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Sequencing Online Activities to Promote Higher-Order Questioning & Learning Conference on Information Technology Detroit, MI, Oct. 2009 Betsy Cohn English Division/CTEI Henry Ford Community College Session Goals

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sequencing online activities to promote higher order questioning learning

Sequencing Online Activities to Promote Higher-Order Questioning & Learning

Conference on Information Technology

Detroit, MI, Oct. 2009

Betsy Cohn

English Division/CTEI

Henry Ford Community College

session goals
Session Goals
  • Using my online course as an example, explore the following questions:
    • What are the special challenges and opportunities associated with online teaching & learning?
    • Can self-monitored, one-on-one & group learning tasks be mixed & sequenced for optimal effect?
    • What implications do multi-media materials have for cognitive load & learning style issues?
  • How can strategies shared be adapted & improved?
example course business technical writing research
Example Course: Business & Technical Writing & Research
  • Is a second-semester, college-level composition course
  • Pursues similar general education outcomes as its parallel, liberal arts oriented course, College Writing & Research
    • Written communication
    • Critical thinking
    • Information literacy
  • Adapts those outcomes to professional or workplace writing situations
some challenges faced by online students
Some Challenges Faced by Online Students
  • Engaging & learning in an environment that relies mostly on reading/writing
  • Grappling with possibly poor reading & writing skills, interest or affinity
  • Struggling with self-discipline, impatience, time management & other organizational skills
  • Encountering new software & the need to apply new technical skills
  • Experiencing technical problems
  • Feeling lonely or isolated
some challenges faced by online teachers
Some Challenges Faced by Online Teachers
  • Providing enough structure—but not too much
  • Enabling flexibility & asynchronous work without sacrificing valuable social engagement & collaborative learning
  • Assessing what technology to incorporate, when & how much
  • Keeping abreast of new technology, & learning it as needed
  • Managing time (for preparation of materials, communicating with students, facilitating group activities, etc.) & setting boundaries
  • Being aware of & realistic about the workload for students
  • Holding students to appropriate standards
  • Facing biases against online education
bloom s taxonomy revised types of knowledge
Bloom’s Taxonomy (Revised): Types of Knowledge
  • What should students know?
    • Facts (terms, details, elements)
    • Concepts (classifications & categories, principles & generalizations, theories, models, & structures)
    • Procedures (subject-specific skills, algorithms & methods & criteria for choosing when to use them)
    • Metacognition (strategies for setting learning goals, monitoring & assessing learning progress & ensuring continued improvement)
bloom s taxonomy revised cognitive processes
Bloom’s Taxonomy (Revised): Cognitive Processes
  • What should students do with that knowledge?
    • Remember it
    • Understand it
    • Apply it
    • Analyze it
    • Evaluate it
    • Create new & original products using it
cognitive load theory
Cognitive Load Theory
  • Only limited amounts of information can be held in short-term memory (discrete “data bits”): we need to chunk & scaffold
  • Long-term memory retains more for longer & makes information easier to access & use (coherently connected to prior knowledge & organized): we need to promote this transfer from short- to long-term memory
  • Learners experience “intrinsic,” “germane” & “extraneous” mental load demands
  • Especially relevant to us today: we need to assess mental load demands of technology & online learning dynamics, minimizing the extraneous
  • Sequencing of learning tasks affects their manageability & levels of cognitive processing
  • Tasks should be varied enough to tap different learning style preferences (reduce cognitive load demands)
  • Technology should be used in a way that helps manage cognitive load demands, not in a way that exacerbates them
major elements in my course
Major Elements in My Course
  • Written documents (textbook & online documents, assignments, directions & examples)
  • Interactive worksheets (both self-teaching & one-on-one with me)
  • Discussion board activities (all-class)
  • Online peer reviews of project drafts (student pairs, but posted publicly)
  • Audio-visual materials (Camtasia, narrated PowerPoints condensed via Impatica)
  • Audio clips
an example unit formal proposal
An Example Unit: Formal Proposal

Background info (reading; optional narrated PPT)

Brainstorming for topics (discussion board (DB)) 

Oral presentations (small-group, mostly in person) 

Focused critique of sample proposal (DB) & interactive worksheet #1 

Additional reading & A/V or in-person session on research strategies 

Interactive worksheet #2 & round 1 peer review 

Focused critique of sample proposal’s research plan (DB) & round 2 peer review 

Final draft of proposal project with self-assessment memo

(red = independent; blue = all-class; green = independent & 1-on-1 student-instructor; orange = 1-on-1 student-student)

examples of materials
Examples of Materials

Let’s access the course site to look at

  • an interactive worksheet (for independent learning/use & 1-on-1 student-instructor interaction)
  • a discussion board activity (all-class collaborative learning activity)
  • two types of audio-visual files (for independent learning/use)
quality of online learning my impressions
Quality of Online Learning: My Impressions
  • Offers opportunities for monitoring students’ engagement & learning that are sometimes richer than found in f2f classes
  • Promotes critical thinking that is sometimes richer
  • Enables me to know more students better
  • Achieves learning outcomes that are at least as strong as in f2f classes
  • Presents special challenges for motivation, retention & class management
group synthesis
Group Synthesis
  • Did today’s session make you think differently at all about online teaching & learning?
  • Which of the strategies (organizational, technological, etc.) today seem most useful, & why? After this conference, will you try anything new?
  • What aspects of the session do you question?
some useful sources
Some Useful Sources

Akin, L., & Neal, D. (2007). CREST + model: Writing effective online discussion questions [Electronic version]. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(2), 191-202.

Boettcher, J. V. (2007). Ten core principles for designing effective learning environments: Insights from brain research and pedagogical theory. Innovate, 3. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from

Greene, L. (2004, June). Final project snapshot: Toward a model of student questioning. Retrieved December 10, 2008, from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, KEEP Toolkit Web site:

Hornsby, K. (2008). A learner-centered online course design [Electronic version]. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 12(4). Retrieved March 25, 2009, from

some useful sources16
Some Useful Sources

Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An overview [Electronic version]. Theory into Practice, 41(4), 212-218.

Maurino, P. (2006). Participation and interaction: F2F vs. online. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 10(4), 257-262. Retrieved October 4, 2009, from Academic OneFile database.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2005, December). A first look at the literacy of America’s adults in the 21st century (Publication NCES 2006-470). Jessup, MD: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved October 5, 2009, from

some useful sources17
Some Useful Sources

Novak, G. M., Patterson, E. T., Gavrin, A. D., & Christian, W. (1999). Just-in-time teaching: Blending active learning with web technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Paas, F., Tuovinen, J. E., van Merrienboer, J. J. G., & Darabi, A. A. (2005). A motivational perspective on the relation between mental effort and performance: Optimizing learner involvement in instruction [Electronic version]. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(3), 25-34.

van Merrienboer, J. G., & Sweller, J. (2005, June). Cognitive Load Theory and complex learning: Recent developments and future directions. Educational Psychology Review, 17, 147(31). Retrieved February 15, 2007, from Academic OneFile database.

Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview [Electronic version]. Theory into Practice, 41(2), 64-70.