LRNT 524 – Activity 4

For this activity, we were tasked with placing our innovation along a continuum from renewal to new. Here is a brief commentary on where my learning reinforcement innovation lies:

Rarely are innovations truly unique – rather they build upon practices that came before. In my context, where we are relatively new to the learning space and leadership development, this is especially true; rather than truly innovating, we are often looking to identify and implement best practices which have been tried out by many organizations before us. This is true in the case of learning reinforcements, though we hope to discover ways to differentiate ourselves over time.

RENEWAL ←————-*——————————————————->  NEW

LRNT 524 – Activity 3

For this activity, we were asked to develop design principles that can be used to improve learning in our context. You will find a draft of my first five principles below. Comments and suggestions welcome.


I. Right-Sized Reinforcement

The right amount, type, and delivery of learning reinforcement vary depending on content and context, not to mention individual user characteristics. Although bite-sized content – or microlearning – may be the best choice in many situations, it won’t always be suitable. As such, our reinforcement design will be suited to the content it is meant to reinforce, with complex, multifaceted concepts receiving more attention in both in-person sessions and reinforcement material. This means all design guidelines will need to be flexible.

II. Focused on Core Concepts

Our leadership programs will focus exclusively on core concepts and their reinforcement; if it doesn’t add value to the primary aims of the training/development, it will be excluded (save for a humour break here and there). Learning reinforcements will focus on:

  1. Strengthening learner competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes) and/or
  2. Helping learners apply competencies (e.g. through discussions, debate, case studies, simulations, etc.).

III. Well-Designed

In addition to the content, the look and feel of the learning reinforcements are critical to attracting and maintaining user engagement. We must pay close attention to the aesthetics of the learning reinforcement material – and later to the design of the user experience (UX) in the Integrated Learning Experience Platform (ILEP). 

IV. Applicable for a Broad Audience

As our learners come from all different industries, organizations, and roles, it is critical that our content is generalizable. In other words, learners must be able to apply learnitointo their day-to-day work. This is a critical design principle and one that is reflected in our Research department tagline: “Research that is practical and tactical”. Learning reinforcements are no exception: they must offer learners an opportunity to apply core concepts into their context and offer them help in doing so, both through the material design and additional support (e.g. analyst or coaching calls).

V. Built with Learner Differences in Mind

Learners will learn at different paces and learning reinforcement material should be designed with this in mind. Initial reinforcement material should be recommended for all learners and include the most impactful examples, background information, insights, and activities. Additional reinforcement material for the same concept should provide further support material, with the best illustrations and activities always taking priority in line. This allows learners who are more familiar with core concepts to get the most out of shorter engagement with the material and the self-pacing also gives them a sense of autonomy (both of which are components of adult learning principles).

LRNT 524 – Activity 2 Part 2

For this activity, we were asked to build a case using the case framework. Below is a draft of the framework. All comments and suggestions welcome.

I. Title – used to introduce the reader to what this case is a case of.

  • Keywords: e-learning, digital learning environments (DLE), learning/training reinforcement, learning/training reinforcement and virtual/online, microlearning, content reinforcement
  • Working title options:
    • Designing learning reinforcement material for a remote leadership development program
    • Effectively reinforce key learning concepts at a distance

II. Quote positions your case within a broader human experience. Could be a quote taken from a range of sources (i.e., historical figure, common knowledge, participant in the case, etc.)

  • Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”  – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Will Durant (paraphrasing Aristotle)

III. Introduction – several paragraphs that help the reader to understand why the case under study is important and has significance to the organization in which the case is situated. The introduction also explains the underlying issues inherent in the case and shares any required background information.

