Virtual School Meanderings

July 15, 2014

EDTECH537 – Potential Hazards Of Blogging

Earlier this summer, as you were preparing your blogging disclosure, we discussed some of the cautions about blogging. You read through such entries as:

Now that you have been blogging for a few weeks, have you encountered any situations that have made you feel uncomfortable in your blogging? Are there any potential issues that you could foresee occurring in the future (particularly when school is back in session and you have students, colleagues and an administrator to consider)? How have you or will you deal with these delicate situations?

Please post your response as a comment to this blog entry. For those reading this who are not a part of my EDTECH537 course, feel free to leave examples you have experienced.

July 14, 2014

EDTECH537 – Examining Generational Differences

Earlier this summer semester, you read:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

McKenzie, J. (2007). Digital nativism: Digital delusions and digital deprivation. From Now On, 17(2). Retrieved from

Reeves, T.C. (2008). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum from January 22-25, 2008 at

The main take aways from these readings included:

  • while the theory of generational differences exists and is a valid theory, there is no research at present that indicates instructional designers should modify instruction or instructional strategies to accommodate today’s generation of students
  • there is no reliable and valid research to support the belief that technology has somehow changed today’s generation of students
  • further to the fact that Prensky’s notion of digital natives isn’t based on research, McKenzie does a convincing job of illustrating how Prensky even misused the anecdotal “evidence” that he presents to support is beliefs
  • the only thing that can be said about today’s student, based upon reliable and valid research, is that they are more narcissistic than any previous generation

However, even faced with these realities in almost every semester where I use these three readings there are multiple students – often the majority of students – who still believe that the students they teach are fundamentally influenced by digital technology and it has changed the way that they learn in the classroom.

As educational technologists, what did you take away from these generational differences readings? How would you handle a colleague who bought into the notion of digital natives?

Please post your response to this prompt ON YOUR OWN blog. In addition to your response, you are asked to leave comments on at least three other students’ blogs. As always, you are asked to respond to those who leave a comment on your blog.

EDTECH537 – Week 6

Today begins week six of my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course. The students this week have a couple of blogging activity that they have to complete by the end of the week (i.e., midnight on Sunday).

  • post a blog entry on their blog in response to a prompt I post later today (due 16 July)
  • leave a comment on this blog in response to a prompt I post tomorrow (due 18 July)
  • post a blog entry on the course blog based on a prompt that I have posted (due 20 July)

The readings for this week included

  • Shoffner, M. (2007). Preservice English teachers and technology: A consideration of weblogs for the English classroom. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 7(4), 245-255.
  • Stiler, G. M., & Philleo, T. (2003). Blogging and blogspots: An alternative format for encouraging reflective practice among preservice teachers. Education, 123(4), 789-797.

The final thing I have asked them to do is to continue using Twitter throughout the week, and to use the hashtag #EDTECH537 for all class related tweets. Today at 10:00am EST, I will be posting the prompt that I want students to respond to on their blogs. Tomorrow I will be posting the prompt that I expect students to leave a common on my blog. Finally, I have created an EDTECH537: Blogging in the Classroom class blog, where I have posted a prompt that I want all of the students to join and post their response to that prompt as an entry on that class blog. The main purpose for this week’s activities is to give the students a sense of what it would be like to do blogging with their students where students have their own blogs, where students leave comments on a teacher’s blog, and where students contribute to a class blog.

July 10, 2014

EDTECH537 – Guest Blogger: Roles For MOOCs In Online And Blended Learning

As I mentioned in the EDTECH537 – Week 5 entry for my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course, I wanted to post a sample of a guest blog entry.

This guest post is contributed by Cathy Cavanaugh, PhD, who is the Director of Teaching and Learning, Worldwide Education, Microsoft Corporation.  She can be reached at  As is the tradition at Virtual School Meanderings, this will be the only entry today.

