About jbrookes

I have lived most of my adult life on the west coast of Canada and recently settled in Nelson BC for a couple of years. I seem to itch to travel every few years and I am currently in what would call a mid-life transition where I will leave my job as a Marketing Manager with Selkirk College in Nelson BC and move to Dominical, Costa Rica for a year with my partner in August. He will run a restaurant and I will be providing marketing, PR and social media for the hotel/restaurant to 'earn my keep'. Durning this year, I am looking to complete my Certificate in Online Education, to round out my MBA and Masters in International Marketing with a lens to teaching post secondary education in marketing online while living wherever our latest adventure takes me.

5111 – Wk 3 Best Practices in DL

Web 2.0 Tools Impact on DL Learning Environment

Web 2.0 tools can potentially provide an increased access to knowledge through open educational resources.

Best Practices for DL Practitioners

The principles of online teaching or ‘best practices’ literature are similar to those from face-to-face settings based on the mutual emphasis placed on content area expertise, communication skills, and instructional design. Ones that resonate with me are:

Delivery (teaching and tools)

  1. Encouraging staff-student contact through practices that created an environment for interaction and communication. Stein and Glazer (2003) recommend that interactivity between student and instructor is fundamental to building community in the online environment.
  2. Encouraging active learning with assignments that encourage reflection and required students to relate course content material to their personal lives. This helps motivate student interest and encourage control over their own learning environment and is in line with theories of constructivism and engagement that allow students to choose assignments that are relevant, interesting and useful for them (Kearsley & Schneiderman, l999).
  3. Respecting diverse talents and ways of learning by incorporating various ways to present course material, design assignments and format assessment within an “open atmosphere” for learning. This indicates a genuine regard for the different learning styles of adult students and the “democratization” of the online learning environment. Confirmed by Diaz and Cartnal (l999) an awareness of different learning styles aids in the instructional design and ultimately the retention of students in online courses.
  4. Use engaging, imaginative and flexible tools to engage learners. You want to avoid repackaging traditional content online. Having learners read through their entire course content uploaded online does not embrace the essence of e-learning or stimulate creativity. Instead of repackaging think about using e-learning in an engaging, imaginative and flexible way where learners can benefit from interactive tools such as video, blogging and online discussion.
  5. Use both synchronous and asynchronous activities to engage learners in more collaborative and more reflective activities. The variety of activities that are now possible online makes it possible to create many types of effective learning environments. Sometimes there is nothing better than a real-time interactive brainstorming and sharing discussion; other times the requirement to think, plan, write and summarize is what makes learning most effective for an individual.

Back-end (support and infrastructure)

  1. Provide faculty support services specifically related to teaching via an electronic system and assure appropriate training for faculty who teach using technology. Further, the organization should provide adequate equipment, software and communications to faculty for interaction with students, institutions, and other faculty.
  2. Ensure distributed learning policies of the organization are clear concerning ownership of materials, faculty compensation, copyright issues, and utilization of revenue derived from the creation and production of materials used in distributed learning courses.
  3. Ensure students can access technical support on how to use and troubleshoot technology, in particular readily available technical support for extended hours, quick response time from help desk staff and access to up-to-date and compatible technology/software.
  4. Ensure students can access adequate academic and/or tutorial support services, including assistance with learning strategies and writing skills. While access to academic support services is necessary, the role of instructors was seen as much more critical for distributed students.
  5. Full participation is key to the engagement and enjoyment of learners.

Barriers or issues important in DL/online learning environments

  • DL demands a standard level of hardware and internet connection speeds for both individual users and institutions. Ensuring your organization is ready for the change is essential. It’s important to be upfront and to discuss with staff and learners the disruptions they might experience as well as consider conducting trials before a tool is rolled out on a larger scale.
  • Lack of a clear strategy for the development of e-learning is a real barrier to success. Ideally, a strategy should be mapped out a clear vision of how distributed learning should develop.

Needs Analysis for Proposed DL program in Workplace

An example of creating a distributed learning program in my past workplace is an online training site I created for a marketing team for Selkirk College.

There was not enough time or resource to have all the staff sit through training together so I was intended for each team member to take on their own, in their free time in their schedules.

