Module Development Process
The method by which IRIS creates our resources and materials is a multi-stage process of topic selection, development, and refinement that relies on the input and expertise of a wide variety of sources. Because our work is informed continually, the result is an evolving set of materials based on the input, needs, and feedback of the IRIS Center’s consumers, constituents, and the federal government. The figure below illustrates the systematic development of IRIS Modules and materials. The individual components of this process are further described in the paragraphs below.
The Input Phase
The process of collecting and utilizing input helps ensure that the IRIS Center provides high-quality products and services. The input phase of the product-development process involves the collection of data from six major sources: IRIS user data, textbook and syllabi analyses, national standards, consumer surveys, federal policies, and stakeholder focus groups. The purpose of the input phase is to inform IRIS staff about the gaps in preparation programs for preservice personnel and in professional development.
IRIS User Data – This component consists of tracking the IRIS Website’s visitor data monthly and consolidating the information by semesters. As indicated by the data, Modules and materials that address issues related to topics such as behavior management and response to intervention have consistently demonstrated a steady rise in the number of visitors over time. Data specify that these topic areas have been in great demand and that the number of users for IRIS materials related to those topics continues to increase.
Textbook and Syllabi Analyses – Detailed analyses of textbooks and syllabi are conducted in such a way to include as wide a variety of authors, institutions, and instructional perspectives as possible. The results are used to further drive the process through which we identify topics for development.
National Standards – National standards—like the Common Core—likewise represent an important element of the IRIS development process, since school districts eager to implement them often require resources and materials crucial to the attainment of that goal.
Consumer Surveys – Participants at IRIS-sponsored events are asked to rate several factors, including those related to IRIS Modules and materials, using a five-point Likert scale. In addition, participants are given open-ended questions about what they perceive to be the general strengths and weaknesses of the event. An overall ranking is tabulated using this information. The IRIS Center then uses this feedback and further suggestions from attendees to revise and improve IRIS products, outreach, and dissemination and events.
Federal Policies – Federal policy also informs and guides the systematic development of IRIS Modules and materials. When federal laws, regulations, and policies are enacted or modified, IRIS resources must reflect those changes.
Stakeholder Focus Groups – Groups may include college and university faculty, professional development providers, school practitioners, pre-service trainees, and parents. These groups offer their perspectives on the initial preparation and ongoing professional development needs of educators who work with students with disabilities and students who are struggling in school. The specific topics on which focus groups will meet include general education, special education, early intervention and early childhood education, elementary education, and secondary education.
The Topic and Expert Selection Phase
After the input phase, the IRIS staff—with guidance and direction from our Steering Committee and EI/EC Task Force, and in collaboration with OSEP, prioritize and select specific topics for product development. Additionally, these advisors help determine the type of materials to be developed for each topic (e.g., classroom management should become the focus of a STAR Legacy Module, a Case Study, or both). Once topics have been selected, IRIS staff members collaborate with OSEP personnel to identify nationally recognized content experts to use as consultants. Expert consultants are asked to work with the IRIS staff in the development of content for the challenge-based scenario and for the supporting resources for the product.
The Translate Research to Practice Phase
IRIS resources are about evidence-based instructional and behavioral practices and interventions. To create those resources, we use the researched-based content provided by researchers, practitioners, and others from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives in the selected topic area and translate that research into practice. When necessary, IRIS personnel supplement the content with additional research and resources.
The Resource Development Phase
Once all of the content is gathered, IRIS Module developers transform the subject matter into the appropriate format, like a STAR Legacy Module, Case Study, or Activity. At the same time, our media production team creates graphics, illustrations, movies, audio clips, and page templates. After extensive internal review by the production team and content experts, the product is field-tested (Modules) or reviewed (Case Studies, Activities). The feedback from the field-testing or reviews guides the product revisions.
The Build and Post Phase
Following feedback and revision, materials are posted on our Website, the Center’s primary tool for dissemination. Other dissemination vehicles include conference presentations, invited presentations, professional development training meetings, DVDs, brochures, listserv notices, and faculty and PD providers’ recommendations to their colleagues.
In summary, IRIS uses an array of strategies to develop the richest input of information possible, so the topics of specific Modules and other materials reflect the highest need and greatest demand. As work progresses, consumer and stakeholder feedback is collected in an ongoing manner, guaranteeing the relevance of content and delivery. The rigorous product-development process ensures that IRIS produces materials that are of high quality and are delivered in a timely manner.