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Defensive Mids


Analyzing Scope Creep

The Plan

In a junior high school that serves over 900 students, our administration wanted to find a way to get a consistent teacher contact with the students to guide them through their eighth and ninth grade years.  The goal of the program was to build personal relationships with students so that they would feel comfortable talking to a teacher about their future plans and educational goals.

To achieve this goal, an opportunities/advisory/excel period was created right after 2nd period.  The advisory period, which happens about once a month, has the teacher working with students on their portfolios that include their four year plan, high school and beyond plan, and their work samples.  At the end of the year students present their portfolio to their teacher and parents.

The majority of this extra period is spent using opportunity/excel.  During this time students go to their advisory classroom, check in, and then go to opportunities or excel.  Students are assigned excel if they are failing classes, but if they are clear they can go to opportunities which allows them to go to the commons or gymnasium area to socialize or play games.

Scope Creep

The original goal of the program was to build personal relationship with students so they would feel comfortable talking about their future plans and educational goals.  Somewhere along the line the the opportunity/excel program was implemented alongside the advisory program.  As a teacher it is difficult to switch gears once a month to address the advisory program.

Students are so used to coming into my classroom without any expectations that when they have to stay to work on the advisory materials they are disappointed.  Student disgust with having to stay in the room permeates throughout the lesson.  Although the opportunity/excel period has it’s merits, the advisory program has suffered.

Project Management Implications

The stakeholders still have not addressed this issue because they highly value the opportunity/excel period.  They set out to accomplish one goal, and ended up achieving a different one.

The scope of the project was expanded to the point where the original goal was diminished.  Using a change of scope document to communicate and approve changes with the stakeholder, will help manage the growth of the project.  (Video Program: “Monitoring Projects”)  I would use this document to make sure that the original objectives are fully met.  Realizing that changes to scope can diminish the results in the beginning of the project may have deterred scope creep that happened.

Communicating Effectively

While viewing “The Art of Effective Communication” video, these are the impressions I was left with after reviewing the lessons taught through different modalities. My responses will be analyzing how I understand the tone, changes in interpretation, and content through each modality.

Written Text

There was a definite sense of urgency in the email for Mark to finish up his portion of the project. Timing appears to be critical, and Jane’s work will be directly effected by Mark’s work. This email implies that Mark should have been done with the work already and that Mark is late in getting it to Jane. Jane uses a very sincere writing style and is pleading for the documents to be finished up and given to her.


Again there was a sense of urgency because Jane asked several times for the report to be sent over. Her voice was sincere, but also to the point. I could sense a little bit of frustration in her voice, that did not come across in the email.


It is interesting that when I saw her face to face, I didn’t feel the urgency as strongly as I did through the voicemail and email. Seeing her also made me feel more calm, and probably more responsive to her needs.

Implications for Working with Project Team Members

I found the email was the modality that created the most urgency. In this situation, the email appeared to be the most effective in creating the needed urgency to assure that Mark would do his portion of the work in time for Jane to be able to act upon the data.

Relationships are key in working with other team members, and the face to face communication was the most effective for maintaining a positive working relationship. The voice mail and the email on the other hand were able to create the needed urgency that this work needed to be done.

To create the urgency and maintain a strong working relationship, it would be best to have a face to face conversation about the needs, and then follow up with an email to restate and formalize the needs that were expressed.


Measurement is a difficult subject to address in my eighth and ninth grade courses. When students come into my room 50% of the students know how to measure and 50% of them have no clue. When deciding to address the learning gaps, I decided that there were enough students that didn’t know how to measure so the entire class would participate in the lecture.

During the lecture based lesson, I called for answers and received them quickly from the students who already knew how to measure. Being comfortable with what I was saying and being reaffirmed by quick responses from students, I assumed that the lesson was a success.


After I completed the lesson, students were then expected to know how to measure to a 1/16” accuracy on their projects. I was disappointed to find that about the same number of students still did not know how to measure properly. Looking back at the lesson, I realized that I did not address the needs of the students who did not know how to measure, and my lesson should have been focused on these learners.

Instructional Design to the Rescue

The planning phase is essential to a successful project, and a part of the process is learner analysis. In specifically analyzing the students who did not know how to measure, I would have developed a lesson that would have better met their needs. I could have asked myself and the students with the need what kind of experiences with measurement they have had, how have they been taught to measure in the past, and how they feel about math subjects. By analyzing theses learner more in depth, I could have formulated a better lesson for them.


Since that failure of a lesson, I have approached measurement very differently in my classroom. Although I did not formally run through the learner analysis laid out in ADDIE, (because I didn’t know about it), I did recognize that there had to be a better way of reaching these students.

I ended up having conversations with these students about their learning to determine how to approach the subject. From this knowledge, I was able to build a new approach, that tackles the issue from more than one angle.

