Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Feed the Hungry While Practicing Your Vocabulary

It's possible at, a website that's been around for just over two months now.
Here's a description of how to play from the website:

  • Click on the answer that best defines the word.
  • If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.
  • For each word you get right, we donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.
  • WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance...

There are 50 difficulty levels in all, although the website admits it's difficult to get above a 48. I played and was surprised to get up to level 42 and donated 300 grains of rice in just a few minutes of play. The rice is paid for by advertisers whose logos appear at the bottom of the game screen. The site was launched on October 7 and only 830 grains of rice were donated. On December 10 this number had grown to 7,786,631,170 grains of rice. I wonder what that translates to in pounds??? What a great way for students to build their vocabulary and feed the world at the same time! Who knows—maybe you can even have a class discussion about world hunger?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How to Block Facebook's Beacon Reporting

This information comers from Check out the site for the visuals connected to the steps. While users can decline sending out the advertising, Facebook does not allow users to opt out of the data collection and behavior monitoring.[3][4] Even if you opt out, click "no thanks", and log out of Facebook, Beacon will still be surreptitiously collecting your web browsing behavior data and sending it to Facebook. [5][6]

For some users of Facebook, this sort of information sharing causes privacy concerns. To make matters worse, there's no way to block Beacon in Internet Explorer (see Tips).[7] Fortunately, an easy-to-install add-on for the Firefox browser can block Beacon from collecting any data about you. Follow these simple steps to ensure your private information remains private.

  1. Install the Firefox browser if you do not already have it.
  2. Install the BlockSite extension from the Mozilla website. You can also use the popular Adblock plus extensions.
    • Scroll down the page and click on the green Install Now button. Firefox may try to block the installation; if so you will see a yellow bar appear at top of your browser window with text "Firefox prevented this site ( from asking you to install software on your computer." If you see this message, click on the Edit Options... button on the right side of the yellow bar and a small pop-out window will appear.

    • Click on the "Allow" button on the pop-out window to add this site to the list of sites you permit to install addons.

    • Close the pop out window by clicking on the red circle in the upper left corner.
    • Click on the green Install Now button on the Mozilla Add-ons web page a second time. Another small window will appear.
    • Click on the blue button in the new window to install the BlockSite extension.
    • Restart Firefox once this extension has been installed to complete the process and enable BlockSite.
  3. Click on the Firefox "Tools" menu and select Add-ons (the tools menu is located at the top of your screen next to the Bookmarks menu).
  4. Click on Extensions, then on Blocksite, and then on "Options" (for Windows) or Preferences (for Mac).

  5. Click on the Add button in the Options/Preferences window.

  6. Type this URL in the small box that pops up "http*://**" and then click on the OK button.

  7. Check Options/Preferences window to make sure that the beacon URL shows in the Locations window.
  8. Click OK at the bottom of the window to complete the block.


  • Be sure to enter the asterisks as shown after http, before the word "facebook" in the URL and after the /. These are wildcards that tell the extension to include different iterations of like https://, etc.
  • Even if you do not opt to share this information on your news feed, the system still collects personal information about you unless you block it.[8]
  • If you decide to opt out, this information will not be shared with your friends. However, you will have to opt out of Beacon's notification system for each company that participates in the system.[9]
  • In Internet Explorer, there's no way to block Facebook Beacon without blocking all content from Facebook.[10]
Opera users can go to Tools > Advanced > Blocked Content and add the same URL given above to block Beacon.[11]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Facebook Violates Privacy

When you buy a book, movie, or gift online, do you want that information automatically shared with everyone you know? Last week, the social networking site Facebook began doing just that. Private purchases made by Facebook users on other sites were posted on Facebook for people's co-workers, friends, and random acquaintances to see. Why? To benefit corporate advertisers.

Facebook says its users can "opt out" of having their private purchases made public. But the link is easy to miss. And even if you do "opt out" for purchases on one site, it doesn't apply to purchases on other sites—you have to keep opting out site by site, week by week, month by month. The obvious solution is to switch to an "opt in" policy, like most other features on Facebook.

