Saturday, June 1, 2013


As our semester comes to a close, I am reminded of the types of learners that flock to our campus and some who are preparing for graduation. I think about how we prepare the individuals to take on their next stages of development; either to ensure they have the skills to land an entry-level career, or advance in the career for which they are already working.

The land grant mission of our University is to serve the residents of the District of Columbia who are often, working adults. Students enroll in courses and programs to increase their knowledge and advance their skills and abilities to get better jobs, gain access to new careers and provide better lives for the families and communities that they come from. As such, how might we best reach adult learners and reach-out to more who may not be able to pursue a traditional college education?
I propose that online and hybrid courses are but one way to meet the growing demands of an educated workforce and the constituency of working adults seeking advanced credentials. In order to ensure we put forward our best practices in serving our constituents in the online or hybrid environment, we might reflect on the conceptual understandings of teaching and learning. Let us begin with pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy.

Pedagogy typically refers to how the instructor facilitates the learning (the process) where the focus is on what the instructor does (how they design activities and content) as opposed to what the participants do or what they bring to the learning environment - teacher centered (Beich, 2008).

Andragogy is best understood as an adult learning concept popularized by Malcolm Knowles. It is based upon understanding the motivations behind learning. It is noteworthy to point out that the focus is upon the student and their intrinsic desire to create knowledge and an understanding that the instructor facilitates students’ self actualization of their full potential.

Andragogy includes:  
  • Problem centered rather than content centered pedagogy.
  • The consideration of learner experiences (prior knowledge).
  • Experiential learning and reflection.
  • A partnership between the learner and the instructor.
  • Self-directed focus and authenticity.
  • A need to know why one needs to learn something (full disclosure).
In the 1950s European scholars looked for ways to distinguish passive learning from active learning. They settled upon the term andragogy as a way to refer to learning that was engaged and student centered. Malcolm Knowles made distinctions that andragogy focused upon adult education whereas pedagogy related to the education of children. While some make these distinctions, others may not; moreover, some may consider that the two concepts are inter-linked and part of the progressive educational model or the continuum of active-based or experiential education found at all stages of formal and informal learning.

Heutagogy promotes the concept of self-determined holistic learning through critical reflection. The approach facilitates a flexible modality where the instructor shares resources and learners help design the course or path of learning (Hase and Kenyon (2001). Heutagogy involves encouraging learners to become deeply reflective while developing their capabilities. Reflection focuses upon helping the learner understand how experiences affect their values, beliefs, goals, habits, conceptual frameworks, and previously held ideals and to contemplate ways in which the learner might expand their self efficacy in these areas. Argyris and Schon (1996) called this double-loop learning. Like andragogy, it too is student centered and involves reflection to stimulate meaning.
What is the relevance of heutagogy to online learning? Online learning is in a unique position to expand the heutagogical approach, as well as stimulate additional research into heutagogy. As we embrace the full conceptual range of epistemology and acknowledge that age alone cannot determine cognitive maturity or motivation to learn, we find that the online learning environment is a flexible modality to facilitate self-directed and self-determined learning. Online course design is a natural fit to construct activities that are authentic and lend themselves to self-directed learning.
By understanding our students, instructors might redesign courses to build a sustainable community whereby students develop the skills necessary to explore their values, the values of the community and ultimately the values of society at large as they progress from module to module in an online course.

With its learner-centered design, Web 2.0 offers an environment that supports a heutagogical approach that supports the development of learner-generated content, learner self-directedness in information discovery and learner engagement in defining their learning path.
The asynchronous nature of online learning offers many affordances and allows for reflective thinking since the students have time to respond to peers and to form questions of their own as they struggle with problems. Parameters can be set by the instructor while students can determine the scope and creativity of the projects, activities, or papers based on their own particular needs for relevance, time concerns, need to know, past experiences, and readiness to learn.

Argyris, C and Schon, D. (1996) Organisational Learning II, Addison-Wesley, Reading.

Beich, E. (2008). ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Blaschke, Lisa Marie. (2012). Heutagogy and Lifelong Learning: A Review of Heutagogical Practice and Self-Determined Learning. < >.

