Learn #Moodle #MOOC

If you haven’t participated in a MOOC (I haven’t really participated in a MOOC) and you’re interested in online course design/teaching with Moodle, this seems appropriate. The description states that is designed for “anybody who wants to use the Moodle learning platform for teaching…”

You don’t have to be a complete newbie or an expert. For instance, I know how to build courses and even do a lot of the administrative tasks in Moodle. I am more interested in the best practices that may come out of this course. In addition, I want to connect with others and I’m always on the look out for a comfortable way for me to do that.

So, you know, join us. The class starts this weekend (8/9) and I think it will be much more practical for me and a lot of other online/hybrid teachers than something like the iMoot I participated in a year+ back 🙂. It was great for developers or people that had been teaching w/Moodle for a long time – maybe I will feel more at ease there next year!

What Am I up to? #elearning #goals #projects #oredu

I stumbled onto a link to a blog that I had started a few years ago where i tried to document small health goals/victories. I didn’t get very far and right now I’m probably in a slightly worse place than when I started.

So, I’m not going to specify much except that I’d like to strap on the fitbit and see where it takes me in the next few weeks (1) – I’ve got my fingers crossed for a few more days like today, where the fog rolls in and just stays there all day. Glorious.


I’ve got 3 good locations for walking – they’re not very long [unless I can stand the monotony of the beach for longer than 20-30 minutes in one direction], but I’ll get the mileage figured out and start documenting (2). Have been good about drinking water since late April, when I had issues with elevation, walking pneumonia and my ears, but I’ll want to start documenting how much of that I’m drinking, too (3).

If you haven’t used a fitbit, before, they are pretty cool. Can track your walking, stairsteps, sleep, and you can record your food/beverage/additional activities on the iOS app or online. Once I’m just back up to maintaining a routine, I might start thinking beyond that.

In terms of my professional life, I’ve been thinking about change as well… to put it very simply, have gone through some changes recently that have prompted further thoughts about change-making. I just think the 2015-16 school is going to be my season of change. Here’s hoping (4).

There are couple of online activities coming up that I am involved in or working on (and not really affected by potential change in my life circumstances, one of the things I LOVE about online learning). I signed up for the Learn Moodle MOOC that is starting next weekend (5). The intro forums are already open though, so we can start connecting with our classmates that are from literally all over the globe.

This summer, I am also building an online class in Moodle (6), utilizing Open Educational Resources (so yes, outside of the cost of printing any needed materials, instructional materials for this class will be free or at least will be sans a $200 basic math textbook. Booya!). I’m super excited about this – I’ve found my textbook-type materials (including this workbook from Scottsdale Community College). Feeling a little pressure because I thought I would be at the halfway point now, but I feel like I have so much more to get done. Still have to build the course, align with Quality Matters, find all videos I’m interested in using. Also, if I want to make any of my own videos (and I do), I still have that to work on as well. I’m flattered that my co-workers have faith that my course is going to be great, but I’m definitely starting to feel the pressure….

That’s what I’ve got floating around in the ol’ brain – sorry to ramble. Hope y’all have a good week…

I can’t remember my password #elearning #careers #edtech #resilience


I set up a new blog a while back, but I can’t remember my password to get logged into said blog, so… we are here at this old friend, today.

Recently I completely biffed the interview for my dream job. Yep, I’ve been after this job for 4 years, but I have this uncanny ability to put immense pressure on myself and I cracked. I didn’t even get through the first question… it’s a long story. They tried to call me back, but I was a little inconsolable.

One of those rare times in life where a do-over would be most welcome, but based on how little time it took for the hiring manager to make a decision the last time I was part of one of her interview committees, I’m sure they’ve decided on someone by now. This morning it sounds like they’ve either hired someone or decided not to hire anyone. Is it bad that I’m [not so] secretly hoping for the latter?

The best I can hope for is to move on from this debacle as gracefully as possible. Fortunately, not getting that job in no way changes who I am – I am still passionate about helping students succeed, working with faculty, and pretty much anything relevant to distance learning.

So, I’ve signed myself up for a webinar (and invited my co-workers to join me), found myself some interesting reading material and put my head down, intent on keeping on keeping on.

ID Reading Conglomeration

Hi. I was looking for some things to read to better keep up with the world of instructional design. Found one massive list, so posting selections from that list and the comments on that post, as well as others… ha. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of this, yet, but feel free to click through and comment w/other suggestions. I’ll try to come back and organize at some point :).

I may have bit off more than I can chew, so help part it down, I left off [most] blogs who’s most recent entries were a ways back:

  1. Ten Steps to Complex Learning (book)
  2. Complex Learning, Step by Step (blog entry)
  3. Writing Training Materials That Work: How to Train Anyone to Do Anything (book)
  4. First Things Fast (book)
  5. Job Aids and Performance Support (book)
  6. Oh dear… 30 top online resources for instructional designers to keep up with (blog entry)
  7. G’s View of the World (blog)
  8. Big Dog, Little Dog (blog)
  9. bozarthzone (blog)
  10. Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions (blog)
  11. Discovery Through Elearning (blog)
  12. elsua.net – A Knowledge Management Blog: Thinking Outside the Box
  13. Elearning Leadership Blog
  14. E-Learning Curve Blog
  15. ID and Other Reflections (blog)
  16. Information is Beautiful (blog)
  17. E-learning and the Science of Instruction (book)
  18. Michael Allen’s Guide to E-Learning (book)
  19. Design for How People Learn (book)
  20. Gagdets, Games and Gizmos for Learning (book)
  21. The Conditions of Learning and Theory of Instruction (book)
  22. Training Complex Cognitive Skills (book)
  23. The Design of Everyday things (book)
  24. E-Learning by Design (book)
  25. What Every Manager Should Know About Training (book)
  26. The Non-Designer’s Design Book
  27. Blueprints for Complex Learning: the 4C/ID Model (pdf)
  28. …Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting (book)
  29. Instructional Design for Elearning (book)
  30. Instructional Desgin, 2nd Ed. (pdf)
  31. Don’t Make Me Think (book)
  32. Lessons in Learning, E-Learning and Training (book)
  33. Designing World-Class E-Learning (book)

That’s all for now. My current professional interest is in this list, somewhere… I haven’t honed it into a particular couple of words, and it’s slightly different but also very similar to the work I hope to be doing, soon, so I don’t want to introduce confusion somewhere, either :D. If you have other suggestions for good books/blogs/recent or not-so-recent articles, please post in the comments. Gracias.

Open Educational Resources – A Primer

Open textbooks have been discussed via email as an option for instructors at Tillamook Bay Community College. I was asked to provide a bit of a primer on Open Educational Resources and where faculty can start to look in order to explore these free resources. Here are a few questions you might have on Open Educational Resources and my attempts to provide you with some information to help you answer them. I thought I’d write it as a blog post in case others find this information useful.

What are Open Educational Resources (OERs)?

Free! Resources! To use! Open typically means that you can use, share and modify them for educational purposes with attribution (give credit where credit is due). Usually some form of a creative commons license applies. Click the link for more information.

How do I find them?

I usually stumble on to them. One website I frequent, Open Culture, has links down the right hand side to free movies, textbooks and more. Often you’ll have to look at the website for a resource (look for the badges mentioned in the Creative Commons License link above) or contact it’s creator in order to find out if it’s covered by a CC license.

When I was working at Southwestern, I was often looking for educational resources for their math instructors, and found a website called Merlot. It has resources for online learning in subjects ranging from Algebra to Sociology. Just click on “Search Merlot” on the main page and you’ll be on your way to exploring an overwhelming number of resources, depending on your subject area.

Another neat feature of Merlot is that if you click on a resource, you can get more details about whether it’s copyrighted or if it’s been created under a Creative Commons License.

Columbia Gorge Community College has put together a great page with additional resources pertaining to Open Educational Resources, including information on Quality Considerations when selecting OERs. They have also collected many links to different sources for OERs on that page.

Finally, one of my favorite resources is Twitter. Really. If you explore the #oer hashtag you can find resources, webinars and people to chat with.

Learning Online, Part 1

There’s a new term of school upon those of us in higher education on a quarter system, so I thought it might be helpful to talk about a few of thing I’ve learned in 5 years of taking online classes (and a few spent supporting students taking online classes).

When I initially started taking online classes, I wasn’t very successful even though I had been through classes where instructors used Blackboard as a resource center.

My biggest problem with online classes has always been time management (& I’ve taken a lot of online classes). So, pace yourself. Don’t wait until the last minute to get things turned in. Use a calendar… and I mean really USE A CALENDAR. Don’t just write the assignment due dates on it and never look at it, again.

Here are some tools I like (there are probably better/ different ones out there, but these have been good org tools/ friends to me).

Paper planners

Apps/ Electronic Calendars

Other Productivity Tools

Good luck!

Gender gap in tech careers

I’m enrolled in an undergraduate class online at Portland Community College, this summer: Technology in Education. It’s worth taking for the content and the sheer good-naturedness of the instructor. It’s a decent class – I wish I spent a little more time participating in the discussion forums. I thought maybe this could be an extension of my participation there.

In our most recent assignment, she asked us to examine the gender gap in tech careers. One of the comments I found interesting came out of this article in the TimesOnline.

“I just think that people don’t see clear areas to be promoting women,” she explained. “Whereas it’s always been the case that men went into engineering. You didn’t have to promote it, it’s just something you saw around you…”

This has gotten me thinking about a couple of the programs that we offer at the college I currently work at. In the past 2.5 years, I have knowledge of very few women enrolling in coursework with the Industrial Maintenance Technology program. This is not something that I am overly concerned about – I think people will find their way to whatever path or occupation is best for them.

In things like IMT or agriculture or computer science, it still seems like it is very commonplace for men to be doing it; it’s just accepted.

