Revised Curriculum Plan – Module 9


Your primary task this week is to re-evaluate, revise, and publish your unit-sized curriculum plan. Consider the feedback you received from your study partner last week. Reflect on the Information Fluency and Learning Assessment Cycle models discussed in the videos. When you are confident that you have addressed these concepts, share your lesson plan here.

It has been hard to define what a unit-sized curriculum plan is for my course because I don’t have “units” in my class. I’ve organized it by weeks with each week scaffolding on the previous week and building on previous understanding. I’m going to make it difficult on all of you by sharing my curriculum plan for one learning objective that is maintained for the entire course.

One overall course objective is:

Evaluate the quality of a design to verify achievement of the user’s intended purpose and be able to provide constructive feedback for improvement.

Almost every weekly lesson will have a group of similar lesson objectives like the following:

  • Analyze and critique the quality of a design.
  • Develop constructive feedback for improvement.
  • Identify items to support your understanding of good design practices.

Students will provide helpful feedback on design elements that will either be submitting only to me or to the group. Students may submit their feedback in a variety of ways: text, annotation, video or audio, their choice.

Each week additional design concepts will be introduced. Students will add or revise their own personal checklist to incorporate new information and new understanding. Students will use these checklists to help self-evaluate their own work as well as the work that are asked to evaluate. Sometimes that work will be examples the instructor provides, something public or a cohort’s design.


I’ve applied the Learning Assessment Cycle to this plan as illustrated in the attached graphic. I feel pretty good that my students will be equipped with a three-legged stool, although one leg may be a bit shorter than the other two. The public contribution back into domain knowledge may be a little weak. I haven’t had my students publish in public for the last 3 course offerings because it is too hard to share InDesign files through a blog platform. For some of the assignments looking at the InDesign files is necessary in order to evaluate what is going on behind the scene. I’d like for students to post and public in the public but I also don’t want to include too many kinds of technology. The students already struggle with the InDesign software which is the main technology in the course. And I’m hesitant to have them post and publish to too many places. So their contributions may only be within the privacy of the course itself.

My curriculum plan (google doc)


Process and feedback notes – Module 8

Please share your notes from your group work session here. You can provide a link to a shared document or share the notes directly. Please read and consider the feedback of your peers – both for your own unit-sized plan and for those of your comrades.

Brooke and I met via a hangout on Tuesday. We shared our written plans (Links to an external site.)with each other. Brooke was much more prepared than I was in having read through my document and had some really great questions – some to clarify what I was thinking and some to question my process and goals. Both kinds of questions were extremely helpful. Brooke’s plan was very concise and easy to follow. I’m afraid I left her with a more complicated plan of which may not have had a natural flow to it. I wanted to focus on an overall course goal rather than a unit plan which might have been a little overwhelming.

She asked about my idea of getting students to give critical feedback to each other and how I planned to assess students as they work through that process. Right away I realized that I hadn’t specifically thought that through. I usually assess students based on improvement so I’m pretty sure I’ll follow this same strategy for how much a student improves over the semester. I’m almost thinking of this exercise as something students might receive a checkmark instead of a numerical grade in that you are either giving decent feedback or you aren’t. And if you aren’t you can try again.

My idea of having students create a checklist of design elements that they built throughout the semester can become a resource for students as they either create future design work or if they register for other Design-type classes, like Photoshop, web design or web graphics.

One suggestion Brooke had was to consider how to begin and support the feeling of community to help with giving constructive feedback. If students feel a connection with one another the idea of giving feedback might be easier. She asked about giving feedback orally or in a synchronous setting which might be easier for students. That led me to think about how much easier it is to give feedback through annotations and arrows rather than through text. When I give feedback to students I used a screencapture tool with annotations where I can point to things. I also create short videos demonstrating alternatives. This might be a better way for students to also give feedback. It can sometimes be hard to explain using text only. This was an aha moment for me! She also suggested that feedback is something that could be done as a group – perhaps through something like a voicethread where you can give an audio or video response as well as use the online annotation looks while you’re talking. Lots of possibilities with this!

We both have made comments on each other google documents. For me, this is a really helpful way to collaborate as well as provide an artifact for discussion! Thank you Brooke for you questions and suggestions!

Metacognitive summary – Module 8

For your post this week, write a metacognitive summary of your experience thus far in developing your unit-sized curriculum plan.

“Metacognition refers to higher order thinking which involves active control over the cognitive processes engaged in learning. Activities such as planning how to approach a given learning task, monitoring comprehension, and evaluating progress toward the completion of a task are metacognitive in nature.” – somewhere online.

One of the challenges I have faced in my CIOS 233 is getting students to feel comfortable giving constructive feedback to each other. In the past, I’ve asked and encouraged students to post examples of their work and give feedback to each other with suggestions for improvement. I do have a small class size so it has been difficult to get this process started and eventually comes to only one of two students giving very superficial feedback to each other.I realize now that I just wasn’t giving enough guidance on what to look for and how to give feedback. I was looking at this experience from the expert side and I forgot what is was like to be asked to give feedback as a novice. On the other hand, I do remember getting feedback when I was first starting out and I took the criticism very personally so I want to make sure that I don’t put my students in that same situation.

