Category Archives: 5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation

Formative evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and
using this information as a basis for further development. Summative
evaluation involves gathering information on adequacy and using this
information to make decisions about utilization.
Examples include:
5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation
5.3.1 Develop and apply formative and summative evaluation strategies in a variety of SMET contexts.
SMET = School Media & Educational Technologies
5.3.2* Develop and implement a school media program evaluation process.
5.3.3* Use a variety of summative and formative assessment techniques for the
evaluation of the school media center and for the school media program.
[from (SMETS)]

EDTECH 541: Hypermedia

This entry is a video blog. Hopefully it will be embeded!

EDTECH 541: Instructional Software and Technology Tools

Relative Advantage of Instructional Software

When I can find software to use in class, everybody benefits. Obviously it means I don’t have to lecture that day, other than to explain how to use the software. Chances are the students will be more interested, especially if the software is fun to use. Unfortunately some of what I have had students use is less than ideal. For example, I had students do a webquest to learn about doing protein gels. I could have lectured, but it seemed better for them to see the animations. For this particular webquest, I gave them questions and links to various websites where they can find the answers. I learned that if I were to do this again, I may have to put the link to the website adjacent to the question it answers. As much as students like using computers, they don’t necessarily like to use them for research, or to find an answer that can’t be easily found in a Google search or a wiki.

To teach students how to analyze data by using software that gives them the opportunity to read graphs or the results of an experiment, is not as good as having them do it hands-on in the classroom, but it is better than them not getting any experience with the information. Unfortunately many of the virtual labs I have used with students are either so difficult that it takes me hours to figure them out, like Gizmos, or they are just point, click, and drag exercises that they actually end out being a waste of time. Until my abilities with creating software or using software to create lab scenarios gets better, I am afraid that if I use software with the kids, it is going to be written by somebody else.

Interested in what our textbook has to say, I started skimming through it. Sadly on page 77, they say, “Today, after more than 30 years of development and experimentation, there is less talk of computers replacing teachers…” which is actually an optimistic perspective. What is sad about it, is that from my experiences in the last 4 years, it is not true. Computers and scripted curriculum are replacing teachers. There are companies who are making lots of money by replacing the teachers that used to be in the classroom by replacing them with virtual teachers. These virtual teachers will often have a load of 200 students per day from whatever states they have a credential to teach in. While I realize this post is supposed to be about how educational software and technology tools help the classroom teacher, I feel the need to point out the disparity that exists between a classroom teacher and a virtual teacher. Software IS replacing the classroom teacher. I know this because I taught kids in Delaware who did not have a classroom teacher. The software and I replaced whoever should have been the classroom teacher when the school was restructured. For my Pennsylvania kids, I was their teacher, even though I never met them in person, and live 2000 miles away. I did not actually ever teach them anything. I tried to tutor them if they would stay focused enough during a tutoring session to let me explain things to them, but even then, I had some kids who were not used to the idea of being responsible for their learning. This is not at all what I meant this blog post to turn out as so I will curtail my digression on how bad virtual schools are at this point, but I do want to point out that in my presentation of tutorials, drill and practice, and other categories of instructional software, this is not the same software being used in virtual schools. The software links I am presenting for this post are stuff that I either used when I was in the classroom, or would use should I ever get back in a classroom. (The later seeming further and further away from possibility, but you never know. So far using a wheelchair rocks using a walker, and if I upgrade to a power wheelchair, who knows what my limits will be?)

Robolyer and Doerling point out on page 78 that “instructional software packages are developed for the sole purpose of supporting instruction and/or learning.” It is important they differentiate between technology that is merely a tool, technology that is replacing the teacher, and technology that supports the teacher. Granted, they are not acquiescing that software is replacing teachers, but trust me, it is. They go on to elaborate which types of software can allow for directed and / or constructivist approaches. Naturally, as the students are given more control of the software environment, the more constructivist it can be. For example, having students build a website gives them more freedom than merely doing a webquest where they go hunting for answers to questions. (I have had students do both.) I see a parallel between paper and equipment lessons and computer software ones. The tutorials and drill and kill are like the worksheets or notes I used to print out on paper for the kids to use.  Simulations are like cookbook labs. Problem solving scenarios are like inquiry based labs. At the moment, I don’t have a parallel for instructional games, unless doing a Jeopardy review or having kids make board games qualifies as an instructional game.

In chapter 3, Robolyer and Doerling give advice on how to select good examples of software in each category. In addition they elaborate the pros and cons of each type. Many teachers scoff at having any rote memorization types of drill and kill, whether it is a worksheet or a computer program. It is comforting to see that I am not the only one who finds value in having students practice specific types of problems repeatedly. I am currently tutoring an algebra 2 student, and while preparing for her winter final, it became pretty chaotic with so many different problems to figure out. One thing I started to notice, however, is that what was becoming more important than getting the right answer, was learning how to evaluate the situation to determine which technique best solves each problem.  We may never recognize we are factoring a binomial in the real world, but learning how to be calm while sorting through our resources and evaluating them is a skill both my student and I will benefit from knowing.

Tutorials are my favorite type of programs to create because I love learning how to use Articulate Storyline. I took the BSU class on Flash, and it was pretty much a nightmare. I used Articulate’s free 30 day download for two classes, and became hooked. Fortunately I have significant support from my husband and family, so I was able to purchase Storyline.  Flash will integrate with Storyline so I may do some flying numbers in Flash to bring in to a Storyline project, but otherwise I think I am stuck on doing the “explanation screen” way of trying to help students with various science topics. I have not created many tutorials, but you are welcome to see what I have done at For my students who were enrolled in virtual classes because they were at a treatment center, my guides were a way they could get additional support for the classes if a live tutor was not available.  Robolyer and Doerling point this out on page 88, tutorials are useful for instruction when no teachers are available. You may be surprised by how many students are taking classes that don’t have a readily available teacher. It is for these students I write my tutorials.

