Session 3 Response to Prompts

A. Download the interactionsmatrix.doc file. Note that this is a table listing the three types of interactions at the top, with some sample activities on the left. Place an X in the cells to indicate which activities correspond to which interactions. Add some additional activities of your own and mark the cells appropriate to the types of interactions each represents.


B. 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.

As the courses I will be designing do not involve an instructor, the Learner-Instructor interactions will be conspicuously absent.  In addition, there are difficulties with enabling Learner-Learner interactions within the courses I will be designing.  While I would love to engender a community of inquiry with participants dedicated to sharing and enhancing their training and education, the fear that such an open forum could become an off-topic “gripe space” is all too real.  As such, the positive benefits of having a shared learning space are greatly outweighed by the negative potential for unfavorable comments.  Just one unfavorable comment (posted by a customer inappropriately using the space to express dissatisfaction) has the potential to sour the attitudes of every visitor that sees the comment.  For our organization, our relationships with the learners (our distributors) are key to our business.  This means that removing any comment could cause a good customer to feel slighted, thus chasing our customer into the waiting arms of one of our competitors.

Connie Malamed has an e-Learning podcast that I enjoy listening to, and on the second episode of her podcast, The E-Learning Coach, she has a guest who discusses the pitfalls I just mentioned as they relate to the use of social networking sites for learner-to-learner interactions in corporate e-learning:

The types of interactions that I will be using exclusively, then, are those of the Learner – Content family.  I will be using videos, animations, text presentations with audio narrations, and various narrated interactive activities (learning games, branching scenarios / simulations, drag-and-drop interactions) as a way to engage learners.  The primary learning  objectives of these interactions will be “Decide” objectives, along with each of the enabling “Know”, “Believe”, and “Feel” objectives sprinkled throughout the courses.  The content will involve the properties and characteristics of selected rigging hardware and their safe and proper use.  The learners will be individuals involved in the rigging and lifting industry who are already familiar with much of the basic terminology and many of the procedures used in rigging today.

I will be constructing these interactions using Articulate Storyline.  In Learner-content interactions and learning effectiveness: A study of student perceptions , the study concluded that “…the participants indicated that a combination of various types of content presentation was the most effective catalyst to their learning, compared with single-media presentations. They also indicated that text-based online content ranked lowest in terms of motivation and engagement in learning.”  I am continuously trying to leverage the interactivity and programmable features of Articulate Storyline to present my content in a more dynamic and engaging way.


C. 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. 


Course Content: Bloom’s Taxonomy and Assessments
Intended Students/Probable Student Characteristics: Teachers, instructional designers, students interested in educational psychology or educational pedagogy
Instructor Characteristics: The developer of the presentation was someone who possessed a good understanding of the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy
Identify the Type of Activity: Absorb – Do – Connect


Identify and Discuss the Interactions in the Activity: A narrated video explains the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy using a combination of animations, illustrations, and textABSORB


Course Content: Bloom’s Taxonomy and Assessments
Intended Students/Probable Student Characteristics: Teachers, instructional designers, students interested in educational psychology or educational pedagogy
Instructor Characteristics: The developer of the quiz was someone who possessed at least a fair understanding of the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy
Identify the Type of Activity: Absorb – Do – Connect


Identify and Discuss the Interactions in the Activity: The activity is a “quiz”, which falls into the category of “DO” activities (although, when such a “DO” activity is graded, I suppose it becomes a “TEST”).  The learner interacts with a multiple choice test that can be taken at any time.DO


Course Content: Bloom’s Taxonomy and Assessments
Intended Students/Probable Student Characteristics: Teachers, instructional designers, students interested in educational psychology or educational pedagogy
Instructor Characteristics: This activity is not let by an instructor, nor do I imagine it was created by one.  This might even be considered a bit of a “stretch” as a Connect activity.
Identify the Type of Activity: Absorb – Do – Connect


Identify and Discuss the Interactions in the Activity: At the bottom of the transcript is a “Do you like this? [YES] [NO]” interaction which provides the user with the opportunity to evaluate the lesson.CONNECT_2If the [YES] button is clicked, the learner is asked to provide an explanation of why they liked that lesson.  It is in this space that the learner can describe why, and possibly connect the learned information to the reason why they liked it (applicability to their job, their life, etc.).CONNECT
Posted in Assignments

Session 2 Response to Prompts

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!


