On Instructional Design
The philosopher supposes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole, in the structure; but posterity finds its value in the stone which he used for building, and which is used many more times after that for building – better. Thus it finds the value in the fact that the structure can be destroyed and nevertheless retains value as building material. - Nietzsche (Genealogy)
This entry represents an expository on Part 1 of 2 related to developing a Rapid Digital Literacy Assessment instrument. Part 1 refers to establishing how certain skills in a given learning or training context score in its resonance value. Resonance is a temporary term I am using here to express depth, or perhaps relevance in an advanced application or employment environment. Part 2 (to be offered in a future post) will describe a way to use “high resonance” structure skills in a rapid assessment procedure to categorize learner entry levels prior to instruction.
In reviewing Anthony Wilden’s Epistemology and Ecology – The Difference that Makes a Difference, System and Structure – Essays in Communication and Exchange, Anthony Wilden, Tavistock Publications, 1972, I have come across some propositions that I hope will help me to develop an instrument for ranking digital literacy skills. The problem I am addressing has to do with, first and foremost, changing the focus of the conversation about digital literacy away from “system skills” to “structure skills”. In other words, we should consider the value of learning structure skills in digital literacy as those which we may presume to apply forward into the future evolution/development of the digital ecosystem, rather than learning to “master (macro) systems”.
I offer this in consideration of the following contextual factors:
So then is the search for defining the “material” of digital literacy systems and their resonance.
I have made an initial sketch here that attempts to award points for the tier upon which any given skill may rise into its “actualization”. The evaluation ends once the skill “hits the ceiling” of its resonance. The determination of this level is somewhat arbitrary in my perception (not based on any formal influence yet), though I hope to refine it more succinctly, and with better validity. It is offered below, in its first iteration:
Let’s take an example and put it through the ringer.
Let’s take “Plugging in a computer’s power cord into an outlet”. I begin with this because, believe it or not, it is plausibly a structure skill in digital literacy, although, as we will see, not necessarily a highly resonant one.
“Plugging in a computer’s power cord into an outlet”:
Thus, in this evaluation, “Plugging in a computer’s power cord into an outlet” resonates as a structure skill to a 2 point value. Does this mean that learning how to plug in a power cord is unimportant, a lower priority, or a waste of time? No, not exactly. The low resonance value indicates that learning this skill will serve structural utility in the broadest sense of digital literacy, but only up to a certain level of ecologically sustaining value, or actualization.
It’s like asking, “Would the real ecology of the digital network be adversely affected by the absence of cord plugger-inners?” Yes, in the pure sense of there being a necessity for things to be plugged in; no, in the realistic sense that there are enough people in the ecology to take care of this skill on behalf of others, and that it is likely to be “covered” by the conventions of other worldly learning. So we may choose not to teach this structure skill, or to spend only a little time on it, depending on the audience. There is another value to this score, which I will offer towards the end.
Now let’s try something more applicable: “Going online to Blogger.com and creating a new blog for a class project”
Thus, “Going online to Blogger.com and creating a new blog for a class project” resonates as a structure skill to a 4 point value.
Be warned: this is intentionally simplistic! This instrument is only one part of a larger assessment equation, whose overall purpose is to provide Instructional Designers with an instrument for Rapid Digital Literacy Assessment.
The second part of this instrument, as I mentioned at the beginning, involves collecting the skills that achieved the highest scores on the resonance scale and creating a very short video of each skill being demonstrated, and embedding it on a web page with a simple response box at the bottom. The person taking the assessment test watches the video and clicks their response to a text heading such as, “The person in this video is creating a new blog on Blogger.com. Are they performing this task correctly?” by selecting a radio button indicated as “YES” “NO” “NOT SURE”. See below:
I will get into further details about the rationale and structure for this part of the instrument at a later date. For now, I will go so far as to say that Front-End Analysis literature refers to techniques that can deliver meaningful information about people’s skills and knowledge simply by inference, without the need for an exhaustive detail oriented examination. This simple video survey tool (if executed well) will produce results that will reflect the subject’s familiarity with high resonance structure skills, that would imply inclusive, cumulative knowledge of sub-structure skills (maybe!), while leveraging the strength of video, as a composed medium, to artificially compress time. There is a great deal more to say about this part.