It’s not just WHAT you say, but HOW you say it!

The first task was to give my interpretation of a message that was delivered in three different modalities, pointing out what, if anything changed about my interpretation from one modality to the next. Here’s what I interpreted.





The greeting starts the tone of the email in a friendly, informal manner that seems to continue throughout the email. According to the class text, “informal communication occurs as people think of information they want to share” (Portney et al., 2008.) This email, although in written form, is not in a standardized format and seems to flow as if she was thinking as she typed. It expresses urgency without being demanding or threatening.



The auditory communication related a level of urgency due to the way certain words were emphasized. When Jane spoke, she emphasized the word “really” twice in the message, communicating this situation was really important. Her voice, although not demanding or rude, was not overly pleasant, but very serious in tone. I would surmise that the situation was urgent from this communication.
Audio and Visual

(Face to Face)

This face to face communication would fall under the umbrella of informal communication since it seems she is thinking about the key information as she communicates it (Portney et al., 2008).

Her demeanor is friendly and non-threatening, while expressing through words the importance of mark following through on his end. I felt as if I received the. same message from the email as I did from the face to face communication. Friendly but urgent

Next I was asked to share a synthesis of my thoughts regarding what this activity implies about communicating with members of a project team. What did I learn that will help me communicate more effectively with others in the future?

What I discovered is that there is truly a big difference in how we interpret various types of communication and to be sure we are effectively conveying our intended message, we have to take into account more that our words. First and foremost, it is important to decide if the message we are communicating needs to formal or informal.

I feel like all three forms of communication discussed above were informal, while still communicating some urgency.          ”Informal communications occur continuously in the normal course of business” (Portney et al., 2008). This type of communication is necessary to ensure people are on the same page, things need to be clarified, questions need to be asked etc… However, project managers cannot depend on informal communication only.

Project managers must also utilize formal communication which most often, is in the form of written communication. Formal written communication allows the PM to present factual data more efficiently, choose their words more carefully in order to minimize misunderstanding, provide historical records…..and share the same message with a wide audience.

In summary, communication is the key to a successful project, and one must consider carefully how they are communicating, just as carefully as they consider what they communicate!


Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


The future of distance learning…..


    Let’s begin with some basic facts about online learning. “Online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population, with the most recent data demonstrating no signs of slowing.

  1. Over 4.6 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2008 term;
  2. The 17 percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 1.2 percent growth of
  3. Overall higher education student population.

      More than one in four higher education students now take at least one course online. (Allen and Seaman, 2009) The number of students participating in college-level online courses has out-distanced all other forms of distance learning, in a remarkably short amount of time (Waits & Lewis, 2003; Allen & Seaman, 2006 & 2008 as cited by Gambescia and Paolucci, 2009). Since 2009, we have had major advancements in technology hardware and software such as improved and more advanced content management systems that allow for more interaction and use of multimedia integration. With the “recent hardware and software innovations making telecommunications distance systems more available, easier to use, and less costly,” (Simonson et al.,) online learning will continue to grow at remarkable rates.  The fact that online courses allow for increased student enrollment without the constraint of providing classrooms and physical resources, universities definitely see online courses as a way to grow, increase student enrollment and increase revenue. This is evidenced by 60% of institutions indicating that online instruction was critical to their long term plan. (Simonson et al., 2012)

      With these facts in mind, we can say with confidence distance learning is here to stay and I believe in the next 5-10 years distance learning will continue to grow and definitely become part of the mainstream.

      Currently, distance learning is widely accepted; however, it has not gained the same level of prestige as a degree earned at traditional brick and mortar institutions. I would say it is still not completely main stream.  It seems that universities themselves perpetuate this disparity, themselves, by putting the online courses and degrees they offer in the background. As Gambescia and Paolucci found in their study, universities do not make these offerings highly visible. They wrote,” another surprising finding from this research is the lack of high visibility of online degree program offerings on universities and college official websites” (Gambescia and Paolucci, 2009). As I read this article, I did my own quick search of major universities in my area and found that they consistent with the findings in this study. I looked at USC, UCLA, Loyola Marymount University and Pepperdine University and found that their online offerings were very difficult to find and clearly lacked high visibility. This lack of visibility of the distance learning options makes the learner feel that they are not deemed as important or highly valuable.  I do believe, as the amount of people taking online courses and earning degrees grows, institutions will be forced to give distance learning more prominence.

