SCoPE: The Dance of the Instructional Designer: October 31 - November 20, 2005

Building Relationships

Building Relationships

by Vivian Neal -
Number of replies: 24

Building relationships within teams can be one the most challenging and elusive parts of the ID (instructional design) and course development process. Sarah and Diane described how they like to get to know the SME (subject matter expert) and try to find out where they are at philosophically, while Barb suggested a ?short conversation over coffee?.
http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61&parent=288
http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61&parent=334
http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61&parent=293

Diane also pointed out the centrality of trust and that instructional design might be a bit scary for SME?s. When a SME has been lecturing for many years, the facilitative online instructor role might seem strange. The whole instructor/student relationship changes online and this is uncomfortable at the very least.

Marsha aptly described her challenge as a SME. Subtitling her post, ?finding the dance floor?, she shared this experience: ?I found the beginning very difficult - and finally realized it was because I was looking for ?a place to stand. I knew where I would stand and how I would deliver a course in f2f environment, but online learning was entirely new to me ? I needed to find that sense of place.? http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61&parent=310 I believe that one of the ID?s roles is to help the SME find and use the new dance floor ? but if the old dance floor was a stage for the sage as Bruce describes, where is the new dance floor? How does the ID communicate this to the SME? And what if the SME prefers the old dance floor?

Finally, it takes time to build trusting relationships. Lamenting the short time frames that are all too often allocated to course development, Alan stated, ?I am not even sure that the standard vision of and Instructional Designer working around a table with an established group of "SMEs", technical specialists, graphics designers happens so much in real life? http://scope.lidc.sfu.ca/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=61&parent=321 How do we build good relationships within these limited time frames?

Please share your experiences, successes, and things that you?ve learned for next time.
In reply to Vivian Neal

Re: Building Relationships

by Heather Ross -
I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this. I had an interesting experience this week. I've spoken with more than a few of my colleagues about some minor frustrations I've had in dealing with a particular SME. We've all been there. They have their ideas and they would like to hold on to them.

While working on campus this week a professor who I often chat with mentioned that he was on his way to a meeting about setting up one of his classes through WebCT. He was nervous and a little frustrated. He's never taught online, but he knows what elements of his courses are important to him in terms of content. He was worried that the ID people were going to make changes to something he holds dear.

I suddenly found myself seeing things from the other side of the picture. Here was somebody very interested in jumping into the world of distance learning. He doesn't shun the technology and has never shied away from admitting that he doesn't understand how all the tech stuff works or what he can do with it.

He knows teaching and is genuinely concerned about what's going to happen to his content. My advice to him was to "listen to the ID people. They're good at what they do, but tell them what you're worried about."
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: Building Relationships

by Sandy Hirtz -

I find your posting interesting and significant Heather. I work with many colleagues interested in moving their f2f courses online, but are intimidated. They appreciate that they are lagging behind but find all the techy talk frustrating. Those of us involved in online education for a number of years tend to talk passionately and enthusiastically and inadvertently terrify the newbies.

For this reason, I have organized two live webcasts in the BCcampus Expo Marketplace Community for those teachers interested in easing into online. These live sessions will break the dance steps of the instructional designer into manageable one-step-at-a-time movements .  They are designed to entertain, enlighten, and ease fear and trepidation.

Wednesday Nov 23, 2005 at 11:00am
E-Learning Solutions on a Shoestring: Help for the Chronically Underfunded Trainer
With creativity, quality e-learning CAN be had on a shoestring budget. This presentation will explore cost-cutting strategies for doing it yourself, and keeping up with it all. This will be a fun, fast session meant to encourage and empower those who have felt overwhelmed by developing online content.  Here is a direct link to the live webcast:
https://www.elluminate.com/site/mtg.jnlp?password=1266818224

Thursday,  Nov 24, 2005 at 12:30 PM
Put Your Course Online! - How To's and Tips and Tricks
Join Dr. David Harper for a practical look at online course design. He will demonstrate the ?tricks of the trade? in the linear design of a fourth-year course using WebCT. Some of the issues discussed will include course appearance and navigation, pre-and post-testing, creating a sense of community in the virtual classroom and how to enhance student participation. This Webcast will be the first in a series and is suitable for everyone in all disciplines from novice to expert.  To join the live webcast, click on the following direct link:
https://www.elluminate.com/mtg.jnlp?password=828926604

In reply to Sandy Hirtz

Re: Building Relationships

by Alan Levine -
I cringe a little at the phrase "putting their course online" as this should never be the goal, it implies it is some magical genie like transformation that might be done at the click of a button.

