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EDTECH 531: A Galaxy of Worlds

quest: A galaxy of worlds

We’re not actually asked to blog on this quest, but I will have to make comments in VoiceThread. To collect my thoughts as I go through the quest, I will be blogging here.

Video 1: Disaster Prep training.

I’m sorry to always be so negative, but I’ve been formally trained in disaster prep, I’m CERT certified, and this type of training sucks. Virtual training can NOT replace the hands – on learning I went through or triage or first aid. I agree with the single feedback voice we did get to hear that said maneuvering in that software is difficult. —

The avatars- The female avatars in Ji– whatever we were using a couple days ago were bad enough. The ones here are horrific. Some man is creating these female avatars and he really needs a life body woman to become familiar with so he can get an idea of reality. I want to not only become anorexic after seeing what I’m supposed to look like in a virtual world, but I think I need to get a much better bra. I really wish our avatars did not have to have a gender or look like a specific demographic. I have enough problems in my real life with having to defend my ideas, in part, merely because of what I do or do not look like. Why can’t we teach people that the skin should not matter! What our surface looks like should not be the impression we want to leave with people. Is this why Dr. Dawley’s username is shallow?

(My machine is getting really hot- I don’t know how much I’ll be able to simultaneously.)

Video 2: Economics

I like this video b/c it is being presented as a linear class at first. They are discussing graphs. I do see the potential, but I would have liked to venture around myself instead of watching a video of someone else wandering through. I understand the point of the video is to introduce me to potentials of using that software.

They can select a view option- this is a new concept to me.

That software was openWonderland

Dr. Dawley’s paper:

Figure 3, it is interesting how the teacher does not offer communication to the expert, but students can.

Again, negativity seeps through. The main problem I have with utilizing expert-based interactions is the limit of experts that are out there. I loved it when my students could have a guest speaker to explain things or to work with them, but I know this is not a feasible paradigm for all kids. While I worked my butt of to give my students these unique opportunities, not every teacher will, nor should they have to. Can we create curriculum that is not boring, involves realistic issues, but does not require a teacher by proxy?

My cynicism is starting to bother even me!  Because there are so many people who don’t understand science, yet think they have the right to teach it to students, or there are students who think they are correct when they really are not, having peers or social networks teach science is a really bad idea. I was a virtual science teacher and a virtual science content coach. In both cases I had to fix misconceptions students were currently gathering because either the “teacher” at their f2f school was telling them the wrong thing or one of my colleagues in the help room was misinforming them. While I love the idea of students constructing their own meaning and using peer interaction to do so, for things that can have really bad consequences if students learn it incorrectly, peer collaboration is not the best method. It is like learning computer programming because something feels right. If your code is wrong, it is not going to work. There may not be any iffy place in the middle. Sure you can steal code, but thieving code is not collaboration.

I finally have a definition for machinima – these are videos created in a virtual world.

From what I can gather, using SL for students can involve making virtual posters. So we’re back to poster-making, but this time because it involves technology instead of magic markers, it is now more socially acceptable. It takes me back to when I taught in SF and they had students making posters because the teachers were too lazy to understand how to make a website. I’m still a fan of having kids make interactive websites over making posters on paper or with electrons. Sure Second Life is cool, but how is it more advanced or allowing for more in depth learning? Since when is making a poster inquiry?  There is a great deal more I need to learn about Second Life.

I made the requested entry into our VoiceThread thing. I had to create a new account because VT hates me. I had to pay to reopen my account when I did my portfolio, but stopped paying for it once I passed. My history with VT goes back to 2009 and they have not figured out how to give me a courtesy account because I used to pay for one. So now I’m using a different email address and for the sake of our class, hope it will let me do VT entries.



EDTECH 531: Wandering Through Virtual Worlds (VW)

From quest: Wandering through virtual worlds

Pathfinder’s Office: where we went for our first meeting
I like that there can be a variety of rooms to go into, each one is elaborately decorated and has its own enhancements. I like seeing the variety of objects and opportunities that can exist- like the fire or the movie (that I could not figure how to turn off).

Military Spec World: another Jibe construction
So I’m getting a clue about VW environments- you need a master software package that can act like the shell where within the shell you can build environments. I like the Military Spec World because even though it has hills, it is mostly empty and linear. There is not a lot of stuff to confuse me. I like this.

