The MOOC Hype Fades

I have been seeing this trend over the last two years and I predicted this trend when I first heard about moocs. My reason? I have stated it before but one of the comments from this article sums it up nicely so I will repost it. Here is the comment from the article by user hyptiotes

“Remember too that universities have been around since the middle ages. They are resilient institutions. The demise of universities were also claimed with the invention of books (who needs a teacher now!), invention of public libraries (free books to learn at your own pace!), invention of mail order courses, invention of closed television courses, and now the invention of online courses. You can at least understand why academics aren’t worried about their demise (again). Self-motivated learners obviously benefit from MOOCS, just as they did with the invention of public libraries. What keeps universities in business is essentially human laziness. Without a cattle prod and the pedagogical equivalent of a life coach standing over you and checking your work, most people would never finish a course. This is borne out by the abyssmal completion rates of MOOCS. Unless you can cure procrastination, laziness, and minimize cheats in the system for credentials, there will also be a place for credentialed brick-and-mortar universities…”

Why does instructional design exist?

Why does instructional design exist? This video is a great example of why – Because people would focus on the number of balls being passed in this video and not the dancing bear, which was also a key learning objective

Gaming in the classroom

I was recently interviewed on gaming in the classroom by WHQR radio. It was about a teacher implementing classcraft in their classroom. You can read the full interview here

Here is the transcript:

In a Wilmington classroom, students transform into some surprising characters—healers, mages, and warriors. WHQR’s Isabelle Shepherd reports that a virtual game is preparing fourth grade math students at Alderman Elementary School for the realworld.

Toth: “Alright, let’s take a seat real quick because we have a busy day.”

Students: “Yay! Yay! I like busy.”

Classcraft is a role-playing game, designed to be used as a classroom management tool. By working game mechanics into an educational setting, the virtual program has real world consequences and rewards for students.

Brian Toth, the math instructor at Alderman, recently implemented the game in his classroom.  He’s currently the only teacher using it at the school.  Toth becomes the Game Master in Classcraft.  When his students answer hard questions and do well on homework assignments, he can grant them experience points, which kids can use to cast spells.  These spells are rewards for the students, providing various perks, such as going to lunch early, using their notes on a test, or protecting their teammate from damage caused by bad behavior. Damage hits can lead to consequences like silent recess.

According to Toth, Classcraft takes up minimal time—about three minutes at the beginning of class and one or two minutes at the end when he totals up the students’ points.  The day’s lesson begins with a random event.  Toth says this engages the students immediately:

“They sit there, they cross their fingers, because some of the random events are positive, some of them are negative where people can lose health points or people can lose experience points. So, they never know; it’s just a random event.  They look forward to that at the beginning of the day. Right after that, they get to use their spells that they can get from leveling up. So they all raise their hands and I’ll go one by one, and they can use a spell, whatever spell they have. So they’re looking forward to that.”

Toth: “We are going to, uh, do our Classcraft stuff first. So we’re going to do our random event of the day. Alright, ready? 3, 2, 1… Human Shield: A random player takes all the damage for the class but gains 300 experience points.”

Students: “What? Yay! That’s a good one. That’s a good one.”

The random event does more than help focus students. It teaches them a life lesson. That’s according to Dr. Raymond Pastore, a UNCW professor who researches computer-based tools and gaming in education:

“Well, it teaches them that things aren’t always going to be equal, that there are random things that are going to happen. And that’s no different than real life. And that’s what happens when you’re playing a game. Sometimes things are going to happen that are out of your control, that are unlucky, and what it teaches you is, “How do I deal with this? How am I going to come back from this?”

Patrick Harrison, the technology assistant at Alderman, has a tattoo of an autobot from Transformers on his arm. He says he’s seen this life lesson about bouncing back play out in the classroom:

“There’s one student that is a perennial complainer that got silent recess as his random event.  It spun up, that’s what he got.  Even him, as a kid that will complain if you look at him funny, he just sat and was there for recess, and didn’t complain, didn’t get upset, just did it.  Later, he said, ‘That’s part of the game.  That’s how it works.’”

Individual rewards and consequences are just one component of Classcraft.  In order to succeed in the game, the whole team has to work together.  Instructional technology professor Pastore says Classcraft promotes cooperation, which is valuable in a corporate context:

“If you go into any corporate, large company, any Fortune 100 company and you ask them how important teamwork is, it’s going to be at the top of the list, way at the top of the list because playing politics, learning how to deal with people, learning how to pick up the slack for people is huge. Learning how to communicate with all kinds of people is a huge skill that, I don’t want to say it’s not taught, but it’s only taught through teamwork and experience.”

