Monthly Archives: February 2014

EDTECH 562: Introduction to Statistics for Educational Technologists, Case Study

We did case studies in EDTECH 562 so we can see how evaluation is done in the real world. How are statistics used to validate what was done during the research process? Here is an example of one of the case studies I completed while taking the class.

EDTECH 562:  Module 4 Case Study

Submit to Module 4: Case Study

Please read the Module 4 Case Study file: Li, Q. (2010). Inquiry-based learning and e-mentoring via videoconference: A study of mathematics and science learning of Canadian rural students. Educational technology research and development. 58(6), 729-753.

EDTECH 562: Module 4 Case Study

Your Name: Melissa Getz

1. Research question: 

How does providing eighth grade math students living in a rural setting an opportunity to interact with people who do research allow for a more authentic experience, thereby increasing students achievement and interest in math and science?

According to the paper, the research questions they asked are:

  1. How does the experience in an IBLE affect rural students’ learning of math and science?  Specifically,
  2. Does the overall learning experience in an IBLE environment improve rural students’ achievement in mathematics as demonstrated in test scores?
  3. In what ways does the overall learning experience in an IBLE environment impact rural students’ affective development in math and science?
  4. What are the challenges of establishing an IBLE environment in a rural context?

2. Research strategy used:

Before bringing the students into the activities, the adults did a bit of planning. As a team, they created projects for the students to do with eMentors.  They identified overarching themes, by focusing on the overarching questions:

How does understanding multiple perspectives shape the way we live in the world? In what ways does diversity shape our understanding?

After identifying the themes, they brainstormed project ideas and designed the project structure.

The formation of the inquiry projects was based on these three questions:

  1. What are the curriculum topics that need the most attention?
  2. What topics will engage students?
  3. How can they match eMentors to students so that students benefit the most from their interactions with the eMentors.

Following the planning, they implemented an action plan that involved the students interacting with the eMentors and completed the project by doing the post-tests and student interviews.

There were two control groups (41 students)  and one experimental group (26 students) whose post-test scores were compared. The research group also did a pre-test so that changes between the beginning of the project and the end of the project could be measured. Nine of  the students in the experimental group were personally interviewed to collect evidence of students’ attitudes about the experience.

The research team used both quantitative analysis and qualitative data.  The quantitative analysis was generated twice:

1. is there a statistical difference in post-test scores between the control and the treated group?

2. is there a statistical difference in pre-test and post-test scores for the treatment group?

Interviews were conducted with nine students in the treatment group so as to not disrupt their courses too much. All nine students were interviewed alone or in pairs three times during the project. They felt the number adequately covered the population because the students were chosen based on having representation from a variety of academic backgrounds as well as having a small enough group with which to develop trust and confidence between the researchers and the students.

3. Independent variable(s): 

Independent variables are the ones the researchers manipulate. That is a definition for independent variable which I translate to mean the researchers are choosing a variable that can allow for output as a result of doing the experiment. For example, if they chose temperature, it would influence the experiment in a way that causes there to be output that is specific to the temperature of the experiment. Or time can be an independent variable because as it happens something else changes. The independent variable itself does not give us information that is used in the statistical analysis, but the output it can cause is used. The output also comes from dependent variables that depend on the independent variable to know how to behave.
In this situation, there is the variable of time because we have pre-tests and post-tests. The output on the pre and post tests depends on the experimental timing- had the students done the inquiry lab with the scientists as support or not?  The tests themselves would also be an independent variable because the student responses to the tests gives us data- the student responses are a dependent variable that relies on the test to provide an output. An independent variable here also involves if the students interacted with an eMentor or not. We decided who worked with the eMentor and the output we will be measuring is the students’ gain in interest in math because they worked with an eMentor. The students’ opinions are dependent on whether or not they had access to an eMentor.

There is also the variable that we are working with children. Their output is a dependent variable- it is not predictable and is based on their doing the math that was in the assignment.

This also brings up another independent variable which probably should have been listed first because it is the main difference between what happens to the experimental and the control groups: who gets to work with the scientists? Which group of kids gets the eMentoring?

4. Dependent variable:

Dependent variables give us the output. They react to whatever is happening in the experiment and it gives us our data. In this experiment we have a few different dependent variables, all of which are the result of student output. The student’s reactions to the pre and post test questions depends on their prior knowledge or what they learned by doing the projects. We also have student reactions to the interview questions. The interview questions were chosen by the researchers which makes them independent variables, however the unknown result of them is what the children are going to say. The children’s responses are based on their experiences in the eMentoring project as well as how the questions were designed to elicit a response.

5. Data analysis/statistical analysis:

Quantitative data:

Our research hypothesis is that there is a difference between students’ achievement on the post-tests. The null hypothesis, therefore, would be that there is no significant difference between the students’ scores on the post-tests.  We are accepting the null hypothesis here: there is no statistical difference in the two groups of student scores on the post-test.

T tests indicated there was no statistical difference between the control group’s post-test scores and the experimental group’s scores. The only scores that could be compared between these two groups (ones with an eMentor and ones without) are the ones at the end of the unit because the control group did not do the pre-test. Table 1 shows that the significance value is larger than 0.05: 0.056 with a t value of 59.03. That t value also seems quite large compared to the t values that came from our data analysis with the data sets in our assignment for this unit. It may be possible the t value is related to the N, which was 66. I have not done enough of these tests to know if the t value means as much as the sig value being as large as it is. This sig value of 0.056 means there are 5.6 opportunities, almost 6, in 100 that there is no significant difference between the mean test score values of two groups. There is a high chance the mean test scores are the same. The 0.056 is falling in the confidence interval instead of the critical region. If the sig value, p, had been smaller than 0.05, then we would have said there was a statistical difference in post-test scores between the two groups because there is a very, very small chance the mean of the test scores would not be the same. If the mean of the test scores were not the same, then we would be accepting the research hypothesis: there is a significant difference between students’ achievement on the post- tests.

