An important lesson can be drawn from a recent Dr. Oz show for Instructional Designers.

I was watching Dr. Oz this week. He had a panel of medical professionals on who wanted to convince viewers they didn’t need to ask for thyroid guards when they got Mammograms. It seemed the opposing argument really came down to the fact this “gives technicians one more thing to do” and sometimes might interfere with the image causing the mammogram to have to be redone.

I watched for a half hour as Dr. Oz asked leading question after leading question as to why they even have the guards to provide patients. After about a half hour, one doctor finally conceded it was because patients asked for them. Dr. Oz raised his hands and said, “Hallelujah! That’s it!” and went on to explain that if patients are worried that they can get thyroid cancer from the excess radiation, then they need those fears heard and addressed or they won’t get mammograms – whether it’s true or not. The medical professionals still didn’t get it though.

At this point, Dr. Oz gets more intense, trying to explain that we don’t really know how 10 years from now the relation between thyroid cancer risk and radiation from mammograms might turn out, so as long as patients are worried, those worries must be addressed. They still didn’t get it. They continued to try and convince the audience there was no danger.

The lesson is this: it doesn’t really matter if an instructional designer’s client’s perception of what he or she needs is right or not – if it has a strong feeling attached to it (especially fear), then it needs to be heard and addressed as a legitimate concern.

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“’It’s not going to work. This is a case that is not going to work, because the owner doesn’t want to allow what you normally do with your kids . . . . The hardest part for me is that the father or mother chooses the dog instead of the son. That’s hard for me. I love dogs. I’m the dog whisperer. You follow what I’m saying? But I would never choose a dog over my son’“ (Cesar Millan quoted by Gladwell p. 148 ).

Anyone who has watched the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, in action may have the misunderstanding that it’s all about the dog, his perspective, and his needs. Yet, Millan would tell you it’s not dog over human or human over dog; it’s about the interaction and relationship between the two.

When I read the above passage in Malcolm Gladwell’s recent compilation of his New Yorker articles in What the Dog Saw, it reminded me of the reaction some educators have to learner-centered learning. They think it means giving all the preference to the learners, without boundaries.

Those of us training experienced instructors who are new to, and nervous about, online delivery would do well to remember that learner-centered isn’t a shift of power but a shift of perspective.

~Lisa

My final project video for The World is Open course is based on the quote:

“With the enormous and intellectually enticing Web of Learning, anyone can now learn anything from anyone at anytime.” – Dr. Curtis Bonk

~Lisa

Spring is Here!

April 24, 2010

It’s official – spring is here and my class is coming to an end. We have a new picture, as promised! A new creature has come to the lake this year, a large white swan. Our dog, Lex, isn’t quite sure what to make of it. You can see the curiosity in his perked up ears; how he wishes he could go check it out but has been too well trained to do so. Fortunately, I’ve been trained to pursue curiosity. As I continue to do so, I intend to continue the blog, sharing what I come across, adding links, suggested sites, and an RSS feed. It’s been a great start – thanks Dr. Bonk!

~Lisa

Hot Dogs and iPads

April 15, 2010

I subscribed to the RSS feed for Elliott Masie this week.  According to his site he is: “. . . an internationally recognized futurist, analyst, researcher and organizer on the critical topics of workforce learning, business collaboration and emerging technologies.” According to Dr. Curtis Bonk he is an “elearning guru” and gets 8 mentions in his The World is Open book.

His learning center was just about the only place I found solid information on online learning when I started researching it in 2000 and 2001. It was someone from his center who very kindly answered an email I sent for advice on where does one go to learn about how to do online learning well. IU was in their top three list (the others were Boise State and Florida State). It’s what brought me to IU so they have a soft spot in my heart.

The first article to arrive on my iGoogle page RSS feed from Learning TRENDS was both entertaining and thought provoking, though very short. It came out of a conversation Masie had with a hot dog vendor near his home so I want to share it with you.

NYC Hot Dog Vendor iPad Ideas

-Lisa

This week in class we’ve been looking at RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, podcasts, and videopodcasts. I was motivated to hunt down some to add to my iGoogle page. I’m not much for randomly searching the Internet, so this is a nice way to stay connected to specific things I’m interested in.

