Distance Education Challenges

Picture Courtesy of The Open University of Isreal

I found some of the insights from the Guri-Rosenbilt video very interesting.

The first was that teaching was the primary focus of conventional education until the 19th century (Guri-Rosenblit, 2008). Ironic since today research is the culminating activity to obtain advanced degrees, not teaching. However, the timing for the rise of research makes a lot of sense as positivism emerged in the 19th century (Harasim, 2011). Positivism was responsible for the development of theories that ask “why?” or “how?” and then seeks to answer those questions through evidence based study, drawing on empirical data and verifiable facts (Harasim, 2011).

The second insight was an interesting contradiction. Guri-Rosenbilt (2008) talks of how Distance Teaching are expanding from their local area to the global market and that English is the language of the academic instruction and research. A fact which is not really based on language statistics – there are more Chinese and Spanish speakers than English speakers (https://www.ethnologue.com/statistics/size).


Guri-Rosenblit, S. (2008). Challenges Facing Distance Education in the 21st Century: Implications for setting the research agenda. Paper presented at the 5th EDEN Research Workshop, Paris. Retrieved from mms://vod-dun.u-strasbg.fr/vod/2008/1020_eden/20081020_eden_guri.wmv

Harasim, L. (2011). Learning theory and online technologies. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Cognitive Events and ApprenNet

(Microsoft, 2014)

In March there was a discussion of how ApprenNet (http://info.apprennet.com/) is a great tool for motivating learners, something that all learning professionals need to address. Today’s post is an infographic of how ApprenNet fulfills each cognitive presence events of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model described by Garrison, Anderson, & Archer (2000).  CoI events are listed in the blue tags ApprenNet functions are indicated by the red tags:



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. Retrieved from http://communitiesofinquiry.com/sites/communityofinquiry.com/files/Critical_Inquiry_model.pdf

Microsoft. (2014). Puzzled people standing on a large question mark [Digital Image]. Used with permission from Microsoft. Retrieved from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=question&ex=1#ai:MP900390083|mt:2|

Winter 2014 Blog Recap

It’s 60 degrees here in PA.  If you missed any of our winter blogs, check out this 5 minute Pecha Kucha to catch up.  Happy Spring!


Microsoft. (2014). Winter [Digital Image]. Used with permission from Microsoft. Retrieved from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=winter&ex=1#ai:MP900425259|mt:2|

Motivating “Mistakes”

(Microsoft, 2014)

Have you ever learned from a mistake?  I sure have.  Now your learners can, too.

I was at the March PADLA meeting (http://www.padla.org//) this past week and saw an amazing product, ApprenNet (http://info.apprennet.com/).  The general method is Try It, Share It, Learn It.  In the Try It phase, the learner is presented with a challenge.  They record a video response.  In the Share It phase, they see responses from other learners and have an opportunity to comment.  Learners have an opportunity to “vote” on which cohort response was the best from a small pool of responses.  Finally, they Learn It, by watching a short tutorial or seeing an expert response.  A dashboard shows learners which responses the teacher thought were innovative in addition to those that got the most votes from learning peers.

The gating is excellent, the learner CANNOT skip around, they MUST Try It before they can Share It before they can deepen their learning.  This approach beats the heck out of didactic teaching and then having learners answer multiple guess…I mean… multiple choice questions.

Adults are motivated to devote energy to learn something to the extent that they perceive that it will help them perform tasks or deal with problems that they confront in their life situations.  Furthermore, they learn new knowledge understandings, skills, values, and attitudes most effectively when they are presented in the context of application to real-life situations (Knowles, 1984, p. 59)

If a teacher designs their exercises to reflect real-life situations, the illusive solution to learner motivation (which I feel can be more problematic even more in online environments) can be more than solved through the use of ApprenNet.

ApprenNet also helps set the learning climate.  When speaking of how to set the climate for learners, Knowles (1975) talks of how the teacher “respect[s] the experience and creativity you [the learner] bring to this inquiry” (p. 9).  The climate should also allow learners to “participate actively in this inquiry … raising questions about what I say and supplying your own answers” (Knowles, 1975, p. 10).   This is built into the DNA of ApprenNet in the Try It and Share It phases.