I am a huge fan of physics simulations. Even making apps with Corona or other simple programs lets you use physics. Even though I did not figure out how to make an app by coding in lua for one of my BSU classes, I did come to appreciate how physics can easily be integrated into simple software programs. As much as I am addicted to Minecraft, it is odd how they only have physics apply to two types of blocks. Then again, because they suspend the laws of physics, students can easily make three dimensional representations of objects when building in creative mode.  Redstone mimics electronics and minecarts can travel based on gravity, so Minecraft is not completely void of physics. The redstone and use of minecarts on trails can give kids an opportunity to participate in something a teacher created, therefore making it a simulation or game, or they can create their own situations which would fall into the problem solving category.

I am torn when it comes to digital dissection because I know I truly learned more about animals by dissecting them, than if I had just gone through a point and click way of learning body parts. I wonder, though, how necessary it is to kill so many animals just for tenth grade dissections.  Our book quotes from studies that showed digital vs physical manipulation does not seem to matter in terms of what information students retain (Roblyer & Doerling, 2013, p.91). For many teachers, the benefits of no set-up or clean-up, less costly equipment once the software is acquired, unless its license has to be renewed annually, and less supervision needed during the class period, outweigh the negative perception that what the students are doing is not actually real. The American Chemical Society (ACS), and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have come out against virtual labs. Even the College Board will not accept credits in classes where students did a virtual equivalent of a lab. (Robyler & Doerling, 2013, p. 93).  This means students will be doing PCR and running agarose gels for their AP biology lab, instead of imagining the bands migrating through the gel.

The last two categories, Instructional Game Software and Problem-Solving Software, are more difficult for me to see in the science context. The book recognizes Geometer’s Sketchpad, which is a very good program. It helps make geometry more spatially available. They also mention Spore as a game for studying evolution. I can’t comment on Spore because I’ve never played it. I do have to say, though, that I did an internship for a nanotech company in Emeryville, and the folks who created Spore were either on our floor or above us. It was interesting to ride in the elevator with them. But I digress, once again…

You may notice in my presentation , instructional games and problem solving software have very few entries. Hopefully I will be able to add more links after I post my blog. Fortunately the book treats the last two categories like it did the first three by giving example scenarios, and pro/con lists. One possible con that struck me was the idea of having to choose software that can handle limited physical dexterity (Robyler & Doerling, 2013, p. 95). I don’t think many students like having me in class because I can find faults easily in student work, and I will mention it. It is not to be mean; I’m actually trying to be helpful. People who don’t have disabilities really have no clue what it is like to have some. Just ask me about how ludicrous some of the ADA adaptations are where I live, and I’d be glad to tell you how we need people with the disability to create the adaptive physical changes, or in the case of my classes, adaptive software. We used Minecraft as a game, and as a way to do problem solving when I took EDTECH 531. In 531, we created an example of how to use one of three software packages as an educational tool, and there were some lessons I could not physically do because of the way they were designed. I did not have the manual dexterity to click and drag fast enough. If you know how to contact me, and you want me to evaluate any website or program you create for its difficulty with my limitations, just ask. I happily volunteer my eyes, hands, and defective brain as a testing environment.

In 531, I was incredibly impressed with how Minecraft (MC) can be used to simulate many social studies situations. I thought of a few ways it could be used with science, and I plan to make quests in 3dGameLab that have students use Minecraft to look at some science concepts. I feel like Minecraft is predictable enough that you can act like a scientist, and evaluate the game in survival mode as if one is going through the scientific method. I wish I qualified for minecraftedu so I could create scenarios that have students go mining for organic and inorganic resources. I can do that with regular MC, but it will be much more difficult to control student access to specific areas, and to protect blocks. The possible lessons in Second Life are also amazing, but from what little I’ve experienced, they are not on the level of games or problem solving. I can see World of Warcraft being used for problem solving because that is what you have to do continuously- the first problem being how to play the doggone game. I felt that way with Minecraft, too. I think any of these software programs that are easily intimidating at first are actually really good tools for students to learn resilience, endurance, and perseverance.  I was a MC misfit when I first started playing it. I later became addicted to it. The book makes a distinction between doing problem solving software activities merely for the sake of learning how to problem solve. (Robyler & Doerling, 2013, p. 97). I can totally see using software for that purpose, at least until someone figures out how to create something that can be open ended enough for students to be able to make mistakes and therefore be able to learn from them

One thing that should be in any of the interactive software games is a chance for failure. When click and drag scenarios are too predictable, students won’t be challenged and will complete the activity because they are required to, and not necessarily because they are enjoying what they want to learn. We need to be careful, though, to not build in failures that students will take too strongly or  too personally. I still don’t know where I am going to fit into education in my next stages. I’m hoping it will involve creating quest based courses in 3dGameLab that other teachers will want to use. If I can figure out how to turn a quest or a course into how to problem solve something in science, other than an easily predictable physics or genetics lab, I will be ecstatic.


Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching [6th edition].

EDTECH 505: Far West Laboratories Proposal

Dr. Thompson had us “practice” writing a request for proposal (RFP) document. In this document we had to plan how to execute helping Far West Laboratory with their need to educate their school clients.

The pdf document at Google Docs

EDTECH 523: First Discussion Post


  1. Imagine that you are about to lead a discussion in a subject that you teach. Based on the required and any optional readings, what aspect(s) of leading or preparing to lead a discussion stand out to you as the most important, and why?

The most important parts of leading a discussion are

  1. Establishing a safe environment.
  2. Having students be aware of the grading rubric
  3. Having students be aware of an “I agree” versus a more substantial post. They should also understand how the grading works for both.
  4. Having students understand when to start a new thread vs continuing ideas in an already existing thread.
  5. Having it in an environment where it is easy for me to keep track of who posted, when they posted, what they said, and who they were responding to.
  6. Having it in an environment where students can easily keep track of what they posted and where it was posted- our set-up of Moodle 2 does not seem to allow that to happen anymore. I have not played with my Moodle set-up enough yet to see if Moodle2 can do it at all.
  7. Having students’ email addresses so I can reply to them privately and off of the discussion board.
  8. Encouraging students to share their ideas.

