LTEC 6040 – Blog 3

What does your Personal Theory of Online Learning/Teaching connect to what you are examining in Distance Education research? How well supported does your personal theory feel? What research could you do in order to support your theory? What methods would you employ? Please share empirical studies you are starting to collect and detail what sort of citation management system or tool you will be using to organize your literature review (see Week 2 for resources related to this topic). Additionally, feel free to explain one or two supporting papers that align with how you are approaching your distance learning research for your study.

My personal theory of online learning is it is an individual choice as to whether online learning works for a particular person, at a particular time. For an adult who travels or works in another city or state, online learning may be their only option. For example, I once worked as a contractor project manager in New Jersey, while maintaining a residence in Texas. I was in New Jersey during the week, and in Texas each weekend. While I preferred to take live classes to further my education in Texas, it was more practical to take online courses. In this particular case, I took two online courses from two different colleges in two different states simultaneously because that met my needs at the time. However, now that I am back in Texas permanently, I enrolled in the residential format for the PhD in Learning Technologies. There is at least one study suggesting that face-to-face learning in more effective, U.S. Department of Education (2010).

The topic I am exploring the effectiveness of online learning in mathematics for adult learners. This doesn’t necessarily involve higher education, but job-related skills needed for advancement or just someone wanting to improve their math skills. To determine how effective online learning of mathematics is for adult learners, I will prepare an online survey and send it out to a group who has agreed to take online surveys. I will also attempt to gather information from open online courses, such as The Khan Academy, to find out what feedback they may have received. In addition, I can poll online math instructors from UNT. This could also include courses in statistics. Finally, I will conduct a literature review of at least ten articles on the subject.

I typically use Mendeley to manage citations, and sometimes use a citation tool such as Citation Machine, to save time in preparing a citation properly.  The survey will be designed to provide a range of answers that can be coded into quantitative results, so as to be to perform a range of statistical analysis. This will serve to lend credibility to the results.


U.S. Department of Education (2010). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. Retrieved from


LTEC 6040 – Blog 2

Blog 2 – Expectations for Online Learning

Is online learning as efficacious as face-to-face learning? One way we think about the difference in learning is how online learning is (sometimes) delivered. Synchronous (e.g. GoToMeeting, Skype, etc.) vs. asynchronous tools (e.g. Discussion Forums). Which is better at fostering online learning? Why? What are your reasons and evidence for this?

Also, are we asking the right questions about distance learning? Should we be comparing online to traditional face-to-face learning?

Depending on what is meant by “efficacious” or effectiveness, one might come to different conclusions based on personal experience and available research. Performance in online classes show a slight increase compared to face-to-face learning (U.S. Department of Education, 2010).  However, this does not mean that all online learning is more effective or better than all face-to-face learning. For example, one might compare the effectiveness of an online doctoral class with 100 students to the same course taught in a face-to-face format with only 10 students. How could an online instructor possibly provide the same level of attention to 100 students as 10 students face-to-face?

Two considerations for teaching online are emerging technologies, and emerging practices (Veletsianos, 2016). Emerging technologies and emerging practices indicate that online teaching is still evolving, while traditional face-to-face teaching has changed little in 150 years. Emerging doesn’t necessarily mean new, but it is relevant in comparing methods in 2018 to 1868. Emerging technologies can be MOOCs, 3-D printers, as well as open source classrooms, which are not exactly a recent development. Emerging practices can cover things like the flipped classroom and new pedagogies.

Oh sure, there are PowerPoints to prepare and videos to show students in a face-to-face format, but this can also be done online, while at the same time allowing students to hold synchronous and asynchronous discussions, thereby learning from each other, without the distraction of students getting up to go to the bathroom.

The downside of online is that you can’t really have those spontaneous discussions that sometime arise based on something the teacher or a student said (Fredericksen, 2015). Sure, you could start writing a text, but not everyone is going to see that because it is silent, unlike speech. However, there is technology that allows video of students and teacher, such as Skype, and others, but at this time, that technology is still emerging due to bandwidth limitations, and quite frankly, the teacher and students ability to use video software effectively.