  • Why the case is important
    • The learning solutions division of Info-Tech Research Group is focused on delivering learning solutions for member organizations in two areas: functional content for Information Technology departments (e.g. cybersecurity risk assessment, hardware asset management, helpdesk optimization) and leadership content (i.e. entry-level, mid-level, and executive-level). In order to fulfill our mandate of building the competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes) of our member base, we must not only deliver world-class content, we must ensure it becomes knowledge and translates into lasting behavioral change. In order to ensure retention and drive behavioral change, we must help our members reinforce core concepts after the initial learning event.
      • Our leadership development programs all involve a week-long on-site component where learners are exposed to, and practice, core concepts through lecture, dialogue with instructors and peers, and targeted activities. After the experience is over, only those learners who have signed on for additional coaching are engaged in any learning reinforcement, and even then it is targeted to their development plan rather than broad concept reinforcement.
    • The reinforcement of learning is critical to learning retention and application.
      • This is a particularly important activity in light of Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve which hypothesizes the decline of memory retention in time when there is no attempt to retain it. A typical graph of the forgetting curve purports to show that humans tend to halve their memory of newly learned knowledge in a matter of days or weeks unless they consciously review the learned material. ( ). From his discovery regarding the “forgetting curve”, Ebbinghaus came up with the effects of “overlearning”. Essentially, if you practiced something more than what is usually necessary to memorize it, you would have effectively achieved overlearning. Overlearning ensures that information is more impervious to being lost or forgotten, and the forgetting curve for this overlearned material is shallower. ( )
      • Aligns with principles of adult learning
    • Member companies will see behavior changes in their attending employees
    • Member companies will realize measurable improvements in productivity and/or profitability
    • Findings are generalizable to anyone interesting in online/virtual (or distance) learning reinforcement for any type of training
  • Why it is significant to the organization
    • Opportunity for significant revenue generation in a profitable market segment (driving both repeat and new business through demonstrated value)
    • Ability to help members improve leadership in their organizations – thereby helping them to increase employee engagement, increase organizational commitment (i.e. increase employee retention / reduce turnover), and aid in talent attraction
    • Potential to build upon this model and offer fully virtual/distance leadership development in the future (which would likley have a much better ROI than the on-site delivery model, even virtual participants paid a lower price)
    • RISK: If the reinforcements are poorly designed or delivered, we risk alienating (or at least boring or disengaging) members we have worked hard to build a trusted partnership with. In the absence of a robust and well-conceived offering, the risk may be too great to justify launch. In other words, nothing may be better than something ill-conceived or ill-designed.
  • Underlying issues
    • Resource Constraints
      • One complicating issue is that the current content development team in the Learning Solutions division is fully utilized with work associated with on-site delivery and the proposed task is labour-intensive, as learning reinforcement must be composed of examples, background information, and insights not previously shared in order to engage the learner, drive deeper understanding, and motivate behavior change. In other words, this undertaking requires net new content builds that can only use existing content as a foundation. In order to justify task reprioritization for the current content development team and/or the borrowing or hire of additional human resources, secondary research will need to support the importance of reinforcement material moving beyond a restatement of previously delivered content.
      • We need to establish a time estimate for each learning module. If we estimate the time to develop to be 1 week per 1 hour of content and we assume reinforcement is given the same time as delivery per module, then we need to complete roughly 32 hours worth of reinforcement content per leadership product. If we were to focus solely on the two core products this calendar year, that translates into 64 weeks worth of labour.
    • Time constraints
      • No set time constraints, though we would like to have a project plan by the end of FY2017/2018 which is July 31, 2018.
  • Required background information
    • Content contained in the leadership solutions modules are constantly evolving in response to changing political, economic, social, environmental, and legal (PESTL) conditions; as well as primary and secondary research which unearths new insights. Time-to-completion estimates and timelines should take this into account – particularly when undertaking medium to long-range planning.

IV. Case Narrative – shares the story of the case and the evidence.  This section is descriptive and forms the bulk of the case.  It could include charts, pictures, graphics, statistics, etc.

  • Who: Our learners are all leaders, most of whom are time-constrained. To capture their attention and time, the value of the reinforcement must be clear
  • What: Learning reinforcements must be clear, engaging, connected to core concepts (but not repeated), etc.
  • When: Learning reinforcements will be scheduled for bi-weekly or monthly distribution for 6 months following the in-person session. However, all content will remain accessible to the participant for a period of 1 year from their last enrolment in an ITRG leadership program (i.e. on-site program and/or coaching).
  • Where: reinforcement material will be delivered online through the ITA portal (later the Integrated Learning Experience Platform)
  • Why: As ITRG has decided to offer leadership development as part of its product and service line, it is critical that learning reinforcement be offered to ensure learning retention and behavioral change – two of the stated benefits of program participation.
  • How: Learners will use either computers or mobile devices to access the learning reinforcement content, which will be housed on ITA until the more robust ILEP is launched.