(Choose and respond to one of the following)

2a. What obstacles have hindered the use and effectiveness of online discussions in a class you have taught or taken?

I would love to respond to both of these, but for now I will just address the first one because most of the discussion areas in the BSU classes have been less effective for me than they were in the community college classes I took online. Actually I was really spoiled in Alex’s classes because they were so well organized and were really easy for me to follow ideas, figure out where I had posted so I could see if anybody replied to my posts, and they were very safe environments. I was as clueless as my peers in those classes.

A few environments that were ineffective were ones where:

  1. Students do not start their own thread with their initial post.
  2. The deadline for the initial post is not set at a reasonable time frame.
  3. The deadlines for follow-up posts are not set for a reasonable amount of time after the initial posts are required.
  4. Netiquette is taken to an extreme. (I tend to be too frank in my posts at times.)
  5. I have used VoiceThread with students and found grading their discussion to be a nightmare. I did this before I even had a clue Moodle existed and at the time was the only safe way I could figure out how to enroll students onto a discussion board. I used space at a “free” phpBB board and often tried to get students to be able to do discussions there, but there was always some logistical hang-up that got in the way. I don’t know php and don’t remember why I was not able to get students to engage with that setting, but the phpBB’s failed and VoiceThread was more energy consuming than effective.
  6. In one online class, our discussion board was a list-serve. Yeah, doing discussions via email was less than organized or productive.

A couple environments that were effective or slightly effective were:

  1. WebCT with new science teachers. Here we discussed various ways of teaching different science concepts with our students. It was with the eMSS program, of which I was a part from 2003-2007. I was a facilitator in the chemistry area for two years.
  2. Blackboard with my student teachers. I used to teach science student teachers. They were required to do a reflection each week. The first year I taught with the program, I followed what I was told to do. Students emailed their reflections to one of the two instructors who by themselves gave feedback to the student who sent in the reflection. I wanted to make the reflection part of the course more interactive because I am not the source of all knowledge. Our students were very talented people who also had good ideas or may have been able to commiserate. I was able to talk my co-instructor into letting students turn their weekly entries in to a discussion board in the Blackboard course I set up for our class on the weeks they were to be turned in to me. She did not want to bother with Blackboard or to share the authority on teaching with the students who were obviously too inept to share constructive ideas with their peers. What little I was able to do with my student teaching graduate students was as good as I could hope it would be given the opposition I faced from my superior co-instructor. This happened fall 2005.
  3. I did get to use Moodle with my students once and that worked great for me, but since it was their first time, our product was not as good as I imagined it could be. I did not know how to use Moodle at that time so I was learning how to use it as they were. I had facilitated discussions with WebCT many years before so I knew the concept of a threaded discussion, but Moodle was a new environment. My students wanted to use Facebook but our IT person told us at the beginning of the year that we were prohibited from using fb with kids. That, of course, did not stop the cool teachers from using fb with their kids so my popularity got another ding by not using fb.
  4. I took a SQL class online where we had to turn in our homework assignments to the discussion forums. Our instructor set it up so that you could not see what other people posted until you posted your solution. This was effective because you could not cheat by looking up the answers before posting your own solution. Plus after you posted your ideas and then you saw how others solved the problem, then you could learn from your mistakes. She did have a discussion forum set up for each week’s major assignment where we could post questions to solicit help from the instructor or our peers. I almost failed the course, but not because of how the discussion forums were organized.

2b. Based on your experience with online discussions as a teacher and/or a student, what techniques do you consider most effective for soliciting interaction and critical thought? Are there experiences you have found particularly fulfilling or frustrating?

This is the question I did not answer

EDTECH 523: Module 4 Reflection

Module 4 reflection and summary


I restrained my participation in Module 4 because my style of taking online classes is not congruent with how this class is organized. I am changing what I normally do to meet the expectations of the class. This is not the only time I have had to change my behavior so it is not a big deal; it just decreases my enthusiasm for doing the reading or for challenging me to think or to come up with new ideas or solutions to problems.  In contrast, the discussion forum Bret and I did was not totally new to me, and I appreciate that Bret was open to having our discussion’s focus center around a video instead of a paper. I went hunting for various videos on how to hold online discussions- there is a playlist at my mgetzedu YouTube channel if you want to see what else is in the list that I put our video in. The video we used better fits my way of doing discussions because as Bret taught me, we could have a different panel per main idea. We did not have to squish divergent ideas into one thread- they could be spread out and people had a choice about where they wanted to post or not post. Viewing the responses, we stayed consistent with the topic within a panel instead of being bombarded with too many divergent ideas in the same space. The ideas were focused around a question that had sample answers in the video clips. If nothing else, I hope people learned how they may be able to use Voice Thread with their classes. Voice Thread can develop a discussion in both a horizontal and vertical direction- horizontally it has breadth whereas vertically people can develop one aspect to a lengthy degree. Since we do not have a large class like we do in public school, we did not get to see the full extent of chaos that can happen when inexperienced people participate in VoiceThread.

Reflection of my activity during the VT discussion thread:

The discussion board was a success. I was able to try out the discussion techniques I was taught for the eMSS program and through the PBS online facilitator’s class. It has been a long time since I’ve had an opportunity to facilitate so it felt great to be able to do it again. This was my first chance to try landscaping posts and rereading them, I am not sure they are as succinct as they could be, but they are not that bad either. The personal emails to initial posters got some pretty good feedback and it let me develop more of a relationship with a couple of my peers. I am glad to see some people had the time to visit the VT discussion and tried the various ways it lets you communicate to others.

Reflection of: Use your checklist/rubric and assess 1 of your own postings from previous discussions. Did you meet the criteria outlined in your own assessment tool?

