February 2009


The OLIT program has provided me with a great opportunity to create a knowledge base of adult learning theory and the skills to design effective educational projects that can help adults become more effective learners and workers.  I especially enjoyed learning how to implement historical and current applications of learning theories, from behaviorist to  constructivist learning environments. 

My program focus was multimedia and distance education and I am grateful for the encouragement and opportunity that faculty offered, in particular the development and design of a learning module for the online graduate class E-Learning and Culture.  Studying and implementing Vygotsky’s cultural historical theory expanded my understanding of the variation of experience that learners from different cultures express.  Organizing an instructional design with the ADDIE model helped me to implement projects with a thorough base of information and clear goals. The evaluative process helped connect learning goals with outcomes, and I gained experience in the scientific process of measuring the effectiveness of learning environments proposed in the design and implementation phase.  Examination of current learning theories built on my knowledge and opened my mind to the possibilities of using online media to communicate in a new way- beyond face to face learning.  The experience of building online learning modules in WebCT and Dreamweaver provided multimedia experience that will be applied to future projects.

I enjoyed designing projects and researching relevant literature that helped me to understand current practice.  Research and writing of a collaborative paper based on Web 2.0 technologies was another highlight of my learning, class participants became a community of practice to accomplish the paper and learned a great deal about current technologies in the process. I am especially thankful that the OLIT courses are largely collaborative and that tests were not an integral part of the program.


The Adult Learner course began the theoretical base for designing environments that are relevant to adult learning. The five assumptions of androgogy, provided a framework for understanding how to make instructional environments relevant to adults.  Many of the learning theories studied- behaviorism, cognition, constructivism and everything in between were especially helpful by giving a research base to adult learning.

A collaborative project centered on cognition and constructivist learning theories provided a model to understand how we advance throughout life. Piaget’s cognitive theory for children laid a foundation for learning in adults through emphasis on qualitative learning, active learning and mature thought. I especially appreciate instructor modeling of constructivist learning theory throughout the course.  Students were encouraged to share their views, there was an interest in multiple points of view, and designing of project activities were left to the learners, the instructor acting as a facilitator to build knowledge internalized by the learners.

The collaborative design of a symposium based on Rotter’s Locus of Control(LOC) emphasized the world view of a learner. Rotter’s social learning theory measures the degree to which a person believes that their behavior can influence their experiences, and to what degree they feel they have power of their circumstances.  This group project described LOC, its effect on social behavior, and application to adult learning. The paper also included an assessment tool for individuals to measure their own LOC.

The individual learning analysis synthesized the relevant learning theories through an exploration of personal history. The final project, a metacognitive  recollection, described  pertinent learning theories synthesized in the context of lifelong experience.

Foundations of Human Resource Development presented a broad overview of the applications of Organizational Learning.  Engaging the professions connected course readings with an interview of a professional engaged in the field of learning.  A literature review focused on E-Learning and Culture in two programs designed for adult learners. High Touch-High Tech for Rural Native Alaskan Native Adults incorporates problem solving, group discussion, and debates using Internet technology. Virtual Menthe, Spanish for virtual mind, is an online graduate course in cognitive processing is based on Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Human Intelligence and incorporates local cultural materials to stimulate creative action.

Self-reflection papers were written throughout the semester.  These documents provided a review of learning and metacognition as a knowledge base was built.  They were helpful in processing ideas and action.

Instructional Design organized the learning process.  The ADDIE or Instructional Design model was applied in a design document addressing computer mediated processes required of graduate students in the OLIT program. A learner, setting, task, and content analysis, defined the project. Goals and objectives were identified that could help learner navigate online processes. The Inside Story incorporated behaviorist theory in a step by step instruction that could be used independently by learners or in a classroom setting facilitated by an instructor.   An Instructors guide was developed for classroom learning. 

Speak Slowly and Clearly combined behavorist and action learning theories in a project created for anthropology graduate students for success in public speaking. Speak Slowly and Clearly brings the learner through a series of exercises that combine pulse regulation with color meditation techniques. A PowerPoint presentation was presented to the class that described the project and offered a demonstration of techniques.