Giving constructive feedback also means that you know what to look for. I have had my student in the past create a checklist of items that they put together when they are creating a project but I didn’t have them do that until very late in the semester. I have provided checklists for them and I think that these might have been overlooked because they weren’t sure what to do with them.

My new plan is to combine students creating their own personal checklists with some guidance on how to give constructive feedback to others. I’m hoping that students can use the elements they have added to their own checklists as triggers for giving feedback. I think this strategy will provide a couple of outcomes. This will be something that students can take with them after the class when they are creating their own projects when using InDesign to do some self-evaluation. If they explore other Adobe product or take classes on Adobe software, they should be able to use some of the elements for whatever graphic projects they create. Finally, being able to give feedback to other should resonate with the student to aid in their own design decisions.about

If I scaffold critical feedback so that they are practicing with me at first and then leading up to giving feedback, I hope they will gain confidence as well as a congenial style so that the feedback is actually helpful. Of course, I try to model this experience when I’m giving feedback to each of the students. If I follow my own advice this should provide a good example.

Brook and I met today to talk about our unit plans. She gave me some really good things to think about which I’m excited to share later in the week.

Integrated Course Design – Module 7

What have you learned about integrated course design, taxonomies of learning, active learning, or problem-based learning?

After reading these last few chapters in Fink, I think that I was closer in basing my course design on significant learning strategies then I really thought I was. I have had previous experience with taxonomies of learning and active and problem-based learning and have helped faculty apply these strategies to their own courses. I have just finished up leading some of the sessions in a four-day faculty training workshop (iTeach) where we talk through many of the suggestions that Fink talks about in the chapters we read: topic coverage vs. learning goals, measurable learning objectives, feedback, assessment, learning activities. Doing the reading for this class and participating in those activity so close in time has been a good experience for me applying and doing what I’m reading and learning.

I also just found out that my class is on the spring schedule so having this time to review and rethink and apply couldn’t have worked out better for me.

One concept that I really like about Fink’s model is Figure 4.7 the “Castle Top” diagram on page 132. I think this is an important practice that face-to-face instructors should consider for their classes. All too often, students aren’t given a thorough understanding of what they should be doing outside of class. Having instructor go through this exercise might help them when they create their schedule.  Being explicate about what your expectations are for students can sure help to clear up any misunderstandings. Should a reading assignment be completed before class or as a supplement after the concepts have been introduced in class? Perhaps we assume that students will be prepared, but I expect that isn’t the case.

How is the online learning environment working for you? What are the advantages and/or the challenges of taking this class in this format?

Coming into this course I had no doubt that the online delivery option would be the best choice for me. I have a busy schedule and committing to a time and day can be difficult. I also need structure so having weekly deadlines helps to keep me on task. I normally don’t do well if the schedule is really loose, although I may be better disciplined than I used to me. Having the convenience of studying and interacting with my class when I choose is a very good model for me. I can spread things out over a week, read, ruminate, write, ruminate, submit, read, ruminate, comment and ruminate some more. Until you asked this question, I might not have been aware of how this model really works for me. I’m able to take what I’m reading, think about it and even apply it, commit to a position by posting to the discussion board and then revise and rephrase as we discuss things as a class. If I were in a classroom situation, I know myself pretty well and I know that I would do anything I could to not make eye contact with the instructor in hopes that I wouldn’t be called on in discussion. I need that time to think and compose. Perhaps at some point in my life I will need to be taken out of that comfort zone and be forced to perform but it certainly isn’t something I’ll volunteer for.

Except for a few challenges with Canvas, I don’t feel there are any challenges of disadvantages with the content or how it is delivered. Here’s my issues with Canvas:

  1. The main menu structure of Canvas plays a more prominent part than the main menu for the course. I’d like Home, Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, Grades, etc. to be static when you scroll down a page instead of the Canvas items. Except for “Account” where you have to go to upload images, I haven’t used any of the Canvas items.
  2. From the discussion board
    1. you can’t upload images directly – you have to upload them to canvas first and then find them
    2. when you scroll down a page there is no quick access to “top of page”
    3. in the formatting bar there is no numbered list option
    4. there is no save draft

What have you learned about yourself during this unit? Have you discovered anything new about your own learning styles or preferences? Have you developed any new strategies that help you learn more effectively?

I knew this before, but the articles reviews confirmed that I need to brush up on my statistics. I’ve actually never taken a stats class and I think it would really help me when reading and analyzing study results. In ED 601 there were some activities using stats but I was able to make it through those without really learning or remembering. It has been something I can usually skip over and still gain some understanding of the article, but it is clear that understanding more would be beneficial.

I’m not sure I’ve learned anything new about my own learning style preference nor have I taken on any new learning strategies. But I have learned or confirmed, is that every teaching style is different so being able to adapt to that style is helpful.

Article Review #5

The article, “The Impact of Previous Online Course Experience on Students’ Perceptions of Quality,” comes from a collection of articles prepared and collected by the Online Learning Consortium from a 2016 OLC Conference Special Issue. The article title and abstract caught my attention as we continue our search for what makes for a quality online learning experience. We’ve talked about novice and expert students in previous modules, so this article seemed like it might fit in and provide some insight as to the perception of what a quality online course looks like from students who have had either little or plenty of previous experience with online courses.

