Virtual Learning / Simulations

Thread #2 Definitions and Survey
by Mark McGregor – Monday, 15 February 2016, 9:44 PM

In this thread we will discuss the definitions of virtual learning environments (VLE) and simulators (SIMS).

You will also be encouraged to take the simple two-click survey after reviewing the definitions of virtual learning and simulation. Your Survey Monkey link is highlighted below and will immediately take you to the survey. Your benefit for taking this two-click survey is you will steer the direction for our future MYSTERY Threads based on your survey results. Act now because the survey will only be available for a few days!

Let’s begin with topic definitions!

For the Wiki definition of VIRTUAL LEARNING (VLE) click here.   Paste this in your web browser if you have difficulties:

For the Wiki definition of SIMULATION (SIMS) click here.  Paste this is your web browser if you have difficulties:

Two-Click Survey

Take the two-click survey now. Click here for a direct link to the survey.       Paste this in your web browser if you have difficulties:

Your task in Thread #2 is to post your definitions and any videos or other resources you find that describes VLE and/or SIMS.

I don’t like definitions, but if there is a definition of freedom, it would be when you have control over your reality to transform it, to change it, rather than having it imposed upon you. You can’t really ask for more than. Mark Knopfler

Definitions. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from

(n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

(n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2016, from

Video definition of Virtual Learning Environment VLE with ELO
by Mark McGregor – Monday, 15 February 2016, 10:36 PM
by Karen McGinnis – Wednesday, 17 February 2016, 12:30 PM

Interesting thread. After reading about VLE, it reminds me in some ways of the flipped classroom. I have attached a short video explaining the concept. It seems our virtual world is becoming larger and larger.

Some of the highlights of the video are:

1) Engaging activities on the cloud

2) Educational games

3) Many different kind of apps

4) Opportunity for teachers to set up modules and Moodles

5) Student sharing and collaborative learning

6) Assessments done in real time

7) Consistency of learning material

8) Access anytime

by Opal Virgo – Monday, 22 February 2016, 6:10 AM

This video could not be anymore hi-tech! Thank you for sharing. I have taken monkey surveys before but never had used them. Wow this course does stretch one….or is it your creative genius? You are definitely THINKING and moving outside the box!

by Mark McGregor – Wednesday, 24 February 2016, 10:26 AM

What is a VLE System?

Khan Academy:

Summary of Motivating Learners

by Opal Virgo – Friday, 26 February 2016, 2:30 PM

Thank you for your participation in the forum on motivation. Here is a summary of the forum. There were 3 discussion threads yielding a total of 62 postings and comments as follows:  

1. Motivation and how to achieve it?

A quote from Barkley (2010) defines motivation as “ the feeling of interest or enthusiasm that makes somebody want to do something,” she further states that as educators we “want students to want to learn”(p 9).

What strategies are you using to motivate your students to the place where they want to learn?

  2. Motivation and what hinders it?

Barkley (2010) shares that “students must have confidence that, with appropriate effort, they can succeed. If there is no hope, then there is no motivation” (p 11).

What factors prevent motivation in learners?

3. Motivation but no engagement?

“A classroom filled with enthusiastic, motivated students is great but it is educationally meaningless if the enthusiasm does not result in learning” Barkley (2010) p6. 

Is it possible to be motivated but not be engaged in the learning process and if so, can the motivation be sustained?


Tread #1 – Motivation and how to achieve it?

Mark started the discussion by pointing out that getting to know students is important when motivating learners. In response I posted a TED Talk by Rita Pierson an educator of 40 years. Her talk generated 2 significant points that Barkley (2010) also makes reference to in her Tips and Strategies for motivating learners:

1.    Tips/Strategy #2 – (Develop and Display the qualities of engaging teachers) to this point Barkley (2010) states “teacher personality and behaviour have a powerful impact on whether students feel motivated in a course.” she continues by clarifying that “this does not mean that you have to be false to your basic personality”…however she suggest that “students will be more likely engaged in your class if you cultivate and display attributes of well-liked and respected teachers, such as energy, enthusiasm, passion, approachability, fairness and optimism.”

Students benefit when teachers show they care and model passion, which then helps to build community and morale in the class.

2.     The other is praise and encouragement – Interestingly enough Barkley, cautions that we need to praise effectively as “praise does not always have the effect we intend.” 

As a follow-up to the question, how to praise learners?  Vivienne shared a video on inspiration another element to encourage motivation.

Finally, the video on GRIT by Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth was the highlight of this thread. True motivation comes from having GRIT.

In her TED Talk presentation on The Key to Success, Grit? Dr. Duckworth mentioned that a growth mindset is a great idea for building grit.  She defines GRIT as “perseverance and passion for your long term goals”. It is having the stamina to get things done. Mark shared graphic that summarizes grit quite beautifully.

Thread #2 – Motivation and what hinders it?

This tread had 2 interesting and important theories that surfaced:

      1.   Doug shared a video on: The theory of flow by Dr Csikszentmihalyi’s. In this discussion, Vivienne shared her own experience of achieving flow and how it motivated her to succeed. She said “the more I was challenged the more skillful I got, the more I wanted to be better.”

Wikipedia define the flow zone as:  “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”.

Quite often learners who are not experiencing flow will not be motivated.

2.     The other theory: Maslow’s Theory – the Heirarchy of Needs – Here Naomi reminded us that if the basic needs (as identified by Maslow) of learners have not been met, it becomes difficult to motivate them to learn. She made the point “if we forget to address the basic needs of our students (water breaks, bathroom breaks, safety and security, social belonging, respect, boosting self-esteem, individuality, recognition, praise) then our students will not reach the self-actualization stage where they are most motivated to learn. 

Here are some factors that were identified as hindrances to motivation:

1.     Lack of relevance and value to the learner

2.     Unclear goals

3.     Lack of achievement or recognition of effect

4.     Students not achieving “flow”

5.     Fear of failure

6.     Procrastination

7.     Having a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset which motivates learning

The final discussion thread:

Thread #3 – Motivation but no engagement?

In answer to the question, is it possible to have motivated students who are not engaged? Karen responded: “Yes, I believe it is possible to be motivated but not engaged.”

Key points included:

1.     Motivation ebbs and flows – depending on the extrinsic factors

2.     Teachers need to constantly assess students

3.     Assessing and evaluating the learning are essential tools for achieving the desired learning outcomes. More so, assessing, allows teachers to make the necessary adjustment to ensure learning and sustained motivation

4.     Student teacher match is important to achieve engagement

Here is a list for motivating learners shared in the forum – 17 steps by Pappas (2013). The source can be found in the sources below: for quick and easy access.

  1. Create useful and relevant learning experiences based on the age group and interests of your learners
    Emphasize on the practical knowledge. It is important to design a course that provides immediate relevancy. Learning materials that can be put into practice. Adult learners appreciate more practical knowledge, rather than extraneous facts and theories.
  2. Facilitate exploration
    Even though children are famous for their exploratory nature and curiosity, adult learners, too, sometimes like to take the opportunity to construct knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them. For this reason, you should have all sorts of materials, references, infographics, short videos, lectures, podcasts and free resources available.  In such a perfect learning environment learners are more likely to get inspired or find something that makes them want to learn more.
  3. Build community and integrate social media
    Keep in mind that social media websites are a powerful tool for collaboration, commenting and sharing. You can facilitate group discussions and communities. People will quickly start exchanging knowledge, and will also have fun, social media is fun!
  4. A voice behind the video is not enough
    Add a personal touch. Your course needs to have a face. Make yourself available to people, invite subject-matter experts, authors, professors and other specialists in live online discussions and question and answer sessions.
  5. Challenge through games
    Come up with different problem solving exercises and case studies. Make your learners look for and find solutions.
  6. Use humor
    Humor would work great even with the most demotivated learners on your course. When your students know you are funny, they will listen to your material carefully, cause they wouldn’t want to miss on your witty sense of humor. You can never lose with that.
  7. Chunk information
    Chunking is essential, as it helps people remember and assimilate information. Small bits are easier to process.
  8. Add suspense
    Don’t give out everything your course is about in the beginning. Yes, you need an overview, but keep some interesting points until the time is right. No one likes to read a book if they know what’s about to happen.
  9. Accommodate individual interests and career goals
    Empower learners to work on these goals and individualize the training to suit their needs.
  10. Stimulate your learners
    Encourage them to think by either providing them with brain teasers, or by asking thought-provoking questions.
  11. Let learning occur through mistakes
    According to a German proverb “you will become clever through your mistakes“. Have you heard the famous expression: “Practice makes perfect“? Of course you have! Henry Roediger who started a learning experiment divided his students in two groups. Group A studied natural sciences paper for 4 sessions, while group B studied the same paper for one session and was tested on it three times. According to the experimenter, one week later, students from group B performed 50% better than Group A, even though they studied the paper less. The results clearly support the argument that “practice makes perfect“.
  12. Make it visually-compelling
    Did you know that 83% of learning occurs visually?
  13. Get Emotional
    If you don’t sound inspiring, if your materials are not exciting, how will you motivate your learners? Get them emotionally involved too – come up with controversial statements, tap on memories, add real-life stories.
  14. Get examples of their workplace
    Your learners may not always remember to associate what is learned with its application at the workplace. Sometimes they might need reminders and a clue to help them make that connection.
  15. Be respectful to them.