Cross Cultural Issues in Adult Learning presented culture of groups and organizations that framed class projects and explored the definition of culture as the shared values that are passed from generation to generation.

An online negotiation with Peking University was a first hand experience of intercultural communication.  The premise of negotiating a record and concert contract with a performance artist presented a challenging role play through text based communication.  Would both parties be satisfied?  What is the cultural gap between a U.S. negotiator and the Chinese performance artist? Will there be a winner and loser?  This online negotiation seemed sometimes to be a test of wills driven by money and speculative success.

The recognition of color by different cultural groups was the topic of a literature review.  Do Cultures Perceive Colors Universally? cites research on color recognition and a proposed hierarchical understanding according to language. Berlin and Kay examined seventy eight languages, reporting that eleven basic color terms form a universal hierarchy. Linguistic relativity highly influences the colors that are recognized, organized, and categorized.  

The cultural historical theory of Vygotsky, and the theory of Praxis of Friere were poignant theories for my understanding of adult learning.  That individuals grow and develop within the traditions of their culture experience and that they express that influence throughout their (our) lives is compelling in designing active environments that move learners from thought to action.

Theory and Practice of Distance Education included practical challenges in navigating the Web CT learning management system.  A first time user of distance education technology, I had a steep learning curve.  Mastering blackboard, synchronous and asynchronous systems provided an opportunity to understand what many adult learners experience in accessing an online course. 

A literature review of social presence in a computer mediated communication explored the ability of learners to project themselves in online interaction.  It is noted that interactivity, collaboration, and reflectivity can be highly influenced by design of the learning activity, moderator roles, and involvement by both facilitator and learner. 

This class included an action learning project. My partner and I had a great experience facilitating an asynchronous discussion and synchronous session with Peking University students.  Facilitating a synchronous session with our Chinese counterparts was enlightening as socio-cultural and language differences had to be considered and surmounted.  It was not easy to know if silence was agreement or not understanding a point that was made. Prior synchronous sessions facilitated by the instructor were important leaning opportunities for facilitating the weeklong project and helped me to facilitate the sessions, in sharp contrast to face to face learning.

The complex problem project addressed the Digital Divide- the chasm generated between those with and without access to digital information.  International examples exposed the current capacity for distance education in China, Egypt, and Senegal, the problems inherent in implementing DE in culturally diverse countries, and possible solutions.

 Advanced Instructional Design presented contemporary theories and models used to design learning environments. Research and presentation of the Affective Domain described the recognition of emotion, attitudes, and motivation as pertinent in a holistic approach to designing learning environments.

The class collaborated on the design of an instructional design model called Transformation In Distributed Environments (TIDE).  TIDE was designed to provide a framework for organizations to move their businesses forward through the contributions of individuals at many levels of the organization.
Problem Based Learning was incorporated in a design document called The Water Case, an online learning module that explores geographic, cultural, and subsistence strategies in a negotiation of water rights between the United States and Mexico. It is based on socio-constructivist theories of learning and creates a flexible and interactive learning environment based on situated learning theory. The WISCOM model is used to create  transformative learning in five iterative phases.  Knowledge artifacts are created for and produced by learners.  Two evaluation instruments, formative and summative measure learner progress.

Distance Education Course Design, while less technically (Web CT) challenging than theory and practice, focused on implementation with the goal of creating an e-learning module. The learning module designed in this class was the Water Case developed in Advanced ISD.  Designing and building the module in WebCT produced changes not anticipated in the design document.  Physically organizing the module required alteration in design- synchronous sessions were less numerous after considering that learners may not be in the same time zone and may have prior commitments that could restrict participation.  Graphic elements and alignment to the learning management system also resulted in design change.  The module is part of the E-Learning and culture graduate class offered by OLIT and has been used with two groups of learners.  The module is undergoing changes based on the evaluations by both groups. (link attached below)

Instructional Multimedia  provided experience in building learning modules. Taken in condensed form during the summer session, the intensity of this course cannot be overstated. Learning the Dreamweaver program and designing a learning module using it (in four weeks) was a technological crash course.

