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.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thoughts on Technology in Education

As part of the class I'm taking this semester, Introduction to Educational Technology, we were asked to set up a blog to use for reflection on various readings throughout the course. I already have this blog, Online Learning & Technology, so I will be using this blog to post my reflections.

In reflecting upon the two articles this week, Beyond Technology Integration: The Case for Technology Transformation (Reigeluth & Joseph, 2002), and Of Luddites, Learning and Life (Postman, 1993), I found that I agreed with both articles in some areas and not so much in other areas.

Reigeluth & Joseph proposed that technology "might allow us to transform our teaching methods in ways that could result in quantum improvement in learning..." (2002). The authors showed some of the "key markers that distinguish industrial-age and information-age systems" and give examples of how these changes are requiring us as educators and learners to change or adapt to a new learning paradigm. Just as the "industrial age ushered in new transportation needs...," the "information age as brought in new educational needs--to prepare all learners to problem-solve, take initiative, use metacognitive skills, work well in teams," etc. (Reigeluth & Joseph, 2002). Reigeluth & Joseph give a very positive outlook on technology's ability to transform education and learning.

On the other hand, Postman, in Of Luddites, learning and Life (1993), argues that true learning is not about how quickly the information can be accessed or how much information can be accessed, as those issues were dealt with long time ago, but rather it is more about learning to get along with each other, learning to live as part of a community and live a useful and productive life. Postman goes on to quote the summary in the first chapter of Robert Fulghum's All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, "share everything, play fair, don't hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, wash your hands before you eat, and of course, flush." (Postman, 1993). Postman sees learning and education as the means to teach students about life and sees technology as more of a distraction rather than a means of transformation.

I find that I fall somewhere in between these two viewpoints. I believe that the information age has changed the way we view the world and the way learners learn and technology is very much at the forefront of these changes. Can technology really bring about the transformation in education as described by Reigeluth & Joseph? Not entirely. Even with technology there are students who will be unmotivated no matter what an educator does to motivate them, there are and will be students who don't have the capabilities or the support needed to achieve all of the necessary necessary steps.

There were two points brought out by the authors that I feel are worth mentioning, as I've experienced in my own life or have seen it the lives of other students/workers and can see where it makes a difference. The first point involves "fellow learners" or "peer-assisted learning and collaborative learning." (Reigeluth & Joseph, 2002). When I have others to truly collaborate and learn with, learning becomes easier, more abundant, and more effective. Learning with others brings about a synergy that isn't as readily available when a person is trying to learn on his/her own. Technology can assist in bringing about peer-assisted learning and collaboration. Unfortunately, at times it can also detract from this type of learning.

Another point the authors brought out is the use of different technologies and methods of delivery should be based upon the learning requirements. The examples they gave were of "learning to perform a procedural task, perform a complex cognitive task, vs. developing deep understandings" all have different learning requirements, therefore different technologies or methods of delivery should be used to accommodate the learning requirements. (Reigeluth & Joseph, 2002).

Although I wouldn't agree with Postman's overall outlook on the usefulness of technology in education, I have to agree with his conclusion that technology cannot solve all of the problems in the world or in education and even though it brings many advantages, it will also bring along disadvantages, or as stated by Postman, "technology is always a Faustian bargain. It giveth and it taketh away." (Postman, 1993). We see these ideas played out every day in society. We all know that technology has not solved society's problems of crime, abuse, hunger, famine, flood, wildfires, depression, or unemployment. And even though technology has given us more time, it has also taken more time in other areas. For example, I know a young woman who has learning disabilities and has decided she isn't smart enough to learn to read, take care of her children, do household chores, keep a budget, or keep a job, but she has decided she can play video and computer games and has no problem spending her husband's earnings and the money she gets from the state to ensure that she has games to play. She can't see the value in using the money to ensure they have a home of their own, food on the table, clean clothes, or anything else. Additionally, rather than help with the household and take care of her children, she chooses to spend time playing the video and computer games. Has technology resolved the issues? No. In fact, in this situation, it has only added to the issues.

We must remember that technology is only a tool. When it is useful and can make a difference, then use it; when it detracts or distracts from, than don't use it or use something different.

Postman, N. (1993). Of Luddites, learning, and life. Technos Quarterly, 2(4). Available at:

Reigeluth, C.M. & Joseph, R. (2002). Beyond technology integration: The case for technology transformation. Educational Technology, 42(4), 9-13. Available at: