Amplifying All Student Voices and Inclusivity in Digital Learning Communities

Lisa R. Gedak & Leigh McCarthy

Designing and fostering inclusive online learning environments led us to propose the free, web-based platform Flipgrid in our blog post entitled Amplifying All Student Voices and Inclusivity in Digital Learning Communities (Gedak & McCarthy, 2019). The primary purpose of our design-thinking process and subsequent proposed online component was to reduce barriers “to student participation, based on a range of personal and ‘glocal issues’ (Campbell and Schwier, 2014)” (Gedak & McCarthy, 2019, para. 1). Explored through the Hasso Plattner Institute’s design thinking process (Stanford University, 2019), we cross-compared our educational contexts. We explored our direct experience teaching French as a Second Language (FSL) in the K-12 learning environment, and first-year post-secondary courses (Gedak & McCarthy, 2019). We concluded that the problem of students not taking intellectual risks in online communities is cross-generational, and affects many students from both learning contexts (Gedak & McCarthy, 2019, para. 1). We were focused on addressing our concerns about marginalized communities not having a voice in many online learning environments, leading to lower levels of inclusivity and intellectual risk-taking. We identified demographics who often face systems that are not inclusive by design, learning systems that fail to create inclusive learning environments that speak to our instructional design goals of this assignment (Black & Hachkowski, 2019; Davis, 2015; Eliason & Turalba, 2019; Gedak & McCarthy, 2019; Westwood, 2015). This critique of our proposed online component of Flipgrid was shaped by our synthesis and reflections through the lenses of our peers’ feedback, and an ongoing focus on our learners’ needs, assessment practices, empathetic, and participatory design. Our evaluation of our proposed online component of Flipgrid is neither entirely negative or positive, but a mixed evaluation, determined at this point through a reflective dialogic process (synchronous and asynchronous), and the aforementioned, essential feedback from our peers.

The feedback from our peers identified two mutual and resounding considerations. The first being that due to “the continual blending of human populations and increasing accessibility [,] our classrooms are often very diverse. This diversity demands critical thought and consideration” (Kuipers & Lloyd, 2019, para. 1). The second consideration is that of concerns about how to meet “cross-generational” needs in our online learning communities (Gedak & McCarthy, 2019, para. 1; Kuipers & Lloyd, 2019, para. 1). A key component of our peers’ feedback on cross-generational digital learning needs considered Prensky’s (2001) digital immigrants versus digital native typology,  and then more specifically, White and Cornu’s (2019) digital resident versus digital visitor typology. One of our peers questioned how we would “mitigate any potential reluctance from [our] mature-aged students from engaging with Flipgrid?…[an] initial concern would be the learner’s ability to implement the chosen platform digital literacies sufficiently to enable learning” (Kuipers & Lloyd, 2019, para. 2-3). The value of our peers’ perspectives led us to further define and extrapolate both strengths and weaknesses of our proposed digital learning component.

In further consideration of Kuipers and Lloyd’s (2019) perspective and through a reflective dialogic process (L. Gedak & L. McCarthy, personal communication, December 7, 2019), we examined and confirmed potential disadvantages in our proposed solution of using Flipgrid to promote intellectual risk-taking. A plethora of research exists that illustrates the need to support technological inclusivity in our ever-growing, intertwined, learner populations who come from diverse backgrounds and include students who have unequal access to devices, the internet, the financial means; and who can vary significantly in digital literacies and the ability to implement the technology (Kuipers & Lloyd, 2019; Gilbert, 2010; Warf, 2019).  Moreover,  Kuipers & Lloyd (2019) emphasized the need for consideration of cross-generational abilities citing White and Cornu’s (2019) digital resident versus digital visitor typology and claimed the age of the student could affect their ability to use the proposed Flipgrid component. Additionally, physical and mental barriers, language barriers, technical language, cultural dialects, culture, ethnicity, and gender were discussed, and we postulated the potential impact they may have on the learners within our respective teaching contexts (L. Gedak & L. McCarthy, personal communication, December 7, 2019). Hall, Vue, Strangman, and Meyer (2003) postulated that the intersection of differentiated instruction and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) involve a curriculum that is “enriched with multiple media so that many paths are provided to develop the talents of all learners” (p. 10). During our reflective discussion (L. Gedak & L. McCarthy, personal communication, December 7, 2019) we also agreed that Campbell and Schwier (2014) convincingly argued that digital learning technologies are often implemented without purpose, and in a lacklustre fashion; further negatively impacting the quality of the learning experience (p. 369). Reflecting on the potential disadvantages of using Flipgrid was a thought-provoking process and allowed us to consider new perspectives. In the same way we dissected the potential disadvantages to the implementation of Flipgrid, we comparatively examined the potential benefits this tool could have for our cross-generational, diverse learner groups.

