What is Effective Communication?

“Effective communication is influence by:

  • Spirit and attitude
  • Tonality and body language
  • Timing
  • Personality of the recipient” (Laureate Education, n.d.)

This week in my course at Walden, we had to look at three different methods of communicating the exact same message. I have to say I was surprised by my reaction to the message in each instance. Below is the message, which was communicated in an email, a voicemail, and face-to-face (video).


Hi, Mark: I know you have been busy and possibly in that all day meeting today, but I really need an ETA on the missing report. Because your report contains data I need to finish my report, I might miss my own deadline if I don’t get your report soon. Please let me know when you think you can get your report sent over to me, or even if you can send the data I need in a separate email. I really appreciate your help. Jane


When I read the email, my first reaction was that it was very curt. More of a “I know you’ve been busy BUT … I’m more important” kind of message. The second word that came to mind was desperate. I know you are responsible for the full report, but I need the data NOW, and I’ll take it even if the report is not done. “If you’re responsible, you should be held accountable” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 294). In this instance, I do not believe the person is being held accountable. Maybe it would have been better to check in earlier in the week rather than the day it was due.

Email has an issue with regard to tone and facial expression. If you are not careful, your tone can be misconstrued. Without seeing your expressions, people can very easily make a leap to the wrong idea, rather than seeing what you “really meant.”


In the voicemail, the speaker’s voice sounds desperate and rushed. They are speaking quickly, which could make someone listening think that they are in trouble. If that happens, there are quite a number of people who will hide from you instead of facing up to the not being completed in a timely manner. I know I have done it on a very rare occasion. I am not sure this is any better than the email.


In the video showing the face-to-face encounter, it seemed a little friendlier, and being able to see the person’s facial expressions made it less desperate. This felt less like a “me, me, me” conversation, but a let’s just get the job done. They were leaning over a cubicle wall in a friendlier manner, which would make someone less reactive and less likely to try to run and hide.

“Efficient processes and smooth working relationships create the opportunity for successful projects” (Portny et al., 2008, p. 306). Communication is so key to the success of any project and any working relationship. There are times to seek someone out face-to-face and THEN follow up with an email stating what was discussed. You can set a friendlier tone when talking in person. We need to be very careful in our communication methods. Sometimes setting it out in the beginning in a Communication Plan will assist in making sure all communications go smoothly throughout the life of the project.


Laureate Eduction. (n.d.). Communicating with Stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Leaders

Good, Bad, or Indifferent … Project “Post-Mortem”

In our course e-book, The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects, Michael Greer states, “It’s important for project managers and team members to take stock at the end of a project and develop a list of lessons learned so that they don’t repeat their mistakes in the next project” (Greer, 2010, p. 42). We must always be learning from our successes and our failures. If we do not take stock of what occurred, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes and not understand what caused the success so it could possibly be replicated in the future.

When I was hired at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, as new teachers, we were told we needed to join in activities and committees to become part of the culture of the school. As a result, I found myself on the Curriculum Committee. I became a teacher later in life and was very interested in making my classroom the best it could be, and I believed (still do) that part of that is understanding how the curriculum is put together. I even completed a Master’s degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment to make myself a better teacher. I hope all that hard work has translated into better learning experiences for my students.

At that time, the Curriculum Committee was tasked with updating all curriculums in the school as it had not been done for years. During the first few meetings, I did “hang back” as I was in the learning phase and not quite sure what my role should be within the committee. During the planning stages, an issue of how to track the different curriculum and stages of creation and approval came up in discussion. As I had experience as a secretary tracking large amounts of data, I went back to my desk after the meeting and worked on a method of tracking using Excel. When I had it created to the best of my knowledge and skills, I went to the committee chair people and showed them what I had configured. They were pleasantly surprised and sat with me to figure out what I was missing, what was not needed, and how to show the columns in the correct order. At the next meeting, we presented it to the committee, and everyone was very happy to having a tracking device. Thus, it became my job to keep it up to date.

As the curriculum started to come in and go through the approval process, the committee wanted to have an online method of showing and updating the curriculum so it would become a living document and not just sitting on the shelf. Other members of the committee looked into various web sites and methods. It was finally decided to use a site called Taskstream. I was chosen as one the people to be trained in its use so I could help train the other teachers. We put a lot of time and effort into the process, but in the end, it was not exactly what we were looking for. One of the major issues we did not take into account was the lack of spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills of our fellow teachers. We were shocked at the lack of attention to detail that occurred when everyone was entering their own curriculum. Someone (or more than one person) was going to have to be appointed to review the documents and edit them. Part of the goal was to put the curriculum on our school web site, accessible to parents and community members. In this state, it was not possible; it would not make our teachers look professional.