V. Discussion – analyzes the case narrative and helps the reader to understand the learning environment innovation from either a new or renewed perspective

  • This is an innovation for ITRG, rather than the learning industry. As such, ITRG will benefit from robust research on both online delivery and learning retention.
  • The challenge will be find the right amount of content for each reinforcement chunk – enough to help engrain the learning without overburdening participants. If the latter happens, we could get drop off. (Note: we must consider cognitive load during design)

VI. Questions prompts for the readers to consider or questions for the readers to answer for the case writer to help move the case forward or further develop the situation described in the case

  • How can we reduce cognitive load on learners?
  • How can we track usage and engage uninterested or disinterested learners?
  • How much reinforcement content should be provided? Over what time horizon?
  • What content should be delivered in what way?
  • How will we measure success? How will participants/learners measure success? How will decision makers (i.e. purchasers – often the participant’s boss) measure success?
  • What can we measure the effectiveness of learning reinforcements?



LRNT524 – Activity 2

For this activity, we were asked to identify two new or renewed learning practices in our professional context. In my role as Director of Learning Solutions at Info-Tech Research Group (hereafter referred to as ITRG), my team is tasked with developing commercial learning products for our member organizations. Two innovations we have been investigating over the past year are:

I. Integrated Learning Experience Platform

In 2017, ITRG launched a video learning library for research content videos (i.e. focused on core Information Technology products and processes) called Info-Tech Academy (ITA). At present, ITA consists of videos of analysts discussing their taxonomy/research areas and accompanying quizzes. The Learning Solutions team would like to expand upon the offerings in ITA and create a robust Integrated Learning Experience Platform for both functionally-focused and leadership-focused content. Our draft plan is to:

  1. Add leadership-focused content to ITA that highlights core program concepts for the benefit of all our members (rather than solely those who enrol in the leadership programs)
  2. Create a portal with diagnostic functionality, including 360° feedback functionality and psychometric assessments
  3. Create alumni networks in the portal or establish links to an externally-based network (e.g. LinkedIn)
  4. Build additional content and functionality in support of program content
    Learning reinforcement material – i.e. content and activities (including quizzes)
    Functionality that allows members to ask questions related to the leadership content
    Functionality that allows members to book analyst/coaching calls
  5. Help our research partners focused on taxonomy/research areas to develop more robust offerings within the portal (e.g. additional content and functionality, forums, et cetera.)

II. Online Learning Reinforcement

In order to ensure that the content in our week-long on-site leadership development programs are well-understood and translate into behavioural change, we must provide learners with materials and activities that reinforce core concepts. We will begin by researching best practices in distance learning reinforcement and then produce design principles, templates, and guidelines for our content developers. (Note: Learning reinforcement material is a core element of the Learning Solutions Portal – 4a above)

And the Winner is …

I will be focusing on Online Learning Reinforcement Material because of its criticality to program success. Also, as this is a core element of the Integrated Learning Experience Platform (4a in #1), it is a logical first step.


Hi everyone,

You can find our team’s post on Angie’s blog here:




Lessons from the Past

I) Background on my role

As some of you know, I work as a content development lead in a management and consultancy firm. My primary responsibility is to oversee the development of commercial L&D products and services.

II) Germane Lessons

a) Formative and Summative Evaluation

Reiser (2001b) describes a systematic approach to solving educational problems called Programmed Instruction (PI), a term which was likely coined in a 1954 paper by B.F. Skinner entitled “The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching” (Lockee, Moore, & Burton, 2004). Programmed Instruction is a process that involves an assessment of the educational materials’ effectiveness, the identification of any deficiencies, and the revision of the materials to correct identified deficiencies either prior to or during design (Reiser, 2001b); a process referred to today as formative evaluation. The term formative evaluation comes from work by Michael Scriven in 1967 that highlights the need for instructional materials to be tested with learners while still in draft form (i.e. formative), rather than after they are in final form (i.e. summative) (Reiser, 2001b).

