Producing results

Upon first reading, I found the Dick and Carey chapter on instructional development surprisingly unspecific, at least in comparison to the Smith/Regan article. After reflection, though, I think I understand why: development involves production, production changes with technology, and the pace of technology change is more rapid than even the biannual editions of textbooks can match. In addition, production techniques are granularly-driven by the goal, the learner, and the environment; without specifying a large number of assumptions (and thus narrowing the content), specific production decisions and techniques are useless.

The three models of distance learning are mostly accurate, although a continuum is a more accurate representation than a table. For example, academic models are not inherently limited in scalability as demonstrated by Carol Twigg’s National Center for Academic Transformation research.

The discussion on finding existing materials was interesting as this connects with the learning objects concept I admire. In fact, searching just a single learning object repository (MERLOT), I found a link to a simulation of the sun’s path based on latitude and time of year that I think would work as a graphical illustration of part of that lesson.

The four criteria (goal, learner, context, and learning) seemed appropriate evaluation modes; I kept looking for specific techniques for each mode but again realized that individual techniques would narrow the discussion’s applicability. A brief discussion on the value of material reuse (especially for expensive digitized assets) would benefit the audience: most designers prefer construction over discovery at least partly because learning materials are seldom built with the notion of future reuse by other instructors.

The description of team composition parallels my own experience (although we tend to combine responsibilities as Dick and Carey suggest). I plan to read the Greer text on ID project management to investigate additional models, especially if Greer discusses teams for rapid prototyping. We use this approach when we build training courses the TeleCampus, but we have consistently failed to allow formative evaluation to inform our revisions, partly because we have not created a distinct evaluator team role. I thought Dick and Carey’s description of rapid prototyping as “successive approximation” (great phrase) and “simultaneous design and development” was right on target.