CoI 2.0

In applying the Community of Inquiry (CoI) theoretical framework to analyze the use of video-based learning (VBL) for student well-being, my approach remained fluid. I have since identified two reasons for this which helped solidify my approach.

My first challenge to overcome is how CoI’s social presence tends to measure participation rather than an authentic and valued community involvement. Social presence does not include the finer consideration of complex learner emotions (Majewski et al., 2018) or processes, both of which are closely connected to mental well-being. In one article, Anderson (2018) accepts Shea and Bidjerano’s suggested fourth presence “learning presence” (2010, p. 1727) to account for these complex components of online learners.

Image from Shea & Bidgerano, 2010


This fourth component assists in focusing on student well-being by accrediting the influence of learner’s emotions and self-efficacy. Thereby, increasing the value of the social, teacher, and cognitive presence within the community of inquirers.

Secondly, I struggled to focus on VBL alone as in my current context of a K to 12 BC Public Distributed Learning school, videos are not used in isolation.  Equally challenging is the overlap in the research addressing social presence in online classes or computer-mediated communications alongside videos. As a result, my aim is to focus on design and instructor strategies for increasing learner and community presence in modes that are applicable to video.

My research through the past weeks has helped to form a more solid approach within a quickly changing field among complex learners.


Anderson, T. (2018). How communities of inquiry drive teaching and learning in the digital age. Teaching

Majeski, R. A., Stover, M., & Valais, T. (2018). The community of inquiry and emotional presence. Adult Learning, 29(2), 53–61.

Shea, P., & Bidjerano, T. (2010). Learning presence: Towards a theory of self-efficacy, self-regulation, and the development of a communities of inquiry in online and blended learning environments. Computers & Education, 55(4), 1721-1731.




Doing Better Things: Using Technologies to Transform Formative Assessments and Communication of Student Learning

I recently was asked to respond to this task. My response is below. I’m curious how you would have replied?

“…technology offers the possibility of not just doing things better, but of doing better things…” The Edtech Advocate’s Guide to Leading Change in Schools – Mark Gura. Reflecting on this quote, explaining how technology has provided opportunities for digital transformation related to ongoing formative assessment and communicating student learning. 

Mark Gura’s quote touches on several benefits to the thoughtful implementation of educational technologies. It encourages us to thoughtfully implement technology to address specific needs and users. Technologies enhance education by extending educator’s abilities to offer more flexible, collaborative, and more meaningful formative assessments and communications.  With the increasing use of technologies for assessments and communications, we can improve productivity by reducing the burdens of administrative duties on educators. These opportunities afforded by digital technologies allow us to more effectively “meet every child’s needs” (Agnia, n.d.). Thereby, allowing us to do better to help students learn and students to do better learning.

Digital Technologies Transformation of Ongoing Assessments 

Technology offers many advantages to formative assessment. Educational technologies offer more ongoing, flexible, collaborative, individualized, meaningful, and empowering assessments than many traditional forms of assessment.

Educators long recognize the importance of portfolios for ongoing formative assessments. E-portfolios offer some unique opportunities. In referring to e-portfolios there is also an embedded opportunity for self-reflection and self-assessment. However, the e-portfolio offers far greater opportunity for spanning a longer duration.

Some examples of tools for formative assessment with capabilities of a portfolio include:

      • Blogs such as WordPress
      • LinkedIn and LinkedIn Learning
      • MyBlueprint
      • Freshgrade

When technology is used for formative assessment it is more flexible

Flexible here refers to convenience, accessibility, and a less linear or rigid structure. (Brown, Rappert, and Webster criticize the improper use of  “school technologies [which] function in ways that leave little room for affective, embodied and spontaneous action. Instead, linear notions of progression prevail, and human ‘agency’ is channelled into productive engagement with digital technologies” (as cited in Selwyn et al., 2020, p. 104).  Instead of the linear structure, we can use technologies for individualized, project-based learning. Hooker acknowledges the use of e-portfolio’s to allow students to upload various modes of responses, from oral, video, text, or image-based. The e-portfolio also allows for students to draw from and link various resources and content. Increased flexibility is also true in mobility. Students can record activities from sporting events or travel (in non-covid times) to integrate into their assessments. So there is potential here, as long as the technology is implemented thoughtfully and with ongoing supports. 