Content Description: This course will cover beginning college algebra.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:
  • RECALL(50%)

My primary concern would be that the content provide the learner with the opportunity to apply the mathematical concepts in the form of exercises.

Khan Academy has a very successful approach using videos and quizzes between lessons that each build upon one another to cover more and more advanced concepts.  This approach allows the content to be delivered asynchronously, and students can repeat the information as much as they wish.

In my design of the course, I think I’d encourage the instructors to take this approach, and I would ask for exercises that I could build into the course in the form of fill-in-the-blank questions, or possibly multiple choice (depending on the concept being reviewed or tested).  Of course, I wouldn’t discourage synchronous meetings.  However, I would make sure to record them so that students could peruse them at their leisure.

Instructor Description: 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.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:

The primary concern for me here would be that all professors be able to easily create course content.

Facilitating interaction between the students and the professors would be  something I would try to incorporate as well in order to cut down on personal email messages.  This would allow the professor to easily orient him or herself to the exercise or concept in question.  If the instructor logged into the site, they would immediately be able to see what questions needed answering, with links to the appropriate lesson materials.

Of course, with the range of technical comfort, all professors would need to have some instruction themselves on the interface.  I would create small instructional videos on how to create course content using something like Screenr or Articulate Storyline.

Student Description: 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.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:

My primary concern here would be to make sure that the system implemented for the course was “complaint-proof”.  These students will be very familiar with Twitter, Facebook, and other sites and apps that have a high level of interaction, so they will immediately recognize a poorly designed or poorly performing site.

I would focus my efforts on the design to provide familiar user-interface elements, make sure the system was fast, and that it incorporated responsive design elements so that the course materials could be viewed on multiple devices.

That would mean that I would stay away from Flash, and make sure that all interactions, videos and quizzes were HTML 5.

The students are college students, which typically means that motivation may not be the most important factor that needs to be addressed.  However, a poorly designed or poorly performing course could make the experience very negative, and the “learner to system” interaction could easily have a negative impact on their otherwise unblemished motivation.  I think this potential consequence reinforces the need for a careful design.


Content Description: The course is a philosophy of leadership class.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:
  • RECALL(10%)

My primary concern would be to facilitate the divergent nature of the content.  While there will surely be some terminology that could be used as convergent content for tests, the majority of the content and evaluations will have multiple paths.

Creating a structure for the course that would allow the students to easily interact with the professor, and with one another, would be my main focus.

Within that focus, I’d also concentrate on a design that would allow the students to easily “map” how they got from one concept or resource to another.  That way, the paths and procedures that each student had developed could be represented visually and reproduced by others, allowing for more exploration.

For instance, instead of referencing the talk “What we don’t understand about trust” on, the student could show the path that led there:

(Google “philosphy of leadership” -> Malone University -> keyword “trust” -> TED Talks “trust” -> Onora O’Neill)

That would allow another student to diverge at the “Malone University” step and key off of “honesty”, taking him or her on a new path of discovery.

Instructor Description: 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.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:

The primary concern for me here would be to make sure the professor has all the required structure and tools to record the lectures or perform them live and use interactive real-time virtual spaces that would encourage discussion among the students, as well as interaction with the professor.

If the professor preferred to not be interrupted during his or her lectures, I might suggest recording them so that they might be used in the future.  If the professor preferred discussion during the lectures, then I would design the course to be heavily populated with synchronous sessions.

Student Description: Graduate students who are well motivated and with a broad range of technology skills, from average to very advanced.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:

My primary concerns here would be to address the ability for the students to fluidly interact with the professor (mentioned previously), and to make sure the course materials and interface are easy to use.

As some of the students have only average skills, the design must ensure that the system does not present a barrier to learning for the less technically-inclined students.

Since they are graduate students, they already have a great deal of background knowledge, so I would be less inclined to emphasize the ease with which background content could be obtained.


