Rósa's blog page – Instructional Design

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand” –Chinese Proverb–

The Future of Online Education

“The future of education isn’t learning about something, it’s about learning how to fluidly adapt to change. And it’s definitely not about going to a place to get “educated,” it’s about accessing and customizing the ocean of knowledge that already surrounds us in the cloud” (Uldrich, 2012).

Being able to adapt to the changing world that surrounds us is a quality that most people do possess.  The world of technology is constantly changing and if you are going to get ahead of the game, you will need to possess a good technological literacy.  The Internet is an example of technology that is constantly changing, adapting and expanding.  Online education has dramatically expanded in the last few years due to the fact the technology that powers the Internet, computers and the connectivity, has evolved tremendously in the past 10 years.  Things like streaming media in real time would have been unthinkable over the internet only few years ago but now we stream media, make phone calls and collaborate with classmates, co-workers and peers, through the means of more connectivity and additional bandwidth.

If we look at some statistics we see that 6,700,000 students were enrolled in at least one online course in 2012 that is whopping 32% of university enrollment (Lepi, 2013).  The universities that offer online education are constantly growing and in 2012 it was estimated that 89% of universities offered some sort of online learning (Lepi, 2013).  Online courses are growing fast and spreading around the globe like the yearly influenza, and the growth rate is 10:1 compared with traditional courses (Lepi, 2013).  With this growth rate and technology evolvement online education is here to stay and will get more established in the future.  One of the new forms of online education, the MOOC, has been establishing itself in the past few years.  A MOOC is massive open online courses where you can enroll in a free class and in some cases earn credits and certificates for a class finished (Lepi, 2013).

An instructional designer needs to be well technological literate to survive the ever-changing environment associated with online education.  Societal perceptions of distance education need to be turned around and people made aware that online degrees are not a secondary paper.  According to the equivalency theory, it does not matter how the knowledge is acquired so long as the end results are the same (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  By increasing public awareness of the quality of online- learning, the attitudes toward online learning will shift and it won’t matter for prospective employers where the degree was received (Uldrich, 2012).  The instructional designer must speak well of online education and not be afraid to educate people on the benefits it brings.

Barack Obama pledged $500 millions for online courses and materials in 2009 and since then online education has grown tremendously and will keep on growing, advancing and evolve (Online Colleges, 2010). Instructional Designers worldwide will continue to promote online and distance education as a valid option versus brick and mortar education.  The field of distance education is comparatively new and will change as more experience is gained on how it is possible to educate through additional connectivity and the upcoming technological breakthroughs of the future will make the online student’s life much easier.  Distance Education is here to stay.



Lepi, K. (2013). he Past, Present, And Future Of Online Education. Retrieved from Edudemic: http://www.edudemic.com/the-past-present-and-future-of-online-education/

Online Colleges. (2010). History of online learning. Retrieved from Online Colleges: http://www.onlinecolleges.net/images/HistoryOnlineEducation.jpg

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Boston, MA, USA: Pearson.

Uldrich, J. (2012). The Future of Higher Education: A Cloudy Forecast. Retrieved from Jump the curve: http://jumpthecurve.net/education/the-future-of-higher-education-a-%E2%80%9Ccloudy%E2%80%9D-forecast/

Scenario: Converting a traditional face-to-face course into a distance learning format

Converting a traditional face-to-face course into a distance learning format

The scenario is as follows: A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.


preplanningThere are numerous pre-planning strategies the trainer needs to consider before he converts his program to an online course.  He needs to decide what type of delivering system he is going to use.  He also needs to design a storyboard and a site map and choose the delivery mode (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  The trainer must also have some idea on what kind of activities are going to be used during the course and how he is going to evaluate the activities (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  According to Dr. George Piskurich in the video podcast “Planning and Designing Online Courses” it always comes down to ADDIE when designing new online learning courses (2010).  The trainer must also decide upon ratio of the face-to-face instruction versus the asynchronous instruction in the distance learning module as this will be a blended training course.

Converting to a distance learning

converting There could be quite a few aspects of the original program that can be utilized in the online format.  The assignments could be used, either partly or as a whole.  The discussion topics in the face-to-face course could be moved into the online discussion forum and made mandatory, increasing the quality of the communication among trainees.  The training manager should make sure there are multitude of resources available for the students but must provide a training on how to use the technological components utilized in the distance learning environment (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  According to Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford (2006), “distance learning can be as effective as traditional instruction when the technologies are appropriate for the instructional tasks” (p.190).

