Sunday, December 23, 2012

Distance Learning Reflection

Reflection of Distance Learning

                 Education has dramatically changed over the years, especially the last few years. But, change is seldom easy, especially in changing to something unknown. Distance education intimidates some people because they do not understand it or the technology that goes with it. Distance education is not only online, but can be blended with face-to-face (F2F) education as well. This can help some transition to distance learning. But, change is coming and distance education is gaining in popularity. With all of the advances in technology and telecommunications, distance education is becoming “more available, easier to use, and less costly” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 4). In this blog, I will be discussing my perceptions of distance learning for the future (in 5-10 years; 10-20 years); how I can as an instructional designer be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning; and how  I can be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education.

                In the near future of 5-10 years, my perception is that distance learning will become more accepted, but even further into the future, it will become more commonplace than traditional education. I believe a part of that is the younger generations are much more comfortable with technology. George Siemens explained that there is growing acceptance of distance education which is fueled by an increase in online communication, practical experience with new tools, growing sense of comfort with online discourse, and the ability to communicate with diverse and global groups (Laureate Education, 2010). Distance education will also be affected by even more advanced communication technologies, contribution by experts from around the globe, and increased use of multimedia, games, and simulations (Laureate Education, 2010). Another growth is with the massive online open courses which offer free courses around the world for free and are taught by experts.  I also think acceptance will increase because it does show to have a cost savings. Classroom spaces increase for traditional classes, money saved in travels, travel time saved, and money and time save in productivity in corporations. Also, many institutions promote their online programs with the benefits of convenience and flexibility (Gambescia & Paolucci, 2009). Overall, I believe the perception of distance learning in the future will be favorable.

                To be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning, I, as an instructional designer, would need to create high quality distance programs. This can be accomplished in the planning process by assessing the learners, creating essential content that is organized, choosing the correct media and teaching strategies, and selecting the best learning environment (Simonson et al., 2012). And in doing so, I would need to “think outside the box, to collaborate and to advance the common vision” (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008, p.66). Engaging the students is critical in changing perceptions of potential students. If they can see that distance learning is not just listening to recorded lectures and reading assignments, they can get excited about the ways technology is used and therefore increase their learning, and maybe encourage others along the way.

                I can be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education by keeping up to date with research in the field. Being aware of new teaching strategies and new technologies will improve my distance learning programs. Working closely with the subject matter experts will keep my programs in line with the educational information. If I am using a course management system, it must be well-organized and user-friendly. I will also continually assess and evaluate programs to continuously improve them.

                In conclusion, I believe distance learning will continue to blossom as people continue to find ways to work around their schedules in order to obtain degrees. Whether online, blended, or traditional, learning will continue. Knowledge is power.

Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from  

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67. 

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







Sunday, December 16, 2012

Converting face-to-face training to a blended learning format

This week in our course we were given the following scenario:

 A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.

 We were then to create a user guide that the training manager could utilize to take the face-to-face course and convert it to a blended learning format. In the guide, it includes information on some pre-planning strategies, what aspects from the face-to-face course that could be enhanced in the distance learning environment, how the role of the trainer will change, and some tips on how the trainer can encourage the students to communicate online. This guide is based on best practice for converting face-to-face courses to blended learning formats. There are several references used to support this. There is also two checklists from online sources that could be of help for this trainer. In using these tools and tips, converting face-to-face courses to blended learning courses will result in satisfied students who will be able to transfer their learning to the workplace.
Here is a link to the guide.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Week 5-Application

This week in my EDUC 6135 course we are looking at the planning and designing of distance learning (DL). In planning the design system, one has several components to consider such as “the learners, the content, the method and materials, and the environment, including the technology” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 152). Also, the interaction of these components must be done well to produce effective learning experiences. We have also taken a look at some of the Open CourseWare courses.

Open courseware “is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials for colleges and universities” (Open CourseWare Consortium, n.d.). The one that I chose to examine was at  titled Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics. At first glance, it seems a fairly simply-designed course. But, upon further exploration, there is a syllabus stating the name and title of the professor, description, text required, requirements, and grading. The class is divided into sessions which include an overview, resources such as class notes and websites, and the video presentation. The lectures are broken down into chapters which include the timings on the video. You can also choose to view/print the transcript or listen to or download the mp3. It also has options for low or high bandwidth viewing depending on your internet connection. It even includes the two midterm exams and the solutions. There is an option to view the catalog and buy books, and to also submit an evaluation survey. All of these options and methods are good planning for online learning.

