Thursday, March 13, 2014

Post Mortem of a Project

About a year ago I was part of a project to plan our school's K-5 Science curriculum, in preparation for the annual QR (quality review). Each grade was represented on the project. The curriculum specialist was the project manager. Everything began well with the project manager "identifying the roles and responsibilities of each team member" (Murphy 1994). However, the project was not very successful. If the PM had known then what she knows now things would have been different. The following deficiencies contributed to project failure: team members did not truly represent the target audience. (This caused much push back from faculty members), the team did not have an ID. In addition the team focused on "what would be  nice to know" (Murphy 1994) and the PM was constantly absent,

Sunday, March 2, 2014


WK8AssignGibbonsHdoc---Reflection Perceptions of online learning/distance education are changing and becoming more positive. According to the Pew foundation Study, by 2011 “…16% of Americans had taken online courses for credit…”(Belcher, Neely & Tucker 2013). This is because distance is no longer as significant as it was years ago. The increase of online communication has led to “meaningful relationships” being formed(Siemens 2014). In addition, individuals are having practical experience with new technological tools, thus building “a growing sense of comfort”(Siemens 2014). Nevertheless, despite this increased shift in preference for online learning, there remains concerns about the quality of education provided by institutions of higher learning. This writing will look at how as an instructional designer, I can be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning, and how I can be a positive force for its continuous improvement. Gambescia and Paolucci (2009) conducted a study about the quality of educational output by universities. They called it the“…academic fidelity…” of the institution. According to them “academic fidelity measures the nature and extent of integrity or equivalency between on campus programs and online degree programs” (Gambescia & Paolucci 2009). These two writers agree with the “equivalency theory” which states that “equivalent learning experiences should be provided to each learner whether local or distant” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright &Zvacek 2011). In order for the distance learners to have access to similar quality learning experiences, I as an ID, must follow the process of “systematic planning for instruction” when designing a learning module. (Simonson et al 2011). In applying this process I have to think about the learners—those individuals who have to acquire skills in a subject area. I would need to identify their characteristics because, “knowledge of general learner characteristics…” will determine “…selection of instructional strategies and delivery methods” (Morrison, Ross, Kalman & Kemp 2011), which in turn will help students “get comfortable” with the online environment. In addition, I would “increase the use of multimedia, simulations and online gaming” (Siemens 2014) since these distance learning technology tools can be used to deliver learning experiences. For example, multimedia “can support multiple representations of the same piece of information in a variety of formats…” (Neo &Neo 2010) thus providing learners with different perspectives of the same topic. Simulations and online gaming can be developed by drawing on the theories of learning such as constructivism. Moreover, these technology tools must be chosen with consideration for content representation and distance education principles when designing a learning module. The impact of incorporating distance learning principles into the learning module would “provide an authentic learning environment..” ( Morrison et al 2011). As a result learners would share their experiences with those persons contemplating the online format of obtaining qualifications, thus presenting a positive image of its use, and leading to a change of societal perspective. To be a positive force for the continuous improvement of distance learning I would have to take on many different roles-from assisting instructors as they work on their own classes to completely designing a course from scratch based on instructor content. In addition, I must be able to: • Identify measurable learning outcomes that learners need, to master complex content. • Align assessment with measurable learning outcomes • Demonstrate the cognitive value of various types of media that the instructor may want to use in the online course. • Identify and distinguish the difference between lower order and higher order thinking skills that are specific to the instructor’s subject area and course content. (Morrison et al 2011) In conclusion, when I take these specific actions, they should help the public feel that the “…quality of online learning is equivalent to campus based learning” (Belcher et al 2013) In addition, I would be supporting the continuous use of distance education. References Belcher, T., Neely, P., Tucker, J. (2013). Public perceptions of online education in the United States. In proceedings of the 19th Annual Sloan Consortium: International Conference on Online Learning. Retrieved from 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 from Morrison, G., Ross, S., Kalman, H., Kemp, J. (2011).Designing effective instruction (6th ed.) John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Neo, M., Neo, T. (2010). Curriculum, technology and transformation for an unknown future Retrieved from Siemens, G. (2014). Laureate Education Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. (2011). Teaching and learning at a distance Foundations of Distance Education (6th ed.) Pearson