The means of the post-test scores were too close for the effect of an eMentor to cause there to be a significant difference between the achievement of the control and the eMentor group. They conducted an independent t-test on the final grades because they had two sample groups for these scores: control group and the ones that had access to eMentors.

A paired-sample T-test between the pre- and post-tests did show a statistical significance in the scores between the pre- and post-tests. According to their results, student achievement was statistically significant in terms of improving by doing the IBLE project. The statistics, t(25) =3.54, p=0.002 tells me they did a test with 25 degrees of freedom, N-1, the t value coming from their statistics program and a significant value of 0.002, which they are calling p in the expository part of the paper. Table 2 shows the results of the paired sample t-test.

Since, however, the final test results were not statistically different between the control and the treated group, it may be an artifact of how the pre and post tests were designed, more than an indication of the influence of an inquiry approach to learning the material.

Qualitative data:

They took the student responses and used codes to categorize the types of responses they received. Once they had numeric codes, they could manipulate the qualitative data, the student responses, in a way that let them put a number on how much the IBLE environment had an impact on the students. They came up with a value of 82% using an inter-rater agreement (p.739).

They also analyzed the students survey responses to determine if there was

  1. Improved engagement and motivation
  2. Broadened understanding of the relevancy of math and science in students’ lives
  3. Increased awareness of roles and careers in math and science

6. Results and outcomes:

Enough of a difference was found that this research should continue to be funded. Even though on the final post-test both the experimental and the control groups’ scores did not show enough variability to be significant, there was evidence that the experimental group’s change in achievement from the pre-test to the post-test was significant. It seems like the pre-test and the post-test were not identical. They say, “But the results above  between treatment and control group indicated that this change might be caused by changing of test items.”

The group would like to extend this to be a longitudinal study, similar to the one they did with urban students. They also don’t know yet if this study will have long-term effects. They do not have the right instruments because they don’t exist yet. They do not have a reliable way to continue to track these students beyond this classroom experience.

Some students reported that their interaction with the eMentors increased their own confidence in math and science because the researchers and eMentors did use the students for their input on what was to be studied. Unlike traditional learning that goes from the teacher to the student without student input, this collaborative environment included students in on the lesson plans, or the direction of the project.

In their conclusion they assert that the continuous input from an eMentor is a significantly different paradigm than one where guest lectures give momentary input that is not directed to individual students, but rather to an entire group. A guest lecturer’s presence is also temporary, not allowing for follow-up questions from the students once they have had a chance to struggle with the content a bit more. The eMentor is also significantly important because there is a limit to how much the students can interact with their teacher or use the teacher as a subject matter expert the same way the eMentors can fulfill that role.

They also expressed how students moved their role from that of an information recipient to that of an information seeker. As students became more engaged with the project, they took the initiative to do research online and found a government agency to whom they could write letters based on the research they did in the project on bear habitats.

The researchers did not institute their own content based assessments so the pre and post-tests with which they had to use to collect quantitative data were not necessarily designed in a way to be useful for research purposes. It sounded like in the end they were not happy that they were forced to only use teacher designed summative assessments. They identified a few other challenges they hope to not face the next time they do a similar study, which will require them to choose their teacher and school partners wisely. (Personally I recommend they see how UC Berkeley professors use the local schools because they choose their locations so that they don’t have the same challenges these researchers faced. I know I always gave UC created assessments in addition to my own and did not actually use the UC assessments for the students’ content grades. But now I’m rambling on about me which is not what this article is about. )

EDTECH 523: Principles of Online Teaching Paper

Principles for Effective Online Teaching

Melissa Getz

Boise State University

February 21, 2012

1. Teacher expectations for students are clearly stated. 

One of the most frustrating things students face is not understanding what they are expected to do. I intentionally gave ambiguous assignments in the face to face classroom because I wanted students to be creative with their final products. I often hesitated to give examples because I feared I would get clones of the example and often when I did give an example that is exactly what happened. One advantage to me giving ambiguous assignments in a face to face classroom, though, is that my students knew they would see me in person at least three times a week. I made myself available at lunch and after school to help them figure out how to do the project. There were many afternoons that I would be in the library with them, sitting next to them, to help them figure out how to complete the assignment that involved technology.  In the online environment, I can have office hours, but physically stalking down a student and inviting him to collaborate with me is not realistic.  Another advantage to the face to face setting is that I can personally hand a student a piece of paper. In the online environment, unless we are in a synchronous setting where I push the document to the student or have created a recorded session that allows for documents to spontaneously show up in students’ faces, there is no guarantee a student will even find the syllabus or other structural document.