After two years, it was decided that Taskstream was not working for us, and we would have to look for a different method of keeping the curriculum as a living document. Teachers were becoming too frustrated with the limitations of the web site and also with technical difficulties when using the site. Eventually, we moved to a wiki for the curriculum (http://www.virtualrvrhs.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=Main_Page), which has been successful in keeping the documents accessible. There are members of the staff dedicated to putting the information up on the wiki. The process has changed so that the curriculum goes to the supervisor first, who reviews it and sends it back to the individual staff member for revisions, if necessary.

As a committee, we attempted to follow a process, but I am not sure anyone on the committee had any true project management experience on the level that we were dealing with. It was such a huge undertaking that I do not believe we realized it at first. We were constantly looking at what we could do to make it easier on the staff, supervisors, committee members, and administration to ensure accuracy and accessibility. A lot of what we did was trial and error. In the end, after a few years, we had it down to a process that was successful, but it took a lot of time to get there. Staff members were getting discouraged when we changed processes for getting the information and methods for inputting the information. There was a lot of grumbling at times, but we all made it through and have living documentation of the curriculum, which hopefully can be updated on a regular basis.

Below I have embedded a YouTube video that shows what a bad project meeting could look like.


Beinerts, L. (2014, March 23). The expert (short comedy sketch) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/BKorP55Aqvg

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough pm to rock your projects! Laureate International Universities.

A New Day, A New Start

After a few failed attempts, a leave of absence, and many medical tests, I am ready to continue my journey at Walden University – Master’s program – Instructional Technology, Online Teaching. I have learned so much about myself over the last few months. I have a whole list of “invisible” chronic illnesses. If anyone saw me on the street, you would never think I was sick — out of shape, but not sick. Over the last year, I have had overwhelming exhaustion, like I have never felt before. I would label everything before this as “tired;” I now know true exhaustion. I could barely function through my day, only to come home miserable, irritated, and head straight to bed.

The doctors have given me three answers to my exhaustion: my thyroid, my adrenal system, and my ability to have a good night’s sleep. My thyroid levels were off but they are keeping watch over them. My adrenal system is gone; I no longer will produce adrenaline in any form and must take steroids daily (i.e., looking out of shape). The last was the hardest to diagnose. I had three different sleep studies, and I have discovered there are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Obstructive sleep apnea is what you hear about most of the time. People who have this use a CPAP machine to give them oxygen at night while they sleep. They are simply blocked in some way from receiving oxygen. The other, central sleep apnea, is a little more scary. As the doctors put it, there is a “disconnect” between your brain and the nerves for your lungs. You actually stop breathing, and your brain does not tell your lungs to start up again. This is the one I have, and I need to use a BiPAP machine, which breathes with me all night long.

I am getting my energy back, looking forward to school being out for the summer (yes, I teach high school Business Education), and hoping that the rest of my energy will return during this “rest” period.

I hope, as I journey the rest of the way through this Master’s program, I learn as much from my teachers and fellow students as they can, hopefully, learn from me.

Future of Distance Education?

“Distance delivery is and will continue to have an impact on education in the years to come” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p. 2).

In thinking and researching about future perceptions of distance learning, the two challenges that came up over and over again had to do with being “unsatisfied when they are unfamiliar with the technology used in the course” (UDI Online Project, 2010, p. 2) and isolation. While many people are online (using social media, emailing, etc.), there are many who do not know how to use specific technology tools. I know from my experience as a teacher that just the “simple act” of attaching a file to an email is unknown to many. If we are to begin to change anyone’s perception of online/distance learning, we need to acknowledge that, for some students, the process must begin with an orientation to the different tools being used within a hybrid/online course.

The other side of the story is the benefits that can be gained from taking courses online, such as:

  • “the variety and quality of learning materials available” (UDI Online Project, 2010, p. 1)Quote2 for Blog
  • the “wealth of resources available to help students develop critical thinking skills” (UDI Online Project, 2010, p. 1)
  • the “design of the course, comfort with online technologies, and time management” (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004, p. 65)
  • being “helpful not to have to travel to the campus” (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004, p. 65)
  • the “ability to complete assignments and tasks at any time” (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004, p. 65).

As instructional designers, we must look at the benefits, look at our course materials, work with the subject matter expert, and create a learning environment that enables our students to be successful. “Successful conversion of course delivery method is not always guaranteed” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p. 1). We cannot simply take an existing face-to-face course, move it to an online format, and assume it will work. As the industry grows, if we create online learning opportunities for students to be successful, this type of learning will become even more mainstream.

