Posts made in September, 2019

Written By: Mark Regan & Kerry Sharples

Writing a book may seem as simple as coming up with an idea and putting pen to paper. However, a quick internet search on the topic will reveal that the process of writing a book is much more complicated. Web pages, blogs, and forums fill the digital space, offering advice and rules regarding not only writing, but publishing and marketing, as well as the countless subcategories within, like world building and dialogue, self or traditional publication, or Twitter or Instagram. As Weller (2011) points out, we are living in a time of change, a time of abundant content production and distribution. With this abundance of content comes new possibilities for learning, both academic and hobby, though it also has never been more challenging to navigate and process what seems like a never ending information, which in turn makes endeavours, such as writing a book, all the more daunting.

The clear abundance of resources at your fingertips when learning or teaching not only is found in written and online literature but also in media content as well. Within the technological modern-age we live in, copious other resources such as YouTube and other media platforms can be a source of learning materials too. When searching YouTube on How to Write a Book? A plethora of video clips is given to the searcher numbering in the thousands. Each video explaining some aspect or wealth of wisdom and/or knowledge to impart on the viewer. Jenkins (2018) states “speed is not the point; quality is the point” (0:25) when it comes to writing a book. However, Project Life Mastery (2015) states on their YouTube channel that although it is a “big task to write a book…one must break it down into more achievable pieces” (2:12) in order to complete the task. Whatever the advice or knowledge may be, the idea of abundance continues to be in the face of learners and educators. Weller (2011) however, makes a good point about abundance when he suggests that the abundance of resources is not just a learning centric issue. He points out that “the opposite may be true, for example an individual’s attention is not abundant, and is time-limited” (Weller, 2011, pg. 10). Abundance appears to be a multifaceted issue and begs the question how does education approach the abundance in general? Weller (2011) looks at this very question and suggests the answer is two fold: firstly, he points to the fact that educators need to be more prepared in their pedagogy and thus resilient to the possible negative effects of abundance and educators need to “equip their learners with the skills they need in an age of digital abundance” (pg. 10).

Researching how to write a book revealed that the task has many different routes, each approach personal and varied. Anyone who has, or is trying to write a book, has opinions and points that they believe is essential to the process. A quick Twitter survey came back with many viewpoints about the brainstorming process, with suggestions of brain mapping, point form plotting, and cloud mapping to name a few. This wealth of varying replies further demonstrates the abundance of information spoken about by Weller (2011) and seemed only to add to the intensity of the task. This vastness of content seems to hearken to the idea of Heutagogy, spoken about by Anderson (2016). The idea of self driven learning seems even more relevant in a digital age of free and accessible information. Self driven learning, like abundant content, is two-fold, providing freedom to learn and research an endless array of topics, though accompanied with the need to learn how to utilize these infinite resources effectively and appropriately. This seems to suggest a responsibility of the learner, as well as the content developer, to provide useful and digestible information as to be relevant in Weller’s (2011) age of change.

Weller (2011) concludes that society as a whole is “witnessing a fundamental change in the production of knowledge and our relationship to content” (pg. 10). The immense volume of digital content, whether written literature or media formatted, is a clear sustained issue to both learners and educators alike. When attempting to ask the question, how does one write a book? The abundance of data is too much to handle if learners are not equipped to handle the amount of data and/or the types of data for that matter. Clearly one cannot simply watch ten thousand videos in their spare time; no one has that much time. Learners need to know how to identify resources that are beneficial to them directly for their end goal and know how to use the resources as well. It seems society is only going to present a greater abundance in resources, now it appears up to the learner to get equipped with the skills to use the abundance in the best way possible, maybe even to ask the question, how do I write a book?



