Learning so much about why what has happened, well… happened.

Prior to starting the MALAT program, I was unfamiliar with the term ‘creative commons license’, and assumed that all content, at all times, had to be created from scratch. Perhaps this is because unlike so many of my MALAT peers, I work in private industry where most information is perceived to be proprietary. I find the concept fascinating, and as Weller briefly notes, closely aligned to the failed concept of learning objects. Learning materials developed in house are typically kept locked away. My employer specifically takes the non-sharing of information even further, if you give your notice of resignation, you are given a two week paid vacation (ok, not really) if you are going to a competitor because you could possibly share brand new innovations that are announced in the following two weeks. I had an interesting experience recently, however, at work. In working on a program to develop further competency on incident investigations, my HSE senior leader gave me materials from two other private companies that he had previously consulted on. I asked, shocked “are we even able to use this?”, and he mentioned that the HSE world is evolving, and that safety and safety skills is knowledge that should be shared, regardless of industry, to keep Canadians safe. Maybe there are some intersections of OER and private industry?

In Weller’s book, every chapter has an AHA moment for me! One technology that we have been increasingly using in my work, is the use of video. While we are not higher education, or even ‘traditional’ education, we have found video to have a profound impact on the way that we communicate learnings to our employees. In looking at our employee demographic, and our standard methods of disseminating information, we realized that we were disserving our employees by providing them with text heavy content, when a) they are working “in field”, b) they have a generally low level of reading comprehension or English language proficiency, or c) they struggle to find the time to read and comprehend what was now expected of them. We started using animated videos, leadership recordings, and roll-out/update videos to share information with our employees that would impact how they work every day. Not only did engagement with the content increase, but we saw an uptake in comprehension and an increase of the “targeted” KPI’s of the material we had just delivered.

Of particular interest to me in this 1/3 of Weller’s book is his writing on virtual worlds. I have no experience with virtual worlds (and my second life exposure is only in the form of a documentary, about people whose second life experiences went… well, let’s just say… too far). I chuckle at how in 2009, Jarmon, Traphagan, Mayrath, and Trivedi predicted that a majority of active internet users would be actively engaged in a virtual world environment. Providing we are not considering social media a virtual world, they were so far off. I do wonder though, if the events of the COVID-19 pandemic has given the thought of virtual worlds a “second life” (see what I did there?)… With more virtual workers and learners, will we see virtual classrooms or offices soon? Maybe Weller can let us know in his next book.


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

12 thoughts on “Learning so much about why what has happened, well… happened.”

  1. Hi Paula,
    I really enjoyed reading your post and I can relate in so many things you describe in it. I share the same feeling of not being familiar with some concepts that we are learning in the MALAT program, I love the fact that I am not just learning from the instructors but also from my peers. I also found interesting how you describe the impact and the increasing utilization of video in your workplace. Last but not least, it is also great to know that when it comes down to safety, the knowledge is shared and is keeping more Canadian workers safe.
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. To riff off the proprietary approach of industry and openness of academics a few things come up for me. One, is that I really like the take your employer expressed where there are limits to what is seen as proprietary in industry because for things like safety industry acknowledges that the contribution to the common social good is so important.
      The second is that in academics while open is encouraged (at least from my experience in BC with BC Campus efforts) there are still intellectual property concerns in a public sphere. I have heard these concerns from faculty in particular who are not interested in sharing their intellectual property with other instructors for instance so they can be assured of their employment.
      It’s funny to me that business, which is concerned with gaining income from innovation will let go of proprietary concerns in important matters and that in academics we hold onto proprietary property to ensure personal rewards.

      1. This is what was so interesting to me about the LO (Learning Objects) thought… who controls the content, and who is willing to relinquish their intellectual property for … potentially the betterment of learners across institutions and time zones.