OK, I figured out the circle off to the side is a small map of my territory. I don’t know how to walk up steps, though. I went right through them.
There is something burning on the bridge, but I can’t figure out how to fly up there to look at it.
I also like how this environment is relatively quiet. No screeching birds to be found here.

Kongregate: 3dgame of unity

I “had” to sign in. It already said getzedtech was taken, but it did not like me trying to sign in with that name. It gave me Melissa29, which is fine with me. I will acquiesce to any requirement I have to do to gain access to free software.

I look like I must be a construction worker in a field. Off to see what there is to explore.

OK this one is interesting because every time I turn, the entire display changes to reorient me to facing everything head-on. There is a mound reminiscent of the trash heap / mud pile in Close Encounters of the 3rd kind. I was hoping it was a volcano because I wanted to relearn the types of volcano names. Oh, crap, I’m stuck on the side of the mound I can’t defy gravity here and just keep climbing up it. I’m freaking stuck!  YAY, it must have heard me because it let me turn around and walk down the mound.

Kongregate has ads, which is fine with me. I could pay to have no ads.

I actually don’t know what game I was playing. I’m trying to switch over to Flash Freekicks. This is a soccer game. It uses the mouse to change direction of the kick, and you get to curve the way you send the ball. Level 1 was very easy. Getting a clue on level 2- need to set up the direction and curve so the ball will go in the goal- the curve seems to be literal and not after some time has passed- like it immediately starts curving and does not change the curve to match the distance of ground that needs to be covered.  As expected, as you progress through levels, objects get put in the path that I have to ignore. The ball bounces back, away from the objects.  The ball goes really slow if I don’t put in a curve. Not sure what is up with that. I lose a life each time I miss a goal.  Level 6 beat me. I am not used to the physics of the initial angle and the curve. Nice game, though.

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.

Statistics Final Project

In EDTECH 562, our final project was to do a proposal where we did research that involved statistical analysis. Throughout the semester, lots of things changed for me, although I have a feeling I never fully grasped what the assignment was. Here is a link to the proposal I created for the course. I will probably also include a copy of my reflection at my Learning Log, too, because this was a phenomenal course in so many ways. I now understand chi-square!

Social Media PLN CoP image

Social Media animated

Hopefully this will get updated one day- Flash crashed 3 times, the third time wiping out my previous 2 hard saves.

In 543 we were to create an image of a Community of Practice or Professional Learning Network so what I tried to show are tweets, IMing, uploading to VoiceThread, Blogger, or SlideShare. I don’t know what Flash killed- much of the animations to illustrate uploading were destroyed in the last crash. One day I will have to fix this, especially if I want it to be a part of my portfolio.

Melissa’s Digital Story

Although not every image matches my words as well as I would like it to, nor are all of the images impeccable, however, this did not turn out all that bad. I put it up at YouTube in a private setting so I think you need the URL: to see it. This was quite an interesting assignment because it took several different drafts and many hours to decide what to say. My first “drafts” were about 20 minutes long which is not what I wanted to create. I spent many hours scanning paper photos to make them digital and am glad I had the means to do that. Although my final story is as simple as I could make it, I did get to include on image among the ones I found that my mom has already passed along to me.

I did not get to go in depth about why I have the personality I have, which was one of my original goals, but I think I was able to express enough for people to get an idea of my neuroses and obsessions. I did not get to elaborate how I never expected to see 40 until it happened because my genetic father died when he was 39 and 3 days old. It would have taken too long to include that history so I’ll mention it here. It is because he died when I was 7 and the impact it had on me that I led the path I chose until the last time I left the classroom. I was 41 in 2010 when I left the rooms with tables and chairs for the second time, and will probably be the last one. Every day after age 40 is truly a gift and It is pretty neat how I get to live a life I did not spend years planning, like I did in my first 40. I just get the benefits from the crap I did in the first 40 so that my next chapters are not as difficult as they could be.

Yes, I am aware I broke rules of Multimedia Design, but I HAD to put labels on some of the images even though I am talking and telling my story simultaneously.

I hope you enjoy my story and don’t find it 5 minutes of boring rhetoric. Enjoy!