A collaborative project for ITT Technical Institute students designed for online use guided students in the financial aid application process, a process that is required for many attending ITT. Winston- a subject matter expert and narrator, guided students through a four step process.  Incorporating screen shots from the ITT financial aid site, the module progressed at students pace, allowing them to start a new session from where they left off and save their work.

Program Evaluation was challenging in the creation of structured plan for measuring outcomes of a program. Building on classroom learning and reading assignments I produced an evaluation plan for the Artisans of the World series at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. The evaluation was developed to identify areas of strength and areas of improvement within the design and implementation of the series. The continuity and alignment of measurement instruments with key questions structured the evaluation plan.  The plan used quantitative and qualitative data and focus group interviews incorporating Appreciative Inquiry theory.  The evaluation has been implemented and the results provided the basis of a proposal for continued funding of the Artisan series. (Evaluation Design Document attached below)

Advanced Technical Seminar explored the use of Web 2.0 technologies and Communities of practice.  A constructivist approach to the class allowed for learners to decide on projects to pursue. We developed into a community of practice with the goal of writing a collaborative research paper. “A Theoretical Framework for Building Online Communities of Practice with Social Networking Tools” proposes a theoretical framework as a foundation for building online Communities of Practice using Web 2.0 tools centered around a Wiki. The paper discusses a learning community’s spiraling process as it moves from a given sociocultural context through discourse, action, reflection, and reorganization toward socially mediated metacognition. The research paper was submitted and accepted by Educational Media International and is currently being prepared for print. (Article attached below)

Digital Storytelling, an elective, presented the many forms of digital storytelling with the goal of introducing a new type of narrative to learners. Each class meeting discussed different components of digital storytelling including interactivity, agency, transmedia, characters, dialogues and emotions.  These storytelling components were applied in written assignments in many genres including training and education, interactive cinema, serious games, the Internet, immersive environments, ITV, and mobile devices.  I created a design document called The Bering Sea Arctic Adventure, a serious game for fourth and fifth grade students based on the North by Southwest: Bering Sea Communities, Collaborations, and Collections exhibit at the Maxwell Museum.  The Bering Sea Arctic Adventure combines environmental and historic data in a game that teaches traditional subsistence survival strategies that Alaskan Native people have used for generations.  The design document includes background information, structure, setting and style of the game, interactivity including rewards and punishments, characters, and storyline.  The document can be presented to funding sources for implementation. (Design Document attached below)


The collaborative nature of OLIT courses provided me with learning partners that brought strength’s in areas I was inexperienced and working together we were much more than the sum of our parts. As I progressed in my coursework common themes of individual and collective work, sociocultural experience and an appreciative approach to projects emerged.  The products of each class enhanced my approach to the next and it is just now in writing this program synthesis that I can appreciate the journey that I have taken.  It has been transformative in many ways and my growth is measured not only through the acquisition of new skills- research, writing, and analysis- but also in the self-efficacy that I have found in working diligently throughout the three and a half years that I have been in the Master’s program. 

I am thankful for opportunities that are available to OLIT students outside of coursework.  Last summer I was able to improve mentoring skills with students of the University of Sri Lanka e-learning class.  This experience helped me to understand and appreciate the cultural communication style of professors in Sri Lanka, support other learners working in new media and interact with wonderful colleagues very far from Albuquerque.  I believe the e-mentoring experience was emblematic of my coursework, incorporating new media, cultural communication and appreciative approach to problem based learning. 

I very much appreciate the support I have received from OLIT professors and administration, and the College of Education Graduate Writing Studio.  It has been a wonderful experience to have been a recipient of the unique experience that is OLIT.

Sample work is linked and attached below:

The Water Case  E-Learning and Culture 

The water case is module 7, I have requested access for all committee members

SocialNetwrkingWeb2.0.pdf SocialNetwrkingWeb2.0.pdf
Size : 0.305 Kb
Type : pdf
EvalDesignMaxwellArt.pdf EvalDesignMaxwellArt.pdf
Size : 0.265 Kb
Type : pdf
Bering Sea Survival.pdf Bering Sea Survival.pdf
Size : 0.153 Kb
Type : pdf
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