The other major challenge had to do with students feeling isolated when taking a course. “When developing a distance delivery course, course designers must provide a way for students and instructor to interact” (Schmidt & Gallegos, 2001, p. 5). It begins with a teacher/professor making the student feel welcomed into the online environment. Instructional designers need to create tasks (discussion boards, group projects, etc.) that encourage communication among students. Once these are created, the teacher/professor needs to respond in a timely manner to the different assignments, emails, journal entries, and discussion posts. If these are all monitored and responded to, students will feel as if there is a community of learners being built, and the isolation will not be felt as deeply by the students.

Quote for Blog“The constant growth of the Web influences and changes how online courses are designed and implemented” (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004, p. 60). As instructional designers, we must strive to keep up with these changes and to constantly look forward to see what the “next best thing” might be. Research is constantly being completed as to the impact of online, hybrid, and face-to-face education. We must keep up with this research as best we can so we can implement effective processes within our courses.




Armstrong, D. A. (2011). Students’ perceptions of online learning and instructional tools: A qualitative study of undergraduate students use of online tools. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(3), 222-226.

Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006, March 18). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from RedOrbit: Your Universe Online website: http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/433631/strategies_for_enhancing_student_interactivity_in_an_online_environment/ Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, XII(1). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html

Schmidt, E. K., & Gallegos, A. (2001). Distance learning: Issues and concerns of distance learners. Journal of Industrial Technology, 17(3), 1-5.

Song, L., Singleton, E. S., Hill, J. R., & Koh, M. H. (2004). Improving online learning: Student perceptions of useful and challenging characteristics [PDF]. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(1), 59-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2003.11.003

UDI Online Project. (2010). Student perceptions of online learning (Issue Brief No. Technical Brief #3). Retrieved from Storrs: University of Connecticut, Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability website: http://www.udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/technical-brief-student-perceptions-online-learning

Ward, M. E., Peters, G., & Shelley, K. (2010). Student and faculty perceptions of the quality of online learning experiences. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 11(3), 1-11.

From Face-to-Face to Hybrid Course

“Scenario: A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.”

According to the Central Ohio Technical College, hybrid (blended) course “instruction is required in both face-to-face (F2F) and in an online environment. There must be required F2F class meetings. Instructor may provide course materials for both F2F and online” (Central Ohio Technical College, 2010, p. 10). One of the first aspects of the course to look at is which parts of the course are better in each format, online and face-to-face. There are some activities, like discussions, that might play out better than in the classroom, especially since the training manager is unhappy with the “quality of communication among trainees.” Sometimes students feel it is easier to add to an online discussion rather than talk in class. Another activity that could take place outside of the face-to-face classroom would be any quizzes and/or examinations. If they are created properly using real-world scenarios and work-related processes, these activities would assess student knowledge and on-the job thinking skills.

There are a variety of ways to facilitate online discussions: ask experts, debates, polling, role play, small groups, peer review, and/or content area (TeacherStream, LLC, 2010). There are also many benefits:

  • “Builds class community by promoting discussion on course topics
  • “Allows time for in-depth reflection- students have more time to reflect, research [and] compose their thoughts before participating in the discussion
  • “Facilitates learning by allowing students to view [and] to respond to the work of others
  • “Develops thinking [and] writing skills
  • “Allows guest experts to participate in the course by posting information [and] responding to questions” (TeacherStream, LLC, 2010, p. 2).

The training manager needs to look at the different topics and determine what would be the best discussion questions and/or scenarios to post to generate student responses. Students should be required to post their response early in the week so as to facilitate a complete discussion. In some cases, facilitators also require a set number of responses to peer posts as well. In this way, the conversation will be continued during the week. When necessary, the training manager should step in, ask a question, add resources, and/or give more information to direct the conversation.

There are many steps to ensure the online portion of a hybrid course is created properly. With checklists and forms, an instructional designer can ensure that each aspect of the course is completed properly. Attached are a variety of resources and a zipped file of checklists (ID Checklist Kit) to assist in creating an in-depth, accurate, and robust course that engages learners.

