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Learning Ecosystems -- My new home

This will be my new virtual home. Why?

  1. For those familiar with technology and blogging, you have been shaking your head at me for far too long -- and I don't blame you.
    You know that (in addition to numerous other reasons), using something like WordPress to set up and run a blog is much more time efficient than running a website such as this one. With more things continually trying to make their way onto my job/time plate, I need -- no scratch that -- I have to do this.

  2. RSS feeds are not supported on Calvin's personal websites. I have appreciated your patience in continually having to return/check-in here on this site, but it's time to move on to a better way of doing things.

I will keep this site up for reference sake -- as I've worked hard to obtain the information on the various topics located herein. Thankfully, some of this site has been helpful to other people.


Archives of my postings related to the topic of keeping students engaged and motivated are listed below.
For up-to-date postings, I'll see you over at my new "Learning Ecosystems" blog!



Learner Engagement


Why podcasting matters


Low Tolerance for Boredom -- from the Innovative Educator

I'm not saying it was OK that I acted like a hoodlum in middle school. I feel bad for my teachers and my parents for all the grief I caused them. But I also suffered. I had a tremendous amount of energy and a craving for challenge and stimulation, yet I was forced to try to sit still in a classroom and passively take in information at a slow pace. School was a boring prison for me, and I did what I could to bring excitement into my life in an environment that seemed designed to prevent it.

At 26, I still have a low tolerance for boredom and consider this a virtue. It's what led me to entrepreneurship and gives me a healthy appetite for risk.

I don't have all the answers for how to fix the situation for other kids like me, and I don't know how common my situation is. My message to educators is simply to keep an open mind when it comes to rambunctious little problem students. Maybe they just have a low tolerance for boredom.


Classroom advice: Turned-off devices equals turned-off children -- from
Education professor Stephen Heppell has a simple message for schools: embrace technology.
Speaking at the annual BETT educational technology show taking place this week in London, Heppell said schools need to be more innovative and should integrate digital tools that students have adopted in their lives outside of the classroom. “Turned-off devices equals turned-off children. Sensible schools use mobile technology to their advantage, putting up a telephone number about an issue such as bullying and getting pupils to text their views,” said Heppell.


Related item:

Can video games save the world?


New book: Digital Storytelling Guide for Educators
Help your students bring storytelling into the 21st century with multimedia presentations that incorporate sound effects, music, and video. Digital storytelling makes this happen. You can build digital storytelling into any level or subject. Teach your students skills they'll need for the rest of their lives and watch their engagement and excitement grow. This latest book from ISTE, Digital Storytelling Guide for Educators, will lead you through preparation, production, presentation, and evaluation of student work. Come away with an understanding of digital stories and the tools used to create them. The book also provides ideas and more than 100 online resources, many of which are free, that enable you to bring this technology to your classroom today. Learn more about this book by listening to an interview with author Midge Frazel on ISTE Casts.

Teaching with Digital Images: Acquire, Analyze, Create, Communicate
Subject-area experts demonstrate how to use digital cameras for data collection, scientific visualization, mathematical analysis, and digital storytelling.

Generation Bored! Why We are Boring Our Students and How We Can Stop? -- presentation by Julie Young at FETC2010
Although online learning introduced entirely new approaches to education, are we actually engaging students effectively in learning? What’s the use of whiz-bang technology if students are still bored? Join this session as the presenter shares how quality design—both in curriculum development and organizational management—is being used to “kick it up a notch” in student engagement.

Playing History

From DSC:
Innovation is taking place at a far greater pace within the
online world (vs the more traditional face-to-face world).

"Popcasting!" Using Podcasts and Pop Culture to Motivate and Inspire Learners -- presentation by Megan Allen at FETC2010
Explore how podcasting can be used as a learning tool for both educators and our students, igniting learning across the board. Pop culture and podcasting combined can move our learners forward and spark creative thinking. Tap into free technology that is cool to our kids..."popcasting!"


YES Prep Makes Learning Relevant -- from
Ninth-grade English teacher Rachael Arthur makes Shakespeare come to life for her students.


iPods And Educational Applications Have Minnesota Students Giddy About Learning
For fourth-grader Gabe Rivera, running vocabulary drills and solving mathematical problems on his classroom iPod Touch is a fun way to learn, in part because it's "something that is more newer than paper."


From DSC:
If you want to engage students, have them get into digital storytelling -- have them create things and then watch their level of engagement rise!

Create teams of students whereby some are song writers/audio specialists, others write the scripts, others act out these scripts, others create/paint/sketch the graphics, others shoot video, while others produce/coordinate the production of these projects, etc.

...and choose relevant, real-world projects/subjects.


Engagement v. Empowerment -- Some Early Thoughts... -- from Stephen Downes
Chris Lehmann is quite right: engagement is insufficient; we should be thinking of empowerment. But how many people employed in the role of teacher will be comfortable with the idea of empowering their students? Engagement is safe, docile, controlled. Empowerment suggests that students might take matters into their own hands. "It also allows us to do away with the notion that the classroom is always fun. It's not. Let's look at coaching for a moment... a coach who is worried about engagement as the goal lets the kids scrimmage most practices because it is engaging and fun. But an empowering coach puts the kids through smart drills that allows them to play their best basketball during the games."


Student Enagement -- a special edition of Educause Quarterly

-- from Educause Quarterly

Building Online Social Communities with Social Media

In and Out of the Classroom

Tech Tools for Faculty Innovation


Related item/idea -- create skit / short film using stop-motion animation:
We are an online filmmaking community devoted to the art of stop-motion animation. Most of our films, sometimes called brickfilms or LEGO movies, are created using LEGO® and other plastic brick building toys. In addition to an active community forum for filmmakers, this site is home to an ever-growing directory of films submitted by our users.


Related item from DSC:
Have students create multimedia. Set up a lab in your college, university or school in order to provide a place where students can create items. Here is one such place:

Smart Lab Digital Media Institute -- at the University of East London

About the SMARTlab
Operating from its new 'home' base at UEL, SMARTlab has spread its wings to fill new purpose-built studios, including the MAGIC (Multimedia & Games Innovation Centre) PLAYroom, incubation and training spaces with linked fabrication, simulation, and product design facilities and a partner high def multistream film/video facility all on site, in the heart of the London Docklands.

In existence (under a number of names, in a number of locations) for some fifteen years, the core SMARTlab team are now recruiting a new expanded core staff to help achieve the ethical, social and transformative aims of the SMARTlab ethos.

With a burgeoning research team and list of associated research fellows, international projects and publications, SMARTlab has gained a reputation over the past five years as one of the world’s leading Practice-Based PhD Programmes, and is viewed as an incubator for the next generation of talent and high-level scholarship in the ‘ArtSci’ domain.


Engaging Students with Engaging Tools -- from George Siemens and Ed Webb
Ed Webb provides a clear summary of how he re-created his conceptual and technological approach to teaching a course at Dickinson College: Engaging Students with Engaging Tools: “This kind of pedagogical approach demands time, enthusiasm, and enough self-confidence to make mistakes in front of students and model that as part of the learning process….The process of playing, experimenting, breaking, stretching, adapting, adopting, or rejecting — that is something students should be equipped for.” What I find most interesting is the tone of discussions like this – optimism about teaching and learning (even though he acknowledges not all students enjoyed the process). I too have found experimentation and play in learning design and delivery are motivating and satisfying. The challenge, of course, is for educators to remember the student in the process :) .


Blended Learning Provides New Models for Engaging Students -- from Blackboard
Listen to a Recorded Webinar or Download a Paper
It is increasingly clear that district leaders need to increase student engagement in order to ultimately increase student achievement. Blended learning, the teaching practice that combines teaching methods from both face-to-face and online learning, offers a model of instruction to engage students in and out of the classroom. This practice has proven highly effective in helping schools and districts address the challenges of student achievement, limited resources, and meeting the expectations of 21st century learners.

Listen to a recorded webinar and hear North Kansas City School District (NKCSD) discuss how they use online learning in the classroom and beyond to provide a personalized and connected learning experience. With the aid of a 1-to-1 laptop program, every high school student is engaged in blended learning, where the teacher uses online learning during class and posts assignments and discussion questions for after the bell rings.

