Instructional strategies selected and justification
In my tutorial I chose to present information in a variety of methods. Students listened to narration, watched videos, interacted with knowledge checks, were guided while they practiced using the information, and were given an assessment that included feedback and that supported each of the learning targets.
I utilized scaffolding in several ways. I know that people who would view this course would be in a health crisis. And because of the personal nature of the topic, I used friendly and supportive language, a soothing but purposeful narrator’s voice and employed the friendly, fun-looking nurse character, Christine. I tried to create a collaborative interaction between teacher and student.
At the opening of the module, I used a knowledge check activity to engage the learner’s zone of proximal development. This RLO is meant to be a segment in the 4th and final module in a larger blended-learning course, and by the time they have reached this computer-based training, they would have had access to information about an optimal diet for heart health and the science behind it. The opening knowledge check provides the ‘why’ on diet and disease and is meant to stimulate their previous learning.
It was challenging to create a stand-alone RLO with this content that was comprehensive but not intimidating. Learners who begin the training with little background or only a surface knowledge of cholesterol and coronary artery disease will be challenged by two matching questions, so I provided immediate opportunity to review and learn in the screens that immediately follow the knowledge check questions. The objective of the training is to give the learner an achievable means to solve their problem of atherosclerosis. My instructional design incorporated feedback, positive confirmation of learning and corrections of misunderstandings. The assessment goal is 100% achievement, so the learner is allowed to remediate and re-do activities as needed.
Decisions made along the way with the design
The overall goal with my course is to create an effective training that takes into account the personal nature of the material. Diet and health are challenging topics and students who arrive at this training are looking for alternatives outside of the mainstream. For some this might be daunting. My intent is to make the overall feel as friendly and supportive as possible. The majority of people who might be looking for alternatives to statins are adults who may never have learned about nutrition or had the information or the motivation to utilize diet as a tool for achieving health. Even though there is a lot of information presented, I make sure it is organized to mange cognitive load, that the look and feel doesn’t overload the senses, and provides flexibility for the learner in how they interact with the material.
Learners are able to control many aspects of the presentation: pacing, audio, extended learning, practice, and content sequence. A navigation bar with full control is available from every screen and the table of contents is always available on the left of the screen, which also shows their successful completion of each slide. At the beginning they are given a guided tour of the module, which includes descriptions of content organization and navigation elements. I provide the “Information” button to allow learners to access relevant external content. I also provide a glossary accessible on every screen via a show/hide toggle button. At the beginning I provide a guided tour of the organization, control options (such as mute and closed captions), resources and visual elements.
I spent a good deal of time with the software to learn how to allow the learner access the narration text to read instead of hear. I know many learners might prefer to read. This is one of the instances that the functionality of Captivate actually has hampered the instructional design. There is no way to provide learners the narration text other than through the closed captions at the bottom of the screen. When the captions are displayed they cover a portion of the screen (including important navigation elements) and are a very tiny font. Also they are synchronized with the audio so there would be no way to pause the slide and access the full narration in one click. You have to let the slide run to see the full scrolling captions. This is very confusing and un-user friendly. Hopefully in the next iteration of Captivate, they will allow narration to be a toggle from the table of contents.
Accessibility components taken into consideration and employed
My goal is to make the content available to the broadest audience possible and to accommodate a wide range of learning styles and abilities. Not only was I careful with the font selection/size and color/contrast to accommodate vision impairments, I made sure that I provided other accessibility accommodations that are available in Captivate including:
- Closed captions for slide narration, including the YouTube videos that all have closed captions
- Alt text equivalent for every non-text element
- Keyboard command alternatives to access content/navigation where a click is required.
- Test question formats such as true/false and matching that are read by screen readers
- Avoidance of drop down menus
The audio I used was employed throughout the module and was recorded with consistent quality. Learners have the choice of text or speech on most slides. Learners can pause, mute, skip, and repeat. (I am still trying to figure out how to handle audio on the critical feedback text on the assessment slides. I am new to Captivate and the use of narration has impacted the timeline on the slides. As I become more familiar with the software, I intend to fix these inconsistencies on the assessment slides.)
Rollover guidance is provided as a functionality of Captivate and is always available throughout. Procedures for the functions of the module are explained at the beginning.
How interface design and visual design principles were incorporated?
Since the content is ‘dense’ I wanted to make sure the visual design was as simple as possible. I chose a white background and a template with only a few colors (lime green and green blue). These colors look clean fit with the theme of health and healing. The color and font elements are very consistent throughout out the module and will support learners with visual impairments. I chose to use a Captivate template and much of the decisions regarding visual and interface design were already made for me. I tweaked them a bit, but ended up keeping most of the built-in elements of the template as they fit perfectly with my design vision.
What assessment methods were used and why?
I include a final summative graded assessment and a beginning knowledge check activity that is non-graded. The opening knowledge check provides the ‘why’ on diet and disease and is meant to stimulate previous learning. Learners who begin the training with little background or only a surface knowledge of cholesterol and coronary artery disease will be challenged by two matching questions. I provided immediate opportunity to review and learn in the screens that immediately follow the knowledge check questions as well as supportive commentary. The objective of the training is to give the learner an achievable means to solve the problem of atherosclerosis. My instructional design incorporates feedback, positive confirmation of learning and corrections of misunderstandings. The assessment goal is 100% achievement, and so the learner is allowed to review and re-do as needed.
With a mind on accessibility, I relied on two of Captivate’s test question types that are read by screen readers – True/False and Matching. I did include multiple choice and ranking type questions, however. I will be working on re-conceiving these questions so that the content meets accessibility standards.
