Jackie Dobrovolny, Ph.D. 12281 E. Villanova Drive Aurora, CO. 80014 email@example.com April 28, 2011 Dr. Stephen Hartnett Department of Communication University of Colorado Denver P.O. Box 173364, D.C. 176 Denver, Colorado 80217
Subject: Recommendation for Kathy Pounders
Dear Dr. Hartnett, The purpose of this letter is to share with you the work Kathy Pounders successfully completed in the two 6-credit hour courses she took from me. INTE 5660, Designing and Teaching in eLearning Environments, is the first course in the eLearning program and INTE 5670, Developing eLearning Instruction, is the second course. All courses in the eLearning program are completely online, through CU Online, and we use the eCollege course management system. There are two major projects in 5660. A virtual team project where teams of three design and develop a 60 minute instructional webinar focusing on a Web 2.0 tool. There are four major challenges in this project: (1) Learning to work in a virtual team, (2) Learning to use Adobe Connect, the webinar delivery tool, (3) Developing the instruction using the W. Horton instructional design model and (4) Learning the Web 2.0 tool. Kathy was the project leader on her team and she did a fabulous job not only helping the team meet the various assignment deadlines, she also did a fabulous job motivating her team and keeping them engaged and convinced this was a doable project. She was always positive, upbeat, and willing to help with whatever needed to be done. Kathy exemplified excellent organizational skills, which in a virtual team is critical. Both of her team mates lived in the Central Time Zone and worked full time so she had to accommodate the time difference. Additionally, working in a virtual team takes more time than working face-to-face because much of the work is done through text posted to the discussions in eCollege. If Kathy posted a message Monday morning about a question or decision, she often had to wait until that night or the next morning to get a response. Kathy was also a good role model. There were 11 separate discussions supporting this project and Kathy was the first one to post to 10 of these discussions. She always started the discussion off with a substantive, well organized message that encouraged her team mates to contribute and brainstorm.
The webinar Kathy and her two teammates delivered was excellent. The Webinar Rubric contains 9 variables and Kathy’s team earned full points on 8 of them. One of the rubric variables is the degree to which the team integrated a job aid into the presentation. Kathy and her team did an excellent job on this, as well as providing numerous opportunities for the participants to interact with the presenters. The second major project in 5660 is an individual project, called an EdWeb, which is a self-paced, eLearning web site. In 5660, students start the design of their EdWeb and then they complete the design and develop their EdWeb in 5670. There are three major challenges in the EdWeb project in 5660: (1) Researching the stakeholders, the target audience, and the instructional setting, (2) Developing realistic goals and aligning them with specific instructional objectives and learning activities, and (3) Implementing Horton’s instructional design model. In 5670, the challenges are to (1) Develop a project management plan and then use GoogleDocs to track progress against milestones, (2) Learn an eLearning authoring tool, (3) Conduct two formative evaluations on the EdWeb, (4) Justify each interface and instructional design decision, and (5) Develop the instruction for at least two instructional objectives in 13 weeks. Due to scheduling problems, INTE 5660 Spring 2010 semester was a 13 week course. A rule of thumb is that it takes about 200 hours of development time to develop one hour of self-paced eLearning. Kathy estimated her students would need appropriately 1.5 hours to complete her EdWeb so she budgeted about 300 hours of development time across 13 weeks. Kathy’s EdWeb was entitled “Conflict in Interpersonal Relationships” and she used Adobe Dreamweaver as her authoring tool. Her target audience was freshmen and the Flesch-Kincaid score readability score for her EdWeb was of 9.2. Kathy was the epitome of perseverance on her EdWeb. This is an iterative process and sometimes students lose motivation when they are not meeting their project milestones. Not Kathy! She just kept a steady, even pace and while she had some set-backs, she never gave up. Kathy was also willing to reconsider instructional strategies that had been successful for her in the past. In one of her reflection assignments, she said that one of the most important things she learned about developing eLearning is, “That breaking down a unit into smaller components is more time consuming, but in the long run better for absorption of material. Previously, I basically just wrote out my unit as a lecture. Although the students really like my lectures (I write in a very personal way), I know that they aren’t compatible with the idea of not having to scroll down the page.” In summary, I firmly believe that Kathy was, is and will continue to be an excellent instructor. She understands the value of continuous improvement, using data from her
students, and she sets very high standards for herself and her students. The Department of Communication has a star and I am sure she is remembered fondly by her students. Sincerely,
Jackie Dobrovolny, Ph.D.