During my first education courses, I remember memorizing the original levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. I struggled to find a way to help me memorize the levels of Bloom’s while staring at the pyramid structure. Now, as I reflect on the Digital Bloom’s, I wonder about its usefulness. Does it have too much information? Does not include enough information?

The Original

Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy is based on six levels of the cognitive domain arranged from lower to higher order thinking skills. I found a video on YouTube that used The Pirate’s of the Caribbean movie to demonstrate each level of the original Bloom’s taxonomy. If I had this video during my early courses, I might have spent less time staring at the pyramid trying to memorize.

The Revision

Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl revised Bloom’s taxonomy by re-sequencing the levels with verbs instead of nouns. In the image above, you can see evaluating is no longer at the top of the pyramid in the new version. One of the elements of Bloom’s taxonomy which did not change with the new version is the key terms for each level (Bloom’s Taxonomy “Revised” , 2002).

The Digital

Digital Bloom’s taxonomy was developed by Andrew Churches with the primary focus on the competence and the products from the technological tool usage (Churches, 2008). It has deviated from the past by redefining key terms. Educational-origami provides a visual example of Digital Bloom’s taxonomy with key terms.

After reviewing the key terms, I began to consider the technology tools used within the levels. When considering the growing popularity of tweeting or microbloging, should twitter be within the understanding level or should it be divided like blogging has been within separate levels. Holotescu and Grosseck (2008) discuss how to define twitter or microblogging  and use it in the classroom by breaking it down into separate levels using Digital Bloom’s.

How would you define technology tools for the classroom using Digital Bloom’s? As an example, watch the YouTube video demonstrating Digital Bloom’s, where would you organize it in the Digital Bloom’s taxonomy? I consider it creating because the learner has elements of planning, designing, constructing, and programming.

What’s Next?

I do not completely disagree with Digital Bloom’s. I understand it is a work in progress because it is based on technology. With technology always changing, it needs to be understood Digital Bloom’s will not remain the same.

If you would like to learn more about Digital Bloom’s, Michael Fisher provides a pyramid of tools on his post with link to his Delicious or Diigo tags. Also, Phillipa Cleaves has a presentation of Web 2.0 tools based on Digital Bloom’s.


Bloom’s Taxonomy “Revised” . (2002, December). Retrieved March 14, 2011, from IUPUI Center for Teaching & Learning: http://www.uni.edu/stdteach/TWS/BloomRevisedTaxonomy_KeyWords-1-1.pdf

Churches, A. (2008, April). Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Retrieved March 1, 2011, from http://www.techlearning.com/techlearning/archives/2008/04/AndrewChurches.pdf

Grosseck, G., & Holotescu, C. (2008). Can we use Twitter for educational purposes? The 4th International Scientific Conference eLearning Software for Education, (pp. 1-11). Bucharest.

Guhlin, M., Nussbaum-Beach, S., Knightbridge, A., Cattell, S., Casey, R., McLeod, M., et al. (2011). Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Retrieved March 12 2011, from Education Orogonmi: http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Bloom%27s+Digital+Taxonomy

Guest Blogger

Jamae Allred is a doctoral student at the University of Memphis. While attending courses, she is a graduate assistant for the early childhood department who teaches an undergraduate course. She is also employed part-time by International Paper as a content developer for the Environmental, Health, Safety, and Sustainability Group. She plans to continue working in the corporate environment before teaching at the university level.

Image of instructional video

Image of instructional videoIncorporating video in your instruction can have its rewards and challenges.  When utilized properly, videos can assist the learning process.  According to Alessi & Trollip (2001), video is becoming popular in interactive multimedia.  You can create videos to demonstrate or model a procedure, interview an expert, provide visual activity, and present plays.  Videos can be appealing, entertaining, and promote higher order thinking skills (p. 72).  Additionally, instructional designers must think about the pedagogical and cognitive implications videos can have on the learners.

As part of my instructional design project this semester, my team, EdTech Solutions, is incorporating video into the web-based unit.  Not only are we utilizing video in this multimedia unit, we are filming the footage ourselves.  Through my experience creating the videos for our client, I want to share some information I have learned along the way that may be helpful to others who are thinking about creating video as part of their instruction.

