Overview/Reflection Statement


Foundations


We have covered so much in our program. I have appreciated most the opportunity to connect my design acumen with my passion for teaching and learning. I appreciate also the opportunity to better understand the theory, principles, and methods of education and instruction that can lead to the thoughtful and effective application of my design experience to create better instructional products.


While I enjoy designing instructional products for a number of applications, my primary area of interest is designing for adult learners. Understanding what motivates and engages adult learners will help me design and develop better professional development products. For instance, I recognized a learning need in my cohort and designed a tutorial to help people get started with using an online tool for creating the website required for our program. After spending several hours of after EDIT 6100 class time with panicked adult learners in my courses who sought help with navigating digital design spaces that were, in some cases, very new to them, I had developed a clear understanding the learner culture and the learning need to design a possible solution. It so happened we were learning about cognitive processing, behaviorism, Vygotsky, Piaget and social constructivism in that semester. I was able to recognize my role as a more knowing other, to identify from my understanding of learner culture how best to address the complexity of learning to use the website building tool, to segment and prompt design elements in my tutorial to reduce cognitive load for the procedural near transfer learning goal. In another example, where the learning need was more procedural, I was able to reduce extraneous processing by producing a simple video for tuning a guitar. I maintained a sense of production value as a stamp of my own design aesthetic while maintaining the clean communication of the material. 


Before coming to UGA, I had recently graduated from a very forward-looking communication and media arts program that viewed emerging technology as the foundation of all of our studies. Our learning was situated in a dynamic and quickly evolving new paradigm of digital communication that I have learned in our program here at UGA parallels the arc of technological advancements in instruction and education. Digital media revolutions such as podcasts, and digital workspaces such as Google, Zoom, and Canvas continue to emerge and evolve and are important technological features for instructional innovation. I recently met with a university president, and he said that the instructional design degree program I had chosen at UGA was probably the smartest decision I could have made. His prediction was that the future of education, or at least a significant part of it, was going to be content creators and instructional delivery in online spaces. I feel my academic path continues to follow the evolutionary arc of instruction and education and the emerging technologies that are affecting the future of how we will teach and learn in the future. My original design doc reflects this.


Having been a graphic designer for many years, working on deadlines with teams on multi-million-dollar projects and smaller individual freelance design projects. Operating successfully on most individual instructional technology projects is not a problem for me. However, due to my prior design experience, it was often presumed by my teammates that I would lead and/or direct many of the design tasks for team projects. I was glad to do this, and always glad to offer any help to classmates outside of class time if they asked and there was something useful I could share. While I did not serve in the capacity as project manager, there were times that, when other task executions failed, that I and at least one other teammate would have to step in to complete a project. 


The EDIT 6100 research methods provided the opportunity to conduct an interview with a research scientist who traveled to Puerto Rico for the hurricane recovery effort. I was also able to design an informational video for a research proposal on legitimation code theory (LCT) that will be very useful asset in my future doctoral studies.

Analysis


In the infographic tutorial I designed for EDIT 7350, I used a brief questionnaire to conduct the learner analysis by creating learner profiles. The need, learning about infographics, was determined first by the learner’s calibration of their own prior knowledge on the subject of infographics as it was reflected by their answers on the questionnaire. A pre-instruction quiz served as both a performance assessment to determine prior knowledge and as a pretraining prompt to set up a cognitive trigger for material that would be found in the learning design. In the case of this particular group of learners, the need and performance gap information from the learner profiles also provided an opportunity to personalize the learning experience. I created an infographic of the learner profile data, on which the feedback from the learners and the instructor was overwhelmingly positive. Once the needs were assessed and the level of performance gap determined, I analyzed the required tasks to deliver needed instruction and partitioned tasks for execution. This product enlisted many of Gagne’s nine events of instruction, gaining attention with an attractive interface, informing learners of the objectives, presenting content in a guided format and assessing the performance.  The design, assessment and evaluation documents included in my portfolio submission reflect the objectives and successful results of this project.
The most successful team project experience from this program was the Korean Traffic Authority project for Dr. Choi's EDIT 6210 class. That team of very capable and proactive women set a great example for successful project management. I was able to contribute creatively to the narrative structure of the product design, suggesting the invocation of rhetorical pathos in a true-life, case-based model for a virtual reality learning experience for children’s traffic safety, writing and producing the musical features that guided the mood in the branching elements of the experience, and producing the early prototypes for the VR developers.

Design


For the EDIT 6400 class Odyssey project our group worked together to align our efforts with the Sayre school’s 7th grade standards as they were communicated by our teammate whose job it would be to act as subject matter expert and to implement this learning plan. Each activity was carefully designed to remain aligned with the objectives set by our SME as a project-based learning experience. The learning teams generated video artifacts which aligned with the desired outcomes. 
The semiotics mini-module I designed for EDIT 6400 was created as a multimodal artifact for use as a companion asset during presentations made to the Georgia Council of the Teachers of Mathematics. I presented for two consecutive years on language awareness and semiotics based partly on my undergraduate thesis. Other assets such as booklets proved too expensive. A web-based asset was preferable to keep costs down, it was editable and could be easily disseminated.
While I was not involved in projects that included curriculum mapping, I do understand it is a tool that illustrates the overarching goals of instruction, with objectives based on standards. It is a recursive and layered instructional strategy that supports desired outcomes, aligns goals and efforts with objectives to maintain fidelity of implementation. It is my understanding that these alignments are essential to the structural hierarchies of learning from subject, to program (curriculum), to course, to unit, to lesson to activity.

