Thursday, April 14, 2016

Discussion Board Etiquette

In the online learning environment everyone has a role to play. 

The learner is there to gain new knowledge, share ideas with other learners, and develop critical thinking skills to not only gain new knowledge, but to apply that to their everyday circumstances.

The instructor is there to facilitate a positive and safe learning environment, encourage collaboration, elaboration and assess student learning in an ongoing process.

Discussion boards provide a space for both the learner and the instructor to perform their role in the course and exchange ideas with one another and other learners in the learning environment on a given topic.

An example discussion forum structure is as follows from Horton(Horton, 2006)

Another great resource to consider.

(Dold, 2013)

The Discussion Assignment

Begin this week's discussion by reviewing this week's book exerpt by Horton CLICK HERE. related to setting up a discussion forum. Then review the video on discussion board etiquette.

Next, consider your own experiences in online discussion forums. 

By Wednesday: 

Based on your reading, YouTube video and personal experience, post your thoughts on the proper way to design and participate in an online discussion forum. Include the perspective of the instructor and of the learner. For each include at least 3 key practices.

By Sunday:

Read a selection of your classmates postings. Respond to at least 2 postings with an encouraging comment on something they shared and a question to further the conversation.

Rubric for Grading CLICK HERE (University, 2016
Dold, J. (2013). Discussion Board Etiquette. Retrieved from YouTube:
Horton, W. (2006). Designing in the Virtual Classroom. In E-Learning by Design (pp. 463-471). John Wiley & Sons Inc.

University, W. (2016). Discussion Rubric. Retrieved from

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How to Detect and Prevent Plagiarism in Online Learning Environments

      With all the online technologies accessible today and the amazing growth of the World Wide Web, “the world is at our fingertips”. With such resources, comes great responsibility. There is greater opportunity for cheating and plagiarism both equally in traditional learning environments and online learning environments (Pratt, 2016).

Detection Software
            There are several plagiarism detection software packages on the market today. When shopping for detection software, the following requirements should be considered:
  •  Ease of use
  • Accepts HTML format
  •  Allows for pre-selected websites to be excluded as needed
  •  Ability to compare and display possible plagiarism flags within submitted work
(Jocoy, 2006)

Strategies to Reduce Plagiarism and Cheating
While the initial thought for detecting plagiarism and cheating would be software like, There are other strategies within instruction that can help to reduce the opportunities to cheat or plagiarize. One of the first ways to address this issue is to include policies and guidelines (fair use, copyright, plagiarism & cheating) in the course syllabus (Simonson, 2012). This provides the learner with an immediate awareness of need to understand what is considered unacceptable.According to Jocoy and DiBiase’s study found that students receiving explicit plagiarism instructions were less likely to engage in it (Jocoy, 2006). The facilitator can also design assessments that incorporate collaboration. By doing so, it discouraging cheating. 

Instructional Design Preventative Planning
As instructional designers, preventing plagiarism and cheating, should be part of the planning of a course. Designing collaborative assignments within the course, including assessments will discourage cheating. It will also improve learning by reflecting real life situations. Most who are working on a project or assessing a project do not “go it alone”, it is usually a team effort (Pratt, 2016). Additionally, the beginning weeks of the course should include not only policies and guidelines but also various scenarios to show application of the policies and guidelines. Such scenarios could include:
(Pratt, 2016)

Jocoy, C. &. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation.       International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 1-15.
Pratt, P. a. (2016, February). Palgiarism and Cheating. Walden University Video Media.
Simonson, S. A. (2012). Teaching and Learning at a Distance. New York: Pearson.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Technology, Multimedia and their Impact on Online Learning