Consequently, the intersection of technology and pedagogy can positively impact learning. We have both experienced students displaying a higher level of engagement and motivation when we have facilitated activities using innovative technologies in our respective teaching and learning environments (L. Gedak & L. McCarthy, personal communication, December 7, 2019). The integration of mobile learning using the Flipgrid video component can provide our students’ further opportunities to engage, be motivated in learning, increase peer interactions, and take intellectual risks (Johnson & Skarphol, 2018). In addition, Flipgrid is a free application that can be used on both iOS and Android devices, addressing potential financial constraints and device specificities. Bartlett (2018) claimed that Flipgrid provided opportunities for diverse students to build community and to increase communication with peers through the ability to observe each other’s expressions, body language, and voice fluctuations. We have witnessed first-hand, the benefits of community building as a catalyst to increased sharing by those who may have otherwise been hesitant or non-participatory (L. Gedak & L. McCarthy, personal communication, December 7, 2019). Supplementary to the strengths of building community, engagement, motivation, and opportunities for increased peer interaction and communication, there is evidence to support that mobile learning opportunities can provide some flexibility and learner agency. Brown, Brock, and Závodská (2019) noted that the rise in the use of mobile devices challenges the instructional design of static learning spaces and that institutions will need to increasingly modernize to meet the needs of future learners, which is relevant to both of our learning contexts. Finally, we have noted that the majority (if not all) of our students do have a mobile device, and have all accessed our learning management systems, and online content in past classes we have taught with little issue (L. Gedak & L. McCarthy, personal communication, December 7, 2019). The comprehensive examination of the potential strengths and potential weaknesses in implementing the use of Flipgrid in our learning contexts using peer feedback, our own experiences, and research-based evidence, allowed us a wide range of considerations to cross-compare and synthesize.

Our goal to be leaders driving change continues to be informed by the feedback received from our peers, and our synthesis of the strengths and weaknesses of our proposed use of Flipgrid. To meet the needs of marginalized student communities in online learning environments, we need to keep our learners’ needs as the guiding foundation for building effective communication, assessment practices, and empathetic and participatory design. Based on our exploration of our peers (other bloggers) prototypes, we would suggest an alternative model to connected learning in addition to Flipgrid, to better address challenges such as physical, language, and technical barriers. One of our peer groups blogged about a prototype called Collabzone (Reid, Ruth & Sharples, 2019). This group used fundamental principles of empathic design (Mattelmäki, Vaajakallio, & Koskinen, 2014) to propose the creation of a multi-lingual format (translator function built into the app) to primarily connect learners with each other, versus with their instructor (Reid, Ruth & Sharples, 2019). Another group looked to gamified learning to support participatory design in creative ways (Einarson & Mami, 2019). Perhaps the addition of gamification to our proposed use of Flipgrid would further engage students through visual and emotional connections to encourage intellectual risk-taking? Empathic design principles confirm our desire to incorporate an online communication platform such as Flipgrid that seeks to understand some of the emotional experiences of marginalized students and how this affects our instructional design, as well as designing instruction (Mattelmäki, Vaajakallio, & Koskinen, 2014). Differentiated instruction and exploring Universal Design for Learning remain priorities and support our choice to use Flipgrid as well as a choice of another communication platform, to meet barriers to learning  (Hall, Meyer, Strangman, & Vue, 2014). Choosing the right combination of online communication platforms aligns with the synthesis of our proposed online component to reduce barriers to student participation and to create inclusive online learning environments and communities.

Nurturing individual potential is essential in learner-centred, inclusive online learning communities. Rose (2013) provided a powerful and articulate reminder when he spoke to instructional design, pointing out that “if you design those learning environments on ‘average’ [students’ needs and ‘measurements’], odds are you design for nobody” (7:35). Rose also stated, “We have this chance right now, to create learning environments that are so flexible that they can truly nurture the potential of every single individual. It sounds expensive, but it does not have to be. In fact, we can make great strides with simple solutions that we take for granted in our everyday digital lives. For example, translation devices and read-aloud apps…” (11:08). An “intentional mindset that includes designing, making, engagement and curiosity” (Crichton & Carter, 2017, p.18) will be a guide for our future-thinking when creating a prototype to amplify all student voices and inclusivity in our design of digital learning communities. By differentiating instruction and assessment, we will provide enough choice to meet individual learner needs and potential. The online components that we propose (i.e. asynchronous video platforms such as Flipgrid) will encourage more intellectual risk-taking, better nurturing individual potentials, even if our instructional choices are not universally suitable for all students. A resounding consideration in our peers’ feedback on our proposal of Flipgrid as our chosen solution, was a “potential reluctance from mature-aged students” (Kuipers & Lloyd, 2019, para. 3). Our peers’ feedback was thought-provoking; however, we returned to White and Cornu’s (2019) digital resident versus visitor typology for reassuring reminders that age is not as much of a consideration in gauging our learners’ digital skills and literacy as is the way that learners engage with online communities. Similarly, our peers’ concerns about whether our learners’ abilities to implement the chosen platform, to sufficiently enable learning, speaks to the natural tendency of any educator to question the scaffolding of instruction that will prepare all learners to find success (taking into account different points of entry to a given technology or concept in learning). We agreed that it would be ambitious for any proposed technological tool to be universally suitable for all students (L. Gedak & L. McCarthy, personal communication, December 8-9, 2019). We are confident that Flipgrid, an established and user-friendly platform of connected learning, can be made accessible to cross-generational learners (L. Gedak & L. McCarthy, personal communication, November 23, 2019). Nurturing individual potential is not only essential in learner-centred, inclusive online learning communities but becomes more authentic and dynamic for marginalized learners through technological tools such as Flipgrid (Bartlett, 2018; Davis, 2015). We will continue to search for ways to amplify all learners’ voices in our instructional design and designing of instruction efforts; nonetheless, Flipgrid is a valuable tool in our kit.