Wouldn’t it be great if at an earlier age woman discovered that they want to be computer scientists or mechanics or civil engineers? Pacific University recently wrapped up their summer computer science program for middle school girls. I worked in a middle school for a few months – I constantly heard that students in that age bracket are some of the most impressionable.

On a related note, Dr. Juliet Brosing, the professor that started this program up at Pacific, was named the 2012 Professor of the Year in Oregon and she has been doing this kind of stuff for years – helping middle-school aged girls get interested in science and computers. I just think she’s a good example to look at – we should all be advocating for young people to have exposure to things they may one day be passionate about.

In my own life, I think I’ve had good advocates for science, technology and engineering. In junior high and high school, I participated in summer women in technology programs, and when I went to college, I had remarkable advisors (Dr. Brosing among them) that encouraged me in whatever I chose to pursue. I wound up back in education primarily because I have always had enormous respect for HS and college-level teachers.

[To Be Revised a bit]

Learning to Learn (again)

I have been trying to figure out how to keep learning things, now that I’m done with school for a while. I’ve been in formal education settings since I was 5, so… 27 years? That’s ridiculous, but I’d venture to say that in this case more than a lot of cases, old habits die hard.

I don’t just want to learn: I want to be taught. I have to retrain myself to think of me as both the learner and the teacher, now. It’s quite an adjustment. To help me along with this, I’ve come up with a few “Learning Goals” for this summer.

My Summer Learning Goals

1. This summer, I am learning how to use SolidWorks, a 3-D drafting software, so that I can help out with a friend’s class this fall if I’m needed. I was originally going to be able to teach the class, but you know how way leads onto way… and we ultimately figured out that I wasn’t qualified!

Tonight, I want to complete the “Getting Started” set of tutorials. I have been looking at it for a while, already, but have been getting confused, so I am trying to approach it in an organized fashion: “Today I will do this. On Monday, I will do this. Etc.” Here’s tonight’s list:

  • Introduction to SolidWorks
  • Lesson 1 – Parts
  • Lesson 2 – Assemblies
  • Lesson 3 – Drawings

I was initially a little perturbed at having to battle my way through SolidWorks on my own. For the level that the students are going to be using it this fall, however, it’s not that complicated. I’ve decided to enjoy the opportunity to learn this software. Uncomplicated doesn’t make it Sarah-friendly, but it helps.

2. This fall, I will be teaching Basic Math online. So, this summer I am working on learning to use a new-to-me LMS (Jenzabar’s e-Racer). If you have been reading my blog for any great length of time, then you know I have a soft spot in my heart for another LMS. I don’t want to use anything else except maybe Desire2Learn. E-Racer isn’t treating me too badly, however – it has been pretty simple to customize the layout. I am familiar with the web interface for Jenzabar, so it was a surprise to find out that when you enable e-Racer, it’s just another module within the web interface.

3. This is a great lead-in to the third piece of software I am learning, this Summer – Hawkes Learning Systems. I explored this as part of my job about 5 years ago, in my first position with a community college. I don’t remember why we opted not to use it and I don’t think it has changed too much, but at some point in the intervening 5 years, the school has decided to use it in order to teach basic math.

I’ve looked at Hawkes and it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, which I have come to think is probably the best situation for online Math 20 students. Anyway, I am using this software for most of the course homework. I know from experience that this has it’s own inherent set of challenges and hopefully I am more prepared for it than I was the last time I used an online homework system.

That’s what I’m doing, this summer, for the most part. I am also trying to figure out for the life of me how I can be ahead of the curve in terms of educational technology and elearning. Here are my current sources I like:

Anything else you would recommend? Are you yourself or your institution working on something really awesome in the world of virtual education? I just graduated from Boise State University in May, and one of the things they do that I think is cool is their 3D Gamelab. It’s a quest-based learning platform that keeps students engaged with gaming principles. Check out the video below for more information:

The last thing I’m trying to do this summer is blog more. Consider this my tentative step forward on that goal – I’ll try to start finishing up/ posting some of the other posts I have in draft form.

EdTech 523 – Module 6 – Summary & Reflection


Synchronous Lesson Development

This term, I was lucky to have simply fantastic classmates to work with. I connected with Susi from the the get-go and it was nice to get to work with her once more on this final project.

We both teach adults online and decided to teach a lesson on a few different aspects of the learning management systems that we each work in. It was a good topic for any teacher working in either Moodle or Desire2Learn. Susi covered grading of quizzes and discussions in Desire2Learn. She did a great job of putting together some strategic screenshots in lieu of being able to do a live demo of D2L, and since i don’t currently have any students, I was able to put together a live demo of some of the neater aspects of quizzes and discussions in Moodle.

Here are the slides I put together. Susi built our introductory slides covering our strategy that we used for the lesson: “Virtual Training Labs.”

Virtual training labs centers around hands-on experience and demonstration. The idea was to talk to the students about doing a couple of tasks and then we would send them off to a lab setting that we have set up and have them execute the tasks that we’ve asked of them. The time limit wound up being about 45 minutes and we stated that in that time, we would be available to help them with their projects. For an idea of exactly how my portion of the presentation went, I’m pasting my “script.” I know that I didn’t come across very loudly.

Project script – Sarah

Most of you are familiar with Moodle from the student’s standpoint and you’ve even had some exposure to the instructor side, if you used Moodle as your LMS in either EdTech 522 or 512. I’m going to show you a couple of different things that are kind of neat about the discussion and quiz features in Moodle.
When you are setting up a discussion forum, there are a couple of different ways to affect the layout. The first is when you initially build your forum, and you can choose from several forum types. I like the to use the default forum type, but you can explore the others and pick the one that suits you best.
Another way that you can change the layout of your discussion forum is by looking at the discussion forum once it has been created. Here you can use the drop-down menu to select different layouts of your topics/ replies. Again, choosing one of these will depend a lot on your preference and what you think students would prefer to look at.
Next, we’ll talk a little about quizzes – the varieties of questions available and how to set up a quiz of a different length for a particular student.
When you are creating a new quiz in Moodle, there are several different question types that you can use, from multiple choice to essay to mathematical calculation. This makes the Moodle LMS an ideal home for online classes or web-based components of classes in many different subject areas.
Once you have created a quiz in Moodle and if you have student with disability documentation that requires more time to complete the quiz, you can enable this by setting group overrides. Group overrides aren’t available until you have changed the course settings to allow “separate groups.”
Once you’ve done that, you should create a group for the student or students that need extra time and in the settings for the quiz, choose Group Overrides and then “Add an override.” At this point, you can choose the group that you’ve placed the student or students in and click enable next to the time length.
Now that we’ve covered some of what we think are some neat features of quizzes and discussions in Moodle, we’d like to turn you loose. As we mentioned before, each of you should have access to a Moodle Sandbox. Your sandbox has already been set up to accommodate separate groups.
We would like you to take 15 or 20 minutes and create both a discussion forum and a quiz in Moodle. Choose a format and layout for the discussion that you like. Before creating the quiz, create one group for your class. Create the quiz and choose a couple different types of questions. Set up a group override to provide a longer amount of time for the group you created. Bring both projects back to the Adobe Connect room – we will give you screen sharing rights and you can show them off.
We practiced on our own, to begin with, and then we met in a “practice” adobe connect room to run through the presentation a couple more times. i don’t know if we put in as much preparation time as other people, but I do think our content was interesting and that we appropriately used the learning strategy.
The final portion of the book contains many different resources for online teaching, including the companion site for the book, maintained by the author. The companion site includes a list of resources that has links to online conferences and list-servs. Now I know how I’m going to be spending my time, this summer, once I find a full-time job and get done with school.
We were asked to put together an assessment tool for synchronous online lessons and grade a couple of sample presentations. My tool didn’t work very well if the lesson wasn’t completed in Adobe Connect or if there were a lot of technical difficulties.
Obviously this tool is going to look different from an assessment tool for a traditional classroom, but ultimately you’re assessing the use of a tool. If you use a rubric with a point system, then diction and poise might be something that has a greater weight than when you’re assessing a synchronous online less. On the other hand, technical expertise might hold greater weight on the online session.
The strategies for a F2F session are going to look different – rather than virtual labs, you’ll probably have real labs to evaluate. Rather than breakout rooms, students might have small group discussions. So much depends on the instructor and what they’re willing to try out.

EdTech 505 – Final Evaluation Report (Fall 2012)

Looking for Jobs in Academia

An Evaluation of a Personal Process


Everyone wants to have the perfect job for themselves. If they never find it, they want to know that they did everything in their power to search, interview and hope. In the end, they will know that they simply weren’t the right person for the job, rather than feeling like they didn’t do enough. That is the sort of process that I want for myself – I want to know that I did everything I could to find what I’m looking for.

As part of the evaluation procedure, the history of my job search techniques was described in an effort to lead into the current state of affairs. The evaluation method used was an interactive one, where I was part of the team and feedback was incorporated into the program. I used surveys in an effort to both get feedback from my peers and organize my own data collection.

The evaluation determined that the job search process is individual and while there are some things that can be done to streamline it and make it more successful, those are going to vary from one person to the next.

Description of the program evaluated

I hope that I’ll be able to look at my job search and see how I can make it more efficient and effective.  I will use data from web searches and from surveying colleagues, friends, and family to create a clear picture of my job search process. While this program is geared specifically toward me, it is possible that this evaluation could be of use to other academic professionals wondering where to start with a new job search.

Length of the program is going to vary from one person to another. In my case, I hope to search for and be hired in a new position within about 5 months. However, this process can take anywhere from 1-18 months. I hope that by distilling the process down to basics and good quality resources, I can decrease the average amount of time it takes for people to find appropriate jobs to apply for.

Program Objectives

In order create these objectives I thought about what I needed from a job search. I need to be able to complete the search on the go or in between doing other things – when I finally have a break from school, there is going to be so much that I want to do and while finding a job will be a top priority, it will be far from the only thing I am focusing on.

