Friday, December 5, 2008

Final reflection

Reflection on what creating and maintaining an education weblog

This has been my first experience with maintaining a blog as part of a class assignment, which I consider as my first education blog. Within my blog, I was able to explore aspects of virtual learning, and later, how the digital native distinction fits into information literacy standards. Through researching each topic, my blog led to developing first hand experience in web 2.0 communication skills. Overall, I feel the exercise is pertinent to my web 2.0 communication skills with my career as an instructional designer.

However, as deeper analysis reveals, blogging involves more than improving communication skills – the process is about creating personal connections with materials within“knowledge flow” maintenance of interconnected networks (Hulburt, 2008, p. 2). As I wrote my blog, I kept up to date on current information from other blogs, which was filtered through my developing framework on the topics and classmate comments. This information negotiation involved personal interpretation and presentation of the topic where I acted as a conduit for information I found on other blogs in my information network. This interaction interests me because it makes knowledge more of a negotiated and dynamic product, which I have found best explained through the learning theory of connectivism best espoused in an article by Siemens (2004).

An example of how connectivism relates to creating and maintaining a blog develops from the fact that blog subscriptions are just as important as blogging itself. Blogging involves a process of linking a connection between interrelated interpretations of a concept or issue through personal interpretations and negotiated meaning that contribute to the creation of knowledge. An education blog should then teach learners how to best represent their perspective on knowledge. Through this practice, knowledge creation makes traditional one-way written communication obsolete. Of course there are experts, but it is up to the community to negotiate information meaning.

Educational blogging raises some issues such as avoiding the “complicated way to submit an essay” trap, which demand specific, and yet, open instructions (Hulburt, 2008). Furthermore, blogging should be interactive. However, as in my case, it has been a challenge to understand that as much effort I put into my blog, very few people are actually reading and benefiting from it, making my contribution a small bud within the blogosphere network.


Hurlburt, S. (2008). Defining tools for a new learning space: Writing and reading class

blogs. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 4(2). Retrieved September 29, 2008 from

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved

December 1, 2008 from

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Footprint of Instructional Design

An instructional designer is like a footprint in the snow because:

they are effective communicators - leaving an impression

they are expert designers - leaving a boot tread design and pattern in the snow

they are excellent researchers and evaluators - knowing how to judge and navigate the various kinds of snow and whether the wind quickly erodes the impression

they are leaders and innovators - leaving the first impression and setting the path for others to follow

they are excellent collaborators - walking in unison with two feet

Highlighted instructional design competencies (Roberts et. al., 2001)
Competency #1 - "Communicate effectively in visual, oral and written form"

Instructional designers are effective communicators who are able to create messages that apply to a learner's background and knowledge gap content using engaging materials

Competency #2 - "Develop instructional materials"

Instructional designers are able to create subject matter using various technologies to meet learners needed in well designed formats

Competency #3 - "Conducts a needs assessment" and "evaluates and assesses instruction and its impact"

Instructional designers should be able to determine when an instructional intervention is needed and how to evaluate its effectiveness

Competency #4 - "Plan and manage instructional design projects"

Instructional designers must be good managers and leaders spearheading the learning process

Competency #5 - "Promote collaboration, partnership and relationships among the participants in a design project"

Instructional designers should be able to seamlessly collaborate between the content expert and their client

Richey, R.C., Fields, D.C., Foxon, M. (2001). Instructional Design Competencies: The Standards (3rd edition). ERIC Clearinghouse (ED document #453803).
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Discourse of Critique" harbored in information literacy

This week I would like to focus attention on how the information literacy standards help learners be more critically engaged in their interpretation of information. The standard from ACRL states how information literate student should be able to "Evaluate information and its sources critically", which amount to recognizing bias of information and being able to critique the source.

This information literacy standard reflects on my personal view of education within the notion of critical pedagogy. Briefly stated, critical pedagogy is a constructivist learning perspective that engages learners through an education of critical discourse on politics and ethics through analysis of culture, power, and knowledge (Giroux, 2006).