For additional tips and resources, download Blackboard K-12’s eduviews publication, Blended Learning: Where Online and Face-to-Face Instruction Intersect for 21st Century Teaching and Learning. This paper reviews the working definitions of blended learning, explores relevant efficacy data, recaps innovative and practical implementation models and provides profiles of several schools and districts that are experiencing success with their blended learning programs.


Fix Boring Schools, Not Kids Who Are Bored -- from the Innovative Educator

From DSC:
I think it would be incredibly difficult to teach in any K-12 school, as the variety of agendas being expected of me would seem overwhelming. So I don't post this item as a criticism.

However, I do think the topic of engagement is critical in K-20. Due to the technologies and media the K-12'ers see and experience each day, it may take more to keep them engaged. Therefore, I believe we need content created by -- and delivered by -- teams of specialists.


From DSC:
How could we use this technology within education?

Innovid: How could we use this technology in the world of education?

Can gaming change education? - Meris Stansbury, eSchool News -- item and quote below from Ray Schroeder
As video games continue to permeate our culture, schools and students are increasingly interested in using video games for learning. This interest has prompted universities and neurologists to explore what makes a successful educational game, what the current barriers to adoption are, and how gaming as a whole affects the brain. According to a recent paper by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), games, when developed correctly and used appropriately, can engage players in learning that is specifically applicable to school curriculum—and teachers can leverage the learning in these games without disrupting the worlds of either "play" or school.

Teen Content Creators -- from by Kathryn Zickuhr

Teen content creators -- presentation from   Needs to be relevant


Richard Hake: Student engagement [physics]
ABSTRACT: Jack Uretsky, in a Phys-L post "Re: Student engagement" wrote: "American education has produced a number of physics Nobelists. How many were products of physics courses that would be approved by PER enthusiasts?" My answer: "Probably near zero.  BUT SO WHAT?" Physics Education Researchers (PER's) have attempted to design courses which enhance the learning of the vast majority of AVERAGE students, not potential Nobelists.  Why the emphasis on the "average
student" rather than the "exceptional student"? Because most exceptional students will learn on their own, even despite the (for them) usually helpful but unnecessary "interactive engagement." On the other hand, the fate of life on planet Earth is in the hands and minds of the masses of "average students" who, at least in democracies, control national policy - see e.g., "The Threat to Life on Planet Earth Is a More Important Issue Than David Brooks' 'Skills Slowdown' " [Hake (2009)].

To access the complete 13 kB post please click on <>.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University

Hake, R.R. 2009. "Re: Student Engagement," online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at  <>.  Post of 8 Dec 2009 to AERA-L, AP-Physics, Net-Gold, Physhare, Phys-L, PhysLrnR, & Physoc.


Engagement and Recall: The Power of Storytelling in Presentations -- from Presentation Advisors
One of the key components of an effective presentation is the inclusion of a story.  Storytelling (sometimes called "Digital Storytelling" when using PowerPoint or Keynote) can have a profound effect on an audience, removing them from the classroom, boardroom, or auditorium and taking them on a journey, as I mentioned in a previous post.


Using NSSE and FSSE to Link Technology to Student Learning & Engagement (Research-Based)

In 2009, questions about teaching and communication technologies were added to both the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement. These additional questions were administered to 31,000 undergraduate students attending 58 institutions and 12,000 faculty members at 50 institutions. This session will give an overview of the technology used most and least often, as well as what types of technology were least familiar. Additionally, characteristics of students, faculty, and institutions that most often use different types of technology will be identified. This session will focus on showing how these technologies relate to student learning and engagement.

From page on "Shifting Ground"

Excerpt from Shifting Ground --

Those of us who work in education talk a lot about student engagement, but I don’t think that goes far enough. Engagement is certainly better than boredom, but schools should set the bar for themselves is much higher. What schools should strive for is student empowerment.

Getting to Know GarageBand -- from always learning by Kim Cofino
Musical Composition and Podcasting in the Elementary Classroom

From DSC:
When I was interacting with a group of 7-10th graders two summers ago, they all instantly loved this application! It is highly engaging.

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Dimensions of Student Engagement -- 2009 Findings -- the following excerpt is from the acknowledgements section:
Quite appropriately, this 2009 CCSSE National Report is dedicated to community college people who are making connections.

  • To the teachers who design educational experiences that intentionally connect students to faculty and to one another — and who help students consistently connect their studies to their lives.
  • To the advisors and counselors who connect students to resources, to services, and to their potential futures.
  • To the social networking innovators and early adopters, all a-Twitter with their FacebookingYouTubeLinkedIn possibilities for engaging students more effectively.
  • To the learning technologists, media specialists, instructional designers, webmasters, and IT staff who make the gadgets and the gizmos go, and the whatzits and whatchamacallits work, in the interest of student learning and success.
  • To the leaders who work to connect the college community to a shared vision of student success and a shared belief that all students, given the right conditions, can learn.
  • To the students who connect with one another, providing encouragement and support — and who make it so clear to us that in their often heroic efforts to achieve educational goals, connections matter.

Kay McClenney, Director, Center for Community College Student Engagement


Building Student Engagement: 15 Strategies for the College Classroom -- from Faculty Focus; mentions following resource that I'll pass along as well:

Porter, S. R. (2006). Institutional structures and student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 47 (5), 521–558.


Total Engagement (2009)

2009 book from:
Byron Reeves & J. Leighton Read

12/1/09 is "a proven successful alternative to traditional education" -- from is an international 'Online Learning Community' offering an alternative to traditional education for young people who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to engage with school or other complementary provisions such as home tutoring or specialist units. After almost 9 years and 5000 young people, is a full-time alternative provision; successfully demonstrating that young people for whom 'school does not fit' can renew their confidence in learning and gain a range of qualifications that recognise their progress. is a last resort for young people disengaged from classroom learning because of:

  • Illness or phobia
  • Pregnancy
  • Bullying or disaffection
  • Travelling
  • Reluctance to learn
  • Exclusion
  • In care



Engaging Interaction: The speakers and experiences of Interaction 10 -- from BoxesAndArrows by Jeff Parks


Engaging Students Inside and Outside the Classroom with Interactive Digital Solutions


Connected Colleges: New Study Suggests Using Social Networking Tools to Engage Students -- from


Experiential Learning: Bridging the Gap Between Engaged and Disengaged -- from Faculty Focus by Mart Bart

NSSE's 2009 results for tracking student engagement over time


More Teachers Trading in Textbooks and Lectures for Interactive E-Learning Software To Engage Students -- frrom B2E

Networking U -- from by Jennifer Pagliaro
How IT is helping educators engage students in new ways

She wanted to engage the “we generation” in a new way. In 2007, Jean Adams, a professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, took two classes of almost 400 first-year business management students, divided them into groups and handed tablet PCs to those who didn’t have their own notebook computers. (That was made possible by a Hewlett-Packard Technology for Teaching grant that Adams won that year.) The students’ challenge: to work together in real time, through screen-sharing on their laptops, and create storyboards to solve the viciously difficult business cases Adams had presented to them. She then put their work on a projection screen in front of the class, where she could comment on and pull ideas from it—making the classroom experience more immediately gratifying and highly visual. “This ability to get what’s in their heads in a very practical way—it’s just really quite amazing,” Adams says.

Once upon a time—before laptops, cellphones and iPods—a professor’s only competition for attention in the classroom was her students’ wandering imagination. But at today’s leading institutions, the digital classroom is no longer a novelty. These days, high school graduates, armed with shorter attention spans but greater expectations that their teachers go beyond “chalk and talk,” pose a real challenge to educators [emphasis DSC]. How to inspire students to conduct their own research or engage with course materials, when the traditional lecture no longer measures up to the eye candy and possibilities of new media?

“I’m trying to use the technology to make the face-to-face contact even richer.” There’s also the challenge of teaching students themselves how to use these new technologies productively—learning the ropes in university, Adams says, puts her students at a huge advantage.

“Although you can’t force faculty to use technology innovation,” she says, “what you can do is create a culture of innovation [emphasis DSC].”


