local community college this question:  What do you wish IDs would understand better when delivering workshops or helping you design classes?  Perhaps their responses, below, will give you insight on how to speak the language.

SME #1:  Humanities Professor

“Trust me.  Assume I know something about technology.”

  • Sometimes, when IDs sit down with SMEs, they may make assumptions about instructor abilities with technology.  Many instructors typically possess a great amount of experience with technology (or believe they do).  It should not be assumed that instructors having technology problems lack enthusiasm and skills with technology.

SME #2:  English and literature Professor

“Don’t make me relearn things I already know.”

  • IDs can mistakenly assume a lack of pedagogical understanding on the part of SMEs; for example, one ID writes that SMEs are “trained in content, not pedagogy” (226).  While instructors may indeed lack formal academic training in pedagogy, it is rarely true that they are without intense on-the-job training.  Try to assess the actual needs of instructors before delivering trainings; time-stressed professors feel dishonored by professional development that “teaches” information that is already known, whether technical or pedagogical.

SME #3:  History Professor

“You can never go wrong putting the emphasis on the human element.”

  • IDs can build credibility with professors by listening to “big picture” instructor goals, which often mix both content-level goals and affective goals (to connect, to guide, to help students grow).   IDs, understandably, get excited about new tools that can help instructors but are disappointed when teachers don’t employ them.  However, many instructors resist technology because they perceive impediments to the interpersonal relationships that create the matrix where effective learning occurs.  In other words, IDs could do a better job showing instructors that they get the intense emotional work that professors often perform.

SME 4:  Philosophy Professor 

“Stay focused on where students are coming from.”

  • Instructors are the institutional members who develop and support long term interpersonal relationships with students.  While IDs offer essential services for professors, they are typically distanced from the realities of the one-on-work with students experiencing a course.  While a problem may be “fixed” quickly from a technological viewpoint, damage to an instructor’s credibility and students’ engagement may take much longer to repair.  Sometimes, it feels that IDs do not recognize the high stakes for success, nor are they the ones to “face the music” when failure occurs.  Finally, it is essential for IDs to understand that, in two-year institutions especially, students may be using computers for the first time.  It’s essential that instructional design addresses student technological skills on each end of the high-low spectrum.

To summarize the spirit of most of the interviewees’ comments, IDs could improve by honoring the two factors professors seem to value most:  1) knowledge (of their subject matter, of technology, of pedagogy) and 2) a sincere desire to help students. 

These interviews illuminate only a few faculty opinions and no ID opinions.  The author hopes to develop this idea further in the future and would welcome an ID point-of-view.

Integrating Technology into the field of Health Care by Diana Herrell

Today, the ways things are done in many fields of employment are changing. One field that things are changing in is the field of Health Care. Education in this field are also changing. Technology, such as the internet and other media, are helping change this field as well as making these changes possible.

The idea of problem-based learning has seen to be more successful in twenty-first century classrooms and training programs. Research has suggested that students learn better by putting skills to use in real life scenarios than just through lecture and other methods. http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/revamping-education-why-we-dont-learn-from-lectures/article5729917.ece. This article discusses how students are listening to lectures online and then putting their skills and knowledge to use in life like situations and projects. This can be applied to training those in the Health Care field both when they are in school and working.

The main way of using problem-based solving in the Health Care field is to expose students to cases that are similar to those they may encounter when they are practicing and working in the field. Research has shown this method to be effective. Using problem solving methods allows the students to gain experience and put what they have learned to use. This will allow managers in the Health Care field to be aware of the background of their future employees, when it comes to their education and how they were taught. Future employees, who learned via problem solving methods might be more prepared than those who learned for lecture and didn’t get to put their skills and knowledge to use.

Technology is at the core of the changing of the twenty-first century classroom as well as training programs. Managers need to be aware of the most effective technology when it comes to the field of Health Care. The internet makes it easier to gain access to current research as well as innovations. The internet also helps connect health care professionals and allow them to share ideas, gain knowledge, and give advice. Managers should be aware of the best place to access information that they need on certain conditions, illnesses, or even equipment. They should also be able to connect their employees to such information.