When setting up an online learning environment, there are numerous components to think about prior to and during the creation of the course. Technology tools are one essential component that needs to be carefully chosen and connected to meeting the learning objectives and goals of the course. Included in these technology tools are various Web 2.0 choices and the use of multimedia. Each having their own unique impact on the learning environment.
Impact of Technology Tools and Multimedia
            Technology tools and multimedia impact every stage of the online learning environment. Whether it is the course beginning and the use of discussion boards to get to know fellow learners, the middle weeks of a course where learners can collaborate on course content and begin discussing ways to apply that new knowledge. Or the last weeks of the course where final touches are being made on a group project to submit. No matter which stage of the online learning course the learners are at, the tools chosen by the designer must correspond to distance learning theory and course objectives. No tool, technology or otherwise, should be utilized for only the sake of “saying it was used” (Conrad, 2010). The benefits of incorporating the appropriate technology tool are vast; from increased learner engagement to collaboration in a positive learning community, learner transformation is amplified.
(Finn, 2013)
Considerations before Implementation
            When preparing an online course, one must consider various factors prior to implementation. The first being designing of content. Ensuring that discussion questions grow in depth over the weeks and that rubrics, directions, and questioning are clear and concise for the learner. Additionally, course resources need to be easily accessible for all learners in the community. Organizing essential content for the course. Getting to know each other icebreakers should be implemented in the initial onset of the course not during the last week of meeting. Another consideration is what tools are available to you for utilization (Conrad, 2010). Are the tools going to be unfamiliar to some students? How will this be addressed for the best success for all learners and meeting their needs?

Friendly and Accessible Technology Tools
            Every tool has a purpose to accomplish. Just as a hammer is used to accomplish a specific task, so too technology tools have a specific task they are utilized for.  Choosing the appropriate tool for the job means the task is clearly stated, the tool is the best to accomplish success, and you have access to that tool. For online teaching, each technology tool implemented in a course must be the best choice for the designated task.Some examples of Web 2.0 tools and their purpose in a course are listed below. 
Web 2.0 Tool                                                                       Purpose
Blog (Weblog)
·         Allows users to view website and  leave comments about the website’s content (Pratt, 2016)
·         Captures student thinking (Conrad, 2010)
·         Allows learners to build project deliverables together
·         Used to create a community around a common purpose (Pratt, 2016)
·         Provides facilitator a way to track postings and updates to multiple student blogs and wikis quickly (Pratt, 2016)
SocialNetworking Sites: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn
·         For networking and extending the learning community beyond the CMS (Conrad, 2010)

In order to implement effective online instructional strategies and incorporate technology tools and multimedia appropriately, the instructional designer needs to convey clear and concise objectives and goals for the course. As decisions are made on strategies to utilize and which technology tools to pair with those strategies, the availability of the tools and their direct connection to the clear objective must be at the forefront of planning.
As a student and a professional, I have experience with many Web 2.0 tools and multimedia usage. One of my favorite tools to incorporate are blogs. These are resourceful for the novice and the experienced. I am also a daily user of google drive for storing, sharing and collaboration of key content for my job. Moving forward, all IDS professionals should be sure their choices for tools directly fit together with the objectives to achieve.


Conrad, B. &. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Finn, K. (2013). Media's Impact on Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from YouTube:
Pratt, P. &. (2016, February). Enhancing the Online Experience. Walden University Video Media.
Wiencke, M. R. (2003). Design and Use of a Rubric to Assess and Encourage Interactive Qualities in Distance Courses. American Journal of Distance Learning, 77-98.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Setting the Foundation for a Successful Online Learning Environment

When building anything, you must have a solid foundation. The creation of a successful online learning environment is no exception. There are essential components that need to be considered when planning an online course. Strong defined objectives, technology that is available, and communication that outlines expectations clearly are a few that need to be well-thought-out when planning.

Defined Objectives

Providing the learners in the course the course objectives from the beginning enables them to digest the focus of the course. In the initial weeks of the course, it is important that the facilitator engage the learner in analyzing their own learning goals. This helps to connect the learner to the course objectives. Additionally, it will provide insight into the learners’ zone of proximal development (Boettcher, 2010).

