AAGH! Trying to get through

AAGH! Trying to get through the last week of school. Even though I’m not teaching this term, I still have grading to do(?), dissertations to read, etc. As noted below, many big announcements on the work front coming soon. I’ll be blogging again once we actually get into the winter break and things settle down some.

Wrapping up the AECT Blogging

Wrapping up the AECT Blogging

Well! Let’s hear it for the wireless internet connection at AECT this year! When I first heard it, I thought it was to good to be true: and of course, it was. They had a cloud of coverage on each floor of the hotel – with each floor running through it’s own dedicated ISDN line! W00t! 120 people sharing 128k connection! Guess what kind of speed I was getting the last few days, once people figured out how to connect? You guessed it. So it is only now, a week later, that I’m posting the “end” of my AECT Log. Hopefully next year (in Anaheim) we’ll get a hotel with high-speed connections in the guest rooms and in the conference area. I would have settled for either this year… But enough complaining! IT was great, I had a blast, and things are moving forward.

Saturday November 16

8:15 Michael Orey gave a great presentation on an ebook about Learning Theory he is developing as part of a course. The book is all online, all free, and being continually updated. It reminded me of Dave Williams? Evaluation book and Andy Gibbons? Instructional Design book that he uses for his course. With Instructional Design, Learning Theory, and Evaluation texts freely available, we?re not far from being able to assemble a core curriculum from completely free materials. I?m extremely excited about these ideas, and we should work to move them forward.

8:45 Joe Scandura gave a presentation on his new journal. It was typical Joe.

9:30 A great presentation on SCORM given by some guys from Indiana. Joe Scandura showed up for this, too, and strongly argued that SCORM will cause the downfall of mankind, the destruction of the earth, and eventually catalyze the inward collapse and eventual implosion of the universe. (If Joe knew how to Blog, he would now be saying that Wiley was there promising world peace, the return of the City of Enoch, and even more.) Andy Gibbons insightfully (as always) pointed out that people who fear SCORM fear it because they don?t see how they are able to implement their pet approach inside of it.

10:45 Presentation on effects of facilitation in an online learning theory and cognition course. One of Marcy’s students… pretty interesting.

12:00 Lunch and hanging out in that most exciting place… my hotel room! Watched some football, did some kicking back, and thought about a “new paradigm” (to use Charlie’s terms) for instruction based on a parallel, specifically distributed, processing model. The old Information Processing model focuses on getting things into long-term storage. That was cool when education meant memorizing lists and spitting them back out later (what? education still means that?). However, a Distributed Computing model changes the focus from storage to computation; in other words, from remembering to actually being able to do. Some lengthier writing about this coming soon.

6:00 On to the bus and off to Billy Bob’s to watch Willie Nelson on closed circuit. Well, well, well… this was anti-climatic. Had a fair evening hanging out with folks, especially good conversation on the bus with Laurie Nelson, in which we again solved the meaning of life and world hunger.

Friday November 15

7:30 breakfast for AECT authors. Got up and down there on time, breakfast hit my table about 7:58, I was 2 minutes late for the 8:00 session, and didn?t really get anything to eat?

8:00 panel session with the Synergy group. Bren talked about design-based research, I talked about identity and oppression, standards, SIG-ATL and learning sciences people and our relationship to them, moral obligations, Lisa talked about sociocultural theory and fitting in, Laurie talked about professional and personal (and other kinds) balance, and Janette talked a little about multidisciplinarity (and suggested that ?profession? is the appropriate term for us, as opposed to field or discipline). Packed the room.

9:15 roundtable with Lisa on sociocultural theory and relationship to instructional technology research. Kept the table full, people came and went.

9:45 Took 30 minutes to finish up my slides for the 11:00 presentation ? for some reason my machine kept crashing last night. I believe now that it is a problem with overheating. Anyway,

11:00 presentation about OSOSS and the movement toward those kinds of environments. Very well attended, good buzz afterwards.


11:45 Marcy talked about a content analysis of the past 5 years of AECT conference proceedings based on titles, authors, and abstracts. Wow. USU started weak, but has increased in the last 5 years in terms of representation by papers presented.

12:30 Headed over to the Wyndham Anatole where the conference was originally supposed to be held, and ate lunch there. Remembered how much I dislike cold noodles.