Other technology has been discussed in the news in how it relates to the field of Health Care. With new technology, we can monitor blood pressure, glucose, brain waves, activity, heart rate, respiration, and even body temperature. Technology even allows for imaging parts of the body and making a three dimensional reconstruction. Monitoring doesn’t only have to be done at a doctor’s office or hospital but can be monitored at the scenes of accidents and places where the incident or distress has occurred. Genes and DNA strands can also be looked at via technology. Files for patients are even accessible electronically and transported digitally. It is important that managers know how to use technology innovations in the field of Health Care as well as be aware of the skills concerning the technology that their employees have. Managers also need to be aware of when to accurately use this technology and make sure their employees have the appropriate training for such materials. I found http://health.usnews.com/health-news/hospital-of-tomorrow/articles/2013/07/12/how-technology-is-transforming-health-care to be a useful article in explaining how technology has affected the field of Health Care.

Another area of the Health Care field that has been subject to the integration and use of technology and the internet is Mental Health care. There have been implementation in some Mental Health education and professionals training of virtual reality methods. Counseling simulation and virtual role playing simulations have been studied to some extent in their effectiveness in Mental Health training. Simulation is even proving effective in EMT training, used to help practitioners build and sharpen their skills.

One study looked at an virtual role playing simulation developed by Kognito Interactive. This simulation allowed participants to practice challenging conversations when it came to someone with an at risk behavior, suicide, in this case. The goals of the simulation was to allow students and other trainees to develop and build real-life skills such as being able to identify behavior as a sign of psychological distress, discussing concerns with the person, motivating the person to seek help, and making a referral to services (Rudow, 2013, para. 3). A study was conducted to see how effective this training simulation was on developing the targeted skills.

The study showed an increase in all of the skills after the simulation. It showed an increase to referral to counseling services and an increase in the likelihood that the participant, themselves, would seek help if they were in psychological distress. Virtual simulations are not only be used to train those who are participants in Mental Health education but help people who need counseling as well. The above mentioned simulation was used for both. It has been found that seem people use counseling online due to being in the safety of their own home (Rudow, 2013, para. 5&7).  It is important for Mental Health professionals to be aware of what virtual simulations and counseling is out there being offered to people, who need assistance for psychological issues. They need to be aware because not all simulations may prove helpful and Mental Health professionals need to make sure that these simulations provide a disclaimer about how to seek real-life help for a problem.

Many counselors are using virtual techniques and other technology in their practice. In a world that highly uses technology and is motivated by it, it is important for Mental Health professionals to know how to appropriately use it. Integrating technology into one’s practice has been shown to be a positive thing. Counselors, who struggle in how to include technology in their practice can contact the ACA Cyber Task Force for assistance. As technology continues to expand, there is a need for research on how to best and appropriately use technology in the field of Mental Health (Rudow, 2013, para. 17&18). Overall, virtual simulations and other technology are being incorporated into many divisions of the Health Care field.

If you are a manager in Health Care or just interested in this field, there is plenty of research on the web. It will be interesting to see new technological inventions as the growth of the internet furthers and we become even more connected across the globe. Another few links I recommend taking a look at are http://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/technology-plays-key-role-in-health-care-reform and http://www.argusleader.com/article/20140223/NEWS/302230019/New-technology-expands-health-care-home. Both of these articles discuss innovations in technology and the changing of the Health Care field because of it. My recommendation for managers, employees, professors, and students in the Health Care field is to keep up on current research on new technology and be able to expand your skills when using appropriate new technology.

References

Rudow, H. (2013). Virtual role-play shows promise for addressing mental health. Counseling 

       Today: Online Exclusives. Retrieved from http://ct.counseling.org/2013/09/virtual-role-play-

       shows-promise-for-addressing-mental-health/.