Instructor vs Facilitator

The role of the trainer will change and his role will now be more of a Facilitator.  Facilitators do not lecture the students but point out ways in order to improve learning experiences (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  Facilitators guide the learners in the right direction so they will get the most out of the distance learning experience.  The role of the instructor as known in the face-to-face classroom is no longer relevant as within the distance learning experience the students are supposed to study the given materials and make their own learning experience (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).


Online Communication

            The trainer needs to make sure the participants understand all the technological tools that the student is expected to use within the training course.  Some kind of orientation guide should be made available for the students to follow and learn how to use the various tools online environment demands (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  “To promote an open, supportive, and respectful online environment, an instructor can create a discussion area where students post their questions and the instructor posts answers” (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006, p. 191).  In addition there should be other discussion areas where students can post questions, assignments and  receive feedback from both instructor and peers.  An asynchronous discussion forum  can be used for a wide variety of assessment activities and students can discuss course material within the discussion forum environment simulating the discussion that takes place in a traditional face-to-face class (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

Server hosting

hosting      The training manager should consider a Course Management System (CMS) where he can store all material in one place.  CMS’s have “become the de facto standard” in the online and distance education delivery and are used both for asynchronous, synchronous and blended courses (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 183).  There are various options available for the trainer to consider because there are many different CMS systems available.  Some are open-source or free to use while others require a paid licence (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  It is advisable to start with a free CMS and see if the transition from face-to-face to the online environment is successful, then the trainer can explore more options if the company is willing to pay for licences and more reliable hosting options.


Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for Enhancing Student Interactivity in an Online Environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190-193.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2010). Dr. George Piskurich with Jacqueline Chauser on Planning and Designing Online Courses. [Video Podcast].

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance, foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA, USA: Pearson Education, Inc.

The Impact of Open Source – MOOC´s

saylorimagehttp://www.saylor.org/courses/cs101/ – Introduction to Computer Science I

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and is generally an online course that is aimed at a large group of participants that access the free course via the Internet.  The courses are structured similar to university courses but it is usually not possible to gain academic credit for attendance in such a course (MOOC List).

When I examined the Saylor.org website I was surprised to find so many quality courses delivered at a University level.  There have been a few years since I was involved in a MOOC course and when I was researching what was out there I was pleasantly surprised and really look forward to explore some of the MOOC’s that are on offer.

I decided on a course that is an Introduction to Computer Science I, as that is a subject that stands close to my heart.  Looking at the structure of the course I found 8 units of instruction and in the end a final examination.  Each unit seems to have been carefully planned and organized and the sequencing of units is in logical order.  What you learned in a previous unit is built upon in the next unit.  Each unit has been carefully broken into smaller modules where each topic has been assigned a time element – the expected time it takes to finish off this topic, helping participants to plan their time ahead.  The total estimated completion time for the course is 94,5 hours that is similar to what is needed to finish a 3-semester credit’s, about 45 hours in “classroom” time and about 45 hours of preparation and assignment work (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

This course is a typical example of an asynchronous distance learning that is student led and according to Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek (2012), is the purest form of distance education as it happens at different times and in different places.

The course activities and resources are very diverse and include some instructional videos from the Khan Academy, interactive course material from Java and varioius exercises and assignments.  All the material is open source and freely available on the internet and it looks to me as it has been carefully selected in retrospect to quality and revailance.

I look forward to investigate my selected MOOC in the future although I am familiar to some of the elements in the course there seem to be others that I could do with a refresher course on.

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 2.24.27 AM



MOOC List. (n.d.). What is a MOOC? Retrieved from MOOC List: http://www.mooc-list.com/

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Boston, MA, USA: Pearson.




Collaborative Training Environment

OpenClipart.orgA collaborative training environment does provide versatile framework that is designed to meet the current and future needs for learner-centered environments.  The tools used for instruction and collaboration are i.e. discussion forums, surveys, quizzes, online assignments, wikis, blogs and podcasts to name a few (University of California).  Those tools can be found in various Course Management Systems (CMS) that do embrace Web 2.0 technology and according to Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek (2012) have become de facto standard on how distance education courses are delivered.

This weeks assignment of identifying a solution for a major corporation that needs to develop a training solution for automated staff information system in six regional offices.  As the staff cannot meet at the same time nor location a solution must be developed in order to facilitate training at various times and various locations.  This type of training is called asynchronous distance learning (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 10).