1. Planning

I have found through my recent experience, planning is one of the most important parts of creating video for instruction.  It is vital to begin with a plan and not go in to a video shoot without an idea of what is going to occur and how it is going to happen.  You will end up spending a lot of time trying to decide what to do and waste valuable time for you and the client.  On the other side of planning, it is equally important to think about the learner.  Mayer and Moreno (2003) state multimedia learning (i.e. videos) can cause a cognitive overload.  This occurs when the learner’s cognitive processing goes beyond the learner’s cognitive capacity.  A few ways to prevent cognitive overload through videos are to avoid narration and on-screen text at the same time, segment pieces of the video, scaffold the instruction, and match the video’s narration with the images.

2. Storyboarding

Storyboarding is a must!  It helps instructional designers determine parts of the video, timing, and organizes (or chunks) pieces of the video.  Storyboarding is the blueprint that assists the instructional designer and informs the subject matter expert on the video details such as video layout, text, graphics, animation sequences and narration (Weingardt, 2004).  In essences, storyboarding allows designers to break down the story into manageable elements.  Storyboarding can be as simple as sketching the segments onto a piece of paper or putting your ideas in digital format.

3. The Process

Once you have a plan and know the details, the next thing to consider is the video process.    There are a lot of details that go into the process such as using a tripod, avoiding wide shots, refraining from panning in or out, and match the narration to the video.  Bell (2005) recommends arranging the set so that it is not cluttered, using proper lighting, and using an external microphone.  Alessi and Trollip (2001) also recommend using video in instruction for important information that would benefit through the use of video as well as keeping the video presentation short (p. 74).

Video is one of many components of multimedia learning and can have an impact on the learner when used effectively.  If you have experience or knowledge on creating video you would like to share, please post in the comment section.


Alessi, S.M. & Trollip, S.R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Bell, A. (2005). Creating digital video in your school.  Library Media Connection, 24(2), 54-56.

Mayer, R. & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.

Weingardt, K. (2004). The role of instructional design and technology in the dissemination of empirically supported, manual-based therapies.  Clinical Psychology, 11(3), 313-331.

Guest Blogger

Jennifer Nelson is a doctoral student of Instructional Design and Technology and the coordinator for school partnerships and clinical experiences at the University of Memphis. She has taught high school as well as undergraduate and graduate level courses. Her research interests include technology integration and teacher education.

Many instructional arrangements seem “contrived,” but there is nothing wrong with that. It is the teacher’s function to contrive conditions under which students learn. It has always been the task of formal education to set up behavior which would prove useful or enjoyable later in a student’s life.

— B.F. Skinner (http://www.ntlf.com/html/lib/quotes.htm)


I feel that informal learning plays an important part in my personal development, but still I hold the notion that informal learning cannot completely replace formal learning. Here are three of the reasons why.


Informal learning is not suitable for all kind of learners. Though Jay Cross is a big proponent of informal learning, he mentions in his blog that “novices learn best through formal learning, for it provides the structure, signposts, and scaffolding a newby lacks.” Being a student myself, it is sometimes hard for me to filter valuable information from the vast available resources. In such an environment, formal education through coaching and active feedback provides me with the capacity to further educate myself. Carmen in her blog “Formal Learning is here to stay” backs up on the reason for such behavior by explaining it in context of lack of prior knowledge (schemata), and cognitive load. Flora, Jane and Paul in their presentation try to explore which form of learning is preferable and explains with the help of a matrix that people who have more autonomy over learning would benefit from informal learning whereas formal learning is for those who have less self control over learning.

Accountability & Quality

Formal learning would be preferred when there would be no scope for trial & errors, meet certain standards, and have to be 100% accurate. Karl Kapp in his blog discusses examples where formal education would be most effective. He says “Without formal training if someone does something right, it is most likely by chance” and in high risk environments there is no room for chance. Formal learning would also be preferred in an environment where there needs to be quality mass production of certain product or services in a restricted time. The best example that is coming to my mind right now is the training of American soldiers during WWII.

