Open online courses provide a unique opportunity to examine learner preferences in an environment that removes several pressures associated with traditional learning. This mixed methods study sought to examine the pathways that learners will create for themselves when given the choice between an instructor-directed modality and learner-directed modality. Study participants were first examined based on their levels of self-regulated learning. Follow-up qualitative interviews were conducted to examine the choices that participants made, the impact of the course design on those choices, and what role self-regulation played in the process. The resulting analysis revealed that participants desired an overall learning experience that was tailored to personal learning preferences, but that technical and design limitations can create barriers in the learning experience. The results from this research can help shape future instructional design efforts that wish to increase learner agency and choice in the educational process.
Dual-layer MOOCs are an educational framework designed to create customizable modality pathways through a learning experience. The basic premise is to design two framework choices through a course: one that is instructor-centric and the other that is student determined and open. Learners have the option to create their own customized pathway by choosing or combining both modalities as they see fit at any given time in the course. This exploratory mixed-methods study sought to understand the patterns that learners engaged in during a course designed with this pathway framework. The results of the quantitative examination of the course activity are presented, as well as the categories and themes that arose from the qualitative research. The results of the analysis indicate that learners value the ability to choose the pathway that they engage the course in. Additional research is needed to improve the technical and design aspects of the framework.
(co-authored with Justin T. Dellinger, Srecko Joksimovic, Vitomir Kovanovic, and Dragan Gasevic)
Networked technologies have created many learning opportunities and led to new learning models such as massive open online courses (MOOCs). However, MOOCs are an evolving learning model that are even today changing according to learners’ needs. First generation cMOOCs and second generation xMOOCs are now being followed by third generation hybrid MOOCs. In these evolution cycles, there are many experimental practices such as the use of bot-teachers. This study examines and explains hybrid MOOCs and then focuses on the use of bot-teachers within a post-humanist perspective, using teaching presence from the community of inquiry (CoI) and actor-network theory (ANT) as theoretical lenses. The research findings reveal that, while the use of bot-teachers is promising and beneficial in terms of facilitating and increasing discourse, it is ineffective in providing other components of teaching presence such as direct instruction, and/or design and organisation. However, analysis found that the use of bot-teachers is very helpful in increasing interaction within a learning community and can be used as an assistant during the teaching/learning process. Additionally, learners’ positive behaviours indicate that bot-teachers seem to be working in some respects, indicating that they still hold promise as an educational tool.
(co-authored with lead author Aras Bozkurt and Whitney Kilgore)
While the first MOOCs were connectivist in their approach to learning, later versions have expanded to include instructivist structures and structures that blend both theories. From an instructional design standpoint the differences are important. This paper will examine how to analyze the goals of any proposed MOOC to determine what the epistemological focus should be. This will lead to a discussion of types of communication needed—based on analysis of power dynamics—to design accurately within the determined epistemology. The paper also explores later stages of design related to proper communication of the intended power structure or theoretical design as these relate to various activities and expectations in the MOOC.
During several panel presentations at the AECT Annual Convention in Indianapolis in November 2015, concerns with MOOCs were raised. In this paper the authors discuss a few of those concerns of extra interest, and explain the relatively new customizable dual-layer MOOC course design. This new paradigm of MOOC design holds promise to alleviate some of the concerns with open global MOOCs.
(co-authored with Dr. Jenny S. Wakefield)
“Understanding Instructional Designs and Teaching Strategies of Massive Open Online Courses”
This study examined instructional designs and teaching strategies of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), with a focus on the activities and expectations for students to complete the courses. It is hoped that such an examination will help in the development of a course taxonomy which will help learners set better expectations before they take college-level courses. This effort will also provide guidance for instructional design and technology choices beyond MOOC settings in a global learning environment, since emerging designs such as MOOCs are often designed for learners who would otherwise not having an opportunity to learn. Therefore, this taxonomy could be helpful to learners from different cultures, due to differences in language backgrounds and cultural experiences of learning.
