Teachscape hired me to lead the design and development of their online and face-to-face professional development workshops for teachers of reading. As lead designer and sole content developer, I conducted requirements gathering, developed content resources and wrote instructional text including summaries of substantive research findings. I edited video interviews with members of the National Reading Panel, literacy speicialists and master teachers. I trained national facilitors and collaborated with artists, engineers, as well as marketing departments.
Video case-studies of teachers in the classroom served as point-of-departure for interactive exploration and analysis of key concepts as presented in instructional text and grounded in re-playable video documents.
Video triggered the display of well-crafted prompts which in turn primed learners for online and face-to-face collaborations with peers. This was my means of leveraging both synchronous and asynchronous communication to steer learners away from the seeing only those concepts that confirmed their current understanding and practice. Herein is the key challenge of instructional design for adult learners, achieving relevance and authenticity of task while presenting fundamentally new concepts and possibilities that will foster a transformative in the learners exisitng conceptual framework such that it compels their continued exploration and integration with classroom practice.
Repeated opportunities to explore concepts through multiple representations that engage reason, private reflection, and active participation or collaboration is essential to success in adult education. I welcomed the opportunity to work with Teachscape precisely because they combine self-paced online learning with face-to-face workshops led by a facilitator. This made it possible for me to design materials that would be revisited, explored, discussed, and with worksheets to be used not only in workshop sessions but in daily classroom practice.
Balancing the complexities inherent to literacy instruction, with the complexities of reflecting teaching practice and ongoing assessment required clear organization, concise writing, consistent nomenclature, and appropriate visual metaphors. I settled on a cycle of arrows as a visual anchor for tasks of the teacher: Assess, Plan, Teach, and Reflect. Subject-matter was anchored to the visual metaphor of pieces in a puzzle: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. For each subject-matter area I selected a single expert as one example of how design can lessen the burden of working memory, allowing to focus on the complexity of concepts themselves and how they apply to local contexts.
Among learners I for whom I was designing there are the Teachscape facilitators who deliver face-to-face workshops around the world. My designs included clear, well-organized, and detailed materials for professional-development
trainers with typically little time to prepare for the task of presenting before a diverse group of workshop participants from principals to novice teachers. Avoiding podium-style powerpoint presentations was essential to self-directed, engaged learning with opportunities for more experienced participants to interact with novices, and for novices to feel safe raising broad questions that often help expert teachers remain open to exploration. Setting clear expectations for how participants will be expected to participate was essential as was crafting small-group activities that were flexibile and genuinely challenging. For me, these were design challenges that could not be hatched in my head alone and required field-testing for which I traveled around the country putting myself in the shoes of workshop facilitator.