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

Guest PostWhen I began my first year of teaching, I had never completed a single course in the field of education.  I had graduated with a degree in Business Administration and majored in Marketing.  My degree and business experience helped me land a job teaching Marketing Education for a high school that was unable to find a certified teacher. (A word of warning, I don’t recommend this particular path into a teaching career for the faint of heart!)

During my first year in the classroom, I approached teaching in the same manner that I had been taught during my days as a student.  As a student, I sat at my desk, listened to the teacher lecture, completed end of the chapter questions or worksheets, and spit all of that knowledge back out on a multiple choice or true/false test.  Once I was in charge of my own classroom, I found myself using the same direct instruction method.  I recall from previous readings in Steve Alessi and Stan Trollip’s  Multimedia for Learning, proponents of behavioral and cognitive theory treated learners like a bucket that information and knowledge were to be poured into.  I now realize that I approached teaching in the early stages of my career in the same manner.

While teaching class one day during my first semester, a student raised his hand in the middle of my riveting class lecture and asked a question that changed my style of teaching for the rest of my career:    “Ms. Conger when will we actually do something in here other than reading the book, answering the questions at the end of the chapter, and taking tests? ”  I didn’t have an answer; I think I was too stunned to answer his question.  I had been so caught up in covering the material in the textbook and getting the required number of grades recorded for the grading period, I hadn’t stopped to consider if what I was teaching was actually being comprehended outside of a multiple choice or true/false test question.  However, from that day forward, I was determined to making learning for my students a more active process.

I was suddenly progressing from the world of behavioral and cognitive teaching theory into the world of constructivist learning and teaching theory.  I searched for and found motivation from other educators such as Edie Parrott and Vicki Davis who are active educational bloggers and experienced educators.  Even though we don’t teach the same subjects, we could all relate to many of the same classroom management issues and could also share some of the same lesson plan ideas which could be revamped to suit our individual courses.  An example would be the PSA lesson plan available at Edie Parrott’s blog.  This particular lesson relates directly to the course competencies as set by the Tennessee Department of Education for one of the classes I taught, Advertising and Public Relations.

Not only did my teaching style change, there was also a notable change in my students.  They seemed to be more motivated and were active participants in the learning process much like the students in this image.  The students were coming to school early and staying late to work on projects for local businesses and practice for regional, state, and local business competitions.  It certainly was a change from my initial days as an educator and definitely a change for the better in regards to the learning experience for my students.  Learning in my classroom had transformed into an active process which allowed the students to connect what was taking place inside our classroom to the real world of business outside the walls of our school.

Guest Blogger: Kristy Conger worked in the classroom for seven years as a Marketing Education teacher/ Work Based Learning Coordinator in the Henry County School System. She also taught computer literacy courses through the Adult Basic Education Program, and currently works as an Academic Technology Consultant for the University of Memphis.  Kristy received her BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Memphis. After completing her degree, she would like to return to teaching in some capacity and perhaps work within a K-12 setting in an instructional technology role.

Image courtesy of Adam Seering at

Ward M. Cates

Ward M. Cates

It’s interesting to me how little time we devote in schools to teaching critical thinking. Lots of folks seem to think it’s important (for example, funders like NSF, multiple consumer and or/business groups’ reporting on what schools should do, professional organizations like ISTE, AECT, AERA, and NRC), but that does not seem to translate into a tangible focus in schools on helping learners acquire such skills.

Clearly, saying this could make me look like a teacher-basher, just another person lining up to take a swing at teachers, as if they were at fault for all the shortcomings of society. Let me make it clear: I feel great empathy for teachers. I am a former classroom special education teacher, a former high school English teacher, and a former elementary language arts teacher. I work in a program called Teaching, Learning, and Technology. My daughter is a high school English teacher, and my wife works in an elementary school.

What worries me is that we spend so much time now in K-12 classrooms focusing on facts that we do not have enough time to focus on thinking. And no one seems to have a test to measure critical thinking skills that carries with it a similar level of public trust as our standardized achievement tests (whether they deserve such trust or not).

