I had a round-about journey into the study of education. My initial professional experience was in librarianship, and while I created programs that included educational content on a regular basis I had never studied education theory or instructional design. Rather, I learned through observing my mentors and colleagues, and through trial and error (and error, and error). Overtime I developed a programming style that adults and children alike seemed to enjoy. This was an iterative approach to instructional design (although I did not know to call it such) – I listened to, and watched, my program attendees, I looked for what worked, and I tweaked or discarded what didn’t work, until I had a storytime program style that hummed along like a well-oiled machine. When I began teaching at Kutztown University, I went through the same process again. I was hired for my professional expertise, not my teaching experience, and I had only my own experiences as a student in higher education context upon which to draw as I created my own lessons. Again, I gauged my students, I tried things (and failed, and failed) until I came up with ways to present material that was engaging and rewarding for my learning community, using an iterative approach.
During my first semester at Lehigh I took a curriculum course and had my first introduction to Backwards design. I had never heard of it before. I quickly realized how the approach aligned with contemporary assessment models (for good or ill). At KU, we are accredited by CAEP for our education programs. To make our case for continued accreditation, we have to demonstrate our students’ proficiency as aligned to professional standards. We accomplish this by designing authentic core assignments that serve as the final, capstone-style assessment for each of our courses. We are, therefore, designing our courses backwards from that final core assessment that is meant to demonstrate the student’s proficiency in the given content area. Once again, I realized I was using a version of an instructional design model without realizing it.
For this course I plan to return to Iterative Design, albeit a more informed version of such, for several reasons. First, I think it is my natural inclination to empathize with my learners. Second, I am not afraid to try an idea out and change it as needed. Third, for the intervention that I plan to work on, an iterative approach that is responsive to learner feedback might be most appropriate. My hope is to build a professional development intervention for youth services librarians that might help improve their sense of self-efficacy – this kind of training would seem to be particularly suited to an iterative approach.
The process to explore this model will begin with empathizing with my audience. In this context I will be thinking about individuals who provide storytime programs in public libraries. They may come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, they may have vastly different types of experience, and they may be serving diverse communities. My goal will be to provide an intervention that is sensitive to all of these variables. I will need to define exactly what I am trying to share with these learners before ideating and prototyping the modules. Feedback from experts that I hope to engage in this project and from individuals who volunteer to test the modules will help me refine the project and bring it closer into alignment with what might benefit my specific learning community.