Tying the defined objectives to technology use can be one of the areas that educators struggle with when incorporating technology in a meaningful way. Most educators are familiar with Blooms Taxonomy and how to utilize the key terms and verbiage to plan varied instruction. Technology should not be utilized for technology sake. It should have direct purpose in achieving an objective. Here is a great visual of what types of technology correspond with each level of Blooms Taxonomy.

 (Marshall, n.d.)

Technology Plan

As a course is being planned, it is essential to be familiar with any technology that will be utilized during the course. As the facilitator, you may need to provide clear directions, pair up tech savvy students with non tech savvy students, or just provide a non-graded assignment to provide learners a chance to use the technology choice prior to needing to use it for graded work. This can significantly reduce the anxiety a learner can feel with an unfamiliar technology choice (Conrad, 2011).

Additionally, basic tools to set up on the back end of the course include:
Course Template for uniformity
Ability to upload documents and pictures
Ability to revise and comment on submissions
Understand and set up gradebook
Set up teams and groups
Create relevant discussion forums
(Boettcher, 2010)

Clear Communication

Learners in an online learning community need to have clear communication on what is expected for assignments and submissions. Utilizing purposeful technology such as: blogs, discussion boards, wikis, and the like provide a place for communication and assignment submission to take place. Additionally, learners can utilize other familiar tools to them, such as a webinar tool, to communicate with one another to learn with and from one another.
The facilitator of the course needs to also provide guidance on expectations for the course. A course syllabus should always be included to communicate goals, learning outcomes and requirements. Included with that syllabus should be guidelines for discussions and the rubric utilized for grading throughout the course.

Clarity of requirements and ways to collaborate are vital to a successful online learning community. Adult learners come to the online forum with unique life experiences and social networks that impact their learning focus and personal goals. George Siemens defined his learning theory of Connectivism as an integration of technology and social networks where new information is abundant. Technology and networks of the digital age allow individuals to collaborate, and learn with others all over the world with their own unique networks and ideas. With a common purpose of growth and learning, online courses create an environment like no other for learning to take place, support to be shared and encouragement given around the world at a touch of a button. In one discussion board alone encouragement, questioning techniques and writing styles can all be shared and discovered under one post. The opportunity to learn from people of different cultures, experiences, and make connections to prior experiences provides for optimal learning opportunities (Siemens, 2012). By providing a solid framework to express and learn in, the learner can freely discover new knowledge and share with others ways they see application of this new content in everyday life.


Boettcher, J. a.-M. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Conrad, R.-M. a. (2011). Engaging the Online Learner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Siemens, G. (2012, October). Connectivism. Walden University Video Media.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Online Learning Communities

                Remember back to sitting in a brick and mortar classroom with your friends in your class and the teacher at the front of the room spewing tons of knowledge into the air for your brain to connect to any piece of it in order to remember it for a test later. Now, ask yourself what was the best part of the course? Most would say, my friends were in the class. The greatness of the course always increased if the teacher provided opportunities to work with a partner or with a group. Why was this type of activity make class better? Socializing with peers and sharing ideas made the content more understandable and the project that much better.

                Now take the above scenario and think about those who are designing instruction today, with the focus on 21st century skills and the increase in online learning experience. Can the “great teacher who allowed collaborative groups” easily adapt the course they taught the last 10 years to an online format? The answer is NO. “Traditional education strategies are not directly transferable to an online environment” (Palloff, 2016). Time, structure, and the application of principles and sound theory need to be used to build the foundation of online instruction through a solid learning community.

                The need and goal for peer learning is the same in traditional and online communities. But, similarities stop there. How to achieve that learning community in the online environment is different and takes the teacher shifting from the role of director to facilitator (Conrad, 2011). The online learning community includes people, a purpose and a process.

