Chapter One

Introduction

The biggest challenge I see in this chapter is the sad reality that “although there have been great strides in technology and availability, actual improvement in learning is less dramatic.” Educators are so ready to critique “traditional” behaviorist approaches, pushing forward towards constructivism, but I’m inclined to seek a balance. After all, those teachers of the 1940s and 1950s led to some pretty amazing talent in our country. How can we use the amazing technology available today to not only educate, but also to motivate? I see this as a challenge that can drive my instructional design career to be productive, a real opportunity to effect change.

One hurdle to overcome is the difficulty in ascertaining gains, whether one is assessing educational progress in the K-12 and post-secondary arenas, or evaluating return on investment in business and industry. Just as teacher accountability is an important issue in education, instructional software and program accountability must also be considered.

It is also important to determine the best media for any given learning or training situation. Each case may require a different approach whether it’s a independent learning with a book or other resources, face-to-face teaching, computer-based instruction, or a blended approach. This is further complicated by the unique learning needs and preferences of each individual learner. Regardless of the approach, four key aspects must be included: the presentation of information, learner guidance, practice, and the assessment of learning.

In my altar server training project, the presentation of the information will be the easiest and least interactive part. The learner can certainly control which information is presented, but in order to effectively promote success, the overall design must ensure the information is, in fact, presented along the way despite the learner’s choices. This is where guidance becomes essential. My project will need to incorporate a method of correcting errors or omissions without discouraging the altar server who is, after all, a volunteer. In altar serving, practice is essential. Somehow I will need to simulate practice where the learner is maneuvering and making choices and receiving feedback in a virtual scenario. Accuracy is important, but fluency and reverence are equally important considerations for this training program. By fluency, I mean the correct actions and postures must come readily without thought. The learner’s ability to serve without significant thought allows them to focus instead on Who they are serving which will lead to the necessary reverence. Assessment can act as a source of feedback for the parish, but more importantly it can serve to motivate the learner to continually improve and advance in ability and rank.

There are several methodologies available to facilitate learning. I am planning to use a game approach, possibly with some characteristics of a simulation. It is beneficial for my learner to be able to explore, but given the specific skills that must be mastered, a significant amount of guidance and feedback will be essential so I must avoid allowing the training to become too open-ended. (Interesting note – my EDIT6190 project was much more open ended and geared toward exploration.)

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