Monthly Archives: April 2014

MOOCS: An Alternative to Professional Development and Lifelong Learning

What do you think the future of MOOCs is? What about mobile learning?Are these things you feel are going to be beneficial or will there be a backlash?

Richard Ferdig’s (2014) insight on how the rapid explosion of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCS) continues to transform online learning within higher ed and professional development programs is thought provoking. The MOOC K12 phenomenon presents leadership with emerging issues and challenges regarding the quality of online instruction and the rapid need to transform K12 institutions to embrace 21st century learning communities. It is important for K12 teachers and leaders to engage in the MOOC world and enroll in a few MOOCS to gain an understanding and perspective on the future of online education. Ferdig’s (2014) research is correct to point out three findings, which is intended to assist in integrating technology appropriately to meet such challenges.

  1. Not all MOOCS are created equally.  Connected learning principles, cMOOCS , focus on knowledge creation, collaboration, and generation. xMOOCS, however, concentrate on knowledge dissemination. It is highly important that curriculum leaders, who in my opinion should be highly skilled in educational technology, evaluate MOOCS. Does the MOOC employ an instructional model aligning to pedagogical beliefs? Is feedback produced within the MOOC environment? How is learning accessed? 
  2. MOOC participants are self starters, or self directed learners, which means the motivation element exists. How would this look in a K12 environment? Interactivity is a huge consideration. Peer support can assist in providing interactivity.
  3. MOOCS facilitate conversations, engaging a very diverse audience, which can deepen the learning experience.

Will MOOCS replace face to face institutions or online learning university programs? MOOC completion rates are low, as MOOCS are free. Students enrolled in a for credit course pay to attend school, which includes an economic motivator that is perhaps missing within the current MOOC environment (Billsberry 2013). All 21st century instructors will need to up their game and become top instructors, as students now have options. How can this be accomplished? Improved online instruction can exist with instructors improving conversation,  facilitating and providing feedback in a timely fashion. Students will have the ability to preview what they pay for. Will MOOCS hurt postsecondary and for profit professional development organizations? My assessment is that MOOCS will push faculty, K12 instructors and leaders to become better. MOOCS will continue to provide equal access to knowledge and improve the overall online learning environment. This will continue to push the world into a new era, as knowledge will be attainable for the first time in third world counties. This could mean that K12 US education will need to refocus efforts on new ways to improve academic motivation as US students will now compete with a more educated global world. It is very unlikely that universities will begin closing their doors. However, maybe it is time for universities and K12 institutions to hire faculty and teachers who have a strong background in learning theory, instructional design, and ed tech. Serious conversations within K12 institutions on the purpose of why we are really here will need to be continued. Students will now have more options and school choices via online platforms to select a pathway to help them obtain a job, particularly secondary students. MOOCS will push all educational environments to reconsider approaches to meet student needs and skill sets needed in the 21st century.

Billsberry, J. (2013). MOOCs: Fad or Revolution? Journal of Management Education, 37(6), 739–746. doi:10.1177/1052562913509226

Ferdig, R. E. (2014). PREPARING FOR K-12 MOOCS. Tech & Learning, 34(6), 26-27.

What did you learn from your experience using social media and other open source tools?

What did you learn from your experience using social media and other open source tools? Should they be used for teaching and learning? Tell the story of what you learned

Social media has changed my approach to learning, both a student and as an educator. I can leverage social media to collaborate, research, publish, and extend learning beyond my local environment. Also, I am allowed to showcase a reflection to a wider audience and this motivates me to want to learn and share more. Self directed learning is empowering. The social element provided within social media environments allow for a more free flowing approach to communication (Taylor, King, & Nelson, 2012). The freedom of information via social media provides educational platforms to users and students across the world. This presents both advantages and disadvantages to learning.

In a recent study, Fewkes & McCabe (2012) surveyed students and found that majority of participants, 73%, believed Facebook could be used as an educational tool,  citing benefits to include collaboration, homework assistance, productivity, and easier communication. However, only 27% of students surveyed had a teacher include Facebook in a learning activity. This to me signifies the largest issue facing schools. Teachers have had little training on how to integrate technology and social media into instructional activities. The learning curve is rapidly changing, Instructors need to not only learn how to utilize social media tools to advance their own personal learning, and they now must also leverage social media tools to facilitate a deeper learning experience. This requires strong professional development, time and support.

It is important that a teacher be present online and involves students to become both producers and contributors within a social media environment. Ignoring social media doesn’t provide solutions and fails students. Teachers and schools must model 21st century skill sets to students. Educational programs should promote social media tools and demonstrate appropriate use to a wider community. How will students choose to utilize social media tools if they are not exposed to using tools to advance a quest for knowledge? Social media provides classrooms with an opportunity to increase cognitive presence, teacher presence, and social presence, providing a more meaningful learning experience.