Coherence Analysis

bullet-point What is the Coherence Principle and its most important constraints/criteria?

Chapter 8 of the text is on applications of the Coherence Principle. The coherence principle says, “you should avoid adding any material that does not support the instructional goal” (Clark & Mayer, 2010, p. 151). Each of the other Multimedia Learning Principles complement the Coherence Principle. The Coherence Principle comes from cognitive theory that asserts too much extraneous information in a presentation is detrimental to the learner. Just as we do not want to overwhelm the eyes or ears with too much simultaneous stimulus, we don’t want to even accent our presentations with cutesy images or novel sounds. The emphasis here is on accent, not on the actual content. We can still use relevant sound and words simultaneously, especially if  it is someone reading the words on the screen. What Mayer is discouraging are sound effects that one might add to a presentation because the writer assumes the additional sound will help place the content in the viewer’s memory. In contrast, this extra sound may be distracting and cause the viewer to miss something that s/he should have stored in the brain. Either content that should have been acquired was not, or what was acquired got jumbled in the storage process.

Another reason offering what may seem like random images or noises for the learner to process has a negative impact on learning is that the wrong prior knowledge may be triggered. I had never thought about there possibly being wrong prior knowledge. I routinely hear how we are supposed to connect the current lesson to prior knowledge so the new stuff has something to attach to. The idea being prior knowledge is the scaffold and the new stuff needs to find a niche in which to reside. How can there be bad prior knowledge? Could it be a picture is used to accent a lesson, but it does not actually have to be there for the lesson to be effective, however because it is there, the students’ attention is focused on something irrelevant to the topic they are supposed to learn. For example, what if a puppy is used to point out something and this causes the student to spend time thinking about how much they miss their puppy instead of the content the puppy has pointed out? I suppose in this case the wrong kind of prior knowledge could be triggered.

bullet-point  Describe and/or include one example of successful and one example of unsuccessful attempts to apply the Coherence Principle in actual instruction and training you have experienced…

Successful attempt:

I recently went through training where every visual instruction was accompanied by an audio version that went at a pace that could match the speed with which I was reading the words.

For an unsuccessful attempt:

In the past, I have worked with students of all ages in a scripted curriculum that was originally designed to be in books. It is now on a computer screen. They have not changed all of the formatting on the computer screen so that it can behave with the advantages of being on a computer screen. The curriculum is very poorly organized and sometimes they use images in locations to accent the lesson, but the images have nothing to do with the lesson. I’m thinking about one lesson that is about specific letters of the alphabet and in the middle of one section there is an artistic alphabet. I would say 9/10 students who do that lesson think the image is to be used to answer the question. It is not supposed to be used for the answer; it is not a part of the question. Students waste time trying to decipher the artwork instead of focusing on what the lesson is trying to teach them. This is an example of when a learning environment would be better served by having less clutter on the page.


Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to other Multimedia Learning Principles examined thus far in your readings.

Both of this week’s articles, as well as our textbook, elaborate on Multimedia Leaning Principles (Clark & Mayer, 2010; Mayer, 1999; Moreno & Mayer, 2000). The articles have mini-explanations of some of the principles Clark and Mayer included in their book such as:  The Split-Attention Principle, The Modality Principle, The Redundancy Principle, the Spatial Contiguity Principle, and the Temporal Contiguity Principle.

The Split-Attention Principle: “Students learn better when the instructional material does not require them to split their attention between multiple sources of mutually referring information” (Moreno & Mayer, 2000). What this means is if there is an image and you want students to read things on the image, don’t have sound that is going to distract them. If you are going to have a vocal explanation, don’t clutter the image with written words that will compete with the audio file.

The Modality Principle: “Students learn better when the verbal information is presented auditorily as speech rather than visually as on-screen text both for concurrent and sequential presentations” (Moreno & Mayer, 2000). This is similar to the split-attention principle because it is talking about having the learners’ attention being overtaxed by too much information at once. The Coherence Principle stresses keeping out stuff that may interfere with the learning. Here it means that you want to let the student focus on one input at a time unless they can complement each other. Allow the students to hear words while they watch an animation the words are explaining. Don’t ask students to read words at the same time they should be watching an animation.

