tech-ucation reformation

Goodbye overheads and chalkboards! Hello virtual "paperless" classrooms!

Facebook Settings and Professionals July 20, 2015

Filed under: 5580 — S. Michele Holmes @ 10:44 pm
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The discussion of using social media outlets to enhance and hinder our professional presence online continues in my Readings Seminar in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems course.  This time my course mates and I are discussing what security settings our Facebook accounts should have to reflect our personal  and professional personae.  We are then challenged to update our settings accordingly.  In preparation for the final pieces to our portfolios, we have been asked to develop a 30 second elevator pitch about ourselves.

A number of settings can be used to limit what others see on your Facebook profile and wall.  Under the “select audience” settings, one can choose for all future posts to be public, for friends only, or for just the user to see.  This can also be done with individual posts.  The user can also select who they can receive friend requests from, including either everyone or friends of friends.  One can also limit who sees your email address and telephone number.  These needs are different depending upon if you have a personal or professional need.  I have actually created two separate Facebook accounts (sorry, Mark), one for my close friends and family and another for my professional and potential business persona.  However, the real issue lies with when work friends become outside of work friends, so knowing how to manipulate these settings is necessary.  An interesting setting is the who can follow you.  It seems that now, not only can you be friends with another account but also have people follow you.  I can see how this would be a necessary setting for very public profiles such as celebrities and political people.

One can also set up pages and groups with a variety of public and private settings.  However, these are also issues with this.  For example, one of my former coworkers created a private Facebook group for his students.  The idea was for them to have a place to keep up with important dates and times, post pictures and videos for members only, and discuss class content.  At the time other options such as Edmodo and Remind101 were not available.  He was told he could not conduct such a group even if it had no ties to his personal account because of the settings.

Elevator Pitch:
I am a designer of educational experiences with over 10 years teaching experience in public schools. Over the years I have come to view technology as a means to differentiate and individualize instruction and assist all learners in reaching their full potential. I desire to consult with educators, administrators, and stakeholders on how to incorporate more technology in the classroom and in professional development to meet their students’ needs.


Review of Instructional Design Research January 26, 2015

Well, I am right back to it with a bang! This semester I have begun my Technology-Based Learning Environments course by reviewing some research on instructional design. My classmates and I are charged with reflecting upon three articles: (1) an article discussing project-based learning utilizing a constructivist framework, (2) another addressing instructional design in our own interest areas, and (3) the last an article that one of my course mates reviewed. At the same time, we are considering project ideas which could drive our work for the rest of the semester.

The first article began with defining and identifying three characteristics of constructivism. “Constructivism is a philosophical view on how we come to understand or know” (Savery & Duffy, 2001, p. 3). Gaining understanding through our interactions with the environment is central to the learning theory, suggesting that learning is the construction of understanding given the learning prompts. Setting a purpose for learning and incorporating opportunities for social negotiation are also central to the theory. The authors also suggest creating authentic tasks, helping students with project ownership, and providing opportunities for reflection should also be incorporated into a constructivist lesson. The article then asserts that project-based learning utilizes the constructivist theory and explains why. I want to create a course which asks students to use new technologies to present newly-learned content, thus combining the learning of skills through interacting with software and the learning of information that interests them, which addresses multiple constructivist ideas.

I have been pondering some project ideas, and the idea of designing an online course for gifted students is at the top of the drawing board. When I read Thomson’s (2010) article on this very topic, I found that the guidelines found in the research and suggested as best practices were the very same elements I am experiencing in my own online classes. Perhaps the perfect way to show what I have learned these past two years is by reflecting back my own interpretation of an online technology course is with the same idea but with a population I have more experience with. What an opportunity to explore my passions for technology, online learning, and gifted education. I plan to incorporate the instructional design suggestions from the article to the best of my ability: a well-organized course, frequent and prompt feedback, high-quality and appropriate learning materials, a mentor relationship with each student, and individualized and differentiated content.

Much interest in the emotions of gifted students has already produced considerable research. Gifted students often display emotional intelligence well beyond their years, yet many experience misunderstandings because their emotional maturity was over-estimated. I was surprised to find one of my course mates reviewed an article on instructional design considering emotions. In this article Astleitner & Leutner (2000) provide suggestions to address the five emotions in the FEASP instructional design approach: fear, envy, anger, sympathy, and pleasure. The suggestions for sympathy and pleasure were especially engaging and support two elements, cooperative learning and gamification, I would like to incorporate into my project.


Astleitner, H., & Leutner, D. (2000). Designing instructional technology from an emotional perspective. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 32(4), 497-510.

Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (2001). Problem based learning: an instructional model and its constructivist framework. CRLT Technical Report No. 16-01, 1-17.

Thomson, D. L. (2010). Beyond the Classroom Walls: Teachers’ and Students’ Perspectives on How Online Learning Can Meet the Needs of Gifted Students. Journal of Advanced Academics 21(4), 662-712.



Thoughts on the First Instructional Design November 2, 2014

Filed under: 5210 — S. Michele Holmes @ 2:09 am
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My Instructional Design course mates and I have finished our first projects and are in the beginning stages of our second projects.  We have been asked to stop and reflect upon our experiences with the first project and consider how these experiences have prepared us and will affect our work on the next project.  Perhaps the most important part of the first project was to walk through the entire ADDIE process step by step. Although each of us had completely different projects and outcomes, the ADDIE process could be applied to all of them.  Plus, the ADDIE process is not at all what I have experienced in public education (see Analysis & Design Working Together), so it has been interesting to experience the full process and compare it to what I do at work on a regular basis.  While my course mates and I will still work our way through the ADDIE process for the second project, we will have fewer benchmark activities to turn in.  I view this as an opportunity to go through the steps more quickly perhaps even allowing more freedom to move in and out each step with less structure.  I should feel more intuitive and less organized but more authentic to what a professional instructional designer would do.  After all, they are likely to be accountable only to their clients and themselves.

As for what worked, my clients were highly knowledgeable of how their content should be structured and organized.  Their insight was valuable to the analysis and design phases of the project.  I felt these were the strongest aspects of this particular project.  However, the development of the actual materials was to me the most exciting and creatively rewarding phase despite the parameters I was bound to.  Because the analysis and design were well laid out, both these steps took very little time.  I ponder how working with a client who does not have clear objectives or vision and how much longer these phases could take.

As for what did not go so well, the limitations created by the learning management system were difficult to work around.  For example, if I created an activity or quiz and found there to be a mistake (which often happens) it was not possible to correct the mistakes without great difficulty, especially if course participants had already worked within the assignment.  The lack of computer experience among the young users was also a logistical issue my clients and I had not anticipated.  These both made the implementation of the project the weakest aspect, but perhaps the most valuable in learning the craft.  As I transform into an instructional designer, I must consider the weaknesses inherent in the implementation process.  Some can be anticipated and managed prior to roll-out, but others cannot.  It is our job as designers to minimize these weaknesses to the best of our ability and quickly address glitches.

That being said, I would like to go in a completely different direction with the next project and not use a learning management system.  Sure, tracking student progress will be a major consideration, but the freedom of using a website format to relay information will be a wonderful learning experience.  But perhaps the information could be structured in such a way that the users only access what they need to move them along with their projects.


Reflections on Method of Loci and First Project October 19, 2014

These past two weeks have been filled with implementing our instructional designs and exploring the potential of a mnemonic technique called Method of Loci or Memory Palaces.  My Instructional Design course mates and I have been asked to reflect on what worked and did not work using the method of loci to learn the process of Wilson’s (1995) Situated Instructional Design as well as how it could be incorporated into our designs.  We have also been asked to reflect upon the implementation and evaluation of our instructional designs including if we incorporated or ignored our client and peer feedback.

First, the method of loci or memory palace is a learning strategy which utilizes the visualization of locations to organize and recall information, especially large amounts of information.  This method typically involves using a familiar place such as one’s home for a sequence of location points with which to pair information to be recalled at another time.  Because the system relies on spatial awareness, some people like myself have a much better advantage over those whose talents lie elsewhere.  You see, I moved around a lot as a child.  My family moved to a new home, and I went to a new school almost every school year.  Sure, it may have been a coping mechanism at the time to be cognizant of the layout of my new schools and homes, but I later figured out that specific memories were also attached to those places.  My husband often compliments me for the quantity and detail of obscure memories I can recall from my childhood, but it makes sense because my memories are organized by places making them much easier to recall.  For example, I can remember that I read the book Helen Keller’s Teacher about Annie Sullivan in the second half of 3rd grade.  All the students had to create a diorama about a book of their choosing, and I can literally visualize all the projects arranged on the window ledges of my reading teacher’s classroom as well as what was in mine.  I actually attended two schools that year, so I also remember making Stone Soup during the first half of the year at the other school I attended.  After reading the book, each student was asked to bring a different ingredient to class one day to make soup.  Carrots were my contribution.  Seriously, this is what my mind is filled with . . . the fact that I brought carrots.  But ask me to remember either of those teachers’ names, and I am at a complete loss.  Funny how the mind works.

