Podcast: What is Continuous Improvement?

Published: Thursday, August 26, 2021

This month we're talking all about Continuous Improvement. What is it, exactly? 

Listen as Adam and Brian talk to our continuous improvement team members about what the continuous improvement process is and how it can impact course quality. If you've ever wondered how it works and what you can do to learn more, listen on and view the transcript below. 


Speaker 1 (00:06): Today's University of Arizona Futures in Digital Learning podcast, we bring you a conversation with instructional designers from the Digital Learning team. They'll explore the topic of continuous improvement. Join Adam Davi, Brian Hale, Ana Fierro and Jessica Ament. As they discuss how the continuous improvement process contributes to quality course design. Take a step back, look at the big picture and come up with new ways to make what it is you're trying to teach work in a digital medium, and it's okay if it doesn't work the first time, that's the point of continuous improvement. They'll provide insights into what faculty and course developers can expect when discussing continuous improvement with an instructional designer, stay with us.

Adam (00:54): Welcome everybody to the Futures of Digital Learning podcast. I'm Adam Davi, a Senior Instructional Designer with Digital Learning and I'm here with my co-host Brian Hale and today we have two instructional designers joining us to talk about continuous improvement. So, I will let them introduce themselves, starting with Jessica.

Jessica (01:16): Hi, I'm Jessica. I'm on the Continuous Improvement Team over at Digital Learning.

Adam (01:22): Thank you. Thank you for joining us and Ana.

Ana (01:25): Hi, I'm also an Instructional Designer with the Continuous Improvement Team.

Adam (01:30): Excellent. Thank you all so much for joining us. Brian, Jessica, and Ana will be contributing to the Digital Learning download as well. So be sure to check that out and read their fun tips and tricks and helpful information about continuous improvement, but for now, let's get into this conversation. First talk about what do you mean by, or what is continuous improvement?

Ana (01:59): Yeah. I think continuous improvement means commitment to improvement. Being open to receiving feedback and collaborating with an instructional designer.

Brian (02:10): I love that, being open to incorporating that feedback. I love that phrase. Thank you for saying that Ana.

Jessica (02:17): Additionally kind of building on that. I also approach it from like the corporate sort of side of what continuous improvement is and that's like making small changes and like kind of always looking for those small tweaks, those small, you know, they see minor on their own, but over time, all of those kind of like minor little nuggets build up into like a mountain on like little rocks. I kind of also look at it in that regard as well.

Adam (02:54): That's a great analogy because I think sometimes you know, people think they need to make wholesale changes to a course in order to improve it, but it really just might mean a few tweaks here or there to get it to where it needs to be.

Jessica (03:08): It can be overwhelming too, if you look at it as a mountain instead of, of like a pebble or a rock that makes up that on.

Adam (03:18): That's true. That's an excellent point. It takes, it takes more than one step to climb a mountain. Right, you know, just like it takes more than one rock to build the mountain to begin with. Excellent. I know that you sort of touched on this a little bit, but how does continuous improvement impact courses quality?

Brian (03:37): Well, I think by collaborating with the instructor who is working on the course with the instructional designer, those two collaborating together, picking the instructors brain, giving them new features, new technologies that they can incorporate into their course keeps making that course better. But we, don't want to overwhelm them. You know, you've just put your course together. You're just launching it. And now we're asking you to think about continuous improvement. No, we want you to go through the course, let it run for this first time. And then once the course is over, take a look back at it and go, oh, you know what? I wish this PowerPoint was longer. I wish it was in a different place. I wish this video had a quiz added onto it because instead of just doing an actual D2L quiz later, I could incorporate a PlayPosit quiz during this video. I could be doing these kinds of things throughout the course that maybe I was so focused on putting the content into my course when I was building it and getting all of those check boxes filled out and checked off that I didn't have time to think about all of the extras that I could add. Kind of like if you think of kind of a sweet tomato’s scenario, you're putting your salad together, but oh wait. At the end, they have the dessert station and that's what continuous improvement is. It's the dessert at the end that makes the course better and worthwhile for the students and also, you know, for the facilitator as well, because they get to see, they get the feedback from the students, that my course is great because of these things I've added onto it or into it.

