Maximizing Reach, Learning, and Reflection with Online Professional Development

This blog post accompanies my session, Maximizing Reach, Learning, and Reflection with Online Professional Development, presented at the 2018 Nebraska Distance Learning Association Conference.


Models of Online Professional Learning

Scaffolding for Success with Large Scale

  • Cheat sheets: simple instructions with screen shots for each tool used
  • Phone numbers: who to call? tiered level of support
  • Facilitators for large groups
  • Mechanism for smalls schools to interact
  • PDF agenda, resources, instructions, handbook. Printed ahead of time.

Flipping Your Classroom: Practical Strategies and Ideas

This blog post accompanies my session, Flipping Your Classroom: Practical Strategies and Ideas, presented at the 2018 Nebraska Distance Learning Association Conference.



Video Resources

Open Courses and Resources

Recording and Hosting Videos

Assessments at the Door

Resources for Teaching, Active Learning, and Engagement


For Further Reading

Jazz Up Student Engagement in Your Online Courses

This blog post accompanies my session, Jazz Up Student Engagement in Your Online Courses, presented at the 2018 Nebraska Distance Learning Association Conference.




Note that I have deliberately not included tons of sites and ideas because I wanted this to be simple and not too overwhelming. To pique interest.

Learn about Designing Significant Learning Experiences

Learning How to Learn


Human Dimension

  • Blog or discuss ways in which one’s personal life affects and is affected by the subject via WordPress, VoiceThread, Weebly, Edublogs.
  • Be an ethical, responsible member of a team serving others; tools to support groups: GoogleDrive and similar tools to support collaborative learning.
  • Observation of real-life human experiences related to the content; report back to the class.



  • Analyze and critique an issue or case study, and organize and present it via Padlet.
  • Apply the skills in context; document ability with video via YouTube, Videoscribe, FlipGrid, or Animoto.
  • Create a recommendation for a corporation in a real-world problem/situation, build and present on GoogleSites or PowToon.

Foundational Knowledge

  • Create and share/narrate a mental map or conceptual structure of major concepts. or Mindly the app or MindMeister.
  • Create a presentation: Explain & predict concepts and ideas. i.e. Prezi
  • Have students access and interact with primary sources of content – i.e. TedEd, Library of Congress, and more.

Online Tools

Fink Taxonomy and Tools v2 PDF Handout – Permission granted to reprint freely. Please share any adaptations.

What would you add? Feel free to comment and share. 


The Power of Collaboration

This blog post accompanies my session, The Power of Collaboration, presented at the 2018 Nebraska Distance Learning Association Conference.

PPT (minus the video clips)

A few recommended blog posts regarding collaboration

COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning

COIL is the higher ed version of what the videoconference projects I was heavily involved in till 2011. Read more from my recent attendance at a COIL Conference where I made connections between the two:

K12 Collaboration Examples Shared


  • Cifuentes, L., & Murphy, K. L. (2000). Promoting multicultural understanding and positive self-concept through a distance learning community: cultural connections. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(1), 69-83.
  • Martinez, M. D., & MacMillan, G. (1998). A Joint Distance Learning Course in American Government (No. ED428005).
  • Owston, R. (2007). Contextual factors that sustain innovative pedagogical practice using technology: an international study. Journal of Educational Change, 8(1), 61-77.
  • Sweeney, M. A. (2007). The use of videoconferencing techniques which support constructivism in K-12 education. Dissertation Abstracts International.
  • Warschauer, M. (1997).Computer-mediated collaborative learning: Theory and practice. Modern Language Journal, 81(3), p. 470-481. Also at
  • Yost, N. (2001). Lights, Camera, Action: Videoconferencing in Kindergarten. Paper presented at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference.
  • For more videoconferencing related literature, see my research and dissertation.


Building Your Online Learning Strategy

This post accompanies my workshop, Building Your Online Learning Strategy, for the Adventist University of Africa, January 16, 2018.

PPT: AUA Online Strategy Presentation


Faculty Support

Student Services

A few references


Intersubjectivity and Discussion Characteristics in Online Courses

Just a quick notice of a new article published:

Lim, J., Hall, B., Jeong, A., & Freed, S. (2017). Intersubjectivity and discussion characteristics in online courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education. 18(1). 29-44.


This study explores the combination of course structure, prompt type, and characteristics of discussion posts and their relationships with intersubjectivity. A content analysis measured the intersubjectivity of peer responses by analyzing the interaction analysis model (IAM) phase of each post and comparing with the IAM phase of the previous post. Results found that the type of discussion activity generated significant differences in levels of intersubjectivity. Some characteristics of the posts created higher IAM scores, providing clues for the emergence of intersubjectivity. Instructors desiring higher levels of intersubjectivity in discussion forums should consider the course structure and prompt type.

And a little snippet from the conclusion:

This study found the dialogue format generated significant intersubjectivity and role play was effective in creating dissonance. Intersubjectivity was more likely to emerge in the second week of the discussion forum. Discussion prompts beginning with the Understanding level of Bloom’s taxonomy, previous posts with fewer words, and peer responses addressing multiple classmates each generated higher levels of intersubjectivity.

