Recent Posts

Construction Continues

Posted: October 17th, 2012, by HJDeW

I have continued constructions in my own learning. ETEC 590 is now well underway and I have begun constructing my e-portfolio. This is the captstone project for the MET program. It is created during the time in the course, with support and feedback from peers and the instructor. Since my successful constructions of artifacts for ETEC 530 and ETEC 522 have changed my thinking and teaching in unique ways, I am watching, learning and reflecting on both process and product with this project. In true constructivist style, this task is ‘ill-defined’, ‘problem based’, ‘collaborative’, ‘complex’, ‘active/manipulative’ and ‘intentional’. (D. Jonassen – Design of Constructivist Learning Environments). More about my explorations into developing a reflective e-portfolio can be discovered HERE.

Constructing Artifacts

Posted: July 12th, 2012, by HJDeW

I am challenged in both my thinking and my doing with the courses I am taking. While constructivist teaching and learning is being embedded deeply into my educational practices, is is enough to keep me constructing artifacts. I am required for course work to construct an online teaching unit with embedded constructivist principles. I am required to create a venture pitch that will be judged by my peers in order to gain experience in educational technology ventures. Frankly, I am dancing on the edge of discomfort with both these tasks. These assignments are framed with few guidelines, models or requirements to making them ‘ill-defined’. They are framed in contexts that are meaningful and authentic, just enough to make me realize the audience is waiting. I’ve never been comfortable with public speaking and now realize that my public, written voice will be heard by larger audiences than I can perceive. Am I ready? I’m on the edge and about to plunge in. Hope I come back up at the other end of the dive!

New Horizons

Posted: May 16th, 2012, by HJDeW

I have now begun my journey into two new courses – ETEC 522 Ventures in Learning and ETEC 530 Constructivism. As I examine the course outlines and expectations, both courses will challenge my thinking and expand my horizons. The introduction to the forum for ETEC 522, a community blog rather than WebCT, is extending my public web presence. Each post is visible and accessible to all, which makes me more aware of who my audience is or may be. ETEC 530 is hosted within the new Blackboard learning management system which has challenged me to become familiar with another LMS. Since it is in an inaugural phase, I am more patient with the technology than I would normally be, making me realize that this virtue is an essential one when introducing new technology within any educational setting.

The first post for ETEC 522 is focused on opportunity horizons as the relate to ventures in educational technology. I examined the 2012 Horizon Report from New Media and reflected on its meaning for my teaching practice. This reflection is linked here.

Research Completion

Posted: April 27th, 2012, by HJDeW

Research completion is a contradiction in terms. ETEC 500 is now complete. My discovery at the end of this course journey is that research is never complete. Research continues, since good research links forward to further questions. A research report, journal article or presentation at a conference, leads to other questions. Thus, ‘research completion’ is an oxymoron.

During the last three months, I have examined and read in depth about research in general, and into the specific research relating to the use of electronic portfolios within a faculty of education. My understanding of both topics has been extended and expanded yet leaving me knowing I know so little about each. So my work to learn more will never be complete.

What I Have Learned about Researchers and Research

1. Researchers are storytellers and good research reports are stories told in compelling and dramatic fashion.

2. Researchers need an audience. Research reports are meant to be read, reviewed and initiate reflection.

3. Researchers have a tribe. Research reports share the adventures and events of the tribe.

4. Researchers work with the past, present and future. Research reports bring the past into focus, bring a lens to the present and look through the glass to what may be.

5. Researchers seek better answers by asking good questions. Research reports share the cyclic journey from one answer, to new questions, to better answers, leading to more questions.

6. Researchers feed the mind by enhancing the senses. Research reports are food for thought and enlighten sight, sound, taste, and feelings relating to the meal presented.

7. Researchers change minds, their own and others. Research reports resound or reflect within the mind and shape thinking about the topic that is investigated.

Each of these lessons learned will be expanded and insights explained in the following days. They are linked here.

What I Have Learned about Electronic Portfolios

1. Electronic portfolios present stories, shared in compelling and dramatic fashion.

2. Electronic portfolios need an audience. Purpose and design shifts based on audience and intention. Reflection is a key ingredient.

3. Electronic portfolios link individuals to their tribe. It shares the adventures and events of the individual and the tribe.

4. Electronic portfolios examine the past, present current events and imagine the future. Writing within the portfolio brings the past into focus, examines the present through a personal lens and looks through the glass to future directions and actions.

5. Electronic portfolios help individuals seek better answers by asking good questions. They share the cyclic journey from one answer to new questions.

6. Electronic portfolios feed the mind by enhancing the senses. Portfolio entries provide food for thought and enlighten sight, sound, taste, and feelings relating to the meal prepared.

7. Electronic portfolios, if done well, change the minds of those who create them.  Reflection, as defined by John Dewey and Donald Schon, changes the mind and clarifies thought.

My interest in this particular area comes from my earlier work on mentoring and how to support mentoring relationships in education. My focus has shifted since my personal work journey has shifted. Now, mentoring needs to begin as soon as a candidate is accepted into a faculty of education and continued into their first teaching positions, whatever those may be. It needs to be a life-long journey of partnership, relationship and sharing. The electronic portfolio, as a tool to capture teaching repertoires, becomes the focus of the conversation.