In 2010, I was a participating in a Twitter educational  chat when I began corresponding with other educators about integration practices. From this experience, I was provided a link to a program in which my life significantly changed. Due to a  Twitter PLN, I found myself two months later working on a curriculum packages with top ed tech and science teachers. Our product was shared with the world using a variety of tools via Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and Google+. A direct result of me participating in a self directed Twitter edtech chat, led me towards coauthoring curriculum and sharing experiences to the entire world. As a result, I decided to attempt to earn a PhD in Learning Technologies and cognitive systems. In addition, students in rural Texas received funding and recognition. Twitter has significantly changed the playing field. There is now a living conversation that continues on topics I am passionate about. I get to collaborate with like minded professionals about real world problems and we seek solutions. I have learned that I am not alone. There are many teachers eager to change the world and make a difference. Many instructional technologists feel alone and pioneers in the field often do find themselves struggling to meet demands. It is difficult to be in the trenches, but the reward of  learning outcomes shared within a social environment is worth is great.

Hunter & Caraway (2014) illustrate the importance of participating in social networking, as tools are becoming a very popular place for 21st century youth to construct, articulate, and participate in their own reality. Young people are already involved in fundamental acts of teaching and learning and employ social media to do so. Hunter & Caraway (2014) conducted a study with 30 ELA ninth grade and 10th grade students in an urban area, using Twitter as a means to have students organize, facilitate, and disseminate topics related to literacy and literature. Students became more engaged, and participation increased. Students appreciated experiences and developed academic identities, which was previously missing.

Hashtags provide students with a voice. I attempted to give students this ability in a rural town in Texas. I will never forget the day our Tweets landed a local DFW reporter in our classroom. We led a national campaign to help our rural community gain attention. Students developed a campaign and for 3 months began creating content, videos, and utilizing social media to save a local business. Students utilized the TwitterMapApp and we could see our message spreading over the world. Students became very engaged and began to care about learning. We could see visually see on Twitter and on the map the power of an idea and were able to view a movement take place. This was a powerful event in which I had the privilege of facilitating.

I have learned that social media can be utilized to provide for a richer learning experience. It levels the playing field, provides students with the ability to construct new knowledge by giving students access to multiple perspectives. Reflections are very empowering, and it is important that K12 classrooms help students develop an academic identify online. I have learned that those who ignore this problem will find themselves still encountering issues associated with social media. Reimagning instructional approaches employing social media platforms are essential to producing a transformative 21st century learning environment.

Be a participant, producer, reader, and contributor. Model appropriate learning and share experiences. Social media platforms serve to help push our students to become academic contributors.

Hunter, J. D., & Caraway, H. J. (2014). Urban youth use twitter to transform learning and engagement. English Journal, 103(4), 76-82.

Fewkes, A. M., & McCabe, M. (2012). Facebook: Learning Tool or Distraction?. Journal Of Digital Learning In Teacher Education, 28(3), 92-98.

Taylor, R., Dr, King, F., Dr, & Nelson, G., Dr. (2012). Student learning through social media. Journal of Sociological Research, 3(2), 29-35.

Open Source tools and Social Media To Promote Learning Communities

How useful do you find the open source tools and social media for learning? Is it your personal preference that drives this or the affordances? Would they be useful for others if you find it lacking? What would make them more useful?

Social media and open source tools can be integrated to improve or disturb the overall cognitive process. Instructional design is often the critical component missing. Often instructional leaders or faculty either lack technical skill sets or instructional design skill sets, viewing technology as a separate component or department from learning. Clark’s (1983) assessment of media, or in this case social media, as vehicles “delivering instruction or a grocery truck delivering nutritious food”, remains true. Integrating media tools isn’t a new problem, as evidenced by the great Clark-Kozma debate. The tool or media in question, however, is now more engaging, productive, and full of great but also equally destructive learning potential, enhancing Kozma’s (1991) arguments that media, if used correctly, influences cognitive processing capabilities. Fewkes and McCabe (2012) offer insight on the uses of Facebook as a learning tool but also as a distraction. If educators do not have access to instructional support equipped with a background in learning technologies along with learning theory and pedagogical practices, classrooms might view Facebook as “entertainment” not “true intellectual engagement” (p. 93). In my opinion, this is why strong curriculum support is needed, requiring such skill sets mentioned above. Too much media also interferes with cognitive processing. A balanced approach to open source tools and social media integration is needed for true learning to occur. Confusion on just accessing on-demand technology, instead of focusing on learning outcomes leads to a failed learning experience.

Fewkes and McCabe (2012) research suggest the following approaches to integrating Facebook in the classroom. A strong approach to in-service for staff development on the proper instructional use of digital technology and social media will help with instructional design approaches. Districts should not just focus on policy during training. All stakeholders should engage in conversation to consider barriers to create rich environments. Provide more freedom and trust, in a less controlled atmosphere, could produce an overall congruent vision and use of social media as a learning tool.

Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-459.

Fewkes, A. M., & McCabe, M. (2012). Facebook: Learning Tool or Distraction?. Journal Of Digital Learning In Teacher Education, 28(3), 92-98.

