Month 10 AR Blog Post

1. Is there a connection between the data produced from your Cycles and the research reported in your Literature Review?

As was discussed in my literature review, by engaging the students with technology it should be possible to get more of their attention and therefor have better overall grades and attendance. I am definitely finding this to be true. Having the students start the class by using and learning more about their computers, everything seems to start off on a more positive note, and the students seem to find the course material more relevant overall.

2. How did your AR project turn out for you? Describe as a practitioner, how did this project improve your practice.

This project has really demonstrated the importance of analysis. The ADDIE process in general has been so beneficial determining what changes needed to be made in order to keep the course material relevant and to help the students make better connections with the material.

3. Is a personal learning environment or an LMO something that could be part of your AR project in the future?

Absolutely, I believe that a learning management system such as Schoolology or Moodle will be extremely useful in consolidating all of my course activities, quizzes, assignments, and attendance. I think it will also encourage my lab instructors to participate even more in the ongoing development and evolution of System Support. I look forward to incorporating assignments using a blog format, and to being able to create student group and more online student interaction.

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Gaming and Motivation Lesson Plan

This is a lesson plan that I have developed based on my Action Research but from the perspective of gaming theory. For this I have used Dr. Daniel Siegel’s PICKASEAT framework. I have actually found the idea of incorporating more game play into class very intriguing and full of potential for engaging the students and improving the success of their learning. There are many ideas I have been considering for creating gameplay in the course, and I hope to get a chance to develop and try several of them. Here is just one of my ideas.

Pacing

The first participant would be a volunteer from the class, to come up individually and start the game. Initial incentive would be the award of extra credit points for a correct solution to the scenario. There would be no time for standing around and hesitating, as the idea is to come up with answers and solutions to real life scenarios that professional audio engineers might encounter. The key elements of the scenarios would be revealed and describe the situation as it unfolds based on the selection of the cards. The first player is expected to keep up with developing story by explaining their actions as the class follows along. Any hesitation and the player is fired and replaced by the next volunteer. It is important the players do not fall behind the developing situation and continuing list of tasks and instructions. The pressure of the on looking class intensifies the game.

Instructions

Students will be expected to react and troubleshoot using techniques and topics that were covered in class. The most important thing is that the player pays close attention to the details of the situation so they can decide the best course of action to get the job done, or solve the problem. So the main instruction is to be observant and respond to the situation to the best of their ability, and to be quick and deliberate.

Controls

Learners will be manipulating their response and actions to the different challenges as they arise. They will decide if they will use their computer, what software they would use, what Internet website they would visit, what system preferences they would change, what other equipment or cables they may need, and how they would plug it all in or troubleshoot. Students would be adjusting signal flow, software settings, and hardware configurations to accomplish the given task or fix the problem.

Knowledge

The students will be expected to have some knowledge of computer settings and signal flow and ideas on how to troubleshoot different technical problems as well as understanding of some basic studio procedures. The game is designed to have them thinking under pressure and to present some random real life scenarios of where they would apply the concepts they have learned in class. The idea is for them to learn how the broad base of technical understanding can really inform their responses and decisions in the studio or real life scenario. When they have finished playing, hopefully they will come away with a better understanding of how technical competence in any situation can help minimize anxiety and improve their ability to communicate, observe, make decisions and get the job done.

Achievements

Students will work their way through a scenario involving several elements of recording session setup and troubleshooting, along the way becoming familiar with the different variables that may determine how a project gets done in the studio. The will come up with solutions to problems that may be handled any in numbers of ways, realizing the importance of observations and deliberate action. In the short-term the will begin to understand how a session can turn for the better or worse in an instant based on a level-headed decision or panic and anxiety. In the long-term they will begin to understand that no one person is an island, and in many situations you will be relying on other people’s competence or working to compensate for others incompetence. They will learn troubleshooting techniques are a combination of confidence, application of knowledge, and thinking on your toes. The more technical understanding they have, the more easily problems will be resolved with less panic and with less time wasted. They will find begin to see the little personal rewards that come from knowing and solving problems before anyone else notices the potential problem. The overall desired result is to build confidence, reduce anxiety, and eliminate the potential for panic.