There are several publications that support the need for online courses and online instruction to be highly organized and to have clear expectations readily available. Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)’s document, Standards for Quality Online Teaching (2006) (abbreviated here as SQOT) states, “Teacher expectations are also a significant factor in how much and how well students learn.”  In my principle, not only do teachers have to have high expectations, they need to communicate them. SQOT (2006) goes on to mention how important it is for a syllabus to be available online that not only includes the teacher’s expectations, but grading criteria and any other pertinent course organization (p.5). Palloff and Pratt (2007) describe their beginning documents which include “a syllabus, guidelines, and the accepted rules of ‘netiquette’” (p. 115). In addition, since they use discussion forums in their online courses, they state at the beginning of the course how they expect “a minimum of two substantive posts per week per participant” (Palloff & Pratt, 2007, p. 115). The National Education Association (NEA) Guide to Online High School Courses (n.d) also recommends a pre-class orientation or a specific introduction to help ease students into the mechanics of taking a course online. It also stresses the need for all necessary materials for the courses to be easily available to students (p. 21). Finally, SREB’s Standards for Quality Online Courses (2006) (abbreviated here as SQOC) wants course requirements to be consistent with course goals, “representative of the scope of the course, and are clearly stated” (p. 4).

2. Multiple modes are used to transmit information such that they overlap and there is some redundancy. 

To cater to different learning styles, teachers need to use a variety of activities and ways of communicating information so that students can take ownership of it. In the online classroom, this means that in some situations, an audio file needs to accompany a text file. In other situations, it is not enough to assign students to do a scripted lab; demonstration video needs to accompany the lab so students can at least see how to do the lab safely. If information is very important, there should be at least two ways it is communicated to students. Even a Voki to communicate an afterthought can be effective because it is eye-catching and will let students know that something has changed or has been updated. If students are not catching all of the assignments and how to complete them, then the teacher needs to find a different, perhaps redundant, way to communicate what the assignments are and how students can be successful.
Publications supporting the use of multiple modes of transmitting information include SREB’s documents: Standards for Quality Online Teaching (SQOT) (2006) and Standards for Quality Online Courses (SQOC) (2006). In SQOT (2006), they say, “The teacher differentiates instruction based on students’ learning styles and needs and assists students in assimilating information to gain understanding and knowledge” (p. 4). The differentiation can use synchronous and asynchronous tools including multimedia and visual resources (p.3) that let the instructor “adapt and adjust instruction to create multiple paths to learning objectives” (SQOT, 2006, p.6). To support the idea that a variety of modes are used to communicate information, the SQOC document (2006) elaborates on how the online course provides “opportunities for interaction and communication student to student, student to instructor, and instructor to student” (p.4). “Courses must utilize technology that enables the teacher to customize each student’s learning experience through tools and formats such as video, interactive features, resources and links to related information” (SQOC, 2006, p.1). If these features restate course objectives or instructions on how to complete assignments, as long as the information does not contradict itself, the more modes of communication, the better. For students who can easily acquire and process information, the instructor can advise them through a path in the course that has fewer redundant resources. It should not be a scavenger hunt where a student needs to access all of the communication methods to get a complete picture; instead it should be a complete picture that has various points emphasized in alternative ways.  SQOC (2006) also points out the need for courses to meet “universal design principles, Section 508 standards and W3C guidelines to ensure access for all students” (p.7). This means the teacher may have to “adjust the scope and sequence of instruction to meet students’ academic and learning needs” (SQOC, 2006, p.2).  In addition, “the design reflects a clear understanding of student needs and incorporates varied ways to learn and multiple levels of mastery of the curriculum” (SQOC, 2006, p.4). To communicate expectations, “each lesson includes a lesson overview, content and activities, assignments and assessments to provide multiple learning opportunities for students to master the content” (SQOC, 2006, p.4). To further differentiate instruction, “the course makes maximum use of the capabilities of the online medium and makes resources available by alternative means; e.g., video, CDs and podcasts” (SQOC, 2006, p.7).

3. The learning process is dynamic.  Students interact with information, ideas, and each other in addition to receiving static methods like taped lectures or videos. 

In the face to face classroom, there are multiple ways to have students interact with information, although in many classes the lecture is used as the primary conduit of content. Lectures are pretty static- they often do not involve any student interaction or participation. In contrast, inquiry based assignments in the classroom engage the students to ask questions or to take control of some aspect of the learning environment. Online inquiry can look like the discussions in forums if students are asking questions that other students are answering. Having students create “new” ideas because of their interaction with online discussions, creating wikis with others, taping a Jing presentation to demonstrate what they have learned, or creating an animation to explain a concept are far more interactive than listening to the teacher talk. Rice (2012) suggests activities like “question generation, hypothesis development, and defense of ideas” in collaborative environments (p. 31). The online learning environment needs to be more student-centered than the one in a typical face to face classroom. Online, something other than the teacher is the source of information.  According to Palloff and Pratt (2007), “the responsibility for learning falls to the learners in a learner-centered approach and the focus is on learning, not on grades” (p.106).

Other publications reinforce the idea that online learning needs to be student-centered and active (Rice, pp. 74-78; SQOT, pp. 4 and 6). The teacher serves as a “guide on the side, an instructor, a group process facilitator, and an advisor.” The guide gently encourages students to participate in what may seem like new educational circumstances, the instructor ensures what happens in the classroom runs smoothly, the group process facilitator monitors student interactions online, and the advisor is not only a stable adult for the children, but also serves as a resource parents can rely upon for direction on how to maneuver the online school setting (Rice, 2012, pp. 74-78).

The SQOC (2006) document emphasizes:

The course uses learning activities that engage students in active learning; provides students with multiple learning paths to master the content based on student needs; reflects multicultural education and is accurate, current, and free of bias. (p.4)

It continues:

The teacher engages students in learning activities that address a variety of learning styles and preferences… The course provides opportunities for students to engage in higher-order thinking, critical reasoning activities and thinking in increasingly complex ways. (p.5)

By providing such opportunities, “information literacy and communication skills are incorporated and taught as an integral part of the curriculum”(SQOC, 2006, p. 2). On page 14, the NEA Guide to Online High School Courses (n.d) outlines similar expectations for online classrooms.

