Focusing on Educational Technology and Design, I conducted a semi-structured, open-ended interview to inquire on the relationship between active learning and teaching presence through the lens of a design educator.  The blended course designs discussed are situated in SFU Canvas, an online Learning Management System (LMS).  The gathered insights contributed towards developing blended course designs for active teaching and learning experiences.

*Due to research ethics, I can only share my findings and design-research process.
Within my professional development cohort of 20 post-secondary teaching colleagues, there was a desire for the use of technology to modernize the traditional classroom learning experience and to support greater accessibility for learning. In particular, there was an interest for teaching approaches that embrace technology and new media given the implementation of a new online learning management system (LMS) at the university.  
Demographic Highlights of my Cohort
- All have a minimum of 3 months of teaching experience as a teaching assistant/sessional instructor.
- All are pursuing graduate level education (Masters, PHD, Post-doc)
- All expressed low to some familiarity with the implemented LMS at the university.

As my colleagues were unfamiliar with the educational technology space in teaching and learning, 
- they want to know what resources, methods, and tools are available, and 
- how to integrate them into their existing teaching practices
A key milestone deliverable in this professional development training was to individually seek out an established educator to discuss a teaching and learning related issue and subsequently provide a reflection on how the interview correspondence may impact our own teaching practice.  I took this as a design opportunity to explore and generate actionable recommendations on tools and methods for integrating educational technology for active teaching and learning.   ​​​​​​​
- I conducted a 2 hour office visit with an educator to hear his experimentation process, his successes and challenges with the new
  online learning management system and media-rich learning environments when developing blended courses.  The courses
  which this educator teaches are high-enrollment, creative, production-oriented, blended-learning design courses.

- The interview was semi-structured with open-ended questions.  Conversations were collected using hand-written notes and
  audio-recording.  The interview questions were presented through a presentation deck to help keep the conversations on track
  and relevant to the research questions.

- The qualitative data collected were transcribed and analyzed through thematic coding, and insights were presented to the
  cohort of post-secondary teaching colleagues and the two program facilitator.  

Research Questions
To learn and understand more about his experimentation process, his successes and challenges with the LMS, 4 key questions were included to guide the interview session:
1. How is feedback provided to studio-based projects through the LMS?
2. How are checkpoints/milestones designed for students to self-assess their progress and learning?
3. What is the criteria for a LMS to mediate a sense of teaching presence for students?  
4. What strategies and tools can design educators use to address the criteria?

These questions provide insight towards addressing challenges related to:
- Facilitating adequate feedback on traditional studio-based design projects, 
- Implementing manageable self-progress checks for skills development exercises
- Maintaining a sense of teaching presence for the duration of the course period
Key Challenges
Maintaining a balance between natural conversation and activity demonstration - encouraging the interviewee to talk-aloud his actions (Show Me) instead of shifting back to a question and answer (Tell Me).

Getting the interviewee to thoroughly talk though parts of the demonstration that cannot be fully shown and simulated through the
learning management system.  

Research Outcome
1) In addition to a written report, I wanted to create a visual artifact that would help present my research findings in a more resonating and accessible manner with my colleagues.  The interactive presentation deck was well-received by my cohort and has been used as an example in subsequent semesters.  I was able to demonstrate through practice in how integrating a small layer of interactivity using existing presentation tools can facilitate for a more engaging learning experience as it gives the agency of personalized learning back to the learners.  

2) The impact from my research insights helped my teaching colleagues understand
- How to utilize co-creation and other participatory activities to produce engaging and effective student feedback, 

- Maintaining teaching presence and interactions through an online learning management system, and 
- Using media-based content to encourage active student discussions and personalized learning experiences
What did I learn?
In particular, this project taught me a lot about time management when facilitating interviews and user observation.  A notable lesson learnt was while you can lead and manage time, ultimately, good time management is a collaborative process between the interviewer and the interviewee.  There are tools and strategies that can be implemented to help communicate your needs and manage expectations between you and the interviewee through the entire study process.

I used to feel pressured when I conduct semi-structured interviews due to elements of ambiguity and spontaneity, as I was nervous at how they may impact the available time.  I would spend additional time preparing for the interview sessions and occasionally be overly conscientious with time during the study sessions.  This made it challenging to maintain a natural exchange of conversations with my interviewees.  

While I was able to complete my interviews, I did recognize that I was developing physical strains and mental stress when facilitating the study sessions.  I started asking myself, how can I become more time efficient with my study preparations and develop greater confidence to guide my interviewees through the study?  I reached out to my research/teaching supervisors and fellow research colleagues for advice and tried out two communication strategies.

1. Once a study interviewee was determined, contact them before the study when possible to provide a study overview and
    clearly convey your expectations of what they will be doing during the study (ex. they will be observed, there are activities to
    complete).  This can help participants to mentally prepare and not be surprised during the study.  When participants are more
    familiar with your study, they can ask better questions to seek clarifications for themselves.  Having some correspondence with
    the interviewees prior to the study can help to establish trust and a connection with myself (the interviewer), which can ease the
    process for them to share their stories during the study session.

2. Presenting a visual aid of the research questions can help keep your conversations relevant to the focus of the study.  For this
    study, I created a presentation deck which was used as a prompt to bring my interviewee back to my key questions.  For my
    interviewee, the visual prompt helped to gather his thoughts when he forgets mid-way during the presentation. 

Moving forward from this project, the use of visual prompts and being transparent in my expectations and needs from my participants have helped minimized additional logistical prep work, alleviated awkwardness in my initial correspondence with my participants, and balanced my time-keeping efforts with my focus on conversations during the study sessions.
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