The research question for this article is “whether students’ perceptions of online course quality differ based on the extent of their previous online learning experience.” Some of the first things that came to my mind that might be perceived differently between these two groups are navigation and structure, technical details and technical support resources, aspects of building online community vs. feelings of isolation, and familiarity with asking for instructor clarification or support outside of normal discussion forums. I thought that these areas might be evaluated differently by each for the groups which might feed into their idea of quality.

Much to my surprise, the authors based their survey questions on the Quality Matters (QM) model for evaluating course quality. For those who aren’t familiar with QM, there are four underlying principles that are based on four categories: Continuous, Centered, Collegial and Collaborative.

    • Continuous – there is always room for improvement even if a standard is fully met and eventually all courses that go through the review process can fully meet the standards.
    • Centered – the process is based on research and best practices, the review is centered on promoting student learning and is reviewed from a learner-centered perspective. The review is centered around meeting expectations at an 85% level which is deemed better than good.
    • Collegial – the review process is a faculty-drive review process. The process is meant to be collegial and not evaluative
    • Collaborative – the review team consists of experienced online instructors who are asked to identify evidence found in the online course that speaks to the outlined Standards in the rubric including communicating directly with the Course Representative.

I wasn’t expecting that the basis for the study would be using QM for a couple of reasons. First, as a peer review process, only the course design is evaluated. The actual teaching and delivery of the course is not considered in a formal review. You are only evaluating the quality of the course design you aren’t looking at how the teacher interacts with the students. I’m suspicious that an online learner, especially one with little online experience would be able to discern the design vs. delivery difference. This can be difficult enough for faculty and administrators to differentiate.

Secondly, as a course peer reviewer, you must look at the course from the learner’s perspective. You don’t look at the course from the instructor’s or an Instructional Designer’s side. You evaluate the course based on how you, the student, perceive the quality of the course. So for this reason, using a rubric like QM has some merit. The authors pose an interesting question about the standards chosen for QM, by asking if the actual standards chosen for evaluation are standards that students would use to evaluate quality. “Although based on extensive research, the question remained—Would students agree that the standards in the QM rubric were important?

The specific standards included in the rubric were originally written in faculty-centered language. In order for online students to rank these rubric items, each standard was first converted to student-centered language. For example, the specific standard, “The self-introduction by the instructor is appropriate” (MarylandOnline, 2006), was modified to read, “The instructor introduces her- or himself” (p. 31). I find the rephrasing of the questions an interesting approach and I wonder if this would actually benefit peer reviewers when they are evaluating courses. [I’m tentatively scheduled to be on a QM review team and I will definitely keep this in mind during the evaluation period.] Students answered the questions using a likert scale where students rated each of the standards based on how important the standard was to their success (p. 31).

The sample size for the study was pretty large: 3,160 students from 31 universities in 22 states (p. 29). It seemed like there was a good mix of students, although there were twice as many females and men and less than half of the students were between 26-44 and half of the students worked full-time (p. 30). What surprises me is that in many of the demographic statistics between 15-19% of the participants didn’t respond to questions about sex, age, employment status, educational level, or number of online courses taken. Why would that number be so high? Are students afraid of divulging personal information about themselves in these types of surveys?

Since we all know that students bring different prior experience into their learning, it could very well be that one of the questions asked of the students could have received a lower score because the student had already received sufficient experience in another class so therefore didn’t attribute much importance to the standard for the class in which was receiving the evaluation. The authors did acknowledge “ Students in the same course are not homogeneous as some faculty believe. There is great variance in the needs and expectations of students taking online courses” (p. 34).

There were several key areas that were regarded as key design features that students felt were important for a quality course. The last bullet is one that was of particular importance to novices.

  • Demonstrate strong alignment of course objectives, assessments and learning activities.
  • Instructors need to also help learners see the connection between various course elements so they can better understand their path to success in the course.
  • Exhibit clear organization, easy navigation and optimal readability by students. Making sure that students can easily access required technologies and materials is also recognized by experienced learners to be a key to their success.
  • Clearly state expectations for student performance, especially as it relates to interaction with the course content, instructor, and their peers.
  • Create opportunities for students to introduce themselves to the class and reinforce to students the importance of this activity in creating a supportive and effective learning community.
  • List and explain netiquette guidelines. Even though it may seem that learners are more comfortable in the online environment with each passing year, the results of this study suggest that students in online courses, especially those with limited online course experience, still need and seek out guidance on acceptable behaviors in online courses (p. 36).

Several things about this study bother me. First, the idea of quality seems to be based on student preferences, not on learning outcomes. Important demographics about the students are missing such as success rate, how well each of the students did in their class and what was the student’s overall GPA. Both of these factors would confirm or negate perceptions of quality.

The authors also pointed out several reasons why students with less online experience might have concentrated on certain design features that their more experienced counterparts did not. Several of which are in line with my assumptions.

