Session Three: Design Interaction April 20-26


1.  I think that when activities are well thought-out, they have the ability to check off all three areas of interaction.

Learner-Content Learner-Instructor Learner-Learner
Video Presentation X
Lecture X
Chat X X X
Discussion X X X
Peer Review of file exchange X X
Blog X X X
Synchronous Collaboration X X X
Email X X
  1. Discuss of the types of interactions that are most often used in the content area for which you expect to design instruction. Be sure to explain the content area, the types of students and types of objectives with which you will be working.

I teach credit ESL which focuses on academic reading, writing, grammar, pronunciation, and speech. These are nearly fluent immigrant students, international students, and 1.5 generation students. Courses are 1-3 semesters below freshman composition. Currently I am designing hybrid courses for our most advanced level. ESL 71 Course objective: Academic research and documentation, essay writing, academic reading, critical thinking. Students will meet 2 hours f2f and have the equivalent of 2 more hours of online work.

Types of interaction online:

  • Lecture- I hope to be able to teach a flipped classroom so that students are engaging in content during the f2f sessions; however, this will greatly depend on students’ comprehension of online lecture. My plan is to write a weekly outline of the key issues of the lesson.  This will be supplemented with text or article readings.  I will also create a podcast of my lecture.
  • Discussion– Even though the students will have f2f discussion, I want to utilize the CMS discussion board. I believe from what I have read that the discussion board will serve two main purposes:
  • Peer Review Collaboration– I love the peer view tools on Blackboard. Depending on what package your school has purchased, this tool might be offered through Turn-It-In or Safe-Assign; from what I can tell, they function identically. Here’s a video on how it works-  I will use this tool to have students peer review drafts of their essays. This will be a bi-weekly assignment.
  • CMS Quiz- I have a theory that if I create multiple choice quizzes through BB that are open book, I can increase student-content interaction. Quizzes are not something I have typically used in f2f classes. I just think that if students have quizzes prior to our f2f class, they will be more likely to do the assigned reading.
  1. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 of the Horton text discuss three categories of activities: Absorb, Do, and Connect. After reading these chapters you are to locate one or more online classes and identify one Absorb, one Do and one Connect activity. Present your findings using this format:


Course Content: EESL 545, Writing in TESOL.

 In this course students will examine how to teach writing to second language learners. In this course, we treat literacy as a social and cultural practice that is tied to social, cultural and power relations (critical literacy) as it is used for real-world contexts. As a methods course on teaching writing to English as a second/ foreign language writers, we will apply the above understandings to appropriate forms of instructional design and assessment for L2 learners at all ages and levels in both ESL and EFL contexts.

Intended Students/Probable Student Characteristics: This is a graduate level course. Students should have strong reading and writing skills. Since it is the second semester of an online program, students will all have had previous experience with online courses. Students are required to do high level of student-content and student-student interaction.

Instructor Characteristics: Instructor is an expert in content: B.A. in Linguistics, M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language and a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics; higher education professor since 2003. Instructor is also an experienced online instructor and recipient of an OODLE award for innovative online course design (OODLE= Outstanding Originator of Distributed Learning). Student-instructor interaction is minimal.

Identify the Type of Activity: Absorb – Do – Connect

Identify and Discuss the Interactions in the Activity:

Absorb– I was struck by the text’s description that in absorb activities “the learner may be physically passive but mentally active”. This actually goes against best practices for teaching reading and writing; for example, while reading (what might be perceived as a physically passive activity) the student should be making marginal notes, outlining, demonstrating critical thinking of content through a talk aloud, etc. (all physical activities)

In this particular EESL course, the instructor has delivered content through assigned text reading, posted articles, and lecture done on PowerPoint. Here is an example PP from the course:  Absorb_Presentation_PowerPoint

I really related to the best practices point that designers should “give learners control of presentations” (Horton, 84).   I absolutely detest when lectures are in video format because they seem so slow and I can’t scan them like I can written lectures; for that reason I prefer a written lecture with audio podcast to meet various learning styles.

