Creating a curriculum from the ground up

Two weeks ago I was in Wheaton, IL meeting with a content expert to start to develop a new curriculum. It was a new experience for me. I have never been a part of writing a curriculum that is essentially being built from the ground up. We do have source material to pull from and content experts who have done shorter trainings on the same topic, but for the most part we are crafting this curriculum from pretty close to scratch.

I don’t want to talk about the nitty gritty details of this curriculum and the design process even though I could probably talk about those things for hours. What I want to talk about is the experience in general.

I am new to the instructional design field. Sure I have designed curriculum here and there for COSI Toledo and my own classroom, but this is different. COSI Toledo was mostly about having fun while learning some pretty basic science. My own classroom’s curriculum was so regulated by the objectives dictated to me by higher ups, so I was very limited.

This was different.

This was the first large project on my plate.

This was my first experience being the expert in the field, with a good chunk of responsibility on my shoulders.

This was the beginning of the bulk of my work here with GEM eDOT in Germany.

This was and is incredible!

First off it is pretty incredible because of the possible reach of this curriculum. So far we have 1 guaranteed conference with interest being shown in three other locations. The idea behind our design is to allow a properly trained facilitator (which may be a course we create as well) to use our curriculum and facilitate a conference in their area. The easier this is to bring to any area, the more conferences there are. The more conferences there are, the more people trained in this discipleship making movement. The more people trained, the more impact it has for the Kingdom of God in Europe and beyond.

Then it’s awesome on a personal level. I have very rarely been given so much responsibility and trust as I already have at eDOT. Sometimes, I am confident that I will have a clue what to do, but because of the way my supervisors have been treating me I have grown in confidence of my skills. I have been trained for this and they believe that I can do this.

The third way that it was awesome, was that we accomplished what we needed to accomplish in half the time that I thought it would take. That allowed us to get more done than previously thought and also work on other things we needed to get done.

The greatest thing in all of this though, is to see God moving in this project. Are there frustrations? Sure. Is there a pretty tight deadline? Definitely. It doesn’t matter though, because God is moving and where He moves, things far beyond our hopes and dreams will be accomplished. Join me in praising Him, for His work!

Guessing Strategically – DMT Curriculum

In March I went to a training called Discipleship Multiplication Training (DMT) in Lisbon. I wrote a little bit about it after the training was done. During that time I really felt God pushing on my heart telling me that I was going to do something with this curriculum. I thought it was going to be specifically with the curriculum that was used during our training, but God had other plans.

Within a few weeks we were discussing the possibility of eDOT playing a major role in the creation of a new DMT curriculum targeted towards reaching immigrants. The other two guys in the office never saw that coming…but I did!

The DMT trainings were already being planned and a grant for the curriculum/training was already obtained, all that was left to do was the curriculum itself. The grant requires that a certain number of trainings are completed within just under a year and a half. Our first training is planned for October and in order to get a curriculum written in time for it to be used at that training, we have a lot of work to do.

In the next month we will be reading a lot of material in preparation for beginning the curriculum. Neither of us, that are working on the project, are subject matter experts so next month I will be taking a trip to Chicago (and Toledo of course!) to sit down and have a very packed four days of meetings with a content expert. During those four days we will discuss anything and everything that we can, tied to the curriculum, and what he invisions for the trainings. The nice thing, that this trip will allow for, is time to ask questions and get answers immediately. E-mail is great, but when you are working on a curriculum, a lot of questions come up and will need answering sooner rather than later.

This curriculum will definitely stretch my skills and abilities to the max, but I am very excited to be able to develop something from the ground up. During the project we will be posting short articles about the instructional design process and I invite you to check out eDOT’s website to watch as we progress along in this project.

Guessing Strategically – Narnia curriculum

For the third post of the outcomes of our strategic guessing, I wanted to highlight one of the two curricula that I will be helping to design.

I have been working on an ESL (English as a second language) curriculum, based on the 3rd movie in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. As of right now there is no technology involved in this project, so I have been secunded to EuroTeam to help.