The Redundancy Principle: “Students learn better from animation and narration than from animation, narration, and text if the visual information is presented simultaneously to the verbal information” (Moreno & Mayer, 2000). Again this is strongly aligned with the Coherence Principle- the redundant information, the extra stuff that does not have to be presented, should not be included. It is overkill to have animation, narration, and text to complement the narration happening all at the same time. Like with the modality principle- allow the words to exist as auditory input instead of visual input.

The Spatial Contiguity Principle: “Students learn better when on-screen text and visual materials are physically integrated rather than separated” (Moreno & Mayer, 2000). If there is text to go with a visual image, put them close together. Don’t make the students have to track all over the page to find the key that goes with the chart or the labels to go with a diagram. Put items of the same context within easy visual range of each other. If the students have to shift their attention away from the image to go hunting for words, there is a chance they will forget what they are looking for while they are looking for the words. Likewise, if they have to search for the image to show what the words are explaining, they may forget what they are looking for or they may find the wrong image and therefore really mix up what they were supposed to figure out from the multimedia presentation.

The Temporal Contiguity Principle: “Students learn better when verbal and visual materials are temporally synchronized rather than separated in time”  (Moreno & Mayer, 2000). Line up the closed captioning to match the words as they are spoken. Align the animation and the narration so that the narration is actually about what the students are watching on the screen at the time they are watching it. (Note: having closed captioning and audio files running simultaneously violates the redundancy principle, but if you must have both happening, then do make sure they are aligned in time.)

bullet-pointDiscuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to fundamental theories of psychology as described by Clark & Mayer in your textbook.

Theories relating to the Coherence Principle include dual coding theory, cognitive load theory, and constructivist learning theory.  Both Clark and Mayer ,and Moreno and Mayer elaborate on how learners have limited means of grasping information. We have essentially two routes by which information can enter our brains: through our ears and through our eyes. The dual coding theory emphasizes the idea that auditory and visual information get stored in different parts of memory. We will first gather the information through the eyes and ears where it is put into sensory memory- one spot for the eyes, another for the ears. We have two locations for our initial memories that we get through two separate input channels, one verbal, the other not, thus dual load. Ideally the transition into working memory will happen and eventually some may migrate into long term memory. The cognitive load theory concerns what makes it into working memory. In working memory, we organize the information. We take the words we saw and/or heard and blend it with the images we saw to make meaning of the information.

There is a limit on how much we can store in working memory, the cognitive load, and to cram as much as we can into working memory and ideally on to long term memory, we have to construct meaning from what information we acquire (Moreno & Mayer, 2000). The constructivist learning theory covers situations where students take ownership of the information and tailor it to their own understanding of what it means. When gathering information, we want students to be able to do more with it than merely recite it back to us. We want them to make connections between what we have taught them and their prior knowledge, what they knew before they met us.


What do you personally like or dislike about this principle? Present a coherent, informed opinion and explain why you hold this opinion. Are there any limitations or qualifications of the principle (caveats) which the authors did not consider and, if so, what are they?

I am actually torn by the Coherence Principle’s stress on having relatively naked courseware and presentations. I think, though, that one thing being stressed in the book, the video that was shown in the news post for week 11, and the two articles we were asked to read, is that the “less is more” principle applies to the actual content delivery, not the content housing. By this I mean the structure of the LMS may not fall into the realm of what is covered by the Coherence Principle. If it does, then I disagree with some of it based on personal experience.

Specifically I am talking about how courses are structured in the LMS. I will use Moodle as my example because that is the format with which I am most familiar. Before taking classes with Boise State, I took a few through a CA community college online that were about teaching online. Many of our assignments involved us creating lessons in our own Moodle shell. One thing my professor, Alexis, stressed was using graphics to accent our structure. We were continuously told to find legal images we can put with each lesson section. Now we built our courses differently than how they are done here. We actually put the content in the front page and included all of the important links for each topic section. Each topic section had its own unique image or link to a video that was about that topic. For example, in 513, the week 11 topic area which is organized by date, April 1 – April 8, has a blue icon image that matches all of the other icon images in the topic headers for the course. They are so generic, they fade into the background and do not distract from any of the content on the page. This is consistent with how Mayer would want images to be- seen but not noticed. The way I learned to set up courses before Boise State is that the video we found in this week’s news announcement would be what is in our topic area header. That video would be embedded into the front page in the area for this week’s topic. Ideally the embed code would be set so that the video does not automatically start when the page loads. Or perhaps an image of the video would load, but not the actual video, so that it does not take too long for the entire front page to load.

