Category Archives: Instructional Design

Creating good iterative learning environments with tested procedure

Educational Design Models

I have taken the liberty to ‘lift’ the definitions and one resource link of the educational design models that my classmates have provided in our recent assignment. It’s not a complete list of the work done as some disinterested me or were not clarified well.

Action Learning uses movement to improve learning, memory retention and retrieval.

Action learning is an extension of kinesthetic learning.

The idea is by engaging the whole body you can engage the whole brain.

Situated Learning

Learning is situated in the activity in which it takes place. Learning is doing.

An instructional approach developed by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger in the early 1990s, and follows the works of Lev Vygotsky, John Dewey, and J. G. Greeno who claims that students are more inclined to learn by actively participating in the learning experience.

Distributed Learning is the application of a multimedia approach to instruction.  In a Distributed learning environment, students are exposed to distance-learning, web-based instruction, flipped classroom experiences, videoconferencing in addition to direct instruction.

Microworlds are learning spaces that enable students to explore a concept or an idea. Ideally a microworld will be easy to understand or manipulate and this simplicity will allow growth and reinforce the concepts that are being taught by giving the students freedom explore the given concept within the boundaries of the microworld or simulation.

Problem Based Learning

Students learn by the experience of solving a problem. Other skills can be developed along with solving the initial problem. Also, there is often no predefined solution.

Problem-based learning promotes learning through the process of inquiry.

Inquiry Based Learning is a constructivist approach to learning facilitated by a leader. It is natural for people to ask questions about the world around them to make meaning and IBL takes advantage by actively involving the student in their own learning. Through exploration and reflection new knowledge is gained and that knowledge, discovered or rediscovered, is retained and holds greater value.

Discovery Learning is a method of inquiry-based instruction. It is a constructivist based approach to education that is supported by the work of learning theorists and psychologists Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, and Seymour Papert.

Collaborative Learning



I save all the PDFs I get from school in my computer – I rarely print any out, finding that reading them on the computer is just fine. In anticipation of Gagne, Wager, Golas, and Keller, with Sink as well, I thought it best to print and bind, really not knowing how deep I was going to have to go. I knew that much of the remaining time of the course would be on design and I really hoped over hope that I would like the articles and find them interesting enough to continue enjoying the course. I was relieved.

It’s pretty geeky material, but I found it to be interesting and maybe even a little fun(?) to consider. My only complaint, and it’s a steady one for me now, is that I don’t have enough authentic opportunity to play in this arena. I’m still very much locked into the theory. I wish I had some (any) places to practice this.

I like all reiterative notions of design and Gagne et al. honor that throughout each step with normative assessment. Luckily, I’m looking forward to the next weeks of class where I can put Instructional Systems Design in practice.

DofI and SAMR were both new to me and I found their notions intriguing – and certainly worth following as I move forward into service. Again, I’m looking forward to tying this together in the next weeks in class.


Where Ideas Come From: Johnson, Drexler, McGonigal / Connectivism (10/24 – 10/30)

I tried. I watched the videos. I read the articles. I was going to do the assignment – seek signals, put them together. I became indifferent and wandered away. I didn’t dislike McGonigal, she just disinterested me. Nothing there to grab ahold of. Toffler, Gibson, Godin, and now McGonigal. It’s not you Jane, it’s me and my poor history with futurists, but it’s time for me to move on.

On the other hand, the PLN assignment grabbed me. I put a lot of time and thought and effort into it. I don’t use the Google suite that much. Never really had much cause to meaningfully yet. Getting the chance to use Sites was good for me alone, but all the better that I was pushed into a box of showing my PLN. I’ve never dropped a feed anywhere either. Never had a need, but I like it. I could do that again on my own server when I have the time – and offer a like space to students interested in doing it themselves. It also affirmed my choices in a good way. I think I’m doing ok there – in the connected arena.

The assignment made me think of how important PLNs must be to so many people in so many ways, and how most probably don’t give much thought about it. Healthy humans strive for connectivity, for like minded people, things, ideas. The most popular sites in the ‘net reiterate that notion – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit are connectors – the experiment still continues with these – good or bad. I am thinking much more about my network and how I can add and take effectively.

What I did do in honor of my new acquaintanceship with connectivism is read How the Internet Is Complicating the Art of Teaching in the Atlantic about connecting teachers with OERs and the opportunities and tribulations with sharing coursework. Textbooks are/should be done. They separate themselves from connectivism in a very apparent way. The criticism of the textbook market is well placed and worn and I won’t add to it here – the article did make me think about how this data warehouse could be come meaningful and, as the article asks well, how to make it personal. Teaching is an art and science and my bet is always placed on the teacher who can take the personal and make it meaningful for others. To live in a time where someone can create and teach what interests them most, to the point where they are willing to give a piece of that in service of other’s learning, with the the hope that there are more than a few who are interested too, is exciting and a connected world that I find a future in.


Learning Theory Visited

Our educational technology class has traveled across the learning theory path using the stepping stones of:

Behaviorism w/ emphasis on B.F. Skinner and Teaching Machines
Cognitive Theory w/ emphasis on Schema Theory
Constructivism w/ emphasis on Technology and the Classroom
Connectivism w/ emphasis on New Media & New Learning and George Siemens’s Connectivism: A Learning Theory For a Digital Age

Today I created an HTML image map for Connectivism – it’s been many, many years since I’ve made one. I guess that they have fallen so far out of favor that the few HTML editing applications I have don’t create them well or at all. I ended up using a free image map creator online which served my purpose fine.

It’s unwarranted to pick a favorite theory or to rank them in terms of their importance in relation to educational technology. Each theory has its place at different times in performing the task of shepherding learners along their journey. I’ve found positive and useful instances of behaviorism in some applications and a terrible disservice to its qualities in others.