Preparing Faculty to Teach Online and Blended/Hybrid Courses

As the demand for online and blended/hybrid courses increases, necessary technologies rapidly morph and faculty members require more training and development for this new technology.  While the use of some time-management techniques have been shown to have some effect on faculty members’ ability to better handle the load, very little research specifically investigates how faculty members teaching online and blended/hybrid courses handle the often time-consuming process of keeping courses on the cutting edge (Whalen, 2009).   One study shows that faculty members tend to shy away from teaching blended courses because they need more time to master the instruction’s complexity, to plan and organize, adjust to the role, and learn and adopt the new technologies (Ocak, 2011).  In addition, faculty members in this study reported a lack of institutional support and a lack of effective communication to get an online or blended/hybrid course started (Ocak, 2011).  With so many potential issues with adding online and blended/hybrid classes to a course load, teachers must be receive additional training and support, including technical skills, pedagogical awareness, and time management practices,  (Gonzalez, 2009; Ocak, 2011; Whalen, 2009).

     Time management practices can include: work-life balance planning, using technology appropriately, delegation, prioritizing, and goal setting (Whalen, 2009).  Having additional support and training in these areas can greatly aide a faculty member’s transition from a traditional classroom to an online or blended/hybrid environment.  Some suggestions for adding support in these areas includes using email that give tips to faculty members either planning or teaching an online or blended/hybrid course(s) (Whalen, 2009).  While emails can offer support, more formal training from the university will increase faculty members’ views of having institutional support and more effective communication with the institution.  A formal training can also provide opportunities for questions and concerns to be addressed and resolved as much as possible.  In addition, while blended/hybrid  courses give teachers a great deal of freedom to help students learn, it won’t be obvious to them how they can spend their time in an optimal way; proper time management training can help alleviate this (Hernandez, 2011). 

     Training in time management can help solve some of faculty members’ frequent fears about teaching online or blended/hybrid courses.  Planning and organizing can be easily addressed as an extension of time management, which brings opportunities for better course designs and more effective learning.  Adjusting to the role of teaching online or blended/hybrid courses can also become a portion of the time management training, as faculty learn the balance required from them and ways to manage the new role effectively.  

Faculty also need to be trained to conceive teaching as a student-focused endeavor to help them frame e-learning as an opportunity for them to support “quality learning experiences” (Gonzalez, 2009).  Teachers with a teaching focus may tend to compartmentalize face-to-face and online learning, instead of integrating them to amplify or personalize learning.  In fact, without a learning-focused approach, online and blended/hybrid courses will likely do little to enhance student learning (Gonzalez, 2009).  Faculty preparing to teach online or blended/hybrid courses need to be introduced to a student-focused approach for their course(s) and be impressed upon on how important this approach will be for not only their students’ experience, but also for their own perception of and experience with online and blended/hybrid teaching.  Such pedagogical awareness will bring greater ease to the transition into faculty members’ new role and help to plan and organize the course(s) more effectively.

Technical training will also help prepare faculty members for teaching online and blended/hybrid courses, as well as maintain competency for those already teaching these courses.  Because technology changes so frequently, new software and hardware become available almost daily that could enhance the learning experience in an online or blended/hybrid course.  Institutions can offer greater support to their faculty by giving regular training on what technologies can be effectively used with the equipment available.  Such training will also increase faculty members’ confidence in their ability to teach courses in this way (Ocak, 2011).  Proper technical training will also help with time management as faculty can more competently choose technologies that will work best with their class design.

Although being new to teaching online and blended/hybrid courses can be very intimidating for faculty members, much can be done to help them be prepared and more comfortable.  An institution must offer support through training in time management, changing faculty members’ pedagogical approach, and adequate technical training.

References

Gonzalez, C (2009). Teaching in ‘blended’ learning environments: How are conceptions of teaching and eTeaching associated? Proceedings ascilite Auckland, 2009.

Hernandez, A (2011). Blended learning’s impact on teacher development. Clayton Christensen Institute, July 11, 2011. Retrieved from <http://www.christenseninstitute.org/blended-learnings-impact-on-teacher-development/&gt;.

