Traditional vs. Authentic Assessment

In general, new technologies and methods bring opportunities and challenges. So, it is logical that changes in education will have the same characteristics. As technologies bring new methods and opportunities to distributed learning there will be new challenges. One such challenge is assessment of distributed learning. There is a trend to move away from traditional assessment towards more authentic assessment. Continue reading

Assessment and Evaluation in Distance Education

Evaluation = The final summative measure or judgment of student performance compared to a standard.
Assessment = Formative measure of the students’ progress in the process of learning.

I can understand the concerns about mandatory, standardized testing but see it as a necessity for many subject areas.  I can understand the need for rigorous standardized testing for high school students, where the requirements are set by the Province. Continue reading

Learning theories for distance education

Online teaching environments are fundamentally different than the traditional face-to-face, brick and mortar schools of yesterday, so it is interesting to apply the “old” learning theories to the new methods and opportunities of distance education.  I see opportunity in new online technologies that allow for distance education to be superior, not just equivalent to, existing face-to-face courses. Continue reading

Learning Theories

I enjoyed looking at the vast assortment of theories on the Learning Theories site and found it difficult to stay focused on theories that I might actually use. When I have time I will look more closely at the motivation theories as this is an area that I find very interesting.
Learning happens in so many ways and situations, life is full of teachable moments, not just in school.  In school there is a wide variety of subjects, each with its own ideal methods for learning. Consider learning languages vs. math vs. welding and its clear that no one theory is going to be ideal.  Add students with different learning styles and it becomes even trickier (distance learning has the potential to present the same material in a variety of ways to accommodate different learning styles).
The 3 learning theories I identify with have to be the paradigms, Behaviorist, Cognitive and Constructionist. As this weeks reading says, “behaviorists’ strategies can be used to teach the what (facts); cognitive strategies can be used to teach the how (processes and principles); and constructivist strategies can be used to teach the why (higher-level thinking that promotes personal meaning, and situated and contextual learning).” (Ally, M. 2008, pg. 1).  I see the what, how and why as equally important and effort should be made to include all these aspects in teaching.  I did not consciously include any of these theories in my own courses because I not heard of them until this term, but I can see aspects of Behaviourism and Cognitivism in my curriculum.
It turns out there is also some connectivist theory in my courses. I have the luxury of teaching in a computer lab and in several of my courses I have the students search the Internet for information needed to complete the assignment. Finding relevant, legitimate information on the Internet is a skill that all students need to become independent, autonomous learners.


Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning. In, Anderson, T.,        (ed) The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed.)

Old and New School Blend

I’m already using online methods in all of my courses and am content with their current state. What I have been thinking about is adding online content to existing courses. At TRU I know of many courses that have no online component.  So I’m proposing a blended or augmented traditional classroom lecture course with online resources instead of a textbook.

The target audience is existing undergrad students whose digital literacy is being underutilized. The technologies to support the learning would be a Blackboard, Moodle or other Learning Management System. If a course currently doesn’t have online content, it’s likely the instructor is unfamiliar with the environment and training is needed. At TRU all of the support and help resources for the instructor already exist.  I foresee the online content to be links to articles, papers, multimedia content videos, photos maybe a discussion board specifically for the online content. Some students may prefer an online discussion to the classroom environment. As with any new content, all technology should be mobile technology friendly to maximize the flexibility for the students.

There are several advantages and motivations for this program:

  1. The students would benefit immediately from the cost savings of not having to purchase expensive text books.
  2. The use of mature, existing technology and proven DL methods.
  3. The courses are not being fixed, but improved and at least initially there is the proverbial “low hanging fruit”.
  4. Online content just needs to be assembled and maintained, the instructor can still use their existing assignments, gradebook etc.
  5. Relatively low cost as all of the support infrastructure for the students and instructor already exist.