Week 4

EDET 674 Week 4 Essential Question: What lessons might we take from successful (and unsuccessful) OCL Institutional Innovations and from the concept of the Community of Practice (CoP)?

Online Collaborative Learning (OCL) Institutional Innovations are classes offered online, using the Web or a designated Intranet. OCL Institutional Innovations offer grant degrees, diplomas and certificates, which follow the institutional policies and practices associated with online delivery (Moore, et.al, page 127). The context of Community of Practice (CoP) refers to “relatively tight knit groups of professionals engaged in a common practice, who communicate, negotiate and share their best practice with one another directly… CoPs exist outside of a workplace, but within a particular profession,” (Moore, et.al, page 141).

There are many lessons we can take away from both OCL Institutional Innovations and the concept of CoP, that are both successful and unsuccessful. For instance, quality education for students, and professional development. At the University of Phoenix Online (UPXO) they focus on the collaborative learning model. The successes in UPXO reflect their small class sizes, ranging from 10-12 students per class. They can focus on group discussion and project-based learning, which are delivered asynchronously. Students are able to complete their coursework through electronic forums, communicate with classmates, instructors and counselors, and complete all activities online (page 128). Another innovative policy of UXPO is their state-of-the-art learning resources, ex: “virtual organizations.” Which are online teaching tools designed to simulate the experience of working environments (page 129). They also have online student support services 24/7, and through their campus website, access to email, classes, and student services.

An example of an institute that focuses on professional development, is the State University of New York (SUNY) Learning Network. SLN is invested in their research and evaluation of courses. Faculty surveys reported educators being satisfied or very satisfied with online teaching and would do it again. SLN has identified 5 key elements of successful online faculty development (page 131):

  1. models- peer lead trainings, cohorts, exemplar courses, returning teacher trainings.
  2. support roles- instructional design support, technical help-desk, etc.
  3. approaches- faculty-driven course design
  4. evaluation- ongoing evaluations at both the course and institutional levels
  5. quality- templates, and course designing are addressed through quality mechanisms to help make the technology and design process transparent.

An example of an OCL institute that has some disadvantages is The International Labour Organization. They are aimed at providing educational opportunities to people and organizations in developing countries. The courses focus on the workplace: employment policies, social protection, gender equality, child labor, health and safety, labor migration and trade union (Moore, et.al, page 132). While providing online education in developing countries is always a good thing, some disadvantages include unreliable electricity supplies, poor telephone facilities, and expensive Internet (Moore, et.al, page 133).

Despite all the advantages of OCL, there are some disadvantages such as (Chiong, et.al, 2012):

  1. a sense of not having full control over the quality of the group work and the subsequently assigned grade;
  2. concerns that there might be a group member with less than satisfactory performance for whom other members will have to compensate;
  3. time required for effective collaboration – group work requires students to stick to a particular schedule, thus reducing the flexibility and convenience of online learning.

The CoP has a lot of advantages. People who share the same interest come together to deepen their knowledge and expertise on an ongoing basis (page 142). Not only do people share their insights, but also they contribute to advancing knowledge by solving new problems together and documenting their findings. This is the process called reification. There is a downside to reification however. “Reification as a constituent of meaning is always incomplete, ongoing, potentially enriching, and potentially misleading,” (page 142). Assigning the status of object to something, that is really not an object, conveys a sense of mistaken solidity. According to (Probst, et.al, 2008), the main reasons for failure of CoPs, are lack of a core group, low levels of one-to-one interaction, and failure to engage with one another in a way that allows them to illustrate the practice and visualize its function.


Chiong, R., & Jovanovic, J. (2012). Collaborative Learning in Online Study Groups: An … Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol11/JITEv11p081-101Chiong1104.pdf

Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Probst, G., & Borzillo, S. (2008). Why communities of practice succeed and why they fail. Retrieved September 29, 2016, from http://herbsleb.org/SCALEpapers/probst-why-2008.pdf


Week 4

EDET 679 Week 4 How can immersive virtual reality enhance gamification?

“Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging possibility for delivering educational context and experiences to students,” according to Yap. The technology evolution has led to the creation and commercialization of devices allowing to create immersive experiences in the classroom (Spano, et.al, 2015). VR can enhance gamification in the classroom in many ways.

