A1: Community of Inquiry (CoI) for PaCE Programs

Professional and continuing education (PaCE) programs offered through public higher-education institutions address current workforce needs through a variety of educational offerings and delivery modalities (The California State University, n.d.). Program developers, instructional designers and instructors strive to create programs for PaCE contexts targeted toward the educational needs of professionals looking to skill-up or advance their career. However, a demand for online learning in the PaCE setting still needs to consider how a community of learning can best be designed and facilitated to promote collaborative and social learning. Dissatisfaction with learning can result when learners feel disconnected from one another in an online learning environment given a lack of social presence (van Tryon & Bishop, 2009), and this dissatisfaction can result in increased course attrition. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) could lend itself well to re-imagining PaCE online courses by cultivating meaningful learning experiences through the facilitation of its three interrelated elements.

Social, cognitive and teaching presence are the three interdependent elements that make up the CoI (Garrison et al., 2000) with facilitation of the three presences critical to its effectiveness (Vaughan, Cleveland-Innes, & Garrison, 2013). Social presence consists of the social and emotional interactions necessary to support cognitive presence which enables learners to form meaning through reflection and discourse (deNoyelles et al., 2014). As a PaCE instructor for online or blended learning environments, strategies to strengthen not only the social presence for the facilitator, but also the learners require cultivating an open and personable environment in which interactions can occur. As learners within the online community begin to develop trust, feel safe and engage with one another, facilitating academic interactions through critical discourse and reflection so learners construct meaning shift “the community from social presence to cognitive presence” (Vaughan et al., 2013, p. 54). Teaching presence, not to be confused with a teacher presence, is the design and facilitation of the environment (Vaughan et al., 2013), can be a shared responsibility within the community (deNoyelles et al., 2014), and serves as the thread through which all three presences connect (Anderson, 2017; deNoyelles, Zydney, & Chen, 2014).

The CoI offers a viable pathway to guide PaCE educators in developing collaborative and meaningful learning opportunities particularly suited to an online or blended learning environment. Strategies such as those outlined in this infographic could prove useful for instructional designers and experienced instructors to facilitate the CoI presences.

To view a larger version of this infographic (in which the fonts appear correctly), please click on this link


Anderson, T. (2017). How Communities of Inquiry Drive Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age. Contact North.

deNoyelles, A., Zydney, J. M., & Chen, B. (2014). Strategies for creating a community of inquiry through online asynchronous discussions. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(1), 153-165.

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). Online educators’ recommendations for teaching online: Crowdsourcing in actionOpen Praxis10(1), 79–89.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Khoo, E. G., & Bonk, C. J. (2014). Chapter 1: Introducing TEK-VARIETY (PDF) (pg 7-12).  Adding some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ activities for motivating and retaining learners online (PDF). Open World Books.

The California State University (n.d.). Professional and continuing education (PaCE). Retrieved from https://www2.calstate.edu/attend/professional-and-continuing-education

van Tryon, P. J. S., & Bishop, M. J. (2009). Theoretical foundations for enhancing social connectedness in online learning environments. Distance Education, 30(3), 291-315.

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press. Chapter 3: Facilitation (pp. 45-61).

An Abundance of Options

Mexican Concha Bread. Photo Credit – Tanya Heck

Authors: Tanya Heck and Melem Sharpe


Do you remember lining up at the nearest Tower Records or your local music store, during the days of CDs or vinyl records, to purchase your favorite musician’s newly released album? Those days are long gone now that we can easily download music through iTunes, Amazon, Spotify or any number of online music sources. In his article discussing pedagogies of abundance, Weller (2011) referred to this phenomenon in the music industry as an example of “making a transition from an economics of scarcity to an economics of abundance” (p. 224). In this case, music was limited to its availability for purchase in stores which made it a scarce commodity (Weller, 2011). With the advent of online shopping and digitalization of certain goods, such as music, the scarcity of an item was no longer an issue (Weller, 2011). Weller used this analogy of economics of scarcity and abundance to discuss parallels in the field of education. As a result of digital content and access to free sources in education, Weller pointed out that although the expertise can still be scarce, the access to content is abundant. The question however, is abundant content enough to support learning? My partner, Tanya Heck, and I set out to explore this question and the type of content generated on the Internet while investigating how to create food photography for blogs.