Moving to some or all aspects of a course to an online format ought to be a complete re-design, period, in the same vein as if it was a new course or the content had totally changed.

I have heard a number of seasoned faculty who have done this recommend doing some "baby steps" -- getting success with small levels of online integration, whether it be using online references rather than static print, creating a basic WebQuest, making use of someone elses pre-created content or simulations from MERLOT or other sources.
In reply to Alan Levine

Re: Building Relationships

by Vivian Neal -
Alan,

You said, "I cringe a little at the phrase 'putting their course online'". I think it's funny because I have tried many times to explain to people what I do for a living and after trying out both long and short explanations, I now have a pat answer: "I help instructors put their courses online."

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely agree with everything you've said about pedagogical effectiveness, and obfiscating the actual ID tasks. Perhaps it's like a doctor saying that they help people heal - there is a little magic involved, and also tried and true knowledge and experience.

I also like your idea of baby steps as this makes the ID process more accessible and less mysterious. Building a good relationship involves offering our expertise where and when they are most useful - moving with the instructor when and where they are ready to move.

I'm curious about others' experiences when ID's and SME's first meet - what do you say and how do your describe what instructional design can do for an instructor and a course?
In reply to Vivian Neal

Re: Building Relationships

by Bruce Jones -
"I'm curious about others' experiences when ID's and SME's first meet - what do you say and how do your describe what instructional design can do for an instructor and a course?"

In the environment I work in the ID, SME, instructor are usually the same person.   Occasionally we get the chance to design for someone else in the hospital and when we do the experience is usually very satisfying.  Only rarely have we had a "difference" of opinion.  The worst person to have as an SME is another designer.   My biggest customer is my boss  who, "...read a book and went to a seminar on design."




In reply to Bruce Jones

Re: Building Relationships

by Vivian Neal -
Thanks for your thoughts Bruce. I think I hear some cynicism when you say, "The worst person to have as an SME is another designer", but I'm not sure what you mean exactly?

I'm always curious about how people perceive and experience designers and, of course, I always want to be a better designer, so I'd like to know more....
In reply to Vivian Neal

Re: Building Relationships

by Bruce Jones -
Sorry for that post....

I have been having a bit of a problem with that person but it is the only job in town.  I shouldn't be venting here ... sorry.

In reply to Vivian Neal

Re: Building Relationships

by Bruce Jones -
"The worst person to have as an SME is another designer", but I'm not sure what you mean exactly?

The old adage in medicine is the worst patient is another medical person.  Everything is "wrong", "could be done another way", etc.   Designing for another
designer falls into the same catagorie.
In reply to Bruce Jones

Re: Building Relationships

by Vivian Neal -
Bruce,

It?s true that I?m opinionated about about design, and I often keep these opinions to myself for the sake of a harmonious relationship. My tendency is to miscalculate what the learners can handle ? typically assuming the learner is more independent than they actually are, both in terms of the way they go about learning and the amount they know about a subject area. I attended a free school at the high school age and an independent study program for my first university degree, and so I?m sometimes overly optimistic about how much control a learner actually wants and needs over their own learning.

Is the challenge, then, to match the comfort and skill of the instructor and students to the course and activity designs? And if so, how can this be done? My mind keeps going back to dialogue ? hashing it out with the instructor. Thoughts?
In reply to Vivian Neal

Re: Building Relationships

by Bruce Jones -
"Is the challenge, then, to match the comfort and skill of the instructor and students to the course and activity designs? And if so, how can this be done? My mind keeps going back to dialogue ? hashing it out with the instructor. Thoughts?"

Good points Vivian and some I reflected on both in Grad school and again when designing.  I have tried many things that I feel uncomfortable with when trying to "guesstimate" the learning level of the student and how I can cover all the bases at once.  I have tried to 'dumb' down the content presentation and have wound up insulting the student.  I have tried to engage the student in various forms of reflective process but this ... in my case ... only truly works in a face-2-face lecture. 

