This is abstract from Brandi Leonard’s dissertation research:

Students in developmental writing courses and first-year composition courses struggle with the writing process. Individual instructional strategies have been insufficient to engage these students or build their self-confidences for further writing courses. The purpose of this study was to understand how students perceive a combination of three strategies, social networking, the writing process, and cooperative learning may help students to be successful with the prewriting phase of the writing process. The three research questions were (1) what are students’ perceptions of a social networking tool; (2) how do students perceive a social networking tool influences prewriting in cooperative groups; and (3) how do cooperative groups work together to prewrite? A combination of strategies together with a high level of student engagement may help to increase student success in developmental writing and first-year composition courses.

Nine students across four sections of writing courses agreed to participate in this qualitative inquiry. Data were collected from semi-structured interviews, social networking posts, observations, and a researcher-made handout, and data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Three themes emerged: Students perceived usefulness related to using a social netowrking tool, their behaviors, and positive results. Group interaction refleceted students’ positive interdependnece, individual accountability, group processing, social skills, and face-to-face interaction. Finally, knowledge representation was evident as it encapsulated the participants’ views on making their thinking visible and sharing ideas.

A discussion of the research questions integrated these findings. Students perceived a social networking tool to be valuable, beneficial to helping them learn, and an achive for their ideas. Students perceived a social networking tool to influence prewriting in cooperative groups by generating ideas, representing their contributions, and communications with group members. Finally, the participants’ perceptions and observations revealed that working together in cooperative groups to prewrite reflected the five elements of cooperation. Implications for practice with writing instructions, limitations of the current study, and implications for further research about timeframes, participants, and challenges are provided.

via University of Memphis ETD System.

The completed dissertation research file (in PDF) can be downloaded from the University of Memphis Electronic Theses and Dissertations system.

This is Suha Tamim’s dissertation research

The purpose of this study was to explore how health education professionals create ehealth and mhealth education interventions. Three research questions led this qualitative study. The first research question focused on the use of learning theories, instructional models, and instructional design models. The second research question focused on the use of elearning and mlearning design principles. The third research question focused on the use of health behavior theories and models. Twelve health professionals selected for their involvement in the creation of ehealth and mhealth education interventions participated in this study.

The themes emerging from the research questions showed a variability in how the participants used education theories and models, principles of elearning and mlearning design, and health behavior and health education theories and models to create ehealth and mhealth interventions. On education theories and models, the participants used elements of instructional design (i.e., analysis, design, evaluation) but did not use any specific instructional design model. Moreover, they invested efforts in creating instructional strategies that reflected instructional models of different learning theories but did not specify particular models or theories. Four themes emerged on the instructional strategies they used in the interventions: (1) connections to behaviorist approaches to learning, (2) connections to cognitivist approaches to learning, (3) connections to constructivist approaches to learning, and (4) unspecified learning theories. On the use of elearning design principles, seven patterns emerged: (1) interaction, (2) learner control, (3) provision of help, (4) use of multimedia, (5) engagement, (6) user friendliness, and (7) visual appeal. On the use of health behavior theories and models, three themes emerged (1) no use of health behavior theory or model, (2) use of a mix of health behavior theories or models, and (3) use of a particular health behavior theory or model.

The variability of the findings and the resulting themes suggested implications for practice and further research. These implications concern all health professionals creating ehealth and mhealth interventions as well as scholars in the field of instructional design and health education and heath behavior. The implications and limitations of the study were also discussed.

via University of Memphis ETD System.

The complete dissertation research file (in PDF) can be downloaded from the University of Memphis Electronic Theses and Dissertations system.

To all UofM IDT students:
I hope this message finds you well, and that you have had a great summer so far!  We are quickly closing in on the Fall Semester, and the IDT program will be hosting a mandatory meeting for all IDT students.  This meeting will include an advising session with your advisor, and will also include relevant information about upcoming IDT events.  We encourage you to attend in person, but if you need to connect remotely, we will be using Adobe Connect. Child care will be provided. Here are more details about the event:

Saturday, August 25th (First day of classes), 9:30am-11:30am

Meeting topics:
AECT information
Studio Information
General information: (review fall and spring schedules; review degree sheets, discuss key class criteria)
IDT Graduate Student Association Information
Individual advising sessions with assigned advisors.

Students, please use the following link to complete a general information form by August 10th so that we can better organize the event:

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I thought I would share this information graphic (infographic) that provides quite a bit of demographic details into the teachers of our children.  I hope you enjoy.

And if you are a teacher (and that includes college faculty members, Sunday School/religion teachers, homeschooling parents), then I salute you, and say, “Thank you for your commitment and desire to impact our children and our future.”

