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.