Jessica (05:16): Pretty much it like all boils down to your experience as the instructor, the facilitator and then the student's overall experience. Like they're going to let you know if something is walkie or wacky, or just isn't working. And I think it's like that kind of leads to another point about continuous improvement and that's like student voice in it too. I think there's a lot of power there in listening to what students have to say, like what's working, what isn't working, what maybe needs to be improved on, like there's a knowledge gap somewhere got missed.

Adam (05:59): That's a great point to bring up. I think it's an overlooked one sometimes because you know, we as instructional designers and then, you know, faculty, we design with what we think students need and what we think is going to be the best for students, but it doesn't always work that way, right. Because students are ever changing and you know, their needs are, are ever-changing. And so being flexible and, Ana brought this up earlier is being open to change as well, I think is important. So finding ways to get that student voice and to get that feedback is important. I just am curious since it came up right now, have you seen ways that faculty can get student feedback other than the typical end of course, surveys that you know, the University does and, you know, are not very well responded to, what other ways have you seen that faculty can get that student feedback and get that student voice to improve their course?

Jessica (07:02): I've seen it like implemented a couple of ways doing like pre, mid and post surveys is like a great low stake, like way to see where students are, see where they are midway through and then see where they are at the end. You know in those, questions, leave them open-ended so that they can give like an honest response or honest feedback, you know, project too just wasn't it. I didn't get it. I didn't get the point or I didn't see how it, you know, attributed to anything else in the course, like give them the chance to like, say those things, because maybe it just as simple as adding a sentence of how this helps you do this, or it's outlining and even like larger problem with like your alignment, you know, maybe you got off lecture about what's going on in project too, for example.

Ana (08:02): I think an important tool for continuous improvement would be the course design and Venturi. And especially when we're talking about students because it was assigned for during our success and taking into account quality assurance, rubrics, and higher education as well, that I would definitely like to see more of that student voice being acknowledged and recognized because as Adam was saying, right, that's really valuable and really important for when it comes to improving our courses and also getting that feedback from them.

Brian (08:38): I think it's important to designate the difference between using continuous improvement as a way to make the course easier for students to navigate through. But we're not taking away the challenge of the work in the course. We're just, it easier for them to understand what's required of them to get a certain grade in the course.

Jessica (09:02): Ana it was very interesting that you brought up like the course design inventory, because that's a really great way to kind of evaluate your needs essentially when I'm wanting to, you know, make improvements on your course. I also wanted to mention some like other good ones out there in the world that, you know, instructors, instructional designers, folks, TAs, you know, everybody can get access to, like tilt has it’s, transparency in learning and teaching. They have a great survey, like bank of questions, for like those pre mid and post surveys that you could ask your students like questions. They've really great baked in questions there's the Oscar rubric, which is out of the SUNY school system in New York, they have a really great, like rubric to assess quality. Then, you know, there's also the quality matters rubric that we all know and love.

Adam (10:09): Awesome. Thank you for sharing those resources, Jessica, that's very helpful. And actually before we get too much further, I want to make sure for all those listeners who maybe aren't familiar with our processes here at University of Arizona, or who may be listening from somewhere outside of our own little university bubble, can someone just explain what the Course Design Inventory is?

Ana (10:33): Yeah. So the Course Design Inventory takes into account the Quality Matters rubric. It also takes into account the three types of interaction that Anderson and Moore had suggested. So, looking into content and learner interaction, sewing, or to learner interactions and learner to instructor and traction and so that's another way that we're really looking into taking into account student's voices, right? Because that interaction with other peers is really important and part of that learning process. And so, we want to make sure that the CDI right is inclusive of current research, and then this way by including the three types of interaction, I think we're also being inclusive of students' voices. Making sure that our courses are engaging in different ways. And I know that's a conversation that we're starting to have even in our department, right? How can we be more inclusive of that and what are the different types of ways that we can incorporate learner to learner interaction? And so, the city, I think, more than anything is incorporating evidence-based resources, making us aware of the current research and how that can inform our course to sign, to make sure that we're being inclusive of the best practices out there.

Adam (12:03): Awesome. Excellent. And so when is that courses on inventory completed on a course?

Ana (12:11): That is usually done after the course has run, at least once after it's been fully developed, but the first instructional designer, that's when the course we'll move on to that continuous improvement phase and we can start having those conversations right. With the instructor, reflecting back on how it went, right that first time the course ran what are ways that you would like to improve on how we can, include that student feedback if there was any, and I think starting with this CDI really allows for that conversation to be open, right. It's a good starting point. And from there on being able to develop other projects kind of the ones that Jessica was mentioning earlier writes different examples of how a course can be improved.