Content Description: 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.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:
  • APPLICATION (100%)

My primary concern would be to design a course that has an extreme emphasis on a real-world application of the divergent material.

I think interactive branching scenarios could be really helpful here – self-contained interactions that allow students to make decisions and see the consequences of them in a simulation.

“Hey – there’s a great party tonight!  Our professor always uses the same test every 5 years, and my brother gave me all of his old tests!  I have the test we’ll be taking tomorrow, so don’t worry about studying.  Let’s party!”

  1. “You’re on!”
  2. “Don’t miss it on my account.  I’m not feeling well.”
  3. “You’re an idiot.  That’s not learning, that’s cheating.  If you use that test, I’m going to report you.”
  4. “I’d love to go, but I’ve got to study.  Thanks for the offer, though!”

The question wouldn’t stop there, but would have a series of steps that play out the scenario and demonstrate some of the potential consequences of each answer.

Given that some of the most at-risk students are those who work a full-time job or are part-time students or who have dependents, I would design this course to be mostly (if not completely) asynchronous.  I would also try to make the work load very light to avoid exacerbating the risk factor of “not enough time”.

Instructor Description: 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.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:

The primary concern for me here would be to design the course with enough flexibility that multiple technologies could be used, allowing the various instructors to bring in tools with which they are comfortable (since they are unfamiliar with the content).  Their high level of comfort with technology would allow me to do this, I think, and I would design ways for learner to instructor interaction to occur fluidly, as well.

Student Description: Students are incoming freshman who have been identified by advisors as high risk for drop out.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:

My primary concern here would be to make the course engaging.  I think branching scenarios could help with that.  Hey – if they aren’t engaged, I don’t think they’ll even bother to interact with the professor or with each other.

I think this course would need to feature interactive multi-media and learning games, interspersed with some passive media (such as video).

According to one resource, students who are most likely to drop out are:
  • Students who are not committed to the goal of a college degree
  • Students with lower high school GPA’s
  • Low income students, particularly those living independently and having dependents themselves
  • Students who work full time
  • Part-time students

While this course may not be able to affect the financial pressures of some of these at-risk students, it can certainly aim to educate them on financial assistance, dependent care programs, and resources that can help mitigate some of these factors.

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.

Content Description: This course will cover the rigging concepts that appear on the Crosby User’s Guide for Lifting, a laminated 18 panel reference card.Of the 18 panels, 1 is blank (for a distributor to place his or her label on it).  The other 17 panels all contain valuable information on slings, rigging hardware, inspection, and Crosby products.  Some of these panels are related, so the 17 panels break down into 15 different lessons.

User's Guide for Lifting

User’s Guide for Lifting

The course will be designed to be a self-contained web-based application.  Learners will take assessments after each of the 15 lessons, tied to an LMS.  If the user passes all 15 lessons, they can request a certificate of completion that they can proudly display at their place of business.

Design Issues or Features Suggested:
  • RECALL(20%)

The lack of interaction with an instructor suggests that convergent content will be appropriate for this course, where the learners can arrive at “correct” answers.

As no CEU’s are provided for taking this course, I will have some freedom in how the content is presented, and will not be bound by the usual and customary practices by which I might otherwise be constrained were I developing a course for the  higher education sector.

However, with regard to the categories covered by the Session 2 podcast, the content will be procedural (as opposed to holistic), with an emphasis on using the rigging card’s various formulae in simulated application of the material, with some content devoted to recall of the material (definitions of important safety procedures and rigging terminology).

Instructor Description: The course is designed very similarly to that of a traditional distance education course, as the learner interacts with the content only.The learner will listen to a narrator explaining concepts, while watching multiple visual stimuli: various visual representations of the rigging card being highlighted,  photographs, drawings, diagrams, and more.Intermittently, the user will have interactive activities (drag and drop, fill-in-the blank, multiple choice questions) that are not designed to assess what learning has taken place, but rather to provide the learner with a way to engage with the material, recall, and apply (in a simulated way) the knowledge the learner has gained.The learner will then take assessment quizzes (or tests) at the end of each lesson.
Design Issues or Features Suggested:

As I will be developing the course, I won’t be working with an instructor per se, however, I do need to be able to interact with the Subject Matter Expert to obtain answers to questions that I run into as I am developing the material.