3:30 Our roundtable Mediate This! was fabulously attended, and I think we got the message out about some of the work that we?re doing. I was particularly excited about getting Charles Graham there in order to expose him to our work and help him see why we are so interested in what he is doing. Hopefully we made a connection that will be both fruitful and ongoing. Folks hung around after our table officially ended for another 30 minutes talking about mediated learning and online collaborative problem solving. The photo here is of Walker and the Feedback Form Nazi, who hung around as long as we did… I thought Walker was going to go postal on him.

6:00 Headed off to the dinner a little late and by the time the lengthy line snaked its way to the food tables, everything was gone but a few bits of pasta and some vegetables. Hrumph? We headed downstairs to the T-Bones Steakhouse and had some pretty good beef ? Pepper Crusted Rib Eye. Yum.

8:00 Back upstairs for the Gala and karaoke contest. I placed third in the contest singing Cobacabana and scored myself a $100 gift certificate to Best Buy (cue music: ?Idea Box??). The DJ was one of the worst I?ve ever seen. He played song after song to which no one danced, and refused to admit he was wrong and cross-fade to something else. Once when people actually did get up on the dance floor, he actually chased most of them off with a ?Only swingers out now; let?s see some swing dancing!? Then when I got called up for karaoke, Copacabana was the only Barry Manilow song he had? What a weak collection! Had a fair time, and caught the last 20 minutes of Episode II: Attack of the Clones in Jon Nelson?s room, where we had taken in Lord of the Rings the night before. They had taped a white bed sheet to one wall and brought in a high resolution projector which they attached to one of the DVD-capable laptops. The picture was actually great, and the sound was fair.

Thursday November 14

Senior Faculty Presentation, Including Russ Osguthorpe, Andy Gibbons, Walt Wager, Janette Hill, Barb Bichelmeyer, Elizabeth Boling, Richard Schwier.

As you get older in the discipline you reflect more deeply because of the transience of models passing you by.

Russ. We haven?t come to a conclusion yet as to what the foundations of our field are. There has been some work in historical and psychological foundations, but very little in philosophical foundations. All theoretical work can fit into four categories:

  • Formism ? categorizing
  • Mechanism ? objectivist thought
  • Organicism ? systems theories
  • Contextualism ? constructivist thought

How do my personal beliefs align with that of the theorist whose work I am employing? Aristotle provided two categories: episteme (generalizable principles) and phronesis (practical reasoning).

The more highly developed one?s phronesis, the more prudence one develops in practicing their profession. Prudence is the nexus that ties theoretical and practical knowledge, foundational assumptions, and personal beliefs together.

Walt. The presentation is online at http://www.fsu.edu/~ids/wager/foundations.ppt
There are many different perspectives on what ID is, but as a profession we have a set of common goals. What we know must be contextualized according to the roles we adopt. Our diverse backgrounds give us varying orientations which we tend to defend too fiercely. Seven orientations: behavioral, cognitive, contructivist, instructivist (John Caroll?s schools model), communications, social-psychological, performance.

Janette. Who is leading the charge for instructional technology? Learning sciences folks? Ed psych? IT may be a ?metafield? (Hannafin) ? no primary focus, benefits from diversity but there are some costs ? it?s difficult to discern the direction of the field, and it?s difficult to rally the troops. Tom Caroll rocks. Disruptive technologies create opportunities for change. Bill McDonough rocks. Sustainable design and renewable energy. Cradle-to-cradle means turning over sustainably.

Grabowski. (Presenting via WAV file by means of a team of 5 graduate students. Wow? I?m sitting here with a large group of people listening to a recording and seeing slides fly by? Is this what distance learning is like? What it should be like?) WHO are we? Who ARE we? Who are WE? ISD is under attack: Gordon and Zemke (Apr 00), Zemke and Rosset (Feb 02). Anglin (1995) five views of ISD model.

Andy. There is a stark difference between science and technology. Engineering is generally relegated to ?applied science,? i.e., seen completely from the point of view, or appropriated by, a scientific community. Quoting Vincenti, quoting Herb Simon.

Elizabeth and Richard. What would it mean to commit instructional malpractice? Do no harm? What are the common expectations of our peers for ethical practice? What is the distinction between pragmatic and abstract notions of ethics and malpractice? Potential for harm? (Messick ? Consequential validity? High stakes testing?) ?A violated duty causing harm? Palmisano (1995) gave us an ABCD expansion:

Accepted as a patient
Breach or violation of standard of care
Cause of injury must be the breach
Damage must be a direct effect of the breach

Bichelmeyer. What do we want to be when we grow up?