I’d like to get some feedback on a question- Do students prefer textbooks or articles? Obviously set aside the cost issue. What works better in an online course: posted articles or a published text; or does it matter?

Do I guess the small group weekly “Literature Circle” that we had would count as a practice activity. Each week we traded job duties; we posted responses to our small group; we self-assessed at the end of the week. Sample:

According to the text, practice activities have a 3-step recurring sequence (Horton, 131):

  1. Assigning task- Check
  2. Perform- Check
  3. Feedback- This was missing from the course. Throughout the semester there was never any feedback on any of the Lit Circle work. I noticed that toward the end of the quarter one of my classmates made increasingly more argumentative comments that were his open attempt to see if the teacher even read the activities; however, no feedback was ever given. I realize that there is a debate about whether or not instructors should participate in discussion, but I don’t think there is any debate that teachers should provide ongoing prompt feedback on work.

Connect Doing and absorbing an activity is crucial. With adult students I think this is best achieved when assignments directly relate to students’ professions “job aids” (Horton, 164). For example, in this EESL class, we were asked to create a e-portfolio on types of writing assignments we would create for a specific writing course. For various pieces of the portfolio, we needed to “cite- examples” (Horton, 171). Students worked in groups based on the level they taught, and they chose the specific type of course to design the assignments around. The portfolio included 3 genres of writing assignments with directions and rubrics for assessing the assignments. Here is our portfolio-

Session Two: March 13-19, Design – Content, Student and Instructor Characteristics


1. Scenarios

To address these scenarios, identify the major characteristics or issues that would impact or influence the design of the described online class. Be sure to indicate which of the characteristics you identify would be your prime concern. Also be sure to indicate how each of the major issues you identify would influence your design of the online class.

You have been asked to lead the team that is developing a series of courses for an online University. Explain some design decisions or issues that you would have to deal with for each class given the characteristics of the content, instructors and students as presented. Note: Pick the most salient characteristics and issues and explain why the ones you have chosen are key. Don’t try to cover every possible issue in each scenario!

Course A

Content: This course will cover beginning college algebra.


Instructor(s): This course is taught by various adjunct and full time professors who are very familiar with the content who have differing degrees of tech skills and online teaching experience. The same class has to serve for all instructors.


Students: All students in this course are college freshman and sophomores with good technology skills and each has successfully taken an online orientation to online learning course.


Dr. Newberry’s podcast describes math as a convergent subject meaning the subject lends itself to one correct response.  This would simplify instructional design since problem-solving could be modeled given that students would be expected to follow the same solving steps.

Issues 1-2 are the primary concerns.

Issue 1) The first issue has to do with having a mix of part and full time faculty teaching:  first, while they all may be experts in content, they might not have the same level of experience with course or program requirements and objectives.  For this reason, a robust explicit link between “learning objectives and organizational goals” (Horton, 12) would be beneficial.

Issue 2)  The second issue has to do with technical skills and online teaching experience.  If full time faculty develop a complete course shell for every online course and provide it for each instructor teaching a section, the experience and work needed to create a shell from scratch is eliminated. As you choose media(61), consider technical skills needed and value of that media meets learning activity.  Stick standard CMS features for basic shell and allow individual teachers to personalize their own shells with added Web 2.0/3.0 features depending on experience.


No issues here- “analyze learners’ needs and abilities” (13). 


Course B

Content: The course is a philosophy of leadership class.


Instructor(s): The instructor is an experienced face-to-face instructor with good tech skills and prior online teaching experience. This instructor prefers lecture and discussion classes.


Students: Graduate students who are well motivated and with a broad range of technology skills, from average to very advanced.

The fact that this is divergent content makes it a primary concern.

Issue:  This is obviously an example of divergent content and therefore does not have one clear correct response or path to deduction.  Picking objectives for types of information (23) and setting the criteria for success (25) will be key.

Issue:  Sounds like this teacher needs to “choose how to meet objectives”(36-42) because it sounds like they may have a preference for facet-to-face and they need to consider what learning situation will best meet the course objectives.  It’s quite possible that through media choices (61-63), they might find that they are able to create lecture and discussion in an online format.

Issue:  In analyzing learners’ needs and abilities (13), the benefit is that these students are graduate level so they have a proven college success and should have competent writing and critical thinking skills to handle online classes; however, the drawback is their varied technical skills.  “Testing to identify essentials” (14) about those technical skills would prove useful. 

Course C

Content: This course is an introduction to college success. It teaches study skills, communication skills, and tries to help students learn how to fit into the college community.


Instructor(s): This course will be taught by various instructors all with good tech skills and prior online teaching experience but who have never taught this content before.


Students: Students are incoming freshman who have been identified by advisors as high risk for drop out.



1) This course content will lend itself to a mix of convergent and divergent.  The instructor will need to set learning objectives and set a criteria for success (16-25).

2) The content in these type course is often drastically different depending on sections, so faculty will want to focus on teaching “essential objectives” (31).

Issue:  The most important issue is for the faculty to “identify what to teach” (14).  It seems odd that this comes up under instructional design because at an Accredited Institution, course approval happens at least a year before a course ever gets offered.  The same is true for setting learning objectives (16).  The role of instructional designer really comes in at the point of “picking the approach to meet each objective” (35).

The primary concern is the at-risk student population.

Issue: These would be my students : )  Analyzing learners’ needs and abilities (13) will show that risk factors may vary drastically, so this will likely be a mixed abilities class.  Selecting learning activities (51) will play an important role since students do have high drop risk. 

2. Now, think about an online learning experience that you might someday create. Describe in detail the content, instructor and student characteristics. What are the design issues or features that these suggest? Explain your answers.

Course:  ESL 71 Academic English II.

Content:  Course is pre-collegiate basic skills level. Emphasis is on practice in college-level reading, critical thinking, expository essay writing, and research skills.

Instructor:  Instructor is full time and very experienced with content and in teaching this class in a traditional class; however, teacher has never taught online although is very familiar with CMS and has fair technical skills.

Student:  This is the third (and most advanced) in a series of three Reading and Writing courses to help non-native English students develop and improve academic reading and writing skills.  Students will have varied technical abilities and most will not have taken an online course before.

Issue:  This is divergent content.  Although think alouds can be done to model reading and critical thinking and modeling of student essays can be shown, the reality is that there are multiple ways to reach a variety of acceptable responses.  Ultimately, students must be given tools to choose from and they must learn how to utilize those reading thinking, and writing tools.

Issue:  As a new online instructor, teacher will need to focus on “picking the approach to meet each objective” (35) and media choices (61-63).

The primary issue is that these are basic skills level students with limited English proficiency and no previous online experience.

Issue:  Need to “analyze learners’ needs and abilities” (13). 

 3. List the 11 instructional design steps presented in chapter 1 of the text (Design Quickly and Reliably).

1.     Identify your underlying goals

2.     Analyze learners’ needs and abilities

3.     Identify what to teach

4.     Set learning objectives

5.     Identify prerequisites

6.     Pick the approach to meet each objective

7.     Decide the teaching sequence of your objective

8.     Create objects to accomplish objectives

9.     Create tests

10. Select learning activities

11. Choose Media

12. *  Then redesign again and again

Session One Introduction



Happy Spring Quarter Everybody! I have a feeling that many of my classmates will be the same classmates from former classes, so I’ll be brief.  This is my third quarter at CSUSB and after this class I’ll have my e-Learning Certificate.  I’ve leaned toward the Online Methodology courses and shied away from the Techie classes, and I’m hoping that doesn’t come back to bite me when I put all of this into practice teaching hybrid classes and taking on the role of Educational Technology Chair at my college next year.  I am seriously wondering which basic technology classes I should be taking; any suggestions?  I took ETEC 500 and a few of you might remember what a challenge HTML was for me.  I don’t need to know how to fix anything, but it would be great if I didn’t think the IT guys were speaking a foreign language.