Target Audience

Marketing and administrative staff for the college who are required to put images on the college website.


I evaluated the various technologies available with our resources for working with the group. The requirements were:

  • Ability to change content quickly and easily by content provider
  • Ability to access content at all hours from both home and at work
  • A resource site for staff to access after the training
  • Easily understood content using various tools such as text, pictures and video
  • Tools to test the learning and provide an evaluation of the skills acquired by the student

Supports Needed For Stakeholders

  • Photoshop software
  • Computer and internet access

Technology of the Week

Diigo…good research tool that can be utilized by instructors to evaluate students’ research and note taking skills. We can observe the research in progress and make comments and notes to the student during the process. It also enables better collaboration on information for any group…you can build a group knowledge repository for your class, where each group member can add and subscribe to it, and browse and search it. They can interact with on-the-page annotations…while reading the same Wikipedia article, and commenting and discussing right on the page. Not too bad.

5111 Wk 2 – Distributed Learning

What am I seeing out there about Distributed Learning?

Distributed Learning is a fairly new term to me…possibly used other terms like online learning, web-based learning, virtual learning, eLearning, open education, distance education and even blended learning (part online/distance and part onsite).  There seem to be various definitions available from various sources…just to name a few.

  • The BC Ministry of Education defines that Distributed Learning (DL) takes place when a student is primarily at a distance from the teacher, whether he/she is at home; or connected to teachers from another learning facility.
  • Learn BC outlines the difference of Distributed Learning from traditional learning is ‘in how courses are delivered – at a distance from the traditional classroom. Many can be completed online, while others use a combination of online and print materials.
  • (M. Ally, 2008) focuses on the learner/learning process in his definition of Distributed Learning is “the use of the Internet to access learning materials; to interact with the content, instructor and other learners; and to obtain support during the learning process, in order to acquire knowledge, to construct personal meaning, and to grow from the learning experience.” 
  • (Matheos & Archer, 2004) base their model on blending a choice of appropriate technologies with aspects of campus-based delivery, open learning systems and distance education. They define a distributed learning environment as a ‘learner-centered approach to education, which integrates a number of technologies to enable opportunities for activities and interaction in both asynchronous and real-time modes’.

Perspective of Personal Interest Regarding Distributed Learning

A perspective I appreciated was From Distance Education to Distributed Learning Thriving Surviving by K Matheos who believes that ‘Distributed learning combines the most advanced forms of distance learning technologies with aspects of conventional, campus-based education. Because the new technology requires radical rethinking about how to administer and use it most effectively, this transformation presents both a great opportunity and a considerable threat to campus-based, research-intensive universities. For specialized distance learning institutions such as Athabasca University, it presents the opportunity to move from their former position on the fringes of higher education into a much more central role.

My education includes a distributed learning model of online and on-campus sessions at Royal Roads University, so I particularly find this opinion interesting. I experienced pushback in the late 1990’s and early 2000 when I finished my schooling, from people who were not convinced of the effectiveness of online or distributed education. To see opinions that this model has moved towards a central role in education today is very satisfying as I believe it is the future for education.

I believe that, as Matheos explains, that ‘For university students, distributed learning is becoming important in order for them to meet their learning goals. It allows them more choice and flexibility along with opportunities to learn new and important communication skills necessary for work in the global networked environment.

Distributed Learning Concept Map

It would appear that DL has a broad definition, and encompasses other commonly used terms like those seen in green above, within its definition.

I found the definition by Matheos & Archer of ‘learner-centered approach to education, which integrates a number of technologies to enable opportunities for activities and interaction in both asynchronous and real-time modes’ resonated with me. I don’t really think my interpretation of DL has changed much during my research but has been enhanced by further understanding it’s components and subtleties.

Potatoes or Potaaaahtos…does it matter?

There is definitely a difference in DL terminology that is linked to different educational organizations and contexts and this could be very confusing. Having a consistent language and definition amongst all the organizations would decrease the lack of transferability amongst the organizations. This could be particularly important in an example where a model of in class and synchronous online, in my opinion, is much superior to simply asynchronous, individual online learning.