On-line I try to include reflective remediation where the student is forced to review the questioned material before moving on.  This can be a design logistics nightmare but is very effective.  In many cases when a question is asked it is either multiple choice or true false and when the correct answer is selected the content continues.  If the answer is wrong a big red WRONG or X or some other negative statement appears and you MUST select the only other answer or guess wildly until the computer says it is ok for you to continue.    I like to take them back to the spot where the answer can be found so they can study it again then answer a second question for validation ... If this scenario goes more than twice then the student is directed to contact the facilitator. I also like to ask reflective questions where the student has to click on the statement  ...within a scenario... that makes the statement right or wrong.

Example: 
In the following statement select the phrase which is false.

Evidence of global warming is seen  in shrinking of icecaps, increase in storm activity, and late migration of water fowl.

For this example I have highlighted the possible answers.  In the real question they would not be highlighted.  If the student selects the wrong answer they will be switched to the content section where the answer is given and a second question will be asked.  This is not an uncommon form of test question but in this case it is not a test but a review of content with specific content study involved. 

My specific goal is not to intimidate the student but to give the student every chance to see the answers in context and content.  Then  ... and this is the part that has not come about yet ... the final set of questions will not be the same for every student.  For every interim question answered correctly there is no more than one or two questions on content.  For every interim question answered incorrectly there are at least three questions over content.  Each of the questions is generated randomly from a bank of questions specific for that content . 

My second goal for an online design delivery is to have NO student flunk but every student attain at least one level above their starting ability.  I do not approve of teaching to the test but of testing to the content.




In reply to Vivian Neal

Understanding perspectives and philosophies

by Sylvia Currie -
Phrases like I want to put my course online and This is the content I want to cover can reveal a lot about the SME's philosophies about teaching and learning. Even the simple word deliver when referring to courses might cause us to think about where we are in this whole process.

A few years ago I corresponded with Daniel Pratt and John Collins from University of British Columbia about a tool they developed to assist instructors in understanding their beliefs about teaching and learning. The idea is that categorizing these perspectives will assist with the design process. I did a search and was delighted to see that the Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) is still available, and free to use: teachingperspectives.com.

This tool, if nothing else, encourages instructors and designers to think about and reflect on their own philosophies and values. This is a useful practice when shifting and reworking curriculum to the online world. As part of their research, Pratt and Collins were looking at how the TPI might assist instructional designers in working with their clients. These are some ways I think it would help me:
  • I would have a better understanding of how to avoid surprises in the design process
  • I could work toward a more realistic design that would match the roles and responsibilities the clients are willing to take in managing the learning of their students. 
  • I would know how much time to invest in providing rationale for certain design decisions/suggestions. 
  • If I see that certain activities would be a radical change for clients I would integrate some coaching/ examples for them to work with. (To avoid sending them running from the room, as Diane mentions!)
What are your reactions to the TPI? Do you see a use for it in your work as an instructional designer?
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Understanding perspectives and philosophies

by Cindy Xin -

Sylvia, it's great that you brought up Pratt and Collins's work on teaching perspectives. I actually attended a presentation followed by a workshop given by the two authors at a conference several years ago. It was a very valuable learning experience. I think in order to build a successful relationship with the person whom you are to work with, it is critical to understand from which perspective that person is from. This way you are likely to talk with your partner in the same language. You work from there and gradually introduce new vocabularies if you want to guide the person to see other different perspectives. One the other hand, always be prepared and open to be guided by your partner too.

I'd like to quote Pratt and Collins and give gists of what the five different teaching perspectives are about -

  1. Transmission: Effective teaching requires a substantial commitment to the content or subject matter. Good teachers have mastery of the subject matter or content.

  2. Apprenticeship: Effective teaching is a process of enculturating students into a set of social norms and ways of working. Good teachers are highly skilled at what they teach.

  3. Developmental: Effective teaching must be planned and conducted ?from the learner?s point of view?. Good teachers must understand how their learners think and reason about the content.

  4. Nurturing: Effective teaching assumes that long-term, hard, persistent effort to achieve comes from the heart, as well as the head. People are motivated and productive learners when they are working on issues or problems without fear of failure.

  5. Social Reform: Effective teaching seeks to change society in substantive ways. From this point of view, the object of teaching is the collective rather than the individual. Good teachers awaken students to the values and ideologies that are embedded in texts and common practices within their discipline. Good teachers challenge the status quo and encourage students to consider the how learners are positioned and constructed in particular discourses and practices.

