Online Independent Directed Studies for The 21st Century Learner in BC

Claire Burgoyne John Cunnian David Horn Julie Ormiston Steven Siebold Heather Wik

ETEC 510 University of British Columbia Professor Jeff Miller July 31, 2011

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES Introduction The goal of this project is to provide grade 11 and 12 students in British Columbia (BC) with a web-based environment to facilitate the completion of an independent study project (IDS) for course credit. We will discuss the accommodations designed for the 21st century learner with a secondary focus on the gifted student. The following sections will provide details as to the theories and intentions behind the project, design considerations, and a plan for execution and assessment of the project. Key Frameworks The IDS program will help build the competencies of 21st century learners, defined as students who are active, responsible participants in the planning of their own learning (Premier’s Technology Council Report, 2010). Key characteristics of 21st century learning include the need to engage in collaborative work (Beldarrain, 2002; Garrison, 2000; Edens, 2000), problem based learning (Edens, 2000), and constructivist approaches (Beldarrain, 2002; Edens 2000). A new approach (to the academic learning environment) emphasizes students' active role in constructing knowledge and students' actively engaging in inquiry and problem solving, typically in a collaborative framework. Learning is anchored to real-world or authentic contexts; students learn how to apply inert knowledge to real problems...Problem-based learning holds promise as a teaching tool that provides for the acquisition of problem-solving skills to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century workplace. (Edens, 2000, p. 55) In keeping with the elements discussed in the literature as being key to the 21st century learner, our project is anchored within a constructivist approach, “which assumes that knowledge is


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES individually constructed and socially constructed by learners based on their interpretations of experiences in the world” (Jonassen, 1999, p. 217). It incorporates problem-based learning that requires students participate in activities that are interesting, relevant, authentic and engaging (Jonassen, 1999, p. 219). Our project provides the framework for self-directed study where the students develop their own designs for the curriculum and problems to pursue. Finally, current literature in regards to digital natives and the digital divide also indicates that opportunities to meaningfully use technology and media not only benefit the learner but also better prepare them for an information age economy (Chapman, Masters & Pedulla, 2002; Kimber, Pillay, & Richards, 2002). Although this online IDS course varies greatly from the traditional classroom, the teacher still plays a critical role in the learning process by teaching specific strategies for varied learning tasks and encouraging both reflective and meta-cognitive development. Teachers play an essential role but ultimately students control the learning process as they progress through a cycle of planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating their learning (Thornton, 2010). Reigheluth (1999) extended these concepts by identifying the importance for students to create authentic learning paths within a customized learning-focused paradigm. Our course will be offered through the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS), as the use of computer-aided instruction provides information to guide students during the learning process within a technology framework. Program delivery via Moodle acknowledges Papert’s (1984) idea of learning without curricula leading to students as epistemologists, active builders of their own intellectual structure. Moodle is an ideal platform within an independent study framework to provide a learning system that encourages development of 21st century learner


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES competencies; collaborative work is supported through available communication tools and a constructivist approach is taken by allowing students to develop their own problem based project that builds on their existing knowledge. A final ePortfolio or similar collection of artifacts will demonstrate mastery of the large overarching concepts, while smaller more specific facets (blogs, podcasts, and discussion) provide the supporting details and exemplars of the learning outcomes. As well as developing the abilities of 21st century learners, there is a practical aspect to the online IDS as students in BC enrolled in IDS may earn credits towards graduation. The secondary focus of our project is gifted students. These exceptional students have been selected because they are a population who are identified as having special needs in the BC education system, but for whom few resources have been made available due to educational budget cuts. Traditionally, these students were identified because of their high IQ, but now the term gifted includes a wide range of attributes, from the traditional intellectual measures to interpersonal abilities (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2010). When considering the design of the project and the learners involved, several different authors have posed ideas in regard to engaging gifted learners. Renzulli (1986) identified three over-lapping concepts: above average intelligence, creativity, and task commitment that come together to generate the characteristics of a gifted individual. Work by Thomson (2010) found that online courses afforded opportunities to gifted students not available via the regular face-to-face model of the regular classroom, including a format more conducive to individualized learning, differentiated curricula, and the ability for gifted students to progress at their rate of learning while still providing more time for reflection and a sense of control over the learning process. It is with these studies in mind that we have set out to create and develop activities and media to promote


