Reflection not Rejection

Reflection not Rejection

Online instruction and your personal theory of online learning.

This course was entitled the theory and practice of distributed learning.  I must say it lived up to both tenants of theory and practice.  I learned a lot in terms of theory, research and development models.  For me, the combination of finally internalizing the different learning theories and then transforming them in real working models was a big accomplishment.  There are a lot of learning models with many variations, but I can now tie them back to a fundamental theory of learning.  I have a very clear model for my personal theory.  I am a combination of constructivist and social constructivist.  I evaluate the online course that I have just experienced and I can identify some of the features of that were meaningful and those that were not.  I like collaborating with other team members and really dislike being isolated and on my own.  My experience is much better when I can outreach to my cohorts and to the instructor.  I feel better connected and motivated when I interact and get to ask questions and get opinions from others.  The best way for this to happen for me is by getting onto Skype with one more cohorts.  Scheduling is a problem.  All of us are very busy and having an ad hoc session just does not work out.  Planning on a regular pull-up session that is scheduled, even for just a five or ten minutes will be helpful.  As a social constructivist, I really like to see and hear others as much as possible.  Texting on Adobe Connect is my worst experience.  The text is small and scrolling by very quickly and from so many different sources that it become nothing but “noise”.  I like see the video online.  I feel more connected and related to the other participants.

The relationship between your personal theory of online learning and your professional/academic goals/research interests.

In terms of getting alignment for my research project and dissertation, this has been a good course.  Even though there was not a textbook for this course, I bought two very good resources.  One is the Psychology of Learning for Instruction by Marcy Driscoll and the other Writing Literature Reviews by Joes Galvin.  I am all about online learning whenever possible, providing of course that the material and access and engagement can produce an acceptable outcome.  My professional interest is in finding instructional design methods that are engaging and motivating.  Being online is very important for me because of the large audience, which is remotely located.  I want to make sure that technology does not get in the way of learning and that we can measure the effectiveness of the courses.  Using Kirkpatrick’s assessment model is something I would like to build into any online courses.  In the next section of this blog I will opine on the future of online learning.

Where you think online learning is headed in the future.

Online learning is becoming more robust, effective and used every day.  It is progressively improving for a number of reasons.  First off, technology is an enabler for better instructional design. If you look at all the so-called “bad” things that happen today with online Internet delivery, each of them is getting better.  Start with bandwidth on you communication device.  Over the last 10 years we have basically eliminated dial up modems.  Over 60% of Internet access today is wireless.  The Internet of Everything is connecting all kinds of devices into the learning environment, not just your tablet or smartphone.  I look forward to the day when I can say “Seri connect me to my next class” and it will automatically eliminate looking for links and passwords and schedules.  Smart media elements are going to redefine both synchronous and asynchronous activities.  Sharing information real time and collaborating with others will be easier in the future.  A lot of this will come from having a “smarter planet” as IBM advertises in their TV commercials.  Rich media will also play an important role in online learning.  Today’s technology is starting to redefine video with integrated web browsing and close captioning which starts to make a more interactive session with video instead of just watching it.  I believe that online learning is going to leave the classroom and become on demand, just in time and with the right amount of information to support your life-long learning.

Lessons learned to support your academic progress as an online learner.

 My lessons learned are many.  I will enumerate them.

  1. Take the time to get familiar with the LMS.  It has features and capabilities that you cannot learn with just casual interaction.
  2. Think deep about the instructional design.  Make sure that there is a good reason for what you are implementing.  If it does not makes sense, eliminate it from your design.  Do not include it because the status quo says you should.
  3. Do not try to use an online system if you know there are bandwidth limitations.  Do yourself and others a big favor and abstain, if you do not have adequate connectivity.
  4. Find ways to self-regulate and motivate yourself.  No one is going to do it for you.  Take the time to make a plan that has built in accountability with your cohorts.
  5. Make sure that you connect with the instructor.  They need to be connect and so you do you.  Try set aside an appropriate time to touch base.  This works well with out academic advisors and should be a best practice with the instructors and cohorts too.
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Share the M & M’s (MOOC & Mobile)



The academic community might have an opinion about MOOCs that is based on their bias and preference for classroom attendance and instruction.  MOOCs have become popular in the past couple of years since they are Internet based and cost very little and claim to provide global access to quality education.  The expert designed short lecture video directly compete with the academia offering which is very expensive.  The backlash might be centered around the follow through or perseverance of the course and the non-proctoring of the assessment and the overall resistance of the faculty to be controlled by new policies.


 What do you think the future of MOOCs is? 