Bartlett, M. (2018, December). Using Flipgrid to increase students’ connectedness in an online    class. Special Issue: Instructional Technology in the Online Classroom, eLearn. Retrieved from

Black, G., & Hachkowski, C. (2019). Indigenous learners: What university educators need to know. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 43(8), 1092-1108.       doi:10.1080/0309877X.2018.1450495

Brown, J., Brock, B., & Závodská, A. (2019). Higher Education in the 21st century: A New Paradigm of Teaching, Learning and Credit Acquisition. Proceedings of The 14th IAC  2019, 87.

Campbell, K., & Schwier, R. A. (2014). Chapter 13: Major movements in instructional design. In Zawacki-Richter, O. & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a  research agenda. AU Press.

Crichton, S., & Carter, D. (2017). Section 2: Making the connection: Designing, making, and a  new culture of learning. In Taking Making into Classrooms Toolkit. Open School/ITA.

Davis, R. (2015). The missing voices in EdTech: Bringing diversity into EdTech. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Einarson, E., & Mami, T. (2019, November 29). A gamified ideation app [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Gedak, L., & McCarthy, L. (2019, December 1). Amplifying All Student Voices and Inclusivity in Digital Learning Communities: Part A [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://malat- learning-communities/

Gilbert, M. (2010). Theorizing digital and urban inequalities: Critical geographies of ‘race’, gender and technological capital. Information Communication and Society, 13(7), 1000-     1018. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2010.499954

Johnson, M., & Skarphol, M. (2018). The Effects of Digital Portfolios and Flipgrid on Student Engagement and Communication in a Connected Learning Secondary Visual Arts        Classroom. Retrieved from

Hall, T., Vue, G., Strangman, N., & Meyer, A. (2003). Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the      General Curriculum. (Links updated 2014). Retrieved from

Lloyd, O., & Kuipers, S. (2019, December 3). Re: Amplifying All Student Voices and      Inclusivity in Digital Learning Communities [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://malat- learning-communities/

Reid, S., Ruth, S., & Sharples, K. (2019, November 29). Collabzone app [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Mattelmäki, T., Vaajakallio, K., & Koskinen, I. (2014). What happened to the empathic design? Design Issues30(1), 67-77. doi:10.1162/DESI_a_00249

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants: Part 1. On the Horizon9(5), 1-6. Retrieved from

Rose, T. (2013, June 19). The myth of average: Todd Rose at TEDxSonomaCounty [Video file]. Retrieved from

Stanford University Institute of Design (Producer). (2016). A virtual crash course in design thinking [MOOC]. Retrieved from

Warf, B. (2019). Teaching digital divides. Journal of Geography, 118(2), 77-87.   doi:10.1080/00221341.2018.1518990

Westwood, P. (2015). Commonsense Methods for Children with Special Educational Needs. Retrieved from ebooks/detail.action?docID=200201.

White, D., Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday: Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet. Retrieved from

Instructional Design vs Learning Design – New Perspectives, or Conceptual Semantics?

Merrill’s (2002) seminal paper asserted that there are profoundly similar core principles of learning shared between various instructional design theories; and cross-compared distinct models, which identified standard ideologies.  While this paper was written nearly twenty years ago, the identified fundamental principles are still widely used as an effective tool for analyzing the pedagogical quality of course design.  Several scholars have supported the effectiveness of these identified principles since publication, including Gardner’s (2011) study on the impact on student performance when these standards were put into practice.  These principles synthesized by Merrill (2002) resulted in a pragmatic framework that has provided a standard blueprint for instructional designers to use; nevertheless, what about the consideration for the modernized shift from instructional design to learning design?  Muddy is the waters surrounding the distinction of these terms.  There has been a shift in design approach over the past decade with rapid advances in educational technologies, and open pedagogies.  The focus is much more learner-centered, with significant consideration of the needs of learners, and the design of the learning activities (Beetham & Sharpe, 2013; Conole, 2014).  As I begin to carve out my designer identity, (current title ‘teaching and learning with technology strategist’), I acknowledge that my role is underpinned seemingly by both models, and I am toggling between them throughout my practice; Merrill’s (2002) principles can provide a foundation on which to build in these modernized approaches.  Are new considerations required which demand a re-thinking of pedagogical approaches? Otherwise, are we just wrapped up in job title semantics?


Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2013). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Designing for 21st century learning (2nd ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Conole, G. (2014). The 7Cs of learning design: A new approach to rethinking design practice. Paper presented at the 9th International Conference on Networked Learning 2014, University of Leicester, pp. 502-509. Paper retrieved from

Gardner, J. (2011). Testing the efficacy of Merrill’s first principles of instruction in improving student performance in introductory biology courses. (Doctoral dissertation, Utah State University, United States of America). Retrieved from

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43-59.

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The Dichotomy of Screen-based Lifestyles – Toxic or Villainized?