  • The first program objective is to be more prepared to find a new job.
  • The second objective is to determine the most popular and efficient method for searching for jobs.
    • What websites are the most popular?
    • The third objective is to determine what my peers find valuable in a career search.
      • What resources did/ do they utilize in their search process?
      • Most valuable career resources.

Program Components


Determine appropriate jobs through entering key words into job search engines online.


Jobs found through first using the search engine Google to find sites on which to search for jobs, such as careerbuilder, higheredjobs, or craigslist.

Read through job descriptions and determine appropriateness based on my qualifications.


  • Computer
  • Internet access/ email
  • Flash drive
  • Resume file
  • Cover letter file

Evaluation Method


I found most of my respondents via twitter and facebook. I created the survey using Google and posted a link, asking politely for people to respond to the survey for me. In order to make sure that I had as many respondents as I felt I needed, in order to be able to perform some analysis on the data, I wanted to get more than 50 responses to the survey.

My response rate is approximately 42.4%. The actual value is wildly variable because of the mediums I used to deliver the survey – on facebook, I had a population of about 100 people and through utilizing Twitter, I had access to roughly 30,000 people. It is impossible to say how many of those accounts are inactive, weren’t paying attention to Twitter, or simply didn’t care about filling out the survey.

I found my sample based on the people that were willing to fill out a survey for me. I knew that Twitter would be a good resource. One thing I should have done is make two separate surveys, one for twitter and one for facebook. If I had done that, I would have a much better idea of the makeup of my population sample.

Dr. Alec Couros of the University of Regina posted my survey to his 26,000 followers on Twitter per my request. I do not know how many of my respondents resulted from him sharing my survey with them, but I appreciated the help nonetheless.


There’s an old adage that says it’s all about who you know. For me, sometimes, it also is a matter of luck. For example, in May of 2006, I was volunteering at the hospital in Tillamook, and met a lady whose husband was leaving a small engineering firm up the coast. She thought I should apply for his job. I did and worked there for a little over a year before realizing that I really wanted to work in education.

After a temporary stint at a middle school in Seaside, I stumbled onto a newspaper ad that did everything shy of ask for me by name. I applied and was hired to work in Coos Bay, where I stayed for 2 and a half years before my grant-funded job ended. In this case, I believe luck played a role in getting this position. I learned that I really fit in well within the community college setting, and that there is a variety of opportunities for someone like me.

I came home to Tillamook to work on my Master’s degree. I collected unemployment for a short period of time before starting work at the hospital in town as a Data Analyst. Later, I also tacked on a part-time position at the local community college. I found this job through sheer obsessive compulsion. I knew that I wanted to work at the school and at just about every available moment of every day, I clicked on their employment link to see if anything was available. I applied for the first thing that popped up and was hired.

Since that time and knowing that I didn’t have long before I was done with school, I have been looking around for the perfect full-time position. My search has been sporadic, at best, and inefficient. This fall, I saw a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate what I was doing as someone that is actively looking for a new job.

While working on this class, I have been conscious about what I am doing in my job search. Rather than hope I will be lucky enough to stumble on to something, but not wanting to make myself crazy, I have been sticking to one website, for the most part – http://www.higheredjobs.com – and exploring websites of schools and organizations that are particularly interesting to me.

This conscious effort to make my process less crazy, while it hadn’t yet incorporated any of my survey results, was a result of knowing that I needed to evaluate the process.

Data Sources

My first data source (Appendix, page 11) was a Google Form that I used to visit each of the following job search web sites.

I entered the site name, the search terms I was using, and the locations in which I wanted to find jobs. I reported the number of results for each set of search terms in each location, for each website.

The search terms I used included the following:

  • Academic Advising
  • Distance Education
  • Faculty Development

The locations in which I searched for jobs included the following:

  • Portland, OR
  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Boise, ID

My second data source (Appendix, page 11) was also a Google Form. I asked respondents about their job search habits, interests, and success rates.


Survey of Peers distributed via Facebook and Twitter (Appendix, page 11)

Respondent Demographics
Average Age (yrs) 36.9

Figure 1 Demographics of Respondents to Survey

Figure 2 Breakdown of where respondents were located, based on survey responses.

Survey Results
Most Popular Web Resources Individual Company Websites
  Newspaper Websites
Average Success Rate 49.1%
Avg. Time (hrs) Spent/ Week Searching 8.5
Avg. Time (yrs) in Current Position 7.0

Figure 3 Results of Survey Distributed to Peers via Facebook and Twitter

From the results, there does not appear to be a correlation between a high rate of success in the job search and spending more hours looking for a job. In fact, as one of the respondents with a high success rate pointed out:

“Let people you trust know you’re looking or at least interested; you can’t overestimate the power of a personal suggestion made in a timely way.”

This reinforces my belief that the job search can sometimes be about who you and about a little bit of luck. You also need to be receptive to new possibilities.

Search on my own for jobs (Appendix, page 11)

My Search
Site with Most Results Chronicle of Higher Education | http://chronicle.com/section/Jobs/61/
City with Most Results Seattle, WA
City with Least Results Boise, ID

Figure 4 Results of my internet search for suitable positions.

This was a really cursory search, where I did not look at any of the results in-depth. For example, I know that most of the results for the Chronicle of Higher Education resulted from the search terms “faculty development” without quotes, and I know a lot of faculty positions are posted on that website. Therefore, most of those positions would not be appropriate for me.

Even looking at this search by city, where Seattle and Denver generated the most results, doesn’t give me a perfect indicator with respect to where I should be looking for jobs, or even what jobs are available. Most recently, I found the best postings for my set of skills in Coos Bay, Oregon and Nampa, Idaho. However, Boise generated very few results in this search.


The purpose of this evaluation was to help me streamline and organize my job search, thus making it more successful. I stated that I wanted to make sure I was doing everything in my power to make sure that I find what I’m looking for.

The results of my data collection indicate that there is no great correlation between success in the job search and amount of time spent on the job search. More than one person that completed the survey indicated that they rely on referrals as part of their search for new ventures.

Survey of Peers

The results of my program, which consisted mainly of a trial search and a survey of my peers (Appendix, page 11), were mostly inconclusive. The data I collected from my peers indicated that there was no correlation between the success rate of people looking for employment and the amount of time spent on their job search, as seen in the following plot.

Figure 5 Time spent looking for work vs. Success rate in looking for work.

The R2 value indicates the level of correlation between the 2 sets of data – if the R2 value is close to 1, there is a very high level of correlation between the 2 sets of data. If, on the other hand, the R2 value is close to zero, then that indicates that there is very little or no correlation between the 2 sets of data.

In a larger sample, I think I might find some kind of correlation among a long time (per week) looking for work, a low success rate, and a high number of sites visited online. This process is inefficient and one of the things that I learned from collecting this data is that my search process might not be all bad.

If I had spent more time culling a population sample, rather than posting a link to the Twitter community, I would have seen different but not necessarily better results. Maybe there would have been a correlation between hours spent searching online versus the success rate of applicants, but it might not have been a good or positive correlation.

My Search

When I searched for jobs on my own (Appendix, page 11), I got results that I expected. I found that there were more postings in larger cities like Denver or Seattle. I found that there were fewer postings when I used search terms grouped in quotes (for example, “faculty development”) than if I entered the search terms without quotes.

Unfortunately, when I do not use quotes in my searches, I wind up with results that I did not necessarily want. For instance, when I searched the website for the Chronicle of Higher Education, using the search terms “Faculty Development” (without quotes) and choosing a location of Colorado, the site produced 21 results. However, when I instead entered the search terms “Faculty Development” (with quotes), the site produced zero results. I am more interested in results from the second search.

Here is a summary of my search from the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website:

Search Results – The Chronicle of Higher Ed
Site Address http://chronicle.com/section/Jobs/61/
Search Terms Academic Advisor Distance Education Faculty Development
Locations Seattle, WA 0 3 21
  Denver, CO 1 3 27
  Portland, OR 2 3 41
  Totals 3 9 89

Figure 6 Table Summarizing Search Results at Chronicle Website

With this evaluation, I set out to streamline my job search process. I wanted to evaluate my process in order to make it more efficient and successful. Since I focused only on the search portion of the job search process, I did not actually apply for or interview for any positions. How do I define whether the evaluation was successful, then?

Heading into the next phase of my job search, I will be focusing my efforts on the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. When I go online to search, I will continue to focus on using http://www.higheredjobs.com/ and the categories of “Instructional Technology and Design,” “Faculty Development,” and “Distance Education.” For the purposes of this evaluation, I used “Academic Advising” as one of my sets of search terms, because I wanted to make sure that I generated results.

A couple of things I will do differently with my job search, heading into the next phase, include setting aside a particular chunk of time, during the week, when I can search for jobs and work on applications. Over the break, I will also try to refurbish my resume and a good cover letter that I can cater to each position. The main change will be considering the job search another job; something that must be completed.


Your bill shows the daily cost of hiring me as an evaluator, as well as any incidentals that occurred over the course of our partnership. The daily cost is based on my typical hourly wage of $31.25.

The “Fringe” cost mentioned includes food or emergency costs that might occur over the course of the evaluation. Cost of copies and mileage are based on what my company charges for those things. If you have a difference of opinion, for example on how it is possible that I made 5000 copies over the course of this evaluation, feel free to get in touch in with me and we can discuss.

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EdTech 504 – Synthesis of Transactional Distance Theory (Summer 2012)

(Need to edit citations.)

The Use of Transactional Distance Theory in Distance Education


Teaching and learning online is hard.  I am a testament to that.  In over 6 years of taking classes online or in a hybrid setting, I think I have had about equal parts success and failure.  I love it, though, and I would not really change anything about what I am doing with my education online.  For instance, this summer has been the most difficult term in my online career and it was a mistake for me to take two classes.  Given the opportunity to do it all over again, however, I think I would have done the same thing.


