Instructional Design and Technology

This blog was created as a class project for my Instructional Design and Technology degree from Walden University. Blogging is an educational tool that can be used to share information with my fellow classmates and vice versa. I hope you find this site both informative and useful.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflection on the Future of Distance Education

      Everyone seems to agree that the emergence of distance education is due to the advancement in communication technology and the supporting infrastructure enabling worldwide delivery of information . Distance learning has become increasingly popular in the past two decades with more and more universities offering a wide variety of online degrees. So far, the popularity of distance learning has been credited to the flexibility and convenience that it offers (Gambescia & Paolucci, 2009), but what about the next decade? Will distance education continue to improve and expand, or will it fall by the wayside like other educational endeavors such as educational television? Will it surpass and eradicate the brick and mortar educational system?
             There are several reasons why I think distance education will continue to develop and will eventually replace many of the brick and mortar schools. One reason has to do with the future of the job force. Because of changing economies, employees can expect to change careers several times in their life span. This leads to a need for lifelong learning. In order to stay current in their profession or trade, employees will need to have information readily available for learning anywhere at anytime. Learners will not always have the time to attend F2F classes. Globalization will also continue to feed the need for communication and learning worldwide. Corporations will increasingly seek partnerships with universities to disseminate this information to its employees all over the world forming a triple helix model of education (Siemens, 2010).        
            Another reason why distance education will probably continue to evolve is the new generation of learners. According to Prensky (2001), today's students have grown up with technology and as a result, students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. This new generation of learners craves information and wants to be actively engaged with the learning experience. They would rather discuss and debate information with others rather than having information disseminated by an instructor lecturing in a classroom. Therefore, distance education will need to incorporate the latest technologies into the online classroom to maintain the interest of these digital natives (Prensky, 2001).
             If distance education is to move into the next phase, it will not only need to be flexible and convenient, but provide learning that is highly engaging using technology which will enable interaction between learners, teachers, institutions, and among learners themselves. It will need to be of the highest quality based on sound pedagogical theories and principles. Just using F2F material delivered online will not suffice to meet the future demands of interactivity. This is where instructional designers (ID) will come into play.
            According to McClintock (1992), the most difficult task in making a new educational system, will be reorganizing the culture to adapt it to the use of digital technologies. IDs should not determine what the curriculum comprises, but it should shape how educators organize the materials of the curriculum. IDs can create a new system of education by redesigning schools to take advantage of networked, intelligent multimedia. To change the pedagogical world, educators need both material agency and humane vision, in other words, both power and pedagogy. To change the world, people need reasons to take risks, to incur resistance and hazard failure (McClintock, 1992). IDs must be willing to take this risk to establish newer, more effective methods of transferring information.

Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved 12/17/2010 from
McClintock, R. (1992). Power and pedagogy:  Transforming education through information technology.  Institute for Learning Technologies.  Retrieved 12/24/2010 from
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(59), 1-6.,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Siemens, G. (2010). The Future of Distance Education. [Online video] Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved December 17, 2010, from

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

Converting a F2F class to a hybrid-learning environment is not the same as uploading a mountain of material to a course site for students to access.  To be effective it is necessary to provide guidance, interaction, and feedback to students on an on-going basis. Preparing units for delivery online requires considerations that are unique to that form of delivery (Siragusa, 2000).  Student interactivity contributes to positive student learning experiences and is a key to effective instruction.  Hybrid instruction combines the best practices of online and classroom instruction; it offers the convenience of the online format without the loss of F2F contact.
In the F2F courses, many of the final decisions about specific activities, assignments, length of time for exercises, and follow-up discussions could be deferred and finalized just prior to the class period.  As noted by Schrum and Hong (2002 as cited by Waugh, Caudill, & Chastain, 2006) and Turbill (2001 as cited by Waugh, Caudill, & Chastain, 2006), when putting any course in an online format, every specific detail of the online course must be finalized and programmed prior to the beginning of the course.  Before a course is made available online, both the subject matter expert and the instructional designer must review the content, design, and functionality.