  16. Ask for feedback
    It is motivating to know that your opinion contributes to the course.
  17. Present the benefits of undertaking the course
    I don’t know why I didn’t start with this one. Sometimes outlining the benefits is all it takes.


VIDEOS and Web Articles


Other References

 Barkley, E. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. Tips and Strategies for Promoting Active Learning: p.124. Jossey-Bass: John Wiley & Sons; San Francisco, CA.

Summary of Essential Questions

by Patricia Cross-Bishop (Patti) – Sunday, 21 February 2016, 9:31 PM

Discussion topic; Essential Questions


Essential Questions are questions not answerable in a single lesson or brief sentence. Their aim is to stimulate thought and to provoke more thought provoking questions. By answering Essential Questions, students/learners are engaged in learning more and thinking more deeply on the topic of inquiry.

Answering Essential Questions allows student/learners to explore their personal experiences of the world and see the connection to the outside world.  When Essential Questions are asked to the class it allows students/learners to hear or share others experiences or perspectives on the topic.

               Implementing Essential Questions.  First off it is not easy to create a good essential question. The trick is to find a question that is not too broad nor too difficult. It has to be designed so it can be answered as well as  promote further discussion. Designing the perfect Essential Question can take several attempts of asking and getting feedback and then revising.  

               To implement the Essential Question can be done in a Four Phase Process or an 8 Phase Process. The 4 Phase Process is: 1) Introduce a question designed to cause inquiry. 2) Elicit varied responses and question those responses. 3) Introduce and explore new perspectives. 4) Reach tentative closure.

               Length of Wait-Time is a key effective response strategy to getting the most out of the Essential Questions. The length of wait-time is the period of time of teacher’s silence after posing the question. The longer the teacher waited for students responses the longer the students responses were and their contributions were more relevant. Also the number of next level questions increased and the slower learners and introverts also had a chance to respond.  

Essential Questions start students exploring big ideas leading to desired understanding.  For each important idea in a unit there should be a companion Essential Question. 

The desired behaviour by the end of the course is the students will be autonomous questioners. Meaning they will be askers and pursuers of Essential Questions of every big idea they encounter outside of school without being directed by teachers. Eventually the students will be asking Essential Questions at their work, in their communities and among friends.


Articles (these are all linked to the articles)

Dr. Viktor E. Frankl called Man’s Search for Meaning

For a link to his book click here.  Author: Stahl,Robert J. Using “Think-Time” and “Wait-Time” Skillfully in the Classroom. ERIC Digest.


McTighe, J. Wiggins, G (2013) A Four- Phase Process For Implementing Essential Questions, 4, 44-49:  Essential Questions: Opening doors to Student Understanding.

McTighe, J. Wiggins, G (2013) Developing Questioning Autonomy, 4, 59-60: Essential Questions: Opening doors to Student Understanding

McTighe, J. Wiggins, G (2013) Response Strategies – Wait Time, 4, 52-53; Essential Questions: Opening doors to Student Understanding


Summary of Group Work Discussion Forum

by Sean Brown – Friday, 19 February 2016, 7:39 PM

Forum discussion on Group Work              Summary by Sean Brown

Thank you for your participation and interest in the discussion on Group Work. I will try to summarize the main points of discussion but I also encourage you to review the discussion forum threads for some great active links, personal anecdotes, and explanations. There were also some humorous comics poking fun at group work, and just general group work bashing that I will not duplicate in the summary.

 The main points of discussion were:

  1. Group Work – as a strategy for promoting active learning
  2. Advantages of Group Work

  3. Group Work – as contextual learning

  4. Disadvantages of Group Work

    • this is where we got heavily into group work bashing, offset with humour

  5. Best Practices (role of the instructor)

Group work is a strategy for promoting active learning. This is the big message from Barkley (2010, p.124), who addresses the challenges and benefits of group work, albeit not as thoroughly nor as colourfully as we bashed group work. Active learning is a process whereby students engage in activities, such as reading, writing, discussion, or problem solving that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of class content. Active learning is a model of instruction that focuses the responsibility of learning on learners. It tends to encourage engagement in the learning. It can lead to the development of self-directed learning skills and self-reflective practice.

Advantages of group work include: it can promote community, collaboration, teamwork and mentoring among the learners. Group members with more background knowledge, contextual knowledge or experience can share their stories and understanding with others in the group. Group work can take advantage of differing learner backgrounds, experience, academic skills and learning strategies. Applying new learning to action, for example by explaining or teaching another student, it reinforces the teaching student’s understanding and confidence Jeremy shared with us that group work has specific contexts in which it is both useful and engaging for learning. Patti brought up the point that “effective group work takes planning on the part of the instructor.  A group activity that has a portion of individual activity tied to the group work can ensure the group work is effective.” Doug pointed to the issues of evaluating group work and the ethics of assigning the same mark to everyone in the group. Natalie appropriately asserted that we provide a marking rubric to the students so that our expectations are clear. Natalie further evidenced her position that peer evaluation “was part of doing group work… to teach students to work together, to assess strengths and weaknesses of their teammates, to allocate tasks and to keep an eye on deadlines. When you work as part of a group in the corporate world the finished product is a collaborative work. [Group work is authentic to the corporate work environment] Everyone together towards a common goal. If the project is a success it’s everyone’s success. That’s one of the reasons that I ask students to do a peer assessment, so that I can get feedback if team members don’t pull their weight.” Well said. Mark shared that his trade skills students “work in groups of 4 in the practical portion of the program because we have 12 apprentices and 3 cranes- so that decision was mathematical and cost based.”

In support of group work as contextual learning, Patti shared that “In an excerpt from Vygotsky’s theories stress the fundamental role of social interaction in the development of cognition (Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1985), as he believed strongly that community plays a central role in the process of ‘making meaning.’  He believed that social learning tends to precede development. One of Vygotsky’s theoretical approaches was the claim that ‘higher mental processes have origin in social processes.’ (Wertsch, James V. (1988). Social negotiation guides learning among learners with differing contextual knowledge. Vygotsky (1980) indicates that contextual learning is a form of cognitive apprenticeship. Learners construct their understanding based on their own prior knowledge and shaped by social negotiation with peers in their group. Vivienne insightfully shared that “Learning individually has value, but co-operative learning implies a social context. It is not just what the individual gains from the process, it also provides a context for their thoughts, understandings and experiences. Rather than entrapment in the mindset of an internal dialogue, the discursive exploratory nature of the dynamic (dialectic?) leads to an individual having to justify, explain, listen and understand in a collective setting. This gives an added dimension to the learning process, denied to those restricted to solitary, individualistic, even solipsistic, learning experiences.” Vivienne furthers that “Some learning benefits greatly from group work. Social, environmental and political groups rally people together specifically to tap into internal experiences and understandings.” Will summed up that “contextual learning and learning contextual problem solving skills are an important part of a well-rounded education.” Patti, Vivienne and Will, well said.