Using technology for assessments can also be more Meaningful

BC Ministry of Education recognizes the opportunities provided by technology and independent learning and has reflected this in the new curriculum with core competencies, and big ideas. These and more project-based and independent learning emphasize relevant, personalized, and engaging learning. Assessments become meaningful when students recognize a real-life application or a personal connection.

An example of this formative assessment is the Career Education’s Passion Project. Where students are asked to reflect on their previous learning and build on their interests and skills through their secondary education program. 

These formative assessments also become meaningful in their connection to the First People’s Principles of Learning. These principles include “Learning is holistic, reflexive, reflective, experiential, and relational. Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story. Learning involves patience and time. Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.” The idea of technology enhancing long-lasting, reflective assessments supports these principles. 

Individualized learning pathways through interactive and responsive technologies can also bring more meaning to learning activities. As recognized by the Ministry of Education “Feedback from ongoing assessment in the classroom can be immediate and personal for a learner and guide the learner to understand their misconceptions and use the information to set new learning goals.” Those goals can be more easily reviewed when recorded digitally, equally, the feedback can be more meaningful when it’s more timely and can be revisited. 

Assessments delivered using technology can provide a complete and more comprehensive picture of student needs, interests, and abilities as compared to traditional assessments. This allows educators an opportunity to personalize learning to make it more flexible, meaningful, and collaborative. 

Technologies can also be used to make assessments more Collaborative

A current trend in EdTech is to emphasize the human component of learning through emphasis on collaboration and communities (Weller, 2020). Weller recognizes the value in e-portfolios but identifies a challenge in reflecting the value through practice. The argument then is that blogs with individualized domains provide more flexibility and value beyond educational institutions (Groom, as cited in Weller, 2020). Blogs are used effectively in higher education and are more effective than the traditional portfolio for career advancement.

The traditional hard-copy portfolio’s sat in a classroom only to be presented to parents during the scheduled conferences. Now, with an e-portfolio’s parents and students can access the portfolio at their convenience allowing for affective asynchronous participation. These learning opportunities can include collaboration with parents and local or global educators 

A study by Hooker revealed that particularly when supplemented with observations, interviews, and surveys “the ePortfolios have the potential for strengthening formative assessment by the contribution of more voices of teachers, parents, and children” (2017, p. 442). Technology-based assessment can have tremendous potential to elevate formative assessments. 

Digital Transformation of Communicating Student Learning

Now that we are aware of the benefits of assessments such as e-portfolios, we can look at the advantages of using digital technologies to communicate the learning. We’ve come a long way from schools trying to block internet use in schools. By embracing information and communication technology we contribute to greater access to information. 

The first step in change management is to use technology to assess the communication needs of all members. .As educators we know that one-size can’t fit all, but we can improve communication, by meeting parents and children where they are. They are on their phones. This offers great potential for school-parent communication through messaging apps, management systems, and email

Digital Communications can be more Flexible

Access to mobile devices and individualized content allows for flexibility in our teaching and assessments. The prevalence of mobile devices also means that people are more accepting of asynchronous communications and resort to synchronous communications for only that which they see as urgent (Thompson et al., 2015). There is also ease of access through embedding applications into existing LMS’s. Thompson, et al. (2015) also recognized various communications are preferred for different purposes and dependent on modes richness. A hard-copy notice can get lost between the class and the bus. But the text or email goes directly to the parent’s hands.

Digital Communications can be more Meaningful

Communicating electronically can become more meaningful if it includes offers of support through links to resources or forms for signing up for workshops. This can empower students and parents to actively contribute to the learning process.

Communication also becomes more meaningful when it’s timely. Installation of AI chat boxes can be helpful in supporting parents through procedures. 

Another way technology can make communicating learning more meaningful is through MyEd’s standards-based grade book. In MyEd Newsletter an article discusses its value. According to a teacher, “[The teachers] have seen their students focussing on learning—not on grades. They have seen student conversations focussed on improving their proficiency level, with a better understanding of what is expected of them as learners. This is a huge success” (2018).