MVU Symposium

[webinar] Engaging Students In and Outside the Classroom with Interactive Digital Solutions
-- from The Journal

More Engaged and Engaged or Confused? -- from


Technology in classroom is perfect for engaging students, expert says -- by Mark Coddington; original link from Ray Schroeder
PALMER -- With his tips on tagging Web site bookmarks, shortening URLs and installing browser applications, Tony Vincent may have sounded at times Wednesday like he was talking to a group of Web developers. But Vincent was talking to teachers, and the theme of the workshop was just as much about engaging students as it was technology.

Students are engaged in learning when it involves qualities such as choice, affiliation, novelty and variety, and a focus on products, Vincent said. The explosion of teaching technology on the Web fits right in with those values.


Students without borders


Tools of Engagement: Technologies and Strategies for All Learning Styles -- from Faculty Focus by Mary Bart
How do you motivate online learners?

It’s an age-old question that continues to stump online instructors as well as the managers of distance education programs trying to solve the attrition problem that continues to drag down this otherwise thriving segment of higher education.

Perhaps one reason for poor online retention rates, says Dr. Curt Bonk, professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University, is that instructors are not engaging students with the technologies they love nor are they taking full advantage of the online tools and applications that have become so readily available.

During the recent online seminar Creatively Engaging Online Students: Models and Activities, Bonk explained how instructors can use “low-risk, low-cost, low-time activities” that are relatively easy to incorporate into a lesson, but make a big impact on student engagement and learning.

Using his TEC-VARIETY Model, which is an acronym that stands for Tone, Encouragement, Curiosity, Variety, Autonomy, Relevance, Interactive, Engagement, Tension, and Yields products, Bonk outlined a wide range of web technologies and resources that address each of the TEC-VARIETY components to make a difference in the online learning experience. Some of the tools he discussed include: Jing, Screenr, Slideshare, Animoto, Google Docs, and YackPack.

Related item from Binge Thinking re: cognitive engagement

But there is another aspect to presentation – and that is of intent.

What does the presenter really want the learner to take away from the experience? If the seminar has a sales pitch, it may be better not to dwell too much on the facts and details that a learner may take away.

Research has shown that the verbal content of a presentation, whether in speech or text, is only a small part of the total message conveyed to the attendee. How often has a conference goer raved about a ‘keynote’, reporting that the best thing about the presentation was its entertainment value?

What if the presentation was entirely lacking in entertainment, yet the same factual information was presented? Herein may lie a pedagogical message.

Entertainment provides two important features to the learner. It provides the necessary breaks between learning tasks and prevents the possible onset of cognitive overload brought on through multitasking. It also adds interest and factual significance by association.

From DSC:
I say the above is a related item because I support the use of storytelling in our classes, not so much to entertain as to engage and to teach (similar to the use of parables in the Bible). However, some of his points may be relevant here.


Learning with Digital Games

Learning with Digital Games is Nicola Whitton's first book and is based on practical lessons learned from the research carried out during her PhD. It is designed as an introduction to the use of games-based learning in universities for lecturers, learning technologies, researchers and anyone else who is interested really. There is also a website to support the book, and any feedback or comments would be most appreciated. According to the website:

"Written for Higher Education teaching and learning professionals, Learning with Digital Games provides an accessible and straightforward introduction to the field of computer game-based learning.""Up-to-date with current trends and the changing learning needs of today’s students, this text offers friendly guidance, and is unique in its focus on post-school education and its pragmatic view of the use of computer games with adults."


One-to-One Laptop Computing Works- But You Have to Use Authentic Assessment to Truly Understand That -- from The Committed Sardine by Jason Ohler
I just completed evaluating a one-to-one laptop program involving over 12,000 students in over 100 schools. The results? Standardized test scores show mixed results, but student engagement is through the roof.


CMU project could change how students use web-based courses (pg 13 of 30) -- from
“I’m particularly impressed with OLI,because it retains what we know is most important in online learning, and that’s engagement,” said Ray Schroeder, directorof the University of Illinois’s Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning. “The courses are built so an institution can provide the kind of interaction that we’ve found has really enhanced learning.”


Classrooms are Awesome -- from Discovery Education Network
Upload a 1-2 minute video, podcast, or other multimedia file that explains how you use Discovery Education resources to engage your students. Whether you take students on virtual field trips, or guide students as they produce their own multimedia projects, we’d like to share your ideas with the entire Discovery Education community. Each submitter will receive a limited edition Discovery Education sweatshirt “hoodie” just in time for the changing seasons. Upload your submission by 8pm EST on November 15th. For the details log in to your streaming account through


Keeping students engagedHow to Keep Kids Engaged in Class -- from
When students let their minds drift off, they're losing valuable learning time. Here are ten smart ways to increase classroom participation.







Next Generation Learning

Children and Technology
Life in the classroom has changed. Today there's a world of exciting technology to help children engage with learning.


Engaging Students with Passion-Based Learning -- from the Innovative Educator

Related thought/item:
Networked Multitouch Desks: Teacher/Student Features -- from ICT in my classroom by T. Barrett
I was delighted to recieve a video this week from Andrew Hatch from Durham University and the SynergyNet Project. In it he explains and demonstrates some further features of networked multiotuch desks that the team have been developing.

From DSC:
This concept of having networking multitouch desks is incredibly powerful. I consider this to be one of the most potentially-engaging ideas/directions that I've seen in a while. Why? Because it bridges the online world with the face-2-face world while also allowing networking and group work within a classroom.


Video's Objective Eye Helps Educators Evaluate Their Habits -- from by Burr Snider
How can we see ourselves as others see us? Try putting cameras on students' heads.


Engaging e-Learning Essentials Webinar


Engagement and Quality Work -- by Paula White
Chad’s blog excerpt:
Authentic engagement is a powerful means to the end of learning.  Authentic engagement connects students to content through real-world work that allows for social learning, inquiry, and products that contribute to students’ communities.

Characteristics of Authentic Engagement

  1. Students master content through project-based, inquiry-driven learning with access to multiple types of media and outside experts.
  2. Students work and learn from one another collaboratively and socially.
  3. Students evaluate for and select the best tools for their work and are free to use them.
  4. Students’ work is published for an authentic audience outside the classroom.
  5. Students receive feedback on their work from experts before and after publication.
  6. Students revise work until it shows mastery of content and follows experts’ guidelines.
  7. Students’ work benefits their community.

Schlechty Center


Another Dean of Academic Engagement -- from Inside Higher Ed
Last week we reported on the creation of a new position -- "dean of engaged learning" -- at Robert Morris University, and noted that many experts had never heard of such a position previously. At least one other university has made a similar move, however. Fairfield University this month announced that Elizabeth Boquet, professor of English and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield, has been tapped to serve as the first dean of academic engagement.

Making student engagement official


The Evidence on Online Education: It’s the Design, Not the Medium -- from The Other 85% by Michael J. Offerman, EdD, Vice Chairman, Capella University

As stated by Inside Higher Ed, reporting on a newly released meta-analysis of research by the U. S. Department of Education, “online learning has definite advantages over face-to-face instruction when it comes to teaching and learning.”  Wow—this is what those of us involved in online learning have been arguing for some time in the face of strong biases that face-to-face was clearly superior.  So, this is very good news.

But, we need to delve into the details to get a better understanding of what lies under this conclusion.  And, to acknowledge that the Department researchers express concern about the lack of research comparing face-to-face, blended, and purely online education, especially at the K-12 level.

What the analysts determined is that, while online has advantages over face-to-face instruction, blended learning (a mix of face-to-face and online) has even more statistical advantage over face-to-face than purely online instruction has.  But, let’s not diminish the conclusion that purely online learning results in better learning outcomes than purely face-to-face learning. 

Why is there a difference?  What factors contributed to improved outcomes?  The students in online programs or courses spent more time on task than students in face-to-face programs or courses.  The online learning was made more active.  And, the more that online students were able to control when and how they used course media, the more pronounced the advantage over face-to-face instruction.  While the use of video or more media did not, in itself, make a difference, the use of simulations or other methods that allow the student to control when and how they interact with the media and content, with time for reflection on what they were learning, did make a difference.  The researchers defined “active” learning as that “in which the student has control of what and how he or she learns” and contrast it with “expository learning” where “content is transmitted to the student by lecture, written material, or other mechanisms.”