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES skills associated with above average intelligence and which provide opportunities for creativity in learning and execution. Intentions and Positions In the last few years, there has been a movement within the Ministry of Education towards individualized education. This is a key tenet in the philosophy of 21st century learning, which the province has adopted and is in the process of implementing. This change in paradigm calls for students to have greater control and options in their own education (Premier’s Technology Council Report, 2010). We believe that the IDS program that we are developing is a solid example of how our education system can embrace this philosophy to the benefit of our students. In creating an online independent studies option we intend to create a place where the 21st century learner can work with a personalized curriculum and thrive. The design allows for student autonomy and may provide some balance and challenge for students who are perhaps underwhelmed with the regular classroom experience and the tedium of meeting the prescribed outcomes in courses required for graduation. Students participating in IDS have opportunities to demonstrate attributes of knowledge-based learning including “critical thinking skills and problem solving, communications and media literacy, personal organization, motivation, selfregulation and adaptability” (Premier’s Technology Council Report, 2010, p. 2). In addition, this personalized learning experience encourages students to move beyond acquiring information and directs them to a more authentic “second-order environment” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1994, p. 267). In such an environment, learning is continuous, or asymptotic, because the learner makes a meaningful contribution to what is known on their particular topic. It is our intent to have students who are engaging in IDS projects collaborates with each other with the goal of forming


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES a knowledge-building community. A focus of 21st century learning and the Premier’s Technology Council’s (PTC) vision of education is for students “to become full participants in a knowledge-based society,” (2010, p. 1). Part of the vision is to transform education to provide opportunities for students to develop skills to become inquisitive, independent and lifelong learners. The PTC’s 2010 report states that learning will increasingly take place in blended environments that encourages increasing independence among students in managing their studies. A valid concern regarding independent study is that this type of course does not provide for direct socialization with peers or participation in collaborative projects. With this argument in mind, we have designed this IDS course so that students will realize success by working with a teacher/mentor and, where possible a community mentor. They will be encouraged to share and collaborate with their peers in similar IDS courses with a final goal of contributing new ideas and thoughts to an existing body of information. Some might argue that students in the program could become too focused on a particular learning outcome and as a result miss out on the bigger picture of the subject. To address this, the IDS course will be organized so that students will be required to begin by exploring a broad subject area before focusing their study on a narrower topic. We chose to focus on gifted students, as we believe that they are in danger of becoming disenfranchised and disengaged with their education if more challenge and autonomy are not offered. Although the gifted population is the focus of this project, it holds the potential to benefit other students including those who appear unmotivated or disengaged with classroom learning and who may see their potential for learning more fully realized in an environment that allows them to approach education on their own terms.


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES Our IDS course is designed to assist students in defining a specific interest, planning the direction of their study, and determining the outcomes of their exploration. It is organized into the following units: introduction, exploration, concentration, and presentation. In all but the introductory unit students are expected to initiate weekly conversations, to share work that is in progress, and to work collaboratively. It is with these goals in mind that we began the process of selecting an appropriate Learning Management System (LMS). A primary concern was the cost of an LMS as there is no longer any additional funding for gifted students in the province of BC. Of equal concern was ease of use and support of the LMS we selected. To assist in the selection of an appropriate LMS for our IDS course, the SECTIONS model was drawn upon (Bates & Poole, 2003). We chose Moodle because it is open-source and, as such, is relatively inexpensive. Moodle has evolved since its introduction in August 2001, with each new version bringing upgrades to improve ease of use. It is now common for Moodle to be supported by many districts and schools, making it a natural choice for the IDS program. For educators who may lack technical support in their district or school there is an online Moodle community ( offering free support and information. As well, with the WYSIWYG editor, web content can be easily created, further decreasing the technical expertise required by users. From a design and use perspective, Moodle is highly useable and adjustable, requiring minimal expertise but still providing flexibility in terms of the types of interactions. Moodle is easily used with a range of Web 2.0 tools including Google maps, Flickr, and even Elluminate for ease in offering virtual classroom experiences. There are few barriers to the implementation of Moodle. There is an initial set-up time required, but after that changes are easily and quickly


