Monthly Archives: March 2014

Week 7 – Learning Management Systems – structured learning?

Based on your experience putting your lesson into the Canvas LMS, what do you feel are the benefits of using such a structured space for teaching and learning? How well does the structure of an LMS fit with your theory of online learning?



The cogs of an LMS can all work together and provide a process for the learning to take place.  Having a process isn’t all that bad and so is the structure (as long as their is some flexibility — as with the image, the cogs all work together for outcomes, the smaller cogs spinning a little faster, while the others adding value at a slower, but steady pace.  Even as I think about my personal learning theory including the facilitation model, a semblance of a process can be a good thing.  This process and/or structure could be argued that it is too organized and does not allow the student to think and organize thoughts on their own.  Self-regulation is an important piece of online learning and the idea that a learner can proceed at their own speed could be a benefit or cause failure.

Community is important to an online discussion, but does the structure get in the way of this and interfere with the level of discourse or more specifically development of a social presence?  By providing a certain level of structure – guiding students as to some leading questions, possible articles to read, thoughts, and even feedback, students can attend to more of what supports and builds community.  Reflection is also a key part of building this community — students become better engaged in the learning, can be their own moderators and build a collaborative environment in which discourse happens while staying “on course”.

Relevancy is also an important piece and by providing some level of structure can promote this idea while also encouraging the discussion that arises from the context of the content, but from the student perspective, personal relationships and knowledge.  Relevant content builds on the foundation but also supports the direction and value of the course.



Week 6 – Theory matching…

How hard is it to develop a research method that both matches your theory and created curriculum? What was simple and what was difficult?

Think critically


The focus of our lesson is creating objects (digital fabrication) using 2D printers.  This seems like an easy task to undertake given one of the theories is experiential learning.  Hmmmm… not so fast.  Trying to get someone to understand how something operates, experiencing first hand the objectives and forming opinions, fact finding, possibly working together with another classmate… sounds easy enough.  I see much of this same type of thing happening in many of the “online” courses – let’s just take the content intended for a face to face model and use it.   Sounds like it will work – WRONG.  Having not ever facilitated an online course I have limited knowledge of the background, but I have been a participant or student and I am still amazed of the quality of delivery, the feedback, the course content.  Why does this happen?  I lead a ton of webinars and although not the same, there is still a level of social “community” and connectedness.  I have even gone to the extent of trying some virtual “make and take” models.  Allowing for the experience.  In a search for experiential learning and online, I found a wide variety of studies, but it seems that everyone has a different approach to best facilitating this type of learning.  It was interesting that many schools identify that there is a gap, but not 100% sure what to do about it.  Is it a content problem or a professor problem or maybe a delivery problem or maybe an instructional design problem???

In this article – the authors describe notes:

“The most important part of this platform is that students can learn from their peers,” Saberi said. “The social and experiential aspects of learning must not be diminished by going online; on the contrary, the challenge is how to amplify them online.”

Love this word – amyplify!  How many conversations are lost or gone because the social and experiential pieces are lost?  In our lesson, I think there were standards and objectives, but I would love to delve into a more creative approach to using this same type of level of interaction.  Could students be paired up and use potentially a webcam, video, pictures to amplify their learning and learn from their peers?  We invited students to work with a family member, etc. to explore their project, but a potentially more valuable exercise might have been to experience the printer, the lesson and then have discussion with another classmate.  What worked?  What didn’t?  Why?  What could you have done differently.  As it stands now, our lesson seems to just stop… could their be more learning and conversations?

Here is another interesting article on the subject with focus on constructivism:

Week 5 – My personal learning theory revisited

Write a reflection on the feedback you received from peers and instructor. What do you agree with? Why? What do you disagree with? Why? How has this experience changed or not changed your perspective on your theory?

In reviewing my learning theory and listening to the rest of the theories, it is quite interesting how one develops their own theory.  I am not convinced that one’s theory changes and cannot be fully written in stone.  As I read articles and reviewed key research about my own personal theory to develop my theory, one thing that stuck with me are two terms: inquiry and constructivism.

One piece of my own learning theory is based on Kolb’s experiential learning:

learning_cycle_2This also supports the level of inquiry that I think is a basis of my theory.  I want to allow for learners to develop on their own using their own experiences.  I feel pretty strongly that one creates their own level of knowledge based experiences.  I can facilitate (another piece of my theory) the level of discussion or the direction, but only when I have an interest in something will I truly embrace it.  I think this is the same for teachers or students.  As we continue to explore ways to allow for more online learning, I see this as a barrier to understanding.  Are there ways to help?  Sure… Videos?  Dialoguing with experts?   Reflections based on experiences?

There is one constant which has remained even though I have changed a few pieces… As I noted, my theory seems to revolve around the idea of ownership of learning through a level of inquiry.  The web is not a new thing, but it seems that either we have not done a good job of creating users who understand how to use simple techniques or programs continue to change, grown adapt as such a fast pace that one has to evolve at that same pace (I tend to lean towards the changing pace).  I do think there is a naivety to users and the who digital footprint idea.  How does this parallel my theory… with facilitator theory the goal is to be a guide on the side and the feeling of being comfortable with new ideas.  As it relates to online learning:  accepting feedback or taking responsibility for the learning.  It is not up to the instructor to “spoon feed” the content.  A learner takes an online course for a number of reasons, one being convenience.  From an instructor perspective, this doesn’t mean providing every piece of learning, but providing enough information that will guide the learner.  Another theory, social learning theory… which I have since changed – social cognitive theory, in which one thing that I found interesting – people learn through observations of others.  I know that we take for granted the opportunities to view and observe others in a face to face situation, but how does that happen in online learning?  I think that as an instructor, there is an importance at developing a level of community which allows for some sort of interaction — virtual is tricky.  The types of interactions should be carefully selected so they don’t become “busy work” and offering value.  Finally, the experiential learning theory – instructors must take a personal stake in the learners, as the “why” questions and not what.  Providing opportunities for reflective discourse vs. just spitting back of the information is important and necessary.