Disadvantages: “In John Hattie’s research…. Group Work scored [0.59] the same as direct instruction. Maybe Group [work] has been oversold.” – Doug Mauger (2016) Doug shared this and many humorous cartoons for group work disadvantages. Barkley (2010, p.124) indicates that challenges with the use of group work may include inequitable participation, explained by Patti, “one individual takes over the group and does it their way or some group members don’t do their share of the work.” Some may resist group work due to poor prior experiences with group work. Some students engage in off-task behaviours e.g. texting, Facebooking. Some group members just don’t get along. Karen insightfully shared that “I was a huge advocate for group work. I mean, heck, isn’t it awesome to collaborate and brainstorm as a team? Then…..Susan Cain came along and deflated my balloon.” She succinctly expressed that Susan Cain’s rant for introverts is an extreme position against group work and other extrovert-oriented strategies. Cain herself stated that she did not intend for all extrovert activities to stop, but rather for us to find a balance. This is well supported by Doug’s sharing of Hattie’s effect size of 0.59 for group work. If we agree with Hattie’s premise that effect sizes greater than or equal to 0.40 are constructive or worthwhile as teaching strategies, then group work gets a pass. But there are other strategies that also should be included in our repertoire of teaching strategies. Doug succinctly stated that “Group [work] is not bogus but it has been oversold. Active learning can be a solo or team activity but the key thing is active learning.” Naomi suggests that “Learning to work as a team is still an essential skill however (team work, collaboration, responsibility and communication).  I gained most of these skills outside of school playing on multiple team sports.  How do the non-athletes or introverts learn these skills then?  Group work is the answer but we need to find better ways to manage it.”

Barkley (2010, p.124) indicates that group work best practices maximize the opportunity for student learning. Patti stated that an instructor best practice “is to structure the group activity so there is individual and group accountability.” For example, the group presentation can be assigned 5% of each student’s grade and each student gains valuable experience with team work, collaboration, social negotiation, self-directed learning and presenting, with formative feedback; the written paper, which is individual and totally gives away how much effort the student put into the project, can be assigned a weight of 20% towards the individual student’s grade. The extent of the unfairness is minimized under these conditions. Opal shared this link that speaks to Choosing the Best Approach for Small Group Work. Jennifer shared that best practices include facilitating that the students get to know each in their group. Jennifer pointed out that the instructor should identify the goals of having students work in groups, and select/create an activity more targeted at meeting those goals. Jennifer furthered that “in the case of long-term projects it’s useful to have check-in points along the way. Depending on the project, this could be something like showing to the instructor a list of resources, or a draft, or some other evidence that the group and/or each individual is progressing.” Jennifer also shared the importance of the instructor showing the students how to use online resources such as online discussion forums, or DropBox or online search engines for research. Instructors can facilitate students arranging meeting times for their group, or even better, provide in class time to work on projects. Jennifer also pointed out that the instructor can provide students with a clear mechanism for providing feedback on their group members to help avoid at least some of the problems often associated with group work.

Mark wisely said “In summary, group work is a great instructional strategy not only in our practical but in the few situations we have during theory also. It’s not for every type of teaching, but works well in our program.” There are contexts which greatly benefit from group work learning. There are also contexts which do not lend themselves to group work.

Thank you for your interest, engagement and contribution to the discussion, including a big thanks for the humour, links and resources shared. Thank you Doug for your timely prompts. I hope you all enjoy and engage for the rest of the course.  


Barkley, E. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. Tips and Strategies for Promoting Active Learning: T/S 35, p.124. Jossey-Bass: John Wiley & Sons; San Francisco, CA.

Mauger, D. (2016). Forum Feb 8 – 18 Group Work (Sean): Group Work – as a strategy for promoting active learning. PIDP 3250 Instructional Strategies online course.

Vygotsky, L. (1980). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press.

Instructional Strategies in Critical Thinking

by Vivienne Agius – Tuesday, 2 February 2016, 8:32 PM

“Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought. Its quality is therefore typically a matter of degree and dependent on , among other things, the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions. No one is a critical thinker through-and-through, but only to such-and-such a degree, with such-and-such insights and blind spots, subject to such-and-such tendencies towards self-delusion. For this reason, the development of critical thinking skills and dispositions is a life-long endeavour.”

Hello all! Welcome to my Forum subject. This is a subject that is one of the trickiest to handle in our day to day lives as teachers. After reading the thoughtful Forum responses so far, I am very interested in hearing what you all have to say!

If Critical Thinking starts with information and ends with creating an idea or perspective on a certain subject, how do we manage our students through the process?

There are many models to choose from. From Bloom’s Taxonomy to the more simplistic the RED Theory.

Are both models useful for most subjects? Do you have a favourite approach? How do you help your students get to the point where they can make meaning out of information?

by Mark McGregor – Wednesday, 3 February 2016, 2:46 PM

Seeking meaning from classroom information is often after class for our apprentices or when they are in their practical classes (field) or when they return back to the industry.

We deliver a six week program that has a packed agenda that does not offer much time for classroom reflection. During the six weeks, we have a mid term and final exam with quizzes along the way. Furthermore, every other day the apprentices are in the field (practical). That leaves little to no time most days for critical thinking. They need content tossed to them at a high rate so they can apply it to our college exams followed by a series of government exams. They must pass all their exams if they want to remain in the industry.

In regards to government exams, they host pitfalls to how and what we teach also. As your article identified- our challenge is ensuring our content and students way of thinking is in align with who created the questions on the government exam. Some of the exam creators may follow one way of thinking but not all available possibilities.  This is very frustrating for both the instructors and apprentices. Trade exams are mostly multiple guess. Therefore, as instructors we are subjected to get some of our apprentice’s thinking the way the exam question creator thinks because there is only one right answer on a government exam question.

That forces us to engage our students into critical thinking in after-class group sessions or to apply the theory (classroom) portion when they are in the practical part of the program (every other day).

Teaching trades has its challenges because we are limited to the amount of time the apprentice spends at technical training. Both the apprentice and industry prefers having the apprentice working (making money). Furthermore, the provincial governments that operates trades programs doesn’t want to spend a lot of money for training either.

For those reasons, critical thinking on a regular daily basis is not possible.  As far as solutions to engage our students into more critical thinking while at technical training, we are adding more prereading content prior to class either online or through handouts or text to free-up classroom time with the instructors. But don’t forget, these are apprentices that only go to school for six weeks a year at the most. So reading educational materials is not a norm for them!

If there are any other trades instructors or teachers of other types of programs, I’d be interested on how you get your students more time for critical thinking during classroom time.

by Doug Mauger – Wednesday, 3 February 2016, 8:17 PM

Are you are talking about Socratic Questioning to develop Critical Thinking? As a past trades instructor I used this technique and I was very impressed with how it worked.

by Mark McGregor – Thursday, 4 February 2016, 4:35 PM
Thanks for the clip on Socratic Questioning to generate critical thinking. The instructor was clear and he illustrated the topic well.

In the practical portion of our program we do have more time to engage the apprentices into critical thinking by apply this type of questioning. During an exercise in the practical we can lead them into an exercise and allow them to sort out a solution based on what they learned earlier in theory class or from when they worked in the industry. As long as they are safe and do not harm the equipment, we get them to follow through with their solution. This allows them to go with their assumptions and point of view. Learn from the experience and hopefully they will share it and practice it in the industry.

The challenge is theory delivery- simply because of time restrictions. We do check in with the students and toss questions that keep them engaged and to see if they are grasping the material, however we find there is not enough time to go deep discussions until after the third week (after mid-tern exams. During the entire six week program, we do encourage study groups after class for critical thinking and they seem to enjoy and benefit from that. We have recently been posting next day content online even though they have printed handouts to encourage them. When we get to the point where more students realize the benefits of outside the classroom study, we will be able to use more theory classroom time for provoking them with deeper questions and discussions.

The students who take heed and follow through with pre-read and material preview prior to class have an easy go during the program. It’s going to take a little time to restructure from mostly a lecture style for theory delivery.

There is also the challenge of first year students attending another Alberta college prior to doing our third year program. If the other colleges structure their instructional delivery with mostly lecture style, it will take a bit of adjustment for the apprentice to follow our style. Each day counts in approx. 11-12 days of theory class.

When you taught trades Doug, how did you encourage them to do the pre-reads and preview materials to have more discussion time in class? Or do one of my other classmates have other suggestions? It is clear there are significant benefits using well thought out questions for critical thinking. I’d like to utilize more of this in theory delivery. Thanks again!

by Doug Mauger – Thursday, 4 February 2016, 9:42 PM

I used pre reading all the time and a quick quiz was a gate keeper. Those who passed went right into the shop. Those who did not ended up spending the hour doing the reading. It worked very well.

by Sean Brown – Friday, 12 February 2016, 8:04 PM

I agree that if there is no enforcement that most students will not do the pre-reading.

by Doug Mauger – Wednesday, 3 February 2016, 8:12 PM

I think every educator should know these intellectual standards of thought if they even hope to model critical thinking to their students. This video is  A MUST WATCH. The marking rubrics for the PIDP were based in principle on these intellectual standards. Part 1:
Part 2:

by Opal Virgo – Thursday, 4 February 2016, 10:17 PM

Great videos on critical thinking! I agree with Doug when he said, ” I think every educator should know these intellectual standards of thought if they even hope to model critical thinking to their students.”