Facebook's statement to stressed that because this information is not public, it isn't an invasion of privacy. "Information is shared with a small selection of a user's trusted network of friends, not publicly on the Web or with all Facebook users.” Just because Facebook requires a sign-in doesn’t mean that the information is not available to hundreds of people. There’s no telling how many of one’s “closest” friends have access to this information.

Other sites are looking at Facebook's example to see if they can get away with similar privacy breaches. We need to draw a line in the sand—making clear that the wish lists of corporate advertisers must not come before the basic privacy rights of Internet users.
This fight is about more than just Facebook users. Sites like Facebook are revolutionizing how we communicate and could transform how we organize around issues together in a 21st century democracy. The question is: will corporate advertisers get to write the rules? Or will these new social networks protect our basic rights—including privacy? This is fundamentally about the future of the Internet as a public space.

More Info:
Facebook group "Facebook, stop invading my privacy!"
Facebook description of Beacon feature:
Facebook responds to MoveOn criticism of ad program

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Including our students in the academic conversation

Judith A. Langer argues “that in order to use instructional scaffolding teachers need to ensure that the students have ownership of the learning event.” In his article about Instructional scaffolding, Konrad Glogowski goes on to say that “once the student is engaged as a researcher/writer/thinker, the teacher can focus on conversing with the student.”

Researcher/writer/thinker. Is this how we view our students? Do we give them the respect and authority to initiate, plan and develop their own learning and thinking? Do we see ourselves as “co-participants” in our students’ research and/or learning process? Or are we waiting for the final product to be finished so we can “grade it”. This mind shift is critical if we are to embrace a learner-centered environment.

Our “job” and the tools we use change as our students grow and learn. We, as educators, can no longer rationalize that those who can’t succeed in our classes probably shouldn’t be here. Learning is both social and active. Too often, in higher education it is isolated and passive. We must adapt, challenge and find new ways to engage our students in the academic conversation, so they are involved in the learning process. User-created content such as blogs, wikis and podcasts allow students to develop not only their own voice but also an audience who reads, responds and reflects upon what they write—an authentic context in which their own reading, writing, and critical thinking are valued.

I recently attended a conference sponsored by the Georgia Southern Center for Excellence in Teaching: SoTL Commons. SoTL stands for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. More information about the conference later. However, in relation to what I’ve said earlier about engaging our students as “co-participants” in the learning process, I attended a presentation by Brannon Anderson, Furman University and Bonnie Mullinix, Educational Consultant. The presenters asked us to consider multiple perspectives for identifying methods for identifying and capturing transformative learning as students participated in the River Basins Research Initiative. Brannon indicated that they had self-reported data as well as personal observation that the students did change their perspectives regarding science, fieldwork, and themselves as scientists. We read qualitative data—journals in which the students indicated this change. What caused them to change? In part, we all agreed it was because they were considered colleagues—not just undergraduate students. They were included in the process, in the conversation. In addition, since the research is ongoing, there was no real final product. The process was what was important.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Help Me Solve a Mystery ARG

This week John Farquhar from Western Washington University, posted an email to the DEOS-L listserv about an alternate reality game (ARG) hosted by a team of faculty, librarians, instructional designers and student volunteers. The game, which is totally Internet-based, is designed to provide practice in critical thinking and help develop information literacy skills. The game is targeted to college students yet will be open and promoted to everyone to attract a broad range of participants. The game opened September 21 and is set to end in mid-December. "Help Me Solve A Mystery" ( I'm not sure exactly what information literacies are targeted.

Below is a summary of the experience as well as a description of how students can participate:

William Lewis has a mystery to solve. He found a volume of a 1933 World Book Encyclopedia among his own books. Inside the book was a note with some mysterious and cryptic messages. How did it get there? What does it mean? And, where will all of this lead? Join William's mystery and expect to uncover new mysteries and puzzles throughout the fall.

Participate in the online forum or create your own blog of your experience. Use the online tools to:
1) describe search strategies that successfully locate additional clues
2) critically examine the clues, documents and other sources of information
3) guide other participants to successfully search for and critically examine information. Perhaps you'll
make new friends and learn new things.