I think my point is that I was taught to spice up the front page of the course with graphics, images, embedded videos, or other things that were not pure text. It seems like the philosophy here at Boise State is to do linear text that is akin to webpages. I am not a fan of it because of the experience I’ve had with the Moodle book plug-in. I love the Moodle book plug-in, but I don’t think it has been upgraded to work seamlessly with Moodle 2.3. It is from the days of Moodle 1.9. The way the courses are structured at BSU are actually difficult for me to deal with because of my learning issues. Now that I’ve been doing this for about two years, I am used to how things are structured. I don’t like it, but I’ve figured out how to adapt.

I like having the added junk in the courses I take, especially if it helps me discern one topic from another. I am oblivious to the obvious. I overlook things that other people pick up on immediately. I have monocular double vision so I tend to gloss over lots of things unless I have to really focus and give it my attention. For people like me, having a large obnoxious image or video indicating what my topic is about actually helps ground me in my physical location in a course.

The coherence principle, however, has not emphasized course structures as much as it emphasizes the actual learning parts. It wants us to highly monitor what we present to learners at the time they are supposed to be learning content. In that respect, I am in complete agreement with the evidence Mayer has presented in his papers and the chapter.



Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2010). E-learning and the science of instruction, 3rd edition. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.

Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia aids to problem- solving transfer. International Journal of Education Research. 31 (7), 611-623.

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). A learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations: Deriving instructional design principles from cognitive theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning, 2(2), 2004-07.


EDTECH 523: Communication Plan

This Communication Plan is supposed to cover:

  1. Routine Tasks
  2. Critical Thinking Prompts
  3. Management Issues and Strategies
  4. Online Discussion Forum Checklist/Rubric
  5. One original idea, category or thought

Routine Tasks:

  1. Check discussion forums daily to see if there are new posts.
  2. Check email to see if students tried to contact me.
  3. See who has turned in assignments.  If students who did not turn in assignments are on an IEP that requests they get additional nagging, nag them.
  4. Check to see what is coming up for due dates and post a reminder in the news forum or similar place.
  5. If there is a synchronous session about to happen, check my audio and video equipment to make sure they are working properly.
  6. Find a parent to call with good news.
  7. See if there are parents to call with less than happy news.
  8. Grade anything that needs to be graded.
  9. Write feedback to myself about how well things are working so I  can note what needs to be changed the next time I teach this topic.

Critical Thinking Prompts:

Starting discussions with leads like:

  • What do you think about…
  • How would you determine…
  • Why do you agree or disagree with…
  • Evaluate famous person’s quote.
  • Give feedback on the paper,- post a journal article or link to website for students to read
  • Why is person’s ideas realistic, successful, or other adjective?

Discussion Board Strategies

  1. Have students start threads so that they can have a variety of places to share their “reply” type of responses
  2. I liked Adam’s suggestion of using a discussion forum as a way to do a jigsaw. Have questions already posted, students pick one question to answer, then they respond to something someone else said.
  3. Send students on a mission to find something online. It could be a picture, an explanation, or a specific website that gives specific information about a topic. They need to come back and share what they found to the rest of the group.
  4. Like we do here in the EDTECH program, students can post their unique projects to a forum for others to evaluate and to give feedback or suggestions for improvement.
  5. If there is a challenge question, you can have the forum set up so that you can’t read anybody else’s posts until you make one yourself. So let’s say there is a dilemma and you ask students to problem solve it. Each person needs to put up their own solution before they can read everybody else’s.
  6. I liked Glori’s idea of doing case studies. People would propose their recommendations for their case study. Then they would examine what everybody else put up to formulate a better idea or guide their peers toward more in depth thought.
  7. Ethical dilemma- students brainstorm how to solve an ethical dilemma. This is similar to a case study, but far less involved.