The question is, do we have to achieve mastery in critical thinking before we are able to model this in our students as well?

Linda Elder and Richard Paul in their article Universal Intellectual Standards states that in order to help students learn, teachers should do the following: “pose questions which probe student thinking; questions which hold students accountable for their thinking; questions which, through consistent use by the teacher in the classroom, become internalized by students as questions they need to ask themselves.”

If we are able to accomplish this as educators we would have been successful in helping to train a generation of effective thinkers!

In speaking to the standard of clarity and precision he emphasizes the following 3 components to help provide clarification:

1.     Elaboration

2.     Giving an illustration – like an analogy etc.

3.     Giving an example

I can relate very well to this in the context of my classroom where I facilitate workshops on Workplace Orientation including Interviewing Skills.

To assist the learners to master interviewing skills and secure that perfect job I often ask them to reverse roles so they become the employer.

Have them critically analyze and meta-cognically think about why the employer may be asking the question. I have them think: “What is it that the employer wants to know about me? In other words: what is the question behind the question?

Here they are challenged to think beyond just answering basic interview  questions and to examine the process from a different perspective, that of the employer.

So for example, in answer to a typical interview question: What are your strengths?

I have them elaborate beyond providing a shopping list of skills, instead they are required to provide examples of instances in the past where they utilized the specific skills they mentioned.

Providing examples are a great way for them to clarify and demonstrate their ability to perform the job they are being interviewed for. I model this by firstly giving examples for clarification. A candidate who has the ability to critically think through the questions being asked in an interview is far more likely to succeed in the process!

by Doug Mauger – Thursday, 4 February 2016, 9:48 PM

Here are the Nine Intellectual Standards of Critical Thinking:

by Natalie Lauzon – Tuesday, 9 February 2016, 10:50 PM

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with this topic.  Not having an education background, nor having studied any psychology in school, this is all new material for me..  I have to admit I’ve never really thought of critical thinking, or teaching students to think critically. When I look at the above 9 intellectual standards I have often probed with similar questions when students have answered questions, or presented material, but I guess I never knew that it was called critical thinking.

Unfamiliar with many critical thinking models, except Blooms Taxonomy (from PIDP 3100), when I read Vivienne’s first post, I thought I would research one of the simply models. The RED model stands for

R= recognize assumptions; E= evaluate arguments; and D = draw conclusions.

See article called “Critical Thinking Means Business”

This model reminded me of the problem solving element of my digital presentation.

First the students were assigned pre-field trip research – this enabled them to research in some depth one topic, paying attention to the commonly held perceptions of that topic. eg. if BC rivers was their topic, researching history of BC’s dams and hydro.

Second, during the activity, instructors asks probing questions and asks students to present pro and con arguments about that resource. ie.. what is your point of view on the building of the Site C dam? why?

Third, as a debrief to the activity, or a follow-up ask students how they might take action, as an individual, as a class.

by Lars-Eric Glimhagen (Lars) – Sunday, 14 February 2016, 10:36 PM

In conjunction with this video, I found an excellent article on the clarity of critical thinking.

The article defines critical thinking as the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe.  Critical thinking includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.  Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following:

  • understand the logical connections between ideas
  • identify, construct and evaluate arguments
  • detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning
  • solve problems systematically
  • identify the relevance and importance of ideas
  • reflect on the justification of one’s own beliefs and values

Although I haven’t given critical think too much thought, this topic got my interest as it explores how we think and how we can analyze our thinking.  In my case, I would like to make my thinking clearer and rationale so that I can get deeper in topics of intellectual interest.  By understanding critical thinking, value will be added to our teaching strategies as we employ the various skills of not only critical thinking, but also critical reasoning, the ability to test your ability to analyze logical arguments.

In my area of computer software training, I am approaching my teaching strategy with critical thinking in order to provide an alternative to learning the software skills from learning by rote.

by Naomi Higo – Thursday, 4 February 2016, 6:37 PM

“Experts agree that in keeping up with the ever-changing technological advances, students will need to obtain, understand, and analyze information on a much more efficient scale. It is our job as educators to equip our students with the strategies and skills they need to think critically in order to cope with these tech problems and obstacles they face elsewhere” (Cox,

The website CriticalThiking.Net has some good resources for teachers.  Here they mention three different critical thinking teaching strategies, RRA, FRISCO and SEBKUS. 


1.  Urge students to be Reflective, to stop and think, instead of making snap judgments, or accepting the first idea that comes into their heads, or automatically accepting whatever is presented in the media.

2.  Gently ask suck questions as “How do you know,” “What are the reasons?” and “Is that a good source of information?”  this prodding them to have good Reasons for the views and to seek reasons for others views.

3. Emphasize alertness for Alternative hpotheses, conclusions, eplanations, sources of evidence, points of view, plans etc.

FRISCO: (When appraising a position, whether yours or another’s)

F for Focus: Identify or be clear about the main point, that is, the conclusion
R for Reasons: Identify and evaluate the reasons
I for Inference: Consider whether the reasons establish the conclusion, given the alternatives
S for Situation: Pay attention to the situation
C for Clarity: Make sure that the meanings are clear
O for Overview: Review your entire appraisal as a unit

SEBKUS: When doing appraisals and planning investigations and other actions, make full use of and try to expand your Sensitivity, Experience, Background Knowledge, and Understanding of the Situation. Critical thinking does not occur in a vacuum.

I encourage you to save this website and use it for future reference.  There are a lot more tactics that they mention as well that could be helpful in your specific teaching situation.


Cox, J.  Teaching strategies to promote critical thinking.

Ennis, R.H.  (2013).  Twenty-one strategies and tactics to teaching critical thinking.

by Vivienne Agius – Thursday, 4 February 2016, 8:07 PM

Great videos Doug, really clarifies how easy it is to bring critical thinking skills into our every day practice… including skills training.

I think the time constraints that Mark has for his course probably does not stop him from helping his students become critical thinkers because as a photography and hairstylist instructor, I have used the Socratic Methods mentioned in the video before. The purpose of this method is to make students ask “What are we doing to make use of theory and idea.” That, to me, underpins what I teach and applies across disciplines.

In the paper “The Role of Metacognitive Skills in Critical Thinking.”…

… Carlo Magno states: ‘Critical thinking occurs when individuals use their cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome…’ Which is, I’m sure exactly what you teach your students Mark… just maybe not in the way that you think.

The same paper states:

“When engaging in critical thinking, students need to undergo specific metacognitive skills like monitoring their thinking process, checking whether progress is being made toward an appropriate goal, ensuring accuracy, and making decisions about the use of time and mental effort.’

All, to me , are processes that are necessary for me to teach my hair students for them to be successful.

What are your thoughts on the connection between metacognition and Critical Thinking ?

by Vivienne Agius – Monday, 8 February 2016, 2:34 PM

I agree with you Mark when you say that metacognition is an ability to assess a situation and see what thinking skills apply. I also think that apprenticeships are a crucial part of any skills based training. At our salon we do not put new stylists on the floor until they pass either our year long program or a skills test. There are so many factors that must be mastered before we can even consider ourselves able to handle anything that comes at us.

Wasn’t it Malcolm Gladwell that said it takes 10,000 hours to master anything well. I wonder how many hours it takes to master the critical thinking process… especially if we have not been taught the process.

The comment Karen brings up about teaching children critical thinking skills is important. But I think that it takes a village to do that or we might run into another bias… the Framing Effect.

I really do think that this is where our cognitive structure is formed and parent or peer “Framing” of issues can help or hinder the critical thinking process.

Barring 5 years of learning Doug, I’m inclined to believe in a mixture of both teaching and modelling critical thinking. There are so many factors that you need to consider but I think we have to go back to engagement. Giving your students an active, participatory role in the modelling will help.

This video gives us a nice framework:

What do you think of this model?