I know very little about the entire concept behind alternate reality games, but I am interested in knowing more about what they hope to teach and how it would happen. I have looked at the site. It looks interesting. However, since I do not play these kinds of games on a regular basis, I'm not sure how I would incorporate it into my classroom. I'm not sure what they are asking/expecting the students to do. Does this game operate similar to a scavenger hunt? Should the students post suggestions on how to decode the cryptic page? Should they pose questions for others to answer? I am assuming that additional clues will be found or supplied by the game hosts. Or do the students provide additional clues?

If anyone can tell me more about the project, let me know. John indicated that since the project is just getting started, now is the time to get in on the fun. I would love to see how my Developmental Reading students could use this project.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Interaction Economy meets Interactive Education?

In searching for information on personalized homepages today, I came across the following information on Tim Leberecht's blog iPlot: According to a McKinsey & Company study of US economic activity, "Raising the productivity of employees whose jobs can’t be automated is the next big performance challenge." The study argues that "as more companies come to specialize in core activities and outsource the rest, they have greater need for workers who can interact with co-workers, partners, and vendors," supported by highly personalized organizing and communication tools. 40 percent of labor activity, says McKinsey, comes not from making things or from traditional transactions but from what the consultancy calls the "Interaction Economy," which it defines as the "searching, coordinating, and monitoring required to exchange good[s] or services."

Think of how this impacts higher education! It boggles the mind. The whole purpose of education must change. It's not about defining a set body of knowledge that every learned individual must know. It is more about how we enable students to efficiently/effectively access information and collaborate in solving problems. The traditional behaviorist model worked for the industrial age, but today's service-driven economy requires more. Students must be allowed and encouraged to create their own meanings--based on their experiences and interactions with others. We also need to make sure that they have a wide variety of experiences--exposure to alternative ways of thinking and approaching problems. I am reminded of Taco Bell's slogan "Think outside the bun" and now Wendy's new promotion which suggests that just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean that it is right. Just because this was the way you or your parents were taught doesn't mean that it is the "right way" or only way to teach/learn.

Higher education (especially the 4-year institutions) has been the bastion of tradition--changing slowly. The technical schools and 2-year institutions have seen the need to change to meet the needs of their student population. Most adopted technology in teaching and learning years ago, offering online programs (not just online courses). 4-years institutions held out--sticking to chalk or dry erase markers and the lecture model. The professor was hired for his/her content knowledge, right? Then it is up to him/her to pass on that knowledge to students passively waiting to receive it. The problem comes when the students are passive--learning is active/interactive. Students must be involved in the process. Web 2.0's user-created content tools (blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, etc.) allow that interaction--in a public sphere. No longer must students create, synthesize, and produce for just the instructor or classroom. Instead, their ideas can go out into cyberspace for others to read, comment, and digest. There is an authenticity to this kind of publication.

CAVEAT: This also means that we, as instructors, can no longer "control" what and how our students learn. How does this affect assessment--what exactly are we assessing, then?
I'm still working on getting more stuff on the blog. As I mentioned in the blog, I'm trying to get a Faculty Learning Community centered around technology going. Time has been the greatest barrier--both in getting the FLC going and in blogging. Its frustrating. The FLC falls into my KAM I and KAM III application areas. For KAM I, I am looking at Rogers (Innovation Diffusion Theory) and Hall and Hord's CBAM model. I developed a faculty development proposal based on the faculty technology survey implemented last year and plan to submit it to the Interim President next week. Our Technology FLC discussed that we need a paradigm shift in how our instructors "teach"--to be more student-centered and focused more on learning. This would definitely be an organizational change. As one way of at least exposing the instructors to alternative ways of teaching and learning, we hope to present short 30 minute interactive presentations on adult learning theory, teaching the millennial generation, using technology in the classroom, Web 2.0 tools, etc. As Rogers indicates, they have to be aware of the innovation first and then begin to see its relevance. With a graying faculty, we're chipping away a little at a time.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Best Laid Plans and Good Intentions

One of my favorite sayings is that sometimes life interferes with life. We have good intentions. We really want to accomplish our goals. However, something always seems to get in the way. Since the beginning of the semester, I have intended to go to the gym and work out. I know I need to do this. I have even encouraged my students to build time into their schedules to exercise at least 15-20 minutes a day. However, there always seems to be something that I need to do during that time period. Research has shown that those people who exercise have just as crazy lives as those who do not. How then do I motivate myself to go?

