Live demonstrations on applications of online instructional design as well as industry best practices were featured during the latest installment of Globe myBusiness’ E-skwela online learning series.
Leading the discussion on lesson creation and materials development in the new normal were industry experts and full-time faculty members, Lea Sacdalan-Abarentos and Jag Garcia, of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. They were also joined by Globe Education Industry Lead Mark Arthur Payumo Abalos who served as moderator for the webinar.
Together, the panel of experts discussed and presented key concepts and teaching strategies on the topics of Learning Experience Design and Digital Storytelling to help onboard basic and higher education instructors on how to set up an engaging digital classroom for students.
Creating meaningful online learning experiences
The role of teachers has seen the biggest shift during the pandemic, in what Abarentos describes as an evolution towards becoming effective learning designers. To overcome instructional challenges in online and remote learning, she explains that by learning how to transform content into something more interactive can significantly level up student engagement.
According to the web designer and developer, such is the essence behind Learning Experience Design, that is, to design course content that achieves learning outcomes through the ‘creation of meaningful experiences’ and using varied learning tools and teaching approaches.
To achieve this, Abarentos demonstrated how she takes a course outline syllabus and transforms it into a Learning Experience Design Plan by using a Learning Management System (LMS) on top of other online tools. She highlighted six main steps in the process: Discover, Define, Curate, Develop, Learn, and Evolve.
To know which best strategies in teaching to apply, Abarentos encouraged teachers to first discover and assess the learner/students needs through personal sessions or through a survey. This may range from issues in accessibility to learning materials, to even more personal challenges such as each student’s own learning capabilities.
The next step would be to revisit and transform the course syllabus based on the ‘pain points and then refining it as you curate it. This is the most tedious step, says Abarentos. Teachers must select and identify the ‘must-have’ from the ‘nice-to-have content’. This means having to decide if students can easily use the needed technology and then choosing the most appropriate mode of delivery.
After linking the best content and mode of delivery to address learning needs, the next step is to develop and structure the course content on an LMS such as Google Classrooms. Abarentos finds that the easy to navigate platform best allows teachers and instructors to layout their design plan. Available online tools, such as Canva, allow teachers to attach presentations that students can access through links, or even attach padlet and google survey forms that teachers can use for assessment after activities.
Lastly, through the processes of learning and evolving, teachers can measure if learning outcomes are met by assessing student engagements, and then revising their syllabus based on the outcomes of the assessments.
Abarentos believes that learning institutions should take the current times as an opportunity to upskill themselves by learning how to design better learning experiences for students. “As the world and our students are changing, so must our designs for learning,” concludes Abarentos.
Storytelling in the Virtual Classroom
A teaching strategy that teachers can employ in their Learning Experience Design Plan is the use of digital stories.
In his presentation, Garcia highlighted the idea of narrative-based learning where the use of stories and storytelling can help students better understand concepts and digest lessons. Applying the same concepts in Learning Experience Design, being able to skillfully optimize digital stories can level up student engagement, especially in settings where flexible learning is needed.
Digital Storytelling is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories, explains Garcia. It combines the concept of the oral tradition of storytelling with the added visual and aural capabilities of technology. He further explains that digital stories—not more than five minutes long and only using twenty images at most—can be effective in contextualizing concepts and in allowing students to absorb and reflect.
Creating a digital story begins with writing an engaging story. To help guide teachers, Garcia shared the ‘Someone Wanted Something’ Strategy that seeks to answer questions of “Who is the main character”, “what does this character want”, “what is the problem”,” how is it solved”, and “what is the result”.
Then, to make it exciting, he tasks teachers to think creatively by starting with a hook to capture a students’ interest. The set-up must then be concise and be able to explain the premise in no more than seven sentences. The run, or the body of the story, must be the longest part of the story that will build up to the climax. The end then can either be an open resolution to give students time to reflect, or a main conclusion to let students quickly identify the lesson.
Garcia is encouraging teachers to experiment with their stories by using engaging music, and creating unique characters. As for tools, he enumerates My Storybook, Book Creator, Plotagon, and Puppet Pals as some of the available applications teachers can maximize.
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