My focus questions for this section will be “What? So What? Now What?”. Each question will be answered in detail in other posts found here.


Research in motion

Posted: January 20th, 2012, by HJDeW

I have begun my adventures into research with the beginning of ETEC 500. The introductions are complete and first module is well under way. I have read the opening chapters of the text Educational Research: Competencies for Analysis and Applications by L.R. Gay, Geoffrey E. Mills and Peter Airasian. Despite the content and subject matter, the text has been interesting, informative and well organized to further my knowledge and thinking about research.

The focus on selecting and defining a research topic is the next step. This one is particularly challenging, but working through the activity connected to the article “A chart of four contemporary research paradigms: Metaphors for the modes of inquiry” by L. Sipe & S. Constable (1996) certainly helped extend my thinking. Research can fall within a positivistic, interpretivist, critical theory, or deconstructivist paradigm. The metaphors included in the article tried to answer the question “If this research were a ……, it would be ….. The categories included colour, public event, personality disorder, game, sport, celebrated figure, or drink. I ended up coming up with some additional metaphors when I should have been trying to frame research questions into these paradigms.

Now my investigations are moving into the area of researching and using library resources. I have ordered my first book from the UBC library for delivery to my house. I have updated my refworks account and have imported references from Eric/EBSCO. I have created a literature review matrix to help organize the articles into some system of organization. I have downloaded the plugin for Zotero but have not yet investigated how to use this reference organizational tool. Lots more to learn and many weeks (months and years) in which to learn.

Electronic Text

Posted: October 18th, 2011, by HJDeW

My thoughts turned to the ideas Bolter presented about electronic text being inclusive, constructive and malleable. The video, Information R/evolution, presentation by M. Wesch, demonstrated each of these qualities in dramatic fashion.

Electronic text is inclusive in the way it accepts and incorporates graphics and elements beyond alphabetic writing (eg. :D). Bolter describe it as “a continuum in which many systems of representation can happily coexist”. (p. 37) Wesch certainly demonstrated the accepting, inclusive nature of graphics and text in his video.

Electronic text is constructive because “an electronic writer can build new elements from traditional ones” (p. 37) Just watching the text transform and re-construct as Wesch moved from one thought to another in the video really highlights this idea.

Electronic writing is malleable. Bolter stated “electronic writing, which is extremely malleable, can be fashioned into a tree or into a forest of hierarchical trees.” Wesch demonstrated this malleability in graphic form. Wesch described the organization of materials without constraints, without being closed, bounded, fixed, limited or categorized. This brought forward the image of text being malleable, open, fluid and unlimited. These ideas connected as I write, delete, edit, retype and finally ‘fix’ my text in time and space.

Which brings me to the final thought that connected material from Bolter and Wesch together for me. Bolter described electronic writing in terms of word processing where the “writer is thinking and writing in terms of verbal units or topics”. (p. 29) Bolter described these units as pages of information that can be linked and connected hierarchically. Wesch’s video changed the notion of units to smaller components – the single word – that can be linked, tagged and found in the infinite, ethereal world of webbed and electronic text. (This brings the hierarchy down to the small branches of the tree!).

However, while electronic textual reference units have been reduced to single words, they exist without the semantic attachments that go with those words. eg. bank can mean the institution/building or the side of the river. Both will be found if I search my document or the web for the word ‘bank’.

This makes me rethink the statement that ‘every word counts’.
Is print text bound by this notion? Is electronic text remediating this concept?

Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Wesch, M. Information R/evolution found at

Learning Theories Compared

Posted: September 30th, 2011, by HJDeW

1. Which theory offers more for education?

Both theories apply task analysis, task breakdown into component parts, the creation of specific learning goals and measuring student responses through their observable actions.

Social Cognitive Theories, however, provide more to an educational setting since the focus is on the learner rather than the instructor. The learner, in the educational context, engages in activities within a framework of ‘triadic reciprocality’. The social context, modeling and student engagement, through self regulation and self efficacy, all impact learning.

This theory is being applied in current educational settings with a renewed focus on student goal setting, involving students in establishing success criteria and developing self efficacy skills through successful task completion.

One reference in the Shunk article that caught my attention was the concept of teacher’s self-efficacy (p. 127) and how modeling is currently can be provided through a mentor. This is being applied in Ontario through the Ministry of Education program for new teachers called NTIP. (

Also, the reference to ‘collective efficacy’ for teachers brought to mind the current application of professional learning communities that focus on student data and learning outcomes as a way to create collective action relating to improve student learning. These are examples of how Social Cognitive Theories continue to influence educational practices in the classroom.

2. Are some learning tasks better approached by one or the other of these theories?

Rote, repetitive, individualized learning that can be easily broken into component parts, can be scaffolded and lead to mastery of the subject would best be delivered through behaviourist strategies. For example, learning math facts and working on computational mathematics can be effectively taught in a behaviourist fashion. Structured learning environments requiring students to be attentive, closely monitored and sequentially rewarded can include electronic delivery of learning materials based on these theories.

