Monday, October 20, 2014

Interview with Jeff Kissinger, Rollins College Certificate in Instructional Design: Innovators in Instructional Design Series

The need for innovative instructional design that works in many different types of organizational settings for many different types of learners is surging now with the advent of mobile devices. Welcome to an interview with Jeff Kissinger, Rollins College. Jeff designs and administers new programs in one of the nation's most innovative college, which is known for its passionate approach to instruction and learner engagement.

What is your name and your relation to elearning?
Hi, my name is Jeff Kissinger, Jeff, and what is my relation to eLearning?  Well, at my core I am a curious learner and teacher, always have been.  I am fascinated by how we make sense of the world around us, interact with each other, and attempt to gain novel insights.  eLearning, to me, is connected learning, which I suppose one could easily say of all learning; that it doesn’t happen in isolation and is always situated.  But, for the sake of the topic and this question, and your blog Susan, eLearning might be considered connected, social, omnipresent learning enabled by various technologies and ecosystems.

My relation to eLearning is quite simply my love of teaching, learning, and tools and creative ideas that serve these. I began to develop a true passion and connoisseurship for this convergence many, many years ago teaching students with exceptionalities applying adaptive technologies for their diverse needs at an urban high school in Orlando.  I got to see first-hand how creative uses of tools and technologies could enable higher student learning and outcomes, but more so than that how it changed their lives.  From that teaching experience alone I knew that I had to always be striving for better understanding, competence, and capacity to help create the best learning opportunities possible.  So, again, to me, I see eLearning as a shortcut to describe the learning in our connected age, whether formal or informal, and where modality is not the predominant defining factor.
What do you consider your core philosophy of elearning?

My philosophy of elearning, and simply learning, is based on a solid foundation of open access to knowledge, critique, and creation.  I began my career teaching English in a rural area of Florida but truly began to develop a connoisseurship at the nexus of pedagogy and technology while teaching students with exceptionalities in an urban high school.  This experience planted the seed for a life-long thirst to uncover, explore, and share novel learning affordances of emerging teaching/learning practices and technologies.

At the core of these inquiries is a focus on Connectivism and the omnipresent social layer of our modern existence and the necessary literacies we must continuously hone.   In my teaching, regardless of context or modality, I see the world through a multidisciplinary lens, where technology and tools serve the learners and seek to improve how we learn. 

How do you decide what kinds of instructional technology to use?  
Drawing on my resourceful, scrappy years teaching in special education I was always searching for creative ways to enhance student learning opportunities with whatever tools and technology I could get my hands on.  Ironically, in those days most of us wanted more PC-based tools, and I had a bunch of hand-me-down Apple LCIII’s in my adaptive technology classroom/lab.  So, I learned early on to use what I had, in the best possible way, however what this helped me fine-tune in my own teaching was to focus on the learner and not the tool.

The tool will present itself if you have this non-technocentric lens.  This perspective has served me and my students well over the years guiding key decisions in instructional technology selection and application.  I guess the other thing I would say, and why I feel Apple technologies align so well with teaching and learning is that the tools need to become common and fold into everyday life and use.  We can’t have environments and tools that create needless cognitive overload or distractions that get in the way of why we are here, which is to learn, create, share, discover…

Where do you think that elearning is going?  I think when one looks out on the learning landscape we see plate tectonics shifting.   There is a mad gold rush within ed tech, and it seems like there are new ideas and tools popping up daily, which I love.  The challenge will be to make sense of it all, in a sober fashion, to best serve learners.

Practically speaking, I see analytics beginning to emerge in useful ways, a continued move to learner-centeredness, and a unbundling and disaggregation of resources, services, and paths.  Designs, practices, and enabling technologies that foster this organic unbundling of available learning options, focusing on competencies and more authentic higher levels of learning and assessment, will be the successful models that emerge and persist.   

What is Rollins College's new Certificate in Instructional Design? Who is it for?  
The Rollins College Instructional Design program is a learning experience comprised of 5 online courses and a capstone course that is offered in a 6 month sequence.  Designed for adult learners by expert practitioners and leaders in the learning and training field.  These courses are taught by faculty and leaders from higher education, k12, and workplace training.

The learning outcomes are:
  • Apply project management principles for local and virtual workgroups
  • Develop connoisseurship for learning technologies along with current and burgeoning theories and practices
  • Effectively employ technology in the design, development, management, and evaluation of knowledge creation
  • Participate in the professional growth of the learning design and training communities of practice.
  • Develop and practice a reflective commitment of continuous improvement to creating quality learning opportunities
6. Create an instructional program for a defined population and purpose
The topics covered include: instructional alignment, learning motivation and engagement, assessment, mobile and social learning, eLearning, learning technologies, analytics, and authoring. 

Why now? What makes this ID certificate unique?
The Rollins College Instructional Design curriculum has been a labor of love and has been a culmination of my and my colleague’s years of experience teaching and learning.  What we looked out at the ID job market we saw a misalignment with programs, degrees, and certificates.  We wanted to create an experience for learning professionals, or those seeking to break into these careers, that gave them the foundational knowledge to make effective learning design decisions that produced tangible outcomes.

Employing practical, authentic learning activities and assessments, the curriculum is designed to serve professionals in workplace training, k12, and higher education.  Unlike many of the ID programs we saw, which were heavily technocentric and didactic, we designed a set of learning experiences that we would have wanted years ago that affords graduates the confidence, skill set, and connoisseurship to be successful. 

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