In my experience, formative evaluation is common in the management consulting sector, where timelines are tight and “agile” management practices dominate. Indeed, a cursory examination of recent research suggests that formative evaluation continues to be an oft-used and impactful form of evaluation, and has a proven positive impact on summative evaluation results (Alsalhanie, Das, & Abdus-Samad, 2017).

  1. b) Rapid Prototyping

In his discussion of 1990’s trends in instructional design, Reiser mentions the rise of rapid prototyping, a cycle of trial and error that continues until a minimum viable product is produced (2001b).

This approach to developing instructional materials is one we use often at ITRG, as it is believed to be both more efficient and more effective. Indeed, it gives us the opportunity to identify deficiencies early, before time and/or the opportunity for correction/optimization are lost (often due to an impending, immovable deadline).

  1. c) New Tools + Old Practices

In his keynote speeches “The History of the Future of Ed-Tech” (2014a) and “Un-fathomable: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech” (2014b), Watters describes a tension between new tools and old practices. This tension is illustrated by the all-too-common inclination to put course materials designed for in-person instruction online and view it as an online course, which Watters rebukes Khan Academy for doing in their video “The History of Education” (2014b, p.3). Watters also offers the following simple illustration of the tension: “It’s simple to introduce iPads into the classroom, for example. It’s much more difficult to use them to do entirely new things, particularly things that run counter to how classrooms have operated in the past” (2014, p.3).

This tension is all too familiar, as many individuals not acquainted with Ed-Tech research assume that materials developed for in-person instruction should be equally effective, without modification, in a digital environment. It continues to be a part of my job to discuss the drawbacks of this repurposing with both internal and external stakeholders.

Reiser’s Relevance

At the start of the 21st century, Reiser (2001a; 2001b) advocated a change from the term “instructional technology” to “instructional design and technology” (IDT) as a result of the growth of new practices (instructional design and media employed for instructional purposes) and the associations individuals have with the term technology, namely that it is commonly associated with hardware, software, or physical systems (e.g. computers, overheads) alone. Since 2001, both instructional design and the use of media for instructional purposes have continued to grow, and the myopic view of the term technology has continued (at least outside of the IDT field), offering support to Reiser’s contention that the term IDT more aptly communicates the character of the field.

Reiser also offers insight into the human tendency to take an unjustifiably rosy view of the future when he highlights that people have historically predicted that “new” (at any given time) media will have a dramatic effect on instructional practices; actual effects have been reliably less remarkable than anticipated (2001a). He goes on to make a similar prediction with regard to digital media: “over the next decade, computers, the Internet, and other digital media will bring about greater changes in instructional practices than the media that preceded them” (2001a, p.62). It seems that this bore out, as over a decade later, Bates (2014) states “what distinguished the digital age from all previous ages is the rapid pace of technology development and our immersion in technology-based activities in our daily lives. Thus it is fair to describe the impact of the Internet on education as a paradigm shift…” (2014, p.5).



Alsalhanie1, K.M., Das, S., Abdus-Samad, S. (2017). Formative evaluation impacting the results of summative evaluation – a feedback based cross-sectional study carried out among instructors of an international medical school. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 5(7), 2865-2869.

Lockee, B., Moore, D., & Burton, J. (2004). Foundations of Programmed Instruction. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 545–569). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Reiser, R. A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part I: A history of instructional media. Educational Technology Research and Development49(1), 53-64.

Reiser, R. A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part II: A history of instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development49(2), 57-67.

Watters, A. (2014). The History of the Future of Ed-Tech, Chapter 1. In The monsters of education technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA.

Watters, A. (2014). Un-fathomable: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech, Chapter 2. In The monsters of education technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA.