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES accomplished. Depending upon whether or not Moodle is a new program at the school there many be some novelty effect, but this is likely to be the case with the introduction of any new technology. Moodle can be configured by teachers to support a constructivist approach where students are encouraged to independently explore their topic to build their own knowledge and understanding as they progress through self designed tasks guided by the interactivities we provide. Key Concepts and Contexts The key goal of this project is to provide an educational environment that allows for a learning experience that reaches beyond conventional course boundaries. Our design project provides students with the opportunity to explore two competencies: developing expertise in a subject area of their choice and improving their skills in the use of technology to research and present their knowledge using a web-based environment. As previously outlined, to build skills important to the 21st century learner, our Moodle environment must allow students to direct their own learning, adhere to a constructivist approach, provide opportunities for students to collaborate with others on their work and encourage application of knowledge to real world contexts. As such, conceptual and procedural knowledge requirements focus on these elements. Students’ prior conceptual knowledge in several domains is an important consideration for predicting success in this IDS environment. Learners need to have effective communication skills and be motivated and self-disciplined. If students are experiencing either technological or contextual difficulties, these need to be communicated to the instructor (Thomson, 2010). Time management skills and an understanding of the role of critical thinking and decision-making, as


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES part of the learning process, is paramount for success. Of equal importance is an understanding of the value of a built-in support system for discussing and sharing what is being learned and for reinforcing knowledge building. Learners must truly believe in the value and potential of an IDS project and the online environment in order to experience success (Illinois Online Network, 2010). Appropriate goal setting on the part of the participants is a priority to allow participants to focus on their desired learning outcomes from this IDS experience. The procedural knowledge expectations concentrate on communication and digital skills available in the Moodle course to support the creation of a final product in the format the student will choose. Students should be comfortable with computers and web-based environments; advanced computer skills will not be necessary to succeed in curriculum we have provided on Moodle. Participation in the online IDS course will afford 21st century learners the opportunity to identify their own area of interest and realize the educational benefit of having autonomy over their learning. Based on the literature cited, we believe this will help the growth of the individual in both the conceptual and procedural areas noted above, as well as in their depth of knowledge in the subject area they choose. Academic literature indicates that on online IDS project will be of particular benefit to the gifted student. In a literature review of the uses of websites in the education of gifted students, Besnoy (2006) states that “websites are the most powerful IT tool available in the gifted classroom because they are versatile and student-centered...(and) allow teachers of the gifted to differentiate the provide a rigorous leaning environment that challenges students at their individual instructional level” (p. 29). Thomson (2010) states that in one study where gifted


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES students and teachers were interviewed after participating in an online course felt that “the online environment is conducive to a more individualized and differentiated learning experience than is often possible in a regular classroom” (p. 663). Gifted learners perceive themselves to be highly motivated, responsible, and committed to their learning. These students prefer to learn alone and require a less structured, organized, and guided learning environment (Thomson, 2010). They also appreciate the challenges and rewards offered by independent study projects. In a survey of 90 gifted high school students who completed a yearlong independent study program, respondents reported the projects contributed to higher self-esteem, growth in terms of work, and study habits, and feeling better prepared to enter college (Davalos & Haensly, 2010). Although particularly suited to the gifted learner, we believe the flexibility of an IDS project delivered in an online environment to allow learners to work at their own pace will also be beneficial to the 21st century learner in general. InterActivities Students who choose to complete an online IDS project will do so through a course we have constructed on Moodle. The curriculum provides a framework for the students to work within and hosts a variety of tools and activities through which the students will create their own learning paths. The IDS will be scheduled into elective blocks for the Grade 11 and 12 students to ensure that time is available in their day for the program. Individual teachers in each school will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of the course, while each student will also have a mentor teacher in their particular subject area to consult with about the learning goals and the social network they establish for their learning community. The program is intended to be delivered online with communication between peers, mentors, and teachers being primarily