New Approaches to Addressing Learning Gaps

Students often don’t want to learn something until they need to know it, so I have put more emphasis in creating attractive projects that students will want to build which also requirethem to know how to measure. With these motivating projects, I now have students who come to me asking how to measure.

Measurement is more easily taught in a one on one or small group setting, where it is easier to check for understanding. As I discover students do not know how to measure, I pull them aside and have honest conversations about their ability. Most admit that they do not know how to measure and then I can take next steps.


Greer, M. (2010). Theprojectmanagementminimalist: JustenoughPMtorockyourprojects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Distance Learning Present and Future

The current view of distance learning is based on skepticism. Overall students have had success with distance learning, and students have had disappointments. I like to look at the contrast to traditional classrooms. In Texas given 100 students who started college courses, 13 of them will graduate with a degree. (Tamar, 2011) In the study, one of the main reasons that students do not graduate with a degree is because, “Life gets in the way.”

Distance education will be able to work around life in a way that the traditional classroom is not able to for the 87% of students who are not able to finish a degree program. Because of this advantage the popularity and usefullnes of distance education is going to flourish in the future. Brick and morter classrooms will have difficulty keeping up with distance learning courses because of financial concerns and it’s rigidity on a schedule. To go to college, a graduating senior more than likely needs to find a place to live, a way to make money, and make time for their education. This is extremely limiting to individuals without financial backing, therefore distance education is a more obtainable goal than going to a brick and mortar university.

Improving Societal Perceptions

As an aspiring instructional designer, I am excited to begin work on projects to improve instructional approaches in new and creative ways, but I do realize that I will not be fully embraced until perceptions change toward my profession and distance learning. As an instructional designer, I am inherently an educator and I believe the best way to change perceptions is to educate people about the benefits of distance learning. When promoting distance learning programs, prospective learners need to be educated about what is expected from a student through the course, the way learning occurs, and how they will meet the learning objectives.

The most important way to improve perceptions is to create rewarding, effecient, and effective learning experiences in distance learning. Through my interviews about distance learning, it was clear that when students were going to look for a place to learn the first thing they would do is research the program online, specifically looking for student feedback. Our culture communicates effectively through the internet about every subject, and instructional designers need to leverage this attribute of our society to improve how distance learning is viewed.

Becoming a Positive Force for Distance Education

As an instructional designer, the number one way that I can move the improve the profession in the eyes of the public is to create consistent, quality, and relevant learning experiences online. Creating these experiences for learners will ensure that they strongly consider distance learning for their future development, and also recommend distance learning to their colleagues, friends, and family. In short, the best way to promote distance learning is to do my job well in every aspect.


Lewin, Tamar (9/27/11) College Graduation Rates are Stagnant Even as Enrollment Rises, a Study Finds The New Yourk Times, Retrieved from

A training manager is changing his face-to-face classroom into a blended course.  (Face-to-Face and Online Learning)  The main reason the course is being changed is to produce more quality in the communication between the trainees.  All the materials will be made available online despite where the learning took place.  Attached is a best practices guide for this trainer based on what I have learned through my Master’s program in Instructional Design and Technology at Walden University.


The Impact of Open Source

Open courses allow students to acquire new knowledge without enrolling in a program or paying tuition. MIT has an entire site dedicated to providing open courses in just about every subject. Having an engineering background I immediately found myself clicking on engineering, mechanical engineering, and finding the course I will be evaluating, Design and Manufacturing 1.

Pre-plan and Design

Although the course appears to introductory, when looking at the lecure notes and activities it quickly becomes apparent that there is a considerable amount of prior knowledge that students need to be successful. “… it is essential to know the nature of the audience.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) Given that there are so many other courses available in these open sites it would be helpful to make a list of prior knowledge or skills that students would need. If there is a course available to help students gain this knowledge they could be hyperlinked to that course.

The layout of the course starts with displaying sections for review; course competition videos, selected lecture notes, projects and examples, assignments and solutions, and exams and solutions. These options lead me to believe that this course was not designed specifically for the online environment, but rather it is part of a web-facilitated course or a hybrid course. The section for selected lecture notes lets me know that there is a lecture portion to the course and I may not be able to grasp all of the content because there may be gaps in the learning.

Does the Course Follow Recommendations for Online Instruction

“… courses previously taught in tradtitional classrooms may need to be retooled.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) The course did not have a readily available syllabus or outline to help the learner understand where the learning activites were going to take them. Providing this information can help students decipher and focus on the important parts of each learning activity. Without a syllabus too much student effort can be expended on irrellevant information. A syllabus would also show the specific learning objectives.

Looking through the learning activities it did encourage interactivity with the content matter, but not with other learner or an instructor. (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) Students were asked through assignements to demonstrate their understanding by using a 3d modeling program to create their solutions. Students could then check their solutions against the answers, which also provided explanations for each step.

