Lesson Analysis

This report is a lesson analysis of two education courses offered by the University of Regina in Canada and developed and delivered by Dr. Alec Couros, a University of Regina faculty member. Both courses are offered by the Faculty of Education and focus on technology use in the classroom. While the subject matter is similar, the courses target different learners and employ different instructional strategies, media, and interaction. The following provides a design, functional, and interactional analysis of one lesson from each course.

Policy Issues in Distance Education

This report assesses six issues that are of particular importance to distance educators, including 1) student copyright and privacy protections, 2) tuition and fee structures, 3) library resources and services, 4) copyright and ownership of course material, 5) instructor compensation and support, and 6) Internet access and connection support. This assessment highlights examples of how various institutions address these issues within their formal policy statements and provides an analysis of each policy issue.

Interaction in Distance Education

This paper provides a brief review of how interaction is considered within current distance education literature since Moore’s 1989 call for clarity. The following summarizes how human and non-human interaction types have been considered within the context of computer mediated distant education and examines both the Student-to-Content Interaction Strategies Taxonomy and the Community of Inquiry Model as frameworks for future examination of computer mediated interaction within a distance education setting.

Athabasca University: System Analysis

This paper surveys the distance education system at Athabasca University.

Network Analysis: The Role of Ties

This paper surveys sociology literature to consider prior theory and research on social networks with the goal of assessing how knowledge-based networks function. Findings from network analysis, including theory and research surrounding Granovetter’s network ties theory, provide insight into how networks are structured and the implications for innovation, diffusion, economic outcomes, and collective action. Network analysis theory and research provides support for knowledge-based networks as conduits for innovation and knowledge sharing. Knowledge management practices should focus on the development of weak tie bridges across organizational units and promote interdependence among strong tie network units.

Self-Regulated Learning: Literature Review

What follows is a review and analysis of the theoretical perspectives and research findings related to how social factors within the learning environment influence a learner’s likelihood and ability to selfregulate. The objective is to assess what (if any) social features influence a learner’s ability to self-regulate and how those features should be considered within the design of instruction to increase a learner’s self-regulation.

Critique of OECD Innovation in the Knowledge Economy

The following is a critique of the 2004 publication Innovation in the knowledge economy: implications for education and learning from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The following assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the publication and concludes with a proposed outline for a similar report for instructional designers.

Knowledge Management: Sample Design Project

This sample proposal highlights a proposed knowledge management implementation plan.


Backchannel Interactions

The focus of this report is to review the literature for assessments of the effect of computer-mediated backchannel interaction during live instructional presentation. The goal is to consider the impact on the learner as both a receiver of instructional messages sent from the instructor, as well as an active participant within the learning process.

Message Design: Reading Reflection W5

Message Design: Reading Reflection W7

Message Design: Reading Reflection W6

Message Design: Reading Reflection W4

Tom Fenner for President


Tim Russert: Lessons Learned

A digression from education to post about the deep loss to our country from the passing of Tim Russert. My husband and I have watched countess hours of coverage by Russert and now about him since his death on Friday. He truly was the great interpreter as many have called him over the weekend. I was inspired to post today after hearing his son, Luke, who spoke on the Today show. While grieving deeply for this father, he eloquently and succinctly reflected upon what his father meant to his family and to the country. Like father ... like son.

Knowledge Creation and Sharing

Pulled from the bowels of BB ... What can instructional designers (IDers) do to facilitate and enhance the process of knowledge "transfer"? I think it is important to for us (designers, teachers, etc) to get beyond conceiving of training as an "intervention" to address a problem (gap in performance, attitude, etc). Rather than focusing on identification and correction of instructional problems, it seems we need to also consider opportunity identification. As in most planning activities, opportunity identification includes considering 1) where are we today? 2) where do we need to be in the future? 3) what do we need to do to get there? As such, instruction and knowledge transfer initiatives focus on #3. By focusing on opportunity identification (as part of a bigger picture organizational planning process) vs.

Rhizomatic Schmrizomatic

Dave Cormier, one of my best buds* in the world, has been rambling on about rhizomes and knowledge creation for the past 2 years. I still only have a vague idea of what he is talking about (he is much smarter, but don't tell him I said so), but that hasn't stopped me from picking apart his arguments from time to time. Please check out his paper Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum published in this month's Innovate online journal and feel free to try to explain it to me :)

"In the rhizomatic model, knowledge is negotiated, and the learning experience is a social as well as a personal knowledge creation process with mutable goals and constantly negotiated premises."

