Wednesday, October 18, 2006

AECT wrapup, Podcasting, and more . . .

What a week it was in Dallas. I saw a lot of people, but I'm glad to be back at work this week. I'm worn out! Never mind the fact that Andrew (my youngest--15 months old) slept in 20 minute increments last night. Yech.

I'm enjoying the podcasting thing, but I've got to be honest. I see how people can really overuse it. It can be the new PowerPoint. You know what I mean: "It's so easy that even I do it!" I did a podcast today as a guest lecture for Jennifer Summerville's students at UNC-Wilmington on podcasting in education, and I talked about podcasting and technology for technology's sake. I see a danger here.

A big thanks to Trey Martindale, Anne Leftwich, Chris Essex, Mark Jones, Peter Rich, Drew Polley, Preston Parker and the others who helped with the podcast recording at AECT. We have something like 40 sessions. Oh yeah, and a HUGE thanks to my major professor, David Merrill, for his interview on AECT and the field. Cool stuff.

When I got back and began working on the editing of the audio, I realized that all the files were in .wma format and Garage Band doesn't like that. So after a search, I ran across EasyWMA, a fantastic donate-ware tool that converts .wma to .mp3 slicker than slick. I mean that program was EASY to use, and it does batch conversion!

Overall, I'd say that AECT was beneficial for me personally (I saw some old friends and attended some good sessions--as well as the whole podcasting thing--I'm glad to help and it will look good on the vitae), our grad students (good reviews and next year they'll help with the grad student lounge), and our program at Oklahoma State University (applicants for our position and good visibility).

Biggest highlights that don't have anything to do with the conference? Chipoltle Grill with Bruce Spitzer and the massage therapists on the last day!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

AECT, Day 3 or Prepare to Podcast

Another long day at AECT, but yet it was a good one. The first day before all the sessions really get going is a tough one for me, because if there isn't something I really want to go to, I have a hard time just attending anything.

Well thanks Trey Martindale for solving that problem. I've known Trey now for something like eight years, and he's a guy I truly look forward to seeing every year at the conference. So when he sees me and asks if I can help him for ten minutes, there's no question. Of course I will. So Trey asks me if I'll use one of the AECT digital recorders and record different sessions for podcasting. Sure, no problem. So I start helping him put batteries in them and setting the dates and times on the recorders, and before I know it, he's turned the whole AECT podcasting thing over to me. And then he sends an e-mail to Ward Cates (convention planner) telling him I'm in charge. No pressure there. So I set out to pass out eight recorders today.

I passed out six. So far I've given recorders to me, Atsusi Hirumi, Tom Hergert, Scott Adams (not the Dilbert one), Bruce Spitzer, and Mark Jones. Mark has already had to dump some audio, and they sound great. We've got a total of 14 recorders, so there are eight more to assign out. We'll see how this goes. I know that Susan Stansberry, John Nelson, Chris Essex, Anne Leftwich, and Trey are also carrying recorders.

I just got an e-mail that Chris has recorded the following: Marco Torres' Keynote for ISMF; interviews with 2 groups of parents, teachers and kids that were in ISMF; ISMF Guidelines Presentation; John Couch's keynote for AECT. Extremely cool.
I like to kid Trey about sticking me with this, but truth be told, I'm excited about it. I need to get more involved, and this is definitely going to do it.

Design and Development membership meeting was good--interesting. Afterwards Trey introduced me to Anne Leftwich. Apparently one of us (Anne or I) will be heading up the podcasting next year with the other as the lieutentant. We haven't decided yet.

I have two presentations tomorrow. One I think will go really well, and the other, well, let's just say the study didn't go well--data corrupted, just a big we stunk it up. That one should be interesting.

Went to lunch with Susan, Bruce, Mark, and Alan Foley. It was an OSU lunch. Dinner with Bruce and Mark again. Afterwards I went to the AECT mixer, and Mark and I spent some time talking to Dr. Merrill. He's going to do an interview with me about AECT for the podcasts. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm tired now. More tomorrow.

I miss my wife and kids.

AECT, Day 2

Well, here we go. Yesterday was a pretty good day. Susan Stansberry and I gave a workshop on blogs and wikis (to see the materials click here). Thanks to all the attendees. I think we had fun and learned something.

I had dinner with two of my doc students, Mark Jones and Amy Johnson. We ate at Landry's seafood house. It was OK, but it took FOREVER. So far, the undeniable winner goes to Bruce Spitzer for introducing me to the Chipotle Grill. Amen, brother! I got to introduce Mark and Amy to Charlie Reigeluth (who they read in last week's class). Kind of fun . . .