The lion’s share of this work has already been done.  Our director of training has provided me with multiple Microsoft Word documents that contain the information he would like to see covered in the course, and I have a DVD version of the material that was created in 2007 (whose information is now out of date) which I can use for reference.

I have a high risk tolerance, so I am willing to create interactions that are not necessarily “tried and true”.  I want this course to be of extremely high quality and nowhere close to boring.

There will be no student to instructor interaction.

Student Description: The learners typically will fall into one of two categories:

  1. Riggers (who actually rig the load to the crane’s hook, or perform other rigging operations fastening and securing loads to a truck, for instance)
  2. Rigging Planners (who plan what rigging is to be used during which portion of the lift)
Design Issues or Features Suggested:

I expect the learners to be motivated, as the course is strictly optional, and a learner could quit at any time with no repercussion.

I feel obligated to design the course so that no prior experience is required with online classes.  That means my design must be simple, clear, and provide lots of explanation on how the user-interface works, and how the learner can take the quizzes to receive their certificate of completion.

In our industry, riggers have traditionally been less tech savvy than rigging planners, as rigging planners often use software programs in the course of their job, designing lifts and creating lift plans.  However,  with the recent popularity of iPhones and Android phones, the general level of comfort with technology has risen in recent years.  Still, these concepts must be able to reach those with the lowest technical skills, so the design must not disenfranchise those without regular access to a smart phone or a home computer.  Just having access to a computer at work must be sufficient.

It’s hard to gauge how much interaction the target audience will require, however, the course itself will not offer any technologies or even opportunities for interacting with the instructor or other learners.  Our organization does not utilize social networking sites, and for this type of course, I can see the potential pitfall of having a shared space created for learning suddenly turn into a “gripe zone.”

Regarding past experience, our learners are already in the rigging and lifting industry, and are already familiar with many of the rigging terms and practices that I will cover.  However, this course will aim to correct any misunderstandings of those definitions, and clarify how to safely lift loads (in general, and  with our products), and correctly inspect slings and rigging hardware.

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

Design Quickly and Reliably

Design Quickly and Reliably

Then redesign again and again!

Posted in Assignments

Session 1 Response to Prompts

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

Online learning is a form of distance learning.  Other examples of distance learning have included the use of postal mail, radio, or television as the medium by which lessons were disseminated to students.  Before the internet, students would communicate back to the instructor via postal mail.

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

The main difference between distance learning and online learning is the ability for students to transfer information back to the instructor more quickly than the traditional postal means of transmittal.  This communication efficiency has also allowed the transmission of information to other students as well, thus opening up new learning possibilities from other distance learners.

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

A) Learner – Content Interaction

  • I think of this as the way in which the learner engages with the materials and course content (Learner -> Content) and, if the content is not static, the way that the content adapts itself to the learner (Content -> Learner).  I think this latter area has great potential, and the idea of adaptive content sparks my interest.  I aspire to design learning programs that recognize when a student requires more review before tackling more advanced topics, or that can more fully engage an advanced student by not forcing him or her to slog through basic concepts that are already well understood (unless they want the review).

B) Learner – Instructor Interaction

  • I think of this as the communication of concepts from the teacher to the class (Instructor -> Learner), and the feedback, questions, and evaluations from the class to the teacher (Learner -> Instructor).  Here, I get excited about the idea of a feedback opportunity for each lesson back to the instructor.  “Was this lesson effective?  (rate 1 -5 stars)”  On the flip side, I think this is where most adaptive education occurs – where the human teacher recognizes the different levels of mastery in different students, and can make adjustments accordingly – saving one from boredom and the other from despair.

