EDUC 4150: A Brief Topical Summary

As part of my final reflective essay, I thought about the various topics of this course.  Here are my take-aways:

Different Generations of eLearners: Each generation of learners brings its own strengths and challenges to the education arena, with some of these considerations relating specifically to technology and online learning.  It is important to be cognizant of the typical characteristics of each group as a general guide, but it is also vital to consider each student as an individual.

Differences between online and face-to-face learning.  There are many opportunities and challenges related to eLearning for both the instructor and students when compared to face-to-face learning.  The challenges, however, can be mitigated with awareness, consideration, and planning.  It is worthwhile to focus on the opportunities and follow the guidelines for best practice, as presented by Boettcher and Conrad (2016).

Learning Theories and eLearning.  The refresher of the various learning theories was useful, and the process of looking at how the various theories impact online teaching and learning was also beneficial.  I reconfirmed my connection with Constructivism.  I reflected on the role of the instructor and the learner in an online setting (Ally, 2008), and specified ways that constructivist activities can be utilized in an aural rehabilitative eLearning setting.

eLearning Tools.  Expanding knowledge of the available eLearning tools provides a variety of options to present material in an online course (e.g. Moodle, Kaltura), to enhance activities in the course (e.g. Wiki and glossary), make the course a more interactive and engaging experience (e.g. Kahoot, Zoom) and also to allow students to share their insights and learning in courses in non-traditional ways (e.g. blogs).  It is important to be open to continue to investigate new tools, decide which ones complement your desired purpose, and work to become confident and proficient in those you have chosen.

ePortfolios and assessment.  There are many ways to capture student learning and carry out an evaluation plan.  While ePortfolios may not be appropriate for the learners in Speechreading, this section of the course reignited my commitment to the power and benefit of reflection.   ePortfolios are also an effective way to capture professional growth.

Quality Guidelines.  I have a newfound appreciation for quality guidelines and the comfort that comes from having checklists that can ensure an online course offering meets the expected standards.  There are many existing resources to help achieve this process, such as California State University, Chico (2019) and Sharif (n.d.).

I enjoyed this course, and I look forward to the next two courses of the eLearning Certificate.



Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed., pp. 15–44). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Boettcher, J., & Conrad, R. (2016). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

California State University, Chico. (2019). The Rubric – Exemplary Online Instruction –. Retrieved 22 July 2020, from

Sharif, A. (n.d.). Online/Blended Learning Course Quality Checklist. Retrieved from

Quality Guidelines: Expert Levels

I have found several resources on quality guidelines that will be very useful in the future both to improve Speechreading Level 1 and in preparation for developing Level 2 in the future.

The three checklists I will use until I develop my own list are:

Option #1: Sharif (n.d.)

Option #2: eCampusAlberta (2017)

Option #3: California State University, Chico (2019)




Based on these guidelines, I have identified the following items that I need to work on for the Fall term to improve the quality of my Speechreading Level 1 course:

Course materials The distinction between required and optional materials is clearly explained.
Learner engagement


The instructor’s plan for classroom response time and feedback is clearly stated.
The requirements for student interaction and progression through the course are clearly articulated.
Learner support


The course instructions make it clear how the institution’s or the program’s academic support systems can be accessed (e.g. Library services, peer tutoring).
The course provides guidelines or links to resources on how to succeed as a student in online or blended environments
                                                     (Sharif, n.d.)
Organization Standards The learning path guides learners through the entire course. It explains the learning activities and how they are to be used to fulfill the learning outcomes/objectives.
Learners are informed of the time commitment expected for them to complete all the learning activities.
Pedagogy Standards


Formal and informal feedback to learners is incorporated throughout the course.
                                  (eCampusAlberta, 2017)
Learner Support and Resources Course contains extensive information about being an online learner and links to campus resources.
Online Organization and Design Course syllabus identifies and clearly delineates the role the online environment will play in the total course.
Assessment Strategies Ongoing multiple assessment strategies are used to measure content knowledge, attitudes and skills.
Self-assessment and Peer Feedback Students’ self-assessments and peer feedback opportunities exist throughout the course.
Faculty Use of Student Feedback Instructor offers multiple opportunities for students to give feedback on course content.
Instructor uses formal and informal student feedback in an ongoing basis to help plan instruction and assessment of student learning throughout the semester.
(California State University, Chico, 2019)

Onward and upward!



California State University, Chico. (2019). The Rubric – Exemplary Online Instruction –. Retrieved 22 July 2020, from

Contact North Online Learning. (2014, March 25). As a Faculty Member, What Do I Need To Know About Quality in Online Learning? | Retrieved 21 July 2020, from

eCampusAlberta. (2017, February). Essential Quality Standards 2.0. Retrieved from

Sharif, A. (n.d.). Online/Blended Learning Course Quality Checklist. Retrieved from


A Novice View of Quality

I am coming to the end of my first of three courses as part of the eLearning Certificate at VCC.  One of the final reflection assignments deals with quality guidelines for online courses.