For many years those of us in the instructional technology community have been talking about how technology might be used to scaffold thinking skills, how we might allow teachers and students to focus on learning content through the solution of realistic problems using primary and secondary sources, while at the same time getting support for thinking skills development.

Almost 20 years ago, working as part of a design group at George Mason University funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I built a HyperCard-based prototype that used videodiscs to help learners focus on exploring Ken Burns’ The Civil War series while they were provided with scaffolding in the form of “TQEs” (Thinking advice, Questions to consider, Exploring advice). Then 14 or so years ago, I worked with a different development team under funding from DARPA and then NSF to develop a Web-based application that formally taught thinking skills and provided enhanced scaffolding on analyzing primary and secondary multimedia sources using those thinking skills. We even were awarded a patent on that product.

But the market wasn’t ready for it, and as we came into No Child Left Behind, the at-that-time-new focus on thinking skills faded and we never really got past building prototype versions to demonstrate capability.

As I write today, I find myself wondering what kinds of technology products to support thinking skills are out there now about which I know nothing. I haven’t seen much in the literature. What are people doing to support thinking skills? How have things changed over the last 10 or so years? Is anyone doing anything innovative and would he/she be willing to talk about that work?

In fact, I’m wondering whether a group of folks out there might want to work with me to co-author an article on the state of technology-supported critical thinking. Maybe it isn’t one article, but rather a special issue, perhaps like the special issue of Educational Technology on design decisions I guest edited a few years back. So, what are you doing and is anybody out there interested?

Guest blogger:  Dr. Ward Mitchell Cates is associate dean for Lehigh University’s College of Education where he is professor of Teaching, Learning, and Technology. He has published over 70 articles, monographs, book chapters, instruments, and proceeding papers related to educational technology. Contributing or consulting editor for two journals, he reviews for several more. He has been involved in numerous grant projects, principally focusing on the use of technology to enhance instruction. Dr. Cates is a former international president of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology and serves on its Foundation Board. This past November he received AECT’s Distinguished Service Award.

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Jongpil Cheon

Jongpil Cheon

by Jongpil Cheon

The faculty members in instructional technology program were invited to visit some classrooms by a technology support team of a school district. All the classes we visited in two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school were using a Smartboard and clickers (classroom response system). In the discussion session, the main request from the technology support team was that these tools should be in pre-service teacher curriculum. I understand that these tools become more popular and we need to teach how to use the tools. However, all classroom activities were still teacher-centered except that the students chose their answers with clickers or pointed at something on the screen in front of the class. I felt there was a gap between real classroom settings and research findings. I started thinking about how to narrow the gap in a practical way. There should be something we could provide for teachers rather than journal article. That’s my initial thought.

Web 2.0 has been a big word. As the owner of this blog stated, Web 2.0 tools have three big features: a) easy to learn, b) variety of tools, and c) low cost and networked community. There are many websites introducing Web 2.0 tools such as In addition, some sites focus on classroom tools such as However, there are a few websites that introduce currently available technology tools for K-12 classrooms with useful categories and application samples. Therefore, I opened a wiki space ( to collect any available tools including hardware and software as well as website using Web 2.0 technology. I asked my students to add a tool they know. It is the beginning of my own project. The main goal is creating a resource to support effective Web 2.0 technology integration that would be the second edition of teacher technology handbook ( I am seeking ways of categorizing various tools based on a teacher’s point of view. Furthermore, an evaluation system such as a benchmarking system can be implemented with another Web 2.0 tool.

Screen capture of technology 4 classrooms wiki

If you have time, please add a tool to the wiki space, and let me know any useful website about Web 2.0 technology integration to classroom. You are more than welcome to suggest a categorizing method as a comment.

(Last, congratulations on launching a blog!  I hope this blog will be a resource and a communication point in the instructional technology field.)