Adam (13:01): Thank you for that clarification, that explanation. So, I think that's helpful to kind of understand in the process where those things come from and, you know, after the course runs, we're better able to see, you know, where can we improve, right. Both, from a faculty standpoint, from a student need standpoint, from an ID standpoint, you know, what are the things that we can change? So, what do you think faculty should be mindful of, when approached about continuous improvement? How do you normally approach them and how do you kind of get them to buy into this idea of, you know, yeah? You did your course, but let's make these little minor changes. Let's add these pebbles.

Jessica (13:53): Usually, it's like a very random cold call style email. We do inform like faculty that our office works with, but you know, this is part of the process when the handoff kind of situation happens and then we show up, you know, whether it's.

Brian (14:12): I have a question, what is the handoff situation?

Jessica (14:20): Yeah. So, usually like an instructional designer, two or three helps faculty like develop their course in our office. Then this handed off to an instructional designer, like one, to do that kind of continuous improvement, component. So, after all the work is done, there's a nice little handshake that happens, but you know, now it's a digital handshake because worlds on fire, so that's how that process kind of happens. So, when that happens, the CDI is always brought up in that kind of pan shake moment. And then I sometimes even forget. So, I'm just going to go out on a limb and say, faculty might also forget too. So, when I show up like a month or two later with like a, hey, I got some things you want to do something a little random and a bit of a cold call situation like, oh yeah. That, yes.

Brian (15:25): Now as a, as a faculty member, is there a certain amount of time that I would have to budget doing or implementing your continuous improvement ideas for my course? Or is it like, kind of like a menu I get to pick and choose? Or how does that all work? I

Jessica (15:42): Think it's up to you as the, as the faculty member you know, you could say, thanks. No thanks. And just, you know, be done or you know, you could say, hey, can I look at it? Can I, can I, what do you suggest? Kind of circling back to honest, like opening of like being open to feedback.

Brian (16:07): Is there a timeline that, so you send me an email like weeks or months, or whenever anybody remembers later, I get this email and I'm like, I'm teaching five courses right now? I don't have time for this. So, is there a timeline for me to implement a CDI change?

Jessica (16:23): Once again, it's like up to you? Like I will always ask, faculty that I work with, like, Hey, I have these suggestions and these ideas, like, do you want to talk about it? And approach it like a conversation, more than like, here's the ideas we're going to do them next week? You know, I don't care if you're teaching five classes, we're doing it and you're coming along. It's more of a conversation. So, you know, I feel like, hey, I'm teaching five classes right now. Like, can we talk about this in the summer or over winter break or, maybe, you know, spring break when I have like a day or two and I can, you know, spend an hour or something, just making a minor change or sitting in a meeting and hearing what you have to say. Yeah. It's just, it's a negotiated thing.

Brian (17:23): And I'm guessing, especially for some like new technologies that because we're constantly piloting stuff in Digital Learning. So, if we want to make that suggestion to a facilitator or a professor, it might take a little while for us to get up to speed on how to use this technology and then implement it in their course the right way. So, my next question would be, so if I do these CDI changes and we run the course again, and I have more ideas to change, can we continue to continuously improve?

Jessica (17:57): Yes. Always.

Brian (17:59): It's not just a one-time thing. It's an ongoing, that's why it's called continuous improvement. Okay. So, it's not just a one time. Okay. Yeah,

Jessica (18:10): I think that's important to emphasize when we're talking about course design, right. That it's an iterative process and that continuous improvement is really about that making those small changes. So, it's okay to start off small, a really quick way to make or apply some of the CDI suggestions that I tend to make are, have to do with accessibility. And so, this is for example, OCR scanning, PDF articles to make sure that the text is selectable and searchable. If we're looking to update, learning outcomes and by looking at Bloom's taxonomy, that's something that can be done by just updating those, active burps. And so I think there's different ways that faculty can really approach the continuous improvement phase. And if they do want to dedicate more time, we're always available. And that's what we're here for, to make sure that's when faculty have the time that we're providing them with that support. And I think, in my case, I really enjoy, my role as an instructional designer and making sure that student success is a priority. And so, going back to an important point that Brian had also mentioned is that, making sure that the course is challenging, right? That's not something that we want to take away. If anything, we want to make sure that we're providing, a learning experience that is providing them students with those skills and knowledge that they need for the future.

