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Asynchronous Training Technologies – Example 3

26 Jan

Asynchronous Training Technologies – Example 3

Let’s say a company needs a series of safety training videos to illustrate best practices for equipment usage and a method to demonstrate trainee learning after completion of the online course.  As an instructional designer, which technology tools would be best used to solve the issue?

There are many options to choose that would help solve this problem.  If you break the question apart, there are two distinct issues at hand.  Distributing step-by-step process instructions for a complex piece of machinery to different shifts will require streaming video to be most effective.  Streaming video has many benefits.  According to Greenberg and Zanetis (2012), the three key concepts that streaming videos impact are interactivity with content, engagement, and knowledge transfer and memory.  Engagement and the student’s apparent value placed on the course are thought to be essential to a student’s retention of material and their positive learning experience (Harrington & Floyd, 2012).  Interactivity occurs when the student is able to relate the video content seen to when they apply the concept.  Video combines multiple input methods in combination to promote learning and knowledge transfer.  By merging pictures, movement, text, animation, graphics and sound together, the student has more control of the learning (Greenberg & Zanetis, 2012).  For example, the Darla Moore School at the University of South Carolina incorporated various video technologies into the organization design class to allow students to interact with experts from NBC facilities in New York. (Greenberg & Zantis, 2012).  Students were able to present their projects to professionals and ask for recommendations for improvement.  Streaming video eliminated the physical distance between the students and the subject matter experts located hundreds of miles away.

The second question involves supervisors ensuring that the employees are both engaged and can demonstrate their learning.  Creating an online assessment or survey can be easily developed to determine the effectiveness of the training.  According to Pellegrino (2009), assessment, in a transformative perspective, can break down the obstacles between competency and proficiency, similar to the role played by educational technology (as cited in Learner Assessment, n.d.).  Websites like SurveyMonkey and KwikSurveys allow anyone to easily create online assessments that can be customized to a particular course or training session ( and Assessments results are automatically collected and tabulated for analysis.  For example, Kaplan University used post-class assessments to get an idea on how their students enjoyed the class as well as their knowledge retention. Surveys showed that many felt bored through the class as they already knew much of the material.  Kaplan instituted a credit for work or life experience, military training and other certifications where undergraduates can create and submit a portfolio for credit considerations (Kaplan University, n.d.).

Streaming video can hold the attention of the student, fit various learning styles and can act as reinforcement to learning (Cofield, 2002).  Greenberg & Zanetis (2012) echoed this reinforcement principle: “Students today are increasingly visual-spatial learners, able to multitask and interact with multimedia” (p. 35).  Online assessments take this interaction capability and allow a way not just to monitor student learning but to improve the quality of the student learning experience (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).


Cofield, J. L. (2002). An assessment of streaming video in web-based instruction. Presented at the annual meeting of the Mid-South Educational Research Association, Chattanooga, TN. Retrieved from

Greenberg, A. D. and Zanetis, J. (2012, March). The impact of broadcast and streaming video in education. Retrieved from

Harrington, S. J., and Floyd, K. S. (2012). Enhancing engagement and the value of the course to the student through course organization and active learning. In M. Bart (Ed.). Online student engagement tools and strategies (pp. 16-18). Reprinted from Online Classroom, 2009.  Retrieved from

Kaplan University. (n.d.). Credit for prior learning. Retrieved January 30, 2013 from

Learner Assessment. (n.d.). In Edutech Wiki. Retrieved from

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

Stiggins, R, and Chappuis, J. ().Using student-involved classroom assessment to close achievement gaps.  Theory into Practice, 44(1), 11-18.  Retrieved from


Distance Learning Definitions are a Changin’

13 Jan

Prior to starting EDUC-6135, I viewed distance learning as a method of studying where class content was provided over the Internet in a combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods.  Though this definition is technically accurate, it is not precise enough to be completely correct.  Even after only one week of research, I realized that there were many facets of my definition that were omitted.

A true definition of distance education must include four characteristics.  First, distance education must be institutionally based.  It is not a self-study class but must be formalized through either a school or other organization like a business or company (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  Second, there needs to be some separation between a learner and the instructor as well as between the various learners.  This separation could be due to geographical differences and possibly time.  Students do not have to be in the same location and could be separated by great distances and time zones.  The asynchronous nature of the learning allows anyone from any location access to the same materials and resources at any time.

The acquisition of these materials and resources leads to the third criteria, interactive communications, which may be electronic or otherwise.  Communications are not limited to the internet but can still include standard postal mail.  Though the internet has improved the ability to interact, it is not the sole method.  Lastly, distance education is comprised of learning groups composed of students, teachers and the resources required.

A revised definition of distance learning would be formal instruction from an institution (school or business) that uses interactive communication to bridge the distance and time that separates the learning group, instructor and class resources.

