Technology in all its glory and pitfalls

Next on the list for my blog series for developing effective curriculum is to take a look at technology, in all of it’s glory and pitfalls! Recall that we discussed that developing solid outcomes are the cornerstone that drives the quality of your course so that you can then determine resources, and then select activities, optimize your facilitation options, and diversify the experience based on the needs of your learners. Throughout all of those posts, you’ll note a distinct lack of technology. So when in this digital world do we finally get to consider those options?

Several years ago I got the Indiana Jones set of movies along with the extra pieces that showed how they developed the stories, storyboards, and made critical decisions long before entering the movie set. Later, I proudly entered the traveling movie paraphernalia exhibit of The Lord of the Rings with all my fellow geek friends. Again, I noticed how much critical planning occurred before technology became a factor.

So if the successful multi-trillion dollar movie industry understands this key feature to movie productions, why do we struggle so much understanding it with our courseware? I suspect it has a lot to do with consumers simply needing to get through their courses (higher education) or their certification programs (corporate), so demand isn’t nearly as high as our movie theatre expectations. However, this demand is changing as people become more aware of their options, and we need to understand this very important point.

All of this anecdotal warning is simply that: a warning. Don’t get lost in the weeds of your technological options. Who cares. In this world of incredible technological options that become more flexible as the literal months go by, I challenge anybody to say “well, I just couldn’t present it the way I envisioned it.” I would wager that little of that could be blamed on the lack of technological resources.

However, there are some important technology capabilities that we, as course developers, should be highly aware and constantly in the back of our minds as we do work through the iterative phases of course development. These capabilities fall into four categories for me.

  • Real time collaboration
  • Interactive engagement
  • Audio / visual stimulus
  • Reading options

As you start developing activities and providing more options for facilitating to different learner levels and different venues types (online, face to face, hybrid, blended), consider the options of those four categories provided below, and don’t let your creativity be limited to what I’m presenting right now. I guarantee in six months, there is are more and better options out there.

Real Time Collaboration
This can mean many different things as you may be teaching in a geographically disbursed manner (online) or you could be wanting people in the same room adding details to a project as physical discussion is taking place.  Regardless, Tracky, Mural.ly, and Cacoo allows for synchronous or asynchronous project planning, storyboarding, and dialog, depending on your collaborative needs within a course.

Interactive Engagement
This is a section for technology that is very important because regardless of how you are delivering material, you want there to be interactive engagement. Real time collaboration can be crucial for certain courses, but are typically challenging to implement smoothly and requires careful consideration. However, interactive engagement is needed in any circumstance, whether that be face to face discussions and breakout groups or be technologically driven. Some technological solutions can include all of the listed items from above, along with Lino, and if you are up for some more investment for long term development, Articulate Storyline.

Audio / Visual Stimulus and Reading Options
I lump these last two together because things like embedded videos in presentations are no longer high technology. However, the concepts are still important for creating well conceived ways of delivery the stimulus you feel is needed in the course. Remembering that no course worth it’s salt should rely on a single resource makes it important to bring in other viewpoints from various resources. This can be done yourself and effectively with different technology such as Powtoon and Articulate Replay,  but it’s important to recognise that anything that you create yourself should be storyboarded first. If you are re-using published materials, let’s not forget that licencing applies to educators too and it’s easier to obtain for non-commercial use…just ask the author!

…in summary…
This is not a huge list of technologies, but provides a variety of options as you consider ways to develop a higher quality course in the context of delivery methods. Lastly, but certainly not least, I want to bring your attention to two books that are incredibly helpful as you create technological delivery options for your course.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.

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