In recent years, VR devices have been designed to allow users to move freely in real life environment. Before, users had limited interaction not providing that illusion of reality. Having that option now to move openly in the virtual world is one of the ways it enhances gamification. The main benefits of VR in the classroom are (Chifor, et.al):

  • The learning process has a higher level of interactivity being able to transform the user experience from passive to active.
  • While immersed into the virtual environment, the user is protected from distractions from surrounding elements
  • VR based learning can represent a great solution for situations where the teaching materials are very expensive or the conditions of training are very hard to reproduce in real world; a scenario that has been modeled with a high level of detail allows learners to interact with it, understand and follow best practice procedures or carry out complex scenarios with very reduced cost / trainee (as all the resources can be reused as many times as needed),
  • and the interactive VR scenarios help the user gain knowledge, test his/her reactions in dangerous situations and test possible harmful scenarios in a safe environment, without being put at risk.

Learning is becoming more interactive, fun and social. According to Radsky, VR has a lot of potential for education. For instance, VR will improve education through collaboration and social integration, creating new experiences, increased student motivation, using stimulation as a management system, and creative learning (Radsky, 2015).

Gamification in the classroom can be enhanced by VR in so many ways. VR can give students that sense of immersion and interaction in whatever setting. Students will have that “sense of presence” where the subject really feels like they are in that environment, according to an article titled “What is Virtual Reality?”

I was inspired by Kate Hodges use of technology in her classroom. I can visualize secondary teachers incorporating Google Cardboard in their content area. As an elementary teacher I would have to find ways I can integrate it into my curriculum. I can see how VR can impact gamification in the classroom for all grade levels, in so many different ways.


Casu, A., Spano, L., Sorrentino, F., & Scateni, R. (2015). RiftArt: Bringing Masterpieces in the Classroom through … Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://people.unica.it/riccardoscateni/files/2015/10/Casu2015RBM.pdf

Chifor, M., & Stefanut, T. (n.d.). Immersive Virtual Reality application using Google Cardboard and Leap Motion technologies. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://oaji.net/articles/2015/2024-1447175761.pdf

Radsky, A. (2015, June 19). Adopting Virtual Reality for Education | Alex Radsky … Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://alchemylearning.com/adopting-virtual-reality-for-education/

What is Virtual Reality? – Virtual Reality. (2016). Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/what-is-virtual-reality.html

Yap, M. (n.d.). Running Head: GOOGLE CARDBOARD FOR A K­12 SOCIAL STUDIES … Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/40604/1/LTEC-690-Yap-Scholarspace.05.04.16.pdf


Reflection Week 3

This week, I learned a lot about the important role technology plays with online discourse, and collaboration. I learned about the many different ways we can effectively deepen our knowledge through the use of technology. I realized after reading Josie’s blog, that without these three components: discourse, collaboration and technology, online classes would be ineffective. I read from Amy’s post, that in this Knowledge Age we can access information quicker than before with the use of smartphones, and tablets. I definitely learned a lot this week about the important role technology plays in online education and am truly blessed we have opportunities like this to pursue higher education, from our own homes.

Week 3

EDET 679 Week 3 What classroom strategies can contribute to or detract from “flow?”

“Flow” is a state of optimal experience characterized being fully focused and engaged in an activity (Hamari, 2014). When an individual is actively engaged in a challenging activity and believe they have the skills to accomplish it, they experience flow. However, when the challenges and skills are imbalanced, (i.e. their skills outweigh the challenge) they don’t experience flow, they’re experience relaxation, anxiety or apathy (Schweinle, et.al, 2009).

There are many ways teachers can use gamification in the classroom to achieve flow. “Gamification is applying the most motivational techniques of games to non-game settings, like classrooms,” (Matera, loc. 274, Kindle). The role of gamification in school is to enhance what we already do. “The gamification platform is intended to support the students in visualizing where they are in the content, see their progress and find other students who are working in the same area,” according to Berkling.

One of the strategies to keep in mind when designing game-based learning in the classroom, are the 3 C’s: content, choice and challenge (Matera, loc. 354, Kindle). Content is the curriculum and standards, Choice is the open-ended game models and invitation to explore and be creative, and challenges are the quests and twists that keep the learner engaged. One of the approaches listed in the reading about how to start gamifying your classroom, is to in your lesson plan, “overlay our course content with aspects of games,” (loc., 454). I think that’s a great strategy, especially if you are struggling or hesitant to start.

Matera said that “as you set out on our gamification exploration, remember you are not alone,” (loc., 580). He made a good point that we should reach out to our colleagues, students, parents, administrators, our learning network, because we are all on this journey together. Seeking advice from fellow teachers who have used gamification in their classroom is probably the best strategy to help guide you and your students’ on this new learning adventure.