Development


Instructional design, as it has been defined in our program, addresses performance gaps, or problems that have an instructional solution. It is our job as instructional designers to use our skills and tools to ensure the optimal transfer of knowledge necessary to resolve performance gap issues toward a specific objective. For example, in the IRB tutorial prototype project I submitted for EDIT 6200, the problem was an overwhelming number of phone calls to the Office of Human Subjects (OHS) regarding the initiation of new studies to the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The information was already on the OHS website, but researchers were not using the resources available. The OHS asked for a prototype of a new tutorial that could be a possible model for future products used by the office to provide the needed instructional solution. The primary driving question was, "How can we encourage the use of online resources to reduce calls to the OHS for initiating new studies?" Client Kim Fowler loved the prototype which was submitted as a future model for a vast multi-unit module design to be used by the OHS to guide users through the research study process. 
Messaging and effective communication are the major pillars of my design practice. I spent the decades before returning to school entrenched in a design and marketing practice as an artist, and I spent the first six years of my higher education experience backfilling that existing knowledge base with design theory, visual rhetoric, and an extensive study of design principles. Whatever talents I possessed as a graphic designer and communicator were incredibly well served by the extraordinary English, Technical Communication and Media Arts program at Southern Poly. Every element in my design is intuitively created and as thoughtfully applied as possible to be in complete alignment with the desired outcome of the intended communication to the intended audience. The same messaging principles are central to effective instructional design with particular attention paid to the role of emerging technologies in a rapidly-changing digital world. This has all been especially useful in the learner analysis phase of design, providing insight into a more thorough consideration of audience awareness for the development of more effective instructional design products.

Implementation


The DIPG tutorial I submitted for EDIT 6190 and video PSA I submitted for EDIT 6500, in addition to being deeply personal projects, are examples of more rhetorical craft in learning design. The most important aspect of that product was the mimetic reconstruction of a true-life sort of guided learning experience. The natural sense of pathos and solemnity and personalization of the subject is what made the learning environment design of this product compelling. As much as possible, I wanted to mimic the phenomenon of learning about this cancer as I learned it, by another’s experience as it was shared in real time, mostly via social media. The far transfer, soft skill learning goal is a powerful generative learning experience, which makes it difficult to evaluate. However, it has proven a valuable resource. The learning module is housed on my personal web space, managed and maintained by me. The PSA video has been viewed nearly 44,000 times as of this writing and still gets about 1,000 views a month.


Several of the assets I produced for this program were created using products from the Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office Suite. Several of the modules were created using Articulate Storyline, one was designed using the Canvas learning management system (LMS). Online tools such as wix.com, GoAnimate and Canva (not to be mistaken for Canvas) were also used for interface, video and graphic design.
Most of the video was shot using an iPad and a Samsung digital camera. Video content was edited using Windows Movie Maker and GoAnimate. I composed and recorded several music pieces used as background music in the videos. Some of the music composed by me was from my professional album releases, some were composed and produced using electric guitar with GarageBand on an iPad Mini.

Evaluation


Several of the products created for our program involved the use of assessment and evaluation tools. The infographic tutorial for the EDIT 7350 element includes the pre and post assessment data collected using Google Forms with graphic illustrations of the outcomes. In the IRB tutorial product for EDIT 6200, the evaluations conducted on the prototype were positive on user experience, navigation, look/feel, ease of use, use of media and quizzes. The evaluation report for that product is included with the asset for review.

Professional Development


After the research done on my undergraduate thesis and the work done in the early courses of this program, I had become more and more interested in the psychological aspects of teaching and learning. I am not necessarily interested in the educational psychology perspective. I am more interested in the psychology of engagement and motivation in general, which applies to learning and to the overall development and human performance. As my understanding of learning and effective instructional design heightened, so too did my acuity for recognizing the mechanisms at work. While we do discuss intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as well as how motivation and engagement are essential to good instructional design, I am adamant that the human component is still the key to optimizing human potential.


The Jung Society of Atlanta, of which I am now a member, hosted a presentation on the vagal nervous system by clinical psychologist Philip Flores, Ph.D. The main thrust of the presentation was the empirical neurological and physiological evidence that human interaction strengthens the vagal nervous system, affecting and improving emotional communication and the quality of engagement, and reducing sympathetic responses. One of my key premises for my future doctoral studies is the effect of sympathetic and parasympathetic responses on learning and reasoning, particularly on memory function.

 

The Atlanta chapter of the Association for Talent Developers presented a fascinating webinar on The Neuroscience of Engagement by Leadership and Culture Coach Christine Comaford. Comaford is a New York Times best-selling author and a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur.” In her presentation, she discussed Maslow’s safety, belonging/social, mattering instincts in human performance. She defined and described cognitive biases and reward instincts in engagement, motivation and how to best engage pre-frontal cortex brain function to infuse meaning into activity. She also described how cognitive reframing could circumvent cognitive biases and reptilian brain defaults to redefine experiences in order to boost engagement and performance.
 

Ⓒ 2018 Liz Melendez Design  |   INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN PORTFOLIO

IDD/LDT, GRADUATE