Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Final Reflection on EDT 5410 - Intro to Educational Technology Course

For some reason when I transferred from Spring Arbor University's Master of Arts in Communications with emphasis in Education and New Media program to Western Michigan University's Master of Educational Technology program, I skipped taking EDT 5410. I guess I felt I had already learned everything the course covered and therefore I should strive to take more difficult courses.

Well, this plan worked for some time, but this past Spring, when I was experiencing feelings of major stress from work and home situations, I fell behind in the course I was taking, EDT 6480 and ended up having to take an incomplete. The incomplete ended up putting me on financial aid probation and I was feeling quite discouraged about my abilities to complete my Masters and graduate as planned.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon how you look at it, I ended up unemployed for a period of time and was able to finish the incomplete and come off from financial aid probation, as long as I took a course this Fall and completed it on time and with a good GPA score. When I met with my Program Advisor this past spring and discussed my program and talked with her about the problems I had experienced, she suggested that I take a course that would be fairly easy for me, to give me a little bit of a "break," and yet it would still apply towards my program requirements. So, I registered for EDT 5410.

Yes, this course was fairly easy for me, but only because I had already used and been using almost every tool we were asked to use, reflect upon, and discuss in the course. But, surprisingly enough to me, I still learned quite a bit in the course through the readings in a book I previously hadn't read, Instructional Design by Reiser and Dempsey (2007). I also used a few new tools, such as online photo editing tools I hadn't used before, but even though I had used or already was using many of the tools, I found that I really enjoyed exploring them from a "learning" perspective instead of just using them occasionally as possible tools for integration into online course or other such things.

I really enjoyed this course and through this course I was able to further the development of my ePortfolio, which has been a goal of mine for quite sometime, so I'm very excited about that. I still have some work to do on completing the ePortfolio, but I'm thankful I had to opportunity to use it as part of this course and I'm looking forward to continuing to complete, maintain, and update it in the coming year. Although I've shared the link in a previous post, I will share it again here: CHalvorsen ePortfolio

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reflection on Web 2.0 Tools Used

This is the last week of our assignments for EDT 5410, Introduction to Educational Technology. Next week our final project is due, but this week, we are to reflect upon the Web 2.0 tools we've used over the semester, discuss two of our favorite ones, why they are our favorites and note how they "exemplify some of the concepts or characteristics detailed in this weeks reading, Chapter 31, Networks, Web 2.0, and the Connected Learner (Reiser and Dempsey, 2007).

Since we used quite a few Google products, there were more than two that I really enjoyed. Additionally, I'm a great fan of TechSmith's Jing and I liked figuring out how to record, convert, and upload a podcast for publishing, so it's a little difficult to only choose two products. But, since I don't have unlimited time, I will stick with discussing two of them in today's post.

I think two of my favorite products would have to be Google Docs/Forms and Google Blogger. I don't really remember when I started to use Google Docs, but it was most likely Fall 2008, when I participated in a group online project and someone within the group suggested we use Google Docs so that we could collaborate and work on the same document at the same time. I already had a Google account, but hadn't really used Google Docs much. There were a few problems as we began collaborating; one time when one of the group members and myself were on at the same time, it bumped me out and wouldn't let me back in until I restarted my computer, but I don't think that is an issue anymore. The other issue we experienced is that the formatting ended up being pretty rough and hard to make consistent. We ended up having to adjust the formatting in Microsoft Word prior to submitting the assignment. Although Google Docs still has it's own "formatting" and it doesn't always work perfectly for me, it's better than it was at that time and being able to work on it together made the project easier for all of us within the group.

Since that first time I used it for a collaborative group project, Google has continued to improve Google Docs and continue to make it easier to use. A year ago or so, I read about the Microsoft Google Cloud connect plug-in, available at:, which allows me to either automatically sync all my Microsoft Office files with Google Docs or manually sync the ones I want to sync, and then tonight I came across the Google Docs Offline plugin, which allows you to use Google Docs off-line. I haven't even had time to explore this one yet, but I installed it and will be testing it out in the upcoming days. I did see where someone was experiencing problems in the forums, but it appears that there have been some updates which may have taken care of their problem. Anyways, I love exploring new software or new ways of using tools I already use, so I'm looking forward to trying it out.

I've been a Google Blogger since April 2007. I currently have seven blogs on Blogger, but I only update two of them at this time, Precious and Honored, my personal spiritual journal, and this blog, Online Technology & Learning. When I first heard of blogs and began reading some, I had an immediate attraction to them. I've been writing a journal/diary since my late teens, early twenties and being able to write a journal online, sharing my thoughts and feelings with others, even people I don't know seemed like an outlet I would enjoy and I have enjoyed it. Blogs can be used as a project or classroom site, but oftentimes they are used for reflective writing, along with being a platform for sharing ideas and thoughts with your personal learning network (PLN). There are blogs for everything now days and pretty much on every subject. Blogging, for me, is a way of life; a way to share, to reflect, and to publish, something I always wanted to do, but probably never would have if it wasn't for blogging.

So, how do these two tools exemplify Web 2.0, as defined by the reading this week? One of the affordances described within the chapter by Reiser and Dempsey (2007), is the networking, collaborative, connectivity provided through Web 2.0 tools. Google Docs exemplifies this collaborative, networked, connected environment. This CommonCraft Video on YouTube does a great job of explaining the collaborative advantages of using Google Docs: over previous, older methods.

Blogger also exemplifies Web 2.0, in that it allows users to collaborate on writing posts or updates, adding comments and sharing with each other through postings and comments. Blogging, used as a collaborative tool or as a means to sharing intellectual property, "potentially opens learning beyond the closed doors of the classroom or walled gardens of registered student, login-only, course sites." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2007). Blogging publicly and commenting on other blogs, provides students with an opportunity to learn from professionals and experienced faculty members on various subjects and become part of the conversation, which is something that wouldn't have been achieved nearly as easy as it is now. I know that I posted this YouTube video before about the Networked Student, but that's exactly the difference Web 2.0 tools affords us as instructors, teachers, instructional designers, and students.

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review of Online Office-Style and Image Editing Applications

The technology side of our assignment this week in EDT 5410 Introduction to Educational Technology consists of a review of at least one online application each in two categories: Office Suites (Google Docs, Zoho, or ThinkFree) and Image Editing (Picnik, FotoFlexer, Phixr, Sumo Paint).

Rather than picking out just one of each, I ended up looking at all of them. Of course, a couple of them, Google Docs and Zoho, I have used for several years, so they really aren't new to me at all and I really didn't need to "review" them or get to know them. As far as the Image Editing programs, I hadn't used any of them, although I have read about them and some of my friends and colleagues have used them. So, after reviewing them, here are a few thoughts about them.