Impact on Student Learning
                Successfully implemented online learning communities create an environment where the facilitator and the learner are equal participants in achieving the learning objectives. They work together side by side. As a community, the participants challenge each other to dig deep in their thinking and provides immediate feedback to one another and provokes deeper reflection on content. The learning community contributes to learners being more self-directed in their learning and to leave the learning community transformed by the new knowledge acquired (Palloff, 2016).
Essential Elements of online community building
                The facilitator plays a critical role in the learning community model. First, the course design needs to be built on solid theory. The theory will serve as a map to design strategies that assist the learner in achieving the goals and objectives for the course (Saba, 2016). Next, the facilitator responsibility and general setup needs to be considered. Key elements are:
Facilitator Responsibility
·         Be sure to be familiar with all technology utilized in the course in order to assist students
·         Be involved throughout the entire course. The facilitator should model the appropriate interaction and response style.
·         Set the tone for the community interaction
Online Set-up

(Palloff, 2016)
·         Easy to navigate the LMS
·         Create a warm and inviting environment that is safe for personal expression by sharing initially with the class
·         Take part in the community discussions, especially checking in the first 2 weeks of the course to be sure the learners are supported with any possible issues.
·         Share a personal bio and encourage others to do the same in order to get to know one another prior to sharing about content.

Sustaining an online learning community
                To sustain a positive online learning environment, learners need to feel empowered to share ideas and feel challenged to think deeply. Once the atmosphere of the community is established, the rules of engagement must be clearly outlined. How and where to share ideas, how often and in what form are a few to outline. Also, planning ahead to meet the needs of those who have never participated in a learning community. Starting with simple interaction, like reading and responding in written format in a discussion board would be a great start. Additionally, providing an introduction to the LMS and the philosophy of online learning can ease the tensions of those new to the online community and are more likely to have them continue with the online learning community option (Palloff, 2016).
Relationship between community building and effective online instruction
                Implemented correctly, the relationship between community building and effective online instruction is a positive one. It provides learners a feeling of being part of something larger and brings personal satisfaction in successful completion. The “normal” peer pressure the community brings to succeed push learners to give a little more and learn more.


Conrad, R.-M. a. (2011). Engaging the Online Learner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Palloff, R. a. (2016, January). Online Learning Communities. Laureate Education. Walden University Video Media.
Saba, F. (2016, January). Evaluating Distance Learning Theory. Laureate Education. Walden University Video Media.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sharing in a learning Community

Blogging is a great way to share resources and build a learning community through social media. 

For the next 8 weeks, this blog will focus on developing distance education systems and how to provide equivalent learning experiences. 

I am hoping to connect to other IDT professionals in this online professional community.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ways to Improve Development from a basic Foundation

Some organizations begin the process of employee development with great intention. They provide  strategies in the goals and mission of the group but don't follow through to the end to get the full benefit. 

Here is an example of an employee reaching out to the organization's director who has provided a foundation for organizational development but lost the focus to follow through at all levels represented in their organization. 

On a personal level, I am encouraged to promote my own continued development. My own development plan consists of:

1.     Formal Education- I earned my master's degree a year ago and am now pursuing an additional certification in Training and Performance Improvement. Though my additional education has not earned me additional income from the organization, it has evolved my position from a strictly support role to more of an instructional design, implementation and support position. I have been able to increase my experiences.
2.     Tuition Reimbursement- Though budget in the organization is limited, each year on a first come first serve basis, an employee can submit a course for reimbursement up to $500. It is a start to supporting development of employees at all levels.
3. Goal Setting- I am going to work with my supervisor to engage in the Talent Ed evaluation process from the beginning of the year until the end instead of a "quick check off" get it done type of attitude towards it. Self reflection on personal goals and supervisor feedback consistantly refocuses both parties into changes that are needed and those positive goals that were achieved.
4. Training- I plan to seek out conferences to stay current on best formats for trainings for end users. Additionally, preplanning for those trainings for colleagues needs to take a front burner role within the department. Presenting to leadership the need for those who are "trained to train" rather than the SME support person in a specific skill conducting training sessions. I desire to bring an understanding to the department that training development needs to go beyond "I know how to do the task so therefore I can train others on it".
(Noe, 2013)

Noe, R. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.