Brian (19:51): And to what Ana was saying. The, on the accessibility front, we look at that in the CDIs, but we also look at that much larger in the Quality Matters rubric. So, how Ana had mentioned, going through your PDFs, and making sure they can be scanned. Something I found out recently was if you have the free version of Adobe Acrobat, it doesn't do that. So, you must download the, you have a licensed version, which is free for all the faculty go to adobe.arizona.edu, download your copy of all the great Adobe stuff today. Excellent plug. And, like Johnny Carson might say, I did not know that. And so, I had a facilitator in writing multiple emails back and forth to me saying she couldn't figure out how to get this done. And then we drilled down through a support that she didn't have the right version of the software. So, I think another thing that is important when you're examining the continuous improvement of your course is one to make sure whatever software you have that the students have to use is accessible by the class. That's going to be taking it. And then making sure everybody's on the same version, because if somebody is on a version five months prior, they may not have the same features and you don't get the same interactivity with your students because, Steve doesn't have the same software that Jennifer does. And so, you, can't your activity that you have so meticulously planned doesn't work, just because of one simple thing that could have been prevented with a simple line in your syllabus, make sure you download the software on the, even if you have it re download it to make sure you have the current version. And, and little things like that. Statistics software, I think, especially, that's a big one when

Adam (21:51): I think you know, bringing up accessibility is a is a great thing because to me that's something that no matter how much you know about accessibility, there's always something more you can learn about how to, to make things more accessible. And that is something that in my role, as an instructional designer, I've learned more, especially in my collaborations with, with both, Jessica, and Ana, is you know, how to, how to incorporate more of that or not incorporate necessarily, but basically make sure I'm hitting those things better, in the initial course development. But inevitably it's like, there's things that fall through the cracks. Whether it's instructors, like Brian said, you know, you can work with an instructor and get all the PDFs you know, accessible and readable and, and where they need to be. And then at the last minute, they're like, oh, I found these other articles that I just want to throw in my course, and I don't have time to make them, accessible. And then you, you find that, and so 20 or whatever articles done at the beginning, it helps, right? It's, you're, you're making those steps beforehand. And, and Jessica has taught me a great many things about accessibility in tables, much of which I still don't understand, but I'm trying. But it's those, you know, those little things that I think, came out of the continuous improvement, process that now can, you know, we can kind of flip into that initial course design process. So, it's a, it's a nice circle, to, to kind of use. And especially if faculty are developing more than one course, right? So, they develop one, like they go through process, they go through continuous improvement, they get another one they're like, oh, well, I learned all these things that I could do, you know, when I was improving my other course, and now I want to use it for my new course that I'm designing. So, you're, it's nice that you can see like, oh, we've made these changes and it's not just that it's affecting one course and one set of students that's taking it, but it, it kind of trickles down and carries over. So, you know, I think that's an important aspect, , of how continuous improvement is helpful, not just in the small scale, but the larger scale as well.

Brian (24:20): So, piggy backing off that idea, Adam, I'm a faculty, I just put a course out there, it's run for one semester. I get a CDI form back that has a lot of great ideas that I want to incorporate into this one course that I've worked with you on. And I'm also thinking in the back of my mind, these things would be great to incorporate in all my other courses. Do I need to go back to my Dean and say, Hey, I also want to work on my other courses or how do I get an instructional designer from digital learning to help me implement this stuff on all those other courses that I did a while back that maybe aren't active right now? How does that work?

Adam (25:01): I'm glad you asked that Ryan. We do have a weekly office hour, virtual office hours that you can drop into, I believe it's Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, that you can drop in to, speak with an instructional designer, and get help on, on any of those things. And you can check our website at, digital learning that Arizona, that EDU for those specific hours and for the link to join, that's probably the best and easiest way to get in touch with someone, if you are still in contact or, you know, you have, you have been in contact with our, one of our instructional designers. Because you went through the process before, you know, feel free to reach out to them, and you know, see what they can do. If it's a course that came through our, our design process before, you know, I'm sure we can take a look at it, but office hours is, but definitely the best way to go, to get in touch with an instructional designer and get some help.

Jessica (26:05): I still have the format or what site too. We have a contact us form that you can fill out or your Dean or your department head could fill out. That puts you in contact with, our office as well, kind of gets your courses on our radar. That's just another option if like you can't make office hours.