Office Suites
Google Docs

  • Great collaborative tool (if shared with a team, each team member can be on the document editing it all at the same time. I consider this one of it's greatest advantages over some other office suites/collaborative tools.
  • Ability to create spreadsheets, documents, and presentations, which can be downloaded as a PDF or as Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
  • Ability to upload Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, PDFs, videos, and images.
  • Ability to create surveys, comment forms, and various other forms, which are accessible from Google Docs. I have found this to be a very useful tool. 
  • I love Google! I use so many of their products and I love that all of the ones I use are FREE!
  • I'm able to link Google Docs in the project management online application I use called Manymoon
  • I'm able to sync my Microsoft documents, spreadsheets, or presentations with Google Docs automatically or manually with the Microsoft-Google Docs plug in downloadable here: Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.
  • As much as I love Google, I still like some of the offerings that Zoho has, such as discussion boards, wiki, meetings, and projects, along with offering similar products such as Google Docs offers. Although I don't regularly use Zoho, I do keep my account active to be able to share it with others as appropriate. 
  • One of the things I don't care for as much in Zoho, is that there is a cut-off point on some of the tools where they are no longer free, which is different than Google Docs, but on the other hand, it's probably not much different in that Google sales a lot of different tools and products that aren't available through Google Docs. 
  • Zoho offers several business products that could be quite useful, but I think I find them less useful for education.
  • Ability to create spreadsheets, documents, and presentations, which can be downloaded as a PDF or as Microsoft Office document, spreadsheet, or presentation, just as Google Docs and Zoho.
  • Seems to provide collaborative ability just as Google Docs and Zoho, but I didn't actually try the tools in that way.
  • It seems like a fairly easy tool to use and it offers some options within the spreadsheets, etc, than Google Docs or Zoho provides, but it doesn't appear to be as robust, so I don't know that I would ever switch to using ThinkFree over Google Docs, particularly since I use so many Google products.
Microsoft Windows Live Skydrive Online Office Applications and Storage
  • Ability to create actual Microsoft Office Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and OneNote notes, along with being able to store up to 25 MB of files for free. 25 MB of storage is not a lot of storage, but more can be purchased if desired and it's sometimes kind of handy to create the files in the real thing, rather than a converted file; because the formatting doesn't change.
  • Provides the ability to share and collaborate online, just as Google Docs, Zoho, ThinkFree, and others.
  • If you want to try it, you can access it here:

Image Editing
I didn't spend a lot of time of any of the image editing online applications noted: Picnik, FotoFlexer, Phixr, and Sumo Paint, as I have PhotoShop on my School/Professional laptop and Paint on the laptop I use for more personal things, so I don't see where I usually need to use the online apps, although I appreciated some of the effects and card creations available with a couple of them and will use them in the future for those reasons.

Below I've noted a few pros and cons that I saw after trying them out for a few minutes.


  • Easy to use and easy to get started; don't have to register, just click on the "Get Started" button.
  • Allows you to edit photos, make a collage or even a fancy collage, a slide show, and a keepsake, such as a card, etc.
  • Allows you to quickly access your photos on your computer, Google's Picasa Web album, Flickr, and PhotoBucket. 
  • There are premium services available, but you do have to pay for them, although they look like they would be fairly reasonable.
  • Very similar in many ways to Picnick, particularly for being able to quickly and easily start just by uploading a photo.
  • Allows you to access photos from the many different sites where you might have photos stored.
  • Doesn't seem to offer as many options or be as robust as Picnik.
The Christmas Card I Wish I Could Send!
  • Again, just as the others, it's easy to get started and use. 
  • Although it was easy to use and fun because of some of the cards it offered and editing options, it didn't appear to be as robust to me as Picnik and FotoFlexer. 
  • I particularly liked some of their Christmas card designs and even made up a Christmas card with a photo of me and a friend of mine from this past March. Unfortunately, I won't be able to use it for my Christmas card since we aren't seeing each other right now and he might not appreciate my putting us together on a card, but it was fun trying it out and I've included the image to the left of this text as the example. I think I may use this application or Picnik to create a Christmas card from a different photo and then print off and send it to my family and friends. I like the idea of creating my own Christmas Photo card.
Sumo Paint
  • Although I looked up Sumo Paint and tried it for a couple of minutes, I've never liked "Sumo Wrestling," so I detest the "Sumo Wrestler" face looking at me all the time on the site and although it has a lot of similar options as does Paint, the downloadable image editor that is very similar to PhotoShop, I would never use it because of the name and the sumo wrestler face icon it uses on it's website. Also, since I have PhotoShop and Paint, I would probably just use them if I wanted to do that type of editing. I guess if I didn't have any of my computers available, which is extremely rare, since I have two laptops and two netbooks and always take at least one computer with me wherever I go, I might would use Sumo Paint, otherwise NO!
In conclusion, I think it's important to make time for trying out new tools and emerging technology if an Instructional Designer/Educational Technologist wants to stay ahead of the game and wants to truly provide the best learning experiences and outcomes for learners. In my personal network, I follow Instructional Designers, Educational Technologists, Techies, Web Designers, Graphic Designers, Social Media experts, Teachers, and many others related to the various roles I play as an Instructional Designer and I do make some time almost every day, but at least once or twice a week to read up on and try new technologies to see what technologies make the most sense to be part of an effective learning experience for learners.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reflections on Learning Online

This week, our reading focused on elearning and it's relationship to instructional design. One of the ideas presented by the authors, Reiser and Dempsey, that is of interest to me and I agree with is the fact that technology used personally and by schools and corporations and the level of technology use by all is changing so quickly that it "has outstripped our ability to modify or maintain existing definitions." (2007). Some examples they provided is the fact that the educational field used to be defined more by modality, ie, face-to-face (f2f) vs. distance, asynchronous vs. synchronous, hybrid vs. fully online, etc. The authors believe that defining by modality is outdated, as now days any combination of these may be found in any of the learning environments and that we are beginning to recognize "learning as learning," whether f2f or distance, asynchronous or synchronous, or a combination, along with inclusion of social media and collaborative tools. Personally, I don't even think the newer generations understand the differences in the same way as I do or generations past have. To the newer generations, it's all learning and they have come to expect a combination of any and all of the various modes. Computers, online access/applications, mobile access/use, and social media is a way of life, not specific to learning, but definitely a part of learning. Of course, this isn't true for everyone in the newer generations and particularly not in all countries, but for the majority of Americans, I would expect it is fairly commonplace.

Another point Reiser and Dempsey brought out that I don't find happening much in my experience as an instructional designer or as an online student, is "Where collaboration is needed, learners should be able to self-select from a variety of tools such as instant messaging, texting, wikis, and conferencing technology. Where interaction in real-world environments is important. Web conferencing tools and virtual worlds should be available for discussions, meetings where presence is desirable, or role-playing." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2007). Although the tools are certainly available, I have found educators and students reluctant to try new things or use them. Oftentimes they seem to want to stick with the "tried and true." Formal discussions on discussion boards have become the norm, which can become very, very boring, in my opinion. Or there might be a few links here and there, PowerPoint files to download and read, a video, and many PDFs or oftentimes what seems to be the "same ole, same ole." In the same paragraph within the textbook, Reiser and Dempsey (2007) made the point that, "Certainly, the proliferation of all of these technologies contributes to anxiety for learners and instructors," which I have found to be very true in most cases, although not for me personally.

For example, I worked with an instructor to implement the use of a Wiki for a Global Management class she was teaching. The way she used the Wiki for the assignments and the way she wanted to grade turned out to have a few issues, but with tweaks, could be made easier for her. What interest me the most about the experience though, were the comments from students. The comments went all the way from students feeling scared, but enjoying the "change-up" to the typical online class to another student hating it and feeling angry at the instructor for implementing something that caused her to have to not only learn content, but a new tool. I also have experienced in an online class where an instructor gave us a lot of different collaboration tool options, but the group I was a part of were very traditional and didn't want to use anything except discussion boards, which was very cumbersome an inefficient for our project. I felt so frustrated at being outvoted and that no one was willing to try something that could make our collaboration so much easier. I'm sure the other students didn't want to use any of the other tools out of fear or a general unwillingness to try new things.

So, even though technology has brought about a lot of changes in the newer generations overall and in our daily lives, I don't think that online or elearning is as advanced as we "say it is." The technology is there, but the educators and students are not!

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My "Googlio" Site or ePortfolio Updates

This week in the EDT 5410 Introduction to Educational Technology course, we were asked to create a Google Website with the following minimum criteria:
  • At least two pages.
  • Use the Navigation function on the left to be sure someone can easily move from page to page.
  • Use at least one image on each page.
  • Use at least one Google "gadget" on each page (calendar, announcements, or other...there are tons of them to choose from).
  • Use one of the Site Themes for your website.
  • Be sure to provide a clickable link to your website in a new blog posting, along with a written description of your site's purpose and why you included the elements you did.
This past spring I started building an ePortfolio using Google Sites. I had read some information on creating a portfolio using a Google site, watched a video on "Googlios," a term used to describe a portfolio built on a Google site, and viewed some of the examples at: After viewing some of the examples, I thought that I would like to create an electronic portfolio using Google Sites, so I began working on it. I didn't get real far in developing it, but when this assignment came up, I thought I would work on developing it further. It still has some work to be done and I want to change several of the pages, along with adding in the Educational/Professional links that I just don't have time to get entered tonight.