I am finding the dilemma true in our Technology FLC. We developed the Blackboard component so those who were unable to meet on a regular basis could still interact with others in the team. To date, only three out of the eleven have even logged in and reviewed some of the resources. We agreed that we would create our own blogs so we could experience that activity from the student's perspective.
We are to discuss this process and how to incorporate blogging in our teaching practices at our next meeting. Only one other faculty member has created her blog. When we signed up to participate in this endeavor, we all recognized that we needed to incorporate technology into our teaching practices. We all recognized that Web 2.0 tools are what are being used by cutting-edge teachers to reach their students. Just like I know that I need to exercise--So, how do we commit to spending that extra time? I don't know what the answer is.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Finding Time for Faculty Development

Time is listed as one of the major barriers to effective faculty development initiatives in several studies I have read. That is definitely true here! Our Technology Faculty Learning Community is having trouble finding a time when all of us can meet. Our 11:00 on Friday spot has been hijacked, so we set up 4:00 on Thursdays. Despite good intentions, only four of us were able to make the meeting this week. We have yet to meet with three who have expressed interest. Knowing that time would be a problem, we initially decided to also create a Technology FLC "course" in our Blackboard CMS. Our thought was that we would meet once or twice a month and then communicate online in between. It may be that the online discussion may form the bulk of our discussions. We did decide to hold the Thursday at 4:00 period open every week. Those who are able to meet can do so. I will facilitate the discussion. The face to face discussions will not necessarily be used to "present" information unless we decide to. Those who cannot meet on Thursdays have the opportunity to participate in the online discussions and take advantage of the resources, links, etc. located there. Time can also be a problem here as we must be committed to checking into to Blackboard on a regular basis. If we to truly develop into a learning community, then we must be willing to commit a piece of ourselves (time included) to this project.

We talked about needing a paradigm shift on Thursday. We have the opportunity to spearhead that shift in thinking (and doing). Several of us indicated that our students' technology literacy is often limited to gadgetry--mobile phones, IM, MP3 players. They use the web for socializing--FaceBook or MySpace--or shopping. However, there is so much more available to them (and to us, as teachers). Technology changes to quickly--it reminds me of the fashion world. Purple is in; pink is out. We are digital immigrants, those of us not born into today's technological world but at some later point in our lives became fascinated with it, adopted it, and use it. The importance in making this distinction, as Marc Prensky points out, is that like all immigrants, some learn better, quicker, more efficiently than others. We will always keep a foot in the past--our educational system was okay for us.... However, that educational system was not designed for today's digital natives. Technology has caused a "singularity," as Prensky notes, an event that changes things so fundamentally that there is no going back. As educators, we must embrace this change.

The first step in embracing that change was that we all agreed to explore the world of Web 2.0. As per the 2007 Horizon Report, user-created content and social networking are already established on many campuses and, therefore, will have the most immediate impact on teaching and learning. Check out Vicki Davis' classroom project entitled the Horizon Project based on a study of the Report. Here are two videos on the Horizon Report from her site. Our FLC decided to start with blogs--all of us are to create our own blog. We are then going to research how blogs are being used in higher education classrooms.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Faculty Learning Communities--Faculty development option

We are in the midst of organizational change where I work with the retirement of our President of thirteen years and the Interim Presidency of our Provost. Change for the sake of change is not good, but as a catalyst for improvement and development, it is powerful. As part of that change is a re-evaluation of how we, as a faculty, can work together to improve our teaching practices and thus improve the college. The Interim President is promoting a paradigm shift to a more student-centered learning environment, integrating technology as learning tools and resources. This change provides a wonderful backdrop for my KAM I (Social Change in Educational Technology in Higher Education) studies.

