Teach Me Digital Media Instructional Model
Digital Media Production and Design at Phoenix High School
Digital Media Production and Design is a program in which high school students learn digital photography, 3D computer design, 3D animation, video production, 2D animation, and interface design. The idea of teaching this in high school is to enable students to learn general skills of media creation. Some students go on to become professional graphic artists in one of these fields. Those who don't, however, learn to be better users and consumers of digital media. All students learn multimedia literacy skills in these classes, which improves their ability to communicate. Creating digital media is both a technology and an art. It is a technology because we use complex hardware and software tools. More importantly, though, this is art. The technology is merely a layer of tools that we need to be able to produce art. The goal of this program is to teach students to apply artistic knowledge to digital media tasks. For my 6200 project I'd like to focus on creating a set of multimedia instructional tools for one unit of the Intro to Digital Media course: video editing. This will fit into a larger goal, however, of creating a Constructivist learning environment where students in all 14 digital media courses can learn together in one collaborative classroom. The website I propose to build for 6200 will focus on the video editing project for the intro class, but I'd like to build it so that it can scale up to include the rest of the modules in the future.
Design Process Model
Alessi and Trollip's Designing Multimedia text has "Model for Design and Development" that we are using for our 6200 project. The Dick, Carey, and Carey model from the 6190 course seems to place a little more emphasis on learner and concept analysis. While developing this "Teach Me Digital Media" project this semester I've found myself folding the Dick, Carey, and Carey learner and course analysis pieces into the Alessi and Trollip design and development model.
Product Design Model
Art falls into Gagne's ill-structured problem solving domain. I started by looking at Cognitive Flexibility theory, as it seemed designed to address teaching this domain. I liked how Cognitive Flexibility focused on how learners can find their own way through hypertext by adapting the knowledge they were acesssing to the problem they were trying to solve. Putting this idea into practice, I'm trying to build the navigation system of the website to mirror the curriculum and project structure of the digital media courses. So, for instance, a student who wants to learn how to do video editing will begin by clicking "lessons," then "intro to digital media," then "video editing." Hopefully this structure will help students see how all the projects in all the courses are structured. Within video editing students will have to navigate through chunks of lessons that are designed to address specific problems they are trying to solve. By constantly clicking their way down through layers of course->project-->assignment-->specific problem students will begin to learn how an expert approaches a problem deductively. Students will usually only access the website when they are starting a project, when they are having a problem with the project that they need to solve, and then when they think they are finished. I also like how Cognitive Flexibility stresses that ill-structured problem solving should be assessed through subjective methods like portfolios. I'll discuss how I'm approaching assesment in the learning theory section below.
The next two product models I looked at were the Jonassen model and the CBL-CMPS model. The problems my digital media students will be solving are not as complex as case based scenarios, so the Jonassen model seemed to be the best fit. I like how the Jonassen model uses a Constructionist approach to answer the question of how digital media students can learn to create technolgically challenging art projects. Jonassen's model tells me that students should begin with a problem or project and then work their way out of it with the help of related cases, information resources, cognitive tools, conversation and collaboration tools, and in a social/contextual support structure. All of this would be facilitated by a teacher who can play the role of model, coach, and scaffolder.
I'll start with the social/contextual support structure. Students from all 14 classes will be mixed together in the same room. The teacher will also be present in the room, playing the roles of coach, design expert, and production manager. As an alternative school, Phoenix also has the flexibility to not worry about "seat time" and school schedule. Students will be able to come and go in the classroom as necessary to get their work done and accommodate their outside schedules. Students could, theoretically, do some work from home, but I don't believe that online tools can yet replace one-on-one coaching from a highly qualified teacher in the context of a social support structure of other students. That being said, I do hope to take advantage of Google's free Google Apps accounts for K-12 schools. This would allow us to create a online space where students and the teacher could email, chat, and collaborate on shared documents. I'd like to use Google Docs to create online forms for design journals, reflective places, or 15/5s. Then I'd create some mechanism for providing peer and teacher feedback through the same collaborative tools. I hope this would cover Jonassen's conversation and collaboration tools and social/contextual support structure. This should also provide a teacher in Jonassen's model.
In the website, students will start each project with a brief description of the assignment and several student models to look at. They would then download the rubric, which will be an interactive PDF document. The rubric would have them start by setting their personal goals for the project. They'd save the rubric for later and return to the website for help with the project. I believe that beginning a project in this way would be consistent with Jonassen's presentation of a problem or project within a context. In the case of the video project students' manipulation space would be the video editing software they would use to create their project. The learning modules on the website would then provide the information resources and cognitive tools they'd need to learn how to edit video using the software. I'll explain more how those modules will work in the learning theory section.
The last product design model I explored was Just in Time Instruction. As far as I can tell JIT instruction is synonymous with "Learning on Demand" in some sources. I didn't find a reference to this model in academic sources, but plenty of references in the business world. The problem that just in time instruction tries to solve is the gradual falloff of knowledge after training takes place. This model assumes that training materials should be available all the time, like Google's seach bar is, so that learners can access them when they need them. The training event becomes user controlled, and individual learners grab just the training they need in the context of trying to solve a problem. In order to place training side by side with production, Bersin and Associates says that the training should include job aids, EPSS tools, self assessment, coaching programs, communities of practice, and a career curriculum. IBM says that JIT should include self-study learning guides, face to face workshops, mobile wireless courseware, web based training, web based dicsussion groups, and online workshops. What I get from all of this is that for JIT to work it needs to include a heavy social interaction piece, which might be online. Obviously the scope my my project is much smaller than those described by the business world, but I think I can be true to the spirit of JIT instruction if I plan it carefully. In a way I do think that the combination of a well designed website, collaborative web 2.0 tools, and a classroom community might constitute an electronic performance support system. To me the module system I've described above, supplemented by the Google Docs collaborative tools, might fit most of the requirements of JIT learning. It also sounds a lot like Social Constructivism, which I'll describe below in the learning theory section.