Hase, Stewart and Chris Kenyon (2001). From Andragogy to Heutagogy. < >

JEberle, Jane., and Marcus Childress. (2007).Heutagogy: It Isn’t Your Mother’s Pedagogy Any More.

National Social Science Association

Knowles, M. (1973). The adult learner: A neglected species. Houston: Gulf.

Knowles, M. (1970). The modern practice of adult education: Andragogy versus pedagogy. New York: Association Press.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Online Syllabi Using Google Calendar

Time management has always been a critical skill for a student to poses in order to effectively balance their academic and personal lives. Students must constantly be aware of their agenda for each class and how much time to set aside to complete assignments and prepare for exams. Syllabi have always been around to dictate the pace of each course and alert students of upcoming deadlines. But is there a more effective and innovative way?

After numerous discussions with my colleagues and students, I have come to the realization that there definitely is. Professors due their best to remind students about upcoming deadlines and students use their own daily planners and online tools to keep up-to-date. However, there is a more cohesive and technologically friendly way to accomplish these goals.

Professors should consider creating a Google Calendar in the form of their syllabus for each of their class sections. Exam blocks should be scheduled out in addition to project reminders, suggested group meeting times, and most importantly, class times. By then sharing the Google calendar with their students’ - every student would have an extremely useful calendar to keep them up-to-date with everything going on in the class. More importantly, this calendar can be accessed from any computer and most mobile devices 24/7/365.

If all professors employed this method at their institution, each student would have a calendar of their personal appointments and agenda in addition to an overlay of all their classes, assignments, and tasks. Professors often change their syllabi throughout the semester and hand out additional hard copies or upload another online version which can be confusing and inaccurate for some students. This Google- approach scheme allows professors to make modifications to their curriculum on the fly and insures that every student is always up-to-date with latest agenda. A bonus to the student is that each student only has to reference one online file for all their classes and avoid having to sort through multiple hard copies and online syllabi for each class.

To learn more – go to:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Benefits and Challenges of Using Tablets in Classrooms

The incorporation of digital devices for students and instructors is becoming a major trend in education. The recent appearance and early adoption of tablets by young people is pushing the acceptance of these devices into the classrooms which, in turn, have been broadly presented (at least by the media) as the “next step” or the “natural evolution in the wave of future education.” Even though there are potential promises of educational impacts of tablets, educators should weigh the potential challenges as well before utilizing tablets into teaching and learning. Below is the list of some of the benefits and challenges of using tablets in classrooms with the resources where they were discussed.


1. Tablet computers, like the iPad, are interactive communicator and book-reader tools. They are also an imminent second wave of “must-have” technology for students. Their large screens (about 10 inches diagonally) and large memory (16 GBytes minimum) and similar processing power to Netbook PCs differentiate them from mobile phones and give them a different IT dimension: they are not just communicators, or toys, they are computers.

2. A Tablet’s functionality potentially allows it to behave as a paperless combined textbook/notebook/test-paper/progress-record. A textbook may be downloaded and stored for use as needed. The Tablet’s interactive property allows the textbook to function as a notebook- meaning the user can make notes, highlight, and even look up the meaning of words. The progress/recorder allows attempted work to be automatically logged and all marks awarded to be automatically entered from the instructor’s machine.

3. An Extensive library of apps are available either free or reasonably priced, as compared to computer software which is usually quite costly, allowing the student experience to be easier and more affordably accessed.


1. Drawbacks of usage. A seven-week-long study by the University of Notre Dame found that students did indeed like learning with the tablet computers, but that they used the devices differently than was expected. The students also identified some drawbacks of bringing iPads into the classroom, such as the difficulty of taking notes on the tablet. The auto correct typing function can create very interesting passages as well as frustrations. In the study, more than half the students reported feeling frustrated when highlighting text and taking notes within e-books on the iPad. Another drawback was the fact that multiple “windows” or files couldn’t be kept open, side-by-side, on the iPad, unlike a full-fledged computer.

2. Monitoring use.  Though tablets allow students to learn at their own pace, some educators are worried about how to handle a classroom full of independent learners.  Many educators expressed concern about monitoring students while they use their tablet. The biggest problem with tablets is students’ visiting sites other than those for learning.

