523.2.5 – Great Media Debate

Authors: Ben Chaddock & Emma Keating (posted here as well)

Today’s post compares Kozma’s (1994) and Clark’s (1994) positions in the Great Media Debate with recent examples of techno-deterministic thinking by pro-tech firms. The Great Media Debate took off in 1983, with Clark’s article summarizing how fundamental learning methods will remain fundamental, despite technological changes in delivery methods or content that may improve efficiency.

Below we review articles about a new learning app for Microsoft teams and a sales-support article from a wifi installation and management firm and overlays Kozma and Clark’s outlook on both.

Article 1: New learning app for Microsoft Teams LINK 

This new app allows employers to collaborate all the learning they want their employees to do in one place (Our Training tab), including company-specific training. Users of the app can assign activities to their employees and track who has completed them.  Group chats enable peer conversation, and users can share links to media and training with each other. The app also links to Microsoft Learn and LinkedIn Learning for professional collaboration.

Kozma argues that the attributes that make media successful are not consistently present in the various forms of media to be relied upon to assist in learning. For example, in this new Teams learning app, many attributes may impact the quality of the learning, but it is very challenging to isolate a particular component that guarantees success. Moreover, the app does not provide a comprehensive library of modules, contributing to an inconsistent student experience that should not be relied upon for successful learning.

Clark would comment that the new media of the Teams app may not influence learning as it may not consider the cognitive or motivational factors of learning. Although the app includes some social components (chats and inter-user communication), it does little to support those aspects throughout the methods of the actual learning. For example, tracking employee training completion progress may motivate some, but little evidence is available that shows this action will positively influence learning or ensure comprehension and retention. 

Article 2: Pro-Techno stance from cloud company LINK

American wireless internet implementation and management firm SecurEdge is in the business of helping install custom wifi systems to schools and companies. This article lists numerous ways that digital tools and classrooms can help students learn.  Their claims include that digital classrooms help students of different learning styles, increase student engagement, that “traditional passive learning model is broken… [and] technology transforms the learning experience” (Mareco, 2017).

Kozma (1994) would agree that technology and digital mediums help create objects that generate conservation from an interactionist perspective. The unique features of the students, their beliefs and goals, interact with these digital objects and transform them from inert tools into a host for emerging ideas and hopefully meaningful dialogue between all parties (p. 21). However, Kozma (1994) also claims that traditional teaching models do not acknowledge or accommodate the interplay between media, method, and situation (p. 21); and that they are bound by the tenets of behavioural psychology and shy away from the messy nature of social constructivism (p. 21). 

Clark (1994) retorts that any medium, digital or otherwise, that supports learning includes characteristics that cause learning. For example, the difference between a printed textbook and a digital textbook.

Clark (1994) would associate the digital nature of the latter as a surface feature of the learning environment, and that the structural or fundamental element of the resource is the fact that both tools consolidate large amounts of information into a helpful and encouraging format for consumption, or most aptly, comprehension. Further, that the “active ingredient” should be distinguished in the process of assessing the quality of new teaching technology. Otherwise, we may become lost in our evaluation of what is fundamentally impacting our students’ learning (Salomon, 1979, as cited by Clark, 1994, p. 4). 

In conclusion, Amara’s law offers an important reminder that “we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run” (PC Mag, n.d.).


Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.

Kozma, R. (1994). “Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate.” Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.

Mareco, D. (2017, July 28). 10 Reasons Today’s Students NEED Technology in the Classroom. Securedge Networks. https://www.securedgenetworks.com/blog/10-reasons-today-s-students-need-technology-in-the-classroom

Pradeep (2020, July 8). Microsoft reveals the all-new learning app coming to Microsoft Teams (video). MS Power User. https://mspoweruser.com/microsoft-learning-app-microsoft-teams-video/

PC Mag (n.d.) Amara’s Law. https://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/amaras-law

523.1.4 – Final Reflection on Weller

Considering my absence from the class discussion last week due to work commitments, I would like to post my reflection on the final 3rd of Weller’s 25 years of ed-tech here. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s clear writing style, centred viewpoint, and encouraging tone. I am excited to learn more about the industry’s history as the course and my experience in the MALAT program continues. But what was the biggest takeaway, and how will it impact my work going forward?

Our time horizon changes the way we facilitate learning.

In this final chapter of the book, Weller (2020) explores how in 2018, a division in the ed-tech community surfaced. The pro-tech camp aimed to create ‘perfect’ learning technologies. In contrast, the con-tech group became increasingly skeptical of any such claim and retreated to a more traditionalist point of view that learning must take place with pen and paper. While reading this portion of the book, I kept thinking about the topics that my fellow students were excitedly choosing to explore in Unit 2, most notably, what seemed like a pro stance on robots replacing teachers in the classroom. This idea caused great distress for me both as an educator and an economist (if my BA in econ would allow me to reference myself as such), and I have since become curious about my reaction to this idea and how Weller (2020) tackles the issue of people vs. technology in learning.