MOOCS are not only the future, but the present. There is a major shift in access to learning. I believe the going forward the traditional university will transform into a content creation source but the dominant distribution will take place in a MOOC delivery environment. The reason this will happen is simply the fact that society has transformed into a 24 x7 365 timeframe. We all have our need for flexibility and there are no longer any barriers to getting access to incredible resources. Just look at the adoption of Khan Academy. Where I work at Bank of America we turned on a Khan Academy customize website called Better Money Habits and it has skyrocketed in use. Why – good content, easy access and zero cost. Sounds like a MOOC to me. The EdEX system is amazing. I have takes several courses in that MOOC format and learned a lot. The future is very bright for MOOC. But don’t be satisfied with my opinion. Check out what Gartner Group says about them too. Gartner says they are a bust
“To use Gartner’s version of your typical innovation hype cycle, MOOCs have squarely transitioned from the Inflated Expectations to the Disillusionment phase, which Gartner describes as such: “Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.”
What about mobile learning?
Mobile learning is the sine qua non of next generation learning. The power of the mobile devices in terms of computational, visual and communication is phenomenal and is doubling every 18 months. Why would you not want the power of an office computer and the flexibility of using it anywhere you go. My best study times is in seat 15D of American Airlines while connect to WIFi at 30,000 feet. A harbinger for adoption can be found where I work. We are adding 50,000 mobile devices our network of users every single week. All of these devices have well defined lessons available on a variety of topics. So my view once again is beyond the classroom and indicated a very high adoption rate for mobile learning. Gartner happens to agrees with me on this too.
Are these things you feel are going to be beneficial or will there be a backlash?
The benefit is found in the value chain created by the using community. The benefits of learning are well defined. Life changing, wealth creation, economic development are just a few of the positive extensions of MOOCs and mobile devices. There are few backlashes today. Either a product or service is accepted or it is overtaken. When is the last time you went to BlockBuster or the last time you used a “pay” phone? I do not see a backlash in the future for either MOOCs or mobile learning.


All boats rise with the technology wave. MOOC is massive, open, online and structured as a course. I like that graphic which speaks to the interpretation of the four letters (see below). Massive can be in terms of the number of people who have access to the course or it could imply a massive number of connections within a community. Either way, it is not a small-scale undertaking. Without advanced technology, there is no way to scale such a course delivery and we all know that technology is continuing to grow at a very fast rate. The Internet is being deployed with satellite and drone technology to provide connectivity around the globe. Major cities across the USA are providing community wide Wi-Fi enabling a plethora of new services.
The first O in MOOC is for Open. This can mean open to all, open to being no or low cost, open content, which Is easily contributed. This fits nicely with the ideology of open source software and tools. The second O is for Online. That is a given today. It is the sine qua nan of distance education. The C opens a lot of different expectations for how a course is created and delivered by the instructor and how it is used and shared by the learning community. There is a lot of support for bringing quality education to the world. The Khan Academy has as its mission to provide world-class education to the entire world for free. The MOOC approach is just starting to move forward and it will continue to be disruptive the status quo educational systems. A number of the very top rated universities have formed MOOC consortiums to enable the transition.

Mobile is just one component of the new information paradigm shift. We have been constricted to our computers for years until the notebook computer arrived. Those devices have been transformed into tablets and handheld smart phones. You will probably stop calling them phones in the future and just refer to them as your communication device. The next wave of mobile devices will be found in glasses and clothing and projection devices. Bank of America is adding 50,000 new mobile users to their online banking system every week. There is no second guessing the future use of online and portable information devices.


Sinur, J., & Hill, J. B. (2010). Magic quadrant for business process management suites. Gartner RAS Core research note, 1-24.

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Anti-Social Media ???

Are Open source tools and social media in the same category? 

Yes they are – Open Source tools and Social media are not two separate categories. The LMS and social media tools are all built on OpenSource architecture. It almost become a mute point. A metaphor might be found in the world of computing. Do you actually care as an end user what kind of processor is in your computer? It is the experience of the operating system and user interface, The fact that these tools and platforms have been built on an open source platform, becomes true but not important to the end user. The end user just wants to use the tool effectively. If you are a developer, then the entire story changes. As a developer you want to use the API (application programming interface) made available in the open source platform to customize, repurpose and enhance according to your particular needs. Open source no longer means it is free. All of the items that are referenced below are actually open source tools and open source social media. Each and everyone of them are defined within the OpenSource initiative. BlackBoard, Moodle and Canvas are all designed under the Open Source initiative architecture.

Do you believe that social media should be used in teaching and learning?
Social media can be used constructively with teaching and learning. When you start to decompose each learning theory and start to look at the fundamental elements of how they are deployed into a learning environment some of the core elements will be identified. Communication and collaboration are two elements that can be used to connect people and their ideas. These social media elements are no different than any other technology. In order for them to be used appropriately, there has to be some common ground rules established and the necessary infrastructure needs to be in place. Just like  the adoption of the CD-ROM, digital video and the Internet, these modern open source tools will be incorporated into many learning environments. Today over 50% of all Internet traffic takes place with mobile devices.
Do you believe that open source tools should be used for teaching and learning? 
Yes, there is no reason why open source tools should not be used. The same theme mentioned above with social media tools holds true. Tools are used because they are effective and help to create value. Every modern LMS today is built on an open source platform. This feature alone somewhat ensures that it is future-proof and that the enhancements will be forthcoming and innovation will transform into new features. These tools are all feature rich and we are just learning to take advantage of some of the built in capabilities. How many users take full advantage of Microsoft Office products. Most of us use just a small percentage of the features. The same holds true for the new social media tools, but as a platform they provide a path for growth.


