This year, I hosted my very first workshop at Humber Showcase 2017 to teach instructors how to use WordPress to build, manage and facilitate social collaboration between students, instructors and industry professionals. Through the power of WordPress, students are able to share their projects and experiences, reflect on course learning outcomes and build networking skills throughout their academic career.
HIVE Set up
During this one hour workshop, participants learned and discussed how to use WordPress to enhance ICT literacy skills and build online social communities that foster learning opportunities between programs, courses and industry professionals. The workshop included:
Today is officially the last day of my Master’s program and I still can’t believe that this two year journey has come to an end. The past two years have been an unbelievable experience for me. I have learned so much about teaching and learning and I have made so many great connections and relationships in the process. I have also learned so much about myself over the past two years and gained new insights and perspectives that I hope to share with my students and apply to my professional career. What I have learned the most from this experience is that no matter the challenge, you can accomplish anything in life, if you put your mind, body, and soul into it.
Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book, Future Shock is credited with numerous quotables in the realm of education technology. One of his most famous quotes is “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Forgive me if my interpretation strays from his original quote because, this is not an actual direct quote. While developing my final research paper on the integration of Web 2.0 technologies within Hackathons, I came across some of Toffler’s many educational quotes, which would compliment my research. The above quote seemed appropriate for one of my chapter introductions, so I purchased a paperback copy of Future Shock from Amazon and skimmed through the book trying to locate the quote and ensure that I would not use it out of context. After a few hours, I had no luck finding this quote in its entirety. However, I found many fragmented instances of the quote throughout Chapter 18: Education in Future Tense.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
I searched online to find out if anyone else cited this quote in hopes of finding a reference to its page number or chapter. I came across an article by Darcy Moore from 2009, which addressed the same issue I was facing. He also could not locate the direct quote in Toffler’s book. I quickly thought of the irony to this situation. Toffler spoke in length within his book about teaching the students of the future how to collect, analyze and interpret large sets of data in order to identify and clarify conflicts (Toffler, 1970). With so much information available on the Internet, it has become common to accept misinformation as fact. In short, I ended up reading the entire book and found the “quote”. Ok, it wasn’t the exact quote but the crux of it fit my introduction and context of my research. “By instructing students how to learn, unlearn and relearn, a powerful new dimension can be added to education” (Toffler, 1970, p. 211). It was perfect! As you can see, this quote has pieces of the altered requote that has been attributed to Toffler.
The fact is, Alvin Toffler’s “quote” is actually a requote from Psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy of the Human Resources research Organization who he credits in the paragraph below as saying,
“The new education must teach the individual how to classify and reclassify information, how to evaluate its veracity, how to change categories when necessary, how to move from the concrete to the abstract and back, how to look at problems from a new direction—how to teach himself. Tomorrow’s illiterate will not be the man who can’t read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.”
Segments of Toffler’s actual quotes are actually paraphrased and have been collected, merged and adapted over time. What’s the moral of this story? If you ever come across a quote that you intend on requoting, be sure to check your sources. You might have to unquote that requote of the quote you cited. 😉
Toffler, A. (1970). Future Shock. New York, N.Y.: Random House, Inc.
Music has many frequencies; as too does our brains. The use of music in teaching and learning can appeal to the limbic, and neocortex layers of the brain to react to music emotionally, and enhance intellectual capabilities. Music can be used to stimulate right brain thinking through various brain-wave frequencies that may trigger different stages and responses. Within my experiences; teaching mostly creative and visual arts, students tend to use mostly right-brain activities such as media, imagery and music to process information. As referenced in Berk, Jordain, 1997; Polk and Kertesz, 1993 state that the brains right hemisphere utilizes nonverbal and creative activities that reflect emotional and subjective relationships between them. With the addition of media, music can also offer a way for students to generate knowledge through the aid of visual elements such as animations, illustrations, colour and live characters; similar to the Sesame Street effect (Berk, 2008).
Music has many frequencies; as too does our brains. The use of music in teaching and learning can appeal to the limbic, and neocortex layers of the brain to react to music emotionally, and enhance intellectual capabilities.
Within this short video (6:00), I have selected four clips that use melody, rhythmic patterns, pitch, and volume to stimulate brain-wave frequencies that can affect right brain thinking when learning and teaching.
