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.

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.