Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reaction Essay - Case Study - Denny Clifford

The overall theme of this case study revolves around two different teaching philosophies, objectivist and constructivist. In Denny Clifford’s case, he has to tailor his know-how (clear objectives and direct instruction) into an instructional design that will work for his client (learner centered and socially constructed). Several barriers are present from the beginning; hence Denny must eliminate these barriers to design professional development materials using appropriate instructional techniques and delivery mode systems that work for the client, Cynthia.

The communication barriers in this case study are many and varied. Denny’s client, Cynthia, has given him some directions, but not a clear objective driven assignment. Denny’s use of technical jargon in his conversations with Cynthia is an obvious barrier to the beginning stage of the instructional design. He needs to speak the language of his client in more constructivist terms, so that his ideas can be communicated more effectively and the project can be completed to her satisfaction. Effective communication is critical to the overall success of the project because both the client and the instructional designer need to be satisfied with the design steps throughout the entire process. The analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation (ADDIE) will need to be monitored so that each step is successful and the instructional needs are being met. Subsequently, Denny will need to have more face-to-face meetings with Cynthia to ensure success by getting feedback from her at each step to ensure the integrity of the project. Before the goals and objectives are established, he will need to conduct a needs analysis to adequately meet the instructional needs of both the teachers and the students.

Another barrier Denny might encounter are the learners being taught. For the last 5 years, Denny has taught in the military where there are right or wrong answers where as Cynthia is dealing with teachers and kids whom develop multiple answers or ideas. Consequently, Denny will need to adjust to his clientele in order to be effective. Considering his experience as a designer and his knowledge of science and technology, he should be able to adapt to the new needs presented to him.

There are several resources that Denny could use to address the instructional design needs of his client. First, he should contact and interview the teachers to get more information on their instructional needs. To fully understand the constructivist approach, Denny could review the teacher observation tapes by observing the implementation of effective strategies that are already being used. Another resource, the grant proposal, could provide a wealth of information that would provide some direction for Denny. Though Cynthia did not intimate specific goals or objectives, he may be able to attain that information through reading the proposal. A justification in the grant proposal would give him insight into Cynthia’s approach to teaching. Denny may also be able to glean important information about the learning techniques from Cynthia and another teacher’s writings on teaching science in the constructivist approach. Armed with this knowledge, Denny should be able to use the above resources to create a well-rounded set of instructional materials for the middle school project.

For his client, Denny can use several media, delivery modes, and techniques to complete the project successfully. Many media would be appropriate for his client and the teachers. The use of an online course management platform like WebCT could facilitate any distance problems for the teachers including teachers nationally. Whiteboard, online forums, iChat, and web conferencing are tools he could use to allow teachers to continue to share their experiences and aid them in facilitating discussions, a need addressed by Cynthia. Two delivery modes, computer based simulations and games, are important because the learner can interact with the content in a new way. Online chats will enable teachers to share their ideas and experiences in real time on any given day from any given place. The instructional techniques appropriate for this project would need to be learner centered with very little direct instruction. Hands-on, kinesthetic learning based strategies along with dynamic discussions are paramount. Based on Denny’s notes, group discussions will be the key to creating shared meaning and developing problem-solving skills like reasoning for the students.

Ultimately, Denny would need to create the instructional materials using his background of instructional design (how to solve instructional design needs) with the needs of his client who has an established constructivist approach for the middle school project. By eliminating the barriers of finding common ground and speaking the same language, Denny will be able to choose the appropriate media and instructional strategies based on the resources Cynthia provided him and his own observation notes.

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