Story

The story will begin with the student or player entering a recording session as the 2nd engineer. They will be given a description of the session, which will be unique for each new round of play. The instructor will act like the dungeon master in Dungeons and Dragons, developing the scenario as the player progresses deeper into the session. Many details of the studio environment, personnel, and equipment will be described to the player, some of them important, and some of them not. The detail of the description will be vital to the engagement of the player, but many of the elements of the session will be drawn from a deck of cards. Much of the description will be based on the instructor, and left to the instructor to embellish. It will be an opportunity for the instructor to draw from personal experiences and tell a story along the way. Engineers do like to tell stories about sessions they’ve worked on, and including technical details is one of those geeky tendencies we have. Now the students will be given the opportunity to try to work their way through a recording session through the eyes of a seasoned professional. Pictures can be incorporated as well using projections, showing images of equipment and frustrated or happy musicians and studio staff. success comes in the form of a gold record and a fat paycheck. Well pictures of them anyways.

Endgame

If the player fails to come up with useful solutions, they will be fired and the next student volunteer will be asked to come up and carry on with the session. Depending on the complexity of the scenario the game will end when either the present task has been set up and completed, or the project has been finished. Along the way, the challenges and bad guys will including technical problems, demanding engineers, moody musicians, and producers with seemingly unrealistic expectations. When level heads prevail, a reasonable outcome will be achieved, and the project will be completed for delivery to the next phase of either mixing, mastering, or distribution.

Assessment

When the player comes up with a proper solution to a problem they will successfully move on. When they come up with an incorrect solution the problem will become compounded and three incorrect solutions in a row will lead to upsetting the session and getting fired. The next volunteer will step into the problems left behind from the last player. Every step of the way the instructor and observing classmates will determine the validity and success of the players reaction and solutions.

Timing

The game will take between 30 minutes and an hour to play out through a scenario. The game length will be determined by the instructor and how complex or lengthy they choose to make the session or scenario. For shorter game play, simple sessions can be used, while for longer game play multiple players can be involved in more of a project scenario.

Fun and Motivation

Students will find this game fun because they’ll get to watch their classmates respond to scenarios in the recording studio under pressure. They will also get the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in front of the class, and potentially help fellow classmates by coming up with solutions. If the situation gets too difficult for one student, then there is always the opportunity to let the whole class try to come up with a solution. The game will also be unpredictable for the students, as they won’t know exactly to expect or if the solution or end is around the corner or if some other musician is going to walk into the studio with a posse and cause utter chaos to break out. It will be about communication and dealing with people as much as it will be about demonstrating technical aptitude. It will make the old idea of story telling more engaging because it becomes like a choose your own adventure where there are more obvious right and wrong solutions. Just like Dungeons and Dragons engages the power of imagination of role-playing, this will as well, while giving the students they opportunity to show what they’ve learned and see how it’s relevant. Extra fun can be had as the teacher decides to include elements of surprise in the session, like the drunk musician, or the lead singer’s girlfriend and barking dog. Don’t forget the drummer who can’t play to the click track, that’s always fun.

This game will allow for students to learn through a simulation environment as well as to be coached along the way by the instructor. It will provide the students an opportunity to make connections between some of the more abstract theories of the electronics and equipment, and how that knowledge can bolster their confidence and allow them to be more effective in real life situations.

GSM – Month 9

1. Describe in detail the methods, quantitative, qualitative or a mixed approach, you used for Cycle 1 data collection.

I used both quantitative and qualitative data collection for cycle 1 because there are so many ways to assess the quality and value of education. Since there are so many opportunities to collect data, I made an attempt to collect as much as possible in as many ways as possible.