Within Giroux's definition of the critical pedagogy framework is the notion of education as a 'discourse of critique', which involves a "pluaralizing notion of literacy" to harness the new digital technology tools (p. 4).

Giroux, H. (2006). America on the Edge: Henry Giroux on Politics, Culture, and Education. Palgrave: New York.

Information literacy promotes this notion of critique not only through the outcome of being able to detect information bias, but also how to produce media as a critical voice to the various information ideologies learners are bombarded with. Giroux writes about the 'second media age' which combines notions of power, technology and human relations in new ways allowing for learners to contextualize and reconfigure media into a self created identity as social exchange.

As lofty as this might sound, consider how digital natives learn to use technologies to create and share their perspectives and identities within social networking platforms, or even easy to use self publishing websites such as to create and share their identity reflections.

My issue with identity creation, and a point that critical education theorist like Giroux stipulate is that even through digital natives have access and capability to manipulate media for their needs, how well are they able to critically critique the cultural influences on their life?

More specifically,
Is a hiphop music fan just embracing the culture with its negative connotations, or critiquing the commercialization of violence some hiphop images portray?

A postive response comes from how some people used Facebook during the recent Presidental election. It seems that plenty of these digital natives advocated their political views, thus demonstrating their heterogeneous and perhaps critical perspectives through a discourse of critique.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My posting this week is a little late. The end of the semester is fast approaching, meaning other projects are taking up more of my time. I still have not abandoed my blogging duties, only put them off.

One of the information literacy standards involves consideration of ethical use of proprietary software. As fun as it might be to download mp3s and software, according to the law it is illegal. I think that if I developed something or wrote a song and someone took it from my without compensation or even credit, I would be a little upset.
Does the digital native designation consider ethical issues? To put it another way, do young people still buy CDs or just download music from somewhere? Do they even consider it a crime?

Here is a slideshow titled "The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education" which discusses this issue.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Information Literacy Assessment Strategies

The ACRL 6 information literacy standards mentioned in the previous posting are meant to be instructional design guidelines. Each standard has several performance indicators and outcomes.

Here is a summary of the first standard:

An information literacy learner can determine the type and depth of information needed

Performance indicator


1. Learner knows their need for information

a) Communicates with classmates to identify research information need

b) Creates a thesis statement and questions based on information need

c) Becomes familiar with topic through general information sources

d) Modifies information need into manageable content

e) Identifies key search words

f) Synthesizes existing information to produce new information

2. Learner can identify various information types and formats as sources

a) Knows the formal and informal types of information organization

b) Knows the disciplines of information organization

c) Knows the value and differences of various media formats

d) Distinguishes audience of resources (popular vs. scholarly)

e) Knows the difference between primary and secondary sources

f) Realizes the need to at times construct information from raw data

3. Leaner knows cost and benefits of finding information

a) Can broaden search beyond local sources (e.g., interlibrary loan)

b) Considers the realistic time involved in finding information

4. Learner can reevaluate the nature and extent of information

a) Revises and refines initial information need

b) Articulates how information gathering decisions were made

One of the questions in researching about information literacy that I have had involves determining how to best assess these standards within instruction. In practice, the group project that I am involved in with the IDE 611 class is using information literacy standards to help guide our instructional design. However, a challenge we are facing is how to assess that a learner is indeed, for instance, ‘identifying key search words’. Through this process I am hoping to look at assessment as a way to best design instruction.

Perhaps a checklist such as this one could help with the process:

Communicates with classmates to identify research information need

Does the learner share with classmates and teacher the challenges faced in finding what information is needed?

Creates a thesis statement and questions based on information need

Does the learner’s information need influence research thesis and questions?

Becomes familiar with topic through general information sources

Is the learner exploring general information sources?

(e.g., wiki, blog, newspapers)

Modifies information need into manageable content

Is the learner modifying search topics into manageable forms?

(e.g., narrowing down search terms and using Boolean operators)

Identifies key search words

Is the learner using appropriate keyword searches?

By using the standards as guidelines, an instructional designer can create ideal learning situations and assess them in a meaningful way. Perhaps then, its not so much a matter of determining who is better at using the technology (digital natives or digital immigrants) but HOW they use the technology.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This week I would like to highlight a couple of videos someone forwarded to me, which relates to the DI/DN debate and its impact on defining why digital literacy is so important.