      Looking out 10-20 years, more and more people will take advantage of distance learning as a result of some major factors. First, in developing countries, where the technology is improving on a daily basis, more and more people will use distance learning as a way to improve their circumstances. For example, in India, 500,000 students are enrolled in higher education via distance learning (Koul, 2013). Another factor that will contribute to the steady increase and acceptance distance learning in the mainstream is that more and more people will come to learn the benefit of self-directed, student centered learning learning, not only in higher education, but in the K-12 arena as well. K-12 Teachers are choosing to implement student centered instruction over traditional teacher centered methods. Methods such as inquiry learning and problem based learning, allow students to learn through experiences and collaborative learning, versus teacher lecture. As this becomes more widely understood and accepted, more people will understand how distance learning can be rigorous and meaningful without a teacher lecturing.

      As an Instructional Designer, one way I will become a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning is by becoming a student of adult learning theory and helping people to understand that distance learning programs are not simply traditional classes dumped into a computer, but the good ones are actually based upon studied and tested principals for learning. Moore (1994) was concerned that the progress of distance education would be hindered by the lack of attention to define and describe the field based on learning theories (Simonson et al., 2012). I will be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education by learning my craft well and developing instruction utilizing a systematic process that includes careful planning and evaluation to ensure successful instruction and learning. The better I am at developing quality instruction, the better prepared I will be to support colleagues and learners and change perceptions.





Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from


Lockwood, F. 2013. Open and Distance Learning Today


Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education(5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson


Open Online Course– I get it Now!!!

The first time I learned about open source content being shared by major universities and other reputable organizations, I was instantly intrigued, excited and confused. I remember thinking….. “I can take courses from Harvard University or other Ivy League schools… wow…bring them on.” Next, I wondered how that could be possible. How will the information be delivered? How will I be graded? Will I get credit… and what else do I need to know? Well, at the time I did a little research on line and it all just seemed too confusing to bother.

Fast forward a few years later, and it all is very clear. But what happened during that period to make it comprehensible? Well terms such as MOOC, massive open online courses, have become common terminology in the educational arena; especially in the K-12 arena.

The implementation of the CCSS in K-12 education has been a catalyst for the use of open source materials as teachers and local education agencies struggle to meet the CCSS requirements with existing materials. As a result, the idea of supplementing instruction with open online content found, on the web became very appealing. MOOCs are being used in K-12 classrooms across the nation.

Oh yeah, I also began the MSIDT program I am currently in. I think that may have made the idea of distance online learning a bit more clear as well.

Now with my new understanding of open source and distance education, I approach the Open Yale courses. Now however, I have clear expectations of what teaching strategies and technology should be used and how to determine quality instruction.

The first thing I look for is the way the materials are organized and delivered. Are they using a CMS or a LMS? Open Yale courses seem to be using a very simplified CMS, with a clear welcome page for each course. Although very basic in design, the software system used is clearly “designed to assist in the management of educational courses for students, especially by leaping teachers and learners with course administration” (Simonson et al., 2012). It is clear that each course is pre-planned as evidenced by the clearly articulated syllabus and sequence of sources. But it quickly becomes obvious it is not planned for the distance learning environment. When planning instruction at a distance some things that must be taken into consideration such as activities that allow for group work, plan activities that require interactivity, illustrate key points or concepts using tables, figures and other visual representations. (Simonson et al., 2012) None of these considerations were addressed in the course. They simply took a traditional teacher centered course and put it in the internet. It seems that there was no consideration of learning theories such as Andragogy, where the learning is problem based and relevant to the student’s prior experiences.

Because the courses are taught as a traditional classroom teacher centered course, there were no activities designed to encourage or maximize active learning. Holmberg’s theory of learning revolves around interaction between the teacher and learners. He believes that the core of teaching is interaction between teaching and learning parties and even if the course is asynchronous, if pre-produced course materials cause students to consider different views, approaches and solutions and generally interact with the course, then learning can still take place (Holmberg, as cited by Simonson et al., 2012). There was an opportunity for students to interact via study groups, and this could be a way to develop interactivity for students, however, the discussions were not didactic in nature. It did not seem the purpose of the discussions in the study group was designed to teach. They were very random and didn’t seem to build emotional relations among the group.

Overall, there is good information to be gathered in the Open Yale courses, but many they certainly do not follow the recommendations from the text about online learning, nor where they based upon any of the distance learning theories, so many people may find them difficult to truly digest and learn from.