With the new emerging policies and procedures, where effort is being made to help students to prepare for a future that does not exist yet, is commitment and responsibility involved with formal learning. Also, today formal learning opportunities are provided in such authentic environments that it would be hard to believe that it is still the 70/20/10 principle. Don Clark in his website discusses the importance of both formal & informal learning and is of the opinion that “informal learning should NOT replace formal learning activities as it is this synergy that produces effective growth”


Clark, D. (2010). The true cost of informal learning. Retrieved from: http://bdld.blogspot.com/2010/02/true-cost-of-informal-learning.html

Clark, D. (2010). Knowledge jump. Retrieved from: http://www.knowledgejump.com/learning/informal.html

Cross, J. (2005). To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season. Retrieved from: http://metatime.blogspot.com/2005/04/to-every-thing-turn-turn-turn-there-is.html

Informal Learning. Retrieved from: http://www.infed.org/biblio/inf-lrn.htm#tacit

Kapp, K. (2010). Formal learning all the way…baby. Retrieved from: http://www.kaplaneduneering.com/kappnotes/index.php/2010/07/formal-learning-all-waybaby/

Learning. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning

Weaver, C. (2010). Formal learning is here to stay. Retrieved from: http://viral-notebook.com/blog/2010/02/17/formal-learning-is-here-to-stay/

Guest Blogger

Smita Jain is a doctoral student in the department of Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Memphis. She assists faculty in designing online courses for the department of Health and Sport Sciences. She enjoys her work very much as it is also her area of interest- Online/Web based teaching and learning. She has tutored middle school children and helped pre-service teachers to prepare them to integrate technology in their classrooms. After completing her degree she wants to become a faculty, researcher and consultant in the field of Instructional Design and Technology.

Image courtesy of Mully Children’s Family at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mullychildrensfamily/4926260794/

A couple of days ago, I offered up a post on knowledge management and an example of why we should be doing it.  Today, I’d like to suggest why you should do KM? Let’s examine a few reasons to manage knowledge in your organization:

1. Personnel independence

Organizations are at the risk of “corporate memory loss” (no proper documentation of the business processes managed by the employee) when key employees leave or retire. Relying on the knowledge of individuals can hamper the flexibility and responsiveness of any organization. KM can help convert the information that currently resides in those individuals and make it widely and easily available to other employees. Turns out, rocket scientists learn this way too!

2. KM drives innovation

Effective knowledge management results in accelerated generation of innovative products and services. It fosters better ability to collaborate as knowledge workers, leading to the process of new knowledge creation. It can accelerate the learning curve for all employees as well as enable them to expand their ability to perform in areas beyond their traditional roles thus increasing productivity, and improving profitability.

3. No more reinventing the wheel

Employees in large organizations often times do not realize that the activity or process they are trying to do has already been done. This is because they either do not know what is already known, or the place to access the knowledge. Having a knowledge management strategy allows the organization to reduce the tendency to repeat mistakes and learn from its past mistakes.

4. Benefiting the organization’s budget

When employees waste time looking for knowledge or recreating it, it costs the organization and leads to inefficiency. This is due to the limitation of access to knowledge that already exists.  A more systematic reuse of knowledge through knowledge management will immediately reduce cost substantially.

5. Happier end-users/customers

Support center or help desk solutions can be saved and reused for subsequent customer calls using a customer service knowledge base. Such a knowledge-enabled service solution would be cheaper and more efficient than a generic knowledge management project.  A knowledge management initiative will allow customer satisfaction to grow exponentially.

Knowledge management is not just a passing fad. Effective knowledge management has been proven to help organization achieve significant development, at all levels, for the individual, team, organization and the global community.

So we can all agree that knowledge management offers competitive edge for an organization but is it easy to do? The answer is NO. It has been proven that just using appropriate technology or organization-wide support for KM will not guarantee a successful knowledge management initiative. But that’s for a different post!


Malhotra, Y. (2000). Knowledge management and virtual organizations. Hershey, USA [u.a.: Idea Group Publishing.

Holsapple, C., & Joshi, K.(2001). Organizational knowledge resources. Decision Support Systems, 31(1), 39-54.

Guest Blogger

Prashanthi Selvanarayanan is a graduate student in the Instructional Design and Technology program at the University of Memphis. She assists faculty in the Department of Higher and Adult Education with online course design and development. Her research interests include technology integration and mobile learning. She aspires to be an instructional developer in the healthcare sector which combines both her interests.

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Image Courtesy of Search Engine People’s Blog at flickr.com.