The experience of using both social media and open source tools is not newly found. I do not want to generalize all social media as the same, but for the purpose of this story I will group Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn as “social media”. When using these social media tools and other open source tools, no one thinks of them as being open source unless you are trying to leverage and build upon or repurpose the code. The fact that they are open source is true, but not important to most.

There are actually hundreds of social media programs that uniquely define points of interest with many varied user groups. I consider each of these social media resources as very personal and highly controlled elements of my life. The rank ordering for me is LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. I am sure that if a popularity survey were performed with a large USA audience, it would show different results. I use LinkedIn on a daily basis. When I am looking to find a business connection, it proves to be a good resource. If you are looking to hire someone or to be hired, it is the one of the best shopping resources for talent. I limit my Facebook activity to a very limited and special audience. I do not want to provide Facebook invites to my business network. I limit my Facebook friends to those that I want to maintain a close and private relationship. Different people have different usage styles on Facebook. Some wish to share all elements of their life with every minute detail. I quickly learned how to delete those individuals from my network.

From all of the social media products, I learned a lot about the privacy policy and the data that they keep on you. It is a big trade off and makes you wonder if you really want to surrender all of the details that you personally generate, but also all of the details that others want to generate about you too. Most people to not realize that Facebook receives data about you whenever you use or even enable Facebook on your computer or mobile device. There is a record kept of your location when using Facebook on a mobile device. This means every time you send or receive a message, search for a friend or a page, click on or view any object or link. So keep in mind that you think you are having fun with a great tool but a detailed profile is being built that will be used in some form or fashion to market to you. So when you see an ad pop up on your browser and you say to yourself – “that is interesting – I was just thinking about looking in to getting one of those” it is not by chance that this happened. So a great lessoned learned is to fully understand how much data is being managed from your account. Maybe this data is kept private and maybe it is accessed by the government, (NSA ) for various reasons.

When you sign up for most social media, you click yes to a complicated usage agreement and most subscribers do not ask at that time how to deactivate or delete an account. I learned that it takes about 90 days to delete your account and you can also just deactivate your account for a period of time and none of your data is lost. If you are thinking about dying anytime soon, you need to have a delegate take over your account or you will be eternally receiving messages.

When asking the question if social media should be used for teaching and learning, the answer will be the same for any component that is used for teaching and learning. The best answer is that you should use the right tool for the right job with the right audience. Start with your epistemology and pedagogy and create your learning environment with the appropriate instructional design. Many years ago when the CD-ROM and Internet were being evaluated for teaching and learning purposes the same questions was asked. Even though the technology was capable of being used appropriately, not everyone had access to the Internet with the same level of performance and not all computers had CD-ROM. The same might be said for today regarding the usage of some of these social media programs. I do not want my school lessons integrated with my Facebook. I think Twitter is an awesome marketing and communication tool that is faster than the speed of light, however I have not yet seen any educational value with Twitter. Maybe if it were integrated with an open source LMS like Moodle or Canvas or BlackBoard, there could be some learning and teaching value created. The open source technology that is incorporated in the LMS environment is brilliantly deployed. Instead of everyone competing on features, they commit to the open source principles and allow many people to innovate and add functionality and reliability into their products. You do not have to be a C# coding expert to take advantage of the open source features of the LMS. This approach to designing new learning systems is the future. There are a dozen open source LMS on the market that have no licensing fee. However, there is a cost to deploy and support the LMS so that needs to be part of the decision process when you start to evaluate the use in an educational environment. If you have a thousand people that are familiar with Moodle and you need support from within your educational community and teaching group and you have 5 people that are familiar with Canvas, then the odds are your support decision will be biased towards Moodle, unless the level of support required by Canvas is much less. The cost of support is certainly offset by the lack of license fees.

Keep in mind Moore’s Law that technology doubles in performance every 18 months. The entire social media environment will change with the “Internet of Everything”

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Open “sez-a-me” Source – the new magic of shared software!

Open Source Discussion: An operational definition will help to solve the distinction between open source and social media.  An open source platform allows developers to add to the body of software to extend features and capabilities while be reviewed and approved before and update is released to the community. There are two perspectives for open source capability.  One is the perspective of the user and the other is the perspective of the developer.  These are two different views.  A product can be created and updated with an open source architecture but not extend to the end user the ability to personally and immediately take advantage of the architecture.  So the impression would be correct to the end user that it is not open per se.

