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Lightbulb Moments with BlendKit – Week 3

Blended/Hybrid courses, instructional design
(Side note: My off work time has become increasingly busier as of late with recently getting married (tee-hee) and looking for a new house (possibly building). I intend to keep up with this blog but wanted to mention any irregular gaps between posting. Thank for reading!)

Update: I feel way too disconnected from this topic this week, but found I really missed going through the readings and posting this reflection. I attended the live webinar yesterday and as usual, it was fun and informative. I wish I had a login for their Materia tool, and hope they do find a way to open that up to non-UCF people. They have created several templates for interactive widgets/games for instructors and designers to use in their courses. I may or may have to spend a fair amount of time playing around with that over the past year or so. I first found it during my research for an interview I had with UCF and was glad to check it out again after the webinar yesterday. Like Kelvin Thompson said, having tools like that is a work in progress. I for one an glad they keep it up!

This weeks’ questions will be somewhat more theoretical in nature since my teaching experience (so far) has been mostly in K12 and with faculty professional development. I look forward to exploring this topic in order to formulate a more solid idea of what future courses could look like as far as assessments.

Questions to Ponder

  • How much of the final course grade do you typically allot to testing? How many tests/exams do you usually require? How can you avoid creating a “high stakes” environment that may inadvertently set students up for failure/cheating?
    • I would like to just say that this depends on the type, of course, however, in my experience, it seems there is always some sort of test in each course. Whether it is a quiz/knowledge check, midterm, final, or something else like a project there is something that the student can show to the instructor that they have (or have not) met the learning outcomes for the course. I would focus more on what I want the students to be able to do and let that lead to the product and thus to how much of the final grade it takes up.
    • I hope I would be realistic my expectations for the course so students do not feel that the only way to complete required tasks is to fail or cheat.  I would use the results of each course and any associated hiccups or challenges to reevaluate my expectations. Like any effective course design, I would set up an iterative process to improve and empower students to succeed while meeting the expected outcomes.
  • What expectations do you have for online assessments? How do these expectations compare to those you have for face-to-face assessments? Are you harboring any biases?
    • The most challenging assessments I remember taking during my online course days were the ones where you could just tell that a TON of thought was put into the questions. Whether it was a quiz, exam, or a project you could not just Google or Ctrl+F the keywords to get the answer(s). The reflective thought required took extra time but I guarantee I remember more of that content than assessments that were not designed that way. This way there was at least some built-in protection cheating…especially when the answer had to be open-ended and in your own words.
    • I think many of my expectations for online are similar to those I hold for f2f classes. Dedicated time to work on projects is great in both modalities, as is allowing people to team up (when appropriate) on tasks. It would be hard, though, I imagine, to hold to that when face to face with students…it would be tempting to change stuff or give more information or guidance. Hopefully not, but this is uncharted territory and I bet experience would be the great teacher!
    • As the BlendKit text mentions, I too am a fan of student-generated questions. Those require not only thinking about the answer but real forethought when designing the questions! Win-Win!
  • What trade-offs do you see between the affordances of auto-scored online quizzes and project-based assessments? How will you strike the right balance in your blended learning course?
    • I could see it being nice to have quick pop-quiz or knowledge check style quizzes be auto-scored. Those multiple guess, I mean multiple choice, t/f, fill in the blank questions could be used and could even serve as good study material for students. However, as my answer to the previous question stated, it is difficult to discourage cheating when using that style, and the questions themselves tend to be on the lower end of thinking skills (like Bloom’s).
    • It would depend some on the topic, but I would try to balance out auto-scored and more project based assignments by periodically reviewing the course content to see what design would work best for each outcome. I do remember seeing tools online that could be used to review your course for media and assessment types used to make sure one style was not used too much more than others. It may have been a UDL-related resource, but I digress…
  • How will you implement formal and informal assessments of learning into your blended learning course? Will these all take place face-to-face, online, or in a combination?
    • I fought off copy and pasting my last answer here, but again it will depend. (Yeah, that is a bit of a cop out answer. I shall endeavor to do better.)
    • Informal assessments are a very effective way to gauge learner understanding and help apply aide and resources as needed. The student may or may not realize this too, we always hope they will and encourage it but if they do not the formal assessment sure will! Some data may be required by the institution too, so this and direction by the Program dept would influence when and how these all happen.
    • I would hope to have formal and informal assessments wherever they are needed on a day to day basis, but in planning hope that I could rely on a combined approach.
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Lightbulb Moments with BlendKit – Week 2

Blended/Hybrid courses, Workshops

Update: This week is my week to catch up. I have another course I am going through for PD (I do this to myself all too frequently), so it was tricky the first couple weeks to get a rhythm to get both these courses done. Now I have a plan for completing both courses, and look forward to what will come of it all! The course actually just started week 3, but if I stay on my schedule, it should work out. Wish me luck! Both courses are interesting, and I do not want to flake out and lose what I have done or could get in the coming weeks!