Web 2.0

What an Instructional Designer must keep in mind is the corporations wish that staff members collaborate with each other during training.  This demand can be met with few Web 2.0 technology tools that are incorporated into most CMS’s that are being used today.  Staff members can create Wiki’s (and load relevant information there, can be either text or/and pictures) within the CMS system and exchange ideas in a discussion forum.  The Instructional Designer create assignments that need to be meet certain criteria and create quizzes that are interactive and self grading.

“Collaboration” is the hallmark of Web 2.0 (Rupesh).  The major changes Web 2.0 brought to the table few years ago do benefit the online learner.  Instead of being only for the selected few to publish on, the web now is for everyone to post to.  People can publish written information in few minutes and distribute the information to the masses through social media at the same time.  Web users are no longer just the spectators, they are now the creators of the Web 2.0 experience that makes collaborative training possible (Rupesh).



Rupesh, K. A. (n.d.). E-Learning 2.0: Learning Redefined. Retrieved from Library Philosophy and Practice: http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~mbolin/rupesh-kumar.htm

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Boston, MA, USA: Pearson.

University of California. (n.d.). COLLABORATIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT (CLE). (S. F. University of California, Producer) Retrieved from UCSF Library: https://www.library.ucsf.edu/services/learningtech/cle


Defining Distance Learning

Distance education is a method of education in which the learner is physically separate from the teacher (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

For me as an Icelander, distance education has always been a reality.  Rural locations of small towns and farms are a fact and people have had to go a long way to have access to education.  I remember my grandmother talking about how it was when she was growing up.  They would get the teacher to visit their farmhouse during the winter months for a few days at a time and during that time they would get assignments to finish before the teacher would visit again. In a sense maybe not a distance education as we know it today but if we classify it by the words written at the beginning of this post it fits the description as in this case the students were learning separated from the teacher.  But since my grandmother was a little girl, living in rural part of Iceland, almost hundred years have passed.  Now, in 2013, we have a bit more sophisticated ways of distance education with computers and the Internet playing the lead role.

Distance Education

Distance Education seen by Rósa

Technology has evolved over the past decades, pushing distance education from simple correspondence schools to fully fledged universities offering degrees of various levels.  At the same time we evolve as human beings, technology has changed and major advancements and breakthroughs been made in the past 30 years, allowing distance education to become what it is today.

I remember my mother taking an english course with the aid of a cassette tape, long before the computer and the internet became public properties. In 1998 I was enrolled in my first online course with computer giant IBM and in 2007 I experienced my first distance education class at a university.  All very different but aiming at the same goal – to educate.  As distance education has evolved throughout the last 30 years, so has my opinion of it.  Now I find distance education is the answer to all my prayers.  As an adult with a job, family and commitments – the option to go on to university as a full time student is not a possibility – and the answer is distance education.  Now after one year as a Walden student my opinion of distance education has evolved yet again and now I see the possibilities and the freedom that lie in distance education. Now people will be learning on the go. The internet is everywhere and technological advancements continue to happen, making it possible to move distance education into virtual and real-time (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).


Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: foundations of distance education. Boston, MA, USA: Pearson.

Reflection on Learning Theories

People are constantly learning.  Everyday we are presented with immense amount of information, especially at present date after computers and technology became part of our daily routine.  But people do not always learn in the same manner.  It depends tremendously which age group people belongs to how we behave and process the new things that are presented to us (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009).

What I found most interesting regarding what I learned in this course is the function of the brain and how we process things into working memory or long term memory and how all those different learning theories go about explaining how the brain works regarding to memorizing things in different ways but still with similar learning outcomes (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009).


Picture from Open Clipart Library

This course has deepened my understanding on the main difference between Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, Connectivism, Social learning theories and how adults go about learning differently than young people and children.  The course has also deepened my knowledge of how I myself learn things and in the process I have placed myself as a Connectivism learner.  In the beginning of the course I saw myself as a Cognitive learner that learned best using visual aid but as the course progressed I had to rethink my own learning process and the results were a bit surprising for me but there is no doubt about it that I am an ideal Connectivism learner.

Learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation are all connected together and one part cannot exist without other.  We use them as a tool to guide us in the right direction when we plan a syllabus or a course material as instructional designers.  We cannot always tailor for everybody’s need regarding courses and course material but with the knowledge we have gained about learning theories and styles, and with modern technology we can present course material with a variation that in the end most (and hopefully all) students can adapt their learning curve to their personal learning style and intrinsic motivation (Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009).