Evaluating strategies against a higher benchmark: Hattie’s analysis

by Jennifer Barker – Thursday, 4 February 2016, 1:02 PM

So how many of you like statistics? Feel comfortable with numbers?  Because whoah are the guts of this particular topic ever math-heavy!  OK, I’ll side-step that a bit for now, but I’ll be ready to add another thread in case there are any other “stats enthusiasts” who want to know all the caveats that Hattie includes smile

Briefly, “Visible Learning” is a meta-meta-analysis (!) of data describing the effectiveness of various factors on influencing student achievement.  John Hattie collected meta-analyses, published articles that collected data from similar individual studies together to look for overall and/or consistent trends.  He then examined the collected results (of those that were deemed to be of sufficient quality) as one enormous set of “things that might influence student achievement”.  The original studies and meta-analyses included students of all ages (from early childhood through undergraduate education).  In 2009 he published his findings in the book “Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement”.  That original synthesis has spawned followup texts from Hattie as well, including “Visible Learning for Teachers”, a whole website devoted to information about Visible Learning, and at least one professional development program for teachers specifically based on the findings of Hattie’s synthesis.  So what’s all the fuss about?

‘Visible learning’ as used by Hattie refers to (1) identifying conditions or strategies that make an observable difference to student learning , and (2) helping students learn to teach themselves, i.e. to become their own teachers. 

With regard to (1), a main idea driving the synthesis Hattie did was to identify those conditions/strategies that make an observable difference in student achievement.  But Hattie took the analysis further than identifying ‘positive influences’.  He’d found that almost anything studied made a positive difference; over 90% of the factors studied were found to improve student performance!  Presumably in the interest of encouraging greatness over mediocrity, he therefore suggests evaluating strategies against a benchmark of “at or above the average difference found in all these analyses”.  Turns out that’s an effect size of d = 0.40, meaning (essentially) that a ‘good’ influence is one that enhances mean performance of a group of students by at least 0.4 standard deviations from the original mean (d = 0 would mean a factor has no effect on achievement, and a negative value means it is related to a reduction in performance).

But enough math wink  For now, I’d like to start by focussing on (2).  How can teachers help students learn to teach themselves?

According to Hattie, what teachers should do to accomplish this is to: 

1. Have clear learning goals, and make those goals transparent to students, so they know what they’re trying to accomplish.

2. Have clear criteria for evaluating ‘success’, and make those criteria for success transparent to students, so they know how their performance will be evaluated and determine the specific actions they need to take.

3. Provide rapid formative feedback to students on their performance as they learn, so they know how well they are attaining the criteria and can make adjustments or changes.

The goal of ‘teaching students to teach themselves’ in Hattie’s words boils down to teaching students to ask themselves three questions: “Where am I going?”, “How am I going?”, and “Where to next?”

OK, enough with the introduction!  I’d like to ask everyone to to take a quick look at the two infographics linked below (from

Simple list of influences ranked by effect size
(Reminder: negative effect size suggests the influence disrupts learning, an effect size of 0-0.4 is considered by Hattie to be a positive but below-average influence; an effect size of 0.4 or higher is above average and therefore considered desirable.)
Prettier infographic with a little more explanation of some selected influences:
First thing I’d like to ask: What do you find particularly surprising?  Some of these probably disagree with ‘common sense’, but do any of them contradict your own real-world experience?  Or does this all just seem super obvious confirmation of what you already knew?

And don’t be shy to ask about any that look particularly odd… “Drugs” for example has a positive influence!  But that term here refers to “medication used to reduce disruptive behaviours”, which is admittedly not what I first thought wink

Second: On a more philosophical note, is stating a goal of “helping students learn to teach themselves” (Hattie’s preferred phrasing) the same as stating the goal as “helping students learn to learn” (seems to be the more common phrase)?  Are they just two ways of stating the exact same goal?  Does one phrasing suggest a different approach to you?

by Doug Mauger – Thursday, 4 February 2016, 3:48 PM

This one always get people talking.   What is the impact on the instructor being a Subject matter Expert and the student’s learning?

by Jennifer Barker – Friday, 5 February 2016, 4:38 PM

Given that colleges here specifically hire instructors as ‘subject matter experts’, it’s a little disturbing that the effect size for ‘Teacher subject matter knowledge’ is a whopping 0.09 (insert sad trombone sound here)

It’s even more striking when compared to ‘Teacher credibility’ (that’s credibility in the eyes of the students) which as of 2012 had an effect size of 0.90, making credibility far and away the single most influential teacher trait!

How many of us are seen as ‘credible’ by our students?  What can we do to find out?  What can be done to increase one’s credibility with students?

by Doug Mauger – Saturday, 6 February 2016, 11:19 AM

This is such a great book and supports Hattie’s findings as well. Great learning does not require a SME…

Here are some reviews on the book by educators who read it and changed their practice and outlook

by Sean Brown – Monday, 8 February 2016, 8:24 PM

I clicked on the link above then clicked ‘Open Preview’ and read the first page, in which the author states, “The department chair asked him to teach the least popular course in the department, ‘Research Design and Statistics.’ No one wants to teach it. Students don’t want to take it.” I don’t understand why students would not want to take this course nor why instructors would not want to teach it. I personally would enjoy taking or teaching such a course! I guess that makes me a Nerd. But my wife calls me a ‘Dren.’ That is because I have a form of dyslexia where I tend to reverse numbers, especially when I hear numbers without seeing them, and I write them down but with the last pair switched with the second last pair, or the last two digits reversed. Comprehensive interventions for learning disabled ranked high with an effect size of 0.77 smile

The above book seems to provide effective teaching strategies that work well even if the instructor is NOT a subject matter expert. While I feel more confident teaching subjects in which I have a strong knowledge base, it seems that we can (and should) master our teaching skills to the point where we can successfully teach a much broader range of topics effectively. Student-centred learning means that we should provide our students with self-directed learning strategies and skills to enable learners to ‘learn to teach themselves.’

by Mark McGregor – Sunday, 7 February 2016, 3:25 PM

Hi Jennifer,

Here are three ways I find out about my credibility as a teacher:

  1. If a teacher wants the real truth- follow forums and Facebook groups that your students post in. Some students post to be mean, some will post with hearts and butterflies, and overall- most post how things are really at in regards of teacher credibility.
  2. Ken Blain (2004) wrote a very good book What Best College Teachers Do and he suggests that student evaluations need proper wording to be valid in regards of teacher credibility. The classic example he used to illustrate his point was the Dr. Fox Experiment. Click here to a link to my blog about Dr. Fox. It’s a very interesting story and I recommend a peek.  HINT- Dr. Fox was an actor and not even a teacher!
  3. When industry lets you know how your students feel about your credibility. Industry wants to know too, so they are going to ask their apprentices (students). Industry has a vested interest in your credibility.

How to increase one’s credibility with students:

  • The best credibility a person can get is when someone talks about you. Sometimes becoming a media expert for a particular industry greatly adds to your credibility.
  • Become an author and speak in public other than for your school.
  • Sit and participate on a board/committee for your industry.
  • Have your department faculty and your Chair promote your achievements with other faculty and students

Your post has inspired me on this topic Jennifer. I think Im going to add this and some more details to my blog!


by Jennifer Barker – Monday, 8 February 2016, 1:36 PM

Oh I love that Dr. Fox experiment!

(On a bit of a side note about student evaluations… has everyone seen the NPR piece (from 2014) “Student Course Evaluations Get an ‘F'”?)

But on your suggestions to increasing credibility… does becoming more publically visible always add credibility with students?  There are an awful lot of high-profile people that I don’t necessarily find “credible”; I think we do have to be a bit more specific about who ‘someone talking about you’ is!  I expect they’d need to themselves be someone students find credible saying favourable things about you (although… would having someone who is not credible saying bad things about you work, too?).

So who are those people?  I’m not certain that the people who students find ‘credible’ the same as people who teachers find ‘credible’…  Which leaves the question: what is it about them that makes them credible to students?

The meta-analysis referenced by Hattie that looks at “teacher credibility” is here (full text is behind a paywall, unfortunately; check to see if you have institutional access).  Those authors conclude that the main components of credibility are “competence, trustworthiness, and perceived caring (or goodwill)”.

Competence can be increased by additional practice and training (see Karen’s comment below, too!).

