Sunday, October 30, 2011

Reflective Journal: Demonstrate Phase

As it turns out, actually creating a prototype is more difficult than planning for one.  I thought it would be the other way around.  You have all of these great ideas in your head, but I really do not have the technology "know how" to make everything work.  Rather than using Google Sites to create my website, I chose to go with iWeb.  From the online tutorials by GoDaddy, it seemed simple to set up the site.  Wrong!  I finally ended up sharing my site with DropBox because it was so much easier.  I will work on the hosting more at another date.  The only problem I have with iWeb is that you cannot customize the colors quite enough.  Everything is a little static.  Still, iWeb beat Google Sites, and is easier than DreamWeaver.  My question is this, as an instructional designer, would I physically be creating all of the elements, or would I have a skilled webmaster on my team?  As of this point, I think I would have to have someone skilled at creating websites, flash products, and video editors to do anything substantial. 

Evaluations have proven to be difficult as well.  Creating an evaluation form was easy in and of itself, but creating the questions was more difficult.  You want to word things in the right way, but at the same time you want honest answers.  Paragraph form would be easiest, but who has the time to sit and write detailed suggestions.  I chose to evaluate a few things at a time.  That way, I don't get overwhelmed by all of the issues.  I can focus on very specific things.  Once I feel I have those remedied, I will ask more questions.  The students will be the most honest test subjects in the long run, so I look forward to the pilot tests.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reflection Journal: Design Documents

Sitting down and thinking how you are going to do something is tough!  I am the type of person that likes to just get in and get my hands dirty so to speak.  I like to try things out, make mistakes, then fix my errors.  Actually planning is proving to be quite difficult.  I think in the long run however, planning will be a good thing.  As I was working, I began thinking about what the students need to learn.  What is truly important?  I think they really need to know why a portfolio is important, who should create one, what should be included, and how to actually create the portfolio.  Those questions helped me to form the basic outline for my site map, and organizational chunks.  I had honestly never looked at the standards of practice for foreign language education until now (well at least Georgia's standards, I am quite familiar with Alabama's).  I thought about how useful these projects could be in showing the SACS board what our students are learning.  This also teaches the students organizational skills, and how to determine what is really important in each chapter.  I e-mailed the document to my client and she said everything looks really great.  I think for her, actually seeing the prototype will result in requests.  I teach Spanish 1 and 2, and I actually came up with the idea for the online portfolios.  I shared it with my co-teacher Shelley (my client), and together we took it to our department head.  They decided upon Google Sites, because it would be the easiest for the students to maintain.  Our kids all have iPod Touches and Macbooks, but they must turn them in every summer.  This will allow the students continuous access to the materials throughout the summer and even after they graduate.  Our hope is that the students will have a desire to continue their portfolio throughout their entire language career.  If I can make it easy enough for them to maintain, the likely hood of more teachers and students using it increases.  That is why my client wants a very easy to manipulate interface, that is clean, and embraces other technology (such as ePub materials).  If I could have done things differently, I would have worked a little more with Google Sites before the planning stages.  I would also have started this process at the beginning of the semester.  I have had to go back to my group assignments to help me jog my memory.  How great would it have been for me to do my group work, then directly after create my own materials for this project!  There just isn't enough time in the day!  As far as my testing of the product goes, that is where I am the most worried.  As of right now, I have the testers working on the tutorial at their own leisure, then completing an online survey.  By doing this, I would be setting myself up for people to not complete the survey on time.  My fear though is not having time for the students to take do the prototype lesson during the school hours.  My first thought would be give it to the kids I know would turn in a survey, but that would be skewing the data.  I need kids of all levels to test the product and take the survey to get a true representation of the products' usability.  That is what I will be thinking about, and hopefully I will have an answer by the next blog post.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reflection Journal: Design Decisions

The design process is way more involved than I ever thought it would be.  You really have to pay attention to detail, and everything must be very deliberate.  Constant communication with your client is key as well.  I have never thought about the costs involved in the design process until this lesson.  Although my current project is very low budget, with time (and a lot of practice) I could very well be working on a much larger project with a much larger budget.  At first I thought this project would be very simple.  I would make a couple of video tutorials, put them on a website, no big deal.  Wrong!  Everything has to be planned out down to the font size and color!  Daily steps must be made to get the project done in time.  The next steps in my project will be determining outcomes and doing a subskill analysis.  I will need to gain a true grasp of what my client desires, and begin setting up interviews with Spanish 2 students.  I will also need to determine the learners current skills, and begin defining content.  I will begin writing a design document that includes an overall goal and vision for the product.  I will also want to begin looking at a syllabus.  My biggest question right now is how to deliver the content.  Would it be best to actually create a Google Site or use a product like Dreamweaver or iWeb to design an actual website.  Although, I have been looking at all of the above options, I have yet to settle on a final method of delivery.