Guest blogger:  Dr. Jongpil Cheon is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership in the Instructional Technology program at Texas Tech University.  He taught elementary schools in Incheon, Korea, and has served as an instructor at the Incheon Education and Science Research Institute, Incheon, Korea. Dr. Cheon has received numerous honors, such as being named outstanding doctoral student at the University of Memphis, and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. He has contributed to several instructional technology books and has many presentations and publications in the fields of adaptive learning system, online instruction and interface design. He has also served as a system manager in Advanced Instructional Multimedia Lab at the University of Memphis, and developed numerous websites, instructional technology integration manuals, and Web-based courses.

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Lynn Schrum

Lynn Schrum

I have studied educational technology for over 20 years; my work has focused primarily on teachers’ use of technology for teaching, learning, and professional enhancement.  Overall, we have always seen wonderful pockets of projects and ideas that are making a difference but we have not really seen the dramatic, large scale implementations that some of us have hoped for!  Recently, I reread The National Education Technology Plan (, released by the U.S. Department of Education in January 2005, and I was struck that its first action step is to “strengthen leadership.” A true “ah-ha” moment!

Although teachers often have courses in technology integration at the preservice and inservice levels, unless those teachers also have the leadership of their administrator, they may be unable to successfully use that technology (NCES, 2000). It seems clear that administrators are not able to lead their schools’ or districts’ technology integration if they do not understand what is involved in this process. Additionally, while the ISTE NETS for students and teachers have been widely adopted and adapted, the administrator standards (currently being refreshed: have had little impact thus far.

In a recent review of the 50 United States, Schrum, Galizio, and Ledesma (under review) found that only a few states mentioned technology integration as necessity for new administrators to earn their license.  A few required a portfolio (although not necessarily an electronic one!), and one did mention technology, but in general, states leave it up to institutions to determine what a future administrator needs to know about technology.  In an examination of several universities who are recognized by each state to grant or recommend administrators, many have a course on “Data Driven Decision Making” but only a few had a course on technology integration as a requirement.  We can be pretty certain that there is a relationship between the technology training school leaders have (or seek) and the support teachers receive for integrating it.

This perspective of the need for collective mobilization guided a new research study and became the lens through which the data were filtered. We are inviting school leaders who are using, supporting, or even encouraging their schools to integrate technology in meaningful ways to answer some of our questions.

The URL is: at

Or, if you are lucky enough to know such a leader, you can invite him/her to complete the survey.

Guest blogger: Lynne Schrum is a Professor and Director of Teacher Education in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University.  Her research and teaching focus on appropriate uses of information technology, online and distance learning, and preparing teachers for the 21st century. She has written four books and numerous articles on these subjects; the most recent is New Tools, New Schools: Getting Started with Web 2.0. Lynne is currently on AERA’s Council, past-president of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and currently editor of the Journal of Research on Technology in Education (JRTE) (2002-2011).  More information can be found at

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Yuri Quintana

Yuri Quintana

Increasingly social networks are being used in business, education and by non-profit groups. Which social networks do you use? Which one is your favorite? Why is it your favorite? How should educators be using these networks? How can these networks be used in the classroom? What kinds of student projects could be done for course credit?  Here’s a list of some popular and some niche networks.  Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Professional Social Networks <> <> <> <>

Wireless Social networks <> <> <> <>

Social Networks for MDs

Networks for Scientists

Create  Your Own Social Networks

Self-Publishing and User Contributed Content

Video Publishing

Guest blogger: At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Yuri Quintana has led the development of several international online projects, including, an online pediatric cancer education Web site used by thousands of health professionals in 164 countries; Pond4Kids, an online system used for international pediatric cancer protocol research; and Consult4Kids, a Web-based system used by health professionals for clinical consultations. Prior to coming to St. Jude, Quintana was a principal investigator in the Canadian HealNet Research Network focusing on consumer health informatics; while there, he designed breast cancer decision support systems for the Canadian Cancer Society. Formerly a faculty member at the University of Western Ontario, Quintana also served as director of the New Media Research Lab. He has held high-tech positions at IBM Canada Limited, Watcom Inc., WATFAC, and the University of Waterloo. The chair of four international conferences on medical informatics, Quintana earned master’s and doctoral degrees in systems design engineering and an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and computer science, all from the University of Waterloo. Quintana is currently focused on the development of innovative Internet technologies that empower communities of health care professionals and consumers to communicate, learn and collaborate on a worldwide basis.