You can read more in detail about these five perspectives by accessing http://teachingperspectives.com/PDF/summaries.pdf

As you can see, each perspective has its own strengths and weaknesses. It's not a matter of right or wrong, or better or worse, but rather knowing where you and others stand and try to expand your own horizon and those of others whom you work with.

It's a good exercise to go through the Teaching Perspective Inventory test and find out your own perspective(s). If you can encourage your partner(s) to take the test too, that's even better. Whether to take the test or not, it is valuable to understand these different perspectives. And for that matter, other perspectives not included above but you think are valid.

In reply to Cindy Xin

Re: Understanding perspectives and philosophies

by Bruce Jones -
"It's a good exercise ..."

I agree it is a good exercise.  I would like to see the cumulatives on it though. Could this be used like an MBTI for teachers.  I would also like to see corelations wiht type of training or teaching is being done.  In other words what is the difference between the profile of a corporate trainer and a pre-k or K - 3 teacher.   What  would the difference be for a designer and a teacher?  There may also be a possible difference from school to school.
==================
I would like to see a discussion on each of these 5 areas.  It is in these catagories where specific differences between the various levels of training and teaching  may exist. 
In reply to Cindy Xin

Re: Understanding perspectives and philosophies

by Barbara Berry -

Hi,

Some years ago I did this teaching perspectives inventory and found it very useful. It confirmed what I already knew about myself and fortunately or unfortunately, I fall within the social reform category (not hard to guess for those of you who have followed my postings in this and other forums ; )

I think the inventory is applicable to all of the roles we might find ourselves playing from policy development to program planning, evaluating, designing curriculum or teaching and learning. So reflecting on the perspectives has helped me to be aware and honest about what drives my decisions and actions in designing it has also helped me to identify my own strengths and weaknesses as an educator.

Perspectives are complex and established over time thus I am not sure if we are just one perspective or whether we, as complex social beings acting in a social world, integrate aspects of more than one view and thus make decisions accordingly. Any thoughts?

Both Dan Pratt and John Collins are on faculty at UBC in Adult Education (I had the good fortune to have Dan as a professor and John Collins was on my thesis committee) so I have "experienced" the inventory ; )

fun to muse about this stuff!

Barb

In reply to Barbara Berry

Re: Understanding perspectives and philosophies

by Cindy Xin -
Barb, I was laughing when I read your confession of your falling into the social reform category. I'm not surprised! And I have to confess that I also showed the strongest tendence towards this category followed by the developmental category. This leads to my response to your question - whether we just come from one perspective or we integrate aspects of more than one view and make decision accordingly - no doubt we integrate and we mix and match. We may show a central tendency at the philosophical level, but when it comes to the methodological level, I think we have to be flexible and agile, and apply different designs and techniques for different people and contexts. Make sense?
In reply to Vivian Neal

Re: Building Relationships

by Barbara Berry -

Good Morning,

My experience in building the relationship and trust with SME's and others is established by collaborating with all of the players. Experience has taught me that as an ID, I am really involved in a change process with the SME and other players. My belief is that we all have a contribution to make and thus by "levelling the playing field" no one has special expertise and everyone is enabled to be an active player. I have found some success by activating these ingredients.

Usually I begin by having a conversation either one to one or by facilitating a focus group with the whole team aimed at finding common ground. This means mapping the answers to some basic questions like: "what are your experiences & your history with these learners?" "what do you hope to achieve with your learners?";"what are the learners' expectations for achievement?"; "what outcomes are needed to make the program/course a success?"; "What steps do we need to take to achieve the vision?". A dialogue about these questions allows for the "floor" to be co-created. By understanding where another is coming from I am better able to know what to do next.  I believe that my job as an ID is to facilitate and support a relationship and a planning process that will assist the individual and/or team to support and advance the learners.