Other student posts I chose to comment in…
As my personal situation has my work delayed beyond the course deadline, I will be asynchronously commenting on my fellow students. Here are the two comments I submitted:

W3 5101 – 3.1 Networked Learning Discussion (Brennan vs Downes)

My reactions to the critique of MOOCs (and by extension connectivism) presented by Brennan and the rebuttal offered by Downes is mixed.

Brennan discusses a possible gap in Connectivist thinking, and its expression in cMOOCs with respect to the experience of ‘technology novices’ and unconfident learners in cMOOC environments.

He argues that it is the ‘task of educators to help learners cope with these kinds of situations. You can’t make them learn, but you can certainly make it easier for them to learn’. According to Brennan,  this is done by by nurturing the sense of a competent self and he discusses various ways in which this can be done. What he does say, is that with Connectivist learning…these mechanisms don’t really work, but that you do need teachers one way or another. He presents as well, that to learn in a cMOOC you need to connect and to connect in a cMOOC you need to learn.

Interestingly, Downes notes that in connectivism they recognize that the teacher plays a much smaller role in ‘shaping the story’ than is usually supposed, and much of what the teacher does to ‘shape the story’ actually defeats the ultimate purpose. Downes’ attitude is that the objective of an educational system is to help people do want they want to do, for themselves, rather than a mechanism that gets people to do what we want them to do, for us.

I support the connectivist pedagogy in this regard as I am believe education, or at least higher education, should be more in line with enabling learners to learn what they want to achieve the careers they way. I feel curriculum design can have a flexibility to it that you can choose pieces of the courses that fit your interests (to a certain degree with practical boundaries) to focus your learning on. This requires a certain maturity in understanding that you have to ensure your learning is beneficial and not necessarily whimsical.

This is not something I have experience yet, in my teaching, as I am not teaching at this time. In my role as a Marketing Manger, or online communicator, I have experienced that you have various tools/messages to communicate with people which can be compared to learning. For people to receive your message…essentially, they are learning what you are communicating.

I feel there are some connectivist possibilities underlying my teaching future (online marketing education in post secondary) in that although I will look to ensure connection with my students and guide them through their learning, I feel that if they come to depend on me as an education as the main source of their reassurance and encouragement, they will be ill-prepared. Rather, as in this course, I would look to help them build their Personal Learning Networks to help them go forward.


W3 5101 – Mindmap My Learning Network

Who will help you extend your knowledge and who will impact the course of your informal learning? What resources will support your learning and how will you connect to them?

I am a little nervous going forward this next year as I am learning more about teaching and learning in an online environment. I have just resigned from full time work with a company that has an IT Department and various resources.

Funny, as I am writing this post from a small village in Costa Rica, our internet has crapped out and I am booting/re-booting the router b/c one of our internet (now both apparently) are down. This is quite a challenge as my only resources are to call the internet company, ask the owner of the hotel who lives in Canada etc.

I have a small network of web and IT related friends but not in a position to ask IT help.  I have used the IT help for my web server but that doesn’t solve all my IT needs. I often struggle with WordPress questions that I can’t see to find answers for.

Wk 2 – 5101 Online Teaching Philosophy

I recently put together a draft of my teaching philosophy. As I am new to teaching, it is all in the online context.

What do I believe about teaching and learning?

I am passionate about starting a teaching career in today’s  ‘modern classroom’. I experience great personal satisfaction from both working in and mentoring and teaching marketing and communications. These are radically evolving fields that are experiencing rapid technical advancements that are relevant in today’s commercial world.

I believe learning takes place when students are engaged in the process, motivated by the subject and where possible, having fun. Having fun increases the likelihood of creating memorable experiences and helps to reduce barriers to learning. My approach to teaching is to move away from the ‘sage on the stage’ approach of an expert who simply delivers information to more of a facilitator who brings the ideas to the students and enables their learning and creativity.

I feel everyone needs to keep learning no matter what age. Learning happens everyday, inside and outside of the classroom, at any age. What I will bring to teaching is a desire to connect with others and help them understand what they need to succeed in their field.

What do I want my students to achieve and how?

My role in student learning is helping students not only learn from me but from each other as well. My aim is to ensure every student leaves class with a portfolio of work that they can be proud of, real world experience to draw from, and references from their teammates and real-world clients.