Engaging eLearning Essentials: Five Secrets and Three Surprises
-- Dr. Allison Rossett of San Diego State University and Antonia Chan of Amway Corporation



Designing Choreographies for the "New Economy of Attention" -- Eric Gordon, Emerson College, and
David Bogen, Rhode Island School of Design; original link from Kairosnews (A Weblog for Discussing Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy)

Comment on this in 6/23/09's Attention and distraction -- from George Siemens

"The battle for control of information and interaction has already been won by “the individual”. Organizations, governments, and universities that have not yet recognized this may continue to limp along for a while…but their current stance is not tenable."

From DSC:
I noticed the following resource from the following whitepaper:

Engaging with the new eLearning (PDF) by Allison Rossett and Antonia Chan; June 2008.

Kahn, W. A. 1990. Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work.
Academy of Management Journal 33(4): 692-724.


Engaging students in multimedia-mediated Constructivist learning – Students’ perceptions -- Neo, M., & Neo, T.-K. (2009). Engaging students in multimedia-mediated Constructivist learning – Students’ perceptions. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (2), 254–266.

Our findings provide strong support and encouragement for Malaysian educators to incorporate multimedia technology and constructivist learning into the classrooms for the enhancement of teaching and learning.


Items from Macquarie University - Australia's Innnovative University - Concerning Engagement

Engagement Streams As Course Portals -- from Gardner Writes
This podcast comes from a presentation Chip German and I did at the ELI 2009 Annual Meeting earlier this year. Here’s the session abstract:

What if course portals, typically little more than gateways to course activities and materials, became instead course catalysts: open, dynamic representations of “engagement streams” [emphasis DSC]. that demonstrate and encourage deep learning? The session will begin with case studies in enabling and designing such course portals, from both administrative and faculty perspectives. Participants will then form groups to imagine and design their own catalytic course portals. Finally, the presenters will discuss action steps that can lead to effective innovation at participants’ home institutions. Presentation resources, including a record of the participants’ design work, will be posted to an online collaborative space for continued discussion after the session.


Related item from George Siemens:

The psychology of attention lists numerous views (and research projects) on how attention works. Some contradictory information - see the “cocktail party effect” and “reading and writing multitasking”. Attention and multitasking is an important aspect of learning. I’m personally not convinced that we are very good at multitasking - I think we task switch rapidly, leaving the impression that we can multitask. We should be relying on existing research in the psychology of attention to inform our views of learning, memory, and multitasking. New technologies can be a bit deceptive, suggesting we are entering a brave new world… but they hardly overwrite several decades of research into the human brain.



Cyberchase -- from School Library Journal - Technology News
Math isn’t just a bunch of numbers or boring problems kids have to do as homework. Math, in fact, isn’t just a school thing—it's everywhere, and it can actually be a whole bunch of fun! Don’t believe me? Just spend time exploring the Cyberchase Web site and you, along with kids in grades 3–7, will be amazed at how exciting and entertaining math can be.

From DSC:
After growing up with interactive, educational tools like Cyberchase, what's it gonna take to keep college students engaged?


Engage Your Learners By Mimicking the Real World -- from The Rapid eLearning Blog


New Technology Supporting Informal Learning -- from Half and Hour blog, by Stephen Downes
We often talk about games, simulations and other events in learning, but these technologies support only episodic learning. Equally important are those technologies that provide a context for these learning episodes, an environment where students and interact and converse among themselves. This paper described experimentation in the development of distributed online courses and in software - particularly, the personal learning environment - that support the formation of connections between the far-flung pieces of such courses. This work, in turn, is suggesting and supporting the model of learning described in the first section, that of a course network supporting and informing an ever-shifting set of course episodes. This in turn suggests a pedagogy of participation rather than retention [emphasis DSC], and even suggests distributed and locally-based forms of evaluation and assessment. Future developments will focus on realizing these concepts as software or at least software prototypes. The intent of such systems is to to facilitate the conversation and interaction around episodic learning events in a distributed environment, transforming them from elements in a linear flow-based design to free-floating objects in an environment.

Quotes from above item:

Second, learners themselves are changing [emphasis DSC]. There has been much discussion in recent years about the rise of the 'digital native' or of the 'net generation'. It has even been suggested that our interactions with modern communication technologies change the way we think. Even if we reject such descriptions as students as overly broad and inaccurate generalizations - and there is good reason for doing so - it is nonetheless the case that the needs, capabilities and interests of the target audience is rapidly shifting and changing [emphasis DSC]. As much as it is tempting to say that human nature is unchanging, it appears nonetheless the same that human experience is endlessly varied, resulting in any number of approaches to media in general and learning in particular. A child raised on text alone will think and learn differently from a child raised on cartoons or a child raised on Facebook. (Peters, 2006)

In part, our best response to the variability and complexity of the subject matter along with the changing nature of the learner is to design systems that are decentralized, to push learning decisions down the hierarchy or out to the edges of the network. (Wiley & Edwards, 2002) This logic, which is characterizing not only new learning but also new approaches to business and management (Malone, 2004), is based on the idea that those who are closest to the situation are in the best position to make decisions about it. In the military, this means that company commanders, and not generals, must make tactical decisions. In business, this means that salespeople and customer service representatives must determine marketing policy. And in learning, this means students must be empowered to make their own learning decisions [emphasis DSC]. This is the basis for the models and strategies that characterize what has come to be called informal learning. (Cross, 2006)

But there is in addition a second and critical aspect to this wider environment of conversation and interaction. It is not merely to create a network into which to situate episodic learning, but rather, to create a network that learns and thus adapts and reshapes itself based on those conversations and interactions [emphasis DSC]. (Downes, 2007)

Comment from George Siemens re: above posting by Stephen Downes
...Stephen Downes explores new technology and informal learning (in a paper for an upcoming conference in Portugal). He makes a statement that is important for instructional designers to consider: “Learning networks capture an essential element in learning today, the simple fact that we don’t know what we want to teach.” [emphasis DSC] The difficulty, of course, is that much of our current education model embodies the opposite view. Through curriculum boards, advisory committees, and government initiated programs, education is cast as a method to teach what we know to be important. What happens when we face complex problems that do not yet have an answer? [emphasis DSC] We don’t have to look very far down the corridors of higher education. The classroom is a model that communicates what is known; the lab, in contrast, is a model that explores what is not yet known. Learning in complex environments (or where existing knowledge is applied in new contexts) requires the educational enterprise to adopt exploratory approaches. From the classroom to the lab…



Threshold Magazine: Spring 2009
This issue of Threshold: Exploring the Future of Education features articles focused on learning in a participatory culture, produced in partnership with MIT Project New Media Literacies. Example article: What is Learning in a Participatory Culture? Cable’s Leaders in Learning Award winner Erin Reilly looks at how educators are learning how to engage today’s digital kids to share and distribute knowledge within learning communities.



Tune In April 20: Solutions in Action Series--Reaching and Engaging Today's Learners -- from Educause
Today's students are growing up amidst exponential technological change. Ubiquitous computing and mobile devices allow them to operate in a type of third dimension, where face-to-face interactions are supplemented by an "always on" connection to virtual content and social networks. How are our classrooms evolving to fully leverage the ways today's students are accessing content and constructing knowledge?

Join us April 20 for this special, one-hour Solutions in Action webcast, "Reaching and Engaging Today's Learner," as part of the EDUCAUSE Top Teaching and Learning Challenges, 2009, to learn how institutions are leveraging technology to reach and engage today’s learners. Each webcast features a lightning round of five-minute presentations from community members sharing how their campus is facing the challenge. No registration is required and each session will be hosted online in Adobe Connect, giving participants an opportunity to interact with speakers and each other.

Our brilliant kids are bored -- from Education IT by Christopher Dawson

From DSC:

This is what concerns me the most about the next few years...students from K-20 may become less engaged unless we change things up. We may need to provide more engaging, multimedia-based, interactive, online-based materials that give students more control and more choices.