Learning theories other than Andragogy from the academy definitely support this approach.  A full discussion of this topic may be in an upcoming post.

If you can spare another 90 seconds, check out a customer testimonial.  Click http://info.apprennet.com/, scroll down until you see What People Are Saying.  Then click on the smiling woman in the center of the page.  Pay special attention to the end of the video where a grateful client verbalizes in her own words what distance, experiential learning is all about.  Motivating “Mistakes”, indeed!


Knowles, M. (1975). Self-directed learning. New York, NY: Cambridge.

Knowles, M. (1984). The adult learner: A neglected species. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company.

Microsoft. (2014). Smiling young girl pointing to bandage on elbow [Digital Image]. Used with permission from Microsoft. Retrieved from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=bandage&ex=1#ai:MP900426458|mt:2|

3 Benefits of Articulating Educational Approach

(Microsoft, 2014)

Corporate learning and development organizations can realize three benefits by articulating their educational approach:

Measure Learning Effectiveness

As discussed in the last blog post, the first benefit of being able to articulate our educational approach/theory/pedagogy is for the purposes of measurement.  “Success is defined by the sponsors (the persons who control the budget), and only by the sponsors” (Pollock, 2010, p. 62).  However, there are times when the sponsor may be unwilling or unable to define what success looks like.  In these cases, L&D professionals should be able to stand in the gap to provide the measures for learning success from an educational standpoint.  This is impossible without first being able to articulate for each learning solution/project what underpinning theory/pedagogy will be used for development.

Establish Professional Credibility

Our clients, our subject matter experts are educated professionals; as are we.  While we do not want to alienate our clients by drowning them in “edu-speak,” we should be able to intelligently answer their questions if they desire to explore the underlying educational approach we are applying to learning projects in more detail.  This happened to a colleague of mine a few months ago.  The fact that she could not articulate her approach clearly caused strain on the learning partnership and did nothing to enhance our organization’s credibility.

Provide Clear Guidance

As learning professionals, we should be able to articulate our educational approach be it andragogy or pedagogy to each other.  Every profession or practice has its unique vocabulary.  This vocabulary allows for complex concepts and frameworks to be concisely communicated and understood.  This is true in education as well.  The entire learning development team should have a clear vision of what educational approach will be taken.  Theory and pedagogy/andragogy can provide that guidance.

Corporate learning and development organizations can realize these benefits by taking advantage of existing theory and pedagogy.   Finding more hours in the day to learn/develop or even just articulate this is hard to find, I know.  But the benefits are worth it.


Microsoft. (2014). Road being covered with a tunnel of trees [Digital Image].  Used with permission from Microsoft. Retrieved from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=road&ex=1#ai:MP900427595|

Pollock, R.V.H. (2010).  What drug development can teach us about measuring learning.  SPBT Focus (Winter) 61-64.  Retrieved from http://www.the6ds.com/resources-1/MeasuringLearningFocusMagazine2010.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Should Corporate Learning and Development Organizations have to Articulate their Pedagogy?

(Business Quest, 2012)

Should learning organizations have to articulate the epistemology, theory and pedagogy they use to develop learning solutions?  In my humble opinion, I feel we should.

Part of my educational approach encompasses andragogy.  I have used this approach in my own practice and have seen the positive results that can result for learners.  However, I do see where pedagogy can also have a place in the development of learning solutions for adult learners.

Kanuka (2008) brings me to the first point of how this ability can be beneficial to corporate learning and development organizations.  Kanuka (2008) urges us to articulate pedagogy in order to be able to effectively measure the success of e-learning projects or programs.  I humbly submit that this articulation could also help us measure the success of instructor lead solutions as well.

There are other benefits we’ll explore in future posts.  Do you see any value in evaluating the success of your learning solutions against the yard stick of pedagogy?  I look forward to hearing from you!


Business Quest. (2012). Articles [Digital Image]. Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~bquest/2001/pedagogy1.htm

Kanuka, H. (2008). Understanding e-learning technologies in practice through philosophies in practice. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The theory and practice of online learning (2nd Ed.) pp. 91-120. Athabasca, CA:Athabasca University Press. Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/books/120146/ebook/99Z_Anderson_2008-Theory_and_Practice_of_Online_Learning.pdf