craig dennis howard

Home » Course Materials » IT566: Understanding online interaction

IT566: Understanding online interaction

This course, IT566, qualifies as a core IT Masters in Science course; as well as a course leading to the Graduate Certification in Online Teaching and Learning. Use the jump links below to move within this web page and access IT566 course materials.

required UT logoFAQ

FAQ: Frequently asked questions

What is Online Interaction?

We define online interaction broadly in this program. It can be video, audio, textual messages both live and asynchronous. However, the most important aspect of online interaction in this course is that it is used as the means of assessment for at-a-distance learners. Equally as confusing and broad is the specific meaning that understanding assumes in this course. By understanding we mean being able to make informed decisions with confidence regarding learning that has taken place, or might take place, hasn’t or won’t.

What is the difference between this course and the others?

There are a few. Not all courses offered in Educational Psychology and Counseling count towards a certification in Online Teaching and Learning. This one does. It is also the primary assessment course for the Masters Degree here in Instructional Technology. It is separate from other courses in educational measurement and assessment because it starts from a different premise- that assessment is part of the instructional design. In other areas of education, assessment is not always a component of instruction. Here, it is.

How often is IT566 offered?

This course is offered every Fall. Please keep in mind that the call number may change as the program it serves may change majors in the departmental restructuring. The IT program itself will not change; nor will the role of this course.

What will I do in this course?

In short, you will read, discuss, design, and present– not necessarily in that order. Each student will lead a showcase, or showcase section if there are many students registered for the course. You will also have a final presentation with a group that presents an assessment design. These are detailed in task sheets. Every semester I update the task sheets and reload them to be accessible through this website.

Does this course require programming skills or other computer skills?

No programming skills are necessary; however, students in this stage of the IT program tend to be comfortable with various forms of virtual collaboration, file sharing, and organizational strategies over networked computing. If you are not familiar with the editorial functions in MS Word, such as commenting, keeping tracked changes, and sharing files with others, these are skills you may want to develop on your own. UT offers free courses on these trough Lydia. If you are not familiar with cloud computing, there are tutorials for that to. These are wonderful resources for students. If you find Lydia to detailed, places such as Common Craft offer simple overview, such as this excellent one explaining cloud computing. 

Am I required to buy the text book?

No. Rather you are required to READ the text book, and cite it in your papers. I don’t care how you get your hands on it, what edition it is, or whether the text is shared among you in virtual or other ways. I do require that you cite it and understand the points it is trying to make. If you move quickly you can buy the texts before other Masters Students at other universities do. Come late September, prices for used copies go up. UT expects you to buy at the VolShop, but most of you I expect will buy from Amazon. Other options?

  • Mager, R.F. (1997). Preparing instructional objectives: A critical tool in the development of effective instruction, 3rd Atlanta, GA: Center for Effective Performance. Referred to as PIO on the schedule.
  • Mager, R.F. (1997). Measuring instructional results, 3rd Atlanta, GA: Center for Effective Performance. Referred to as MIR on the schedule.
  • Palloff, R.M. & Pratt, K. (2008). Assessing the online learner: Resources and strategies for faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Publishers.


Instructional Technology 566: Understanding online interaction

  • Course Section:  001 & 002
  • Meeting Time and Place: Online, Wednesdays 5:45PM- 8:35PM (Get UT ZOOM, Login to Craig’s ZOOM here.)
  • Course Credit Hours: 3
  • The name of the learning management system (LMS) is Canvas. It is used for asynchronous forums, and assignment submissions, but not for person to person messaging.
  • This course uses 3 textbooks and is supplemented by current research studies. All supplemental texts are available via the password protected Readings folder linked below.
  • This syllabus was last updated in April of 2019. This syllabus is only relevant for sections of IT566 taught by Craig D. Howard. All instructors reserve the right to use their own syllabus.