Discussion post: Online Discussion Management Issues and Strategies, Sunday, March 18, 2012, 08:41 AM

Relationship to my rubric:

When did I post? Satisfactory because it does not start a thread and it was later than 4 days after the discussion opened.

What did I post? Satisfactory because it is on topic, demonstrates a perspective that has not been mentioned yet, and stimulated at least one other person to share an idea. Although my idea did not stimulate several other responses, what people said in response to what I said did stimulate more conversation.

Usefulness of post? Satisfactory because I do not think what I said was inspirational enough or relevant enough to other people for them to care about the need to have introductory courses for students new to the online environment. Just about every successful school I’ve attended or taught with has had minimally an introductory lesson on how to use the LMS so I thought it was relevant to bring it up in this particular discussion.

  • What changes might you make in your teaching practice based on what you now know about facilitating effective online discussions?

I wish I had an online teaching practice so I could make changes. I am still at the beginning of my online career. Although I have a lot of experience with taking classes online that included discussion forums, I do not have much experience facilitating courses online. I am sincerely hoping that I will one day get to use what I have learned in this and other BSU classes so that I can contribute to other people’s learning.

EDTECH 523 Module 6 Reflection

Module 6 is where we teamed up with a partner to plan a live presentation for our peers using the Adobe Connect software. This is the reflection I wrote after Bret and I did our presentation, which was a fantastic experience.

Module 6 reflection

The readings and how they are reflected in our presentation:

Chapter 5 of the book was my favorite chapter. Even though Bret and I scoured through chapter 6 figuring out what type of interaction was possible and feasible, chapter 5 contained stuff that had tangible meaning for me at this time. In our presentation I played the role of behind the scenes host. I tried to calm people’s worries if they were expressed in the chat area during the presentation. I made it to one of the breakout rooms to help them get started with their conversation and let them know that they were doing great by writing on the notes screen. I also let them know they could use audio and video cams in the breakout room without bothering others. Before we pulled people out of the rooms, we sent the 20 sec warning that you were going to have your reality change. For the anticipated review of what went on in the groups, I pulled up the notes screens so they could be seen by everybody and therefore not be left out of any discussion. We also planned for a parting gift, which apparently did not download for some people. I have no clue why that didn’t work because we put the documents in there correctly. I also hope that some people get to take the survey so they can see what a Google form can do and if they use the links at the end of the form, they can view the data as it comes in. I was glad to see some welcomed the idea of having a “parting gift.”

I did not get to enact all that was suggested in chapter 5, in part because I was not a solo presenter. Also, since we were doing a round-robin of classroom jumping, there really was not a way to be prepared enough to welcome people as they entered. I understand that it was difficult to get people in as guests and Bret and I learned that barrier early on. I think this is why he came in our room as a guest and had me turn him into a host. Somehow everybody was turned into a host so it did not matter that Bret did not enter as a presenter/host. In some ways, the software is too friendly by putting a cookie in our machine and not making us re-register for each room. That is why I used my Mac when I was a participant and my PC as the presenter. I anticipated quick room changes and knew I’d mess it up if I tried to enter the other rooms while using my PC because the PC is cookied. It is not reasonable to expect people to have 2 computers to do this lesson so we could not expect everybody who had already presented to be out of the presenter registration. I think that is why so many people showed up as hosts when they entered the room- their machines were cookied and it is tough to remove that status.  I guess since I spend so much time trouble shooting things because I often find them difficult to maneuver through quickly, that it proved to be an asset for me to know the Mac would work fine in the guest position.

Bret and I also used the Mac as a guest computer when we prepared for our session. Since we could not talk very clearly when we were not in the same room, it was hard for one of us to be presenter and the other to be guest when we practiced. I signed in to our room as a guest from my Mac laptop so I could see what the guests would see during the presentation. That is what taught me how the breakout rooms work. I could tell that putting ‘Mel on the Mac’ in a breakout room did not stop “her” from being a part of what was happening in the main room until the “start breakouts” button was pushed. Part of my nervousness in the beginning of our presentation was being afraid everybody would let their curiosity get the better of them and they’d move themselves out of the breakout rooms before we started them. The plan was originally to keep people as guests because we did not want them to play with stuff that was already set up to go. Fortunately we are working with adults so my fears were unnecessary. Everybody behaved themselves as perfect students and none of our tricks got messed up before they were delivered.

The backchannel- Bret and I did not necessarily see eye to eye on the backchannel, but this was not my place to be the total control freak so I went along with our main chat area being a backchannel. I don’t know if Bret has ever participated in a backchannel chat during a real presentation. I’ve actually only done it once, and that was when it was being taught to me at an ASCD presentation last year.  I wanted there to be a backchannel and a real chat area, but it would have been too chaotic in the short amount of time we had. We named it the backchannel anyway so people could see that if they had enough room on their screen area, they could have 2 chat windows during their presentations- one for real concerns and the other one to be social.   I am biased toward letting people use presentations as a way to make friends because sometimes not everything that is said needs to be heard.

That was another place I was not able to communicate well enough to get it into Bret that he did not need to do a lengthy introduction to what an LMS is. In our last practice he did narrow it down to maybe 2-3 min of talking, but today he went for more than 3 I would guess. I know my patience started to wane and I came close to just sending out the polls while he was talking. If you think today’s presentation was long-winded, you should have seen it during our first practices. I respect Bret because he wanted people to learn something during our presentation and he really is an expert on today’s talk. That is one reason we did this topic; it is relevant to what we may do as teachers and Bret had to do something similar for people in his district. Plus it had so many components that let us expand it in ways that let us play with Adobe Connect.