My personal evolution of distance learning is interesting.  In 2004 and 2005, I was taking structural engineering classes at a university in Oregon.  The instructor (who still does not teach fully online) posted handouts on Blackboard.  I thought it was cool that if we lost a handout or wanted to just review them online, we could do that.  In the fall of 2006, I took my first fully online class through a community college – introduction to accounting.  The instruction and homework was completed online, but tests were paper-based – the instructor would mail them to my designated proctoring site, I’d complete them, and the proctoring site would mail them back.

I continued to take distance courses through the same community college for several years, and I watched them evolve a little bit – started to find textbooks available on the Kindle, upload assignments via FTP, build my own websites, etc.  When I took my first educational technology course online through San Diego State in the Fall of 2009, one instructor used the university’s LMS (I do not remember what it was) and the other instructor built his own web site for his class.  At the time, I thought this was supremely cool, but if he had executed his site poorly or if all instructors built their own sites for each class, it might have been confusing.  I like to think that he based the design of his course on sound theory like the Theory of Transactional Distance.

Additionally, having taught online for about a year, I have been on the other side of the screen, sotospeak.  I actually really wish I had a better grasp of theory, going into that endeavor.  Honestly, I do not think that I have actually designed one of the classes I have taught, thus far – I have adapted the material of other instructors.  While this seems like a pretty common practice, it does not help me understand how a course is manifested initially.  Having a basic understanding of any learning theory in distance education would have been helpful, and I think that transactional distance (TD) is a good place to start.  It is a simple theory and if taken with a grain of salt (i.e., if the designer maintains an open mind and realizes that designing a course is a complex task), it can provide a basic framework for the course.  I might find out that it does not work for me, but that is why distance faculty need to be flexible: to change something if it is not effective.


TD Theory could say several things.  One way to state it is that transactional distance is the time at the start of a class (online in this case), where learners are getting oriented and trying to establish their identities as online learners. (Benson & Samarawickrema, 2009).

It can also be stated as being the amount of psychological distance the student feels from his or her course.  TD can be decreased with dialogue: dialogue between students and teacher; students and other students; students and the learning material. (Benson & Samarawickrema, 2009).

In fact, that is exactly how Stein and Wanstreet and colleagues defined TD.  They state that TD theory describes how the physical separation of the learner and instructor may lead to psychological and communication gaps that create misunderstandings and feelings of isolation (Moore, 1997, as cited in Stein and Wanstreet, 2009).

Stein and Wanstreet (2009) actually did an interesting study, where they surveyed 15 different distance students enrolled in Adult Education in American Society and gave in-depth interviews to five of them.  The goal was to find out how adult learners experience being in an online class for the first time, and used that information to explore Moore’s theory of TD.  They created a composite student named Pat that they used to synthesize the information gained from their surveys.  One thing that Pat said stuck with me:

We would talk about something that I knew nothing about. And as I talked, it started to come to the surface, you know. You could almost see it.

Overall, students can see the value in talking with others.  They recognize that through dialogue between learners or between learners and instructors, or between learners and the material, that they better understand what they are learning.

Some researchers think that TD isn’t deserving of being called a theory (Gorsky & Caspi, 2005).  A theory is defined as being a way of looking at something that needs to be done, or how to do it (dictionary.com, 2012).  Based on the dictionary definition, I would argue that Moore’s theory of TD is a theory.  It does not need to be absolute law.  Rather, I like the idea of having a guiding principle when I am designing an online course.  TD says that you want to decrease the lack of understanding in your course, and that it is roughly related to several things: the amount of dialogue in the course, how much structure is built into the course, and how much control or autonomy students have over their learning.

Gary Falloon did a study where he used Adobe Connect Virtual Classroom in one of his graduate-level education courses in New Zealand.  He wanted to test out Moore’s theory of transactional distance and find out if applying for synchronicity in distance learning that he and his cohorts could decrease the amount of transactional distance that learners experience.  In EdTech 501 with Boise State, our instructor made liberal use of Adobe Connect and I know the department continues to use it.  While it is a little weird to be a distance student because I can attend “any time I want” and then be asked to meet synchronously with my instructor and classmates, our instructor set aside several different blocks of time for us to choose from, and seemed to put a lot of thought into which blocks of time she set aside.

Falloon said that he concluded that Moore’s theory isn’t wrong and in fact is a good tool for distance teachers, but that it is dated and should be revisited.

Personally, I like the idea of having some guidelines when creating a distance education course, or when I am getting or looking at feedback from students, but maybe transactional distance is not the guideline I need.  As a researcher that apparently distilled transactional distance down to its essence said, transactional distance is merely a tautology that states “as understanding increases, misunderstanding decreases.” (Gorki and Caspi, 2005, as cited in Kang and Gyorke, 2008).

Kang and Gyorke (2008) delve further into this, comparing Moore’s Transactional Distance Theory to CHAT or Cultural-Historical Activity Theory.  They said that they are similar because there is some mediation that happens in both theories.  CHAT is more general, stating that human development is based on social interactions with the people and environment in one’s life.  TD applies only to distance education, while CHAT applies across landscapes.

Transactional Distance Theory seems to have a direct relationship with educational technology.  Distance education is the use of some mode of transmission in order to exchange educational materials between students and their school, instructor, classmates, or even the learning environment in the cases of courses that are completely automated.  Over the years, those modes of transmission have changed and I am sure that opinions differ on whether they have actually evolved, but I think they have.

Viogtsky (1978) once argued that human thought was mediated by things, rather than being an inherent response system to external stimuli.  For example, a straw mediates our thoughts about a soft drink in a cup or a knife alters our thinking about a slab of steak.  If we know what each of the implements is used for, then we know what we can do with the soft drink or the steak.  He further stated that human thought achieves structure in young minds through the internalization of social stimuli; that thought is a social phenomenon.

Works Cited

  1. Benson, R., & Samarawickrema, G. (2009). Addressing the Context of E-Learning: Using Transactional Distance Theory to Inform Design. Distance Education, 30(1), 5–21.
  2. Cadwallader, M. (1979). Problems in Cognitive Distance. Environment and Behavior, 11(4), 559–576.
  3. Chen, Y.-J, & Willits, F. K. (1998). A Path Analysis of the Concepts in Moore’s Transactional Distance Theory in a Videoconferencing Learning Environment. JOURNAL OF DISTANCE EDUCATION, 13(2), 51–65.
  4. Chen, Yau-Jane. (2001). Transactional Distance in World Wide Web Learning Environments. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 38(4), 327–38.
  5. Chen, Yau-Jane. (2003). Dimensions of transactional distance in the World Wide Web learning environment: a factor analysis. Educational Administration Abstracts, 38(1), 3–139.
  6. Chen, Yau-Jane, & Willits, F. K. (1998). A Path Analysis of the Concepts in Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance in a Videoconferencing Learning Environment. Journal of Distance Education, 13(2), 51–65.
  7. Cicciarelli, M. (2008). A Description of Online Instructors Use of Design Theory. International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education, 4(1), 25–32.
  8. Falloon, G. (2011). Making the Connection: Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance and Its Relevance to the Use of a Virtual Classroom in Postgraduate Online Teacher Education. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(3), 187–209.
  9. Gokool-Ramdoo, S. (2008). Beyond the Theoretical Impasse: Extending the Applications of Transactional Distance Theory. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3), 1–17.
  10. Gokool-Ramdoo, S. (2009). Policy Deficit in Distance Education: A Transactional Distance. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(4).
  11. Gorsky, P., & Caspi, A. (2005). A Critical Analysis of Transactional Distance Theory. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 6(1), 1–11.
  12. How Not to Vex Your Best Customers – Businessweek. (n.d.).Businessweek.com. Retrieved July 16, 2012, from http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/4568-how-not-to-vex-your-best-customers
  13. Kang, H., & Gyorke, A. S. (2008). Rethinking Distance Learning Activities: A Comparison of Transactional Distance Theory and Activity Theory. Open Learning, 23(3), 203–214.
  14. Murphy, E. A., & Rodriguez-Manzanares, M. A. (2008). Revisiting Transactional Distance Theory in a Context of Web-Based High-School Distance Education. Journal of Distance Education, 22(2), 1–13.
  15. Offir, B., Lev, Y., Lev, Y., Barth, I., & Shteinbok, A. (2004). An Integrated Analysis of Verbal and Nonverbal Interaction in Conventional and Distance Learning Environments. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 31(2), 101–118.
  16. Saba, F. (2000). Research in Distance Education: A Status Report. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 1(1).
  17. Shannon, D. M. (2002). Effective Teacher Behaviors and Michael Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance. Journal of Education for Library & Information Science, 43(1).
  18. Stein, D. S., Calvin, J., & Wanstreet, C. E. (2009). How a Novice Adult Online Learner Experiences Transactional Distance. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 10(3), 305–311.
  19. Stein, D. S., Wanstreet, C. E., Calvin, J., Overtoom, C., & Wheaton, J. E. (2005). Bridging the Transactional Distance Gap in Online Learning Environments. The American Journal of Distance Education, 19(2), 105–118.
  20. the definition of theory. (n.d.).Dictionary.com. Retrieved July 23, 2012, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/theory?s=t&ld=1065

EdTech 504 – Learning Theories Paper – Module 2 (6/20/2012)


Social Constructivism is a learning theory that emphasizes the significance of environment and culture on the learning process.  It is a part of the Constructivism school of thought.

Social Constructivism is a theory applied to distance learning, where the classes are truly (or should be) student-centered. (Anderson, 2011).


Piaget, Vygotsky and Dewey. (Anderson, 2011).

