Friday, April 29, 2011

Digital Storytelling Project

Well, we’ve finally completed our digital storytelling projects this past week.

The following is a brief description of the assignment:

Digital storytelling incorporates audio, video, and still images as a form of multimedia writing – to tell a story. For this project, you will create a digital story on an instructional topic. Specific guide and tutorials regarding this project will be provided in class.

I know the instructions say our story should be “on an instructional topic”, but this was later amended to include a personal story as well. As I mentioned a few weeks back, I focused on my first experience working abroad an English instructor.

Well, I must say, this project was definitely harder than I thought it was going to be. Well, maybe not hard so much so as time consuming. I think what probably took the most time was recording my story and mixing in the background music (both done using Audacity). Finding the right images also took a bit of time as well. We compiled our stories using Windows Movie Maker and luckily, it didn’t give me too much of a headache. The only downside to the software is that it’s kind of limited in features, but perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to use. Anyway, yet again, another invaluable experience to have. I now hold creators of digital stories in much higher esteem.

You can view my final compilation here: Hostage Crisis - (
My final storyboard and list of resources can be found here: Hostage Crisis (Storyboard & Resources) – (

As usual, would love to hear any comments/feedback anyone would like to share.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Week 12 (April 19 - 25, 2011)

No formal readings this week as our gracious instructor gave us time to wrap up our digital storytelling projects, and start to work on our final term projects.

I’ll be posting my digital story project here later this week and will give more details about the final project next week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Week 11 (April 12 - April 18, 2011)

This week we investigated factors influencing technology integration. I found this to be yet another crucial topic in the field because it covers all the problems teachers are faced with in trying to integrate technology, and how they can deal with them.

We were asked to post on our blog space in Blackboard addressing the following objective/questions:

Identify potential barriers to technology integration to inform your future personal and professional technology integration plans.
What do you identify as your two or three top personal barriers to technology integration?
What are some steps you can take to address these barriers in your time at Towson?

Here is what I posted:

Based on the Ertmer (1999) article, I personally feel that my main problems with technology integration revolve more around first-order (external) barriers than second-order (internal) ones. Then again, my background is in IT and I’m still fairly new to teaching so this could have something to do with it. Anyway, although first-order barriers have been my biggest trial, I don’t mean to give the impression that they have been totally hampering my efforts. At the last institution where I worked, technology tools were pretty much at my disposable as classrooms were well equipped (e.g., each classroom had a computer, projector and SMART Board) so, no complaints from that view point. However, as Ertmer describes, there were other resource constraints I was challenged by.

As the majority of teachers will probably confess, lack of time in order to easily integrate technology has always been an issue for me. Although I was able to integrate technology on several occasions, I admittedly had to go that extra mile which I don’t think many of the teachers I’ve worked with previously are so willing to go. Their reasons vary, but the majority of them probably dealing with second-order barriers such as not seeing any benefit and “unwillingness to change” (Ertmer, 1999, p. 48). Although more work was required on my part, my main motivation was to enhance lessons (Oncu, Delialioglu & Brown, 2008, p. 34). Whereas Oncu et al. (2008) refer to enhancing lessons logistically (reducing time spent) and via content presentation (helping get across abstract concepts) (p.34), my aim was to also engage students more who often showed very little interest in learning.

Ertmer (1999) discusses many good strategies to help teachers deal with issues of time including “using block scheduling” and “reorganizing teaching loads” (p. 56). However, these strategies are really in the hands of administration and therefore, beyond the control of teachers. That being said, one of my goals during my program of study is to try and find ways to re-use technological products (e.g. Web 2.0 tools) in lessons in order to save time. Just as drawing up lessons from scratch requires valuable time, trying to integrate technology as well can entail even more time (especially for one just starting out). Therefore, re-use of technological products, especially ones which are flexible (allow for adaptation and customization), is highly favorable. Hopefully such knowledge will be offered in later classes. If not, I will have to resort to where I tend to get most of my information regarding the field; that is, online presentations and conferences.

Another issue I face in technology integration is knowing when and when not to use technology, and assessing effectiveness. In general, being so convinced of the opportunities technology integration can afford, when faced with instructional situations in the recent past, I’ve always been quick to try and find some technology to integrate into them.
However, as mentioned in the Oncu et al. (2008) research, perhaps this may not be such a good approach as I may end up doing something “that may not necessarily benefit (my) students” (p. 37).