From DSC, I just saw this today:
Hyper and Deep Attention:  The Generational Divide in Cognitive Modes -- from Kate Hayles

Related posting: and Learn Prezi

"Create a map of your ideas, images, videos, then show overview, zoom to details, amaze, convince, take the day. And it is very simple to use."

Related posting:

Caspian Learning; Game Based Learning 2009 -- from eLearning Blog // Don't Waste Your Time ... by David Hopkins
Graeme Duncan (CEO, Caspian Learning) discussing the explosion of the 3D web and the opportunities for developing games across social network platforms such as Facebook. I’ve been in discussion with Caspian Learning about their soon-to-be-released version of Caspian Authoring Tool education licence; the idea being that we, the educators, can build our own fully-functioning ‘game’ - [...]

Caspian Learning's Rapid 3D Development Tool


Student Engagement and Technology in the Classroom -- from TechTicker by Mike Bogle

Related posting:
Podcast: Morris W. Beverage Jr. - Today's Clash of Cultures on Campuses and the Role IT Needs to Play -- from EDUCAUSE CONNECT - Teaching and Learning by gbayne
This hour and three minute podcast features a keynote address by Morris W. Beverage Jr., President of Lakeland Community College. The speech, "Today's Clash of Cultures on Campuses and the Role IT Needs to Play," was delivered at the NERCOMP 2009 Conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

Campuses today face a growing number of clashing cultures. Faculty struggle with traditional methods of teaching in an environment where demands for flexibility and convenience are rising. Learners increasingly treat a college degree like a commodity. Battles rage over resource allocation. External constituents exert influence on campus operations and outcomes. This session addresses these issues and the role IT departments need to play to help higher education not just survive, but thrive.


Immunization for an Uninteresting Curriculum Found at the iSchool -- from The Innovative Educator by

Here I sit in this boring class
Oh how slowly the time does pass
A wasted hour every day
Doing busy work, but receiving no pay.

-- Excerpt from a poem lnielsen wrote in science class at age 14

As I shared in my first post when I launched this blog, the primary reason I began working in education was to address the issues of boredom and irrelevance which I had experienced in schools. This is my constant reminder as I see other kids like me who are literally bored to tears in class. My teachers, some who threatened to quit if I were to remain in their classes, had to deal with kids like me who screamed out in Marc Prensky-fashion, “Engage Me or Enrage Me!!!” I demanded my teachers make class relevant, stimulating, fun. Unfortunately back then such spirited outbursts usually fell on deaf ears or landed me in the principal’s office. Alternatives were sparse as there was little opportunity for my voice to be heard. Today, as Sir Kenneth Robinson shares, kids like me would fall victim to a more current epidemic…the rate of children who are diagnosed (and prescribed medication for) ADD/ADHD. His opinion is that students are being diagnosed and drugged to cope with an uninteresting curriculum. I agree and provide for you a prescription to treat kids suffering from the uninteresting curriculum syndrome…

NYC iSchool -- a new screened high school in New York; original link from above posting

Comment from DSC:
This is one of my biggest fears about the future for educators in K-12 and at the collegiate level. Will we face an uphill battle of keeping our students' interests if we don't change our game? The game they are growing up with is very different then ours was...and this is not in our control. What is a bit more in our control is how we will react to this situation. The word "engage" will become a key goal for us I believe.


10 Commandments of Lecturing -- from by Rob Weir
Rob Weir offers advice on what to do and what not to do to keep your students engaged.

From DSC: There's that word again..."engaged"...something that, in my estimation, is going to get harder and harder to do as the weeks/months/years roll by.


Ten Steps to Better Student Engagement -- from
Project-learning teaching strategies can also improve your everyday classroom experience.


NCTE defines writing for the 21st century
New report offers guidance on how to update writing curriculum to include blogs, wikis, and other forms of communication, from, by Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor
The prevalence of blogs, wikis, and social-networking web sites has changed the way students learn to write, according to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)--and schools must adapt in turn by developing new modes of writing, designing new curricula to support these models, and creating plans for teaching these curricula. "It's time for us to join the future and support all forms of 21st-century literacies, [both] inside ... and outside school," said Kathleen Blake Yancey, a professor of English at Florida State University, past NCTE president, and author of a new report titled "Writing in the 21st Century."


Robinson, C., Hullinger, H. (2008). New Benchmarks in Higher Education: Student Engagement in Online Learning. Journal of Education for Business, 84 (2), 101-109. Academic Search Premier database.

Quote from Kathy Boyle (2009), Capella University:

I felt there were three points that are important for instructional designers:

(1) “asynchronous networks allow the learner more time to think critically and reflectively, stimulating analysis, synthesis, judgment and application”;

(2) “multichannel communication through visuals, print, and virtual experiences promote thinking”; and

(3) "learning communities that are available in the online classrooms are really communities of inquiry to advance mental thinking”. (Robinson, 2008)


Blackboard Learn

Blackboard 9 - Now Open for Engagement.

This is another topic that keeps me up at night -- engagement. How are we going to keep our students engaged when they have grown up surrounded by rich, professionally-done media? Media that was created by 100's of people...*teams* of people.


Caspian Learning


Director of Digital Engagement

Using photography to engage students -- from ActivEducator Blog from Promethean Planet by Lomarah


“Without making this change to embrace the technology that the students are so familiar with, we're going to lose
students and lose their interest,” says Mark Parker, Dean, Bass School of Music, Oklahoma City University. View the video.

Engage your students.


MAthematics more engaging with computers -- from Educational Origami by andrewch
Computerworld has reported that a recent study has shown that 10year olds are more engaged and have more fun learning maths while using computers.


Flow of Experience

Image from this report (pg. 10)


Engaging the Digital Generation -- from Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas
In today’s digital world, most students come to school computer and technology savvy. With their iPods, iPhones, computer games, MySpace pages, and text messaging, they routinely use multimedia and internet resources in their daily lives. Technology development has also resulted in widespread change in the way students learn. To keep students fully engaged, schools must adapt to this new and rapidly changing environment. They must embrace the potential of new technologies and make optimum use of the digital devices and connections that are prevalent today to make learning vibrant and stimulating for all (p. 2).

The Vision
We envision schools where all children succeed, feel safe and their curiosity is cultivated. We see
schools that foster a sense of belonging and community and that inspire collaboration. We see
learning standards that challenge, and intentionally designed experiences that delight students,
develop their confidence and competence, and cause every child to value tasks that result in
learning. Ultimately, we see schools and related venues that prepare all children for many choices
and that give them the tools and attitudes to contribute to our democratic way of life and live
successfully in a rapidly changing world.



Learning Futures: Next Practice in Learning and Teaching - front cover of bookletLearning Futures: Next Practice in Learning and Teaching -- from innovation
The Learning Futures: Next Practice in Learning and Teaching booklet sets out the reasons why innovation in pedagogy is needed in order to inspire young people, and enable all of them confidently to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. It argues that some key emergent (and some well-known) practices, taken together, might transform learners' (and teachers') experience of schooling. Learning Futures proposes a way of thinking about these approaches. It is offered both as a contribution to the increasingly urgent debate and it also issues an invitation to secondary schools wishing to develop and extend their work in this direction more profoundly, to engage with the Learning Futures project, commencing in 2008.



Purdue Center For Serious Games Opening -- from FUTURE-MAKING SERIOUS GAMES

Purdue Center for Serious Games

Today’s students, identified as the Gamer Generation (Beck & Wade, 2004) or as Digital Natives (Prensky, 2006), crave and expect engagement and interactivity. More and more, video games are becoming the popular medium with which these students engage. The increasing popularity of video games and the need for today’s students to be engaged with interactive instruction prompted the Federation of American Scientists (2006) to recently declare that video games can redefine education and call for additional research. In addition to video games for learning or “serious games”, the potential of immersive, digital, 3D environments for promoting engagement and collaboration is also being recognized. Multi-user virtual environment s(MUVEs) are becoming more and more mainstream as companies such as CNN, IBM, the NBA, as well as many colleges and universities, set up virtual representations of their organizations online. The MUVE Second Life is being used to hold conferences, meetings, job interviews and has over 9.6 million registered users, with Gartner Inc. estimating that by 2011, over 80 percent of active Internet users and major companies will have a virtual world presence online (Kitchen, 2007). for K-12

For the corporate world...


