First steps in Instructional Design!
In distance learning, the challenge for the instructional designer is in achieving authenticity, without distracting students with too many technological bells and whistles (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). “The critical job of the educator, especially the designer of distance education materials, is to be only as realistic as needed in order for learning to effectively occur” (Simonson et. al., 2012, p. 92). Thankfully, there are a variety of technological tools that can assist a designer in creating authenticity for students from a distant environment. Utilizing simple, straightforward multimedia with a foundation of sophisticated instructional design and organization of activities, will produce an optimal distance learning environment for students (Simonson et. al., 2012).
In example 2, an Interactive Tour, an instructional designer can suggest that the teacher creates a lesson around using the fantastic interactive website, Google Art Project. (http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/project/art-project?hl=en). Google Art Project allows users to search a variety of museums all over the world, examine the collections, compare chosen works, virtually walk the halls of the museum encountering paintings and sculpture in situ, examine paintings up close using the gigapixel feature, all the while reading about the history and background context. Students can explore eleven museums alone in New York City, five of which can be explored “on foot” using the Museum View feature. Because this is a history class first and foremost, the teacher can choose two works from the selected museums and have students compare them using the Art Project’s compare feature, then research and analyze for themselves the historical contexts in which the works were created. A wiki can be used to facilitate a group homework project based around this historical investigation with students contributing their thoughts as to why this work of art was important to its particular time period in history. As a group using the wiki, they can determine and reach a consensus on their top three reasons why this work of art is significant to that time period. As the class comes back together in person, they can compare and contrast each group’s findings about why their chosen piece is considered historically significant in its time, and arrive at a class consensus of the three reasons. Using a wiki to collaborate promotes “a more egalitarian and constructivist style of management rather than a top-down approach” (Huett, Huett, & Bennett, 2010). Students constructing their own findings from their private research then joining together as a group fosters this egalitarian philosophy. Joe Jelen, a history teacher in Connecticut, uses Google Art Project in conjunction with his history classes to teach a variety of historical topics. In one lesson, he taught about historical trade routes and had students locate the features and artistic styles found within paintings that were not native to the artist’s home country. He showed students “how the porcelain cups, featured in a painting, found their way from China to Spain” as a means for illustrating this subject (Jelen, 2011). Using Wikis and, for example Google Art Scholar, in conjunction with sophisticated design techniques, is a winning recipe to achieve student-centered learning (Simonson et. al., 2012).
Another component the teacher wanted to include was an interaction with the museum curators. Assuming they are available, a web conference could be arranged using a discussion technology, such as Elluminate that would allow a “face-to-face” discussion with the curators (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Students would prepare questions for the curators in groups before the web conference begins in order to ensure proper use of time and class flow during the conference, as well as encouraging further student-centered learning principles seen throughout the lesson (Simonson et. al., 2012).
Simonson et. al. said that “a well-conceived online course provides a variety of learning experiences and accommodates different learning styles” (2012, p. 126). Having a variety of activities such as self-directed exploration of museums using Google’s Art Project, along with group work to determine historical context and significance of the instructor’s chosen art pieces, as well as a web conference with a museum curator, would provide variety that accommodates different learning styles. These activities would create an authentic and appropriately realistic learning environment in which students can use their existing knowledge of history to explore the arena of art within the context of history.
Google Cultural Institute. (n.d.). Art Project. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/project/art-project
Huett, J. B., Huett, K., & Bennett, E. (2010). The way of the wiki: Using a wiki as a management tool for online programs. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. 8(3). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/Fall133/huett133.html
Jelen, J. (2011, March 28). Bringing back the arts. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://teachinghistory.org/nhec-blog/24540
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.) The Technology of Distance Education. [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3396926_1%26url%3D
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.