Favorite Technologies for Learning Today

As an online graduate student, of course I have grown to be supportive of technology for convenience, connection, communication, and the overall ease of access to knowledge and informational resources.  Today’s learning opportunities are a far cry from the musty card-catalogue I grew up learning to use.  As a teacher of electives and special populations, my least favorite use of technology is for cumbersome or intricate Learning Management Systems, which is why I rely on Canvas by Instructure when I am forced to use a tracking or grading portal for distance learning (  Canvas is also a well know class-portal for posting podcasts, and for hosting live webinars and screen-sharing sessions.

But today’s technology is best prized for its accessibility, not it’s exclusivity, which is why Video Podcasting on sites like YouTube ( are creating learning-communities of its own.  The interconnectivity of blog sites with social networks like Facebook, and Media-hosting sites like YouTube are creating amebic groups of learners more akin to a “school” of like-minded fish journeying together than a concrete box “school” where pupils are assigned a seat. ( and TedEd  ( are two other favorite sites for educational video.  The use of Facebook alone, ( can act as a learning portal and classroom if individuals choose to Like Fabook Pages which offer educated content, and are encouraged to share educated ideas and discussions via the Comment feature.

On the other hand, live interaction between instructor and student have come a long way with technology, and now coaches, tutors, trainers, and mentors are capitalizing on tools like Skype ( and Google+ Hangouts (  to chat, demonstrate, and monitor individual participants and small learning groups remotely.   UStream ( is also one live-stream Broadccasting site I have had the opportunity to try in conjunction with a professional conference, which allows for faster and clearer one-way live communication, along with a live text-chat box for viewer response at a lower-bandwidth than other two-way video-conferencing requires.

Given the availability of mobile technology, blended learning is even more possible today in any setting.  Mobile phones and touch devices with cameras and internet connection are at least as powerful as the pencil as a tool for education.  Like many teachers, I have become reliant on useful and unique tools like Pinterest to visually organize not only personal interest items, but lesson ideas, project samples, and instructional information ( The ease of being able to look up a photo and link to a video or written instructions for nature-craft idea, while on a hike in the woods with a group of children, is simply revolutionary in means of accessibility to both knowledge and creative inspiration.  Educators are beginning to realize the value of such a tool, akin to using a traditional cork-board as a learning surface, rather than as just a display-space as noted in these two blog posts on ( written and shared recently:

Here is a video tutorial of how to use Pinterest, and how to incorporate it into lessons for visual posting and sharing of educational content like project displays, writing prompts, categories to share, and for topical discussions:

Surely the opportunity does not stop there.  Between learning games, simulations, virtual worlds, and augmented reality, the technology of today’s mere blogs, wikispaces, and webcasts, will someday seem as musty as that old card catalog.  More than offering mere pop-up advertising as you walk down the street, GoogleGlass is already finding it’s place in education and as a valuable tool with the disabled:

Regardless of whether a teacher enjoys incorporating technology into their lessons, it is already becoming incorporated into our world, and learners of all ages are utilizing it to aquire new knowledge and skills every day.


Posted by on December 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


Communication: Can you hear me now?

When you take the time to try and communicate, miracles can happen:

In a recent activity, this blogger was asked to review the same statement presented in three different modalities:  a text/e-mail, a phone message, and a video clip.  Of course, how each one was interpreted was slightly different.  The email/text message could easily be interpreted as kind, pleading, and polite but rambling.  The Phone message came across to this listener as being much more firm and direct, with an emphasis on time and deadlines, all based on the timing and tone of the voice (Laureate, 2010).  The video clip shared the same exact statement, but came across as friendly, understanding and patient, based on the speaker’s body language, even if her smile might have been a mixed signal which downplayed the importance of her statement.  As the Project Management mentor, Dr. Stolovitch, points out in his training video; everybody knows that 93% of communication is not what you say, but how you say it (Laureate, 2010).

Each Team Member’s, Stakeholder’s,  and Project Manager’s INTERPRETATION  of what is said is quite another matter, and can often be a reflection of their own situation, cultural training, agenda, outside interference, or emotional state.  Even the best and most well-practiced diplomat can be challenged with getting a message clearly across to a listener, from time to time (Laureate, 2010).  The value of communicating over the phone in our example exercise may have been the most effective way for the speaker to stress the importance of their message, without rambling or sending mixed diplomatic signals to a visual learner, but inevitably, it is best for a manager who is intending to communicate clearly, to understand the preferred and effective communication styles of their audience, if not each audience member uniquely (Laureate, 2010).