The course makes maximum use of the online medium by incorporating primary source materials, media, outside experts, and resources beyond the geography and culture of the students’ brick-and-mortar classroom experience.

They give examples of how to make courses interactive. Students utilize “a variety of media and resources” as they “learn from multiple viewpoints.” Their lessons may include online discussions, lab experiments, designing projects, writing critiques of what they read, writing lab reports, using multimedia to create a product, or having online group activities to teach collaboration skills (NEA, n.d., pp. 14-15).

Palloff and Pratt (2007) elaborate on why a variety of teaching techniques and student-centered activities are necessary. They urge instructors to be facilitators who use “a variety of learning activities and demonstrate instructional methods other than lecturing. Draw out creativity, innovativeness, and ideas in a collaborative manner” (Palloff & Pratt, 2007, pp. 109-110).  The facilitator allows “students to explore the course material… without restriction” (Palloff & Pratt, 2007, p110). Students may make comments about the reading material in discussion forums where the content is further explained or clarified.  They go on to elaborate on other researchers’ ideas of how online learning is facilitated such that the students are actively involved with the process of creating curricular material. This perspective is called a “teaching presence” and it often involves students facilitating discussion forums (p.111) or providing ideas on surveys administered during the course.

4. Safe, sociable, and legal practices are demonstrated and are taught to students. 

Safe practices include what information to disclose or not disclose in an online environment. Sociable practices include using academic language and informing students of typical netiquette expectations. The online course can contain a social forum where students can be more casual with their language. This reinforces the idea that in the content forums, more appropriate word choices are necessary (Palloff & Pratt, 2007, pp.112-115). Legal practices include teaching students about how to appropriately use information they find online including copyright laws, what constitutes plagiarism, and how to evaluate information found online to ensure it is accurate and reliable (SQOC, 2006, pp.3-4; SQOT, 2006, p.5). If needed, the instructor can create a set of Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) if the school does not already have students signing one upon registration (Rice, 2012, p.242; SQOT, 2006, p.5). The NEA Guide to Online High School Courses (n.d.) refers to this type of knowledge as “Information Literacy,” whereas Rice (2012) calls it “Digital Literacy” (p.241-242). NEA’s publication (n.d.) encourages instructors to have students complete lessons that teach them how to evaluate appropriate online resources, how to judge the credibility of what is published online, and how to maintain respect for copyright or other intellectual property they would like to use for their own projects (p. 15).

5. The teacher has been an online student in at least two different settings. 

In order for teachers to understand the frustrations that online students can have, they need to walk the walk themselves. Future online teachers need to experience the different ways that instructors can organize discussion forums, due dates, documents, expectations, or other mechanical qualities of the online setting so that they can be aware of some of the circumstances that can cause student frustration. The more exposure, the better; however, if I’m going to write a principle that leads to a standard, I want to quantify that there needs to be at least two experiences with different instructors. Rice (2012) recommends online teachers have “online course experience as a learner” (p.41). Both SREB (2006) and NEA (n.d.) want online instructors to have had at least one experience with being an online student and/or some training on how to be an online teacher (SQOT, 2006, p.6; SQOC, 2006, p.8; NEA, n.d., p17).

6. Assessment includes more analysis than determining the students’ ability for taking multiple choice tests. 

Assessment could include contributions to a discussion forum, a video they make individually or in teams to demonstrate content in the class, an animation showing how something works, writing in a journal or blog, doing a vlog, creating a wiki by oneself or as a group, or photographing a physical project made at home. Not only does the instructor evaluate student work, but the students will often do self-assessments. Rice (2012) emphasizes that online learning environments should promote a process and not just an end product.  These “online instructional strategies should encourage the use of a variety of metacognitive activities for assessment including feedback, self-reflection, and self-explanation” (Rice, 2012, p. 33). SQOC (2006) and SQOT (2006) want to see instructors create and utilize assessment that justifies the content, how it is administered to the students, shows what the students do with the information, and reports how they perceive their intellectual gain (SQOC, 2006, pp. 2 and 6; SQOT, 2006,pp. 5 – 8). NEA (n.d) on p. 19 suggests online high school courses’ assessments include:

  • Contributions and responses to online discussions
  • Completion of online assignments
  • Portfolio submissions
  • Special projects and/or presentations
  • Creation of authentic products
  • Tests and quizzes

For more advanced courses like those for college or other adult levels, small group collaboration or case study analysis that yields a collaboratively written paper or project can serve as an alternative assessment to a fact-based test (Palloff & Pratt, pp.115-116 ).

7. Curriculum is modified on a regular basis by the person teaching the course. The class is not merely static lessons developed with the idea students will have to adapt themselves to the curriculum.  The content and its delivery needs flexibility that allows for individualized instruction and assessment when needed. The teacher is given the power to change the curriculum, activities, and assessments based on the information s/he gets from students and their progress. Resources supporting these ideas include Standards for Quality Online Teaching, 2006, p. 7; Standards for Quality Online Courses, 2006, p.8; NEA, n.d., p. 22; and Palloff and Pratt, 2007, p.115.