In chapter 18, Weller (2020) discusses the characteristics of the personal learning environment (PLE) and how it formed as an evolution of learning objects, open educational resources, ePortfolios, and connectivism. PLE’s incorporate the most helpful traits of these previous innovations and allow students to control their learning rate, work in an offline environment, yet interface their activities with an institutional system and evaluation criteria (Van Harmelan, 2006, as cited by Weller, 2020). However, in practice, PLEs failed because they often gave students too much flexibility and subsumed the teaching presence into the learning activities, leaving them to direct their learning and undertake that learning (Weller, 2020).

These two different tasks, directing and undertaking the learning, may clarify why a disconnect in the ed-tech community has developed in recent years. I was first introduced to this idea when I watched a John Cleese video about his acting and comedy career that explained the difference between brainstorming jokes and telling them. It is an entirely different mode of being. Unfortunately, I can’t find that resource today, but this clip introduces the concept (Popova, n.d). I see this concept every day in my battle to check emails, tackle small tasks, and complete major creative writing assignments for work or our MALAT program. The act of thinking vs. doing is so different. John Cleese recommended that we ‘go for a walk’ before creative activities and be disciplined enough to ‘avoid busy tasks’ during this creative portion of our day. But how does this idea relate to a discussion on the direction and undertaking of learning? Do those tasks correspond with the institutional value structures or individual personality traits of the people in the pro-tech and con-tech camps?

When imagining the stereotypical pro-tech person in education, one could argue that they are incentivized to cut costs, achieve more with less, and embody a wonderous optimism about the power of their innovations to help propel product sales. However, I would suggest that it is merely their time horizon. How far ahead they can imagine is just different from their con-tech counterparts. And this shorter time horizon may be created by the corporate environment that big-tech innovation currently resides. When the focus on improvement is limited to quarterly reports and investor dividends, results must be tangible and timely. As such, I hypothesize that proponents of corporate ed-tech are more interested in directing the learning and providing the best tools possible rather than being there when the learning takes place.

Conversely, educators in grade schools and post-secondary academies enjoy a greater time horizon where students learn, and teachers mature over multiple years and decades. The institutional value structure of the academy is very different from corporate and profit-driven entities. A great emphasis on undertaking the learning is present, and an appreciation for the messiness of learning is more widely accepted.

An area of future investigation may look at how people find themselves in the pro or con-tech camp? Is it indeed the difference between corporate and academic institutional values? Or do individual personality traits best forecast one’s patience for the learning process (or learning time horizon) or interest in directing or participating in the teaching? And it is these personality traits that propel people to pursue what is most meaningful to them, and they find themselves in either of these organizational structures as a matter of circumstance.

Weller (2020) concludes that although education and technology may look different on the surface in the future, like they did 25 years ago, underneath, the core principles will remain the same. More specifically, Weller (2020) forecasts increases in the use of blended learning and the internet, narrow forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can help us learn specific tasks, and learning analytics, in all its catastrophe, will continue to become more pervasive.

Indeed, the future of learning will incorporate great nuance, but the core fundamentals of curiosity and critical thinking will remain tantamount.  And our role as educational administrators will be to optimize the characteristics of the tools available to us and meet our students in the middle, where long-term development and short-term engagement meet in harmony.

In closing, two recommendations come to mind. First, Caufield (2017a) reminds us to create activities that help students validate previous work in a field before adopting its viewpoint. Second, Jhangiani (2017) goes so far as to push students to brainstorm their own ‘test’ questions for lack of a better way to say it. These concepts are important to me as they are helpful and encouraging and allow teachers to direct the learning and be present.


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

Popova, M. (n.d). John Cleese on the Five Factors to Make Your Life More Creative. BrainPickings. https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/04/12/john-cleese-on-creativity-1991/

Caulfield, M. (2017a). Web literacy for student fact checkersand other people who care about facts. Retrieved from https://webliteracy.pressbooks.com/

Jhangiani, R. (2017, January 12). Why have students answer questions when they can write them? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thatpsychprof.com/why-have-students-answer-questions-when-they-can-write-them/

523.1.3 – Lessons of Relevance and Contradiction

This week’s post reviews the 2nd third of Weller’s 25 years of ed-tech and covers 2002 to 2011. One concept that has immediate relevance in my current work is chapter 9’s look at the Learning Management System (LMS). Weller (2020) highlights that if not carefully planned, an organization may set itself up for failure in the long run as these types of tools are costly to create and can take on a life of their own. Indeed, when organizations incorrectly value the costs and benefits of labour and capital, they can hold onto depreciating and maintenance-dependant assets for too long.  Although the costs of maintenance and new investment in the case of the LMS would be more apparent to an organization, the benefits of using old vs. new digital tools are more challenging to quantify. Weller (2020) refers to this concept as institutional sedimentation, whereby structures are built around founding principles and decrease institutional agility. To avoid sedimentation, Weller (2020) suggests organizations 1) articulate why an LMS will help, 2) how it matches their chosen learning theory, and 3) use 3rd party tools, like Google Docs, when possible to reduce cost and incorporate institutional agility into their resources.