I missed the live webinar this week due to other meetings but watched the recording. There were several great points discussed by the panelists on engaging discussions and interactions, some of which are related to questions and concerns I have heard from our faculty. Now I need a plan to share this with them and our faculty development coordinator.

Questions to Ponder

  • Is there value in student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction in all courses regardless of discipline?
    • My initial thought on this is to say “Of course!”,  But I think it really depends on what the learning outcomes/goals are for the course. Like any other learning opportunity, students will come to each of their courses with a different set of background experiences and prior knowledge. Combine this with varying degrees of motivation and intellect and even an outsider to the world of Education could see there are just too many variables to say for certain if there is always inherent value.
    • The above point being stated, I think student-to-instructor interaction is critical. With instructor knowledge of the subject matter and their pedagogical ability to meet students where they are at, no matter what students come in with (other than the required prereqs), they have the opportunity to meet the goals of the course and build their own definition of value in each interaction.
  • What role does interaction play in courses in which the emphasis is on declarative knowledge (e.g., introductory “survey” courses at the lower-division undergraduate level) or, similarly, in courses that cultivate procedural knowledge (e.g., technical courses requiring the working of problem sets)?
    • What my real-world understanding of the role interaction plays in various course types is limited to the courses and subjects I have taught or ones I have worked with faculty on. That being said, those experiences combined with what I know about student interaction best practices allow me to have at least a starter answer to this question. Learning styles or preferences have to play a part in either an intro course or a technical course. From my experience, the ideal scenario has a course with multiple options for students to complete the objectives and assignments for each course. Of course, it takes time to construct or procure these options but using  +1 thinking (doing just ONE more thing-adding one additional type of media or assignment), over time this can be a reality. In our courses at this college, a significant portion of the interactions in some courses would be essential for students. Two examples from this college would be our Nursing or Auto Body Programs. It would be hard to pass someone in any of the related courses if they have not interacted in the lab assignments. Do you want someone drawing blood that has never practiced doing it in a Simulation Lab? Obviously not. Hand over your car to someone who has never painted a car before? Well, sure if you really want to stand out…and not in a good way. Of course, I am joking but I bet you get the idea.
    • A somewhat more general (and concise) answer to the role interactions play would be that in either course type, interactions in online forums, with software, group or teamwork, etc. would reinforce the content.As the reading for this week mentioned, whether this is through minimal or guided learning is up to the instructor and often to the type of content.
  • As you consider designing a blended learning course, what kinds of interactions can you envision occurring face-to-face, and how might you use the online environment for interactions? What opportunities are there for you to explore different instructional strategies in the blended course than you have in the past?
    • For our professional development courses, I can see face to face interactions being especially important for fully online faculty. They are typically not engaging as much with their peers like on campus faculty are, so offering face to face sessions would be one way to provide an opportunity to do so.
    • The online environment would be a great mode to offer recorded webinars or asynchronous content for their review at a time convenient for them. Even better would be to offer different times for live webinars to supplement or just give another option for a simulated face to face meeting with their peers.
    • I think our department has the ability to meet the needs of faculty in so many ways that hopefully, we can offer something for everyone. Whether that is online, face to face, or a mixture of both. UDL for faculty PD, anyone? 🙂
  • What factors might limit the feasibility of robust interaction face-to-face or online?
    • Timing – In my world, we all deal with the issue of finding the “right” time to have face to face sessions or online sessions for PD. Faculty have so many other obligations that it is hard (even if they have the desire) to prioritize their own PD.
    • Attendance – all too often sessions have low attendance, so the interaction and collaboration opportunities are minimal. Meeting faculty where they are at with what they need for PD has always been tricky.
    • Interest – no matter what each person has going on, if the level of interest in the topic is not there, it does not matter when or where the PD is offered.
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Lightbulb Moments with BlendKit – Week 1

instructional design, Workshops

Intro: Last week I started (finally) to explore BlendKit. After gaining more familiarity with my own colleges’ offerings, I wanted to gain more insight and ideas into how we could generally expand those offerings and improve what we already have.

As a recommended part of the course, I will be posting a reflection post here each week. I will highlight things that stood out for me, as weel as answer the Questions to Ponder that are offered in the course. I hope to also be highlighting the work of others in the course who are also posting on their blogs. Please check them out when you come across the link to their blog! Another part of the course is the DIY (do it yourself) assignments. This week, that will be a separate post but some weeks may work better to be included in the reflection.