Faculty Contact Information:

  • Craig D. Howard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
  • Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling (EPC)
  • 517 Bailey Education Complex; (865) 974-8642;
  • Do not mail the instructor via Canvas internal messaging. Your message will never reach me.
  • Virtual office: Zoom  (ID: 648 060 7829)
  • Der Eintrittswort fuer die geheimes Mappe ist 寿司.

Office hours and communications: Wednesdays 12:00-3:00 online, but I do enjoy meeting my students. I am on campus several Wednesdays this semester for faculty meetings. Technical issues or help troubleshooting Canvas or any other UT software such as Zoom or downloaded software such as MS Word, please contact OIT at or call the helpdesk at 865-974-9900.

I check email once a day, but not on weekends. I respond as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours. Note that I do not require documents be printed, ever. Please do not ask for handouts, slides, or printed texts. All papers, presentations, class handouts and other materials will always be digital, and available on this website, or the university appointed LMS. All submissions will process through the LMS only. When submitting revisions, remember tracked changes must be visible and to add R1 to the end of your file name after my initials.

I am happy to arrange virtual meetings via ZOOM, Skype, or by telephone on an individual basis, if that would be helpful. In online courses, I find learners pose questions via private messages that are actually quite common, and the answers to which would be helpful for all to hear. In a face to face course, my answers would be broadcast to all, so I often broadcast my responses to such questions via media. If your email is confidential, you would like your identity withheld, or not to be associated with the content of the response, please clearly indicate this in the body of your original mail. Otherwise, I may answer to everyone.

Course Description/Information:

Learners examine their understandings of online interaction through the lens of assessing and evaluating online learning and online learning practices. Special attention is paid to the alignment of content, objectives, and the performances that are the foundations of empirically-based decisions about the success or failure of students and/or learning interventions. Assessments and evaluations are approached using a wide range of strategies including rubrics, formative assessments, and other performance criteria that may be used to determine mastery, or levels of mastery.

This course is the second in a three course series on designing online learning environments, as well as part of a graduate certificate in online teaching and learning.

Unique requirements:

This course requires an internet-connected computer and a headphone/mic set so that you can participate in class– a high-speed Internet connection, webcam, headset, microphone, and backup storage device are assumed. I strongly encourage you to develop a facility with cloud storage if you do not yet use this type of system.

Learners will be required to lead a one-session showcase and participate in group work for a final project. Contribution statements for each are a required part of this class so you must learn how to communicate effectively with your fellow designers to accomplish these tasks. Contribution statements are a required component of this program for all final projects to be used in your graduation portfolio.

Value Proposition:

The knowledge you gain from taking this course will provide you with the discourse of an informed instructional designer. This will benefit you by giving you the tools necessary to become part of a community of practice in instructional designers. Instructional design is a dynamic and evolving field, and one which is in its infancy.

Learning Objectives:

Learners will:

  1. Identify, share, and demonstrate effective online assessment and evaluation activities that lead to a greater understanding of online interaction;
  2. Analyze and evaluate scholarly literature sources related to assessment and evaluation of online interaction;
  3. Analyze existing assessment and evaluation instruments, activities and plans and make connections to both practical and theoretical implications;
  4. Engage in reflection and teamwork practices integral to being a successful designer and instructor; and
  5. Create professional communications through oral presentations and written reports.
  6. Design and develop an assessment and evaluation plan for understanding online interaction

Students are responsible for logging into class prepared and staying on task during the meeting sessions. Please turn cell phone ringers and vibrating controls off, and do not web surf or check email during class. I expect learners will check email and course communications daily, as I do.

Programmatic Outcomes / Department Goals:

This course fulfills the following alignments to standards:

  • NETS.C2 Teaching, Learning, & Assessment: Technology coaches assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning experiences for all students.
  • NETS.C4 Professional Development & Program Evaluation: Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs, and evaluate the impact on instructional practice to student learning.
  • AECT Standards 5: Research: Candidates explore, evaluate, synthesize and apply systemic methods of inquiry to enhance learning and improve performance.