To help my students become successful beyond my classroom, my curriculum will involve students writing research papers, creating strategies & tactical campaigns and giving presentations using contemporary business cases or with local issues. I will focus on all case studies and projects focused on solving practical projects that will help them directly in their careers.

What would I like to try in the future?

The goals I have for my students are to encourage active engagement, open and honest communication along with useful and supportive feedback on projects. Tools I will use for this are collaborative workspaces like Moodle, social media, blogs, online meetings and discussion forums.

How do I know if I am being a good teacher?

A key aspect of being a good teacher is helping connect students to the curriculum and the field. It requires that I enjoy my work and the subjects I am teaching. As well, connecting with your students is an important piece of the learning as it helps students feel understood and appreciated. Being a good teacher requires a balance between engaging with the content and connecting with the students.

My instruction will focus on utilizing online social learning tools both formal and informal, experiential learning directly relevant to today’s business environment and will use strong feedback mechanisms on a daily basis. Good teachers routinely think about and reflect on their classes, their students, their methods, and their materials. Failing to observe what happens in my classes on a daily basis disconnects us from the teaching and learning process as you cannot create connectivity if you’ve disconnected yourself.

Wk 2 5101 – RSS Feeds

I have been using Feeder.co for my RSS feeds. I watch different marketing blogs like marketingpro.com but mostly I have used it in my work capacity to see what is coming up on the two websites I have been managing content on. It pops up what has just been created and then I can go in and evaluate whether they meet style guide standards etc. It has actually shocked some staff that I send them changes before they knew their work was published.

I find that if I put too many sites in there, I don’t go there enough and it piles up too much so I watch the amount of sites I track. As you can see in my screenshot above, I am not going to read 42 new pages…still coming to terms with how best to use this. Not too dissimilar to when I sign up for newsletters etc that are emailed to me weekly that I just end up deleting 95% of the time.


Wk 2 5101 – Edtech Help

I am a little nervous going forward this next year as I am learning more about teaching and learning in an online environment. I have just resigned from full time work with a company that has an IT Department and various resources.

Funny, as I am writing this post from a small village in Costa Rica, our internet has crapped out and I am booting/re-booting the router b/c one of our internet (now both apparently) are down. This is quite a challenge as my only resources are to call the internet company, ask the owner of the hotel who lives in Canada etc.

I have a small network of web and IT related friends but not in a position to ask IT help.  I have used the IT help for my web server but that doesn’t solve all my IT needs. I often struggle with WordPress questions that I can’t see to find answers for.

Wk 1 – Teach them…without textbooks, in teams, about real life situations using the technology


I am looking to teach marketing & communications in higher education to both digital natives and digital immigrants. As a digital immigrant myself (with little to no accent in my humble opinion), I feel it is the responsibility of ‘today’s marketers’ no matter what their age, to keep up on their skills and grasp of technology.

I believe that my curriculum development will be targeted toward the rapid pace and higher need for engagement and stimulation of the Natives, which will likely be a challenge for the Immigrants.

The medium I expect to use will be through blogs, podcasts and videos both in a distributed and real time manner. There will be a minimum use of print textbooks and the use of subject experts where possible.

The hands on experience would be to use the tools of the trade from social media, online sites, blogs/wikis etc in a team situation for real clients. As some of the Immigrants will have some of this experience already, this may help them as they struggle to use the new medium or applications.

Some excellent tips from Teaching Digital Marketing to the Next Generation of Practitioners by  below:

1. Just because the students consider themselves “digital natives” doesn’t mean they know anything useful about the internet and how it works. Set up your teaching plan assuming you will need to educate your students on the basics. While all of them are outfitted with lots of devices, few of them have done anything but consume online content. They lack a real sense of the inner workings of the online environment and many have an over-confident view of their internet knowledge. A good grounding in the internet (infrastructure, data use, current tools and how they function, demographics, devices/delivery systems, SEO, social gaming, location-based marketing, etc) is essential if you want to prepare your students for successful social media careers.

2. Avoid text books. Use the content of the medium – blogs, podcasts, videos, etc. It helps familiarize your students with the environment and the thought leaders in the field. It also emphasizes the changeable nature of this world. Teaching your students to stay current is an essential part of their preparation.

