Leverage Your Team, the Affective Domain, and Diffusion of Innovation to Increase Efficiency and Instructor Autonomy
Field Guides support instructors with a lighthearted, relatable approach that increases instructor interaction with their designers and each other, autonomy in courses, and overall efficiency in course development. By leveraging our team, the affective domain, and diffusion of innovation, we share micro best practices, wrapped up in a Beyonce bow.
How to Use a Song, a Laugh, and Each Other to Increase Instructor Engagement, Autonomy and Overall Efficiency
Relevance for Community
Instructional designers can find themselves answering the same questions throughout semesters from the instructors they support, demanding time that can be better spent, both on the instructor’s and designer’s end. Solutions may be to provide links to tutorials or webinars reviewing specific course tasks, tools, and best practices. However, the links are impersonal and can get lost in inboxes and webinars require synchronous attendance and are fleeting. FIU Online’s Instructor Field Guides is a better remedy for the problem of redundant correspondence because they:
Create a place where instructors can find answers and guides to their most common questions, increasing their autonomy and our overall efficiency
Use the Diffusion of Innovation Theory to capitalize on faculty champions and increase buy-in and learning
Use the Affective Domain to help learners feel welcomed and safe in their learning environment, creating reception and engagement
Require collaboration with instructional design colleagues to strategically curate monthly issues
The Instructor Field Guide is a monthly digest of pedagogical insight and best practices developed in collaboration with FIU Online faculty. Each guide includes four sections:
Section 1: Field Guide Video
3–5-minute video highlighting a course development tool, step, or best practice introduced and narrated by a faculty champion and paired with a relevant song lyric and quote from research or champion. Ex. For a guide focused on Canvas notifications, the lyric is Drake’s “I know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing…”
Section 2: Notes to Self
Important dates specific to the semester of which instructors should be aware Ex. Add/drop and grades due dates
Section 3: Field Guides
1-2 links to Canvas Guides or other resources related to the Field Guide topic
Section 4: Talk Nerdy to Me: The Good, the Bad, the Funny
Contemporary humorous, intriguing, and puzzling articles and sites
The Diffusion of Innovation Theory explains how an idea or product gains momentum or use over time, and it identifies four categories of adopters of innovation: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. Adopters fall into a spectrum with Early Adopters being those who need little to no external motivation and who are often the first to try new ideas, and with Laggards on the other end of the spectrum being those skeptical to change and requiring other adopters to convince them to try something new. Most adopters benefit from tutorials and proof that the change is necessary, effective, and doable from someone like them. We partner with faculty champions because we know that instructors best receive messages regarding change from their peers.
The Affective Domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy involves the learner’s emotions and attitudes and states that a learner can receive, respond, value, organize, and characterize information when they feel comfortable, safe, and connected with others. Field Guides include puns in the form of easily recognizable song lyrics, dates important to instructors, and “Talk Nerdy to Me” items to help our audience know they belong in our learning community, to feel a sense of glee, and to be receptive of the guide’s content, and learn.
Planning and compiling guides as a committee is an enjoyable and collaborative endeavor. The committee meets once per month to tackle upcoming development phases and to brainstorm tasks, tools, or best practices. Two members per month work on Section 1 with a faculty champion, generate a quote from him/her or research, and include song lyrics related to the month’s topic. Remaining committee members provide all other content for Sections 2 – 4. The project lead remains constant and compiles the issue to be posted online via monthly MailChimp campaigns. Because roles besides the project lead are revolving, participation is not overwhelming. Issues are effective and an ongoing resource for designers and instructors. We have published 41 issues to date. Average click rates were 33% in 2019 and 40% in 2022 with a total average of 39% and 780 participants engaging with our content. 533 videos have been watched this year alone. In addition, we reach readers in 16 countries.
Plan for Interactivity
Start session by asking questions to attendees:
For instructional designers, consultants, and the like…
Have you gotten an email from an instructor asking you to do something in her course and thought, “In the time she wrote this email, she could have already done this task herself?”
Do you find yourself sending the same instructions to multiple instructors or even the same instructor over several semesters and wonder why your message doesn’t stick?
If you spent less time fulfilling instructors’ course requests, would you do something more meaningful with your time?
What if you had an excuse to share ideas, songs, and a few laughs with your colleagues once a month?
Do you work with a faculty member who has gotten so good at something, you wish you could showcase him?
Do what FIU Online did. Start a Field Guide.
Before reviewing Diffusion of Innovation, create curiosity by inviting attendees to identify their place on the Diffusion of Innovation spectrum and ask two, especially a Laggard, what it would take for them to adopt a new practice. Later, use as rationale for video created with faculty member.
Before discussing the Affective Domain, present a side of classrooms, one inviting and one uninviting. Ask attendees which room they would feel better learning in. Later, connect these rooms to the affective elements.
Complete a Field Guide template with a partner.
- Section 1: Field Guide Video
What tool, task, or best practice will you cover?
What faculty champion will you recruit?
Who will write the script?
Who will record the screen capture?
Will you use a quote from research or from the faculty member?
What song lyrics do most people know at your institution that loosely relate to this topic?
- Section 2: Notes to Self – important dates specific to the semester of which instructors should be aware
What holiday is coming up?
What deadlines important to faculty are approaching?
- Section 3: Field Guides
Post one or two resources relevant to the guide’s topic
- Section 4: Talk Nerdy to Me: The Good, the Bad, the Funny
story about higher education
You’ve started your first Field Guide in a mini-committee!
Attendees learn how Field Guides use engagement to address communication redundancy, increase instructor autonomy and overall efficiency of course development and maintenance. Because the components of a Field Guide can be easily duplicated to fit the culture and needs of any institution, attendees will leave with their first draft that can be used to start a guide and committee of their own.