A2: Annotated Bibliography (Spreadsheet)

In today’s assignment, we have been asked to create an annotated spreadsheet of sources for our upcoming 1200-word synthesis of a topic of historical significance.

I have chosen to summarize and critique 5 papers on the historical significance of educational television.  You can view my spreadsheet by clicking on the link below:

Assignment 2 Spreadsheet_Sherry

Stop Using Paper Towels, Use Unpaper Towels Instead!

Activity 5 – Shared post by Kathy Moore and Sherry Ruth

We investigated how to make paperless paper towels after learning about them from a coworker who had received a roll as a gift.  Since the idea was new to both of us, we wanted to see what was available for instructions and if there was a community around the concept.  Before starting the research, we discussed the ease of the project, the reason behind it, and the uses of the final product. 

As with many new ideas, we started with a Google search using phrases we thought would yield the best results.  Little did we know that “how to make fabric paper towels” would generate 76,800,000 results with 181,000 videos, and “DIY unpaper towels” would generate over 136,000 results, including 1,670 videos.  Multiple variations of different keywords, such as reusable, unpaper, fabric, alternative, washable, and paperless, all provided thousands of results showing the abundant possibilities to learn about this topic online.

We found great diversity among the various sources.  Blogs, websites, news articles, and videos offered multiple options including different styles, materials, methods, and uses.  That diversity even extended to the individuals providing the content which included sewers, quilters, crafters, money-savers, homesteaders, DIYers, fabric stores, chefs, minimalists, naturalists, and environmentalists. Videos and step-by-step photos with accompanying instructions provided detailed information, varying from non-sewing options to beginner sewer and expert-level lessons. The comments sections of many of these sources created strong networks as conversations often emerged amongst readers, offering suggestions, alternatives, encouragement, and personal stories.  

We are confident that there is abundant content available on this topic and we could successfully learn how to make our own paperless towels using our preferred medium, method, and material.  Weller (2011) posits that any pedagogy based on the abundance of knowledge currently available should be socially based with free, abundant, and varied content that is easily generated and shared among users (p. 228).  The thousands of results from the internet search on our topic certainly met this criteria. Though the amount of content could overwhelm some learners, further Google searches could narrow down the topic, for example, a search of “fabric unpaper towels ‘no sew’ flannel” results in 37 videos. 

Extrapolating from Weller’s postulation, we believe that abundant content, including one’s own active participation in producing content and connecting with other participants, may be enough for some learners to learn some content successfully.  However, abundant content alone is not enough for all learners and all subjects. There appear to be several determining factors which require consideration. First, it depends on the learner’s prior knowledge of the subject and the subject itself (i.e., how much cognitive processing is required, such as learning how to play a scale on the piano versus Mozart’s Requiem).  Second, we believe it also depends greatly on the learner’s ability to navigate the abundant content. The learner must know where and how to search, then how to sift through the abundant content to determine what is valid and appropriate for his/her situation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, abundant content alone may not be enough if the learner does not have the skills and motivation to successfully absorb the content as knowledge.  While Anderson believes “a goal of connectivist learning is to create new connections, regardless of formal education systems, to expand upon and build learning networks” (Anderson, 2016, p. 43), it may be insufficient as a sole source for learning such skills as being more empathetic, doing backflips or flying a fighter jet. Given our skills and knowledge, however, we feel that we could complete this project based on the available content online and perhaps we will one day!



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.

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249, 223–236.

My Theoretical and Pedagogical Stance (Activity 4)

As this activity required us to take a stance and align ourselves with only one of the theoretical positions described in our readings, I have chosen constructivism. Having taught English as a Foreign Language (EFL) for over 16 years, I have taught hundreds of students of all levels of English proficiency from many different cultural backgrounds. Unsurprisingly, how I teach or facilitate a course, lesson, or activity depends on many factors. However, it is most often the instructional strategies of constructivism which offer the best means to achieve the desired outcomes. There are several reasons for this.

First, I have observed that learners vary greatly in how they learn and how they interpret the learned material. Constructivists argue that learners “build personal interpretations of the world based on individual experiences and interactions. Thus, the internal representation of knowledge is constantly open to change” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p.55). As required by my college, I routinely provide differentiation in my lessons (which includes offering choices to students, assigning different work to different groups, and accepting and encouraging a range of results from writing prompts and open-ended questions). I have found that students succeed best when differentiated according to their unique experiences and knowledge.