Rogers’ (1995) model for adoption and diffusion of innovation classifies adopters of innovations in five categories, they are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. In the early stages of faculty development at --- College, most faculty were innovators or early adopters with high intrinsic motivation, computer technical skills, and a desire to teach using technology. In light of this, the primary focus with faculty was to provide training on the course tools and suggested applications leading toward success. This typically occurred in a computer laboratory with a small group of interested faculty. A few individualized sessions were also provided for support and follow-through with the training provided in the group session at the request of individual faculty members. However, other than the initial introductory face-to-face workshops offered by the Blackboard Administrator three years ago, no ongoing faculty training program exists to prepare faculty to develop their technological skills, to convert their courses to online, to use Blackboard efficiently or to incorporate technology into their teaching practices.

A holistic approach to supporting users in each of these stages is essential. As the late majority faculty are being “pushed” to integrate technology, the need to provide training and support in addition to technical training has become apparent. While large group, workshop-based training was sufficient for early adopters as an introduction to developing online or web-enhanced courses, it does not provide the detailed assistance necessary for the late majority. A campus-wide approach would allow for dialogue among faculty across all disciplines about best practices in technology integration, whereas "just-in-time," personalized support at the department/division level would enable faculty to adopt technology more seamlessly. I have proposed the development of faculty learning communities as a faculty development option to provide training and support as faculty endeavor to transform their teaching practices. Specifically, I have initiated a technology FLC--and hope to encourage other faculty to develop additional FLCs to address other needs such as retention, meeting the needs of the NET Generation, creating multi-disciplinary courses, etc.

"A faculty learning community (FLC) is a group of trans-disciplinary faculty, graduate students and professional staff group of size 6-15 or more (8 to 12 is the recommended size) engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, transdisciplinarity, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and community building" (Cox, 2004).

We had our initial meeting today. As a result of our brainstorm and discussion, the following cognitive goals were suggested:
1) develop expertise in accessing and utilizing online resources and tutorials;
2) broaden application of a variety of teaching strategies in order to better address student retention and persistence--including different learning styles, generational learning differences, student motivation, lack of technology skills as well as supporting under-prepared, disabled, and returning adult learners;
3) increase instructional technology competencies in the use of media, software, hardware, and Web 2.0 tools to enhance learning;
4) increase use of technology to streamline course administration and management duties such as record-keeping, attendance, gradebooks, and resource management.

Attitudinal goals include:
1) develop a culture of excitement and enthusiasm among participants for ongoing learning and self-improvement;
2) foster a collegial atmosphere among faculty;
3) encourage and support a community of practice (learners) willing to share expertise and experience.

Since one of the goals is to encourage the use of technology to streamline course administration and management, participants agreed to work together in a hybrid model. This model would allow collaboration beyond our abilities to meet together face-to-face as well as a means to manage our resources. We all agreed that there are numerous ways to approach our learning endeavor this year. We are to rank the following topics prior to our next session and determine a specific project or course in which to apply what we learn.

Potential topics for discussion

Adult Learning Theory
  • Andragogy
  • Transformative Learning
  • Social Learning
  • Constructivism
  • Brain-Based learning
Using Web 2.0 Tools
  • Podcasting
  • Wikis
  • Blogs
  • YouTube
  • Bookmarking tools such as
  • Slideshare
  • Collaboration such as Facebook, Stikipad
Integrating technology activities into teaching practices—beyond PowerPoint
  • Video/DVDs
  • Virtual Fieldtrips
  • Webpage evaluations
  • WebQuests
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Research activities
  • Reference documentation such as EasyBib
  • Note-taking/Outlining
  • Online Flashcards
  • Mind mapping/Concept maps/flow charts (using Inspiration)
Designing online learning environments
  • Web-enhanced/hybrid model
  • Synchronous vs. Asynchronous communication
  • Best practices for facilitating online discussions
  • Content development for the web
  • PDF Conversion of files
  • Organizing course content
  • Developing class units
  • Blackboard Basics
  • Advanced Blackboard
  • Elluminate
Alternative and Authentic Assessments
  • Online Assessments
  • Project-Based learning
  • Student Response Systems
  • E-Portfolios
  • Self-direction and Learning Contracts