Collaboration through Communication Technologies

The BC Ministry of Education recognizes the value of effective communication,

“Effective communication between the home and the school is central to student success. Improving and ensuring effective practices for reporting and communicating student learning assures that students and parents will receive information about the student’s progress in a timely and responsive manner.” (BC Ministry of Education, Curriculum).

Rogers, R., & Wright, V. (2008) recognize additional advantages to digital communications. In middle schools, this allows parents knowledge and participation while allowing students a certain level of autonomy.  They use Epstein’s levels of parent engagement to recognize preferred communication styles. Easing access to communication means that parents can be empowered to support their child’s learning. In a  paper to address chronic absenteeism, Rogers and Feller (2018) recognize that if we use parent communications to provide resources such as positive engagement and problem-solving skills we empower them to positively influence their child’s attendance. In short, to be effective, we want to use communication to empower and work collaboratively with parents. Communication technologies help to build a collaborative and supportive community for the learner. 

These traits of digital technology assessments and communication mean that educators can offer opportunities for learning that are more meaningful, flexible, and collaborative. This leads to empowering the learner and the educator. By empowering these key aspects of a learning community, we are capable of an astonishing future.


Agnia, T. SD 22 – Technology Plan 2020-21. Technology Plan. SD22. 

BC Ministry of Education: BC Ed Plan: Focus on Learning, 2015. 

BC Ministry of Education: Prescribed Learning Outcomes, 2011.

First People’s Principles of Education. BC Ministry of Education. 

Gura, Mark. 2018. The EdTech Advocates’ Guide to Leading Change in Schools. International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Hooker, T. (2017). Transforming teachers’ formative assessment practices through eportfolios. Teaching and Teacher Education, 67, 440–453.

Malcolm, Brown, McCormack, M. Reeves, J. Brooks, C & Grajek, S. (2020). 2020 Educause Horizon Report: Teaching and Learning Edition. Educause.
MyEd.  (2018). Teachers at Langley’s D.W. Poppy Secondary champion
standards-based gradebook. MyEducation BC Connection, 8.
Rogers, T. & Feller, A. (2018). Reducing student absences at scale by targeting parents’ misbeliefs. Nature Human Behaviour.

Rogers, R., & Wright, V. (2008). Assessing technology’s role in communication between parents and middle schools. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 7(1), 36-58.

Selwyn, N., Pangrazio, L., Nemorin, S., & Perrotta, C. (2020). What might the school of 2030 be like? an exercise in social science fiction. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(1), 90-106.

Thompson, B. C., Mazer, J. P., & Flood Grady, E. (2015). The changing nature of parent–teacher communication: Mode selection in the smartphone era. Communication Education, 64(2), 187-20.

Unicef. (2020). Tips for schools on how to strengthen communication with parents/caregivers. Unicef.

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.

Did Video Really Kill the Radiostar?

While video may not guilty of killing radio it has definitely rewriting education “by machine and new technology” (Horn et al., 1979). As our team explores video as an educational technology tool, we look to consi. My participation with video-based learning (VBL) is dominated by  health and safety training videos for work and childrens’ sports teams. We chose the learning path “Becoming an Instructional Developer” from LinkedIn

I found the VBL course was useful for dusting off the cobwebs on previous learning. My overall reaction though, was disinterest as I craved the eye-content and personal connection. In this vein, leaders, designers and “educators must comprehend the effects of learning tools on both a person’s cognitive self and their emotional being” (Koster, 2018) In an asynchronous, video only learning scenario as this, the instructor is also not able to respond to the audiences’ non-verbal cues and adjust the course accordingly. In the initial review of the literature, it was found that VBL could increase social interactions (Yousef et al., 2014) but it can also increase student isolation (Kizilcec et al., 2014)  there can be some negative social consequences.

This relates to the specific issue of avoidance and lack of participation from highly anxious students to the learning event and technology. The challenge on the learner’s side is that feelings of anxiety or depression could worsen from the sense of isolation that comes from VBL alone. I wonder where the threshold at which the  negatives outway the positive benefits of video-based learning lies.  


Horn, T., Downes, G., & Woolley, B. (1979). Video killed the radio star. [Recorded by The Buggles]. US & UK: Island Records.