C) Learner – Learner Interaction

  • Ah, social networking.  We used to get in trouble for talking in class.  Now, we get graded on it!  I think of this as the “study group” idea – students focused on the topic, reviewing material and sharing new insights or additional sources of information.  Learner to learner interaction has to go beyond the “hey, great post!” correspondence.  If one learner has expertise in an area that can supplement or compliment the formal lessons, then you can obtain value from receiving more information.  However, I think the real value here is in the interaction itself – the discussion of topics, the questioning and challenging of others, and the process of being challenged and standing up for what you wrote, or seeing another perspective and changing your point of view.

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.

“Back in the day…”  I think of the development of e-learning as being closely tied with the development of what we call the web.  After all, you could teach a course by posting content on a web page and then having your students email you their assignments.  In ye olden times, it was enough to simply have information in an electronic format.  What started out as “static” text in web pages was originally exciting, until we got bored with it.  Then text and pictures came on the scene, and web pages were amazing, until we got bored again.  Then we wanted dynamic web pages – content that would morph and change based on how we interacted with it.  “Point-and-Click” courses were considered a novel way of getting information across, allowing the user to fully digest one concept at a time.  Then we wanted Learning Management Systems so that we didn’t have to do all of the manual bookkeeping and to allow students to bookmark their courses.  Interactive Flash movies became the pinnacle – with text, images, sound, and interactivity!  Then Apple came on the scene with iOS, and suddenly Flash was persona non grata.  Now, HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript seem to have become the dominant set of technologies for interactive courses delivered via a web browser, making them available on tablets and even mobile phones.  “Point-and-Click” courses are no longer seen as innovative.

So, what are my predictions?  I recently read a book called Brain Rules (well, listened to it twice, via Audible), and I believe the future will bring a revolutionary intersection between neuroscience and learning. Here’s a link to Leaps & Bounds for Teachers wherein John Medina is interviewed and speaks on the topic of intersecting brain science with education.  


There is also a lot of information at John’s site:


I think the revolution will consist of several things:

  1. e-Learning will be designed to better fit with what neuroscience research tells us about the way the human brain processes information (10 minute chunks of information, concepts repeated within 30 seconds during the original presentation of the information, designed to be repeated multiple times and over several sleep cycles, etc.)
  2. e-Learning will be encouraged to be supplemented by engaging other senses during learning – smells, and tastes – reinforcing the imprint of the memory being performed by the images, text, and audio
  3. e-Learning interactions will expand their design to work with haptic interfaces to engage the sense of touch, further reinforcing the memory of the learned content
  4. e-Learning will be adaptive to the learner and have the facility to expand or contract the material based on the demonstrated understanding of the content being presented (here’s a link to an article that explores one aspect of this idea.)

I also see a future where learning profiles are developed for each individual as he or she progresses through multiple education programs throughout their life – like a global LMS.   With intelligent and adaptive e-learning that communicates with such a profile, new e-learning courses could immediately adapt to the learning style or challenges of the individual without each course having to run its own heuristics.

Posted in Assignments

Session 1 Introduction

Matthew Atherton Photo

I am the Web Applications Manager for the The Crosby Group LLC (Tulsa, OK), where I manage a team of four software developers and personally create a variety of software products (e-learning courses, Android and iOS apps, web applications and desktop software).  I have a bachelors degree in Computer Science from Grinnell College, IA, and have been developing software professionally for 19 years.

I am pursuing my Masters in Instructional Technology for a dual purpose: I intend to use the acquired skills to make our company’s e-learning courses and synchronous training courses more effective and engaging, and I also intend to pursue a university-level teaching position within the next 15 years, which I hope will provide an opportunity for my young children to acquire an education without the burden of student loans.  I have a 2 1/2-year old son, and a 1-year old daughter.

I have extensive experience in video editing (Avid, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Pinnacle, Sony Vegas, GoldWave), multimedia tools (Flash CS3, Articulate Storyline, RapidIntake ProForm, PowerPoint), web development (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, ActionScript 2.0 & 3.0), databases (Microsoft SQL Server, DB2) and desktop application development (C#, VB.NET, Microsoft Visual Studio).

I have created two sets of e-learning courses for our organization, but was not the main designer.  I hope that this class will strengthen my skills in designing and developing e-Learning courses as well as synchronous training experiences.

Posted in Assignments