Building Faculty Learning Communities (Vol 97)
Jossey-Bass series, New Directions for Teaching and Learning

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Podcasting--basic equipment

I have been interested in podcasting as a way to meet the needs of my auditory learners--especially in a totally online environment. I researched a variety of digital voice recorders, microphone headsets, and lavalieres using the reviews on,, and other blogs. I currently use a Plantronics headset (not sure what model). It sits easily on my head, but the sound is awful--complete with hisses and outside noise--no matter how I adjust the position of the microphone and the sound quality. In addition, it records in mono, which leaves it sounding a little tinny.

The digital voice recorder I've decided to buy is the Olympus WS-300M 256 MB Digital Voice Recorder and Music Player. It's about the same size as a 25-piece pack of gum. Two other selling points were the built in MP3 player, which holds about 66 songs and the USB connectivity. Olympus also incorporates noise-cancelling technology. It runs for about 15 hours on 1 AAA battery. Amazon's price is only $78.82. The Olympus WS-320M 1 GB Digital Voice Recorder and Music Player has similar features except that it can record up to 266 songs--at a price of $124.77. The purists may hedge on the inclusion of the MP3 player as unnecessary; however, I don't currently have an iPod; therefore, being able to have just a few of my favorite songs is better than having to carry separate CDs everywhere.

I decided to go ahead and buy the Olympus ME-15 (clip) microphone since I also plan to record my workshops and lectures. I wanted to make sure that I had a clear sound. The microphone is also UPC. It's not a bad price for $21.99.

I'm looking the Plantronics DSP-400 Digitally-Enhanced USB Foldable Stereo Headset and Software for $44.98. Several reviews indicate that the headset works well for voice recording (i.e. Skype and Dragonspeak). It is foldable, stereo, USB, and noise-cancelling. One drawback mentioned often is that the long cord and the DSB component integrated into the cord. I'm not sure of it's function--but since I primarily plan on using the headset in my office, I don't think the drawbacks will outweigh the sound quality and convenience.

Friday, July 20, 2007

WebCT Frustrations

I've just started a course entitled Advanced Technologies for Distance Education offered by West Georgia University. The University System of Georgia has now placed all their distance education programs under one roof--WebCT Vista. This is my first time using this platform, and I must admit that I have found it very frustrating. To begin with, WebCT Vista only works with certain JAVA runtime environments as well as certain browser versions--neither of which I was using. In fact, my JAVA versions were more recent. So I spent several hours trying to configure my applications to work with WebCT. Now the Browser Check indicates I have everything installed correctly, but I can't access the HTML Creator--definitely a feature that I would find useful in order to enhance my postings.

Our first assignment had us use HTML code to create an enhanced posting and discuss why knowing HTML could be useful. I must admit that knowing HTML can prove to be very practical. First, in my experience with using Microsoft Publisher to create a webpage, Publisher bloats the HTML code—adding unnecessary code. Remember--every extra line makes your page just that tiny bit slower to load - and all those fractions of a second add up! Many parts of the world are still using dial-up.

Learning HTML can widen your scope - you can look at your code, and understand what it is doing. Making a change to your page will be much easier. Moving parts of your page around can sometimes simply be a matter of moving that section of code. You won't have a lot of extra code that isn't doing anything - and who wants to type more than they have to? So your pages will be quicker to load.

If you want to test your code, try You can go to his main page for easy HTML tips.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

adopting a new innovation--models for change

A number of factors interact to influence the diffusion of an innovation. Diffusion research, in its simplest form, investigates how these major factors, and a multitude of other factors, interact to facilitate or impede the adoption of a specific product or practice among members of a particular adopter group. Rogers and Hord and Hall offer two models which describe how people develop as they learn about an innovation and the stages of that process. In Managing Technological Change, Tony Bates provides practical, systematic strategies for creating the new, technologically competitive academic organization. These theorists will form the foundation for my KAM I research into how to effectively implement technological change from the viewpoint of effective faculty development programming.