Learning Environment:

This course is delivered primarily through Canvas for asynchronous interactive components, but not for person to person messaging with the instructor, as the extra venue is laborious, non-persistent (messages expire after time), and does not allow a range of attachments needed to be functional for emailing. Stick to email for that kind of messaging. For synchronous meetings, your UT ZOOM account login, (user guide: ZOOM) will get you to my “Zoom room.” To ensure that you are available for all synchronous course activities please make sure that you are available for the set course hours. While in class, your video is expected to be turned on during class time. Lurking is forbidden as it is rude and uncomfortable for most learners to be watched while in discussion or other learning activities but unable to see who is watching them. Additionally, please make sure that you have access to an audio headset (with a microphone) for optimum participation in the synchronous sessions. If you choose to engage in activities that are unprofessional, disrespectful to others, or disruptive you will lose points toward course participation.

Plan to be present in online synchronous sessions. I define presence in an online class environment as listening to others as well as participating where appropriate and not driving, traveling, supervising others, or multi-tasking. Please plan accordingly as these non-presence activities not only detract from your learning, but also from the sense of community we build in online synchronous sessions.

Please do not log into synchronous classes via a mobile device (tablet, cell phone, or Apple brand equivalents of these) as this will limit your ability to interact and participate. Also, by EPC policy, driving while engaged in an online class is prohibited.


  • Mager, R.F. (1997). Preparing instructional objectives: A critical tool in the development of effective instruction, 3rd Atlanta, GA: Center for Effective Performance. Referred to as PIO on the schedule.
  • Mager, R.F. (1997). Measuring instructional results, 3rd Atlanta, GA: Center for Effective Performance. Referred to as MIR on the schedule.
  • Palloff, R.M. & Pratt, K. (2008). Assessing the online learner: Resources and strategies for faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Publishers.
  • Other readings as assigned.
  • American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.** I actually use OWL instead. It’s free.

Grading Schema:

Major Assignments and Exams (for due dates, please see the detailed schedule)

  1. Participation & discussion activities (Individual). Meet classroom expectations as outlined in the syllabus, attend and be active during Wednesday night synchronous meetings and participate as requested in asynchronous discussions as assigned.
  1. Assessment critique (Individual). Locate an assessment activity from an online learning context and critique it according to best practices. See details in Blackboard.
  1. Assessment activity showcase (Partner). You will create a showcase about an online assessment activity which relates to the course reading for your assigned week. This will entail creating learning objectives, writing a short learning activity plan, assessing critically the relative success of the activity, and reflecting on your design process. Further details in Blackboard.
  1. Master’s students: Assessment or course evaluation plan (Small group). You will work in a small group to prepare an assessment or evaluation plan for an online context of interest to you (e.g. K-12 schools, professional development, higher education, corporate settings, or military settings). As a team your first assignment is to select a team leader, agree on the target audience and establish a time frame for your work. See details in Blackboard. Doctoral students should pursue this other option: Research proposal (Individual). You will prepare a research proposal related to assessment and/or evaluation of one aspect of online learning environments. Choose a topic of your interest and develop a research proposal. Conduct a literature review of peer-reviewed sources related to this topic. Identify what is known and what is not known about the topic and propose a research study. Discuss the methods you will use in your research. This is a proposal and you are not expected to engage in the research as part of the requirement, unless you would prefer to do a pilot study as part of the proposal. Please follow APA 6th edition proposal guidelines and style guidelines.  See details in Blackboard.
  2. Presentation of assessment and/or evaluation plan (Small group for Master’s / Individual for Doctoral). You will present your final project. Your classmates will complete a peer evaluation of your presentation. See details in Blackboard.

