E-Learning Rattlesnake Tutorial

Context

This web based tutorial was one of my projects for my Master’s program. The course EDTEC 671, Learning Environment Design, involved the creation of an individualized instruction e-Learning module, complete with learner practice and self-test questions.  I chose the topic of how to protect yourself from rattlesnake bites, which would instruct a learner what to wear while hiking outdoors, how to avoid common rattlesnake hiding spots, and what to do if a snake is encountered. After developing the tutorial structure, practice and test questions with feedback, I developed this learning object using the Udutu online course authoring tool.

Click here to view completed tutorial

 

The Cognitive Standard

“Analyze, synthesize, use inductive and deductive reasoning, solve problems effectively and creatively.”

I was actually a bit surprised to see this project listed as exemplifying the cognitive standard on the EDTC 671 website, as I pictured it as more of a technical project since it dealt with the creation of an e-Learning module.  The site listed the project requirement of “Write appropriate questions for learner practice and self-testing, and implement those questions in a Web-based tutorial.” (EDTEC 671, 2005) as a cognitive skill, and as I worked through the project I began to understand why.

In creating our practice and test items, it was stressed to us that they must be presented in a way that goes beyond a learner simply recalling an answer, but they should promote “higher level thinking” such as understanding, predicting and problem solving (EDTEC 671, 2005).  After I collected various pieces of facts and procedures involved in avoiding rattlesnake bites, and synthesizing them together to form a complete tutorial, I needed to really think about the BEST way this material could be presented and tested so the learner is better prepared to PERFORM as expected when the situation comes. For example, if I want the learner to automatically know what type of attire they should wear to go hiking, asking them to simply write down words would not be as effective as a question that displayed various pictures of apparel with instructions to choose an ensemble from those pictures. To me this simulated a more realistic scenario of a hiker choosing an ensemble out of their closet before they left the house.

Challenges and Opportunities

I initially had sought out to create a programmed learning style of tutorial, in which the learner would be asked practice questions on each frame. I found this type of instruction to be quite engaging, not nearly as boring as having to read through slide after slide of content before being able to interact with and receive feedback from the tutorial. Unfortunately, after being ready to roll and develop this type of tutorial, I found that my chosen tool of Udutu did not have the functionality I would need to make the types of learner responses for programmed learning happen very elegantly. I took this, however, as an opportunity to refresh myself with another type of frame based instruction (component display theory) to use as my base model, but I still incorporated a hint of programmed learning as I had the practice and self-test questions placed after every few frames. I also took this as a lesson learned: fully research your chosen development tool before creating instruction!

Personal and Professional Growth

Well one thing’s for sure, I don’t think I’ll EVER get bit by a rattlesnake! Seriously though, I’m actually very grateful that this project had us really think deeper into the creation of practice and test items, beyond simple yes or no and true or false types of questions. Having to get creative with these questions, and have them better relate to the final end result the learner should know/perform will be key for me in developing any type of instruction in the future.

References

Edtec 671. (2009) Course outcomes and edtec department standards. Retrieved from:
http://edweb.sdsu.edu/Courses/EDTEC671/standards.htm

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