Bret did a fantastic job of outlining our expectations and establishing the norms for our session. You may have noticed that he built it in to the beginning of the PPT slides. He designed the presentation slides and let me go crazy with Adobe Connect bells and whistles. We somewhat followed the suggestions given starting on page 84 where there is one main person up front and someone else behind the scenes. I did not do all of the logistics alone; Bret helped with setting up the 4 types of polls and how to space everything so it would be ready to be used when we needed it to be there. I took care of naming things in a way that would make sense to us and others, putting the exit survey in a website link pod, uploading files for the file share, and creating the exit survey in Google Forms. Since I bought the eLearning suite when I was taking 521 I wanted to play as much as I could with the software. For some reason I could not get Bret’s slides to upload correctly so he did a screen share for our presentation instead of it being a file he used from the EDTECH servers.  It would actually be really cool if the eLearning suite was required instead of the other CS5 suite because then we could possibly have lessons on how to use Adobe Captivate. I’ve only played with it once, but that is something that would be an asset to know how to use for online teaching. Dreamweaver , Flash, and Photoshop are also a part of the eLearning Suite so if you get to make suggestions to the department, you would not be too out of line if you suggested having the department use the eLearning suite in the future.

Other people’s presentations:

Even though I tried to follow advice and looked at other people’s eval tools when I revised mine for tonight, I found what I thought was important was somewhat tangential to what happened. Since the presentations went so fast and I did not want to take time to watch the recordings, I had lots of gaps in my evaluation forms. Regardless of what it seems I did not learn, I found these things to be new to me and very useful:

  • Students writing on whiteboards. I knew it could be done, but had not experienced it myself in Adobe Connect yet. Actually I don’t know if I knew there could be interactive whiteboards in Adobe Connect. Had I known, we may have set up a whiteboard for each breakout room instead of using notes windows to record student interactions.
  • Students could format their notes screens. When we pulled up the Notes screen for group 1, they had done some formatting. That was so cool. I don’t know if anybody else noticed it, but it was neat to learn that students could take ownership of some of their output if Notes pods were used for collaboration.
  • I am still not sure what Adam did so we could move things on the whiteboard. I may have to email him to see if he can tell me. Adam did the music lesson, didn’t he?
  • I liked Barry’s equations on the board. I had not thought of being able to pre-arrange whiteboards for each student until I thought about how to use what he did in his lesson. I do not expect you have had a chance to read my feedback to him yet so I will also mention it here. If I knew who my students were that were going to show up, I could create a whiteboard for each student. They come to class and put up a problem on their whiteboard while they wait for others to arrive. Another way of doing it could be to “seed” the whiteboards with problems and assign the whiteboards to students as they arrive. They would put up their work so they could explain it to the rest of the class during the session.
  • This sort-of ties in with what Janette and Earl did with the chat windows. Even though we followed directions and only wrote on the chat screen we were assigned to, I wonder if they could have been set up to be pre-assigned to students and restricted from others being able to write on them.   I had not thought of using chat windows as a way to run small discussions. Watching that process was very useful.
  • I liked how Chioma used the chat window for formative assessment- she kept us alert because she was asking questions that required feedback. Even though I was a little disoriented because her Adobe Connect window would not open on the Mac at first, I found her technique to be effective. It was quick and she could use online learner cues (p.82) to gauge participant interest.
  • Travis and Kirkland were very creative by having a game be the final assessment. I also found it interesting how they assumed everybody should know how to do a screen-shot. Is that the level of our online students? Do they know all of these techniques?  If I did not have Snag-It I would be at a loss for how to do screen shots and actually use them.

The only problem I had with the presentations, other than them going at a pace that was a bit too fast for me to be comfortable with the changing scenery, was that there were not enough of them. I thought we were excluded from the rest of the spreadsheet because we were not welcome in other sessions so I did not try to be a part of them. Now that I see how talented my peers are, I wish I had been. I learned something from everybody today. It did not matter if their presentation had been memorized, polished, perfect or not, everybody offered something unique that let me walk away with more than I had arrived with in my bag of tricks. Thank you for this opportunity.

Reflect on assessment of learning outcomes in online environments. Consider the following questions in your reflection:

  1. What are appropriate assessment strategies in synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods?

I think formative assessment is more readily done in synchronous sessions because the feedback is instantaneous. It could be done asynchrously, but the instructor won’t know what the students are thinking until the student remembered to turn in his/her assessment.

In both cases, written assessment where students analyze something can be effectively done.

  1. Does this look different than assessment in traditional classrooms? How and why?

I think it looks somewhat different online than in a traditional classroom because students who are afraid to volunteer an answer in the classroom will often speak up online. Even today, everybody participated in Chioma’s questions. She did not call on single students like what normally happens in the traditional classroom.  This is one reason I want to be an online teacher and enjoy being an online student. I hate answering questions in verbal face to face discussions, but as you have seen, I am quite prolific online. I know I am not unique so I wanted to used online discussions to compliment the ones we did face to face. Once again, I assert that hybrid instruction is optimal because the learning environments are diverse and can cater to the diversity of our learners.

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


Program Evaluation Final Project EDTECH 505

The project for EDTECH 505 was a huge challenge and from what I understand, it strikes fear in all EDTECH students. We are expected to evaluate something real. I was no longer in the classroom and have no official affiliation with any schools. I know I was terrified about how I was going to accomplish the project.  I thought about all the resources I have and all the people I have had conversations with about things that may be appropriate for the project. A former boss, who is also like a mentor, came to mind. At the time, she was the superintendent of a Regional Occupational Program I used to work with. We had had a conversation about hybridizing some of the ROP courses. Although I have never had an opportunity to teach a hybrid course, I think they are the ultimate way education can be done. The goal of this project was to see if I created a course her teachers would actually use, how they thought about using the course. They did not use the course I wrote because it was summertime, but if they had shown interest in using it the following academic year, I would have hosted it for them.

Somewhere along the way I picked up the website URL because I wanted to make Moodle classes for teachers. At one time I thought my first million would come from selling pre-made units or courses in a Moodle format to classroom teachers who wanted to hybridize their classes. The Certificate in Online Teaching I did at Merritt Community College taught me how to design and structure Moodle courses, and the class I took from Moodlerooms taught me how to be a Moodle administrator. I was motivated to try Dr. Fujii’s teachers out as possible clients because I really want to influence online learning in a positive way. No I did not charge them anything for what I did for them. I was earning course credit for the project so it would be wrong to accept any pay. What Dr. Fujii and I wanted to figure out is if her teachers who showed an interest in hybridizing their classes would be receptive to the course I designed for them in Moodle. Unfortunately I can’t put a link to the course because the ROP owns the materials I used. I can, however, link to the report I wrote for EDTECH 505.

