Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Assessing Needs

What is the problem? What do they need to be able to do? These questions keep looming and I'm having trouble narrowing the goal. I stare at the TEKS for Technology Applications and keep dithering between an Internet-focused learning object and a Word Processing learning object. I really, really! want to do one on using Delicious, but that's not formally addressed in the TEKS. Do I want to hang my entire project on something I think is a real asset to learning, or do I go with something I can easily justify with the TEKS?

When I look at my potential audiences (teachers and/or students) I can see that for formal, classroom-based learning the Word Processing is more essential. A recent announcement from the choir director for upcoming concerts is an easy example of what not to do. Since the Curriculum Director has asked me to revise the Word training module, it only makes sense to kill two birds with one stone. Guess I just answered my own question. Word Processing it is.

Now for the DCC analysis. According to my chart I've got nine steps to go through and only eleven days in which to accomplish them. Day by day, one bite at a time, I've got to work my way through their system and make my project conform. For this first step, I need to:
  1. Analyze performance problems
  2. Clearly define instructional needs
  3. Clearly define instructional goals
  4. Generally describe learners, performance context and the tools available.
1. Looking at various word processing products from the target audience (middle school teachers and students), several TEKS deserve to be addressed:
  • 126.12.C.2.C - use digital keyboarding standards for data input such as one space after punctuation, the use of em/en dashes, and smart quotation marks;
  • 126.12.C.7.A - plan, create and edit documents create with a word processor using readable fonts, alignment, page setup, tabs, and ruler settings;
  • 126.12.C.7.E - create a document using DTP techniques including, but not limited to, the creation of multi-column or multi-section documents with a variety of text-wrapped frame formats;
  • 126.12.C.10.D - demonstrate appropriate use of fonts, styles, and sizes, as well as effective use of graphics and page design to effectively communicate;
Whew! Big bite! If those standards are the "desired status" and the documents I have from various teachers and students are the "actual status" then there is definitely a "need." At least I've got that much to go on.

I need to walk away from this for a bit, and come back with Dick, Carey and Carey in hand to finish my Day 11 work.

(Updated 11:18 pm) I'm still thinking too broadly. I need to narrow the focus considerably. I keep going back to the essentials of a Learning Object: digital, reusable in a variety of contexts, supports learning, etc. For the "reusable" bit to be met, it will need to be something very basic, not constrained to Microsoft Word but reusable in multiple applications.

Look again at my learners: entry level tech skills, at best. True, there are many who have some knowledge of Word or of PowerPoint, but I don't want to target them. I want to go with the lowest common denominator, I think. First day on the computers for kids, teachers who know how to check email and take attendance, and that's it. I've been pushing for higher level training, but for this I need to go back to basics.

Oh, how I wish we had a discussion board going for this module! This is the point of this course where I would really benefit from bouncing ideas off colleagues and listening to their thinking.

Okay, back to the TEKS...126.12.C.1.F! That's the one! ...perform basic software application functions including, but not limited to, opening an application program and creating, modifying, printing, and saving documents. 126.12.C.7.A plan, create, and edit documents created with a word processor using readable fonts, alignment, page setup, tabs and ruler settings. Clear, basic, something that needs to be known. According to David A. Wiley's paper, this is something for which a Learning Object would be ideal. Time to re-read the paper and start applying DCC to my identified learning need. With any luck, I'll have my Instructional Goal and Overview of Learners written before I fall asleep.

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