As for processing the four components of Wilson’s (1995) view on Situated Instructional Design, I considered and visualized where I usually am when I conduct each of these basic steps in my lesson planning.  As it turns out, the physical places where I think and work are fairly consistent, so it made sense to develop my visualization of the “path” based upon my physical locations.  I usually begin designing a lesson in the comfort of my bedroom relaxing and pondering how I will execute the goals of the lesson (desired outcomes), my own thoughts about what is essential to understanding the topic (values), and how either I or other teachers have taught the lesson before (acceptable conventions and practices).  The next step occurs ideally in the upstairs conference room of my school during a planning day as my department develop our activities together (plans for), brainstorming new ways to teach the same materials (engages in knowledge-generating activities).  The next phase of a lesson would take place in either my classroom or lab as the students conduct the activities we have prepared for them.  I facilitate the lesson (observe and monitor learning) and alter what I am doing when I see the students are not “getting it” or move along to the next activity if they show me they have already grasped it (make needed adjustments).  And then I return to the comfort of my bedroom to prepare for the next day reflecting upon how that day’s lesson went (reexamine goals and activities for improving learning).

So the real question is how this can be applied in the classroom?  I considered how I often I have my students visualize their own personal experiences when we discuss certain topics.  In fact, I pride myself in assigning homework which involves no paper or reading, only visualizing or observing.  So much of the physical sciences I have taught involve basic kitchen activities.  Inevitably, the students who spend time in their family kitchen watching pots of water boil, salt dissolve, and oil float in the water already understand the basics.  Much of our force, motion, and energy concepts are common playground experiences such as gravity pulling students down a slide, balls rolling faster on the wooden gym floor as compared to grass, or how a simple game of tug-of-war relies on unbalanced forces.  My students even get a kick out of taking a mental picture of their dinner plates as we begin our unit on food webs to initiate a discussion about where food comes from.  It makes perfect sense that the concepts with which they have the most difficulty are the ones they cannot truly visualize because they have no experience with them.  The fact that celestial bodies both rotate on an axis and revolve around another celestial body is difficult to “see” and requires a variety of diagrams, models, and observations.  They also struggle with picturing the slow changes of weathering and erosion needed to create canyons and river deltas because such processes take thousands of years and humans do not live for thousands of years.  Again, I support these lessons with photographs, models, and even time-lapsed photography.  It makes sense that as I ponder how to transform the entire 5th grade science scope and sequence into a video game, the location of where the concepts are observed must been considered.  We can begin our journey in a kitchen, then travel to the park, then to various locations on the planet (beach, forest, arctic circle), and eventually into outer space. But the situation is easy with science; reading and math will require more thought.

Now for some reflections on my instructional design.  First, because the implementation is still happening – my client and her students are only two weeks into it with four more to go – my evaluations are based only on what my client and I have observed thus far.  The copyright security and protection from child predators that a password-protected learning management system such as Edmodo offers are major advantages.  However, my client and I were bound by what the program can do.  My client would have preferred for the lessons to be more accessible to the students and organized by units or modules for easier access.  The students responded positively to the Facebook-style appearance.  They enjoyed being able to communicate with each other through their comments and having more control over their own learning, but my client and I both observed that some students are not as computer savvy as other and are struggling with the interface . . . something neither of us anticipated with today’s proliferation of technology in schools.  Based upon my client’s needs, I did change the deadlines in the system to meet some issues with student enrollment changes.  I would also prefer an easier way to grade/assess each assignment and monitor who has completed what.  My client is not as concerned about this issue as she was about giving written feedback to students through the comments.  If the system looks like Facebook, it should do a better job of notifying the students of notifications.  As for my peer suggestions, I broke up the physical arrangement of the activities in the job aid and adjusted the times designated for the activities per her suggestions, but I ignored the suggestion about giving more time to the introduction and ended up removing some information to reflect what would really be happening.


Wilson, B. G. (1995). Situated Instructional Design: Blurring the Distinctions Between Theory and Practice, Design and Implementation, Curriculum and Instruction. Retrieved from