Links to Information


Anitha@Work. (2010, March 20). Instructional design (id) review checklist [Blog post]. Retrieved from Schema Performs website: http://schemaperforms.blogspot.gr/2010/03/instructional-designid-review-checklist.html

Central Ohio Technical College. (2010, Autumn). COTC distance education guidelines [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.cotc.edu/faculty-and-staff/faculty-resources-page/Documents/DistanceEducationGuidelines.pdf

Fors, PhD, M. (n.d.). Instructional design criteria checklist [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.unitar.org/hiroshima/sites/unitar.org.hiroshima/files/17_AF07WSII_Instructional_Design_Criteria_Checklist.pdf

Gutierrez, K. (2012, November 15). The ultimate 10-point checklist for remarkable eLearning courses [Blog post]. Retrieved from Shift – Disruptive eLearning website: http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/243867/The-Ultimate-10-Point-Checklist-for-Remarkable-eLearning-Courses

OutStart, Inc. (2006, October 30). Best practices for creating e-learning [PDF].

Pappas, C. (2013, April 16). A compact instructional design review checklist. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from eLearning Industry website: http://elearningindustry.com/a-compact-instructional-design-review-checklist

Rajagopalan, R. (2010, July 22). Instructional design review checklists – key to quality e-learning. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from The Writer’s Gateway website: http://blog.thewritersgateway.com/2010/07/22/instructional-design-review-checklists-key-to-quality-e-learning/

TeacherStream, LLC. (2010, June 29). Mastering online discussion board facilitation: Resource guide [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/stw/edutopia-onlinelearning-mastering-online-discussion-board-facilitation.pdf

What is instructional design? (2012, August 4). Retrieved August 18, 2014, from Instructional Design Using the ADDIE Model website: http://raleighway.com/addie/

iTunes U – Distance Learning at its Best?

Stanford  - Entrepreneurship

This shows the iTunes entry for the course with description, course outline and list of videos.

In looking at Open Course materials, I chose to look at iTunes U since I had not used it before. I went to Standford University and chose a business class since I am a Business Education teacher. The course I chose is Entrepreneurship through the Lens of Venture Capital (see picture for more detailed information).

At first, I downloaded the course on my laptop and discovered that only the lectures and one PDF were available to me. There was a note that there would be some extra materials if you downloaded the app on your iPhone or iPad. So my first question was, “What if the person did not have an iPhone or iPad?” Luckily, I have an iPad and was able to download from there.




In terms of order and topic, there does seem to be a logical progression to the courses. So, let’s look at this based on the ADDIE model of design (“ADDIE Model,” 2014):


We have to make an assumption, since it is a university course, Stanford professors looked at their audience, objectives, delivery options, pedagogical issues, and theories to be utilized. There is an assumption by the professors that all students will learn sufficiently through video and readings. There was not really any interactive part where students could ask questions and get answers other than one discussion post assignment. There did not seem to be any “values and services offered to students through their exposure to others” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 155).

Design and Development

While what is shown is a good beginning, there are some missing pieces in this phase. The user interface is different from computer to app. The version downloaded to my computer simply had the lecture videos and one PDF file. While the app has more information, attachments (discussion board link, readings and videos), and functions, it still does not have all the different aspects to create a full course for students.

Piazza Statistics

This shows the statistics from Piazza for the course.

As to the discussion board, there was a comment for students who were at Stanford paying for courses that their board was accessed differently. In logging in and viewing the discussion board for the Open Course, which was on Piazza, it did not seem as if it was moderated well. People were going into any week and posting their introductions. Some students were confused about the discussion board, but I did not see any comments from teachers to point them in the right direction. There were a lot of “unresolved follow ups” for the postings. Out of hundreds of posts, I found about five that were related to the lectures. If a student posted a question about the lecture, it was answered by another student (if it was answered at all). As you can see from the image, zero percent of the questions were answered by instructors.


“It is important to remember that no matter which technological formats are used in distance education, the trend is to reduce the ‘amount’ of information delivered and to increase the ‘interactive value’ of the learning experience” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 157). The implementation of this course does not seem conducive to true learning of the material. If a student does not do well with videos and reading on their own, there did not seem to truly be a way for them to reach out to the instructors for clarification or more in-depth information. There was also a difference in how it was implemented across platforms, computer iTunes access versus iTunes app for iPhone and iPad.

In the app, there were links to a discussion board, readings, and extra videos to watch that were relevant to each lecture. The app even has two places to look for information – “Posts” and “Assignments.” The other bit of information I found lacking on my laptop was the video descriptions. When I looked in the app, there was a description and brief biographies on the lecturers.

When looking at the description in the iTunes store, there is a course outline (I-V) and the videos are numbered (1-7 with some duplicates). You are not sure which videos go with the different topics on the course outline. When looking in the app, the information is separated by the weeks the course originally ran, but again, there is no reference to the different parts of the course outline. The videos were created in a face-to-face classroom, and they have a slight echo to the sound at times.


