Monday, December 10, 2007

Reflections and Submission

"Submission" in more ways than one.

I've let the whole project ferment in a dark basement for a week. I'm happy with the lesson, pretty much, but I've done and redone the L.O. until I'm blue in the face. I'm heartily tired of it, and I'm afraid it shows...I got a little silly with what I'm going to upload in a few minutes.

I started out serious, talking/walking through changing fonts, changing alignment, and so forth, and it all sounded so stilted and dry. So, the leprechauns got to me and I have created something to catch the viewers attention at the beginning of the lesson; supposedly the interchange between a teacher and a student.

It's not very good, but I'm just beyond being able to do any more with it. I'm still not entirely certain I've done the assignment correctly, but will just have to deal with it if I've missed the boat.

Thus, "submission." I'm submitting to my own tiredness as well as submitting my Journal and my Learning Object. Saint Isidore? Any help you can offer will be appreciated.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


It's official...this project is driving me nuts! I went to bed an hour and a half ago, desperate for sleep, but couldn't get my brain to turn off. I tossed and turned, kept the poor dog awake, and finally got up and am back in front of my computer desperately searching for inspiration. Saint Isidore, HELP!

I'm following the steps, searching through Dick, Carey and Carey for ideas, hoping for some glimmer to hang my hat on. I feel like I'm just going through the motions, that I don't really understand the whole DCC model at all, and that my Learning Object is going to more closely resemble the Titanic than anything else.

I keep questioning my original proposition (ok, so it's the 3rd or 4th or 10th proposition). Is it too big? Is it too small? Is it even a valid instructional goal? My little boat is lost out in the great big sea of Instructional Design, and there's no anchor in sight. Land? Yeah, right. Island? Not even. At this point I'd be grateful to see an albatross in the least it would mean I'm not alone.

Perhaps it would help if we had some method of communicating with each other. The discussion board in the Digital Graphics and Animation class has been a real help, allowing us to share ideas and frustrations, and not feel as if we were flying solo. I know I can call the professor for this class, but what is it going to help for her to listen to my angst? I'm not secure enough in what I've done so far to think that she can help me sort it out and find the salvageable bits. I don't know if I'm the only one not getting it, if I'm being too anal about the whole thing, if my work so far has some validity, or if I need to just trash the blankety-blank thing and start over from scratch.

But I can't do that. The date for the journal is today. Or is it? In the notes for the current lesson, there is a deadline of December 2 (Happy Bday to me) but in the notes for the Wrap Up and Final Project it says it was due on December 6th but the date has been moved to the 8th and that her grades are due by 9:00 a.m. on the 10th. Then it says I have to have my course notebook submitted by May 10th. (?!?) Then we're back to the Learning Object and Journal being due on or before December 6. And it ends with saying that the notebooks must be mailed no later than December 10th so they can be graded on Wednesday and Thursday (that would be the 12th and 13th, no?).

I've been such a pest about problems I've had with the objective quizzes that I hate to question the dates...again. (I've already asked about them once.) So. There it is. I have to get this thing done. I have to trust that I'm doing it well enough that it won't totally sink in the mud. And I have to trust that I'm understanding more than I think I am. Sigh. No sleep in sight for a while yet.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Trial Runs

I'm two days behind from my original schedule, but still within acceptable parameters (I hope). I have managed to confuse myself beyond all belief: should I be submitting the entire lesson, is it okay to submit the learning object for one portion of the lesson, am I anywhere close to doing this correctly, ad infinitum.

At least I was able to give the lesson two trial runs today, one with a teacher who is new to the district and needs to finish the module so she can get credit for our upcoming Comp. day. The other was with what could easily be my most discriminating audience, my 8th grade Advanced Tech Apps class.

The teacher came to my classroom during her conference to work through the module, concerned that she was going to need help since she describes herself as a "Technophobe." Fortunately she came during one of my smaller 7th grade classes. The kids are working on Excel right now, and need a lot of attention to help them stay on track, so I was only able to check in with her occasionally. Things went very smoothly right up to the section on setting the body text in a serif font. The unformatted document has (had!) the headings inline with the body text, and she kept trying to select an entire paragraph and change the font. Of course that undid the work she'd done setting the headings in sans serifed font. Other than that glitch, she was able to complete the work on her own, and seemed very pleased with her own work. She even asked to print it out!