A second lesson I found most pertinent to my work in coach development is the use of ePortfolios discussed in chapter 15. Weller (2020) summarizes numerous definitions of ePortfolios from Lorenzo and Ittelson (2005) and Beethem (2005) as a collection of assignments that demonstrate student progress through informal and formal activities, and which are owned by the student, can be used for future reflective learning, and exhibit qualities that support evaluation by teachers. Although a great idea in principle, the implementation of ePortfolios has historically been a challenge. In my specific work as a coach developer, we use a portfolio for the evaluation and certification of our coaches. However, we have yet to create a resource designed with the student and the evaluator equally in mind. For example, recent revisions shifted from a Word doc version to a fillable PDF. However, the fillable sections made it difficult for the student and evaluator to read the answers. The evaluation criteria are also disjointed from the assignments, placed at the back of the resource, making it challenging for students to complete each task as designed and for evaluators to evaluate critical outcomes. Numerous other challenges are associated with the current design; however, there is interest in making further edits this off-season. Weller’s (2020) recommendations are helpful and remind us to adopt a student-centred approach that includes user-friendly formats, comprehensive instructions that match the evaluation criteria, and prompt students to complete some tasks in a community-hosted discussion, like a padlet or closed forum. This last element would incorporate concepts of the Personal Learning Environment and Connectivism spoken about in chapters 17 and 18, but that is for another day!


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

Beetham, H. (2005). E-portfolios in post-16 learning in the UK: Developments, issues and opportunities. Retrieved from http://bectaepexpert.pbworks.com/f/Beetham+eportfolio_ped.doc

Lorenzo, G., & Ittelson, J. (2005). An overview of e-portfolios. Educause Learning Initiative, 1(1), 1–27. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2005/1/an-overview-of-eportfolios

523.1.2 – Optimal online course traits

Dear Reader,

Welcome back! Our MALAT cohort has returned to the blogosphere and today’s post reviews the first third of Weller’s 25 years in Ed Tech, a historical summary of educational technology since 1994. Each chapter explores one fundamental discovery or change relevant to a given year and helps remind us just how quickly technology has developed in the recent past. This first post reviews the opening eight chapters of the book, from the era of digital bulletin boards in 1994, to the acknowledgment and adoption of eLearning modules, computer-mediated communication (CMC) and constructivist educational design by 2001.

In my role as an NCCP Coach Developer, we use a mix of in-person and online modules to help coaches develop the skills necessary to provide safe learning environments for Canadians of all ages. In 2020, quadrennial updates to our most popular coach development pathway took place. Fortunately, our update cycle corresponded with the Covid-shutdown, and our team quickly incorporated numerous changes that helped us facilitate one of our most successful coach development seasons ever. But what elements of the new pathway worked? And why? And how can we make it even better?

In chapter 4, Weller (2020) explored traits that may help formulate an optimally designed online course. Carr-Chellman and Duschatel (2000) suggested six key attributes, including a comprehensive study guide, assignments that help students experience the primary learning theory in use, examples of previous work, and so on.  This was very interesting to me. For this post, I’ve contrasted this list with the various changes and characteristics that my coach development team and I have incorporated into our recent program revisions. Our recent revisions proved successful, with more coaches achieving certification in the last 18 months than we have certified in the previous 29 years. By comparing our updates with the proposed list of Carr-Chellman and Duschetal (2000), I am beginning to understand why the updates worked and how I can make further improvements in the future.

The six elements include:

Carr-Chellman and Duschatel (2000) NCCP Cycling Pathway Updates (2020)
·     A comprehensive study guide that allows students to progress without the teacher ·       A NEW fillable journal helped students navigate the numerous official textbooks, complete all the assignments in the final evaluation portfolio, and consolidate their learning in one document.

·       NEW home study program offered, using recorded video calls from 2 different cohorts, allowing participants to work through materials at their own pace and support various learning styles. Application, including history in sports coaching, was required.

·     Assignments include collaborative and individual tasks that match & model the learning theory ·       EXISTING learning theory, including a mix of instruction and social constructivism.

·       NEW slide deck for ZOOM calls and NEW pre-event assignments to help ensure group activities were efficient.

·     Provide examples of previous student’s work ·       NEW samples provided in the slide deck

·       The NEW journal included key reference material on the page after difficult questions. Thus, participants could challenge themselves to articulate an answer using reflection and textbook, but know their solution and know that resources were easy to find if needed. This removed the anxiety of navigating the 300-page resource material and gamified the writing experience into “can I do the question without asking for help.” In post-event surveys, participants indicated this gamified design helped validate their existing knowledge base and built their confidence by acknowledging that they are indeed in a coaching program that matches their abilities and needs. In addition, students shared more detailed and forthcoming responses in later journal questions, evidencing how the journal design boosted student confidence.

·     No online textbook or primary text used
·     Student-to-student communication is emphasized, including informal discussions that encourage creativity ·       NEW journal and slide deck maximized group breakout room discussions.