Trustworthiness would presumably be increased by referrals from people students also find credible, as you suggest Mark!  As I mentioned below, I also think simply being honest with students goes a long way towards building trust, too.

Perceived caring… Are there ways to increase ‘caring’ and ‘goodwill’?  That meta-analysis also showed the effect size for “perceived caring” that was higher than the overall effect size for “teacher credibility” itself!  Some good suggestions for improving teacher-student relationships that rely heavily on improving this trait (as well as building trust) are provided by the Canadian Education Association and the National Education Association (in the USA).

Interestingly, one way to improve all three of these components, and credibility overall, seems to be to avoiding ‘teacher burnout’.  A 2009 study gave students two scenarios:

High Burnout

You are taking a class from a teacher who seems fatigued, frustrated, and emotionally drained during class lectures and discussions. This teacher treats students as if they were impersonal objects rather than as human beings, and does not care what happens to students. This teacher does not know how to create a relaxed atmosphere with students and has difficulty in dealing with the problems of students.

Low Burnout

You are taking a class from a teacher who seems energetic, passionate, and emotionally engaged during class lectures and discussions. This teacher cares what happens to students and treats students as human beings rather than as impersonal objects. This teacher creates a relaxed atmosphere with students and deals very effectively with the problems of students.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the first (high burnout) case resulted in lower perceived competence, trustworthiness, and caring than the latter (low burnout).  Maybe one of the most effective things we can do as teachers is to take some time off every once in a while!

by Sean Brown – Monday, 8 February 2016, 8:35 PM

Some of my more credible instructors were subject matter experts. A few even used the textbook they had written themselves. But the most credible instructor I ever had the privilege to learn with never shared his opinion on anything. Never. Not in any of the several courses I took with him. He taught us ‘how to think’ rather than ‘what to think.’ He encouraged us to evidence our position, to see at least two perspectives on any argument, and to identify conditions for which the argument was stronger or weaker. We learned how to think and how to write. This instructor’s credibility came from others. He often cited famous authors when taking a position and especially when evidencing a position. His ‘borrowed credibility’ came from citing the masters who were widely accepted as subject matter experts in their field.

by Jennifer Barker – Monday, 8 February 2016, 11:58 AM

The odd thing though is that expertise and content knowledge don’t automatically confer credibility… if they did, I’d expect ‘teacher subject matter knowledge’ to have an effect size similar to ‘credibility’, and it doesn’t seem to mixed  Teacher subject matter knowledge is down at 0.09, and so is considered a positive but well below average influence, while credibility is up at 0.90, which puts it as a positive and well above-average influence.

That’s not to say that at least some familiarity with the subject matter isn’t important!  Here’s some of what Hattie has to say on that point (I’ve tried to link to any references that are available online; bolding mine):

Darling-Hammond (2006) has argued that it is likely that subject matter knowledge influences teaching effectiveness up to some level of basic competence but less so thereafter (see also Monk, 1994). … Greenwald, Hedges and Laine (1996) found that teachers’ academic skills have a positive relationship to student achievement in 50 percent of the studies they analyzed; and thus they suggested that intellectual ability may be more powerful than teacher training.”

I think that all suggests that “credibility” can’t be attributed to just knowledge or experience, but mostly stems from being honest, rather than necessarily knowledgeable.  If a student asks me a question that I don’t know the answer to, I’ve found that admitting that I don’t know builds both trust (that I won’t make something up, so when I *do* give them information they’re likely to believe it’s true) as well as student confidence (“hey I’m not dumb, even my teacher doesn’t know that!”).  It also opens the door to being able to reason our way to an answer together (although in some cases I’ve had students ask me questions that we – as a field – actually haven’t figured out the answer to!  Those are the most fun for me smile ).

I rather suspect why we as instructors think we must know so much is because it’s frankly very hard to admit “I don’t know”.  I still feel uncomfortable doing it, even though the evidence seems to say that it’s OK!

by Sean Brown – Monday, 8 February 2016, 7:55 PM

Not surprising included: goal setting, socioeconomic status, home environment, study skills, problem solving, prior achievement, teacher-student relationships, and providing formative evaluation. Surprises included: self-verbalization, self-questioning, meta-cognitive strategies and the big surprise for me was self-reporting grades.

‘Helping students learn to teach themselves’ seems to me to describe teaching students self-directed learning skills, which may include goal setting, identification of resources, research skills, collaborative learning skills, and self-assessment skills.

Definition of a flipped classroom

by Lars-Eric Glimhagen (Lars) – Saturday, 23 January 2016, 4:09 PM

“The flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional educational arrangement by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom”. (Wikipedia).

Is this a viable instructional strategy in most learning situations.  It seems to be a contemporary approach to teaching / learning.  How do you see this working in your field of practice?  What are the pros and cons of such a strategy?


by William Parker (Will) – Thursday, 28 January 2016, 9:48 AM

In education I feel it is often the case that new teaching ideas should be welcomed but should not be expected or allowed to replace the old. The flipped class room sounds like a great idea for many programs and could add meaningful diversity to all students learning experience.  I guess I also like to feel some flexibility left up to the teacher and feel that I diversity of learning experience is better but having only one system is a lack of diversity.

I think there are a list of pro s that are specific to each program and that they should be figured out by the teachers and administration to best facilitate student learning. I feel like many teachers have been trying to do this for years and it only works some of the time for them. So I guess I am saying this is a tool and context is everything.


by Mark McGregor – Friday, 29 January 2016, 1:56 PM

Hi Lars,

Flipped classroom is identified in many areas of the book The Naked Teacher by Bowen (2012). It has been one of my favorite books during the PIDP program.

I teach a trades program- mobile crane operator. We do use online training in and out of the classroom. One of the programs we use is called Mentor 3D.  I feel online training is a viable learning strategy in our situation.

How are some of the reasons why:

  1. Cost effective. Our program is college operated with assistance form AB Govt. Oil is flat- so is funding.
  2. Time. Our classes are short intakes at 6-weeks long.  We can not get all the required content delivered in a classroom setting. So some of the learning is self-regulated
  3. Our students live outside of our school area. They can study online anywhere at anytime
  4. The student is assessed at the end of each online learning module. I get a hidden copy of results therefore I can go over content they struggle on.
  5. I can replay their online lessons in the classroom for further clarification.
  6. Safety- I can “show” them the internal gears of a moving machine without any hazards
  7. Cohesive learning. All students get the same info without any instructor slants.

There are disadvantages too:

  1. Students do not have basic computer skills
  2. Some students not willing to put in time learning online (we have a hidden counter that accounts for each minute they are logged in AND where they are logged into. Uncle Sam is watching!
  3. IT issues within the college
  4. Visual learners may not be keen
  5. Content needs to updated periodically and that is technical for some instructors.


by Doug Mauger – Sunday, 31 January 2016, 4:49 PM

What is the difference between the Flipped Classroom and Blended learning? There is a difference and as educators we need to know this difference.


by Mark McGregor – Sunday, 31 January 2016, 7:37 PM

Hi Doug,

Blended Learning is one definition I did not require to look up on Wiki! The reason is, after I complete my PIDP studies this spring, I will be applying to take a blended Masters program (Leadership) at Royal Roads in Victoria. It’s the only way I can do it.

The blended program I’m referring to requires me taking half the program in the brick and mortar location and the other half is delivered online. Royal Roads describes the program as, “Most programs at Royal Roads University are delivered through blended learning – a combination of online learning and short, on-campus residencies.” For more information about blended learning at Royal- click here.

I see Lars has posted a great definition on Flip Classrooms as well as your infographic on FLIP.

From your definitions, I’d say the difference is blended is more teacher-centered and flip would be more student-centered.

Blended is the best fit for me because I teach in Fort McMurray. I’m a Department Lead so I need to strategically monitor the time I’m away from our college. One of the benefits of teaching at our college is extended time off in the summer and the winter. It so happens that my blended program schedule fits to when I need to be at the Victoria brick and mortar location. And believe me- I’d much rather be in Victoria mid winter than in the Fort!