Monday, February 17, 2014

WK5ProjGibbonsHdoc--Impact of Open Source

WK5AssignGibbonsHdoc.---The Impact of Open Source What are open source course management systems? They “are free educational software that are maintained by users who implement… to meet local, specific needs” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, &Zvacek 2012). These systems allow members of the public who are interested in acquiring information or knowledge in a specific subject area, to enroll and participate in online/ distance learning courses. One such open source is It offers many distance learning courses for small and large businesses among which is Behavior-Based-Safety. This course follows the “linear-designed instruction” model (Simonson et al 2012) which consists of the following four modules: • Module1---the basics • Module2---role as supervisor/team leader • Module3---understanding the team and its behavior • Module4---motivating the team The course does not appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment. First, the login session is timed out if used only one time for the day. In addition, even though “each topic has an instructional event…” (Simonson et al 2012) followed by an assessment, only module 1 was taught. In other words, when that module was completed and the assessment done, the results showed that the course was completed. There was “no control of the pace of learning…” , so that the instruction did not “complement …other responsibilities”(Simonson et al 2012), and modules 2,3, and 4 were non existent. Next, module 1 consisted of six objectives but they failed to “state the conditions under which the learning should occur, the performance expected of the learner, and the standard to which the performance will be matched” (Simonson et al 2012). Moreover, only the first objective “to identify influences on behavior” was aligned to the topic ‘what is behavior’. Then ,the media selected for presentation of course content, was power point. This made reading the information, the only course activity in addition to the assessment. Many graphics accompanied the text which made it visually appealing . However, the font of the text seemed to be 11 point, it was so small. Despite that situation, there were “a few lines of text per visual” and “plenty of “white space “ to enhance the readability” of the information. (Simonson et al 2012). Finally, the Alison open source system did not seem to recognize that interaction “is a central element in …distance education” (Simonson et al 2012).The course activity made no allowance for discussion, reflection or instructor feedback. It was like operating in a vacuum. Nevertheless, despite its limitations, Alison did provide some knowledge free of charge, and one must remember that “there is no one “right” way to conduct distance education” (Simonson et al 2012). References Simonson,M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of Distance Education (5th ed.) Pearson