·       EXISTING partner exercises during outdoor practice teaching, especially in the morning session.

·     The communication model improves understanding of fundamental learning theories (concepts) and intellectual dialogue ·       The EXISTING program emphasizes and demonstrates the NCCP’s five core competencies: Valuing, Interacting, Problem-Solving, Critical-Thinking, and Leading, and pushes participants to translate theoretical concepts into practical applications with a course conductor fulfills the role of guide, moderator and instructor in that order.


I have a question: What did Carr-Chellman and Duschetal (2000) mean by having no online textbook or primary text? I suppose they are proposing this in the context of a network or MOOC. In that case, I can see the lack of an official textbook as an inspiring way to push students to search the relevant academic literature and other resources for answers.

In the context of NCCP Coach Development, I see that we could include the concept of no primary textbook in our ongoing coach mentorship programs, designed for certified coaches who are attending seasonal calls to maintain certified status. In this context, we could prompt participants with a narrow research question two weeks before the seasonal meeting, expecting that they will contribute during breakout room brainstorming and the greater discussion amongst all participants.


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

Carr-Chellman, A., & Duchastel, P. (2000). The ideal online course. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(3), 229–241. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8535.00154

522.1.3 – What makes a good research question?

Welcome back! My fellow MALAT students and I have shifted into our next course, and we are now exploring the tenets of quality academic research. But what makes a good research question? This quick blog post summarizes some of the components that create engaging and effective educational adventures through research. Whether your paper is 1000 words or 100 pages, choosing a topic that you find attractive is essential. But how can we frame our inquiry and hard work into a product that moves the field of study forward? Here are some bullet points to remember.

Scribbr (2020) suggests six components make up a good research question. These include the following:

  • Focused – can be fully answered within your word limit
  • Researchable – data is currently or can be made available
  • Feasible – within your time and financial bounds
  • Specific – explores one topic
  • Complex – cannot be answered with a simple or a yes/no answer
  • Relevant – relevant to your program or society

Conversely, Seburn (2021) suggests a more condensed checklist and includes the following:

  • Concise – clear to the audience and author, provides strong direction for exploration
  • Complex – avoid yes/no answers and requires full word count to explore
  • Arguable – does the question matter? Can the author argue, defend, or explore the topic?

So depending on how long you prefer your checklists, we can decide to cross-check and design our research question against the above points. But are there any rules of thumb that help us get started?

Choosing a topic that interests you is an important step. It is always more fun to write about things that interest you. Scribbr (2020) also recommends that we start articulating our research question by first choosing a broad topic. Then begin preliminary reading to help understand if there are unanswered questions in the field of study, like the data available and how feasible the data analysis will be (Seburn, 2021). After reviewing the information and understanding the field of study, narrow it down to a niche that needs more study (Seburn, 2021), but how do we know if it is the right area? Seburn (2021) explains that this step can be the most fun and is where you can play devil’s advocate to try to poke holes in the current research literature and find areas of weakness. Who doesn’t love to play the skeptic? Once the above process is complete, begin drafting your research question.

Drafting a good versus a significant research question boils down to how concise, complex and arguable it is. Rules of thumb to set you in the right direction include the following from Miller-Wilson (n.d.):

  • Avoid value judgments; instead, explore the characteristics of what makes something successful
  • Use ‘how’ questions instead of ‘why’ (too broad)
  • Open to debate (will your work move a complex issue forwards?)

I hope this first blog post is helpful to readers who are exploring the fundamentals of research, why it is essential, and how we can set ourselves up for an engaging and practical learning experience by choosing research that is relevant, feasible and, arguable. Until next time!



Scribbr (2020, January 2). How to develop a strong research question. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71-GucBaM8U

Seburn, C. (2021, January 10). How to write a strong research question for research papers. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF2FQeP5wpI

Miller-Wilson, K. (n.d.). Examples of Good and Bad Research Questions. Your Dictionary. Retrieved from https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-good-and-bad-research-questions.html

521.4.1 – DLEs in rural areas

Authors: Ben Chaddock and Myrna Pokiak

We wish to start by bringing our thoughts to the 215 children forced to attend a residential school in Kamloops, BC, never to return home again (CBC News, 2021). This heartbreaking news is another reminder of the dark history of Canada’s maltreatment of First Nations peoples. The Residential School system will forever tarnish the history of our country and other maltreatments of the First Nations people across this great land.

The last Residential School closed in 1996 (Gray, 2021), but the healing will take generations. We would like to acknowledge that for many Dene, Metis, and Inuit peoples, the current school system continues to be a reminder of the pain and grief caused by past governments and religious organizations. During this most difficult moment, we can only wish that the spirits of the children find their way home, and the world takes notice to ensure such things never happen again.

In today’s post, Myrna and I explore the challenges surrounding the application of digital learning technology in rural communities. We decided to explore these challenges in the context of Canadian rural communities, including the Far North.