There was no way for students to be evaluated or for them to leave relevant evaluation information and give feedback. In iTunes, you could rate the individual videos or the course with one to five stars or write a review for the course. There was no way to know if anyone had looked at the ratings, and the one review just said “Good.”


Dr. Michael Simonson stated, “Distance education is not identical to face-to-face education, but it is equivalent” (Laureate Education, n.d.). In viewing the videos, there was more interaction available in the face-to-face classroom than online. Since paying students had a different discussion board, there was no way to tell if there was more interaction with the professors and students. This does not seem to be equal education. While the materials are available 24 hours a day and students can work through the information at their own pace at this point, the students do not have access to the professors or experts as the face-to-face students did. They do not enjoy the give-and-take of discussions, not even online.

Simonson, et al, state that distance learning faculty should:

  • Retool traditional courses for online learning,
  • Illustrate key ideas, concepts, and topics,
  • Create activities for interactivity,
  • Allow for student group work, and
  • Be prepared for technical difficulties (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 153).

This particular course feels more like they simply put the information online and expected potential students to know what to do. There is a lot of reading, but no clear way to know what the instructors expected the student to get out of it. While a discussion board was created, without a moderator, it did not function as well as it could have. There were no interactive quizzes where students could see if they understood the information. If there were any technical difficulties, it was up to the student to figure out how to fix it.

In this open course evaluation, there is still a lot of work to be done to make this more interactive and less of putting the face-to-face classroom lectures out on iTunes. The readings do add to the lectures to a certain extent, but there is no way to understand how the information fits together and gain a deeper understanding of the content. The biggest problem lies in the discussion board that was set up on Piazza. There is no moderator, students are left to their own devices, and there is a lot of confusion about how it works.

As a business education teacher, I can see the value in this information, but for it to truly be a model online course, there is much work still to be done.


ADDIE model. (2014, July 24). Retrieved August 1, 2014, from Wikipedia website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADDIE_Model

Laureate Education. (n.d.). Theory and distance learning [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (Fifth ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

“New teaching models will benefit from the purposeful and deliberate integration of technology tools that will enhance student interaction” (Beldarrain, 2006, p. 150).

Example: Interactive Tours

A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?


The world is at our fingertips – if we can take the time to figure out how to use all the tools. As educators, we are no longer limited to the resources close to home. We can reach out across the country or the world to places our students may never get to see in person.

In the example above, I am using the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) as the two museums to reach out and explore. Both museums have extensive web sites with sections specifically for students and teachers. Below are the links to the educator sections of the web sites.

  1. MET – http://www.metmuseum.org/metmedia/video
  2. MoMA – http://www.moma.org/learn/teachers/online

There are two distinct goals for the teacher in this scenario. First, the teacher wants to reach out to a curator from each museum for a discussion (and possible tour) of the art in a specific exhibit. This can be set up using Skype for a specific date and time. In this way, students will get first-hand information from an extremely knowledgeable person. They will be able to ask questions and have a dialog centered on the artwork. The teacher and curator can have a discussion beforehand to make sure they keep the students on topic during the Skype session.

“’Skype in the Classroom’ was created for teachers …, as the Internet-based communication service kept hearing stories about teachers who had begun using the software in their classrooms so that they could introduce their pupils to cultures and experts worldwide in real time” (Waxman, 2012). Skype will need to be downloaded to the teacher’s computer. The classroom will also need to be set up with a camera for the curators to see the students so they can see who is asking questions. If possible, a projector and screen or SmartBoard could be set up so students can see the curator while they are talking and possibly showing the art work, instead of everyone huddling around one small computer screen.

The second goal is for the students complete a group critique of a few pieces of art from the exhibits. As students are learning how to critique the artwork, using a wiki to create a WebQuest to walk students through the process would be ideal. “A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web” (Young & Bauer, 2009). Both museums have videos and podcasts on their web sites, which would enable the teacher to step students through the critique process. When creating a wiki, the teacher would lay out the process in steps, and students could work in pairs or small groups to begin to learn how to critique artwork. In the end, there could be a class discussion of the entire process to end the project knowing all students understood the process and how to critique properly.