Breadth Objectives

  • Compare and contrast views of these theorists regarding social change and how it occurs.
  • Analyze how these theorists indicate what the barriers to social change are and how to overcome them.
  • Compare and contrast how these theorists explain how social change occurs in the education system.
  • Analyze how these theorists effect social change through the integration of technology in education.

Breadth Resources:

Bates, A.W. (2000). Managing technological change: strategies for college and university leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hall, G.E. & Hord, S.M. (2001). Implementing Change: Patterns, Principles, and Potholes. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hord, S., Rutherford, W. L., Huling-Austin, L., & Hall, G. E. (2003). Taking Charge of Change, (3rd ed.) Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 1998.

Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York: The Free Press

Friday, July 13, 2007

Diffusion of Innovations

Educational institutions, not only at the primary and secondary levels but also in higher education, have invested significant amounts of time and money in educational technologies. Although the number of teachers adopting these technologies for use in their classrooms and in delivering courses/information online has been increasing, there still remains a large number who are reluctant to adopt them. Colleges and universities are inconsistent in their positions. Whereas many institutions are beginning to jump on the online learning bandwagon, many instructors still prefer face-to-face lecture mode in the classroom. Technology holds great potential for enhancing teaching; however, many administrators are left searching for effective ways to promote technology’s use to expand instructional methods. Instructors must be willing and able to use these tools.

In 1962, Everett M. Rogers summarized 405 research studies and published the book Diffusion of Innovations, formally defining diffusion of innovation theory. Diffusion is “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system" and innovation as "an idea, practice, or project that is perceived as new by individuals or their unit of adoption" (pp. 10-11). Rogers based his diffusion of innovations theory on recognized theories in sociology, psychology, and communications.

According to Rogers, individuals within an organization do not adopt an innovation at the same time. Instead, they adopt over a sequence of time; therefore, individuals can be classified into adopter categories on the basis on when they first begin using an idea. Rogers theorized that innovations would spread through society in an S curve, as the early adopters use an innovation first, followed by the majority, until a technology or innovation becomes commonly used and accepted. He indicated that adopters of any new innovation or idea could be categorized as innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and laggards (16%), based on a bell curve. Butler and Sellbom (2001) indicate that the rate of adoption follows a cumulative pattern, starting low and increasing until about half the population has adopted the innovation. Diffusion then decreases, eventually approaching zero, as nearly everyone has adopted the technology.

According to Rogers, adopters of all categories go through a five-stage process. First, the adopter is exposed to the innovation and gains knowledge and understanding. Then either individually or with the help of others, the adopter is persuaded to form a positive viewpoint about the innovation. Next, the adopter decides to try it out. If the innovation works, the adopter implements it, putting it to appropriate uses. Finally, the adopter’s experience confirms his/her decision and he/she continues to benefit from its use.

Where are you? Where am I? Well, it depends. Mostly, it depends on the group you're putting me in. In 1986, when I first started using a computer (an Apple IIgs) and then moved to a Mac, I was probably an innovator. I kept pushing to see how I could better use this new tool. In 1999, I earned my M.Ed. Through that program, I had been exposed to the Internet, to HyperCard, to Cable in the Classroom. The only Internet connection was in the College of Education’s main office (dial-up, of course). I was hooked.

I am constantly looking for ways to create a constructivist classroom—to help my students be critical thinkers. At South Aiken High School in 2000, there were only 15 computers located in the library available for teachers to bring their students in to use. I had at least 30 students in each class. Students worked in groups to complete WebQuests—a strategy I had found on one of my surfing adventures. Bernie Dodge had only coined that term in 1995. Because I am constantly surfing the web and open to new technological innovations, I am probably often an innovator (where I am) or an early adopter (in the population in general). My Director told me the other day that I was in the 21st century and many of the other teachers and staff where I work are still in the Stone Age. I see my job as bringing them at least into the 20th century. There are so many possibilities!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Final KAM II Submitted

Today is a banner day. I submitted my final draft of KAM II to Walden University.

KAM II study refers to human growth and development. My study focuses on the relationship between constructivist adult learning theories and online learning, especially as the theories relate to the development of authentic, student-centered, and collaborative online learning environments.