With so much to remember, online facilitation and teaching isn’t easy. With so many factors to consider as an instructor and student, the process of teaching and learning in an online learning environment can get overwhelming at times. My approach to learning and teaching in an online learning environment is one that is adaptive, collaborative, inclusive and centered around the learner. I believe these attributes can help build a positive online learning community where social collaboration can be nurtured and enriched with the use of technology.
Recently in my Instructional Design course, I was asked to incorporate the lessons I’ve learned so far in order to refute a CEO’s decision to cut back on investing in staff training for a fictional organization. During a synchronous session, the CEO of the organization questioned the value of the company’s previous training methods and also dismissed the value of employing an instructional designer. The CEO believed that investing in annual training seminars was not a cost-effective solution for training staff members on how to increase their sales of the company’s products. I was asked to persuade the CEO into reconsidering her position by arguing the following points:
Training is a worthwhile investment;
Instructional design makes a critical difference in the quality of training;
Senior sales representatives may not be the best trainers; and
Cost-effective training methods exist that can be effectively developed and deployed in the corporate environment.
Below is my argument posed to the CEO of Insurance Co.
Convincing the CEO.
Cost Effective Training Methods Do Exist
Dear Mrs. CEO,
We all know that there are no guarantees to boosting sales and confidence within your sales staff through expensive seminars and in-house training. However, this may be imparted by the lack of a necessary and crucial component with respect to designing effective quality sales training. Investing in employing a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Instructional Designer (ID) to develop sales training materials would be a cost-effective and beneficial solution for your organization. Logistically, training seminars may not be the most cost-effective and productive means for training sales staff within your organization. With the recent launch of two new products and 14 satellite offices around the world, online synchronous and asynchronous methods of mediating sales training may be a more cost-effective and efficient way for reaching a broader number of sales staff. With an online method of training, it would solve the issues of logistics, timing and accessibility for more sales team members; providing the infrastructure for online mediation exists. Creating online content, training materials and setting up a technologically compliant network system will also be costly. However, it may be a cost-effective solution for future training and on-the-job training that could be utilized by all of your junior and senior sales staff. Training will also need to be set in place for senior and junior staff to learn the new online mediated tools. Support for this online system will also need to be considered and costs for this solution will be incurred. With the above online requirements stated, essentially a customized Learning Management System (LMS) will need to be created, developed and maintained to suit the needs of your organization.
Instructional Designer’s Make A Difference
It would be wise to employ a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in the insurance sales field and an Instructional Designer (ID) to create, develop and organize a plan for successful sales training within your organization. ID’s are agile and great collaborators. “ID’s understand the needs of the business, sales staff and training. They would work seamlessly with SME’s and upper management to provide the best training results from your staff. ID’s are generally responsible for getting a project done on time and within budget – without alienating the client or the project team” (Stein, 2015). Using Bates’ (2014) ADDIE model, an ID would ensure that the content for training is analysed so that the right amount of content is covered in each module of the training sessions. They would make sure that the training is logically designed and fluid so that the learning objectives are met with the appropriate use of materials and technology. ID’s would also ensure that the training provided is developed and implemented in a way that ensures the content is accurate, complete, clear and accessible for the participants of the learning environment; while paying close attention to utilizing qualitative and quantitative evaluation methods. Using the ADDIE model would suit the needs of the organization as it is tailored for the design and development of large groups and members within a learning environment.
Senior Sales Representatives May Not Be The Best Trainers
While there is no guarantee of increasing sales from either face-to-face or online training methods, involving a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Instructional Designer (ID) who are knowledgeable of the latest technology and aware of cost-effective solutions for sales training would be highly recommended. With respect to all senior sales staff within your organization, we cannot assume that successful senior sales staff have the capacity and tech savvy skills required to develop and deliver effective sales training to your domestic and international sales team members. Senior sales members would be obliged to collaborate with marketing teams, sales departments and upper management—domestically and internationally—to ensure that they are knowledgeable of your newly launched products and future products. The cost of training senior staff to deliver effective sales training would also need to be taken into consideration.
Training is a Worthwhile Investment.