Michael Wesch, an anthropology professor at Kansas State University made these videos to communicate to educators how things have changed and are changing in the way we access, organize and use information. My interest in developing this awareness, is to argue that no matter if a person considers themselves DI, DN, or somewhere inbetween, the distinction is a mute point within the need for digital literacy. After watching these videos, consider the context of the Information Literacy Standards (digital literacy) listed below.

Information Literacy Standards (2000) from the American Library Association
"An information literate individual is able to:
  • Determine the extent of information needed
  • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally"
Now our job is to figure out ways to design instruction that engages learners in these standards.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Elaborating on the Digital Native/Digital Immigrant debate

Distinguishing between the two groups of digital natives (DN) and digital immigrants (DI) might seem helpful to education on the surface, but needs to move beyond the attitude of radical change.

Indeed, learning systems need change, prompted by research and feedback, but the DI/DN argument should be recalibrated within more of a notion of digital literacy. Furthermore, some people (young or old) have high capacity to use various ICT tools in school and work, whereas others simply never learned. This does not mean that all people born after year XXXX are better or worse regarding digital literacy.

Some questions prompted by the research (Bennett, et al, 2008; Kennedy, et al, 2008) I found which should be asked by instructional designers:
1. Does DN usage, and supposed expertise of ICT tools, merit a fundamental change in education?
2. Even though DN use lots of ICT tools in their daily lives, what can they actually do with them?
3. What are the misassumptions of DN?

Some generalizations of DN include:

- The notion that they learn differently and have a preference and learning style which fits more into a constructivist framework (experiential learning, multi-tasking, problem solving, etc.

However, can educators then assume that DN want these types of learning structures. Furthermore, Bennett, et. al., (2008) commented on the fact that multi-tasking is not a new phenomenon in learners and that regarding knowledge acquisition, multi-tasking could cause ‘cognitive overload’.

- They possess sophisticated technological knowledge
o This may be true, but as Bennet states, their sophistication does not translate into content creation. For instance, a person who chats on the internet is not necessarily creating webpages.
o Another important point to consider is the socio-economic status of different students. Some may not grow up with a computer in their homes.

- The idea that a DN is net savvy – but being able to use a computer is not the same as being information literate

Education should use various technologies in curriculum, but not just assume that DN are capable, nor really want to, use the technology. Information literacy should be emphasized in learning, and not assumed - teaching ways to develop critical thinking skills.
Next week, more on information literacy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The digital native/digital immigrant debate: A matter of information literacy

The next portion of my blog will focus on how learners approach ICT - concentrating on the debate within research literature on the divide between digital immigrants and digital natives. This initial distinction, although helpful in discussion, is somewhat inaccurate, but helpful in defining information literacy. As I have begun to define the differences between the groups and factors that prove or disprove them, a more productive and less binary distinction considers the discussion on information literacy.

The main point being that instructional design within educational technology needs to design and assess ways to improve information literacy, moving beyond the debate.

To briefly summarize, the notions of digital immigrants/digital natives were first postulated by Marc Prensky (2001), who divided learners based on their access to information technologies from a certain age. Because digital natives have grown up with the culture of new technologies such as the internet and video games, Prensky theorizes that their cognitive functions are different from the older generation of digital immigrants. The native and immigrant metaphors represent, in a way, how this debate is a matter of cultural differences between the groups and also a generation gap.

Here are a few characteristics of digital natives and digital immigrants:

Digital native

Digital immigrants

  • [N]et generation/[D] generation
  • Immersed in technology
  • Prefers fast information stimulus
  • Multitaskers
  • Visual appeal over textual
  • Non-linear learning with random information access
  • Has a learning preference different from traditional education
  • Assumed to have better technology skills than what education offers them
  • Belief that the world is the same, only more technologized
  • Digitally accented
  • Seeks information from traditional sources first, internet second
  • Reads manuals to learn software
  • Prints emails
  • Uses pen and paper for editing (not computer)
  • Linear learner – raised under traditional education system
  • Belief that the world is very different because of technology

As intuitive as these distinctions might be, the divide is not so clear and certain. Next week I will introduce the inconsistencies. For now, it is important to note how these distinctions are useful in discussing implementations and the beliefs each group brings (Lankshear & Bigum 1999).