I'll try to post my thoughts on each presentation I attend.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

AECT Conference

Well, here I am at AECT, and already I'm enjoying it. I must admit. I like "being a member of the club." When I was in graduate school, our department chair at Utah State was Don Smellie, a former president of AECT. He used to tell us, "You've got to be a member of the club. If you're not a member of the club, then it doesn't matter."Â

So I do like being a member of the club and the social aspect of this conference.

So far I've run into some people I've known for a while and it's been good to catch up. I had breakfast with David Merrill, chatted with Andy Gibbons and Don Descy, caught up with Brad Hokanson, Lauren Cifuentes and Jennifer Summerville, and I SAW Trey Martindale, but I haven't talked with him yet.

I plan on posting throughout the week.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Distance Education Changes

Here's an interesting change in how we think about distance educaton written over on the Cognitive Dissonance blog. It's not "anytime, anywhere . . ." it's "everywhere, all the time."

It's interesting when you think about it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yet another blow to Constructivism!

Is the pendulum swinging back?

Check out this article originally from the Wall Street Journal on how the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has abandoned their open-ended, problem-solving, "fuzzy math" approach.

It just makes me giggle.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Today has been interesting for me. As I drove into work, I found myself crying as I listened to the radio and they replayed reports from 9-11-2001. Then, as I read the news, it hit me even more. Now I don't know if anyone even reads this blog, and I don't really care if anyone who does agrees with me, but watch this video taken by some people who lived next to the World Trade Center (and didn't release until today) and tell me we're not at war.


I just pray that as Americans we haven't forgotten too much in the last five years and when elections come this November we elect those who want to protect us and our interests rather than weaken us.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Back in the office–NEW TOOLS and TOYS!!!

Well, after a month, I'm back in the office. I must say that it was fun to be on vacation. We put 6800 miles on the van, and we had a blast. We started our visit off and went to a load of Mormon history sites in Missouri and Illinois and later made it to Mount Rushmore, Devil's Tower, and other sites on the way to Grandma and Grandpa's in Idaho.

After Idaho, we went and visited another Grandma and Grandpa in Kanab, UT and went to the North rim of the Grand Canyon.

But it's good to be home, and when I got home, I got a new toy--a 60 GB video iPod, and I'm loving it! I've downloaded a free program to rip my DVDs, Handbrake, and it's working like a charm! I highly recommend it. I've only had to change one setting to get it to work on the iPod, and that was the screen resolution needed to be changed to 320x240 (or whatever it is exactly--I can't remember). At any rate, I'm currently ripping my top 10 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (see my April 1, 2006 post), and it's been awesome.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Arguably one of the best articles I’ve read in years (re: Constructivism doesn’t work!)

Now, now, all you constructivists out there just settle down. I approach the whole behaviorist/constructivist conversation with my own beliefs, but without judgement for those who don't see it like I do. I very much adhere to the behaviorist philosophy, and personally have major issues with some of the tenets set forth by constructivism. I did, however, run across a GREAT article that looks empirically at constructivism. It was linked from one of the blogs I read (I didn't note which one), but it is called Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching by Paul Kirschner, John Sweller, and Richard Clark. This .pdf states that this was in press for January 2006 in Educational Psychologist, but I'll admit I'm too lazy to check that fact out.

In short, it takes an empirical look at all minimal guidance instruction (by whatever name you want to call it), and when it comes down to the numbers--which to me, are what matters in research--it can't stand up.

I guess what I like most here (other than the conclusion ;-) ) is how systematically this was approached. I liked the memory approach. It makes perfect sense.

I think the authors were fair as well. They did distinguish between novel information (information new to the learner) and information for learners who already have some measure of expertise within the subject-matter area. In short, the minimal guidance approach can actually lead to a loss of learning with novel information (hey, they cite the sources of the studies), can produce more errors, does not produce expertise, and has no more effect than guided instruction in experienced learners.

One interesting question for those proponents of minimally guided instruction brought up in the article. Handlesman et al. (2004--and I'm not citing this here, just look at the .pdf) ask:
". . . why do outstanding scientists who demand rigorous proof for scientific assertions in their research continue to use and, indeed defend on the bias of intuition alone, teaching with methods that are not the most effective?"

Good question. I don't get it either.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Plagiarism and the Internet

Doug Johnson had an interesting post on his Blue Skunk Blog today about plagiarism and the internet:

This is exactly the type of thing I talk about with my students. It's time for us to be innovative as instructors. We can't keep doing the same things over and over again and complain about the educational system or that students aren't learning. I think a lot of the problem is not just lazy students, but most definitely lazy teachers. It's easier for them to do what's always been done than to try to innovate and change.