Training is a worthwhile investment. Whether it is through face-to-face seminars or using a blended online solution that includes synchronous and asynchronous methods of delivery. Investing in a qualified Subject Matter Expert (SME) and Instructional Designer (ID) will make a difference in the quality of training provided to your junior and senior sales staff members. As mentioned in our synchronous meeting, you stated that “Hopefully, the training by experienced sales staff will bolster the confidence of the sales team members and finally give us the boost in sales we’ve been looking for” (CEO, 2015). We cannot assume that because your senior sales staff are qualified to effectively sell your products that they would be the best candidates to effectively train and instill confidence in your sales team members; domestically and internationally. Rather than offload this responsibility to your senior sales staff, please reconsider investing in quality training for your future. Considering your latest expansion and future developments, it is advised that you invest in training through an online Learning Management System (LMS) that would be curated by an experienced SME and ID to provide quality sales training throughout the year to your sales force. Sales staff would be able to access training tools at anytime, anywhere in the world at their own convenience. Once the LMS and content has been fleshed out, you may then consider delegating successful and capable sales staff members to train sales members on how to work the LMS and how to share quality content using the online training tools. Incorporating online sales training within the organization should eventually become a more cost-effective solution to maintain overtime, which would meet the needs of your organization’s long-term goals.
The past nine weeks have been busy… really busy… and stressful; to say the least. I recently completed my third MALAT course; Program Planning and learned a lot about the process of creating a program plan for adult learners. I used Caffarella and Daffron’s (2013) interactive model as a guide for developing a TML program plan and read Bates and Sangrá’s (2011) Managing Technology in Higher Education as a reference for examining strategies and actions that support the integration of technology into universities and colleges. I ended up creating my own Technology Mediated Learning (TML) program plan for an open source blended certificate called the Open Source Technology (OST) Web & Mobile Development program. As I learned how to integrate TML within an adult learning environment, there were many valuable lessons that I learned such as structuring program goals and learning objectives, systems of power, marketing and critical success factors.
In my mind, one of the biggest things I’ve learned about program planning is that it’s all about the people.
For example, I learned that stakeholders who are either directly or indirectly involved in the development of a program plan can have a positive or negative influence on the program outcomes and experiences of learners, educators and organizations (Beard, 2003; Cervero & Wilson, 1996, 1998, 2006). Everyone involved—from the board of governors to external industry partners—play an important role in providing a quality learning experience and environment that suites the needs of the learner… But, enough about that. I won’t bore you with what I’ve learned academically. However, I’d like to share my perspectives on what I’ve learned about myself over the past nine weeks and insights on what I thought were important takeaways during the course.
Infrastructure is Important.
I remember the day Moodle went down… it was like reliving the Blackout of 2003. Since our program is centred around education and technology, there is an emphasis placed on the importance of accessibility and infrastructure when it comes to connectivity and the availability of technology to all parties involved in education. To create a successful program for online mediation there has to be a solid foundation of support and technological infrastructure that allows learners to gain access to resources and information at all times regardless of location, time and other external factors. In the digital age, we rely on our devices and trust in the stability of an internet connection to be available at all times. When we lose access to either of these, we seem to lose our senses. During the course, we were scheduled to have an online collaboration meeting and our Learning Management System (LMS) went down. Everyone was scrambling to find a fix and went into a panic because there was a sense of being lost or disconnected from everyone who could help them in their time of need. I started to wonder if something like this happened during the delivery of a synchronous lesson, MOOC or paid webinar/informative session, what would be the impact on the learner, educator and institution? A poor infrastructure could lead to a poor experience for the learner and could have a dramatic affect on their learning outcomes and the goals of the program.
Should I Use SAMR, TPAK, or The SECTIONS Model for My TML Program?
Yup, I was asked this question. I was confused at first as well. I thought the whole point of the course was to create a program plan that integrated technology. I didn’t know I neded to justify a requirement. Defining program planning and identifying the stakeholders for my program was the easiest part of the course. It was almost common sense at some points. Once we got into developing strategies for utilizing Technology Mediated Learning (TML) within our program plans and researching the finer details that would help make our plans successful, the course began to get challenging.
Planning for a TML program should consider the intended audience and incorporate technologies that fit the needs and skill levels of their participants.”
— Cafarella and Daffron, 2013
Understanding your audience is key in creating a solid program plan. Knowing who your intended learner is allows program planners to identify the needs of the learner and identifies what the main objectives and goals for the program should be. Along with knowing who the intended learner of my program was, I had to discover how they would benefit from learning in a TML environment. Where would they go to access internal or external support and what roles would the institutions hierarchy of power play in providing these contextual factors? The contextual factors that are taken into account for TML appropriation within a program are the human element, the organization, and the external factors of the wider environment (Caffarella & Daffron, 2013).