* Best buds even though we have never met in person, but have done over 80 live weekly webcast shows together ... and we'll be doing another tonight as usual at 7:00 ET at

Open Ed Conference 2008

Just a quick note to pass on information about the upcoming Open Education Conference in Logan Utah - see I attended last year and it is an amazing experience. You check the reality of "education" as we know it and dream with a group of about 250 free-thinkers about the possibilities ... free flow of information ... knowledge sharing across boundaries (countries, institutions ...). They are offering 4 scholarships this year (link in the attached post) to cover travel and conf. fees. The call for proposals link is also there. Even if you can't swing a trip to UT, ALL of the sessions are recorded and posted immediately after each session for free access and the interface includes a text based "backchannel" where you can post comments / questions - the next best thing to being there.

Knowledge Generation: Informal vs Formal Networks

What are the advantages of formal vs. informal networks? Any way to have it both ways? Or is it an inevitable conflict?

I tried to tackle these question in class this week (yes, buried deep within the bowels of Blackboard never to see the light of day). I'm bringing the post out here (cut and paste magic) as I'm sure I'll be kicking around these ideas many times in my future. I think these questions are very important to the topic of knowledge generation, but my thoughts around them are very raw. Purely from personal experience, my impression is that informal networks which are formed organically tend to be the most innovative. Generally, folks who come together informally have some shared passion (but often NOT shared goals) and are highly motivated to discuss, share, and connect on solutions to their different (yet similar) individual needs / problems. This is not to say that I haven't experienced effective formal networks, but some of my best examples seem to be from the informal connections.

Thinking about the many open source software communities, there are many examples of organically grown informal networks that are highly effective, incredibly innovative, and deliver incredible products that must make Microsoft green with envy. For example, I am a big fan of the open source software Drupal, a content management system. I use it as my blogging platform and personal online space. The software was written (and is updated) by clusters of individuals whose interests intersected just enough to connect on solutions that satisfy their individual needs. This notion of individuals with similar (but not shared) needs intersecting is key. No one "told" people (or organized people) in the Drupal community what the overall goals for the project were. Each individual was not working toward a shared goal for Drupal development. Instead, a guy from an Internet radio station needed an way to upload audio, a girl from a community college needed to have a way to distribute lectures (... and so on) ... and suddenly (with the help of a host of other people with their own needs / problems) the Drupal audio module was created.

However, the problem for formal organizations that do have overall "organization" needs and goals is that these highly effective informal networks are created and sustained to satisfy individual goals and motivations and NOT some shared common goal. Herein lies the "collaboration" toward a common goal versus "connection" over shared individual interests difference. Unfortunately, informal networks tend to break down when pushed to "collaborate" on an externally mandated shared goal. Given the informal nature, there is no incentive to stick around (stay connected) when the group is no longer meeting your individual needs.

Again, this notion of individual needs, goals, and motivations seems to be key to effective knowledge sharing. It is one thing to have a pressing personal need that must be satisfied and quite another to have someone TELL YOU that you have a need that must be satisfied. However, that is the reality of formal teams where the goal is collaboration toward a common goal. "Someone" is typically in charge, the group is working toward some edict sent down from above, and this collective goal may or may not have anything to do with the individual goals and motivations of the participants. Therefore, it is very difficult to compare formal and informal knowledge networks or to try to make one look or act like the other.

While my perception is that it makes no sense to try to make a formal network act like an informal network (and vice versa), I do think it makes sense to foster both. Both have a purpose. For example, if Jane Doe and I both work for an insurance company with specific sales growth goals, but she is in charge of selling auto insurance and I am in charge of selling business insurance, she and I likely have completely separate production or sales goals. Hers is likely based on number of auto policies that are sold and mine is based on the number of bound business insurance contracts. However, our individual needs (to generate new customers) intersect and the situation is ripe to set up informal connections to share ideas on how to attract THE SAME customers. For example, being extremely bright people (EXTREMELY bright), Jane and I see how we can both increase our chances of meeting our individual sales goals if we work together to sell auto insurance to business insurance customers and to sell business insurance to auto policy holders, so we informally decide (over margaritas after work) to find ways to reach the same customers (such as making monthly joint sales calls to our prospective customers, or targeting certain businesses).