In redesigning a course, it is important that the existing course be analyzed to identify the audience, learners' needs, and any barriers to effective instruction. Using an instructional design plan such as ADDIE, provides a guide for the instructional designer to ensure no process is missed.  Sound instructional design and effective pedagogy are needed for both F2F and online instruction.  No online tools, no matter how flashy or expensive, can rescue a poorly designed or delivered class-- either F2F or online (Volonnino, 2010).
Online teaching is a new experience for most instructors, requiring a reexamination of the online instructor's role. Faculty development is critical to the success of any Web-based education effort.  Designing, creating, and implementing effective in-service training is the most efficient pathway to the long-term success of Web-based distance education programs.  A key role change that faculty must begin to embrace in order to be effective in the online environment is that of facilitator or mentor rather than dispenser of information.  Berge (1995) describes the role of the instructor as wearing four different hats: pedagogical, social, managerial, and technical.  He goes on to clarify that not all of these roles need to be carried out in their entirety by the same person.   Beaudoin (1990) writes that the distance instructor loses a certain autonomy common in the traditional classroom.  In online learning, the instructor becomes a member of a team; subsequently, the instructor no longer has total control of the learning environment.

Student interactivity contributes to positive student learning experiences and is a key to effective instruction.  To encourage high student interactivity in an online setting, the learning environment must be supportive, open, and respectful.  The facilitator can foster interactivity by providing a detailed syllabus, clear instructions and specific guidelines for assignments, responding in a timely manner to student inquiries, and posting timely feedback to discussion posts.  Providing examples of superficial and substantive responses and scaffolding discussions with online resources that represent different viewpoints is also useful.


Beaudoin, M. (1990). The instructor's changing role in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 4(2). Retrieved 12/17/2010 from

Berge, Z. L. (1995). The role of the online instructor/facilitator. Retrieved 12/17/2010 from

Sira     Siragusa, L. (2000). Instructional design meets online learning in higher education.  Proceedings of the Western Australian  Institute for Educational Research Forum 2000. Retrieved 12/17/2010 from

Volonnino, D. (2010, December 6). Is e-learning inferior to face-to-face instruction? Message posted to Tech Change (E-Learning Series), archived at

Waugh, M., Caudill, J., & Chastain, S. (2006). Going online: Instructor and student perspectives. Paper presented at the Middle Tennessee State University annual technology conference, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, April 2 - 4, 2006. Retrieved 12/18/2010 from

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Impact of Open Source Learning

             For this week's application assignment, I have chosen to analyze an open course offered by Yale University.  The course I chose is The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food given by Professor Kelly D. Brownell.  Although this course includes all the lectures, a syllabus, and reading assignments from the original class, there is no interaction with any faculty or other students.  This is strictly a "do-it-yourself" class.  No assignments are submitted and the student receives no feedback or credit.  As I looked through several of the courses, this appeared to be the norm for most of the free open courses.
            The course consists of 23 lectures lasting approximately 75 minutes each which follows the original class schedule that met twice a week on campus.  Professor Brownell is a very interesting speaker and engaging to listen to; however, the lectures were videotaped and recorded during the regular F2F class.  During the videos, students are walking in and out of the room and you can hear people whispering and coughing which is somewhat distracting.  The class materials can be downloaded in the form of a zip file, but there is no means of evaluating or grading the assignments.  So, comparatively speaking, the student never knows where he stands.
              Simonson (2003, as cited by Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek, 2009) defines distance education as institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors.  When you look at this definition of distance education, it is clear these classes were never planned or designed to be true distance education.  Although some courses include video or audio from the lectures, most courses are quite skeletal, and are not designed for distance teaching (Haklev, 2010).
            OpenCourseWare, or OCW as it is generally named, is a digital publication of high quality, university level educational material that is free and open to access via the internet.  These materials are organized as courses via audio and video lectures delivered by the professors of world class universities which can be downloaded from the universities’ websites (Rathore).  OCW are under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others (Hewlett Foundation).
            Simonson (2005, as cited by Simonson, et. al., 2009), proposed recommended guidelines for distance delivered instruction.  None of the OCW I looked at met these guidelines which include:
           1.  Organizational using the Unit, Module, and Topic approach to make courses with equal numbers of semester credits equivalent in terms of content coverage.
            2.  Assessment used for grading and measurement of learning outcomes.
            3.  Content using various forms of visual media and delivery systems.
            4.  Instruction/Teaching which complements student needs such as pace of instruction and interaction between instructors and students.


Haklev, S. (2010). Definition of open educational resources.

Hewlett Foundation. Open educational resources.  Wikipedia.

PSYC 123: The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food.  Yale University.