…novice online learners may be inexperienced in using a learning management system and other course technologies, and may be unfamiliar with typical instructional approaches and conventions used in online courses. They may not be aware of what they don’t know and may still be getting acclimated to the learning system. Intermediate online learners have likely become more proficient in using a learning management system and other technologies, and they may have at least been exposed to commonly used instructional approaches. These intermediate students, however, may not yet have the confidence or proficiencies of more experienced online learners. Finally, experienced online learners, who have taken at least seven online courses previously, have completed many credit hours in the online environment. Students with this level of experience can reasonably be expected to have more comfort with course technology, structure, and participation (p. 34).

In the end, the article points out several design features that an instructor should take under careful consideration when designing and planning a course. It should not matter whether or not your audience has extensive online experience or have only taken one or two courses. A student who has taken many courses  will always be able to have a better grasp on quality due to their experience.


Hixon, E., Barszyk, C., Ralston-Berg, P., and Buckenmeyer, J. (2016). The Impact of Previous Online Course Experience on Students’ Perceptions of Quality. Online Learning, 20 (3). 25-40.

Course Understandings and Learning Objectives Module 6

Design a concept map to illustrate layers of understanding in your chosen subject. This is a brainstorming activity, intended to help you situate the lesson plan you’re developing within the larger context of your subject.

Write three learning objectives for your project-based lesson plan. Use the readings and tools above to inform the syntax of your objectives.


Original understanding brainstorm



I used my current learning objectives to create this concept map of the key areas for my course. There were some concepts that I immediately noticed were missing — mostly around the principles of design layout that I content for and that I ask students to research and use, but these concepts are really missing from my learning objectives.

The revised image



Interactive version (Links to an external site.)


CIOS F233 Desktop Publishing: Adobe InDesign

Lesson topic

Working with Graphic Frames

In InDesign, the basic unit of layout is the frame. You have already gotten some experience with frames in the first two jobs. Basically unlike a word processing program where the entire page is one surface or canvas, what you have in InDesign is the capability to place different elements into unique containers, or frames all on the same page. Within each of these containers you add content. The content can be images or text. Various tools can be used to edit a frame, its contents, or both simultaneously. Frames can be manipulated individually or in groups. This week we will begin to explore the use of frames in page layout to create a graphic element.

Learning Objectives

  1. Explain resolution and the difference between different graphic formats.
  2. Set up and design a multi-purpose document that uses typography as a design element by converting text to a graphic element.
  3. Demonstrate the correct selection of tools and features in the Adobe InDesign interface to create this document.
  4. Evaluate the quality of the design of a document to achieve the designer’s intended purpose and its intended publication medium and be able to give constructive feedback for improvement.

Update 10/12

I did choose “explain” over “define” because I want to make sure students are able to define the term in their own words. I think if I asked for define, I would get a sentence filled with vocabulary that didn’t have meaning or any connection to students. They have to be able to apply their understanding of resolution in the 2nd objective so they need to know what resolution is in order to apply it.

I think because you can accomplish a “look” with a final product without using the correct tools and features on the backend with the software, it is important to be specific with some of the objectives. There are correct and incorrect ways of doing certain things and I want to be clear they are doing things correctly. Similar to using spaces to indent a paragraph. It might look ok, until your document becomes more sophisticated or you begin working on a project with a team of people. Then you need to do things the correct way or your project quickly blows up. Perhaps that is a difference between a skills-based class like this and a discipline that is more open to interpretation like a humanities class. And maybe there are topics within a writing class, like grammar, that you can write objects that are more specific because there are right and wrong rules.

I’m almost thinking that the 4th objective might need to be rewritten into two separate objectives. I’ve heard you should only have one verb per objective. I think this addresses Owen’s question as well.

  • Evaluate the quality of the design of a document to achieve the designer’s intended purpose and its intended publication medium.
  • Recommend and provide constructive feedback to your peers for improvement to their designs.

These a really are two separate outcomes – being able to evaluate is different from being able to verbalize that feedback.

Article Review #4

Do you think an active assessment where you design a toy for a specific age group could be an engaging project for students? Would this activity show an application and integration of learning? Or how about going through your daily activities wearing rubber gloves filled with unpopped popcorn kernels to replicate what is it like to deal with arthritis? Would this give you insight into the human dimension and empathy and caring about another human being? These are just two examples that a group of faculty from Central Connecticut State University added to their course redesign based on Fink’s book, Creating Significant Learning Experiences.

There were four goals that the authors of “Using Fink’s Integrated Course Design: How a Book Changed Our Students’ Learning, Our University, and Ourselves“ set out to make. You can see the impact that Fink had on this group by looking at these goals and seeing how they closely articulate his taxonomy.

(1) how Fink’s book challenged us to change our teaching in lasting ways;

(2) how we used this inspiration to assess Fink’s ideas about integrated course design (ICD) empirically in a scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) model of research;

(3) how our experiences helped to spread these ideas within our university and beyond; and

(4) how this whole experience changed us (p. 43).

This entire process took about four years from first reading Fink’s book, forming a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) group, implementing a revised course design, giving workshops, authoring journal articles, mentoring 1:1 and offering a colloquium for 50 participants. This seems like a long time to implement and promote a learning model to encourage other instructors to implement a similar process, but in a public institution, nothing moves quickly.