Adam (26:27): Excellent. Thank you. Yeah. And especially if the course was designed, you know, many years ago, he may have worked at someone who has moved on to bigger and brighter things. So, we've talked about you know, a few specifics whatnot and in continuous improvement, but what are some areas, maybe specific areas that any of you focus on when you look at the continuous improvement? Like, what is you know, what are the things that maybe you’re passionate about? And you say like, this is, this is what I want to make sure I hit., when I work with, faculty or maybe some of the things that, you know, are your strengths or your specialty that, that you want to get across.

Brian (27:09): One of the things I try and do is take learning out of the classroom and digitize it because we're all sitting in at our respective homes in front of our computer screens. We don't have classmates right next to us or easily accessible to us. So, making that personal connection, either through discussion boards and discussion prompts, which are great, but they lack the tone of voice and a visual. So, I like recommending voice thread for in-person, or peer to peer feedback, I should say. Now the downside to that is it takes a long time for an instructor to watch their entire class worth of voice threats. So how do you get around that? Well, you either make it a short, you have 60 seconds to get your point across maybe a minute and a half., so give them a time limit. So, they don't just ramble on for hours. And then, you know, as the instructor, you know, that maybe during your weekly office hours is when you watch these voice threads, just to make sure everybody's kind of on the same path, displaying their understanding and nobody's getting really lost., but for me, one of my big things is whatever you taught in-person in a classroom is probably not going to work as well as it does in the classroom, as it does in the digital area. So, you have to kind of take a step back, look at the big picture and come up with new ways to make what it is. You're trying to teach work in a digital medium, and it's okay if it doesn't work the first time, that's the point of continuous improvement, do something once, see how it goes and then figure out a way to make it better. So, I always say when I'm helping somebody design a course for the first time, it's okay. If it's not perfect, we don't want perfection. We want good. We want good. And then we're going to keep making it better as time goes by because not only will the instructional designer have great ideas for your course, but you as the facilitator or the instructor are also going to be taking your own recertifications, going to your own courses and conferences, and you're going to see stuff that you go, oh, this is the most amazing thing. I want to do this in my class on whatever topic. So, then you're going to come back to digital learning and say, I saw this great thing, helped me do this for my class. And that's where, you know, we do our match.

Jessica (29:47): So for me, it's a couple different avenues and it just depends on what you want to do as the faculty member., so I come from like a world of user experience and, a lot of my feedback is kind of on reducing that cognitive load., that's super unnecessary in some, some core sites. Like I'm not interested in, you know, dumbing down your content, I'm interested in making it, so you don't have to think so hard while looking at the content or trying to find something. So, you know, what that, what that means in like a course design sense is, you know, how's your site laid out? Is it, is it complicated, hard to use? Like, am I clicking and scrolling and getting lost super easy as somebody just coming in new, you know, are there clear instructions on where to go, what to read, you know, kind of those like simple little things that you think, well, yeah, like it's there, but sometimes it isn’t.

Jessica (31:04): What makes sense to one person might not make sense to another. So having a different set of eyes and then the other avenues are, accessibility and, kind of those like interactivity, how can we make this course more than like a video and a PowerPoint up on a, on a website. But the couple of quizzes and like a detailed discussion, those are kind of the three avenues that I like to venture down, but if I'm approached with like a unique problem as well, like yeah, let's, let's do it. Let's take care of it. I also like to take that, universal design approach. I think that's really important. And when it comes to universal designs, I think the CDI really helps us and guides us into applying a lot of those strategies, that impact learners and when it comes to accessibility, I really think that we're being innovative because a lot of these conversations aren't happening as often as they should be. So when we're bringing this up with faculty, we're actually taking this proactive approach and making sure that content is accessible to all learners. And so, I think when we're having this, conversations, that's what I like to, approach it psych, more of that research based evidence-based practices., and I'm really interested in the current research that is out there as well. And so having those conversations, is really neat with faculty, especially those that are not so experienced with online teaching and are just getting started and trying to familiarize themselves with what's, what works right. And what doesn't.

Adam (33:05): That's a good point. I think, , you know, just because a faculty member is teaching an online course doesn't mean that they are necessarily well-versed in online teaching, you know, much the same as we assume a student who's taking an online course is, , not necessarily well-versed in online learning or, you know, it doesn't have necessarily those digital abilities that we assume all students have. And so, you know, I think that's, you know, where Jessica brought up the user experience and the usability of the course as well. And it's important to take all those things into consideration. Those are, are good, positive things to look at.