As an intern working on the annotation of a species’ genome, I realized that the amount of invaluable knowledge being generated by such a project was colossal. The knowledge obtained from this species’ annotation could be used in other related genomes and sometimes in drug discovery as well. However, there was no structured way for sharing this knowledge among the various research groups around the world. Managing the knowledge would have tremendously benefitted not only this project but many more that were to follow.

Having done data management as part of the genome annotation project, I wondered if it was simply semantics at play here. So, let us first review the difference between the terms data, information and knowledge. Data is raw facts and figures, while information consists of patterns of data. Knowledge, although derived from information, is richer and more meaningful than information and is created through an interactive social process. Explicit and tacit are the two categories of knowledge, of which, explicit knowledge refers to documented information such as processes, methodologies, services etc. and tacit knowledge refers to people’s knowledge a.k.a their experiences, ideas, relationships, skills etc. In the case of genomics and bioinformatics research projects, all three types of management would be significant to make better decisions and increase productivity in R&D.

Knowledge management, or KM as it is often referred to as, originates from the idea that people’s knowledge is the most valuable resource of any organization. Hence, Knowledge management aims at providing collective knowledge to an individual at the right time and in the right place. If the concept of knowledge management still sounds vague, here are some definitions that can help clarify the terminology:

  1. “In higher education, knowledge management can be defined as the set of organizational processes that create and transfer knowledge supporting the attainment of academic and organizational goals.” (Townley, 2003)
  2. “A KM approach is the conscious integration of the people, processes, and technology involved in designing, capturing, and implementing the intellectual infrastructure of an organization…It is what enables people within an organization to develop the ability to collect information and share what they know, leading to action that improves services and outcomes. “(Petrides, 2004)

If you would like to know more about the human genome project and where we stand today to keep the geek in you happy, watch this video by Dr. Eric Green!


Townley, C. T. (2003). Will the academy learn to manage knowledge? EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Number 2. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0321.pdf

Petrides, L. A. (2004). Knowledge management, information systems, and organizations (Research Bulletin No. Volume 2004, Issue 20). Boulder, Colorado: EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERB0420.pdf

Nuzzo, A., & Riva, A. (2009). Genephony: A knowledge management tool for genome-wide research. BMC Bioinformatics, 10, 278. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19728881

Stein, L. (2001). Genome annotation: From sequence to biology. Nature Reviews.Genetics, 2(7), 493-503. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11433356

Guest Blogger

Prashanthi Selvanarayanan is a graduate student in the Instructional Design and Technology program at the University of Memphis. She assists faculty in the Department of Higher and Adult Education with online course design and development. Her research interests include technology integration and mobile learning. She aspires to be an instructional developer in the healthcare sector which combines both her interests.

Understanding and utilizing Subject Matter Experts (SME) is vital to the creation of online instruction.  SMEs are valuable informants for task analyses, and their experience can provide teams with the necessary domain knowledge to assist in the instructional process, as well as assemble and organize the content (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). Although the SME is not the enemy, they can be problematic if an instructional designer or project manager does not know how to utilize this very important team member to his or her full advantage.  According to Moller (1995), part of the ID’s role is to manage the work of the SME as part of the instructional design and development process.

Working with Subject Matter Experts (SME) can have its rewards and challenges.   While SMEs experiences will vary from higher education, military, or business settings (Keppell, 2001), it is necessary to have one on your team that will aid in a successful project. Often, the instructional designers main problem can be working with the SME to complete an instructional design project successfully (Ingram, Heitz, Reid, Walsh, & Wells, 2007).  In order to maximize your SME, it is important to follow these three simple tips.

1. Clear Expectations

Establish clear expectations and be upfront about deadlines and other important components to the project.  SMEs may enter a project with different knowledge and skills sets and can have different goals (Ingram, et al., 2007).  Communication is the key between the ID and SME.  Make sure when you meet with the SME you communicate your project needs and discuss the scope of the project during the first meeting.  Not involving the SME can cause him or her to have uncertain thoughts about the project and their role in the project that can result in a partnership plagued by frustration and lack of cooperation (Yancey, 2007). While it is important to talk about and establish clear expectations, it is just as important to be an active listener.

2. SME as Collaborator

Involve the SME from the beginning of the project.  Including the SME from the start will help identify the project scope and may assist with scope creep.  The SME can answer questions, address concerns, and brainstorm different types of learning activities that will help make the project successful.  Moller (1995) suggests making a good first impression is important for setting the tone for the project and helping the SME become personally invested from the beginning.