Kizilcec, R. F., Papadopoulos, K. and Sritanyaratana, L. (2014), Showing face in video instruction: Effects on information retention, visual attention, and affect, in ‘Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems’, CHI ’14, ACM, New York, NY, USA, pp. 2095–2102

Köster J. (2018) Video for learning. In, Video in the Age of Digital Learning. Springer, Cham.

Yousef, A. M. F., Chatti, M. A., & Schroeder, U. (2014). The state of video-based learning: A review and future perspectives. Int. J. Adv. Life Sci, 6(3/4), 122-135.

***Edited April 19th to update references.

Final Reflection on Leadership

In my initial post on leadership, I focused on the quality of understanding as being desirable among leaders. This post was based largely as my own experiences as an employee and administrator. Now, at the end of Leading Change in Digital Learning course, I do believe this is still an important trait, now, I would expand the understanding to include an understanding of change and project processes. 

How can I help lead change? 

I can help lead change by increasing my awareness of affecting factors and increasing knowledge. I can share my understanding of processes and specific tools for guiding the change or program towards success. Changing districts provides a unique opportunity to share processes and tools from out of district. For example, my current school district is just transitional to MyEd (a provincial student management system). I am looking forward to assisting during this transition. 

What can I envision doing in the future?

As I have just started working in a new school district, I am excited by the opportunity to prove my worth as an employee and as a leader among a team. I envision guiding change in the future from a leadership role while considering interactions within a complex system. I hope to develoop the ability to be a leader who empowers others. In a K to 12 system, teachers are often left out of the loop during changes, as our students. For example, in a school system with so many types of users, there is often a lost opportunity to empower students and teachers towards the implementation and training of new technologies. 

Unit 3, Activity 2: Changing Tools, Not Processes

The change process I was most recently a part of (as was the entire world) was the addition of web conferencing tools, specifically Microsoft Teams and Zoom to our online learning environment. Prior to March 2020, our Distributed Learning (DL) school scraped together tools like Skype and Big Blue Button as there was no district-provided tool. With the shift to global online learning, our district successfully added Zoom and Teams to address how public schools can continue education amidst a global lockdown In the implementation stage group and personalized training was available. 

The benefits of this project were, the one-to-one training to address individual needs and skill levels. It seems that there was a lot of leniency from staff, parents and students as everyone was just trying to get by.  Similarily, people did not have a choice. In hindsight, it would have been beneficial to slow down the overall process, clearly communicate expectations and processes to staff, and to offer more consistent and persistant training. 

The overall goals were communicated broadly by provincial health and education ministers. They were communicated briefly by district and school administrators. I am not aware of a project plan. Therefore this project lacked some of the aspects Watts’ definition of good project management, Strong planning skills, good communication, ability to implement a project to deliver the product or service while also monitoring for risks and managing the resources will provide an edge toward your success” (Watt, 2014, ch 1) which raises the question of acceptable exceptions for emergency processes. 

In exploring the barriers further, this same process would not be as effective today as people’s patience is wearing thin. Also, if this was a decision based on analyzed data (Marsh et al, 2006) it would have been helpful to share this with impacted users. This same mind set was also a barrier as stress meant there was little focus and processing. Similarily, communication was a big challenge. Redesigning how teachers communicate with students at the same time as the tool is being implemented is not an effective plan.  Limited skills was also a challenge. There was a marked absence of philosophical and practical background. This led to limited resources such as research and concrete techniques for engaging students. There were a handful of strategies being passed around on social media such as scavenger hunts and virtual field trips, but as the resources were so limited these got old, fast. One of the greatest drawbacks was how the web conferencing tools allowed teachers to connect to students who were already engaged in their learning. It did not work to re-engage inactive students.

In my practice I foresee taking a Frankenstein approach and using portions of a variety of  methods. The clear visual aspect of the GANT chart is appealing (Watt, 2014, ch. 1). Gant is highly visual and straight forward. Outlines tasks and timelines.Also, the Project Management Institute (the PMBOK guide) offers ways to delegate and collaborate on a project. “PMBOK is the fundamental knowledge you need for managing a project, categorized into 10 knowledge areas:” (Watt, ch. 4). 