The purpose of my ePortfolio is to showcase my educational and professional accomplishments and to share my educational/instructional design goals and philosophy. In continuing to work on it for this class, I feel it accomplishing two goals in that I'm continuing to develop it more fully and I'm also gaining experience in developing a "Googlio" and can teach students how to create an electronic portfolio in Google Sites.

Some of the elements I have included are:
Home page: 
  • A Picasa Slide Show. I would like to create a more instructional design/professional-based slide show for the Welcome page, but for now, I'm displaying one of my photo shoots from September 7, 2011. This provides both images and a Google gadget all in one.
About Me page:
  • A profile photo and information about how I got started in the field of Instructional Design and Educational Technology.
  • Inserted a Google Form, the Social Networking Tools Educator Survey as the Google gadget.
Contact Me page:
  • Another profile photo of me, my personal, school, and work email addresses, and a contact form as the Google gadget.
Educational & Professional Calendar page:
  • Inserted my Google School Calendar as the Google gadget. Did not include an image on this page.
Educational Philosophy page:
  • Inserted image from another Website into a "Text Box," which allowed me to also add the image credit and the link to where I obtained the image. 
Educational Technology Blog page:
  • I used a Google gadget that allows you to embed other Web pages, including Google Blogger, into a Google site and my blog has imaged on it.
Instructional Design Competencies page:
  • Again, I used a Google gadget to embed the IBSTPI Web pages that shows the Instructional Design Competencies. I actually plan to change this to write out my own competencies, along with providing a link to the IBSTPI's Web page. Particularly since I don't know that they would want their Web page embedded in another Website.
Master of Arts in Educational Technology page:
  • I've included an image of WMU that links to WMU.
  • I've set up the page as a list, which allows me to show what classes I've taken and classes I still need to take to complete my degree.
Professional and Educational Links page:
  • I did not get to this page at all, as you can tell.
Vitae/Resume page:
  • I inserted my LinkedIn Profile Web page with a Google gadget and my LinkedIn Profile page has a photo of me on it.
And finally, here's the link to my ePortfolio, a Google site:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Instructional Design in Different Arenas

In our reading this past week for the EDT 5410 Intro to Educational Technology we read about Instructional Design roles in universities in three different countries, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. Over the past three weeks, we've read about instructional design in business, P-12, and this week in higher education. For our reflection we are to "identify 2 or 3 significant themes or differences" we've noticed across these contexts and describe them. Additionally, we are to note if there is a particular area or way that you believe your current professional working environment could learn from the other contexts described in the chapters.

I think in any ID role there are some similarities, but of course, how it all plays out can be significantly different between the type organization and the age of the students/trainees. In business, even in a non-profit organization, money oftentimes plays a significant factor in the quality and quantity of ID. Depending upon the organization, the ID may have to fill many different roles, particularly that of a project manager, ID, and technologist. Additionally, because time=money and money is such a huge factor, efficiency and rapid development is encouraged and expected, while doing all you can to maintain quality.

In the P-12, their usually is less money, although this isn't true for all districts, but many times I hear of teachers/technologists, as many IDs are called in P-12, having to make do with free software, even when a purchased software would be more effective. Also, there seems to be many more restrictions on what Websites can be accessed and software that is available. Fortunately, many of the P-12 IDs and technologists are proactive in identifying free resources and obtaining grants which allow them to design instruction that integrates technology into everyday learning.

In the higher ed arena, I think there is a lot more room for trying new things and taking the time to test out and design more effective learning. Usually, the colleges and universities will have whole departments that have several IDs and/or technologists who work with faculty to design the instruction, particularly for online classes, and who also provide technology workshops and other training to help faculty to obtain the knowledge and skills they need to integrate technology in their classes. Of course, not all colleges and universities have the same money and other resources to utilize technology as others, but utilizing technology in the classroom, whether face-to-face (f2f) or online, is becoming something that more and more students expect from their college or university and from the faculty members.

In comparing the three areas of ID,  the most significant factor that stood out to me was how similar ID is in all three arenas and yet how different it can be. All IDs have to deal with various constraints, they just are sometimes different depending upon whether it's in the business arena, P-12, or higher education. Some work as the sole designer, the project manager, the media producer, and others work on teams where everyone has a more specific focus to their role. No matter what the situation is though, the goals remain the same, and that is to improve learning through the use of technology.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mind Mapping

There are various programs available for mind mapping; some you have to pay for, others are free. The tool we are exploring this week for the EDT Intro to Educational Technology class is It is a free program and is fairly easy to use. The mind map I created is for planning my church's Christmas program. Although most students in the K-12 wouldn't be planning a Christmas program or a large event, they could be. There are several other types of uses I think a tool such as this would be useful, such as planning a video production, developing a science or art project, or exploring a topic for a paper.

There were a few things I would change, if I was the developer for the program. Trying to change color, connect to other bubbles, move, unpin, or delete seemed a little troublesome. You have to click on the bubble and above it will appear another bubble with those options. I would prefer to just be able to right-click with the mouse and choose any of the above. Also, it would be nice to be able to change levels by moving the bubbles around, but you have to first disconnect and then you can "connect" them, but it's different type of connection than the original connect. I guess I'm thinking of the navigation within FrontPage, Microsoft's old Web design program. I could move pages around from parent level to child level to sub-child level and back up to parent level, all without having to connect or disconnect specifically. I would like to see that kind of ease of movement in a program like this. Occasionally, I had to click several times on the "child" button to create a new bubble. I don't know if I was just not clicking in the right spot or if this is something that is a problem for everyone. No matter, it was a good experience and kids would probably enjoy using a tool such as this.

Here's the mind map that I created using

Monday, November 7, 2011

IDs and P-12 Technology Integration and Screencasting

Reflection on Reading Assignment

For our reflection on last week's reading assignment, we were to "pick out two trends or issues that particularly surprised you and/or hit home and explain why."

The first issue was that I was having a difficult time getting much of anything out of the reading, as it seemed so disconnected from anything I've worked with. It was focused on Instructional Design (ID) in the P-12 environment, which I'm only familiar with in theory, not practical hands-on. The second issue, was that the authors talk about the importance of technology integration and the role of the ID, but then notes that the outcomes or results of technology integration have not shown significant student gains in learning as hoped. This didn't really surprise me, but I think it's an issue. We, as educators and instructional designers tend to focus more on integrating technology more for the sake of technology than for the sake of the learning sometimes. I love technology and I'm all for everyone having the opportunity to learn with technology, but technology is a tool and can only improved learning if it is used appropriately and effectively.

The two things that were new to me were the ASSURE and the NTeQ technology integration models. Although I had heard of the ASSURE model, I don't know that I had had it explained as a technology integration model and I hadn't heard of NTeQ before that I can remember. I've added below the steps involved in application of the two different models. They both seem a little wieldy to me, but maybe it's just that I'm not familiar with them.