Having been thrown into this online world as a result of COVID, my first foray into teaching online did not have time for reviewing quality checklists and improving what I could put together.  Luckily I was able to design the course week-by-week as we moved through the 12-week course.  While I didn’t think of things in terms of “quality”, I am very cognizant of providing a good learning environment and quality materials for my students.  But teaching online was certainly a different kind of beast.  I wasn’t provided with a checklist by my institution.  We were all scrambling to pull things together with little training and less time.  I was asked, “Are you able to meet the learning objectives?”.  I believed I was.  I still do.  However, I did not have the time or awareness to specifically think about quality.

Before I completed the learning activities for this topic of EDUC 4150, I took the time to answer the question: What does “quality” in an online course mean to you?

Instead of thinking from the point of view of an instructor, I reflected on my experience both through the PIDP program (where I did most of my courses online by choice) and this current course on eLearning.  Here are my thoughts:

What makes an online course “good” or “great”?

  • Clear layout – weekly or topics
  • Clear learning objectives
  • Reasonable/manageable amount of work spread over the course
  • Quick responses with meaningful feedback to assignments
  • Quality resources on topics
  • Encouragement to look beyond the resources provided
  • Variety of resource types: readings, videos, graphics
  • A place to communicate with other students
  • Potential to meet on zoom or talk on the phone, if necessary, with instructor
  • Practical and relevant connection to the material
  • All activities and links functional
  • Weekly synchronous meeting? Regular check-ins with the instructor? Weekly video?
  • Familiarity and comfort with the LMS
  • A comfortable and accessible way to ask questions about the course as they come up

What do you need to be successful online?

  • Time to do the work
  • Reasonable workspace
  • Dependable internet and equipment (e.g. laptop)
  • Dedication, perseverance, determination
  • Enough technical expertise to manage the LMS and activities

I really do appreciate my own online learning experiences.  I believe they help me to understand and empathize with what my students might be dealing with and to plan for my own online offerings with a view to student perspectives.  Completing the learning activities for this course section has provided me with a solid understanding of the scope and need for the assurance of high-quality learning environments.  I now have the supports I need to make sure I improve the quality of my courses, through websites, rubrics, and checklists, rather than rely on my personal, novice perspectives.  Stay tuned for my favourite quality guideline resources!

Reflecting on Assessment

I have personally traveled quite a journey related to assessment and the Speechreading course that I teach.  Prior to completing the Provincial Instructor’s Diploma Program (PIDP), I resisted any form of assessment in Speechreading.  My thought was that individuals came to the course to deal with their hearing loss and were attempting to learn to communicate effectively.  I taught skills and gave information in an attempt to help them reach those goals, but I felt at the time, who was I to grade how they were coping and dealing with something so personal? I felt that kind of oversight was neither appropriate nor necessary.

When I completed the Evaluation of Learning course as part of the Provincial Instructor’s Diploma, I felt differently.  The mantra I was left with after that course was “evaluation is learning”.  I realized that assessment was so much more than judging.   I now know the difference between and importance of formative and summative assessment, along with peer and self-assessment.  I have found a place in Speechreading for a variety of assessment types and a complete and varied evaluation plan that is authentic.  The variety of activities demonstrates the scope of the learning the students have experienced.  I have also discovered that assessment activities are also key to providing me with feedback as the instructor.  Based on my students’ demonstration of learning, I am more clearly able to see where I am accomplishing my tasks and where I may need to change tactics- to do a better job of teaching a certain topic.  The evaluation plan helps both myself and the students.

So, now that I have embraced evaluation, and transitioned to teaching online, I ponder another question: Is there a place in my teaching for eportfolios?  Why or why not?  Are there aspects of learning portfolios that I could use in my assessment?

This section of EDUC 4150 has opened my eyes to both the existence and usefulness of this kind of tool.  My additional two posts will talk about ePortfolios, how to use them as a student and instructor, and whether I would consider using one to capture my own professional growth.

The topic of assessment was introduced with warnings of cheating and possible misrepresentation of another’s work.  The idea of plagiarism is not even on my radar.  The people who find and register for my course have hearing loss.  They need help coping with real-life and immediate challenges that this loss created in their lives.  In my mind, the job of each student in this course is to find the topics, activities, and information that is most relevant to them and put it to use.  They come by choice, and often with a dire need to develop some practical strategies.  I feel the issue of cheating in other courses is due to students who are forced to enroll in courses they are not interested in or where they don’t connect with the material.  I am grateful to not have to deal with this issue as an instructor.

After some consideration, I would likely not include something with the scope and breadth of a full ePortfolio as an assessment tool for the Speechreading course.  This course is quite short, with just 12 classes in 12 weeks.  If this were the first course at the beginning of a program or series of courses, I could certainly see it being more relevant and applicable.  So, while I don’t see myself introducing the full concept of an ePortfolio into my class, there are certain components that I certainly have already embraced.