However different these learners might be, the debate should consider what it means to be digitally literate, which is best defined outside of the debate.

A definition of information literacy should consider:

  • Steeped in the native/immigrant debate – how each group views access and control, but really should be about change
  • Certain skills are needed to process information and be ‘digitally literate’ within more of a native perspective
  • Developing objectives beyond the traditional definition of literacy
  • How individuals use technology to “create, communicate, design and self-actualize” (Jones-Kavalier & Flannigan, 2006, p 8).
  • Going beyond the glitz of the internet of Facebook and youtube
  • How individuals develop critical thinking skills

Jones-Kavalier, B.R., & Flannigan, S. L. (2006). Connecting the digital dots: Literacy of the 21st century. Educause Quarterly, 2, 8-10.

Lankshear, C., & Bigum, C. (1999). Literacies and new technologies in school settings. Curriculum Studies, 7(3), 445-465.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5). Retrieved October 20, 2008 from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Virtual Learning implications part II

This being my second and also final posting relating to the topic of virtual learning, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the somewhat chaotic direction this inquiry analysis has gone.

I began with defining virtual learning within the context of MUVE – as shown in Second Life. This program/platform is new, exciting, and still in its infancy. However, as various academics and instructional designers are beginning to design and develop Second Life classrooms, I think that its important that the deeper issues of virtual learning be discussed. That is, even if a wonderful learning learning environment is created, there will always be the underlying question of: “Are people actually learning?”

Frankly, I am not the biggest fan of Second Life, but I am intrigued by it. At this point, I would like to let the trailblazing academics, doctoral students, and entrepreneurs shape Second Life as a virtual learning platform and instead focus on what it means to be a virtual learner.

Its also important to ask that no matter how fancy and 'real' a virtual learning environment can be, does humanity really want to spend its time there?

Think of the movie “The Matrix” - or go back further and read “The Allegory of the Cave”, or the “Brain in a Vat” argument. The debate then becomes a questions what is 'real' vs. 'unreal' in our experience. Sorry for getting philosophical here, but when throwing around the word 'virtual', I tend to cringe a bit, wondering why 'the real' isn't good enough.

Back to learning then.

So, we create a virtual learning environment (design, develop & evaluate it) and place students in it, then expect learning to occur, but perhaps it is not as effective as we had hoped.

One reason could be due to learner cognitive style – how people think and act to analyze and solve problems. Different cognitive styles could have different experiences within the virtual learning environment. Without elaborating on this issue, virtual learning experience needs to keep in mind how different individuals approach the virtual experience within cognitive styles (global – big picture/local narrow picture; introverted-extroverted) and build into the learning system a way to create some “cognitive flexibility” (Liu, X., Magjuka, R., & Lee, S., p. 845, 2008; Sternberg, 1997 in Liu, et al.).

My future blog will focus more on these resistance issues such as the 'digital immigrant - digital native' divide and hopefully come full circle into understanding how to best design e-learning instruction.

My final question is how can we utilize the technological virtual learning tools AND create the best learning environment possible for all learners without compromising their individuality nor the technological tools?


Liu, X., Magjuka, R., & Lee, S. (2008). The effects of cognitive thinking styles, trust, conflict management on online students' learning and virtual team performance. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 829-846.

Sternberg, R. J. (1997). Thinking styles. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Virtual Learning implications - Part 1

Over the past several weeks, my discussion has focused on a specific use of virtual learning within MUVE such as Second Life. During the next couple of weeks I would like to generalize the discussion towards virtual learning based on the discussion in current research literature on the topic within other realms of virtual learning.

Virtual learning environments (VLE) after all, are defined within the domain of e-learning, which could encompass a-synchronous environments, such as Blackboard, and synchronous environments, such as 3D environments like Second Life -- used by schools to facilitate classes from a distance (Bromham & Oprandi, 2006; Nishide, et. al., 2007).