Tasks that require modeling of behaviours and the building of self regulation and self efficacy would be better approached through a social cognitive theory framework. Active learning of physical tasks, (eg. playing tennis, karate, or figure skating) are one type of learning task that best fits this model.

One classroom example would be the teaching of the writing process. This can be modeled by the teacher or significant peer, rehearsed and practiced to ensure retention, apply or transfer the concept to observable behaviours (writing tasks) and can be highly motivating for students when the finished product is showcased or shared.

Modeling, retention, production and motivation are critical components of the Social Cognitive Theory. In online learning environments, there are specific learning applications that follow the parameters of this theory. One that comes to mind is online workplace training modules such as health and safety, human resources and specific skills-based training. The sequence is developed for desired behaviours to be modeled, either through demonstration videos or a photo sequence. Then questions are asked about the information presented. Production of correct answers or feedback is usually a final step to the learning process. These can be motivating if pay or job recognition follows successful completion.

Both theories have a place in the classroom and online learning settings and can be effective if the focus is on best features of the theory based on the needs of the learner and the learning.

Mergel, Brenda. (1998). Instructional Design & Learning Theory. Retrieved Sept. 22, 2011 from

Schunk, D. H. (2008). Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective, pp. 77-129 Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Standridge, M.. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from:

The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat – Capacity Building Series. Professional learning communities-A model for Ontario schools. October 2007. ISSN- 1913-8490. Retrieved Sept. 22, 2011 from

Thinking and thinking ….

Posted: September 30th, 2011, by HJDeW

I have come to a startling discovery. Thinking about thinking makes your head hurt!

I have been working on TWO courses for my MET program – ETEC 512 and ETEC 540. Both have required me to read abundantly, organize, reflect and write. Each course has its unique qualities and characteristics. Both together are making my head hurt.

It has been a month now that I have been working on the Application of Learning Theory and on the Theories and issues surrounding Text, Technology, orality and history. I have compared, contrasted, analyzed, synthesized, reflected and evaluated my own thinking in relation to text, self and the world. Some interesting discoveries and ‘aha’ moments have occurred.

I have now added a page to this e-portfolio to link to the work I am doing in each of the courses. Since one course is predominantly located outside of WebCT, I am able to link to items directly. Other projects and writing will be posted on these pages in chronological order.

Voice of One in the Crowd

Posted: July 11th, 2011, by HJDeW

This week’s topic in ETEC 565 is blogging and the wisdom of the crowd. I reflected, read and came across a wealth of voices in the crowd, each one sharing something important about the topic of blogging in educational settings.

Here is my response:

I came across this blog post in my wanderings and had to bring it into this discussion.

I have read material from Will Richardson in the past but think that I will put this one on my RSS feed (now that I have one).

This particular blog post, although done in 2004, is very relevant to our discourse here.

The focus of the conversation was on the ultimate purpose and passion that true bloggers and blogging require. Unless there is that burning need to express a thought, opinion, idea or concept, the blog and blogger are doomed to failure. Will quotes Stephen Downes when he asks the question – Where is the locus of blogging? is it with the students or is it with the teacher?

For our case study this week, I would say the locus of blogging is with the teacher creating a contrived circumstance to provide a means for students to write in a public forum for the sake of sharing their choices publicly. For many of the other educational blogs listed in the ‘Links to School Bloggers’, again, it is contrived for the sake of the exercise. Once the exercise is over, the blog is dropped.

To be true to the nature of blogging, it needs to become a passionate endeavour of sustained energy with depth and breadth to the topic of discourse. Would my personal blog fit into that category? Probably not. Maybe not yet. Will my words echo in the blogospher with the likes of
Will Richardson, (;
Stephen Downes (;
Seth Godin (
Steve Hargadon ( or even
Chris Kennedy (
Probably not. But that doesn’t mean my words shouldn’t be publicly published with passion and penache! (try that one 3 times quickly 🙂

That can also be said for our students. Those who feel strongly about a topic or interest. That’s where they pick up the pen and begin to write. As found in the Downes article “Writers will write because they can’t not write.” (Bloggers will blog because they can’t not blog.) Their voice will shout out through their words and, like the ones from the ‘fish bowl’ be celebrated for their contribution. The marks and grades, at that point, would be a secondary consideration.

Another great posting about educational blogging also comes from Will Richardson (

What we’re doing when we blog written by Meg Hourihan is another interesting link to review – published through the O’Reily Web Development Center (

So the voice of one can make a difference in the crowd. It’s linking those voices together that leads you to the ones you want to listen to, and that will lead to my next post – It’s All About the Tags!

Interesting HTML

Posted: June 5th, 2011, by HJDeW

Here is some html code I discovered at There are a few interesting ones, but this one really caught my eye. The animated image of the dog will respond to the items at the bottom of the screen. Try throwing some doggie treats or a red ball, and watch what happens. The html coding is complicated to the eye, but the results are eye catching.

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