Teachers are Heroes Infographic
Brought to you by USC Rossier Online
Master’s in Teaching

Below is an announcement for all folks interested qualitative research and analyzing qualitative data.  This invitation is provided by AERA SIG-IT and the current Chair, Brian Belland.  You do not need to be a member of SIG-IT to attend.  I also encourage you to share this information out with others.

Dear Colleagues,

As the inaugural webinar in what we hope to be an exciting and useful SIG-IT webinar series, Stacy Penna will be covering how to use NVIVO ( to analyze qualitative data. This will be Wednesday, May 16 at 12 pm EDT. Please save the date on your calendars. Information on how to connect to the webinar is below.   Please send this link to other colleagues, departments or students who might want to join

Please note that you do need to register before connecting.

Brian Belland


NVivo 9 Webinar for AERA SIG Instructional Technology
Date: May 16
Time: 12 PM EDT
Registration Link:

After you register an email will be sent to you with instructions on how to join.

GoToWebinar General Information:

  • To attend a GoToWebinar session, you will need access to the internet and a phone with a speaker or a computer with VoIP that has speakers and a microphone. NVivo software does not need to be downloaded to your computer.
  • GoToWebinar sessions are web based meetings where our software will be shown on your computer, while you are provided an explanation through a teleconference call.
  • At least 10 minutes before the meeting starts, click on the GoToWebinar link that was emailed to you when you registered. The Citrix GoToWebinar website will make sure your computer is ready for the meeting by downloading the appropriate software required by their meeting manager. This can take anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes.
  • If you would like Download: Getting Started with NVivo 9 for more information about the software. The link is below.

I wanted to let everyone know that I will be participating in the Institute for Intelligent Systems “Speed Date” program this Friday.  I was invited to present about the research and projects I am currently working on, so I plan to talk about

Here’s the info for the Speed Date.  I hope you’ll plan to attend:

2nd Speed Date of the Institute for Intelligent Systems
Friday May 4, 4PM-5PM in the Methodist Theater of the FedEx Institute of Technology (ground floor)

Confirmed speakers include Bonny Banerjee (IIS / Electrical & Computer Engineering), Eugene Buder (Communication Science and Disorders), Usef Faghihi and Xiangen Hu (Psychology), Michael Grant (Instructional Design and Technology), Chip Morrison (Center for Research in Educational Policy), Phil Pavlik (IIS / Psychology), Deb Tollefsen (Philosophy)


2012 Student Poster Session of the Institute for Intelligent Systems Student Organization (IISSO)
Friday May 4, 5PM-7PM in the Fogelman Center

(drinks and hors d’oeuvres served)


The IIS speed date is an excellent opportunity to learn about the interdisciplinary research at the Institute for Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis. In one hour you will get a flavor of the various research projects that IIS affiliates are currently involved in. The purpose of the speed date is just that: a matchmaking research opportunity.

The IISSO student poster session will provide another outstanding overview of the interdisciplinary research conducted in the IIS. Students from departments as diverse as Psychology, Computer Science, Engineering, Philosophy, Physics, Education, English, and Communication Science and Disorders will display their research on posters.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Renee Cogar (

In case you didn’t know, I am the co-editor for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning (IJPBL). IJPBL publishes academic articles on problem-based, project-based, and case-based learning in a variety of contexts, including medicine, k-12, and higher education. IJPBL is an open-access online journal, which means every article is freely downloadable.  In March, we released volume 6, a special issue on the international perspectives of PBL.  Our acceptance rate in 2011 was about 6%, which rivals some of the top-tiered and most respected journals in education.

Here are our stats from March:

In March 2012, Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning had 4913 full-text downloads. The most popular articles in March from all of our issues were :

Overview of Problem-based Learning: Definitions and Distinctions (788 downloads)

Goals and Strategies of a Problem-based Learning Facilitator (356 downloads)

When is PBL More Effective? A Meta-synthesis of Meta-analyses Comparing PBL to Conventional Classrooms (286 downloads)

One of the areas that I really ourselves at IJPBL is in feedback to authors.  I believe we provide excellent reviews and feedback to authors.  Even if we don’t publish a manuscript, we provide great feedback.

I’ve even had an article published in IJPBL, which highlights my work in project-based learning. 😉

Grant, M.M. (2011). Learning, beliefs, and products: Students’ perspectives with project-based learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 5(2), 37-69.

I hope you’ll give us a try for either a submission for your work or consider using one of the articles in a course, such as a required reading.

