Designing learning like radio programming

Recently I completed an instructional development project for a client who was open to my concept of designing an educational diploma program in the same manner as radio programming. Their student body were dispersed across a wide non-urban region, and were working adults with limited transportation seeking to update their education and skills.

My radio programming concept derived from the need for flexible delivery for this student population. More specifically, I enjoy listening to CBC radio via my computer, iPhone, iPad, and car radio. The CBC website offers a transparent schedule of different radio channels and programs to be streamed live, through recorded versions, and subscriptions to podcasts. They also offer interesting background information on programs, musicians, etc. Basically, they provide a variety of choices catering to the preferences of listeners, very much like the varied learning styles and needs of learners.

Transposing the concept of radio programing to educational programs or courses would entail providing a selection of content, experiences, delivery formats, and locations for students to choose. Next, I describe the basic concepts of my instructional design idea.

Course or Module Design

  • Each course or module would have multiple, separate, non-linear units delivered in flexible formats
  • All units would need to be completed to obtain credit for the course
  • Half of the course/module units would be are self-paced and delivered online with support from a distant resource person (preferably an instructor or SME)
  • The remaining units would be short (3-4 weeks) instructor-led seminars and workshops  delivered on a continual basis (i.e. every few months)
  • The instructor-led units could be conducted through f2f sessions at a campus/institution location, remote learning centres, and/or through video and audio conferencing
  • If for formal purposes, each course with its many units could equate to 40+ hours of instructional time, whether in-person, virtual or simulated
  • Students could challenge courses or practicums by submitting specific items, or be awarded credit for any part of the program or course through PLAR investigations

Course or Module Unit Design

To gain credit for a course or module students would need to obtain credit for each unit, which could be taken at anytime and simultaneously with other course units. The units within each course would include the following important learning components:

  • Introduction: background information delivered online with a resource person in a self-paced manner; includes text materials along with tutorials, simulations and/or quizzes
  • Seminar: short instructor-led seminars to explore theoretical concepts
  • Workshop: short instructor-led workshops focusing on practical application
  • Practical: self-paced projects to gain experience in real-world situations
  • Assessment: submit completed assignments from introduction, seminar, workshop and practical components; assessed by instructor (follows the model by University of the People)

Illustration of Course Design
(Click image for larger view)

Such a program or course design would require an online administration system that allows students to register for courses and course units as well as track their credits and progress. The systems would also initiate delivery of learning material, whether shipped or downloadable, and access to online LMS or other platforms. A recommender and alert system would also be advantageous to keep students progressing through the multi-modular, unidirectional program or course.

Such an instructional design rests on a number of popular learning theories and approaches, such as for adult learners, experiential learning, active and authentic learning, constructivism, and  self-directed learning (I have discussed my ID approach in another blog entry).