However, getting faculty to see the merit to taking a new approach to developing and planning a course by asking different questions, in the beginning, can grow exponentially with mentorship and sharing of ideas. The authors of the article now use these questions when planning a course:

“What do we want students to retain from this course?”

“How can we make this learning personal for the student?” and

“How can we make this a human experience that will make them care about the material?”

This is a very different approach from asking, “How can I cover the textbook material in one semester?”  (p. 51).

The article outlines the changes that each of the six faculty made to their courses and identified how the new activities fit into Fink’s taxonomy. Each came up with different ideas as well as a particular focus on specific areas of the model that they felt their course was deficient.

Carolyn Fallahi in her Lifespan Development course wanted to move beyond foundation knowledge and add more application and integration. She created a series of activities around case studies based on “neglected and bullied children” that she used throughout the course (p. 45). I this the use of case students is a great way for students to apply and integrate their new knowledge, but I wonder if limiting the studies to this small targeted topic is enough variety to prepare students for a more advanced class. Perhaps I misunderstand this target group, and the case studies actually did follow this target group as they advanced in age. That would seem to cover the expanse of the courses’ intent.

Laura Levine in her Psychology of Early Childhood course and Joan Nicoll-Senft in her Instructional Planning for Students with Exceptionalities course, they both wanted students to get a better understanding for Learning how to Learn to prepare them for their future careers. Based on the complexity and wide-range of disabilities and stages of children, it is necessary for students to know how to find and evaluate reliable resources to support their decisions. Levine used a likert scale evaluation at the end of her class asking students to “rate their ability to find professional resources” which seems like an assessment that might benefit students to do at least once, if not more often throughout the course (p. 45). Levine also had her had her students create their own observational assignments and their own questions to answer when they were observing young students (p. 45). Nicoll-Senft use problem-based activities to give students practice in finding solutions through research (p. 48).  

Jack Tessier in Concepts in Biology and Cheryl Watson in her Anatomy and Physciology wanted their students to think more about how their discipline  fit into daily life. Tessier tied course topics to current events and asked students to identify the relevance.  Watson designed her lessons with lots of repetition. She also concentrated on some simple case studies. For example, “In several learning units, she asked them to pick up a cup from the table and to build their understanding by explaining what was happening as they did so, involving first bones, then muscles, then muscle attachments, then nerves” (p. 48). Helping to identify all that is going on through the simple action of picking up an object can quickly have impact on understanding.

Rebecca Wood in her Lifespan Development course used the two the examples that I mentioned at the beginning of this review. As part of her interest in helping students expand their understanding in the Learning to Learning areas, she had students rate themselves on their library services understanding.

The end results what that they determined that by taking a holistic look at their courses, instead of just at their activities and assessments, there was significant improvement in student learning. However, the article didn’t say what the revised courses were compared against. The data provided was based on pre- and post- tests, which does not say a lot. By only comparing pre- and post- tests for any kind of teaching method would show improvement, that seems obvious (p0. 49). Another area they looked at was improvement in the caring taxonomy. The results they got weren’t dramatically improved, but they acknowledged that students in several of the courses were in health care related courses where the pretest courses were already high (p. 49-50).

The article included a table with some examples from the five topics pertaining to Fink’s six taxonomies which can be used as a reference and to help brainstorm additional ideas for similar or different disciplines. The article is pretty short and similar to the some of the other articles we’ve reviewed, hearing the experience of the six instructors and getting a glimpse of what revisions to their courses were decided upon and what choices they made.



Fallahi, C. R., Levine, L. E., Nicoll-Senft, J. M., Tessier, J. T., Watson, C. L., & Wood, R. M. (2009). Using Fink’s Integrated Course Design: How a Book Changed Our Students’ Learning, Our University, and Ourselves. New Directions For Teaching And Learning, (119), 43-52.


Situational Factors – Module 5

For your writing post this week, develop a thorough description of the situational factors impacting your lesson plan. Exhibit 3.2 in the text provides a checklist of initial considerations. If you’re developing for K-12, speak to the developmental stage of your students. If you’re developing educational content for adults, estimate the level of prior experience and describe how that will affect your lesson plan. Highlight the situational characteristics that you believe will make course development most challenging.

Course: CIOS 233: Desktop Publishing: InDesign, 3 cr

1) How many students are in the class?

less than 10

2) Is the course lower division, upper division, or graduate level?

Lower division (200-level).This is an elective course for A.A.S. Computing Technology Support, A.A. S Degree Applied Business – (Computer Applications or Marketing Concentration), and a Certificate as an Information Technology Specialist.

3) How long and frequent are the class meetings?


4) How will the course be delivered?


Expectations of the External Group

5) What does society at large need and expect in terms of the education of these students, in general or with regard to this particular subject?

Students in this class should be able to provide their community withTasteful and effective print and online publications and products as well as Promotion and information delivery skills

6) Does the state or related professional societies have professional accreditation requirements that affect the goals of this learning experience?

With more experience, students could be Adobe certified.

7) What curricular goals does the institution or department have that affect this course or program?

This course is an elective for the IT Specialist program for both an associates degree and a certificate.

Nature of the Subject

8) Is the subject matter convergent (single right answer) or divergent (multiple, equally valid interpretations)?