Analysis & Design Working Together September 22, 2014

My Instructional Systems Design course mates and I have been conducting our analyses for our first projects these past two weeks.  We will use the information we gathered in the near future to create activities tied to the learning objectives we’ve created, but first we must reflect upon our findings.  Although not specifically tied to the project, what I learned most from my analysis is how industry and education differ in how they approach the learning process.  Education is ever evolving into more structured and standardized practices.  It must function in repeating cycles of school years, semesters, and reporting periods.  The state of Texas provides teachers with the expectations to be covered in each grade and subject, so a teacher’s yearly scope and sequence is divided accordingly from an ending point, such as a state assessment, back to the beginning of the year.  She wants to make sure every topic is covered, yet allows for some flexibility in pacing should her students struggle or excel at a particular topic.  So for a teacher, the whole creating objectives process simply does not happen because the objectives are already written.  Also, the idea of a creating a lesson in response to a problem or issue is missing because the objectives are expected of all students without consideration of what they already know.  In contrast, industry trains people according to the job to be performed or as a reaction to issues or problems.  A new employee may already be familiar with some aspects of a job and not need as much training as someone with less experience.  Or a new system or product will be introduced requiring training, yet it will likely only be taught once to current employees.  The learning objectives are developed according to the learner’s needs and could be different for each employee.  In either case, the verb stated in the objective limits possible activities.  For example, if the verb is “explain,” then there are just a few ways to do so – verbal form, written form, or perhaps even some alternative form of expression such as a skit, video, or song.  Regardless, the learner’s final product involves writing and/or speaking to explain.

As for my project, I considered both education and training paradigms in my analysis.  I will be developing a training module to help students prepare for an academic competition.  The competition will take place on a specified date, and the final expectation is the same for all student participants.  These parameters are similar to current education practices because the learning must be completed before the deadline, and what the student does during the competition (expected outcome) is already determined.  However, by thinking more like an industry trainer and analyzing past performance, I found a true problem for which a module can be developed in reaction to the need to increase performance.  After all, this is a competition, and the student who answers the most questions correctly will be the winner, and my trainer client wants more students to place in the event.  Therefore, the activities should include not only presentation of the material to be learned, but also repeated practice to increase performance.  Essentially, my student clients will study 40 paintings including the name of the work and the artist.  At the competition, 15 pieces will be chosen at random, and the students will be expected to both identify and correctly write down the title of the painting and the last name of the artist.  Most of the training module will focus on ways to increase time spent studying the paintings and faster identification of the paintings.  The trainer client plans to meet face-to-face with students to work on the actual writing down of the information, including spelling and punctuation.  In an effort to increase study time, students will be encouraged to communicate with each other about what they are learning in a social-media platform.

When asked about how analysis and design are related, I must admit I am struggling with the idea because most of education is not “problem-centered.”  ADDIE focuses on identifying a problem and creating a way to solve the problem.  In education, the curriculum is already in place, so the design takes place without an analysis.  Teachers have very little flexibility when it comes to designing lessons other than putting their own spin on what someone else told them they have to teach.  As lesson designers they have very few “problems” to work with until the students have been exposed to the material and either don’t get it or already knew it.  Then the real issue is usually the students are not prepared cognitively for what they were about to learn, they have a gap in prior learning, or they have become bored with the lesson.  For example, how can a student truly understand adding or subtracting fractions when they don’t understand fractions?  At this point, the teacher does not design a whole new lesson for the entire class; she pulls the student at another time and reteaches the lesson at a slower pace searching for the gap or clearing up the confusion.  As for the student who already knows the material, the teacher must find a way to keep him interested by extending above and beyond her plan.  This perpetual analysis and her response (redesign, if you will) to it happens so naturally, rarely are they seen as separate steps.

One thought comes to mind concerning the Information R/Evolution video and how analysis and design affect each other.  First, understanding how information can be categorized and filed helps us see how the Internet can take the classification of information to a whole new level.  Consider a comparison to the human brain.  Humans store information in different areas of the brain, and the various parts perform different functions.  So just as a human may store a memory but have trouble retrieving it because the neural pathways are not strong enough, filing information in drawers or on bookshelves only to be forgotten about because we didn’t create multiple ways to access it results in failure to quickly find it again.  Using hypertext, tags, searches, hotlinks, and all the various ways to manipulate text on the Internet links information together creating stronger paths just as my repeated access of information in my brain creates stronger and more efficient neural pathways.


What is Learning – My Personal Journey September 9, 2014

Filed under: 5210 — S. Michele Holmes @ 4:58 am
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The focus this week in my Instructional Systems Design course is on models of learning and learning theories.  We have been asked to update our Personal Learning Theories from a previous course describing how it has changed since that course.  Because this was not an assignment for the section I took, I am describing by personal theory for the first time explaining how it has changed over my own lifetime.  My definition of learning and how it takes place has changed over time as I add new research and experience “feathers” to my hat.