I first heard about BlendKit from the TOPcast podcast. So far, I am already impressed by the wealth of information and resources it offers! And it is an OER! Check out their website:

BlendKit Toolkit

About BlendKit: Based upon proven research and informed by practical experience, this Blended Learning Toolkit will offer guidance, examples, professional development, and other resources to help you prepare your own blended learning courses and program.

Questions to Ponder

  • Is it most helpful to think of blended learning as an online enhancement to a face-to-face learning environment, a face-to-face enhancement to an online learning environment, or as something else entirely?
    • I think it depends on the subject matter or content. Some course or content are better face-to-face (f2f) or have to be f2f (as in a Nursing or Automotive course) and some are better fully online.
  • In what ways can blended learning courses be considered the “best of both worlds” (i.e., face-to-face and online)? What could make blended learning the “worst of both worlds?”
    • Learning styles and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – blended offers something for students who process information better in person as well as for those students who benefit from going solo in their learning so they can focus and not have to deal with so many distractions. UDL recommends offering the content in multiple formats so blended gives the opportunity to offer content in more than one form.
    • Blended courses can allow a discussion that happened in the f2f course the chance to continue to flourish online. Conversely, if there was an interesting discussion online, that can be taken into the f2f sessions.
    • If either mode is done poorly blended can become the worse of both worlds. Just a few ways this could happen -if there is no engagement or feedback from either the instructor or the students, if the same powerpoint slides are posted online with nothing else, or if the students are not oriented on being a successful online learner.The instructor just lectures or is not present in the f2f session or virtually in the online sessions.
  • As you consider designing a blended learning course, what course components are you open to implementing differently than you have in the past? How will you decide which components will occur online and which will take place face-to-face? How will you manage the relationship between these two modalities?
    • For our PD, I would like to start offering asych content and then offer web meetings on those same topics, both would always have the option to meet with our team 1:1 in person or virtually.

How I used a pencil at a 3-day Conference…


This Summer I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a national conference for D2L Brightspace. It was held in Washington, DC over the course of 3 days (more if you did the post-conference) and covered related topics in online learning and of course, D2L Brightspace. (from here I will just call it D2L, btw)

I found several sessions to attend and overall had a really great time, but I had additional plans for the experience…I decided that I wanted to see how well taking just my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil worked in comparison to my usual laptop approach. I also wanted to compare taking notes for a full day with the Pencil and another full day with the attached keyboard. (the third day was a mix of whatever since it really was just networking) I used OneNote to take notes each day and although I did not qualify my comparison with specific topic areas, I did find a few specific ways this improved my workflow and things I will probably avoid in the future. Here is what I found:

Keyboard only

I am sure it is no surprise that using the detachable keyboard with the iPad Pro was not all that different from using my MacBook Pro. Similar feel and functionality, without the bulk that comes with the full laptop.


  • As mentioned above, the lighter weight of the iPad/keyboard was most welcome especially when carrying around the airport and in-between sessions at the conference. Even though I had a backpack, so my hands were still free, it was nicer to have there than a heavier laptop.
  • No changes to the interface, so the UI was very familiar…just like taking notes on my laptop or desktop computer.
  • I could tuck the keyboard away if I just wanted to use the onscreen keyboard.
  • I think I was faster in some ways, and even found time to highlight and link to other resources while taking notes. I am guessing this was due to my familiarity with taking notes that way for years.


  • I chose not to have a screen protector, but this would probably still show up there too. When the keyboard is closed, it presses ever so slightly on the iPad screen so there is a barely visible line on one side of the screen. I have tried to clean it and it does get most of it, but not all. Thankfully it is only visible if the iPad screen is off and you are looking at it at just the right angle.
  • I found myself typing more word for word what the presenter had on the screen or was saying (at times).

Apple Pencil Only

I will admit that when I started this conference day, I instinctively pulled out my keyboard and started typing. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked using the Pencil and how well it fit into my workflow.


  • Good to know I have not forgotten how to write – the physical action of writing in cursive or not is something that should be practiced now and again. As much as I like typing things out, this was better. The main reason I think I stopped writing was because I just do not like to have paper copies of stuff (except for post-its, I am clearly addicted to post-its…just look at my desk).
  • Along with the point above, I enjoyed writing in different colors and line thickness. Yep, I was one of those kids at school that had those 4 color (or more) click pens. That must have annoyed so many over the years! Click, click. Click. ha.
  • I found I used my own words more and synthesized the presentation to make sense for me. This was a weird thing to notice, I have to be honest. Maybe I was more ‘connected’ to the writing experience. Who knows.
  • The writing was amazing. Really looks like my writing. Now and then I would get artifacts from where my left hand (non-writing hand) was…but this was minimal.