Open Source tools include a broad set of tools. I will specifically categorize these into LMS and social media tools. Most all of the modern LMS and social media tools are built with an Open Source architecture. This design process creates a scalable platform that can be leveraged and extended by a variety of stakeholders. The advantage of this approach is the added innovation that “outsiders” can bring to the platform. Open Source does not just mean “free”. It also means that the platform can be expanded and easily improved with a community of developers. There are always controls in place to ensure that quality and features are appropriately reviewed and approved. I find open source as the new standard for any LMS environment. If you review all the social media tools they too are built on an Open Source platform.The idea of open source tools is not new. My professional background for over twenty years was centered in software development. Over an extended period of time the idea of an open source environment has gained tremendous momentum. Some industry changing Open Source initiatives have been quite disruptive. Look at the database marketplace. Two big leaders are Oracle and Sybase ( SAP). An open source database – MySQL came onto the market and cost nothing. The functionality and capability of this open source product competed nicely against the very expensive products from Oracle and SAP. The same story is told with the free Apache web server. The open source product is very powerful and also absolutely free. So that is a bit of the successful history of Open Source.

From the world of information technology, the open source initiative has expanded into a variety of industries. The blogging tool that this post is made with is from WordPress and open source product. The operating system Linux is an open source product. So is the operating system for Android based phones and their popular browser Chrome from Google. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all based on open source architecture. Moving into the LMS market place, Moodle, Canvas, BlackBoard and many others have done a terrific job of providing open source products. The reason open source works is the amount of developers that add creative and functional value to the product and it is also managed and controlled with certain guiding parameters. Companies benefit on having many people address some of the basic problems that everyone has to address, so instead of each vendor re-inventing a product they all collaborate and create the best of the best for the greater good.

The quality of open source products is typically very good. The frequency of new releases brings new features to the market in a timely fashion. There is no charge for these products so they are free and very affordable. Since there are APIs (application programming interfaces) for open source products, it makes it easy to add extra functionality and services. Look at all of the GPS solutions that we have in our cars and smart phones. There is no charge to get the satellite data and the mapping information. Since the software is being used by millions of people the bugs are quickly identified and the product becomes very reliable and robust.

From a learning perspective, open source tools bring a great deal of flexibility and extensibility to the learning community.  As a course designer you can add functionality and extra capability to your course with an open source tool.  You can see those features in Canvas and Moodle, but not in Blackboard.

When it comes to selecting tools it becomes a personal preference that is based on making a the right choice.  The choice is based on suitability to perform the task and the reliability of the tool and also the cost to use and cost to support.  If the product is free in terms of initial cost but is expensive in terms of support, then the price advantage is diminished. The preference is base solely on the quality of the product and nothing else. Most Open Source solutions are good quality or they would not survive the scrutiny of the support base.

Usefulness of a tool is in the eyes of the user and task at hand. If I find it lacking, there is probably a good reason. For example, if I need to export the data using an XML pipe and the tool did not have one, then it will not meet my needs but very much meet the needs of another user. I could write an XMP pipe since the platform is Open Source.

Improvements to these tools are made all the time based on feedback from the user community. The open architecture is the salient feature that provides a pathway to improvement. It is beyond the scope of this blog to hypothesize the improvement roadmap.

The market dictates the success of a product. If people see value in the product it will continue to exist until something better comes along. Look at Microsoft Office and compare it to the free open source equivalents. Why would you pay Microsoft if you got the functionality that you wanted for free? I am a big supporter of open source. If you look at other industries you will see this trend continue to expand.

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Writing and more!

Are you as far along with your article as you would like?
You are never as far along as you would like to be until you have completed your article. Even then, after being finished, you are inclined to review and seek feedback and make more improvements. It is a cycle of continuous improvement.
What is next?
The more you do of any task, the better you become. Some say that it takes 10,000 hours to become really proficient. So with about 5 years of full time writing, one would be pretty good I assume. That is what the PhD program is about. Being able to collect your thoughts and extract from the philosophy something that is useful and can be shared. Writing seems to be the preferred way to document the knowledge.
What has been difficult? 
The difficult part of all of these assignments is the communication associated with the what needs to be done. The standard of expectation is not as clear as it could be and that is because we restrict communication primarily to LMS postings and email.
Once an assignment is clearly understood it actually becomes very easy to do. Setting the expectations is often not clearly established early on.
What kinds of feedback did you receive and how will you act upon it?
Most feedback is written. Very little of it is verbal. All feedback is a gift and takes time for someone to create it. That should never be overlooked or devalued since there is significant effort involved to create it.


Writing an article has tremendous commitment, for it reflects your intentions to create value and share knowledge. Hopefully, in our case we can build on the research and formulate a strategy to expand the article into the next level of our specific interest.

