What I’ve learned about Designing and Delivering a Program for Adults
Administrative is essential
There is so much research and discussion that needs to happen before a program is even created–space, type of students, budget, and all the administrative stuff that no one really wants to do. It seems like the person who does these things in higher education is not the same person who designs the program, and that is one of the first places where I have seen this design plan crack. There is much to be said for the designer at least being involved in some of these decisions; especially the smaller things (classroom technology, temperature, etc.) are the ones that make students upset the most. I have definitely learned the questions I need to ask in higher education, when there is this division between the teachers and the folks who make stuff happen. I think because I have been on both sides of the planning progress in my career, I am able to see the bigger picture when it comes to program planning and design.
Learning Needs Resource Assessment
Because so much of my program design experience is at a place where there is a small group of people who decide what people need and how it is going to be delivered that I was not aware of LNRA at all. My former department, VCUHR, is working hard to make their classes better, by hiring several people with an adult learning background and also asking employees what they want to learn. I am a part of several new committees where we get to suggest planning changes to HR training and meetings. For once, the department is able to see the divide of what people really need to learn vs. what they are told they need to learn. These committees are essentially focus groups in the “identifying program ideas” and “sorting and prioritizing program ideas” portions of the Caffarella model. I didn’t realize how involved I now I am with design and delivery in my job and I wouldn’t have known that was what I am really doing until I took this course.
Content as theory
In my jobs (or at school), I have never taken learning theory in account when I am designing or delivering programs. We did what we could do with slides in the allotted time period and sometimes had activities and hands on training. Vella’s Four Is were a revelation to me: it gave me something to ground my design, something to work towards. “If I meet these criteria, then I have succeeded to the best of my abilities.” The Four Is really bring the learners into consideration and how well the content will increase learning.
Group work for designing
I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I truly believe that working in groups has been one of the best ways to come up with creative ideas, especially in regards to content design and delivery method. The Center for Teaching Excellence is very cooperative, and so is central HR, so it would make perfect sense that one of the reasons behind that activity is a real outcome: higher quality of work. For example, talking with Rodney and Holly gave me the idea to create a Blackboard space for my program, which I think is essential for my learners to foster a personal learning network after the class is done. I don’t know if I would have come up with that on my own. Rodney’s comments on my blog were great and very inspirational–I discussed program ideas or things I was struggling with and he always had a good answer.
Rodney, Kat, Caitlin and I have formed our own Design & Delivery PLN, where we share our work on Google Drive with each other, make comments, instant message and email each other and encourage greatness. One thing that I have definitely learned from other classes that ties in here is that knowledge is created amongst people working together to find solutions. Social constructivism has been one of the main themes of my work in this graduate program, and it will continue to be when I move on to my career.
What I am missing
Again, I mentioned this in my blog, but it bears repeating: I wish I learned more about student assessment. Aside from this program I’ve designed, all my prior work on designing learning in this program has been with actual college courses. I assisted one faculty member in coming up with new activities and rubrics that she could use in her class. That to me what really challenging: how can students be assessed (besides evaluations, which to me are not the same thing) that they have actually learned something? I know that some of this is more pedagogical in theory and this graduate program focuses more on reflection and becoming an adult educator/learner than teaching students. But, for many of us, this is what we want for a career. I suppose I was just spoiled by Joyce’s class last spring, which I did not think when I was taking it (I was mostly thinking: yowza this is hard). Nonetheless, I definitely now have the resources for finding that information, even if I wish I had spent more time discussing it with my peers.
I am thankful to have taken this class with such an amazing, diverse group of people. I have learned something from all of them, and not just how to use a chest tube (ba-dum-dum!). I know that all the knowledge I gained I learned I can use to further my career. I am nervous about giving my project to the Vice Provost but I feel confident that he will see the work that I put into it.