Academia tackles the future --
Technology is at the heart of a profound transformation in the attitudes and expectations of students. How are institutions adapting to this new paradigm?



Engage and prepare students -- from Adobe
Download our FREE, project-based curriculum guide — Visual Design: Foundations of Design and Print Production — developed specifically for teaching valuable career skills using Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Design Premium and Master Collection software. Curriculum includes instructor project guidelines, presentations, and reproducible student materials. Download individual projects or the entire curriculum.

Engage! Is All About Immersive & Engaging

Engage Expo 2009

Engaging Kids  |  Engaging Youth  |  Virtual Goods and Gifts





Attention 102: Attention Is A Market Place -- from Education Innovation by Robert Jacobs
If you are a teacher or a pastor, ATTENTION matters to you. Or at least it should. Take a look at Berkley professor Howard Rheingold's piece on attention.


The Future - The Era of Engagement -- from Tomorrow's Professor Blog
"As a result, blended learning has emerged as a major break-through to enhance both the quality of the teaching and learning transaction and the cost-effectiveness of designing blended learning courses."

Tomorrow's Professor Blog


The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything -- Ken Robinson

The Le@rning Federation charged with procuring, or if necessary developing educationally effective digital resources, specifically for Australian and New Zealand curriculum and making these available free to all teachers, students and parents within those countries with no further copyright remuneration payable.

The Learning Federation

    Also see their Phase Three reports, which include the following subset:

    • Sustaining supply of content for the digital education revolution (pdf, 328kB)

      Executive Summary
      The Digital Education Revolution has already begun, with teachers across Australia using digital curriculum content developed through the Ministers’ Le@rning Federation Initiative. This content is engaging and motivating students both inside and outside the classroom, re-engaging those at risk of dropping out, accelerating learning and supporting its personalisation.

      There is a growing confidence, articulated clearly by many teachers using Le@rning Federation content that it is revolutionising teaching and learning. Students in early years are better understanding concepts previously thought to be too difficult for their age group, Learning is being accelerated, students are motivated and engaged, and teachers can personalise learning in a classroom of thirty students. As a critical mass of digital content is developed, greater flexibility of schooling provision is enabled, whereby students can access their instruction anywhere, any time. Such impacts are what Ministers have hoped for.

    • Maximising the volume of accessible digital content (pdf, 713kB)

    • Online curriculum content investment agreement (2006–2008) (pdf, 285kB)

From DSC:
Australia is one of the leading edge nations in terms of integrating technology into their classrooms.


The Le@rning Federation - Sustaining Supply of Content for the Digital Education Revolution

Executive Summary
The Digital Education Revolution has already begun, with teachers across Australia using digital curriculum content developed through the Ministers’ Le@rning Federation Initiative. This content is engaging and motivating students both inside and outside the classroom, re-engaging those at risk of dropping out, accelerating learning and supporting its personalisation.

There is a growing confidence, articulated clearly by many teachers using Le@rning Federation content that it is revolutionising teaching and learning. Students in early years are better understanding concepts previously thought to be too difficult for their age group, Learning is being accelerated, students are motivated and engaged, and teachers can personalise learning in a classroom of thirty students. As a critical mass of digital content is developed, greater flexibility of schooling provision is enabled, whereby students can access their instruction anywhere, any time. Such impacts are what Ministers have hoped for.


Apple that one -- from Karl Kapp
He spoke a great deal about the disconnect between student technology expectations and the technology available in community college and university classrooms. He spoke about students feeling that walking into a classroom was like boarding an airplane where all the technology is turned off for the duration of the flight (or classroom). He indicated technology can be better integrated into the classroom. While it may seem a bit self-serving, I think it is wonderful that a major technology company is focusing on education.

Educause T&L Challenges

After four months of spirited discussion, the EDUCAUSE teaching and learning community has voted on the, “Top Teaching and Learning Challenges, 2009.”The final list for 2009, ranked by popularity, includes:

  1. Creating learning environments that promote active learning, critical thinking, collaborative learning, and knowledge creation.  
  2. Developing 21st-century literacies among students and faculty (information, digital, and visual).
  3. Reaching and engaging today's learner.
  4. Encouraging faculty adoption and innovation in teaching and learning with IT.
  5. Advancing innovation in teaching and learning (with technology) in an era of budget cuts.

From DSC:
Regarding engagement, you haven't seen anything yet -- wait 3-5 years from now!


Engaging today's learners: Making Library Instruction and Outreach Dynamic -- from Educause


From DSC:
Speaking of engagement, check out one the Learning and Engagement category

A Journey into Time Immemorial

Time Immemorial

Time Immemorial


From Angela Maiers


Funderstanding -- my thanks to Sonja Irlbeck and for Capella University for this link

"We believe that education is best when people are actively engaged with the topic they are learning. provides information for educators, corporate trainers, and students from all fields and of all ages. Our goal is to help you improve the quality of education you provide or receive."

New Westwood online teaching program to aid ‘at-risk’ students 12/28/08 -- from Dearborn Press & Guide
DEARBORN HEIGHTS: In an effort to reach out to more struggling students, the Westwood Community School District will launch Cyber School in January. The program, which focuses on at-risk high school students, will give teens a chance to learn at their own pace in a non-traditional environment.

"One of the beauties of the program is we can adjust to what their interests are to keep them engaged and meet the standards for learning," said Westwood's Glen Taylor, who is leading the project.


David Yaskin at Bb World 08 -- my thanks to Dr. Kate Byerwalter at GRCC for this link
David Yaskin, CEO & Founder of Starfish Retention Solutions, presents at the "New Web 2.0 Technology Showcase" at BbWorld '08 on July 16, 2008. (Yaskin was one of the key heads for product development at Blackboard for many years, and is now at Starfish.)

David Yaskin at Bb World '08


Changing Expectations - Gen Y -- from Change and uncertainty: The making or the breaking of corporate learning and development -- by Clive Shepherd

Gen Y


The Future - The Era of Engagement -- from Chapter 8, "The Future - The Era of Engagement" in the book, Blended Learning in Higher Education, Framework, Principles, and Guidelines, by D. Randy Garrison and Norman D. Vaughan.

Higher education is shifting from a passive teacher-centered approach to a transactional collaborative approach. Three forces of change have been largely responsible for this transformation...
Most important, incentives are being put in place, and there is an increased adoption of blended designs by those in the mainstream of higher education. A critical mass of blended learning course designs serve as exemplars, having received the serious attention of leaders in higher education.


Minding the Engagement Gap -- from Angela Maiers
You can rarely have a conversation in education without hearing about some "gap", and we've got a lot of them: Achievement Gaps, Economic Gaps, Technology Gaps, Knowledge Gaps, Gender Gaps, and the list goes on... But, who minds the Engagement Gap?

Related links:


The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On -- from Stephen Downes; some key quotes listed below

Microsoft Word version of this essay here.

As learning evolves slowly from a classroom-based and deliver-based type of instruction, and toward wide-ranging learning activities that are largely selected and managed by the students themselves, the dedication of space in schools to classroom instruction will be reduced. Instead, schools will be converted into meeting facilities, workrooms and laboratories, multimedia studios, and more. Specialized equipment, such as sound-proof recording studios and high-speed video editing equipment, will be made available. Libraries will evolve (in a transition that is happening today) into multimedia studios, where students engage with interactive media, games, and other types of content. VR rooms, such as the CAVE, will be constructed, emulating the simulation environments that police and military use today.

The Bottom Line
As I stated ten years ago, and as we see today, even though savings will not be as great as anticipated, it will be necessary for institutions to offer their courses online - and sooner, rather than later - because the costs of not doing so are too great.

Distance learning institutions, such as Athabasca University and the University of Phoenix, are beginning to cut into traditional student bodies. It is becoming necessary for traditional institutions to accommodate more students with existing resources, which means that the pressures to take advantage of the potential savings offered by technology, which were not so great before, are now mounting.