Some motivational techniques teachers could use to help students reach optimal performance, include applying the elements of game theory, design thinking, and informational literacy. Choosing a theme is the first step in gamification and sets the tone for the lesson/unit (loc., 1015). Creating a setting is the next step: the setting is where all the parts come together and the backdrop for the action in the story. Next are the characters, where each student will have a role in the story. Lastly, coming up with conflicts, challenges, or obstacles, to make the game engaging (loc., 1065), and deciding how to reward the students once the task is accomplished. Applying all these elements will help create a fully, immersive gamification experience for your students.

Here is a list of elements to remember when gamifiying your classroom (Sillaots, 2014).

  • Clear goals
  • Interactive activities for achieving the goals
  • Instant and rich feedback to the activities
  • Competition among players
  • Collaboration in teams
  • Clear rules
  • Rewards like experience points, scoreboards and badges
  • Levels as game units, or rating, or difficulty of the game
  • Balance between skills and challenges
  • Luck or randomness
  • Risk of failing
  • Game world – imaginary place in the players’ head
  • Characters – avatars and non-player characters
  • Game aesthetics
  • Story



Berkling, K., & Thomas, C. (n.d.). Gamification of a Software Engineering Course. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://www.dhbw-karlsruhe.de/fileadmin/user_upload/dokumente/T-Informatik/25jahre-oktober-2014-berkling_gamification-ics-full-paper.pdf

Hamari, J. (2014, August 13). Flow in Gamification. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://gamification-research.org/2014/08/flow/

Matera, M. (n.d.). Explore like a pirate: Engage, enrich, and elevate your learners with gamification and game-inspired course design. Retrieved September 22, 2016.

Sillaots, M. (2014, October). Achieving Flow through Gamification 2 – researchgate.net. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Martin_Sillaots/publication/267155607_Achieving_Flow_through_Gamification_A_study_on_Re-designing_Research_Methods_Courses/links/5446cfdd0cf2f14fb811cb37.pdf?origin=publication_detail


Week 3

EDET 674 Week 3 Essential Question: What is the role of discourse, collaboration and technology for distributed learning in online courses?

This century is known as the “Knowledge Age,” which requires learning that emphasizes collaborative discourse, knowledge creation, and use of online communication technologies (Moore, et.al, page 81). Discourse is “conversation mediated through Internet tools, (Nichols, 2009) and collaborative learning are discussions among the whole class, or within smaller groups in an online environment (Brindley, et.al, 2009).

There are three distinct models defined by online learning which all play key roles: Online Collaborative Learning (OCL), Online Distance Education (ODE), and Online Courseware (OC). According to Moore, OCL employs a significant teacher role and an emphasis in student discourse and collaboration. ODE uses a correspondence model of course delivery through a tutor, and OC is based on individualized learning with courseware without any instructor or peer interaction (page 87).

The role of technology in online learning is used to create learning communities among students in new ways (page 86). Online learning through the use of technology will make learning an independent, personal activity.

The role of technology in OCL is to allow learners to work together to identify and advance issues of understanding and apply their new understanding to solve problems (page87). OCL courses may be offered both asynchronously or synchronously. The role of the teacher is to structure the discussions into small or large groups. MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) is another example. “Course topics are offered through a course site developed by facilitators: participants use the site to interact and discuss ideas, share their contributions on their blogs and maintain ties through technologies,” (McAuley, et.al, 2010). Our distance classes are examples of OCL and MOOC. I enjoy collaborating with peers on building our knowledge and actively participating in the learning process.

Online Distance Education is classes offered through correspondence. The content and assignments are emailed and the tutor provides feedback. The use of technology in ODE allows for faster, more efficient delivery of course material and tutor feedback (page 88). I took a correspondence class before. All the material was mailed to me, and upon completion, I e-mailed all assignments back and was provided feedback in a timely manner.

Online Courseware, which can also be referred to as Online Computer-based Training, is using the Web to access content online. The content is self-paced, which means the content only moves forward when a module is completed. Post-tests are taken to assess understanding after each unit. If the student fails, remediation is applied and the student has to retake the test before moving forward (page 89). The technology used assesses student understanding and provides immediate feedback. I’ve taken OC through my work. When it’s completed, I get a certificate.

“OCL theory provides a model of learning in which students are encouraged and supported to work together to create knowledge: to intent, to explore ways to innovate, and to seek the conceptual knowledge needed to solve problems…” (page 89).