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) were developed in the mid-2000s to open access to US higher education to the global audience, especially learners who were not enrolled in a degree program, by offering free course materials and experiences without credit or entry requirements (Liyanagunawardena,  Adams, & Williams, 2013). Hundreds of MOOCs for millions of learners have been offered under a range of models around the world, as shown in the table below. See MOOC List for examples,

Table. MOOC delivery models

Provider Learners Funding
Public college or universityPrivate or profit college or university

Professional association

K-12 education authority

For-profit education provider

Technology corporation

Non-profit organization

PublicStudents enrolled at sponsor institution

Target audience, such as a profession or interest group

By providerBy sponsor or advertisers

By students seeking a credential (certificate, badge)

By students seeking credit

Likewise, the learner experiences vary in MOOCs.

  • Course lengths range from a few weeks to a year, or self-paced
  • Student engagement may center on receptive activity such as using video lectures and other media, and reading ebooks; moderate episodic productive engagements such as brief computer-scored knowledge assessments or lower-order responses in forums; or intensive productive interactions such as sustained discussions, projects, and media creation
  • Feedback to learners may be automated, peer-to-peer, or from instructors; often differential feedback depends on whether students pay fees or take the course for credit
  • Pedagogical approaches include cMOOC, Downes’ learner-centered Connectivist type driven by human networks (Pence, 2013); xMOOC, a instructor/content-centered commercial and automated type driven by data (Pence, 2013); MOORC, Cavanaugh’s discovery-centered open research community driven by knowledge generation

Because the purposes of MOOCs vary and learners self-identify, they are designed to prioritize access rather than success. Therefore completion rates have been quite low. Critics see this situation as a disadvantage and focus on the cost/completer as a reason to discourage providers and learners from participating (Morris, 2013). Proponents see the large discrepancy between starters and finishers as evidence that the mission has been accomplished because a great many participants have experienced at least part of a course that otherwise would not be available to them, and most participants complete some learning (Morris, 2013). In a MOOC, the learners decide what and how much to learn. Their goals are individual and often do not have complete correspondence with course objectives.

Therefore, MOOCs are currently suited to some learning goals, as shown in the table below.

MOOCs are well suited for MOOCs are less suited for
Learners unable to access other education programsInformal learning by individuals seeking new skills or community networks

Learners using modules for specific learning that is more structured than using text or other media

Students assessing readiness, remediation, or a refresher for a credit course

Instructors expanding their teaching repertoire

Independent exploration of a domain

Institutional marketing or orientation

Public outreach by organizations

Experimenting with content and design due to the large amount of data generated

Learners in need of structure and feedbackLearning in ill-defined or complex performance-based domains

Developing high levels of expertise requiring coaching or mentoring

The full range of experiences that comprise most degree programs

Existing communities with specific product goals



For online and blended professional learning, a MOOC is a feasible and valuable model to consider for certain informal knowledge bases when openness and inclusivity are priorities, but not when acquiring specific objectives by specific audiences are priorities. A MOOC as a long-term goal would broaden the professional community.

For online and blended student learning, a MOOC is a scalable way to personalize learning for students who seek or need specialized knowledge, accelerated learning, or connections with specific communities of scholars.

Learning Theory applied to MOOCs

  Learning Theory Research on Practice
M=massive Social Learning: observational learning (Bandura) Class sizes optimal at under 20: accommodated using fluid and focused discussion and project groups (Monks & Schmidt)
O=open Andragogy: choice and differentiation to account for varying experience and goals (Knowles)Expertise: time, practice, and feedback are needed (Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Romer) Personalized learning and Flexible pathways: afford individualized mastery learning (Gates Foundation; iNACOL)Expanded learning time: efficient online (Liu & Cavanaugh)

Control and Connection: contribute to online learning (Repetto, Cavanaugh, Wayer & Liu)

O=online Connectivism: (Seimens) Effective when well-designed and facilitated: meta-analyses (Cavanaugh)
C=course Transactional distance: minimized with more interaction, structure and autonomy (Moore)Motivation: enhanced through feedback (Keller) Attention and Relevance are supported by course designs; Confidence and Satisfaction are supported by experienced instructors. (Carpenter & Cavanaugh)


Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Carpenter, J. & Cavanaugh, C. (2012). Increasing Student Motivation through Mentoring Practices. In L. Archambault & K. Kennedy (Eds.), Lessons Learned in Teacher Mentoring: Supporting Educators in K-12 Online Learning Environments. Vienna, VA: iNACOL.

Cavanaugh, C. (2009). Distance education in support of extended learning time in K-12 schools. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.

Downes, S. (2006). Learning networks and connective knowledge. Accessed at

Downes, S. (2007). What connectivism is [Web log post]. Accessed at

Downes, S. (2009, December 4). Re: The reciprocity economy [Web log post comment]. Accessed at

Ericsson K, Krampe R, Tesch-Romer, C: The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. Psychological Review 1993, 100:3, 363-406.

Keller, J. (1983). Motivational design of instruction. In C. Riegeluth (ed.), Instructional Design Theories and Models. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Liu, F. & Cavanaugh, C. (2011). Online Core Course Success Factors in Virtual School: Factors influencing student academic achievement. International Journal of E-Learning 10(4)43-65.

Liyanagunawardena, T; Adams, A; & Williams, S. (2013). MOOCs: A systematic study of the published literature 2008-2012. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 3, p. 202-227. SSN 1492-3831. Available at

Monks, J., & Schmidt, R. M. (2011). The Impact of Class Size on Outcomes in Higher Education. The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy11(1).

Moore, M.G. (2007). The Theory of Transactional Distance. In M.G.Moore (Ed.) (2007) The Handbook of Distance Education. Second Edition. Mahwah, N.J. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 89–108.

Morris, L. V. (August 08, 2013). MOOCs, Emerging Technologies, and Quality. Innovative Higher Education, 38, 4, 251-252.

Pence, H. E. (2012). When Will College Truly Leave the Building: If MOOCs are the Answer, What Is the Question?. Journal Of Educational Technology Systems41(1), 25-33.

Repetto, J., Cavanaugh, C., Wayer, N., & Liu, F. (2010). Virtual High Schools: Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 11(2), 91-104.

Siemens, G. (2003). Learning ecology, communities, and networks: Extending the classroom. elearnspace. Available at

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Available at

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Available at

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. Available at

This guest post is contributed by Cathy Cavanaugh, PhD, who is the Director of Teaching and Learning, Worldwide Education, Microsoft Corporation.  She can be reached at

July 7, 2014

EDTECH537 – Week 5

Today begins week five of my EDTECH537 – Blogging in the Classroom (see EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom). The students this week have a couple of blog entries that they have to complete by the end of the week (i.e., midnight on Sunday).

  • a Commentary Entry (which I described as “exactly as they sound – entries where the blogger provides a commentary about something. The ideas for these commentaries can come from any variety of places, including current events, a blog entry that someone else has posted, a comment that someone left on your blog, something you have read, etc..”
  • a Guest Blog Entry (which I described as potentially taking “the form of any kind of blog entry. So it could be a links entry or discussion question entry or a commentary entry or a list entry or anything really. The key is that it is written by someone other than the blog owner – ideally someone the blog owner solicited because they valued their perspective and wanted to share it with their readers.”)

The readings for this week included:

  • Mortensen, T., & Walker, J. (2002). Blogging thoughts: Personal publication as an online research tool. In A. Morrison (Ed), Researching ICTs in context (pp. 249–278). Oslo: InterMedia, University of Oslo. Retrieved from
  • Williams, J. B., & Jacobs, J. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(2), 232-247.

The final thing I have asked them to do is to continue using Twitter throughout the week, and to use the hashtag #EDTECH537 for all class related tweets.

Tomorrow I will be post an example of a commentary entry, and on Wednesday I will post an example of a guest blog entry.

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