One thing that my own learning has taught me over the past few years is that reflection is such an important step in learning.  It provides a greater awareness of your own personal growth and self-revelation.  I used to dread writing the three reflections required in each PIDP course.  What I quickly realized is that the formality and format of the focused conversation model truly gave me ideas that anchored my learning to my practice, helped me to truly acknowledge the steps I was making on my way to completing the PIDP, and formalized the steps I would take in the future.

I have taken that new appreciation back to my teaching and my students.  I encourage them to write in a journal or capture their thoughts, concerns, experiences, questions, successes, and challenges in any format that works for them.  I describe the ORID model and describe the basic steps in this process:

  • Objective: What happened?
  • Reflective: How did you feel?
  • Interpretational: What does this mean?
  • Decisional: What action will you take?

I tell my students that my reason for asking them to start this process is simple: I see so many changes in how they approach and acknowledge their hearing loss, describe problems and articulate solutions, and learn to talk about communication and the importance of communicating effectively over the 12 weeks of the course.  When I talk to the students about the growth I see in them, they are sometimes surprised.  They do not always recognize the changes in themselves.  They forget how they thought about things just a few shorts months before.  I believe that capturing their thoughts from the very beginning of the course so they can look back and appreciate how they have changed their perspectives is powerful.

It is important for all of us to be able to see how far we have come.



Global Hospital and Research Centre (GHRC). (2016, June 28). The Focused Conversation Method – ORID. Retrieved 21 July 2020, from


A Faculty-focused ePortfolio?

A question from EDUC 4150:

ePortfolios are increasingly being used to illustrate personal/professional development and achievements in teaching. What value do you see in creating your own personal teaching eportfolio? What kind of artifacts would you think of including in this portfolio?

Funny and interesting observations when I considered these questions.  My first thought was that it’s too late for me to start to develop a professional ePortfolio; it’s something best begun at the beginning of a career.  My second thought was that I wouldn’t have had as much ‘ammunition’ years ago to make a folio as interesting and varied as it would be now.

My professional journey has not been straightforward.  I didn’t begin my working life with the intention of being a teacher.  I am an audiologist.  However, the type of audiology I’ve always been interested in does not involve test booths and hearing aids.  I always wanted to work with people with hearing loss — beyond the hearing aid.  This position I have at Vancouver Community College is quite simply my dream job.  I tell my students this, and when they see how passionate I am about the courses I teach, they believe me.  I have no intention of leaving this job, but if I had to search for a new position, I would love to have a fully-developed ePortfolio to share how I got to where I am.

What areas would I include?


I’m proud that I began my university studies in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.  At MUN, I earned my B.Sc. in Psychology and Linguistics in 1991.  I traveled across the country to complete an M.Sc. in Audiology at UBC in 1995.  When I finished my Master’s, I still had unanswered questions about how to help people when technology didn’t quite do the job.  I completed my Ph.D. at UBC in 2002 with a dissertation entitled “Help-seeking for Advanced Rehabilitation by Adults with Hearing Loss: An Ecological Model”.

My interests and a job opening led me to Vancouver Community College (VCC) to teach classes for adults with hearing loss.  I began teaching regularly, and I loved it.  I think I was pretty good at it, but something was missing.  I wanted to know how to teach more effectively.  I was trained as an audiologist afterall, not a teacher.  I completed the Provincial Instructor’s Diploma Program at VCC in 2018.  This allowed me to truly understand the courses I was teaching and helped me to develop new courses.  I had a newfound appreciation for adult learning, learning objectives, lesson plans, instructional strategies, assessment and so much more.  More recently, COVID hit, and online teaching quickly became a reality.  This was a model I hadn’t seriously considered before.  So I’m back to school to complete the eLearning certificate from VCC.  I am a lifelong learner.

Growth of the “Speechreading” course at VCC

When I began teaching Speechreading at VCC, there was a single course held twice a semester-  if there was enough interest to fill the classes.  People enjoyed the course, but they always asked “What’s next?” when they finished the course.  They wanted more practice.  I received curriculum development funds to develop a Level 2 course in 2010.  It’s been very well received, but people still wanted more when they were done.  I again received CD funds and have now developed a Level 3 course.  I have successfully developed an outreach program, where I deliver the course off-site for groups who are unable to travel to the college.  This year, we’ve taken a foray into the online world, and we will continue to offer this course online even after we are back in f2f courses at the college.  This coming Fall, there will be four sections of Level 1 offered.  Another significant change involves the name of the course.  We are now proud offer Living Successfully with Hearing Loss, Levels 1, 2 and 3.