Etchells et al. (2017) asserted that screen-based lifestyles are creating “moral panic” (p.1) and that the claims of adverse effects of screen time on behaviours and development lack research-based evidence.  This multi-authored open letter published in the Guardian would appear to be in response to the palpable rate that technology is manifesting in our lives and the often-heard expression of concern from the masses surrounding the rate in which it is arriving.  Tamana, S.K et al. (2019) concluded that there is, in fact, evidence to suggest a correlation between screen time and stress, which was established through the collection and analyzation of research participant’s saliva. The study found that there was a relationship between the use of screened devices and the rise in cortisol levels, which is the hormone indicated with a rise in stress levels. Stress has been found to lead to obesity in adolescents (Murray, Rieger, & Byrne, p., 2015) and illness, depression, and anxiety in college students (Rawson, Bloomer, & Kendall, p., 1994). These findings indicated that excessive stress could be physically unhealthy, and if there is a direct correlation between screen time and stress as suggested by Tamana et al. (2019), it can be concluded that excessive screen time is physically unhealthy.  Alternately, however, not having access to screen time can also affect behaviour and cause stress.  Konok, Pogany, & Miklosi (2017) found experimental support to conclude that humans form attachments to their mobile devices and seek proximity to them when separated.  I have felt the jolt of panic and the physiological symptoms of anxiety when my iPhone has been misplaced, and then the re-stabilization of my nervous system when (finally) safely back in my hands.  I believe there is a balance needed but hypothesize and agree with Etchells et al. (2017) that further quality research studies are needed surrounding this topic to establish the impact of digital technologies.

Etchells, P., et al. (January 6, 2017). Screen time guidelines should be built on evidence, not hype. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Konok, V., Pogány, A., Miklósi, A. (2017). Mobile attachment: Separation from the mobile phone induces physiological and behavioural stress and attentional bias to separation-related stimuli, Computers in Human Behavior, 71, p.228-239

Rawson, H., Bloomer, K., & Kendall, A. (1994). Stress, anxiety, depression, and physical illness in college students. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155(3), p.321-330, doi: 10.1080/00221325.1994.9914782

Tamana, S.K., Ezeugwu, V., Chikuma, J., Lefebvre, D.L., Azad, M., Moraes, T. J., … Mandhane, P. J. (2019). Screen-time is associated with inattention problems in preschoolers: Results from the CHILD birth cohort study. PLoS ONE, 14(4), p.1–15.

Murray, K., Rieger, E., & Byrne, D. (2015). The relationship between stress and body satisfaction in female and male adolescents. Stress and Health, 31(1), p.13-23. doi:10.1002/smi.2516



The Use of Cinema in Education: A Synthesis of Sources (Part 2)

Researching the history of the use of cinema in education resulted in the discovery of vast amounts of information; nevertheless, the sources analyzed were narrowed to the five most appropriate, and within these sources, themes were identified that are relevant to the furthering of research in this area.  This paper identifies themes discovered through the exploration of five sources surrounding this topic, bridging a period of one hundred years; that each respectively examined the use of cinema as an innovative tool for teaching and learning.  Both anecdotal and scientific evidence was provided in the respective sources to support claims of productive uses of cinema in education, though additional patterns arose through critical analyzation.  These patterns indicated gaps, limitations, and concerns requiring further contemplation and investigation.  This paper will focus on the juxtaposition of these themes and make connections in order to postulate the implications of using this medium for effective teaching and learning.  This essay will begin by first discussing some common themes that arose for the corresponding authors when using cinema in a variety of educational settings, including, improved understanding and empathy, increased student engagement, and enhanced learning opportunities; it will then go on to critically analyze the collective gaps, limitations, and concerns identified in these separate articles which demand further scrutiny.

Using cinema as an educational tool to promote understanding and empathy was a common theme discovered in the literature review.  Campos and Knudsen (2018) and Rorrer and Furr (2009) claimed that film could provide an appreciation for various perspectives and promote cultural awareness and empathy.  Data collected from 180 surveyed medical residents supported this notion, as 89% of respondents reported that their understanding of suicide assessment and treatment, as well as the grief process and impact on families, was increased (Retamero, Walsh, & Otero-Perez, 2014, p.609).  In addition to these findings, Kaye and Ets-Hokin (2000) argued that the use of the film “The Breakfast Club” during residency promoted the understanding of adolescent development and identity formation and cemented future empathetic attitudes towards adolescent psychiatry patients.  Kaye and Ets-Hokin (2000) and Rorrer and Furr (2009) agreed that the reason film could increase understanding and awareness was that cinema was an engaging teaching tool.  This assertation aligned with the second theme extrapolated from this literature review; learner engagement, and the augmentation of learning using film as a medium.

Nearly one hundred years ago, Crandall (1926) suggested that not only could using cinema in education engage learners but could also, in fact, enhance the learning.  This older suggestion is strengthened by the recent findings of Campos and Knudson (2018), who discovered that cinema used in a classroom setting cultivated the development of critical thinking and analytical skills.  Retamero, Walsh, and Otero-Perez (2014) found that concepts shown through multimedia could enhance the learning when addressing the topic of suicide with psychiatric residents, and in a similar healthcare educational setting, Kaye and Ets-Hokin (2000) concurred that the use of cinema allowed the medical students to draw connections for future applications when diagnosing developing adolescents.  These common findings support the use of cinema as an effective tool in teaching and learning; even so, there were some corresponding limitations and contradictions identified throughout the five articles that warrant consideration.