If you were to search Amazon for books on writing in general or in particular writing a thesis, ther result will be many books that get the writing underway and out of the stall mode. Most people have a certain amount of inertia that needs to be overcome in starting a project, especially a project that requires a mindful approach to research.

I find that I spend a lot of time outlining and formulating ideas into notes. These notes have some type of objective relationships with each other and correlating these notes takes more time than I anticipated. I am reluctant to change this process because when the assimilation of these notes takes place the outcome is good.

Using the right tools makes a big difference. Mendeley is a really good reference manager and PDF organizer. It actually serves as an academic social network where I can share research and article too. I like Evernote as an idea capture tool. It is easy to clip data and have it organized for later retrieval and to add notes to the source material for a frame of reference.

Once there is a critical mass of data and research material, I feel good about starting the writing process. Unfortunately, the writing process for me becomes an all in process that consumes me for hours at a time. I have seen books that indicate you can be successful writing for 15 minutes a day. I like to write on a computer of course in Word and then print off a page or two and then go to a quiet place to read and edit it manually. That process forces me to be more mindful and diligent in the review and editing process.

I have never experienced (so far) a writing project that did not have some deadline tension associated with it. Trading off time is not an easy trade. There is always a final expression of effort needed to accomplish the goal on time.

Regarding feedback. Feedback is a gift. Hopefully the quality of feedback is in alignment with the cohort and instructor expertise. I find it very valuable in that feedback often brings a sense of perspective that might be overlooked by the author (me). Extra eyes and review always makes for a better outcome. The concept of peer review goes beyond writing research or scholastic papers. It have exerted value in many areas of life as well.

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Feedback and Peer Review: It’s a gift!

I always look at feedback as a gift. In like fashion, when I am asked to provide feedback, I take that responsibility seriously. The person who is working on a project is taking that project seriously and they deserve to have equal and fair effort by others who provide peer review and feedback.

As I reflect on the feedback that I received from my instructor and my peers, I can see the value of perspective. Having feedback from others can be very good if they take the time to really understand what is presented and mindfully share their point of view. For example, I got instructor feedback that suggested any original thought or idea needed to be cited and referenced to ensure that it was either valid or supported by others.  I question that philosophy, but understand now why it is important to make sure to assign credit and support for your ideas. Peer feedback is very important highly valued. I am not a teacher from the academia environment, so getting feedback from those who are proficient and skilled in academia is quite valuable to me. I try to understand the perspective and incorporate it into my business perspective to see how I can make adjustments. In general, I agree with most feedback in the sense that it is presented as a form of social constructivism. The feedback has all been formative.  It is an on-going cycle of getting insights and opinions as they are needed instead of finding out at the end of the class that you could have made improvement.  Formative has immediate value and is very timely and is always preferred.  Summative feedback has its place in forward thinking strategy but formative has the advantage of being real-time and tactical.

When I disagree, I always ask myself why I disagree and then challenge those premises to see if I need to re-think my position. Sometimes the feedback is ill founded and not supported, so it not accepted and usually left behind without a strong argument, unless the source is willing to discuss in more detail.

I consider myself an expert in several domains.  However when it comes to be competent as a teacher I consider myself to be more of an apprentice.  Therefore, most of the time I welcome and respect and accept feedback without even questioning the value of it.  I take it as a gift and learn from it quickly.  Examples can be trivial like following the APA guidelines correctly and not having two spaces after a period or more sophisticated like missing the story telling schema required in a literature review.  However, if I disagree with feedback and feel that I have a strong and differing opinion I will not hesitate to go deeper into discussion on the topic in order to better understand the differences.  A good example of that might be in resolving the operational definition and perspective of what it means by “open source” tools, etc.

The nice thing about theory is the ability to add on and change and modify based on feedback. Einstein’s theory of relativity has been expanded with new knowledge and improved. My person learning theory is based on a constructivist approach. I know how I learn and it is an accumulative process, building on my previous knowledge. Others have been able to relate to the common theme of this theory and help change it in a more realistic model that I can internalize and grow.

It is important to know that feedback is a gift. You might event want to think of feedback and peer review as part of a continuous improvement process. Some might even call it quality control to a certain degree. Any process can be improved. In the world of six sigma – the process is to define, measure, analyze, improve and control. When it comes to research or just writing in general, it is good for others to evaluate your work. The goodness comes in terms of perspective and clarity. As you write, sometimes your thoughts are closely held within your mind and it is perfectly clear with your personal reference. Others however may see your message from an entirely different perspective and be able to provide clarifying feedback that will improve the overall content of your study or paper.

