Announcement for September 19, 2016

Week 2 of the #OpenABE service-MOOC!

We had an exciting first week of course introductions with participants from around the world. While Designers for Learning is based in the United States, 20% of the participants who completed the Welcome Survey are from outside North America, and English is not the primary language for 15% in the class. In addition, we have a highly educated and ambitious group with 93% holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and 66% with a Master’s degree or higher! If you are taking this course to expand your opportunities, you aren’t alone as 55% noted their primary reason for joining the class is to gain skills for a new career or promotion at work.

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However, what excited us most are the responses to the question, “Which type of online learner best describes you?” The top response (66%) was, “An active participant. Bring it on. If it’s in the course, I plan on doing it.”

Live Webinar and Recordings

We held our first optional live webinar last Thursday, September 15th, and the recording is linked in the course on the Live Webinar and Recording page. The purpose of this first webinar was an introduction to the course with several of the facilitators. We also fielded questions from those in attendance.

Please mark your calendar for our next optional live webinar on Thursday, October 6, 7:00 p.m. CDT* (Registration required to help us in planning … click here to register). After you register, a confirmation email will include your webinar login information. Our three remaining live webinars will focus on your questions about your course design projects.

Our Course Design Goal

During our last webinar, we held an informal poll asking those in attendance, “How many OER will be submitted (as Open Author lessons in OER Commons) and in the Bonus Challenge (as Canvas Commons OER)?” While 22% predicted 50 or less, we have an otherwise optimistic group with 60% guessing 100 or more, including 22% predicting 200 or more!

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Therefore, let’s go with the majority and set our course design goal at 100+ OER deliverable submissions! As the OER lessons start rolling in over the semester, we’ll keep you posted on our overall progress!

This Week – What To Expect

In this second week of the course, our attention falls squarely on the learners, their needs, and the instructional context of the adult basic education “classroom”. We have devoted a full two weeks to complete Module 1, so take your time reviewing the material and participating in the exercises, reflections, and discussions which aren’t due until October 2nd. However, as noted during our live webinar, the due dates we’ve set are “squishy” and merely offer a target completion date to get us (as a class) through the course before December 4th.

In Module 1, we will consider the importance of empathy in the practice of instructional design. Why do designers want to identify with their learners through empathic design? Unfortunately, descriptive facts and figures about learners aren’t sufficiently informative to the instructional designer. In the design literature, there is consensus that understanding and focusing on the end user (the learner in instructional design) during the design process is essential to the success of the final product.

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The persona discovery we undertake in Module 1 helps us to understand and focus on the learner, and is an ongoing activity we continue throughout the design and development process. Personas are intended to make the learner “real” to help designers develop empathy for the learner, and to use the empathic connection to view all design decisions from the persona’s (i.e. learner’s) perspective.

By the end of Module 1, you will have practice opportunities to:

  • Explore your ability to identify with learners’ thoughts and feelings (e.g., their hopes, dreams, and fears, their circumstances, and what they want to accomplish) as a key quality of the instructional design process.
  • Practice the process of empathy in design practice by following a 4-phase empathy framework within a visual thinking exercise.
  • Apply the empathy framework to discover, immerse, connect, and then detach with learner personas that will guide your instructional design process.
  • Reflect on how having empathy toward your learners will help you in your instructional design process.
  • Contemplate the reasons why adult learners desire to complete adult basic education.
  • Identify learner needs relevant to completing adult basic education courses and programs, including possible pain points that might affect the completion process.
  • Consider potential gaps in knowledge, skills, motivation, environment, and communication.
  • Describe the characteristics of the instructional setting setting for adult basic education learners (e.g., face-to-face, blended, or online).

Contemplating the needs and goals of your learners will help you to better understand the motivations of your learners, which will help you to design better instruction. Your continued focus on the learner, need, and context during the entire design process is essential to the success of your instructional project.

Reminder – Optional Group Collaboration

While this course is set up for you to work independently, you have many options to collaborate with others sharing a common special interest, or to take the initiative of creating or joining your own project group. Groups function like a smaller version of the course and are used as a optional peer-to-peer collaborative tool where you can discuss and work with your classmates on group projects. Check out the Peer-to-Peer Connection module for more information on these peer-to-peer options, including the Peer-to-Peer chat where others have already made posts seeking collaborators.

Thank you for your service!

Thank you very much for joining us in this service-learning experience. The course facilitators will provide weekly announcements like this that will serve as progress checkpoints with reminders and updates regarding course progression. A link to the roster of Announcements appears in the left sidebar of each course page. We look forward to working with you!

Help Us Spread the News!

Please help us spread the news about this upcoming course by forwarding this announcement to other interested colleagues or students. Do you have comments or questions about our projects? Would you like to get involved with our organization? Please connect with us at:

Dr. Jennifer Maddrell
Designers for Learning
Designers for
Designers for Learning is organized as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Illinois, and operates exclusively for charitable purposes in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Designers for Learning promotes service-learning opportunities through collaboration with schools, students, and volunteers.