Showcasing Technologies

  1. Skype
    1. Using Skype to Increase Educational Communication – http://etec.ctlt.ubc.ca/510wiki/Using_Skype_to_Increase_Educational_Communication
    2. Ten Ways to Use Skype to Learn – http://thinkonline.smarttutor.com/10-ways-to-use-skype-to-learn/
    3. How Teachers Use Skype in the Classroom – http://techland.time.com/2012/11/28/how-teachers-use-skype-in-the-classroom/
    4. Wiki WebQuest
      1. PDF – Revisiting_WebQuest in a Web 2 World: How developments in technology and pedagogy combine to scaffold personal learning
      2. Links to resources for WebQuests – http://eduscapes.com/sessions/webquest/
      3. WebQuest Wiki Template – http://makeawebquest.wikispaces.com/Wiki+WebQuest+Template
      4. Slideshare: Wiki WebQuests – http://www.slideshare.net/robiny/wiki-webquests


Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139-153.

Waxman, O. B. (2012, November 28). How teachers use skype in the classroom. Retrieved July 18, 2014, from Time website: http://techland.time.com/2012/11/28/how-teachers-use-skype-in-the-classroom/

Young, R., & Bauer, I. (2009, February 16). Wiki webquests: Challenge your students with an inquiry oriented lesson. Retrieved July 19, 2014, from SlideShare website: http://www.slideshare.net/robiny/wiki-webquests

Defining Distance Learning

“The era of individual contribution has just begun and we don’t even have a vocabulary suited to discuss the issue let alone formulate decisions and then carry them out” (Cross, 2003).

I know I will be dating myself, but my first encounter with distance learning was when my father took a correspondence photography course in the 1970s. He would get a packet of information, follow the instructions, set up the equipment, take the pictures, have the pictures developed, and then send everything in to be graded/reviewed. Then he would wait … and wait … and wait! It had to travel back to the school, be evaluated by the teacher, and sent back with notes and a new packet for the next step in his photography journey. My next encounter would be in the 1990s using a dial up modem for an “online” program I was completing. All the materials were sent to me by (what we now call) snail mail. I had to dial into the school’s computer system to hand in my completed assignments. I would then get an email with notes, corrections, and my grades. There was still very little interaction with the teacher and absolutely none with other students. In 2005, I decided to complete my Master’s degree through Walden University, and I enjoyed the vast differences between the 70s, 90s and 2000s. There was interaction with other people, not all my assignments were for me to just hand in to the teacher, the feedback from other students was enlightening, and there was a little more of a collaborative atmosphere. I am now completing a second Master’s degree through Walden University and enjoying this experience even more as the use of technology has increased yet again.

As you can see, the changes over the years have altered my definition over time from a self-study course to a much more collaborative approach. If you look at the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Research and Improvement definition, it states distance learning is “the application of telecommunications and electronic devices which enable students and learners to receive instruction that originates from some distant location” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, pp. 34-35). Now, if you look back at my examples, the first scenario would no longer fall under this definition as two of the key components seem to be telecommunications and electronic devices. There was no use of any type of technology; it was simply the United States Postal Service doing most of the work. Yet, doesn’t it still count as a learning activity? My belief is (and has always been) that even without the use of technology learning can take place at a distance. I watched it in action. Was it the best type of teaching? Did my father learn as well as he could have if a teacher had been more available? Not necessarily, but it is still a teaching-learning situation. We, as a society, are now so used to technology infiltrating our entire lives that we do not always see the “old ways” as a viable solution. We want our information now!

I am now in a unique position of being both a teacher in an online K-12 school and a student in an online Master’s program. I get to see both sides of the distance learning coin. While the methods of transmitting information have changed drastically, I feel the basic premise of student and teacher being in two separate places is the first component of any type of distance learning. There are still places in the world that rely on the regular postal system and correspondence courses. “Rice (2006) suggested that the effectiveness of distance education has more to do with who is teaching, who is learning, and how that learning is accomplished and less to do with the medium” (Huett, Moller, Foshay, & Coleman, 2008, p. 63). The quality of the course is so important to ensure that learning occurs. We have such technologically driven lives in most urban and suburban places in the United States sometimes we forget there are places do not have access to the modern conveniences of life (yes, even in places in our own country). While we must embrace the changes and use of technology and all it entails, we cannot forget the beginnings of distance learning and how important it can be to some people in the world.

As to creating distance education opportunities using technology, we must be careful that we are not simply creating a self-study course where there is no give-and-take between the teacher and the students. We must ensure that our students have an opportunity to collaborate with others and receive feedback from a teacher. More learning will take place if students and teachers work together to learn than if students are left to their own devices, as my father was in his correspondence course. As stated by Moller (1998), “Logically, meaningful learning is more likely to occur when learners have access to a supportive community that encourages knowledge building and social reinforcement” (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008, p. 74).