While this project met the initial need to continue to offer education in a global lockdown, it does cause us to reflect on the resulting successes and opportunities for growth. Luckily, the use of these tools are ongoing and are now operational but the implementation had a clear start (March 2020) and end time (June 2020).


Marsh, J., Pane, J., & Hamilton, L., (2006). Making Sense of Data-Driven Decision Making in Education: Evidence from Recent RAND Research. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

Watt, A. (2014). Project Management. Victoria, BC: BCcampus. (ch 1 -4)

Change Process in BC DL Schools

Based on my experiences within my current organizational context of a BC Distributed Learning (DL) school, interviews with employees among that organization, and the readings, the steps required to successfully complete a change are similar to the CHANGE model (Biech, 2007) as seen in Figure 1 below. 

Change Process Steps
Figure 1: Change Process in DL Schools

We know from Al-Haddad and Kotnour the importance of being able to adjust change methods according to the unique features of the particular context (2015). Some unique features of this context is that all of the secondary educators are in one room together. This leads to several casual conversations that meet several stages within change theories. Therefore,  it is a challenge to identify and assess the success of the change process as several stages are completed through informal conversations. On the other hand this amount of connection means that the educational staff have closely aligned visions and values.  According to the interview with colleagues, examples of successful changes within our DL secondary school include implementation of face-to-face tutorials, a blended class, and re-prioritizing of teacher tasks. Currently, we are exploring implementing more proactive approaches to connecting  students struggling  with mental health to resources.


Similar to the CHANGE model (Biech, 2007) the first step is recognizing a need that is to be addressed through a change of processes. Unlike, the CHANGE model, within my organization the need for change is raised by employees who act as change leaders, searching for more effective processes, rather than the school board.  In my organization, I’m lucky to be staffed by “change leaders … people with creative visions, ” (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, p.239).  The evaluation largely qualitative based on teacher and student experiences. We could benefit from more quantitative evidence to confirm or reject the qualitative evidence. Similar to the six stage of the CHANGE model (Biech, 2007) cyclical pattern that allows for continued growth. As with previous successful changes, colleagues “Recognize that changes take time to implement successfully”. Therefore, our changes are often small in scale and long in duration. Similarly, Judson’s Method is similar to our process through the steps of analyze and plan change, communicate the change, gain acceptance, change to desired state, consolidate and institutionalize (as cited in Al-Haddad & Kotnour) especially identifying the expected barriers.


Similar to Weiner’s “Organizational Readiness” (2009), the second step is to evaluate existing resources and readiness for change. In my current organization this is presented by the team to the leader during a formal meeting. The leader’s role within this process is critical to the  alignment with district policies, collection of resources and focusing on the big picture.While open systems “require ongoing change to adapt to the revolutionary environment and this creates a strategy of continuous learning” (Lalonde, as cited in Al-Haddad and Kotnour, p. 236). Despite this, the current environmental circumstance of a global pandemic has resulted in increased anxiety and workload for colleagues who feel only just now that the organization is ready for more change. In “normal” times there is a continuous system of change only  halted at times by new administration or staffing. Frequent staffing changes also causes a lack in long-term planning and data collection at this stage which could affect outcomes and district-wide support for those changes. 


The third step is to plan for implementing the change. There is a power hierarchy between our team and the school board as they are not educated on the roles within DL just as Oblinger, Barone and Hawkins recognize the unique challenges as DL has “different organizational structures from those that currently exist in traditional institutions” (2001, p. 21). As my organization has a small staff, these individuals are the foundation of the change and we follow the facilitative strategy of, “a shared responsibility and involvement of everyone in the organization” (Biech, 2007, p. 4). The breadth of contributions from staff also aligns with  the participatory action research “as it gathers input from the people undergoing change, making them feel more involved” (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, p. 245). My interview with colleagues also reflects the challenge with administration working at a distance and “lacking a cohesive understanding of processes”.


The fourth step is the implementation or action, as per Anderson and Ackerman Anderson’s third aspect of change strategy (as cited in Al-Haddad & Katnour, 2015). Within the context discussed here, this step is less formal and may include subtle variations to reflect teacher autonomy or skill base. The main barrier is transformation at the district level to allow the flexibility to support a flexible model of learning and to support changes to meet the potential for DL schools (Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins, 2001, p. 34).

