Informed Consent and Walking the Pooch

By: babette09

Aug 12 2009

Category: Uncategorized

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I’ve been reading up on Ethics lately. Today I completed the Informed Consent online course (or ‘electronic page-turner’, more accurately). I liked that everything in this course was straightforward, subject-wise.

I decided to walk the dog before I took the last lesson. There is something so meditative about doing this! I am hyper-aware of everything around me, like the trees and the sky. I’m even more aware when the dog freaks out on a rabbit or defecates, or something equally active that requires some kind of action on my part. Since Yuca, our dog, is not quite 2 years old yet (October), he’s still quite restless. The fact that he’s part Rottweiler, part Husky and part Lab doesn’t help his inquisitive nature and hyperactive demeanor.

Anyway, we’re out there walking along and suddenly Action Research spirals over my head like a bat, flipping around and being obnoxious. I was trying NOT to think about homework for that 30-minute walk, so I started actively reviewing what else is coming up this week. I started a contract, I’m getting into the design of a new course, I need to sketch out the high-level design soon, and Action Research swoops in again like a starling that can’t wait its turn at the bird feeder. Yes, flying creature analogies. I concluded that I just can’t get away from this stuff, try as I might. So I began thinking about the journal exercise in Chapter 3 of Coghlan and Brannick. For 3.1, you’re supposed to think about a situation that happened at work, describe an event that happened, reflect about how it went, conceptualize and then suggest ways to act on what you reflected. It occurs to me that having just started at this new place and working from home most of the time, I really don’t have an experience to reflect about yet. I guess I could discuss the one-hour meeting we had yesterday between three of us, but it just seems so…cheap.

I hadn’t thought of anything by the time Yuca and I got into the home stretch, a block away. Instead I decided to write this. Writing about what I just did gives me the feeling of living out an old Cheech and Chong skit: “My Summer Vacation. The first day, I woke up. Then I got dressed and had breakfast. Then my mom told me to get out of the house, so I hung around the drugstore. The second day, I woke up…” I can’t wait for my sizzling conclusion: ……Then I got a job, keeping kids from hanging around the drugstore.” Hopefully I’ll avoid that kid’s fate.

The upside of this is that the Informed Consent course was crystal clear to me as I thought about it at the conclusion of the walk. Despite the many flaws in the course content and presentation – let’s face it, this is an old course that sorely needs an update – it’s a clear-cut subject that you can’t lose in, as long as you’re paying attention. That said, please indulge me a few sentences so I can give an instructional designer’s take on the course. I’ll give positive and negative, so I won’t just be whining about the bad stuff.

On a positive note, I learned some things about informed consent, which is the whole point, right? The ID made an attempt to use Info Mapping, so at least the many, many pages of text were not completely jumbled up or one giant paragraph for each page. I also liked the sample forms, and some of the exercise questions were relevant. Remember, I said some. Lastly, there were some nice stories that folded well into the content. I like that idea, and I try to do that when I’m writing course material like this.

On the negative side, come on, doesn’t anyone look at updating this course anymore? This had to be written in the early, early 2000s, according to the little buttons for Exercise, Menu, Next and Previous.  In addition, I found myself spell-checking here and there; really, more punctuation checking. There were a lot of extra apostrophes and commas, mostly.  That wasn’t a huge deal. I’m always finding that in documents and websites.

There was a LOT of information that just went on and on, one giant page of blah blah blah. There are ways to make a course like this more interesting. First, lose that tired clip art and add images that can actually contribute to the learning, like a reinforcing image of relationships between researcher and researchee, more example docs or an animated path of what happens during the process. Anything to add some zing and added retention is welcome!

Not to make a tirade out of this (I know – too late), but the exercises were lacking. When I write an assessment or ‘knowledge check’, I always try to tie the information back to the objective. No brainer right? Some of these questions just sounded lazy to me, as if the ID couldn’t get herself out of bed to finish these up. The sing-song call and response content makes me want to gag. You know the type:

“Here is a thingamajig. It has four sides. Each side splinters the action. Side one is a processor. Side two is the naming machine. You need to feed at least three names. Side three is the backup, and side four makes 90 degree angle turns when you’re ready.”

Exercise question: “How many sides does a thingamajig have?”

I pushed through them all OK, but felt a little cheated somehow.

OK, enough of that. I’m starting the NIH research page tonight, but probably won’t get too far. I’ll try to get more done tomorrow. Dirk’s brother and his wife are coming this weekend, so I know I’ll have less time than usual to study. I want to try to get a little ahead. Translated: I will try not to get too far behind.  ;- )  If I do though, I’ll just get the leash out and walk that pooch again.

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