Management Issues and Strategies:

I am not excited about managing anything- my classroom management is pure dumb luck. I would kill my kids with kindness and make them feel too guilty to cause trouble for us. Discussion boards are not something I am looking forward to managing because I expect students to avoid them. So, to motivate students to post to boards or to continue posting, I can try:

  1. Positive feedback with words in the forum or through a personal email.
  2. Bribery with extra points as an incentive to just get students to be on the board.
  3. Ask students to talk about themselves. Let the discussion area be student-centric at least at first. Let students take ownership of the space before you squish their brains by having them expand their content knowledge in a forum.
  4. Use icebreakers. Our class came up with some amazing icebreakers to get students to share something about themselves. My peers did a wonderful job of organizing work we have done in the class and collected our icebreakers here. 
  5. Do landscape style summary posts to recognize at least one contribution from each student up to that point.
  6. Although I will have a list of netiquette suggestions available in our first section, I want to invite students near the beginning of the class to share reasons why netiquette is important. I would also like to discuss what bullying looks like and why it is inappropriate. Some students may not realize that what they say is interpreted as bullying so I want to make sure students are aware of how to make our space safe. In this discussion I also want to include a review of what type of information is OK to put online, what information should not be shared, and the differences between where our class discussion happens and social media in general. Within this discussion I also want to point out why “I agree” or “Hello” posts are ineffective.
  7. In fact, we will have to have a forum where we set some ground rules, if I have not mandated them already. If this is my students’ first time in a discussion setting, we need to condition each other on to how to come to terms with too many posts to read. Part of the learning curve with online learning is to forgive yourself for not being able to read everybody’s posts. I want to discuss strategies with students about how to choose threads to open. I want to caution them about types of posts to make or not make if you want people to open your thread. I am an expert at turning people off in discussion forums so I know very clearly what to post to stop a discussion or truncate it before its time is exhausted. I can advise my students accordingly. We will have to have an introductory forum where we play with what to do and what not to do. I also want students to collaborate on strategies of what to pay attention to in our class’s LMS setting, what can be pushed aside until you have more time to spend reading, and what could possibly be ignored for a while without it causing too much trouble. (Number 7 is somewhat of a twist on what Palloff and Pratt say in chapter 4 of Building Online Learning Communities.)
  8. I want to have a survey always available for students to give anonymous feedback. I will address their feedback somewhere in the course so they can see that I am taking their suggestions seriously. If they know I care about their ideas and find them to be valid, maybe they will share more of them within the real forums?
  9. What is in chapter 7 will be very valuable. At the moment it is very difficult for me to hypothesize what my online classroom will be like because I have yet to experience an online classroom where I have freedom to make decisions like the ones that are described in many of the samples in chapter 7. I can make a list of what students can expect from me, though.
What students can expect from me, their instructor:
  1. Feedback from emails or phone calls within 24 hours.
  2. Honesty.
  3. Someone who cares about students’ academic lives.
  4. Someone who expects students to make mistakes and to use those mistakes as learning opportunities.
  5. Someone who has high expectations and therefore will push every student to succeed. I will happily listen to challenges students face and will brainstorm with you ways to conquer currently perceived obstacles.

Online Discussion Forum Checklist/ Rubric:

Discussion Board Rubric

My discussion board rubric tool:

I am using the PBS rubric and Alexis Alexander’s rubrics to guide my discussion board rubrics. These rubrics rely on students being able to physically start a new thread when they reply to a general question.  There is a diagram at the end that shows a graphic for how this type of forum can work.

What is expected in a post:

  • Minimum of 50 words; no maximum
  • Relates to the question posed or directly reflects what someone else said in response to the question
  • Sincerity
  • Unique ideas or properly cited if not unique
  • Proper grammar and usage of the English language

What could make up a post:

  • Additional questions that expand the breadth of what has been said
  • Personal anecdotes that relate to the question posed
  • Quoted responses from the readings with your interpretation of what it means
  • A respectful dissension of what someone else has said
  • Discuss a related issue about which you would like feedback
  • Provide an additional source that contributes to this topic that was not already provided in the course material. Tell us why you think this is appropriate.

Scoring Rubric:



Needs improvement

When did you post? Your first response starts a thread within 4 days of the forum opening. Your follow up two posts are within two weeks of the forum opening. You are not limited to only doing two follow-up posts; this is the minimum required. Your first response does not start a thread, but your posts stimulate discussion in the forum.