Search Results:

Our initial investigation of our topic through a simple Google search yielded an abundance of results:

  •      Videos on food photography (662,000,000 results)
  •      How to take food pictures for blogging (631,000,000 results)
  •      How to take food pictures using an iPhone (226,000,000 results)
  •      Digital food photography for blogs (73,500,000 results)
  •      Digital food photography for blogs using an iPhone (44,200,000 results)
  •      Videos on digital food photography for blogs using an iPhone (2,620,000 results). Google searches conducted on 9.26.18

Given the immense quantity of results, we decided to identify criteria in the hopes it would narrow our search.

Defined criteria:

  1.    preferred format of presented material (video)
  2.    video length (no more than 10 min)
  3.    specific equipment (iPhone)

By further refining our search, we were able to limit the number of hits, and reduce the results that did not match our criteria. However, even with these modifications and efforts to narrow the search, Google still generated over 2 million results. As a learner, needing to identify what information is most practical and relevant to the skill-level of novice food photographers, it would be helpful to know how to assess the quality of content and define criteria that would narrow searches.


The challenge with an immense quantity of information is not necessarily finding enough content, but how to find quality information and use time effectively to sift through an abundance of content. Weller (2011) suggests that the focus must shift from development of content to the ability to select, compile and interpret existing material (p. 229).  The question then, is what do learners and instructors need to know in order to do this? Based on the findings of Weller (2011) and Anderson (2016), and from our initial investigation of how to create food photography pictures, we identified the following assumptions necessary for the learner to be successful:

  • Ability to critically evaluate sources of information. In the face of an abundance of information, if a learner is unable to discern between what is meaningful or ineffective, the task threatens to overwhelm. Anderson (2016), who wrote on “Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies”, suggests the ability to judge, compare and evaluate are challenged in the face of an abundance of content, so the focus should be on assisting learners to evaluate content.
  • Ability to build practical parameters around search times, and maximize this time. Weller (2011) argues that with an abundance of content “it is no longer the content that is scarce, but [consumer’s] own time and attention becomes the key scarce resource now” (p. 225). With an abundance of information and availability of choices, it is easy to spend hours investigating a variety of searches, which can easily distract from the given task.

Considering the above points, developing a learner’s ability to evaluate information, define search parameters and maximize their own search, will play an important role in equipping learners with skills to navigate an abundance of information.


Given that we live in the age of information, it seems unlikely that an abundance of content is a passing trend. Google CEO, Eric Schmidt who “claims that society produces more information in two days than was created from the beginning of human history until 2003, stating “the real issue is user-generated content” (as cited in Weller, 2011, p. 231). Therefore, learning how to live with an abundance of content should be a priority in education (Weller, 2011). For instructors this may mean adopting pedagogies of abundance in order to equip their learners with the best skills possible to be successful in their learning. As Weller suggests “Exploring pedagogies of abundance will be essential for educators to meet this challenge and equip their learners with the skills they need in an age of digital abundance” (2011, p. 235). For learners, it may mean examining their interactions with content and learning how to maximize their learning in a digital environment. Ultimately, abundant content may not be enough without the skills and techniques required to make use of it.


Anderson, T. (2016). Chapter 3: Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed). Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications, 35-50. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press. doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781771991490.01

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Revista Espanola de Pedagogia, 69(249), 223–236. doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004


Key Events in the History of Open Education Resources (OER)

In exploring the array of influential contributions to the field of educational technology, I chose to focus on key events in the history of Open Education Resources (OER).

David Wiley (2009), who is one of the many key contributors to the OER movement, commented that writing about history is no easy task because there is no clear starting point when telling the story of ideas, people and events. There is also the issue of bias and how one chooses to tell the story from a specific perspective (Wiley, 2009) which may differ from how others remember. In light of these biases, key events, ideas and people may be overlooked or completely hidden from sight, presenting variations in historical timelines (Watters, 2014). It is therefore not the intention to omit important benchmarks in this timeline, however, for the purposes of this effort, only a very brief snapshot is presented.

A Brief History of Open Education Resources


Bliss, T. J., & Smith, M. (2017). A brief history of open educational resources. In R.S. Jhangiani & R. Biswas-Diener (Eds.), Open: the philosophy and practices that are revolutionizing education and science (pp. 9–27). London: Ubiquity Press. https://doi.org/10.5334/bbc.b. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0

GNU Operating System

Open Education Timeline 

Understanding Open Educational Resources

The History of Open Educational Resources Infographic

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.

Wiley, D. & Gurrell, S. (2009) A decade of development…, Open Learning:
The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 24(1), 11-21, DOI: 10.1080/02680510802627746


EdTech’s history through two different lenses

As part of an assignment for our Foundations of Learning and Technologies course, we were asked to read two articles based on the history of educational technology. While both authors detail educational technology innovations and movements in the field, Weller (2018) focused mostly on EdTech innovations in the past 20-years, whereas Reiser (2001) distinguished the history of instructional technology and design as independent of each other. Although Reiser’s two-part article was published almost 20-years ago, the information still holds value in understanding changes and recurring themes in both the history of educational technology and design up until 1998.