It is both. The terms and base theories are convergent, but the expression of the knowledge (in assignments) is divergent. The types of assignments to illustrate the expression of knowledge may also be divergent.

9) Is the subject primarily cognitive or does it include the learning of significant physical skills as well?

Primarily Cognitive and physically as in muscle memory for making keyboard commands and ease of software use.

10) Is this field of study relatively stable, in a period of rapid change, or in a situation in which competing paradigms are changing each other?

The industry is pretty standard for baseline understanding of graphic design principles and software skills, but ever changing in innovation and design look and feel.

Characteristics of the Learners

11) What is the life situation of the students at the moment: full-time student, part-time working student, family responsibilities, work responsibilities, and the like?

Mixed student population, from high school young to retirees. Most have a clear goal or reason for enrolling.

12) What life or professional goals do students have that relate to this learning experience?

Marketing, advertising or promotion business, reporting, public or private information

13) What are the reasons for enrolling?

Educational, personal, and professional (Interested in improving skills)

14) What prior experiences, knowledge, skills, and attitudes do the students have regarding the subject?

Students have varied experience. Previous knowledge of creating newsletters, photography and photoshop, web development or web graphic. Most students are computer literate and comfortable learning new software, but some are not. Students are not huge online producers of new content. Most don’t use online services to store artifacts.

15) What are the students’ learning styles?

Not sure

Characteristics of the Teacher

16) What prior experiences, knowledge, skills, and attitudes does this teacher have in terms of the subject of this course?

Experienced designer, practical knowledge. Not a graphic artist


17) Has the teacher taught this course before or is this the first time?

6 or so semesters

18) Will this teacher teach this course again in the future or is this the last time?

Hope to teach once a year

19) Does the teacher have a high level of competence and confidence in this subject or is this on the margins of the teacher’s zone of competence?

Pretty confident to mentor at this lower division level, lots of practical knowledge.

20) What prior experiences, knowledge, skills, and attitudes does this teacher have in terms of the process of teaching? (How much does the teacher know about effective teaching?)

Course final grades are based on showing improvement. Current design of course allows for multiple drafts until student is satisfied. Instructor prefers learning by doing, practice and more practice so course has this same design.


Special Pedagogical Challenge

21) What is the special situation in this course that challenges students and the teacher in the desire to make this a meaningful and important learning experience?

Students giving critical feedback to other students; pairing design atheistic with punching the keys, ideas for creating a publication at the ground level (I’m faced with a blank screen, what should it look like); using correct tool for desired outcome, attention to detail and understanding why that is important.

Article Review #3

Making Video Brain-Friendly

After reading the U.S. Department of Education, Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online Learning: A Meta-analysis and review of online learning studies in Module 3, I wanted to know more about how the brain processes video. I have had this presentation recording open in one of my browser tabs for several weeks before we started Module 3 and was waiting for an opportunity to review the presentation and go through the notes.

This presentation by Has de Graaf, is from The eLearning Guild conference: FocusOn 2016 Conference & Expo – June 10, 2016. The presentation is only available for members of The eLearning Guild so unfortunately, I can’t share the recording with you. It is interesting to note that in the presentation, de Graaf actually mentioned this U.S. DOE study and talked about how results favored blended learning, most likely because students were spending more time in a combination of F2F and online learning environments. He also pointed out that the study said online learning was just as effective as F2F learning.

The objectives for the one-hour session, Making Video Brain-Friendly, seemed to be just what I was looking for. I wanted to know more about how the brain processes video which might lead to a better understanding of how to make videos that would result in a better learning experience for students.

  • How your brain processes images and videos
  • Which parts of your brain are active when watching video
  • How to optimize your videos to communicate more effectively to the brains of your viewers
  • Techniques to make your “talking head” instruction videos more “human” and trustworthy
  • About the different effects in the brain when using a cartoon or animation, compared to a human presenter

de Graaf says that 50% of our brain is dedicated to visual input which can either be images or words. When we see something we’re looking for what and where triggers: what is it and where is it going. If we see gaps, our brain is pretty good about filling in those gaps. The brain also has filters what help us determine what is important and what can be neglected. We also look at the environment, watching for anything dangerous as a survival mechanism to keep ourselves safe. When we’re given a focus or a goal, we pay more attention to the details of that focus and are able to identify things that we may have missed without having that focus.

When we add audio into the mix, if for some reason that audio is out of synch, video prevails in our understanding and we trust it more so than the audio. As an example, he referenced the McGurk Effect which demonstrates that your brain can play tricks on what you perceive to be hearing when what you see appears different. I played this video several times and it wasn’t until I closed my eyes that I was able to detect what was going on. On the other hand, later in the recording, de Graaf did say that audio makes up at least 50% of the quality of your video. I know from experience if the audio is bad, viewership will drop quickly.

When we learn something, our primary learning devices that feed our brain are our eyes and ears. Our ears hear words and sounds and our eyes see words and images. Learning happens when our brain encodes that incoming information, stores it for a time when it is needed for retrieval. Because we are all coming at information with our own prior experiences, especially adult learners, de Graff suggests it might benefit our learners if we actually consider making 2-3 versions of a video which might address those with less or more experience instead of one video for a broader audience. This sounds like a good idea, but the reality of doing this probably won’t happen the first time you create a video for your course. I believe that De Graaf also comes from the training perspective and not the academic angle. Prior knowledge in industry and on-the-job training is perhaps a bit more predictive than at the academic level.  