Again, Ertmer (1999) gives some great examples of evaluation strategies for measuring learning processes/outcomes including electronic portfolios (e-portfolios), self-evaluation, and group performance tasks (p. 58). With respect to e-portfolios, I am a huge advocate as I feel they provide an excellent means for students to reflect on, as well as showcase their work. I actually began implementing such a project at my last place job although I unfortunately wasn’t able see it through due to a role shift. However, I could tell that the students enjoyed the initial phase we were able to complete together. Self-evaluation is also very beneficial, providing a means for assessment to go “beyond products to include information about students’ knowledge, skills, dispositions, and attitudes” (Ertmer, 1999, p. 58). I remember completing self-evaluations in an online course I took and they really helped give me a better appreciation for the skills I was learning. Lastly, the group performance task mentioned by Ertmer sounds intense and definitely seems to promote higher-order thinking skills.

Taking all this into account, throughout my program of study, I really hope to build on the strategies given by Ertmer, as well as continue to learn even more effective methods of evaluating student/worker performance. I believe there are courses focused on assessment in the Department of Education which I will look into. Once I learn to get a better feel for assessing effectiveness, I can hopefully in-turn start to realize when it is (not) appropriate to integrate technology. Furthermore, if I can successfully prove with concrete data that technology integration does make a difference in student learning, I am confident this will help a great deal in convincing other teachers dealing with second-order barriers.


Ertmer, P. (1999). Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research & Development, 47(4), 47-61. Retrieved from

Oncu, S., Delialioglu, O., Brown, C. (2008). Critical components for technology integration: How do instructors make decisions? Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 27(1), 19-46. Retrieved from

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week 10 (April 5 - April 11, 2011)

This week we started getting into the nitty-gritty of the instructional design process. The reading we were assigned was a tutorial entitled The Basics of Instructional Design which focused on the Holland Process Model (HPM).

The ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) model is considered to be the base for most other process models used in the field. ADDIE is “cyclical and iterative” as each component follows one after the other and “evaluation is ongoing throughout all stages” (Holland, 2005). The HPM builds upon ADDIE in that it includes a few other important components. An acronym to easily remember the components is DADDIAE (Define, Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Assess and Evaluate). Like ADDIE, the HPM is also cyclical and “evaluation is continuous in all phases” (Holland, 2005).

The following is a brief overview of what takes place during the various phases of the HPM:
Define: Identify the problem and ideal solution.
Analyze: Work with others to determine course content, draft ability statements (to be discussed), review existing materials and identify learning setting and tools.
Design: Draft ability-based objectives (to be discussed), matching assessments (to be discussed) and order of instruction.
Develop: Create student materials and instructor guide, and determine learning events.
Implement: Deliver instruction.
Assess: Review student learning vs. objectives, learner feedback and course content, and suggest any necessary changes.
Evaluate: Continuously question validity of instruction, whether a better approach exists and if learning is taking place (located in center of the HPM to highlight its importance).

After presenting the HPM, the tutorial went on to discuss how to write ability statements (part of the Analysis phase). Holland (2005) states that “ability statements describe what students will be able to do as a result of your instruction.”
A great way to easily remember the components of an ability statement is the following: Ability Statement = Action Verb + Object (or subject content reference) (Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2004, p.114; Norton, 1985, 157). Some examples include: DESIGN instruction, PRESENT material and WRITE lesson plan. A number of verbs that should be avoided are also mentioned because they cannot easily be measured; they include the following: Know, Understand, Feel and Enjoy (Mager, 1984, p. 20).

Ability statements form the basis of the next focus of the tutorial, drafting ability-based objectives. Ability based objectives address “the two most important questions an instructor should ask in planning instruction”:
1. What will my students learn as a result of taking my course?
2. How will I know they have learned?
(Holland, 2005)

Ability-based objectives are separated into two types: formal and informal.