Seeking a Masters will be part of my life long learning. Our VP of Education has been monitoring my PIDP progress and success and has now challenged me to follow up on this opportunity. She is also willing to be my mentor.  I’m very grateful.


by Lars-Eric Glimhagen (Lars) – Sunday, 31 January 2016, 8:42 PM

Hi Mark.  Thanks for your response.  A couple of comments that I would like to add to your response.  I’m not so sure that a trades program is a good candidate for a flipped classroom strategy.  Your list of pros and cons actually refer to a learning method by which course content is delivered mostly online, in your case, Mentor 3D.  I quickly reviewed the Mentor 3D and was fascinated by its richness as an online teaching module.  Combining this with the out of classroom experience would be a crucial component of a course such as yours where hands-on experience can be gained with the knowledge obtained through the Mentor 3D and instructor-based training.

The concept of the flipped classroom and flipped learning is focusing on the students learning the content on their own, using whatever resources are made available to them, in preparation for the classroom component where they are able to obtain one-on-one with those that need help.

The most valuable assets teachers have are those minutes spent each day with the students.  Teachers need to leverage those precious minutes to maximize learning.  Talking at students each day is not the best use of the class time!  Students need teachers most when they are stuck on a difficult concept of problem that, in a traditional classroom, often happens at home, when the teacher is not available.  The best use of class time incorporates enriching learning activities and relevant experiences (Bergmann & Sams, 2014).

To summarize, online learning is an excellent alternative to classroom instruction due to the reasons that you have provided, e.g., efficiency, economy, replay and safety (I can especially relate to your comment regarding “oil being flat”!).  Flipped learning in a flipped classroom allows the teacher to reverse the traditional learning strategy from learning experiences within the classroom, and completing homework and projects on the student’s own time.

I appreciate your input and thanks for the heads-up on Mentor 3D!



Bergmann, J and Sams, A (2014).  Flipped Learning. Gateway to Student Engagement.  International Society for Technology in Education.


by Naomi Higo – Saturday, 30 January 2016, 12:54 AM

I found a great little article:

“Basically the concept of a flipped class is this: that which is traditionally done in class is now done at home, and that which is traditionally done as homework is now completed in class” (Bergmann & Sams, 2010).  My career goal with the help of this course is to teach undergraduate biology laboratory courses.  The lessons of the laboratory could be flipped but students do not have the necessary tools, equipment and supplies available to them to do the laboratory work at home.

Things may have changed since I took biology 101 however when I did the laboratory ran like this.  The laboratory was open to students 9-5, everyday of the week.  There were tasks and assignments to be completed every week but when and how the students got them done was entirely up to them.  You could spread the work out over the entire week, or cram it all in to one long day.  Students would come to the lab and listen to lectures and instructions on CD’s.  The CD’s also told the students when to proceed to the first activity.  The laboratory instructors job was to have the activities ready to go and help students if they needed it.

I suppose if you were to flip this type of laboratory the CD’s could be listened too at home but the activities would have to remain in the lab.  “One of the drawbacks to the flipped model is that students cannot ask immediate questions that come to their mind, as they could if the topic were being taught live” (Bergmann & Sams, 2010).  Also how would you know whether or not the students really listened to the lessons at home.  There might be “big brother” type setting that shows you which students have logged in and played the video or sound tract and all videos must be watched to get full participation marks but nothing is stopping the students from simply hitting play and then walking away.  Assessing the students before they start the laboratory activities would tell you whether or not they have come prepared but if they are unprepared then precious classroom time is still being eaten up with instruction that should have been completed at home.

On the plus side having students listen or watch the information at home gives students the ability to pause and rewind their instructor.  “One huge benefit of the flipping is that the students who struggle the most get the most help.  We [teachers] spend our time walking around the room and helping students with concepts they are stuck on” (Bergmann & Sams, 2010).  Shari Kendrick is a teacher who likes the flipped classroom because she says, “I don’t have to go to school and perform five times a day.  Instead I spend my days interacting with and helping my students” (as citied in Bergmann & Sams, 2010).

Personally the flipped classroom is something I would like to test out.  I like the idea of interacting with students 1 on 1 more when in class.  I like that students need to take responsibility for their learning and can practice being self-directed learners.  I like that the flipped classroom is more flexible for adult learners who may have jobs, families and other priorities to work around.  On a more personal note, I like how I do not need to perform long lectures as I have permanent vocal cord damage and I loose my voice very quickly and easily.


Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2010). The Flipped Classroom.

Summary of Digital Storytelling

by Jeremy Boyne – Saturday, 30 January 2016, 8:02 PM
This has been a fun process. Thank you to everyone who participated. I understand if this topic was a bit difficult for some to sink their teeth into. I tried to create threads and add posts that could both encourage personal perspective sharing and challenge opinions. I’m not sure if I was successful but it was fun inhabiting this tiny space on the internet with my fellow PIDPers.4 main threads were created and 1 thread entitled “Resources” emerged

1. Welcome to Digital Storytelling

I spent quite a while thinking of how to introduce my topic in a somewhat creative way in order to arouse interest. I decided that a fun, colorful picture with famous quotes about writing/storytelling as well as a personal introduction that illustrates the ubiquitousness of storytelling could serve as a comfortable preface.


My plan was for this thread to simply house digital stories/pictures/videos people wished to share and then drill down in other threads.


  • On overview of Digital Storytelling with examples was provided as well as a definition of “Multi-Modal Literacy”
  • Great examples of Digital Storytelling were provided by Doug, William and Vivienne
  • Opal cited a quote from Barkley linking emotional connection with retention. An excellent reminder of how personalizing education and encouraging Active/Experiential Learning engages the learner and facilitates retention
  • Vivienne provided, what I think, is a perfect nutshell definition of Digital Storytelling along with the overarching benefits:

The use of digital tools in storytelling is a new twist on an old tradition. Storytelling is a powerful way to help people learn. It incorporates tools such as meta-cognition, higher order thinking, organization and self-directed learning… all while they are using technology and tools that that our students are engaged with every day.”

2. Using Digital Storytelling in your Industry or Discipline


I was hoping that this thread would serve as the “mantle” in my drill down with participants contributing their own stories sourced from their own experiences. The first thread was to be the general or hypothetical and this thread was intended to be the personal or subjective.


  • Further information was provided pin-pointing clear benefits and acquirable skills Digital Storytelling elicits.

‘Literacy’ benefits:

Digital Literacy, Global Literacy, Technology Literacy, Visual Literacy, Information Literacy

Skill Development:

Research Skills, Writing Skills, Organization Skills, Technology Skills, Presentation Skills, Interview Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Problem-Solving Skills, Assessment Skills

  • A popular outcropping of Digital Storytelling was touched upon, Pecha Kucha, which forces a presenter to abide by specific format standards. Pecha Kucha is a great resource to help learners prepare, organize and deliver their material in a concise, minimalistic manner while ensuring they really understand their topic.

3. Detriments of Digital Storytelling


To encourage critical thinking I presented this question in hopes of unveiling potential drawbacks of Digital Storytelling.

A rather lively discussion eventually developed that examined issues related to subjectivity & sentimentalism; technology and management of learning objectives; and encouragement and reinforcement of narcissism already abundantly evident in different social media platforms. 


  • Naomi: “Digital storytelling is a great way to reach the affective domain of your students.  The visuals and music you choose spark a lot more emotion then simple text.  My concern is that students may become more easily swayed, manipulated or even almost brain washed into believing something if it is presented in a very well put together digital story.”

Over Simplification

  • Karen: “…a few disadvantages that I could foresee might be some of the information thought of as being simplified, especially it if is presented as a cartoon. “
  • Jennifer: “I’d have to agree with Karen that when trying to put information into a narrative, we do need to be wary of oversimplification.  I also agree that it can be tough to create a ‘good’ story!  But I also think these concerns aren’t unique to the digital realm.”

Technology and Management of Objectives 

  • “There are some disadvantages to digital storytelling in the classroom. Many teachers do not have experience with the technology used for teaching digital storytelling. Teachers may need to attend workshops and specialized training may be required before digital storytelling can be used. Also, some teachers have a difficult time figuring out how to assess digital storytelling assignments.
  • Naomi: “with an increased use of digital media we still have to teach our students to critically analyze what they are watching.”
  • Jennifer: “I do think making use of some of these sources in the classroom is a good idea, as it varies the presentation style and can be used to present different viewpoints or ways of stating things than “The Instructor” might.  But I also think that time must also be allowed for comments and discussion, to both model and have students engage in critical thinking.”

Encouragement and Reinforcement of Narcissism

  • Vivienne: “Is documenting every moment of your life telling a story? I don’t believe so. It is part of the new reality for the Social Media users…

An eye opening discussion that really underscored the importance of closely examining learning objectives and integrating proper and pointed assessments to uncover or prevent some of the potential hazards resulting from incorporating Digital Storytelling into a curriculum.