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David Lindenberg

David Lindenberg

We’ve all seen it:  The training material that is a jumbled mess of mismatched graphics, hard-to-read text and no sense of cohesion whatsoever.  What good is the content if the learner needs a decoder ring to decipher it?  Therefore, I offer up my Top 11 List of Style.  Why eleven?  Because eleven is the new ten (actually, I just couldn’t narrow it down).  None of these topics are new, but rather a collection of style principles I adhere to when developing materials.

  1. Font style – Pick two fonts, one for your body text and one for your headers.
  2. Font size – Keep it standard, not too big, not too small.
  3. Graphics – Exercise prudence.  Don’t mix and match (i.e. don’t use a clipart cartoon in one spot and a photograph in another).
  4. Colors – Generally, stick with dark font colors against a light background.
  5. White space – Embrace space.  Make it your friend.  Not everything needs to be covered with text or pictures.
  6. Text blocks – Avoid large chunks of text.  Use bullet points to break the text into more visual-friendly parts.
  7. Alignment – Pick an alignment and stick with it.  Use center align sparingly.
  8. Branding – Put your company and/or department logo on the material.
  9. Consistency – Strive for a consistent look and feel throughout the material.
  10. Template – If there is a chance of reusing the material again for another project, put all of your style options in a blank template.
  11. Style sheet – Create a style sheet for others who may be helping develop the material, or for future reference/reuse.

For a more in-depth explanation of many of these principles, see Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Design Book.

Guest blogger:  David Lindenberg is a practicing instructional designer at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee.  He is a graduate of the Instructional Design & Technology program at The University of Memphis.

Paul Ayers

Paul Ayers

by Paul Ayers

Let’s consider for a moment a formal definition put forth by Alan J. Cann for Personal Learning Environments (PLEs).  A PLE is:

a system that helps learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to set their own learning goals, manage their learning, manage both content and process, and communicate with others in the process of learning.

Graham Attwell also makes a strong case for PLEs in his article in his article “Personal Learning Environments – the future of eLearning?

Both Cann and  Attwell caused me to begin reflecting on the tools and activities I use to learn and demonstrate my learning, from working within my university’s LMS to using Web 2.0 tools like Wikipedia and Flickr to an old-fashioned Google search. It occurred to me everything I use to assist me daily with formal and informal learning pretty much meets the definition set above. But there also seems to be a gap. The ease and tools with which to share my learning are not as readily apparent.
Here is my take on it. We are close, but not there. We are more capable than ever of finding information and acquiring new knowledge, but how are we doing with the “reflecting on it and doing something with it” part? Do most learners really want to control their learning environment and to demonstrate knowledge acquisition to the degree a PLE might offer?

Ok…I’ll admit it…I am thrilled by the idea of a designed PLE to support learners, but I am also convinced it may not be the end-all-be-all solution to learning ownership. In an increasingly knowledge-driven society, we have to be aware of the probability that some learners aren’t as interested in showing what they know, but just knowing. The PLE of the future must make reflection upon and demonstration of knowledge as easy as acquisition. Otherwise, we may only be talking about Google 2.0.

Guest blogger: Paul Ayers holds a Master’s of Business Administration in Management and is a currently a doctoral student in the University of Memphis’ Department of Instruction and Curriculum Leadership. His research interests include e-learning applications higher education settings, hybrid learning environments, and instructional design. Paul currently works with International Paper as a contract instructional designer, where he is developing e-learning solutions with subject matter experts in the Environment, Health and Safety division. In his spare time, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and home renovation.