Brian (33:49): I think one great thing about the user experience is we have the wild cat template, which lays out at least a seven and a half week course in week one week, two week, three week four. And that really helps the students understand what is due from them each week, rather than going module by module like module one might be two and a half weeks. And then module two might be three weeks and module four might be half a week that can really confuse a student. And then that confusion leads to frustration and frustration leads to anger and the dark side of the force, bad things happen. So, just being able to, to hand an instructor, the wild cat template, blank shell, and go here, it's all laid out for you. Here's your overview page. Here's your start here, where you can find all of the, your instructor info and, and the syllabus. And here are the discussion boards where you can ask questions and meet other students. So, all of that UI UX makes it a much better and an easier experience for the students. So, they don't have to worry about how to navigate [inaudible]. They can focus more on learning the content of the course and then showing that they understand how to apply it to whatever. So,

Jessica (35:09): Yeah, that's exactly my goal. Every time, every time I go into like a course, I want to, you know, make sure that they can focus on that and meeting those outcomes and succeeding at the course, rather than like getting frustrated, missing a due date, because it wasn't clear or, like getting lost in the content, frankly, like you can get lost in a DTL site, I've done it.

Brian (35:44): You can get lost grading students, well site. So, I can totally understand a facilitator who just gets tossed into the deep end of having online course, just their apprehension of like, how do I know my students are actually learning something they're not in front of me? How do I grade their test work? How do I, you know so, and I think those are all valid questions, which lead to great revelations about continuous improvement. You know, if you're put in that position of, I had the worst semester because this one course, it just, I thought it was going to work one way and it wound up working in another way. And that's when you get to come to digital learning and we can go, okay, don't worry about it. We'll fix it. We're in. Yeah.

Jessica (36:32): Yeah., I totally remembered, like, another way, like you can also kind of see where those pain points are in D2L in particular is there's actually quite a bit of like robust analytics that go on in the background of your core site. So, you can see like exactly when and where a student's clicking around. So, you know, half your class missed, like week two assignment three, you can maybe investigate. Why not? Like, see, did they click on it? Did they look at it? Like, maybe there's a reason, like half the class didn't click on it, cause it wasn't easily, like they're kind of in that like module or that unit, or that week in B12 or it got lost somewhere, the link was broken. So only students who know how to use D 12 very well know, you know, go to the assignments tab, and click on that, as another way to find your assignments. It's like interesting little tidbits in the backend.

Adam (37:46): I've often said, you know, to put things in at least three places in teams as well, because you don't really know where students are going to go. You know, it may seem repetitive. It may seem like a lot of extra work on the front end, but it'll save you dozens of emails on the back end.

Jessica (38:05): So many of those 3:00 AM emails the day before an assignment due, I can't find this.

Ana (38:14): And another thing that I think is great about continuous improvement, it's not just about making the course better for students. It's about making it better and easier for the faculty to administer that. So, you know, when you have those 3:00 AM emails from the students saying they can't access the quiz or they can't do, being able to meet with your instructional designer or your digital learning support staff and figure out what it is, how it was set up to make it difficult for some students. And maybe there's an easier way to get a grade from it or an easier way to do whatever it is you were trying to do so that it prevents those emails from happening and makes the grading of the course a little more automated for you, the facilitator. So, it's not just all about the students, like 95% of the students. Well, let's say it's like 64, you know, you want to make it easy for the students. And we also want to make it easy and fun for the facilitators to do the course and not dread it, or have any kind of hesitation about, you know, something going wrong or is, is this the right way to teach this one topic because there's a bunch of different ways.

Adam (39:35): And I think what you just brought up there, Brian is the, you know, really the heart of continuous improvement because that type of, you know, kind of set up and, and realization and knowledge as you develop a course, doesn't happen on the first run, right? You have to continue to do it and make those adjustments and make those changes, to best figure out what does work best for you as a facilitator., and then at the same time, like what does work best for the students? Like, and it might not happen., you know, well, I can almost guarantee it won't happen on the first run., it rarely does., it's nice when it does, but it's not going to say that happens often., but it might not happen on the second run. It might not happen on the third, but you keep making those small changes and you keep working at it and figuring it out., and, and it gets there. Right., I mean, you, you get to that point, and then, you know, teaching's a breeze, right? Totally easy

Brian (40:43): Question. What about a course where you have one course developer who works with the instructional designer, but then somebody else teach the course. We only have 10 minutes left.