The idea for the curriculum is to be used at a camp for teenagers who want to learn English. We are designing it to be used at a specific camp in Germany, but ideally it could be used in any number of locations and situations. Basically once this curriculum is finished it will be available to any partners who would like an ESL curriculum.

This is the first project that I have been able to work on that uses the unique skills with which God has blessed me. Instructional design is an often misunderstood process that is often overlooked as well. It’s not that you need special training in order to do instructional design, but you do need an understanding for how people learn and in what ways you can craft a lesson to reach as many people as possible.

It has been a great experience so far and I am learning a lot while doing this project. I am looking forward to finishing this project and getting to see it in action later this year. Hopefully it will be used throughout the world so that while learning English these teenagers can learn about God in a non-threatening way.

Guessing Strategically – Networking

On Monday I started a series of blogs highlighting some of the projects that I will be a part of stemming from our strategic guessing last week. Monday was all about getting grants for projects and today is about networking.

Now some people may wonder how networking is a project on which someone can work, so let me explain. Here are some of our goals (I say some, because we are starting this from the ground up and haven’t established everything yet.):

  • Create a network of universities in the US (and maybe other countries as well) that will partner with us for the following:
    • Interns
    • Speaking opportunities
  • Attend conferences to establish partner relationships with other ministries for the following:
    • New projects
    • Help in current and future projects
    • Resources

Why is this a project we are working on?

That is a very good question, to which I can hopefully give an understandable answer. Let me look at the university network first. As a part of our strategic guessing we came up with a list of over 40 projects on which we are currently working or see ourselves starting within the next year. There are 4 full-time and two part-time staff on eDOT so that is a huge list. Some of the projects are relatively short, but others will take a large chunk of time.

That is where the interns could work out well for us. As with most of our partnerships we want it to be a reciprocal relationship and interns are just that. We would offer them first-hand technology or instructional design experience and they would help us finish projects.

Beyond that we would also love to increase our full-time team, but people with the skills we need don’t always know this opportunity even exists (including myself just a few years ago). If we can speak to the education and computer science students and show them how they can increase God’s Kingdom with their skills, I think we can accomplish just that.

Attending conferences is similar in that the more we attend, participate and get the word out about what eDOT does, the more projects and partnerships we will have. This also allows us to concentrate on what we do well and refer others to one of our partners who excel in an area we do not.

How is that going to work?

This is a trickier question to answer because, quite frankly, we do not know. We have attended conferences before so that isn’t hard to do (I will have to be extra-extroverted though for sure), but we need to find some and hopefully speak at some, therefore supplementing our future attendance.

Again, the university network is the trickier part. Right now we are putting together a list of the universities to which each of us has a connection and then we will proceed with connecting with the university and discussing requirements, possibilities, etc.

Like I said we are building this from the ground up, so if you have any connections to conferences or universities and want to share, please let me know. we would be very happy to connect with anyone who might be able to help us maximize our ability to change the world for Christ!

Guessing Strategically – Getting grants

Last week eDOT all got together in Kandern and started a time we were calling strategic guessing. I wrote a blog about why we called it that, so if you want to check that out go ahead and come back here when you are done.

Our goals were to discuss the past year and look forward to the next trying to see where God is leading us and what possible projects He has been placing on our hearts. All of us came out of the week with our own action plan. Mine included a few projects and I would like to take a couple blogs to share what those projects will be. The first project I will be working on is getting grants for eDOT and the other projects we are working on.

Being a technology mission we have many reasons why keeping up to date with the current technology is important. Do we need to own every new piece of technology? No, not really, but sometimes we do need to upgrade our equipment. Do we need to attend every conference or take courses to continue learning about current technologies and techniques? Also no, but again, we do need to be keeping up to date so we aren’t using something way out of date like someone using an abacus to do math in college right now. Money is needed and grants are a great way for us to get some assistance with specific projects.

My job in this project will be to research some grants that fit our current or potential projects and then pass it off to the people skilled at writing the grants.

Here is where I could use some help. Anyone have any resources or connections that could help us find some grants?

Strategic Guessing

Next week begins a time for us in eDOT where we examine what projects we are currently running and what projects will be upcoming in the next year. This year we are calling it “Strategic Guessing.” It is a little different for me to not call it strategic planning, but the name is growing on me.