Many challenges are facing Canadians in our rural communities. With regards to education and the advent of digital technologies, there is a mix of positive and negative impacts. We have accumulated a list of these impacts and summarized the notes below. Suppose our goal is to aim towards a future where as many Canadians as possible have access to the tools and resources they need to achieve their personal, professional, and community goals. In that case, our ability to communicate our needs and carefully allocate our resources will contribute to achieving this equality of access in due time. In the meantime, great awareness needs to be taken by our education leaders to maximize the experience of our current student body.

Positive Impacts – things that are going well:

    • Attending educational programs from home communities
        • In areas where internet capacity is adequate, students can remain in the comfort of their home or community environment and participate in educational programs.
            • This can be helpful for children who still rely heavily on their parents or need support in balancing their academic studies with the rest of their day-to-day activities.
            • For example, remote learning students were able to get more sleep, reduce chatter or bullying, lower the stakes, and focus on the development of the whole student, and discover the power of self-pacing and self-determination (Fleming, 2020).
        • Teaching in Canada’s Far North is very challenging; yet, the number of schools has increased over the past 4 years, from 7 to 20 institutions (ECE, n.d.).
            • The Northern Distance Learning (NDL) program uses a blend of online and in-person high-school classes to help students access a greater variety of courses (ECE, n.d.).
            • At From East Three secondary school in Inuvik, NWT, classes of up to 20 students can participate at a time (ECE, n.d.).
            • Student success rates are promising (about 70% credit acquisition rate), and are made possible by strong relationships between students, teachers, and administrative staff (K12 SOTN, n.d.). The NDL illustrates how distance learning can help fill a need in the community given the right tools and resources.
      • Expand cross-cultural connection
          • Khoo (2019) frames digital learning not as a commodity, but as an aspect of a gift economy, whereby learners can interact and build connections with students and teachers outside their immediate social and cultural groups (34:17).

Negative Impacts – things that need more attention:

    • Limited Infrastructure:
        • Currently, only 45% of rural Canadians have access to high-speed internet (Broadband Fund, 2021).
        • Two financial projects have been announced to help bridge this gap, “the federal government’s $1.75-billion Universal Broad-band Fund and the CRTC’s $750-million Broadband Fund (Brownell, 2021).
        • However, Byron Holland, chief executive of CIRA suggests that $6-$12 billion is needed (Brownell, 2021).
        • This situation is attracting interest from large players in the communications sector, who are using this situation as a consolidation powerplay.
            • For example, “Rogers, one of the country’s largest service providers, recently promised to create a $1-billion fund to increase connectivity in remote, rural and Indigenous communities if its proposed takeover of Shaw Communications is allowed to go through” (Brownell, 2021).
        • Although digital infrastructure and broadband capacities have improved, consumers continue to increase their reliance on digital technologies. If consumer needs and use of the internet remain stable, then hardware infrastructure and broadband capacity may have a chance of catching up; however, until then, there will be a lag since current capacity already lags behind consumer need (White, 2020).
    • High cost of internet
        • The price and quality standard of internet access is also different in northern Canada (Latour, 2018).
        • For example, the internet provider Northwestel is currently able to provide 150 GB/month for $129. However, this marks an improvement with Northwestel offering just 100GB/month for the same price back in 2018. In comparison, that same year, Bell Canada offered Toronto customers unlimited monthly data for $50 a month (Levinson-King, 2019).
        • The Nunavut territory is the only region of Canada without access to fiber-optic internet. To reach the Canadian household average data usage, a Nunavut household would have to spend $7,000 annually, approximately 5-6 times more than the average (Tranter, 2021).
    • Cultural
        • To maximize the use of online learning technologies, greater attention needs to be placed in areas of curriculum design to “respect and build on aboriginal ways of learning. In fact, that might also benefit non-indigenous learners as well” (Bates, 2019).

It is in our nation’s best interest to create opportunities that maximize the creative and intellectual capacity of the peoples of this land. As more and more Canadians are required to use the internet for personal, professional, and educational activities, increasing access to the digital landscape will help us maximize the value each Canadian can share with their community (Canadian Internet Use Survey, 2019). Improved internet infrastructure will aid in this goal. Until then, support for programs that blend online tools with in-person learning will help young Canadians reach their academic goals. With regards to educational design, administrators need to strongly consider the needs and limitations of our rural learners and incorporate alternatives into curriculum structure and assessment resources.  For example, eLearning programs should include access to printed materials. Moreover, digital tools should be used as a supplemental resource, not a replacement for professional and caring teachers in each community. Using a combination of communication and consideration, together, we can innovate and build towards an educational experience that helps all Canadians reach their creative potential (Kuu, 2019).