The authors discussed a couple of classroom-level technology integration models: ASSURE and NTeQ. I had heard of ASSURE, but not the NTeQ. ASSURE "follows a traditional ISD classroom process that incorporates Gagne's (1985) Nine Events." (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). ASSURE is an acronym for six step process: A=Analyze learners
S=State standards and objectives
S=Select strategies, technology, media, and materials
U=technology, media, and materials
R=Require learner participation
E=Evaluate and revise

NTeQ has a ten-step lesson plan, which are:
1) Specify objectives
2) Computer functions
3) Specify problem
4) Research and analysis
5) Results presentation
6) Activities during computer use
7) Activities before computer use
8) Activities after computer use
9) Supporting activities
10) Assessment

The differences in the two really seem to be that the ASSURE model "uses an ISD foundation to provide teachers with a systematic approach to integrate a variety of technology and media into instruction ranging from traditional teacher-led to constructivist student-centered strategies." (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). On the other hand, "NTeQ "provides a more focused approach to technology integration." (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

In conclusion, the authors noted that even though there has been much emphasis put on technology integration and there are "pockets of excellence," integration of technology still not wide-spread. (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Screencasting is great and can be used for many different things. Educators can use it to provide feedback to a student or they can use it to show students how to work a particular problem or formula. In the article, What is Screencasting by Jon Udell, he notes various genre of screencasts, such as tutorials, short how-tos, conversational demos, and feature stories. I've used it for a tutorial, short how-tos and conversational demos, but I haven't tried to use it to give feedback or to feature a story.

As part of our assignment, we were to create screencast using Jing and embed it in our blog posting. One of the first postings I did back in September, I included a screencast as part of my post, demonstrating my use of the iGoogle in the Chrome browser. I had planned to go ahead and use it for this assignment, but I had shared it with a URL and I have since found out that once you share it with a URL, you can't go back and get the embed code, or at least that the way it seems to be working. Therefore, I went aheand and did another Jing video this evening to show my use of iGoogle, which I've embedded below.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Instructional Design in Business & Industry

Business and industry has been using Instructional Designers (IDs) for years now to develop and design training for employees and customers, but I think that this has grown even more so, in the area of online training courses. Online training/learning is more cost effective than face-to-face (f2f) training/learning for the most part, particularly if it is designed well.

Last week we learned about Human Performance Improvement (HPI), also known as Human Performance Technology (HPT), which is becoming very prominent in the business and industry arenas. Although HPI involves many different team members from within an organization, instructional designers are obviously key to many of the solutions and interventions implemented to close the gaps in performance. 

According to Reiser and Dempsey in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, "instructional design today encompasses much more than simply producing instruction. The field is now associated with analyzing human performance problems, identifying root causes of those problems, considering a variety of solutions to address the root causes, and determining and implementing the appropriate solutions." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

For this week's reflection assignment, we were to respond to the following:
  • What are, in your mind, two unique or interesting or different or noteworthy ways instructional design/technology has been used in business and industry that you believe could be usefully applied to your own professional work? Explain.
It doesn't seem unique, different, or particularly noteworthy to me, but maybe it's interesting in that I'm an instructional designer for a food protection training organization. We provide standardized training to food protection professionals. Currently, almost all of our training is done f2f, but are planning on offering one or more courses online very soon. With the technology we have available to us today, almost everything can be taught online. Obviously, there are some things that will always be better taught f2f, but even many of those courses will have an online component. This is probably the most interesting aspect of instructional design to me. I find it fascinating and exciting to seek out ways to transfer f2f learning to online; to take a f2f activity and figure out a way to make the same activity happen online. As a designer, my goal is to develop/design learning activities that will bring about deep learning and collaboration opportunities, will decrease the gap in performance, and develop effective food protection leaders for tomorrow.

Google Maps
The other part of our assignment for this week was to create a map using Google Maps and choose one of the following options:
  1. Come up with an idea for a lesson that would incorporate the use of a map that you would create and have your students use, or
  2. Come up with an idea for a lesson in which your students would create their own maps.
As a deliverable, we are to describe in a few paragraphs the lesson we have in mind and we are to create a map. If we chose Option 1 above, it will be a version of the map you would give your students; If we chose Option 2, it will be an example of the kind of map you'd expect your students to create.

The Lesson (Option 2)
One of the modules of one of our courses for food protection professionals is on foodborne illnesses. According to the CDC website, there have been thirteen outbreaks so far in 2011. (CDC, 2011). There are listings of outbreaks for 2006-2011 on the CDC's website and according to Wikipedia (2011), the CDC has been tracking outbreaks since the 1970s. As part of the assignment, I thought it would be great to have each student choose one of the foodborne illness breakouts listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): and create a map tracking the source and also the breakout. 

To get started, I decided to create a map of the Turkish Pine Nuts salmonella breakout that just happened this month: As I began to create my Google Map, I found that it was fairly easy to mark the Wegmans Food Market stores where the breakout was traced back to and stores implemented a recall, but it was more difficult to mark the places where the breakouts or illnesses happened, as the CDC only lists the incidences by state, not by city. I tried to figure out how to mark a state on Google Maps, but I couldn't figure it out and I don't even know if it's possible to mark a state vs. marking a city or specific location. Everything I read on the incidents just reported how many by state, not by specific locations. Therefore, I ended up just noting which store locations had a recall on the turkish pine nuts. Wegmans has 4 stores in Maryland, 7 in New Jersey, 24 in New York (I thought their website said 47, but when I printed the list, there were only 24 listed), 14 in Pennsylvania, and 6 in Virginia. Wegmans also has a new store in Massachusetts, but that store did not do a recall on the product, so I don't know if they don't sell it there at that store or if it was proven that none of the salmonella originated from that store. 

Another problem I ran into in creating the map is that even though I looked up the various locations, when I saved the store location to the map I was creating, it didn't save any of the location information. On a few of them the title says the location, but most of them just say Wegmans. Well, when viewing the map, it's not very helpful to just see, "Wegmans," "Wegmans," "Wegmans," etc., so in the future, I would definitely work on editing the marker at the same time I save it to the map, rather than saving them all and then trying to identify and edit them. 

There are a few other kinks in the whole process that I would need to work through prior to using it for a lesson plan such as this, but I still think the idea, overall, is great. Here's the link to the map I created of all of the Wegmans Food Markets that were part of the Turkish Pine Nut salmonella breakout and recall: Map of Wegmans Food Market Turkish Pine Nut Salmonella Breakout and Recall

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2011). Multistate Foodborne Outbreaks. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from:

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Wegmans Food Market, Inc. (2011). Wegmans store locations. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from: (Note: This link is now temporarily unavailable. Not sure what happened. Maybe they didn't like me mapping all of their locations, although I've made the map private to only those who read this posting and click on the link above.) (2011). List of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. Retrieved October 27, 2011, from: 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Human Performance Improvement (HPI) and Podcasting

Review of Reading Assignment

This week our assigned reading in the Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology book by Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007, 2012), focused on Human Performance Improvement or HPI for short. So, what is HPI and how is it different than HPT (Human Performance Technology), Organizational Management, Human Resource Development? These are the questions I was asking while reading about HPI.

There are several definitions of HPI. Three of the most well-known are the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) (2006). They define it as "A systematic approach to improve productivity and competence uses a set of methods and procedures - and a strategy for solving problems - for realizing opportunities related to the performance of people. More specific, it is the process of selection, analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of programs to most cost-effectives influence human behavior and accomplishment. It is a systematic combination of three fundamental process, performance analysis, cause analysis, and intervention selection, and can be applied to individuals, small groups, and large organizations. Another well know organization, the American Society of Training & Development (1992), defines it as "A systemic approach to analyzing, improving, and managing performance in the workplace through the use of appropriate and varied interventions." And then one of the well-known proponents W. J. Rothwell (1996), one of the authors of Human Performance Improvement: Building Practitioner Performance (2007), defines it as, "A systematic process of discovering and analyzing important human performance gaps, planning for future improvements in human performance, designing and developing cost-effective and ethically justifiable interventions to close performance gaps, implementing the interventions, and evaluation the financial and nonfinancial results." 

According to Rothwell, Hohne, and King (2007), "All definitions share these characteristics: systematic, systemic, grounded in scientifically derived theories and the best empirical evidence available, open to all means, methods, and media, focused on achievements that human performers and the system value."