Community of Inquiry paper

Constructivism Analyzed using the Community of Inquiry Model

This paper is being added to my learning log as I prepare for the portfolio. That is why it is out of sequence with the dates.

Melissa Getz

Boise State University



The Community of Inquiry (CoI) is a paradigm established in 2000 by D. Randy Garrison, Terry Anderson, and Walter Archer that identifies how students learn in online asynchronous discussions. Over the past ten years several other researchers have joined in the scene by taking their own angles on how CoI can be measured, manipulated, applied, or just be useful. The Community of Inquiry is not unlike other learning theories where it has components that are made up of even more specific parts.  For CoI, the three main parts are called “presence” and within each presence there are variables that over the last few years have been used to measure the feasibility of the particular learning environment. First an overview of inquiry will be presented, followed by an introduction of the three presences along with some excerpts from literature.

What is Inquiry?

Inquiry is an educational practice that is based on the Constructivist learning theory. Constructivism has students create their own meaning for an assignment by having control of some of the direction or questioning involved with the lessons. Students derive meaning from the lesson instead of being told what to think or by being shown all of the answers. Hands-on learning is a constructivist approach because students manipulate objects to make meaning of the concepts or theories. Inquiry takes the hands-on approach one step further by giving students more control over the lesson, its content, or its direction. (Llewellyn, 2002) The Community of Inquiry is a manifestation of inquiry in an online written environment involving asynchronous discussions. Analysis of discussions using the Community of Inquiry model lets researchers measure the extent of inquiry that happens during said asynchronous discussions. Community of Inquiry is a learning theory because it analyzes learning that happens by means of interactive online discussions where ideas are developed over time via facilitation from each other or an instructor.

What is the Community of Inquiry?

Three presences were established in 2000 when Garrison, Anderson, and Archer published the paper, “Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education.”  The paper’s approach was to bring awareness to a new trend in higher education called computer-mediated communication (CMC).  They had done extensive research to delineate the components needed for learning to happen and they identified three core elements that needed to interact for a community to form where inquiry could happen.  It was in this paper that the social presence, the cognitive presence, and the teaching presence were born. Since year 2000, numerous education researchers have been wrestling with not only how to design asynchronous discussions so that all three presences can appear, but also with learning how to measure the efficacy of a discussion in the context of these three categories.

In a face to face classroom, students are given a question to explore, conduct the experiment with peers, and formulate conclusions. It is not feasible to do the same type of inquiry when students do not meet in person. However, inquiry can be done online using asynchronous discussions. For an online discussion to foster inquiry, it must have certain characteristics.  Since students make decisions about what to discuss, they formulate ideas and questions, and take ownership of what they say, inquiry is by definition involved. Students are given control over where discussions lead. If they go off topic, then other students will either point it out and steer them back on topic, or the off topic ideas will be ignored. Naturally, the participants have to be comfortable with the social setting and not be afraid to express their ideas. In addition, it helps if their ideas are received, considered, and processed by participants since having ideas validated carries a lot of weight in the online learning environment. If the social construct for the discussions is healthy, then a community of inquiry forms. Merely having a discussion forum does not guarantee it will evolve into a community where ideas are freely shared, respected, and altered.  There are other factors that need to exist. An instructor is still necessary to get the course started and to establish the safe discussion environment; however the students, when adequately engaged will create the community of inquiry because they will ask their peers questions to get others to think beyond their initial responses. Having students initiate questions that foster further discussion is a form of inquiry because the ideas and direction of the discussion are being generated by the students and not by the instructor.

Social Presence

The social presence component goes beyond netiquette to a more involved interaction with the other students in the class.  The three areas that comprise social presence are “Emotional Expression, Open Communication, and Group Cohesion” (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000, p. 89). The social presence is often the element that constitutes the human side of having a discussion. It comprises the aspects of the conversation where people relate to each other and develop a personal investment in what is transpiring online, which may keep them coming back to the discussion area. Maintaining a risk-free environment where people feel open to sharing ideas is crucial to establishing the social presence. A risk-free environment yields open communication, and the group cohesion develops as participants collaborate to produce a product from the synergy of their ideas.

Cognitive Presence

The cognitive presence is as it sounds; it deals with the thinking that happens as evidenced by the discussion. The four areas that constitute cognitive presence are, “Triggering Event, Exploration, Integration, and Resolution” (Garrison, et al., 2000, p.89).  First there is a triggering event which stimulates the participants’ curiosities. Students are engaged by a question or a dilemma they need to solve. They exchange information as they collaboratively explore possible solutions. These interactions lead to integrating ideas into a thesis or possible explanation to the question or dilemma. Finally the group applies their ideas to a new scenario or tries out their proposal to determine its validity. The last part is a resolution of their synthesis- was their collaborative premise valid?

Teaching Presence

Although at first this may seem like the role of the instructor, the instructor is involved only as a facilitator who encourages students to help lead the discussion. The three areas that comprise the teaching presence are, “Design and Organization, Facilitating Discourse, and Direct Instruction” (Garrison, et al., 2000, p.89). The teaching presence emerges when students explain things to each other (direct instruction), ask clarifying questions or encourage others to be involved with the discussion (facilitating discourse). The design and organization component may be more difficult for students to foster if the professor has already established a routine or expectations for the discussions. However, giving students an opportunity to choose partners for assignments may put some of the control for subsequent discussions in the hands of the students. Since asynchronous discussions lack face-to-face spontaneity, identifying when participants are steering the direction of the discussion may be not obvious until after you see if the discourse has gone in a unique direction.