In contrast to the previous evidence that supported the use of cinema in education, several parallel gaps discovered in the literature established that further study might be needed to validate the use of cinema as an effective teaching tool.  Crandall’s 1926 piece noted that instructors could not merely be “throwing motion pictures at the children” (p.114) and that cinema, like other educational devices, must fit the purpose.  Crandall (1926) predicted that pedagogical practices would be resolved in the future, and this would no longer be an issue.  Campos and Knudson (2018), Kaye and Ets-Hokin (2000), and Retamero, Walsh, and Otero-Perez (2014) all agreed that instructional design and methods of instruction are critically important when using cinema to educate and confirmed that the issue of sound pedagogy continues to plague educators.  Crandall could not have predicted the complexities of future education in 1926, and arguably nor could current researchers predict the complexities of education in the future; what can be safely established from analyzing these various works is that films should be selected to support the pedagogy, and instructors using cinema as a teaching tool require instructional supports (Crandall, 1926., p.114., Rorrer & Furr, 2009, p.164).  This is as significant today as it was when Crandall (1926) stated that in the future every established educational institution would have solved the “technique” problems and be using cinema with purpose (p.115), which arguably continues to be a complex issue in the current, increasingly digital learning environment, where the efficacy of pedagogy is reliant on the instructor understanding technology, learner diversity, and adapting the learning context to the instructional  environment (Murty & Rao, 2019, p.1).  Acknowledging the importance of pedagogical practices and instructional design was highlighted in several of these articles and strengthened the author’s assertations, that said, there were also limitations and contradictions encountered in their respective arguments.

Several limitations and concerns were identified through the analyzation of the five articles, which included antiquation, limited sample sizes, and inadequate ethical considerations. Crandall (1926) and Kaye and Ets-Hokin (2000) are both antiquated, with the former being postulated nearly one hundred years ago long before digital film and streaming modalities; and the latter by using “The Breakfast Club” as the film choice to represent adolescent archetypes from 1985.  Rorrer and Furr (2009) conducted a study using only thirty-three participants from a region of North Carolina, and Retamero, Walsh, and Otero-Perez (2014) failed to include a comparison group and thus were unable to verify the impact on student’s attitudes post-screening.  Finally, and arguably most important, several studies demonstrated inadequate ethical considerations; Campos and Knudson (2018) screened films that contained complex themes that may have required further supports be in place, and Retamero, Walsh, and Otero-Perez (2014) attached an incentive grade to the viewing of the film and participation in the study, and four students vocalized they felt required to watch as a result (p.608), moreover, actual footage of suicides were used in the film (p.610) and two students required post-screening counseling (p.608).  Despite these concluded limitations and concerns, the history of the use of cinema in education explored through these five articles was encouraging, with all collectively finding cinema to be an effective tool in teaching the desired concepts.

By comparing and analyzing these five articles focused on the use of cinema in education, common themes emerged that connected arguments and supported findings for the continued use of film as a teaching tool in various learning environments.  Additionally, the literature review allowed for the examination of potential limitations and concerns for future use of cinema in education.  Historically, cinema has been used in many educational contexts with varying success, although the sources here were narrowed to a small collection, patterns developed through the comparison, and should be noted when using cinema as a teaching tool.  We are streaming, downloading, webcasting, webinaring, and PVR’ing, and it may be concluded that no one can predict how films will be accessed in the future; nonetheless, the use of cinema for effective teaching and learning can be an excellent tool if used with sound pedagogy and purpose.


Campos, D., & Knudson, E. (2018). Using film to expand horizons. Educational Leadership, 76(4), 73-78.

Crandall, E. (1926). Possibilities of the cinema in education. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,128, 109-115.

Kaye, D.L., & Ets-Hokin, E. (2000). The breakfast club: Utilizing popular film to teach adolescent development. Academic Psychiatry, 24(2), 110-116. doi:10.1176/appi.ap.24.2.110

Murty, B., & Rao, K. (2019, April). Digital pedagogy: An opportunity or a threat? Proceedings of International Conference on Digital Pedagogies (ICDP).

Retamero, C., Walsh, L., & Otero-Perez, G. (2014). Use of the film the bridge to augment the suicide curriculum in undergraduate medical education. Academic Psychiatry, 38(5), 605-610.

Rorrer, A., & Furr, S. (2009). Using film as a multicultural awareness tool in teacher education. Multicultural Perspectives, 11(3), 162-168.




The Medium is the Modality (Collaborative Post by: Ambata-Villanueva, S., Einarson, E., Gedak, L., Goodes, J., Nassiripour, S., 2019)

Richard E. Clark (1994) argued that there is little to no evidence that media influences learning. Robert Kozma (1994) also offers evidence that media has not played a substantial role in learning, although he leaves the door open to arguing that media still have the potential to do so in the future. The authors’ positions are refuted by many scholars and writers. We have compiled some examples. 