Recently, my university moved from an self-served Exchange email system to Microsoft Live for Edu.  With the new email, we also received integrated Microsoft Skydrive, which offers 7 Gigabytes of free cloud storage. (I am told some folks are able to upgrade for free to 20 Gb of storage.  I’m not that lucky yet.)

I also just learned from the Office in Education blog that SkyDrive integrates with Microsoft Office’s web apps.  So now it’s possible to embed Powerpoint presentations directly into your website, blog, wiki, or Desire2Learn course while keeping the files native to Powerpoint. I typically use for slide decks, but I like the idea that I could Skydrive slide decks for online courses, if needed, and have it work a lot like Dropbox. This certainly could be convenient. (I also understand that you can begin to edit Powerpoint presentations inside the browser and inside SkyDrive, but I haven’t got there yet.)

Here’s how

When you’re in SkyDrive, choose your public folder (#1).  In order for embeds to work, they can only be used in Public spaces. Then go ahead and choose “Add files” (#2). Find your Powerpoint file on your hard drive and upload it into SkyDrive.

I uploaded a file called “title-slide.” Select your file (#3) by checking the box to the left.  Then choose “Embed” from the menu on the right (#4). Note: My process depicted here is on a Mac within Firefox browser. On the Office in Education blog, Jennifer notes that she has to open the “Sharing” menu on the right to see “Embed.” This may be a difference between Mac v. Windows, versions of SkyDrive, and different browsers.  So, just check yours. 🙂

In the pop-up window, select the “Generate” button to create the HTML embed code (#5). The HTML code, beginning with <iframe src= , should appear. Copy this with your keyboard command, either Control+C or Command+C (#6). When you’re done with this window, you can close it with the “Done” button (#7).

Now you’re ready to paste the embed code into your web page. Using the keyboard, either Control+V or Command+V, paste the embed into the appropriate space. I’ve provide a couple of common examples below.  The first image is from PBWorks. In PBWorks, I have to use the Plugin option and choose to “Insert HTML.” Because the embed code is actual HTML code, you will need to insert this into the correct place within the webpage or tool you’re using. (For example, in Desire2Learn, you need to insert this embed code into your webpage with the the “HTML code” button.)

The other example I’m going to give to you is with WordPress. To paste the HTML code into WordPress, you’ll need to use the HTML tab. Then paste the code where you want it. When you switch back to the Visual tab, the embed code (in my version of WordPress) leaves a generic media box. This box displays correctly when you publish.  Note: In the past, when I’ve added embed codes into WordPress, such as Google Docs, I’ve had to leave the post/page in the HTML tab so that it would display correctly. If you have a problem, give this a go.

Here’s what the final Powerpoint embed looks like inside of PBWorks when the page is saved. (You can see that it’s a lot like Google Docs or Slideshare’s embed format.)

Here’s the finished file in WordPress. This file only has one slide (because I was trying to upload quickly), but the forward and back buttons work just fine.

A few tips

  1. You will notice that if you use “cool” fonts, they will get reformatted to generic ones. So, you may want to think of this ahead of time when you create your slides. You can see the real first slide in a PDF in Slideshare.
  2. SkyDrive has a limit of 300 Mb for any file. If you’re like me and create slide decks with lots of BIG images and video, this will be a problem for you. (Hence the quick example upload of the title slide above.)
  3. Because you put your Powerpoint file into a public folder to share it, Microsoft makes the file available to everyone. This means anyone can then embed anywhere else. In the image below, you see that you click the Info button and it brings up the URL and the embed code for the user.  If you don’t own all the content for your slides, you may should reconsider embedding them.

Let me know if you give this a go and how it works for you.  Also, let me know how and where you’re using the SkyDrive embed technique.  I’d like to give you a shout-out!

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Bunshee via Compfight

Has this happened to you on a Mac?

I recently downloaded a zip archive of freely-distributed MP3 files. But when I double-clicked it to decompress it, all I got was a .cpgz file (an archive file in the CPIO format). Double-clicking that file just created the zip file again, and thus I was stuck in an endless loop

It sure has happened to me, but it happens rather infrequently.  So, I usually don’t do anything about it.  It’s frustrating, but not debilitating.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this article via Unzip almost any archive file from Macworld and decided to give The Unarchiver app a go instead of using just the Archiver utility that is built into MacOS.  The Unarchiver is available on the Mac App Store, and it’s working for me fine right now.  But I haven’t had one of those crazy situations yet, where the file just doesn’t open or I get locked in a loop described above. I’m going to keep using this one and let you know how it goes.

If you’ve got a favorite unzipper app, let me know in the comments below.