Total Possible Points

  1. Anti-plagiarism certificate 5
  2. Week 13 Asynch Discussion: “Designing online discussions”  5
  3. Participation & course level self evaluation 5
  4. Portfolio update 5
  5. Assessment critique (individual) 25
  6. Assessment showcase (pair task with an individual reflection) 25
  7. Assessment/evaluation plan  30 (Masters: small group task with individual reflection: ) or (Doctoral level: Research proposal individual at  – 25 + 5 for presentation)
  8. Final presentations as a team              (these points are part of the Eval plan)
  9. Total:           100

Grades are updated regularly in the LMS. Final grades will be given according to the UT grading scale:

F=59% and below

Collaboratively written on 9/23/17, mutual expectations:

Each member will contribute ideas, participate in writing/editing, and will take an equitable distribution of tasks by total group agreement at the start of group work and through check in periods. During the first meeting of the group will create a detailed timeline for expected work, keeping realistic expectations for others and yourself. Prior to the submission deadline, have a final check-in meeting and a “last call” for any revisions/help needs. Each member is responsible to inform the group of unforeseen circumstances that will alter the timeline of expected work.

It is expected that members will attend all group meetings and if they are unable to complete work on time the team will determine a plan to make-up their work within a pre-determined time frame based the project length. Everyone will respect other members, their opinions, work personalities, and their time. Each member will enter into the project understanding that it will be a collaborative project and no one vision may be realized.  As work is assigned, each member should advocate for themselves what they do best in order to fulfill the team vision.

Members are expected to respond to all correspondence within an established timeframe for both business hours. The communication will occur through determined means of communication (email, google docs, phone, etc.…). Group texts, messages, and other means must be regulated by the expectations of the group.

Craig’s note: Fostering successfully collaborative designers is one of the hallmarks of this program, and groups are not disbanded frivolously. However, I have disbanded groups in the past on the request of students. I will use your policies here to make a judgment call as to whether or not I feel justified in disbanding a group. Asking me to disband a group will not automatically result in me disbanding a group; furthermore, members mutually agreeing that they do not want to work together will likewise not result in the disbanding of a group. I will hear the position of each learner before I make an executive decision such as allowing group members to separate from the group and submit a collaborative task individually.

  • If you find that you need assistance with your writing, please visit the university’s free Writing Center housed in the English department: They do not proofread or edit your work, but they can help with idea development and organization – key elements of successful academic writing.How to Be Successful In This Course:Please be aware that EPC expects the following of students enrolled in this course:
  • Be prepared by having read assigned materials thoroughly and critically.
  • Check your UT email & LMS space regularly for announcements.
  • Enthusiastically participate in group discussions.
  • We will engage in a lot of small group work, so please let me know in advance about any irregularities in your attendance &/or participation.
  • There are no excused absences or excused delays for assignment completion. As adults it is your choice whether or not to attend class and how to participate in class. My position, of course, is that you should be in every class. I am not in the position to give or withhold permission for you to miss class. I simply ask that you let me know whether or not we can expect you in class each week.
  • Late arrivals, early departures, absences &/or assignments submitted late are all likely to negatively impact your grade.
  • You are expected to complete your own work. You cannot re-submit work here that was done for previous classes unless we’ve specifically talked about that together.
  • No incompletes will be given.
  • If you plagiarize, you will receive a zero on the assignment, and I will contact your academic advisor for further consultation.
  • Be aware of any tendencies to multi-task during our sessions. I ask a lot of questions and students who multitask usually experience embarrassment.

Professional Dispositions

  • As a participant of an Instructional Technology Program course, course participants are required to review Program Participant Professional Dispositions policy and engage in continual development as a professional. See the Professional Dispositions blog post on this website, or the EPC website for details.


Schedule of topics and readings





Activities & Assignments due today

1 8/23 Course launch Review syllabus, Websites, locate readings, review assignments

Review syllabus
2 8/30 Community of Inquiry Model, revisited & Instructional alignment · Paloff & Pratt, Chapter 1

· Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105. doi:10.1016/S1096-7516(00)00016-6

· Swan, K.P., Richardson, J.C., Ice, P., Garrison, D.R., Cleveland-Innes, M. & Arbaugh, J. (2008). Validating a measurement tool of presence in online communities of inquiry. E-mentor 2(24) at

· Assigned readings

· Complete the graduate-level anti-plagiarism text if you have not already done so (linked here). Upload your certificate to LMS.