Without a doubt this course will help me tremendously as I pursue my studies, and in the future, a career in Instructional Design.  It will also help me in my present position as a teacher of young adults as I can put most of the material straight to use while preparing syllabuses for spring term and course assignments.  It has made me aware of the differences between different learning theories and learning styles and will without doubt help me in my professional development in the future when I incorporate different material into various courses as an Instructional Designer.


Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York, USA: Pearson.

My learning curve


Rosa’s learning tree

All through my live I have been learning. Been placed in different schools, with different teachers learning different things and always in different ways.  In my early schooldays I would say that the behaviorist teaching strategy was used to teach me basic learning.  As I got older my learning evolved up to the cognitive and constructivist learning methods and if I were to place me in the learning theory jungle at the moment I’m without a doubt located in the connectivism tree that has branches of adult learning strategies growing out on top.  At the beginning of this course I located myself as a cognitive and constructivist learner that learned best by the aid of visual tools like mind maps and learning by doing.  As of today I have totally revised my opinion and now I look at myself as a connectivism learner.

I have always been technologically inclined (or computer NERD) and have owned a PC since 1987.  It has given me advantage over my peer students being well computer and technological literate. rosanordEspecially during my Bachelor degree I felt the advantage compared to other adult students that were learning to turn on computers.  When studying for Bachelors degree we learned a lot about learning theories, teaching strategies and learning styles but I cannot recall any mention to the connectivism theory but by then I was already pursuing my studies in that style. I will have to say that this learning theory suits me well as I work with computers every day and when I’m not working I am pursuing my number 1 hobby – computers.  I use the internet widely when I need information but I have to say that my best friend is Mr. Google – if I have a problem, need information or is just plain curious, I put in a search string in Google and up comes the results. In my studies I search for information in various scholarly databases like Eric or ProQuest.  What would we do if one day there was no Google?  My life would probably be severely disrupted as I rely heavily on the internet during my work and in my personal life.

Kids today

Found this image rambling on the net – felt it was appropriate during the connectivism discussion.

Childrens social connections are advancing - http://www.caglecartoons.com/ - Jeff Parker, Florida Today and the Fort Myers News-Press

Children’s social connections are advancing – http://www.caglecartoons.com/

Connectivism journey

Once upon a time learning was just about books, teacher, paper and a pencil.  When I was finishing my primary school education computers were just beginning to emerge in the school system but I did not receive any formal training in computer related studies until going back to University in the year 2007.  Then I had owned a computer for over 20 years and never seen any point in taking a course as I was a kind of a computer geek – people came to me for guidance regarding their problems.  As an IT technician I had been on a work related training courses regarding operating systems and specific programs but it was in the autumn of 2007 when I received my first computer tuition by an educational institute.  The class was mind maps and mind mapping software.

I still remember the feeling of euphoria going through my entire body – there in front of me was something that I felt was going to change my whole learning experience, something that I could relate to instantly.  During my entire University stay I used mind maps throughout every class.  Mind maps are in fact responsible for me being where I am today – back on the educational wagon.

My learning journey has changed so much from my first school days in the 80’s.  The technological evolution has been tremendous and as before you could not attend school without paper and a pencil, today you are lucky if your students bring something to write with to school.  Computers and the internet have changed the way we learn and the way our students learn.  My typical learning journey these days start with a question, either from myself or a student.  If I don’t know the answer I will go to the computer and open up Google – and most of the time Google is my friend!  Few years back it would have been a trip to the library and searching for books on the matter that would have given me the right answer.  Because we get our answers much quicker now I find society moving quicker as well.  Everything is in a much faster pace nowadays than it was 10-15 years ago.  As I’m highly dependent on computers and the internet nowadays I can’t imagine where we and I would be without it.

Connectivism?  Well I would say that my own learning journey in the past five years is a connectivism one.  Internet based research, resources, courses, articles, answers, bookmarks, social connections, video-conferencing, discussion threads, videos, chat-rooms and the list goes on and on and on.  Even now while writing this post, the WordPress application is showing me spelling mistakes on the go and appropriate links I can apply to my blog post so I can continue my Connectivism journey after I press the “Publish” button.

Rosa’s learning connections

Rosas learning connections

How Rosa learns