Testimonials of students

One of my favourite parts of the courses I teach is to learn what my students are taking away with them at the end.  These are my students’ triumphs, but I’d like to think I played a part in facilitating their successes.  Here is a sample of what they have written:

This class is designed to teach us coping skills – to be confident- to take the initiative- to inform people of ones disability without embarrassment. I became expert at developing reasons and excuses to not socialize, or to remove myself from challenging situations – I was gradually isolating myself from friends and family. The Speechreading course has been the best thing I have ever done for myself – self-confidence fully restored, happiness and humour and independence greatly improved. I now have the skills to enjoy a positive and normal life and embrace each day with confidence and joy. And that is why I can now say to our amazing teacher Lisa …Thank you Lisa for giving me my life back again.

I’m lipreading a bit better. I’m helping people assist me MUCH better. It hadn’t occurred to me what it would be like being in a class with other hard of hearing folks. The communal impact was huge for me. I didn’t expect to be so well supported and accepted.

It helps everyone involved with me and fills me up to live less isolated, therefore could give so much more back to this world.

I have put in use the strategies and knowledge that I have gained in this course. My family and I are less stressed and have more meaningful conversations.

I have learned to have a more positive attitude in helping myself and in communicating to others what works best for me. It is important because it will keep me better connected with family and friends.


Memberships and projects

I have volunteered and been involved with a variety of groups, organizations, and committees.  I have given many talks to promote the courses I teach and communicating more effectively in general.  Some of these highlights include:

  • past Board member and executive for my professional organization (BCASLPA)
  • past Board member for the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Involvement with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA)
  • past PAC Chair for Lord Kitchener Elementary School
  • team manager for Destination Imagination
  • Various research projects as a research assistant and project evaluator
  • Member of the VCC Research Advisory Council
  • Guest speaker at UBC, WorkSafe BC, and multiple seniors’ facilities in Vancouver


An artifact…

office bulletin board

This is a picture of my bulletin board in my office.  An artifact.  Due to COVID, I cannot easily go there and capture close-ups, but luckily I had this picture on my photo roll.  The cards on the right are from past Speechreading students.  Many of them have very heartfelt thanks for sharing information that they believe has changed their lives.  These cards are important to me, and I cherish each one.

The sheet on the top left is full of testimonials from students who have answered “What was the most important thing you learned” at the end of the courses.  I refresh this list often, and I use these statements to help market the course to others who have hearing loss.

One other interesting item in this picture that stands out to me is the sticky note on the bottom right that says “I like.. I wish… I wonder…”.  To me, this note represents my newfound appreciation for reflection.  This is an activity I use in the first class of the Level 2 course.  It helps to open a new course with sharing and communication.  Each student completes each statement with an idea related to communication, hearing loss, and their experience in Level 1 (something you liked, something you’d like to change, something you hope will happen).  I participate as well, and we share our ideas with new classmates.

Will I develop an ePortfolio?  Maybe not today, but when and if I do, I’ll come to this post to help me build the framework.


What is an ePortfolio?


Global Hospital and Research Centre (GHRC) (2016) define an ePortfolio as:

… more than a digital resume. It is a representation of the individual: it shows who you are, what you can do and what these experiences and skills mean to you, and provides a place to present your goals, values, and dreams. Finally, an ePortfolio is a process rather than a product. It is an evolving digital document that reflects your continuing experiences and life-long learning.


Resources to learn more about ePortfolios:



What are the benefits of this sort of authentic assessment?  Pelliccione and Dixon (2008) believe “learners are able to best engage with curriculum when they are able to record their own progress, self-assess against learning outcomes and reflect critically upon their development over time” and “to originate and maintain ‘conversations’ about their learning…by doing so they become active in formative assessment rather than passive receivers of graded results. Formative learning activities such as ePortfolios shift the focus of the traditional higher education paradigm as students are encouraged to take responsibility for what and how they learn”.

A well-executed ePortfolio can provide:

  • improved achievement, retention, and graduation
  • deeper engagement and learning
  • enhanced capacity to think integratively across learning experiences and disciplinary boundaries
  • accelerated new learning
  • actively engaging students in making sense and meaning of their learning experiences so that they approach these experiences with a greater sense of purposefulness, agency, and accomplishment.
  • assessment of more nuanced and complex abilities and outcomes like critical thinking, integrative learning, and ethical reasoning
  • finding new meaning in their learning—by connecting and reframing

(UNSW Sydney, 2017)

  • evidence of achieving program outcomes through artifacts that demonstrate transferable skills
  • support of life-long learning attributes by providing electronic learning records that students can take with them into employment
  • the ability to be self-directed and take responsibility for their own learning and assessment
  • making connections between tacit knowledge and constructed knowledge

‘Assessing with ePortfolios | UNSW Teaching Staff Gateway’, 2020)


A guide for faculty:

ePortfolios: A best practice guide for faculty


A guide for students:

Student Toolkit for ePortfolios



Assessing with ePortfolios | UNSW Teaching Staff Gateway. (2020, July 9). Retrieved 19 July 2020, from

Documentation:Student Toolkit/ePortfolios – UBC Wiki. (n.d.). In Documentation:Student Toolkit/ePortfolios. Retrieved 21 July 2020, from