3 9/6 Learning analytics & quality assurance in online courses · Ferguson, R. (2012). Learning analytics: Drivers, developments and challenges. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning 4 (5,6), 304-317.

Roberts, L. et al (2016) Student Attitudes toward Learning Analytics in Higher Education:“The Fitbit Version of the Learning World.” Frontiers in Psychology 7, 1-11.


· Hrastinski, S. (2008). What is online learner participation? A literature review. Computers & Education 51, 1755-1765.

· Assigned readings
4 9/13 Preparing instructional objectives  


· Mager PIO

· Assigned readings

· Showcase #1:


5 9/20 Measuring instructional results; norm & criterion referenced assessment, test development · Mager MIR

· Palloff & Pratt, pp. 92-100



· Assigned readings

· Showcase #2:

  • Project team updates
6 9/27 Online assessment strategies:

Affect instruction, Authentic assessment, performance assessments, portfolios, reflective self-assessment

· Palloff & Pratt, Chapter 2, pp. 76-92;100-115

Mueller, C., Lim, J., & Watson, S. L. (2017). First Principles of Attitudinal Change: a Review of Principles, Methods and Strategies. TechTrends, 61(6), 560–569.

Optional: Faculty Focus Special Report (May, 2010). Promoting academic integrity in online education. Distance Education Report.


· Assigned readings

· Showcase #3:


7 10/4  

Community of Inquiry and the Evaluation of Synchronous Online Interaction

· Wang, Y. & Chen, N.S. (2009). Criteria for evaluating synchronous learning management systems: Arguments from the distance education classroom. Computer Assisted Language Learning 22(1), 1-18.

· READ: Gray, C.M. & Howard C.D. (2015). Why are they not responding to Critique? LearnxDesign. The Third International Conference on Design Education Research. Available online here.


· Assigned reading

· Showcase #4:

  • Assessment activity critique due
8 10/11 Online assessment strategies: Rubrics, peer assessment · Palloff & Pratt, pp. 65-75; 116-125

· Vonderwell, S.K. & Boboc, M. (2013). Promoting formative assessment in online teaching and learning. TechTrends 57(4), 22-27.

· Penny, L. & Murphy, E. (2009). Rubrics for designing and evaluating online asynchronous discussions. British Journal of Educational Technology 40(5), 804-820.

· Educause Learning Initiative (2010). 7 things you should know about assessing online team-based learning.

· Assigned readings

· Showcase #5:



10 10/18 Online assessment strategies



· Gao, F., Zhang, T., & Franklin, T. (2013). Designing asynchronous online discussion environments: Recent progress and possible future directions. British Journal of Educational Technology 44(3), 469-483.

· Ertmer, P., Richardson, J.C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G. et al (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12(2), 412-433.

· Howard, C.D.(2012) An instructional paradigm for the teaching of computer-mediated communication Instructional Science 40(3) 493-513, DOI: 10.1007/s11251-011-9187-0

· Assigned readings

· Showcase #6: 

11 10/25 Course, instructor and program evaluation · Palloff & Pratt, Chapter 3; pp. 125-134

· Bangert, A.W. (2004). The seven principles of good practice: A framework for evaluating on-line teaching. Internet and Higher Education 7, 217-232.

· Ke, F. & Hoadley, C. (2009). Evaluating online learning communities. Educational Technology Research & Development 57, 487-510.

· Assigned readings

Showcase #7:

12 11/1 Looking to the future · Rovai, A.P. & Downey, J.R. (2010). Why some distance education programs fail while others succeed in a global environment. Internet and Higher Education 13, 141-147.

· Tess, P.A. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual) – A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior 29, A60-A68.