So what is learning, and how does it take place?  Had I been asked this question as an elementary or secondary student, I would have said that learning is simply the acquisition of knowledge and skills.  As an undergraduate student, I began to realize this definition was too simplistic as I studied learning from a psychological perspective focusing on Kimble’s (1967) definition which states “learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior potentiality that occurs as a result of reinforced practice” (Houston, 1991, p. 4).  We explored such topics as conditioning, stimuli and response relationships, acquisition and reinforcement methods, and retention issues.  Reflecting back, the psychological perspective most related to behaviorism because of the emphasis on “the stimulus, the response, and the association between the two” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993, p. 55).  But like Winn (1990), I felt limited by no attempt to explain the learner’s structure of knowledge or their mental processes.  What was going on inside the brain when presented with an outside stimulus?

During my childcare days, I was introduced to the Whole Child (Weissman & Hendrick, 2013) perspective which was the prevailing theory and practice for very young children at the time.  This perspective recognized that all children reach predictable milestones at different rates in four major areas:  physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially (PIES).  Each area represents a different aspect of the child and together they create the whole child.  While still feeling similar to behaviorism due to the emphasis on external stimuli, the model emphasized internal processes and structures as well as the learner being an active participant seeming more like cognitivism (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).  Here is a great chart organizing the PIES milestones by stages of development which also includes language-learning:  Child Development Chart.  As teacher and an adult learner, I identify most with constructivism (Ertmer & Newby, 1993) which emphasizes the importance of authentic experiences to create meaning.  In my teaching, I see my students as individuals each with their own personalities, learning styles, interests, and most importantly, life experiences.  My goal is to make what I teach meaningful to them.  Any reading teacher will argue that her students with more exposure to high-level vocabulary and experience reading will score higher on standardized tests.  Likewise, if she provides rich interactions and experiences to her struggling students, they will progress quickly.  As a student in my adult years, I rely on my prior knowledge and experiences to make connections among ideas, seeking similarities, identifying differences, and essentially seeing the big picture.  Yet my interpretation of the same information is different than my course mates because they bring their own knowledge and experiences to the course.  Consequently, the same information we all receive has different meaning to each of us according to the definitions we have already developed.

In summary, learning is complex idea with different definitions based upon the context of the situation, just as learners construct their own meanings based upon their situations.  If asked to choose which idea gels with my current philosophy, I would say that they all do because each applies well to an age range.  I see younger children benefiting from the external stimuli of a behaviorist perspective, older children and adolescents identifying well with the internal processes of cognitivism, and adults utilizing their knowledge and experiences through constructivism.


Ertmer, P. & Newby, T.  (1993).  Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism:  Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective.  Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-71.

Houston, J. P.  (1991).  Fundamental of Learning and Memory (4th ed.).  Fort Worth, TX:  Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Kimble, G. A.  (1967).  Foundations of Conditioning and Learning.  New York:  Appleton.

Weissman, P., & Hendrick, J.  (2013).  The Whole Child: Developmental Education for the Early Years (10th ed.).  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Winn, W.  (1990).  Some implication of cognitive theory for instructional design.  Instructional Science 19, pp. 53-69.



Course Final Reflections August 8, 2014

I cannot believe my Multimedia in Technology Applications class is ending today.  This summer has flown by because of the intensity of the course.  As for what I have learned about designing instruction from a multimedia perspective, two major themes keep emerging.  First, as with design of any kind, less is more.  We are still talking about information being presented to send a message.  Designers strive for the most efficient and effective way to create the message so it will be understood.  However, users often have different needs so everything from learning preferences and disabilities to age and language abilities must be considered.  Designers’ final products must convey the message as simply as possible so as not to create confusion yet account for every possible population all while optimizing learning conditions and eliminating redundancy.

Second, the various forms of media all have their advantages and disadvantages, so the implications of using them separately or in any combination must be taken into consideration.  But more likely than not, the needs of the situation or context of the lesson will determine which forms to use and which will only create more confusion.  Thus far in my journey through graduate school, I have been a science teacher.  Hands-on experience is the best way to learn the science.  Sure, textual information explains the concepts, and visual aids support the text, but audio aids are rarely necessary.  I will be moving back into an ESL position next year which does not rely on laboratory investigations.  Focusing on language will become my primary form of instruction, so text will become more important, and audio aids will take on a larger role.  Visual aids will be just as important although they will be more difficult to relate to language concepts and vocabulary.  More abstract vocabulary like freedom and liberty will require carefully selected or created visuals.  As for designing instruction from a constructivist perspective, I felt as though my subject matter would have translated well to a lesson in which the student simply explores the materials and discovers how to make a circuit.  However, creating a multimedia lesson from this perspective could be tricky, so the digital material would need to be more open-ended and experimental, similar to what is happening with sandbox-style games.



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