Category Archives: EDUC 8842 – Principles of Distance Education

Motivating Students in a High School Online Math Course – Final Video

First of all, I want to apologize for the sound quality of this video.  The computer it was recorded on has a terrible microphone.

Also, there are some references that got left out of the video so I wanted to add them here.

All of the animations were made using

Geometer’s Sketchpad was used for the animated math graphics.  Each activity was a free download from  and

The photo of John Keller was borrowed from his website

TI-NSpire. (2015). If a Tree Falls. Retrieved from

Wood, R. (2010, May 18). Tree Errors [YouTube video]. Retrieved


Moving Toward Dynamic Technologies (module 5)

Static vs Dynamic Technologies - New Page

Concept Map was created at  View the interactive map here.

Based on Moller’s “static-dynamic continuum”, I would place myself as being mostly in the middle or slightly towards the static side.  While I thoroughly enjoy using many of the dynamic technologies available for personal use, I have a hard time trying to figure out where to fit them into my classroom.  Especially now that I teach only online, I know I need to make a move towards using more dynamic technologies so I can keep my students engaged.  One way i plan to do this is to continue learning about the various technologies, but also to become a user of them.  Many of the course readings we have had this quarter have suggested that technologies only are not going to motivate and encourage learners, or provide a deeper level of understanding of the material.  To achieve these, the technologies have to actually be used!  Specific to the courses I teach, I would like to begin incorporating more technologies such as, Geometer’s Sketchpad, MindMeister, Edmodo, and some wikis.


Moller, L. (2008). Static and dynamic technological tools. [Unpublished Paper].

Engaging Learners with New Strategies and Tools (module 4)

I apologize to my classmates for this late posting.  My computer got a virus last week that at first limited my access to the internet, but then eventually cut me out completely.  While I did get access to the internet a few days ago, I only today got access to my email and blog again…Yay!  Below, please find my module 4 mind-map which details the various tools that instructors can use to engage their students and aid in their learning.

module 4 mind map 2 image

As more students across the world continue to turn to online learning rather than face-to-face instruction, online educators must find new tools to keep the students motivated to learn.  It has been suggested by many researchers and authors, such as Siemens (2008) and Durrington, Berryhill, and Swafford (2006), that educators use the tools that students are already familiar with to deliver content, communicate with students, and promote collaboration.  Many of these tools can be downloaded as apps on students’ phones and tablets, such as Skype, FaceTime, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts for communicating with other students and the instructor; and YouTube, Blackboard, iTunes U and can be downloaded as tools for gaining content knowledge.  Increasingly, apps are becoming available that allow for collaboration anywhere and at anytime, such as Blackboard and Dropbox.  For tools that are not available as apps, access is still available through websites via any web-enabled device.  As Siemens states, “the tools under the umbrella of the participative Web include blogs, wikis, podcasts, social bookmarking, YouTube, and virtual worlds (such as SecondLife). When used primarily for social means (i.e., staying in touch with friends or collaborating on a project), few would argue their effectiveness” (2008, p. 6).  While the challenge still lies with the instructor to design courses that encourage participants to use these applications as learning tools and to provide timely feedback, using tools that students are already using should make the process much easier.  Of course, just utilizing these tools periodically is not enough.  Educators must interact with students constructively and frequently.  Durrington, Berryhill, and Swafford write that “distance learning can be as effective as traditional instruction when the technologies are appropriate for the instructional tasks, instructors provide timely feedback to students, and levels of student interactivity are high” (2006, p. 190).

Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment.   College Teaching, 54(1), 190-193.

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum.

Motivating students in an online high school mathematics course (module 3)


Text/ Discussion Topic Image/ Video Content Example/ Resource
Enticing Intro – perhaps opening question or dilemma – traditional classroom being copied into online course Bored student looking at a PowerPoint presentation, slouching and staring at computer, half asleep – Kaitlin? Self-filmed
Research discussion including ARCS, math simulation programs, collaboration Animation of arcs model Self-created
Attention Fractal video using Geometer’s Sketchpad

NASA video



Relevance Parabola video using

TI – Nspire

Sin/Cos/Tan waves in music


YouTube Video

Confidence Motivational emails – photo

Students applying math concepts



Satisfaction Frequent contact with teacher and classmates – student and teacher using Skype or Blackboard

Student sitting upright, smiling, engaged – Kaitlin!