The course is organized fairly well for distance learners as it is simple to navigate and has some variety between text, audio, or video giving the learner options. The videos also allow for the learner to go at their own pace, stop and repeat sessions. The lessons are designed to be completed in a linear method (Simonson et al, 2012), but that is up to the learner and what they want from the course. The video lectures, notes, and resources are all very well done. However, since there is no registration, credit, degree, or certificate, it is strictly an instructor-led course with the learner obtaining their learning on their own. There is no interaction. The learner is actually auditing the course. They must do the learning on their own since there is no feedback. Essentially, I believe the course is mostly a traditional classroom learning experience without actually being in the classroom which is not one of our text’s fundamentals of teaching online (Simonson et al, 2012).

As for the active learning, I did not feel this course provided much of that. The only active learning would be starting, pausing, rewinding, and stopping the videos, and taking the exams and checking the answers. I feel this course is good for those that truly want to learn and can do so with no interaction. But, to create a better learning experience, there needs to be more interaction such as discussions. But, since this course is open to anyone at any time and there is no registration or monitoring, it is nice just to provide the information from a classroom such as Yale which many would not normally have the opportunity.

Open CourseWare ConsOpen CourseWare Consortium (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved November 29, 2012, from 201211292148141780654192

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


Sunday, November 18, 2012

There are many types of technology tools that the instructional designer can use to enhance the learning experiences of distance learners. My assignment this week is to identify two distance learning technology tools to provide a solution to the following scenario.

 Asynchronous Training
In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.

 Instructional Needs and Learning Outcomes

In choosing appropriate technology tools for asynchronous online instruction, one needs to assess the instructional needs and learning outcomes, which are the “observable, measurable behaviors that are a consequence of online instruction” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). For the above scenario, these were identified:

·         Stand-alone asynchronous modules illustrating best practice and step-by-step processes

·         Interactive competencies to verify learning

·         Supervising tracking records

Developing an interactive video that staff can make selections in choosing the correct step in the process engages the student and increases learning. One site that creates interactive videos is (Scientific Animations, 2012). The videos are created with step-by-step processes, and then the user must decide what step is next. This makes the learner pay attention and think through the process instead of just viewing it.

 Another technology is a video that shows the steps as well as showing possible errors. Once such video example is located at (Rossiter & Co., 2012). This learning would be very realistic, effective, and authentic (Simonson et al., 2012).

 These technologies could be utilized within a course management system (CMS) so that there could be competencies developed and record tracking completed for the supervisors. The CMS could also provide communication between staff and supervisors (Simonson et al., 2012).
Scientific Animations 2012 Scientific AnimationsScientific Animations (2012). Retrieved November 18, 2012, from

Rossiter & Co. (2012). Retrieved November 18, 2012, from 20121118145944157820940


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Defining Distance Learning

 I am posting this blog as part of my EDUC 6135 application requirements. I will give my personal definition and observations of distance learning prior to this class, my revised definition after reading and viewing the resources for this week, and my vision of the future for distance learning. I will also incorporate a mind map for my new definition and my vision for the future.

My definition of distance learning was one of utilizing the internet to connect to the classroom instead of actually being face-to-face in a physical room. The instructor and students would communicate with each other and utilize different forms of class work such as essays, discussions, quizzes, presentations, and team projects. The learning is asynchronous.

Although, I had heard of correspondence courses, my first contact with distance learning was at my local community college in getting my Associate in Applied Science degree in computer programming. I took a course using WebCT. I had to post to the discussion board, answer short answers, write a short paper, and take quizzes. Although I utilized a real book, I also had resources to read online. All of my other courses in the program were in the classroom and were very difficult for me to attend while working full time 12-hour night shifts. My next encounter with distance learning was through Indiana Wesleyan as I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through their online program. That program was very similar to this degree program. I utilized a book and online readings, discussion boards, quizzes, presentations and essays, and team projects. My BSN degree took a lot more work, but I could do it on my time around my other responsibilities. In the federal health care field, distance learning is not necessarily a separation geographically, but more so in time. We have a lot of our mandatory annual training online through a Talent Management System (TMS). Although many of the modules are very simplistic with text and graphics, a few of them are more interactive or have videos. Many of the modules are converted from PowerPoint at our facility, but some are created at other facilities. We connect to the TMS modules online and most have some sort of quiz at the end. They are viewable asynchronously from any of our computers. They are all self-paced with no instructor. However, with some of the computer training, Camtasia software is utilized to show staff the steps involved and is sometimes interactive.

Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2012, p.31) define distance education as “institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors.” Since I obtained my BSN online, I feel like my definition was very similar to that. I think technology has really changed the way learning occurs and has opened the door for many people to obtain higher education. There are so many different kinds of software that can be utilized in distance learning. Distance learning brings education closer to everyone.

As for the future of distance learning, my vision sees many more opportunities available to more people. Technology will continue to advance to bring the classroom to people in their homes and on the go with iPads. What appears to be missing with the interaction is now being fulfilled with social sites such as wikis, blogs, and facebook, or even webcams and videoconferencing.  I do think there will always be a need for a physical classroom as there are always learners who learn better in a more structured, physical environment.











Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Welcome to my blog!

I am a student at Walden University and created this blog for a previous class. I hope to revive it with my current class, Distance Learning. I hope to see lots of 'conversations' to keep my blog growing.

One caveat: my RSS feed is at the bottom of my blog page and I have not figured out how to move it. Blogging is still fairly new to me. I appreciate your comments, and tips!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Learning Theories Reflection

As this Learning Theories and Instruction course draws to a close, I would like to reflect on what I have learned. I would like to discuss one thing that I found interesting in how people learn and how this course has deepened my understanding of my personal learning. I will also discuss what I have learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation, and how my learning will help further my career in instructional design.

One thing that I found surprising in this course was that although there are many different theories of how people learn, people usually do not fit into just one category but are a combination of them, especially for adults. (Cercone, 2008) Cercone (2008) stated “each person is an individual”. Since everyone learns differently, as an instructional designed I will need to plan my classes according to my students and their process of learning. I should vary my teaching utilizing a variety of methods in order to reach the most students.

This course opened my eyes to the various learning theories, of which I was unaware. I can see that my personal learning cannot be narrowed down to just one theory as it depends on the type of learning with which I am presented. Gilbert and Swanier (2008) states that learning styles can fluctuate across concepts. Some things I learn more by behavioristic methods with a change in behavior from a stimulus-response association (Standridge, 2001). Other things I learn more from a cognitivist method where I am very structured and the information learned is organized and stored in memory (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).

A good instructional designer should know his/her students and how they best learn. To do that, one needs to know a little about the learning theories and styles of learning and then use technology to best get that across to the students. Motivation is key to keep the students engaged in order for learning to take place.

As Stephen Pew quoted Albert Einstein “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn” (Pew, 2007). This is what I hope to take with me in my career. I want to be able to make learning fun so they stay motivated and learn what they need no matter how they best learn.

(Cercone K 2008 Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design)Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159. Retrieved from

(Ertmer P A Newby T J 1993 Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective)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.
(Gilbert J Swanier C 2008 Learning styles: How do they fluctuate?)Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal, 1, 29-40. Retrieved from

(Pew S 2007 Andragogy and pedagogy as foundational theory for student motivation in higher education)Pew, S. (2007). Andragogy and pedagogy as foundational theory for student motivation in higher education. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 2, 14-25.
(Standridge M 2001 Behaviorism)Standridge, M. (2001). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspective on learning, teaching, and technology (p.1-7). Retrieved from

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fitting the Pieces Together

Fitting the Pieces Together

Now that I have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, I am not sure my view has changed much from the beginning of class. As I stated in the first week, “I think it really depends on what type of learning is being performed as to what type of learner I can be”.  I definitely am adult learner now, but depending on the situation, I could use several of the other theories. Malcolm Knowles referred to five assumptions to “describe the adult learner as someone who:

  • Has an independent self-concept and who can direct his or her own learning
  • Has accumulated a reservoir of life experiences that is a rich resource for learning
  • Has learning needs closely related to changing social roles
  • Is problem-centered and interested in immediate application of knowledge
  • Is motivated to learn by internal rather than external factors” (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003, p2)

I believe all of these can apply to me as an adult learner. Learning about the different theories has helped me understand how I learn differently in various situations, depending on the material to be learned. I also believe I can better understand how different students will be able to learn in the classroom which will help in being an instructional designer.

Technology plays a huge role in my learning. Just with this degree program, as with my Bachelor’s, I have used the internet for research, discussion and application posting, and emails. I have just learned to add narration to a PowerPoint presentation and post it to a website, and use Word documents for postings. I have created this blog and posted to it, and add RSS feeds that I get updates on with Google Reader. I have files that I save online and on my local computer. At work, I use a lot of internet resources for educational purposes and reference. In fact, my primary role is teaching and troubleshooting one program, although I help with other programs as well.

