Announcement for September 26, 2016

Week 3 Course Announcements

Welcome to week 3 of the #OpenABE service-MOOC! The following are reminders and updates as the majority of us work our way through Module 1 of the course. In addition, one of our objectives in this course is to help raise awareness about the adult basic skills gap. To that end, we encourage you to participate in National Adult Education and Family Literacy week activities running from September 26th to October 1st this week:

“National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week raises public awareness about the need and value of adult education and family literacy in order to leverage resources to support access to basic education programs for the 36 million U.S. adults with low literacy skills. Advocates across the country use this opportunity to elevate adult education and family literacy nationwide with policymakers, the media, and the community.”

Please follow awareness activities, blog posts, and twitter under the #AEFLweek hashtag. In addition, feel free to use these #AEFL week resources to spread awareness, as well.


Live Webinar and Recordings

Please mark your calendar for our next optional live webinar on Thursday, October 6, 7:00 p.m. CDT* (Registration is 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 design projects, and we have assembled a panel of facilitators to provide feedback and suggestions during the webinar. If you can’t make the live webinars, you can view the recordings on the Live Webinar and Recordings page of the course.

In addition, we are excited that a video production team working with the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) plans to capture portions of our October 6th webinar as part of their profile of our efforts at Designers for Learning to promote open education and open educational resources (OER). ISKME is the nonprofit behind Open Author and OER Commons that we utilize in this course.

This Week – What To Expect

In this third week of the course, we continue our focus on the learners, their needs, and the instructional context of the adult basic education “classroom”. Katie Corcoran, a participant in our #OpenABE service-MOOC, shares her perspective on our learners in her recent blog post where she notes:

“Before this class (we’re already one week in), I knew there was a percentage of the population that didn’t obtain their high school diploma; I knew there were adults that couldn’t read very well; I knew there were people that, for whatever reason life threw at them, weren’t achieving at their fullest potential. But it was like hearing that it gets cold in Canada during the winter. Without seeing pictures of the snow drifts or temperature and wind chill data, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the enormity of it.”

Katie’s blog reflection captures the spirit of what we are attempting to achieve in Module 1 where we consider the importance of empathy in the practice of instructional design. 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.

Geoff Empathy Map.jpg

The persona discovery we undertake in Module 1 helps us to get beyond the sobering adult skill gap numbers 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.

A Word About Assignment Due Dates

We’ve received a few questions about due dates from students worried about “getting behind” in the course. Please note that the due dates we’ve set for assignments in the course merely offer target completion dates to get us (as a class) through this 12-week course before December 4th. In the past, most students reported the course took 40 hours to complete. Therefore, our “due dates” assume 3 to 4 hours per week x 12 weeks = 40 hours total. However, we know you will have less (or more) time to devote to the course during any given week, so use the due dates as a general guide to pace your course progress.

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 an 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. For those looking for collaborators on a specific project idea, we recommend you join one of the project groups we have set up, and then post to one of the forums in the Peer-to-Peer Connect module inviting other members to join you.

COABE Call for Presentations

The call for presentations is open for the 2017 COABE National Conference (Links to an external site.) at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida. The conference is scheduled for April 2-5, 2017, but the deadline to submit a presentation proposal is October 31, 2016. Several in this course regularly participate in this conference, and it is a great way to immerse yourself in adult basic education needs and opportunities.

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.