Your first response happens later than 4 days after the thread starts, but it still stimulates discussion.

Your first response does not start a thread, nor do any of your responses stimulate discussion.


Your first response happens after 4 days after the thread starts and it does not stimulate discussion.

What did you post? Initial post and responses are on topic, demonstrate thorough understanding of it, and stimulate other people to think. Initial post and/or responses are somewhat on topic, demonstrate some understanding of it, and/or stimulate some productive discussion. Initial post and/or response are off topic, demonstrate faulty understanding, and/or do not stimulate any additional productive comments because of the quality of what you posted.
Usefulness of posts? What you say contributes to other people’s schema. Others can use your ideas to generate their own, or to expand their thinking. You are able to get other people to consider a perspective that they may not have already thought about. What you say does not stop discussion, although there may only be a few people who can relate to your suggestions. Your posts are difficult to understand, do not provide concrete ideas others could use, or are very limited with their application.

Diagram of how forum responses can be structured:

image of how Melissa wants to set up discussion areas

A forum set-up so that discussions have threads.

DiscussionParticipation is a pdf copy of the diagram.

Naturally there are more than three students in the course. The idea is that each person does an initial post before writing a response post. You continue to write response posts until you run out of ideas.

One original idea, category, or thought:

Teaching presence- is it possible?

Several education scientists have published their views on how discussion forums work. They analyze what students say, when they say it, how things are said, and anticipate the learning outcomes based on this information. There are three main presences that have been described: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. Much of our discussion in this class has focused on the social presence because that is the perspective our book, Paloff and Pratt (2007), uses when they explain how they see online teaching and learning will happen. To be thorough, they mention other presences even though they do not go as in depth with them. In 523 we had the opportunity to try out the teaching presence. Although I am usually an advocate of putting as much as possible into the hands of the students, I do not advocate having students lead discussions. I know that it is essential for those who want to be discussion leaders to be trained in how to facilitate a discussion and for some people in our class, this was their first opportunity. I bet it was amazing for them and they will have learned skills they did not realize could exist. At what expense is this done to the other students?

For this class, participating in the discussions was not a priority for me because I kept doing it wrong and therefore did not get the validation I am used to having in online classes that have active discussions. I think this is my twentieth online class so I arrogantly consider myself to be very experienced with how to maneuver in discussion forums. As you can see above, I am very much in favor of giving students the responsibility of starting threads. Within their thread, they own the pathway if they choose to respond to people who reply within that thread. I see it happen often in the 506 posts- we put up our image and people offer suggestions or ask questions. A dialogue forms between the one who started the thread and those who choose  to volunteer their insights on the image that was posted. In a way the original poster can assume a teaching presence, although many of the replies to the original post are actually suggestions on what to improve and how to do it. In that way, a teaching presence can be seen in many of the posts.

In courses where the instructor oversees the path of the discussion, I rarely see a teaching presence allowed to happen by anybody except for the instructor. Even in some classes where students form their own threads, when the instructor posts in the threads, sometimes the discussion becomes one on one between the instructor and the person who started the thread. For me, I do not see that as being a productive use of time and space. Instead I think instructors should use email to directly address some of their questions designed to move a discussion forward that really only push one person to volunteer ideas. I see the instructor’s responsibility to help unify the group and interpret what others have said so that the ideas can get broader and more diverse. I am not convinced that students who have not had training in techniques that can be used to broaden discussions should be made the discussion leaders. Instead, I think students should be responsible for starting threads so they can have a microcosm of the discussion under their guidance. The instructor can still step in and offer engaging questions, but they do not have to be the only ones demonstrating a teaching presence.

Teaching presence actually has two “definitions”. Both have to deal with who is guiding a discussion, but one focuses on the teacher and the other focuses on the students. For the community of inquiry, the focus is on how well the students are able to guide the discussions. The research does not measure what a good job the instructor does of being the guide on the side. It measures how often or how well students step forward to cause inquiry to happen. In other words, are students posing the questions that guide future discussion or is the only one posting questions the instructor? Be careful if you decide to research the teaching presence because some people elaborate on how an instructor can manifest their presence in the discussions rather than how to get students to take leadership roles in the discussions. When students take on the leadership roles, then they are exhibiting a teaching presence.  Chapter 8 in Palloff and Pratt elaborate on how to get students involved in the class. They have sections called, “Dialogue as Inquiry” (p. 170), “Encouraging Expansive Questioning” (p. 171), and “Sharing Responsibility for Facilitation” (p. 173). Although they don’t publicize that they are giving strategies for creating a Community of Inquiry or for getting students to develop a teaching presence, their ideas in chapter 8 align with those theories.