Brindley, J., Walti, C., & Blashke, L. (2009, June). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an … Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/675/1271

McAuley, A., Stuart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2011). The MOOC Model for Digital Practice. Retrieved September 22, 2016, from http://www.edukwest.com/edumooc-2011-and-blended-learning/mooc_final/

Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Nicholson, M. (2009, May). Online Discourse. Retrieved September 20, 2016.


Reflection Week 2

This week I realized that I apply all three theories (behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism) in my classroom. In my blog I said I was more of a constructivist than the other learning theories. That’s false. After reading Josie’s blog, I came to the realization that being a constructivist teacher is what I strive to be. I teach K-1 and with our curriculum, much of what I do in the classroom is based on the behaviorist and cognitivist learning theories; especially since my students have to see firsthand what my expectations are. I learned from Amy, that to be an effective online teacher, we have to apply all three learning theories (not just in the classroom). When my group was teaching the lesson, I noticed the small things like transitioning, answering questions, etc. It is so much easier in the classroom than synchronously. I look forward to learning new ways of being an effective online teacher.

Week 2

EDET 679 Week 2 What is the difference between Gaming and Gamification and why does it matter?

Gamification according to Matera is “the use of game principles and game mechanics in a non-game setting.” It’s adding those elements to a non-game situation. For example, completing a Subway punch card to win a free sandwich (Suzanne, 2013). It’s applying those game dynamics like the theme, narrative, story line, restrictions, etc. in the classroom, and rewarding students based on their success with badges, points, or whatever reward system you choose (Matera, 2014). “A common implementation of gamification is to take the scoring elements of video games, such as points, levels, and achievements, and apply them to a work or educational context,” (Nicholson, 2012).

Game-based learning according to www.teachthought.com is learning through games. It’s used to “enhance the learning experience,” (Isaacs, 2015). Commercial games like SimCity, World of Warcraft, Minecraft and Portal 2 are examples of game-based learning. According to Issacs, when these games are tied to the curriculum, it’s a powerful learning experience.

Gamification is not game-based learning (www.teachthough.com). It doesn’t even require students to play games, toys, or even use technology. Gamification is used to:

  1. Encourage specific response or behavior.
  2. Increase the visibility and perceived importance of minor and less visible actions.
  3. Promote competition to engage students.
  4. Help students track their own progress.

An easy way to think about Gamification, is a reward system i.e. student of the month, behavior reward tickets, or point systems. In my classroom I use Class Dojo as a way to manage student behavior. If a student makes so many points throughout the school day or week, they get rewarded based on my point system. My students understand the concept; they know that when they exhibit positive behavior, they get rewarded, or when negative behavior is displayed, points are taken.

We have game-based learning apps on our iPads called Reflex Math and Vocabulary City. These are games that tie into our curriculum and with the common core standards. Theses game-based learning apps are great; my students stay engaged, they want to pass the levels to move onto the next, and they go right along with their learning level.



(2013, July 15). 4 Ways To Bring Gamification of Education To Your Classroom – Top Hat Blog. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from https://blog.tophat.com/4-ways-to-gamify-learning-in-your-classroom/

Isaacs, S. (2015, January 15). The Difference between Gamification and Game-Based Learning. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://inservice.ascd.org/the-difference-between-gamification-and-game-based-learning/

Matera, M. (2014). Entering the Realm of the Nobles: Michael Matera. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFG3Vk-MCf8

Nicholson, S. (2012, June). A User-Centered Theoretical Framework for Meaningful Gamification. Paper Presented at Games+Learning+Society 8.0, Madison, WI.

(2014, April 4). The Difference Between Gamification And Game-Based Learning. Retrieved September 15, 2016, from http://www.teachthought.com/learning/difference-gamification-game-based-learning/


Week 2

EDET 674 Week 2 Essential Question: How do learning theories manifest themselves in online courses?

The three learning theories are behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. As a teacher, I apply all three theories daily. These theories reflect my teaching methods, management, and curriculum design.

The behaviorist learning theory “focuses on that which is observable, how people behave and especially how to change or elicit particular behaviors,” (Moore, et.al, page 31). I use Class Dojo as a way to reinforce positive behavior. Class Dojo motivates students to stay engaged and work hard. If students exhibit negative behavior, points are taken away. This encourages students to stay on task.

The cognitivist learning theory is instructor-centered. “The focus is on the instructor and the instructional design, knowledge is to be transmitted to the learner, either by the instructor or by the instructional software,” (Moore, et.al, page 58). A lot of times in my classroom I use the strategy “I do, we do, you do.” This scaffolding method helps my students understand the process. If I have students who still need that extra help and don’t understand the content, remediation is applied. “If the student’s answer is correct, then the student advances to the next question. If the student’s response is incorrect, then remediation is invoked. This is the behaviorist instructional design,” (Moore, et.al, page 53).