  • It took a little bit to get used to the UI in OneNote. Not that it was hard, just new. So this did cause some extra time and attention but I would imagine as I use it more this will not be an issue.
  • The pencil roll. Ugh. I found myself just holding on to it when I was not writing because I was worried it would roll away from me. Or I doodled…that was kind of fun too. Brought back memories of the margins in my school notebooks. (more haha)
  • I forgot to and found it tedious to add tags (checkboxes etc.). Or maybe I was just doing it wrong.
  • This could be a like and dislike – I found with using the colors I did not need to highlight stuff.

Overall, it is clear that I liked using the Pencil. I think I will have to find out how and when I will use it at work. I could see it being great for collaborative or personal brainstorming. Or when sketching a mock-up. Meetings I think I will still type…unless the agenda is digital and I can write on top of it. We shall see.

Designers for Learning course – Take 2


Last I wrote, I was taking part in the Canvas course ‘Instructional Design Service course: Gain Experience for Good’. I went all the way through the course but you may have noticed a lack of a “Yay, I finished!” and ..”here’s how it went.” post. The fact is that although I did finish the content for the course, I let my perfectionist tendencies get the better of me for my final project. Le-sigh. (that is pseudo French for Sigh, btw) Rather than rush through it and put a less than stellar plan out there, I decided to take the course again and do it right. My chance to do just that starts next week, so wish me luck. OR, better yet JOIN ME! Sign up here for the course ( and see for yourself. 🙂

So stay-tuned again, but this time it will be a finished product one way or another.

Update on Designing for Good course


This post is an update on the last post I wrote  on the Designing for Good MOOC I am taking. I think we are at approximately the half-way point in the 12-week course. I continue to be impressed with the discussions and how much I am learning (and even better applying)!

As in most courses, there are discussion boards and whether I am posting an assignment, a reflection, or just a random question I always get a response from either an instructor or another participant. In my opinion, when the experience it the opposite it is quite a downer. Not the case here. I am continually engaged during any discussion experience.

Happy dance and rainbows, I am learning and applying various aspects from the course on a regular basis! Although I have experience working with adults from past and current jobs, I do not know much about Adult Basic Education (ABE). In designing our lesson, we are using the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). These were recently updated and as I wrote in the last post, there is a huge need for resources for instructors to use that align to them. Although it took some time to get a basic understanding how the CCRS are arranged, I am glad to have the guidance when writing my objectives and planning learning outcomes, etc. When this course is finished, I will be so glad to have another example of work I have done and better yet, to have contributed to another OER!

This course is also a great review of the Creative Commons and copyright areas. With more and more content being made available each day, it is very important to know and be able to use those resources in the manner they were intended. Not everything that is out there is free to use however you want and not everything has strict copyright. Those of us that use available content should give credit and respect the rights given to it. The ‘Do Unto Others…’ saying applies well here. If the guidelines are recognized, everybody wins!

I would like to encourage those interest to check out the free courses available on The first two I have been a part of have been well-thought out and a good experience so far! Be sure to let me know if you find good ones!

An Opportunity to Design for Good? Yes, Please!

instructional design

In the midst of settling into new work routines and projects, I still wanted to have an avenue for creative discussion and learning…I have (and will, as long as they will have me, haha) done this through the Adobe EdEx but still want to grow my network in other areas. Now I have added one more branch to that network AND have the opportunity to learn and to contribute to Open Educational Resources for Adult Basic Education!

screen grab of the summary of the ID course in Canvas

Title and Summary from the course.


I have joined a 12-week course through Canvas that, as shown in the image above, will give me additional experience in instructional design while contributing to the body of knowledge available to learners and instructors in adult basic ed courses. Since the GED exam was updated in 2014, there is not a lot of resources that can be used and that align to the new standards. Enter this course…Win-Win! I gain more experience with a chance to contribute and the community gains another educational resource. I think both parties benefit quite well in this process!

I am just finishing Module One as I write this, but already am exciting for what we will all put together. I have met a few of the volunteers (yes, volunteers) that designed this course, and put what I am sure was a TON of time and efforts to building it. Again, thank you!! Read more about them on the Designers for Learning Team Page.

I would like to post each week of the course, but will strive for regular updates as I go through it. I want to promote this idea, and the work that has and will come from it!

NOTE: There is still a chance to sign up for this course today! Registration closes March 4th.