National Educational Association. (n.d.). Guide to Online High School Courses. Retrieved from

Paloff, Rena M. & Pratt, Keith. (2007). Building Online Learning Communities: Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rice, Kerry. (2012). Making the Move to K-12 Online Teaching: Research Based Strategies and Practices. Boston: Pearson.

Southern Regional Education Board. (2006). Standards for Quality Online Teaching.  Retrieved from

Southern Regional Education Board. (2006). Standards for Quality Online Courses. Retrieved from


Edutainment, spring 2011

I actually took Edutainment before entering the Boise State program. In Spring 2011 I took a few classes online, including the Edutainment class to see if I wanted to come to Boise State for a degree. Here are some links to things I wrote or projects I did while in the Edutainment class:

Four Categories of Edutainment

Explain how these items are edutainment

Edutainment has many limitations

Evolution of edutainment

An Edutainment movie– this is a movie plot I would write if given the appropriate opportunity to write a movie script.  The Edutainment class let me realize how historical fiction is a form of edutainment and this movie would be historical fiction based on my teaching experiences with some rather unique children.

Instructional elements of comic strips

Comic strip I made

Copies of individual assignments:

Assignment: What was the significance of playing and learning within edutainment? Link to document online

Include the title of the edutainment you analyzed and a basic introduction. Indicate how it focused on playing (entertaining) (more than 100 words), how did it focus on learning, what were the learning objectives and which teaching and learning methods were used (or how they were trying to deliver the contents to players).

The edutainment I am analyzing was inspired by one of this week’s articles,” Edutainment- Is there a role for popular culture in education?”.  I tend to make assumptions, one of which is that edutainment involves electricity.  It is either found through watching TV, a movie, or playing a computer game. I never really considered books to be edutainment, but I can see how historical fiction qualifies as Edutainment.   In light of this realization, I will discuss how Lisa See’s novels instruct me about Chinese culture and history.   After some thought, I realized that a few of See’s books that I read were on my iPod, so I suppose that even though they were merely books to read, electricity is involved after all. Lisa See is part Chinese and through her family and personal connections, she has traveled to many parts of China that very few non-Chinese visit. These trips and meetings with a wide variety of people fuel the factual information she includes in her books.

How her books focus on entertaining:

Lisa See presents her characters and includes their histories and circumstances.  For example, Shanghai Girls was about two sisters who were sold by their father to a businessman to cover a gambling debt.  The girls were to accompany their new family to the United States and essentially become their sons’ wives.  As the wives they would be obligated to perform all of the traditional Chinese duties.  They would have the lowest significance in the house which means they would do all of the chores that were too disgusting for other people.  They would be obligated to service their husbands and would be expected to have many children, ideally all boys. For the sisters, however, this is not the upbringing they expected.  The father they knew was a rich man so they were spending their days in Shanghai posing for an artist’s calendar images. This was one way they could earn money independent of needing money from their father, however it turned out that when the father sold them, they too lost their money. In an attempt to circumvent the obligation their father set for them, the sisters tried to avoid immigrating with their new family. We are caught up in their circumstances as we experience the consequences of their decisions.

The time period for the book starts around World War II and at first we learn about the Japanese invasions into China.  The two sisters, along with their mother, go through difficult challenges just to try to leave China.  Reading the book, you feel their hunger, their fear, and their uncertainty for their fate. The sisters have to leave their mother and venture by themselves to San Francisco. Upon their arrival I learn about how immigration at Angel Island worked and the prejudices people coming from China faced. One of the sisters got pregnant during her last days in China and gives birth on the floor in the Angel Island women’s dormitory bathroom.  By bringing in anecdotes that seem plausible, the reader is brought into the story and wants to keep reading.  Ms See creates characters we can relate to or who have behaviors we find so intriguing that we have to keep reading. We are entertained by the conflicts, challenges, and ways her characters solve their problems.  Meanwhile, we are learning Chinese history and about its culture.  We are having too much fun imagining what the characters are going through to realize we’re learning about World War II (Shanghai Girls) , the history of the Three Gorges Valley (Dragon Bones), the social circumstances for foot binding (Snow Flower), the consequences of respecting familial obligations (Peony in Love), China’s Cultural Revolution (Flower Net), how American consumerism leads to exploiting Chinese women for cheap labor (The Interior), and Chinese politics such as the All-Patriotic Society (Dragon Bones).

How did it focus on learning:

The introductions and/or prologues include credits given to people that helped Ms See with her research.  Just reading these passages, you start to trust that what you are about to read (or just read) could have been true stories. Some of the stories are real and she tells you who they are actually about.  The characters in the book are conglomerates of historical figures and anecdotes that are shared by friends or people she meets while doing her research. Clearly one of her goals is to educate people about what it is or was like to be a woman in Chinese society.  Her stories are validated by Organization of Chinese Americans and the Chinese American Museum.  Each of those groups recognized her with an award that also acknowledges her contributions to Chinese American women’s culture.

What were the learning objectives and which teaching and learning methods were used:

The learning objectives are to teach Chinese history and culture as accurately as possible.  Ms. See also incorporates common Chinese words, written in pinyin, to help bring us into the culture.  I’ve taken a class in Mandarin Chinese and find the words to be anchors that bring me even more into the story than I would be if she used the English version of familial relationship words. There is baba and jie jie which, to me, show stronger ties between people than merely saying dad and older sister. Ms. See will often pause in the writing to explain Chinese terms, their significance, and in the process shows us why they are integral to the storyline.