To determine the quality of online learning courses it is essential to ask two questions; Is this approach going to work?, and How can I make this better? (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) I do believe that an individual with the appropriate prior knowledge would be able to meet the learning objectives, but the second question is where the online course falls short.

Active Learning

“… the goals and objectives will influence the selection of media.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) It does not appear that a lot of thought was put into what type of media would be most useful for content presentation. Written works with supporting images were the primary means for instruction. Given that the learning activities and formal assessments were all based on using a 3d modeling program to show understanding of concepts, it seems appropriate that a screencast of this program solving a similar problem would be very useful for student review.


MIT (2009) Design and Manufacturing 1 as taught in Spring 2009

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.


Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

I will be discussing the distance learning technologies that best meet the needs of the following example:

Asynchronous Training

In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.

This type of training would benefit from a linear programmed instruction model of online delivery.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)  Organizing the instruction into content that is easily organized into concepts will help ensure that the students will learn all of the material.

Distance Learning Technology

In an asynchrounous environment prerecorded media is going to be very usefull in the learning process.


Video can show employees how to be safe through demonstrations that show proper safety techniques.  These videos can also show what can go wrong when employees are not following the safety guidelines.  Since there have been some accidents at the plant there is the possibility to put testemonials of what went wrong and the consequences for their actions.


To supplement the learning modules, guided safety tours could be taken while using podcasts.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)   Employees would tour the facility while listening to a podcast that guides them through safety concerns.  The podcast could cover general safety, and tool specific safety.  Allowing the learnner to move around, view the actual machines they will be working with and discover safety protocols will reinforce their learning.  Creating “… when new information is presented, it is important that it be as realistic as possible.”  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)

Real World Examples


Shell uses podcasts to spread safety awareness to it’s employees, and as a reassurance to it’s customers.  The first podcast provides 12 safety rules to follow for keeping all staff and contractors safe.  Another podcast describes and encourages employees to be safety leaders within their work environment.  These podcasts provide learning opportunities for employees regardless of their location.


The FDA uses podcast to help educate people about issues of safety while using drugs in varying conditions.  The first podcast is about how Chantix may increase cardiovascular risk in certain patients.  Another podcast describes how abnormal heart rhythms may be associated with use of Zofran.  Some are meant for healthcare professionals and others for general use.

FDA logo

Eric Duffey


Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Previous Knowledge

Through personal experience my understanding of distance learning has changed as I have grown.  Prior to Walden and this course I would have described Distance Learning as learning that occurs away from the teacher.  This is very general and lacks the specifics of how instruction occurs, and who exactly is teaching.  I developed this definition by rationalizing and implying a meaning from the words Distance Education.

Learning Experiences

Viewing the Distance Learning Timeline helped me to further refine my definition for distance learning.  Becoming aware that this type of education had been attempted since the 1800’s made me step back and look at my own definition.  Being a technology native, I automatically had assumed that distance learning only occurred through the use of the Internet.  My definition also did not address the implications of other forms of telecommunications or the fact that people need to interact for learning to occur.  Students must be able to interact with each other, the course materials, and other students in an institutionally based program. (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)

Another interesting divergence concept of Distance Learning that helps me further define it’s meaning is that people are usually taught as individuals and not in groups.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)  Students are constantly interacting directly with their colleagues and/or the teacher and all of this interaction is able to be traced and therefore it is more difficult for a student to go unnoticed in a course.  They will be held more accountable for their learning because more will be required of them.

Revised Definition

Distance learning is institutionally based, separate from the teacher by geography and possibly time, and they use different forms of interactive telecommunications to work with teachers, resources, and other students.  My original definition was vague and general.  This new revised definition adds in important elements of a distance learning environment.  It clarifies that distance learning is institutionally based and separate from self-study.  Finally, the new definition is more accurate because it makes a distinction between and interactive and non-interactive learning environment.

Distance Learning and Beyond

Distance learning has proven to be on the rise.  Students are able to take advantage of a more variety of subject matter while in k-12, pursue higher education degrees on tight schedules, and it is possible to create a more personalized and engaging experience then a traditional classroom.  (Huett, Moller, Foshay, Coleman, 2008)  As distance learning grows in popularity and scope it is going to make the k-12 education system change dramatically.  I can not see how the traditional lecture format classrooms can be successful when I have seen the possibilities that a distance learning course can provide.  This doesn’t mean that traditional classroom will cease to exist but rather that they are going to have to take lessons from distance learning programs to remain relevant and effective.




Multimedia Program: “Distance Learning Timeline Continuum”

This multimedia, interactive timeline chronicles the evolution of distance learning from 1833–2009.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.

I am back!!!

Hello world,
I am starting up my Masters program again and it is time to get back into that blogging mood. Welcome, I hope your stay is enjoyable and informative.

Fellow blogger,
Eric Duffey