Some research over the last ten years

There has been a great amount of research done to clarify what social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence mean and to identify ways these ideas can be used to measure interactions or student behaviors in online situations.  It is possible that when researchers analyze their asynchronous discussions, a statement may fall into more than one “presence” category so the articles cannot easily be separated by their presence category. Instead they are identified here according to the main idea the paper was trying to establish.

How does the instructor/teacher impact discussions?

Some researchers have aligned their research with Garrison’s theories, whereas a few other people are challenging some of the nuances of the Community of Inquiry.  Shea and Bidjerano’s 2009 paper has a lengthy introduction about theories of how online instruction works and they delve into what Garrison and his group have established with the Community of Inquiry. They also recognize other groups who are organizing theories such as Mishra and Koehler, and Larramendy-Joerns and Leinhardt. Larramendy-Joerns and Leinhardt look at the online interactions as presentational and performance-tutoring instead of having three presences like Garrison’s CoI. Mishra and Koehler are the ones who coined the term, technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) model, which integrates Laramendy-Joerns and Leinhardt’s views. “Quoting Schulman (1986), Mishra and Koehler (2006), argue that the bifurcation of disciplinary knowledge and pedagogical knowledge was a major barrier to the improvement of instruction in schools” (Shea & Bidjerano, 2009, p. 544). This disconnect continues when teachers enter the classroom. They may know how to teach and what to teach, but not how to teach the content they are supposed to teach. An analogy to online asynchronous discussions is drawn. Online instructors may understand the mechanics of a discussion forum and the content that needs to be taught during that class, but do they understand how the instructor is supposed to behave so that student learning can be maximized?

Shea and Bidjerano propose that the instructor plays a significant role in the success of an online course. They administered a survey that included gathering demographic data in addition to the directed questions about student reactions to their coursework. They did not create the survey tool in isolation, but rather it was a collaborative process among several researchers, including Garrison’s group. Their findings conclude that there is a relationship between social presence and the ability of learners to extend their understanding of the content presented in the class. They assert that “teaching and social presence represent the processes needed to create paths to epistemic engagement and cognitive presence for online learners” (Shea & Bidjerano, 2009, p. 551).  What I am still not clear on, however, is if they view a teaching presence as one that is outside of the learner or if they recognize the teaching presence comes from within the learner. Some statements suggest that the instructor merely facilitates a teaching presence within the students; however, they imply instructor presence plays a role in increasing cognitive presence through the course instructor being engaged with the discussions as they happen. Students responded better when the “instructors’ judicious participation in online discussion” (Shea & Bidjerano, 2009, p. 551) focused the learners to pay attention to the relevant topics. They continue their discussion to suggest instructional designers must incorporate the role of the instructor into their courses. Although this paper did not choose to address direct instruction compared to “facilitation,” they suggest that direct instruction still has its place in the online course environment. They see this direct instruction being integrated in the ways the instructor participates in the asynchronous discussions. It looks like the creation of information still remains planted in the hands of the instructors. There continues to be a search for a way the instructors can use their content knowledge to facilitate inquiry in the students.

Does the length of the course affect how students learn?

In 2009 Akyol, Vaughan, and Garrison published their findings on how the social, teaching, and cognitive presences are affected by the length of the course. Their research was actually quite limited which should open them up to further publications as they refine their impressions on whether a four week class compared to an eight week course has an effect on what and how students learn in online classes. With the data they collected, they determined that integration, a component of the cognitive presence, is stronger for students who are in the longer course.   In addition, emotional expression, a component of the social presence, is also stronger for the longer courses. In contrast, students in the shorter course excelled more with group cohesion, a component of the social presence, and with exploration, a component of the cognitive presence. As for the teaching presence, there was no statistical difference between the two groups. This paper had so much of the research design and analysis done so poorly that I hope they redo their “experiment” with a much larger sample size and an analysis that does not make identifying student contributions for one category of a specific presence exclude other categories. For example, they decided to measure each category of the social presence based on what was said in the asynchronous discussions. This is fine, but then they added up all of the comments and decided to figure out what percentage each category made up the total number of comments. There is a bit of logic missing here because a comment that reflects on “group cohesion” should not mean that a comment was not made about “affective or emotional expression.” They are not comparable in the sense that saying something that falls in one category is a deliberate lack of saying something in another category. In addition, who is to say that there should be a specific distribution of the comments?  They grouped the data this way to give an overall impression of what students say in their discussions; however, the variables that influence what students choose to say were not exactly controlled. Regardless, more research needs to be done on the influence of course duration on how and what students learn in online classes. If nothing else, they need more data if they continue to feel compelled to use a line instead of a vertical bar graph to illustrate two data points. With at least three points they can start to establish a trend and therefore there may be some logic to doing line graphs.

Research design learning resource

Douglas Archibald is another professor who publishes papers focused on the Community of Inquiry. Although his 2010 article was very short, it set him up for future publications that look at how his Research Design Learning Resource (RDLR) is effective with preparing students for doing research in the social sciences, mainly in education.  He is using the Community of Inquiry Instrument, a survey that lets researchers analyze the components of asynchronous discussions with respect to the three presences, to evaluate the discussions students have while doing the RDLR program. The CoI instrument was developed by several other researchers, including Garrison, in 2008. With Archibald’s paper we see how the CoI framework is being extended to support specialized research that other professors are doing.  People other than those who work directly with Garrison can choose to incorporate CoI into the paradigm they are trying to promote. Like Shea & Bidjerano, Archibald seems to want to stretch the understanding of CoI into pragmatic analysis of online learning in ways Garrison’s group has not yet examined.