3. Incompatible Applications - Until all tablets can use all applications/websites there are limits to how well the tools can be used in the classroom. ( As faculty, we must select tools that are compatible with the greatest number of devices – especially if one allows a BYOD environment.

In sum, it is worth experimentation and identifying whether or not a tablet will help your students consume course content and learn. Even though there are potential promises of educational impacts of tablets, educators should weigh the potential challenges as well before utilizing tablets into teaching and learning. At the end of the day, if using a table is helpful to facilitate student success, we should embrace it to the extent it facilitates the learning process and causes no harm.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Just-in-time Webinars

As we approach the end of the semester, perhaps you need some just-in-time training. I have placed some valuable links below to upcoming webinars to help ease your work and refresh your skills. Please see what we have for you.

Creating Tests, Pools, and Surveys: (April 8, 2013 - 11:00 am Eastern Time) – 1 hour

Webinar Description: Blackboard has enhanced the search function when building tests. Join this session to explore creating, finding and using questions in the Blackboard testing, pools and surveys feature. We will also learn how to build random tests to help ensure integrity. To register – go to:,-Pools-and-Surveys.aspx

More about Rubrics: (May 6, 2013 – 1:00 pm Eastern Time) – 1 Hour

Webinar Description: This webinar is for faculty interested in learning more about rubrics and how to use the new rubric tool in Blackboard to assess student work. To register – go to:

Organizing your Content: (May 20, 2013 – 1:00 p, Eastern Time) – 1 Hour

Webinar Description: Within each menu area of your course, you have options of organizing content in folders, learning modules, lesson plans. In this webinar, you will see some exemplary designs to make decisions about your content organization. To register – go to:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Using Twitter in Your Classrooms

Using Twitter in Your Classrooms 2013 yields hundreds of ways to enhance a classroom experience and get otherwise weary, unengaged students to willingly dive into the topic at hand. Perhaps the most popular tool recently has been Twitter. 

 The social media tool allows students to create a temporary online forum about anything. From high school to higher ed, tweets are being used to start a discussion and maintain the dialogue and offer insights about learning that go beyond the class rooms. Twitter allows people all over the world to discuss a single topic and allows all interested participants to view the posts by attaching a common hashtag at the end of each post. The network is ideal for distance learning in which students might be in different states or even different countries. The forum allows discussion and sharing long after the class is through, eventually developing a deeper knowledge and perhaps, interest on the subject.
A few guidelines must be remembered when implementing Twitter in the classroom:

  1. The students must be required to participate. The discussion cannot be prompted as an option. Set expectations upfront, whether they must tweet a certain time per discussion or come to some type of conclusion in the process. 
  2. The teacher must also participate. The students need to know that you're monitoring and engaging in the discussion, as well, to pull the best out of them. Clearly define you're hashtags and discuss accessibility for private profiles. Every tweet doesn't need to be read or responded to. The act just gives the students a chance to explore the topic and open up more than they normally would in a comfortable, convenient setting. Create the guidelines, pick a hashtag and tweet away. The search bar will open a whole new side to your students. 
If you want to learn more about how to begin using Twitter, check the CAT Professional website schedule

Come Together

What follows is a laundry list of free web tools  that might be useful for phone conferences, web conferencing, screen sharing, help desk, advising, group meetings, sharing a desk-top, sharing documents, etc…

SKYPE -  htttp://

Using Skype, you can share screens, documents, chat, call, send files, and video conference.

JOIN.ME - combines instant screen sharing and powerful meeting tools in an app that anyone can use to present, train, demo or concept. is designed to be intuitive and accessible, providing features that you'll use every day for everything from show-and-tell to formal presentations. Features:  • up to 10 meeting participants • screen sharing • internet calling • share control • multi-monitor • chat • send files • viewer: iPad/iPhone or Android.

