Final Projects Done!
Whew, I’m done with this Semester. This was a difficult one due to the theory-rich nature of the courses I was in. But I learned a lot. You have mostly seen my graphics work lately from my Graphic Design for Learning class. Here is my final project website that contains all the graphics put into lessons.
I was also in an Instructional Design course. ID is crazy. I thought it was just designing lessons or instructional materials but it is so much more. Designing Instruction requires more work, surveying, and planning before anything is actually designed. If you want to see an example, check out my Instructional Design Paper for my Game Coding and Physics project here.
I’ve always felt like going through a process, like the one I did in my ID Project, with my teaching and my writing was just busy work. The best way to get things done, I thought, was to jump in and see what happened. “Play it by ear!” my Dad would always say when we took a trip or even went out to dinner. I get what he was trying to say; that too much planning and worrying takes away from the fun and the experience. But I learned in EDTECH 503 that playing education by ear is not a good idea and does not always create the results that you or the learner wishes for.
When I was young, I played the guitar. I loved playing and could pick up any song just by listening to it. I could play a lead on key without knowing what a key was or what key I was playing in. I played by ear. I lacked the discipline to learn music theory, thinking that it wasn’t cool and was not worth my time. I was in a band and we had some followers, but we never got anywhere. I stopped playing when I went to college and have not really picked up the guitar since. My music career reached a certain level and then it just stopped growing because I was not willing to learn. My skills were always amateurish because I didn’t put the effort into my music that was required to be a professional. I played the guitar by ear.
In my teaching as well as my textbook writing, I’ve always played it by ear as well. I’m good at playing by ear, don’t get me wrong. My guitar ear raised me above the level of most of my friends when it came to music. But when it came time to play in the world of professionals, I was not able. With my teaching and authoring, I am recognized as one of my school’s best teachers, someone who even authors books on his subjects. My friends admire my work and that feels good. However, I know that I have a long way to go to become a true professional. The thing that is lacking is the theoretical foundations for what I teach and what I write. I can no longer play it by ear.
In music, as in teaching, a theoretical structure is not there to constrain creativity, it’s there to provide a solid foundation for creativity. While reading the ID textbook near the start of the class, I found myself skimming over information thinking it was all just tedious planning and busy work. But in reading the case studies, I saw very clearly where things went wrong because the tedious planning was not done properly. I started to reflect on my own lack of planning and structure in my teaching as well as my writing. I have made many of the mistakes and more that were brought to light in the case studies.
Creating this detailed plan for a unit of study showed me all of the steps that must go into a well designed unit. Instructional Design is so much more than whipping up a lesson plan or unit for your students. Instructional Design is about understanding your learners and their needs, understanding the learning goals and objectives, understanding how the objectives will be learned and assessed, and how the entire project will be evaluated and improved in the future.
I have never built a lesson, unit, or project with this level of intense design but now that I have I am amazed at what I created.
I got A’s in both classes also. 🙂