For the Breadth component of this KAM, self-directed learning, transformative learning, situated learning, and communities of practice provide the theoretical framework for exploring psychological, sociological, and cultural aspects of adult development through the lifespan. The emphasis is on major adult development theorists including: Malcolm Knowles, Jack Mezirow, and Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. Malcolm Knowles is known as the “father of adult learning.” His seminal works define his adult learning theory, “andragogy.” According to Mezirow, learning by reflecting critically on one’s own experiences, assumptions, beliefs, feelings, and mental perspectives in order to develop new or revised interpretations is the fundamental aim of adult education. Instructional models based on the social constructivist perspective also stress the need for collaboration among learners and with practitioners in the society (Lave & Wenger, 1991).

Learning is a social and interpretive activity in which several members collaboratively construct their own understandings of information, objects, and events to explain their surroundings. It is the result of active engagement in and with the world joined with reflections upon the relationship between ideas, actions, and outcomes. Collaborative activity presents an opportunity for reflection and interpretation of events by providing a shared context for the interpretation of individual experience. Opportunities for creating and sustaining collaborative, reflective learning experiences for a distributed student body are supported by new technological advances in web-based instruction. Online collaborative tools such as discussion forums (whether asynchronous or synchronous) make it possible to carry out group projects as well as foster rich and constructive interactions between students, independent of their location, schedule, or any other distance or time constraint. Research in the Depth section included research articles detailing how instructors can facilitate interactivity and collaboration through the use of discussion boards and group problem-solving.

Tutoring is a complex set of behaviors that can most effectively be taught in an environment that provides demonstration of effective techniques, allows for practice in real tutoring situations, and gives opportunities for reflection and discussion. One strategy that holds considerable potential for supporting more open, collaborative, reflective activities is problem-based learning.
Problem-based learning involves teaching through goal-directed activity situated in authentic circumstances. The World Wide Web supports collaborative problem based learning in several ways—wide array of information and resources available, conferencing/discussion board capabilities. Given the various factors which need to be addressed in developing an effective problem-based learning environment, the best blend of problem type, technological environment, and support mechanism is not immediately obvious. The Application portion describes the incorporation of student-centered instruction in the online discussion component of the hybrid tutor training program for the Tutorial and Enrichment Center at where I work.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Tapped In Professional Development Festival

Many of the bloggers I know are writing about the fantastic experience at the recent National Educational Computing Conference (NECC). I learned so much that my head is swimming. There were so many sessions I wanted to attend; I wish I could have cloned myself. Then there were the exhibits...I decided to focus on sessions that could provide information for my dissertation and KAM (Knowledge Area Module) research for Walden--faculty development, technology integration in the classroom, Web 2.0.

In one such session, I was introduced to a professional development community called Tapped In. Tapped In is an online community of K-16 teachers, staff, and researchers engaged in both formal professional development programs and informal collaborative activities with colleagues. Tapped in is set up as a virtual campus, which members occupying buildings and offices. Professional development discussions occur in "rooms." What's great about all this is that it is FREE! I signed on recently and learned that they will be hosting a professional development festival on July 25.

The festival is a day-long event led by volunteer educators who share their expertise and insight while facilitating discussions with members of the Tapped In community. This year’s theme is “Playing to Learn,” featuring ways to enrich the classroom experience with games – playing them, creating them, evaluating them and incorporating them into the curriculum! Please join us for this exiting event! Check out the schedule of events at

While many of the activities at Tapped In seem to be geared toward K-12, I think this environment would be a wonderful way to create faculty learning communities to discuss ways to integrate technology into higher education and to better facilitate online learning. The session I attended at NECC discussed the partnership between NCTAF and three universities who work with their area public schools (University of Washington, University of Memphis, University of Colorado at Denver) on a grant project to increase teacher retention. NCTAF has leased a "virtual building" on the Tapped In site with a floor for each of the partner sites. Within Tapped In, student teachers, new teachers, and Education professors are able to take advantage of professional development opportunities. The sites can also tailor their offerings to the participants' needs.