Second, throughout most of my career, I have taught college students with a relatively advanced level of English proficiency. These students can converse proficiently in English, but may struggle to write an academic essay or understand complex job requirements in English. Ertmer and Newby (2013) argue that “constructive learning environments are most effective for the stage of advanced knowledge acquisition, where initial misconceptions and biases acquired during the introductory stage can be discovered, negotiated, and if necessary, modified and/or removed” (p. 57). This is often the focus of my language courses and, as such, constructivism is often the optimal theoretical basis for my teaching. When I teach English for Specific Purpose (ESL) or English for Academic Purpose (EAP), part of my teaching includes discovering and correcting students’ misconceptions regarding word definitions and usage, pronunciation, grammar, and sentence structure. For example, native Spanish students often incorrectly use the definite article “the” to refer to body parts (“Does the arm hurt?”) rather than the correct possessive adjective (“Does your arm hurt?”). The former is grammatically correct in their native language and they are using the definite article “the” in its correct form, but the definite article is not used in this context in English.

A third reason why my teaching often stems from constructivism is that courses in advanced language acquisition commonly focus on problem-based learning (a constructivist learning method). Rather than rote memorization of words and grammar rules, the focus is on actively encouraging the learner to think and understand how English is used in different contexts (for example, conversing with a customer versus your friend). Active, learner-centered tasks based on authentic, relevant issues or problems are common. For example, I had health professionals in an EAP course make instructional videos in English on proper hand washing.

Of course, not all course material and learners are best suited to constructivism’s instructional strategies. When introducing a new topic with new vocabulary, especially to learners with low English proficiency, it is likely more appropriate to use a behaviourist method. And when explaining the reasoning of a new grammar rule (and, often, its many exceptions), cognitive theory may be the appropriate choice. As stated in Ertmer and Newby (2013), “what might be most effective for novice learners encountering a complex body of knowledge for the first time, would not be effective, efficient or stimulating for a learner who is more familiar with the content” (p. 60). Despite the significant changes in technology, learners, learning contexts, tools, and teaching methods over recent decades, behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism remain relevant (p. 69). Instructional design must take advantage of “the advances in theory and the affordances of technology” (p. 69), however, how the human brain acquires knowledge is not so different that we should ignore past wisdom.


Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/piq.21143

People in the Field: Sal Khan (LRNT523 Assignment 1)

image source: https://www.khanacademy.org/about/blog/post/176235043470/have-you-seen-our-new-look

Salman “Sal” Khan, the founder and chief executive officer of Khan Academy, has played a prominent role in promoting the use of video in education and has a bold vision for the future of education that is learner-centered and learner-directed.

Founded in 2007, Khan Academy is a not-for-profit online learning platform.  It offers “practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard” (Khan Academy, 2019a, para.1) which teachers can use to supplement in-class material and students can use independently to reinforce their comprehension.  It currently includes more than 6500 videos and has over 74 million registered students and over 700,000 registered teachers across 190 countries (Khan Academy, 2019b, video, 0:33).

Weller (2018) listed video as the most significant education technology of 2005 (p. 39), the year YouTube was founded, claiming that “the realization that anyone could make a video and share it easily . . . broadcast democratization” (p. 39).  Unfortunately, video in education is often restricted to passive, lecture-style broadcasting, but it has enormous potential that has yet to be fulfilled (p. 39).  Khan Academy’s videos are currently restricted to broadcasting, however, the platform includes interactive exercises and networking opportunities, including discussion areas and study groups.

Khan’s vision has considerable merit, despite criticism as an unrealistic utopia (Morrison, 2013, para. 3).  He posits self-paced, personalized learning with combined age groups and tutor-teachers and a focus on mastery of content.  The future of education needs creative solutions and visionaries to create positive change.  Watters (2014) proposes that the future of education technology should be “more progressive and less programmed” (p. 93), encouraging more student-centered, peer learning through networks and less traditional content delivery.  Perhaps Khan Academy, and Khan’s bold vision, will have a role in making this a reality. 

Relevant Links:

1) https://www.khanacademy.org/

2) https://khanlabschool.org/

3) https://www.ted.com/talks/salman_khan_let_s_use_video_to_reinvent_education

4) https://www.businessinsider.com/khan-lab-school-tour-inside-sal-khans-newest-school-2017-10#just-a-couple-miles-away-from-where-the-worlds-biggest-tech-companies-are-reinventing-consumer-products-khan-lab-school-could-be-doing-the-same-for-education-10

5) https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-07-16-sal-khan-test-prep-is-the-last-thing-we-want-to-be

6) https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/docview/2264120250/fulltextPDF/318F7B384DF94592PQ/1?accountid=8056


Khan Academy. (2019a). Khan Academy. Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/about

Khan Academy. (2019b). Celebrate 10 years of Khan Academy. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Gn5Q1efT4g

Khan Lab School (n.d.). Khan Lab School. Retrieved from https://khanlabschool.org/