Reflect and Revise

The fifth step is to reflect. The reflection could result in three outcomes. The first, a recognition of a failure in which case we go back to Step 1. Second, is a successful change with some subtle revisions to the plan or process to make the new process more efficient or effective. Third, complete satisfaction with the success and proceed to other changes.  Based on the outcome of the reflection, the sixth step is to do nothing or revise goals

While I identified some aspects of an  “integrated approach to drive systemic, constructive change” (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, p. 234) within the context of a BC DL secondary school, there is much room for improvement. For example, there is still extreme external pressure and limitations caused by tight budgets and lack of understanding from the school district. Despite committed involvement by employees, we would benefit from more planned check ins and refinements as to provide more support and value towards their efforts. I guess we will continue our continuous change. 


Airiodion, O. & Crolley, F. (n.d.) The best guide for change management in education models and methodologies. Airiodion Global Systems

Al-Haddad, S. & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2). 234 – 262.

Biech, E. (2007). Models for change. In Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD [Retrieved from Skillsoft e-book database]

Oblinger, D., Barone, C., & Hawkins, B. L. (2001). Distributed education and its challenges: An overview (Vol. 1). Washington, DC: American Council on Education.

Weiner, B. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67), doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-67






Change Theory in BC DL Schools

Change ahead Sign
Image Change by Angel Miller from

Changes in Change Theories

Just as there is rapid progress in technologies, so is there progress in change theories and models. According to Al-Haddad and Kotnour (2015) change theories have become more flexible in response to more varied contexts, by extending the focus from an individual to the organization as a whole and even the pressures beyond the organization. In the educational technology field there exists the contradiction of fast paced technology with slow educational procedures which is exacerbated by the conflicting notions of entrenched tools and the need for readiness to implement successful change.

Urgent Change

The current context of BC’s public schools is especially unique due to the urgency to adapt to the global pandemic last year. Urgency, the first stage of Koffer’s 8-stage theory of change, as as a motivator towards change. While 2020 was definitely a year for urgent change, this change is not the kind leaders should strive for as it was in response to an emergency with the goal to continue education, not develop any long-lasting educational progress. During this transition, Distributed Learning (DL) schools had a smoother transition, but also teachers and learners were held to pre-covid standards. This resulted in an increase to the unbalance between face-to-face and online schools.

Beyond the emergency response to a pandemic, the context of BC public Distributed Learning high school provides additional challenges such as a heavy reliance on Learning Managment Systems (LMS) and external content such as Western Canada’s Learning Network. I selected key elements of change theories that are most pertinent to this context:

      • Technology:  As technology rapidly changes the whole system needs to change in response (Biech, 2007). Technology is also significant to change as it can cause resistance to change by users who are entrenched in current tools or fear learning new tools or who rely on tools outside of their organization.
      • Community: A DL school consists of administrators, educators, learners, course developers, IT staff, parents, and students. Paul questions “ the readiness and ability of students to assume the responsibility for their own learning inherent in most of these models” (2003, p. 69). The role of various community members is also recognized by Epstein’s “overlapping spheres of influence” (as cited in Sanders & Epstein, 2005). 
      • Economics: In public schools, Theory E, or theory of economics (as defined by Al-Haddad & Kotnour) is relevant as ministry funding regulates the ability for change. The school budget is truly the bottom line. However, the role of economics is limited to higher level leaders and is rarely involved in discussions at the educator level where there is a more perceived focus on Theory O and softer theories. If the funding models were altered, public schools could move more effectively to participatory action research (Al-Haddad & Kotnour, 245).
      • Time: With a lack of contract language for BC’s DL schools, teachers are often overwhelmed with a large number of classes and students. Weiner (2009) recongized time’s influence on change efficacy. The availability of time to effect change is also important when considering the outcomes. In order to provide measures of the change, time is further reduced.

