Last month I was invited to be the Keynote Speaker for the Wisconsin eSchool Network teachers at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. I started out consulting with their amazing Director of Professional Learning and Support, Sami Forster, discussing the keynote topic. After more discussion, telling Sami about my current project on our instructional design, she asked me not-just-to keynote, but to lead in the full professional learning day.
It was an honor to collaborate with such amazing educators who use multiple models of instruction: face-to-face, blended, and virtual. Our focus for the day was empowering the teacher-as-decision-maker in the instructional process, ensuring that we address unique student needs to support the whole learner. Our title was "Why We Do What We Do!" This "we" in our title doesn't just mean educators; it includes Odysseyware, our partner companies, our sponsored research with universities or organizations, and teachers. The work we all do in education is not simple. We know that each of our students has their own unique interests, strengths, and ultimately, their own journey they take. Students have always been at the heart of the philosophy of Odysseyware, and why we support the whole learner. While most EdTech companies claim that the teacher is first, we aim not-just-to say this, but to show it by including the teacher as part of our instructional design framework. This brings us to our latest white paper, my project that led to this presentation with WEN, Elevating the Essentials: Odysseyware Instructional Design Framework for Learning, which I used as the guiding foundation for my professional learning day planning for the eSchool teachers.
At a high level, the Odysseyware Instructional Design Framework for Learning elevates four biggies. I will preface this with, these things are elevated, but it is the teacher-as-decision-maker that is most important. These elevated essentials are:
1. Systematic Organization
2. Backward Design
3. Explicit Instruction
4. Multimodal Engagement
Of course, we do not stop with these big four. Teaching is a much more complicated science than just four essentials, so over the past decades, we worked collaboratively to develop a framework that embraces the teacher-as-decision-maker and considers that educational research is ever-developing, and that our classrooms are highly diverse with unique needs. Furthermore, our white paper is the most transparent and thorough paper, on the topic of instructional design, in the EdTech industry.
As I planned for this professional learning day, given I haven't worked at the school or district-level for six years, it was a welcomed opportunity that made me excited about the work we do at Odysseyware and the impact it has on teachers and students. There is nothing more refreshing than spending a full day with educators who have such a vast amount of experience. Educators I can learn from. With that, we came up with four learning objectives that align with Odysseyware's Instructional Design Framework for Learning:
1. I understand modern digital curriculum development.
2. I can make decisions about what to teach and how to teach it.
3. I understand today's learner and the cognitive processes of learning.
4. I can use formative assessment to make instructional plans for the learners I work with.
Of course, educators learn about these things in undergraduate courses. However, these are life-long learning topics with an ever-expanding research and evidence-based. Educational research is in its infancy, so we focused on the seminal and current research in education, empowering teachers to make decisions they know are best for the diverse learners they instruct. Most importantly, we had an amazing day of learning from each other, filling our tool-boxes with more resources to ensure student success.
Elevating the Essentials:
Odysseyware Instructional Design Framework for Learning!
About the Author
Dr. Shannan La Malfa is the Director of Product Research & Efficacy at Odysseyware. Shannan has worked as a school district administrator, with national recognition for student achievement, and has served as a mentor to many teachers turned administrators.