Rathore, T. (2010). OpenCourseWare: Definition, resources and list of universities offering opencourseware collections.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

"The key to success in an online classroom is not which technologies are used, but how they are used and what information is communicated using the technologies," (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvzcek, 2009, p.115).   Numerous course management systems are now available which can be used to present online synchronous and asynchronous classes.  Choosing the correct technology to present a class depends on many factors such as cost, flexibility, ease of navigation, availability to users, available equipment, and internet access.  With an almost limitless number of Web 2.0 tools available on the internet, with more being added daily, the online course designer must understand and apply best practices and models to produce a quality learning experience.  Maintaining quality and effectiveness as well as efficiency can be challenging (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvzcek, 2009).

For this week's course application, I chose to determine which would be the best technology to deliver the course material in the following scenario asked for by the history teacher:

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 artwork 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?

I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the major art museums already have asynchronous virtual tours incorporated into their websites.  For example, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC    
(, provides online tours which allows the instructor to choose a tour by school or medium and explore the National Gallery's collections of painting sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts.  Participants can explore a particular artist, work of art, or theme.  The learner can select specific works of art for larger image views, close-up details, streaming audio commentary, and information about the object.  Also included are PDF formatted downloadable gallery guides for current exhibitions which provide not only a color photo of the painting but detailed information about the painting, the artist, and the medium.  In addition, there are video and audio podcasts available, which offer documentary excerpts, lectures, and talks by well-known curators, historians, and authors about the Gallery's history, exhibitions, and collections. In addition, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston offers virtual classrooms to teachers ( By taking advantage of multimodal processing capability and technology-based tools, we can dramatically enhance student learning through multimedia instruction (SEG Research, 2008).

 Already having the virtual tour technology, as well as other web 2.0 tools, available through the art institute's website circumvents having to reinvent the wheel.  As the ID, I would have to do some research into the particular museums the teacher wants to tour to see what resources are already available.  If the art institute does not have a virtual tour already implemented, there is plenty of virtual tour software, such as 360 Degrees of Freedom, available for setting up your own virtual tour.  Permission would have to be obtained from the curator in order to video the specific exhibition to be presented.  This route would significantly add to the cost of setting up the course.

 I would also contact the curator to see if a synchronous web conference could be set up for a question and answer session by the students.  If the classroom uses Blackboard ( or a comparable CMS, web conferencing is a built-in feature.  Coordinating the time for the conference would be the only variable to be determined.  

Collaboration by the class in critiquing the chosen pieces of art would best be accomplished through the use of a wiki.  An example of a discussion wiki being used by an art class can be found at  Wikis are simple web pages that groups can edit together and combine their ideas.  Wikis are also a built-in feature of Blackboard. The use of student discussion in the classroom both support and are grounded in theories of social constructivism. There are a full range of advantages that result from the implementation of discussion in the classroom. Participation in group discussion allows students to generalize and transfer their knowledge of classroom learning and builds a strong foundation for communicating ideas orally.  Increasing students’ opportunity to talk with one another and discuss their ideas increases their ability to support their thinking, develop reasoning skills, and to argue their opinions persuasively and respectfully (Reznitskaya, Anderson & Kuo, 2007).

Reznitskaya, A., Anderson, R.C., & Kuo, L. (2007). Teaching and learning argumentation. The Elementary School Journal, 107(5), 449-472.  Retrieved from Education Research Complete.

SEG Research, New Hope, Pennsylvania. (2008). Understanding multimedia learning:  Integrating multimedia in the K-12 classroom.  Retrieved 8/10/2010 from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Distance Education MindMap

Distance Education

Defining Distance Education

My first experience with distance learning occurred during my undergraduate college days when I needed to fulfill a three-credit elective social studies requirement and I was unable to work the class time into my busy nursing schedule. I decided to fulfill the requirement by taking a correspondence course. This was my first definition of distance learning, being able to earn credits without having to physically attend class. It fell into the realm of reading a chapter in the textbook, writing out the answers to the questions at the end of the chapter, and mailing them to the address provided within the allotted time frame. Needless to say, after the first one or two chapters, my "distance learning" deteriorated into skipping the reading and just looking up the answers to the questions and mailing them in.

My next encounter with distance learning involved taking online continuing education classes to earn CEU credits required for periodic renewal of my nursing license. Although the reading was online and the questions only required a click to answer and submit, the concept was still the same as that first correspondence course. The only real differences were the cost savings on postage and mail delivery time. The incentive for learning and knowledge retention was definitely lacking.

