The Successive Approximation Model (SAM) is an excellent example of how to construct learning experiences using input from various stakeholders that are continuously reviewed, redesigned, and improved. I am a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), which is very similar to Agile project management. Both Agile and SAM embrace and encourage change. The learning experiences created in SAM must be meaningful, memorable, and motivational to keep the learners' attention, provide continuous performance guidance, and encourage new behaviors. Tasks are done sequentially and are repeated. The preparation phase is a reasonably quick process.
Savvy Start is intriguing to me because it is the part of the process I have personally been involved in when my school created new programming. I honestly did not know this is what the process was called before the reading this week. It is a brainstorming session with all key stakeholders present to gather information. Each person brings different expertise and a unique perspective to the process. It makes everyone feel like they are part of the process instead of a dean or director implementing new programming without any input. I participate in this process to look at the cost of the budget and staffing. Some of the questions I look for answers to are: 1. Do we have the capacity with our current staff to support this new program? What ancillary costs will we incur in addition to staffing – new technology, additional classroom or office space, or additional faculty? Faculty advisors are at the table to look at the learning objectives addressed by the new program. Does the design address the course objectives? We usually have two or three current students at the table to bring the learner's perspective to the group. Will this program address the needs of the students? How will this program enhance the students' academic experience compared to current instruction? There is also someone considered a subject matter expert (SME) in the course content, usually one of our full-time faculty members. The associate dean in charge of instructional design for the college is the person on the team that serves as the prototyper and ensures that the course's design is in line with university guidelines. We are lucky that we have a faculty member on staff that is also a certified PMP, and he runs the meeting. We allocate no more than two half-day sessions to brainstorming. It is challenging to get all the players in the room for more than that amount of time.
Next, we move on to phase two, the iterative design phase. We look at the prototypes, usually based on what other similar college departments have done, review the prototypes, and give feedback. This cycle continues, making changes, reviewing the new prototype, and providing more feedback. We take a hard look at the learning activities to ensure the basic skills needed to complete the activities are part of the design.
If we have time, we will use the three-step model and have an iterative development phase. This model is beneficial because it allows us to have an alpha release where the instructional program is almost complete, and it kick-starts the validation process. The reviewers at this point are part of a much smaller group that is looking for minor issues. The validation occurs with a beta release. The beta release is where we engage our current students to participate in the course and give us feedback in testing sessions. We offer several opportunities for students to do this. We have a Student Advisory Council that provides this as a unique opportunity for their members. We always have a significant number of students that want to participate. They love being part of the process and being able to give feedback that will enhance their instruction. I agree with Dr. Cantu that this phase is crucial when using SAM in higher education. It can be costly to do, but it is worth taking the extra time to develop the design proof and have an alpha and beta release to get more feedback, especially from students, on the course as a working model. The iterative development phase's final stage is the gold release when we offer the course for credit. Our students fill out course evaluations at the end of each semester for each of their classes. This gives us another opportunity to review the instructional design for the course. We have had cause to go back and redesign a course based on meaningful student feedback in these evaluations. Reviewing and evaluating the course design should be an ongoing process.
The SAMR model and TPACK model can both be used to get faculty to integrate technology into their courses in smaller increments. SAMR is especially effective for faculty that are resistant to using technology in their instruction. SAMR breaks down how to use technology into four different areas: substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition. Substitution uses technology as a tool substitute with no functional change. In augmentation, technology acts as a tool that functionally improves instruction. Both can enhance the teaching without drastic changes. Substitution can be as simple as using a computer to write a paper instead of writing it by hand. Incorporating interactive multimedia like a video or a hyperlink in a lecture gives more depth and provides a more engaging presentation. Modification occurs when technology significantly redesigns the assigned task. It is also an opportunity for students to collaborate.
A good example could be students using Google docs to collaborate on a written assignment. Redefinition uses technology to create a new task that otherwise could not be performed. Instead of students writing a paper, they would use a multimedia platform like PowerPoint or Prezi to give an oral presentation. Our vlogs in this course are a great example of this. I've seen or used the SAMR model as a student and an instructor. It is a simple tool to use to integrate technology quickly into instruction.
The TPACK model provides more of a map for understanding how to integrate technology into the classroom effectively. It explains the set of technology knowledge (TK), pedagogy knowledge (PK), and content knowledge (CK) that teachers need to teach their students a subject, teach effectively, and use technology. All three areas of knowledge overlap, creating seven distinct constructs of knowledge (Figure 1). Instructors' abilities of all seven constructs are assessed to determine if there are any deficiencies. Those deficiencies can be addressed through professional development. TPACK shows a relationship between technology, content, and pedagogy and that the purposeful blending of them is critical. TPACK helps faculty that are subject matter experts in the content they are teaching but are lacking in technology skills. Professional development for those faculty should focus on developing their technical skills to use technology to present their content.
Every instructor wants their students to have significant learning outcomes from their course. Bloom's taxonomy focused on hierarchical learning. In contrast, the significant learning model is interactive and non-hierarchical and includes elements that would be considered affective under Bloom, like caring and the human dimension. Significant learning also requires lasting change that is important to the learner for learning to happen. An integrated course design is required for this change to occur. Each category interacts with one another to stimulate other kinds of learning. This aspect of TPACK is significantly different from Bloom's taxonomy. This interaction can happen when emotion is brought into the instruction, causing students to develop an interest in the content. This can also bring the human dimension into the teaching by having the student learn about their own emotion or their peers' emotions with the content. All the different categories can impact each other and increase the type of learning
The twelve design phases play an important role in course development. These phases are very similar to other instructional design models we have studied and should be applied systematically. Each step helps build the foundation for a comprehensive course design that provides students with activities that address each taxonomy category: learning how to learn, foundational knowledge, application, integration, human dimension, and caring. The initial phase builds the essential components for the course. Analyzing prior knowledge, attitudes, experiences, learning styles, and out-of-class responsibilities are critical. Just as necessary is understanding the knowledge base, experience, skills, and competence of the instructor. Identifying the audience and their needs helps establish the basic framework of the course. The next step is to identify the learning goals that set the expectations and guidelines for the course. Creating specific learning outcomes form a framework for creating activities that address new knowledge, skills, and attitudes. What is it we want students to learn in this course that they didn't know before? How will this new knowledge be used in the future? Those are the key questions to be addressed in this phase. Formulating the correct feedback and assessment that is meaningful and aligns with the course objectives is the next step. Assessment should be done frequently with rapid feedback that is relevant and builds students' confidence about their learning. Active learning activities should be interactive, presented in various ways, and relate to the taxonomy categories. Ensuring all the primary components are integrated and built on each other is the final step of the initial stage.
The intermediate phase of design focuses on the thematic structure of the course, the teaching strategy, and integrating them to create a learning activity scheme. Each course will have significant issues, topics, or themes that form the basis of the content. Teaching strategies will include a combination of techniques that will produce the learning objectives. This should consist of active learning strategies like problem-based learning or team-based learning. Strategies and course structure will create the roadmap of what will happen in and out of the classroom from beginning to end.
The final phase includes developing the grading system, writing the syllabus, looking for potential problems with the course, and creating an evaluation process for the course and instructor. The evaluation process's feedback is vital for learning what worked and what didn't in the class, allowing the instructor to make changes for the next cohort of students.
I am a higher education administrator with over 15 years of experience in communications and operations. The views in my blog are my own.