Community Boating, Inc (CBI) is America's oldest and largest public sailing school, and it's unique in that it offers structured classes that welcome anyone to learn to sail. Managing CBI's 2,000-plus class sessions and aligning them for quality and purpose has been my job for the past six years, in addition to training and supporting a team of 120 volunteer instructors. This has required long-term systems thinking guided by the ADDIE model of Instructional Systems Design. Furthermore, leading a faculty of staff and volunteers to buy in to the instructional system has taken vision and leadership, which has resulted in a unique learn-to-sail program with 86% of students reporting a high degree of satisfaction.
An instructor leads an orientation to parts of the boat.
Every year, over 2,500 individuals from the greater Boston area come to Community Boating, Inc (CBI) to learn to sail, and when I joined the CBI management team in 2012, no unified curriculum existed. Over the next several years as I worked on my Master's degree in parallel, I created a self sustaining iterative instructional system using the best elements of the ADDIE model, Understanding by Design framework, and of course my own vision for the future of sail training. My accomplishments are detailed below, and they have given me thorough knowledge of every step of the Instructional Systems Design process as a leader in the field.
Leadership & Vision - Instead of focusing on winning races, my vision for sailing is to provide lifelong learning and happiness to adults and sailors with disabilities from all paths of life, while connecting people of all ages to the natural world. This vision has lead me to reshape how sailing is taught at CBI, by crafting the learning experience so that any new sailor can practice the basics with structured guidance, instead of learning on the fly as someone else's crew. The lesson materials, grading criteria, supporting content, and classroom activities I've created are all a result of this vision.
Getting others behind this vision has been a labor of leadership over the years. Staff and Volunteer instructors come to CBI for different reasons, and bring with them their own diverse experience, talent, and cultural context. My privilege as Education Director has been to get to know them in order to enable their passions, and align their talents to the CBI mission of Sailing for All, so that both individual and organizational needs are met. This has resulted in a robust training program for an array of classes that instructors can teach, collaborative course designs with direct participation from instructors, special skills clinics based on individual instructors' interests, and an inclusive culture around teaching excellence.
Systems Thinking with ADDIE - The classic ADDIE framework has served as a guide as I integrate industry best practices, personal insight, and learning theory to create CBI's learning system. Beginning with CBI's goals in mind and a thorough learner analysis, learning strategies such as drill-and-practice or cognitive apprenticeship are thoughtfully selected and developed into lesson plans. The lesson plans are supported with the necessary training and materials identified in the design phase, and are evaluated against the goal outcomes in order to adjust the system as needed. The system is also designed to be resilient to outside pressures, such as the role that our classes play in driving membership revenue, or the constantly changing learning context introduced by New England weather. In summation, a systems approach I've implemented at CBI is unique and robust, considering the entire lifecycle of sailing instruction and serving thousands of students a year.
Overseeing a system like this is no small task, especially when factoring in stakeholder differences, shifting goalposts, and the increasingly unclear role that the sport of sailing has in the modern world. Even still, creating and implementing the system over the past five years has given me hands on experience with the ADDIE framework of iterative design. This has not only helped me gain skills and confidence as a designer, but it has also given me advance knowledge of the limitations and vulnerabilities of using a rigid model like ADDIE. Over the years the CBI system has evolved and improved as an iterative design is supposed to, making the complex task of learning to sail into a predictable, structured, and meaningful experience from the learner's point of view.
The Portal shows the sum total of support materials for the CBI instructional system. It has been a collaborative effort between management, key volunteers, and of course myself. Here you can find lesson and facilitation guides, grading rubrics, evaluation forms, and enrichment material for all of our lessons. The thread of the instructional system is visible in the way that the learning outcomes measured by the grading rubrics are reflected in the outcomes for the lesson plans, which suggest to the instructor the learning strategies best suited to support that outcome.
The Learn Portal is the student-facing counterpart to the Teach Portal. Accessible to students wherever they are, it provides transparency into the instructional system, as well as providing additional material to support or enrich students as needed.