We are all influenced with feedback.  When we question ourselves that is even a form of direct feedback.  Why did I do this or do that?  I go back to the foundational definition of constructivism and that allows be to build it out according to my own personal experiences. When new technology is introduced, I always ask how I can use it to learn better.  That is part of the evolution of learning theories.  They do not stay constant. The good news is this – errors will be eliminated, additions will be suggested and deletions will be advocated. As the author you have total control over your document, but the insights of others is usually well received. NASA has a test that they give new astronauts. The test sets the stage in a hypothetical crash landing on the moon where you have twenty items to help you survive. You are asked to arrange the twenty items in terms of the most important to the least important. As an individual you perform this test by yourself and you are scored. The same test is then given to a team of five who are asked to work together to do the same test they did on their own. Every single team always outperforms the individual. That is the power of collective thinking and collaborative feedback.

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Convergence of Learning Theory, Instructional Design and Technology

What is your personal perspective on the best manner of designing instruction for online teaching and learning? 
My personal perspective is based on years of creating online courses for large enterprise companies. With over 100 such courses developed and delivered online, I have been able to get valid feedback on the design process. The best manner of designing online coursework is to start with the audience and understand their foundation of knowledge so you can build on what they know. Another important design element is the delivery process, which is a function of technology. It is important that the delivery system is available and functional for all participants. Motivation is another key design element. The course must be designed to include a stimulating and interactive experience. The final component is a built in assessment and provision for giving feedback.
What is your process? 
I have written white papers for the industry entitled ” Putting Multi-media to Work”. The process involves an assessment process with the audience to find out what you are trying to accomplish and how you are going to deliver the course. Sometimes it is a blended course which has a component of didactic presentation combined with online delivery. The assessment must include the delivery mechanism. Today that would involve ann evaluation of the web environment, LMS availability and social media tools too. The design is defined with an interactive script that calls out all aspects of the course. This includes all text, media elements, The interactive script is always reviewed in advance of building the lessons by the client. This is important to have sign off, so that change orders can be authorized later based on having a previously approved design document.
Does it match any existing methods?
Yes, the process defined above is very close in terms of practice with the Kemp model of instructional design. It also has elements of the 5E model too. Both are well suited for online courses.
How did you learn to design instruction? 
A better question might be how do you learn to design effect instruction. The answer is by evaluating learning theory first and then reviewing various ID models and then evaluating delivery options. It is an iterative process that is controlled with feedback from the participant. There is always a lot of adjustments needed in the design process. These adjustments are important in order to create effective instruction.
Does your process for designing instruction match your larger theoretical perspective? 
Based on the comment above, by starting with the theory first, you should be able to find good alignment between the theory and design. I have seen effective instruction based on this theory/design alignment.
Where is it the same? The theory is a broad umbrella and can incorporate more than one design model. Using Kemp and 5E can be very compatible with social constructivist theory. They do not have to be in perfect agreement with the theory since he theory is not totally rigid either.

Learning theory is not developed overnight. It is the progressive realization of a worth ideal. The ideal is to understand better “how we learn” and then apply this knowledge within a framework of best practices and methodologies. We live in a dynamic and ever changing world. The amount of information available is overwhelming to say the least. At times there is so much information that it becomes toxic and we suffered from INFOTOXOLOGY (thus the name of my blog website). Learning theory is not static either. Learning theory evolves and adapts to the real world. Over the ages we have seen remarkable innovations in how we acquire and act upon data. The technology has literally moved from stone tablets to paper to digital ink for document creation. The age of “digital” is quickly transforming into the “Internet of everything”, providing rich media content at the speed of light. As we evaluate the capability of technology we also need to evaluate our ability to learn and to find appropriate instructional designs and content delivery systems that optimize the learning process. Referring to the dictionary definition of learning ”measurable and relatively permanent change in behavior through experience, instruction or study” it is incumbent upon instructors to maintain the core elements of learning theory while at the same time expanding the learning process and various learning medium.

There is no single theory of learning that can adequately support and address all the important aspects of learning and still be effective for instructional purposes. I start with examining my personal assumptions about learning and instruction. As a constructivist, I want to create new learning, which is built upon my current knowledge but expanded into new content. Online learning needs to have the elements of self directed, self-motivated and engaging exploration. There a many models to work from and they are not mutually exclusive. There is no perfect match between an established theory of learning and the instructional design process. There can not be a perfect match because both of those elements are dynamic and ever changing with improvements. As better technology becomes more prevalent, the tools and media elements can become more natural and the barriers of content delivery and access can become benign and totally transparent.
Refer to the illustration below indicating the three pertinent elements of online learning. Over a period of time, the magnitude and relationship of these three elements should converge and become one. As one, they will still continue to evolve. Over my lifetime of learning, there has been significant variability just with the technology component. The epistemological problems that have taken place with advanced technology is the gradient of change for instructional design and improvements to the constructivist learning theory.
Elements of Online Learning

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Research Methods, Learning Theory & Instructional Design – the trifecta!

I am looking for your personal reflection here. Were you intentional in your decisions? What steps were determined easily and which steps were more difficult to take?