Mikogo -

Mikogo is an easy-to-use FREE cross-platform desktop sharing tool, ideal for free web conferencing, online meetings or remote support. Features:• Desktop Sharing (for Mac/Windows) Multiple • Meeting Participants(for Mac/Windows) • Switch Presenter(for Mac/Windows) • Remote Keyboard and Mouse Control(for Mac/Windows)  • Meeting Scheduler(for Windows) • Meeting Recording and Playback (for Windows) • Whiteboard (for Windows) •Transfer Files(for Mac/Windows) • Application Selection(for Windows)  • Back Monitor(for Windows) • Pointer(for Mac/Windows) • Copy/Paste/Email Meeting Info(for Mac/Windows) • Pause Transmission(for Mac/Windows)  • Voice Conferencing Service(for Mac/Windows).

GOOGLE Chrome Remote Desktop

Google Chrome has a beta version app that allows users to access other computers or allow another user to access your computer securely over the Internet. Computers can be made available on a short-term basis for scenarios such as ad hoc remote support, or on a more long-term basis for remote access to your applications and files.  All connections are fully secured. Chrome Remote Desktop is fully cross-platform.  Provide remote assistance to Windows, Mac and Linux users, or access your Windows (XP and above) and Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) desktops at any time, all from the Chrome browser on virtually any device, including Chromebooks.

FREE Conferencing -

Collaborate and conduct your meetings with a free, reservationless conference calling service. This tool is simple to use, requiring only a name and email address to receive an instant account. accounts come with host web-based commands. This tool provides instant conference call functionality to your computer screen. Features include: • recording • muting • conference lock • Q&A. Each of the functionalities are accessible by both regular touch tone and right on your computer with just a click of your mouse.

Free ConferenceCall -

Once you enter your name and e-mail address, you will be instantaneously provided  a dial-in number and access code for immediate phone conferencing. The users  teleconferencing line is available 24/7 and there is no need to schedule or make reservations. Each conference call account accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour free conference calls.

AnyMeeting -

Simply a audio- video free chat tool that allows users to meet anytime and share screens. Features: • Video • Audio • screen sharing • chat.

OnWebinar -

A free web conferencing service that allows users to organize distance learning, business meetings, online coaching, videoconferences and interactive communication. Features include: • video broadcasting •  private chat • public chat • shared resources area (whiteboard, slide show presentation, desktop sharing, files and links) • polling tools •  videoconferencing.

Yugma -

Yugma offers free desktop sharing, web conferencing, online meetings, and web collaboration for Mac, Windows, and Linux users. Features: 20 attendees •  host a meeting • Desktop Sharing •Free Teleconferencing •Public and Private Chat •Customizable Widget •Works on Windows, Mac and Linux •Skype Integration.

Adobe ConnectNow -

This Adobe tool uses screen sharing, chat, notes, audio, and video features to facilitate  meetings online that can be as interactive and productive as in-person meetings. Adobe ConnectNow is free web conferencing solution with limited features.

WebHuddle  -

WebHuddle (free web conferencing tool) makes it easy to meet with the people you need to, when you need to — all it takes is a web-enabled PC. Meetings can be conducted either in conjunction with an enterprise’s existing teleconferencing service, or utilizing WebHuddle’s optional voice over IP. WebHuddle also offers recording capabilities — presentations can easily be recorded for playback over any web browser for those who missed the live meeting. WebHuddle is Open Source.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Peer-led Learning and Reading Groups - Theory and Practice

How might we help students gain a better understanding of course material, structure a learning community, seize responsibility for learning, and promote valuable affordances? We might consider peer-led Learning. What is peer-led learning?

Peer-led learning approaches vary significantly and have been used for decades. With the popularity of MOOCs we see many new approaches to peer learning and crowd sourcing that are effective and innovative yet build upon long-held principles. In the face-to-face classroom, we might think about peer learning that involve student cohorts or triads taking responsibility for presenting chapters in the textbook or presenting theoretical frames. We might think of it as flipping a classroom or structuring the learning activities to expound the power of peer-to-peer learning and group process. In essence, when students work together, they build bonds that add to the student’s sense of belonging and invite opportunities to learn from one another. Moreover, when students are provided power and responsibility to direct the learning process, they gain numerous affordances that facilitate the evolution and growth of the person. Utilizing a more concrete example of peer-led learning one might explore the interteaching model (Boyce & Hineline 2002).

