Discussion Question: Overcoming Barriers

We have all experienced barriers in our educational or professional settings. Although barriers can be difficult and frustrating, they push us to problem-solve and to ignite our inner creativity. For some, barriers can shut down growth and improvement, while for others, barriers can increase motivation and effort. There are many barriers that exist in the development of online courses and the integration of technology.

I recently read an article titled “Barriers to the Adoption of Online Learning Systems.” The focus of the article and research within the article is online learning systems in higher education. The overall purpose of the research was to try to determine what steps could be taken to increase the effectiveness of the online learning systems in the institutions (Guthrie, 2012).

Guthrie (2012) outlines four barriers of online learning in higher education. These barriers include the following:

  • An unwillingness of instructors to give up control of course design and methods for teaching content
  • Lack of funding and investment
  • Changes in teaching roles and expectations
  • Institutional costs are not changing as originally thought with an increase in online students

I believe collaboration and strategic planning can help organizations overcome barriers. With that said, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in relation to these questions:

  • What do you see as the largest barriers in implementing online learning or technology in your organization?
  • What might have to change in order for your organization to overcome these barriers?
  • How is your role affected by the barriers and how might you personally move forward?
  • Are there some barriers that cannot be overcome? If so, how might this affect your organization or your work?


Guthrie, K. M. (2012). Barriers to the adoption of online learning systems. EDUCAUSE Review, 47(4). Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/barriers-adoption-online-learning-systems

Rubrics in Moodle: What Is Your Experience? (Image Post)

5382307261_1649853dbe_zThis week I will be spending a lot of time reviewing rubrics and aligning rubrics with course learning outcomes. The use of rubrics in online learning provides the learner with a clear picture of the instructor and assignment expectations. Rubrics can be used to assess various assignment types in Moodle, primarily written assignments. Currently, you cannot use the Moodle rubric tool on forums. This would be a nice feature in grading forums in Moodle, so hopefully that will be made available in the future. Have you used rubrics in Moodle? What has been your experience? How do you create rubrics that can apply across content areas? What are some challenges and successes that you have in using rubrics for grading student learning?

Image Source: “Rubric Highway” by Jen Hegna, CC BY-NA-SA 2.0

Response: Examining Generational Differences

This post is in response to a prompt located on Virtual Meanderings: Examining Generational Differences

In week two of EDTECH 537 Blogging in the Classroom, I read three articles that presented and responded to the theory of digital natives and the impact of generational differences in instructional design (Prensky, 2001; McKenzie, 2007; and Reeves, 2008).

Initially, I was struck by the negative image of “digital immigrants” that is portrayed by Prensky (2001). Prensky (2001) states, “Digital Immigrants typically have very little appreciation for these new skills that the Natives have acquired and perfected through years of interaction and practice.” I find this statement about both the Natives and the Immigrants to be false. Many teachers are motivated by new technologies and the skills that their students enter the classroom with. They strive to learn more about how students are using technology and to motivate them by integrating technology in a positive way. They are seeking professional development to help in this process and spending extra hours outside of the teaching day to do so.

I also disagree that the Digital Natives have “perfected” the practice and interaction of digital skills. As an online teacher for the past four years, I find this to be a huge misconception. Yes, growing up in this digital age does expose students to a variety of technologies and skills. However, the way students are using these may not necessarily be for educational or research purposes. Therefore, the skills that they have might apply to using Twitter or Instagram for social purposes, but not apply to the problem solving and critical thinking skills that are needed to further engage in and manipulate the technologies.

McKenzie (2007) contradicts Prensky’s statements and outlines the false representations of Digital Natives and Immigrants. Prensky’s main points lack research and are presented in a negative tone (McKenzie, 2007). I appreciated McKenzie’s careful analysis and rebuttal to Prensky, especially his discussion on digital deprivation. As a new mom, I find many articles on the harmful impact of technology and digital devices in the growth and development of children. I think it is important to develop and encourage a healthy balance of technology and non-technology based learning activities in young learners.

Reeves (2008) presents discussion about the research behind generational differences. I was surprised in his findings, as he summarized the weakness in generational difference research. He emphasized the need to focus on the learner as a starting point for instructional design and their specific needs (Reeves, 2008). Instructional design begins with the needs of the learner, not the technology that will be used.

If a colleague brought digital natives into discussion, I would respond by providing them with the resources above as a starting point for discussion. Today’s learners need guidance and direction in developing critical thinking skills and problem solving skills. Having technological skills do not necessarily result in these life long learning skills. I would encourage them to focus on the learners in their classroom or educational setting and analyze the needs that they have without making broad assumptions based on generation.


Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

McKenzie, J. (2007). Digital nativism: Digital delusions and digital deprivation. From Now On, 17(2). Retrieved from http://fno.org/nov07/nativism.html

Reeves, T.C. (2008). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum from January 22-25, 2008 at http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/Paper104/ReevesITForumJan08.pdf



The moove to Moodle (Guest Post)

This post is written by my husband, Joshua Coleman, who is a 7-12 science teacher at a charter school in the suburbs of Minneapolis.

I have been teaching secondary science in a traditional setting since I was licensed in 2007. Three years ago I was exposed to Moodle for the first time, but used it minimally as I wasn’t really trained in it’s use. I would basically post a brief outline of my daily lesson plan, post the learning objectives, and describe the assignments with due dates.  As Hanna was teaching in an online setting, I was able to see her more extensive use of Moodle for coursework and assignments and was intrigued. This summer, I have undertaken the task of transitioning much of my physics course onto Moodle, and more robustly use its additional features to better meet the needs of my students.  The following will briefly describe the processes I have used and learned along the way

Previously, all of my courses were outlined by our technology staff, and we were required to input the information. They chose to use the calendar mode and lessons were put on for each day of the week. The frustration with this format was each year then required the movement of content to match up with the correct days of the week. It was for this reason I chose to use topic mode rather than calendar mode. I add the assignments that will be completed during each week, but not the days in which they will be completed. Hypothetically, this will prevent me from having to move too much content from year to year, and thus prevent  a lot of extra work.

One tool I have found very useful is the combination of Google Drive and Moodle.  I have been typing out daily assignments in Google Drive and embedding them into Moodle assignments. The beauty of it is as I update the Drive assignment it will automatically update the Moodle assignment.  I have also linked Google Drive folders at the end of each week for “resources.” In these folders I put lecture notes, worksheets, lab assignments, and videos used in class. This is very useful, because if I find a new worksheet I can easily add it to the Drive folder and it is automatically added to the Moodle page as well.

The final tool that I have used extensively is the HotPotatoes program. This program allows me to easily create different types of quizzes and drop them into Moodle. In the past I have used the Moodle quiz maker and have been extremely frustrated. It is time consuming to use and not very intuitive. The HotPotatoes program creates quizzes quickly and in a format that works very well with Moodle.  When adding a resource to your Moodle page it comes up as one of the options, and allows you to choose how you want it graded. The students can quickly and easily take the quiz, and it is automatically graded. This will be a huge time saver, and also allow me to do more short quizzes to quickly check the understanding of my students.

I am sure as I work more and more with Moodle there will be many tricks that will be helpful, but as of right now these have been the most helpful. It is exciting to learn new ways of using technology to more efficiently and effectively do my job of educating students.


Commentary: Can you describe a “traditional” student?

If someone were to ask you to describe a “traditional” student in a K-12 or college setting in the Western culture, what would you say? What characteristics define the students of this generation?

I recently read a blog post by Tracy Lorenz on The Huffington Post titled, Rethinking What a ‘Traditional’ College Education Entails: Five Misconceptions About the Online Learning Experience. Lorenz describes some of the changes occurring in the traditional description of college students, including age, part-time vs full-time, and four common needs. In addition, she outlines five misconceptions of online learning.

I find many of her key points to be present in the K-12 online setting, as well. The four common needs discussed, accessible, flexible, innovative, and job-focused, are part of the mission at the online school that I taught at. I think the first two needs are unique to an online setting, while the last two could be found in a variety of settings. From my experience, online learning in grades 9-12 is attracting students who require the flexibility. The student may be working full or part time, may have an unpredictable health or home situation, may be an athlete, or may be a young parent. I had very few students who transferred to the online setting because they were seeking more job-focused or innovative opportunities. The school desires to draw in those students, but there is still misconceptions present, many of which Lorenz discusses.  I see a disconnect between what learners identify as needs and what learners are actually pursuing.

Over the past four years, I have heard the five misconceptions from the post on a regular basis in response to online classes and learning. While I can relate to these and believe that they do not provide an accurate description, I still think that in some cases they are actually true which makes it difficult to paint a clear picture of the online environment. For example, the first misconception is something that we have struggled with in the past four years, as some of our students were not accepted into the military field due to the online diploma. The fourth misconception has been a challenge, too. We can provide opportunities for interaction, but many students choose not to utilize or are not comfortable in doing so.

In conclusion, I agree with Lorenz when she states, “online learning models are here to stay and the quality debate between online and campus learning will continue to fade.” It seems that the online learning models in higher ed are moving towards this equality with campus learning and away from the misconceptions faster than online learning models in the K-12 setting. This leads me to ask the following questions and reflect on future learning environments. What misconceptions are you struggling with in your K-12 online setting? How can we break down the misconceptions in the K-12 online setting? Should the online model be an option for students or should it become the “traditional” model for this and future generations? What should the balance be of campus and online learning? At this point, I am certain that online learning will continue to grow and develop, but am uncertain if it is meant to become the “traditional” setting for all learners.