Hay, C., Saudelli, M. G., Johnson, M., & Jones, J. (n.d.). EPORTFOLIOS: A BEST PRACTICES GUIDE FOR FACULTY. Retrieved from–learning-centre/Best-Practices-Handbook.pdf

Pelliccione, L., & Dixon, K. (2008). ePortfolios: Beyond assessment to empowerment in the learning landscape. Retrieved 19 July 2020, from

UNSW Sydney. (2017, March 10). E-Portfolios: A Look at Where We’ve Been, Where We Are Now, and Where. Retrieved 19 July 2020, from

What is an ePortfolio? (2018, January 11). [Video file]. Retrieved from


The Four Phases of a Course

Boettcher and Conrad (2016) provide practical, instructional-based tips according to the four phases of a course, namely:

  1. course beginnings
  2. early middle
  3. late middle
  4. closing weeks

Course Beginnings

The most important practice in course beginnings is establishing a presence: social, cognitive, and teaching.  This section is about starting off on the right foot.

  • in the section for introductions, I often ask people to describe a hobby.  Other alternatives are favourite drinks, food, ideas, books, or movies.  This encourages expression of feelings, perspectives, and openness.
  • include a forum where the students identify their learning goals for the course, discuss their thinking about the course content, and share their personal learning goals.  This helps gain insights into their knowledge, confidence, and experience with the content.  This gives the learners an opportunity to discover their shared and complementary experiences and goals.

Other important themes in this section include community, clarity of expectations patience, and energy.

Early Middle

The Early Middle is about keeping the ball rolling.  The themes include social, teaching, and cognitive presence and nurturing the content and learning community.

About teaching presence:

Design for the probable learners and teach to the actual students.

Boettcher and Conrad, 2016, p. 87

Learners develop a knowledge structure of core concepts as they work their way through the stages of inquiry:

  • a triggering event
  • exploration
  • integration
  • resolution

To nurture this process, Boettcher and Conrad (2016) compare the learning community to a seedling trying to create roots.  They require the right amount of water (teaching direction), light (time for reflection), and wind (dialog with others).  The idea of teaching presence corresponds with providing a safe and sheltered place for development.

Late Middle

At this point in the course, the instructor needs to let go of the power.  Themes include questioning, assessing, project coaching, and empowerment.

  • Questioning is key.  Effective questioning allows us to learn what the students know, why they think what they do, and what they want or need to know next.
  • Empowerment grows as the student embraces the core content.

The ideal mentor coaches his or her apprentices so that they outgrow their master.

Boettcher and Conrad, 2016, p. 95

Closing Weeks

As the course winds down, the main goal is to prune, reflect, and wrap up.  The themes involve learner independence, reflecting and pruning knowledge, completing course projects, and coaching.

  • At this point, we hope the learners familiar with the core concepts and are able to say how they relate to one another and how they can be applied to their original goals set at the beginning of the course.
  • Memory research reminds us that we only remember a small number of our experiences.  While we may feel that everything we’ve taught is important, it is realistic to think about how to identify the specific and explicit core concepts that we want them to carry with them after the course.
  • Leave time before the course ends to address these two questions:
    • What was the most important thing you learned?
    • What important question do you have that has not been answered?


Boettcher, J., & Conrad, R. (2016). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

eLearning Tools & My Personal To-do List

Made these notes as a reminder to do these things related to eLearning tools before the Fall 2020 term:

  • duplicate shell
  • replicate shell with the new course name
  • check-in early, mid-course, and with final eval
  • develop handout/info on how to access student email (i.e. messages from course)
  • make weekly videos with updates, interesting current events, what I’m reading related to course…
  • consider including one discussion forum per week.  Maybe I already do this?
  • set up the grade book on Moodle, based on the new assessment plan
  • decide the best way to record short videos.  Make sure to caption.  Is Kaltura worth it?
  • does Moodle have a “voice tool”?
  • set up two different places on Moodle where students can ask general questions and another for more social interactions.
  • formalize rubrics for the learning objectives
  • invite students to save the course materials as they go.  Alternatively, offer them a zipped file at the end of the course.
  • investigate H5P.  Suitable for restaurant situation?  Could gaming apps accomplish this?  Which ones?
  • Can I use “concept maps” like CmapTools or iMindmap?  I could give students the options to prepare a graphic representation of their developing knowledge.  Alternatively, can I use a concept map to wrap up the course, as a way of pulling everything together?  Can I do this during the final Zoom call with input from the learners?
  • consider the following places to allow for reflection: discussion forums, blogs or journals, written assignments
  • focus on identifying and affirming patterns in the course content (how we learn homophonous sounds, analyzing the factors that impact understanding – ESLM…, larger framework for brainstorming).  Connected to mindmap, maybe?
  • two core requirements for developing expertise?  Time and deliberate practice.  might be able to use expert resources to provide deliberate practice.  Could I get video testimonials/narratives from previous students talking about what they learned and how they have developed and used that skill in everyday life?
  • find a relevant TED talk to share
  • make a crossword with basic terms.  Create a glossary as well?
  • commit to using breakout rooms.  Make time to practice and feel comfortable.