Reflecting on my theoretical and pedagogical stance

I recently read an article by Ertmer & Newby entitled Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features from a Design Perspective (2013), which – as one expects from the title – explains three essential perspectives of the learning process: behavioral, cognitive, and constructivist.   This article was a very helpful introduction to the three perspectives, including an explanation of their essence (e.g. how learning occurs, how transfer occurs, the role of memory), as well as a limited discussion of their application in the design of instruction.  It was through reading and reflecting upon this article that I discovered my first inclination is toward Constructivist Learning Theory.

Constructivist Learning Theory rejects the objectivist assumption (entrenched in behaviorism and constructivism) that the world is “real” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 54), independent of the learner.   In other words, constructivists reject the notion that there is an objective reality and a learner’s mind is merely “a reference tool to the real world” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 55).  Instead, constructivism sees learners as important actors in the learning process, wherein they interact with the environment to create meaning.

The notion that learners are important co-creators of meaning aligns with my experience in corporate training, as both a learner and facilitator.  Often, learners who have an objectively similar learning experience walk away with very different interpretations, knowledge, and capabilities.  Further, the notion that “what we know of the world stems from our own interpretation of our experiences” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 55) resonates with me, as I have often walked away from personal and professional interactions with very different impressions than those alongside me.

Under constructivism, the goal of instruction is for learners to construe and build upon information – not to know specific concepts or details (Ertmer & Newby, 2013).  The intent is to arm learners with the ability to “assemble prior knowledge from diverse sources appropriate to the problem at hand” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 56).  This is particularly appropriate to a key aspect of my work: the design of learning curriculum, including activity design.  Specifically, I can see immediate application for several of the principles suggested by Ertmer & Nemby, including ensuring learning is always anchored in meaningful contexts (particularly in activities); ensuring learning content is presented at different times, in different contexts, and for different purposes; and focusing on learning transfer through assessment.  Luckily, our current learning programs employ these principles; however, there are opportunities to further embed them in both learning design and delivery.

Will my affinity for constructivism continue?  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, I will focus on learning design that suits the needs of modern, technologically-savvy learners – design that is “highly contextualized, personal, and collaborative” (Herrington & Herrington, 2007, as cited in Ertmer & Newby, 2013).




Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly26(2), 43-71.

Herrington, A., & Herrington, J. (2007). Authentic Mobile Learning in Higher Education. Paper presented at the International Education Research Conference. Retrieved from:


The Great EdTech Debate: Do Media Affect Learning Outcomes?

by Terra A., Katie B., Darin F., Amber M., Dugg S.


This week a few members of the Royal Roads University Masters of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT) cohort met virtually to debate whether media affect learning outcomes. We each read seminal works that outlined each side of the debate: Clark (1994) argued media absolutely do not affect learning outcomes while Kozma (1994) argued we have not yet found the link between media and learning, so he does not agree with the bold statement put forward by Clark (1994).

After grounding ourselves in both sides the education technology media debate, we each sought out an article published recently in the mainstream media and evaluated how each article related to the arguments put forward by Clark (1994) and Kozma (1994). Below are our findings.


Museums Test New Technology, Interactive Exhibits

Terra A.

The video “Museums Test New Technology, Interactive Exhibits” looks at the implementation of digital tools by museums across the globe.  In an effort to make the museum experience more engaging and informative, many prominent museums are implementing digital tools such as interactive displays; 3D videos; and movies accompanied by smells (e.g. gunpowder), moving sets and seats, and weather simulations (e.g. snow and wind). It is implied, though not explicitly stated, that the museums believe the use of these digital tools and accompaniments will help to increase learning in their visitors – children and adults alike.  The museums’ belief that digital tools will increase the engagement and learning of their visitors is in stark contrast with Clark’s (1983) assertion that media are “mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement”.  


Clark, R. (1983). Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445–459.

Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29.

Wall Street Journal. (2015, Oct 15). General format. Retrieved from


How Americans Get Science Information

Katie B.