When you begin to incorporate media into your course and, really, your goal for introducing any kind of new learning is to make the learning stick. De Graaf had a little exercise for the audience where he had a brain shape with several pieces of velcro on it. He gave several participants darts with a small piece of velcro on the end and asked them to try to hit the targets. One out of five darts met their target. Making it stick is also part of the retrieval process. A concept is living somewhere in your brain but you may not be able to retrieve it at the exact moment when you need it. I think we’ve all had the experience when something happens that makes us think about a person from your past but can’t for the life of you remember that person’s name. Until a few hours later the event when it comes to you. The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve shows that over time we forget at a very fast rate. I suspect that the actual curve is less dramatic if the content you are learning grabs your attention in the beginning as something relevant to your own prior knowledge or something in which you have passion.  


The original uploader was Icez at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So how do you increase the probability that learning can be remembered and retrieved in a timely manner? Repetition and interactive seem to be the best answers. Reinforce learning by repeating and repeating exposure, one day, two days, one week, two weeks, whatever it takes. The more repetition the easier and quicker the retrieval. de Graaf also mentioned an interesting thought about learning styles. He showed an example of two pieces of text similar to the following:

 If you can read this you will remember it. 


If you can read this you will remember it.

The second sentence is easier to read, isn’t it. I think we’ve all learned that contrast between text color and the backboard is one of the most important elements for readability. de Graaf said that the research suggests that because the first option is harder to read, we might have to work harder and put more effort into it to understand it and that that action might result in better learning. It’s a challenge. “No pain, no gain, applies to learning too!” This confirms my own thoughts about learning better when content isn’t delivered it my preferred learning style.

In addition to reinforcing learning through repetition, asking questions and adding interactivity into learning can help you remember. Much like Mazur mentioned in his video, you need to give students time to think about new concepts in order to make connects and mentally transfer that knowledge to their own experience. Asking questions, having students take short breaks, having students do something like answering a question, clicking, trying an activity, choosing a pathway or direction for more information, even just pausing for a moment to think about what you just experienced, can help to reinforce new ideas.

When you think about it, watching video is a very passive activity. Most often, we are watching video for entertainment. de Graaf suggestions that all videos should contain a warning similar to those found on cigarette packages or alcohol labels.




You may have experienced getting so engrossed in a video that you don’t realize how much time has gone by. One way to minimize the zombie effect would be to incorporate those pause mechanism to increase the interactivity between what you are watching and hearing and what you are thinking.

The one-hour presentation was a good starting point and de Graaf provided a few interesting resources to research further. My big takeaway is that there are strategies for making good video choices in education as long as you make them purposeful and engaging.


Additional Hints (in no particular order)

Color – in most cases and unless you’re pointing out something in particular, your brain doesn’t need color to learn or understand.

Information overload – one topic, one video. Watching five 2-minute videos that cover one topic each is more brain-friendly than one 10-minute video that covers all five topics at the same time.

Personalization – you should use a conversational style as if you were talking directly to your audience. (You, I, we) deGraaf suggests dressing up the camera in some clothes, perhaps with a tie to keep things formal (what a joker) so that when you are addressing your audience you feel more like you’re addressing real people. I know some people actually try to have a live audience when they make their videos so they have someone to make eye contact with and to see to get a visual cue that the content is making sense. The thing to remember is that if your viewers ask questions or make comments, you need to make sure to repeat the question or comment so it is picked up in the audio. If you are making 3-5 minute videos (which is preferred), you probably don’t need to have that kind of audience participation.

Background – remove extraneous distractions both static and those in motion. If you’re sitting at your desk, clean up the background. Make sure the image that is on the wall behind you doesn’t look like you’re wearing a fruit bowl on your head. If you’re taking your video in the park and there are a couple of dogs playing behind you — no one will be paying attention to what you’re talking about or doing, we’ll be watching the dogs!

Attention Graber – just like in marketing and promotional writing, you have just a few seconds to grab your viewer’s attention. Skip the “Welcome to Class 101, I’m your instructor, blah blah blah” and start with a question, a statistic or a story.

Note: I’m going to DevLearning/Adobe Summit for Education in November and I see that Mr. de Graaf is giving a pre-conference session. I won’t be able to make that session but maybe I’ll see him at some of the conference sessions.

Reflection learning theory in the 21st Century-Module 4

Consider the intersect between the theories we explored in the previous unit and the methods explored in this unit. Can you map a particular learning theory to Khan Academy or to Eric Mazur’s peer instruction methods? What theoretical principles support the use of game mechanics in learning? Consider the list you created of ways in which the world has changed, then reflect on the goals of Partnership for 21st Century Skills. In your writing this week, discuss the ways in which learning must change in the 21st Century and the ways in which it must continue to build upon solid theory and models. Elaborate on ways in which Khan Academy or Peer Instruction are either accomplishing those goals or falling short.