Specific tips to consider from the course textbook:

Boettcher, J., & Conrad, R. (2016). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • EM tip 8: Building cognitive presence using the Practical Inquiry Method
    • puzzlement stage or triggering event
    • exploration stage
    • integration stage of connecting ideas and theory-building
      • requires reflection, discussion, and confirmation of meaning
    • resolution stage through problem-solving and testing
  • CW tip 1: Is there a way to incorporate “what-if scenarios”?
    • encourages spontaneity and flexibility in thinking
    • they have possibilities rather than right or wrong answers (e.g., where would you sit in this scenario?)
    • they help develop confidence in what they know or don’t know, or might need to know
    • helps keep the course content fresh
    • offers ways of personalizing and customizing content
  • CW tip 6: Pausing, reflecting, and pruning strategies
    • how can we encourage learners to identify the real take-aways of a course?  Pause and reflect learning strategies
      • insert these into the course on an ongoing basis.  When summarizing a topic, use terms such as bottom line, core concepts, and implications for next steps.
      • Continue to use this in the eval; what have you learned and why is it important to you?
  • IC tip 2: high-impact practices: reflections, patterns, and relationships
    • Kolb’s learning cycle:
      • concrete experiences
      • reflective observations
      • abstract conceptualizations
      • active experimenting
    • possible question clusters for reflection:
      • how did this move my thinking forward or expand my understanding? How did one of these ideas connect with, deepen, or change the thinking I had prior to learning about this topic?  What question do I have that I would like to answer going forward?
      • What did I find to be the greatest challenge in analyzing or judging the merits of this lesson?  Why was this a challenge to me? What do I need to do, learn, or practice so I will be more ready to meet a similar challenge in the future?

Note: EM = early middle; CW = closing weeks; IC = intensive courses

The Role of Learning Theory in the Development of Online Resources and Activities

This past couple of weeks have provided a useful review of the various learning theories: Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Humanism, Constructivism, and the relatively new Connectivism.  While I feel that the Constructivist Learning Theory best aligns with my beliefs and experiences, I have taken this opportunity to note many key thoughts from all the theories to support successful online resources and activities in the Living Successfully with Hearing Loss online course.  This post will serve as a resource before I begin my next course.

Ally (2008) claims “Under a close analysis of the behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist schools of thought, many overlaps in the ideas and principles become apparent. The design of online learning materials can include principles from all three schools of thought. 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).”  See below for the highlights I took away from Ally (2008) and how I can carry that lesson to my online course:

What the theory recommends What I will do and why
Learners should be told the explicit outcomes of the learning so they can set expectations and judge for themselves whether or not they have achieved the outcome of the online lesson. I need to take more time to talk about each of the learning objectives and revisit them throughout the course.  Many of my learners are seniors and are not used to being a student. I need to help them make this transition.
Online testing or other forms of testing and assessment should be integrated into the learning sequence to check the individual learner’s achievement level and provide appropriate feedback. Moodle allows for quick reviews and tests (e.g., identifying the different lip shapes) with automated feedback depending on responses.  Learners like to do these quizzes and getting feedback privately.
The learning materials must be sequenced appropriately to promote learning. The sequencing could take the form of simple to complex, known to unknown, and knowledge to application. Ensure all topics are sequenced appropriately.  I want the students to begin by feeling comfortable and confident, then progress to challenging themselves, but not be frustrated by not knowing how to proceed.
Learners must be provided with feedback so that they can monitor how they are doing and take corrective action if required. I must listen carefully and provide appropriate feedback in both the video calls and also timely feedback on Moodle posts.
Information critical for learning should be highlighted to focus learners’ attention— pay attention to headings and formatting I must pay attention to all Moodle posts for clarity of presentation.  Weekly sections, formatting, headings, ease of navigating are important.
Learners should be told why they should take the lesson so that they can attend to the information throughout the lesson. Take the time to explain what each topic involves and how it relates to the “big picture” and how it may help them to solve their communication challenges.
The difficulty level of the material must match the cognitive level of the learner so that the learner can both attend to and relate to the material. Links to both simpler and more complicated materials can be used to accommodate learners at different knowledge levels. Be sure to check in with each student to see how they are doing through individual check-ins but also group inquiries (e.g. this week’s 4150 quick and easy Moodle check-in).

Post material in required, recommended and bonus areas to accommodate varied topics and different levels.