Find it in your library, and let us know what you think! Feedback and comments are welcome!

Fending off the Webinar Woes: Designing for Interest and Interactivity

On Monday, Roxanne Glaser (aka @superdoodlegirl) and I co-presented for USDLA’s National Distance Learning Week webinar series.

The archived recordings are posted online.

An post-webinar online handout is available here. It includes resources that participants shared during the webinar.

Our slide deck is posted as well.

We focused on two major areas, after defining the challenges:

information design

cognitive and human interactivity

i.e. how do you make your message super clear and concise? And, how to you engage minds and provide opportunities to interact with each other and with you?

Check it out! I think you’ll enjoy it!

Jazzing Up Your Curriculum: Applying Principles of Jazz to Collaboration

I’m presenting at the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada, with co-authors Amy Spath, Ken Conn, and Roxanne Glaser.

This presentation is part of a collection of presentations on Professional Development. In this short post, I’m including some additional references and resources.

The full presentation is on this Google Slidedeck

“Jazz workshop” Resources

edu@2035: Big Shifts are Coming!

I’m attending the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada and blogging the sessions I’m attending.

This session is presented by Richard N. Katz, Contact North Research Associate

Prediction is Hard

It’s hard, but increasingly essential. Read Richard’s full paper on this topic online here.

It’s difficult to do forward thinking without using the past as a frame of reference.

He shared a cool serious of pictures from Jean Marc-Cote from 1899 predicting 2000 paired with how that has turned out now. Interesting how many early ideas still required human intervention with the technology.

We’ve all seen examples of famous people, CEOs, saying things that were wrong. My favorite: Bill Gates in 2004, within “two years from now, spam will be solved.” Oh if only!

Past vs. Future

Will we be pushed by our past memories, or pulled by our future dreams? – Rev. Jesse Jackson

Richard suggests we can gain more by reading science fiction than by looking backwards.

He quoted Thomas Friedman:

Finally, we’re going through a change in the “climate” of technology and work. We’re moving into a world where computers and algorithms can analyze (reveal previously hidden patterns); optimize (tell a plane which altitude to fly each mile to get the best fuel efficiency); prophesize (tell you when your elevator will break or what your customer is likely to buy); customize (tailor any product or service for you alone); and digitize and automatize more and more products and services. Any company that doesn’t deploy all six elements will struggle, and this is changing every job and industry.

Richard replaced “company” in the last sentence with post-secondary institution. To what extent do we think we are employing these six strategies, then to what extent do we think we will struggle?


  • What we read on social media is a product of algorithms
  • What we see and do on the web is a product of algorithms
  • Algorithms help gadgets do all kinds of cool things
  • Artificial intelligence is built on algorithms

Teaching Changes

Consider the Jetsons image:

The robot teacher?

vs. the Jean Marc-Cote from 1899:

The technology enabled classroom

We do still have the teacher!

Some Scenarios to Visualize the Future

Nice collection of videos: one that has a smartphone falling down and smashing a campus; one where Disney and Pixar decide to improve the production quality of Open University courses; another with people talking about the human impact of the campus residential experience.

See the image on page 12 of his paper – where technology giants are attacking academe with faculty using pens, books, and ink to defend.

Invent our Future?

What are our choices? Do we avoid the topic? do we have paralysis by analysis? Do we choose mindful incrementalism? Or do we invent a new future? What would it take to do that? To construct scenarios, develop models, identify risks, extract themes, and iterate that over and over. These are behaviors that academe knows how to do.

The Future is Now

  • Algorithms helping us with everything; 80% of the top 100 companies will have cognitive intelligence and/or artificial intelligence in their products
  • Chatbots: Jill Watson, Woebot, Eno, Abie, HealthJoy, Poncho, Melody, LARA
  • Explosion in R&D investments
  • The technology giants are “all in” on artificial intelligence: Google assistant, home, allo, messenger, watson health, echo, alexa, siri, cortana
  • Jill Watson – a way to provide faster answers and feedback to students: read more about the experiment and experience here
  • Pew Research Center referenced – thinking about code-dependent: pros and cons of algorithms – the need grows for algorithmic literacy, transparency and oversight
  • Knowledge is on networks now

The Community of Inquiry Framework in Practice

I’m attending the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada and blogging the sessions I’m attending.

This collection of sessions are about the Community of Inquiry model.

Social Presence in Two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

by Matthew Stranach, University of Calgary

He used the case study methodology. He looked at courses as a whole. The courses aligned with the xMOOC format (proprietary learning software, behaviorist / cognitivist approaches to teaching and learning).

Participants self-reported via the COI instrument.

Key findings included: social presence was in both courses; personal interest was why people participated in the MOOCs – they weren’t really there for academic or professional reasons; similar levels of teaching and cognitive presence in the courses; but social presence was the last experienced. Participants didn’t generally view themselves as part of a learning community. Social presence did help participants further individual learning goals.

These findings are consistent with the COI literature. Social presence played a supporting role to cognitive presence.