In the article “How Americans Get Science Information”, social media would be considered the medium to delivering the content of science information with the intention to educate the public on such issues like climate change or engineered food. This article claims that social media or “the media” for the sake of the argument we are debating, plays a modest role in actually educating people. The article depicts the usage and delivery methods of the content, stating that the medium is used by people to check in or be updated on what’s going on (with regards to science in this article particularly). This supports the claims made by Clarke (1983) when he says that the media is simply a “vehicle that delivers instruction” or in this case information. If learning occurs, it is not the media in this case that has caused a cognitive change in the brain, the information itself is not specific to the vehicle used to deliver it. In other words, if the information about science could be delivered in different ways (books, TV, newspapers, etc) then it can not be declared that the social media was, in fact, the result of a person learning (Clark, 1983). It could be argued that the means for social media use, in this case, was a cost-effective medium to deliver the information, therefore supporting Clark’s claim that delivery technologies influence the cost and access of instruction and information.


Funk, C., Gottfried, J., & Mitchell, A. (2017, September 20). Science news and information today. Paw Research Center. Retrieved from



Darin F.

zyBooks is a company that creates and sells interactive digital books for pedagogical purposes. The subject material of zyBooks, a new media format, focusses on material that deals with STEM education. Drew (2011) outlines that STEM education is an initiative to stimulate the learning of students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The purpose of zyBooks is to replace traditional textbooks and static ePub/PDF digital volumes with a more richer, intuitive, and interactive educational experience that are “proven to better prepare students” (Why zyBooks section, para. 5).

The information provided on the website for zyBooks illustrates the confidence that the creators have in their dynamic educational book series. This level of confidence is showcased on the company’s website page listed under Research. According to zyBooks (n.d.), “zyBooks improved student performance by 16%” (Research section, para. 1) and ”letter grades up to ⅔” (Research section, para. 2). The company continued to show that “students learned 118% more in a single-lesson with minimal text” (Research section, para. 3) with “fewer than 3% of students ‘cheat the system’” (Research section, para. 4). These statements indicate that the company zyBooks perceives that their new media has influenced learning. This assumption by zyBooks directly challenges the theory set out by Clark. Clark (1994) iterates that the influence of education is based on the method of delivery and not the media. To reinforce the company’s claim, zyBooks has supplied non-peer reviewed articles which are written by employees of zyBooks.


Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29.

Drew, D. (2011). STEM the tide. Retrieved from

Funk, C., Gottfried, J., & Mitchell, A. (2017, September 20). Science news and information today. Paw Research Center. Retrieved from

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7–19.

zyBooks. (n.d.). zyBooks. Retrieved October 7, 2017, from


This Play Dough Will Teach Your Kids All About Electricity

Amber M.

This article explains how using conductive play dough as the medium for learning can help children understand how electricity works. The article says, “Children can grasp technical concepts, but they need the right tools” (para. 1). If “tools” is a synonym for “media,” the statement directly contradicts Clark (1994), who argues media do not affect learning outcomes. But if “tools” is a synonym for “methods,” the statement aligns with Clark’s position (1994), who states media and methods are different. The article provides clarification on its position, stating, “It’s allowing children to solve problems through self-motivated learning” (para. 6). Here, the article explicitly aligns itself with Clark (1994) by indicating learning theories such as a problem-solving orientation and motivation are what drives learning outcomes, implying the media used is a secondary consideration.


Stinson, E. (2017). This play dough will teach your kids all about electricity. Retrieved October 6, 2017, from


8 Important Reasons Why YouTube Should Be Part Of Your eLearning Course

Dugg S.

In the article “8 Important Reasons Why YouTube Should Be Part Of Your eLearning Course”, the author Christoforos Pappas (2015) explores how YouTube can benefit eLearning students through a focus on integration, community development, promotion of discussion, mobile learning potentials, note-taking skill development, comprehension of complex concepts and contribution through creativity.

Pappas outlines how YouTube videos can be created to introduce, explain in detail, or summarize most subjects or skills for students.  Additionally, students and educators can create or consume content as part of a closed or open community while generating discussions within the YouTube platform or within the classroom.  YouTube videos can be viewed from locations convenient to the student and at the student’s pace to help ensure engagement and retention.  Additionally, YouTube videos can be created with the intention of viewing in short segments which “ensures that complex procedures and demonstrations of specific skills are delivered in small quantities, which enhances knowledge retention” (Pappas, 2015).