  • Quantitatively I collected data on student performance that I was able to compare to the previous classes of the last two months in particular. There are 4 tests in both lab and lecture that are assessments of the material covered in class. We have been administering variations of these tests for quite some time now, though we made some changes to the assessments based on the adjustments we made to the course material. Attendance records were kept as well for every lab and lecture, and they could be compared to the attendance records we have kept for previous terms. Every lab and lecture class counts for 3 hours of attendance and attendance is taken twice every class. I was also able to look at the number of students who failed the class to compare to previous classes as a measure of student success. Comparing averages of all this quantitative data provided straight forward results that would show if students were making improvements or not.
  • Data was collected qualitatively in several different ways as well from the input of students, instructors, and the class student advisor. At the beginning of the class I sent a link to an entrance survey asking students about their computer experience and I also had them take a similar exit survey that focused a little more on how much they had learned. There was also an extra credit assignment asking the students directly what they learned from class. An evaluation that the students filled out in the last lecture class on how they felt about the overall quality of the class and instructors provided another source of qualitative feedback. Betti Gutierrez, the student advisor that has been working closely with my class, collected more data by documenting the reasons students said they were missing class and having trouble. The lab instructors provided weekly feedback during course meetings and we discussed what seemed to be working or what wasn’t. With all of those individuals elaborating on their experience and providing input, I’ve ended up with a substantial amount of data, but I think it is better to have too much data than too little. The process of sorting it out and making sense of it all has required quite a bit of chunking and sorting.

2. Describe, synthesize, and compare the data found for Cycle 1 and Cycle 2.

For cycle 1 there was a noticeable improvement in student attendance and grades. The student attitudes were slightly better in general, and there was an overall increase in the basic understanding of how to care for their computers. Students said they learned a lot about their computers and they scored better on tests. Overall attendance also improved. The biggest improvement was that the month before cycle 1 we had just under a 25% failure rate and for cycle 1 it dropped down to less than 10%. Some students also connected with professional websites and found them useful for their education and future careers, but there still seemed to be some resistance to the more technical topics.

Cycle 2 ended up with a somewhat higher failure rate, just under 12%, and attendance was slightly lower at a little below 77%, where cycle 1 was over 78%. Scores for cycle 2 were higher than in previous classes with an average of 77.9%. We are still finding students having horrible anxiety over the math aspects of the course, so this is the next obstacle. Both cycles showed improved student engagement and understanding of how to use their computers and be responsible digital citizens. I am still looking through the extra credit submissions and we are waiting for the results of the evaluations to complete the data collection for cycle 2. Since cycle 2 involved only a few adjustments compared to cycle 1, it went a little more smoothly in general. There were a few outside factors that affected lab instructor’s and my schedule that had to be dealt with during cycle 2, but I am expecting slightly better feedback from the students in the course evaluation results. All of the instructors seemed more comfortable with the revised curriculum the second time around.

3. Describe the ways that GSM contributed to your Action Research.

I believe after I have finished Game Strategies and Motivation that I will have some more ideas for activities to break up some of my lectures. I’m not sure exactly what type of game I will come up with, but I’m thinking I will develop a story line about a recording session, and along the way there will be problems that require troubleshooting. I will ask students to describe how the equipment should be connected, and what type of cables to use. I’m not sure if I’ll have them do it in teams, or call on them individually, but I’m thinking that as a prize for correctly explaining the elements of signal flow and troubleshooting I will offer them a free question or pass for the next class quiz. It would allow them to pick one question they’re not sure about and have it counted correct. I’ve also thought about a card game where the cards in the deck have different audio equipment and descriptions, and students have to draw cards from the deck and put the signal flow together. When they have 3 cards in their hand that all connect together it would be a match that could be played and played off of by others. I was thinking that the winning team or individual might be able to select a homework assignment that the rest of the class has to do.

Month 8 – June – FPE

The new lab room layout

The improved System Support lab room arrangement seems to be well received. May 2012

What changed in your set up from Cycle 1 to Cycle 2?

Now that I’m in cycle 2 I have made a few changes to some of my earlier lab content, because it seemed to create a disconnection from the more technical topics about waveform characteristics and electricity. In May the students tested very well on the early computer topics, but seemed to get too focused on them, and did not quite grasp the importance of the later topics, and therefore did not test as well on the second half of the course material. I’m trying not to make too many changes, but I have had several meetings with my lab instructors about little adjustments involving moving some material around to introduce topics earlier on.

What’s happening that you did not expect?

I did not expect my lab instructors to get so emotionally involved with the changes we’re making. I can see that they really care about how much the students are learning, and I knew that. The surprise is how eager they have been to help write and adjust the class material. They have been a great help, and I wasn’t sure what to expect initially.