Westera, W. (2017). How people learn while playing serious games: A computational modelling approach. Journal of Computational Science, 18(1), 32-45. Retrieved from

This paper focuses on the use of games for learning and questions the position of Clark (1983, 2010). The author argued that using games in education and training is engaging and results in stronger learner involvement, simulates realistic environments, stimulates problem-solving, and supports learning-by-doing; which all supports “the acquisition of tacit and contextualised knowledge.” 

EdTech. (2019). Early adopters pioneer virtual reality use in higher education. Retrieved from

This article points out the use of Virtual Reality in the online biological science degree program in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. A unit within Arizona State University – EdPlus – is dedicated to “scaling access to education through online programs and other initiatives” (EdTech, para. 7); it is responsible for the implementation of VR within the school. Philippos Savvides. a EdPlus learning technology manager, states that using VR, the students “get to be active and move around using the headset and controller, so there’s an active-learning element involved”. Clark (1994) restates from his early work that “that any necessary teaching method could be designed into a variety of media presentations” (Clark, 1994), but in the case of the movement allowed in VR learning, this specific learning could not be replaced by other movement-restrictive technologies. 

Beckingham, K (2019, February 23). What impact is edtech having on pedagogy? Education Technology.Retrieved from

 This article features the role of technology in enhancing the learning experience for students. Utilizing education technology in the classroom (e.g., virtual pinboards, screen sharing, and VR) has made it easier for teachers to engage their students by making learning more interactive (Kennedy, para. 6). Keeping pedagogy at the core of developing these products is essential. According to several edtech providers, this field is competitive.  To ensure not only the longevity of the product but also the efficacy of the learning tool, pedagogy needs to be incorporated in the product development; The critical element to the success of this is ensuring that the different roles the teacher, the learner, and the technology play are fully understood (Hague, para. 10). As Kozma (1994) asserted, the question that should be asked is, how do we use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations? (p. 23).  This question articulated that media do have a place in enhancing the learning experiences of students as well as the experience of teachers providing the lessons.

Lynch, M. (2017). 7 Ways technology is impacting modern education. Retrieved from

Clark (1994) claims that media have no advantages when it comes to learning. Lynch (2017) would disagree. In his article “7 Ways Technology is Impacting Modern Education”, he states that technology is a considerable means in pedagogy, and that technology can significantly affect students’ and teachers’ learning processes. Lynch lists the ways in which technology aids learning; he makes a strong point observing how young learners become more passionate about their studies depending on how interactive their learning is. He offers geography class as an example; Students are much more passionate about studying geography when using interactive technologies such as Google Maps or Google Earth. Clark (1994) on the other hand feels that media are not responsible for bringing passion to learners. Overall, Lynch’s view in the great media debate contradicts Clark’s.

Clark and Kozma offer a challenging view of the role of media in learning. Their arguments are robust and controversial. As the learning and technology community continues to evolve, Clark and Kozma’s writings have yielded an abundance of healthy discourse. We are pleased that we have the opportunity to explore some of the many articles and research.

Additional References

Clark, R. E. (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), 

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The Use of Cinema In Education – Annotated Spreadsheet of Sources

The history of the use of cinema in education is long and film has been used in many contexts over the last one hundred years.  In my search for information, I uncovered many artifacts discussing this topic that were written between 1919 and 2019.  Here, I have provided an annotated spreadsheet of five sources in which I felt particularly relevant to my search for historic uses of film in education:

The use of cinema in education annotated spreadsheet



Smart Homes and the Implications of Abundant Content: A Collaborative Exploration of Home Automation – By Lisa Gedak & Tala Mami

Imagine in the future:

“Your wrist phone chimes with a message from your spouse.  Her business trip to review the Sahara forest project will finish early and she ought to make the noon hypersonic shuttle and be home by teatime. Maybe you can still make the premiere of that new zero-G dance show tonight. Time to leave. You signal the table to resorb the scant remains of your nutritionally balanced breakfast. The kids couldn’t wait. They are already in the media room for the day’s first lesson – their artificially intelligent tutor-cum-playmate is conducting a virtual reality tour of the first Olympic Games, reconstructed from the latest time probe results.” (Turney, p.6, 2013)

Our homes are embracing technological innovations at speed we may not have imagined ten years ago.  Turney (2013) imagined a home where technology has seeped into all aspects of our daily lives: information, communication, education, entertainment, leisure, transportation, and infrastructure.  Smart home technologies are making this vision a reality.  In this joint blog post, we explore some innovations that are enabling home automation; we provide some resources that exist for setting up and use of each smart home technology; and finally, we explore the implications of the abundant content and resources available.

Through several meetings and asynchronous research efforts, we have uncovered three cutting edge smart home technologies and some resources that will allow homeowners to learn how to use these innovations.