Therefore, in this example, both corporate and individual needs are present and I see a mix of formal and informal network connections making sense. The formal network is needed to drive attainment of overall corporate goals (such as a team put in place to develop a customer tracking database so that cross selling can occur), but it is also important to create a culture where informal network creation is fostered ... yes, I am advocating margaritas in the lunch room ... joking (sort of). Again, informal networks seem to work best in supporting areas where individual needs intersect. It is in the formal networks where common goals and strategies can be set and monitored, but it is within the networks of informal connections where the real magic seems to happen.

Knowledge Management

I'm already starting week 3 of my summer semester (time flies) and one of my courses is Knowledge Management. We are past the "what is the difference between information and knowledge" stage and moving into "what does instructional design have to do with knowledge management". As usual, all of my thoughts are buried in Blackboard, but I thought I would try to pull out a few ideas as I get the chance. Part of my own personal knowledge management is capturing my reflections here, right?

My thoughts this week are heavily influenced by what I experienced this week as an instructional designer, teacher, and consultant. About 18 months ago, I helped lay out a series of new courses in Instructional Design for Baruch College in NYC. Joanne Tzanis, a prior instructor of mine and an adjunct at NYU, was hired to create a new Continuing Ed. program in Instructional Design at Baruch and asked me to help prepare fairly "generic" ID courses for novice or self-taught trainers who need / want to build upon their ID skills / knowledge. Baruch called a few weeks ago and asked if I could "retrofit" the 10 week class called "Planning and Creating Online and Blended Learning" into a 3 day seminar - an instructional design feat in an of itself ... and to facilitate the course this Monday - Wednesday.

This story has an ending that (IMHO) has everything to do with knowledge creation, management, markets ... and a great tie in to instructional design. In "retrofitting" the class for this abbreviated scope and particular audience, I spent an incredible amount of time / effort thinking about the existing knowledge and experience of the learners in the group. Overall, I tried to build upon the ANTICIPATED knowledge the trainers had gained in years of experience in face to face training and link it to designing courses in an online world. I would have liked to have worked with the client to get beyond what I anticipated, but the constraints of time and access prevented it.

I spent quite a bit of time during the session reinforcing that information is not instruction ... and that as trainers they know from experience that information without learner practice, feedback, guidance, etc. should not be dumped on learners as instruction. I tried to reinforce that they had a huge knowledge bank (knowledge marketplace?) to draw from and that just because they are contemplating a new medium for delivery, their knowledge (new from class, prior experiences, from others) should be their guide for the future ... see ... TA! DA! ... a nice bow on this package.

I think this story is a story of knowledge creation, management, and markets ... knowing what you know, knowing who knows what, building on prior knowledge, and knowing when and how to use the knowledge you possess!

In the practicum that I used during the "activity" portion of the seminar, I asked the learners to design instruction without regard to the medium. This forced them to use the new materials I presented, their prior knowledge about instruction and training, and what others in their cross-functional teams knew (others in the knowledge market who normally stuck to their silos). I then worked with them in their simulated instructional design teams to contemplate how and when their approach would be altered using different media. This "build upon what you (and others) know" approach led to the light bulb (a-ha) moments that every teacher waits for during a class.

This idea of facilitating learners as they "co-create" knowledge by building upon what they (separately and collectively) know is a big area of focus for a prior prof. of mine, Peter Honebein. In a recent ISPI session, he put up a slide that I feel is applicable to both my example and this class. Here are the bullet points applicable to ID:

  • Incorporate tangible authentic activities into your design
  • Engage learners as co-creators of knowledge (not as receivers of information)
  • Leverage technology for participation and knowledge history
  • Have a means of socially negotiating the "validity" of co-created knowledge.
  • Be a facilitator of knowledge creation (not a transmitter of information)

Interesting stuff to think about ...

Perception vs Reality

Dr. Amy Adcock routed this video around and I'll just post it here without commentary (it could spoil it if I say more) ... take a peek at the video and let me know the outcome in the comments section.

eeePC: First Blog Post

I've had my new eeePC 701 for about 24 hours now and I have hardly put it down. I was on the Internet within 45 seconds of taking it out of the box. It will surely never be my main laptop replacement (screen size, keyboard size), but I haven't found much this little guy can't handle. It is a great little road warrior (and it fits inside my tote bag)!

Sorry for the reposts and RSS spam!

Some weasel hacked my site today, so after I restored my database I had to go in and clean up a few posts from earlier this year. Sorry for the RSS spam!

AERA: Recap ... sort of ...