The definition of distance learning is constantly changing due to the ever-increasing technological capabilities available (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008b).  Not so far in the past, podcasts were the latest way to improve on the written blog.  Anyone who had a simple microphone and some free software could post an audio file that someone could listen to at their leisure.  As bandwidth and transfer speeds have increased, video-casts are more and more prevalent.  Social media has exploded in recent years, evolving from simple blogs to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others.  Smartphones have the capacity to connect to the internet and post updates to all of these social media sites, providing for a method of real-time updates of news and events worldwide (Cohen, 2012).

The future of distance learning is very bright and will continue to grow as technology grows.  Brick and mortar schools will never disappear completely.  There will always be a need for face to face instruction and communication.  However, instructional designers must find a way to transition distance learning from a method of supplying information to that of a true effective learning model (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008a).  Instructional designers are trained in the various learning styles of students but they must establish how they best interact with the e-learning models available and figure out which one works best.  Instruction that is based on-line holds the ability to increase learner to learner communication (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008a).  Distance learning, though, should be viewed as a tool in an educator’s bag.  Steven Cohen (2012) states “the specific tool used should be the one best matched to the educational objective.  Just because you have a tool and you know how it works, doesn’t mean you have to use it.”  The ease of obtaining information and the power that the digital world has does mean that a good educator will find a way to incorporate it into their lesson.

Distance Learning Mind Map2


Cohen, S. (2012, October 1). Distance Learning and the Future of Education. Retrieved from The Huffington Post:

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

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008b). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web. TechTrends, 52(4), 66-70.

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

Reflections on Learning Theories

24 Feb

Everyone learns differently.  Even someone untrained in learning theories understands that no two people learn in the same manner.  Everyone is wired differently and processes information in a unique manner.  What also has to be taken into account is that teachers are the same way.  All teachers instruct differently and provide information in unique manners.  How then, do we all get on the same page so that teachers can teach in a manner that is best for the learner to learn?  This is where the study of learning theories and styles helps and provides us with an outline of different styles and techniques that can be used to both teach and learn effectively.

During my study, the most surprising concept was that even though there are many different theories that describe how people learn, no one person could be placed in a single bucket as there was so much overlap between all the different methods.  It took a full three weeks before realizing that the struggles that I had trying to differentiate ideas of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructionism were not actual struggles.  There are many similarities between all theories. Karl Kapp (2007) explains that teaching and learning are not a single thing but a multifaceted entity.  No one particular –ism explains how we teach or process information.

My own learning process is varied as well.  Placing me a particular camp is difficult.  Social learning and connectivism are methods that I utilize constantly while in the workplace.  However, it really is irrelevant to know how I learn best unless I had a true understanding of how my brain functions.  A simple concept like the levels of process allowed me grasp the idea of information transfer and its retention it in long-term memory.  The increasing complexity between physical, acoustic and semantic shows three different ways I look at information and allows my brain to make necessary connections to place it in long-term memory.  Encoding data for later retrieval is the fundamental key to learning.  If a person cannot recall the information, it is not really learned (McCrudden & Schraw, 2009).

Howard Gardner developed the eight types of intelligence as a way of identifying a wide range of skills that people possess and to group them into categories (Armstrong, 2000).  Using this theory, it is easy to see that, at a higher level, all other theories are connected in some way.  Everyone is good at something and everyone has the ability to learn.  Understanding the relationship between motivation and learning is just as important as understanding the various theories.  If a person is not motivated, the cognitive process will not be efficient, hindering the learning process (Ormrod, Shunk & Gredler, 2009).  The different theories are ever evolving and they change to the current environment (Kerr, 2007).

It is important for the instructor to understand how the brain works to create an environment that is optimal for the student (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  All parties are responsible for a student’s education and must be held accountable for breakdowns and accomplishments.  “Academic underachievement cannot be attributed only to teachers or only to students” (Berninger & Richards, 2002).  Learning is a two-way street.  Instructional designers must recognize that there are special techniques that must be employed to maintain the focus and motivation of the students.  These techniques also change based on the environment in which the class takes place.  Teaching an online class is very different from teaching a room full of students.  According to Ertmer and Newby (1993), the most effective learning should take place as part of a realistic environment.  It is up to the instructional designer to create that environment by offering problems that the student can relate to as part of their everyday life.  An honest self evaluation will help a teacher to use their strengths and, more importantly, strengthen their weaknesses.  Since every student is strong in different areas of Gardner’s intelligences, it is important to use a wide variety of methods to teach.

The question is why we assume that there is a single acceptable answer or correct method to accomplish or teach something (Narayan, 2010).  Failure to consider that there may be more than one correct method of getting an answer is a failure to properly teach.  Teaching and learning are not binary and there are no black and whites.  There is plenty of grey, middle ground.  The need to take a little concept from each learning method and transform it into a varied system will create a robust experience for the learner and allow the information to reach more students at once (Kapp, 2007).   A teacher must remain balanced in their approach.  They must recognize that the style must fit both themselves and the learner and develop methods to keep their students’ attention, allowing them to remain motivated.


Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Berninger, V. & Richards, T. (2009). Brain and learning.  [Blog Post].  Retrieved from

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–71.

Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about: Discussion on educational schools of thought. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Kerr, W. (2007, January 1). _isms as filter, not blinker. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

McCrudden, M. & Schraw, G. (2009). Information processing theory. [Blog Message]. Retrieved from

Narayan, A. (2010, June 3).  The grays in learning. [Blog Post].  Retrieved from

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Fitting the Pieces Together

18 Feb

When reviewing the various learning theories and styles, it is very difficult to determine where one ends and the next begins.  There is a significant amount of overlap between all methods that no one person can be pigeonholed into a single area.  Karl Kapp (2007) explains learning as a multifaceted entity as opposed to a single thing.  Complete learning can only occur when the student is engaged in the topic and wants to learn (Lim, 2004).  No particular –ism can appropriately describe how a person can process information and retain it as knowledge but knowledge of all can make you a better instructor or learner.  Each theory has a bit of information that you, as a learner or teacher, can take away and add to your personal bag of tricks.  There is something there that can make you a better educator or student in any circumstance.

Archana Narayan (2010) poses the question of why do we always assume that there is a single correct method of teaching a topic or learning.  The simple truth is that there is not right way.  Fortunately, there really is not a wrong way either.  There are certainly more effective methods that can be implemented given a particular environment or audience.  There are also preferred methods of teaching and learning, depending on who is involved.  Luckily, Howard Gardner created a theory that connects everything together at a high level.  Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences as a way of classifying a large array of skills that people possess and to group them into categories (Armstrong, 2000).  His theory is that we all posses some form of each intelligence and have the capability to increase each one.

Increasing our intelligences has become increasingly easier if we utilize the newest forms of technology.  Cloud computing makes it easier to share documents and information as connectivism promotes.  The iPhone’s Siri technology is a perfect example of how semantic-aware applications can make obtaining information by the user simpler, a central topic of cognitivism.  Mobile devices like the BlackBerry and the iPad allow us to interface with others on the go, a key component to the constructionist theory.

At the center of all this technology is the internet.  It has spawned online learning, negating geography as a limitation.  The various web sites that exist provide a plethora of data that a person can get with the click of a button.  Communication barriers have been all but eliminated through email, texts and blogs.  Search engines have made the collection of information simple for a person to obtain on their own in the cognitivist view.  Blogs provide a feedback area that behaviorist crave.  Constructionists like the ability to discuss topics easier and connectivists can keep their finger on the pulse of virtually everything.

There is a little of something out there for everyone.


Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Kapp, K. (2007, January 2). Out and about:discussion on educational schools of thought. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Lim, C. P. (2004). Engaging learners in online learning environments. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 48(4), 16–23.

Narayan, A. (2011, March 4). What is the ‘learning’ world coming to? [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Connectivism and the Digital Age

4 Feb

There are a few definitions of where the line is drawn between a digital immigrant and a digital native.  Some consider the transition as 1970, that line where the digital age began (Prensky, 2001).  Mostly, however, I consider the technology that could be considered the transition point to digital native would be around 2000.  This is when personal computers were commonplace is households and cell phones were gaining favor with the masses.  Everything began being connected.  By the latter definition, I am a digital immigrant, and a native by the former.

Looking at my undergraduate work during early 1990’s and my graduate work in the early 2010’s, there are dramatic differences with the technology that is both available and the ease of its use.  The two largest factors that affect my education now and then are email and the internet.  While working as an undergraduate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, email was present on campus but it was cumbersome to use and rather complex to follow.  Few people used it as most students did not have their own personal computer, instead using those in the common labs on campus.  Though the internet was around, few, if any people had connections and searching for information was still easiest at the library.  Remember, this lack of technology is at a well-known and well-respected college with its core classes in engineering and science.

Currently, without email or the internet, I could not function in either my job or my schoolwork.  Email, and to a lesser part texting, is a vital form of communication.  Now, most everyone has a personal computer at home and at work that allows for near constant communication.  Cell phones, and especially smart phones, have taken that to a whole different level.  Most information gathering now takes place online, surfing the internet for various forms of information. Just look at the three main segments of the local news on television: news, sports and weather.  It used to be that a person would watch the news in the morning and evening to find out what is going on in the world.  Now, a simple click of the mouse and you are connected to websites that provide all that information updated constantly.  Not only can you find out what the weather is like at your current location, but anywhere around the world.  This makes it easier for travel and planning.