“The constructivist learning theory suggests that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiencing the world, and reflecting on those experiences,” (Moore, et.al, page 60). I believe I am more of a constructivist. “A constructivist teacher encourages and assists students in constructing their knowledge about a subject rather than reproducing a series of facts about it. The learner is viewed as an active participant in the learning process,” (page 69). In my classroom I take content and make it relevant to the student’s lives by applying those cultural/social connections. Students also use gaming to create and build on their content knowledge, use previous knowledge to solve problems, and reflect on their learning experiences.

How do learning theories manifest themselves in online courses? I believe the three learning theories manifest themselves in online courses through the two variables in Transactional Distance: structure and dialogue. How the teacher structures the online course content, and communicates with his/her students is a huge part of all three learning theories.

How the instructor chooses to motivate and engage his/her students during online class time is a part of the behaviorism learning theory. What is the instructor doing to keep all students in the loop and making sure students are completing the readings and requirements outside of class?

How the instructor presents the material to the class is a part of the cognitive learning theory. What is the teacher doing to get the content across to all of his/her students, or what is the instructor doing to help students when class is not in session (e-mails, Skype, phone calls, etc.).

How the teacher chooses to present the content to make it relevant to his/her students’ lives is a part of the constructivist learning theory. How is the teacher applying real world experiences? How is the teacher allowing students time to reflect on their learning and make sense of it all?

These are just a few examples of how theories can manifest themselves through online learning.


Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Reflection Week 1

This week we read about what theories or research could inform our current practice of distance learning. I really enjoyed learning about Transactional Distance. Dialogue and structure are the two variables that define it. Theresa listed Moore’s six approaches to structured online classes. I said in her blog that one of the approaches that really caught my attention was supporting learner’s motivation. Online classes are a great motivator, and make it easier for students to continue their education. Bridget mentioned the difference between physical classroom interaction and online. Structure is very important, and managing student engagement is one of the many things to consider.

Week 1

EDET 674 Virtual Teaching & Learning

What theories of research can inform your current practice of distance learning?

The theory of Transactional Distance is what will help inform my current practice of distance learning. According to Moore, et.al, “it is the interplay between people who are teachers and learners in environments that have the special characteristic of being separate from one another.” The distance is not a matter of geographic distance; it’s the effect the separation has on teaching and learning, especially the interaction between the people, how the course is designed, and the organization of human and technological resources.

The interaction between teacher and learner is referred to as dialogue. It is any words, actions or any other form of communication between two people (Moore, et.al, 209). How the course is designed, the personality of the teacher, the subject matter, and environmental factors, all determine the form of dialogue between the instructor and students. The different methods of communication could be E-mail or correspondence, audio conferencing i.e. Skype, and asynchronous and synchronous communication. Based on the structure of the course, dialogue can be synchronized using audio or video materials, online discussions in chat rooms, or blog or wiki entries.

Course structure is the second variable that defines Transactional Distance. Course structure refers to the objectives, content themes, information presentations, case studies, illustrations, exercises, projects and tests (Moore, et.al, 211). Piloting parts of the course before the term begins, would liberate future glitches, and set the pace for the semester, i.e. how many pages to assign in the reading. Rubrics would be another section in the structure of the course to consider. Detailed rubrics for projects, assignments, or any other performance task, could be used as an aid to assist students in meeting the criteria and monitoring learning performance. What determines the flexibility of the course is how it’s structured i.e., when assignments are due, what pages are read, the maximum words in a blog entry, etc. (page 212).

Transactional Distance measures structure and dialogue in four ways. The first is “high.” If the teacher-learner dialogue is nonexistent, and the learner watches a highly structured recording, the Transactional Distance is high. The second is “less,” i.e. a correspondence class. This is where there is some dialogue between the teacher and learner, and there is less structure. The third is “lower” Transactional Distance, which is audio-video teleconferencing, where this is less structure but a lot of dialogue. The last is “higher” Transactional Distance, which are those courses that have little to no dialogue, and are asynchronous or synchronous (page 212).

The lesser the Transactional Distance, the more guidance from the teacher. Students receive more instruction and modifications to meet their individual needs. The greater the Transactional Distance, the more responsibility the learner has (page 213).

“What determines the success of distance teaching is the extent to which the institution and the instructor are able to provide the appropriate structure in design of learning materials, and the appropriate quantity of teacher-learner dialogue,” (page 219).


Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.