Articles or publications that elaborate on developing a teaching presence in students:

Garrison, Randy D. and Vaughan, Norman D. (2008) Blended Learning in Higher Education.

Community of Inquiry- a website including explanations and papers

Video that addresses how to establish the course such that students are aware of the instructor- I did NOT create this video; it is just here as a resource for anybody who may be using this edublog for ideas

Slideshare- a presentation on face to face learning with a transition to applications online

mini-website for EDTECH 506

EDTECH 506 is another amazing class. I am learning about how to organize graphics so they make sense. As I complete projects, they will be posted at a mini-website I created for 506.

The final project can be found here:

Who am I?

Who am I?  Why am I seeking a degree in Educational Technology from Boise State?

First things first. I am an educator. I started being a high school teacher about 15 years ago. I love teaching. My life is more complicated than I want to go into with my first blog post- don’t know who is reading this yet and how much my audience can be trusted <evil laugh>.  Needless to say I’m no longer in a cinderblock classroom.  I am seeking a career from bed, using my laptop, that does not involve pornography. I figure that since I am an educator, I might as well delve into the world of online teaching and learning. I had brief employment as a “teacher” online and my impression is that online curriculum is dreadfully boring, incredibly passive for the student, and not interactive enough for the teacher to actually be earning the pitiful wages she gets. I do not like seeing what is happening with public education in the US where states are now farming out their students to businesses that promise to educate their ignorant children via a computer for much less than what it would cost to pay for a custodian to maintain the buildings kids would have to use if they were not doing all of their work online. If this is the trend the US is going in, and if I can do anything to help make the curriculum better than what I experienced as one of the online full time “teachers”, then I am going to do it. Like I said, I lasted for about a month in that chaotic atmosphere. The kids were excellent; the company was not. Please don’t expect me to tell you who I worked for because I really don’t need a lawsuit to accompany my current state of unemployment.

Why am I going to Boise State?  It looks like a totally kick-butt program. It offers really current classes and tons of them. I want to go to school to learn something, not to just get a paper that says I have another Masters degree. I already have a requisite Masters degree and technically don’t need another one to qualify for any pay levels or jobs that require a token MS. From the research I did, it just seemed logical to not only try to get into Boise State for a degree, but to actually attend school here. I’m even going to take the GRE in August which is scaring me less now than it did when I took it 20 years ago. I think I have such a massive mansion in the land of Denial that I’m just going to surf around in the practice books and software for the next couple months to delude myself into thinking that I’m literate.

Anyway, Boise State…  They are adding classes continuously and I like that. I like the idea that what I will be studying will be current technology with people who are experts in their fields. I took the edutainment class in the spring and a class in an Ed Tech program at another university just to see what the program atmospheres are like. The Boise State environment blew away the other school’s set-up, professionalism, and curriculum. I was only taking a class on web design, and yet it managed to totally suck. I can go into that later if folks are really interested to hear why that program turned me away from wanting to learn more in such an antiquated setting. My fellow students were awesome and I wish I could bring them with me to Boise State, but I don’t think that will be logical or possible.   One main reason I want a degree from Boise State is because they are adding classes and maybe a certificate in gaming.  My ultimate goal is to create online curriculum that is more of a game than rote memorization from a textbook that happens to be on a screen instead of on a student’s lap.

This blog may be dangerous because I have a tendency to splurt my ideas in writing and go on and on, if there is a specific topic for me to address. I am not so good at coming up with original thoughts and often require a stimulus to get the gears working. So if Boise will keep pushing ideas into my head, I will be happy to keep processing them and churning out whatever my delicate neurons choose to do with them.  I hope that my first post has not only been informational, but that I’ve answered all of the required questions in a way that has left you begging for me to write more <sappy grin>.