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Transposing Gagne to the Online Realm

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Virtual Instruction in the First Year II

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First-Year Programs

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Randy Hugh Brooks Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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After 23 years in Telecom building LD, internet, and email platforms and networks, I observed that the front line personnel that I was hiring didn’t have what I considered to be skills that they should be bringing to the table. I began investigating why, and that led me to high school.

Alas, I began my journey in Education in 2010 inhabiting the classrooms of Lovejoy High School, where my two daughters attended.

I redubbed my PreCalculus course as Problem-Solving with Brooks and was also afforded the opportunity to lead an impactul Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Principles of Engineering (PoE) course, a project-based learning survey of the engineering discipline.

Since the Summer of 2015 I have been privileged to work with the Texas A and M Sketch Recognition Lab (TAMU SRL) to evaluate a couple of online tutorial tools (Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS)) currently under development, Mechanix and Sketchtivity, that provide immediate constructive feedback to the students and student-level metrics to the instructors. I presented on this work at the state and national PLTW Conventions and at CPTTE in 2016.

I also spent 5 semesters beginning the Fall of 2015 taking online courses learning how to construct and deliver online courses. This resulted in a MSEd from Purdue University in Learning Design and Technology (LDT).

This widely varied background prepared me well for my next big adventure. Beginning in August 2018 I became the Texas A and M Professor of Practice for the Texas A and M Engineering Academy at Blinn College in Brenham. Texas A and M Engineering Academies are an innovative approach to providing the planet with more Aggie Engineers.

I am focused on enhancing the high school through first-year college experience and am an engaged member of the Texas A and M IEEI (Institute for Engineering Education and Innovation).

My foundations were set by an upbringing on the family ranch near Joshua, Texas and 4 memorable years at Texas A and M where I met my wife, I led Bugle Rank #7 in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band (Class of ’86 Whoop!), and dove into Telecom Engineering. Once in Telecom, my learning continued at MCI, Vartec, and Charter.

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This complete theory paper will explore the extension, augmentation, and application of Robert Gagne’s “Nine Events of Instruction” to curriculum and lesson development and deployment in the online environment.

The onset of digitization in the 21st century has highlighted the need to adjust traditional learning theory implementation to better meet the needs of the digital learner. The increasing prevalence of online education accentuates the educator obligation to analyze the details of how digital learning occurs in the online environment, and adjust the instruction accordingly. Needed is an evaluation of the full scope of new knowledge and tools in an effort to develop an instructional theory framework specifically focused on the upcoming generation of digital learners that meets the needs of today while also preparing for the gaming-dominated education world of tomorrow.

Gagne has created a standard for instruction that provides both a framework for building a solid lesson plan, and a foundation for evolving numerous learning theories. Though Gagne is rarely mentioned inclusively in constructivist discussions, the melding of Gagne’s vision with constructivist ideology in a quest to best support digital learners provides an enticing blueprint for the 21st century classroom.

Considering the ongoing advances in brain research and human-computer interaction, instructional designers are positioned to launch a new instructional style that involves guiding learners along a broad, learner-centered path of discovery, autonomously adding skills as needed. The 21st century is promising an expanding volume of knowledge and learners require training in regard to how they are to pursue and acquire this ‘new’ knowledge. Educationally, the US is not equipped to train in an environment with the speed to market and enormity of new knowledge currently being encountered.

Driscoll’s close association with Gagne provides a seemingly dichotomous message in “Psychology of Learning Instruction” (Driscoll, 2015), yet this author’s turmoil proved an effective incubator for creation of a new learning theory to address the changing playing field. When concluding a section on learning goals, Driscoll states, “It seems clear from the remarks of constructivist researchers that constructivist learning goals are best met through a variety of instructional conditions that differ from any proposed by theorists like Gagne.” Though this early quote seems to distance Gagne and constructivism, Driscoll concludes the section with a closing of the gap. “As a theory, it (constructivism) may indeed be incommensurable with an instructional theory such as Gagne’s…but as a philosophy, constructivism may be viewed as not competing with other instructional theories, but providing them with an alternative set of values that deserve serious consideration.

A requirement of 21st century learning structures is the ability to be digitally effective. Student-centered activities (ideally autonomous Intelligent Tutoring Systems) tailored to address student weaknesses and grow their strengths, will be the talisman of 21st century learning. Though Gagne’s nine events of instruction may remain the framework of lesson construction, individual elements will transform to a constructivist view of sending the learners in a direction with limited attention tied to defining the learning objectives, yet driven by a learning strategy of discovery. An overarching direction for learning in the new century is to develop engaging training to encourage students to learn through self-initiation and curiosity. This is done by guiding, not directing, the student towards activities and analyses that grow their knowledge regarding target concepts while developing self-efficacy as a lifelong learner and enhancing problem-solving skills.

In regards to the learning theory extension to game-based learning, “Gagne and Driscoll considered the provision of informative feedback to be as important as setting of problem situations.” (Driscoll, 2005) Just as a video must be followed by a relevant discussion, or an assessment by timely corrections, game-based learning must contain elements of constructive performance feedback within the game.

This study will incorporate literature-supported validation of learning theory transformation relative to learner brain operation in the digital space as well as numerous examples of contrasting traditional lecture-based lessons and their reconstructed versions using the Gagne-Constructivist strategy.

The nine events of instruction provided by Gagne transition create a somewhat strict template in the lecture-based world while providing a skeletal framework for guiding students through problems worth solving in the 21st century. Though, historically, theory discussions tend to distance Gagne and constructivism, the needs of the 21st century have brought these two methodologies together to provide a solid foundation for curriculum production and lesson delivery in the digital realm.

This study will explore the transformation of Gagne’s nine events of instruction to a guiding framework for online lessons, to include exemplar constructs.

Brooks, R. H. (2021, July), Transposing Gagne to the Online Realm Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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