1. In Chapter 3, Smith and Ragan talk about two major components in the analysis of the learning context: (1) determining instructional needs and (2) describing the learning environment. Please identify the needs assessment condition your ID project falls into (See S&R p.44 for details). And discuss the steps you will take to conduct the needs assessment for your ID project.
As Smith and Ragan remind us, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” (p.43); in other words, if instructional materials to teach digital storytelling already exist and are effectively taught, there is no need for me to develop them again. To my knowledge, there are no instructional materials to teach digital storytelling that can be used and shared among the teachers. At the same time, I am aware that there is a need for such instructions – many teachers would like to integrate digital stories into teaching communication skills into ESL classrooms. Therefore, my project falls into condition B (Innovation Model.)
As for learning environment, the following will be my main considerations: 1) the level of English language fluency of the learners (considering the nature of our school); 2) the level of technology fluency; 3) availability and access to technology; 4) current learning goals and objectives; 5) school philosophy on integrating technology into language acquisition classrooms.
The steps I am considering to take: observation, surveys, and interviews,
2. Briefly describe the learning environment where your ID project situates.
A college level Intensive English Program for international students learning English in order to continue their education in American universities. Students receive 20 hours of rigorous instruction per week. Students range in their English language fluency and ability – we offer 5 levels (level one are total beginners, 2-3 – intermediate, 4-5 higher intermediate and advanced.) Typically, it takes a year and a half to complete the whole program. Level 5 students demonstrate language skills necessary for college. The classes are: Reading and Writing, Communication, and Grammar.
3. In Chapter 4, Smith and Ragan discuss different characteristics of learners and how these characteristics can influence the design of the instruction. What learner characteristics are important to assess in the context of your ID project? What are some questions you plan to ask to obtain the information from you learners?
The following find very important characteristics to assess: Language ability, Technology skills, Interest, Motivation, Preferences for individual work or team work/cooperation, Anxiety level, Attitude toward subject matter, General world knowledge, Reading proficiency level, Vocabulary level, Cognitive processing style, Visual literacy
What are some questions you plan to ask to obtain the information from you learners?
What is your experience with technology and particularly creating digital media?
Have you ever worked with movie editing software and voice recording devices?
How can creating digital media be beneficial for your EL development?
Thank you for your feedback!
Overall, I feel that I have made a good start on my project. I have received mostly positive feedback from my professor and classmates.
Daniel has raised good questions regarding the assessment part. What will I be assessing - the digital stories or language skills? How the topics will be selected? Will it be individual or team work?
Thank you, Daniel, for bringing these important points to my attention. I think it will be important to offer assessments for both digital stories (DS) and language components. DS: staying on the topic, clarity, visuals. Language: grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, clarity in pronunciation, audience, and genre. I am still debating on whether to go with individual or team projects; team projects look more appealing to me right now. As for the topics, I am thinking about giving students certain level of flexibility to choose their topics, yet having their topics connected to some themes - possibly culture, education, government, history, etc.
I also appreciated Jessica's feedback - it's good to know that other people find my project (at this stage) easy to follow.
Finally, Jennifer has also made a great point - determining the learning goals. Thank you for pointing it to me, Jennifer! At this point, the main learning goals that I visualize are language development (ability to express themselves on certain topics, mastery of vocabulary, clarity/pronunciation) as well as technology skills (using various types of media, copyright for music/images, uploading, etc.) A lot to think about!
To sum up, I think my project is off to a good start, and I appreciate everyone's feedback as it helps me keep all important points in focus.