I adjusted the unformatted document so that the headings are on separate lines from the body text they relate to, and then I entered the Den of Lions and asked my half-dozen Adv. kids to work through it. I told them it was for a course, and that I needed constructive feedback...but to feel free to try to break it. Bless their hearts, they did try! Some kept asking "What's a title?" while others chose fonts that were totally unreadable. They had fun changing the font size and pointing out that I was only showing one method for centering text, and not a favorite method at that. (They are firmly convinced that keyboard shortcuts are better than menus any day of the week.) They liked the L.O., but suggested that it be recorded with a higher volume. I will need to do this before turning it out to wide world.

So, there it is.

Am I done? I have no idea. Have I completed the assignment the way the professor intended? Again, no idea. I'm going to let it rest for a few days, see if some of my fellow students post something that will help guide me in this dilemma, and then take it from there. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Joys of Camtasia

I have created the Learning Object for centering the title, and am delighted to find out that the newer version of Camtasia allows one to create Flash quizzes!

When I rework this unit of instruction over the Winter holidays, I fully intend to use this nifty aspect of the software. To be honest, I'm feeling way too nervous to experiment with it for this project. I'm back to feeling alone in the wilderness with no idea how I'm supposed to be proceeding with the whole thing. From what I've been reading about Learning Objects, they should be stand-alone, reusable items that support learning. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting, but I'm not certain the Learning Object should encompass the entire lesson; rather that it should be for one portion of the lesson. Even when I look at the L.O.s I just discovered in the CSCOPE curriculum, they are not entire lessons, but modules that can be plugged into any number of lessons.

Saint Isidore?? Help!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

One of those "Duh!" moments

I'm updating the wiki I'm using this semester as a repository for my notes and so forth for grad. school. As I was wandering around some of my links trying to make sure everything that needed to be tagged was tagged appropriately so I can add the widget to the wiki, out of the blue it dawned on me...The CSCOPE curriculum tool that our district is using consists of Learning Objects! By the criteria I'm comfortable with, they fit: digital, reusable, promote learning! Just imagine, we're using them and don't have a name for them :) At least I didn't have a name for them, before now. Happy days!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Instructional Strategy

Keeping ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction) in mind, I'm ready to take all the information I have gathered so far and use it to create a sequence of instruction. This lesson should take approximately 45 minutes, in a lab setting, or alone using a personal computer at home or at school. Since it is so narrowly focused on basic Word principles, there is not a great deal of extraneous material to deal with, which is good. I'm just about done in on this project, and I know I've done it to myself.

For Pre-instructional activities, samples of poorly formatted documents can be used. It would be best if this was done using a computer and projector, so the document could be changed in real-time and allow the learners to see why using the spacebar is not the best way to indent and align text. It would also allow the instructor to change the fonts to demonstrate the differences between serif and san serif as well as legible and illegible. For the online version, a Camtasia file will be created, demonstrating the same principles. This will also serve as the time to bring home the major points of the lesson from the overarching goal:
Plan, create, and edit documents created with a word processor uuing readable fonts, alignment, page setup, tabs and ruler settings.
Using the unformatted document "Writing," the learner will move through each of the steps in order:
  1. Start the word processing software
  2. Open the unformatted file
  3. Save the document with an appropriate name
  4. Change the margins
  5. Set the title and sub headings in a san-serif font
  6. Set the body text in a serif font
  7. Center align the title
  8. Indent all body paragraphs
  9. Save the document
  10. Exit the program
The assessment checklist will be provided to the learners so they can verify having completed all the steps, and further activities in the Word Processing unit will allow them to continue to use the skills learned in this first, basic lesson.

I have confirmed with the Curriculum Coordinator that she is comfortable with this being offered in a workshop setting and as a Do-It-Yourself activity with the files available on the school intranet as well as the Internet.

Now it's time for the Learning Object. I hope I'm not totally wrong here. I have created the unformatted document, the attendant handout, and I'm only creating the Learning Object for one particular aspect...centering the title.

I'm going to use some of my students and a couple of faculty members, as well as my family for the formative evaluation. They will be given all the materials, including the L.O.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Performance Obejctives

It was a nice thought...that I could join all the items in one huge performance objective. But it's not realistic, nor is it true to the spirit of this project. So...back to the drawing board again. I'm heading back over to Gliffy and going to make drastic changes (in a second file). This elephant must be broken down into smaller bites, or I'm going to choke trying to eat it.

So the new chart is growing by leaps and bounds. Thank goodness this is an organic entry, so the updated chart will always be reflected below:

(This is part 2 of the chart)

And each of the major steps presents itself very nicely as a performance objective. I think I'm ready to move on to developing my Instructional Strategy.