Ruggieri, Boca & Garro (2013), show that leadership styles must change in virtual environments compared to face-to-face interaction. For example, in traditional leadership, one should offer encouragement, reward, and motivation, mostly through physical presence or comments. Whereas, in a virtual environment, leadership must use different methods to establish that they are the leader. This applies directly to classroom leadership styles where a teacher new to online teaching may have a difficult time controlling students an online environment because they are dependent on their use of physical presence to gain and maintain control of the classroom. The use of  techniques such as waiting a moment before answering a question, and changing the frequency of intervention compared to a live classroom are something that may take a while to master. This is, of course, in addition to mastering the technology used.

The bottom line, according to the U.S. Department of Education (2010), is that students perform modestly better in online formats that in face-to-face setting because the online format provides more study time. This conclusion was not based on a particular technology in use.


Fredericksen, E. (2015). Is online education good or bad? And is this really the right question? The Conversation. Retrieved from

RUGGIERI, S., BOCA, S., & GARRO, M. (2013). Leadership styles in synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning environments. TOJET : The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 12(4) Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Education (2010). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. Retrieved from

Veletsianos, G. (2016). The defining characteristics of emerging technologies and emerging practices in digital education. Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning. (pp. 3-16). Retrieved from

LTEC 6040 – Blog 1

Blog 1

Why have we moved so many courses online? As students, do you feel like online courses are as good as face-to-face courses? What are the major differences between online and face-to-face (F2F) courses for you as a student? Whether you have taught one or not, what do you think the differences are for the instructor? How do we know if the formats require different skills or result in different learning outcomes? Do we?

According to Park & Choi (2009), distance learning allows adult learners with employment, family and other commitments to save travel costs, and who need flexible schedules a better alternative to updating their skills than the traditional face-to-face classroom. With the high cost of education, many students work part-time to keep their student loan debt as small as possible, so the above could apply to them too.

As a student who has taken many online and face-to-face college courses, I prefer the face-to-face because I find human interaction to be key to my learning process. The ability to look at my classmates and my professor when they speak is important for reading non-verbal cues, something I find compliments speech. Also, I get tired of looking at my computer screen, considering I look at it all day while at work.

Although I have not taught K-12 or college courses, I have taught people how to use PeopleSoft Financials, as well as for other trainings, both face-to-face and online. I prefer teaching face-to-face, particularly when much interaction is needed to fulfill course objectives and learning outcomes. However, there are legitimate benefits to teaching online for both the student and teacher. There may be a time factor associated needing to be trained quickly, and outside of a scheduled course. The teacher may be sick and does not want to spread her sickness to students, so for a hybrid course where the instruction can be performed online or in class, the teacher may opt to have it online that particular class day. Additionally, a teacher with a heavy teaching load may be able to teach more courses online than face-to-face in a semester, since they save on commuting time, and could even offer a course asynchronously, not requiring the teacher to attend.

Skills needed for face-to-face teaching can be transferable to an online format, but the teacher must be very comfortable with technology, know what to do when the technology doesn’t work, and know how to prompt students to engage in the learning process without being able to see their face. Training and practice is key to having this comfort level.

In terms of the different formats providing different learning outcomes, it depends not only on teacher skill, but student motivation and attention. There is something quite different between sitting in a classroom and watching a computer screen in your pajamas, at home with your spouse, kids, and dogs in the next room. It is easy to stand up and walk away from your computer, not something you would probably do in a face-to-face setting.



Ji-Hye Park, & Hee Jun Choi. (2009). Factors influencing adult learners’ decision to drop    out or persist in online learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 207-217. Retrieved from


Blog 9

Using the SystemitTool to depict a system I am familiar with helps me understand how it is developed. Seeing all the interdependencies of a system is important to understand potential problems effecting the system outcomes. The most interesting aspect of the system while it is being developed is that it forces you to think about the impact of subsystems on other subsystems.