In Snow Flower and the Secret Fan we learn the term laotong and its significance for Chinese women who otherwise would not have a close friend specially picked for them based on the circumstances of their birth.  In this story we learn about foot binding.  The details are so thorough that we can feel the women’s’ pain and commiserate with them. When they lose a child, which was common at the time the story takes place, we cry for them. After reading Snow Flower, I really felt like I had a much better understanding of the history and significance of foot binding, arranged marriages, and familial obligations.  She also had her main characters represent two social classes so we get to experience prejudices and assumptions that are made merely because of birthrights. Even though we do not formally label social classes in the US based on parental lineage, we are aware that there is a social strata in the US.  China, by comparison, has a societal class system that pre-determines a person’s life.  Women do not get to make choices because their social status determines what they can and cannot do.

One’s birth, and therefore social class, and its impact her future is a theme found in Snow Flower, Shanghai Girls, Peony in Love, and Flower Net. Each story takes a period of time and focuses on historical as well as cultural events that would be happening at that time.  Flower Net takes place in 1997 where we learn about the impact American desire for objects has on the peasants who work in dangerous labor shops to create the objects we want. This is one of three books whose main characters are a Red Princess who went to college in the US and now works for the Chinese government as a detective, and her boyfriend/later husband who is an American lawyer.  In the Red Princess Mystery Series we learn more about the ways American and Chinese cultures contrast each other and yet are dependent upon the other.  The scenarios are ones that people my age can relate to because they are ones that could have happened during my lifetime. Even though the locations and events are contemporary to the early 21st Century, Ms. See still manages to integrate history lessons into the plots. In Dragon Bones, a historical site becomes an archeological dig so we are introduced to the relics they could actually find in that location if that site were being researched today. Even though the characters are from the modern day, the purpose for the archeological digging is to find evidence that Chinese culture has existed continuously for 5000 years.

I am not actually sure if the learning objectives and teaching methods are deliberate, but what Lisa See does is captivate the reader into exploring humanistic stories that create a novel that paints a much broader picture of the history of Chinese culture, and how that history still influences decisions made today.

Assignment: Evaluation about the purpose of comic strips:

link to assignment on Google drive

What are the instructional elements in comic strip and how do they affect learning?

Instructional element Examples of comic strips
Motivation- use of color or extreme characters to capture the curiosity of the reader. Peanuts certainly appealed to many with the big round heads and Snoopy with his side-kick Woodstock, the tiny yellow bird. includes music and animal noises in the background to capture the attention of viewers. It is also a very colorful website.
Literacy- to increase the reader’s control of the language. It could be to enhance a language they already know or in the case of Living Books, it could be using the media to teach the reader a “new” language. Living Books.In the educomic deliverable 1, an example was given of how an ELL instructor used Calvin and Hobbes comic books as his text.You can pull up a bunch of comic strips about the English language at: website, has many comic strips available to be used to help teach English and grammar.
Literacy- as in content knowledge of a topic. Larry Gonick’s  cartoon textbooks like the Cartoon Guide to Physics, the Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, and others. Many high school teachers use his books to supplement their curriculum or as an alternative to the required textbook because the imagery shows what is happening.  Words would be confusing whereas illustrations can explain changes that happen over time.  (Comic books referenced in the educomic deliverable 1.)
Visual- visual learners are attracted to the images that often show what is happening instead of having to read a narrative explaining the plot. The comic strips at illustrate what is being discussed so the reader can make sense of the words that are there.
Visual permanence- the reader determines the pace at which the stimulus happens.  The reader decides when to move on to the next topic unlike in video media, where it progresses while the watcher is separate from controlling the pace. Any graphic novel  or “cartoon guide to…” falls in this category.  Sidekicks is a website that caters to the graphic novel. The ones she reviews are suitable for all audiences, including children.
Intermediary – the level in which comic books are written varies.  Many of them are at a basic level so they are able to capture new readers, while others can be more complicated and are geared toward experienced readers who may just be looking for something amusing to read. Comics in the New Yorker would cater to the experienced reader who is looking for a moment of humor. Likewise, political cartoons in newspapers cater to the person who has to know something of the background of the subject matter to get the “joke.”  The comic strip, Rhymes with Orange, also has a dry sense of humor. It can be found through the website, where the search was for the name of the cartoon.
Popular topics- the lessons being taught in the book may be universal like “be nice to each other” but the context can change easily to adapt to current events or topics. Although not a comic strip, at this website,, Scott Tingley the webmaster of Comics in the Classroom interviewed Matt Dembicki, the author of Trickster. Mr. Dembicki writes comic books with themes with the intent of exposing readers to various cultures and themes that are found in those cultures.  Trickster is a graphic collection to illustrate Native American tales.  (link to site was in the EduComic article.)
Development of thinking skills- apparently there are cartoons that help you with spatially understanding what to do or how to approach a problem. Ikea directions on how to build their furniture falls in this category.  I don’t know if they have any directions written in words of any language with their assembly instructions.

References used for content in this paper:

Deliverable1_StateoftheArt. (2008). State of the Art

EduComic Project: Using Web Comics in Education  Retrieved March 18, 2011, 2011, from

Various websites are listed adjacent to the information that came from them.


Choose one edutainment TV program or one 40-60 minute video, not listed in this week. Describe it: its title, content, teaching strategies and entertainment/instructional elements (300 words).

Title:  NCIS


Although I do not think NCIS is intended to be edutainment, they do spend time explaining how the science of forensics works.  Much of the time they are wrong, which is one reason I see it as a concern for teachers. Our students may see the time in the lab or how to handle a crime scene as being portrayed accurately in this show.  As a science teacher, I need to be able to explain to students why they can not trust entertainment shows as being educational.