I was also surprised by how much the students didn’t know about their computers. The students who do know more about their computers are surprising me as well. I was not expecting to learn so much while rewriting the curriculum, but honestly it makes sense when teaching about technology, because it’s constantly changing.

How are you tracking data differently?

I am tracking my data with notes, email, and they survey responses. I am also designing extra credit assignments for the students that should provide me with more data about their learning experience, background, and motivations.

Our student advisor Betti Gutierrez, who is also working closely with me, is documenting students excuses for missing class, which will provide a whole data set I wasn’t expecting. She has been very helpful as well, and is an amazing resource. I honestly didn’t even realize how helpful she could be, and I am very impressed with her efforts and results.

How do you foresee FPE contributing to your capstone project?

I am looking forward to creating a lot of instructional videos and content I can post on line for the students to see, and to show in class as well. In this first week I am really thinking about the power of the story and the voice, and it strikes me how much it can determine the overall effectiveness of educational material as well. I think about documentaries that have been educational, and how stories really carry the content. I am now thinking about the stories I can use, and how I can improve the stories I already tell in class. I’ve just realized that when I’m telling a story in class, just a few visuals, music, or pictures from that story could really help keep the students interested and make it more memorable.

Month 7 MTA

I am happy to report that I am on schedule to finish both implementation cycles by the end of month 8. I am already seeing a few areas where I hope to make some adjustments for next month, but I am 1 week into my first cycle that will last 1 month. So far my response has been positive, and I had over 40 students respond to and fill out the entrance survey. Students seem to be more attentive so far as well, and they are scoring better on their first lab exam. At this point I see no obvious hurdles to my project continuing on schedule.

My first cycle will last for 1 month and I started it a week ago. The second cycle will begin with a new class of students at the beginning of next month, and will take one month to complete as well.

I anticipate that I will be done with the 2nd cycle by month 9.

April, AR Project Update and Reflection

How is my AR project unfolding?
I had intended to begin my first cycle at the end of march,  but I realized I did not have all of my materials prepared. My class is changing quite a bit, and it wouldn’t have made sense for me to start then. Last month my students had issues getting their course materials and that threw another monkey wrench into the process. I have had several meetings over the last couple months with my lab instructors and other staff, and we have spent time thoroughly analyzing what sort of problems the students have been having in connecting with the course material. There are several things we are changing around in the curriculum, but only a few items that are part of my AR project in order to avoid it getting overly complex. I think my entrance and exit surveys will be very insightful as I move through the cycles. I am looking forward to seeing if my students will truly connect with the material more effectively. Ultimately if just a couple more students end up passing my class I will be happy with the results.

When will Cycle implementation begin?
Cycle 1will begin with my next term of students on April 30th. Cycle 2 will begin the following term on May 28th.

How do I plan to  track my data?
Data will be tracked in these ways. 

  1. Entrance and exit surveys will be used to gauge students own feelings about what they know and what they have learned.
  2. 8 tests (4 in lab and 4 in lecture) given over the 1 month duration of the  class will allow me to determine how well the students are learning the material and if there are any signs of improvement.
  3. Exit evaluations will allow me to see how relevant students feel the class was and how well the material worked, what was effective and what wasn’t.
  4. I will be making notes from lecture classes as well as the lab instructors will be giving me their feedback during weekly meetings.

What happened in my research that I didn’t expect?
I was surprised to  come to the conclusion that something as simple as the students lack of connection with their computer could be a substantial cause of their poor performance. We will see if this is true and if it makes a difference, but to think that some lessons focused on basic computer operation and Internet resources, gave me hope that little changes could possibly make a big difference. Again, I will be happy with minor positive changes as well. Either way I expect to see a change of some sort.

How has this month’s course Digital Media and Education Applications helped in shaping my Action Research Project?
This months course has helped me reflect on some of my lab activities as well as my lecture presentation style. I am presently making some adjustments to a few points in my lecture to help clarify some details that were either text heavy, or lacking clear explanation. Also I am creating screencasts for some of the lab activities and I will be surre to add some appropriate explanations and graphics while paying attention to not create cognitive overload. I will be creating short videos to post on the course website, as well as a few interactive and explanatory flash activities to help create a more interactive learning environment for the students outside of the classroom as well. If I truly want to show my students that there are much better things to do with their computers than check their Facebook page, then I need to make sure my class is really providing the opportunities for them to connect with those options.