3. Respect the SME

Understand the SME has other responsibilities besides your project.  Although this may be top priority for an ID person, it doesn’t necessarily means the SME is on the same page.  To help assist with SME, be respectful of their time, have some background knowledge on the content, and provide assistance when needed.  Understanding your SME will establish a common ground between the ID and the SME and help the communication process (Yancey, 2007).

Following these simple tips can help you get on the right start with your SME.  Being proactive in managing and working with the SME can elevate a negative consequence and turn it into a positive asset (Moller, 1995).  If you have additional tips for maximizing your SME, I encourage you to post them in the comments section.


Alessi, S.M. & Trollip, S.R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Ingram, A., Heitz, K., Reid, C., Walsh, M., Wells, C. (1994). Working with subject matter experts. Performance & Instruction, 33(8), 17-22.

Keppell, M. (2001, June 22). Optimizing instructional designer—subject matter expert communication in the design and development of multimedia projects. Retrieved February 08, 2011 from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Optimizing Instructional Designer–Subject Matter Expert…-a078574812

Moller, L. (1995). Working with subject matter experts. TechTrends,40(6), 26-27.

Yancey, C. (1996). The abcs of working with smes. Performance & Instruction, 35(1), 6-9.

Guest Blogger

Jennifer Nelson is a doctoral student of Instructional Design and Technology and the coordinator for school partnerships and clinical experiences at the University of Memphis. She has taught high school as well as undergraduate and graduate level courses. Her research interests include technology integration and teacher education.

Image courtesy of Pete Prodoehl at http://www.flickr.com/photos/raster/3380860520/

After reading Siemens’ “Questions I’m no Longer Asking,” I spent the next week pondering my own questions from the entrance of my instructional design and technology program. For example, walking into class the first night, I was looking for the girl named ADDIE. (Obviously, I didn’t find her.) Since then, I have found answers to these questions. A few of my relevant questions include the following.

  • What authoring tools should be used?
  • Are Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) necessary?
  • Is online learning effective?
  • Who Is ADDIE?

Authoring Tools

I use the appropriate tools for the learner, content, and system. “Authoring tools help bridge the gap between experts and learning technology” (Dempsey & Van Eck, 2007). There are many tools available to designers. If we are not careful, the content is lost and the tools are the focus. Nicole Fougere’s recent post about Interactive Learning is a good example of restricting tools usage. At this site, the learners experience the Apollo 11 trip using mainly Adobe Premiere Pro.

Cascading Style Sheets

Yes! I was dragged kicking and screaming because I do not think in code. Authoring using CSS is a more efficient method of content sharing than tables (Keller & Nussbaumer, 2009). After late nights of reworking multiple pages, I learned CSS was truly a friend. CSS example templates are located at speckyboy, and desizn tech.


When I hear this question, it is usually from someone reminiscing of “Oregon Trail.” Online learning is more than educational games or online courses. Educational games and online courses include evaluations to establish learning. According to Guftafson and Branch (2007), the evaluations are formative or summative. Online games offer feedback with or without the collection of responses. An interesting game for identifying body parts is Anatomy Arcade.


ADDIE is not a who – but an instructional design model. Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, and Evaluate is the process of the design model. The best way to describe it was through this humorous ADDIE video.

Now, I no longer look around the room for a girl named ADDIE! I have developed new questions which include the following.

  • What role will the LMS have?
  • What new tool is available? Will it add to my instruction?

What are some of your questions? What are your answers?


Dempsey, J., & Van Eck, R. (2007). Distributed learning and the field of instructional design. In R. Reiser, & J. Dempsey, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (p. 296). New Jersey: Pearson.

Gustafson, K., & Branch, R. (2007). What is Instructional Design? In R. Reiser, & J. Dempsey, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (p. 11). New Jersey: Pearson.

Keller, M., & Nussbaumer, M. (2009). Cascading style sheets: A novel approach towards productive styling with today’s standards. WWW 2009 Madrid! (pp. 1161-1162). Madrid: ACM.