HPI is often used synonymously with HPT. According to Reiser and Dempsey, it is an euphemism (a less direct expression used in place of one considered offensive). It emerged in the 1990s, most likely because of its softer sound than human performance technology (HPT)." (2002, 2007, 2012). 

One of the main things that seems to make it different than other such initiatives, is that it doesn't look at and rely on training only. It seeks to look at the performance gap as a whole and identify necessary interventions to decrease the gap, whether it requires a new design, a revised design, training, various other interventions, or a combination of several things. 

An example shared in the Department of Energy's Human Performance Handbook, Chapter 5, tells how "Paul Fitts was an American Air Force Colonel who also examined the man-machine interface in aviation. He studied pilot accident records, digging through 460 cases of what were labeled as 'pilot errors' in 1947. He found that a large part of the cases consisted of pilots confusing the flap and gear handles. Typically, a pilot would land and then raise the gear instead of the flaps, causing the airplane to collapse onto the ground and leaving it with considerable damage. Fitts’ examined the hardware in the average cockpit to find that the controls for gear and flaps were 
often placed next to one another. They looked the same, felt the same, and, which one was on which side was not standardized across cockpits. This was an error trap waiting to happen. In other words, confusing the two handles was not incomprehensible or random, it was systematic; connected clearly to features of the cockpit layout." (DOE, 2009).

This is the type of gaps in performance that HPI is focused on identifying and improving. Obviously, the design of the the flap and gear handles in the various cockpits needed to be changed to lessen the chance of confusion for the pilots.

According to authors Reiser and Dempsey, "HPI is not just another disruptive fad, but a rational and reasonable next step in building valued human performance--one that makes eminent sense in today's demanding world of work." (2002, 2007, 2012).

Department of Energy (DOE). (2009). Human performance improvement handbook, DOE-HDBK-1028-2009. (Vol. 1: Concepts and Principles, Ch. 5: Human Performance Evolution). Washington, DC:  Government Printing Office. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from:

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Adapted from Rothwell, W. J., Hohne, C. K., King, S. B. (2007). Human performance improvement: Building practitioner performance. (2nd Edition). Burlington, MA: Elsevier. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from:

Reflection Deliverables
  1. Related to Chapter 14, what are some ways the ideas/concepts/principles discussed in this chapter could be applied in your professional work? Do you see opportunities where these ideas could help you or your students?

    Response: HPI makes sense in that training oftentimes isn't enough to close the performance gap and deliver desired outcomes. When trying to identify an appropriate intervention, it is important to systematically look at all factors, not just the "training" or "development" factor as shown in the DOE example above. I believe that HPI, or as I've heard it called in some organizations, Continuous Improvement, is something that every organization should be looking at and implementing. I can see where we could use it for continuous improvement in staff performance and in the training that we provide to food protection professionals. Continuous improvement or HPI makes sense.
  2. Profile the podcast(s) you chose to subscribe and listen to or if you chose to make a podcast, provide a link to your podcast on your blog.

    Response: I chose to make a podcast, since I never had before. Here is the link to my podcast on my podcast channel at
  3. What added value might podcasting have in your professional setting (company, school, etc.)?

    Response: Podcasting, particularly for students, trainees, or other interested individuals who like to learn audibly is an excellent idea. Along with the idea of podcasting is vodcasting, i.e., video podcast. Lectures by a professor can be used by students to prepare for an exam or to catch up, in case they had to miss the lecture. Podcasting allows "just-in-time" training for students, teachers, and many others who want to and need to learn at hours different than a specific class time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Applying theories of learning...

Last night I wrote about adding media to a blog, a fairly simple task. Tonight, I'm going to try to apply learning theory to an "Application Question" from Chapter 4 in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012), not so simple. I'm definitely still learning when it comes to learning theories.

Application Question 1
"Assume that you are trying to teach learners how to calculate and compare the unit costs (e.g., price per ounce) of various sizes and/or brands of the same product. Select three of the theories of learning discussed in this chapter. For each of the three, describe the nature of the instructional activities that you would design if you were adhering to that theory as you were planning the instruction." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007 2012).

Review of the Learning Theories' Concepts/Ideas
The chapter discussed several different learning theories, such as Behavioral Learning Theory,
Cognitive Information Processing Theory, Schema Theory and Cognitive Load, Situated Learning Theory,  Gagne's Theory of Instruction, and Constructivism. Most all of the theories had some valid points and, as usual, many of the newer concepts build on the foundation of previous theories. I'm not so sure any of them are the "perfect theory" and I expect that a variety of applications of theory would be useful in most learning situations. But, having said that, I realize that some are more effective than others, depending upon the situation.

The theoretical ideas that really stood out to me while reading the discussion were the role of prior knowledge in learning new knowledge and skills as brought out in the reading of Cognitive Information Processing Theory. I know from personal experience what a difference prior knowledge has on the ability to learn new material. I have a strong natural ability with technology and a love of business, therefore, I obtained an undergraduate degree in Management. Three years ago, I ended up in a position which introduced me to the instructional design field. I found that I really enjoyed the combination of technology and education, therefore, I began working on a Masters in Educational Technology. Although I am trying to learn as much as I can about learning theories, pedagogy, etc., I find that I have a slight handicap in learning some of the material in the upper level educational technology classes due to the lack of a foundational knowledge in education. If I had it to do over again, I would have gotten an undergraduate degree in education, which would have provided such knowledge.

Another concept or learning theory that makes sense to me as a learner is Cognitive Load. I have felt cognitive load at times, as most people have. The idea of reducing "extraneous cognitive load in instructional materials" makes sense. We want the learner to be focused on learning the concepts or tasks they are trying to learn and when we design instruction that doesn't focus on the concept or task, but is laid out or set up in such a way that the learner has to "connect all of the dots" not just the "dots" we want them to learn, than they are more likely to experience cognitive load and learn less and not as well, as they would if we had reduced the "split-attention effects."

Gagne's "Nine events of instruction," Gaining attention, informing the learner of the objective, stimulating recall of prior learning, presenting the stimulus providing learning guidance, eliciting performance, providing feedback, assessing performance, and enhancing retention and transfer makes sense in that incorporating these events should produce a more effective learning experience for the learner. Unfortunately, according to the authors, Reiser and Dempsey, "application of Gagne's theory in instructional design is often a highly analytical affair, and it is therefore, possible to lose sight of the overall context for learning while dealing with all the details of instruction." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

And finally, constructivism's idea that as learners we "construct" our knowledge from the inside out, which is "in direct contrast" to the ideas portrayed by the information processing theory, which is learning and knowledge is built from the outside in. I think both are the extremes and in reality, most of us learn from a combination of these two approaches. The learning environment suggested by constructivism includes "engaging learners in activities authentic to the discipline in which they are learning, provide for collaboration and the opportunity to engage multiple perspectives on what is being learned, support learners in setting their own goals and regulating their own learning, and encourage learners to reflect on what and how they are learning." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). There's no doubt that creating this type of learning environment is conducive to learning, therefore, it makes sense to implement this type of learning experience whenever possible.

Reflective Response
For the above situation, where I would be trying to teach learners how to calculate and compare the units costs (e.g., price per ounce) of various sizes and/or brands of the same product, I believe I would want to apply the Cognitive Information Processing theory, the Cognitive Load theory, and Constructivism in the following ways:

Cognitive Information Processing Theory: It would be important to have knowledge of where the learners are in their knowledge and skills at calculating and comparing units of cost. Oftentimes, a pretest will be given to assess knowledge of learners and although I would probably not give a formal pretest, I would probably ask some relevant questions, such as, "Have you ever done any size/cost comparisons of various products?" "If you have, what steps did you take to calculate and compare?" And possibly other type questions. If it's an online course, I might would do a survey to gain an awareness of their knowledge and experience base. This would allow me to design the instruction more appropriately for each learner, such as providing more foundational and basic information for those that need it and providing more advanced material for those who want/need more of a challenge.

