The assignment to warm up is to review a case study on… customer service representatives and their training. Like in IDE631. The history repeats itself. Perhaps I’d want more diverse scenarios, but maybe it’s too much to ask. There were 8 questions posed to this case, which I’ll try to answer in the order they appear.
What problems did you identify and how did you make this diagnosis?
The major problem is the traditional way of thinking about instruction, which is the delivery of content. Which is, in fact, a gap in itself. Therefore, the instruction in the case study does not seem to attend to the learner—the main consumer of the instruction. There were no practical assignments, little engagement, no alignment between learning outcomes and instructional materials. The way I approached looking at the case study was by referring to the ADDIE model and to the Gagné’s 9 events of instruction and checking whether the necessary components existed in the instruction or not.
Does this case seem familiar to you in your experiences in design, teaching, and/or learning? How?
Yes, it does. In my studies for my bachelor’s, most classes where there were 50-70 students, were lecture-based where the teacher’s role was to demonstrate how much s/he knows. We diligently took notes. And recited them for the final oral exam. In my teaching in the beginning, I fell into the same pitfall and thought that by lecturing about translation I could “teach” translation. That semester students’ results were horrible, which made me rethink the design of the course. While content presentation is crucial at times, it can’t be the only way to teach, because it provides no opportunities for students to actually do something and see how well or badly they do it.
Overall, is this instruction designed well? Why or why not?
The instruction is bad first and foremost in terms of content presentation. 2/3 of the time could be done individually (demonstrations and videos), hence, learners could familiarize themselves with the theory at their own pace outside the classroom. This instruction also seems somewhat disconnected as to what the learners had done before and what they will do in the future. Materials are simply given to the learners as is and then a short discussion is done: a debrief of a passive activity (note-taking and listening).
What are the strengths of this design?
- The gap was identified: no knowledge in customer representatives of how to work with the calls; the gap necessitated the training
- The expected outcome was defined in measurable terms
- There is some interaction during the discussion period
- Time (90 min) is appropriate
- Use of technologies
What are the weaknesses?
- Very heavy on traditional methods of instruction (lecture and demo = mostly presentation)
- Few opportunities to practice the theory
- Very little engagement of the 25 learners
- Outcomes, activities, and assessments are not aligned
- Practically no practice and assessment
- Learning outcomes in the first two activities are about recalling and understanding (lower level thinking higher order thinking)
- The role of the facilitator is in fact that of a lecturer
What issues might you anticipate, given the expected learning outcomes and activities, in the instruction?
- Little participation
- Lack of attention
- Bad retention
- No skills will be practiced and learned
- Outcomes won’t be reached (learners will know “about” the customer service, not “how to” do it)
If you had the authority and resources to modify this this instruction, what would you do?
- Transfer some materials to online
- Design and Develop practical and assessment materials
- Use advance organizers (graphs, infographics, charts, tables, etc.)
- Redefine the role of the facilitator as a ‘guide on the side’ vs. ‘sage on the stage’
- Rethink the use of technologies: engagement tools versus merely content presentation tools
- Incorporate Gagné’s events of instruction to help learning (particularly: activate prior knowledge, provide guidance, elicit performance, provide feedback, assess final performance, stimulate retention)
How might this case help you with this course?
It models the type of activity I’m expected to do in this IDE737 course. It prompts thinking about the ways in which to view the existing instructional unit—what is good and what is bad, what issues can be anticipated, and what can be done to modify it. Finally, it epitomizes a common “best practice” that is (mal)used in lots of educational settings.