Questions relating to VLE that I have been asking myself throughout this exercise concern how a real learner approaches virtual learning experience. More specifically, how well are changes in learners facilitated by the virtual learning experience as compared to traditional environments? And, are the changes which take place influenced more by the technology or the pedagogy?

Bromham & Oprandi (2006) studied how the virtual learning experience assisted learners especially when hybridized with face to face classes to create metacognitive change in developing self-study and self-assessment skills in learners. This study would seem to relate with the assumption that learners would need more than just a text based learning environment like Blackboard to best learn. Nevertheless, many learners have completed 100% online classes through Blackboard.

Consider how easy it might be to place someone in a virtual learning environment, noting how the technology creates the environment, and also influences a learner's perception. What I am getting at here is how instructional designers need to consider the holistic nature of virtual learning and how it has implications that are just now being explored. The virtual learning environment is an 'environment', which needs to be analyzed the same as we would analyze a classroom or work environment.


Bormham, L. & Oprandi, P. (2006). Evolution online: Usine a virtual learning environment to develop active learning in undergraduates. Journal of Biological Education, 41(1), 21-25.

Nishide, R., Shima, R., Araie, H., & Ueshima, S. (2007). Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 16(1), 5-24.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Links and Reflection

As I have been continuing my research into Second Life as a virtual learning environment I have begun to face a serious technical issue. That is, Second Life software does not fully support Windows Vista, thus the program keeps crashing. Since this blog is part of an assignment, and not really a soapbox, I will limit my comments about VISTA to one word: USELESS!

Enough said!

Since I can't explore Second Life as I would like, my post this week will focus on introducing a few useful links for educators in Second Life.

First off, is EDTECH Island's site hosted by Boise State University.

The site has links to a few lectures which discuss implications of Second Life education as well as the list of classes for BSU students. One lecture worth noting for instructional designers is the Webinar by Dr. Lisa Dawley, the designer of EDTECH island, who addresses the issues of needs analysis and course design in Second Life. She stated that traditional ID models such as ADDIE are too strict for virtual learning environments and technology enhanced learning. Since most of us are just beginning to learn about these models its nice to hear a different perspective.

Another website worth mentioning is the Second Life Education wiki
This site provides information and links to various Second Life materials for educators.

Finally, the site – Second Life in Education provides links and information for both experienced SL users and newbies.

To really understand virtual learning, we as educators need to experience it as learners. The virtual learning environment of SL can be intimidating, or like Tim said, “"The Sims" on steroids”, but I feel that we need to really explore and get a feel for it as soon as we can. More than that, as instructional designers we need to see how virtual learning is understood through the various filters of learning theories and eventually step back to develop and/or support new theories that can help drive our instructional design. We might not particularly be using SL for our future careers, but the implication for our careers in the instructional design field is tremendous.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

MUVE and behaviorism

Since many of us in the IDD&E core classes are beginning to learn more about learning theories, I thought that this week would be a good opportunity to relate to how virtual learning in MUVE such as Second Life (SL) might be understood through the filter of the behaviorist learning theory. In a way, this is also my learning situation to consider for my knowledge base.

I must admit however, that I am a little shy about exploring Second Life, namely because I don't really have the time to chat with everyone I come across. Its very easy to get 'sucked in' and not do things like write my blog, or read course materials. Nevertheless, what drives my exploration of virtual learning involves reading the literature and research presented in SL conferences and on SL learning websites, which offers much for virtual learning theoretical analysis.

This theoretical drive has led me to the exploring the behaviorist learning perspective within SL, or any other virtual learning environment.

A friend of mine, who had studied Psychology years ago, once told me that most first person video games and no better than a 'rat in a cage'. Sounds like operant conditioning Dr. Skinner. This led me think that even though there are volumes of literature written on the constructivist perspective of virtual learning, the medium was designed from a behaviorist model. Ask yourself, how does learning occur in video games?

Ummmm...stimulus...response. After killing the bad guy at the end, or reaching a goal, what response is given? Usually some visual que, or radical 'explosion' on the screen.