Sunday, January 26, 2014

WK3AssignGibbonsHdoc---Asynchronomous Training

WK3AssignGibbonsHdoc----Asynchronomous Training A bio-diesel manufacturing plant needs to improve its safety record. It plans to present a series of online step by step training modules, on the safe use of heavy machinery for its employees. In addition, the shift supervisors insist that workers demonstrate their learning through lesson engagement. Since the training will be delivered via distance learning therefore, I think the use of blogs and wikis would be appropriate for this situation. Blogs This tool can be “open to the public,” or as in this case “restricted to groups of readers…” (Simon, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek 2012).The open nature of blogs allows for communication between instructor and students and between students and students in studying the same topic. The instructor posts suggested readings, assignments and exercises which are organized for easy use. Posts on a blog is known as blogging. Blogging requires “cognitive participation”, which is a “reflective type of participation appropriate for the discussion of complex issues…” such as safety in the workplace. (Hrastinskin2009) Blogging provides a “meta cognitive strategy to encourage reflection of concepts and learning experiences” (Lambert, Kalyuga, & Capan 2009). Moreover, blogging is “…easy to learn and use…”(EDUCAUSE 2010) For example in a program entitled Global Resource Systems run by the University of British Columbia the instructors used a “blog site” to “submit course content” to students who were residing in underdeveloped countries. In return student engagement and participation took the form of discussion of topics and submission of assignments “…all within the blog structure…” (EDUCAUSE 2010) Instructors also use the blog to link internet items related to their course. One example shown by Downes (2004) is Rick Effland of Mesa Community College who used the blog to post links and comments about archaeology. “Though Mesa’s archaeology Web pages have been around since 1999, blogging allows Effland to write what are in essence short essays directed specifically towards his students…” (Downes 2004) Effland’s posts “effectively modeled his approach and interest in archeology for his students” (Downes 2004) Wikis “A wiki can be an excellent tool for collaborative…group activities…” (Simonson et al 2012).Anyone within a community of users can make a contribution. Like the blog it can be open to a global audience or restricted to a select community. In addition, the wiki can cover a specific topic or subject area. Moreover, wiki “entries do serve educational functions…”(Nash2005). For example in a study on “Student Perceptions and Cognitive Load”(Lambert et al 2009), the writers used the wiki to carry out their research. A great number of questions regarding distance education and the technologies used were posed to two sets of respondents (experienced and novice). These technologies included wikis, facebook, podomatic and a host of others. In addition the investigators designed an e-learning course using the technologies to discover if they enhanced student learning. The “wiki-based” course was divided into units with the “unit topics listed on the wiki side navigational sidebar” (Lambert et al) Results of the study found that “ … wiki was a suitable environment to offer an e-learning course for students…” (Lambert et al 2009) whether they were experienced in the use of the technology or mere novices. Another example of wiki use could be found in a report written by the University of Delaware faculty (2008). The document showcased how Geoff Proeh, Professor of Theater at the University of Puget Sound Tacoma Washington, used the wiki to “support the production of a play from the original text to costumes, stage setting and actors’ movements”. In addition, he created “hand drawn sketches to stimulate creativity” (University of Delaware faculty 2008). In conclusion, blogs and wikis “…have the kinds of learner-engaging functions…”, and “…represent the very essence of learner-centered instruction” (Simonson et al 2012). References EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative(2010, July) 7 Things you should know about LMS alternatives Downes, S. (2004).Educational blogging. EDUCAUSE Review 39 (5) pp. 14-26 Retrieved from Hrastinski, S. (2009).Asynchronomous and synchronomous e-learning. EDUCAUSE Quarterly 4 Retrieved from Lambert,J., Kalyuga, S., Capan, L.,(2009).Student perceptions and cognitive load: what can they tell us about e-learning web 2.0 course design. E-Learning 6 (2) Nash, S. (2005).Learning objects, learning object repositories, and learning theory: preliminary best practices for online courses. Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects 1 Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S.(2012).Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of Distance Education. Pearson University of Delaware. Wikis in Higher Education Retrieved January 25, 2014, from University of Delaware website…/wiki/resources/2008-5-23_wikis_in_Higher

Saturday, January 18, 2014


     In elementary school as a child, I remember doing something called 'learning by radio'. Its elements were Social Studies, Science, Poetry and singing. Later, I heard persons talking about taking "correspondence"(Simonson, Smaldino Albright &Zvacek 2012) courses and wondered, but never asked it meant. Then in 2001, I happened to do a short program of study in distance education. However. before I could continue being involved in the program, I changed residence to this country and all was forgotten until now.
     Subsequently, having read the history of distance learning and its evolution this past week, I made the connection of the 'learning by radio' in school and the "correspondence" 9Simonson et al 2012) courses I heard about, to the short course I did. it was all distance learning. What a revelation! Unfortunately, I cannot remember the definition that was given of distance education, but looking back to the information given and the materials used then, I would have viewed distance learning/education as a 'learning program consisting of modules, which a tutor disseminated via radio/television to the remote locations in the vast interior of the Republic of Guyana.'
     Now, armed with the present knowledge, I would say that distance learning/education is an 'economically based, online, formal education, designed to be delivered anywhere through electronic communication'.This definition implies that distance learning is affordable, its as effective as traditional education. In addition, distance learning/education is not constrained by "geographic separation" (Simonson et al 2012) and it uses technological devices such as computers and the internet.
     It stands to reason then, that since distance learning/education instruction is delivered through rapidly changing technology, therefore, it will supersede the face to face experience in the future due to the following situations:
"distance learning(e-learning) is explosive in almost all sectors" of learning despite the challenges presented to its instructional delivery( Moller, Foshay & Huett 2008)
enrollment at colleges and universities have greatly increased since they "now offer hundreds of courses online." (Simonson et al 2012)
business organizations in corporate America and around the globe are providing training for employees through "timely and on-demand learning exploit communications technology" (Moller et al 2008).
     In conclusion, these conditions have the capacity to forge a marriage between distance education and technology which cannot be annulled.


Moller,L., Foshay, R., Huett, J.(2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for
       instructional design on the potential of the web. TechTrends 52 (3) 70-75

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., Zvacek, S.(2012).Teaching and learning at a distance:
       foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Pearson