Along with discerning our contextual factors, we also had to discover various approaches for delivering a TML program such as the SAMR model, SECTIONS and TPAK (Puentedura, 2009; Bates & Sangrá, 2011, Koehler & Mishra, 2006). I decided on a method that best suited my program plans goals and outcomes. The model that I gravitated towards the most was the SAMR model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. I personally liked the model because I was familiar with it. Although, my familiarity was more indirect, I found that I had inherently been applying this model within my own classes over the years. However, there were parts of the SECTIONS model that I incorporated within my program plan.
SAMR Model Exemplar:
The SAMR model is geared towards helping teachers develop transformational learning with the aid of technology. An example of using the SAMR model would be if a science teacher asks his or her students to write a paper on space exploration.
Substitution: Using Google Docs instead of traditional pen and paper methods for writing.
Augmentation: Students can use Google Doc’s features to format their document, check spelling errors or use text-to-speech functions to improve legibility and efficiency in writing.
Modification: Students can use Google Docs to share, collaborate and receive feedback on their paper from instructors and peers in real-time.
Redefinition: Students can post their paper to a blog while sharing their information and making connections through social networks with the aid of various multimedia formats.
Moodle and Oodles of Posts.
184 unread posts! Within the blink of an eye our discussion boards would blow up. Just when I thought I’d caught up to everyone’s posts and replies, I’d wake up the next morning to an alert saying “72 unread posts.” There was no way I could view all of those posts and it seemed like a daunting task to even start replying. With the majority of my degree program being instructed online, I had to keep up with discussion forums, posts and replies to various topics from my instructors and peers. I have to admit it was pretty stressful trying to keep up. On a brighter note, during the course we were placed in groups to complete various assignments and smaller group discussions. I enjoyed being in a small group environment as it helped me learn at a greater pace and gain interesting perspectives from my peers. I enjoyed being in a group dynamic and the group discussions were engaging and insightful. Plus, I met and worked with some really great people. 🙂
Keep Calm… Don’t Panic, Procrastinate.
Having to juggle between researching and writing a paper while maintaining group obligations was not an easy task. I did have trouble keeping an even balance between work and school, but I managed to pull through, once again. There were some days that I had to force myself to take a break to keep my sanity. I started this course off with a full plate. I began teaching a full course load again in September, I had freelance projects that needed to be completed, began moving into a new home and also had family obligations to keep. This was definitely not a time that I could afford to procrastinate. However, I did. I took a few days off throughout the middle of the course to synthesize what I was learning. I had to take in how these lessons applied to my work and what it meant to my future goals within education and technology. It seems like the courses are going by so fast and I never really get time to sit back and soak in what I’m learning. I realized that it’s better to set aside small time blocks each day to complete my school work rather than trying to cram everything into one or two days during the weekend.
Work Hard, Play Harder.
There were many days I spent locked up in my room or at a library studying, reading or writing drafts of my final paper. I knew my social life and personal hobbies would take a hit while taking this program but having a balance is what I would prefer. I’ve recently developed a schedule that allows me to get my work done and still maintain some sort of a social life. I started to go for my regular morning jogs, then go to work and come home early enough to get my lesson plans done for the next day. In the evenings, I dedicate my time to my family and then read a chapter or two before going to bed at night. I also reserve a few hours each weekend for completing assignments and take time out for other activities. Being able to maintain a consistent balance between home, work and school is really important to me. Even though it might seem difficult, I don’t think I would be as productive without maintaining that balance.
Strength = Success. Not Weakness.
Now that the course is over, I feel really confident about what I’ve learned and I look forward to applying my knowledge in my role as an instructor and program lead/coordinator. However, not everything went smoothly during the course; I mean, why would it? There were many obstacles, time constraints and mishaps that I encountered and had to overcome. However, that’s what makes this learning experience so valuable for me. After each course, I come away with a greater sense of how far I can push myself beyond my threshold. Overall, I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished so far in the MALAT program and I can’t wait to begin my next course, LRNT 504 — Instructional Design (iD). Instructional Design is a field that I always wanted to get into and was one of the reasons behind choosing the MALAT program. After a week off in between courses, I’m ready and excited to begin learning all about instructional design and I look forward to the challenges ahead… So, bring it on 504! 💪
Koehler M. J., Mishra P., & Cain, W. (2013). What Is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)?. Journal Of Education, 193(3), 13-19.
Naughton, J. (1984). Chapter 3: An overview of the Checkland methodology. In Soft Systems Analysis: An Introductory Guide (pp. 17-47). Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Reprinted by Athabasca University.