Anderson, T. (2016). Chapter 3: Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed). Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

James, S. [Project Life Mastery]. (2015, September 15). How to write a book for beginners [Video file]. Retrieved from

Jenkins, J.B. (2018, October 01). How to write a book: 13 steps from a bestselling author [Video file]. Retrieved from

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogical abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249, 223-236. Retrieved from

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Learning within the field of aerospace control has countless hurdles for individuals who attempt a career in this difficult vocation. Hurdles can be in the form of learning within a high stress environment, complexity of material, technology overload, and even financial considerations for training. Xing and Manning (2005) describe air traffic control, a branch within aerospace control, as a “dynamic environment where controllers constantly receive a large volume of information from multiple sources to monitor changes in the environment, make decisions, and perform effective actions in a timely manner” (p. 1). Learning environments that have heavy complexity such as the one described above require extremely efficient and effective curricula, instruction, and learning resources in order to provide students with the best chance of success. Instructional designers have a huge task, specifically described by Ertmer and Newby to “translate principles of learning and instruction into specifications for instructional materials and activities” within the realm of aerospace control education (as cited in Smith & Ragan, 1993, p. 12). But apart from providing key instructional design elements, which are integral to any learning course design, Ertmer and Newby (2013) suggest and more poignantly argue the notion that instructional designers should be urged to consider which learning theory is applicable to the learning environment of interest (see also Snelbecker, 1983). Although it may seem highly relevant for instructional designers to take learning theories into account in relation to their work, “less than two percent of the courses offered in university curricula in the general area of educational technology emphasize ‘theory’ as one of their key concepts” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 45). This lends to the possible issue that instructional designers are not routinely defining which learning theory(ies) is/are applicable to their job at hand. The question in this introductory blog entry seeks to answer the question: what applicable learning theory applies best to aerospace control?


In order to answer the above question, one first must know how to distinguish one learning theory from another. Ertmer and Newby (2013) propose five “definitive questions that serve to distinguish each learning theory from others: how does learning occur? which factors influence learning? What is the role of memory? How does transfer occur? And what types of learning are best explained by the theory?” (p. 46). In applying these questions to the job learning environment within aerospace control, cognitivism theory most closely aligns itself in the context to answering the five questions posed by Ertmer and Newby. In aerospace control, learning occurs based on how information is obtained through knowledge acquisition and internal mental structures (Ertmer & Newby, 2013; see also Bower & Hilgard, 1981). Instructors apply set discrete expected knowledge and proficiency levels that students must attain. Note, a student’s proficiency level may not meet the expected proficiency level within a particular phase of aerospace control training. Aerospace control learning emphasizes the role of environmental factors as key influencers in learning which aligns itself with cognitivism. In terms of when the transfer occurs, as described by Ertmer and Newby (2013), “transfer occurs when a learner understands how to apply knowledge in different contexts” (pg. 52). This also aligns very readily with aerospace control learning and instruction in that aerospace controllers must demonstrate application of knowledge through pre-set simulator exercises as they progress through training phases. “Workers in the aviation environment are often highly skilled professionals who are required to have a large body of knowledge ready for application in a range of contexts; trainers with an understanding of cognitive processes…are better equipped to assist trainees in the type of preparation needed to function in highly skilled and demanding jobs” such as those in the aerospace control community (Henley, 2003, pg. 17). Although it appears that aerospace control learning environments readily support cognitivism theory, it does not necessarily mean that this is the best theory or only theory to apply to such a complex learning environment. A more comprehensive analysis of aerospace control training as a whole would be required in order to properly deduce what main theory(ies) is/are most relevant to today’s learners and learning environments.





Bower, G.H., & Hilgard, E.R. (1981). Theories of learning (5th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall


Ertmer. P., & Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 23(2), 43-71. doi: 10.1002/piq


Henley, I.M.A. (2003). Aviation Education and Training. London: Rutledge


Smith, P.L., & Ragan, T.J. (1993). Instructional Design. New York: Macmillan


Snelbecker, G.E. (1983). Learning theory, instructional theory, and psychoeducational design. New York: McGraw-Hill


Xing, J., & Manning, C.A. (2005). Complexity and automation displays of air traffic control: Literature review and analysis (Report No. DOT/FAA/AM-05/4). Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration.

