Join our open service course to gain instructional design experience!

Free Course: September 12 - December 4, 2016

Recent Project News

Design Project Overview

The project is managed by Designers for Learning, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the US. We coordinate volunteer service-learning opportunities with those who seek to gain experience creating instruction and other types of performance improvement solutions for nonprofits and other social causes. Starting in the fall of 2015, a team of volunteers will be designing (and later facilitating) our next service-learning experience. The volunteers are all professional educators and / or experienced instructional designers with an extensive academic and work background in either adult basic education or instructional design (or both).

Service Course Phases

The volunteers on this project are designing the following service-learning experience that we will implement in 2016. The proposed service course will be implemented in two phases, as described below:

Phase 1: Open Online Course

In early 2016, the first phase of the service-learning experience will begin within a 5-week open online course. Unlike our prior service-learning experiences, this open online course will have no prerequisites for participation and no application / selection process. Everyone who enrolls in the open course will be immersed into a real-world authentic instructional design challenge that centers on the design of instruction on a topic that aligns with an anchor standard in the College and Career Readiness standards.

Participants in the open online course will begin the design process by dissecting the adult basic education design scenario to explore key aspects of the opportunity. What are the goals, needs, and constraints? Who are the target learners? What is the instructional context? During the 5-week open course, participants will progress through planned course exercises, individual reflection, and group discussion to independently design a solution to the instructional need. As the final open online course assignment, each participant will describe his/her instructional solution within a design proposal. Those participants who complete all of the design requirements of Phase 1 will be invited to submit their design proposals for Phase 2 selection consideration, as described below.

Phase 2: Selected Cohort

Participants who complete all of the course requirements in the Phase 1: Open Online Course will be invited to submit their design proposals for selection consideration to join a smaller cohort of service-learner volunteers. By limiting the cohort to a smaller number of designers who have submitted promising design proposals, the facilitators and subject matter experts will be able to provide greater one-to-one feedback and support than is possible in the larger open online course.

Volunteer service-learners selected to join the cohort will develop instruction based on their design proposals within this 7-week phase. Each participant will first develop a prototype that will be the subject of a round of formative evaluation. Participants will then incorporate feedback from this evaluation into a final deliverable that must conform to the project’s style guide, and incorporate all necessary content presentation, learner practice, and assessment materials. As a condition of participating in the selected cohort, service-learners agree to submit their final deliverables to Designers for Learning under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License that will allow the designers access to their work, but also support the broadest use of their instruction.

Why Serve on this Project?

While there is no financial compensation for the roles on this service project, volunteers will be participating in the development and implementation of an innovative service-learning approach that will facilitate the design and development of needed adult basic education resources to support a grossly underserved population of learners. In the US alone, 30 million adults do not have high school credentials, but less than 2 million are currently supported within adult education programs. While we have a US-centric focus on this project, support for adult education is a need around the globe. Through participation in this project, volunteers will expand their service contributions to an underserved population, while furthering their own professional development.

Upon successful completion of responsibilities on this project, each volunteer will receive a letter of recognition from Designers for Learning acknowledging the participant’s contribution. We are often asked how this service experience should be described in a CV or resume, and we recommend describing your role on the project within the “service” section. Include that you were a volunteer on a service-learning project facilitated by Designers for Learning, and note the duration of the project and the number of hours you volunteered your service. Provide details of your specific contribution, and the outcome of your efforts. In addition, given that content produced within this project is released under a Creative Commons license, feel free to include copies of the work you produced on this project within your professional portfolio.

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

Volunteers with a strong background in adult basic education are serving on our subject matter expert (SME) panel. SMEs are asked to carry out the following tasks:

  • Goal and needs assessment:
    • Requested commitment: 1 to 2 hours per week from August 24, 2015 to October 15, 2015
    • Responsibilities: Volunteering in conjunction with the project manager, instructional designers, and the panel of fellow SMEs, you will help to define the deliverables that our service-learners will design and develop during the service-learning experience. Utilizing your background and expertise in adult basic education, you will help us to clarify the needed open educational resources that will best serve our target population of adult learners and instructors. As part of this initial assessment process, you will help our instructional designers and service-learners better understand our learner population and the adult basic education context in which the OER will be used.
  • Open online course advisement (Phase 1):
    • Requested commitment: 2 hours per week from February 1, 2016 to March 7, 2016.
    • Responsibilities: Our service-learning experience will begin in early 2016 within an open online course on the Canvas.net platform. Your assistance as a volunteer on the panel of SMEs is needed to provide feedback and support to students regarding their projects during this open course. Volunteering along side the course facilitators, you will offer discussion feedback and responses to questions within the course discussion forum.
  • Selected Cohort advisement (Phase 2):
    • Requested commitment: 2 hours per week from March 21, 2016 to May 9, 2016.
    • Responsibilities: After the open online course, your continued assistance is needed to provide feedback and support to students regarding their projects during the 7-week selected cohort. Volunteering along side the course facilitators, you will offer discussion feedback and responses to questions within the course discussion forum, as well as within 2 to 3 live webinars that could be planned during the Phase 2 of the service-learning experience.

Experienced Instructional Designers

Experienced instructional designers with an extensive academic and work background in instructional design serve as volunteers on our design team for the spring 2016 service-learning experience. The design team also includes advanced graduate students who will collaborate to design and develop both phases of the service-learning experience. Designers are asked to carry out the following tasks:

  • Requested commitment: 2 to 3 hours per week from August 24, 2015 – November 15, 2015.
  • Responsibilities: Working in conjunction with the project manager, other volunteer instructional designers, and a panel of 5 to 7 SMEs on the project, you will help to:
    • define the deliverables that our service-learners will complete during the service-learning experience, and
    • design and develop designated aspects of the two-phase service-learning experience.

Service-Learning Facilitators

Experienced instructional designers will serve as volunteers on the facilitation team during the Spring 2016 service-learning experience. Facilitators are asked to carry out the following tasks::

  • Open online course facilitation (Phase 1):
  • Requested commitment: 4 hours per week from February 1, 2016 –  March 7, 2016.
  • Responsibilities: The service-learning experience will be implemented in early 2016 in two phases starting with a 5-week open online course on the Canvas.net platform. Your assistance as one of 4 to 5 volunteer course facilitators is needed to provide feedback and support to students regarding their projects during this open online course. Volunteering along side a panel of other course facilitators, you will offer feedback and responses to questions within the course discussion forum.
  • Selected cohort facilitation (Phase 2):
  • Requested commitment: 4 hours per week from March 21, 2016 –  May 9, 2016.
  • Responsibilities: After the open online course, your continued assistance is needed to provide feedback and support to the service-learners selected to participate in the 7-week selected cohort phase of the service-learning experience. Volunteering with other course facilitators, you will offer guidance, feedback, and responses to questions within the course discussion forum, as well as within 2 to 3 live webinars that could be planned during the design cohort.

Anticipated Timeframes*

  • August 16, 2015: Call for Volunteers Deadline
  • August 24, 2015 : Volunteer Selection Announced
  • October 15, 2015: SMEs Deliverable Aims Confirmed
  • October 15, 2015: Designers Submit Proposal to Canvas.net
  • November 15, 2015: Design Finalized
  • February 1 – March 7, 2016: Phase 1 Implementation
  • March 21 – May 9, 2016: Phase 2 Implementation

* This is the planned schedule, but like most plans the milestones shown here are subject to change.

Questions or Comments?

Thank you for your interest in volunteering your time, skills, and knowledge to this important need! Please forward this Call for Volunteers to other students or faculty, and contact Designers for Learning with any questions or comments.