Through his exploration of the eight reasons to integrate YouTube videos in eLearning, Pappas supports Kozma’s (1994) assertion that media will influence learning.  Pappas (2015) summarizes that “visual contexts help learners to easily acquire and retain knowledge, as well as develop specific skill sets, as demonstration is the most effective way to get a message across.”


Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29.

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7–19.

Pappas, C. (2015). 8 important reasons why youtube should be part of your elearning. Course Retrieved October 6, 2017, from


Assignment 1: Relevant Resources

A resource I use often is Mind Tools.  Mind Tools is dedicated to providing content and tools that build user skills in areas key to career success, including leadership, team management, and learning (Mind Tools, 2017).  The site offers an impressive selection of content and tools that are relevant to students of LRNT 523 and the Masters of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT) program.

In particular, the category “Learning Skills” contains a variety of interesting and helpful resources slotted into 5 subcategories:

  1. Personal Learning Skills (e.g. Mind Maps)
  2. Understanding how People Learn (e.g. Cognitive Load Theory; Bloom’s Taxonomy, The ADDIE model)
  3. Developing a Learning Environment (e.g. Engaging People in Learning)
  4. Reading More Effectively (e.g. Overcoming Information Overload)
  5. Memory Techniques (e.g. The Journey Technique)

Clearly, there is a lot of content applicable to LRNT523, including information on how people learn and on the relationship between learning and technology.  In addition, there is content that can help us become better students through a focus on virtual teamwork, time management, and writing.  When taken together, the information and tools at Mind Tools can help us become better content consumers and creators.

In addition to Mind Tools, here is a brief list of websites I consider to be of great value to students, researchers, and curious humans – in case they are of interest to you as well:

  • Brain Pickings – An Inventory of the Meaningful Life – A life resource that explores a wide variety of topics, including history, philosophy, and literature
    • Interesting content includes: everything… though a personal favourite ‘rabbit hole’ is her content on death and dying, including Cry, Heart, but Never Break; and Duck, Death, and the Tulip.
    • Other interesting, more relevant, content includes: How to Hone your Creative Routine and Master the Pace of Productivity; The Science of Stress and How our Emotions Affect Our Susceptibility to Burnout and Disease
    • Also check out Explore – a companion site to Brain Pickings
  • BusinessBalls – A general L&D resource with some learning-focused content
    • The content is solid – though the name may have been a lost bet.
    • Interesting content includes: Experiential Learning, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model
  • The Edge – A blog that explores a variety of topics across disciplines and engages prominent thinkers in the field (science and technology are prominent)
    • Interesting content includes: Aerodynamics for Cognition, Defining Intelligence, Learning by Thinking, How the Brain is Computing the Mind
  • Farnam Street – Another general L&D resource with some learning-focused content
    • Interesting content includes: Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance; When it Comes to Learning, Depth Beats Breadth; The Learning Paradox: Why Struggling to Learn is a Good Thing
  • You Are Not So Smart – a blog that humorously explores self-delusion
    • Interesting content includes: How search engines inflate your intellectual confidence, Revisiting how we can escape the trap of learned helplessness, Begging the Question
    • Why you should read this blog / listen to these podcasts, in the author David McRaney’s words: “I didn’t know about confirmation bias and self-enhancing fallacies, and once I did, I felt very, very stupid. I still feel that way, but now I can make you feel that way too.” (McRaney).

Are there any great ones I’ve missed? I would love to hear your suggestions.



Time management and information overload


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In your daily life, you may have heard of the concept of information overload. It refers to having access to too much information or data. This week a colleague and I looked at what an abundance of digital content means from the perspective of teaching and learning. We first reviewed the article, “A pedagogy of abundance” by Martin Weller, which discusses a shift from content scarcity to abundance in the digital age. In Weller’s conclusion, he says, “an individual’s attention is not abundant, and is time-limited” (p.10).