I like the concept of action research for it allows you to try a variety of assessments before you go to far down a path and then find out it may be a dead end.  There is a natural order to making instructional design decisions.  I always look at the learner and try to establish their base of knowledge.  I want them to grow from that point forward.  I feel that too often assumptions are made that are not valid about the learners experience and knowledge.  It is worth the time to form a focus group and learn more.  After that I want to know what my options are for delivery.  Will online work or do I need to take a blended approach.  The next step is to really assess how much information is going to be created and how can it be arranged for easy access and formative feedback.

How hard is it to develop a research method that both matches your theory and created curriculum? 

A research method is just a process used to answer a research question. There are many different research methods. Just to name a few, correlational, experimental, quasi-experiment, longitudinal, cross-sectional, single subject, design experiments, etc. Then you can mix and combine these to form even more. So the hard thing is to determine what method or combination of methods will serve your time and resources that you have available. Research can get very complicated very quickly if the wrong decisions have been made. The theory and the instructional design does not always require a research project. If you have a new theory or approach and you want to see if it is going to be effective, then a research project might be in order.

What was simple and what was difficult?

From a social constructivist approach using an instructional design format from 5E was an easy decision and even easier to implement using Canvas. Thinking through the many possibilities listed above could be a difficult task, since each one would have to be analyzed for suitability. Narrowing the choice if done correctly can be very difficult due to the selection criteria.

The topic for discussion relates learning theory and instructional design and research methods. As always, lets start with learning theory. The highest level for this discussion is a constructivist theory which simply indicates that learning depends on what we already know and what we can already do and then to build upon that foundation. This theory was applied to an online environment using a learning management system (Canvas), which incorporated an instructional design methodology known as 5E Model. It starts with ENGAGE and moves to EXPLORE, then EXPLAIN, then EXTEND or ELABORATE and then EVALUATE. There are behavior expectations with this approach from both the teacher and the student.

The question becomes, how can we research to see if these behaviors actually took place. To be specific, from the learner’s behavior associated with the ENGAGE portion of the model might involve being attentive in listening and asking questions that show an interest in the lesson. It might also involve responding to questions that are presented (or not responding to questions). This level of questioning might demonstrate their personal entry point of understanding.

The same evaluation of behavior can be provided for the teacher. Keep in mind that each section of the 5E’s has specific concepts and attributes that establish the expected behavior for both the student and the teacher. With a foundation of expected behaviors being identified and understood, the next step is to review a potential research method to see if the 5E instructional model actually worked with the intended audience.

Research methods at a high level would include quantitative and qualitative approaches. For this research project associated with online learning, a mixed method approach would provide both quantitative and qualitative evaluation. Refer to the diagram below that shows the continuous process used. The research could include a survey instrument and a semi-structured interview protocol. Starting with a quantitative data collection and data analysis from a survey and then followed with interviews of the students and teachers. Qualitative data analysis can take place using the constant comparative procedure and then identifying, coding and categorizing patterns found within the data.

This can become a very extensive research initiative, but if properly implemented could verify the value of the 5E learning model. To answer the question regarding the research method, it is not hard to select a method, but to employ a thorough research initiative is not an easy assignment. It requires established a good research question and a course of action that can provide reasonable outcomes that can receive peer review and further improvements.

Mixed Methods Approach

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Personal Learning Theory

I am a function of so many environmental factors that all affect my learning style.  I only learn when I am motivated to do so and most of my real learning is based on my own efforts and desires.  A lot of what I learn is determined by the people I am around and the situations that I encounter.  I learned a lot about conflict and disputes by being involved with many controversial matters.  I learn a lot about health by the things I do and the people I work out with and associate with.  So where I live, where I travel and kinds and age of people that I associate with really determine how much and how often I learn.  I ask myself every day, if I have learned something today.  I believe that you become what you think about and if you thing about learning you will become a life long learner.

I like this history of some of the founding fathers of constructivism.  Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky are two eminent figures in the development of constructivist theories. They share the common belief that classrooms must be constructivist environments but I am sure they had no clue that the future would be online learning.

I have enjoyed reading Marcy Driscoll third edition of The Psychology of Learning for Instruction.  She writes in a very easily reading style and has good examples.  The content in this book is excellent and would make a good text for this course.  I suggest that future classed use it since it is a good reference for future study too.  I have thought about subscribing to Journal of Constructivist Psychology, it is published four times a year but I am sure that will not get the proper attention right now with all of the other readings and assignments.


I am hopeful that at some point in time I can engage in an online research project which will result in some good information to shape the motivation factor for online courses.


How well supported does your personal theory feel? 