Guest Blogger

Jamae Allred is a doctoral student at the University of Memphis. While attending courses, she is a graduate assistant for the early childhood department who teaches an undergraduate course. She is also employed part-time by International Paper as a content developer for the Environmental, Health, Safety, and Sustainability Group. She plans to continue working in the corporate environment before pursuing her goal of teaching at the university level.

Image Available at Creative Commons from CarbonNYC

Rapid eLearning is a term used to denote short development times of online instruction with limited resources versus traditional instructional design approaches involving lengthy periods of time and large amounts of money (De Vries & Bersin, 2004). Another important distinction between the two is that rapid eLearning is oftentimes developed by the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) using simple-to-use tools while traditional eLearning is developed by a team of training professionals (SME, web developer, instructional designer and project manager). A simple-to-use and, undoubtedly, one of the most popular rapid eLearning development tools is PowerPoint.

As a graduate student developing online content, Powerpoint ranks very high on my list of “go-to” tools. The versatility it offers not only in development but also in delivery of eLearning content is the reason why this tool features prominently in most instructional designers’ toolkit. However, PowerPoint just provides a blank slate like any other authoring environment. Good instructional and visual design principles have to be employed to create interactive and compelling learning modules. It is then up to the creative vision of the instructional designer to harness the strengths of this tool. This requires the designer to go beyond the simple basics and possess a certain degree of technical know-how.

When you have less than 2 weeks to create a high quality and rich learning experience using PowerPoint, you are bound to have many, many “how-to” questions (unless you are this guy!). Here are some places I go to when I need help:

1.     My best friend in this endeavor has been Google. For example, a query on the term “using PowerPoint for rapid eLearning” yields 89,500 results. Some relevant but most NOT! The drawback of this method is that filtering out the extraneous results takes time, and time is of essence in RAPID eLearning. Interestingly, Gwizdka (2010) found that formulating the query for a search engine imposes a high demand on the cognitive load than looking through the search results. Here are some queries which I use regularly and yield relevant results:

  • “PowerPoint for instructional design”
  • “interactive PowerPoint eLearning” and
  • “PowerPoint nonlinear eLearning”

2.     A quicker way is to subscribe to the following blogs that provide great tips and tricks for using PowerPoint in rapid eLearning development:

3.     Youtube is a wonderful resource for getting your questions answered and for some cool tips.  Some channels that I follow on Youtube are CBTCafé, Rapidelearningblog and Elearnaway.

4.     Another Web 2.0 technology that I am thankful for is social bookmarking. These tools with their tag clouds hold the answers to numerous eLearning development questions and doubts. Some bookmarks that I have been frequently using are Dr. Grant’s bookmarks on Jumptags; ahayman, edtechtalk and viral-notebook on Diigo and edach , lavignet , bonni208 on Delicious. Since these tools use a Boolean search query technique, a search term like “powerpoint + elearning” would point to more resources than simply “PowerPoint”.

5.     A popular networking tool, Twitter is a powerful professional development tool and works very well for finding articles, and resources on a daily basis that help in creating effective eLearning modules using PowerPoint. I follow @elearningbrothers, @PowerPointWiziq and @elearningexperts on Twitter as the resources shared and dialogs that take place benefit me in my work. Asking questions, initiating a dialog and getting responses are a lot easier on twitter than on a forum or a blog.

Besides these resources, giving “ The Insider’s Guide To Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro” a thorough read, serves as a good refresher course for rapid eLearning development. Clive Shepherd eloquently says what all rapid eLearning developers should keep in mind, “As such, e-learning is neither effective nor ineffective; it’s just a channel. What you put through this channel is up to you.”


De Vries, J., & Bersin, J. (2004). Rapid e-Learning: What Works. Retrieved February 1, 2011, from Macromedia: http://download.macromedia.com/pub/breeze/whitepapers/bersin_elearning_study.pdf.

Gwizdka, J. (2010). Distribution of cognitive load in web search. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(11), 2167-2187.

Guest blogger: Prashanthi Selvanarayanan is a graduate student in the Instructional Design and Technology program at the University of Memphis. She assists faculty in the Department of Higher and Adult Education with online course design and development. Her research interests include technology integration and mobile learning. She aspires to be an instructional developer in the healthcare sector which combines both her interests.