Despite the time gap in publication dates, both Weller (2018) and Reiser (2001) shared the same argument that examining past EdTech innovations and failures can hold value in making decisions to adopt educational technologies for the future. Where their views differed is in the focus of technology itself. Although Weller (2018) proposed that future lists of historical trends in innovative EdTech might “be better balanced with conceptual frameworks, pedagogies, and social movements” (p. 47), technological innovations dominated his article and limited the role of instructional design.

The lessons that both authors extract from the past can inform decisions we make today.  One lesson I was able to take from Weller’s (2018) article is despite the hype which can be created around new technologies, it is important to consider how sustainable that technology may prove to be. This can be seen when Second Life was adopted as a new technology for Higher Education in the early 2000’s (Weller, 2018). As Weller points out, once the hype wore off, the realization came that the technology was simply a lecture in disguise. The technology was challenging to use and didn’t offer much innovation for learners, so interest waned.

However informing as past lessons can be, there are times when they do not necessarily serve current circumstances. In my former position developing and managing online professional development programs, our unit often overlooked the role of learning hierarchies in the design of programs. Time constraints, funding limitations, client involvement and varying levels of instructional design expertise often determined the level of skill development that was thoughtfully incorporated into modules. Reiser (2001) highlighted learning hierarchies and analysis of those hierarchies conducted by Gagné starting in the 1960’s as important to instructional design. In particular, Gagné determined there is a hierarchical relationship between intellectual skills (as cited in Reiser, 2001). To achieve mastery of a skill, Gagné believed a learner would need to demonstrate proficiency of skills subordinate to it (as cited in Reiser, 2001). Given the challenges, as mentioned, in my former work, learning modules were sometimes designed without a deeper understanding of the hierarchy of “learning task analysis or instructional task analysis” (as cited in Reiser, 2001, p. 61). This often resulted in not only challenging and frustrating learning experiences for learners with varying skill levels, but also impacted the instructor’s ability to support a successful online learning experience.


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

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

Weller, M. (2018). Twenty years of EdTechEDUCAUSE Review, 53(4).

A Snapshot of the History of Educational Technology

In exploration of the history of Educational Technology, defining this term seemed like a good starting point. Wikipedia defines educational technology as “the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources”. The Association for Educational Communications and Technologies (AECT) expands the definition to include theory and research in the application of best practices to progress learning abilities. What is clear from these two definitions is that educational technology is not limited to one area, rather it includes both the physical means and foundational theories to support learning experiences (Wikipedia). Educational technology also serves as an overarching term encompassing a wide range of terminologies that are not limited to, but include computer-based training, information and communication technology, e-learning, computer mediated communication, and networked learning, just to name a few (Wikipedia).

As robust as its definition, educational technology has a long and rich history documented by its many contributions to the field of education. It can trace its origins back to the first use of tools for communication and learning such as the abacus in 3000 BC to perform mathematical calculations (Englisheasily, 2012). Bates (2014) points out that technology also served as a method to backing up and preserving oral communications through the use of scrolls and slates. With the invention of visual media such as photography, films and slides at the onset of the 19th century (Sandoval, 2008), our access to learning greatly increased. WWII, in which educational technology was used for the training and implementation of weaponry in the US, revolutionized the use of educational technologies (Englisheasily, 2012). Micro-teaching, computer assisted instruction and the use of language laboratories were a few of the instructional approaches and technologies used by the military which served as a national model for innovative technologies and instructional approaches in the US (Englisheasily, 2012; Sandoval, 2008). Fast forward to today’s society, and we can see how much technology has advanced education from the days of the abacus to present day in which mobile learning and how we learn in a digital age take on a renewed focus (Sharples, 2015).