3. Avoid focusing solely on the tools; emphasize the functions in relation to the desired business objectives. Everything in this field is moving at the speed of light. Tools come and go quickly…you will become acutely aware of the industry changes from semester to semester driven by device design, application innovation and creative use of the tools. Leave yourself open to take advantage of whatever is “hot” at the moment so your students get used to assessing new things quickly to determine viability for their business purposes. This is particularly important as early adoption can provide a distinct market advantage for savvy marketers who are comfortable taking educated risks.

4. Recruit a team. The world of digital marketing is about collaboration and community. The field is SO diverse that having a “team” of experts allows students exposure to many different points of view and a higher degree of expert knowledge; adding a much richer learning experience for everyone. This “collaboration” helps students build their professional network and it helps the practitioners scout talent and get fresh ideas. It also prepares students to examine their own discipline preferences as they look for jobs.

5. Apply the learning to real “clients”. Experimentation is an important component to social media marketing but it doesn’t have to be “theoretical”. There are plenty of small businesses willing to partner with your class in exchange for help designing digital marketing strategies for their organizations. When students work with real business people faced with real market challenges, it’s exciting. Tie the work to business objectives and budget requirements and it adds value to your business clients as well. This is a great way to build resume material and intern/job possibilities for the students while cultivating productive business relationships for you and your institutions.

Wk 1: 5101 Technology Assessment

Part 1: Technology Skills

  • Use terminology related to computers and technology appropriately in written and oral communications. (3/5)
  • Describe and implement basic troubleshooting techniques for computer systems with related peripheral devices. (3/5)
  • Describe and implement basic troubleshooting techniques for computer systems related to connecting to a network, including the Internet. (2/5)
  • Describe and implement basic troubleshooting techniques for configuring a computer to server such as Web servers, email servers, and FTP servers. (2/5)
  • Select and use desktop and online applications effectively in teaching. (3/5)

Part 2: Pedagogical Competencies

  • Promote, support, and model technology-enhanced experiences to support learning. (3/5)
  • Promote, support, and model the use of technology and digital resources in authentic problem solving. (3/5)
  • Promote, support, and model the effective use of technology to find and evaluate digital resources for learning. (3/5)
  • Promote, support and model the ethical and legal use and adaptation of digital resources (copyright and attribution) that have been created by others. (2/5)
  • Promote, support, and model the use of technology for creative and innovative learning. (3/5)
  • Promote, support, and model the use of technology in collaborative learning including knowledge building and the demonstration of learning. (3/5)
  • Promote, support, and model collaborative learning using technology in both face-to-face and online environments. (3/5)
  • Promote, support, and model the use of technology to encourage discussion and interaction around learning. (3/5)
  • Promote, support and model the use of technology to enable self-directed learning. (4/5)
  • Promote, support, and model the use of technology to address different learning styles. (4/5)
  • Use a variety of assessment tools related to both subject specific and technology learning outcomes, and use those assessments for both student evaluation and shaping teaching and learning practices. (2/5)
  • Create assessment rubrics that contain performance criteria related to technology learning outcomes. (2/5)

Part 3: Communications

  • Feel comfortable communicating in writing and have high-quality written communication skills. (5/5)
  • Promote, support, and model appropriate online etiquette and help students identify appropriate and inappropriate online behaviour. (5/5)
  • Promote, support, and model the use of online technologies to help students become more aware of global issues, human issues, cultural differences, and equity. (4/5)
  • Promote, support, and model the use of both synchronous and asynchronous communication tools and learning environments. (5/5)
  • Use technology to communicate with students, educators, parents, and local and global communities. (5/5)

Part 4: Professional Development Activities

  • Identify activities and resources to support regular professional growth related to teaching and learning with technology. (5/5)
  • Continually evaluate and reflect on professional practice to make informed decisions regarding the use of technology in support of student learning. (5/5)
  • Identify and participate in professional organizations and groups that support the field of teaching and learning with technology. (3/5)
  • Stay abreast of current and emerging technologies related to teaching and learning with technology. (4/5)
  • Experiment with current and emerging technologies related to teaching and learning with technology. (4/5)
  • Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others, employing a variety of teaching and learning strategies using technology. (4/5)