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Ode to Alan Kay: Pioneer to EduTech

Ode to Alan Kay: Pioneer to EduTech

Posted By on Sep 14, 2019

It is hard to imagine someone without some type of personal computer, tablet or communicative device in present time. They have been become mainstream, both inside our homes and within learning environments. Their educational potential benefits have been documented extensively in literature and have far reaching applications within education such as assisting those with disabilities (Priest & May, 2001). Briggs and Blair (2016) describe that “educational technology in the form of information and communication technology is now common place in the modern classroom” (p. 545; see also Lawless & Pellegrino). Some secondary and elementary schools provide 1:1 laptop distribution for students to have an immersive technological experience while learning (Zucker & Hug, 2008). Within their research study Zucker and Hug state that “more than 90% of [seniors] report that the laptops have had a positive impact on how much they learn from school, and nearly the same fraction report that the laptops help make class more interesting” (Zucker & Hug, 2008, p. 589). This influx of technology infused into our education systems has been aided by pioneer and computer science guru Alan Kay. Watters (2014) describes Alan Kay as a pivotal instrument in education and technology. In her book “The Monsters of Education Technology”, Watters (2014) describes that Alan Kay is responsible for the development and production of Dynabook, a tablet like device designed to be the personal computer for all children. She credits him with designing ‘Smalltalk,’ the computer language used in education technology that aided constructionist learning. After ‘smalltalk’ came bigger computer language programs more common to present day such as Java and Python. It is clear that contributions from Alan Kay and others with the talent for programming combined with innovative foresight have made the field of education and technology what it is today. The historical contributions he made back in the 60-80s can still be felt and seen today. Alan Kay’s contributions truly describe what it is to be a pioneer in this field.

Here is more about Alan Kay:





Briggs, G. & Blair, E. (2016). Everyday personal laptop usage in secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Education and Information Technology, 21, 545-558. doi: 10.1007/s10639-014-9338-4

Lawless, K.A., & Pellegrino, J.W. (2007). Professional development in integrating technology into teaching and learning: Knowns, unknowns, and ways to pursue better questions and answers. Review of Educational Research, 77, 575-614.

Priest, N., & May, E. (2001). Laptop computers and children with disabilities: Factors influencing success. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 48, 11-23. doi: 10.111/j.1440-1630.2001.00220.x

Watters, A. (2014). History of the Future of Ed-Tech, Chapter 1. In Monsters of Education Technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SEA. Retrieved from

Zucker, A.A., & Hug, S.T. (2008). Teaching and learning physics in a 1:1 laptop school. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17, 586-594. doi: 10.1007/s10956-008-9125-3

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Patterns of History: EduTech

Patterns of History: EduTech

Posted By on Sep 13, 2019

In review of articles from Reiser (2001) and Weller (2018), it is clear that there are distinctive patterns inherently identified within the domain of Education and Technology, or ‘EduTech’ as some refer to it. These lessons of pattern are presented in the historical context of the field of EduTech. In a shortened history in the field of instructional design and technology ranging from the audiovisual movement, EduTech and World War II, and a quick synopsis of recent developments within this diverse domain, Reiser (2001) presents an overall pattern of conclusion. Reiser (2001) suggests in his article that new instructional media and technology is usually precursory with massive elation, however, continues to field the notion that eventually these technologies fade and become obsolete. He poignantly states that “enthusiasm and interest eventually fade [and that] an examination reveals that the medium has had a minimal impact on such practices” (Reiser, 2001, p. 61). Perhaps the most unique and final conclusive iteration from Reiser is his suggestion that “computers, the internet, and other digital media will bring about greater changes in instructional practices than the media that preceded them” (p. 62). Is Reiser a victim of his own EduTech pattern of failure or lack-luster impact as he previously stated? In my opinion no…however, perhaps if one delves deeper into the specific technologies within internet and computer usage in education, some would eventually fall into the abyss of being no longer usable or relevant – not all ideas are necessarily good ideas.