The other point to think about IS the actual use of technology. “The challenge for ID professionals is not only to evolve the field, but also to assure that the products of sound professional design practice lead the e-learning enterprise” (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008, p. 70). Which technology is appropriate? Should all technologies be used in every situation? How do we create a positive learning environment that is easily navigated by our students? With the growing plethora of web sites, applications, and plug ins, which ones will truly work in an educational setting? Which ones are “for show” only? We need to make sure the technologies utilized are relevant to our objectives of learning and our students. We can all be mesmerized by the “shiny baubles” of technology, but some are just not worth the time and effort of learning or passing along to our students.

In summary, ” … the future is actually quite positive: We just need to choose to view e-learning as the question rather than the answer” (Huett, Moller, Foshay, & Coleman, 2008, p. 66). We, as instructional designers (or future instructional designers), need to constantly be aware of changes in technologies, theories, and methods that are available. Carefully choosing magazines, blogs, web sites and other sources of information to keep as up to date as possible in our ever changing world is necessary. We cannot become complacent with what we think we know; we must be striving for what we need to know. Putting our students first, understing our audience for learning, must be kept first in our planning of any educational setting. This e-learning world is opening up and has so many positive aspects; it is up to us to keep it moving forward and establish a professional standard to be followed.

distance learning mindmapResources

Cross, J. (2003, November 9). Design [Blog post]. Retrieved from Internet Time website: http://www.internettime.com/blog/archives/001083.html

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. R., & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web part 3. TechTrends, 52(5), 63-67.

Moller, L., Foshay, W. R., & Huett, J. (2008, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web part 1. TechTrends, 52(4), 66-70.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (Fifth ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Reflection of Learning in EDUC-6115 Learning Theories and Instruction

In looking back over this course, there were some frustrations and some moments of “yes, I am going in the right direction.” The weeks we spent on the learning theories were the frustrations. Having completed the Walden MS degree in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, there was a lot of time spent on learning theories. I felt that I was going over a lot of ground I had already spent time on. There was nothing really new, but I did get a couple of new sources for reference. This course did remind me of discussions and issues I may have put aside in the time crunch of my work life.

On the other hand, towards the end of the class, when we started to learn how to use technology to teach, I was challenged and forced to take a look at what I am doing in my classroom. In the past few years, I have been attempting to make my classroom, technology-friendly for the students. For example, I have begun posting classwork/homework online, put resources where they are readily available to students, and having students use Google Docs for their group work. I feel like have just touched the tip of the iceberg now.

With regard to my own personal learning process, I discovered I am on the right track. I did have the evaluations from my previous courses and completed new evaluations for this course. There were significant positive changes in my style. By incorporating different methods in my classroom over the years, I am becoming a better learner, and hopefully as a result, better at getting information across to my students. When I first took an evaluation, I was much more of a visual learner. If I did not see it or do it, I had a hard time. I have improved my skills with reading and writing. I still have some work on the mathematical-logical aspect of my own learning. I do speak to my students about my shortcomings in this area, and many students have stepped up to assist with their classmates’ learning over the past 11 years that I have been a teacher.

The most important thing I learned is learning styles and educational technology need to be combined in different ways to be able to interest our students in what we are teaching. I work at a school with block scheduling, 72 minute blocks, and having students do the same thing for that long means you will have boredom and discipline issues if you do not change up activities. By appealing to different aspects of students’ learning styles, you cause them to think a little harder and keep their attention. By keeping their attention, you keep them motivated to learn within your classroom. The “more a man knew; the greater was his ability to reason and choose those actions that truly brought happiness” (Socrates, http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6115/01/mm/tec_timeline). By giving students multiple ways to learn, there will be more engagement within the classroom and hopefully happier students in the long run.

With learning theories, there are times students need to connect their learning to previous learning (connectivism) or change/show a new way for completing their work (behaviorism). As you are creating your lesson plans, there needs to be conscious thought as to what type of theory you are attempting to use with your students.

Technology is ever changing in our world today and most (but not all) students are constantly “plugged in” to their world, whether through smartphones, iPods, mp3 players, tablets, and/or laptops. Part of our job as teachers is to keep up to date on technology and to use our students as resources when necessary to assist with this technology.

I will continue to move in a positive direction and be a lifetime learner. I have been reminded of information learned previously; I need to keep it in mind as I plan my lessons. I need to visit my RSS feeds, continue to do my own research and write in my blog on a regular basis. In this way, I hope to keep myself current within the industry.