Even more to the point, all educational institutions are facing their greatest competition from their students themselves. This is especially the case in nations where college and university degrees can be obtained only by a moneyed elite. A determined population of ambitious, talented and self-sufficient students can educate themselves, creating their own community, their own professions, their own future. We are seeing this unfold before our eyes, if we would only look.

The Future
Today, and for the last century, education has been practiced in segregated buildings by carefully regimented and standardized classes of students led and instructed by teachers working essentially alone.

Over the last ten years, this model has been seen in many quarters to be obsolete. We have seen the emergence of a new model, where education is practiced in the community as a whole, by individuals studying personal curricula at their own pace, guided and assisted by community facilitators, online instructors and experts around the world.

Though today we stand at the cusp of this new vision, the future will see institutions and traditional forms of education receding gradually, reluctantly, to a tide of self-directing and self-motivated learners.
This will be the last generation in which education is the practice of authority, and the first where it becomes, as has always been intended by educators, an act of liberty.


From DSC:
School districts, colleges and universities throughout the world need to be careful with the number of monkeys being placed on the backs of their teachers and faculty members. The other day I was reading a posting about the "solution" to having K-12 teachers be more effective at integrating technologies into their classrooms. The solution was to offer more training, especially sustained training. To me, this isn't the solution. Many teachers and professors did not grow up with these concern with this approach is that I wonder how long before many of these same folks:

  • Feel overwhelmed or frustrated?
  • Feel like they just don't have all of the tools and talents to do everything that's being asked of them? (and by the way, no one does!)
  • Start to not want to go to work like they used to?
  • Loose interest in teaching in this new "Information Age"?

Perhaps not everyone is as enamored with technology as those of us in the worlds of Instructional Technology / Instructional Design / IT / Systems / etc. So we need to find other solutions to the issue, as it seems like we are trying to put square pegs in round holes. It just doesn't work...and if it is forced to work, you end up shredding parts of the pegs in the process. As Covey (1990) would say, "Don't kill the Golden Goose". create and deliver engaging content will require TEAMS of people. If this can't work into the current educational systems of today, then the current systems need to change, not the other way around. This is not farfetched, as many of the technologies to allow this to occur are already in place.

PREDICTION: Even in 10-20 years, as the current students are graduating and moving into teaching jobs, they will still need TEAMS of people. They'll be able to wear a lot more hats that are currently being worn (only because they grew up with these technologies and don't need to be sold on the benefits of using them), but they won't be able to wear all of the required hats. No one has all the time, gifts and talents that are necessary.

Do you need some evidence of this? Look at the credits of a quality film -- educational or otherwise -- and you will see a looooooonnnnnggggg list of people who created that film --producers, directors, writers, actors/actresses, animators, audio engineers, videographers, etc. Eventually, as the bar continues to rise, teams of people will be needed in order to create engaging, multimedia-based, interactive content.

Listed below are the 4 main tracks listed below for next summer's NMC 2009 Conference -- can ANYONE know/do/implement all of this? And this is just a small fraction of all the potential topics that we could talk about!

The 4 main tracks for the New Media Consortium's Summer 2009 Conference

Applications of Emerging Technologies
This track features sessions that explore the newest technologies applied to learning, communication, and creative expression, especially ones featured in the Horizon Report. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
  • The potential of digital storytelling
  • Educational applications for mobile devices
  • New forms of scholarship and emerging forms of publication
  • Web 2.0 applications
  • Social networking and collaboration in higher education
  • Strategies for incorporating user-generated content in institutional media and Web sites
  • Context-aware environments and devices
  • Immersive learning experiences and spaces
  • New media applications for advancing global humanitarian efforts
  • New media applications delivered over high performance networks
  • Planning and delivery of new media applications for the health and life sciences
Best Practices
This track is an opportunity to highlight successful projects, practices, or responses to emerging challenges and issues. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
  • Supporting the research mission
  • Podcasting and use of audio
  • Video production and delivery
  • Educational gaming
  • Examples of new scholarship
  • Supporting and working with faculty or curatorial staff
  • Addressing accessibility
  • Evaluating the impact of technology on teaching and learning
  • Integrating pedagogy and technology
  • Live performances and Internet2
  • Course management systems
Digital Stories and New Approaches to Content
This track will explore digital storytelling and encourages sessions that cover the art and mechanics of digital storytelling and provides a showcase for the ways in which digital storytelling is impacting teaching and learning. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
  • Teaching with digital stories
  • Community-based digital story projects
  • Integration of digital storytelling into curriculum
  • Collaborative storytelling projects
  • Best practices for teaching story telling methods
  • Approaches for teaching digital story production
  • Hardware and software for digital story creation
  • Web-based storytelling
Tools and Techniques
This track focuses on how to best use the latest software and tools for teaching and learning, including sneak peeks at the newest tools, tips and tricks for using old favorites. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
  • 3D and animation techniques
  • New media tools and applications
  • Video production and digital compositing
  • Open Source projects (e.g. Almagest, Sakai, Steve, Connexions, Pachyderm)
  • Web 2.0 applications
  • Mobile delivery of educational content
  • Demonstrations of new software from key NMC corporate partners
  • New techniques involving established software
  • 2D animation and motion graphics


Or take another example...

Do you think Joshua Thurbee (in this clip from brightstorm) did everything on his own to produce his courses?



Covey, S. (1990). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press.

The New Media Literacies
-- from the New Media Consortium (NMC)
"This short video featuring members of MIT's Project New Media Literacies (NML) "discuss the social skills and cultural competencies needed to fully engage with today's participatory culture." Edited in a modern graphic format, it quickly highlights what is "new" about new media literacy."

Elliott Masie's Learning Wiki


New Report Profiles Role of 'Visionary Administrators' in Bridging the Digital Disconnect in Schools -- from Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. and Project Tomorrow released a report highlighting the emergence of "visionary administrators," a new breed of school superintendents and principals who are leveraging new technologies to meet the learning goals and preferences of increasingly tech-savvy students. Like the students they serve, visionary administrators championed the use of technology, including Web 2.0 tools, blogs and wiki entries, to expand the reach of the classroom and more effectively engage students. Read more.



Kevin Prentiss Talks with Talis about Swift Kick and student engagement in education
"We discuss Swift Kick’s work to increase student engagement, and consider the ways in which traditional models of education are being disrupted both by providers of new technology and by the students themselves."



online learning, writing, and student engagement -- from


2008 National Survey of Student Engagement Results -- link/idea from
The online edition of the NSSE 2008 Results is now available:

NSSE 2008 Results

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) documents dimensions of quality in undergraduate education and provides information and assistance to colleges, universities, and other organizations to improve student learning. Its primary activity is annually surveying college students to assess the extent to which they engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development.


Emerging Tech Challenges -- from
(From 50 IT Leaders at Campus Technology's 2008 Executive Summit) Response to the question "Who do you think is primarily pushing new technologies in higher education?" revealed students as the drivers (44%).


From DSC: This has been my theory/hunch but also my concern all along.

Won't students come to expect that all sorts of technologies will be available to them in their
institutions of higher education if they've grown up using them during K-12?
We're just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg here.

What's at stake? How engaged students are in their learning!



What are the challenges surrounding the deployment of emerging technologies?


Bottom Line
What were participants' "top challenges" overall?

Prediction from DSC:
Given the current strategies, org charts, institutional setups, policies, and incentive systems, the digital divide
will continue to grow until the students become the professors.
This is not to put the blame on faculty members
or on anyone else; it's merely to say that the way things are currently set up is not working to reduce this digital divide.



Mashups, Remixes, and Video Culture: Engaging the YouTube Generation in the Classroom -- from Educause
Undergraduate video creation at American University, Dartmouth College, and University of Pennsylvania engages students from a campus-wide mashup contest to courses in several disciplines where videos replace research papers. New-media assignments have ramifications for copyright and fair use, for viral marketing, and for best practices in media education.