In Weller’s (2018) review of EduTech history, he approaches his conclusions in a different manner. I believe it is generally clear that Weller agrees with Reiser in that many technologies have eventually had little impact or success within education; however, Weller appears to be more positive in his presented facts in terms of technological influences within the field. Overall though, Weller (2018) cogently focuses on the socioeconomic influence of new technologies along with the cultural influences, a play Reiser does not conclude on. As stated in his paper, “the simple transfer of technology from other sectors often fails to appreciate the sociocultural context in which education operates” (Weller, 2018, p. 48). The stark contrasts between Weller and Reiser in these papers does not necessarily lend to the conclusion or idea that one is right and the other wrong, a black and white deduction. In fact, both have provided a different basis or foundation in which to derive their conclusions from.


But ultimately, how do these historical lessons effect my work in Military Aerospace Control or Air Traffic Control. Firstly, new technology does not necessarily mean the automatic usefulness in education. In fact, older simulators used in terminal air traffic control were originally held up to be the Deus ex Machina to solve the learning and technology short falls in aerospace control. Students were expected to somehow just simply learn and retain more simply due to the fact we had better technology. Weller (2018) and Reiser (2011) both touched on the notion that education is a highly complex organism in itself and thus the introduction of technology to such a complex system needs to be added in a very deliberate and effective way. One of the possible research avenues I may explore may be simply the question of how to best utilize our current EduTech in Military Aerospace Control in order for students to effectively learn? Secondly, and something that is slowly being introduced more into the Military at this time is the addition of sociocultural understandings and applications to instruction. Much more research and greater attention is required within the Military to address these de facto sociocultural characteristics of learning…this would include Aerospace Control learning as well. Younger generations are attuned to these socioeconomic and sociocultural influences greater than previous generations, that being my opinion. The future appears to be endless for EduTech, a conclusion both Reiser, Weller and myself agree upon.

Reiser, R. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part 1: A history of instructional media. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(1), 53-64. doi:

Weller, M. (2018a). Twenty years of ed tech. Educause Review Online, 53(4), 34-48. Retrieved from

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When attempting to search out historical information within the domain of education and technology I knew my difficulty was the narrowing down of a suitable topic to which to briefly share my thoughts. In reference of my employment within the Royal Canadian Air Force, I found it befitting to give a historical context to learning and technology from a military vantage point. One of the most influential technologies employed within the United States Armed Forces combining all major elements, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Army, was SIMNET (Simulator Networking). The project started in 1983 and was employed thoroughly within training in the early 90s. “As of January 1, 1990, its components consisted of about 260 ground vehicle and aircraft simulators, communications networks, command posts, and data-processing facilities distributed among eleven sites” (Alluisi, 1991, p. 343). Simulators are mostly known to train individuals on a specific job or task(s). A flight simulator is used in the training of a pilot to fly a specific aircraft within all critical and en route phases of flight or an air traffic control tower simulator is used to train air traffic controllers how to control air traffic at a specific airport. The unique and highly advantageous quality of SIMNET was its ability to combine many types of simulators with the purpose of allowing each person involved to get a realistic experience of the entire battle space. There decisions effected others within the entire simulated battle space. This included Land, Sea, and Air elements combined. War zones are chaotic and highly unpredictable spaces in which to conduct specified and calculated missions and operations. By having a multi-simulator environment, instructors could give students real-time experience into how to complete their missions whilst all the other dynamic elements and unpredictable elements were at play. In end, although there were challenges with the system, its main premise opened the door for more relevant and robust multi-simulator technologies to emerge. Many types of those multi-simulator environment technologies are employed within the entire Armed Forces.


Alluisi, E.A. (1991). The development of technology for collective training: SIMNET, a case history. Human Factors: The Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 33(3), 343-362. doi: 10.1177/001872089103300308

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