Instructional Design

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” —Albert Einstein, US (German-born) physicist (1879 – 1955), no original source given   As news and social media make readily apparent today, almost any subject can be controversial. In fact, contentious debate has become an ersatz form of… Read More

I grew up in a unique time in the history of educational technology, being part of the first generation to grow up with personal computers in the classroom. For context, my kindergarten classroom (circa 1983) had a TRS-80 computer (in the back corner of the classroom, naturally), and the following year my first-grade classroom had… Read More

The rise of email communication in the 1980s and ’90s led to an increase in collaboration on content development projects of all sorts, as it became easy to email word processor files back and forth between collaborators and stakeholders. Emailing files back and forth was certainly cheaper than flying to meet in person and faster… Read More

Quizzes and exams often make one crucial pedagogical mistake: they do not ask enough reasoning questions. Reasoning questions, simply put, are questions that ask about the reason why an answer to another question is correct. For any given quiz or exam question, there is always an implicit chain of reasoning from the given information to… Read More

Most online courses start with a section of boilerplate that outlines the structure of the program, the rules of the course, and provides other information that usually doesn’t vary much from course to course within a curriculum. With any luck, students will peruse the pages when they begin a program, but it’s unlikely that they… Read More

Ideas About Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD May 14, 2018

I. Introduction Universal Design for Learning (UDL) assures that online courses are accessible to everyone, including people who learn differently than others. Assuring that all students can take advantage of a course’s educational material is not only fair, it represents one of HotChalk’s core tenets: “Every mind matters.” 1. Key Concepts and Terms Becoming familiar… Read More

Recovering Broken Web Links and Resources with Archive.org

By Zachary Fruhling May 11, 2018

Using external web resources, such as online articles, files, and websites in your online courses is a powerful way to include provide a world of information and resources to your students at minimal cost. External web resources, however, come with certain user-experience risks, namely that sometimes web resources are removed or relocated, resulting in broken… Read More

Years ago I decided to make myself a pencil holder for my work desk. Having always enjoyed building things out of LEGO bricks, I decided to take myself to the local LEGO Store and pick up some loose bricks that I could use, finding the perfect shapes, sizes, and colors to make a pencil holder… Read More

HTML Basics for Instructional Designers

By Zachary Fruhling May 4, 2018

Why Should Instructional Designers Have a Working Knowledge of HTML? Almost anyone in the field of educational technology, but instructional designers in particular, can benefit from having at least a basic working knowledge of HTML. “HTML” stands for “Hypertext Markup Language,” and it is the backbone of almost every website or webpage on the internet… Read More

Strategies for Cultivating Online Presence

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD May 3, 2018

Teaching online is not like working with students face to face. Instructors cannot rely on real-time feedback, such as students’ reactions and classroom atmosphere, to judge the effectiveness of an activity or indeed an entire lesson. A successful online experience depends on finding other means to connect with students. Teachers of online classes must see… Read More

My colleague, Zachary Fruhling recently wrote about the importance of cultivating good learning skills in a blog entry, Education as Habit Formation. He argues that the success and longevity of much educational technology depends on its ability to encourage students to form habits that promote learning. He notes two shortcomings common to educational technology: 1)… Read More

Online courses today are generally composed of various elements, such as content pages, quizzes, discussions, etc., that are organized by a Learning Management System (LMS). Content pages (i.e., those whose primary job it is to present information) are the bread and butter of most courses, since they contain the material that students must read, hear, or… Read More

Using Humor in Online Learning

By Tom Armbrecht, PhD April 16, 2018

Everyone knows that laughter is the best medicine, but not everyone may realize that it can also be an effective (and affective!) pedagogical tool. I learned a lot about using humor in online education when I was asked to write a demo course about the care and keeping of household refrigerators. The subject practically obligated… Read More

Authors of online course materials are usually selected for a combination of their subject matter expertise, their pedagogical prowess, and their experience in the classroom. Course writers, however, sometimes struggle to translate what they do effectively in the classroom into the new medium of online course development. Pedagogically effective instructors use a number of techniques… Read More

The Minimum Viable Course

By Zachary Fruhling

The term “minimalism” has mixed connotations. On the one hand, minimalism can have a negative connotation of missing out on some of the good things in life, a type of self-imposed spartanism. On the other hand, minimalism can also connote an elegant simplicity, choosing to focus on the things that are really important and to… Read More