But students will inevitably move on to classes without Classcraft.  Will they still be motivated to succeed without the game?  Harrison says it’s like any other strategy teachers use; they just have to hope that some of the lessons stick:

“That’s your hope with anything that you’re teaching. Any teacher has got their methods and their ideas and their things that they’re going through, that they’re pushing. And all that we can do is hope that some of it will sink in.”

Instructional Design Hourly Rates

Many students (and former students) ask what they should be charging clients when they do contract work (and I have to figure this out when I am working on a proposal). Hourly rates in instructional design can vary widely (and they should). Rates should vary by task and client. First lets start with some of the  numbers then lets get into more specific reasons to choose an hourly rate.

First, the average instructional design salary is around $78,000 a year in the US. So if we were to calculate an hourly rate based on that it would be $36 and hour (which is 78k a year) but we would add 30% for benefits and retirement, which means that the average instructional design hourly rate should be around $47 an hour. However, given that contract work is not guaranteed and sometimes part time, this rate should be around $50-$60 an hour.

Now there are some other statistics. eLearning.net reports that instructional designers typically charge anywhere from $20-$90 an hour. And this will vary based on task, quality, and speed. They report that most of the foreign companies charging $20-$30 an hour purposely take longer on tasks and do not provide the quality that someone charging $50 and hour would do. Additionally given the role instructional designers play, outsourcing to a foreign country has not worked well for many that have tried it due to the language and time barriers – its very tough for a subject matter expert at your company to have meetings with someone who has a 12 hr time difference and doesn’t know how to put american culture into the training.

Finally, and most importantly elearn Magazine has created this image which shows some numbers by task. Keep in mind this is from 2007 but it does show how different tasks and clients should demand different rates.

So here is a list I have comprised based on stats and my own experience. These should vary based on the task at hand, the quality expected, experience of the contractor, location, and client:

1. Business strategy, proposals, needs analysis, needs assessment – $100-$250 an hour

2. Simple Design (articulate, captivate, PPT) – $60-$100 an hour

3. Advanced Design (simulations and games) – $75-$150 an hour

4. Development with Articulate, Captivate, or other authoring tools -$35-$70 an hour

5. Development that includes programming, Flash, HTML5 – $60-$125 an hour

6. Implementation – $50 an hour

7. Evaluation – $75-$250 an hour

Evaluating Computer Based Instruction

Here is a guide for evaluating computer based training – CBI. *Please note that this is a general guide for CBI. In reality this guide would need to be modified for each project so that it meets the clients needs, goals, etc.

Guide

What is the topic:

Software used:

Audience:

Delivery method (i.e. PC, Phone, etc.)

File type:

Compatibility issues:

Instructional Strategy

What is the instructional strategy/theory guiding this instruction? (i.e. gagnes, PBL, etc).

Is it used correctly?

Go through the strategy and state how each part/section is applied

Content

Is there a task analysis available to see that all content is being taught?

How many learning objectives are there?

What are the learning objectives?

Do they teach (have content for) each learning objective?

Do they asses each learning objective?

Multimedia principles

Are they following the multimedia principles?

What multimedia principles are being followed?

Simple and natural dialogue

Do they speak the users’ language?

Consistency

Are buttons in the same place on each screen?

Are the colors and layout consistent throughout?

Colors/fonts/layout – across the site/app

How many colors are they using? (should be 2-4)

Are fonts legible?

Does the layout make sense? (using a grid) Do they follow the rule of thirds in most cases?

Is it easy to navigate?

Are images clear, easy to see, make sense on each screen?

Feedback

Do they provide feedback to the user for assessments or interactions?

Provide clearly marked exits

Can you exit the program if you wish?

Provide shortcuts

Is there a button for a menu or to get back to beginning at any time?

Deal with errors in positive and helpful manner

Is there a help/FAQ button? Or directions at beginning of tutorial?

Develop for the output technology – resolution, colors, golden ratio/rectangle

Is the tutorial a good size? Resolution? (i.e. for the PC)

User friendly layout

Buttons/links easy to find/use

Other Suggestions

Any other suggestions?

 

How to save time and money in computer based instruction delivery

The answer – Time compressed instruction. Look here for a what is

Here is what we know:

– žaudio can be compressed up to 25% in a multimedia environment without sacrificing comprehension of factual and problem solving knowledge or increasing cognitive load (Pastore, 2010; Pastore, 2012)

This means that an hour of instruction could take 45 minutes. Lets put that into perspective, 1 hour of compressed instruction (25% so 45 minutes) vs 1 hour of regular paced instruction would save your company:

  • 100 employees who make an average of 50k per year ($24 an hour)
    • Savings of 25 hours and $600
  • 1000 employees
    • Savings of 250 hours and $6,000
  • 10000 employees
    • Savings of 2500 hours and $60,000

So yes you can actually save a lot of time and money by using this method of delivery instead of regular paced audio instruction