  1. The Philips Hue Home Lighting System

Control both intensity of light — dimming or brightening on-command — and the color of lights. It can create a personalized experience by using special color-coordinated moods (i.e. choose the “energize” theme on Hue app for a specific room or sync it with music). Also, by using color-coordinated alarms (i.e. wake up every morning to a bright pink bedroom). Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box. Sync color smart lights to your TV shows, movies, and games

Three gadgets of Philips Hue Home Lighting System:

  • Hue lights: These smart and energy-efficient LED lights come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and models to suit different spaces.
  • Hue Bridge: The Bridge acts as a smart hub, connecting your devices to your smart lights. up to 50 Philips Hue lights and accessories can be added to one Bridge.
  • Hue app: Control smart lights quickly and conveniently with the Philips Hue app


  • Turning off all your lights with one tap
  • Using color to personalize and transform the home atmosphere as per convenience
  • Safety by programming lights to make it seem like you’re actually home.

Use of Philips Hue:

  • Bluetooth: A Bluetooth-controlled system can control lights within Bluetooth range. Set the mood of a single room with any Philips Hue Bluetooth-compatible bulb and the Hue Bluetooth app, which controls up to 10 lights
  • Hue Bridge: Adding a Hue Bridge activates the built-in Zigbee network — a more advanced way to control your lights — and unlocks the full suite of smart lighting features: add up to 50 bulbs, set routines, and more.

Compatible Devices:

With an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device, you can use simple voice commands such as, ‘Alexa, dim the lights’, or,’ ‘Hey Google, turn on the table lamp’, to control your lights. Compatible devices include: Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation, Amazon Echo Plus, Amazon Echo Show 5, Google Home Mini and Google Home Hub

  1. EcoBee4 Thermostat

The Ecobee4 allows to control air temperature with voice commands, it also works as its own Amazon speaker, so it can do everything your Alexa or Assistant can do, including play music, shop, and control other devices.

Use of EcoBee4 Thermostat:

  • Provides personalized all-around comfort: Room sensor to help manage hot or cold spots
  • Comes with Amazon Alexa Voice Service built inside: perform the many ‘skills’ that come with Alexa. All you have to do is ask and watch the blue light pipe on top of the thermostat blink in response. For total hands-free control, it can even hear you from across the room
  • Lets you focus: With Alexa, fulfill everyday tasks with a simple command. (i.e. grocery lists, play music, set alarm)


  • Clear Communication: ecobee4 has embedded microphones with far-field voice recognition and a speaker engineered for clear voice and full sound
  • Accessible: All commands can be controlled using one app
  • Energy Saver: Save up to 23%* in heating and cooling costs each year. ENERGY STAR® certified

How to start using EcoBee4 Thermostat:

  • Hire a professional installer to get ecobee device or do it yourself;
  • Removing your old thermostat back plate
  • Determine your HVAC system type by checking if you have one or two sets of terminal labels on your old thermostat’s back plate.
  • If you have a C-wire, it will power your ecobee. You won’t need the PEK included in the box
  • If you have an extra wire that isn’t connected to any terminal on your thermostat, you can use it as a C-wire.

Compatible Devices:

Ecobee4 integrates seamlessly with apps and other home ecosystems like Alexa or Apple Home Kit.

  1. Portal from Facebook

Portal from Facebook allows video conferencing, listening to music, checking the front door, displaying photos, sharing stories using augmented reality effects, playing games, surfing the web, and accessing popular apps.

Use of Portal:

  • Hands free video calling
  • Comes with Amazon Alexa Voice Service built inside: play music, surf the web, get the news and weather by saying “Hey portal”
  • Play games and share photos


  • Camera automatically pans and zooms to focus on you, even in a room full of people.
  • Voice-enhancing microphone that minimizes background noise. front porting stereo speakers and a rear woofer for rich hi-fi sound
  • When you’re not on a call, Portal can show pictures from your Facebook photo albums
  • Display birthday reminders and the weather.
  • Can connect to TV for large display

How to start using Portal:

  • Purchase a portal box here:
  • Download the portal app for syncing with devices
  • After plugging in device, follow onscreen instructions for two step set-up
  • Call, email or chat instantly with portal support team for set-up issues or technical support

Compatible Devices:

Portal integrates seamlessly with several apps including, words with friends, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Facebook watch and CNN, and connects with smart devices for use on the go, is compatible with WhatsApp and messenger.

Incorporating these technological innovations into our homes to make them “smart” can be exciting, and it is fun to imagine the future possibilities that these innovations can generate.  The content available currently surrounding smart home technologies is vastly abundant, but consideration needs to be given to the number of innovations that are emerging, and the speed of their arrival. Weller (2011) postulated the impact of having an abundance of learning content and resources and examined how in our digital, networked age, the scale of the content we have access to is on a different level.  In smart home technologies, the user is the generally self-taught, and installs, sets up, and operates the technology with remote support, instruction, and troubleshooting being supplied by the company designing the tech.  As home automation continues to grow, so does the amount of content that will be available concerning these innovations, and this abundance may need more educational considerations then the smart technologies themselves.


Turney, J. (2013). Imagining technology (Working Paper No. 13/5). Retrieved from

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

Application of Theoretical Perspectives in Instructional Design

Ertmer and Newby (2013) postulated that many instructional designers are inhibited by an inadequate understanding of foundational learning theories, and in their paper, intended to familiarize designers with three original learning positions.  Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are dissected and evaluated for practical applications in learning environments.