Knowing each stakeholder’s best communication modality is a bit like knowing each student’s learning style and preference.  The most effective diplomats are able not only to communicate clearly and effectively, but are also able to treat each stakeholder as if they were a dignitary from a unique culture, and communicate with them by “mirroring” their unique vernacular and body-language cues (The Communication Help Center, 2013).  Depending on a project’s time-table, the luxury of “figuring out what makes each stakeholder tick,” can be a both a challenge and highly rewarding.   As the Golden Rule teaches; treat others how you would want to be treated… however, the “Platinum Rule” raises the game with; “Treat others how THEY would expect to be treated.”  While this may be equally difficult for kind-hearted as well as ultra-demanding Project Managers, it may actually be essential for Project Management Success.  “Know Thy Stakeholders,” is the First Commandment when using this technique, while at minimum, a leader should know how to communicate effectively to their intended audience as a cultural group. (Portney, et al, 2008 & Laureate, 2010).


Cartoon (2013). Facebook: Timeline Photos: The Secret to Humor is Surprise Fan Page. Retrieved from

Laureate, Inc. (Producer).  The art of effective communication, (2010).  [Interactive multimedia exercise].  Retrieved from

Laureate, Inc. (Producer).  Communicating with stakeholders:  Dr. Stolovitch discusses communication strategies and managing client expectations.  (2010).  [Video Podcast].  Retrieved from

Laureate, Inc. (Producer).  Project Management Concerns: Communication Strategies and Organizational Culture: Dr. Stolovitch gives Carole Kramer advice on adjusting her communication style to fit her client’s culture. (2010).  [Video Podcast].  Retrieved from

The Communication Help Center (2013).  Mirroring:  A communication tool for generating rapport.  Retrieved from


Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


Distance Learning: Is it going the distance?

“Students listened and took notes, and then regurgitated the same information back to the teachers on exams.  This ‘Teacher-Centered’ model continues in many courses delivered to distant learners via today’s synchronous, video based technologies.  With computer based technologies, however, have come exciting new opportunities for providing learning experiences to students.  This philosophy of education has become popularly known as student-centered learning, because it so strongly promotes active learning, collaboration, mastery of course materials and student control over the learning process” was quoted from Barr & Tagg (1995) in our course text.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 123.)

How far has distance learning come, in the last eighteen years, at taking the full opportunity to offer truly exciting experiences in distance learning?  It appears, from my best observation and understanding of all content gleaned from this recent course; that there are two divergent factions continuing to form a strong-hold in the distance learning field:  Formal academia transferring content and lessons thoughtfully to online course management systems, vs. Practical application and skills instruction which is pushing the boundaries of the latest web 2.0 technologies using just-in-time and student-centered learning philosophies (Leadbeater, 2010).

Charles Leadbeater: Education Innovation in the slums (20 Minutes) (Fast-forward to Minute Marker 1:25)

Formal vs. Informal Online & Distance Learning


Online Academia / Degree Courses Online Instruction / Industry Tutorials
Focus Quality Standards / Scholarly Content Skills Mastery / Brief Learning Curve
Outcome Assimilation into Academic Rigor Assimilation into Applied-Skills Culture
Structure Curriculum “Pushed” to Student Resources “Pulled” by Discover-Learner
Motivation Extrinsic – After Learning is Gained Intrinsic – Gain Knowledge to Change
Measure Grades / Degree / Certification Completion / Demonstrate Skill / Concept
Credibility Citing Sources / Degreed Faculty Rate of Skill Mastery for New Learners
Value Map / Conduct Further Research Performance / R.O.I. of New Skills
Materials Recorded Video / Written Documents Video / Document / Live Chat / Streaming
Methods Written Essay / Quiz / Project YouTube Demos / Social Media Sharing
CMS Portal Blackboard / Moodle Canvas / Facebook / LiveStream Video

Callejas, E, (2013) Introduction to Distance Learning Blog Post.  Retrieved from

While academia questions the rigor and quality standards of itself, its competitor colleges and universities, and all other informal training programs; Informal training proponents question the value and return-on-investment of degreed online programs, based on their end use and assessment measures.  Either way, whether a proponent or opponent for online learning, one must first recognize and agree on whether the discussion at hand is evaluating one or both of these divergent cultures of distance and online instruction.  While online universities site the use of “primarily text and document based instruction” for the “ease of worldwide student access” and documented cognitive learning theory support, Students in remote areas can now more rapidly access the latest Google and Ted, and YouTube postings from notable centers of research and innovation, on advanced and emerging things like sustainable Hydroponics and Bio-Fuels Resource Construction (Anderson, 2010). Video tutorials on re-manufactured smartphones, can sometimes be easier to access than multi-layer classroom portals students must use to read assignment requirements (posted elsewhere) and upload an average scholarly-source-supported “discussion post” essay assignment.  Both learning models are occurring at a distance from the instructor and the source content author, and both use technology and the internet.  In which situation is learning really occurring?  In which situation is it efficient for greater populations of learners?

Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation  (Fast-forward to Minute Marker 12:12)

As a proponent for distance education, I must both express and justify my experience-based understanding that applied creativity in instructional material design and methodology is important for the field to grow.  Greater advancement and acceptance may come in Distance Leaning as there is a merging of Academia and Informal Methods in the distance learning arena.  Credibility may grow for online Institutions as graduates are able to better apply knowledge to solve real-world problems, and network successfully with colleagues in post-degree collaborations.  Credibility may grow as informal students can more easily and rapidly search for and access video and interactive resources, posted online by recognized scholarly sources, and the materials they share are designed in a way that is both engaging and easy to understand.

Greater advancement will come within my own industry, as creative teachers continue to push the boundaries on radically using the most prolific Web 2.0 and social media tools to teach content, so professionals continue their learning, and apply it to their daily work, but can also recognize that the consultation and coaching they received was both intentional and instructional, and was based on applied theories of learning and researched methodologies of educational practice.  When, rather than being overwhelmed by the formality of a syllabus and cited sources, wary learners are allowed to gain and apply their understanding first, and then investigate the foundation upon which their experience had been skillfully crafted and customized to meet their needs and offer them solutions, it is then that learning and progress can advance hand-in-hand.


Anderson, C. (2010).  Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation.  (Beginning at Minute Marker 12:00 and 16:00) Retrieved from

Leadbeater, C.  (2010).  Charles Leadbeater: Education Innovation in the slums.  Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S., (2012).  Teaching and Learning at a Distance. Fifth ed. Boston:  Pearson.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


Using Technology to Create Educational and Interactive Art Tours at a Distance

The infamously funny film; “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” gives a comical and dramatic look around New York City, as well as a memorable introduction to the unique spiraling architecture New York’s Famous Guggenheim Museum of Art:

By doing a single Google Search; “art museum visit new york” this edu-blogger was able to find all of the following links in the sample Social-Connectivist Art and History Lesson Idea which we have created below:

The Emotions of Art: in Peace and in Conflict – (By Eileen Callejas, March 21, 2013)

Although playfully surfing down the rotunda hall of the Guggenheim would never be possible without the help of digital animation, one other playful and creative installation which gave the impression of suspending water in mid in the center of that museum was recently on display:

Gutai Exhibit: Splendid Playground:

Take a moment to listen to the Guggenheim Curator for this exhibit about its installation:

One need not go to the Museum itself to see the works of art that the museum owns, and may only see a selection of their total collection at any one time.  Many pieces from the Museum’s collection can also be viewed on their website: or carried in one’s pocket by downloading their art App:

One famous piece from the Guggenheim collection, which is exactly the opposite of the serene Gutai suspended-water installation is a work by the famous Pablo Picasso, depicting the emotion that takes place when another out-of-place water-creature is suddenly encountered on land:


Lobster and Cat by Pablo Picasso

Lobster and Cat (Le homard et le chat), January 11, 1965. Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 × 36 1/4 inches (73 × 92 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Thannhauser Collection, Bequest, Hilde Thannhauser, 1991 91.3916. © 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

When you see this work, does it make you laugh?  Does it make you wonder how each of the animals might be feeling?  In this odd encounter, do these animals appear to be in a stance of bullying or defending?  Do you see how well Picasso is able to use simple shapes and brush strokes to depict movement, action, and emotion?  If this were a video clip, what might happen next?  How might this action-scene end?

Picaso not only has a collection of works at the Guggenheim, but a special exhibit depicting his art across the timeline of his life was displayed at a another prominent New York Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Here is a short 12 minute YouTube video with the MOMA Director and Curator discussing the exhibit:

Another Prominent New York Museum, where similar abstract and geometrically looking artwork can be seen, is the Folk Art Museum, which houses works of other Self-Taught Artists who made statements with their drawings, paintings, sculptures, and installations during their lives:

Folk Art:  Self-Taught Artists

One artist’s work in their collection, by Louis Monza, depicts a detailed image of the Conflicts and Current Events of his day; calling his work “The Comic Tragedy”:


The Comic Tragedy by Louis Monza

Read about his work, and then consider the current events in the news of your time.  Would artworks about these events depict the Comedic Tragedy of conflicts between two persons or different groups? How might you show the action and emotion of the moment, or how the situation affects others in our world.