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Connectivism Reflection

Connectivism Reflection
            It seems like people used to acquire education just for the moment to attain a job where they would stay until retirement. However, now people may have two or three careers in their lifetime. Learning has changed over the years as well. The digital age has decreased the timeframe of learning by allowing easier access, but with all the knowledge attained, it can quickly become outdated. George Siemens (2005) stated that “access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses”. “Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).
            I included my previous educational institutions because they have helped in my learning which started out in the traditional classroom then moved to online learning. The online network has really changed the way I learn, making it more convenient, but not necessarily easier. Although traditional classrooms require set times, I believe that the online classrooms require more time overall even with the flexibility.
            The internet and email has been the tools that help with my learning, along with Microsoft Office. The internet has made access to libraries and other reference search engines much easier and quicker. Although one has to beware of non-scholarly references, there are numerous search engines like Google Scholar that can return reliable resources. Email has greatly enhanced communication with fellow students, instructors, co-workers, colleagues, and acquaintances. Microsoft Office has provided the ability to save documents and presentations. When I have questions, I can search the internet, query email groups, or communicate with numerous other people to find answers.
            My personal learning network incorporates the view of connectivism as there are many sources of finding information and I can connect them together to gather even more information. Connectivism is based on the knowledge that information is changing extremely fast. The most up-to-date information can quickly become outdated. Technology has decreased the half-life of knowledge due to the easier access to information and the instant retrieval of it (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).


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

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from

Connectivism--My Mind Map

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Follow-up on metacognition article

Gordon posted an article that gave some strategies on developing metacognition behavior. Problem-solving is a good way to develop this behavior as it not only makes one think, but many times thinking outside the box in order to come up with a solution(Blakely, E. and Spence, S. ,  n.d).  This may involve not only learning the what, but also the when, where, and why which Ormrod, Schenk, & Gredler (2009) state that without the latter would confuse students. I believe problem-solving is a good way to learn. I know creating my first blog was an exercise in problem-solving for me!

Blakely, E. and Spence, S. Developing Metacognition. N.d. Retrieved from

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

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Journal & Website for instructional designers

Here is a journal for instructional designers that has alot of good articles and references.

This article ( ) discusses some strategies for developing on-line learning courses by utilizing different learning methods for brain-based learning.  One section discusses memory and retrieval which focuses on short-term and long-term memory. Implications for on-line courses could be utilizing ‘rehearsal’ for short-term memory or ‘chunking’ for long-term memory. This relates to the two-store model that is discussed by Ormrod, Schenk, & Gredler (2009). It also states there needs to be variation in the teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles, and to increase attentiveness. This journal would be a good resource for instructional designers.

Clemons, S. (2005). Brain-Based Learning: Possible Implications for Online Instruction. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 2(9). Retrieved from

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.
Since this is an education website, there are alot of articles and resources available for the instructional designer or educator.
The Johns Hopkins University School of Education New Horizons for Learning website has some interesting articles and links for education technology and neurosciences, as well as teaching and learning strategies. Marian Cleeves Diamond has an article called Response of the brain to enrichment which talks of how stress, age, gender, and physical activity can affect the brain and its ability to learn. There are numerous other resources available from this site that could be valuable for instructional designers.

Diamond, M. C. (2001). Response of the brain to enrichment. Retrieved from

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Useful sites for Instructional Designers

As a student at Walden University for the Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology, one of my first assignments was creating this blog. I have read a few blogs, but this is my first attempt at creating one. I have reviewed several blog sites that will be of interest to my fellow classmates, as well as anyone else interested in instructional design and technology. Here are three sites that could be beneficial for viewing.
This site has a plethora of information on e-learning. It has numerous topics, whether concepts such as blogging or social media; tools such as Wiki or RSS; type such as podcasts or resources; organizations or companies; or year. There are numerous postings  under these categories. This would be a good site to learn all about e-learning and the different tools to incorporate.
This is a site from articulate that I learned about from an education conference that I attended. The blog is hosted by Tom Kuhlmann who has 15 years of experience in training and runs the community at articulate. This site provides a lot of useful information that can be incorporated into our learning materials, from designing to creating scenarios to managing. There are also tips for PowerPoint, audio, and visual design.
Cathy Moore’s blog site focuses on getting away from boring instruction such as plain PowerPoint presentations and developing more action-oriented or interactive instructional methods for working adults. She gives speaking engagements around the world and her training has been utilized by many different organizations. She has numerous examples of e-learning presentations on her site ranging from simple to simulations to branching logic. She does consulting and workshops as well. She has several posts to her blog and tries to keep the material entertaining and fun. There are several blog topics to review. This site will be useful for me in educating adult learners.

I hope you enjoy these sites. Let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012