Jessica (40:57): So, I run into this a lot, with the, like colleges that I mainly support, they have the tendency to have, like new faculty in particular, kind of teach these like lower level courses that a lot of people have touched a law, you know, a lot of, a lot less stuff's going on in them. And there's a lot of really great feedback that comes from that experience, because you know, our brains all don't work the same. So makes sense to you as like the original developer might not 100% makes sense to, you know, the, the faculty member who's taking over this or the, the TA who's taking you, the poor TA might be taking over this course., and that's where, you know, having that clear and clean course design where instructions information is just, it's so easy to like, understand really comes into play, , and having that communication too, with your colleagues, like, Hey, why are there like end dates on the grade book that why'd you do that?

Ana (42:15): Like, how are you finding out what the, what the purpose of that is instead of, like getting frustrated that, you know, grades suddenly disappeared from the grade book, and you're not sure why, because you missed it when you like, got thrown the course a week before classes start, which, you know, we all know that happens right. Inevitably happens. So there's always really great feedback in those like kind of nuggets, but, there's, there's still really great feedback from your peers and your colleagues, , that can come out of that. Like, they might have a better idea too, on how to like set up that assessment or that, voice thread, maybe it wasn't quite working., you can talk about it like together with your like instructional designer to kind of figure out what's going on there.

Adam (43:08): Collaboration is a good thing. And, definitely, you know, I think Brian, you bring up a pain point for us as instructional designers, right. Where it's a, you know, difficult to kind of get that consistency. And, you also, you know, it's also the, there's a faculty developer that may do all the videos for the course. Right. But then somebody else teaches it. And now the students are seeing videos of a faculty member who they don't know, and then not having any real contact or face-to-face, you know, digitally with the person who's actually teaching it. And you know, I know that's something that Ana brought up as one of the three points of contact and, you know, how does that look and how can we, you know, maybe work around that problem and, and kind of fix that and look at ways to, you know, to improve that process. So, you know, that's, and that's where collaboration comes in, right? Because you want to be able to do that and fit that in and give people some autonomy as well over the course of, they're actually teaching it, even if they weren't the ones who developed it, they're the ones that have to kind of work in that space. So, what does that look like?

Ana (44:30): Definitely don't want to like also to be invent the wheel every semester, too. Exactly. Cause that's just unsustainable, like mentally.

Adam (44:40): So those are excellent questions that I hope we can delve into in a later podcast, you know, maybe in a, and give some, some of our listeners a little bit more detail about, you know, those specific situations, but, you know, I really enjoyed this conversation and I think it was very fruitful and I think it was very informative for our listeners, both on the ID side and on the faculty side. So ,I want to thank all of you for participating and, joining us this month. And, you know, I appreciate your time. So, thanks again, you can tune in next month and we will talk about, another exciting topic that if I can find it, ah, teaching presence, which actually was a great segue that I totally missed, when we were talking, you know, finishing that last, that last segment there, but yeah. Teaching presence and what that looks like. And, again, you know, faculty developer versus the actual facilitator, how do you, how do you put that in? So, please join us next month. As we talk more about, teaching presence and engagement and, we hope you enjoyed this month's podcast about continuous improvement and check out the newsletter too, because there'll be more in there.

Brian (46:03): Yeah. Jessica has a great article in the newsletter. So does Ana she's got a great article in the newsletter. I think I have an article in the newsletter. I don't know if it's great or not, because I haven't written it yet. But check out our newsletter. We've got some tips in there, tricks upcoming stuff that will help you get ready for your next semester of classes.

Adam (46:27): And if you like it, which we know you will send it to your friends and have them all subscribed and we appreciate it. So excellent. Thank you all very much for listening.

Speaker 1 (46:38): The Futures of Digital Learning Podcast is a production of the University of Arizona Digital Learning. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas you'd like to share with our office, go to the contact us link on our website.

Authored By:

Adam Davi

Adam Davi
Senior Instructional Designer

Brian Hale

Brian Hale
Instructional Designer

Jessica Ament

Jessica Armant
Instructional Designer II
Guest Author(s):
Ana Fierro
Former Instructional Designer, Digital Learning