· Assigned readings

Showcase #8:

  • Portfolio Update for IT Online Majors or Program Capstone explanations discussion for others




Student Collaboration & in-class time for project development

No synch meeting, AECT: Start forum Designing online discussions

14 11/15 Wrapping up  Final presentations of assessment plans


· Final presentations part 1

  • Designing online discussions forum due



15 11/22 University Holiday HAPPY THANKSGIVING

No synchronous meeting


16 11/29  Presentation time IF NEEDED · Final Presentations part 2

  • Online assessment/evaluation plans due by midnight
  • Participation and course level self-evaluation due


Assignments: There are six tasks in this course. They are linked below. Submit your MS word doc via the university LMS. (Sorry, I cannot accept pdfs at this time.)

  1. Anti-plagiarism task (save and upload your certificate into the Canvas Dropbox) 
  2. Assessment critique task
  3. Showcase directions
  4. Assessment and evaluation plan
  5. Designing online discussion asynch forum directions
  6. Group final presentation guidelines

Policy on written work

Overview of why I grade the way I do, via comments and tracked changes

Not all instructors will offer a guide on how they deal with written work. I am addressing this because I have found it useful in the past to add some rationale to why I grade written work the way I do. Graduate students generally work with multiple professors for a reason; each has their own approach to writing and scholarship, and those multiple perspectives help learners see different aspects of the process from different angles, providing a more nuanced understanding of the task and the content of learning itself. I encourage you to read this rationale statement prior to handing in written work in one of my courses. I also encourage you to check out my blog,, where I dive into more reasons why I teach the way I do.

My pedagogical perspective

I view written work in longer formats (over 5 pages or so) as a formative task, not a summative one. This does not mean I don’t use rubrics; I do. I see them as a means for the leaner and instructor to view the work and negotiate meanings. However, rubrics do not learners with customized instruction, which i what I believe learners usually need. Rubrics must generalize, but we must teach and learn with specific cases to make sense of what rubrics actually mean. I endeavor to grade without making summative claims about performance while still respecting learners’ autonomy as graduate students. A simple number seems very unsatisfying and frankly, I don’t think you’ll learn much from just a number. So grading via a rubric doesn’t accomplish my goals as an instructor. Here’s how go about the act of grading long form written work. This policy does not apply to CMC (emails, discusison forums, etc…).

I give lots of comments. Some applaud your work and they contain plus symbols (+), and some are meant to guide you toward better practices or notice something but are merely discursive and are not tagged. For each comment where I ask you to make a revision however, it is usually tagged with a minus symbol and I usually deduct a point at the end. That’s a point you can always get back via revision. By addressing each comment in a re-submitted paper, you evidence that you learned the point I had hoped to teach you; or alternatively, you evidence another strategy whereby my point is made mute. As long as you resubmit all your revisions as saved via tracked changes, I will check them and give full credit as the performance will display that mastery has been achieved. To make these required revisions clear, make sure your tracked changes are turned on BEFORE you revise your document. Remember, comments that contain a minus sign with a number, eg: -2 can be more egregious and cost you more points. they are however, equally as fixable as any other revision.

Comments preceded by a plus sign indicate that I was impressed with your insight or craft; but that doesn’t mean ignore them. They do not require revision, but I want you to keep doing the things that you’re good at. Comments with no marker are simply comments. Me talking to you. If I didn’t like talking to you, I would do a different kind of work.

At the end of the paper, I add up all the negative comments, subtract that number from the point value for the written work, and give the paper back to you. If you choose not to revise, the point value remains as it is. There is no partial credit on revisions. Either all of them are addressed or you get no points for any revisions. This prevents all of us from picking the easy ones and avoiding learning the important content, or squabbling over difficult revisions and easy revisions. I can’t see from my vantage point which comments are harder for whom, so I give them all the same value. We all have different skill sets, but the end goal is for every learner to reach competency. I feel that no number could ever carry with it the detail I need to express the complexities of the learning that needs to be accomplished via graduate school writing.