As to an actual career as an instructional design, the first two courses in this degree program have been extremely eye opening. I did not realize all the different paths that were open to me as an instructional designer; my thoughts were only on becoming an online teacher. It was my own “aha” moment. I will continue to look at the different paths and see where I can fit best. I have ten years until I am eligible to retire from the classroom. I do not know if I will retire or if I will continue for more than ten years. I also have a few people pushing me to get my PhD to enable me to teach at a four-year college. There is a lot of research and decisions to be made for my future.


Socrates (470-399 bce). (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2012, from Timeline of the History of Learning website: http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6115/01/mm/tec_timeline.html

Fitting the Pieces Together

In our last blog post for this course, we have to look back and see what we learned and how it does, and will in the future, affect us.

  • Now that you have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, how has your view on how you learn changed?

Before I fit the pieces of my learning in the current Walden University coursework I am completing, here is a little background information.

I completed the MS in Education degree at Walden back in 2007, which was in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. During that time, there were a few courses that went in-depth into the different learning theories and styles. Over the years since then, I have attempted to use the different learning theories within my classroom and continued learning with professional development classes at my current school. I have hoped that it made my class more dynamic and encouraged student learning, while stepping out of my comfort zone with some of the learning styles. In this way, I hoped to not only extend my ways of learning but show my students there are many different ways to show the same information.

I believe what has happened during this course (Learning Theories and Instruction) is my learning from before has been confirmed. During this time, on the “Timeline of the History of Learning,” it stated that Socrates taught his students the “more a man knew; the greater was his ability to reason and choose those actions that truly brought happiness” (http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6115/01/mm/tec_timeline.html). I always tell my students that I hope to learn as much from them as they do from me. If we do not have mutual learning occurring, then we are back to teacher talk, or teacher as expert. While we are each an “expert” in our respective industries/subjects, there is always room for more learning, especially with technology.

I am not sure my views on how I learn, or how my students learn, have changed much. I believe all different theories must be tapped depending upon the goal of the lesson, unit, and/or course. If we believe that only one method is “right,” we will be missing out on other possibly important moments within our classrooms. This is true when I am learning something new or when I am teaching something new to my students.

  • What have you learned about the various learning theories and learning styles over the past weeks that can further explain your own personal learning preferences?

One of the topics that I reflected on had to with environmental factors. Ormrod, Schunk, and Gredler (2009) stated, “Environmental factors have effects on brain development as well. One important factor is the amount and quality of food one eats” (p. 39). I have been struggling with my health over the past ten years. After getting multitudes of tests, visiting doctors, ending up in the emergency room quite a few times, and having three surgeries in the past two years, I have finally been diagnosed with celiac disease. This is not just intolerance or an allergy. Approximately half the villi in my intestines have been shut down by putting gluten in my body. This has affected my memory, stamina, ability to fight colds, attention span, and motivation.

In this situation, I relied heavily on my visual abilities (multiple intelligences theory) and constantly turned notes into different types of pictures. In this way, I was able to retain a little more information than I thought I would be able to. I am hoping in the future, I will be able to use some of the learning theories that I am a little weak on, such as constructivism. I would like to be able to not only be better at extending my own learning but teach my students how to do so as well. I need to spend more time looking for extra articles, web sites, and books that are relevant to the topic at hand, whether it is a course I teach or a course I am learning from.

  • What role does technology play in your learning (i.e., as a way to search for information, to record information, to create, etc.)?

Technology plays a very large role in my learning. Even though I am considered a “digital immigrant” (someone born before 1970 who was not raised with technology), I am constantly using technology at work and at home. I have a work desktop and laptop, home laptop and desktop, smartphone, Nook® and will be getting an iPad®.

I have several digital magazines I read on a regular basis; i.e., InformationWeek, eSchool, etc. I follow educational and hobby blogs. I am in constant touch with my friends via social networking (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook). This Master’s degree is being done completely online, as was the first one I completed.

Semple (2000) states, “Cognitive tools activate thinking and learning takes place through the process of using the tool” (p. 25). I find if I find, work on, or do an exercise by myself online I am more likely to remember it or bookmark it so I can go back later if necessary. The idea of knowledge now is that you know where to find it not just memorize it. There is too much knowledge at our fingertips using the World Wide Web than we could ever find in a library. The new learner will have the skills to discern accurate information from false or biased information.


Ormrod, J. E., Schunk, D. H., & Gredler, M. (2009). Chapter 2 learning and the brain. In Learning theories and instruction (pp. 27-47). New York, NY: Pearson Custom.

Semple, A. (2000). Learning theories and their influence on the development and use of educational technologies. Australian Science Teachers Journal, 46(3), 21-28.

Socrates (470-399 bce). (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2012, from Timeline of the History of Learning website: http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6115/01/mm/tec_timeline.html