Image courtesy of Mike Licht at Flickr

Guest Blogger PostOn March 9, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton announced via Twitter that Memphis was filing an application for Google Fiber for Communities.  This initial tweet was followed with a post on the mayor’s blog From the Mayor’s Desk. In his blog post, Wharton asks you to “Imagine a promising inner-city 7th-grader collaborating with classmates around the world while watching a live university lecture.” Wharton is asking his readers to imagine e-learning in our K-12 classrooms. This call to imagine e-learning in Memphis classrooms comes less than a week after the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology released a draft of their National Educational Technology Plan 2010 titled “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology“. This plan calls for readers to embrace the use of e-learning as the catalyst that will propel our schools through the 21st century. With this political focus being put on e-learning, let’s explore how this will look in the K-12 classroom. First we will define e-learning, next we will look at a few of its benefits, then we will note a few barriers to its implementation.

E-learning Defined

From the local to the national level, there is a focus on e-learning in K-12 education. E-learning is the promotion of learning through the delivery of instruction via a computer or the Web (Clark & Mayer, 2003; Mayer, 2003). But what does this really look like? How will this change K-12 education? Perhaps it is easier to start by noting what it doesn’t look like. Embracing e-learning does not equate to a rejection of the formal classroom setting. The computer is only one mode of delivery for instruction. It is not necessarily the best mode for a given situation. While in some circumstances it is, there are times when teachers, peers, or other media are more appropriate for delivery of instruction (Alessi & Trollip, 2001). It also should be noted that e-learning is not about the technology, it is about the learning. Kleiman (2000) addresses myths associated with using technology in the K-12 classroom. He states in his article, “the value of a computer, like that of any tool, depends upon what purposes it serves and how well it is used” (p. 3).

Benefits of E-learning

If the technology is just a tool and learning can take place without the technology, then why such a push for e-learning in the schools? The Office of Educational Technology (2010) posits, “Just as technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences, content, and resources and assessments that measure student achievement in more complete, authentic, and meaningful ways” (p. v). So this is the picture we should envision when imagining e-learning in our classrooms: opportunities that are “limitless, borderless, and instantaneous (p. vi).

Creating these opportunities can happen in several ways. Embracing e-learning can include the adoption of virtual schools or virtual courses, ubiquitous computing, and using e-learning in the classroom to support the curriculum. Although some virtual schools have had great success (Florida Virtual School, Virtual High School); incorporating e-learning does not mean that brick-and-mortar schools will go away. E-learning can offer many benefits to students who attend traditional schools. These benefits include taking a course online that the school cannot afford to offer, catching up on lost credits, and taking classes with students from across the city or world. E-learning can also be used in the classroom to enhance the curriculum. This may include a virtual field trip or the modeling of a science experiment.

Barriers to E-learning

It is obvious that e-learning has benefits. There is often funding available through organizations and grants to implement e-learning in schools. So why aren’t more schools incorporating e-learning? Kleiman (2004) suggests two reasons: teachers are unprepared and technology support staff are lacking. Toby Philpott has created a Mindomo concept map outlining the barriers he sees to implementing e-learning. These barriers include motivation, literacy, cultural differences, accessibility, economics, and freedom of information. So, before we can see our imagined 7th grader collaborating with classmates around the world, we have some work to do.

With the push for e-learning and a broadband infrastructure coming from the US Department of Education and the prospect of Google Fiber coming to Memphis, I would like to start a conversation on how we see e-learning changing K-12 education. What do you believe the impact will be? What are obstacles to its successful implementation?


Alessi, S.M. & Trollip, S.R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2003). E-learning and the science of instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kleiman, G. M. (2000). Myths and realities about technology in K-12 schools. In the Harvard Education Letter report, The digital classroom: How technology is changing the way we teach and learn. Retrieved March 18, 2010 from http://www.edtechleaders.org/documents/myths.pdf

Kleiman, G.M. (2004). Myths and realities about technology in k-12 schools: Five years later. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 4(2), 248-253.

Mayer, R. E. (2003). Elements of a science of e-learning. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 29(3), 297-313.

Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.  Available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/netp.pdf

Guest Blogger: Carmen Weaver is the project manager for the TLINC grant at the University of Memphis. She also teaches technology integration to undergraduate education majors at the University. Carmen has a background in Computer Information Systems as well as Secondary Education. She is a doctoral student in Instructional Design and Technology.