I have RSS feeds either directly on my page or through iTunes now for:

Learning TRENDS from Elliot Masie

Thiagi Group

TED Talks

NPR’s This American Life radio show

NPR’s Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me

What I love about this is how organized things are getting. Finally, there are really simple (like “really simple syndication”) ways of organizing and using the infinite amount of information the Web has brought us.

Now, if only I had an iPhone or iPad I could be portable with it all.

-Lisa

Quote of the Day

April 9, 2010

“I think every publisher in the world should sit down once a day and pray to thank Steve Jobs that he is saving the publishing industry with that [the iPad].”

Mathias Dopfner, Chairman & CEO, Axel Springer (publisher of newspapers) on Charlie Rose.

We have a dual significance here. First, is the idea that publishers are finally finding more sustainable business models for making content available digitally which means more content available and accessible.

Second, Stephen Downes (who visited our class this week via video conference), would say this is yet another example of content control by big business who impede free access.

-lgy

My mom, who has done amazing digital art pieces with the eight tools of Microsoft Paint for years, bought an iPad on Saturday.  Here are her top 10 reasons she is in love with it:

  1. Able to learn tools in seconds instead of months like other programs I’ve used
  2. You can paint pictures right on the screen
  3. You can prop it on a pillow on your lap without it getting hot
  4. It’s easy to carry around
  5. It has thousands of apps
  6. Just one app, Sketchbook Pro, has enough brushes to paint a masterpiece
  7. I can keep it until I die and never use all the apps
  8. You can order your book instantly and read it now
  9. Apple tools are waayy easier than Microsoft ones to use and understand
  10. Steve Jobs is right, “It’s magic!”

Why go to College?

April 1, 2010

Mobile learning is the topic of the week in the World is Open. We read some of John Traxlar’s articles as well as having a live meeting with him via Adobe Connect which was great. Some of the interesting points and comments that came from those were:

  • “mobile learning is essentially personal, contextual, and situated; this means it is ‘noisy’” (Traxlar, 2007)
  • Mobile learning exploits privacy in places where women are restricted from other learning opportunities.
  • Learners are generating their own learning spaces.
  • Learning doesn’t get you a job.
  • Current 19th century learning models are being challenged to the point that about the only unique thing a university can offer any more is a degree.
  • “These attributes place much mobile learning at odds with formal learning with its cohorts, courses, semesters, assessments, and campuses, and with its monitoring and evaluation regimes” (Traxlar, 2007).
  • When thinking about using technology for learning one has to also be paying attention to the underlying political and power struggles that affect the how, when, where, what, and most importantly perhaps, why a particular program is being piloted. Those issues must be addressed as well.
  • A study with mobile learning was done with students in the UK (I believe) who were not likely to go to university. The purpose of the study was to show them they could do the lessons, it could be engaging, etc. in hopes they would then enroll in a university program. Evidently the mobile learning was so effective about half the students concluded, “Why go off to formal college when this works just fine?”

(All, except article excerpts are Traxlar meeting 30-March-2010.)

That means lots of talk about Second Life, massive gaming, and simulations – much of which most people have negative views about and see little educational value. Sarah Robbins (Second Lifer Intelligirl who has taught in Second Life, co-wrote Second Life for Dummies with Mark Bell, just came out with a new research book of which she is a co-editor, works for the Kelly School of Business, and is mom to triplet girls), visited our class via Breeze.

I was impressed how she fielded a question about concerns of people posing to be someone they are not. She said someone needs to do the hard data because her experiences are that some people, yes, use virtual reality as a place of entertainment where they might pretend to be more outgoing than they are or try things out they are not likely to try in offline life, but most people (like her and Mark) are simply the same people in Second Life they are offline. It was refreshing to hear someone with validity make those statements.

Sometimes fears cause us to make more out of situations than they really. While it’s easier perhaps to make up a false persona online, it doesn’t necessarily follow that people will do that. I think most of us have much deeper desires to be known for who we really are than to pretend we are something we are not. And, when others know and respond to who we are, we grow a little – we become. And, isn’t that what education is all about? Becoming the person we are meant to be?

-Lisa