It's times like this I feel blessed to be an instructional designer. Though that at times does cause me problems (because I feel inclined to almost completely redesign each course every time I teach it).

It's like I tell my students: Good teaching is hard work.

Moodle upgrade

My grad students love Moodle (see the past post about CMS). Apparently they've released a new upgrade that sounds pretty darn good:

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Proper Study of Instructional Design

So, as it always seems, here I am as a young assistant professor still trying to figure out my place in this world. You know, who am I, what is my line of research, and does it really matter? So I was reading in the new edition of Issues and Trends in Instructional Design and Technology today, specifically in Chapter 32: The Future of Instructional Design, which is a point/counterpoint between David Merrill and Brent Wilson. As it always seems, I think like Merrill. (Could it be that it was because he was my teacher? Hmm . . . )

First Merrill breaks down the terminology of the proper study of instructional design as such:

  • science: the pursuit of understanding

  • technology: the creation of artifacts

  • theory: describing phenomena and predicting (hypothesis) consequences from given conditions

  • research: applying appropriate methodology to test these predictions

  • instructional design theory: understanding what conditions are necessary for a learner to acquire specific instructional goals, specific knowledge and skill, or specific learning outcomes

He then continues to break down the technology of what we do.

  • technology of instructional design: using empirically verified instructional design theory to develop instructional products designed to enable students to efficiently and effectively acquire desired instructional outcomes

  • technology of instruction: breaks down into three activities . . .

  1. the principles of effective and efficient instruction (instructional design theory) be captured in tools that provide intellectual leverage to designers who may not know the required instructional design theory

  2. demonstrate the use of these tools in designing and/or developing an instructional product

  3. predict the performance of this product and then test this performance in a trial with students from the target population

So then an instructional scientist attempts to discover and test principles for instruction, and the instructional technologist uses the principles discovered by the scientist to develop and test conceptual tools and technology-based tools that can be used by instructional designers for the production of instructional products.

So back to the question: what am I? Am I an instructional scientist or an instructional technologist? Well, that's the problem. I want to be both.

Is that feasable?

Is that OK?

I hope I work this all out someday.

YouTube Hall of Fame

One of my favorite writers is Bill Simmons, or the Sports Guy (you can find him on ESPN's Page 2). Today he posted his YouTube Hall of Fame. YouTube has long been one of my favorite websites (I love being able to watch all the old 80s videos), but this is just great. You can see his list here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


So it's good enough for my buddies Dave Wiley and Trey Martindale (should I really trust those guys this much?), and so I went ahead and signed up at Technorati. Honestly, I'm not sure what it's all about, but it can't hurt.

I'll have to explore more later.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Foundations readings revisited

So, apparently something crazy has happened. Just one day after I get that list posted of readings for my Foundations class, I found another book. I checked to see if I could change my order for fall, but I really shouldn't--not can't, it'll just be a pain.
Reiser, R.A. & Dempsy, J.V. (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. 2nd edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

It's all the other stuff combined, the types of readings I wanted, and it's recent. Personally, I'm giddy with anticipation.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Reading list for Foundations of Educational Technology

So I'm finishing up my syllabus and reading list for this fall's Foundations of Educational Technology class. It is meant to be the introductory course for all our Master's and Doctoral students. I initially started with the syllabus used at Utah State (my alma mater), and from there I worked on it and tried to get it to what I thought and felt was relevant for our students today. Here's what I've got so far (and that's pretty much how it's going to stay unless something crazy happens):

• Clark, J. & Dede, C. (2006, June). Robust designs for scalability. Paper to be presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Research Symposia, Bloomington, IN.

• Ely, D.P. & Plomp, T. (1996). Classic writings on Instructional Technology, Volume 1. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (Select chapters)
o AECT. The Definition of Educational Technology: A Summary
o Churchman, C.W. On the Design of Educational Systems
o Davies, I.K. Educational Technology: Archetypes, Paradigms and Models
o Gagné, R.M. Learning Hierarchies
o Heinich, R. Is There a Field of Educational Communications and Technology?
o Skinner, B.F. The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching

• Ely, D.P. & Plomp, T. (2001). Classic writings on Instructional Technology, Volume 2. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (Select chapters)
o Clark, R.E. Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media
o Dick, W. & Carey, L. The Systematic Design of Instruction: Origins of Systematically Designed Instruction
o Hannafin, M.J. Emerging Technologies, ISD, and Learning Environments: Critical Perspectives
o Heinich, R. The Proper Study of Instructional Technology
o Jonassen, D.H. Objectivism versus Constructivism: Do We Need a New Philosophical Paradigm?
o Reigeluth, C.M. In Search of a Better Way to Organize Instruction: The Elaboration Theory

• Gibbons, A.S. & Rogers, C.P. (2006, June). Coming at design from a different angle: Functional design. Paper to be presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Research Symposia, Bloomington, IN.