Formal (or terminal) objectives are more detailed than informal ones. They consist of four parts: Conditions + Who + What + Acceptable Performance (Cook, 1977, pp. 18-19: Seels & Glasgow, 1990, pp. 134-141).
The following is an example: Working in teams (conditions), the History students (who) will be able to demonstrate their knowledge, by creating a timeline, of past events (what). To be acceptable, the timeline must include at least five events studied in class, in chronological order.
Informal (or supporting/enabling) objectives provide less detail than formal ones. They consist of (at least) two components used in formal objectives: Conditions (optional) + Who + What
The following is an example: Given background information on X (conditions, optional), the student (who) will write a report summarizing what interested them (what).

Ideally, at the time of writing ability-based objectives, one should come up with matching assessments in order to ensure agreement between the two. Three characteristics of good assessments include:
1. Clearly written directions explaining what the student is supposed to do.
2. An appropriate setting allowing for the student to complete the task.
3. Agreement between the objective and assessment (Dick, Carey, & Carey, 2001, p. 146; Gagné & Briggs, 1979, pp. 219-220; Gagné, Briggs, & Wager, 1992, p. 257; Morrison, Ross, & Kemp, 2004, pp. 270-271).

This last characteristic cannot be stressed enough as problems most often arise here. In order to ensure agreement, it is necessary to focus on the action verb in the ability statement of the objective. For example, if the ability statement requires students to WRITE a report, having an assessment where they EDIT one would be inappropriate.
The following is a sample objective and matching assessment:
Objective: The Drama student will to be able to ACT out a scene at random from the short play read in class.
Assessment: CHOOSE a slip of paper from the box with a scene written on it from the short play read in class. ACT it out for the class.

In conclusion, this tutorial was definitely insightful, to say the least. In my limited past teaching experience, I never knew so much thought could be required in order to create (good) learning objectives. I also appreciate the effort involved in devising matching assessments. I’m sure there have been several past occasions both I and fellow teachers have not properly assessed students thinking that any related tasks to the objectives would suffice. In actuality, it really makes sense to devise assessments at the same time of objectives; it’s probably easier too since it doesn’t require one to go back and try and rethink their thought process. I’m sure all of these tips will be a lot of help in not only completing the final project in this class, but future instructional design scenarios as well.


Cook, M. J. (1977). A classroom guide for the successful teacher: A systematic approach. Columbia, MD: John D. Lucas.

Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. O. (2001). The systematic design of instruction. (5th ed.). New York, NY: Longman.

Gagné, R. M., & Briggs, L. J. (1979). Principles of instructional design. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Gagné, R. M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager, W.W. (1992). Principles of instructional design (4th ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College.

Holland, G. (2005). The Basics of Instructional Design. Retrieved from:

Mager, R. F. (1984). Preparing Instructional Objectives (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Lake.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2004). Designing effective instruction (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Norton, R. E. (1985). DACUM handbook. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University.

Seels, B., & Glasgow, Z. (1990). Exercises in instructional design. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Technology Exploratorium

I also presented my Technology Exploratorium (TE) topic this past week. The TE was a chance for each student to learn about a new instructional technology and present it to the class (reminds of “show and tell” as a kid).

The following is a detailed description of the (two part) assignment:

a) Presentation: Over the course of the semester, each student will be asked to lead a 10-minute presentation on a technology of their choosing. Your presentation should aim to familiarize us with the particular technology, its features, and capabilities, and provide examples of how the technology might be useful in a formal or informal instructional setting. You may wish to include a discussion of the technology within the context of relevant course topics and themes.

b) Wiki Posting: In addition to the presentation, you will post a brief (200 word max) summary of your presentation, your slides, and a link to the technology resource on the Technology Exploratorium wiki. This is due the day of your scheduled presentation.

The tool I chose to explore was called GoAnimate ( It’s a free online tool for easy animation creation. I must admit, it was fun learning about GoAnimate and it really wasn't that hard to use. I just I wish I had more time to play with it. I know the use cases in ESL are endless, but I think it can easily be adapted for use in many other subjects as well (e.g. Language Arts, Social Studies, etc.).

You can see my presentation and wiki posting here: TE - GoAnimate (

As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week 9 (March 29 - April 4, 2011)

No readings this week as our professor is giving us time to work on our digital story projects. We were asked to produce first draft scripts.

For my digital story, I’ve decided to focus on a nerve-racking scenario I encountered during my first experience working abroad as an English Instructor.

Here is the script I drafted: Hostage Crisis (Draft Script) (