When I decided to pursue my master's degree through Walden's distance education program, I will admit I had my doubts as to whether the courses could ever be engaging enough to hold my interest through to completion. Contrary to my suspicions, I have been pleasantly surprised at the advancement in the online learning environment. Not only are the courses engaging, they provide collaboration and interactivity using a multimedia delivery system based on sound learning theory. The use of videos, interactive study guides, support and encouragement by faculty through timely feedback and email, and collaborative discussions and assignments with classmates has challenged my thinking and redefined my concept of distance learning. Distance learning now means being connected to others with an analogous goal for learning through the use of telecommunications from an accredited institution.

Distance education, although rapidly gaining popularity will not be the ultimate cure-all for education. Many political, social, and economical problems have emerged within the current educational system over the past couple of decades. These include political issues, governmental regulations, funding issues, social inequalities, and attendance issues. Until these problems are resolved, distance education will just be another method of delivering information to students. In addition, according to Moller, Foshay, and Huett (2008), everyone wants to join the cause without recognizing the necessity for needs assessments and evaluation processes to determine the effectiveness of the training. Naive managers and SME's may not even recognize that there are specialized e-learning design and development skills. Quality, therefore, seems to take a backseat to speed of development and cost savings. In order to facilitate the production of e-learning modules, faculty is doing much of the work with little or no training in instructional design.

Because of the advances in telecommunications and innovations in hardware and software, distance education is gradually becoming the wave of the future in both business and education (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009). Although distance education is growing at a phenomenal rate, there are still many misconceptions in both areas regarding the student/learning population, sound theoretical research-based approaches, who should design and deliver classes, and how to best use the technology available (Huett, Moller, Foshay, & Coleman, 2008). Bringing all disciplines together to embrace the same principles, policies, and attitudes regarding distance education will require future collaborative endeavors between ID's, SME's, and facilitators. Much research still needs to be done in order to determine the best methodology, technology, and procedures for presenting quality online education to diverse audiences. ID's will need to be at the forefront of this evolution if distance education is to meet the standards required to deliver students a quality education.

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fitting It All Together

I don’t think that my view on how I learn has really changed since the first discussion assignment. I am still a strong visual learner. I need to be able to see how something works or how something is done rather than someone just telling me. Lectures lose my interest and my mind wanders, so a demonstration or instructional video method of teaching works better for me. I am very good at following directions, but I need to be able to understand what and why I am doing it. I need a good mental picture to fully understand. However, several other styles seem to be integrated into my learning process such as sequential learning as well as sensing. I tend to learn material easier if it follows a logical or linear order instead of jumping around from topic to topic. As a sensing learner, I am good with details and memorizing facts. I like hands-on type applications. I can also remember things better if they relate to something real and familiar. I am also better at solitary learning than group learning as I am distracted easily.

However, since we had only studied about behaviorism, cognitivist, and constructivist learning theories at the time, I can say that I now have a much better understanding of the overall picture. Many of the ways I learn make more sense after studying the characteristics of the adult learner and the principles behind the other learning theories.

Reading about the adult learning theory has explained where my motivation to learn comes from and how my life experiences, beliefs, values, and opinions influence my learning. As an adult learner, I am self-directed and assume responsibility for my education. I am goal and relevancy oriented. According to the Social Learning Theory, learning takes place through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. According to Connectivism, our ability to understand is related to how well and consistently we’re connected to ideas and concepts. Each individual is capable of demonstrating different learning styles at different times depending on circumstances at the time learning is taking place. In order for maximum learning to occur, we need to be open to all the various learning styles and theories, not just the one we prefer. We need to use as many of the multiple intelligences as possible.

If it weren’t for online technology, I wouldn’t be enrolled in this graduate program. I use my computer for so many different purposes I would be totally lost without it. It is totally amazing how this keyboard and screen has become so integrated into my life. I use it for communicating with friends and family, paying bills, work, shopping, downloading games and other programs, filing important documents and papers, saving photos and music, keeping up with the news and on and on and on. I learn something new almost every time I logon, however, being a digital immigrant I am very limited in the applications I can use. I use it to research information that helps me better understand and enables me to complete the weekly course assignments. Having unlimited access to articles, blogs, videos, wikipedia, etc. 24 hours a day gives me the freedom to study when it is convenient to me. I can decide when my mind is most open to receiving new knowledge and take advantage of those “peak” learning times. If I have questions, I can post them in the student lounge, on the Q and A site, or contact tech support and receive an answer pronto. I have also found that my writing is more creative and flows better when typing on a word document rather than using pen and paper. All the tools I need to compose are just a click away rather than having to break concentration and search through different books to find what I need.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mind Map and Connectivism