Open Yale. Roman Architecture.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education(5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson

Refecting on Distance Learning Theories

As I study and review various distance education theories this week, it is becoming clear that through out this course I will be redifining and refining my definition to include elements from various theories. I believ Holmberg’s emphasis on questions, answers and agumentation is vital to learning in any setting. Knowles assertion that learners should have input into what they learn and why, I believe, is one reason distance learning is expanding so rapidly. People are able to choose what they want to learn and when, and not be restricted by location and offerings of learning institutions in their local area. Peter’s belief that for effective distance learning, the “teaching process depends on planning and organization” (Peters, 1988) was evidenced though my own teaching experience in the k-12 setting. The days I was planned well, materials organized and well though out, I was very successful. The days I did not plan…not as successful.

As I proceed in my study in distance learning, I am looking forward to delving deeper into the study of distance learning and coming up with my own comprehensive definition of what I believe that truly means.

Mia’s Understanding of Distance Learning

mia mindmap

Prior to my beginning the course on Distance Learning, I would have provided a simple definition that only took into consideration the ideas of the student being taught from a distance, and not physically being in a classroom, using various mediums and technologies. I am sure I would have discussed the change in technology and how the content is delivered, as I have experienced change in my own educational journey. I have taken a distance learning course that was delivered via closed circuit television where I watched the lecture and then turned in my course work via email. Now I am enrolled in a program that completely utilizes the internet, learning management systems and other multi-media advances.

The study this week enabled me to truly understand and articulate a definition of distance education. The term distance learning is prevalent in society and it is used to reference many different avenues of learning. As we learned from the multimedia video, “Distance Learning Timeline Continuum” learning from a distance is not a new concept. The U.S. Postal Service, Radio, Television, Telephone and Internet have been used for over a hundred years to deliver learning opportunities. However, due to this week’s study I now understand that there are distinct characteristics that distinguish formal distance education.

All definitions seem to agree that in distance education, there is a separation of the learner and the teacher, or they recognized that the education does not require “physical presence of the teacher” Homberg (as cited in Simonson, Smaldino, Albright and Albright, 2012.)Another important aspect of formal distance education is that it is institutionally based. However, Keegan’s definition broadened this and said distance learning should have “the influence of an educational organization” Keegan (as cited in Simonson, Smaldino, Albright and Albright, 2012.) As distance education has become more pervasive, I think this broader definition is vital to make sure we account for changes that are happening on a daily basis.

All definitions also seem to agree that there needs to be some sort of communication between learner and teacher. And finally Garrison and Shale added that “distance education uses technology to mediate the necessary two-way communication” (as cited in Simonson, Smaldino, Albright and Albright, 2012.) between learner and teacher.

Armed with this concrete definition of distance education I approached the article “The Evolution of Distance Education: Implications for Instructional Design on the Potential of the Web” with more fervent focus.

Although I read all three parts, part 3 was the most relevant to my current career in educational publishing. I deal with curriculum and instruction on a daily basis and I have experienced the evolution of McGraw-Hill going from the largest text book companies in the country to becoming one of the largest education technology companies. We have gone from selling $60 million dollars’ worth of reading text books in Los Angeles Unified School District in 2009 to selling the state of Hawaii, $10 million dollars’ worth of student and teacher subscriptions for digital reading/ language arts resources in 2013. This calls into question what’s next? Will we eventually see all learning being done via distance education?

With the 1:1 initiatives in districts, or the bring your own device options, the technology is available for distance learning, and the digital curriculum is here with learning management systems such as Schmoodle or Canvas or McGraw-Hill’s ConnectEd platform. And with the desire for more diversity in the curricular offerings, the desire of individualized learning plans as well as “teacher shortages and overcrowded schools” Mupinga (as cited in Huett, Moller, Foshay and Coleman, 2008.) I believe we will continue to see more and more distance education opportunities in the K-12 arena. And as a result, there will be a need for Instructional Designers in the K-12 arena in School Districts, at the major publishing companies and the institutions that will be training all of the people who will be facilitating the learning.


Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–6 7. Laureate Education, Inc. (2008)


Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education(5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.




Welcome to Mia’s Mind on….

I will be blogging about various aspects of education via this blog. I will be sharing my thoughts, new learning and reflections in the area of Education Tech and Instruction Design and Technology, plus much more…so stay Tuned!!!!