Bates, T. (2019, March 3) Why are there few online programs in Canada’s Far North? https://bit.ly/3i6ciXk

Broadband Fund (2021, March 19). Canadian Radio and Television Communication: Broadband Fund Closing the Digital Divide Canada. Retrieved May 30, 2021, from https://bit.ly/3i50Hb6

Brownell, C. (2021, April 8). The pandemic has exposed Canada’s internet problem. Maclean’s: Technology. https://bit.ly/34tNpga

Canadian Internet Use Survey (2019, October 29). Statistics Canada. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/191029/dq191029a-eng.htm

Education, Culture, and Employment (n.d.) Northern Distance Learning. Government of Northwest Territories. https://bit.ly/3gc5kO7

Flags on federal buildings to be lowered in memory of Kamloops residential school victims. (2021, May 30). Canadian Broadcast Corporation: Politics. https://bit.ly/3yPf4pS

Fleming, N. (2020, April 24) Why Are Some Kids Thriving During Remote Learning? Edutopia. https://edut.to/3yR4ChG

Gray, B (2021) Digital Detox 5: The Harm Was Always There. https://bit.ly/2RWLu11

Gray, B (2021) Digital Detox 6: Build Back Better. https://bit.ly/3vCRSci

Internet Performance Test (n.d.) CIRA. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://performance.cira.ca/

ISED National Broadband Internet Service Map (2021, March 25). Government of Canada. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/sitt/bbmap/hm.html?lang=eng

Khoo, Su-Ming. (2019, April 11). Openings: bounded (in) equities: entangled lives. [Video]. YouTube. https://bit.ly/34tGX97

K12 State of the Nation. (n.d.) NWT Northern Distance Learning Program. State of the Nation. https://bit.ly/3c4Q6sQ

Latour, J (2018, August 23). Canada’s north deserves a better internet. CIRA. https://bit.ly/2SHO2Qu

Levinson-King, R. (2019, September 9). Huawei heats up the battle for internet in Canada’s north. BBC News Toronto. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49415867

Tranter, E. (2021, January 24). Deeply disturbing: Nunavut internet is still slower, more costly than the rest of the country. CTV News. https://bit.ly/3p313jK

White, E. (2020, October 20). After decades of promises for better northern internet, progress has been made — and the promises keep coming. Canadian Broadcast Corporation: Sudbury. https://bit.ly/2RZjgmn

521.3.1 – Visual Network Mapping

Originally published May 31, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

In today’s post, I am exploring a visual representation of my network connections. I started with a basic drawing illustrating the numerous groups and networks I have been involved in throughout my life. I then contrast that understanding with a more sophisticated representation of my connections powered by Kumu and data from my LinkedIn profile.

The hand-drawn illustration was an interesting, albeit quick, way to wrap my mind around how the groups and networks I engage with are interconnected. Although it is now represented in chronological order, with my family and grade school connections at the top and the more recent connections lower down, I find it interesting that in my first draft, I started in the present moment, building back from my current position as an employee of Cycling BC. I also represented unexpected changes or non-traditional career paths by perpendicular changes in the flow of the connection bubbles. For example, jumping into university or professional cycling represented a large shift in my life plan. However, I have been fortunate to build a wonderful collection of contacts throughout my studies and professional activities, the quality and interconnectedness of which is difficult to illustrate in a hand-drawing.

Next up is the Kumu-powered visualization of my social networks and groups. Although it did not turn out as I was hoping, it did illustrate how my social network has grown chronologically. Whether it is because I exported the incorrect dataset from my LinkedIn profile or did not manually input enough tags for each member of my community, Kumu does illustrate how my network has changed based on the date of new connections.

Since networks are classified as open and free to join, yet LinkedIn requires you to ‘approve’ connection requests, in LinkedIn a network? Or perhaps an intersection between a network and a group, also known as a Community of Practice (Dron & Anderson, 2014).

What do you think?

To learn more about the definitions of the above terms, please review my most recent post here.


Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press.

521.2.3 – Digital Presence

Originally published May 25, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

I remember the first time I learned about online avatars and the concept of digital presence. In grade 9, I read Virtual Vandals, a Tom Clancy Net Force series novel designed for teen readers. The story followed two teenage protagonists on a virtual reality adventure. They logged into a digital world, created avatars to conceal their identity, and pursued a faceless antagonist driving an evil geopolitical plot (Duane, 1999). The pop-culture hit, The Matrix reinforced the characteristics of the digital avatar again during a grade 10 acting class film critique. In this film, characters could ‘load’ anything from clothing to tools, making their appearance in the matrix different from their real-world selves. The main supporting character, Morpheus, explained the appearance in the matrix as one’s “residual self-image … is the mental projection of your digital self” (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999). Most recently, however, Speilberg’s (2018) film Ready Player One cautioned that digital identity does not infer unanimity. Indeed, the actions of the two protagonists in the digital world created real-world consequences. The concepts of digital identity are not new to the pop-culture, but they are entertaining examples of the pros and cons of our digital age.

During this second unit of our first course in the Royal Roads MALAT program, my cohort and I investigated the importance of digital identity and presence.  In the coming units, we will fully explore the various organizational structures involved in online learning; but at their foundations, learning in the digital environment requires awareness, participation, and collaboration (Rheingold, 2010). Critical thinking and consumption, famously coined as “Crap Detection” by Ernest Hemingway, or an understanding of who wrote it, their sources, dissenting views, and the correct information, will inform our work (Canvas Network, 2017). As part of the awareness phase, we are currently learning about our digital footprint, how others may use the digital space differently, and how rapid shifts from analog to digital environments create constraints.