Cognitive Load Theory: There are a couple of things to consider when designing to reduce cognitive load. One of the things that can help is to "chunk-out" information into smaller pieces. Learners are better able to take in and retain information that is provided in smaller chunks. Along with the idea of "chunking" information into smaller, more easily "digested" amounts, it's important to design in such a way that information related to each other is grouped close together. Other such rules, such as, "People learn better when both words and graphics are included, as long as the graph is not self-explanatory," and "People learn better when you place print words near corresponding graphics," need to be followed. (Cooper, 1998). For the application note above, I would start out with a couple of samples and work through or demonstrate how to calculate and compare. Then I would add some additional variables.

In applying constructivism to the question, there would be several things I could do, such as having the students calculate and compare items at a store, whether "brick-and-mortar" or an online store. Make it relevant to the field they are studying in, provide opportunities for collaboration through study groups, chats, or discussions, and have learners reflect on their learning in a blog, such as I'm doing in the class I'm currently in.
As a teacher or an instructional designer, it is important to understand and know how to apply the various learning theories. I think that oftentimes it requires a combination of learning theories applied to produce an effective learning experience for the learner.


Cooper, G. (1998). Research into Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design at UNSW. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales (UNSW). Retrieved October 13, 2011, at:

Cooper, G. (1998). Research into Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design at UNSW. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales (UNSW). Retrieved October 13, 2011, via

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Embedding Media...

This week, in the Intro to Educational Technology class, we are learning about embedding media into a blog, in case we would want to use a blog for a student project in a classroom or in an online class. Embedding media is quite simple, whether you are using Blogger, Wordpress, or a Wiki, such as PBWorks or WikiSpaces. The three types of media we are to embed are a photo, a video, and a map from Google Maps. Our instructor has suggested we may want to add other types of media, also, depending upon the time we have and our expertise. I will start with the three required media and then include others, if I have enough time this evening.

Adding Photos
To add a photo into your blog post in blogger, just click on the "insert image"  icon in your editing menu above your post. This will bring up the option to upload an image (see image below). You can upload from the blog, Picasa Web album, from a URL, or just "Choose files" from your computer. You can also upload multiple files in various formats, such as JPG, GIF, or PNG.  

Screen image of uploading window
You will want to click on "Choose files" and then click on "add selected." When you do this you will have several posting options, such as what size or what placement within the blog post you want. To access the different options, just click on the image that was uploaded and you will see the various options.

Flowers at the park on Saturday, October 8, 2011

You will want to click on "Choose files" and then click on "add selected." When you do this you will have several posting options, such as what size or what placement within the blog post you want. To access the different options, just click on the image that was uploaded and you will see the various options. You will also have the option of adding a caption.

Embedding a Video
There are several ways to add a video to your blog. If you want to add a YouTube video, such as the video below, than you can just select the embed code or you can click on the "insert video" icon   above and select one of several options, including selecting a video from YouTube, similar to uploading an image. I inserted the video below using the icon and searching YouTube from the blogger window.

You can also use the embed code and insert it in your blog post. Here's a video inserted with using the embed code.

You can also upload a video from your computer. There could be issues with it's size though, as most videos are fairly large unless they have been streamed or converted to a Flash video, or something similar.

Embedding a Google Map
Embedding a Google map is very similar to embedding a YouTube video. You will want to go to Google Maps and select a map you would like to embed and then click on the little link icon at the top-right of the browser window and select the embed code insert in your blog post. I've selected a map of International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI), the organization I just started working for as an Instructional Designer.

View Larger Map

Embedding a SlideShare Presentation
Another form of media that many educators use on a regular basis is SlideShare, a site where you can upload your presentations for viewing by students or others. It's easy to embed by just clicking the "Embed" link above the SlideShare presentation you want to embed. Here's a presentation on Blackboard's 9.1 Mashups that I thought was well done by the author, Joel Kinison.

There are many other types of media you can embed into your blog, such as a podcast, music, surveys, quizzes, forms, etc. I don't have time to include all of them here, but these are just a few of the many different types of media you can embed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Factors influencing technology integration in learning...

There are two deliverables required for our Introduction to Technology class this week. The first is to set up an account with an online photo service, if we don't already have one, and provide the link to our photos. I have several services, but I pretty much only use Flickr. I upgraded to pro last year sometime and have uploaded both photos and videos. My photostream is available at:

The second deliverable is to write a reflective response to a technology application question asked at the end of Chapter 3, A History of Instructional Design and Technology, in the book Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology by Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007, 2012). The application questions and reflective responses are below:

Technology Application
During the previous school year, all the students assigned to four subject area teachers (math, language arts, social studies, and science) in the seventh grade at a local middle school were given laptop computers and provided with wireless Internet access at home and in school for an entire year. The students took the laptops home every evening and brought them into classes every day. Teachers were also provided with laptops and wireless Internet access 24/7 (24 hours a day, every day of the week) for the entire year. Moreover, all of the curriculum materials (textbooks, workbooks, student study guides, teacher curriculum guides, etc.) that the teachers normally used during the school year were installed on the laptops.

Assume that you were assigned as one of the evaluators for the project described above and that throughout the year you examined how this innovation (providing teachers and students with 24/7 access to laptops, curriculum materials, and wireless Internet service) changed the way instruction was presented in the classrooms of the four teachers who were involved in the project. Further assume that your findings clearly indicated that the innovation had very little effect on the manner in which instruction was presented in the teacher's classrooms. Now do the following:

a. Describe at least three possible reasons (factors) why the project described above had very little effect on the instructional practices employed by the teachers. Each of the factors you identify should be related to the factors mentioned in this chapter as to why earlier forms of instructional media (i.e., films, radio, and television) had very limited effects on instructional practices.

b. Describe at least two strategies that could have been employed to help mitigate the factors that you think contributed to the minimal effect this project had on instructional practices. Indicate why you think each of these strategies might have been helpful.

Reflective Response to "a"
There were various factors noted by the authors for why the instructional media consisting of films, radio, and television) had minimal impact on education. Some of the factors effecting adoption of instructional film were "teacher resistance to change, the difficulty teachers had in operating film equipment, the paucity and poor instructional quality of relevant films in many subject areas, and the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining films and equipment." Radio experienced some similar, and yet different issues such as "poor equipment, poor reception of radio signals, scheduling problems and teacher resistance to change." Television, although quite popular at first, also didn't change education in the way it first was expected to. One of the main factors effecting this was teacher resistance, particularly when "mandated by school administrators with little or no input from teachers." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). Additional factors effecting the adoption of instructional television were "the mediocre instructional quality of many of the television programs (many of them did little more than present a teacher delivering a lecture), the expense of installing and maintaining television systems in schools, and failure to provide teachers with adequate guidance as to how to integrate the use of instructional television into their practices." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

From the description provided above of the 24/7 project, there are some similarities between the lack of adoption of today's technology and the technology of yesteryear. As the evaluator of the program, I would suggest that the factors are teachers resistance to change, failure to provide training to the teachers on how to use the equipment and on how to integrate the technology into their daily practices, and difficulty with equipment. If adequate and relevant training is provided to the teachers, oftentimes resistance to the change is lessened if not removed, because most teachers want to be the best teacher they can be and if they can see how the use of the technology could improve learning outcomes and if they can get to the point of being comfortable with using the technology, they will accept the changes, if not promote them. On the other hand, if they are not shown relevant ways in which they can integrate the technology or if the technology integration doesn't show a significant difference in learning outcomes, than understanding why they should integrate it will not be clear and there will be resistance.