It’s spring so I thought I would share some wildflower shots-  My motto- turn-off the computer and go outside!


I look forward to hearing from my fall and winter colleagues and hopefully some new faces for spring too.

Prompt Responses-

1. Explain the relationship between distance learning and online learning.

The key similarity between distance education and online learning is the goal of offering education to students in a non-face-to-face medium.  They share the goal of trying to provide flexibility to students who don’t wish to or can’t attend classes in a traditional classroom setting.  Throughout history distance education has utilized changing technology to provide faster service and more media richness; the same can be said for online education which is constantly in a state of transformation based on the latest technology.

2. Discuss the main difference between distance learning and online learning.

I see two key differences between distance learning and online learning: interaction and synchronicity.  Distance learning was based entirely one a student/content mode of learning without any interaction between students and classmates or students and teachers.  On the other hand, good online teaching methodology builds strong student/instructor and student/student relationships. Online learning also allows for the possibility of synchronous learning as technology advances.  While the majority of online learning is still asynchronous, social media and video conferencing has created more opportunities for real time communication.

3. List the three types of interaction proposed by Moore (1989) and explain each type of interaction in your own words.

Moore (1989) “proposed three types of interaction…: learner-content interaction, learner-instructor interaction, and learner-learner interaction” (as cited in Newberry).  Much attention has been placed on linking student success with these three types of interaction. 

It is an online instructors’ role to facilitate ongoing, active participation between instructor, student, and content. By calling attention to all three of these variables, instructors can foster a deeper, more meaningful online learning experience and prevent an online course from resembling antiquated information (Academic Partnerships, 2013).

Each of these interactions play a pivotal role in engaging the student in learning-

·      learner-content interaction-  learner in this way is an individual/isolated experience between the learner and the content. 

·      learner-instructor interaction- this learning requires interaction between the teacher and student.  Teacher presence may come in the form of video or written lectures, emails, feedback on assignments, comments on discussions, etc.

·      learner-learner interaction- exchanges between students in a learning community are able to further one another’s knowledge.  Typical interaction in an online format would be through discussion/blog posts and comments. 

A more detailed description of online activities that define each of these interactions can be found in Towards an Understanding of Interactions in Distance Education

Academic Partnerships. (2013).  Three types of interaction that foster student engagement.  Faculty eCommons.  Retrieved from:

4. Discuss some of the differences between the early days of online learning and today. Then make some predictions about the future of elearning. Please include at least one good article/website/citation for this item.

Moore and Kearsley’s (2012) book Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning gives a very thorough background on the history of online learning.

The earliest days of online learning really just took advantage of the world wide web to delivery distance education at faster speeds.  For all intense purposes, emphasis was still on student/content of course material.  As the internet expanded resource offerings and a more media rich environment, educators took advantage of changing technology to incorporate multi-media into online classes.  Because online education was so negatively viewed, proponents have worked hard to establish connectivity online as proof that it is just as successful as traditional instruction.  In more recent years, that stigma attached to online education has begun to dissipate, however, brick-and-mortar schools with online programs are still more esteemed than fully online educational institutions.  It will be interesting to see if this changes in the future.  For now the spotlight seems to be on MOOC and similar open learning.  My fear is that the frenzy behind opening learning will create a push for massively enrolled online courses with no student/instructor or student/student interaction.  I’m afraid in our excitement to offer free education to the masses, we may be taking a step backwards by returning to student/content and multiple-choice automatically graded assessment.

I don’t think it is all that surprising that when I researched scholarly journals on the future of online learning, a list of articles came up about gaming:

·      Video Games and the Future of Learning.-

·      Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age.

·      Using massively multiplayer online roleplaying games for online learning

More and more I think the expectation is for education to entertain.  Blame it on the earliest models of distance education when media began producing professional educational videos.  No longer was the responsibility on the learner to make imaginative connections with written text, it became the responsibility of a third party to make content entertaining.  Good news for the publishers!