Tag Archives: Distance Learning

It’s not you…it’s me (a momentary reflection on instructional design for distance learning)

I am currently designing instruction for which I will not be present.  That’s really hard for me.  

It’s so weird.  It’s like brushing my teeth with my left hand: doing a task I am very familiar with in a very unfamiliar way.  For years, of course, I have been right there…talking, gesturing, shouting, dancing, singing and so forth.  I am my most important teaching tool.  And now, as I design, I must plan for me not to do any of that.  And that, friends, is the weird part.

There are so many questions.  Who will set the stage?  What if they turn left instead of right?  What if this information isn’t clear enough…will they know what to do?  Every step I take must be at least partially adjusted for the fact that I won’t be there to add my voice or ideas for context.  I’m sure my students would rejoice, but I am finding it a bit hard to let go.  Is this what Helicopter Parents go through?

I am vaguely aware of a silver lining.  While I provide a lot of context, I also provide a lot of something else: distraction.  While I am my most important teaching tool, I am also the most likely to pull my students off-task.  My contextualizing can offer confusion  just as often as it can offer clarity.  I am easily pulled off-task myself by the thousand natural shocks of being in a classroom.  The silver lining is this: at least online, without me, people have access only to the content.  If the material is designed well, then they will also get a little feedback about their learning before they go (whenever that is!)  This is good.

The problem is ego.  It’s hard to take oneself out of the equation.  I am a useful part of the equation, right?  Right, guys?  Right.  Except when I’m not.  When I’m not, it would be great to have some way of going to the material and, without all the noise of the classroom, getting down to brass tacks.  There is nothing wrong, really, with either mode of learning.

I just let myself get in the way sometimes.  It’s not you…it’s me ;).