Can you map a particular learning theory to Khan Academy or to Eric Mazur’s peer instruction methods?

Mazur’s peer instruction is a pretty clear example of both cognitive and constructivist learning theory. By inserting what I call thought questions, or what Mazur’s calls “ConcepTests (Links to an external site.),” into a lecture, he is giving students the opportunity to synthesize and reflect on that concept before moving on. Concepts such as applying what you’ve read about and what you’ve heard in a group context, reflecting, listening and articulating your understanding out loud incorporates meaning in a situated and contextual manner.

In a classroom, this combination of activities seems like a solid teaching method, however it really puts the pressure on the student and whom they are talking to. If you don’t have a partner who is as prepared as you are or one who has not been paying attention, your discussion may fall flat. You remember that for the next class meeting, you’ll want to make sure you don’t sit by that person and find yourself a more engaging group. I still think that you can learn if that situation does occur, I’m a strong believer in any kind of activity where you have to make a decision and state your case, whether in writing or in conversation. For me, it is one of the only ways that I can learn, otherwise, I revert back to being that passive, lazy learner.

The concept of flipping the classroom is brilliant, in my opinion. Too often students aren’t prepared for class by reading/viewing material but rather doing the readings afterwards. It seems so obvious now, doesn’t it? Doing the readings ahead of time allows you to prepare questions you might have, allows you to start putting things together earlier and prepares you for discussion, all after having time for the new information to settle in, which is so different from receiving information immediately at the moment. As Mazur says in his video, a clear cognitive overload.

What theoretical principles support the use of game mechanics in learning?

Certainly on an individual level, many of the game mechanics in learning fall into the Behaviorist Theory. Things like achievements, timed challenges, penalties for behaviors or actions. When you begin looking at group games or games you play with other people, Cognitivist and Constructivist theories seem more blurred to me as both seem to play into leveling up and multi-faceted challenges. Role playing seems to be more on the Constructivist or Experiential arena. This is an interesting question and might have to be a topic for one of my article reviews!

Consider the list you created of ways in which the world has changed, then reflect on the goals of Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

As I look over the P21 framework, I begin to really see why some K-12 teachers often complain about having to fit too much into their classroom day. When you look through the student outcomes (Links to an external site.) how can you accomplish all of the requirements in a clear way that isn’t artificial or superficial. My first thoughts are that you can certainly use one outcome to support another outcome, especially when you’re looking at using some of the category skills for some of the subjects, I think it would be important though, to be sure to point that out so it is obvious to students.

I think one of the biggest differences between the P21 framework and what I might have experienced in high school is the interdisciplinary themes within the curriculum. It seems like all of my subjects were separate and it wasn’t clear when things connected together. Probably the only exceptions to this was when the teacher was an an expert in multiple disciplines. For example, my history teacher was also the economics teacher so you often got a history perspective on economic trends and vice versa. My track coach was also my math teacher so when it came time to think about running hurdles or strategies for increasing distance in the triple jump, we talked about the math.

You’d also think that technology skills would be a big difference from the P21 framework compared to curriculum in 1979 when I graduated from high school. But except for the specific technology, I felt I was exposed to what was current, it was just different from what is available today. We watched media and were asked to watch media at home. We were exposed to office machinery or shop machinery which was available in the business and instrustrial world. We had driver’s ed simulators that mapped your speed, braking, how close you cut corners, your signalling patterns while you “drove” along with a movie. I also think we were encouraged to trying out and experience learning and innovation skills using the tools we had available.

The big difference is that technology, creativity and innovation were all at the individual school level, or even at the classroom level. We didn’t have that much opportunity to see what our peers were doing at the rival high school, let alone what was happening outside the city, state or nation. With this interaction with a larger population comes a different kind of instruction.

In your writing this week, discuss the ways in which learning must change in the 21st Century and the ways in which it must continue to build upon solid theory and models.

As a nation we’re moving away from an industrial workforce, what Seely Brown calls “supply-push” towards a workforce that needs to solve problems, what Seely Brown calls “demand-push”, think innovatively and have a more holistic view of the world around them (pg 25). The world is changing fast, increasingly faster than in the past. Students still need to be exposed to a variety of understandings delivered by a variety of learning models. The socratic method still works and is effective. Pairing that method with the ability to be creative and skills to express yourself through technology will help bring students to meet 21st century needs. Because of the global nature of the internet and because the internet is all about a communicative give and take, the resources that once were only available to some may be available to many. The real challenge is being able to evaluate those available resources.

John Seely Brown said, “When technical jobs change, we can no longer expect to send a person back to school to be re-trained or to learn a new profession. By the time that happens, the domain of inquiry is likely to have morphed yet again“ but I don’t think this statement goes far enough, I think this pertains to many kinds of jobs. You have to have some confidence that clicking and exploring around a computer or mobile device screen will give you results (pg 25).

Elaborate on ways in which Khan Academy or Peer Instruction are either accomplishing those goals or falling short.
I see strictly using Peer Instruction as described by Mazur, falling short of fully preparing students on its own. But if you couple that in class interaction with assessments that allow students to create presentation material based on what they take away from the in class interaction, then combined you have a stronger and deeper opportunity for more holistic learning.