The interteaching model is a pedagogical method that shifts student responsibility from passive reception to active engagement, while transferring the instructor’s role to organizing and guidance (Saville 2006). The paradigm can be traced back to behavioral scholarship (Keller 1968),cooperative learning (Halpern 2004), and reciprocal peer tutoring (Griffin and Griffin 1998).

An example of how this method works involves Instructors preparing instructional guides in advance of class sessions which consist of a series of factual and conceptual questions. In the online class, these are posted in the modules. Students work collectively outside of class to grapple with the questions and make sense of the factual information. Students work in groups to discuss and deliberate the topic and questions, while the instructor provides prompts and feedback to support active learning. After student-led discussions have exhausted the topic or issue, students are asked to complete an assessment that provides feedback to the instructor about the student’s level of comprehension. Any misunderstandings or weak points may be addressed by the instructor during the next class period, posting, or video lecture. The theoretical framework that supports the interteaching model is well documented.

For example, David Kolb’s work on adult learning (known as “Kolb’s Cycle”) describes how adult learners traverse experiences and make sense of them. In his 1916 book, Democracy and Education, Dewey wrote, “Education is not an affair of ‘telling’ and being told, but an active and constructive process.” Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who developed the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development, was another proponent of “constructivist” learning theory. His 1962 book, Thought and Language, is a seminal work that provides evidence to support collaborative, socially meaningful, problem-solving activities over solo exercises.

In the 1980′s, Edwin Hutchins developed the theory of Distributed Cognition (Dcog). His findings suggest that knowledge lies not only within the individual but is situated in the individual’s social and physical environment. Distributed cognition refers to activities whereby cognitive resources are socially shared, extending individual cognitive resources, and allowing groups to accomplish some things individuals cannot achieve alone. This also fuels affordance theory.

The theory of affordances was introduced in the field of cognitive psychology during the late seventies (Gibson 1977). In short, it refers to measurable and independent benefits that flow from action, association, interaction, and presence.

The interteaching model envelops a behaviorist, cognitive, procedural and constructivist approach. It places the student at the center of learning and the instructor in the role of facilitating. This power shift, allows students to express their opinions, engender mature group dynamics, and creates a sense of independence, autonomy and responsibility.

In addition to learning the core concepts and struggling with conceptual questions, students gain soft-skill affordances. As students communicate with one another, they inevitably assume leadership roles, acquire conflict-managing skills, and as they discuss and clarify concepts they unravel the complexities of human relationships within a given context. In sum, peer-led learning should be incorporated as pedagogy in courses or programs to facilitate intentional integration, an attachment to the learning process, and the facilitation of a sense of belonging in order to best promote deep learning.


Davies, Bill., and Maya Barak. 2013. “Peer-led Reading Groups Boost Engagement and Retention” in Faculty Focus, February 18. <>

Boyce, Thomas E., & Hineline, Phillip N., 2002. “Interteaching: A Strategy for Enhancing the User-Friendliness of Behavioral Arrangements in the College Classroom.” The Behavior Analyst, 25:215-226.

Gibson, James. 1977. “The Theory of Affordances.” In Robert Shaw and John Bradford Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing, (Eds.), Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Griffin, M.M., and Griffin, B.W. 1998. “An investigation of the effects of reciprocal peer tutoring on achievement, self-efficacy, and test anxiety.” Contemporary Educational Psychology, 23: 298-311.

Halpern, D.F. 2004. “Creating cooperative learning environments.” In B. Perlman, L.I. McCann, and S.H. McFadden (Eds.), Lessons learned: Practical advice for the teaching of psychology. 2:149-155. Washington DC, American Psychological Society.

Keller, F.S. 1968. “Good-bye teacher…” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 1:79-89.

Kolbs Learning Cycle

Nelson, C. 1999. “Critical Thinking and Collaborative Learning.” Tomorrow’s Professor Msg. #173. Center for Teaching and Learning, Stanford University. (last accessed: 23 June 2003).

Saville, B.K. 2006. From sage on the stage to guide on the side: An alternative approach to teaching research methods. Paper presented at the Annual Teaching Institute, Association for Psychological Science, New York, NY.