Over the years I have found it helpful to explore the change process, my own feelings around conflict (the energy of change); conflict theory as well as individual and group communications. I think these are "tools of our trade" smile

all for now

Barb

In reply to Barbara Berry

Re: Building Relationships

by Cindy Xin -
Barb, I think you have put your finger right on the pulse here by identifying the importance of change process and building of common ground. I think one of the central tasks for an instructional designer is to facilitate and manage the change process. It is much easier to see what input and output are; it is a harder task to explore, understand, and manage the process of getting us (i.e. we and our team) from where we are (i.e. input) to where we want to be (i.e. output). Between A and Z is about gradual change and change ultimately is about people. To make the change happen, people must start with identifying their common ground and then continuously strive to enlarge that common ground through dialogue and negotiation. In my view, this is what building relationships is about.
In reply to Cindy Xin

Re: Building Relationships

by Barbara Berry -
Cindy et al,
Yes, I like the way you have described the "guts" of the work... exploring, understanding and enabling individuals and the team of through the process of development. I have a particular bias towards techniques that begin by acknowledging strengths (what people can contribute) rather than weaknesses (what they don't know and can't do). So from a point of view of building the team, I find it useful to start here.

For those who are interested in asset-based approaches to building communities, teams and individual relationships (whether off or online) I have found the work of John McKnight to be very inspiring and it works!  Here's a link: http://www.northwestern.edu/ipr/people/mcknight.html

Recently I have begun to think about "appreciative inquiry" as a methodology for designing learning environments. Here is a link:
http://appreciativeinquiry.cwru.edu/intro/whatisai.cfm

Is there anyone familiar with this approach and if so, how have you used this in instructional design?

cheers, 
Barb


In reply to Barbara Berry

Re: Building Relationships

by Paul Left -
Barb, my interest is mainly in how aspects or attributes of this approach can help us redesign teaching and learning. For example, introducing technology to existing courses can be a major redesign process. Approaching the initial stages in an appeciative enquiry mode can help identify all the existing factors which lead to learner success. If we don't do this, we risk setting up the conditions for worse learner outcomes.

I find this comparison useful:

Problem Solving
Appreciative Enquiry
Identify the problem or need (eg deficit)Appreciate the best of where you?re at
Analyse causesDevelop a vision of what could be
Analyse possible solutionsDialogue about what should be
Develop an action plan (remedy)Make it happen (innovation)

Based on Cobb, Nancy B (2003). The Project Management Workbook. New York, McGraw-Hill.


Personally, I like to approach a learning design, professional development or organisational development project with a combination of both approaches. I know I'm not properly 'doing appeciative enquiry' but it feels right!

Paul

In reply to Barbara Berry

Re: Building Relationships

by Frances Long -
Barbara - i am a big fan of John McKnight!  Haven't used his work for years and I have been trying (and trying!) to remember his name for the past few weeks.  Thanks so much for his link! 
In reply to Barbara Berry

Re: Building Relationships

by Cindy Xin -
I'd like to add one more thing on top of change management and buidling of common ground; that is capability development. I think it is something every ID should concern himself or herself with. Empower the people you are helping and look for ways to be empowered by them too. That shows you have built successful relationships.
In reply to Vivian Neal

Re: Building Relationships

by Barbara Berry -

Hi Everyone,

Here is an interesting link to some program planning research that speaks of the "dance" as a negotiation of power relationships. You may find this interesting as it places the ID/SME relationship within a larger context of planning. The issues of power and control are at the heart of what we do:

http://csdl2.computer.org/comp/proceedings/icalt/2003/1967/00/19670292.pdf

Cheers,

Barb

In reply to Barbara Berry

Re: Negotiating Process and Relationships

by Vivian Neal -

Thanks for sharing this paper Barb. (http://csdl2.computer.org/comp/proceedings/icalt/2003/1967/00/19670292.pdf)

It's interesting how we might ponder a more pure way of doing instructional design that is less messy but leaves out the human beings. I especially related to the idea that, "a cognitive approach to designing instruction should be replaced by "a socially shared approach if instructional design models are to be used in school systems" (p. 61). Reigeluth [6] contended that the instructional design process should include all stakeholder groups, so that their "interests, values and perspectives can be accounted for in the instructional design and organizational changes"

This challenges most of the theory I've learned, yet it supports my experience.

In reply to Vivian Neal

Re: Negotiating Process and Relationships

by Sandy Hirtz -

Online Course Design, Online Teaching and Online Learning is a cooperative process.  We must ponder the unique skills of the designer, the instructor and the student. How do we meld, mesh, mold all of these into a course that can danced by all stakeholders, like an expertly choreographed Salsa?

The University of Gloucestershire: Centre for Active Learning, has compiled an extensive bibliography of research into Active Learning and Learning Styles and the Scholarship of Teaching.
http://www.glos.ac.uk/ceal/resources/litreview.cfm