Whether you are a famous artist, or a Self-Taught artist, you can create your statements alone, and put them on display, or you can get collaborative, like the Gutai, to make and share your art and statements around the world:




Technology Integration Ideas for a unit like this, or other Virtual Tour of an Art Museum or Exhibit Include:

Idea 1:

Notice that the Museum Collections of Picasso’s work are like Photo Links Lists or Pin Boards online:

Picasso’s at the MOMA:

Picasso’s at the Guggenheim:

Download a painting and drawing application to your computer or mobile device,

and then create an abstract depiction of the assigned current events, using your art to make a statement about the present time in history.  The class can collaborate by gathering their digital drawings together to create a class Pinterest Board: to share your “collection” of artworks.

Idea 2:

Remember the works of Picasso, Monza or the Gutai.  Work with your team to create a “Word Cloud” or “Wordle.”  Start by making a list of words that their art pieces make you think of.  Edit or select the specific colors and fonts that coordinate with the art piece you are describing, so that the two would look good hanging on a museum wall side by side.  Once your team “Wordle” is approved by the teacher, share it with the appropriate Museum’s Facebook Page or Interactive Twitter Feed Account, so that it can be viewed by the public.  Remember to list the name of the artwork and artist it is written about, and include the names of each of your team members in the sharing post.

Idea 3:

Create a team WikiSpace: where you house a piece of “progression” artwork similar to Picasso’s Linoleum Block Prints shown in the exhibit tour.  Decide as a group on a story from our current events, which is similar to what we have been learning in history class.  Use the drawing and shape tools in PowerPoint, or another Drawing App, in which each student takes turns building on to the same picture, one at a time.  Decide who gets to go first, and who will add the finishing touches on your collaborative work.  Save the image at each turn/stage as a single slide or individual .jpeg file, and post them to your WikiSpace.  Also, include a collection of notes or journal entries from each team member, explaining what it was like to collaborate on one art project. Explain, also, how your team overcame any conflicts while working together on a changing “progression” project.

Idea 4:

Use the interactive online tools provided by the Guggenheim Museum to experience the Gutai exhibit  Read more about the life and works of the Gutai group, and use the Guggenheim’s “Please Draw Freely” link to “draw” or “add to” another digital artwork inspired by their exhibit.  ( You must provide an e-mail address to interact with this site.  This Idea may only be available for a limited time; in conjunction with the exhibit.)

Idea 5:

Use Skype, Google Hangouts, or the “Conferences” feature in the Instructure: Canvas CMS

to host a live video-chat or screen-sharing session with a Museum Docent or Group Tour Director, University Professor, or Art Student in New York City. Check the museum websites for phone numbers and information about how to schedule a live group tour, and inquire if someone from their staff can assist in a virtual Question and Answer Session with your students.  If docents or tour staff are not available, then inquire for contact information to nearby universities with art or art teaching certification programs, who may have volunteer students willing to chat and share an experience similar to a “Virtual Photo Walk,” of the city and the walk leading up to the Museums, as well as  through the Museum gift shops, if permissible.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


Defining Distance Learning as it Changes

Easily a quick Google or YouTube search can provide a reader the definition of what Distance Learning has come to mean in our modern technologically linked society, with its formal roots as far back as the postal service, while it’s informal roots may go dating back to when nomads and merchant ships carried artifacts and printed knowledge from one shore to another, leading to the spread and self-study of anything from the Phoenician alphabet, to the art of crochet (EPCOT, 2013 & Maine Maritime Museum, 2013).   The main concept of distance education being, that the teacher and student are at some separation, by time, distance, or understanding, and the knowledge or information is being transported from one to the other in some way (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zavacek, 2012).

wordle distance learning word picture pdf

Whether by sailing ship, horseback courier, or in the mail by rail, those who have desired to teach, and those who have desired to learn have managed to communicate ideas with one another.  As the technology of communication has changed, so has the advancement of distance learning.  Even in the past 5 to 10 years, the increased use of the internet, along with greater access to streaming video such as You Tube, have created international surges in crowd-sourced instruction and study, especially in areas of “making” and “doing” that have been difficult to translate onto paper and publish into books for shipping, as was necessary before for most types of “correspondence” or “self-study” courses in the few hundred years before (Edutopia, 2013).