Guest Blogger PostAs I reminisce on my undergraduate Education Psychology course and graduate courses that promoted the need for incorporating constructivist practices in the classroom to “prove” you are a student-centered educator, I often contemplated the effectiveness of the constructivist teacher in the classroom. Before revealing my perspective, let’s identify some key points related to constructivism.

5 keys of Constructivism

  • Constructivism is not a theory of learning instead it is philosophy that underlines various theories and combines them to form an epistemology
  • Constructivists promote the need for the learner to discover their own knowledge to enrich their experiences
  • Other names for constructivism are discovery learning and inquiry-based learning
  • According to constructivist, new knowledge acquired by the students must be re-constructed in the learners’ mind which involves eliminating any discrepancies to develop a knowledge structure that is meaningful to the student
  • Constructivist practices are usually prominent in science classrooms

Additionally, Tuncer Can stated on a blog post that students in a constructivist environment demonstrate the following qualities: self-controlling, realistic, scientific, and value generator just to name a few.

Before progressing let’s consider the following scenario: An algebra teacher is ready to introduce her students to the concept of pi (3.14) in the geometry portion of the lesson sequence. The students are enrolled in regular education classes and some have a solid understanding of basic algebra, while other students are lacking the necessary foundational skills to be successful with this concept. A constructivist would see this as a valuable opportunity to allow the students to discover the meaning of pi (3.14) through manipulating shapes, measuring shapes, comparing objects, etc.

However, if the students possess limited to no background knowledge of pi (3.14) are they truly able to construct their own knowledge? Will their knowledge of pi (3.14) be totally misconstrued or partially inaccurate? Are these inaccuracies acceptable because the student may have an epiphany and pi (3.14) will transform to knowledge in their minds? Do constructivists take cognitive overload into consideration when learning? How soon does the teacher intervene, since in the constructivist classroom the teacher is the “coach”?

Constructivism is a learning philosophy that has the potential to expand on a concept once it has been grasped by the learner, but if learners have limited knowledge are they able to construct (build) their own learning without the appropriate tool-background knowledge?

Being student centered means you take the needs of your learners first before delivering the instruction. A student centered educator is cognizant about the abilities of their learners and utilizes the instruction to bolster student achievement. When an educator has the students’ instructional levels, behavior characteristics, and effective strategies in their repertoire they are ensuring students are the primary focus from the development of the objectives to administering the evaluation. When learning is not achieved, the student-centered instructor determines the weaknesses and strengths of the learners and devises a plan on “how” to re-teach the concept/skill to achieve learner mastery.

Developing an in-depth knowledge regarding teaching and learning in order to diagnose and remediate instruction instantaneously to prevent frustration during instruction, and avoiding the possibility of a students’ motivation levels plummeting is student-centered instruction. Continuously providing students with motivational techniques to increase their confidence and performance level in the classroom promotes a student-centered environment. According to Dr. Kate Kinsella (2010), the research on motivation and learning states the most critical success factor for students is the ability for them to perceive themselves being successful. It would be quite difficult for a learner to perceive success while struggling to “discover” a new concept!  Delivering instruction customized to your learners needs and sustaining motivation in the classroom are the main ingredients of a students centered learning environment.  All of this can be accomplished in a classroom where the educator skipped the final exam essay question requiring him/her to support the constructivist viewpoint in an undergraduate Educational Psychology class!


Cruickshank, D., Bainer , D., & Metcalf, K. (1999). The act of teaching (4th ed) . Boston, MA : McGraw-Hill.

Can , T. (2007). Constructivist learner. Retrieved March 13, 2010 from Constructivist Education: http://constructivist-education.blogspot.com/.

Kinsella, K. (2010 March). Accountable student engagement in the READ 180 classroom. Webinar presentation presented on WebEX.

Reiser, R., Dempsey, J. (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology(2nd ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson

Guest blogger: Terica Butler is a former middle school reading/language arts teacher. She taught in an urban school setting for six years. After teaching, she transitioned into the role of an Implementation Consultant for Scholastic. She now has the opportunity to serve teachers and students in Memphis, Tennessee and other large urban districts.  Terica is presently pursing a doctoral degree from the University of Memphis. Her interest in education include: urban education, professional development for teachers, instructional design embedded in technology.  After completing her degree, Terica plans to continue improving the lives of teachers and students in school districts across the country!