With that thought in mind, my colleague and I set out to explore how abundant content affects us in our own lives, and how we might be able to manage our time better to adjust to the increasing demands on us as master’s students. This would allow us to absorb more digital content than we have previously been accustomed to. Below are our findings.

Amber’s Findings: Researching time management is a waste of time

My search for “time management” as a general topic of interest yielded about 72 million results from Google’s search engine. The search engine suggested other popular search phrases I might want to try as well, such as: What is good time management? What is your strategy for time management, How do I manage my time better? How do you manage your study time?

With thousands of search results already at my fingertips, I chose not to look for even more.

Instead, I chose to focus on the first page of the results. Sources I recognized were articles from Mindtools, Wikipedia, Psychology Today,, The Guardian, and Harvard Business Review, while the few I did not were from Quartz, Top Universities, University of Kent, and Skills You Need. Many article links led to me to a web page with links to more articles (but very little actual content), leading me to a sense of quickly being overwhelmed by the information available. As a first pass I did not read the articles but skimmed the headlines, looking for information on time management that I (1) did not already know and (2) also found useful.

Most articles defined time management, explained the importance of time management skills, and provided high-level strategies to help manage time. Strategies included the need to prioritize, set goals, create task lists, delegate, and minimize distractions, among many others. Many articles reiterated the same information, most of which I already knew, and the remainder was too general to be of any practical value. After reading just a few articles, I felt like I was wasting my time.

Terra’s Findings

The essence of time management is two-part: part one, deciding what to do, and part two, doing it (Pavlina, 2006). A cursory examination of the research hinted that there is more content to be found on part two and less on part one, and this instinct was confirmed by at least one researcher (Pavlina, 2006). Often the biggest challenge is figuring out the best uses of your time (e.g., planning and prioritization), rather than on executing (e.g., time audit, calendar blocking, delegation). Perhaps the best piece of advice offered for addressing part one – “what to do” – is to begin with goals and a vision. Farrell (2017) says, “the goal setting process is the key to managing time as it is the basis for articulation of priorities, determination of action items, and personnel deployment… [and] the vision of the organization is the foundation of determining if time is being utilized to advance or manage the organization.” Although the author was clearly focused on time management in a professional context, it is easy to see how this holds true for our personal lives as well: by examining our personal goals and vision for the future, we can isolate and articulate our core priorities, and then manage our time to suit.

The notion that optimal time management is dependent on person and context cropped up frequently in my examination of the literature. One researcher cited personal workstyle preferences and organizational culture as key strategy selection drivers and suggested that individuals must test a variety of different time-saving strategies to uncover those that are most suitable for them (Farrell, 2017). In other words, there is no universal solution; the best approach to optimizing your time management is trial and error. Given the abundance of research on this topic in both open and closed domains, there is no shortage of test material with which to do so.

Final thoughts: abundant content and limited time is a recipe for disaster

The quest for optimal time management is universal; whether we are looking at personal or professional endeavours, we all seek to spend our time in the best possible way.  It is no surprise then, that content on “time management” is abundant, and both research and interest in the topic transcend disciplines. In reference to the glut of content on the topic, one researcher ironically noted: “As leaders, we lack the time to figure out all of the time saving strategies!” (Farrell, 2017, p.216).

Returning to Weller’s point, having access to abundant content definitely conflicts with having limited time to absorb it. It seems many content creators failed to recognize a key characteristic of their end user: readers looking for information about time management are short on time. Clicking through pages of links, watching videos, flipping through slideshows, reading long pages of texts, and taking quizzes may be great instructional design features for other target audiences, but not for this one. A wealth of content under pressure can easily lead to frustration and giving up.

Perhaps content curation could be an effective solution for managing an abundance of content in today’s digital society. What are your thoughts?



Farrell, M. (2017). Leadership Reflections: Time Management. Journal of Library Administration, 57(2), 215-222.


Pavliva, Steve. (2006, Feb. 6). Time Management [web log comment]. Retrieved from:


Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Revista Espanola de Pedagogia, 69(249), 223–236.