Ethos Community

Hi everyone, I'm new here so forgive me if I'm off topic.

My current focus as a freelance instructional designer/consultant is writing activity guides for educators based on plays put on by a production company.


I've made numerous guides and feel that I'm starting to stagnate in terms of my style. As such it's becoming a bit less of a challenge for me and I'm looking for new ways to write the guides - not only for myself but also to keep the educators engaged.


I was wondering if anyone had any ideas or resources that I could use to help me with this? You can see samples of my work at so that you can see what my current style is.





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Mind map of the mind map guidlines.Image via WikipediaHello Toni Hope that your Christmas was awesome, and a happy new year to you. Apologies for the delay in replying...the whole of NZ tends to disappear for the Christmas and New Year break, and other folk will also be on holidays I'm guessing.


Thanks for sharing your samples and for asking for some alternative approaches. It can be tricky as a sole practitioner to bounce ideas around with people, and to get suggestions for different ways of doing things. So, I thought I would pop together some thoughts. They are just suggestions, and may, or may not be the sort of thing you were looking for :-) Please let me know if you'd like to talk about any of the ideas in greater depth, or if you have any questions. I had a brief look through a selection of the guides you have created, and then chose "I don't like Mondays" as the guide to focus on.


I really enjoyed the professional, clean look of the resource, with a layout that makes it really easy to follow and to locate things. If I were covering this book with learners, I would also find the suggestions and ideas to engage students and encourage them to unpick the text and wider topics / competencies, really helpful. In these times of every increasing workloads and expectations, a guide like this would be a bonus! :-)

  • One of the first things that, did strike me though, as a very visual person, was the large amount of 'text' in the guide. As you will, I'm sure, be familiar with, some of the research into the brain (see for example, the active processing assumption, Mayer, 2009 in Owen, & Martin 2010) tends to indicate that a greater use of graphics may make the guide more effective. A guide that made use of graphics (and if it were online, audio, video and interactivity / community - see my next suggestion :-) might help teachers interpret, organise, and personalise the information and suggestions in the guide. It could be, for example, that you include a mindmap of the main topics in a book, and then have sub nodes to contemporary topics and / or competencies. Mindmeister is a mindmapping tool I have really enjoyed using and from which you can download the resulting files as, for example, .png. Here is an example of a mindmap I created for ePortfolios
  • My next suggestion links to the first one and came from thinking of interactivity...most education institutions now have some form of Learning Management System (LMS). Which means your guides could be adapted to Digital Learning Objects and hosted (as a SCORM package) in an institution's LMS for access by teachers. The benefits of doing this would be that you could add / create interactive activities...for the teachers to use, and to use with their students. Also, you could add video and audio for those teachers who prefer to listen or watch rather than read. All of your hyperlinks would be live and would take teachers / students directly to resources. If you are interested, there are a couple of Open Source tools (and quite a few proprietary ones) available to create SCORM packages listed here.The open source tool I've personally used is eXe.
  • Another idea that popped into my mind is providing suggestions for teachers, in addition to the ones you have already developed, that gently guide them to using Web 2.0, collaboration and multimedia with students...perhaps where students are also creating the content and building on the guides. Teachers could also be provided with a couple of links to active collaborative communities who are already using these approaches, to ask questions and share experiences and ideas.
  • Using the Gun Registry Project as a starting point I started to think of all the exciting possibilities of engaging learners in this topic while also giving them opportunities to demonstrate mastery of the required competencies. I started to think about Dean Shareski's post "Personlized Assessment", where he writes about "working with pre-service teachers at the college level. Students are asked to design their own project that tie into the big themes of the course". The Gun Registry project might also have students choose from writing a paper, creating a documentary type video, putting together an audio track, putting together an online resource that pulls a range of these together. Students could, in turn, decide to interview members of their community, and to look for primary sources that might form / illustrate their "their opinion of Bill C-391 and the gun registry". Exemplars of previous and/or existing projects, as well as scaffolding could be provided to help students through the process.
  • Building on the previous point, the guide might also suggest that these artefacts could be housed in an ePortfolio for students to take forward with them...and as a way to help facilitate the practical side of assessing x number of diverse media, by peers and / or by the teacher.
  • The debate described on p. 7 of the guide, could be done on an inter-institution basis...possibly by Web conferencing. Where there are issues of connectivity, the whole class could put design and shoot a video that supported their (nominated) position, while another class in the other institution does the same. The videos could be watched and after that the classes come together for final arguments via, for instance, Skype. The sense of audience may be a bonus...and students are more likely to engage (???).

Not sure if these ideas are any help, or the sort of thing you were looking for - you already have a super set of resources, but there may be some ideas around ways to also incorporate your multimedia and script-writing expertise.


'Book Talks' - Sample Student Project

Exercast Sample Student Project


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Thank you for your reply and advice.

Some of it I will definitely be able to use but some of it maybe not.

For instance, the LMS idea is great but since my client is a children's theatre playhouse, these guides go up on their website for educators (sometimes across the country and definitely across the province) to access.


I've struggled on ways to include more visual elements in these guides, from a technical point of view and also a creative one, so the mind map idea is great!


It has always been a challenge for me to try and incorporate some constructivist learning into the guides. I try and include an exercise where the class will brainstorm ideas about the play they have seen and from there they can be developed into activities. The main challenge is that I need to appeal to my client in terms of developing activities while also trying to manage how to keep things feeling "loose" so that the educator can improvise and make it fit his/her students' needs. Not to mention that the guides cover a range of ages and grades (either K through 7/8 or 7/8 through 11). Providing options for how students complete an activity could help meet these requirements.


Thank you for your advice! I'm going to look into how I can use these in my future guides!


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