Today’s blog post helped me articulate the purpose behind my digital identity and explore how I can make further improvements in the future.

As discussed in my last post, my professional work as a leader in the youth sports sector heavily influences my online presence.  Therefore, my goal as a ‘web-resident’ is to further the strategic plan of Cycling BC and represent the values of the Coaches Association of Canada, Cycling Canada, and Cycling BC to help make the activity and sport of cycling as accessible as possible to all Canadians (White, 2011).

I can meet these expectations by carefully choosing the words, messages, and images that I share with coaches, instructors, parents, athletes, and prospective cycling families. For example, I aim to role model the following through my actions in the digital space (and the real world, for that matter):

    • use precise language,
    • show an appreciation for the reader,
    • trust in the reader’s interest in growth and development, and
    • use awareness of calendar and social events to maximize the relevance and effectiveness of my posts.

I also need to recognize that readers and viewers look for different things in their role models. Morgenroth, Ryan, and Peters (2015) showed that role models could either 1) act as behavioural models, 2) represent the possible, and 3) be inspirational, and that ultimately, the viewer will decide the mode their role models fulfill.  In my role as Cycling BC’s Head of Coach Development, I am responsible for the messages that I share in the digital world and take great care in promoting values and actions that will help people create positive associations with their bikes.

At Cycling BC, we are initiating a new coach mentorship program, whereby NCCP ‘certified’ coaches can pursue professional development opportunities to maintain good standing. As the project lead, I plan to use various online technologies to foster an environment that promotes community, knowledge transfer, and opportunities to help coaches take on new and challenging roles. For example, one component of our mentorship program will be our monthly study group.  To help each participant expand their abilities, all participants will receive the opportunity to lead a meeting each year and fulfill the remaining roles.  To help make this initiative a success, I will need to utilize my technical skills in video editing, learning management systems, lecture and facilitation design, and social media to provide resources and set the tone for the participants.  Areas for improvement include my ability to develop an eLearning program from scratch (I worked with a consultant for our 2020 project) and optimizing my audio capture and editing skills to improve the sound quality of our video resources.

To help facilitate a greater connection between our coaches and increase their understanding of how athletes perceive them, we could use various activities to help them explore their digital identity. For example, numerous coaches in our community are now filming and sharing highlights of the skills and activities they complete with the athletes on social media. By sharing this information, coaches help ensure parents understand how their child is improving and help new coaches access helpful examples. In the past, apps like Coaches Eye (now known as Hudl or OnForm as of Sept 1st, 2021) allowed coaches to share information within a private group of coaches. Reed’s Law discusses how the value associated with sharing information with others changes as the number of people increases. Reed’s Law hypothesizes a linear value associated with story-telling between individuals, a ‘squared’ value associated with facilitating transactions, and an exponential value associated with facilitating affiliations and hosting conversations (Rheingold, 2010). Reed’s law also hypothesizes that as the scale of a network increases, the dominant value of the network tends to shift from one category (stories) to another (square or exponential, respectively) (Hogg, 2013). Our coaches are already doing a great job sharing their experiences within their local community and I am curious how I can facilitate more significant connections with coaches in the public network and increase information on the web.

Sports coaching is a mix of art and science, and it is hard to know when athletes will achieve improvement. Likewise, it will be hard to measure the success of our coach mentorship program.  If we set up our program in the context of a community (or a group according to Dron, 2014), we can track the progress through participant attendance, engagement, and satisfaction.  However, I am optimistic the impact of the program will extend out into the online coaching network.  Measuring success in the more public realm is more challenging. One idea may be an annual survey that asks coaches about the content they have been sharing online, supported by analytics data that illustrates changes in the number of follow requests, likes, or views, representing changes in consumer interest. Another marker for success based on Reed’s Law may show how the engaging stories shared by our coaches translate to increased revenues for small coaching businesses or donations to our larger non-for-profit cycling organizations.  As with most of our programs here at Cycling BC, we design our pilot programs on a 3-year time horizon, meaning that our coach mentorship program will need to demonstrate its effectiveness and achieve financial sustainability by 2024.

Over the past decade, the sport of cycling has also quickly matured into a more mainstream activity.  With the core disciplines of the sport now established, coaching and instructor certifications are professionally recognized, trail designs that promote safety and accessibility are more widely adopted, and there is increasing interest from the public to ‘go by bike.’  As a result, our sports leaders carry an even greater responsibility to lead by example and enact their leadership values through best principles (Gilbert, 2016). This can be challenging for some members of the cycling community who experienced the ‘younger version’ of the sport and feel like they have been working with limited guidance and support but have achieved success, nonetheless.  For the coach mentorship program to achieve success, we will need to create an environment that values the experiences of all our members and helps the group aim together towards a common goal.

