Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate
The fundamentals of Instructional Design are design, develop, implement and evaluate. That is my perspective as a graduate from Syracuse University’s Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation program. The purpose of this article is to explain my Instructional Design (ID) process in an effort to help educators with creating learning activities that are highly effective and prepare students for 21st Century challenges.
What is a Project Based Learning environment? What does it look like? In my classroom, PBL looks and feels like controlled chaos. The notion of giving up control in the classroom is mind blowing for most teachers, including myself. But when you see students taking ownership of their learning, that restiveness pays off.
When students are engaged in a Project Based Learning activity, they are accessing prior knowledge that was delivered in your classroom (or in other classrooms for an interdisciplinary approach) and apply that knowledge to a learning activity. Designing a PBL learning activity allows the educator to identify the outcome of instruction delivered in one, or many, classroom settings.
For example, my goal is to get my students hired or accepted into the college of their choice. I use PBL activities to directly prepare my students for 21st Century challenges and opportunities. My students demonstrate professionalism and confidence building through conference calls with corporations, presentations to judges (including teachers and administrators), and through collaborating with business leaders in the community.
In my view, my classroom is practice for the corporate or college world. Within your classroom walls lies the opportunity to make mistakes, learn from mistakes and move forward without looking back. Businesses and colleges want to accept and hire students with this competitive edge. Designing PBL learning activities that engage students in deeper learning is one way to provide that edge to our 21st Century learners.
Design and Develop
Let’s shake things up in the classroom and write a completely original learning activity! Start with a goal that you want your students to realize. For example, my goal is for my students to employ Skype in a professional setting. Next, determine what exactly you want to see your students accomplish at the end of this project. Then, write a performance objective that more specifically states what the student will do and what you will measure. For example “the student will answer three questions via video conference with a community member.” One good way to map your ideas is to describe the steps you will take for the project.
The critical element of implementing a PBL activity into the classroom is to “let go” and give up some control in your classroom. You are the facilitator of learning. You are observing interactions, taking note of gaps, assessing student development and providing feedback as needed. The Project Based Learning environment is fluid, always moving without boundaries. I find that by stepping out of the driver’s seat, my students begin to self-regulate and take ownership of their learning. This is the power of the PBL environment.
Now that you created the PBL activity, it is time to evaluate student performance. I like to provide verbal and written feedback as my student’s progress through the project as well as provide the formal evaluation at the conclusion of the project. I provide students with a performance based rubric. As part of the learning process, I typically allow students to revise their work leading up to the final due date. Corporations will offer feedback to an employee before publishing a piece of work so why not afford students the same luxury? This is planning for the world of careers and college.
Instructional Design in Action
CEO: Collaborative and Enterprising Opportunity
Here is an example of how I attained my goal of Skyping with entrepreneurs in the classroom. I wrote a PBL learning activity after being inspired by Skype logos on display on the Microsoft campus and as a result implemented a new learning activity. My learning activity, CEO: Collaborative and Enterprising Opportunity, paired students with entrepreneurs coast to coast via Skype for help with developing the business plan. Once I had my goal in mind, the learning activity started to unfold. I wrote the program and had students collaborating with entrepreneurs via Skype for a period of five weeks. Students had scripts with questions and the entrepreneurs had guides to follow for discussions with students via video conferencing. As my overriding goal is to get students hired or accepted to the college of their dreams, this program directly prepared students for challenging career moments including meetings on-line. Students and entrepreneurs alike were anxious and honestly fearful of what the process would entail but those emotions were quickly replaced with excitement and drive to complete the project. As a capstone, I brought in local business owners to review the business plans Shark Tank style. Students went through an observable metamorphosis as a result of participating in the program.
It is my sincere hope that this blog helps educators to write their own learning activities and implement. The most important step is going for it…try it out once and evaluate your process later. Please let me know if I can be of assistance to anyone working to write and implement a new learning activity. Now go for it!
Business Teacher Fayetteville-Manlius High School