Reflective Response to "b"
First of all, when providing all of these laptops, programs, and wireless Internet to the teachers and students, I would have recommended that basic training on the laptop and programs be provided to the teachers and students to get them comfortable with the laptop and the various programs they would be using. I would also recommend setting up a 24/7 technical helpdesk to support the teachers and students. I expect the teachers and students would be more willing to use the laptop/programs more often if they knew they could receive help right away for any technical difficulties. And finally, I would suggest that the instructors also receive some type of ongoing staff development and training on integrating the technology into their daily practices. If these strategies had been implemented, I expect the program would have been much more effective.

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Social bookmarking, tagging, and research in education

This week, our EDT 5410 class has been learning about social bookmarking, particularly in ways to use it in education. According to the Wikipedia, "the concept of shared online bookmarks dates back to April 1996 with the launch of itList (appears to be an information technology blog now), the features of which included public and private bookmarks." Since then, many more bookmarking services have arrived on the scene, such as Delicious, Diigo, Digg, StumbleUpon, and countless others as this site notes:

Two well-known sites, Delicious and Diigo, are often used by educators. I first began using Delicious back in 2009. Later on, I became familiar with Diigo and found that I liked Diigo better. Diigo allowed me to highlight, bookmark, add sticky notes, and share all from their "Diigo Web Highlighter." Additionally, everything I bookmarked and tagged in Diigo, I was able to export to Delicious and vice versa. Since I began using these sites, Delicious has been bought out by Yahoo and is in the midst of changing. In fact, even from when I visited the site at the beginning of this week and today, four days later, there are some significant changes. I have yet to really get familiar with the new Delicious; I'm sure it will take some time. I'm also not exactly thrilled that my network, the people I've been following aren't readily available to me anymore and I'm having a hard time finding any of my tags and although my links appeared in the list, I had difficulty find any of the articles I wanted to view. Right off hand I can't say whether or not I'll like the new Delicious, but a few of the new things, such as "create a stack," might be useful in the future. Here's the link to my Delicious site. Please feel free to follow me and I'll follow you back.

On the other hand, when I went to my Diigo site, I was able to find many of the articles/Websites I've bookmarked over the past couple of years and although there have obviously been changes to the Website, I can still quite easily find things. Right now the two don't seem to be connected any longer, which could become an issue for me and force me to choose, but before I can determine that, I'll need to spend some time reviewing the new Delicious.

As part of our reflection activity this week, we are to discuss two things:

  1. Social Bookmarking: What value (if any) do you think social bookmarking might hold for teachers and/or students? You may think about students sharing with each other, teachers sharing with their students, teachers sharing with other teachers, administrators sharing with teachers, sharing with parents, or any other scenario(s) you can imagine.
  2. Definition of Instructional Design & Technology: Back to the Trends & Issues (Reiser and Dempsey, 2007) reading (chapter 1), to what degree do the definitions in this chapter correspond with what you have thought about this area (Instructional Design and Technology) and what it is you hope to do in your line of work (or in a future career)? Is there anything surprising or very new to you in this chapter? Does something seem to be missing?
Value of Social Bookmarking
Social bookmarking is about research, sharing, and collaboration. Bookmarking with your browser or Google toolbar is about organizing and easily retrieving Websites you want to revisit, but as mentioned by various authors, it can become overwhelming and difficult to find the bookmarks you want to revisit. Additionally, you may forget what folder you put it in. Using social bookmarking and tagging, allows for multiple filters by tagging appropriately.

The value in using social bookmarking is not losing your bookmarks, being able to filter them with tags, sharing them with students, other teachers, or individuals in your field, organizing your research, and when using Diigo, you can also highlight special sections of the Web pages you are bookmarking/tagging or add a sticky note. 

A couple of years ago, while working with an instructor to put her communications class online, we were trying to think of a way to effectively transfer one of the in-seat assignments she always gave to the students into the online classroom. The assignment for the in-seat classes required that the students print off Web pages they found doing research that related to a specific topic. On the Web print-offs, she required the students to highlight and comment on what they had found and then turn them in. From having read several articles about using Delicious/Diigo in the classroom, I suggested that she might want to have the students bookmark the Web pages they found and if they used Diigo, they would be able to highlight and add sticky notes to the bookmarked Web pages. Since the instructor had never used social bookmarking before and wasn't familiar with Delicious or Diigo, she felt it was too many new things for the first time teaching online and decided to have the students copy and paste the Web page text and the Web page link into a Word document, adding their comments and thoughts, and then submit the Word documents through the assignment drop box. I do think using a social bookmarking site like Diigo would be more effective, more interesting to the students and more collaborative, since students could share each others articles and findings, so I hope that eventually she ventured forth into using one of the social bookmarking sites.

There are a lot of different articles and blog postings about different uses for social bookmarking, too many to reference them all here, and there are some journal articles that are worth reading. One of the journal articles I would recommend is, Exploring the Use of Social Bookmarking Technology in Education: An Analysis of Students’ Experiences using a Course-specific Account, by Tricia M. Farwell and Richard D. Waters (JOLT, June 2010), available at:

Definition of the ID&T Field
It was interesting to read about the development of the Instructional Design and Technology field and some of the definitions that have evolved over the years. I was surprised to learn that even in the 1920s there was a field that would later be defined as ID&T. The first terms I heard expressed that involved technologies used in the field were audio/visual technologies. There seemed to always be a audio/visual tech-guy and he always made sure the audio/visual technology, such as films, slides, and overhead projectors, worked properly. 

Since that time, the computer and Internet became commonplace and along with it the field, but since I wasn't actually involved at all in the ID& field, I never really thought about it much. As I began working on an online Masters, I knew that instructors had to design their courses online, but I still hadn't really heard the term Instructional designer or instructional technologist, or at least I hadn't paid much attention to it if I had heard the term/field. Once I began working as an Instructional Design Technician for WMU back in November 2008, I recognized my love of the field and desired to become even more knowledgeable about it, hence my transfer into the Educational Technology program at WMU. 

According to the authors, Reiser and Dempsey, there have been several definitions published in recent years. They noted the one published by the AECT (Association for Educational Communication and Technology) and their own. The AECT published a book "that presented a new definition of the field of educational technology (AECE Definition and Terminology Committee, 2008). The definition statement that appears in the book as follows:

Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. (p. 1)." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

A couple of key points brought out by Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007, 2012), are that a new word ethical is used as part of the definition. "This term focuses attention on the fact that those in the profession must maintain a high level of professional conduct." Another key point is that "The new perspective recognizes the important role that learners play in determining what they will learn, regardless of the instructional intervention they are exposed to." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). Additionally, the use of the words, improve performance is significant, as it "is not sufficient to simply help learners acquire inert knowledge. Instead, the goal should be to help learners apply the new skills and knowledge they have acquired." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012). And finally, as the authors noted, "Unlike previous definitions, in which terms such as design, development, and evaluation were often used to denote major processes or domains within the field, the new definition uses the terms creating, using, and managing to describe the major functions performed by educational technology professionals." (Reiser and Dempsey, 2002, 2007, 2012).

I think the definition provided by the AECT is a fairly solid definition, but it lacks something, I just don't know what. Maybe it's just too vague or something. I understand why they want to keep it broad, as the field has expanded tremendously over the past ten plus years, and it encompasses so many things now. On the other hand, it doesn't really give any vision for the future or I haven't managed to pick it out yet.

On a side note, the question that is the title of chapter 1, "What Field Did You Say You Were In?" made me laugh! I don't know how many times I've been asked that question or something similar when I've responded to the questions, "What do you do?" or "What are you going to school for?" When I've said, "I'm an instructional designer or instructional technologist," they say, "What is that?" Usually, I just add, "I help instructors with technology" or I design online classes" depending upon my roles at the time. "Oh," they say, "I get it now." I call it my ID&T definition, simplified! :)


Halvorsen, C. L. (2009). Delicious Library. Available at:

Halvorsen, C. L. (2009). Diigo Library. Available at:

Farwell, T. M. and Waters, R. D. (2010). Exploring the Use of Social Bookmarking Technology in Education: An Analysis of Students’ Experiences using a Course-specific Account, JOLT. Available at:

Reiser, R. A. and Dempsey, J. V. (2002, 2007, 2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Using Wikis...