Another question: ever play a video game with a 'shock' controller. Sounds like a punishment to me and indeed very behaviorist (Ormrod, 2008).

Specifically relating to SL, Weusijana et. al. (2007) created a kind of Skinner box in SL where users have to navigate through a maze by solving puzzles. The research focus was to teach students the concept of adaptive expertise by experiencing it in a problem solving situation. During the experiment participants had to try to get through a virtual maze of rooms both using the adaptive expertise concpets of efficiency and innovation. If a wrong choice was made their avatar was stunned. Although this study did not have a behaviorist objective, the idea of learning to adapt was reinforced by stimulus.

Learning then occurs beyond just reading about it, but by experiencing what it feels like to be the rat in the change.


Ormrod, J.E. (2008). Human Learning. (5th edition). Pearson: New Jersey.

Weusijana, B.K., Svihla, V., Gawel, D., Bransford, J. (2007). Learning about adaptive expertise in a multi-user virtual environment. Paper presented at the Second Life EducationWorkshop 2007. Retrieved September 9, 2008 from

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What does Second Life have to offer?

Greetings from Second Life's
EdTECH island!

In this posting I will focus on Second Life from an educators perspective and list some advantages and disadvatages of this enormous multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) application.

As I dive into the academic research on MUVEs and specifically Second Life, a whole world (virtually and literally) begins to reveal itself. In essence, as with considering learning technology, research on MUVEs is describing learning from a constructivist perspective with students being "co-creators of their own learning environments" (Evans, Mulvihill & Brooks, 2008).

However, as instructional designers, we need to as focus on the prescriptive aspects of developing a pedagogy, which focuses on how to best foster the construction of knowledge. Doolittle (1999) pinpoints some excellent assumptions and recommendations, which have somewhat guided my advantage/disadvantage list.

Advantages of Second Life
  • the application is synchronous with virtual face to face communication
  • communicating with others in a learning situation fosters a sense of belonging and camaraderie as virtual immigrants
  • the MUVEs bring a human quality of images (bodies, faces, buildings) unlike text based learning environments such as Blackboard
  • the learning environment of MUVEs are best used in learner centered curriculum
Disadvantages of Second Life
  • difficult to navigate
  • the program requires familiarity with navigation, so a Second Life 101 type class would be needed for new users before focusing on other content
  • the Second Life teacher should be a pro user and strictly organize lessons - teachers really need to rethink their strategies when using the program (does constructivism always explain learning then?)
  • Second Life on the surface is economically focused with many people selling services or objects in $L (which are traded for real US$)
  • the economic focus and shear size of the Second Life virtual world is overwhelming - you have to know what you are looking for
Despite my reservations, I feel that Second Life as a learning environment is going to be the wave of the future. The technology is still so new, however as educators, we should at least start to become familiar with this MUVE, as a precursor for what's yet to come.

Doolittle, P. E. (1999). Constructivism and online education. Virgina Polytechnic Institute & State University. Retrieved September 8, 2008 from

Evans, N., Mulvihill, T., Brooks, N. (2008). Mediating the tensions of online learning in Second Life. Innovate 4 (6). Retrieved September 11 from

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Virtual Learning - considering the issues

To depart from the Second Life discussion - and probably prove to everyone how crazy my mind can work - here is a quote from an article I just found, which embraces the core discussion of virtual learning (Lowes, 2008).

It is these transformations—of the teacher and of the course—and the two-way
interactions, or flow, between face-to-face teaching and online teaching, that are the
focus of this study. Much as immigrants leave the cultural comfort of their home
societies and move to places with very different cultures and social practices, those who teach online leave the familiarity of the face-to-face classroom for the uncharted
terrain of the online environment, which has constraints and affordances that lead to very different practices. Face-to-face classrooms are closed environments—a teacher and his/her students together in one room for 50 or so minutes a day—and online classrooms are no different. What is different is that the teacher now moves between the two, transferring ideas, strategies, and practices from one to the other. This“trans-classroom” teacher is a mental, rather than a physical, migrant (Introduction section, paragraph 2).