• Jonassen, D., Strobel, J., & Gottdenker, J. (2006, June). Model building for conceptual change. Paper to be presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Research Symposia, Bloomington, IN.

• Merrill, M. D., Drake, L., Lacy, M. J., & Pratt, J. (1996). Reclaiming instructional design. Educational Technology, 36 (5), 5-7.

• Merrill, M.D. (2000). Write your dissertation first and other essays on graduate education. Available:

• Merrill, M.D. (2002). A pebble in the pond model for instructional design. Performance Improvement, 41(7), 39-44.

• Merrill, M.D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research & Development, 50(3), 43-59.

• Reiber, L. (1998). The proper way to become an instructional technologist. 1998 Peter Dean Lecture, Division of Learning and Performance Enhancements, Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

• Reiser, R.A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part II: A history of instructional design. Educational Technology Research & Development, 49(2), 57-67.

• Ross, S.A. & Morrison, G.R. (2001). Getting started in instructional technology research. Association for Educational Communications and Technnology.

• Seels, B.B. & Richey, R.C. (1994). Instructional Technology: The definition and domains of the field. Bloomington, IN: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

• Spector, J.M. (2006, June). From learning to instruction: Adventures and advances in instructional design. Paper to be presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Research Symposia, Bloomington, IN.

• vanMerriënboer, J.J.G., Clark, R.E., & deCroock, M.B.M. (2002). Blueprints for complex learning: The 4C/ID model. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(2), 39-64.

• Wiley, D. A. (2000). Connecting learning objects to instructional design theory: A definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy. In D. A. Wiley (Ed.), The Instructional Use of Learning Objects: Online Version.

Basically, I tried to find articles in four different areas: History of the field, how to study the field, select design theories (old and new) and current research.

Comments welcome.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Open Source CMS

This summer term I am teaching (in addition to the EDTC 3123 -- preservice teacher technology course) EDTC 5153: Computer-based Instructional Development. I have six graduate students enrolled--none from the College of Education. I have two Chemistry master's candidates, two from TESL (one master's, one doctoral), and two master's candidates from International Studies. It will be nice to get some students from our program in these classes as well.

At any rate, the course focuses on desiging and creating web-based instruction. I initially designed the course to be your basic instructional design, website design and development class, and then I thought better of it. It seems to me that we're past that now. As I looked through my webhosting package from BlueHost, I noticed that I had access to about ten or so different CMS packages.

So I thought to myself (having just gone through the process of helping choose a new COURSE management system for OSU) that a more relevant class might be how to design the instruction and how to evaluate different CMS packages--because I have access, right?--and develop the instruction in a CMS. That seems more "real world." So I eagerly installed instances of the following:

So how's it going? Well, what does CMS stand for? Course Management System (as I was thinking) or Content Management System (as most of these are). I think the course is going well, and we're getting a lot of really practical experience. But it would have been nice if more had been COURSE management systems.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

EdTech Blogs

I've been working on today, specifically, I've been working on what I initially called my Blogroll. You know, a list of blogs that I read on a consistent basis--guys like David Wiley and Trey Martindale. But as I began researching (read: looking at) others, I found so many that my blogroll got ridiculously long. So I ended up just making a separate page. So now it can be accessed from the menu on the left using the EdTech Blogs link. But be warned--it is RIDICULOUSLY long. But I think there is some great info there.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Another GREAT definition

I was in a workshop last week and Larry Ragan from Penn State's World Campus was speaking and he gave a WONDERFUL description of what we do. He referred to instructional designers as educational engineers.

I thought about this a lot, and it makes complete sense. Electrical engineers design electrical systems, mechanical engineers design mechanical systems, and educational engineers (instructional designers) design educational systems.

I like it!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Website redesign–YIKES!

So I've been playing with all the webtools that I get as part of my Blue Host package, and I've come across phpWebsite, an open source website package. I've got to be honest, it hasn't been an easy configuration, but I like the idea of all the functionality. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with it all, which I really shouldn't admit, you know, being a good instructional designer and all, but I'm going to anyway. I have played with this software (among others, Moodle, etc.), and while I like things about others (like Moodle's RSS feeds), I settled on this one.