4. Storytelling as a Growing Trend


This topic arose out of happenstance more than anything. While making a blog post I came across an infographic from ATD which cited ‘Storytelling’ as a top emerging trend. I thought this was quite interesting because ATD/TD caters to the private sector (corporate training). When one thinks of “Storytelling” digital or otherwise, it’s probably common to think of it used, primarily in schools. The fact that it’s a growing trend in the corporate world may lend credibility to its effectiveness.


  • Mark: “In technical training for trades, digital storytelling is not an emerging trend that I’m aware of yet in Alberta, BC, or ON. As compared to another emerging trend that is available on the chart, virtual training I would say seems to be our fastest growing trend. One of the greatest reasons why is the affordability and mobility. I do like the concept of digital story telling and will certainly put thought to it on how it can be added to our program.”

In-line with the objective, it seems Mark, who hitherto would not have considered Digital Storytelling as a viable learning tool in his industry (technical training), may look into its potential application.

5. Digital Storytelling Resources

A list of 25 resources and 4 links with additional links to assist with Digital Story Telling as well as the 3250 Digital Project

Thanks again everyone. It’s been fun.

Summary of Learning How to Learn

by Natalie Lauzon – Sunday, 31 January 2016, 3:23 PM
  • 3 discussion threads:
    1. Meta-cognition and why it’s important
    2. Learning how to Learn
    3. Self-regulated learners

Key points

  • Professor Barbara Oakley talks to top specialists in various fields and identifies two learning modes; the focused mode and diffused mode. She uses the analogy of the pinball machine to explain that when solving a new problem you need to go back and forth between both modes. She also talks about considering new perspectives.
  • Professor Oakley says that when asking colleagues about how they learned to learn, many of them said that they just stumbled on their techniques more or less by themselves.
  • Although learning techniques may be changing as technology changes, repetition appears to remain as important as ever.
  • A number of my peers are going “back to school” after many years absence, and it seems many of us are facing the challenge of re-learning how to learn. Many of us went to school (University or College) in the pre-internet and are learning how to learn (and teach) using different technologies. As our student grapple with learning new skills, we are learning a whole set of learning skills to impart our knowledge.
  • Metacognition is “cognition about cognition”, “thinking about thinking”, or “knowing about knowing”. It comes from the root word “meta“, meaning beyond.[1] It can take many forms; it includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving
  • We as teachers have a big role in getting our students to think about their thinking
  • As students face an ever-increasing demand on their attention in an ever-broadening world available for consideration, an important part of helping them think for themselves is helping them think about their own thinking
  • Self-regulated learners are successful because they control their learning environment.
  • Would it be wise to introduce meta-cognition and reflective thinking practices earlier on (ie. before University/College) so that students are better equipped
  • “Younger children do demonstrate rudimentary knowledge of metacogntive and metamemory strategies but as they get older, they learn to allocate cognitive resources more strategically and develop more sophisticated ways of using and monitoring their strategies” (Holland and Kurts (1997) as cited in Cengage Learning Australia, 2010).
  • Teaching your students to practice reflection in a variety of ways can facilitate more effective and fulfilling metacognition
  • One key point that resonates with me is that the process of meta-cognition as a form of reflection is not a “static form”
  • “Metacognitive practices help students become aware of their strengths and weaknesses as learners, writers, readers, test-takers, group members, etc.  A key element is recognizing the limit of one’s knowledge or ability and then figuring out how to expand that knowledge or extend the ability. Those who know their strengths and weaknesses in these areas will be more likely to “actively monitor their learning strategies and resources and assess their readiness for particular tasks and performances” (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, p. 67)
  • Learning strategies that work for math may be different from those applied in the study of a foreign language (Price-Mitchel, 2015)
  • Self-regulated learners:
  1. -Are aware of their strengths and weaknesses
  2. -Utilize metacognitive strategies, for example, questioning one`s learning and monitoring one`s learning, to approach academic tasks
  3. -Attribute their success or failure to factors within their control
  • A good explanation for the distinction between self-directed vs self-regulated learning: a student who is self-directed is engaged and can usually take a topic and run with it. If they are not self-regulated then they may not be able to hand in assignments on time or find time management an impediment
  • Students who are self-regulated learners believe that opportunities to take on challenging tasks, practice their learning, develop a deep understanding of subject matter, and exert effort will give rise to academic success (Perry et al., 2006)




Cengage Learning Australia.  2010.  Theory of mind and metacognition in younger children.  Educational Psychology for Teaching and Learning (3rd ed.)

Holland, J.M., Kurtz, C.  (1997).  Metamemory development.  In Cowan & Hulme (Eds.), The development of memory in childhood (pp.275-300).  East Sussex: Psychology Press.

Price-Mitchel, M.  (2015).  Metacognition: Nurturing Self-Awareness in the Classroom. Downloaded from


Theory of mind and metacognition in younger children by CENGAGE learning

Meta-cognition – Cultivating Reflection to Help Students Become Self-Directed Learners. It’s very practical and provides steps and strategies using “reflection” as a foundation.

Metacognitive Awareness Inventory (MAI)

Metacognition – Thinking about One’s Thinking


Learning how to Learn: Barbara Oakley TedXTalk

Thinking about Thinking – It’s Meta-cognition – by Doctor Saundra McGuire

Brief Intro to Metacognition

What if we taught kids how to think instead of what to think?

Summary of Adult Learner Discussion Forum

by William Parker (Will) – Tuesday, 26 January 2016, 9:52 PM

Forum discussion summary: Adult Learners                                

Thank you for your participation and interest in the discussion on adult learners. I will try to summarize some of the points in a brief and meaningful way but I encourage you to also look back at the original discussions. There are some great active links, personal anecdotes, and explanations that I will not try to reproduce in this summary. I will try to draw together some of the themes of the discussion in what I hope will be a meaningful way. I posted four main topics in the discussion area. These were 1.) Understanding why the learning is important, 2.)Heutagogy and lifelong learning, 3.) Phenomenological experiences of adult learners, and 4.) Fun principles for adult learners.

The discussion topics I chose were interesting and seemed to facilitate a meaningful discussion but I feel that they did not divide the subject as well I as I would have liked. There were 7 replies to the first topic, 23 to the second, 4 to the third and 3 to the 4th.  The first posts I made received the most comments and many of the comments are my own so the relevance of these numbers is low. However, the discussion weaves some interesting threads through the different headings. I would like to describe the discussion in three main categories. These themes are 1.) personal stories, 2.) vocabulary of studying learning and 3.) Different models of teaching and learning.

Thinking about my own educational experiences and the experiences related in this discussion forum I am struck by the paradoxes. These stories tell us that we all have very similar and also diverse experiences in our educational backgrounds. We have all had moments of frustration and inspiration. As adult learners we have felt both less and more motivated to learn. We have felt like better and more distracted students. All of these experiences are true and tell us something about the other adult learners we may encounter as teachers or fellow students. We are all experts on our own experiences as adult learners and it reminds us to be patient with others.

The other main subject of discussion was about the various “goggies” and the vocabulary of learning. Pedagogy (child learning), andragogy (adult learning), and heutagogy (self-directed learning) are all really interesting subjects that add to the discussion of teaching as a whole. If you missed this discussion take a look at some of the video links and lively posts about technagogy and other concepts. This discussion is very interesting and relevant but it also seems to bring up some very real problems that are not solved by describing different categories of learning.

The third theme that I found in the forum was the discussion of different teaching and learning models. The recognition that there are different ways of teaching and thinking about teaching is necessary to acknowledge when answering some of the basic questions brought up by discussing teaching adults and kids. Some children seem to be self-directed learners and some adults like organized memorization with external rewards. Luckily there are different proposed stages for teachers and students and the value of each model can be seen to have a place in some teaching situations.

The main thread of the whole discussion would seem to be “life Long Learning.” Teach children how to be self-directed learners and try to explain the relevance of all learning to all students. The skills we learn as students are more important than the facts. Learning to learn is something we all need to acknowledge as important for all students on a path of lifelong learning. These things are still true for adults but it is also likely that adults have their own well tested models of how and what they are willing to learn.

Thank you all for your interest, and look forward to the rest of the discussions.

Sincerely, Will Parker