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Charles B. Hodges

Charles B. Hodges

by Charles B. Hodges

I work in an environment where thousands of learners access web-based learning materials daily. Web-based learning is a major topic of research and discussion in the professional organizations to which I belong. I teach graduate-level instructional design courses, and I will soon be involved with undergraduate-level technology integration courses. Exploring the endless stream of new Web 2.0 tools that emerge and imagining (or reading in my friends’ blogs) how these might be used to facilitate learning is something I enjoy. Recently, I have found myself considering ethical issues surrounding all of these interests:

When designing instruction, how much attention should be given to making sure that instruction is accessible to all learners?

By accessible here I mean accessibility in terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In conversations with colleagues on this topic I have heard comments like: “If federal money is not involved, you don’t have to worry about accessibility.”, “Why worry about something that affects such a small number of people?”, “We’ll worry about accessibility when someone complains.”

These comments were both shocking and depressing to me at the same time. Shouldn’t we do the right thing for our learners, all of them? I often describe an instructional designer as being an advocate for the learners. I understand the difficulty involved with making accessible web-based materials. A great deal of my work has involved mathematics and the specialized symbols necessary for communicating mathematics brings the difficulty to the forefront quickly. I also understand the issues of cost during development in both time and money. However, for those that have commented to me about small numbers of people (which I am not sure I buy, by the way), I have tried to champion the case of accessibility makes for better usability for ALL. Who wouldn’t, for example, like to be able to search the text of a podcast for all the instances of a particular word or phrase?

For now I have decided to take a middle road — demonstrating emerging technologies and discussing clever and interesting uses of them for education, while at the same time making it clear that there are real issues regarding accessibility for many new web-based tools and services. Is this the right thing to do? I am starting to see eyes roll when I bring up accessibility and I think that is progress. My interpretation of the rolling eyes is “here we go again.” They must be starting to remember

Guest blogger: Chuck Hodges has worked in higher education for nearly 17 years, all in math departments. He has earned degrees in Mathematics (B.S., M.S.) and Instructional Design and Technology (Ph.D. from Virginia Tech). Currently, he wears many hats in his role as manager of the Virginia Tech Math Emporium: facilities manager, researcher, logistics expert, stand-up trainer, and learner advocate. He will soon be surrendering all of those hats to move south and be an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at Georgia Southern University.

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Elizabeth Boling

by Elizabeth Boling

Years ago when I read Design for the Real World (Papanek, 1973), I was not anticipating ending up in a design field where the issues he championed would actually apply to my work. Over time, however, I find my thoughts returning insistently to the core of his message – most trained designers end up plying their trade to produce more stuff (or more experiences) for people who already have enough (or people who have too much! See The Plenitude, Gold, 2007). Furthermore, a world of design problems exists all around us, solutions to which are desperately needed but for which comparatively little funding is available and to which little glamour is attached. It’s easy to see that this is still true decades later when we contemplate the esoteric wine bottle openers and floor lamps, or the expensive office chairs and modular work systems that take up most of the space in product design publications. Even on the experience side, it is easy to see when we think about whether or not people too busy to sleep or to be civil to each other on the street really need another mobile communication device – especially one that will cost hundreds of dollars, require toxic materials to produce and rely on an unsustainable infrastructure to maintain.

But instructional designers … we’re the good guys of design, right? We improve people’s learning and their experiences of learning. We consider performance holistically and don’t just try to cram knowledge into people’s heads without regard for their circumstances or needs. We worry about school districts without computers, and we help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. Some of us even engage the objects of our design fully in the process and consider them collaborators in the design of instruction/systems that they will use. What could be wrong with that? Honestly, I am not sure there is anything very much wrong with it. I am just uncertain that we are offering our students the broadest view possible of instructional design’s potential in the world. If we had a publication that featured the most interesting and cool instructional design going on right now, how many of the projects featured in it would be focused in areas where people cannot find, or afford, instructional designers?

Guest blogger: Currently on sabbatical, Elizabeth Boling is an Associate Professor of Education and Chairperson of the Department of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University. She teaches and conducts research on the use of images in instructional materials, ISD as a design endeavor and on teaching design. She is also a designer of interactive multimedia and other forms of teaching and learning materials.

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