Future Change

As we continue to value the significance of context and the individuals in that context, I hope that individual experiences and strengths are continued to be included through change. I also wish to see that rather than rushing towards change we allow some time for rest and mastery. I predict that educators will feel exhausted by our recent rapid changes which lack the time to required to improve new skills. Amidst our global pandemic there is also an underlying crisis of increasing mental illness.  I hope to see more integration of community services in schools to ensure the well-being of the whole child (Sanders & Epstein, 2005) and would welcome psychological well-being being intentionally considered in any change theory. 


Al-Haddad, S. & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 28(2). 234 – 262.

Biech, E. (2007). Models for change. In Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD [Retrieved from Skillsoft e-book database]

Feldstein, M. (2017, May 28). A flexible, interoperable digital learning platform: Are we there yet? [Blog post]. ELiterate.

Paul, R. (2003). Institutional leadership and the management of change. In Planning and Management in Distance Education.

Sanders, M. & Epstein, J. (2005). School-family-community partnerships and educational change: International perspectives. In Hargreaves, A. Extending Educational Change 

Weiner, B. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67), doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-67


Leading with Understanding

Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

It is not as simple as it would seem to narrowly define key attributes of a leader in a digital learning environment. The context alone requires a breadth of technical, social, and organization skills. Therefore, I aimed to find one attribute that would encompass key values and roles within digital learning organizations. Understanding encompasses several traits required to fulfill the role of a leader.

Understanding, defined as comprehension (Oxford dictionary) is a broad enough quality to include the knowledge required to fulfill the role of a leader. This aligns with Group B’s first value, “competent” (2021, Beeby, Grymaloski, Koval, Norum, & Stoesz). To be a skilled leader, one requires an understanding of the overall processes, tools, resources, and roles. Having an understanding is considered necessary by Sheninger in order to make effective improvements to the culture and achievement (2014). I would include that demonstrating an understanding also makes a leader more effective in dealing with or supporting other employees. For example, if an employee is requesting more resources, a leader with an understanding of that employee’s role, tasks, and processes will make a more informed and therefore more effective decision.

Beyond having comprehension, being understanding also means being “sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings” (Oxford). Aside from having understanding, being understanding can inspire others to perform optimally. This then aligns with Team B’s (2021) second and third ranked values, supportive and caring. Being sympathetic allows a leader to anticipate changes or struggles and thereby address these sooner and with greater effectiveness (Sheninger, 2014). While, Sheninger claims trust is the foundational quality of current digital leaders, trust is developed through communication, openness and sympathy. Additionally, while being able to adapt to change is important, especially in this time of the pandemic, the pandemic has also shown us that we cannot plan for each possible scenario. In most scenarios, being understanding can be used to recognize where the problems lie and to outline careful and thoughtful solutions  (Khan, 2017). Khan goes on to consider the importance of leaders to recognize their followers values, struggles and responsibilities when including them in processes.

Both definitions of understanding are relevant beyond the western perspective too. An understanding of previous experiences and ingrained behaviours towards minorities (Batliwala, 2010) allows an empathetic approach to leadership. By acknowledging the past we enable greater capacity for value-driven growth and justice. A leader with understanding will be better able to take on differing perspectives (Barton, T. as cited in in Batliwala, 2010). Raising other up also follows “transformational leadership” as described by Batliwala (2010). The idea of instilling leadership in others is also recognized by Huggins et al. (2017) through distributed leadership. These lawered levels of leadership are evident in my current environment within the formal titles of Superintendent of schools to the Instructional team leader to those informal leaders that spark change or growth. For a leader to lead successfully they must use understanding to encourage leadership from others.

Effective leaders are understanding of processes, tools and are empathetic to all members of the digital education environment. This image of a leader is best described  by a metaphor of the unobservable current in water. The leader guides others through obstacles towards a common goal.  A leader with thorough understanding will be better at using an effective amount of pressure to suite the people and the context.



Batliwala, S. (2010). Feminist leadership for social transformation: Clearing the conceptual cloud. Retrieved from

Beeby, K., Grymaloski, W., Koval, D. Norum, S., & Stoesz, R. (2021, February 3). Team Forums [Discussion post]. Royal Roads University, Moodle.