Association for Educational Communications & Technology (AECT) (n.d.). The definition and terminology committee. Retrieved September 8, 2018, from https://www.aect.org/

Bates, T. (2014). A short history of educational technology. Retrieved September 8, 2018, from https://www.tonybates.ca/2014/12/10/a-short-history-of-educational-technology/

Educational Technology. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved September 8, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_technology

Englisheasily. (2012, August 7). History of technology in education (module 1) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/1WaCn-KKprg

Sandoval, F. V. (2008, June 17). History of educational technology [PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/lspu_eductech/02history-of-educational-technology?next_slideshow=1

Sharples, M. (2015, November 20). A very short introduction to educational technology [PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/sharplem/introduction-to-educational-technology-55332225



Creating a Digital Identity and Presence

My overall goal and purpose for cultivating my digital presence and identity is to adopt a mindful approach in increasing my social network awareness and usage. In this way, I hope to  be an active contributor and mindful of how I am contributing to create an inclusive and engaging environment. Being intentional is a key approach in this process. Knowing that I am cautious to draw attention to my social presence on the web, I want to identify social media tools/platforms which will enable me to actively engage in an environment in which I feel relatively safe.

Jaigris Hodson, in her presentation for the MALAT 2018 Virtual Symposium on “Mindful” social media engagement in an age of Cambridge Analytica, recommends a mindful approach in using platforms and awareness of our digital footprint.  Currently, I am subscribed to two social networking media platforms. One is for professional reasons and the second is personal, however my activity has been dormant on the personal one and with limited activity on the professional network. Before engaging in other platforms, and to thoughtfully increase my activity on the current ones, I would like to increase my familiarity with LinkedIn, and explore using Twitter for educational purposes.

At best, my digital identity has been as a visitor, which as White & LeCornu (2011) point out is more of a user as opposed to an active participant in an online community. This status has enabled me to be cautious about how I engage online and has helped me to avoid managing too many digital identities. However, as I transition my professional practice and identity to a more visible online presence, I am more dependent upon expanding my network and connections globally. This transition necessitates movement along the digital presence continuum to more of a resident status which requires active engagement in a digital space, leaving behind a digital footprint (White & LeCornu, 2011).

To increase my understanding of LinkedIn, Twitter and other related digital social medias and apps, I would like to develop my usage through the application of 5 social media literacies as described by Rheingold (2010): “attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption” (p.16). Actively engaging all 5 components together is the targeted goal in working toward digital fluency (Rheingold, 2010). I want to give myself time to better explore these platforms thinking about the professional presence I create, and how this can be a positive contribution rather than engaging just to create visibility.

Most importantly, to measure success in developing my digital identity and presence on my chosen social network platforms, my frequency in usage will increase. Since I am not a twitter user, measurement of my progress will first start with setting up an account and following RRU SET related posts. Additionally, I would like to post contributions that are meaningful, but this will require building a level of comfort and familiarity with my audience’s interests.


Hodson, J. (April 16, 2018). “Mindful” social media engagement in an age of Cambridge Analytics. RRU MALAT Virtual Symposium 2018.

White, D. S., & LeCornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagementFirst Monday, 16(9).

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literaciesEducause Review45(5), 14.

Mapping your Social Network

Using an automated software such as Socilab.com to map my LinkedIn social network provided some interesting insights. To help analyze my map, I consulted a few sites, one of them was Ryze, which highlights areas to focus on and action steps in improving your network.

My own map shows 3 distinct groups, or “macro-groups” circled in dark ink. The first two groups are more closely related as they are connections from my former workplace in which there was overlap with programs and community relationships. The third group has evolved most recently and is connected through one node (or person) to my former work. The outliers represent opportunities in which I can better develop and identify shared interests to develop my professional network.

Having worked in a very large institution previously, my professional network developed, as a result of my work on committees, institutional events, and working relationships – most of which was face-to-face. Since transitioning to a new but related field of work, I am experiencing a change in my social interactions which have moved to a digital space. Learning how to cultivate these connections online is an area I am curious to learn more about!

What makes a good research question?


Image from Philpot Education

If you’ve found yourself wondering what makes a good research question, and how to write one – you are not alone! Feeling very inexperienced in this area, I found it heartening to discover that upon further reading, there are many folks in the academic world grappling with the same question. In fact, Patrick White (2013) wrote a compelling article that details how research questions have been neglected in literature.

Although it can be tricky to formulate your research question, the following tips can serve as a starting point:

  • Identify a topic you’re curious about, which is not only relevant to you but to others as well
  • Consider what literature base you could pull from and begin with some preliminary research to help determine which you direction you’d like to explore
  • Form questions around your topic, surveying existing literature and research to avoid replication
  • Narrow in on your research question, keeping it focused and not too broad
  • Keep the topic manageable and aligned with the scope of your research ensuring it is something you can feasibly undertake

Most importantly, give yourself plenty of time to identify your topic and create your question. This is not something that can be done overnight! For further reading, consult the following sites. Good luck with crafting your research question!

Thompson Writing Program

Guide to undergraduate dissertations