A generalized information map is provided as an overview of the online lesson Create a visual info map for components of speechreading and also the various factors that impact understanding.
Strategies that promote deep processing should be used to help transfer information to long-term storage.  Online strategies to allow learners to apply the information in real life should also be included, to contextualize the learning and to facilitate deep processing Ensure we always relate each topic to a relevant and identified problem.  Tell stories of past students’ experiences (stories help memory).
Information should be presented in different modes to facilitate processing and transferring it to long-term memory. Provide a variety of options for materials: written, graphs, videos from web and of me.
Learners should be motivated to learn. Make an effort to make the content exciting, relevant, and talk about how it has helped others.  Give concrete examples.
Online strategies that facilitate the transfer of learning should be used to encourage application in different and real-life situations. Discuss successes and failures as an attempt to promote memory in response to ‘try this week and report back’ activities.  Humour is a tactic that is often appreciated.
Learners should be given time and the opportunity to reflect. Embed questions about the content to encourage reflection.  Share the ORID model with them.  Talk about the personal benefit I have seen from my reflections required through the PIDP and this course.  Promote the use of a reflection journal.
Learning should be made meaningful. Continue to ask students to nominate two situations they want to personally improve by the end of the course.
Learning should be interactive to promote higher-level learning and social presence, and to help develop personal meaning. Encourage participation through collaborative Moodle activities (e.g. forums) and participation on the Zoom calls.
The rapid increase of information available from a variety of sources means that some information is not as important or genuine as other information. As a result, the learner must be able to identify important information from unimportant information. Encourage the learners to think critically about the information they find online.  E.g., unethical tinnitus ‘cures’ should be a red flag instead of a hopeful cure.  Share info about reliable sources and, alternatively, shady offers.
Because of the information explosion, learners of the future must be willing to acquire new knowledge on an ongoing basis. Promote life-long learning as a necessary skill, so the students have the tools required to continue to investigate new advances in research and technology that may benefit them in the future.

Constructivism calls for a learner to be active in a lesson and to build off of experience to create new knowledge (‘Education Theory/Constructivism and Social Constructivism in the Classroom – UCD – CTAG’, n.d.).  Group work and activities that ensure this active effort are vital.  To this end, I will commit to separate the class into smaller breakout sessions during our Zoom meetings to allow the students to get to know one another better and to share their thoughts with one another in a different setting.

Carwile (2007) provides guidance, also within the constructivist approach to online teaching:

– develop discussion topics that are open-ended to allow each learner to share experiences, interpretations, reactions, and opinions into discussion responses.  Set an expectation that each student responds to another student’s post in addition to posting their own ideas.

– provide forums that require students to research an area of interest and report back to the class in the forum

– include many collaborative opportunities, such as discussions on Zoom and forum groups

Finally, as a thorough reminder, Koohang, Riley, Smith, & Schreurs (2009) wrote:

“The design of learning activities included collaboration, cooperation, multiple perspectives, real-world examples, scaffolding, self-reflection, multiple representations of ideas, and social negotiation. The learning assessment elements consisted of instructor assessment, collaborative assessment, and self-assessment. The instructor’s roles were coaching, guiding, mentoring, acknowledging, providing feedback, and assessing student learning. “


Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of Educational Theory for Online Learning. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (2nd ed., pp. 15–44). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Carwile, J. (2007). A Constructivist Approach to Online Teaching and Learning (Vol 12, No. 1), pp. 68-73.  Retrieved from

E-Learning: How Constructivist Learning Theory Guides Module Learning. (2016, December). (Master’s dissertation). Retrieved from

Koohang, A., Riley, L., Smith, T., & Schreurs, J. (2009). E-Learning and Constructivism: From Theory to Application. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects5, 91–109. Retrieved from



Best Practices for Teaching Online

Boettcher & Conrad (2016, pp. 43-61) provide thorough guidance to create an “effective, efficient, and satisfying teaching and learning experience”.  The list below summarizes their best practice tips and my commitments and challenges for incorporating them into my future classes.

be present at your course

  • be present: social.  Let my personality out in my video introductions, writing, approach to classes, share insights into my life, similar to what they expect of each other.  Make weekly videos to introduce the topics and talk about any relevant real-world issues
  • be present: teaching.  Guide their experiences with a solid, clear course structure, with clear connection between topics and learning objectives, share stories that demonstrate past students’ experiences.  Clearly demonstrate my passion, belief, and enthusiasm in the course.  Demonstrate expertise in examples and guidance.
  • be present: cognitive.  Challenge their ideas.  Ask why they believe and how they know.  Listen to their ideas and reflect back with evidence of their knowledge and skills

create a supportive online community

  • include an area in the course intro section for my introductory video and write-up
  • include an area for all students to introduce themselves, and provide possible areas to include (name, hearing loss, communication challenges, hobbies, hope for the course, what you see outside your window…).  A mix of hearing loss/course-related topics and others
  • ensure there is time each week in zoom to share insights, experiences, brainstorming or time for Q and A involving whole class

develop a set of explicit expectations for your learners and yourself as to how you will communicate and how much time your students should be committing each week

