Archive for October, 2008

What Does an Instructional Technologist Do?

Whats one of the first questions someone asks you upon meeting you for the first time…what do you do?  When I tell people that I’m an Instructional Technologist, I often get this look of bewilderment with their eyebrows raised and the next question I get is, what’s that?  I think the most important part of my title is actually the instructional part.  Technology, of course, is part of my job, but the instructional part is what makes it all worth while for me.  So, to answer the question, what does an instructional technologist do…

  • Evaluate new technologies to discover new and better ways to enhance instruction
  • Assist faculty in discovering methods of improving their instruction with and without technology
  • Conduct training sessions teaching faculty and staff how to use new technologies
  • Conduct research studies evaluating the use of technologies and their impact on student learning outcomes
  • Create training materials to accommodate the self-learners and provide resources for our “customers”
  • Manage the implementation of new technologies on-campus for the use of instruction

The above list gives an overview of what I do on my job.  I would suspect that all Instructional Technologists  have similiar duties, but depending on the type of environment you work in they could definitely vary quite a bit.

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Evaluating Courses for Effective Instruction

I just finished a certification course titled “Evaluating Courses for Effective Instruction”.  It was administered by Blackboard.  We were given rubrics to use to practice evaluating online courses for effective instruction and effective instructional design.  We were also given the opportunity to view courses that have been named exemplary courses through their Greenhouse Exemplary Course program.  I have been working with faculty for a few years and have seen some good and bad in the way of online course design.  By viewing some of the exemplary courses I was able to gain some new ideas on ways to make online courses even better and I found it very helpful to have access to the rubrics used to judge the exemplary course project.

At our institution we already provide an online course rubric for our faculty to help them evaluate their courses to ensure they include all of the necessary components for a quality course.  We also provide other resources for our instructors to use to help make sure their courses are quality courses including syllabus design and writing effective learning objectives.

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Alternative Assessment Techniques

I came across this great podcast that talks about ways schools are finding fun and alternative ways to assess their students.  It doesn’t have to be standardized tests.  One geometry teacher has her students create the school of 2050 using the geometry and math skills they have learned to create the layout and models of the buildings.  This activity allows them to use their creativity and see how the skills they learn in the classroom can be used in the real world. She has 2 architects who volunteer their time to help with the projects and judge the projects at the end.

Another school starts their students off by teaching them in 2 different languages. They take their language arts classes and social studies in English and take their Math and Science classes in another language (Spanish or Japanese). This means the students will be fluent in 2 languages.

I was blown away by the creativity and methods these schools are using to get to their students.  It was so awesome to see!! I hope schools will go more towards methods like these than just teaching to the test.

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