The name “strategic planning” makes it sound like we have control over something, which in reality we don’t. “Strategic guessing” shows that while we can “plan” as much as we want, there is no guarantee that any of this will be our focus in 11 months, let alone a week or two. I think the idea behind the name change was so we could be more open to potential new partners and projects within the next year and more importantly to how God is directing eDOT in ways we can not even imagine. We are still going to plan as much as we can, but we will be keeping that open mind.

No matter what we call it though I am looking forward to this time. I’m excited to have the other three eDOTers come in from the US, for the week of time that my supervisors have been planning and for the weekend after where we can all relax and get to know each other on our short retreat.

I’m a planner, so it should come as no big surprise that I am looking forward to the “guessing” time, but it is more than seeing what we might be doing in the next year. We will also be talking about what God has been doing, is doing and where we think He is leading us.

I will try to do a couple updates next week during the “guessing” time, but I am looking forward to sharing after we have finished our time together.

The end of an era and beginning of another

11 months ago yesterday I stepped off a plane into a country that was strange to me with people speaking a language I barely knew. After about a week I got frustrated and wanted to start learning the language as quickly as possible and learning as much as possible too. That began a long, frustrating, draining and sometimes butt-kicking 8 months of study.

That all came to an end March 14th. I no longer head into language school every day for 4 hours and only speak German. I know longer struggle with grammar or vocabulary issue when speaking with Germans….of wait, no i definitely still do that. I don’t know if I can say that I am fluent, but I can say that I can carry on a conversation on a variety of topics without too much difficulty.

While I said that one era ended, it really didn’t. I’m not done learning German in the least bit. I am still trying to practice it as often as possible, but language school is over.

Last week began my first week in the office full-time. It was a good week, but man, was it difficult. The projects I am working on weren’t hard, the co-workers are great, but it is hard for me because I haven’t worked full-time in 2 years, since I left Mattawoman. I also have not ever worked in front of a computer the whole day either. It is definitely an adjustment, but I like what I am doing and who I am working with, so I can only see it getting better. There is also a very flexible environment here, so if I need to go for a short walk or just get away from the computer for a short bit, I can.

Currently I am helping to write articles about online course creation and facilitation, creating a curriculum for an ESL camp, and organizing a short retreat that most of the eDOT team will be going on the beginning of April. I am enjoying these projects and am looking forward to adjusting to the full-time work too.

I am very thankful to God that the language school is done and I was able to pick up the language at least decently and also that I can already see the value of my abilities that will be used by eDOT for His Kingdom.

Laptops to skills to trades in Ukraine

My supervisor in Germany recently sent me an e-mail with some pretty cool news about something that eDOT had a had in years ago that is still being used today and now is playing an even bigger role than originally thought. I want to share with you the awesome things God is doing through that project

Unlike here where most people my age and under grew up with a computer, in some areas few people even have access to a computer let alone have their own at their house. A few years back eDOT went to  Zaporozhye, Ukraine and set up what is known as a Mobile Outreach Center. The MOC, a group of laptops used for teaching basic computer classes, was installed at a community center that was an outreach of a church plant in Zaporozhye. Originally the MOC was used primarily for computer training so people were better prepared for more jobs and while they were getting the training they are building relationships with those working there and hearing about/seeing God’s love lived out. That in and of itself is awesome, but this MOC was also being used to help orphans who have “graduated” from the local orphanage.

Recently though there has been plans for a trade school to begin as another outreach to orphans and others needing job training. They were having difficulty getting the school accredited but when they found out that the school would be offering computer classes, the doors were opened. The computer course has been accredited now which makes it easier to get future courses accredited and then eventually the whole program.

What began as a way for people to be surrounded by God’s love while learning basic computer skills has morphed into something well beyond what was originally thought. God’s plan is certainly better than ours and I love when he reminds us of that!

My supervisor sums it up pretty well and so I will leave with a quote from the e-mail he sent.

“We’re finding that technology isn’t always what “it’s about” but many times its the door way for other opportunities to follow.”