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES asynchronous. Although it is intended to be fully online, times for traditional face-to-face meetings between students and teachers may be scheduled as needed. Discussions and dialogue within the IDS community will revolve around procedural knowledge and modalities for completing the learning tasks since each student we be exploring a different topic. The Moodle course contains five modules designed to help focus and scaffold student learning. The course can be viewed at The modules are:
Module 1 - Introduction - no marks Introductions ● Welcome ● Ice breaker activity for students and teacher/mentor to meet Course requirements ● forums and participation including: mentorship, sharing, collaboration ● evaluation ● learning outcomes ● scoring rubric Organization • overview of modules • steps for success • timeline Module 2 - Resources - no marks Tutorials (For creating a variety of artifacts.) • podcasts • blogs • wikis • websites • e-Portfolio Guides and reference materials • link to accessing information • information on plagiarism • link to APA Portfolio


• description • options • examples



Module 3 - Exploration 20% Selection of general area of study. Research a broad topic with the goal of narrowing the focus to a specific topic. Rubric to be developed in collaboration with the teacher. Student goals for this module should be used to create a personalized rubric. Forum for sharing and collaboration. Frequent student initiated contact (minimum once each week). Summary of research or exploration. A clearly articulated journey illustrating how the general interest was narrowed to a specific topic. Module 4 - Concentration 30% Topic specific research, with a goal of identifying at least one contribution that can be made to the existing body of research. Rubric to be developed in collaboration with the teacher. Student goals for this module should be used to create a personalized rubric. Forum for sharing and collaboration. Frequent student initiated contact (minimum once each week). A clearly articulated journey illustrating what was discovered and how that has led to the choice for what is to be contributed to the existing body of knowledge. Module 5 - Presentation 30% Final presentation of a specific topic. Demonstration of knowledge of a specific area of interest and a description of how the student has added to the body of knowledge. Rubric to be developed in collaboration with the teacher. Student goals for this module should be used to create a personalized rubric. Forum for sharing and collaboration. Frequent student initiated contact (minimum once each week). An ePortfolio consisting of artifacts such as websites, wikis, blogs or other elements will make up your for final presentation of what has been researched and what the student has added to the existing body of knowledge. 20% of the course mark is for participation

Students are provided with a high degree of freedom to determine how they will develop their project, and their established community (supervising teacher, mentor, and other support) will

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES provide guidance in establishing the goals and activities for their course. A marking rubric template has been developed, but is designed to be customized for each student in collaboration with the teacher to reflect the areas of conceptual and procedural knowledge focus and goals for each student’s project. We have carefully structured our Moodle course to reflect the needs of the 21st century learner as discussed previously in this paper. The introduction and information pages help guide students in developing their topic and encouraging them toward applied or problem based learning. Communication tools and discussion forums are designed to encourage and facilitate collaboration among students while working through their IDS project. The modules on APA formatting and appraising resources will assist with knowledge building in the area of evidence literacy. The tutorials on specific tools such as podcasts, wikis and blogs are designed to assist students in gaining mastery over technology, which is increasingly important in an information age economy (Chapman, Masters & Pedulla, 2002; Kimber, Pillay, & Richards, 2002). We have also incorporated a wiki that students will contribute to on forms of media; this combines the goals of encouraging collaboration and communities of learning with improving competency in the use of technology. Ultimately, students will use all of these resources to help them to create artifacts as part of their final ePortfolio that will be the culmination of their IDS project.


Verifications There are two groups that we will target to assess our educational environment: the students developing independent study projects within it, and the teachers acting as their supervisors and subject mentors. Our design goals are to create a constructivist environment that

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES scaffolds independent learning, while providing an opportunity for social interaction, and reciprocity for the student. Our design includes processes that allow teachers to provide formative feedback during and summative evaluation at the end of the student’s course through the ePortfolio. Our verification process will be focused on determining if our two groups felt we were successful in meeting these goals. Our vision is to phase the course in gradually at a school. Ideally, we will have the Moodle environment tested and peer reviewed by a group of teachers specializing in diverse subjects prior to launching the course. It will also be valuable to solicit the opinions of guidance counselors who help students navigate course choices during their senior high school years. Once any significant feedback for changes can be incorporated into the course, we would like to see it piloted by a small group of students with a high level of support. For this group we will incorporate both qualitative and quantitative measures as part of the verification process. An online survey, modeled on the SECTIONS framework of assessment of online learning environments (Bates & Poole, 2003), consisting of closed and opened ended questions of all participants would provide a good cross section of information focused on the following elements: • • • • • project appearance ease of use engagement of activities collaborative effectiveness usefulness of tutorials and user guides