The authors convincingly argued that instructional designers possess two requisite skills and knowledge: understanding the position of the practitioner and using evidence-based research to implement solutions (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p.43). Exploration of these three foundational theories was not a new exercise; however, the way the authors analyzed the theories through comprehensive comparison allowed for a fresh review and contemplation.  Although not only one theory can apply to all situations, within my past teaching practice, I have aligned most closely with a constructivist approach.  Learning to work in a healthcare setting, requires that students are reflective, self-directed, critical thinkers in real-world (often in crisis) situations. According to Ertmer and Newby (2013), constructivism links experiences and meaning-making, and does not merely passively obtain knowledge, but rather create and interpret meaning from their interactions and experiences.  When teaching medical language foundations, I would collaborate with nursing instructors and design simulated patient scenarios where students in different programs could practice speaking the medical language to each other and interact in context. In these simulated scenarios, students could reflect and decide what they might do differently based on previous interactions. During the simulations, there were plenty of opportunities to pause, reflect, and make meaning.  Brandon and All (2010) suggested that healthcare instructors who allow for regular assessments of activities and debriefing through questioning, enable students to learn strategies that help them actively learn, and to become life-long learners. This constructivist approach in my previous healthcare education teaching experiences seemingly adheres to the first principles of instruction identified by Merrill (2002, p.43).

Merrill (2002) identified five principles of instruction which are arguably commonplace in a variety of learning theories. In using a constructivist design, healthcare instructors planning simulation activities are supporting learners in solving real-world problems, in accessing and applying previous knowledge, in the demonstration of new skills by instructors and peers, and by integrating new knowledge into an experiential world; which aligns with Merrill’s (2002) identified principles of instruction.

Both articles argued that learning theories are needed to underpin the instructional design and to implement appropriate teaching and learning strategies. Surprisingly, neither article heavily emphasizes the need for connectedness, peer interaction, or social schemas.  Philosophically, I feel that this interaction and exposure to peers and instructors is crucial, and much research has emerged that supports building classroom community and that creating student connections with each other and with instructors has a beneficial impact on the learning. McInnis Brown and Starrett (2017, para.3) surveyed students who answered questions on connectedness and their academic experience overall and found that almost all (94%) of those surveyed revealed they felt that connectedness improved their overall academic performance, provided a sense of safety and security, was motivating and assist with memory retention.  Vygotsky (1978) argued that all mental functions be explained as products of social interactions, and I tend to agree with his theory; I have never seen students as energized and keen to learn as when they are in interactive learning situations: simulations, role plays, group collaboration and problem-solving activities.  In my new role, I will be working with faculty from various programs and subject areas, and as an instructional strategist will be mindful that not all learning theories will apply to all situations; but I will carry forward Merrill’s first principles of instruction as a starting point in my hunt for the appropriate theory.


Brandon, A., & All, A. (2010). Constructivism theory analysis and application to curricula. Nursing Perspectives, 31(2), 89-92. Retrieved from

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

McInnis Brown, M., & Starrett, T. (2017, April). Fostering student connectedness: Building relationships in the classroom. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from

Merrill, D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development 50, 43.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge Mass, Harvard University Press.

Notable Contributors in the Field of EdTech

There are many bloggers, podcasters, authors, and internet contributors who are devoted to revolutionizing the field of educational technology and are deserved to be added to the RSS readers of progressive and passionate educators everywhere.  Among those many trailblazers is Michelle Pacansky-Brock, a college teacher “turned faculty developer” (n.d.) whose passion for access, equity, and professional development for online teaching and learning is palpable.  Pacansky-Brock dedicates a large portion of her blog, podcast, and multiple publications to the topic of educational technology; and further specializes in “humanized learning” (2016), which uses the cognitive and affective domains to inform course design and instruction to build connected online learning communities.  The process begins by asking, “how might I design a humanized learning experience using digital technologies?” (Pacansky-Brock, 2016).  Creating and managing an online learning environment in which diversity is not only recognized but valued is one of the key aspects of Pacansky-Brock’s humanized learning approach, and; this desire to break down systemic barriers and begin to bridge the equity gaps in education merits attention.  By acknowledging these gaps, she is opening a meaningful dialogue that is needed to truly begin creating connected learning environments that are safe and accepting for all.  She also acknowledges that she is coming from a place of privilege, which inspires further dialogue critical to breaking down systemic barriers “Just gotta put this out there. When white people discuss diversity-inclusion-equity, we have an obligation to explicitly recognize that we approach this conversation through a privileged lens” (Pacansky-Brock, 2019).  This notable contributor will undoubtedly continue to revolutionize the field, and I, for one, am excited to follow this trailblazer.



SlideShare Presentation:



Pacansky-Brock, M. [@brocansky]. (2019, September 8). Just gotta put this out there. When white people discuss diversity-inclusion-equity, we have an obligation to explicitly recognize that we approach this conversation through a privileged lens. [Tweet]. Retrieved from

Pacansky-Brock, M., (2017). Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies. Second ed. Best Practices in Online Teaching and Learning. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, ISBN:9781138643642

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2016, Jan 12). What is humanizing [SlideShare presentation]. Retrieved from:

Pacansky-Brock, M. (n.d). Re: Who am I? [Blog comment(s)]. Retrieved from