Describing the virtual experience of online learning is very much akin to being in a new culture. Their are new practices, habits, and langauge functions that are foreign to those familiar in a face to face learning environment.

To demonstrate, think of teaching in an inner city school or a rural school when you have never stepped on a farm or road the subway. What about teaching in a foreign country? Virtual Learning, when thought of as a migration metaphor, is the same as being in a new culture. The advantage to teaching in a virtual world is that all participants are migrants, thus learning how to learn in a virtual environment.

How then can instructional design theory be applied when considering this migration metaphor?

Lowes, S. (2008). Online teaching and classroom change: The trans-classroom teacher in the age of the internet. Innovate 4 (3). Retrieved September 6, 2008 from

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Virtual Worlds - Education in Second Life

The topic for my blog for the first part of this semester is virtual worlds. As a computer game player and lover of science fiction, this topic is a very exciting one for me.

To grasp the concept of virtual worlds, consider these questions:

* What if you could be anyone or anything you like - gender, age, species, object - it doesn't make a difference?
* What if you could live in a different time?
* What if you could break the laws of physics to do things like fly, walk through walls, and grow from tiny to enormous?

Within virtual worlds, these things can happen and often do.

Think of the movie "The Matrix", or the concept of the 'holodeck' from the TV show Star Trek. These are examples of virtual worlds.

Science fiction aside, virtual worlds are being used today and starting to become a tool for distance education especially in the virtual world known as Second Life.

As some of you may or may not know, the web application Second Life has become a social networking 'virtual world' where individuals create an avatar to represent themselves, roam and interact through a 3D world. However, this is really nothing special, people have been playing 3D games for years. Instead, what has made Second Life really spectacular is its creation of literally another society with its own economy, money, virtual land to purchase, and any opportunity its users can imagine.

Here is a link to the introductory website

Regarding the learning opportunities of Second Life, the program is becoming a tool to present information unlike any previous process. Not only can studenst attend lectures and interact with each other synchronously, but they can also experience a situation virtually to get a hands-on understanding of a concept.

Here is a link to a video explaining some educational applications of Second Life

BTW - I don't have an avatar on Second Life - more on that later

Monday, September 1, 2008

Adult Learning and Global Change

My previous Masters degree was a collaborative online program called Adult Learning and Global Change. The classes were shared between 4 different universities: Linkoping Universitet (Sweden), University of West Cape (South Africa), University of Technology Sydney, and University of British Columbia (Canada). This truely global program made for some interesting challenges such as time differences and technological barriers. For instance, I was in China during the 1st year of the program and could not reach certain websites due to government restrictions, or how group work was on a 12-20 hour time gap working with both 'yesterday' and 'today' from our local perspectives.

Here is an interesting blog from a former student

In the end, I gained tremendous experience with online learning, made lots of international connections (whom I have never met face to face), and learned that 'global learning' is a concept so new that its difficult for current learning theory to fully explain how it transpires.

To give readers here a further idea into what I learned I will paste the copy of my final porfolio project, which encompasses what ALGC has done for me.

Understanding the Adult Learning and Global Change experience

The Adult Learning and Global Change (ALGC) Masters Degree program is a unique educational experience utilizing online education technology to overcome the challenges of a global learning experience. The program supersedes borders, politics, and cultures in learning, creates an education experience immersed in social justice, and unifies adult learning practitioners. To summarize what the course work has provided for me this short introduction presents several key points expressing how the ALGC experience shaped my career and professional outlook in adult education. While reading these points, please consider that each statement and description contains a concentrated representation of my experience of over two years of online collaboration, academic writing, and analysis of literature related to adult education within a global perspective.

ALGC provided an extensive theoretical understanding in adult education within a modern global and local perspective

The ALGC program provided the language, background, and modern interpretation of adult education theory. In experiencing and interpreting adult learning from the academic perspective combined with both global and local analysis a notion of learner-centered education began to develop within my teaching experience. As I familiarized myself with learning theories such as Popular Education, and Community of Practice, I developed an understanding of how the local and global are able to merge in an equitable manner. Therefore, the paramount importance of the ALGC program was the establishment of a theoretical understanding of global adult education, which I interpreted and understood through academic work in re-evaluating the concept of global civil society from a parallel global and local perspective.