Lloyd Rieber, Mike Orey, Janette Hill
Presentation on UGA studio sequence. Project course grounded in constructionist philosophy ? initial design projects are judged by one?s own criteria ? period. Three course sequence; team membership includes folks from across courses. Students contract to learn tools, and in a class of 20-30 people, everyone may be learning something different. Teachers support students? tool learning, with a little expertise in each tool. Special workshops are done to provide basic information on tools.

We?re a design field, but we have no ?great works? to study like the painters, musicians, sculptors, architects, and other designers do. Why don?t we use this model? (My opinion is that we don?t have master artisans like DaVinci, Bach, Frank Lloyd Wright, etc.)

As faculty members we have to get out of our students? ways. If we intend to teach them everything they?re going to learn, then we limit them right from the get-go. We have to be humble and stay out of the way, and students have to take some responsibility. We have to be able to say ?I don?t know. Let?s go find out.?

Gibbons Roundtable. What would the measure of progress be for instructional (and other) technologists? Does traditional psychometrics suffice, or do we need rigorous measures of preferability or utility, say from economics? Do utility functions, for example, have a role to play here? The technologist?s focus should be preferability rather than validity.

Tribute to Bob Gagne. Mike Spector, Marcy Driscoll, Dave Merill, and other folks telling wonderful stories and memories of Bob. What a man?

Charles Graham, Barb Bichelmeyer, Laurie Nelson, etc.

Tuckman?s model of group dynamics: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Adjourning. Several areas were identified in a case study examining making online group norms explicit:

  • Division of labor ? work teams are frequently cooperative due to diverse background skills which are relied on to finish quickly (efficiency as goal). Members of learning teams should want to learn things they don?t know yet.
  • Roles ? SME, editor, but no real roles, even though having some was a stated goal.
  • Technology choice ? use the bulletin board or e-mail? Etc.
  • Communicating the unseen ? humor, body language, emotion, silence, etc.
  • Acknowledging communication

Suggestions ? make teams aware of potential issues, developing norms to address specific things to reduce conflict, don?t just discuss ? write down, revisit after 3-4 weeks. Also, don?t give student groups norms, or have them pick norms ahead of time, present the groups with typical problems, and have them develop norms in response to these.

Value norms, leadership and decision making norms, logistical norms, and one other!

Evening. Spent some serious time at Denny’s downing hot chocolate and solving the world’s problems. Janette drank coffee and Laurie had tomato juice.

Blogging along today from

Blogging along today from the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas – AECT conference headquarters! The lobby is still quite busy; folks are queued up trying to check in, visiting in the comfy chairs, etc.

Attended an excellent session by Reigeluth and John Keller (the grad student at Indiana, not the ARCS pioneer) about trying to reach terminological agreement in the field of Instructional Technology. They have a fairly comprehensive list of terms associated with instructional theory (though it was missing anything like affective, intentional, conative, etc.), and initial definitions for each term. Apparently this will be the second chapter of Green Book Three.

Registration stayed busy throughout the day and late into the evening. Lucky student volunteers worked the computers double checking name spellings and affiliations, printing name badges on demand.

Nate Lowell (Ubex Unknownis) led an interesting discussion panel talking about issues relating to distance education on which I participated. For some unknown reason I was struck by a fit of sobriety and acted as a voice of reason in the group, trying to remind folks that we need to understand the instructional problem ? and that media can interact with instructional strategies, and should. We need some kind of rigorous medium analysis.

Dave Jonassen talked about solving story problems in his usual colorful style. He?s been doing work on solving physics story problems and has designed an environment to ?either scaffold or two-by-four, which ever you want to call it? people through the process. Jeroen (4C-ID model) made the comment that since problem solving is a skill, why not just teach it like we teach other skills?

Then there was an excellent presentation on narrative instruction. Bruner is the foundation of this research. ?Narrative is a change in the meaning of experience,? Gowin, 1981. Talked about discursive versus nondiscursive narrative. ?Narrative instruction occurs when a learner is involved in a dialogic relationship with the content.? Cases, narrative simulation, anchored instruction, work stories, and Socratic dialog are all examples of narrative instruction. (Apparently Van Dyke has an excellent book on discourse analysis which touches on this topic.)

Came down at the end of the day to find the Penn State GA’s doing their volunteer time behind the AECT Book Table — and they’re selling my book! w00t! I signed a few copies just for kicks…