        On one hand, I can appreciate faculty concerns about their IP and the state of their employment, but then on the other, I also wonder if that is a problem that is rooted in institutional management? My mind is changing the way that i think about higher education. Do we want educators, faculty, or facilitators who teach out of a “box” of content that they deem approved, or do we want these same professionals to be teaching the top content that is available, and using their professional skills to curate the learning experience for their learners? I think about Weller’s example of economics, which I know you teach. Why not teach the same levelled economics program throughout institutions? Are faculty or facilitators afraid of being called on their facilitation or learning curation skills (or lack thereof)… Again, I’m rambling, but I obviously have lots of thoughts ! I’m glad that we have taken the stance to share safety information for the betterment of others, sometimes ours is best, sometimes we adopt to a higher standard that was developed by others… I hope the OER movement gains more universal traction and acceptance so that other concept content can be looked at similarly.

    2. Thanks Luis!

      I am glad to know that you have the same sentiments towards the program as I do. I know that in regards to video, you have lots more experience than me, and I am sure you have used video in your programs lots. I would love to continue to exchange thoughts on video development with you as the program progresses.

  2. Hi
    Thanks for such a thoughtful post on my book. I would like “every chapter has an AHA moment” to be the book cover blurb 🙂
    I wonder about the virtual world stuff too post pandemic – particularly as many people can only conceive of online education as “lectures via Zoom”. More imaginative use of virtual reality in the sciences for example may help some people get over the deficit model they apply to online Ed.
    Anyway I’m glad you’re finding the book useful & thanks for the kind comments

    1. Wow! This is cool and I am fan-girling a bit!

      The book is great. Its really awesome to read the progression of the industry, and why certain ideas gained traction over others. I am really curious and interested to see how we emerge on the other side of the pandemic with the definitions of “virtual training”. I’m hoping for someone (or some-organization) to take the lead and break VR into the realm of possibility.


    2. I have to agree with Paula, very cool to see your comment on one of our blogs. Common theme among the cohort blogs that this book has been a great read and indeed, full of “AHA” moments for many of us.

      1. I wonder if we can hope for the arrival of a new Weller book in the future to discuss pre and post pandemic learning!
        I have seen many be forced out of the “paralysis by analysis” state and that has accelerated the adoption of learning technologies that otherwise might have taken years to implement. Perhaps this is the push that could accelerate the development of virtual reality learning in our near future.

  3. Hi Paula,

    The use of OER in supporting corporate training is something that I am very interested in. It is on my list of potential research topics for my exit pathway.

    I love the idea of sharing resources across industry. Until I read about your experience and the move to sharing of resources, I had not made the connection between an experience I had when working in the Oil and Gas Industry. I had created some courses to meet CAODC requirements for driver training, the courses were re-formatted into e-learning from face-to-face. The e-learning was audited by CAODC and approved. Once approved, the Director of HSE for my company (also the chair of the CAODC at the time) proposed making the e-learning courses available to all CAODC member companies. Our company was sold and myself and the HSE Director left the company before the project came to fruition. I hope that this is the way of the future as I do believe it could lead to the production of consistent, quality training that can be used across the industry without each company having to re-produce the same materials.

    Look forward to exploring OER and corporate (private) training more with you in the future.


    1. Melissa, We have much in common! In a previous life I worked in the training department of Enform, working with the HSE committee to develop industry standards for training and safe work practices. I worked closely with the member organizations, including the CAODC. In fact, my best friend was the Manager of training and Education for the CAODC so likely approved the driver training course you developed.

      Personal connections aside, it is interesting to see the various ways in which industry shares information, I wonder if unlike Academia, private industry shares certain programs because there is a desire to be recognized as industry leaders?

      Look forward to sharing our perspectives throughout the program.


      1. Hi Paula,

        So much!

        I think what you mention is key. Finding the motivators for companies to take part in this type of collaboration and capitalizing on those things to drive these initiatives forward. Whether it is monetary, recognition, limiting training resources, or improved safety. Most likely a combination of all of them.


  4. Hi Paula,
    I’m a little late to the game, as I read your post and noted that I agree with you on several points, most significantly the take on how innovations within ed tech are grounded in amazing theory but “fail to realize their potential” (Weller, 2020, p.125), only to read your comment section and see Weller himself responding. That was a surprise, to say the least! The fact that Second Life didn’t take off does not mean that virtual reality (VR) won’t, as Weller points out above, VR is useful for many fields from engineering to medicine. It is a complicated venture to consider a shift in mentality that requires many to accept new tech in order to achieve a necessary breadth of adoption (Weller, 2020).


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