The three summative quiz questions directly support each of the three learning targets of the RLO:
- Distinguish between whole foods and processed foods: pick multiple – whole foods or processed?
- Understand calorie density and how to maximize nutrient density: ranking activity – calorie density
- Examine food labels to determine the best-processed food choice: pick one – best processed food
Incorrect answers send learners back in the module to review and return to the quiz to try again. Every time the learner interacts with the material in the assessments they are given feedback and contextual information.
Describe the results of your usability test and any changes you made to your product based on the feedback you received
I had two reviewers complete a usability test on my RLO. Unfortunately some of the functionality of the training was missing due to the fact that they were viewing these in a local browser so all of my external links (and I have many) were not available. (The reviewers were confused and frustrated by this and I didn’t know at the time the reason why.) Both reviewers found my second knowledge check question to be too difficult and even intimidating so I converted the question into two and provided more feedback and contextual information to the learners. Also it was suggested that I provide a glossary, which I did.
My reviewers both noted the inconsistency of audio, and I now have it on every slide audio including directions for the assessments. They noted some confusion regarding the task of a couple of test questions, and I think the audio explanation will solve this problem. (I am still trying to understand how to control audio, learner interactivity and feedback messages on these test questions. Inserting audio on the test questions has raised several software issues that I hope to solve in the future as I learn more about Captivate.)
My reviewers suggested that I include a dedicated slide at the beginning to introduce navigation and visual elements, so that has been added.
My reviewers noted the difficulty with seeing all of the narration text in the closed captions. I made sure that the entire text is now be visible and is synchronized with the narration. However, this brings up another Captivate problem, i.e. closed caption text covers a portion of the screen, and pausing the slide also pauses the deliver of the closed captions.
New insights into competencies for instructional designers
I’ve learned that an effective instructional designer doesn’t necessarily have to know every tool however one should know the possibilities and limitations of the tools that are going to be used in development. I was struck by how Captivate has some pretty significant flaws (especially regarding narration text and the table of contents) and idiosychracies that will need to be accommodated early in the design process. My instincts tell me that certain tools will work better for specific scenarios. I don’t think a university math or science course needs to have a character taking up so much screen space, for example. The look of some of the products that come from the big tools (Storyline and Captivate) look more like marketing and sales tools rather than an e-learning course. Knowing the end user is critical (age, background, demographic) and includes what they expect or will need to be successful in a training module.
Professional growth and reflection on CBT design
What are some significant ways in which you will expand the use of CBT in your current position?
I do not have a direct need to use CBT in my current position as a music teacher other than to use technology resources as supplements to the face-to-face instruction in my classroom. I would be thrilled to create some CBT modules to teach various aspects of music literacy but there is no funding for such a project.
What were the most valuable concepts/ ideas gained during the course?
My most valuable learning in this course was the hands-on training I got with the authoring tools Udutu and Captivate. It was very interesting to go through the planning stages developing the objectives, the curriculum, choosing instructional strategies and how best to employ them, the flowchart and storyboard, etc. and then get to the authoring tool and realize that my vision would be hemmed in to the limitations of the software and my ability to use it. It is critical to go into the preliminary conceptual and planning stages knowing what the possible outcomes might be, and I really had no clue never having worked with e-learning software before. I could have saved a lot of time if I had known where I was headed. Let’s just say it’s a lesson I learned well…
What was the most valuable, most fun, or most interesting activity during the course?
I really enjoyed seeing my project come to life in Captivate. I was not able to re-create my storyboard, which I developed in power point. If I was to import the slides they would have been static images, and I would have had to lay interactive elements on top. Instead I chose a Captivate template that ultimately allowed more flexibility in design. Using a template was the best choice because the design elements (fonts, colors, page layouts) were already worked out and all I had to do was enter content and make tweaks. The RLO looks amazing thanks to the developers and designers who are behind Captivate and work to make it easy on beginning users like me.
I also really enjoyed making use of Lynda.com. I’ve never taken training on that site and was not even aware of this resource going into this program. I am so impressed with this resource and plan to subscribe when my Stout access ends.
How will this course impact your instructional design?
I now have an understanding of the authoring tools and how they influence planning and development of CBT. Now when I begin a project as an instructional designer, I will have some vision of what is possible as a final product for trainings. I now have experience using two authoring tools and have a very good understanding of my limitations and strengths regarding the software tools. I am grateful to have learned about accessibility issues and will be cognizant of this when creating trainings. I have not worked directly with an LMS other than as a student, but I have a better understanding of how they will interrelate with the trainings I will create. I am intrigued by some of the cloud based LMS products that are available and that are alternatives to LMS products like Blackboard and D2L.
What questions/ concerns do you have about designing and developing computer-based training?
I was really struck by the impact the authoring tools have on the instructional design. There is obviously an industry culture that is represented in the look and functionality of the products like authoring tools. My ability to influence a final product is hindered by not only my technical skills but by the tools themselves. I’m OK with that. There’s a ton to learn and do with what exists and with the limited graphics and programming skills I have.
Where will you go to answer these questions/concerns?
I intend to keep learning, interacting with other professionals, attending conferences to get the big picture of where the industry is heading as well as all the possibilities for e-learning in all it’s facets. I’ve really enjoyed working with Captivate and intend on improving my skills with this software. I think if I focus on one authoring tool and develop my skills to an advanced level, the skills will transfer easily to other tools like the Articulate products.
Next – Project Management for Instructional Development