February, ETC

Learning from RILS
After I finished my relevant and innovative learning scenario (RILS) this month, I was beginning to feel like I will be able to definitely improve the success of my students and structure of my class with some simple and subtle changes. I have already started having weekly meetings with my instructors and supervisors that have been very encouraging as well. Getting through my literature review took some serious concentration, but with Roxanne DeLeon’s guidance and patience, along with some feedback from my classmate Autumn Langford, the purpose and structure of the literature review became clear. Carefully considering all of the resources I had read through revealed the complex issues underlying the varying degrees of student motivation and interest. Many of those issues are rooted within the students’ diverse backgrounds, experience and learning styles. Some of the issues can also be rooted in consistently narrow minded lesson plans that fail to encourage a more dynamic learning environment. You can’t keep all the people happy and motivated all the time, but you can definitely incorporate some flexibility into curriculum to better accomodate the various moods and levels of attention you may encounter on a daily basis.

I think technology can vastly improve accessibility of information to a highly diverse student population. It will require identifying new and stable technologies that are cheap and easy to use and implement, but sometimes you don’t know if a technology is going to be effective until you try it.

Google forms System Support exit survey screenshot

Collecting Data
First we will more accurately identify the core objective of the System Support course, being sure it is relevant and up to date. I will be using an entrance survey asking the students about their expectations, and an exit survey asking the students how well their expectations were met, how relevant the material was in their mind, and if their expectations and sense of relevance changed during the course. The survey process will provide a vast collection of quantitative data, so it is important that the questions are well designed for clear comparisons. I created a exit survey about a month ago using google forms, but I will need to revise it and also create the entrance survey.

I will also be comparing grades from previous classes to the students’ grades after the changes are implemented. We have had a slightly higher than average failure rate in System Support compared to other classes, and we have been asked to make some improvements so less students fail. That seems like a pretty obvious goal, but we want to make sure we’re not making the course easier. We want to update it, make it more relevant, and make the material more accessible or digestible by using several different approaches, including using the Internet more to connect with the students’ different learning styles and motivations. System Support has served as a reality check for the students, and all the proceeding courses count on us to really demonstrate to the students how much effort is required to be successful. We have been dealing with students’ suffering from information overload and lack of motivation. We need to devise an approach that encourages students who aren’t performing at a sufficient level, to step up, be accountable, and ultimately develop the skills and confidence necessary to succeed professionally. I feel as if I am better armed from my experience at Full Sail with the analytical tools and creative techniques that will be necessary for my research and ultimate success. I am looking forward to putting ideas into action and seeing greater success and engagement from my students.

Training and Motivational Development blog post

1. Critical Friends
Critical friends will be an important part of giving me feedback on my work from different perspectives. I hope to get feedback regarding different learning styles and from the various points of view offered by my friends’ professional and educational experiences. I value their input and feel that constructive criticism and encouragement are vital to creating and completing broad reaching action research with true value and meaning. I really do hope to make some difference through this project and hopefully critical friends will be helpful in that.

The following is a list of my critical friends.

Altamony Coley – He is reading and critiquing my literature review.

Autumn Langford – She has read and critiqued my literature review.

Lian Theis – Being involved in adult education I think she might be a valuable resource for better understanding the needs of my older students.

Andrew MacKenzie – He is a work colleague and is involved in student development at the Los Angeles Recording School, and therefor may have some valuable input about how I might implement my research most effectively.

Gordon McMillan – He is one of the lab instructors for my course, System Support, and has a great deal of experience with curriculum design from the school he worked at previously as well.

2. Simple calendar timeline
Fortunately there should not be any problems implementing my action research as my class starts from the beginning every month and is only 1 month long. I should be able to see pretty quick results in theory. I just need to come up with clear and effective surveys and new activities to implement in my class.

Here I is my general timeline.

We Change the World

Any way you look at it, our existence changes the world. At least a little bit.

Why I’m here now.