Major Principles: 

  • Zone of proximal development (ZPD) – relates to an individual’s ability to do work either independently or dependently.
  • Scaffolding literally means support and in this case, refers to the support given to learners while they are working on something.  Over time, the amount of support decreases as the learners become more comfortable in whatever skill they’re working on.  (Jonassesn, 2012, Page 272).
  • Knowledge comes from a built-up process, which means that new knowledge is previous knowledge that has been built upon.
  • It is important that a learner’s development of knowledge have a context – that is, a way to apply what they are learning.
  • Learning should be an active process.  Anderson (p. 3) doesn’t think that learning should be a passive process.
  • The language one uses and other social tools are important to the process of constructing knowledge.
  • An important principle of Social Constructivism is the use of metacognition and evaluation in working with learners to evaluate their own performance.
  • Look at things from different angles and remember that the learning environment should be learner-centered. (Anderson, 2011)


Learning to walk seems to be an appropriate model to illustrate the social constructivist theory of education.  Whether the person learning to walk is a toddler or someone recovering from an injury, they must first learn to crawl or get out of bed or a wheelchair.  Usually they are going to do this with some support or scaffolding.

Parents will usually encourage children to crawl or provide a hand to hold, when they start walking.  A physical therapist will work with someone in recovery to make sure they do not fall and re-injure themselves.  Eventually the toddler learns to walk on his or her own.  Hopefully the injured person doesn’t fall and in fact makes a full recovery.


  1. Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three Generations of Distance Education Pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 80–97.
  2. Jonassen, D., & Land, S. (Eds.). (2012). Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Et 523 – Module 1 – Reflection

Virtual Ice Breakers for Adults

In the past couple of weeks, we have worked on a wiki project in “Advanced Online Teaching.” I immediately attempted to latch onto a group, but there was very little movement in the discussion forum. I wound up working w/ a classmate over email and we thought we were done early in the week, 2 weeks ago.

Via email, we pulled together about 6 or 7 Virtual Ice Breakers for adults between us. We sent our ideas  back and forth, and decided to choose 4 that we really liked. In the wiki, I created a new sub-page under the main page for Adult Virtual Ice Breakers called “Traditional Adult Virtual Ice Breakers.” We pasted our ice breakers, here, added our names, and saved our changes.

It is not easy for me to get something done and then never look at it, though, so I checked out the wiki to see what other people were doing, and they had turned our wiki page into the planning page! They had pulled all of their information from the main wiki page and pasted it onto our sub-page!

Apparently my name was still associated with that group and they had assumed that I’d taken the liberty of creating a planning page. This turned out to be fine, as I was more concerned with how the person I’d been communicating with via email would react. Not having much choice and deciding one large, cohesive project made more sense than several unrelated projects, we hopped on board.

In my absence from the second group, it LOOKED to me like there was a little activity on the Moodle discussion board, but then it stalled. A couple of people were trying to join late and some people were trying to start conversations in comments section of the wiki.

We needed to be pulled together, so I sent a group email out and we put to a vote what we were doing. We got a consensus and if you click on the link to the Adult Virtual Ice Breakers wiki, you’ll see a main introductory page with all of our names, as well as a sub-page for each of our ice breakers. I encouraged the group to add their names to their ice breakers because we didn’t know how the wiki was going to be graded. Every person contributed to the production of the wiki site, however.

Here’s the ice breaker I put together, followed by a second one that I didn’t submit for grading:

Math Warm-up

Subject: Basic Math, Pre-Algebra or Statistics
By Sarah Miller
Face-to-Face Ice Breaker
Diversity Walk
At a leadership retreat in 2011, we were asked to participate in a diversity walk, where we would be asked something like “take 2 steps forward if you graduated with a bachelor’s degree” or “take a step back if you took out student loans,” things like that.That’s what I started to think about, when I put this together, but of course it’s difficult to have people take 2 steps forward or 2 steps back online, so I wound up with an ice breaker for an online math class.
Here’s a link to the most similar activity I could find to the activity we did at our retreat.
Virual Ice Breaker
Online Math Ice Breaker (Basic Math-Beginning Algebra) – Synchronous or Asynchronous
Take a Survey of Students’ Interests – this can be done in one of several ways:
  • Email students ahead of time with a link to the survey (asynchronous).
  • Once class has started, post a link to the survey in a discussion forum (asynchronous).
  • Hold a synchronous session in Adobe Connect, BlackBoard Collaborate or Google+, where you would post the link in the chat or on a slide in your presentation.
Questions that you can ask in this survey might include the following:
  • Yes or No Questions (Have you traveled to the Great Lakes)
  • Multiple Choice Questions (How many pets do you have – 0, 1, 2, 3)
  • Things that are easily grouped together (Age, for instance)
These 2 types of questions are probably going to be the easiest to tally up and find a way to display visually. The graph is mostly to have something for them to look at.
Example graph - icebreaker.
Figure 1 – this graph shoes the number of students in the class that fall within each of these age ranges.
From this graph, not only can your students see the variation in ages of their classmates (or how many years they have been teaching or how many pets they have, etc.), you can ask them a variety of questions like:
  • How many total students are in the class?
  • What percentage of students are in the age range of 26-30 years old?
  • How many students are in the age range of 18-25?
  • What is the best way to determine the average age of students in the class from the information on this graph?
This might not be the best way to get to know classmates on an individual basis, but it might give students a sense of the overall makeup of the class.

Show and Tell

Synchronous or Asynchronous

By Sarah Miller

F2F version: http://adulted.about.com/od/icebreakers/qt/powerofstory.htm

Online Version: Choose an object and talk to the class about why it’s special to you or what the story behind its acquisition is.

In the discussion forum, post the following instructions:

  1. Take a photo of an object, pet, person or place and post in the discussion forum.
  2. Tell a story about why it’s special to them.
  3. Once you have posted your photo and story, reply to at least 2 classmates. Either tell them what you could relate to in their story or let them know about another object that has some significance for you that their story reminded you of.

This is meant to be asynchronous, but I think you could also make it synchronous by doing the following.

  1. Hold an Adobe Connect or Blackboard Collaborate session. (You might want to collect the photos ahead of time and arrange them in preparation for a live session. Do this via email or via an asynchronous discussion forum.)
  2. When each student’s object comes up in the slideshow, they would take control of the microphone and describe it, and talk about why it’s special them. 

Once everyone has told their story, a second part of the live session would be for anyone to comment on any of the photos or stories that were not their own that they connected with or that reminded them of another special place or object.

I looked at the K-12 wiki pages and I really liked that they divided their ice breakers into chunks by grade level – one of my classmates suggested we might be able to do this with ours. I think we eventually collectively agreed that this might not be the best way for us to divide the adult ice breakers up.
I thought maybe we could divide them up by subject area, but a lot of the ice breakers weren’t associated with any particular subject – they were just used for students to get to know one another. Our final decision was for each of us to elaborate on one ice breaker, and we would each create a page in the wiki, creatively name it, and paste our ice breaker there.

Tonight at 8 PM, I deleted our “planning page” and we have finally completed this thing. I don’t think the assignment required 2 weeks – it could have easily been completed in a week.

I read the article by Meishar-Tal and Gorsky (1), and a major difference between what we worked on and the wiki they were writing about is that I don’t think that Google Sites tracks the movement of each person in the group, so we don’t have a way to know who completed which edits outside of putting our names on things or claiming ownership in the comments of the “wiki.”

Correction: if you click on “Site Activity” at the bottom of the Google Site page, you can view the most recent activity by you and your classmates.

We dealt with just a half dozen people in our group and worked to collaborate and agree on what we were doing with the wiki. I don’t know how much collaboration was done on the glossary wiki described in the paper, but I do think they had much more precise instructions for their activity than we did. It sounded like it was more of an individual activity. By this I mean that there is no mention of collaboration among students on this project except that each person is looking at the wiki and deciding for themselves what needs to be added, changed, moved, deleted or formatted.

If I were going to facilitate a wiki in one of my online classes, it would probably be something like the glossary activity that Meishar-Tal and Gorsky talk about, but with some group work. I don’t have a lot of experience with using collaborative activities in my online math classes, so this is new territory for me. There is a lot of vocabulary in math classes that one needs to become familiar with, however, and this could  be a good way for students to become familiar with it. It be fun to divide them up into groups and have them complete a portion of the glossary terms and add them to the wiki.

In this module, I was introduced to a couple of different types of wikis. I actually liked one of them so well that I considered using it for my final portfolio site. I will edit this and add the name, when I think of it.


  1. Meishar-Tal, H. (2010). Wikis: what students do and do not do when writing collaboratively. Open Learning, 25(1), 25–35.

Camtasia Project

After haggling w/ Academic Superstore for a week, I finally received my activation keys for Camtasia and Snagit. I used Camtasia in EdTech 522, this fall, to create a tutorial on how to get started in Moodle. I wasn’t as happy with the finished product as I could have been, but this is what I came up with, initially. I used some features in Youtube to smooth some of the rough spots out, within the tutorial.

I would like to redo the video. I think I would record it in one take and then edit as needed. Additionally, I’d like to keep the first video on hand, so I can fix the areas that I attempted to smooth over with Youtube. Anyway, this weekend I will probably try and start that and begin to lay out the second video in the series, which will cover online classroom management in Moodle and the gradebook. If it becomes too long, it might turn into parts 2 and 3 :).

Another Break

As I await the verdict on my fall classes, I get a chance to catch up with myself. Between now and January 22nd, when my new (and final!) term in the MET program begins, here’s what I’d like/ needs to get accomplished:

  1. The closer I get to graduation, the closer I get to having to pay back my student loans. This could be a serious slap in the face, or it could be fine. In order for it to be fine, I need to be looking for a new job and have one secured before I graduate.
  2. I transferred an elective over from another school, and I need to find my course material from that class. I have a couple of ideas about where it might have wound up, but so far I haven’t had any luck. Tonight, I will try and track down an old external hard-drive, and see if any of the materials are in there.
  3. Clean house.
  4. Get a haircut. – Disaster!
  5. Walk the dog, if it’s not too icy outside.
  6. Work on my resume/ cover letter (see no. 1).
  7. Start pulling other artifacts together, for my portfolio, and begin the cleaning/ editing process.