Conclusion Side-by-side photos of bored student versus engaged student Self-taken


Astleitner, H., & Litner, P. (2004). The effects of ARCS-strategies on self-regulated learning with instructional texts. E-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology, 7(1), 1-15.

ChanLin, L. J. (2009). Applying motivational analysis in a web-based course. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 46(1), 91-103. doi: 10.1080/14703290802646123

Daher, W. (2010). Building mathematical knowledge in an authentic mobile phone environment. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), 85-104.

Hodges, C., & Kim, C. (2013). Improving college students’ attitudes toward mathematics. TechTrends, 57(4), 59-66.

Keller, J. (2008). First principles of motivation to learn and e3-learning. Distance Education, 29(2), 175-185. doi: 10.1080/01587910802154970

Kim, C., & Keller, J. M. (2011). Towards technology integration: The impact of motivational and volitional email messages. Education Technology Research and Development, 59, 91-111. doi: 10.1007/s11423-010-9174-1

Philip, K., & Mitra, S. (2012). Collaborative learning amongst distance learners of mathematics. Open Learning, 27(3), 227-247. doi: 10.1080/02680513.2012.716655

Thomas, D., & Li, Q. (2008). From web 2.0 to teacher 2.0. Computer in the Schools, 25(3-4), 199-210. doi: 10.1080/07380560802371037

Townes-Young, K. L., & Ewing, V. R. (2005). NASA LIVE creating a global classroom. T.H.E. Journal, 33(4), 43-45.

Wong, W. K., Yin, S.K., & Yang, C. Z. (2012). Drawing dynamic geometry figures online with natural language for junior high school geometry. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(5), 126-147.

Assessing Collaborative Efforts (Module 3)

Online learning communities in which collaboration can occur between students are essential for deepening student learning.  Palloff and Platt (2005; 2007) suggest several benefits of learning communities including allowing an opportunity for shy students to be heard, for creativity and critical thinking to occur, and for students to learn to both trust others and be trusted by others by learning to work as a team.  Also, by being part of a community of individuals with diverse backgrounds students can be exposed to opinions and ideas that differ from their own leading to a deeper, more complex understanding of the topic being discussed.  However, even though learning communities and collaboration has great benefits for students’ learning, there will be some students who do not want to work with others or contribute to online conversations.  It is up to the instructor to come up with ideas to encourage these students to participate with their classmates.

Learning communities can present many challenges for both students and instructors, especially in the ways that assignments are assessed.  Instructors can encourage students to participate in  online communities by providing the assessment tool that will be used for evaluations so students can contribute what they know they will be being assessed on (Laureate Education, Inc., 2008b); making the assessments formative rather than summative to provide students feedback without affecting their grade (Laureate, Education, Inc., 2008b); or by allowing students an opportunity to reflect on their work to assess themselves and their classmates.  If summative assessments are to be used, instructors should be sure to include at least a minimum requirement as to how many times and how often students should participate in group discussions.  Siemens suggests that part of students’ assessments could also be based on how much learning has actually occurred so that assessments are “fair and  equitable” for students at different learning levels (Laureate Education, Inc., 2008b).

George Siemens (Laureate Education, Inc., 2008b) mentions that a major reason these students don’t want to be part of a learning community is because they are afraid of losing their sense of self or individuality.  If students find that part of their learning community is not participating they should try to reach out to those individuals to make sure they aren’t dealing with some kind of issues that are keeping them from participating.  If that doesn’t work, the community could contact the instructor and make sure that he/ she is aware of the situation.  The instructor may be able to encourage these students to participate by simply reminding these students how learning communities can contribute to their learning (Palloff and Pratt, 2005), and remind them that not participating may negatively affect their grade.  Also, the instructor may be able to avoid having to confront students by making themselves “present” in group discussions by  participating and collaborating in the learning communities.