Comment that synchronous elements and social media are areas that can contribute to the MOOC format.

The Importance of Teacher Presence in Creating an Invitational Educational Environment

Presenter(s): Margaret Edwards and Beth Perry – both from Athabasca University

She’s been using the COI model since 1999 in online programs she works with at Athabasca.

This research is around characteristics of exemplary online educators, and they’ve looked at it online 10 years ago, again, as well as in face to face classes previous to the 1990s.

Methodology: students wrote narratives regarding teachers that they considered exemplary.

Exemplary online educators:

  • Encourage interaction
  • Establish social presence
  • Cultivate a sense of community in educational environments
  • Ensure teacher presence – teacher intentionally instead of teaching

Specific ways teacher presence was created:

  • students know there is an engaged, enthusiastic, interested, credible instructor
  • participating in the discussion, addressing issues, answering questions, triggering debate, providing leadership
  • presence of humor (not a comic, but a sense of light-heartedness)
    • invitational language – you are invited to share your thoughts; vs. you are required to write two posts
  • presence of humanity
    • authenticity of the teacher; that you’re not perfect; that there’s a humanness to you; telling stories, being real when you answer, leave the ums and the ahs in your audio/video
  • presence of expertise
    • not a “look at me the expert”, but instead seeing the knowledge and experience that we have as educators as a gift we can give to students

Instructional designers think a lot about learning strategies …. but, as the teacher, you are an instructional strategy!

My favorite quote of the student comments she shared at the end:

Good online teachers play ball. When you are on an online student you toss the ball and you hope there is someone out there who will catch the ball and toss it back. My best teachers return the toss and make me jump to catch it.

TEL MOOC Participant Response to the Community of Inquiry Theoretical Framework

Presenter(s): Martha Cleveland-InnesSarah Gauvreau
Co-Author(s): Nathaniel Ostashewski (Athabasca University), Sanjaya Mishra (Commonwealth of Learning), Gloria Richardson (Confederation College)

Technology Enabled Learning MOOC

This MOOC was an iMOOC – a course based on inquiry learning, as defined by the community of inquiry. Athabasca was testing this format.

The course covered TEL frameworks, integrating technology, OER, creating TEL lessons, review and summary, and participants created an OER resource.

The report today is about the participant response to it.

The design and organization needed the right blend of direct instruction and facilitation – which is part of the teaching presence definition.

The videos were recorded in studios; the videos were less than 5 minutes; they focused on the material and the learning process. It was more than a lecture of the material.

They offered two types of facilitation:

  • The inspirer – a video offered at the beginning of each week that inspired them to work with each other; and summarized each week with another video; they were the inspirer and motivator; they occasionally posted
  • One facilitator for each of the 500 students; they were troubleshooting; they reminded the students of what the other students were doing; for the COI model, students need to learn from each other; the facilitators job was to smooth the learning and connect participants to each other

Results of the study, looking at participant response to COI in the TEL MOOC, included the positive benefits of the COI model.

Fostering Social Presence on Virtual Learning Teams at Royal Roads University

Presenter(s): Elizabeth Childs; Author(s): Jennifer Stone (Royal Roads University)

Jennifer did the research and Elizabeth is reporting on it. This was action research; some items have been incorporated into the university practice from her research.

The majority of their Masters programs are online or blended with short intensives on campus.

She looked at faculty, students, adjuncts, staff, representatives from the teaching and learning group; across three specific Masters programs.

The total n was 45, which was small but fit the institution well.

Mixed method approach; interrater reliability; interviews etc.

Study findings and themes:

  • Understanding of social presence: 100% found the value of social presence; 93% foudn it ciritcal to the level of connection
  • Roles and responsibilities: 86% believed that it was the role of the instructor to initiate and maintain social presence
  • Intentional learning design: Clearly communicated rubrics, assessments, virtual team assignment design
  • Technology and virtual space: Limitations within the LMS for cultivating what the expectation was for social presence

There were 60 different understandings of what social presence was. Whose job is it to ensure the social presence? Where do the roles and responsibilities fall? Whose job is it to ensure that social presence is designed into the course? Is the current technology enabling us to embrace fully the social presence we want?

Her recommendations were to:

  • Determine an operational definition of social presence and decide to what extent the programs wish to prioritize it
  • Consider professional development for instructors on how to develop and role model social presence
  • Incorporate course design that supports the intentional development of social presence and interpersonal relationship building
  • Consider the efficacy of the current learning management systems and how they support the development of social presence

Based on this action research, the institution is updating their learning and teaching model to incorporate social presence. What an awesome result to a student’s research!


After the presentations, then discussion! And sharing of resources:

People really want to talk to real people – humanity, expertise, authenticity.

Interesting that some students don’t want learning community. The presenters commented that students are at different stages in their life, different levels of agency. They may need the engagement, and someone are just wanting to get in and get out to get the required work done.

Cognitive engagement can look like social presence, but it’s on the academic side. The important thing is to offer multiple opportunities for students to have choice. The concept of choice came up also in giving students places for social presence, with and without marks.