Huggins, K., Klar, H., Hammonds, H., & Buskey, F. (2017). Developing leadership capacity in others: An examination of high school principals’ personal capacities for fostering leadership. International Journal of Education Policy & Leadership, 12(1). 1–15.

Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or Transactional Leadership in Current Higher Education: A brief comparison. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3). 178–182.

Oxford Dictionary. 2021.

Sheninger, E. (2014). Pillars of digital leadership. International Center for Leadership in Education. 1–4.



Design Manifesto

Principles are important to the continued and successful design process and improve the overall experience of the user (Design Principles FTW, 2020). The following are universal principles that reflect best practices for learning, technology, and design. The following eight design principles are most pertinent to design for public, distributed learning school. The alliteration of the eight simple words also intentional to improve retention and recall.

1) Sound: Sound design is “free from flaw, defect, or decay” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). While it is impractical to believe that a design can be perfect, the aim for perfection is valuable. This aim is best met when the design meets the intended purpose in an authentic way. In this sense, it follows the same principle to promote instruction (Merill, 2002).

2) Safe: Safe design means users do not need to worry about making the technology inoperable (Badashov, 2017). The design can also be safe in that it does not isolate or offend users. Safety is a particularly important measure in K to 12 education where users are minors and more vulnerable. Safety is also relevant to cognitive theories that state that activation of the flight or flight response decreases our mental capacity.

3) Simple: Bandashov also recognizes the important of simplicity in design. His example from the UK government states how “[t]he people who most need our services are often the people who find them hardest to use” (2017). If the design is not simple, users will quickly dismiss the design.

4) Smart: The main goal of instruction design is to improve “the efficiency and effectivess” of the learning process (Rothwell et al., 2015, p. 5). Therefore, a smart design is intuitive to improve its ease of use and avoid deterring a user’s progress or increase their frustration.

5) Supported: In instructional design, the design needs to be supported within the whole organization, by administrators and educators at a minimum. Technology also requires supports to maintain the system and proceed with subsequent versions, correct fixes, and support users. This could be in the form of a help desk or adequate training. This value of a community of learners and leaders within a network of learning is supported by the connectivist model (Dron, 2014).

6) Soft: A soft design can adapt and react to user feedback or changing needs. Greater malleability offers greater options for innovation and change (Dron, 2014). A design that is adaptable will have more staying power. Similarly, technology is a fast-paced industry and adaptability is essential to staying relevant.

7) Space: White space, the unused portion of a document (Merriam-Webster), is necessary in visual design as it allows for rest and processing time. This is equally important in instructional design. Processing time for the user improves cognition and retrieval. A busy design is distracting to the user and can also reduce our other design principles such as “Simple” or “Sound”.

8) Shared: Shared design is accessible for all users. This includes those with learning or financial challenges. Just as technical designs should meet the current W3C world accessibility protocols, instructional designs must meet varying learner needs. A design can also be shared among relevant groups through open licensing to spur considerate debate (Baker III, 2020) and continued growth and problem solving. By participating in open sourced/common resources design can also practice and model the value of open (Morgan, 2019).



8 Principles of Design
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Badashov, A. (2017, February 8). Design Principles Behind Great Products.

Baker III, F. W., & Moukhliss, S. (2020). Concretising design thinking: A content analysis of systematic and extended literature reviews on design thinking and human‐centered designReview of Education8(1), 305-333.

Cambron, T., (2016, May 24) Designing better experiences for people facing anxiety. Model View Culture (37).

Design Principles FTW. (2020). What are Design Principles Anyway?

Dron, J. (2014). Chapter 9: Innovation and change: changing how we change. In Zawacki-Richter, O. & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a research agenda. (pp. 237-265). Athabasca, AB: AU Press.

Merriam-Webster (n.d). Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instructionEducational Technology Research and Development50(3), 43-59.

Morgan, T. (2019). Instructional designers and open education practices: Negotiating the gap between intentional and operational agencyOpen Praxis11(4), 369-380.

Rothwell, W. J., Benscoter, B., King, M., & King, S. B. (2015). Chapter one – An overview of Instructional Design. In Mastering the Instructional Design Process: A Systematic Approach. (pp. 1-16). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

W3C. Accessibility Principles.


**Edited, January 18th to add LRNT 524 category.