Teaching strategies:

  1. It uses blood and guts to attract students- it captures the viewer’s attention with its storylines.
  2. It finds a way to incorporate forensics into being key to solving a mystery.
  3. At times they explain the equipment or procedure used during the forensic analysis.
  4. The viewer sees that even goofy females can be forensic scientists.
  5. They portray the scientist’s position as one deserving respect.  They are not the “geek” who needs to be shunned.  The scientist’s role is one that any person can do if they study enough.

Entertainment/instructional elements:

  1. Common set of characters from one episode to the next. They develop the characters over time and allow the viewer to grow with them as they learn more about their circumstances. The continuity keeps viewers attached to the show. We may not come back from one week to the next to see which forensic trick we’ll learn this time, but we’ll come back to see what circumstances the characters get into each time.
  2. The science is a perk of the show. Not only are we entertained with the story line where the good people solve the mystery about how someone died, but we get to journey with them as they investigate the crime scene, do tests on materials from the crime scenes, or think through the rationale for the crime.  Can we, the viewer, figure out what happened before they do on TV?  How good is our intuition with the limited amount of information we have?

Assignment: Create an example of Edutainment

Submit your assignment including its link to YouTube, title, instructional purpose, target audience and pedagogy.

Link to You Tube:

Title: ASCD 2011 in 10 minutes or less

Instructional Purpose:

  1. To show people why they would want to attend an ASCD professional conference.
  2. To give people an idea of what they can learn from ASCD authors
  3. To give people an idea of where they can go to learn about some of the latest education jargon like Understanding by Design and RAD

Target Audience:

  1. Teachers
  2. Educational professionals
  3. People curious about research done in the education field


Too many of my peers do not understand why a membership in ASCD is useful, let alone why they should pay the hundreds of dollars to attend a conference. This was my second ASCD annual meeting and like the last one, I feel energized and excited to be in the field of education.  Walking the vendor floor I was often asked if I was having a good time or if I was learning anything.  My answer simply put was, “Of course I am.  This is ASCD.”

I made the video to cater to adult learners. Adults do not have time to waste. Their 10 minutes of the video needs to be well structured, not boring, and give them information they can still use when they walk away. I grabbed photos of the main sessions I went to that I thought might grab the attention of the people in the EDTECH class. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to detail everything I sat through or every conversation I had, but this video gives a glimpse of what the average person can see and learn when attending an ASCD conference.

My peers who are going into the field of education that involves teaching theories need to know the names Carol Ann Tomlinson, Jay McTighe, and Judy Willis.  My photos of Dr. Tomlinson did not come out well so I used the introductory slide to introduce her talk. What are important are the theories she explains in her numerous books. I made a slide that lists the “catch” phrases she used in her presentation to stimulate the viewers’ curiosity.  Hey, if I can get the learners’ dopamine to flow, then I am setting them in a good direction to want to learn from some of the best researchers in our field.  There are two people I did not get to see this time, Robert Marzano and Grant Wiggins, but I sat in their presentations six years ago when they were in SF for the ASCD conference. These are two people not mentioned in the video, but if my classmates watching the video also get to read my rationale for the video, they can add those names to the list of people’s works to read.

Judy Willis’s theories are actually new to me because I let my ASCD involvement relax.  I am glad I got to see her present because I now appreciate the acronyms she has brought to edu-land and the power that is in her ideas. I am impressed by her background, a doctor of neurology and a classroom teacher, so I put more trust in what I am learning from her than I do in most papers I read that seem to be published for the sake of being published. Now I need to go through the house to see how many of her books I actually own and start reading them.

I’ve been a fan of Understanding by Design (UbD) since 2005 when I tried to teach my student teachers how to use it to do lesson plans. When I went back in the classroom in 2007, I modified UbD to fit my needs.  I think it is important for my peers to see that UbD is flexible and even the people who generated the UbD acronym recognize that there is a need to change our approach to the 3-step process.  Personally I think they have seen some of the damage that has happened with the emphasis on memorizing factoids and want educators to create more authentic assessments that are based on standards instead of the multiple choice questioning rote recall that has happened over the last several years.

Intentional or not, there were some themes in many of the sessions I attended.  Our students are digital natives, we are digital immigrants.  I even saw their generation abbreviated as iGen- that notation was new to me. There is more of a focus on the neurology of learning than I’ve seen in the past- the emphasis on what to learn seems to have shifted back to how do we get the kids to learn what they need to know so they can transfer it to new situations. My video was produced so educators can see that these themes now co-exist along with how the digital or online world is incorporated into how time is spent learning.


Week 14: Summarize one game which you are playing. Describe motivating factors in it. Is it enhancing your motivation? Evaluate the game in terms of categories (Challenge, Fantasy, Control and Curiosity, etc. ) Malone (1980) suggested. (600~800 words)

While reading the Malone paper, I could not help but reflect on how particular characteristics he describes are embedded in the game We Rule Quests. The most obvious factor to me is the sound. Malone presents it in a positive light: sensory curiosity.  I saw it as an opportunity to control the game by turning it off. The sound in We Rule becomes mundane and is too annoying to even just be background noise. The immediate feedback, however, when you click on a person is amusing. I will turn up the sound at times just to see if it is doing anything other than playing the jovial music and I am amused by the various languages my peasants use to say hello to me.