There is something about the word personal that stands out in this question. A personal theory implies that it is my theory about how learning takes place for me and how I learn as opposed to my theory of how others learn or should learn.  I know how I learn. By understanding some of the commonly expressed learning theories, I can correlate my personal learning theory to those standard and therefore claim that I am a social constructivist. Are others adopting the social constructivism? Does the teaching community at large adopt this same theory? Knowing that I want to collaborate with others and gain from their shared knowledge and that I want to build my knowledge based on my interest certainly supports my personal theory. I do not feel isolated or alone in that regard.
What research could you do in order to support your theory? 
Research on motivation within the context of online learning could be done to support social constructivism. Better understanding self-regulation combined with intrinsic motivation would be a good research topic.
What methods would you employ?
I prefer the mixed methods approach to research. The quantitative and qualitative approach usually does a pretty good job at getting the answers of the research question. Why do you prefer to learn in a group instead of on your own. Why to do you like to collaborate with others and work as a team to solve problems? Both of these would be good research questions that would provide insights to social constructivism

Here is a short video of me sharing at a very high level my personal learning theory.
Personal Learning Theory

I have been learning my entire life. Some of it has been institutional and much of it has been through life experiences. From an institutional perspective, I started out with an undergraduate degree in engineering (1975) followed by a graduate degree in conflict management (2011). My lifetime learning with real life experiences are related to technology and business development. I have been a serial entrepreneur and each of my business development engagements have been very much defined as active learning environments. You have to be constantly engaged with a variety of resources that include people, process and technology. The engagement is also very dynamic and changes rapidly, which requires you to learn from past experiences and to build more knowledge going forward. My theory of learning over time has actually transformed in a best practice. I continue to employ these best practices going forward from the REAL’s methodology (Rich Environments for Active Learning)

• promote study and investigation within authentic contexts;
• encourage the growth of student responsibility, initiative, decision making, and intentional learning;
• cultivate collaboration among students and teachers;
• utilize dynamic, interdisciplinary, generative learning activities that promote higher-order thinking
processes to help students develop rich and complex knowledge structures; and
• assess student progress in content and learning-to-learn within authentic contexts using realistic tasks and performances.

The challenge for me is to find ways to continue the active learning pedagogy within the new technology environment that is associated with online education.

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Lesson Development using a Learning Management System


The benefits of using an LMS for teaching and learning? 
Development time is a crucial component of teaching. Accessing information is a crucial component of learning. With every teaching and learning engagement there is also a trade off of time, money and resources. If you have the benefit of a tractor, you will most likely not have to use a mule and a plow to work the fields. If you have access to a LMS, you will not have to build and create a web service from the ground up as a delivery platform. So the trade off is taking the time to learn the LMS sufficiently to use it for your particular intended learning environment. I will use a metaphor. The handyman has a toolbox with many different tools. He knows what tools can perform what task and has confidence in their function. The same applies to using a LMS. You need to know what it can do and how to use it appropriately. If you can have confidence in how to use it then your will most likely benefit from its deployment in teaching and learning.
How well does the structure of an LMS fit with your theory of online learning?
Each LMS has different features and capabilities. You will not begin to use every single feature, so the fit to your theory of online learning will depend on how you deploy the the LMS. If you want to have collaborative interactivity, then you need in make sure the LMS is well suited for that task. If you want to gain feedback through assessments, then you want to make sure that the LMS is well suited for that task too. Being a supporter of the social constructivist theory, Canvas seems to have a lot of good features that support interactivity and easy user interface design. We were able to create a very robust learning environment that reinforced a social constructivist theory of learning.



Learning Canvas was a very positive experience. We started with a topic that we thought was popular and would engage an audience. Our topic was alternative energy. Our instructional learning model was 5E. This model calls to engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate. The question was how can you use Canvas to provide and easy way to take those steps. The first element of the design was focussed on the navigation. It was easy to set up the navigation with each of the 5 “E” on their own tab. A nice visual graphic that was related to alternative energy became the background picture.

It was also very easy to place video into the Canvas environment, Even better we were able to embed YouTube videos into several of the main categoried. For example, the explore section was primarily a video to get the participants attention. Video was used again in the explore section. When it came to the explain section it was easy to establish a posting area where ideas could be shared. So from a student/participant perspective, the course was easy to access and navigate.

Here are my thoughts from a developer perspective. It was easy to establish and build a course in Canvass. If you want to make quick changes to the layout it is easy to do. It is easy to get feedback from the student and also provide guidance on how to use the course from a teaching perspective. The tools that are built into Canvas allow an easy way add structure to a course. The tools are flexible and can be modified as needed, but at the same time they are part of the infrastructure so you do not have to start from ground zero. You can use or deactivate the tools and features that you want to use.

Overall, the easier it is to use a LMS, the more comfortable you become in developing and using the LMS. It is a positive feedback experience. It is not unlike any web-based environment that provides a consistent user interface. The basic building blocks of the LMS allows you to quickly organize and deliver content. A part of the deliverable in this short course was to create a bumper sticker as part of the marketing campaign, which would support the theme of the lesson.

Aleternative Energy Marketing

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