I admit, I lucked out in terms of the final project. I already had an idea kicking around in my head that will work wonderfully. In fact, I shared it with Gillian Nowlan and we agreed we could make it better by working together and come up with an awesome outcome that would be useful!
It made a lot of sense to me to produce something that could actually be used. I have spent years writing papers that are between me and my professor so the idea of making something practical has taken on a lot of appeal. This is especially true since I now work with instructors who need support in teaching online but also have a lot of contacts with instructors who aren’t teaching online but could use some support with Web 2.0x tools or other digital/technological enhancements that could improve their teaching. Gillian similarly works with instructors but also other librarians and library staff who could benefit from some guidance about such things.
So our base idea is to build a resource site with a list of tools that instructors could use. Yes, there are tons of such lists out there. Why would ours be special?
Well, because we’re going to compile resources together that instructors, librarians, etc, could use to evaluate whether a tool will work for them and prepare themselves to use it. We want to include the following:
- Name of tool, general description, and link to its site
- Pedagogical issues the tool can solve – Why would you use it? I’ve found a lot of sites don’t really answer this kind of question. Obviously you want to use a digital tool! That’s why you’re there! Reason enough!
- Pedagogical concerns with the tool – Why shouldn’t you use it? This is even more lacking. Usually people are pushing how awesome the tools are rather than telling of shortcomings or sharing why it might not work well, but our instructors need to know this.
- Links to instructions and tutorials. This is super important with tools that are not supported by our university’s Information Services department. They will all be third-party tools so instructors need to learn how to use them and be prepared to help students figure it out too. Some of these we will be able to snag from existing files but there may be some screencasting in our future!
- Good examples of the tool in use. This is sometimes the hardest part. Great, they want to use it but… what does that look like? We want to show some achievable examples, not just the slick, professional stuff that a starting prof may find intimidating or discouraging if they can’t immediately duplicate it. Again, we might be creating some examples ourselves, but also approaching people using the tools to get permission to use an example, going through existing demonstrations we can find, combing YouTube for good examples.
The hope is to eventually find a home for the resource. I know that other instructional designers like the idea. It would be nice to have a digital home for the knowledge we have created and a quick way to share ideas with anyone who could benefit from the tools! While I’m busy working with instructors who have funding for course development and delivery, I want to find a way to contribute to the wider university and also those outside our scope. I think demonstrating and sharing knowledge is highly important.
One part of my need to share is to demonstrate some of the expertise that comes from Instructional Designers. We are often asking the question of how do we show people what we have to offer, how do we show we’re more than just tech consultants? Having something public that demonstrates the kind of knowledge we have (not just what the tools are but how they could help or hurt you) means that we can highlight parts of our role without sharing ourselves out of a job.
What this will actually look like has yet to be figured out. I’m excited, though. It’s a project I’ve been wanting to tackle and being able to work with Gillian on it and produce something we both find valuable is going to be a great experience.