Other ways We Rule captures players is by not having an obvious rule book. I went online at one point just to see if there were rules I was not aware of, but there really is not anything beyond what I figured out by playing the game. Although it is in a fantasy setting, what keeps me going is my curiosity. What will happen when I tap on this or that?  To start the game, you get plots of land and grow crops until you have enough money to buy objects to put in the town. That part seemed obvious. What is not obvious is, what is the point of buying different objects?  I still don’t know is why I would want to buy specific objects.  For example, buying a library is very expensive. Does this mean that I’ll amass a lot of coins by collecting fines? If I buy the cheaper tailor’s shop, will I make less money?  Is there a relationship between how much an object costs, how much coin I can make from it, or how fast its timer resets? Payoffs happen in specific time increments, but only if I come back to tap on the object. My curiosity pulls me back because I feel like I am being challenged to figure out the rules of the game. I have no interest in conquering other kingdoms, nor do I even know if that is a part of the game. I keep thinking it may be because many of the objects I can buy are for the sole purpose of defending the kingdom, but other than acquiring defensive objects, I have nothing suggesting I need to conquer my neighbor. My interactions with my neighbors let me acquire objects while on a quest, but that is all I can really see for the value of knowing other people in the game.

Curiosity is also fueled by the quests. We are challenged to go on quests. It is as if our purpose in the game is to gather objects that we find by visiting neighbors and going on a quest. Malone says with respect to curiosity and challenge, “They should be novel and surprising, but not completely incomprehensible.” (p.165)  My cognitive curiosity is being tampered with because a part of me wants to see what the outcome is by doing quests, but another part of me just gets frustrated and does not see the value in having this be a part of the game. I am still in the stages of “What happens if I tap on or if I buy…”. I am still engaged in the game because my cognitive structures are being formed. I don’t need to see the results of a quest to get me to keep playing. I can play the game even if I don’t do any quests, so why should I frustrate myself when I can’t always ask for things when I visit other kingdoms? Again, not knowing the rules lets my curiosity be fed, but in time I will just give up on a part of the game because I don’t get enough feedback telling me why I want to continue following my curiosity.

Another part of what I am missing is the fantasy component. I understand the setting is probably Europe in the 1600s.  What I don’t understand is why. Why am I put in this environment?  I think all of the wizard and magical stuff is nifty, but is there a reason for it being in the game other than as decoration to create a specific environment?  My dragons don’t seem to do anything. They don’t blow fire. They don’t eat my peasants. They are no threat. Why should I want to buy an object with a dragon? Is it because they are cute and flap their wings when the program is communicating to the server correctly? I see how Malone describes fantasy as a way to put the game in a context that lets it break the rules of physics and real-life. This game certainly breaks the rules of reality, but I fail to see why it matters.  If following Malone’s reasoning, the game is not really a fantasy game even though it takes place in the land of wizards, crystals, and frogs that are as large as cottages.

Perhaps what I am taking for granted are the skills I use without thinking about them. If fantasy is built on a skill, then my imaginary life in We Rule depends on making enough coin to buy objects. I wanted to see if I could get through the game without buying more mojo. Since I was learning by trial and error, I used up almost all of my mojo in the first 10 minutes without realizing what was happening. Other than using real money to buy more mojo, from what I can tell there is no other way to acquire it. That is frustrating because there is no skill other than giving them cold hard cash to give me the advantages that mojo can buy. Is this an intentional part of the fantasy?  I expect that I’m supposed to be learning not only how to buy objects wisely so I don’t run out of coin prematurely, but I’m also supposed to figure out how to budget mojo which represents real money. Am I supposed to see how real money equals power and how fake coin is just for amusement? The metaphors I could make to go with this would take up much more space and words than you probably want to read at the moment- please let me know if this is what you want to read. In the end, I may give them some money because I respect people who make “free” apps and really only accept donations from their patrons who show their appreciation. I feel like I’ve spent at least $5 worth of time on this app that I’ll buy some mojo as a way of thanking them for giving me some entertainment.

As far as We Rule being edutainment, I’m torn. I am certainly amused, my curiosity is satisfied by immediate feedback- having numbers pop out of objects lets me know immediately what they are worth, the time keeping controls tell me exactly when I can harvest my next set of income, and other immediate feedback mechanisms are in place.  Other than learning how to budget coins and mojo, I am not sure what I am supposed to be learning. Yes I find the scales of coin and xp on each crop and how long it takes to grow a crop to be interesting- how can I maximize my income in as short of a period as possible?  Plus I have to think of when I need to harvest the crop because it will decay if left out for too long. To me, however, this is very small scale learning for the amount of time I’ve put in to playing the game.  I may continue to play the game when I need some brain candy, but it won’t be because I feel like there is some amazing educational theory or concept I will gain by putting more hours into it. I think I am at level 26 and have given the game enough of an opportunity to show me what I can learn about the culture and mechanisms that were present in this historical community.

EDTECH 521: Community Strategies

This was a project in EDTECH 521:

The assignment: Use the framework provided in the article as a template and identify community building strategies for use in your own classroom. Provide a rationale for each. I don’t usually like to put minimum and maximum counts on assignments, but some of you will ask, so let me suggest that you include between 5 and 10 strategies. What I’m most interested in is that you think carefully about how you will incorporate strategies for building community into your online classes.

My response: I am writing this chart to match up with a hypothetical class on high school chemistry. It is partly based on a class I created while taking classes at Merritt College in the last year.

The table won’t fit here so you’ll have to see the document as it is stored in my Google Drive:  Community Strategies