Marie Norman, PhD, Principal Investigator
Chelsea N. Proulx, MPH, Co-Principal Investigator
Research shows that faculty often lack the time, training, and support to implement promising educational tools and strategies. Marie Norman, PhD, and Chelsea Proulx, MPH of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Clinical Research Education, sought to address this issue as it relates to the integration of Twine, a free and open-source software, into pedagogical planning. After using this technology in Measurement in Clinical Research to enable students to learn about survey design through a series of choose-your-own, adventure-style online modules, Norman and Proulx discovered not only that the platform was simple to use, but also that 100% of those in the class reported that it deepened their understanding of course content. Substantiated by significant research on the benefits of active learning, this experience led Norman and Proulx to the conclusion that Twine is a powerful, yet underutilized tool with potential to catalyze and personalize learning.
To make it easier for faculty to integrate Twine into their teaching, Norman and Proulx proposed a personalized education project entitled “A Twine Tool-Kit for Creating Personalized Learning”. Their goal was to create an interactive, online toolkit that would help faculty use Twine to accomplish their own educational objectives. Built directly in Twine so as to model strategies while teaching them, this toolkit was intended to provide faculty with a personalized learning opportunity while helping them to build personalized learning materials for their students. Double personalization!
The team first set out to determine the most appropriate format for the Twine Toolkit, the scenarios in which it would be presented, content it would feature, and a project timeline to bring everything together. About halfway through the progression of this undertaking, Norman and Proulx had the opportunity to provide a workshop about the challenges of Twine creation at the Online Learning Consortium Accelerate Conference, allowing them to both deepen their understanding of the intricacies of the Twine environment and inform others of the opportunities it offered. Piloting the toolkit prompted the team to shift its target audience from faculty to instructional designers in recognition of the benefits of a team approach to Twine development. With the help of funds allocated through the Forge Your Own Path initiative, the team ultimately produced a novel, attractively packaged, intuitively navigable, hands-on, practical toolkit to guide instructional designers in the steps of Twine creation.
The toolkit serves the project’s goal of personalization by empowering instructional designers to work with faculty to create branching narratives for their own teaching contexts as well as allowing learners to explore decisions and consequences via choose-your-adventure-style, story-based instruction. The team plans to make the Twine Toolkit available to Pitt’s Center for Teaching and Learning, disseminate it via professional organizations that serve instructional designers, and are looking into making it a publicly available Open Educational Resource (OER).