Who knows, maybe this one will do RSS, and I just haven't figured it out yet. It took me too long to figure out the dang menus . . .

At any rate, we'll see how this goes.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Top ten episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

So yes, my favorite show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And those who mock that have obviously never watched it and seen how smart the writing is. At any rate, I've got the complete seven seasons on DVD, and I've been watching them. I decided to put together my top ten list of episodes. Now some were automatics (actually I came up with the first seven immediately), and then I looked to make sure I had at least one episode from each season represented. Here's what I came up with:

The Automatics: (not in any particular order)

  • The Zeppo (season 3). Xander defined in the entire Buffyverse. No one ever truly appreciated the strength he brought to the Scoobies. While they send him off to "be safe," Xander ends up saving everyone else--and they never know it.

  • The Body (season 5). Buffy finds her mom, Joyce, dead. It's great that she died of natural causes and not a monster--something Buffy could have controlled. What's really good? Anya's speech about Joyce and not understanding death.

  • Once More with Feeling (season 6). The musical episode. The best part is that it wasn't gimmicky; it actually advanced the story line as well. And I love the soundtrack.

  • Hush (season 4). Silent episode--actually nominated for an Emmy. The Gentlemen were just creepy. It was also the first episode where we saw Camden Toy, who played three different monsters on the show (the leader of the Gentlemen, Gnarl, and the Ubervamp).

  • Becoming, Part II (season 2 finale). Bad Angel--Angelus, Good Angelus--Angel. Buffy makes the hard choice. Buffy: "Close your eyes." Angel: "Buffy?!?"

  • Fool for Love (season 5). We see William the Bloody become Spike. He teaches Buffy how he killed two slayers (shout out to Robin Wood in season 7!). "You're beneath me."

  • Passion (season 2). Holy cow. We see for the first time how bad Angelus really can be. Death truly was his art. Not only does he take care of Jenny Calendar, but the whole set up with Giles is masterful.

The Final Three: (not immediate choices, but they round it out--again, no particular order)

  • The Wish (season 3). Anya is introduced. We see life in Sunnydale without Buffy. Nothing like the emotion of watching Buffy stake Xander to shake you up.

  • Prophecy Girl (season 1). Buffy takes on the Master. "I'm sixteen years old, Giles. I don't want to die."

  • Beneath You (season 7). Nice play on Fool for Love. Crazy Spike, reformed Spike. "Can we rest now, Buffy? Can we rest?"

At any rate, this is MY top ten. And if you have a problem with them being listed on this here blog, hey--it's RANDOM musings. I never said this was all about work.

What my graduate students need to know

As I've begun advising graduate students again, I've thought a lot about things they "need to know." With that in mind, I've attached three files that I think they should all read and follow the counsel therein.

Write your dissertation first and other essays on graduate education by M. David Merrill

Suggested self-study program for Instructional Systems Development (ISD) by M. David Merrill

Annotated bibliography on Instructional Design

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Great quote

I came across a great quote by M. David Merrill the other day. He said:

"You don't know what you really think until you write it down."

That's why I've got to get back to blogging--to find out what I really think.

A great definition of what we do

So today I finally got in the mail a book I had ordered about a month ago, Teaching Concepts: An Instructional Design Guide, by Merrill, Tennyson, and Posey. I'm so excited to read it. I'm really looking at trying to validate more of what we say we do. But that's just the kicker isn't it? We always have a hard time explaining to those who aren't in the know what it is exactly that we do. In the preface of this book they give a great explanation:
"There has evolved from the research conducted by cognitive and behavioral psychologists a set of very specific, empirically validated procedures for teaching concepts. If followed, these procedures provide far more efficient and effective concept instruction than that typically seen in classrooms or mediated instructional materials.

"The procedures outlined in this book may appear to be extremel laborious compared to procedures you are now using to prepare instructional materials. However, after you have prepared several lessons using the recommended procedures, you will find that your planning efficiency has actually increased. In addition, your students will find your lessons more enjoyable and much easier to understand.

"... Instructional design is a phrase which means selecting and arranging instructional materials in a way which helps students learn more efficiently and effectively. It also means selecting and arranging special materials which allow you as a teacher, or the students as learners, to find out whether they have learned what you intended."

Now that's pretty much how I explain things, but I found this entire passage really clear. I can't wait to read the rest of the book.