  • time spent on the required material should be approximately 1 hour per week
  • additional practice and time spent on topics of interest are additional
  • the Zoom session will run between 60-90 minutes
  • encourage communication in the ‘coffee shop’ forum
  • consider sending a weekly email (more familiar format) to provide the link to the course and the weekly zoom meeting, with any special guidance required for the weekly activities
  • give response time policy (typically 24 hours)
  • schedule a weekly 2-hour block on zoom to answer any questions or concerns

use a variety of large group, small group, and individual work experiences

  • this is challenging given the class size of between 4 and 8, but encourage chat before class officially begins and during breaks to build community
  • make use of break-out rooms in zoom to achieve paired or small group activities, such as conversation practice.  Couples taking the course together should also be encouraged to practice together
  • encourage group discussions and build in rules of engagement and management as part of the lesson – works well for brainstorming sessions
  • individual experiences through journals, blogs, reflection, review
  • avoid week to week sameness

use synchronous and asynchronous activities

  • weekly Moodle release of information, each week for 12 weeks
  • include introductory section, with weekly info video
  • activities to include material to read or watch, as well as forums and quizzes
  • weekly Zoom meeting to review material, answer questions, and practice skills

ask for informal feedback early in the term

  • give an early feedback questionnaire to field out concerns, technical or access issues, or ask for general feedback
  • outright ask what they might want to change and what is going well

prepare discussion posts that invite responses, questions, discussions, and reflections

  • ask questions and introduce forum discussions on topics that can become a collection of useful strategies or ideas
  • Ask open-ended questions to explore and apply topics in class (e.g. problems communicating on phone, in restaurants, with kids).  Ask: why do you think that? What is your reasoning? Is there an alternative?
  • I will subscribe to the forums, to ensure I see all responses in a timely manner and ask follow-up questions to develop depth

search out and use content resources that are available in digital format

  • include videos whenever possible, even if to supplement readings.
  • make recordings of myself for multiple sections each week.  Be sure to include captioning.
  • has many relevant, reliable, and effective videos the cover topics in the course
  • if using links, be sure to provide a brief description and include the hyperlink
  • give info on helpful library resources
  • give links to useful hearing advocacy groups and sites
  • give a copy of the ‘useful resources’ handout I have been developing for many years.  Continue to include this resource list as an activity and ask each student to critique three resources and share their thoughts in a forum.
  • link and post any current events (e.g. CHHA events) in the announcement section of Moodle

combine core concept learning with customized and personal learning

  • in first class, as usual, I ask each student to nominate two situations where they would like to communicate more effectively (and check-in throughout the course to see what they have learned to address their targets).  Makes course relevant and practical.
  • Speechreading is more than lipreading.  Speechreading involves combining what you hear, what you see on the lips, face, through body language and gestures, and what you know about the topic, person, and situation.  Each one of these components is addressed throughout the course and needs to be tied back to the bigger picture of getting access to more information to understand more of what is being said.  Understanding how environment, speaker, listener, and message impact understanding is also vital.  Putting each component into the big picture every time is important.  It is important to remember that what is second nature to me is new information to the students.  It’s vital to put yourself into the student’s perspective.

plan a good closing and wrap activities for the course

  • ensure the final meeting includes fun, relevant activities that reflect the lessons and philosophy of the course
  • e.g. speechreading bingo, the importance of humour with a comic slide show
  • provide time for those who are interested to share what knowledge, skills, or attitudes they are taking away from the course.
  • full course review and discussion happen in the second to last class, so the wrap-up can provide a practical review and contain entertaining practice examples.  This is important as it sets the scene for the more practically-based Level 2 course option.

assess as you go by gathering by evidence of learning

  • collect data provided by forum responses and comments
  • note time spent on and scores achieved on quizzes
  • note stories shared each week during zoom meeting, that signifies growth, action, and reflection on course topics
  • give options to the learners of how they will demonstrate learning (i.e., zoom discussions, written responses in forums…)
  • find options to use peer review

rigorously connect content to core concepts and learning outcomes

  • explicitly review the learning objectives at the beginning of the course.  It is not enough to just have them read them.  Address each one (there are 5) and talk about how we will accomplish it.
  • reinforce the idea that the course is meant to be both relevant and practical
  • ask the students to ask themselves: How do I want to be different at the end of this course?
  • review the general lessons in different contexts. e.g. thinking about the impact of the environment.  Address it in the restaurant situation, home set-up, and in groups and one-to-one.  Talk about assertive behaviour, but discuss the differences in behaviour with family, strangers, people in authority…

develop and use a content frame for your course

  • as discussed above, continually note how all the components of the course come together to serve the greater purpose – to communicate more effectively

design experiences to help learners make progress on their novice-to-expert journey

  • lead the students down the path of making gradual steps towards the larger goal.  Always be on the search for these examples of progress.  For example, when a student talks about not being assertive when they should have been, talk about assertiveness being a skill and that now having the awareness of the option to behave differently as a step towards that skill development.
  • use problem-solving activities where the students can suggest solutions to communication problems to demonstrate the expansion of options
  • these opportunities can be written online or spoken on zoom calls.


Boettcher, J., & Conrad, R. (2016). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.