Surprisingly, as I was doing my own You Tube search on the topic, (having grown to understand that it is now becoming counter-productive for a learner, or an educator, to un-necessarily re-invent the wheel in order provide or produce learning materials to share before first doing a literature and media review…) I came across a video segment, that for the first time, had me considering the challenges of quality and accreditation of my own studies, and the unique field in which I use distance learning; the elder and adult disabled populations; for their crafts and elective interests topics.   As it turns out, there is far more to the history of distance learning’s progress in America, and the separation of its multiple branches (edu-tainment vs. trade skills study vs. scholarly pursuits) that make distance learning so challenging to view as a single subject of study.  This historical inter-weaving, use, and maturing of distance education is eloquently presented in a lengthy but mesmerizing You Tube video by the Distance Education and Training Council, titled, The American Way to Learn:

This program not only reviewed the similar timeline and founding scholars presented in Walden University’s course media and text, reinforcing the concept that today’s definition of formal distance learning is, “institutionally based, sharing of data and multimedia, via interactive telecommunications, between teacher and student at some level of time or distance separation,” it also emphasized the value of self-regulation among the industry and its institutions (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012) & (DETC, 2011).  This is especially poignant when speaking of the value of educating a person, when it is funded by another person, institution, or government.  This led me to investigate the accrediting process that is undergone by my own University in which I am enrolled.  In a detailed video, Walden University outlines the process that it recently underwent to renew its regional accreditation:

(Walden University, 2012).

In the industry in which I work, however, the rise in open-source instructional media, and even crowd-sourced discovery and innovation, has as valuable an impact on humanity as the sense of security gained from institution-based quality of instruction, when considering the other side of the scale.  Rapid progress comes from both a fast-paced sharing of innovation to a focused group of specialists, as well as the slower collection and reflection of scholars and historians to remind society of the similarities in trends to where we have already been as a society (Edutopia, 2013) & (DETC, 2011).  It is this juxtaposition of experimental social-constructivist prototyping, which can now flow around the globe and be re-applied as new learning, worldwide, in as little as 48 hours, set side by side with the skills of cognitive reflection, which move the greater populous forward, with improved ease and a higher likelihood of experiencing success rather than experimental failure.  This was so creatively expressed in the video and related discussion posts that came across my Facebook news-feed earlier this week, from Edutopia:

So, as learners continue to apply these new communication technologies, with or without the support and structure of an institution or accrediting oversight, both the doers and the thinkers are now able to connect and progress at a more rapid pace than before.  Just as the steam-engine sparked the rapid expansion of correspondence-by-mail study, so too may the ever-increasing accessibility to media-based knowledge-sharing be to rapid expansion of open-source study and informal distance learning’s emerging renaissance.  The impact that this will have on the definition of “distance learning” and “distance education” being institution-based, may lead to re-defining either distance education, or the loosening  of the definition of what constitutes the governing “institution” in the future, to include, businesses, associations, organizations, and topic masters; all quite similar to the history that was shared in the DETC documentary.

It seems today I again learned, that history, regardless of the technology being applied, may once again repeat itself – and all of this I was able to learn through Distance Education.

1 Comment

Posted by on March 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


It’s a Technology Renaissance Out There!

Are we entering into a time of Technology Renaissance around the world?

Just as the artists, authors and play writers brought the great Empire of Rome and Classical Europe out of the Dark Ages and into a time of expanded learning, creativity, and expression, so too has the tipping point of internet connectivity and speed paired with mobile and touch-tablet devices generated a New Technology Renaissance for our time.  Just nine months after the UN officially declared Internet Access a basic human right, as seen here: ( the cries of the “disconnected” are now beginning to be heard.  The “Social Media Revolution” has now reached a cresting point, as the wave of change for this decade, and nowhere have I seen it presented better than in this YouTube Video: (

As I begin my project on blogging, instructional design, and e-learning, I encountered a helpful blog site full of articles on making e-learning modules more effective:  ( But this is just my starting point.  My challenges are unique in this field, because of the populations I serve. My organization, (, works and advocates for the rights of the elderly, disabled and homeless, both children and adults, to gain access to the wealth of resources, including wireless internet, technology, and online learning.

My personal emphasis is on the Human-Computer Interface in instruction, and the excellent opportunities that exist for designers to create learning modules and classic or kinesthetic instructional game-like apps, not necessarily just what you would classify as the realistic looking “video games” of today, but efficient and engaging tools that truly mesh with the unique needs of these populations.

As our Creative Technology Renaissance progresses, we must start with a look at what is new in the GadgetBox this year:  ( especially the videos which previewed a “First Look at Windows 8,” as well as some of the “Connected Gadgets at the Toy Fair” in February, 2012, to get a good idea of where we might be headed…

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Uncategorized