Applications that are minimalistic in approach and deep in design, such as Logo Programming, are engaging as they benefit from a Constructivist approach.

The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis wins a double mention as it ties in Cognitive Theory in so well with its use of schemata. If the game is played as intended, by bringing across all of the Zoombinis across all of the puzzles, each problem becomes appropriately challenging as it players learn from previous attempts.

For my final project for Ed. Tech I am using elements of Connectivism to bring students together internationally to answer individual queries among classrooms. Again, all the theories have their time and place and can create meaning for learners in different and pertinent ways depending upon their context.

Exercising Schema Theory: “Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero”


Consider how schema theory might be applied in the design of other instructional situations. For instance how might you apply schema theory to the teaching of using a library database or the benefits of a learning management system or cooking or minecraft or making cider?  Or how have you seen schema theory applied on a website, in a video, on a handout, in a group discussion…. 

I have chosen to answer this assignment by describing the use of schemata in the 1977 film by Charles and Ray Eames, Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero.

I am going to rely on this part of our reading to inform the use of schemata in the design of the film –

Readers comprehend a text when they are able to bring to mind schemas that match the particular content and structure of the material. As they begin to read, readers search for a schema to account for the information in the text. On the basis of this schema, readers construct a partial, tentative model of the text’s meaning. This model provides a framework for continuing the search through the text. The model is progressively refined as the readers gather more information from the text. Reading comprehension thus involves the progressive refinement of a coherent model of the text’s meaning. According to schema theory, therefore, meaning does not reside in the text alone, but is a product of the interaction of reader and text. (Armbruster 1986)

for the purposes of this assignment, and with no permission whatsoever, I’m going to take the liberty of altering a portion of the text to suggest that when watching a good instructional film, especially one such as the Eames’s, that “meaning does not reside in the film alone, but is a product of the interaction of viewer and film,” by breaking down segments of the content in coherent schemes. Powers of Ten uses one schema (chunk) upon another to create an accessible and compelling piece of instructional design.

Ten to the Power of One

Movie still from Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero

Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero, uses narration, film effects, and a logarithmic scale based on the power of ten to explain the relative scale of the universe in both outer and inner space.

Watch the video and consider schema theory as you ponder the vastness of our universe within and without:

Armbruster, Bonnie B. “Schema Theory and the Design of Content-Area Textbooks.Educational Psychologist (2009): p. 254.

Common Core State Standards Tie-ins

It being apparent that there aren’t Common Core Standards for Coding (although more than a few ways to tie it into other standards) I noticed that the Vermont Agency of Education Common Core site has wisely included in its English Language Arts/Literacy Area a curation of Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum resources which contains the article ‘63 Things Every Student Should Know In A Digital World,’ by Terry Heick.

 If I may, I would like to take some from this list that I think are closely aligned to coding and my project:

17. How to remix, mash, reimagine, tweak, hack, and repurpose media in credible, compelling, and legal ways:

• The best for first. I have done my best to model where I have found my resources and to what extent I have remixed them. I have learned a lot about Creative Commons and will promise to be better about licensing my own material.

27. How to effectively use technology in ways that might contradict their original purpose or design:
• This is another form of remixing, but is different. Especially in my way of thinking about developing projects that use parts from other tech – toys, broken computers, etc.

50. The consequences of using a single operating system (e.g., iOS, Android, Windows, etc.):
• I am extending this to the consequences of using a single source of community, prototyping sites (123D & Fritzing), Search Engines, and Open Education Resources.

63. Log-in info, passwords, old email address, and other trappings of digital life are a pain. Use password keepers and plan accordingly:
• Keeping secure, keeping code safe, no trespassing.

Under the ISTE Standards for Students, four over-arching categories are given – here I choose one under each category:

Creativity and innovation
Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

c. Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues
• Designing on a breadboard (model) and replicating it on Autodesk 123D (simulation) for a portfolio of Arduino circuits.

Communication and collaboration
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

d. Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems
• This will be incumbent upon each student under my demand. I highly respect this ethos.

Research and information fluency
Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

c. Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
• Students in my class will have a wide variety of resources to choose from and will not have the instructor at their call for cookbook instructions.

Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.

d. Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions
• Through respect and openness and the careful listening of students’ contributions.

Learning to Teach Arduino Coding – Autodesk 123D

For me to learn something and to be able to teach it I have to go far ahead of myself and then back off – go a little further – and back off again.

Now I have to think about what it would be like to teach this to an unknown group of students. How would I present the Arduino? What tools and components would I need? What would my budget look like? How do I set up a consistent teaching scenario?

Having discovered Autodesk’s 123D has helped me to concretize some of my thinking on this. What I did today was to go back (yet again!) to an early circuit and replicate it using the excellent book Introduction to Arduino, A piece of cake! by Alan G. Smith. I attached my breadboard to a piece of cardboard and attached the Arduino to this as well. This will help keep things oriented well and prevent the Arduino from flipping around when it’s plugged in. It would be my classroom’s culture to keep this orientation when using the bb setup with 123D.

IMG_4618 (1)

The next step was to create the circuit on the breadboard and 123D:


And then to run them both:

I feel good about this setup because now I can teach circuits using alligator clips and Serial Bus, on a breadboard, and using 123D. Using 123D will help to flip my classroom so that experiments can be made away and brought into the lab for replication. I also find that this reiteration helps to retain the concepts learned.

Mindstorms: Computers, Children, and Powerful Ideas

In my “Creating with Code” class I’m taking at the Marlboro College Graduate Center we have, appropriately, been studying Seymour Papert’s constructionism based on Piaget’s work in constructivist theory.


I will be revisiting meaning-making throughout this course and every course I take (and teach) while receiving my #42 endorsement and reinstatement of my teaching license.