From DSC:
The organization that the rest of higher ed should (or will) be concerned about is the one who can:

  • Offer the same information in 4-5 different but engaging ways -- for example in a textual/graphical format, an audio-based format, a video-based format, and/or by using educational games and simulations
  • Offer their courses at 1/2 off the normal price (which, therefore will probably be online as it is far less expensive to add some more servers than it is to build a whole new facility)
  • Provide means to communicate to a "live person" in multiple ways on a 24x7x(close to)365 basis
  • Meet the needs of the traditional and non-traditional student

Such an organization will be a tough foe to beat, but such an organization is coming...and it may be sooner than we think. To create effective online learning is expensive...but once you create it, you can offer it again and again and again and, the tools to communicate via web-based audio- and video-conferencing are already in place. The technology is here. Such an organization just needs to be built.


From DSC:
Up on the soapbox
My take on things? It’s not working. The whole educational system is quickly becoming outdated and unable to keep up with the quickening pace of change and the rising bar of students’ expectations. Speaking of expectations, we in the higher ed world have some expectations that are no longer feasible, given the changes that have been and still are occurring.

That is, colleges and universities expect their faculty members to:

  • Know their disciplines
  • Keep up with the latest news and developments within their disciplines
  • Teach classes
  • Meet with students to help them along with their learning as well as to advise them
  • Create engaging content and exercises
  • Adjust their courses for an ever-changing set of students (demographically-speaking)
  • Develop fair, challenging and appropriate assessments
  • Do their research
  • Publish their findings
  • Modify their courses along the way as necessary
  • Manage TA's
  • Chair departments
  • Take part in various committees and projects

    but also to

  • Keep up with an ever-increasing pace of technological change; often this means trying to find the patience to listen to those pesky folks from IT knocking on the door again and probably thinking to themselves, "What is it this time?!" or "How long will this one last?!"
  • Be interested in learning about, and then using, such technologies
  • Find ways to meet rising student expectations while keeping students engaged and motivated to learn. This is not a small task! Students have increasingly grown up around a media-rich environment and are used to extremely well-done --but costly to produce -- media.
  • Effectively implement teaching with technology into various teaching environments -- face-to-face, hybrid, or online classrooms and to do so with command of the various – and every changing – tools and technologies coming down the pike (here's just one illustration of that).

That is a lot to ask any one faculty member or teacher to do!

Not surprisingly, the majority of faculty members at colleges and universities are not able to do it all by themselves. Granted, there are some exceptions within higher ed as well as within the K-12 environment. For example, take the work being done by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams. These two chemistry teachers at Woodland Park High School in Colorado have turned the normal ways of teaching and learning on their heads by implementing technologies relating to podcasting. Now their students listen to their lectures at home and come prepared to do their hands-on work and ask questions in their face-to-face classrooms. Students are more in control of their learning this way, as they engage with the materials with a bit more flexibility in terms of control – doing so on their own schedules and terms. They can fast forward through the parts they already know, and replay parts of the lectures that they do not understand. If questions come up, they can ask their teachers in class; thus, maximizing the value of their face-to-face time.

But overall, most teachers and faculty members are not technologically savvy enough to pull this off. It's not that they couldn't -- they are extremely bright people (and brighter than me that's for sure)! Yet the way most colleges and universities are set up, the expectations are that they will be able to do all of these things. Resources have been set up to help assist the faculty members, but lack of incentives as well as full job plates (as alluded to above) often keep faculty members on the sidelines here.

Meanwhile, some of the other relevant players -- such as those of us folks in the IT/technical areas -- are focused on sorting through the vast array of tools and technologies, separating the wheat from the chaff; and then trying to select, implement, train, and support the faculty members on the use of these technologies. We can not know the content of all of the disciplines that we support. So we are forced to become generalists, and generalists not only in technology, but also in areas that we get called into, such as: pedagogy, instructional design, graphic design, web design, systems administration, programming, copyright, interface design, media creation, plagiarism and many more systems-related projects.

So this is why I say that we need teams, as no one can do all the required pieces anymore!

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with change.
It leaves us with developing partnerships. It leaves us with inviting all of the necessary parties to the table (and making room for more parties as need be in the future). There are now many more seats to fill at the teaching and learning table. So some remodeling might be necessary to make room for some bigger tables.

It leaves us with faculty needing to let go of the steering wheels -- or at least allowing others to:

  • Drive somewhere along the journey
  • Relay directions from the passengers' front seat on which way the road is about to turn
  • Bring up a Mapquest- or AAA-type of service to see where the road constructions are ahead

It leaves us with creating better standards for sharing information, so any content management system can access any other system or learning objects repository-- worldwide. That content needs to be accessible 24x7x365. It needs to be playable on PCs, Macs, mobile devices and hopefully on the next generation of mobile communication devices most likely to come our way within the next 1-2 years.

It leaves us with figuring out how to pay and protect the people who created the materials -- even if it's just pennies per access/download.

It means that more campuses will need to create collaborative spaces where teams of people can get together and create content that will be standards-based (and will hopefully be playable for more than the next 5 years). I recommend personnel with:

  • Subject matter expertise
  • Instructional design experience
  • Digital storytelling skills (as people commit items to long-term memory via storytelling)
  • Project management experience
  • Graphic design backgrounds
  • Web design skills
  • Expertise in digital audio and/or digital video
  • Programming skill
  • Business relationship managements skills for working with other teams from publishers

Given the significant investments to create these sorts of teams and engaging content, a couple of key questions come up:

  • How can we afford to do this?
    I believe via the growth of consortiums and pooling our resources.

  • How long will that content be "playable"?
    Hmmm...I'm not sure...perhaps there will be groups devoted to converting learning objects from one format to another; sort of like taking media from an 8 track player to a cassette to a CD to a DVD to a...

It also leaves us with constantly scanning the future for what's coming down the pike -- using the tools that Gary Marx (2006) discusses in his book, Future Focused Leadership:

  • A modified Delphi Process:
    • Use groups of advisors/councils -- community leaders, gov’t, business, educators, etc.
    • Tap into the genius of people; listen to people; incorporate their ideas (which increases ownership)
  • Scenario planning, which includes:
    • Looking at what we would like to have happen and then try to figure out how to create that future
    • Looking at the plausible pictures of our futures, which makes the "elephants in the room" visible; helps us deal w/ those things we "just don’t talk about"
  • Trend analysis
  • Environmental scans
  • PEST (political, economic, social, and technological factors) Analysis – or some prefer to say STEP Analysis
  • STEEPV (social, technological, economic, environmental, political and values) Analysis
  • STEEPED (social, technological, economic, environmental, political, educational, and demographic) Analysis
  • Gap Analysis: What’s ideal? What’s reality? Where are we now? What do we need to do to get there?
  • Root cause, defining moments, historical analysis
  • Flexibility/innovation analysis
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) Analysis
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Competitive Analysis

When will things really change?

  • When a Wal-Mart of education (or open education?) comes along and clobbers everyone else.
  • When the boards convene only to see yet another year of shrinking enrollments, and the question moving more to the forefronts of their thinking, "Where are so many of the current students going to get their educations?!"
  • When the pocketbooks get hit and tough budgetary conversations and decisions need to be made.
  • When layoffs appear on the horizon...and then potentially the closing of one's doors. (Yeh, I know, we've heard it for the last 10 years that 1/2 of the universities and colleges won't be in existence anymore...well, that hasn't happened...but that doesn't mean it won't happen. In my career, which has been heavily involved with disruptive technologies, things just take time. Here at Calvin College, there are many things going for us, and numerous areas are going well here; so I'm not saying that the doors are going to close here. However, I can't say the same for all institutions of higher ed out there.)

Ok...I'll step down from my soapbox now...thanks for listening.

Addendum: A possibly-related posting from Robin Good
(I say possibly for two reasons: 1) Because some teams in the future will meet virtually while other teams will meet face-to-face, and 2) Because I didn't watch all of the videos so I can't speak to all of the content therein.)

PART I: Virtual Teams & The Bioteaming Approach - A Video Interview With Ken Thompson
PART II: Virtual Teams And The Bioteaming Approach - A Video Interview With Ken Thompson


Electronic Portfolios: Engaged Students Create Multimedia-Rich Artifacts -- byGail Ring, Barbara Weaver, and James H. Jones, Jr.


Examples/links prior to September 2008

From Interactive Multimedia Technology: INTERACTIVE MULTIMEDIA RESOURCES


....and more in the archives: 2008 / 2007