I'll start by describing the way I'm building the module section of the Teach Me Digital Media website so that I can then explain how I think this fits various learning theories. The website will break each project down into chunks, and then those chunks will be broken down into steps. The site is broken into three main areas. The area on top is the navigation system. At the project level students will see all the chunks for the current project in the top navigation bar. The remaining screen space will be divided into two frames. The smaller left frame will contain the instructions for the current chunk. I'm trying to write these instructions in such a way that they are easy to follow, and that fast students can go through them quickly. I'm embedding hyperlinks in these instructions, and those hyperlinks are intended for students who want to learn more about how to accomplish that particular task. The hyperlinks will open learning modules in the right frame of the website. This right frame has the largest screen space, and I assume that students will spend most of their time on the website interacting with learning modules in this frame. The modules can take 3 forms so far: simple web pages with screen shots for basic instructions, short video clips of the teacher talking for mini-lectures, and Adobe Captivate desmonstrations for complex procedures.
My basic theoretical perspective is that of Constructivism. Within this broad perspective I will mix and match elements of various learning and cognitive theories, as well as teaching strategies, to try to construct a learning environment that is best for my students. I think that dividing the projects into chunks and steps helps create a Zone of Proximal Development. By embedding hyperlinks I'm letting students choose their own path through the instruction. This would allow for students with differnt ZPDs to go at different paces. The learning modules are optional. The modules themselves are More Knowledgeable Others. By chunking and listing, I hope that the structure of the website will allow students to scaffold themselves through the process of learning how to do the projects. The teacher, of course, will always be on hand to provide individualized help. A website alone cannot anticipate the social aspect of learning that is an inherent assumption of Social Constructionism. Students will also interact with each other informally within the classroom and formally within the collaborative Google Docs. Since advanced students and beginner students will sit side-by-side in the classroom I hope that this will take the place of peer modeling. The advanced students might even serve as possible alternate selves for the beginners, which should improve their self efficacy.
Cognitive Apprenticeship states that simply capturing screen shots of a teacher creating digital media won't produce learning with retention and transfer. When I'm creating the Captivate modules I need to try to model an expert's process and verbalize my internal thoughts so that students can understand the inner process of creating artistic digital media. I also want to speak to the students in a tone that assumes they can be experts as well. I also want to include different contexts within the modules as much as possible, as well as coping with difficulties. With 10 years of experience teaching digital media I do have a knowledge of many ways that these projects can go wrong for students. I'm also thinking of adding a fourth kind of module that could help students deal with difficulties. I'd like to add a collection of short videos to the website in which I help actual students overcome actual problems using the software. In video editing this probably won't be necesarry, but in the 2D animation project I'm anticipating that this might be useful. There are a LOT of ways beginners can go wrong using Flash.
I think I can take advantage of Motivation Theory as well. I'd like to start each semester by videotaping each student. I'll have a prepared list of questions designed to probe them on what their educational goals are and how they intend to reach those goals. Phoenix High School, by the way, serves many students who have life experiences that prevent them from taking full advantage of school. Many are at risk of dropping out or otherwise not fulfilling their potential. This video footage will become the raw material for each student to work with for the video editing project later in the course. Each project will start with a rubric. The rubric will ask students to set goals for themselves right at the beginning of the project. These learners usually need some guidance, so I'm giving specific questions and samples for each goal I'm asking them to write. These performance goals should help to give students an internal locus of control over their work. At the end of each project students will assess themselves on their own goal achievement. Prior to self assessment they'll have an opportunity to go back and adjust their goals. This should provide tolerance for mistakes and revision, which are key parts of motivation theory. I think I can even address the fantasy element of providing motivation. I'd like to engage the students in a simulation in which we act as if that the classroom is actually the design department within a larger business. The students would be employees of the business, and the teacher would be the production manager. Advanced students would be encouraged to mentor beginner students in the corporate culture and graphic design expectations of the business. I hope to design the classroom itself to reinforce this illusion.
I think that the self assessment piece can also address Articulation and Reflection within Cognitive Apprenticeship. For this to work I need to implement meaningful reflection within a shared community of practice. I'd like for this reflection to be a part of the students' self assessment practice. When students feel they have a complete rough draft of each project they'll use the rubric to move to the feedback stage. Students will solicit written feedback from each other, and then again from the teacher. They'll then have the chance to revise their project based on that feedback. When they feel a project is complete students will begin self assessment. At this stage students will reflect on how they met their goals, how they modified their goals, and what goals they might set for future digital media projects. Finally, students will assign themselves a grade. On this step of the rubric they assign a number for how well they believe they met each of their goals (after revision) and also for how well they met some fixed project goals. The teacher will have to agree with each student's goal, of course. In the case of a disagreement the student and teacher will discuss their reasons and come up with a mutually agreed upon grade for that project. The goals will always be the basis for a grade.