Project III – Lessons Learned (in pdf format) & Lessons Learned (in Word file))
While working on my EDTC 6332 Practicum Project I have learned so many lessons and have an abundance of advice to share with my fellow students. My project is entitled Family Genealogy and the project goal is to guide those learners that are interested in tracing their family roots and compiling the information in interactive step-by-step training courses asynchronously. The initial idea was to create a solution for the many individuals that may need guidance in order to begin the process of researching their own genealogy, a task that has gotten easier since census data, marriage, birth and death records have been published online. However, the unique aspects of researching ones’ family history can be so much more fruitful if you can grasp the techniques and language genealogists are using and share in the data and files others can provide. The main lessons I have learned are the importance of periodic evaluations, feedback and the need to plan ahead. The primary advice I would like to share with my fellow students is to incorporate these recommendations, stay focused and remain attentive to the task at hand. I will reflect and return to these lessons learned and advice so that I may continue to advance my studies and improve my work.
Insofar as I am not primarily an educator, I have found it extremely important and necessary to rely on teachers, SME’s (Subject Matter Experts), my peers, professor and other resources in order to effectively gauge the quality of my ideas within my ongoing project(s). I was better able to evaluate shared information and suggestions into my storyboard and design document with this additional assistance. I integrated their recommendations and accepted their expert advice, especially in the areas that dealt with teaching. It was interesting to reflect on the changes empirically and decide if the modifications would be effective. At times I would ask myself if this is how I would have wanted the information presented to me, examples I would have liked to see, or activities I would have liked to complete. After taking time to reflect on their advice, I developed the training to include this information if I believed it would be beneficial. For example, I included activities that would reinforce the lessons being taught. The audience, or learners I am addressing may need practice and guidance when learning new terminology, techniques and concepts. I realized I was introducing virtually new terms, the language of genealogy and unique techniques and processes to the learners in these lessons or training.
A major factor in this lesson was the importance of periodic evaluations. When developing these lessons, I had completed most of the instructional design process in various storyboard formats, clips, documents and other archives but I had failed to verify the veracity of these files. This process in the development did not include the extensive formative and summative evaluations. When I reviewed the training with peers or asked for feedback, comments, and questions, I did not include the actual training, or the works in progress. I used to do this, in my previous works, projects and modules. Even when presenting the midterm debriefing, I often left the project running, and I was not as careful as I had been in the past. When it finally came time for the actual evaluations, a number of errors became apparent. I then wasted time trying to figure out what had happened instead of dealing with the problem. In future evaluations of my training I should not look for ways to improve my lessons until the end. I can now see that after the formative evaluations have been completed and revisions have been made, there can still be numerous areas for improvement. Most of the changes I have made have been the result of suggestions from my colleagues and SME who have been open and honest in their evaluations, generous with their time, ideas, and suggestions I needed to improve the training. From this experience, I have learned that the evaluation step is a critical part of the instructional design process and is vital in order to deliver a comprehensive and effective training project.
The advice I would like to share with fellow students is to always plan ahead, give yourself time so that delays do not derail your timeline. You must stay focused on your calendar. Your goal for your project proposal should be subdivided into manageable steps. If for any unforeseen reason, you get off track your proposed schedule, you do not want to feel the nervous stress of trying to get back on track. It is best, for the entire experience to remain calm, organized and then you are better able to deliver a quality instructional solution. Do not get overwhelmed before you start, but remember to not get so self-assured that you mistakenly believe you may languish on other distractions. Once I got so far ahead of my timeline, I became distracted by screenshots, designs and backgrounds that I ended up not banking any time for unforeseeable delays. I had also become distracted by numerous requests to upgrade my home system; the operating system and later the Office package – in retrospect I could and should have waited to do this, until I had more time, and did not have vital files that could be compromised in the process. My family ended up getting very ill, and I in turn caught the virus and had no time left. I had to venture on, foggy and not really at my best. This is when errors and mistakes are made. I am not stating that you cannot take a break from your project, that might actually help rejuvenate you. I have learned from my experiences that despite all those times that all goes well, planning and getting ahead is the better option. Moving forward and staying focused will benefit the design, quality and the overall experience of your project.
Looking back, I was able to learn so much from this experience, and I am still learning. I wish I had been familiar with the PMBOK or “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” and the guidelines for project management before I ventured ahead. I am still referring back to this guide, even now. I learned that the evaluation steps of the instructional design process are invaluable because they help deliver a thorough, effective training. The advice I want to share with fellow students is to plan accordingly and stay focused because inspiration can find you at any time. In the future, I intend to return to this work and experience to guide me through similar situations and projects I may encounter in the future.