Beyond those things, I hope to just enjoy time with my family and catch up on some sleep and exercise. I’m excited about heading into my final term of school, but I’m also really happy to have a little down time.

ET 522 – Mod 6/ Course Reflection

My biggest learning experience in this course was our final project and seeing what everyone else had put together. I don’t have any classes I’m teaching or courses I’m designing, right now. This is my education and professional development and personal enrichment all rolled up into one wonderful ball. 

Building the final module and critiquing my classmates was the closest thing we have done, this term, to what I hope to be doing in my career. It’s fun for me – hypothetically speaking, if all of you go out into the world and start working as online teachers in the college setting, my dream job would be to be the faculty development coordinator/ instructional designer working with you to build your class(es).

The most difficult part of the class was the video production and while I don’t know if I necessarily enjoyed doing that, I believe I could learn to like it. I want to do more work with my tutorial, in order to prepare for the portfolio class in the Spring. I’d like to learn how to embed closed-captioning on videos as well, as I think it is a great tool for online learning.

One thing that I have seen a couple of edtech professors do is record/ post an introductory video for us, at the beginning of each module. That is something I would like to try in a class at least once. While it wasn’t necessary, it helped me and my classmates get to know them a little bit better. After reading the most recent chapter in the course text by Susan Ko, several of us have also mentioned catering to different learning styles, and I think video is an important addition if you want to catch the more visual learners in your classes.

Overall, I really enjoyed this class – it worked well for my own “eclectic” style of learning. Next term, I hope to be enrolling in “Advanced Online Teaching,” along with the portfolio class, and I think I will continue to have a great time with this material.

ET 522 – Module 5 Reflective Post

Designing/ Creating a Module for an Online Class

Link to Course: Finding the Slope of a Line

What was the most difficult?

The most difficult aspect of this project was the back and forth – in my mind – between feeling like I needed to create an entire course and creating just the one module. I struggled with tone and structure, I think.

In the Moodle classes I have completed as a student, the main area at the top of the “Topic Outline” is used as the main introduction to the whole course. I tried to use it as the main introduction to a module, but then I had to introduce myself as the instructor and provide a syllabus. I felt like this should have been done much earlier in a beginning Algebra course. Imagine getting into a class and not finding out how to contact the instructor or what is expected of you until the 3rd or 4th week!

Finding the Slope of a Line - Intro

This is the introduction to my module. This is where I typically see course introductions.

One might say it was difficult for me to think outside of the box, in this assignment, because I am so familiar with the setup for the EdTech department’s coursework. In working with Moodle in the future, I might make this a priority – to use it a little bit differently than I have seen it used in the past. Moodle is a great LMS; I think I just stumbled because I started working on my “course” from the middle, somewhere – instead of starting at point A, I started at point D.

How did you solve problems as they came up?

I didn’t have any problems with building in Moodle, per se, except for using Boise State’s proprietary formatting. In that case, if I needed a headline to be a different size/ weight than Moodle allowed, I just made it regular text and bolded/ colored/ sized it appropriately.

Another thing that I noticed was that when you insert an image and preview it, Moodle doesn’t allow you to refresh the preview, if you want to see how the change looks. You need to complete the insertion and then edit the image, again, if necessary. This is also more of a minor annoyance than a real problem.

I like Moodle because I am pretty comfortable building in it. Where I WOULD have difficulty is with the grade book. I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, for the purposes of this project, and I haven’t ever taught in Moodle, but at the end of the term, I always have descrepancies in the gradebook.

I seem to spend a lot of time at the end of a term messing with the grade book and ensuring that all points are recorded and that all scores of “zero” are factored into the grade. This problem could be solved by simply spending some additional time with learning the intricacies of the grade book (whether in Moodle or another LMS) before the term starts or during a break in the middle of a term.

What are your thoughts on online teaching now that you have created an online lesson?

I still plan on teaching online. I think the additional practice with construction in Moodle has been helpful. I like being able to pull resources in from the internet to my course – I haven’t done a lot of that, before, because I’ve taught using MyMathLab or other software that has a lot of built-in resources. There’s a lot of good stuff out there.

This assignment has placed emphasis on my lack of teaching or design experience. I know that heading into whatever is next for me, once I have completed the MET program, will require a lot of learning on my part.

What was the most rewarding thing about this project?

Finishing it and thinking through the process of learning a concept. I also always enjoying seeing what my classmates are working on. I think I gain a lot from seeing what other people are doing, especially since I don’t have a lot of experience in teaching… that’s where my “A-ha!” moments come from – my peers/ colleagues – because they are going to think of things that I never would have dreamed of.

ET 522 – Mod. 3 Reflection

Susan Ko’s book is a fantastic resource. There are so many good ideas in chapter 6, as far as building a course goes. It would also be possible to go overboard with incorporating all of these ideas into your online class. As the saying goes, “Everything in Moderation.”

If you are using a learning management system to build/ deliver your course, one thing I think is particularly helpful is to turn on tracking. Track as much activity as you can – when students have logged in, when they have clicked on links, participated in discussion forums, or turned in assignments. You shouldn’t do this with the idea that you’re going to pore over the data and determin patterns or anything. When there is an issue, however – you don’t think a student has attended your online class, all week, or you want to make sure that they have spent some time in the discussion forums and haven’t just marked everything “read” – you can use the tracking mechanism to help resolve it.

Chapter 7 goes into detail on activities for students. In particular, I think the mention of ice-breaking activities is important. Online learning can be a pretty lonely venture – especially if you get behind – but having that initial opportunity to introduce yourself to your classmates and connect with them is really important. It can solidify your connections for the rest of the term.

Group activities in online coursework aren’t difficult to pull off, but the instructor needs to provide clear guidelines as to the formation of groups, expectations, and suggestions for where and how to work with the groups. Are they going to use a meeting software like Adobe Connect or Elluminate Live!, or are they going to use discussion forums?

I have enjoyed reading through the posts by my classmates, this week – I was introduced to a couple of tools that I had not seen before. The first was Edmodo, a secure social platform for classes. It looks like it is modeled after facebook to some extent. Teachers can set up an account and once they log into Edmodo, they create groups, either within a class or for each class. Once a group is created, a group access code is created. Students use that to create their profiles and access their groups.

Using Edmodo, teachers can set up assignments, have discussions with their students, provide class updates and news items, and more. From my exploration of the program, this morning, I was unable to determine if it was a full-featured learning management system in which an entire online class could be facilitated, or if it was more useful as a tool and supplement for either a face-to-face or online class.

The other tool I learned a little something about was virtual worlds. A couple of my classmates commented on this and though I have messed around with Second Life a little bit, for example, I have never thought too much about it’s uses in education. Jie Huang created a gorgeous presentation using Prezi on the use of virtual world’s in education and you should check it out for her creativity alone. She compares virtual world’s to the real one and describes the characteristics they share. The similarities between the virtual and real worlds are what make it an ideal learning environment.

Something that another classmate commented on was the need for high-performing graphics, in order run virtual worlds such as Second Life. I thought this might be kind of a hindrance in their use, if they were used exclusively in teaching a class, or as a supplement in distance learning. I get the appeal, though. You can interact socially with classmates, you can perform interactive activities online and within the environments. In Second Life in particular, you can pay a fee and actually carve out your own niche – create the landscaping, build a structure, and outfit your avatar’s appearance, clothes, and gestures.

I’d like to start working on my video production for my course module, soon. I am not very skilled in this area. I downloaded a trial version of Articulate Storyline and have just barely started to piece something together – I decided to create a module on finding the slope of a line. I have Adobe Flash available, if I decide to use that, and Microsoft Moviemaker for editing. This field excites me and I can’t wait to be doing online learning full-time, someday soon – teaching classes, designing/ building classes, working with distance faculty professional development, and technical support for distance faculty and students!

To Tweet (or Not)

I have known about Twitter for a while (my Twitter handle is @sbethm).  A few years ago, I created an account for my cat, @panchovy.  She didn’t tweet much and has been quiet on facebook for a while, too, but when she’s active, she regularly works on plotting her escape from her indoor imprisonment.  She reports on her successes and failures in escaping.


That’s one way to play and be creative on Twitter.  You can extend this to a classroom, either online or off.  You could re-enact a play from Shakespeare or watch the Calculus greats duke it out.  Some instructors use Twitter as a way to update their class (click the links for examples) with news and information, much like we would use a news forum in an online class in a learning management system like Moodle, Angel or BlackBoard.

Here’s an example of how a calculus class in Muskegon, Michigan used Twitter to develop a better understanding of the history of Calculus and the book The Calculus Wars: Newton, Leibniz, and the Greatest Mathematical Clash of All Time by Jason Socrates Bardi:

A couple of months ago, I started to more seriously use Twitter as part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN).  I share links that are relevant to the field(s) I’m interested in, “follow” like-minded people and try to create “Tweets” that are worthwhile or if not worthwhile, at least pertain to what I’m working on (homework, healthcare, student services, distance learning).

Twitter is a fantastic resource for professional development.  I don’t know about the claim that you can receive real-time feedback (The Hechinger Report, 2012), if you run into problem while you’re teaching a class, which is especially dependent on the size of your network (people quoted in the article have thousands of followers and I don’t think this is a realistic expectation for new users), but you can definitely receive guidance, participate in chats (#edchat, #lrnchat, #sachat, #digped, to name a few), find interesting and informative links, and use twitter as a resource database of sorts.


One disadvantage to this wealth of information is that it is truly impressive, and that can be overwhelming.  When using Twitter, you have the ability to create public and private lists of people you are following.  For instance, I have created and edtech list, a list of math teachers, and a list of my favorite Twitter users to follow.  Where Twitter stumbles a little bit is in your ability to access and monitor these lists – you have to dig around a bit, to get to them.