Immersion within the ALGC program established the global learning practitioner identity

Within the ALGC program, the concept of ‘global learning’ began to emerge through my understanding of the complexities involved in collaborating with different cultures. This involved my experience an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in China in learning to understand how local learners in China approach English language learning and what my role as a foreign teacher meant in their learning dynamic. Through the interpretation of my experience, I was able to see myself as more than a teacher, but as a cultural ambassador. Combing this international teaching experience with the ALGC learning experience, I saw a new career identity emerging within the ‘teacher’ identity. Therefore, the notion of learning practitioner and then global learning practitioner became the appropriate identity for my career as an international educator. In this role, my duties involve more than merely language education, but also involve fostering global understanding within the interactions of my students.

ALGC provided an understanding of the value of critical learning within global and local learning perspectives

Involved in the understanding and application of critical learning, students are engaged with local and global issues that affect their political and economic status. Therefore, they begin to learn not only the skills needed for work, but also the understanding of their learning circumstances from both the global and local perspectives. Through the introduction of Popular Education, the ALGC program provided me with the critical lens to approach learning and knowledge creation within a non-prescriptive sense encouraging reinterpretation of learning theories including Popular Education itself to meet local education needs appropriately. Through this understanding, I was able to establish a critical outlook on Popular Education and interpret it within the perspective of volunteer literacy educator training, which became the theme throughout my academic writing cumulating into my final Masters Thesis.

AGLC established interpretation of my work experience involving global understanding of local issues

When I first began the program, I had accumulated three years teaching experience in China. Living and working in China was challenging, but the ALGC program provided the means for a positive critical interpretation of the Chinese education system. As ALGC introduced concepts of adult learning from theoretical and global perspectives, I was able to analyze my Chinese work and learning experience based on conversations with my classmates on their local interpretation of adult learning perspectives and on the readings from the coursework. As I concluded my teaching stint in China, I was able to write an analysis report on the future of adult education in China utilizing knowledge gained from ALGC curriculum.

ALGC enhanced my understanding of the concept of learner ownership within an individual’s education practice

Early in the program, thoughts on student-centered learning first established through my undergraduate coursework began to develop the concept of learner ownership. Much of this was because I used student-centered learning in my teaching work. However, through interaction with the AGLC program, the concept of learner ownership had begun to articulate my experience. The concept of learner ownership eventually evolved into understanding learner identity within the education process. Much of this understanding resulted from reading and applying the Community of Practice learning theory. More specifically however, as I observed group dynamics within both my classroom and the AGLC classes, I saw how the periphery-participant dynamic expressed how particular learners related to classroom knowledge. This knowledge is especially useful in understanding how adult education should consider the learner within a socially just outlook.

Google Library

Here are a few books that I have come across which express some of my personal and research interests.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Instructional Design

Last night I had my first instructional design classes and was pretty inspired by the content and activities. One question that we seemed to keep asking ourselves was what exactly is instructional design. Over the course of the next semester and on the definition will grow and morph into something create. However, as we discussed, even professional instructional designers have trouble defining their field. The one common thread I can evoke among the debate matches well with my passion, which is all about...


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Big Change

Now is the time for change - now is the time to move beyond what I have become and create something new. This may be a new identity, a new attitude, or just a part of who I am (in a new form).

The change involves moving from my hometown of Chicago (for the 2nd time) to Syracuse New York. My girlfriend and I are relocating so that I may be able to attend graduate school at SU School of Education in Instructional Development Design and Evaluation (IDD&E) specializing in learning technologies.

This move and new commitment is a big step for me, but I see the new learning opportunity as a way to gain some real university experience as a full time student for once in my life. That is, other than work related to my program, I plan on trying not to hold down a job while I study.

My overarching goal through this experience is to create new opportunities for both exciting employment and adventure.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Poposal accepted

Yup! I will now be able to present some material to a group of my peers. Oh wait...Yikes!