Questions used to be asked in person of a peer, coworker, teacher or classmate.  Now, with the internet, the use of a search engine can quickly deliver many sites of information, which connect to other sites which connect to still more.  There is virtually endless knowledge in the virtual world.  With just a simple word or phrase, it is possible to find definitions, dissertations and descriptions of anything.  The internet is a vital component in the workplace as well as user’s manuals, repair guides and spare parts are just a link away from being ordered or downloaded.

The central tenet of connectivism is that there are many sources for information and learning is being able to connect all those sources together, maintaining and promoting them (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).  Looking at my personal learning network, it is clear that the digital age has fully advanced my use of connectivism and imbedded it as the primary learning style I use.  Both the interactive technology and non-interactive technology segments of the mind map are filled with resources that are used on a daily basis.


Connectivism. (2011, December 14). Sensemaking artifacts. [Blog Entry].  Retrieved from

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon,9(5). Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

VanSlyke, T. (2003, May/June). Digital natives, digital immigrants: Some thoughts from the generation gap. The Technology Source Archives at the University of North Carolina.  Retrieved from

Connectivism – A Mind Map

4 Feb

A mind map showing technological dependencies

The Brain and Learning

15 Jan

Each brain is different and cannot be taught in the same method.  Everyone’s brain is unique and learns through different methods and techniques and processes this information differently.  The website Funderstanding discusses Renate and Geoffrey Caine’s learning theory in the article Brain-based Learning.  Centered around 12 core principles, brain-based learning views that the entire body is critical to learning and that emotions, perception, conscious and unconscious process all go hand in hand to yield proper learning.  There are three techniques associated with brain-based learning, all focusing on letting the student become one with the material, learning environments, take charge of their own education.  Based around a cognitive theory, brain-based learning is not a single theory but a more generalized name for dealing with the sequence of cognitive events (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009).  This article has since been added to in Brain/Mind Principles of Natural Learning, outlining further research on the topic.  Both articles provide teachers and instructors with a fine outline of what to consider when teaching and how the brain processes information.

Continuing on the topic of the relevance of researching the brain in learning and teaching, Virginia Berninger and Todd Richards of The Gale Group talk about the Brain and Learning and how it is specifically related to math, reading and writing.  Like Renate and Geoffrey Caine, this article centers around the concept that students differ significantly in which learning environment works best for them  and what makes is successful to each the best for the particular student.  It is also important for the instructor to understand how the brain works to create the environment that is optimal for the student (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  Everyone is responsible for a student’s education and must be held accountable for failures and successes.  “Academic underachievement cannot be attributed only to teachers or only to students” (Berninger & Richards, 2002).  Though there is a lot of technical information on the reactions within the brain and the science involved in thinking and learning, the article is well written and provides a nice overview of each topic so that even the non-scientist can understand it.


Berninger, V. & Richards, T. (2009). Brain and learning.  [Blog Post].  Retrieved from

Caine, G. & Caine, R. (n.d.). Brain/mind principles of natural learning. [Blog Post].  Retrieved from

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–71.

On Purpose Associates. (n.d.). Brain-based learning. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Useful Sites Abound

5 Jan

Being enrolled in an online class, I was looking for methods to apply this knowledge to my workplace.  The following is a quick review of three sites that I found packed with useful information.

At the Rapid E-Learning Blog, there are many time-saving tips on how to create electronic presentations and simple designs of courses you want to create.  Designed and presented by the Articulate Network, the author speaks simply and easily, allowing you to learn at your own pace.  Many resources are included for immediate success.  PowerPoint tips, graphic design, management, audio and video suggestions are all clickable resources.  This is a wonderful site for anyone who is looking to use the latest in technology for their teaching and provides the resources needed to improve.  Though teaching methods are covered, the main source of use for this blog are the tips and tricks that will make any electronic presentation that much better and more understandable.

The Instructional Design and Development blog is created by the Faculty Instructional Technology Services of DePaul University and has a long history on the web.  With archives going all the way back to 2007, every topic under the sun is covered.  Samples include digital living, discussing advances and trends in technology, video and audio, with unbiased view on the pros and cons of using do it yourself productions, as well as a pedagogy section for teachers.  The blog constantly updates any new conferences that may be useful to an instructional designer and provides links to the appropriate web sites.  The articles are very help full with a high discussion rate but there is so much information available, it is sometimes difficult to negotiate the blog to find exactly what you are looking to find.

Distance Educator was founded in 1995 by Dr. Farhad Saba as a common resource for distance education and electronic learning.  Their premise is to help provide information, articles and tools in a comprehensive manner.  There are links to various associations, publications, resources and solutions that are updated on a regular basis.  There are also numerous categories allowing the user to pinpoint exactly the information they are looking to retrieve.  Though the site strives to disseminate information in an unbiased manner, there is a section for editorials giving the authors a place to provide their own feedback to topics.