(co-authored with Dr. Lin Lin)
“Lessons Learned While Designing and Implementing a Multiple Pathways xMOOC + cMOOC”
While most Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are typically divided into xMOOCs and cMOOCs, a few instructors are already combining the two paradigms. This paper will discuss the issues surrounding the design and implementation of the edX Data, Analytics and Learning course. This course combined the instructivism of xMOOCs with the connectivism of cMOOCs. The goal of this design was to allow students to choose from multiple pathways through the content and activities. This paper focuses on lessons learned as well as how to proceed in shaping the future of this emerging course structure.
(co-authored with Justin T. Dellinger)
“Cyberbullying at a Texas University – A Mixed Methods Approach to Examining Online Aggression”
Cyberbullying is characterized by utilizing digital technology repeatedly to purposefully send information about another person to inflict harm. The objective of this mixed-methods study was to identify the prevalence for victimization and bullying behaviors, as well as to examine undergraduate students’ perceptions and experiences with cyberbullying.
(assisted lead author Dr. Katie Crosslin)
“Social Interaction and Peer Mentorship at Universities in a Post-Course Future”
While the predictions of the death of the University are premature and mostly unfounded, one of the foundational units of learning at universities – the course – may be changing. As learning becomes more student-centered, multimedia and interaction are being leveraged in deconstructed open courses to form peer mentorship networks, also known as personal learning networks. This paper will examine how these networks could be an important foundational step in moving towards a thriving student-centered, post-course future at universities. Emerging college systems that leverage personal learning networks based on interaction and multimedia will be examined.
“Leveraging Sociocultural Theory to Create a Mentorship Program for Doctoral Students”
This paper details a proposed doctoral student connections program that is based on sociocultural theory. It is designed to assist new students with starting their educational journey. This program is designed to leverage social interactions, peer mentorship, personal reflection, purposeful planning, and existing resources to assist students in navigating a department’s doctoral program culture.
(co-authored with Jenny S. Wakefield, Phyllis Bennette, and James William Black, III)
“When the Future Finally Arrives: Web 2.0 Becomes Web 3.0”
This chapter examines how the World Wide Web could possibly change over the next 10 years into a concept increasingly being referred to as “Web 3.0,” and how these changes might affect education. It examines how Web 3.0 concepts such as cloud computing, the Semantic Web, and the three-dimensional (3-D) Web are currently being explored and realized. A possible future online learning scenario is also described and analyzed to help visualize these possibilities for education. The author hopes that providing an understanding of and insight into how the Internet and related technologies may continue to develop and evolve in the next several years will help educators be better prepared for the future of online learning.
“Blog or Discussion Board: Which is the Right Tool to Choose?”
Blogs and discussion boards have become important educational tools, both in hybrid courses that mix technology with face-to-face learning as well as in completely online courses. Blogs, a relatively new tool, are sometimes heralded as the savior of education—a way to look “cool” to your students at the same time you are getting them to think critically. Some instructors have even begun using blogs in place of a course management system (CMS). Discussion boards have been around slightly longer and have become fairly standard in online learning for promoting active discussion. Considering that some feel there is really no basic difference between a blog and a discussion board, instructors many wonder if blogs and discussion boards can be used interchangeably or if there is a time and place for each of them.
“Moodle: At the Intersection of Course Management Systems & Social Networking”
This article looks at the pedagogical principles behind Moodle – principles that have been supported by research. Tools that support these principles – such as blogs, wikis, and chat rooms – will also be examined and explained. The article will also look at instructional design and course management issues that can be addressed using the various functions available in Moodle.
I was part of the team that was responsible for brainstorming, creating, writing, and polishing the text for HEALTH EDCO’s curriculum modules. The goal of these modules was to replace textbooks with hands-on, interactive learning lessons. We worked as a team to produce these products, so I had a part in creating all modules. The two that I worked the most on were the Nutrition and the Personal, Community, & Environmental Health modules.
MoodleZine was the official online publication for the Moodle Learning Management System. I wrote an article for their second issue about the differences between Blogs, discussion boards, and journals in Moodle.
U Monthly is a multicultural publication that focuses on the minority community and highlights the positives in the Central Texas community. Their mission is to serve as an informational tool and a link to individuals, organizations, and businesses that are serving and impacting the Central Texas community.