I've always liked Wikis, ever since I was introduced to them in an online class project at SAU. I think it's the name, a Hawaiian word which means "quick" and wikis are a quick way to create a Website or to begin collaborating together on a project.

When working on the class project that involved a wiki within Blackboard, I watched the CommonCraft video, Wikis in Plain English and immediately could see a means and way to make the project work smoothly and easily using the wiki. I also had read the article called, Why Wikis? by Ruth Reynard (2009). The author's description of collaborative writing furthered my understanding of how a wiki could be used for a team project that involved collaborative writing.

From there, I created a "team sign-up" page and proceeded to divide up the project into four different sections and proceeded to let everyone know they could sign up on the team sign-up page into whatever team they wanted to be on. I then created a "starting work page" for each team, just as a means to get them started in case they weren't sure where to start and then once we got near completion of the different sections, we would put our team efforts together into a single wiki page, which became the final project submission. The teams were able to create as many pages as they needed to work through the collaboration on their section of the final project and many teams learned to use different colored text to be able to identify who had done what at a quick glance.

The online group project turned out to be a huge success for all of us in the class and everyone said that it was one of the best online group projects they had ever been involved with. This, I believe is the power of a Wiki.

Since then, I've had a couple of experiences with instructors who have had mixed results using a wiki for their classes. I think usually, the mixed results comes from trying something new. Students and team members quite often don't like anything new; they want to remain with what they know, even if something as easy and simple as a wiki could make their working together more effective. I really think it depends upon the project and the class/team members as to whether or not a wiki is the best tool to use. I feel that wikis can be an excellent means of collaborating together as a team, whether for an online class, a business project team, or a group of friends, but it's not a good fit for everyone and everything, just as most tools aren't.

This week, for my Intro to Educational Technology class, we had to create a wiki at PBWorks and within the wiki we created, we were asked to write a summary of the article, What is Web 2.0? (2009), by Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media, Inc. I already had a site at PBWorks called, Online Learning and Technology, same name as this blog, to use for any technology projects I might want to use it for while working on my MA. Since I already had a wiki at the site indicated for the assignment, I just created a new page with the summary and an additional page the assignment called for. If you want to check out my wiki, you can access it at Online Learning and Technology.


CommonCraft. Wikis in Plain English. Available at:

Reynard, R. (2009). Why wikis? Campus Technology. Available at:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blogs and RSS Feeds

This week in the technology class, we are continuing to explore blogs and adding on use of RSS feeds. I've been blogging for quite a few years and back in 2009 I began using RSS feeds to keep up on my educational technology reading. I consider both tools to be useful on a professional and personal level.

The instructor asked us to respond to several questions relating to our reading this week, which were Chapter 4 in Audiovisual Methods in Teaching (3rd) (Dale, 1969), and Falling Asleep at Your Keyboard: The Case for Computer Imagination (Siegel, 2003), and on the use of the blog and RSS feeds. The questions and my responses are noted below:

  • Question: What are your early impressions of using a blog and what was your experience using an RSS Reader this week? Any surprises, pleasant or otherwise?

    Response: I've always enjoyed blogging, as I enjoy writing. I started a blog back in 2005 or 2006 called, A Farmer's Daughter. Although I started it using Blogger, I ended up moving it to a domain I had purchased called the same. Through the blog I shared my thoughts and feelings about life and other things that caught my interest. In 2007, after experiencing some significant changes in my life, I started a new blog on Blogger called, Precious and Honored. The new blog, again, was about my thoughts and feelings about life, but it was more focused on my spiritual life and still is today. In 2009 I started this blog as part of my professional profile and a desire to share my thoughts about online learning and technology. I've not been real good about updating this in the past three months, as I've struggled with my professional identity, due to being unemployed, but I hope this class will help me to get motivated and back on track.

    As far as RSS feeds, I've been using Google Reader regularly since 2009. Early on in my instructional design experience, I came across a video, Networked Student done in a CommonCraft video style, which inspired me to use Google Reader since I already had an account with Google and use many of their tools. Of course, to learn more about using RSS feeds, I watched the CommonCraft video, RSS in Plain English. Later on, I began using iGoogle with several different gadgets to organize my social media sites and personal learning network (PLN). iGoogle is now the place where I start my day by checking email (all of my email links are in a bookmark folder called Emails), catch up on the reading and blogs I follow, check Facebook notifications and messages, and Twitter updates and direct messages or mentions. I created a short video showing how I use iGoogle with various gadgets. I apologize ahead of time for my voice, as I have a head cold and my voice is not real clear. Hopefully, you will still be able to understand me though. Here's a link to the video: Using Google Reader and other Gadgets in iGoogle.

    So, I would say there weren't any surprises this week or last, due to the fact that I've been using these tools for some time and enjoy them.
  • Question: Which part of Dale's Cone do you think each tool (Blog, RSS) lends itself best to and why?

    Response: Blogs are really flexible in what you can add to them, so I believe blogs utilize several parts of the cone, such as exhibits, educational television, motion pictures, recordings, still pictures, and of course visual and verbal symbols. RSS is somewhat related to blogs in that is collects the feeds of various blogs and Websites and the blogs and Websites will oftentimes have videos, podcasts, slide shows and other such visual/audio artifacts, along with visual and verbal symbols. The RSS feed itself, is text only, verbal symbols, but if the heading or tag line interest you, it is easy to access the actual Website or blog, which then includes other parts of the cone.
  • Question: Considering Siegel's concept of "computer imagination," what do you think would be at least one "imaginative" educational use of each tool (blog, RSS) that takes advantage of each tool's inherent strengths? That is, what do you think you and/or your students could use these tools for that they might not be able to do with other more simple or low-tech tools? Or, as Postman might ask, what is a problem to which each of these tools is an answer?

    Response: Blogs can be used for many different things. I've seen it used for personal reflection and classroom interaction through comments, but I've also seen it used for a specific classroom project where the students are working together and not only reflecting on the experience through blog postings, but also embedding videos and photos showing the results of their working together or information found through their research. Sharing all of the information on the blog, allows for sharing of links, videos, photos, Web pages, articles and information, along with their personal thoughts and ideas among themselves, with their teacher, and with their parents. A blog provides a place to collaborate and share all at the same time. This type of community sharing and collaboration is not possible through old-school, non-Web-based methods. This takes it to the next level. This makes it "imaginative." Right along with the use of a blog for a classroom project or personal reflection, RSS feeds also bring about the "imaginative," by allowing teachers, students, and parents to stay up-to-date on what the student(s) are learning, the progress of the project, etc. All they need to do is subscribe to the RSS feed. This type of sharing, once again, would not be possible with a low-tech, non-computer/Web-based method.

    So, in answering a "Postman"-like question, "What is a problem to which each of these tools is an answer"? I would have to say the blog solves the problem of trying to collaborate in one location where all can view the work the students are doing, everyone can provide input into the same location, and the end result is visible and accessible to all. The RSS feeds solves the problem of trying to let everyone know there has been an update in the project or additional work added. Instead of having to email everyone or make an announcement of some sort, using an RSS feed provides an easy way for all parties to be notified of an update and provides a quick way for all to access the update.

Dale, E. (1946, 1954, 1969). Audio-visual methods in teaching. New York: Dryden.

Siegel, M. A. (2003). Falling asleep at your keyboard: The case for computer imagination. Training Today, The Magazine of the American Society for Training and Development, March/April, pp. 13-15.