In some cases, an assignment’s instructions require a decision to me made. If the instructions ask for it, I require it. This is to reflect the harsh reality that in some cases one is forced to make judgements. Either a positive or negative conclusion on the subject of your investigation gains you credit, but no selection does not get you the credit for completing the task. Some learners can go deep into critiquing the entirety of the instructional design without concluding one way or the other, which is fine for non-professional discussion, but not for this context. Here, if you are asked to decide, you must decide and your decision must be clear.

Procedural tips for completing revisions

  • Read all comments on the entire paper before revising. Often, a single revision hits multiple comments.
  • Always submit your final with tracked changes. I can’t grade without them. If you don’t know how to work with tracked changes, follow one of these links about how to use tracked changes: MS Office, or com. I believe also has an extensive editing tutorial than contains instruction on using tracked changes. Lydia is paid for by your technology fee. Use it.
  • If my arithmetic is wrong, it only matters if you plan not to make revisions. Keep than in mind before you email me about a 1 or 2 point difference. If you plan to make the revision, the error in adding up your revision count is meaningless because you’re going to get all the points back anyway.

General feedback I see regularly and may not call out with detail

  1. Describing multimedia via proprietary terms. This is problematic for many reasons, and some writers tend to employ company names to their own peril. Do not identify media by the names of corporations. For example, a medium cannot be  “Facebook-like;” because Facebook is bound by time, or dynamic, and is the name of a company, it is not a medium. Facebook is an example of a a social network site, where user messages may be multi-model and are presented in reverse chronological order. Because corporations’ platforms are dynamic, they cannot be descriptive. Instead, describe media with more persistent words, for example: the media platform is many to many, socially oriented, file sharing, graphically interactive, etc….  Simply saying what one might do with a tool also does not offer much utility;native Americans sent messages to their friends to. Telling me that one can use the device to send messages tells me nothing.
  2. Learners should use to the term affordance to explain what a tool is good for. Terms like “allows, supports, etc…” are verbs than concord with design affordances, and the verb form is affords, but that still does not describe it. I offer a faceted classification scheme to describe media; i can work with you on how to best describe what it is you have.
  3. Design failures need to be called out as such. A design failure is when a design does not meet the needs of a user, either foreseen or unforeseen. There can be design failures in assessments and measures as well. Those are usually called out via reliability issues or validity issues. Generally, design failures are followed either by a plausible solution or a statement about the design tension they create. Typical paragraph structure in papers that analyze instructional designs is to start with the design failure and go from there. Ending a paragraph with a design failure often confuses a reader, or presents the author as having given up midway through analysis.
  4. The caption is a necessary component of all images / artwork / audio / video. The caption does not simply label the item; rather, it explains how the item relates to the topic being discussed. In other words, the reader needs to be told what to look at in the image and why they are being shown it. There was once a publishers’ practice of putting artwork/images/graphics/multimedia in appendices. That practice is obsolete. It is fine if your other professors ask this of you; but you shouldn’t practice this in my courses. It may be helpful to remember that other professors were trained at a different time than you are being trained.
  5. Utilized is over-utilized and misused.  Utilize means an item or procedure was used for a purpose other than that for which it was designed. One cannot utilize an application to send a message. If the message system was built into the application, it was put there to be used. One can however utilize a computer for a paperweight. Computers are generally designed for much grader purposes. Another example, one can utilize a hammer to pick their teeth, but one cannot utilize a hammer to pound a nail. Please do not confuse “use” and “utilize.” More often than not, the learner should have simply used the term used rather than utilized. While this term is more often used incorrectly than correctly in lay print, I expect my students to aspire to be scholars and designers who write with far more accuracy.
  6. How to is simply slang for “procedural knowledge” or “procedural instruction.” When you use this term how to to refer to either or both, it presents you as someone who does not make a distinction between instruction and learning. This is dangerous for an instructional designer. An academically trained ID uses more precision, and I expect this kind of precision from my students. You don’t need academic training to design well; there are lots of great designers who have not been academically trained. Having learned ID terms gives you the precision of expression you need to interrogate, explain and communicate about designs well, which is why a trained designer is oftentimes more valuable than a self-taught one.