There are ways to alleviate some of this frustration, however.  You can use a piece of software called a twitter client or I like to call them twitter parsers – they parse the overload of information into manageable pieces.  There are several different versions – Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Seesmic, for starters.  I have Tweetdeck set up to use with my Twitter account and though I’m not very comfortable with it, yet, I think it has a lot of potential.  There is a [free] desktop version available for download and it includes little desktop notifications.

More Uses in the Classroom

(I’ve ranked these in order from most effective to least, but please be aware that these are based on my preliminary opinions only, and not necessarily based on experience or research.  Others may have different opinions and I am always open to those.)

I found a great article from The Next Web about additional ways to use Twitter with students in the classroom. Some of these include:

  1. Continue a discussion with students after the class has ended.  It is also used to encourage students that might keep quiet within a larger group discussion to speak up.
  2. Sharing links that pertain to class w/ your students – giving them a reading assignment to complete before class the next day.
  3. Sending out reminders about homework and project deadlines.  (Definitely need to have established buy-in or use from students, for this to be truly effective.)
  4. Brainstorming – easy to share ideas with classmates and instructors online, any time of day.  (More effective for young college students or high school junior and seniors.)
  5. Encourage students to be creative within Twitter’s tight character constraints. (I think this is going to be most effective in combination with staging something on Twitter or within particular subject areas.)

Other Thoughts

Does anyone know of a class that is primarily taught using Twitter?  I did a couple of searches for something and came up empty.  It seems like someone would have tried this.  You would need to be careful to archive your Tweets, somehow, and you might still need to use another platform for grading and longer communications with students. It might not work very well, but I’ll update with a link, if I track something down.


Twitter can be a really useful tool, but it does take some getting used to.  It appears to be simple at first, but in order to use it to its fullest capacity, you need to understand the character limits, hashtags, and be willing to participate “in real time,” or at least relatively often.  I think the greatest advantages of twitter are in professional development for educators, but it definitely has good applications for the classroom as well.


(Need to consult APA style book and format)

ET522 – Mod 1 Reflect

Define online teaching and learning.

Having participated in both, I feel qualified to define the terms online teaching and online learning.  Currently, as an online student, all of my work is completed on a computer and submitted via the web.  I still have some books that are printed on paper. 

Even though I still have to talk with my instructors and classmates, that is completed online, via discussion forum, video chat or email.  Sometimes we collaborate via social networks.  Online learning is now the epitome of distance learning.  Even if the instructor and a couple of the students are in the same geographic area/ time zone, they may never see one another.

As someone that has taught online, I think that online teaching is disseminating information via the web in order to meet instructional goals.  You have to do this in a way that is both professional an engaging.  You need to keep abreast of the onslaught of communication that destined for you and respond within a reasonable amount of time with more than a “I see you and I’ll get back to you soon,” which is about all that I had time for, one term. 

I had never had more than 25 or so students and I suddenly had about 90 students between 2 subjects.  I kept afloat for a while, but as the material got more difficult it took more time for me to respond to students and I was buried.  Students were upset because I wasn’t able to figure out how to get back to everyone in a timely fashion.  Add to that issued with software that came up and the term was truly disastrous.  We hired a TA for me and pushed through the end of the term.

I stepped away from the LMS, once that term finally ended (it took until the end of the following quarter to fully tie up any loose ends), and decided that I needed more training (one of my many reasons for enrolling in the MET program).  I have already learned so much and I could probably return to teaching one class per term, right now, but I have decided to wait until I graduate.

What is the future for online enrollment growth as described by the SLOAN-C report entitled, Class Differences: Online Education in the United States (2010).

In the report by Allen and Seaman (2011), online enrollment is described not as decreasing, but as holding steady in some disciplines.  They predict that at some point, universities will reach a saturation point in their online enrollment, especially private for-profit universities. 

When universities do reach their saturation point, maybe MOOCs will gain ground, though I have seen mixed reviews on those.  Personally, based on what little I know about them, I think a MOOC would be the wrong direction for me to take my education – I think I would get lost in the shuffle.

ET522 – W1, D1

I over think things often.  Sometimes it comes in handy, but more often than not, it’s a hindrance.  So, I’m going to go ahead and jump in with this.

I have been fortunate to have a lot of great instructors in college.  I can’t really speak to training I’ve received in in-services and whatnot because honestly, I haven’t yet found them to be real pertinent or interesting.  I’m excited about starting to attend more conferences, soon.  I think if I’m choosing some of my own professional development activities, I am going to find them to be more relevant to what I’m doing or hope to do.

That is kind of beside the point, though, except it’s not.  An instructor can be absolutely stellar, but if the information isn’t something you can use or apply or enjoy, then whatever the techniques they use, they may not be effective.  Moving on to instructors that were presenting information that I could use or apply or enjoy, however, for the sake of keeping things pretty brief…

Boise State’s online MET program has been pretty excellent.  The instructors have exhibited that they care about having their students succeed.  Some of the most valuable tools we have used have been video chat and discussion forums.  For me, education does stem from collaboration on some level.  It doesn’t have to be collaboration on a particular project, but being able to hash things out w/ other people is important.

In ET501, the instructor utilized an Adobe virtual meeting room to hold optional, synchronous meetings with us.  I liked that they were optional and that we had enough information coming at us from other mediums (video, audio, text – she was great).  If we chose to attend, though, it was a good way to feel like we were talking to real people and get to know our instructor a bit better.  In the same class, we had to collaborate on a couple of projects with some classmates.  My group members and I chose to collaborate via Google+ and took advantage of their “Hangout” option.  While this didn’t include options for screen sharing or text at the time (that I was aware of), it was fun to be able to put faces with names and talk to my classmates in the same way I would have if we were all taking a face-to-face class together.

In all of my online classes, at Boise State, Portland Community College, San Diego State and as an instructor for another community college, discussion forums have proven to be invaluable.  Part of that is for the same reason that video chat was useful – getting to know and collaborate with the instructor and your classmates.  Another part of that was having a record of all of the dialogue.  You can always return to old threads and reread something or reply to things that appear in the middle of the thread somewhere.  I don’t know – sometimes they can get a little convoluted, but I really do think it’s a super useful tool.

In my face-to-face classes, the best techniques used by my instructors included infectious enthusiasm and unwavering support of us.  I excelled in my final math class as an undergraduate because my instructor (who also happened to have been my advisor for 4+ years) loved the material so much and wanted us to love it, too.  He had more energy than the dog I have, now, which is probably why I have finally been able to come to terms with having a dog that bounces off the walls.  But I digress.

In addition to being a force to be reckoned with in the classroom, my complex analysis prof kept his office open to us whenever he was on campus.  Being accessible is a great technique for instructors to use.  The ET501 instructor also did a great job of being accessible – we could text, call or email her anytime.  Of course, she couldn’t always talk to us right when we contacted her, but she always got back to us, and could also set up additional Adobe meetings if we needed them.

ET505 – W1, D1

Hello!  I live in Tillamook, OR where I work part-time as an enrollment services specialist at the local community college.  I have always enjoyed working with students, so it is a good place for me to be, while I look for a distance learning position and work on my degree.  I also do a little work at the local hospital as a data analyst.  In that job, I don’t have to talk with anyone, most of the time, and I really enjoy that as well.

 I have been doing this part-time work for about a year and a half.  Prior to that, I worked in Coos Bay, Oregon for a total of 3.5 years (including 1 year as an adjunct distance faculty member) as all of the following: adjunct distance faculty (math), math tutor, instructional designer, distance learning support, math technology lab coordinator, and sidekick.

This is my 4th term in the MET program at Boise State.  I found the program through a search in Google for education and technology: the 2 things I knew I wanted to make into a career.  I actually didn’t start with Boise State, though – I took my first edtech classes online through San Diego State.  It’s a good program, but it just wasn’t right for me.

’ve been taking classes online since 2007.  My first experience was bad: I took Introduction to Accounting online through Portland Community College.  I don’t remember why I thought that was going to be a good idea, but it really wasn’t.  It happened that the final fell in the same week that I lost a job as a special education assistant (4+ months), and so I also wound up moving that week.

Despite a sour beginning, I continued to take online classes through Portland Community College.  I almost completed a year-long certificate in web design and even took my first “edtech” class – Using Technology in the Classroom.  I didn’t stop taking classes through Portland Community College until Fall of 2011, when I officially started up the MET program.

While I sometimes feel like I’m bumbling a little due to my lack of classroom teaching experience, I am enjoying my online classes through Boise State.  It has been a really positive experience for me.

My experience with evaluation in terms of my professional ventures is pretty minimal.  At one point, I worked as a math technology lab coordinator and was asked to present a couple pieces of math software to the faculty for use in their online classes.  I remember scouring the internet for “software evaluation” and using rubrics that I found.”  I know it’s an invaluable skill and I am eager to learn more.

 In my free time, I walk my dog.  She’s half brittany and half border collie and she has a ridiculous amount of energy – we call her the Georgia Spaniel.  I also have a cat that is fluffy and quiet and the total opposite of the Georgia Spaniel.

1 min writing prompt-book

What book do you wish you could step into?*

Over the break, I started a book called “Gone, Girl” by Gillian Flynn.  It’s about a couple that is about to celebrate their 5-year anniversary and the wife goes missing.  They have a tumultuous past and of course, the husband is the main suspect in his wife’s disappearance.

*I don’t actually wish I could step into this book: that would be pretty miserable.  It’s just the most recent book I had been working on, before school started.

ET 504 – Annotated Bib

Cognitive Load Theory

Impelluso, T. J. (2009). Assessing Cognitive Load Theory to Improve Student Learning for Mechanical Engineers. American Journal of Distance Education, 23[JF1] (4), 179–193.

Author is basically stating that material was continually reinforced during the redesign of this program class, so if they went into a mechanical engineering example, they would talk about how the example related to the algorithm they were just talking about, and how it relates to what they’re going to talk about next.  It seems complicated to implement, but I do like the ideas presented in this paper.  A consistent environment in which to do their work, as well as nearly unlimited access to the instructor and course materials led to marked improvement in student performance (same final was used in 2006 and 2008).  I really enjoyed this paper – it’s clear that the authors are excited about the outcome.