I attended AERA
this week in my adopted "hometown" of NYC. I assumed that I would have
things to post about and links to share, but I it really isn't that
kind of a conference. Given the 500 page fine print book of
presentations, my goal was to see a handful of specific presenters ...
current teachers, former teachers, friends, researchers I know about,
etc. To that end, I was able to see and meet briefly with Drs. Amy Adcock, Anne Leftwich, Curt Bonk, and Terry Anderson.
In the process of hearing their talks, I also got to hear from a slew
of other presenters during their sessions. Unfortunately, the
conversations were too brief, but that is usually the way with this
type of thing. At the end of the day, I picked up on a several new
concepts to chew on, but I'm happy to be back at my laptop to rejoin my
"real" learning network ;)

p.s. I missed running into Chris Craft who tweeted that he was at the conference ... too many people, too many venues, too little time ...

This Round: INTJ Baby!

I've taken various versions of the Myers-Briggs test in the past and I tend to vary within the N / S category. I would guess that my responses vary based on my current situation when I take the test - what project I am working on, recent social situations, whether I'm in a new job / familiar job, etc. About a year ago, I was ISTJ ... today I was I(44) N(38) T(62) J(78). When I read the INTJ and ISTJ descriptions, I can see myself as both. I think the relatively low preference score in the N vs S category reflects the fact that my responses in this category are so influenced by my current situation and projects.

TV: WGBH Educational Initiative

I attended the State University of New York (SUNY) distance learning summit this week and Christian Wise, a Senior Designer at WGBH in Boston, gave an overview of, WGBH's online digital library of multimedia resources for educators. The distribution format they are using
signals how and where they will deliver their educational content in
the future. Based on my take, original TV broadcast materials will be
re-purposed and bundled with instructional materials and offered as
educational resources to individuals and institutions. Funded through
the WGBH Educational Foundation, the
website will be the place where the broadcast materials will be housed
and distributed, but through educational partnerships, such as SUNY or
PBS Teacherline - see - "for-credit" courses will be available to learners.

If you are interested, his presentation was streamed and recorded via - From the presentation overview:

Domain offers more than 1,000 high quality online multimedia resources
to enhance students’ learning experiences in Engineering, Physical,
Life, Earth and Space Sciences. The collections feature high-quality
video, audio, interactives, images, and documents from public
television sources such as Nova, American Experience, Frontline, Zoom,
and many other programs and partners. Explanatory background articles
are provided for each resource, as well as correlations to national and
state education standards. SUNY has participated in the initiative to
adapt Teachers’ Domain to a higher education audience. SUNY online
instructional designers were invited to review and provide feedback on
the Teachers’ Domain site, and I will be showing the initial results of
our collaboration in the form of schematic diagrams, wireframe
sketches, and design mockups. Additional feedback will be solicited to
make sure that we’re on the right track."

Grant Writing: 0 for 1

Well, the grant proposal I wrote for in the HASTAC / MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition
wasn't accepted. No big surprise given that we had a 1.68% chance (17
awards given to 1,010 applicants). However, like all sore losers I am
more than a bit let down, especially as I review the bios of some of
the winners in our category. I believed that the Digital Media and
Learning Competition's Knowledge Networking award category was
there to throw a bone ($30,000 to $70,000) to grassroots upstarts like who were outside the realm of big U.S. institutions. As
the award description notes:

"Knowledge-networking is 'do-it-yourself' field building, collectively matchmaking across communities of those who have and those who seek information, so that each can teach and learn from each other ... Knowledge-Networking Awards will go to proven communicators. Applicants will already be networking with others
and are dedicated to digital learning through blogs, social networking,
social bookmarking, podcasting, world-building environments, or other
online communities."

Gosh ... I
actually think I might "borrow" that in the future to help describe
EdTechTalk. Anyway ... we were up for $30,000 to pay for our annual
server costs and web site maintenance ... a lot of money to us, but
maybe not much in the greater edugrant world. Therefore, I just assumed
(you know what happens when you ass-u-me) that funding at that level
wouldn't entice "the big guns". Further, I really did believe from the
award description that the spirit of the competition was to recognize
the little guy out there trying crazy and new things with digital media
to support teaching and learning. Unfortunately, I was naive and wrong
to think that EdTechTalk's application (for an organically grown and thriving online community engaging in the latest media and technology to support learning) would hit the grant's bulls-eye.

second thought ... I guess it did hit the mark, but where we differ
from several of the winners is (a) we actually EXIST and (b) we aren't
affiliated with a major U.S. University. One winner with a proof of
concept that looks especially intriguing is from Howard Rheingold from Standford University who won $61,000 to support his vision
for "an online community for teachers and students to collaborate and
contribute ideas for teaching and learning." That is a fantastic vision of what could be possible!
What looks even more impressive is the concept for his prospective web
site which includes .jpg mockups of a chat room, discussion forums, and
social bookmarks to help facilitate the online community. Wow ... toss
in some audio ... heck, maybe even live interactive webcasts and he
would really have a blockbuster proof of concept!