Morrison, D. (2013). Can we transform education with Sal Khan’s One World Schoolhouse? Online Learning Insights. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/can-we-transform-education-with-sal-khans-one-world-schoolhouse/

Watters, A. (2014). The future of education: Programmed or programmable. Chapter 10. In The Monsters of Education Technology. Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/audreywatters/the-monsters-of-education-technology.pdf

Weller, M. (2018). Twenty years of EdTech. EDUCAUSE Review, 53(4). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/7/twenty-years-of-edtech

Applying Weller to My Context as an English language teacher (LRNT523 Activity 3)

Meaningful Lesson from the History of Education Technology

Weller (2018) lists learning management systems (LMSes) as 2004’s most significant education technology (often referred to as edtech).  He defines an LMS as a “collection of the most popular tools” which can be “implemented more quickly [than previous technologies] across an entire institution” (p. 39).  For almost two decades, I have taught in various schools around the world.  During that time, I have used several LMSes, including D2L Brightspace, Schoology, Edmodo, Blackboard, Quizlet, and Moodle.  I appreciate the convenience of having all course materials and assessment tools in one location which is easily accessible by both teachers and learners.

Problematic Lesson from the History of Education Technology

Despite the usefulness and convenience of an LMS, I do agree with Weller’s (2018) claim that LMSes are “the only route for delivering e-learning in many institutions, with a consequent loss of expertise and innovation” (p. 39).  An LMS alone is quite limited.  Though it may contain all of the course content, students need diverse contexts to engage with the material, including opportunities to network, formally and informally, with teachers and classmates.  Beyond the LMS, an experienced teacher can gauge students’ cognitive load and engagement level, take advantage of teachable moments, comprehend the nuances of students’ body language, and instantly adjust and personalize the learning environment to increase relevance and engagement. 

Therefore, despite the importance of an LMS in my work and its overall success as an edtech tool, it does have significant limitations which, if solely or overly relied upon, would severely limit students’ learning opportunities.


Weller, M. (2018). Twenty years of EdTechEDUCAUSE Review, 53(4). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/7/twenty-years-of-edtech

The History of Educational Technology: A Very Brief Overview (Activity 2)

image source: http://cliparting.com/free-history-clipart-42386/

There is no universally-accepted definition of educational technology (also known as EdTech and instructional technology, among others), so it is not surprising that different sources also give varying histories of the field.  While some sources indicate that the history of educational technology started “several decades ago” (Jones, 2019, para. 2), others extend all the way back to include cave drawings (SMARTEduEMEA, 2011, 0:13).  Some sources cast a wide net in EdTech history, including instruments such as the pencil, pen, and slide rule (Elemento, 2018, 0:58), while others omit even the overhead projector and video-tape recorder (Saettler, 1968, as cited in Lesniak, n.d., p. 510).

Perspectives on the success of educational technology are equally diverse.  New technologies often come with great promise as to how they will revolutionize our lives, including education.  With the advent of educational films, Thomas Edison proposed in 1913 that books would soon become obsolete in schools as “it is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture” (The Economist, 2013, para. 1).  Others assert that the medium through which the instruction occurs doesn’t offer learning gains: “a lecture is a lecture regardless of the medium through which it was delivered” (Veletsianos, 2014, para. 8).  Writer and educator, John Warner (2017), offers an austere perspective, stating that the “history of education technology is . . . one of unfulfilled promise” (para. 22), adding that he has “a hard time naming a purely ed tech innovation that has had a significant (positive) impact on education” (para. 21).  One’s perspective on the success of educational technology is perhaps highly dependent on how one defines success.

Perhaps the debated definition and history of educational technology are advantages.  Learners’ needs vary greatly and continue to change over time.  By not putting education technology’s history in a clearly-marked box, we are forced to keep an open perspective of what it is and perhaps be more open to its future possibilities.


Elemento, R. (2018, February 8). History of educational technology (timeline). [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6WqA4wRPZE

The Economist. (2013, June 29). Teaching and technology: E-ducation. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/leaders/2013/06/29/e-ducation

Jones, Jermaine. (2019). History of technology in education. The Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.theclassroom.com/history-technology-education-6518584.html

Lesniak, R. J. (1968). Saettler, Paul: A history of instructional technology. [Review of the book A History of Instructional Technology]. The Journal of Teacher Education, 19(4), pp. 509-510. Retrieved from https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/doi/pdf/10.1177/002248716801900421

Veletsianos, G. (2014, November). The significance of educational technology history and research. eLearn Magazine. Retrieved from https://elearnmag.acm.org/archive.cfm?aid=2686761

SMARTEduEMEA. (2011, October 3). The history of technology in education. [Video file].  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFwWWsz_X9s