Check out these other resources for more information on collaboration in online environments:


Laureate Education, Inc. (2008a). Principles of distance education: Assessment of collaborative learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008b). Principles of distance education: Learning communities. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Elements of Distance Education Diffusion (Module 2)

As distance education continues to become a prominent form of learning around the world, various scholars have provided their theories as to the possible elements that have and will continue to be the foundations of growth.  One such scholar is George Siemens who believes three of these elements include global diversity, communication, and collaborative interaction (Laureate Education, Inc, 2008).  The increase in social media and video conferencing tools are evidence that these elements, at least the element of communication, may be true.  Communication, in one aspect, can be considered the essential element upon which global diversity and collaborative interaction have branched since neither can happen effectively without the ability to communicate with others.

Online communication channels reduce the distance between people and allow interactions to happen more quickly than they might otherwise.  Communication with distant colleagues, relatives and friends is shortened from weeks to minutes and can even be instant, allowing us to maintain stronger ties to a wider group of people than ever before” (New Media Consortium, 2007, p. 4).

The way in which we communicate has evolved over the years.  What used to only be said through face-to-face conversations, letters sent through the post, or phone calls eventually could be expressed through email, instant messaging, text messages, video conferencing, blogs, wikis, and social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook.  Even the use of Emoticons or “Like” features have taken the place of showing satisfaction with a real smile.  Today, educators are taking advantage of programs and tools such as ProjectWriter, Subtext, Instagram, Blackboard, Skype, Google Hangouts, and even online video games like World of Warcraft or Second Life as a means to reach and communicate with students in an environment that is most comfortable to the student (Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 2015; Edudemic, 2014, 2015; Iskold, 2007; New Media Consortium, 2007; Personalize Learning, 2014).

With all the new ways to socialize and communicate online, some scholars, educators, and everyday bloggers are concerned about what the lack of face-to-face interactions may have on students in the future.

Online education is permitting students who live in a rural or isolated area to attend classes from the comfort of their own home and it has added to home school curriculums across America. However, there is one drawback to all of this innovative technology: The lack of socialization (Edudemic, 2014).

In this article, the Edudemic team discusses using “anthromorphic technology”, giving inanimate technologies human or animal characteristics, to make online learning more personal.  Some of their suggestions include using multiple monitors simultaneously (one to do work on and the other to run communication software such as Skype or Google Hangouts), meeting with classmates once a week IN PERSON, and taking advantage of the internet by virtually meeting with people who are geographically distant, such as in another state or country.

Communication in distance learning is not restricted to communication between teachers and students, but also between teachers and parents.  In contradicting posts on Edutopia and Education World, the debate begins on whether social media tools should be used for communicating with parents.  According to O’Brien of Edutopia, the top five methods of communication from educators and school administration prefered by parents were “e-mail from the district/school, online parent portal, district/school e-newsletters, district/school website, [and] telephone/voice messaging system” (2011, How Parents Want School News), with social media falling below newspapers and school board meetings.  Education World’s (2013) blog post, on the other hand, is a string of excerpts and highlights of Jane Baskwill’s book, Attention Grabbing Skills for Involving Parents in their Children’s Learning (2013).  This post attempts to highlight the use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and virtualpinboards as tools for mass distribution of school information.  Although it is probably the least cost-effective method, perhaps the best way to reach the majority of parents is to send emails, newsletters, and post to one or two social networking sites.



Education World. (2015, January 11). Parent communication: Using social media [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. (2015, January 8). ProjectWriter – A great new tool for group writing projects [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Edudemic. (2014, December 23). Anthromorphic technology: Making online education social [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Edudemic. (2015, January 9). Subtext: For sharpening and expanding language arts skills [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Iskold, A. (2007, May 30). Evolution of Communication: From email to Twitter and beyond [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: The future of distance education. Baltimore, MD: Author.

New Media Consortium. (2007). Social networking, “the third place”, and the evolution of communication. Retrieved from

O’Brien, A. (2011, August 31). What parents want in school communication [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Personalize Learning. (2014, December 17). 10 Trends to personalize learning in 2015 [Blog post]. Retrieved from