Ocak, MA (2011). Whay are faculty members not teaching blended courses? Insights from faculty members. Computers & Education: 56(3): 689-699.

Whalen, MA (2009). Is time on their side? Exploring faculty time management in online and blended/hybrid higher education. Boston College Dissertations: 3387399.

An Example of How Technological Applications can be used in the Classroom Following the ASSURE Instructional Design Model

Many times we, in the educational field, discuss incorporating technology in the classroom in terms of the hardware that we use, such as ipads, Smartboards, and document cameras. However, these pieces of hardware by themselves have no impact on student learning. It is the applications that may be utilized with these technologies that even have a chance of effecting a student’s learning. Even still, technological applications must be coupled with best practices to achieve 21st century skills fluency and make the greatest impact on student learning.

Following the classroom-level integration model ASSURE, I will demonstrate the use of a computer game to create an integrated learning experience for students to meet instructional objectives in a fifth grade classroom.

The following process will follow the ASSURE method of ID Development as an example of how other teachers may incorporate technology and 21st century skills into their classroom.

ANALYZE learners

Lesson development begins with identification of learner characteristics associated with the achievement of learning outcomes. In this 4th and 5th grade combination classroom, students fit the mold of “digital natives,” having a depth of experience working with multiple hardware platforms and a multitude of software applications. Students also have limited, but general background knowledge of United States history, moderate geographical understandings and skills, and very limited, if any, understanding of economic theory. The students learning styles are fairly typical for upper elementary students with a fair mix of auditory and visual strengths.

State Standards and Objectives

Standards to be covered originate from the 5th grade Colorado Common Core in the areas of reading, writing, communicating, history, geography, economics, math, and earth systems science. Learning objectives were created from these standards specifying target behaviors and conditions required for performance, as well as the degree to which the new knowledge or skill must be mastered.

Select strategies, technology, media, and materials/ Utilize technology, media, and materials

Using the learner analysis that identified the students’ present knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards the skills and content to be covered, the following strategies and technology were chosen to meet the learning objectives:

1)      The use of guiding questions were implemented to focus and deepen student learning, develop writing fluency and note taking skills, and give a basis for formative analysis of acquired content knowledge.

2)      Multiple sources for content acquisition were provided that included text and multi-media.

3)      The game “Civilization Colonization” was selected to both provide a simulation of realities of the time period, exploration and colonization of the New World (1492 – 18th century), to base inquiries upon, and to engage learners thinking in the inter-relatedness of history, geography, economics, and social dynamics.

civ colonization

4)      Using best practice strategies such as group work roles, and student conferences, students engage at depth with members of their group to discuss strategy, compile a timeline, keep track of financial interactions, reflect on social dynamics, create maps of landforms, available resources, and trade routes, engage in both diplomacy and espionage, and investigate important historic individuals both in their historical impact and their simulated impact on the game.

Require learner participation

The kind of learner participation that the instructor requires of the students has a profound impact on the degree to which students both meet the learning objectives and retain the skills and knowledge that were acquired. With the use of guiding questions written to higher-order thinking skills to focus the learners’ mind on key concepts, rubrics to detail quality writing expectations, group conversations to clarify understandings and address misconceptions, detailed examples of quality group role work, and clear behavioral/social interaction expectations students’ have the opportunity to “practice with and apply new knowledge or skills and receive feedback to guide learning before being formally assessed.

Evaluate and revise.

The formal and summative feedback loops allow for instructors to evaluate the unit or individual lesson on how it achieved the specified learning objectives, utilized technology, and the effectiveness of the processes used. This evaluation is then used to make instructional adjustments in the lesson by the instructor, make adjustments to future lessons, and the unit as a whole for future use.

 

References:
Lowther, D. L., & Ross, S. M. (2012). Instructional designers and P-12 technology integration.  In R. A. Reiser & J. V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.) (208-214). Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.