Collaborative virtual environments

Hamza-Lup and Stanescu work with haptic feedback devices, which are mechanical objects connected to the computer so that a person interacting with the virtual environment can have kinesthetic feedback. They have created physics interactive lessons where students do not just play with the equations for force equals mass times acceleration. The students feel how their force affects the acceleration.  The kinesthetic parameter lets a third sense join the two that are most commonly used with online discussions: vision and hearing. Now people can feel what they see or hear going on in their virtual world. Students can do an action and not only see its effect, but they can see the equations change as they alter what they are doing. It is an immediate feedback mechanism. What does this have to do with CoI?  It may not be obvious, but the CoI measures what happens when the visual and audio learning styles are used for asynchronous discussions. Hamza-Lup and Stanescu want to see how the CoI framework can measure the ways haptic feedback can “enhance the ways in which students can explore content at a distance” (2010, p. 81). They don’t intend to change how CoI is interpreted or used; instead they prefer to add another dimension that can provide context for measuring the social, cognitive, or teaching presences.

Measuring metacognitive gains using CoI

The cognitive presence may be analyzed by evaluating the variances of metacognition.  Akyol and Garrison (2011) recognize the cognitive presence component of CoI and therefore have their paper align with the CoI construct. Their paper focuses on the metacognitive part of the cognitive presence whereas other publications (Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Garrison & Vaughan, 2008) elaborate on how the cognitive part of the inquiry deals with the factual or content part of the learning. Whereas the social presence would address issues that may be somewhat akin to netiquette, the cognitive part deals with how well concepts are explained or debated in the discussions.  They found that quantity does not equal quality because clear writing can express ideas more powerfully than fluffy, unfocused statements. On the other hand, too much brevity allows for misunderstandings, which may inconsequentially lead to a more in depth discussion as more critical thinking is used to analyze what is being said, as well as for identifying what needs to be mentioned. They determine there to be three stages of metacognition:  Knowledge of Cognition (KC), Monitoring of Cognition (MC), and Regulation of Cognition (RC). They monitored and evaluated transcripts of online student discussions to evaluate where students expressed knowledge of their learning or their relationship to the information being discussed (KC), when students made evaluator comments about what other people said (MC), or made comments that affected the direction of the conversation (RC).

The metacognitive partition, Knowledge of Cognition (KC), plays a role when the students state their understanding of the topic being discussed and the process by which they are discussing it. If they recognize limitations in an online discussion then that is part of the knowledge of cognition because they are aware of how an online discussion can limit spontaneous responses that might otherwise cascade in a face to face discussion. The debate over ideas and concepts falls in the category of Monitoring of Cognition (MC) because students are determining where their ideas align with their peers and where they may contradict each other. Naturally netiquette needs to be followed when debating interpretations of content so during the debate, the social presence may be involved. When certain students dominate the conversation or tend to steer its direction, then the Regulation of Cognition (RC) is happening. Not every student will regulate the flow of the content matter and ideas it generates in every discussion. There may be times when students are elected to be the facilitators of the discussion. When students behave as strong regulators of cognition, their teaching presence is being expressed. By exerting control over the discussion and guiding its outcome, students are following a constructivist approach to learning.  They are not being passive participants. Instead they are influencing the direction of the discussion, thereby demonstrating behaviors desired when students do inquiry based learning.


Akyol, Z., Garrison, D.R. (2011). Assessing metacognition in an online community of inquiry. Internet and Higher Education (14), 183-190. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.01.005

Akyol, Z., Vaughan, N., & Garrison, D.R. (2011). The impact of course duration on the development of a community of inquiry. Interactive Learning Environments, 19(3), 231-246. doi: 10.1080.10494820902809147

Arbaugh, J. B., Cleveland-Innes, M., Diaz, S.R., Garrison, D. R., Ice, P., Richardson, J.C., & Swan, K.P. (2008). Developing a community of inquiry instrument: Testing a measure of the Community of Inquiry framework using a multi-institutional sample. Internet and Higher Education, 11, 133-136. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2008.06.003

Archibald, D. (2010). Fostering the development of cognitive presence: Initial findings using the community of inquiry survey instrument. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 73-74. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.001

Garrison, D. R., & Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the 21st century : a framework for research and practice. London, New York: Routledge Falmer.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T. & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2, 87-105.

Garrison, R.D., & Vaughan, N.D. (2008). Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles and Guidelines (1st Ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hamza-Lup, F. G., & Stanescu, I.A. (2010). The haptic paradigm in education: Challenges and case studies. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 78-81. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.12.004

Larreamendy-Joerns, J., & Leinhardt, G. (2006). Going the distance with online education. Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 567-605.

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Mistra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teacher’s College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.

Shea, P., & Bidjerano, T. (2009). Community of inquiry as a theoretical framework to foster “epistemic engagement” and “cognitive presence” in online education. Computers & Education, 52, 543-553. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2008.10.007

Worked Example Screencast

This was fun because I needed to create a mini-lesson for a student I’ve been working with in my day job. I decided to create a short lesson on the equations used for solving pH and pOH problems so she could get through that part of the unit. Now that I am learning in the EDTECH program how to spice things up, I added a little flair, but was very careful to not have audio conflict too much with written words. After the first slide I made a separate button for the  viewer to click if they want to hear an explanation. I felt like I was creating the narration that accompanies museum walking tours. I leave it up to the listener to decide if they want to listen or not. For students who are in an area where sound would be a problem, there is enough on the slide for them to be able to think about what they are being shown. The Articulate Storyline player also has a mute button so if they are not allowed to listen to the first slide, they can at least watch what goes on in the slide. Only the first slide has automatic narration. I also have much of the problem solving demonstrations enter in steps so that the student is aware there are steps to solving the problems. Answers do not just magically appear.

I put the video up at my website because I want people to be able to interact with it. I don’t know what is happening with our stuff on the EDTECH servers, especially when we graduate, so I might as well put this up at Embrace Challenge now. That was the link to the shockwave file. It is also available in HTML5 because Articulate is just that cool. WordPress, however is not, so I put in the long url to the swf and there is another shorter link that will hopefully take you to the presentation. My student was so cute- I had her use this the day after I made it and she said I could make money doing this. Little does she know what really amazing tutorials are already out there. I’ll be happy if somehow these can be accessible to my students.

pH and pOH equations