Regarding leveraging online tools to achieve this, our coach mentorship program could help introduce the concepts of online identity and grow a coach’s business and ultimately increase the quality of information available on the web. Boyd (2006) states that “profile generation is an explicit act of writing oneself into being in a digital environment and participants must determine how they want to present themselves to those who may view their self-representation or those who they wish might” (Boyd, 2011, p. 4). We can initiate this process within the closed community of the mentorship program, whereby the members serve as the imagined audience, or according to Boyd (2011), the intended public. The value of such an exercise would be to imagine “the audience or public [and] to adjust one’s behaviour and self-presentation to fit the intended norms of that collective” (Boyd, 2011, p. 4). In summary, I plan to recommend that coaches first share their content in a private setting, like Coaches Eye. When they feel they have consolidated a digital persona that they are comfortable with, they can then shift to using the open web to demonstrate their skills on the public market.  As a result of engaging in this open sharing, we would also aim to help coaches outside our current community refine their teaching techniques and improve the overall quality of cycling coaching information available on the open web.


Boyd, D. (2006, December 4). Friends, Friendster, and Fop 8: Writing community into being on social network sites. First Monday, 11(12). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/download/1418/1336

Boyd, D. (2011). Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 39–58). New York, NY: Rutledge.

Canvas Network. (2017). Crap Detection. Retrieved 05 10, 2021, from https://learn.canvas.net/courses/1659/pages/crap-detection

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University Press. Retrieved from https://www.aupress.ca/books/120235-teaching-crowds/

Duane, Diane (1999). Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers: Virtual Vandals. Berkley Publishing Group.

Gilbert, W. (2016). Coaching better every season: A year-round system for athlete development and program success. Champaign, Illinois, USA: Human Kinetics.

Hogg, S. (2013, October 5). Understand and Obey the Laws of Networking: Ignorance of the laws of networking is no excuse. Network World. Retrieved November 2, 2017, from https://www.networkworld.com/article/2225509/understand-and-obey-the-laws-of-networking.html

Morgenroth, T., Ryan, M. K., & Peters, K. (2015, November 23). The Motivational Theory of RoleModeling: How Role Models Influence Role Aspirants’ Goals. Advance online publication. Review of General Psychology, 19(4), 465-483. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/gpr0000059

Reed, D. P. (n.d.). That Sneaky Exponential: Beyond Metcalfe’s Law to the Power of Community Building. Retrieved from https://www.deepplum.com/dpr

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention and other 21st-century social media literacies. Educause Review, 45(5), 14-24. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/-/media/files/article-downloads/erm1050.pdf

Spielberg, S. (2018). Ready Player One. Warner Bros.

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011, August 9). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049

Wachowski, L., & Wachowski, L. (1999). The Matrix. Warner Bros.

521.2.2 – Visitor Resident Typology

Originally published May 12, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

As a student of one of the first post-secondary institutions on the western seaboard to get invited to ‘the Facebook,’ as we called it back in 2006, I have watched social media grow and change.

Of course, the use of the internet has also changed significantly over the past 15 years, and the process of completing this Visitor-Resident typology assignment reminds me of a family saying, “if you write it, it’s forever.”

For my guest readers, White (2013) describes the way users interact with the internet as either visitors, those who search for information, or residents, those who build and share their personality online. White (2013) is also quick to point out that neither position, visitor nor resident, represents a particular person. Rather it helps users understand what tools they use in the internet age and how they may impact their persona.

This typology activity reminds me of how I have tried to carefully use the internet to reflect my values, attract helpful people into my life, and aspire towards my personal and professional goals. The below map illustrates this heavy focus on work and changes to my use of social media discussed further below.

Alternatively, Cormier (2018) proposes a different typology map that instead asks students to categorize their preference for professional practices in either a group or individual setting and using either digital or analog tools. Reflecting upon this alternative method, I prefer to build my persona and explore new professional tasks in an analog environment, first individually and then with the group. Only once I feel confident that new information will provide social value do I wish to share my ideas with the stakeholders in my area of influence.

Over the past 15 years, I recall 3 moments that shaped the way I use social media and reminded me of our family saying, “If you write it, it’s forever!” As a result of these moments, I shifted my focus away from the digital space and focused on in-person interactions with my social network.

    • 2009 – Facebook expanded outside the confines of the post-secondary space, changing who could view your content.
    • 2013 – A social media post between friends was taken out of context by a public user.
    • 2018 – Facebook was no longer an effective way for me to stay in touch with my post-secondary friends, and I deleted my account, now using What’s App or visits in-person to stay connected.

As a person of influence in sports coaching, I have also discussed the impact of digital footprints with my athletes and am looking forward to using this typology map during future conversations.


White, D. (2013, June 13). Visitors and Residents mapping activity [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9IMObcyKbo

White, D. (2013, September 13). Just the Mapping [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ

Cormier, D. (2018, March 31). Digital Practices Mapping – Intro activity for digital literacies course. Dave’s Educational Blog. https://bit.ly/3yhqmTE