  7. Headers are a rhetorical device, and I often require that they be used to break up the flow of longer pieces of text. “Headers” is also a term editors use to refer to the MS word function located on the horizontal ribbon. When I say “use headers” I mean both the text separated as a sub-title, and the formatting in MS Word. I often ask my learners to use the header function in MS Word because it makes a larger written work easier to navigate. Getting used to using headers earlier rather than later in your study saves you time. It only takes one long project, such as a dissertation, where you will reap the rewards for learning header use now.
  8. Citations’ purpose in research is often misunderstood. Citations are rhetorical devices. They can ground a statement in support, evidence a widely held misconception, or even make a joke. So citations can go many ways, both positive and negative. Therefore, I require each citation to be somewhat introduced, unless it is blatantly obvious why it is there. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for with citations:
  9. Multiple citations on a given point express just how pervasive the consensus is among scholars. Some statements imply you will offer multiple citations. When you don’t, you say something different than what you thought you said. Here is an example:
  • Inaccurate: The democratizing effect of asynchronous communication has been well studied (Howard, 2012). *This says only Howard thinks it’s been well studied, but the author may or may not agree.
  • Accurate: The democratizing effect of asynchronous communication has been well studied (Chun & Plass, 2000; Gunawardena, 2004; Howard 2012; Johnson, 2006; Stockwell, 2007; Warschauer, 1997).
  • Explanation: This second citation shows that many people have studied the issue. The citation provides rhetorical support for the assertion.
  1. A direct citation or a paraphrased citation credit an author with a concept. If the author simple discusses the idea, then the citation needs to be amended.
  • Inaccurate: This will be a Criterion-Referenced Assessment (Mager, 1997) to measure my students’ knowledge of each subject area based on the Common Core Standards.
  • Accurate: This will be a Criterion-Referenced Assessment (see Mager, 1997) to measure my students’ knowledge of each subject area based on the Common Core Standards.
  • Explanation: This first citation says the author (Mager) coined the term, or that the author is using an interpretation of the term that is drawn from Mager because there are other ways to interpret the term. However, there’s really not much a debate raging on what a criterion-referenced assessment is. Rather, Mager simply explained the term, so you use the “see” prior to the citation.
  1.  Citations cannot provide justification for faulty logic. For example, citations can be used in such a way as to imply an author did something which that author did not, or that there is a causal relationship that actually does not exist.
  • Inaccurate: “Participation has been argued to be an intrinsic part of learning,” (Wenger, 1998; Hrastinski, 2008) therefore the videos provide clients and their staff opportunities to learn about the features of the software during the course of integrated authentic performance assessment.*
  • Accurate: There is moderate consensus that participation is intrinsic to learning (Wenger, 1998; Hrastinski, 2008). Therefore, the videos were designed to provide clients and their staff opportunities to learn about the features of the software during the course of integrated authentic performance assessment.
  • Explanation: There are multiple errors here; one mechanical, the other logical. First error is a direct quote with two authors, which is impossible, and also required a page number. Secondly, just because one author or multiple authors said something does x or y, not mean it dos so in all cases nor does it justify the practice. The reason we use multiple citations is to show agreement among researchers of the concept or phenomenon. The writer has confused rationale and fact. The additional rationale of the designers is needed; and doesn’t need to be supported by citations anyway. If we jump to expressing this as fact and use citations to make the claim, the writing has the potential of confounding concepts under scrutiny, and implying that the design became as it was directly because of what these authors had said, as if their words could change a design.
  1. Citations must always have a date, otherwise, they are not citations. Scholars often change their position on something over the course of their career, so the date is as important as the name. Also, is there really is no date, it is wisest not to include the reference unless you’re employing a different rhetorical strategy, such as mocking public opinion. For a detailed discussion of this, see my blog post on citing Wikipedia.


Readings link.

Course Slides

Course slides are updated each week, but the basic frame of the course is here. You can also ask for the link via email, or check the university LMS for the password.</a

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