While developing the Systemigram, one can see the many interactions and cause and effect relationships of the system of interest. Once the Systemigram is virtually complete, one can begin develop what-if scenarios to determine if fixing one issue might resolve part of a problem or the whole problem.

System control is a mechanism of self-regulation in which a system governs and maintains its structure in order to keep itself stable (Boardman & Sauser, 2013). Control problems could be discovered that prevent a system from operating in the most efficient manner or causing failures in a system or related system.


Boardman, J., & Sauser, B. (2013). Control, command, and communication. Systemic Thinking: Building maps for world systems. 62. Hoboken, NJ. John Wiley & Sons.

Blog 7

According to the Harvard Business Review (2008), employees at three out of every five companies, worldwide rated their organization weak at execution. Execution is the result of thousands of decisions made every day by employees acting according to the information they have and their own self-interest.

Many organizations focus on restructuring to improve performance, but by addressing only structure, management is only attacking the visible symptoms of poor performance, not the underlying cause, that is, how people made decisions and how they were held accountable. Enron clearly made decisions at the very top with no effective oversight, and executive management’s greed was only surpassed by their ability to hide the company’s losses in order to serve their own interest.

A systemigram of Enron’s power flows would highlight some of the risks in their financial system, as well as the lack of accountability, despite a large external auditing team of mostly well-meaning auditors. Part of the systemic failure of both Enron and Arthur Andersen was their interconnectedness and dependence on one another that when one fell, so would the other.

Blog 5

Write a reflection about how thinking about these topics and the responses you received impacted your views of your own identified system of interest (SOI). What did you see that had been missing from last week? What are you still looking for in terms of understanding the system as it exists now?

Just realizing that I’ve been posting about a system of interest (higher education) I’ve been using in another class and in blogs for this class, but not the one I chose to use for this course. The one I chose is flying small airplanes, and I will address that now.

As I learn more about how to interpret and develop systemigrams, I plan to create one for private pilots to help instructors teach trainees about the complexities of interconnections there are for pilots flying in the FAA system.

Private pilot, as well as commercial and airline transport pilots fly in airspace, some of it controlled and uncontrolled. There are also different rules for flying at low altitudes compared to high altitudes. There are different rules for flying in visual conditions or good weather, compared to instrument conditions, which is for pilots either flying at 18,000 feet or higher or lower flying aircraft that flying in clouds, rain or fog.

There are literally thousands of pages of information on this, so my next steps are to create a summary document, from which I can begin to draw a systemmigram.

Reflection on Boom Bust Boom

The film is a lesson on modern economics using lessons learned from the 2008 financial crisis or the great recession, as it is also known.

The film brings to light the human side of economics and its unpredictability that can’t be taught in main stream economics courses. Economics is taught with models that do not consider that markets can crash. For example, many models that are used for teaching economics, only account for a 13% correction, rather than a 50% correction, like happened in 2008-2009.

The lessons go on to talk about examples of how stability feeds instability because of the way humans tend to relax common sense during boom times. Credit standards are relaxed, checks and balances are not applied in a rigorous manner, people overextend themselves, which over time, causes instability.

The film teaches us that each individual risk is tied to each other. The subprime mortgage market was in a boom from 1993 until its bust in 2008. Lending to those who couldn’t afford the home they wanted was commonplace because the risk was supposedly low because real estate values are supposed to keep rising.

However, as the banks took on more and more risk so they could collect fees on these loans, and again when they sold the loans to investors, some banks started looking closer and closer at their mortgage portfolios and realized that many of these loans were no good. So, they calling the loans in, which caused a massive liquidity crisis. One hundred and fifty year old companies went bankrupt. In the end, the US government alone shelled out some $850B to rescue the US economy.

This reminds me of systems thinking and systemic thinking. All the banks risks were connected by the same junk mortgages. This system of credit had a major weakness. A major assumption that real estate would always go up. Further, the cascading affect of banks calling their loans due caused failure after failure, resulting is the worst financial crisis in the US since the great depression of the 1930’s.