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES We will also interview a random selection of students and teachers to achieve a more in depth understanding of their experiences with our course and their suggestions for future improvements. A larger scale launch across the province will be initiated after the pilot, providing for the realization of our vision for greater opportunities for collaboration in a larger community of learners. Verification activities in terms of the online survey for all participants, students and teachers, will continue. A second round of qualitative interviews will also be conducted. Two final elements will round out our assessment of the course: an independent review of the quality of the e-portfolios produced and an analysis of the eJournals produced by students for evidence of student progress and a summary of difficulties experienced.


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES Reflections Group Reflection Working as a group for this project has been both challenging and rewarding. We had six people in our group, each bringing unique perspectives, backgrounds, strengths, and ideas to the mix. We had to coordinate meetings across time zones and personal schedules, but we established a team feeling very quickly and easily. We relied on a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous communications to coordinate our efforts, finding that the discussion thread, WebEx, and Google Docs were the most effective tools for us. While technical glitches were rare, there were some frustrating moments to be worked through. Our first endeavor was to narrow and consider a focus for our topic. This proved to be difficult because, by its nature, an IDS course is different for each student, as it is designed around his or her interests. Individually we completed a significant amount of research, and from there, together we focused on creating a course for grade 11 and 12 students to complete an independent directed study. Using Poole & Bates (2003) SECTIONS model as a guide, we decided that Moodle would be an ideal Learning Management System for our course. As our topic was still quite broad, we decided to focus on gifted students, still recognizing that the course we were creating would be useful for many different groups of students. After receiving feedback on our proposal, we began to refine our project and focused on the instructional design of our course. After much discussion and some debate, we concluded that our primary focus really needed to be on 21st century learners, with gifted learners simply being a subgroup under that umbrella. Keeping pedagogical theories in mind, our team focused on designing a course that would meet the diverse needs of 21st century learners.


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES Throughout the project each member of our group contributed to its design. We worked together as a whole group regularly, then frequently broke tasks into smaller units for partners and/or individual to work on. This enabled each of us to use our strengths, and to contribute meaningfully to this collaborative task. There were times when we didn’t agree on things, and this lead to further exploration, discussion, and learning. Completing this project was not a simple undertaking, but the collaboration that occurred helped to create an authentic and meaningful learning experience for us all. Furthermore, we have created as a tangible product a flexible yet robust LMS framework with which we can support students in the IDS courses.


Claire Burgoyne Participating in this group design project and creating an IDS course has given me practical experience with the theories I was introduced to through the course materials. Without this opportunity I would not have the solid understanding and appreciation of the benefits of collaborative learning that I now possess. Having experienced learn 2.0, I am enthusiastic about sharing what I have learned with my colleagues and students. It is extremely rewarding to listen to educators who are not participants in this course or the MET program and be able to share with them about education that allows for learner and community centered learning rather than just knowledge and assessment learning. This type of discourse is always much more powerful and perhaps contagious when it is personal and practical rather than just theory based. Initially this group design project placed me out of my comfort zone and occasionally I was left feeling undervalued when my ideas were rejected. However, I gained by recognizing how through cooperation, effective listening skills, and compromise a project can exceed

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES expectations. A recent course reading, New Theories For New Learnings, (Papert, 1984), certainly resonated with me as I reflected on how quickly our group evolved from being people who “say what they mean” (p. 425) to people who were able to work cooperatively and arrive at a consensus. The members of the group possess varied talents and passions and each of us had opportunity to share according to our individual strengths. There was a high level of respect for one another and a great deal of gratitude was expressed as each member completed tasks. Tasks were rarely left undone for more than just a few days as group members scrambled to contribute, constantly scanning both the paper and the Moodle course, all eager to complete tasks and offer assistance as needs became apparent. Each one of us was determined to achieve a project of high quality and value to our students. In my experience it is rare to work in a group of this size and have an almost equal distribution of the workload. I’m very grateful that I was given this opportunity.