Kozma, R. B. (1991). Learning with media. Review of Educational Research Review of Educational Research J1 – Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 179.


My Personal Learning Theory Experiences: Taking it to the next level.

Feedback provided to me was very positive and constructive. During this process, I completely changed my theory of personal learning, growing as a student and advocate of improving instructional approaches. As pointed out in my paper, “The “maker movement emphasizes learning through direct experiences, hands-on projects, inventions, and is based on a constructionist learning theory even if members and advocates of the movement are unaware of the theory” (Stager, 2013). As a member and advocate of the maker movement, I realize that the above statement summarizes my personal approach to learning theory. All constructionists embrace constructivism. However, constructionism approaches extend to include a larger social element, highlighting the importance of creation via learning artifacts within an extended community. After improving my understanding of constructionism approaches, I revamped my theory of personal learning and located many articles and studies to learn more about constructionism research approaches. Feedback stressed what I already knew to be an issue, proofing. Considering that I revamped my theory of personal learning completely, I recognize that time spent towards proofing would improve the overall quality of my product. However, instructors also complimented me on the overall paper, which really surprised me and has motivated me to continue and press on. Task two has led me to continue my research towards constructionism approaches, as I have located over 25 articles and research studies surrounding constructionism studies. I have begun condensing my paper. In addition, I plan to include a wider perspective to include research giants of constructivists and constructionism, instead of only emphasizing Piaget and Papert. Also, it was suggested that I should quote the source of important contributions to the constructivist and constructionism field instead of quoting from articles reviewed. For example, I quoted an article that mentioned John Dewey’s personal theory of learning. I have now read John Dewey’s own writings and contributions, which provides legitimacy. Our final major task towards completing CECS 6100 includes creating a research proposal. I plan on utilizing materials from my experiences in CECS 6100 to conduct a study that focuses on constructionism approaches with teachers to compare STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) professional development delivered via a MOOC and face to face. Materials I am developing are very relevant to my real world professional experiences at this time.



Stager, G. S. (2013). Papert’s Prison Fab Lab : Implications for the maker movement and education design, 487–490.

Designing eLearning Experiences

What is your personal perspective on the best manner of designing instruction for online teaching and learning? What is your process? Does it match any existing methods? If so, which? How did you learn to design instruction? Does your process for designing instruction match your larger theoretical perspective? Where is it the same? Where does it diverge?

Dewey (1904) stressed that teaching requires a technique,requiring training in psychological insight, theory, and experience. The idea mentioned above still  holds true today in both virtual and face to face instructional environments. Papert (1993) suggests that new technologies enhances learning with students actively participating as creators of personal media, supporting diverse intellectual thoughts and styles. As a contributor and student advocate towards a revolution within eLearning and maker movement, I emphasize the topic of voice within instructional design. How is voice utilized within instructional environments? Too often, instructional voice is a passive or copied MOOC or eLearning response. In fact, often eLearning professionals lack instructional voice and ignore the need of learners to receive valuable feedback within the community. Likewise, universities eLearning attempt to copy courses and include faculty whom are often unwilling to embrace the online movement. As a student, I have participated and paid for a poor online course. The teacher failed at communication and course work was copied within the blackboard environment. As a participant, I felt lost and alone. In fact, I could of recieved the same quality of instruction watching YouTube videos.  Within this attempt, faculty fail students as teachers and provide little to no communication.   Facilitation is needed within both face to face and eLearning environments.

Teaching, in both face to face or virtually, is an art. Teachers must tailor course objectives and instruction, building an engaging and meaningful community. Anderson (2004) provides an excellent description of the role of a teacher within an online community.  Effective eLearning environments must include three critical pieces:  cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence.

It is important to understand that learning to design online instruction requires participating within online environments as an instructor, designer, and student. Doing so provides perspective and produces a quality eLearning teacher, or artist. Failing to participate fully as an online student, teacher, and designer reduces skills sets mentioned above which produces a poor eLearning contributor and creator.  Active learning requires active participation.

The process of instructional design within such environments is challenging as a designer as creation components require instructors to select technologies that embrace a wide variety of accessibility features. Learning artifacts, authentic reflection pieces, and feedback mechanisms should provide users with a choice of mediums. It is important for the learner to apply content to their real world situation, capture a learning artifact, and share reflections with a wider or global audience using media technologies. The instructor must facilitate this process and a copied course approach does not facilitate such an approach. The above process requires a strong life-long commitment by faculty to be a learner and will require institutions to provide instructional technology training to a faculty population who often fail to embrace change via eLearning platforms.  Perhaps, the time has come for many organizations to recognize that old approaches, although still valid, must be altered to embrace a deeper eLearning experience that students richly deserve.


Anderson, T. (2004). Teaching in an online learning context. Theory and practice of online learning, 273.


Papert, S. (1993). The children’s machine: Rethinking school in the age of the computer. Basic Books.