Bell, F. (2011). Connectivism: Its Place in Theory-Informed Research and Innovation in Technology-Enabled Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12[JF2] (3), 98–118.

It’s so interesting to me that even research articles have become interactive, in the past decade.  Even this article, which admittedly is a bit dry compared to the last couple that I read, links to several blogs and other websites with pertinent information.  I find it makes up for the lack of enthusiasm on the author’s part, to some extent.

This article discussed connectivism as something that is more of a phenomenon than a theory – it needs more research in order to considered a full-blown theory.  He described several imaginary instructional scenarios where different theories were applied, including connectivism and states that other theories could have just as easily been substituted.  A dense read.

Constructivist Theory

Baitz I. (2009). Concept mapping in the online learning environment: A Proven learning tool is transformed in a new environment. International Journal of Learning, 16[JF3] (8), 285–292.

Concept maps are considered to be rooted in constructivist learning theory because of their collaborative or hands-on nature.  The author excitedly listed reasons for creating concept maps, software for creating concept maps, ideas for getting started with concept maps, types of concept maps, and some of his personal experiences working with concept maps as a student.  I think the goal was to first be familiarized with the concept of a concept map, and then to be introduced to using a concept map in an online course, in case you are an instructor interested in incorporating something like that into your class.

Ladkin D, Case P, Gaya Wicks P, & Kinsella K. (2009). Developing leaders in cyber-space: The paradoxical possibilities of on-line learning. Leadership, 5[JF4] (2), 193–212.

The authors run a master of arts in leadership program online and were sort of surprised at how well it went.  It turned out that leadership students like to learn where they’re working, where they can apply some of the information that they’ve gleaned from the week’s readings/ activities.  In much the same way that in the edtech program at BSU, we work closely with our instructors, these students were each assigned a leadership coach that has already gone through a program like this and is working in area that the students work or aspire to work.  Constructivist theory is referenced in this article, because students take what they’re learning in the classes and apply them to what they’re doing in their offices.

Socio-Technical Systems Theory

Wang J, Solan D, & Ghods A. (2010). Distance learning success-a perspective from socio-technical systems theory. Behaviour and Information Technology, 29[JF5] (3), 321–329.

Placed emphasis on the “7 Principles of Good Practice” in designing online courses: encourage contact among students and faculty; develop reciprocity and cooperation within group of students; use active learning techniques; give feedback quickly; emphasize time on task; communicate your high expectations; respect different abilities and ways of learning.  It was noted that a content management system with lots of bells and whistles on the instructor side is ideal for online learning because instructors are more likely to be able to accomplish what they need to with the CMS.  Socio Technical Systems Theory was emphasized, which states that task design and system design interact with one another.  This was article was nearly incomprehensible.

Systems Theory

Luppicini, R. (2005). A Systems Definition of Educational Technology in Society. Educational Technology & Society, 8[JF6] (3), 103–109.

Educational technology is a difficult field to define and the importance of having it defined lies in professionals’ desires to state that they are “in” the field of educational technology.  Seemingly unrelated to the systems definition of educational technology, professionals in this field are often referred to as agents of change.  This was a difficult article for me to get through.

Transactional Distance Theory

Benson, R., & Samarawickrema, G. (2009). Addressing the Context of E-Learning: Using Transactional Distance Theory to Inform Design. Distance Education, 30[JF7] (1), 5–21.

Transactional distance theory is kind of like the perceived discordance among students, their classmates and the instructor(s) in an online course.  If there is a high level of dialogue, for instance, the transactional distance is small.  Something interesting to note was that if elearning classes had either a high level of dialogue and a high level of structure, or a low level of dialogue and structure, the need for students to have autonomy was low.  If courses had a mid-level of dialogue and structure, however, the need for student autonomy was high.

The authors presented several examples of successful elearning models, often there was a mid-level of transactional distance.  Whether the course had high dialogue, low dialogue, high structure or low structure seemed to be dependent on the learner and field characteristics.  For instance, in an example where many of the students were working professionals, the course was designed ot have a low level of structure.  I wonder how the level of autonomy is determined, whether it is a natural outcome for the levels of dialogue and structure, or if it’s something that is discussed in course descriptions or with students prior to really digging into the class.

Several examples of successful elearning designs were presented for the readers’ reference, and the authors explained each course’s levels of dialogue, structure and the learners’ autonomy.  This article started out sounding like nonsense, but I think I found the information useful.

ET 504 – Module 5 Reflection


First of all, I don’t recommend to ANYONE that they take more than one class during an 8 week term at Boise State.  Toward the end of this term, I compared the experience to some decidedly unpleasant things that one might encounter in life.  I will leave you to your guesses.

Second, I am happy to be done and I do not regret a moment.  Next summer, I might choose to either take a single class or to not take a class at all.  However, given this current summer to do over, I would probably have proceeded exactly the same way because that’s just the way I am.

With that said, I wish there were measures in place to prevent people like me from taking certain classes together during a short term.  Either of the classes I took this summer would have been fine on their own.  One of them might have been fine had it been paired with a different class.  The other class should have been taken alone.

In ET 504, we read and wrote about learning theories in educational technology.  I focused on transactional distance theory in online learning, which says that transactional distance is the space at the front of the class where people are becoming orientated and finding their voice.

Some people don’t think that TDT is a theory at all – it is more a “tautology,” something that is needlessly repeated.  I don’t know.  With few exceptions, I am pretty objective person.  I don’t get bent out of shape over something that others might see as infringement on their ability to design a course properly.  The great thing about distance learning is that it’s flexible and though I might agree that we don’t want to say “Oh, we want our students to have X amount of autonomy, so we need to incorporate this much dialogue and structure into our course,” I do think that it is neat to have guidelines.

Using TDT as simply a guide, we can look at our designed course online and based on the level of dialogue and structure that we perceive that course to have, we can make an estimate on the amount of autonomy our students might have.  We’ll have to decide whether more or less autonomy is good or bad among ourselves and our colleagues.

ET 104 was a great class with an instructor that I have taken a class from in the past.  I wish I could have been able to take the course over 16 weeks – that would have really helped me solidify some of the theory.  It would have also been good for my ability to assimilate information – it was difficult for me to do this over such a short period of time.

ET 504 – Module 3 Reflection

If I did more teaching, I think I would be interested in applying cognitive load theory (Impelluso, 2009), which has you trying to tie previous information to current information to future information.  I think it is something that I would try and do anyway – I definitely want what my students are learning to be relevant.  When I started teaching, it was really difficult to think beyond the current module and trying to make sure that students are getting what they need to get out of it.  I can hardly imagine having kept the entire course in mind.  That’s how I built the course, too – rather than thinking about the whole picture, I’d look at in a piecemeal fashion and if I’m honest, I have been able to glean that from my design classes, so far.  It is a little bit easier for me to look at a whole picture, now rather than at just one piece of the puzzle at a time.

Constructivism was mentioned in a couple of the articles I read, in preparation for our annotated bibiliography.  The first article (Baitz, 2009) was just about concept maps, and before taking instructional design, back in the Spring (it seems like such a long time ago), I’d never really considered the usefulness of a concept map.  This article provided several ideas for utilizing concept maps in the classroom.  I think it could be useful for my students, if I had them write a paper on a particular mathematician.  It might also be fun to try creating a concept maps for connections between numbers – whole numbers, prime numbers, imaginary numbers, real numbers, etc.

Socio-Technical Systems Theory (STST) (Wang, Solan and Ghods, 2010) was a lot like Transactional Distance theory (Benson and Samrawichrema, 2009) in that it provides kind of framework for developing a course.  In that sense, it is really useful for someone like me, who is still fairly new to teaching.  STST includes 7 principles of good practice and spells each of them out for you.  They definitely apply to distance learning and it’s something I can keep in mind, if I teach again, next year.

EdTech 504 – Learning Theories

Social Constructivism is a learning theory that emphasizes the significance of environment and culture on the learning process.  It is a part of the Constructivism school of thought.
Social Constructivism is a theory applied to distance learning, where the classes are truly (or should be) student-centered. (Anderson, 2011).
Piaget, Vygotsky and Dewey. (Anderson, 2011).
Major Principles: 
  • Zone of proximal development (ZPD) – relates to an individual’s ability to do work either independently or dependently.
  • Scaffolding literally means support and in this case, refers to the support given to learners while they are working on something.  Over time, the amount of support decreases as the learners become more comfortable in whatever skill they’re working on.  (Jonassesn, 2012, Page 272).
  • Knowledge comes from a built-up process, which means that new knowledge is previous knowledge that has been built upon.
  • It is important that a learner’s development of knowledge have a context – that is, a way to apply what they are learning.
  • Learning should be an active process.  Anderson (p. 3) doesn’t think that learning should be a passive process.
  • The language one uses and other social tools are important to the process of constructing knowledge.
  • An important principle of Social Constructivism is the use of metacognition and evaluation in working with learners to evaluate their own performance.
  • Look at things from different angles and remember that the learning environment should be learner-centered. (Anderson, 2011)
Learning to walk seems to be an appropriate model to illustrate the social constructivist theory of education.  Whether the person learning to walk is a toddler or someone recovering from an injury, they must first learn to crawl or get out of bed or a wheelchair.  Usually they are going to do this with some support or scaffolding. 
Parents will usually encourage children to crawl or provide a hand to hold, when they start walking.  A physical therapist will work with someone in recovery to make sure they do not fall and re-injure themselves.  Eventually the toddler learns to walk on his or her own.  Hopefully the injured person doesn’t fall and in fact makes a full recovery.
  1. Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three Generations of Distance Education Pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 80–97.
  2. Jonassen, D., & Land, S. (Eds.). (2012). Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2nd ed.). Routledge.