John Cunnian This project has been a formidable challenge for me but yet very satisfying as well. We came together as a group of individuals who fundamentally believed that there was a way to offer our students the freedom to pursue their passions and interests on their own terms and have ‘count’ as part of their formal education. The IDS framework that we have designed has opened my eyes to how we can support and challenge students as they engage in authentic learning. In addition to this, the creative process

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES has taught me how a variety of technologies can leveraged to enable a group of individuals in different locations and time zones to collectively create a course framework. Using the Moodle Learning Management System as a means of scaffolding students’ experience in an IDS course will be key to the success of this framework. Moodle affords students and teachers as much freedom and independence that they desire. The challenge that we faced was to create a framework that would work for all students in an IDS course, bearing in mind that all IDS projects would be entirely different. Ultimately, I think that we have created a program that can be readily implemented in any high school to support students taking an IDS course; I look forward to using this with my own students in the coming school year.


David Horn The design of an entirely new course is particularly difficult and challenging with a vast number of components. While I have created a small program before for the school I work at, taking on this much more demanding task has been made significantly more manageable in the group setting. It took time and effort to not only select and settle upon a topic, but also time to figure out which modes of communication were going to be effective (WebEx and Google Docs). Each member of the group brought different skills, ideas, and perspectives, which occasionally made it challenging, but also provided for a more rounded development of the project. Our regular meetings included progress checks and division of labour and ultimately a community of knowledge as people contributed and edited the project on Google Docs, and selected or developed task for the Moodle course site. As I am concurrently taking ETEC 565, which requires the development of a Moodle site,

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES it has been excellent reinforcement and practice developing our project as a course on Moodle and using DreamWeaver for building course pages. I think our final end product will be able to provide students with opportunities to explore areas of interest with out the confining limitations of a classroom, but with still enough support and scaffolding to ensure success.


Julie Ormiston The ETEC 510 design project was an extremely rich learning experience with great personal and professional value. Participating in the design of an online course afforded me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. I had the privilege of working with a very competent and motivated group of people. All the members brought something to the table and offered a variety of skills to the project. As a group we worked collaboratively and were supportive of each other’s ideas as we worked towards designing a course in Moodle. Collaborating in an online environment was new for me and I was a little leery but was mostly curious and looked forward to this challenge. Fortunately, we didn’t have any vastly differing time zones to consider when conducting meetings in real time. We relied on a variety of synchronous and asynchronous avenues for effective collaboration. Our group held meetings in WebEx once a week to collaborate while other forms of communication were accomplished by email, discussion threads, and Google Docs. Working on this project allowed me to further develop collaborative skills and a variety of new skills as well. What I learned:
• •

collaborating using Google docs. participating in online meetings using Webex.



collaborating and coordinating with multiple people online and agreeing on what needs to be done next.

• •

how not to be in control of the ideas for a project and be the leader. the importance for clear written communication to lessen the inevitable communication challenges and misunderstandings that could happen in any group project but especially one conducted online.

• •

the necessity for support and value regarding the ideas and contributions of each member. to understand that I didn’t have to figure out everything on my own, and that we all shared the responsibility. This was relatively new for me and somewhat strange initially. I think that many graduate students would have some difficulty relinquishing control and sharing the responsibility with others for their mark on an assignment. I would assume that most of us are used to working in a vacuum and placing part of the responsibility for a grade is a challenge. Although there are benefits when the workload is shared and a project of greater magnitude can be accomplished, but for competitive graduate students this aspect must present a hurdle to overcome.

to take the initiative and responsibility for certain parts in the Moodle shell for our course. I wasn’t as familiar with Moodle as some of my team members but I wanted to learn a new set of skills and have an opportunity to be creative.

• •

it’s all right to be out of my comfort zone and in fact it’s a good thing. I learned the Moodle environment and features which turned out to be an extremely gratifying experience and a personal goal achieved.

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES Participating in this design project had a great impact on me, specifically in the manner in which I will be implementing technology with my future students. Essentially we as a group had to learn by “hands on” in order to build our course in Moodle. This was extremely challenging, yet highly rewarding. From my perspective, our group successfully used a constructivist approach in learning how to design an online course and to develop inter-activities that would require students in our IDS course to learn by doing.