I created this mind map to try and organize some of the learning resources I have discovered that help me learn. My PLN has given me the ability to individualize my learning by allowing me to filter the things that fit and don’t fit my learning style.  If one resource doesn’t provide the information I need in a way I can understand, then I have the freedom to search elsewhere until I find something that answers my questions.  The PLN levels the playing field so to speak.  It’s not just an expert delivering information to a student, but a collaboration of many people of all walks and levels of expertise contributing information to whomever chooses to receive it.  I use it to generate new ideas as well as restructuring old knowledge into new.

Since I am a very visual learning, podcasts work well for me.  I see the information as well as hear it.  Also, any tool that helps me organize material and information is invaluable.  This might include google reader where the latest information from a blog or article is at my fingertips or one of the social bookmarking sites where I can organize the myriad of online articles I encounter in my search for information.

If I need to find information about a certain subject, I will usually explore the search engines for anything even remotely related to what I am looking for.  I read until I feel I have satisfied my quest for new knowledge.  If I can find pictures or diagrams or podcasts, all the better.  If I need to retrieve a particular article, then I proceed to the library.  Occasionally, I will purchase a book if I can’t find the information for free online.

 Dr. Mohamed Ally at Athabasca University views connectivism as a model that integrates the different theories to guide the design of online learning materials. I think my PLN supports connectivism in that it provides unlimited resources with instant feedback in most cases.  It is social because it involves many other people, both professionals and students.  It gives me the freedom to customize my learning to my own unique style and allows me to learn in the manner that’s easiest for me.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tier 1 Performance Solutions (Brain and Behavior Blog)

Tier 1 Performance Solutions is a knowledge management company that assists businesses undergoing change to educate and inform their workforce using their online software programs. There is a Brain and Behavior Blog on their website where they post various articles by educators, neuroscientists, and other professionals on new insights made in the realm of neuroscience and the way the brain learns. Of particular interest was the article on "The Brain-targeted Teaching Model" by Dr. Mariale Hardiman, a Johns Hopkins faculty member and a pioneer in the “neuroeducation” movement. The blogger replaces some of the neuroscientific words with plain English to make the articles easier to understand.

Brain, Mind, Conciousness and Learning

This blog site has some amazing articles, slideshares, video's, and pictures regarding the cognitive neuroscience and physiology of the brain and learning. I was blown away by the article posted in July, 2009 regarding left brain vs right brain. A neuroscientist, Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, interviews a patient who had his corpus callosum severed to stop the spread of severe epilepsy. It was fascinating to see how his brain processes images with two totally separate hemispheres. You have to check it out.

Friday, January 8, 2010

E-Learning Curve Blog

Michael Hanley's blog includes posts about e-learning, web-based elearning, technology in education, e-learning tools, learning 2.0 (blogs and podcasts), and continuous professional development.   Michael Hanley is a training and development consultant working with businesses and educational institutions.  He lives in Dublin, Ireland.  He has 11 years experience in learning and development and is a member of the Irish institute of Training and Development. I found his blog to be very informative about e-learning tools which are enhanced through the use of podcasts.  He writes about learning theory and content development bridged by instructional design.  He is currently researching how work-based learning initiatives enable workers to achieve organizational goals in a corporate environment, and approaches to measuring subsequent organizational and employee performance.


This blog is a collection of the best and most updated knowledge regarding eLearning and Instructional Design.  It is organized well, easy to navigate and offers a wealth of information on almost every aspect of Instructional Design and Technology possible.  If I started reading today and read continuously for the next year, I doubt I could read every article and comment.

E-Learning Queen

E-Learning Queen focuses on distance training and education, from instructional design to e-learning and mobile solutions, and pays attention to psychological, social, and cultural factors. The edublog emphasizes real-world e-learning issues and appropriate uses of emerging technologies.  Susan Smith Nash is the Queen’s Assistant.  She has been in e-learning since 1990.  She has co-authored a book with George Henderson entitled Excellence in College Teaching and Learning.  She blogs about opensource software such as Moodle and Joomla, social networking, twitter plus there are many other very interesting informational tidbits.  Please check out her site.  I think you will enjoy it.