Even though I am disappointed, I should get beyond snarky comments and
point out that some VERY interesting projects were selected. To that
end, check out YouthActionNet.]


Merry Band of Didn't Win Eithers

Jen - I'm very glad the competition, and trackbacks, and references,
and some weird search engine I've never heard of linked from my HASTAC
blog post led me to you. : )
Way more interested in your work than I can fit in a blog comment. I'll
track down an email for you . . . If one is not posted could you email
me and say hello?


Thanks for all of your work on this proposal. You are right about the
winners, but I'm sure there are others who are interested in something
that's actually working out there. Let's keep our head's up and keep on
Cheers, - Alex

Online Learning: Oprah reaching the "other 98%

I regularly toss out a phantom statistic (which I made up, but may be an overestimation) that the stuff we talk about on EdTechWeekly
and in the edublogosphere reaches and resonates with less than 2% of
the population. I further contend that reaching the "other 98%" is the
obstacle. Well ... leave it to Oprah to give it a whack. Through her
book club, the other 98% (and our 2%, for that matter) can take part in
live online classes taught by Oprah and the book's author.
I find this fascinating! Maybe I'm basing my assumptions on completely
erroneous stereotypes, but I would guess that the vast majority of
those signing up had never taken (nor considered taking) an online
course in the past. I guess if anyone could bring 'em into the fold, it
would be Oprah.

ITForum: Alternatives to the Walled Garden listserv?

George Siemens facilitated a nice review of his paper - Teaching and Learning in Knowledge Networks - in the ITForum
this week. The "conversation" was good and nicely moderated.
Unfortunately, I can't link to any of the conversations as they are
held on an e-mail listserv and the conversation history can't be viewed
by those not going through the (free) registration process on the
listserv. Also, it is quite a pain to follow a forked e-mail discussion
(various replies to replies). As a newbie to the ITForum, I suppose I
shouldn't criticize as I start, but it sure seems the days of using a
listserv to facilitate global discussions are past. The ITForum
listserv has over 2,200 subscribers and there were some great thoughts
and links that I would love to collect and share here, but it isn't
possible to "link" to an e-mail. Further, the discussion policies state

"All discussion statements are
considered the property of the member and may not be posted on the web
elsewhere without their permission."

Here are a few links I pulled out, but they are so removed from the context of the discussion ... (sigh)

Social Network Theory -

Federated Social Networks (FSN) -

Social Graph: Concepts and Issues -

Technorati Tags:


Here is the full policy of ITFORUM

This is ITFORUM's policy, written by the list moderator for the past couple of years Bev Ferrell ("Phoenixziaco"):

Quote from September 7, 2007 post:

1. No content from ITForum may be Rssd or posted elsewhere unless the
content permission is obtained from the original poster on ITForum.

2. NO EMAIL addresses of ITForum members are included in the posting.

3. Copies of content that is posted elsewhere must have the permission from
the original poster emailed/ccd to the moderator of ITForum before posting
the content.

4. ITForum may be mentioned by name, but no email addresses or ITForum URLs
are to be included to avoid spam robots.


This policy is not even legal. Multiple people objected, and her only revisions were to make the policy even more strict.

I recommend K-12 educators use H-EDTECH instead of ITFORUM. Completely open
archives have been here for over 15 years with no problems:
There's also a teaching and learn online (talo) group here:


Hi Jennifer - I agree with you - information/discussions of this nature
benefit from being open. It's valuable (in extending the conversation)
to allow direct linking to the forum or individual posts.
For what it's worth, if you would like to comment/critique any of my
submissions to the forum, feel free to post them at length in your blog
or other correspondence.
Take care

Thanks, George!

Great topic this week ... even if 99.99% of the universe won't see it :)

Jennifer Maddrell

Vote: Super Tuesday

My husband and I just voted in the U.S. presidential primary election
and (like always) felt like grabbing a hot dog and some apple pie to
wash down our patriotic pride. We are in one of the colored "Super
Tuesday" states below. Get out the vote, baby!

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