Steven Siebold This project was a great way to consolidate concepts introduced during the course. The exercise of building curriculum that modeled a constructivist approach delivered using a technology based platform provided a great opportunity to apply knowledge gained. Using online spaces provided insight into the flexibility afforded by the medium, but also the potential challenges technology presents. I am able to author this paragraph online using Google Docs while riding on a bus traveling from Calgary to Edmonton with a wireless Internet connection; however, there appears to be a compatibility issue with my webbook, such that the cursor is offset by two characters and my keyboard appears to miss every third keystroke (my colleague David will likely be pleased that the combination of elements is challenging my math skills as I calculate my place on the screen). Issues with technology are a reality we can anticipate when choosing computer-based platforms. Working with a group has also been a great experience. It was my first opportunity to engage with classmates in live conversation. The ideas generated and exploration of different perspectives regarding the direction for our project - while time consuming - made for a better

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES final product that is truly the result of a collaborative effort. I feel fortunate to have been part of such a high achieving group where all contributed equally and based on individual areas of interest and strength.


Heather Wik The process of working in a group to create a design project was both challenging and satisfying. It involved a lot of time, research, and communicating. Our group collaborated extensively through both synchronous communications (chat, Elluminate, and WebEx) and asynchronous communications (email, discussion threads, and Google doc). Coordinating a group of six people was not always easy. We brought very different ideas, biases, and goals to the project. This being said, it was many of those differences that really added to the richness of our conversations, and the quality of our final product. We all had the opportunity to use our strengths, and I learned so much more from my classmates than I would have by doing a project like this on my own. Throughout the project our group had weekly “live” meetings where we shared ideas, distributed workload tasks, and set goals to be completed for the next week. We worked as a large group, in small groups, pairs, and individually. Each member upheld a high standard of accountability. The level of collaboration was really high. One of the things that I really appreciated about this activity was the focus on design, and the continual discussions about not just what we were creating, but on why we were making the choices we were. We were constantly drawn back into discussions on what it meant to be a 21st century learner and what that could look like in a constructivist environment. Decisions we

PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES made evolved out of pedagogical theories of learning, and became the basis for our learning outcomes and project design. Learners’ needs and instructional goals were continually addressed. This was the first group work project I have worked on in a MET course, and I’m now looking forward to future small group endeavors.


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PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books. Garrison, R. (2000). Theoretical challenges for distance education in the 21st century: A shift from structural to transactional issues. International Review of Research in Open and Distance learning. 1(1), 1-17. Illinois Online Network. (2010) Pedagogy and Learning: What makes a successful online student. Retrieved from studentpropfile.asp Kimber, K., Pillay, H., & Richards, C. (2002). Reclaiming teacher agency in a student centred digital world. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. 30(2). 155-167. Ng, W., & Nicholas, H. (2007). Conceptualizing the use of online technologies for gifted secondary students. Roeper Review. 29(3) 190-196. Papert, S. (1984). New theories for new learning. School Psychology Review, 13(4), 422-428 Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books. Premier’s Technology Council. (2010) A vision for 21st century education. Retrieved May 26th, 2011 from Reigheluth, C.M. (1999). What is Instructional-Design Theory and How is it Changing? In C.M. Reigheluth (Ed.), Instructional design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory, Vol. 2. Mahway, NJ: Lawrency Erlbaum Associates.


PROPOSAL FOR ONLINE INDEPENDENT DIRECTED STUDIES Renzulli, J. S. (1986). The three-ring conception of giftedness: A developmental model for creative productivity. In R. J. Sternberg & J. E. Davidson (Eds.), Conceptions of Giftedness (pp. 53-92). New York: Cambridge University Press. Renzulli, J.S. (1976). What makes giftedness? Re-examining a definition. Phi Delta Kappan. 60 (3), 180-184. Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1994). Computer support for knowledge-building communities. The Journal of the Learning Sciences. 3(3), 265-283. Thomson, D.L., (2010). Beyond the classroom walls: Teachers’ and students’ perspectives on how online learning can meet the needs of gifted students. Journal of Advanced Academics. 21(4) 662-712. Thornton, K. (2010). Supporting self-directed learning: A framework for teachers. Language Education in Asia. 1, 158-170.


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