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ETEC 512

Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction (core)



Final Grade: A+

Class Average: 88%

Extemporaneous Comments

Although most of the discussion forums in the MET courses were text-based, many of my contributions were made in video or audio format, as presented below in the audio player.  Please note that these comments are mainly unscripted because they are intended only to reflect on memorable aspects of the courses that had the longest lasting impact and influence on my educational philosophy and professional development.

ETEC 512: Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction

In this course, students learn to recognize major learning theories and apply them to specific instructional situations in an effort to solve instructional design problems. Beginning with an investigation of personal learning strategies, students take what they have learned and apply it to their own settings.


As will become clear during ETEC512, there is no ‘best’ theory that can account for all aspects of human learning. As such, the overarching objective of this course is to expose students to a variety of theories, each of which has potential to be useful in understanding learning and teaching in a variety of settings. However, for this information to be useful, educators need to have an understanding of when and how different approaches should be utilized. To this end, many of the assignments and activities of this course will focus on applying different theoretical perspectives to ill-defined, realistic learning situations. In addition, one of the goals of this course is for students to develop a coherent, explicit sense of their own beliefs about learning, and how the various theories hold together and are related to, or influenced by, the other perspectives.


  • Module 1: Introduction to ETEC 512 (1 week)
    • Week 1: Online Learning Theory
  • Module 2: Behaviourist, Cognitive, and Neural Approaches to Learning (4 Weeks)
    • Week 2: Behaviourism
    • Week 3: Information Processing
    • Week 4: The Neuroscience of Learning
    • Week 5: Consolidation and Links to Online Learning
  • Module 3: Developmental and Constructivist Approaches to Learning (4 weeks)
    • Week 6: Piaget and Vygotsky
    • Week 7: Piaget and Vygotsky Compared
    • Week 8: Constructivism
    • Week 9: Consolidation and Links to Online Learning
  • Module 4: Social Approaches to Learning (2 weeks)
    • Week 10: Situated Learning and Distributed Cognition
    • Week 11: Consolidation and Links to Online Learning
  • Module 5: Course Consolidation (2 weeks)
    • Week 12: Conference on Learning
    • Week 13: Bringing it all Together

source: ETEC512 Syllabus – 2014

The final grade in the course will be based on:

  • Participation (30%). Participation will be assessed according to contribution to group tasks, meeting deadlines for postings, and quality of contributions and postings.
  • Thought Papers (15%)
  • Conference Presentation (25%)
  • Lesson Plan Critique (30%).

source:ETEC512 Syllabus – 2014

Jennifer Shapka, Ph.D.

Jennifer D. Shapka is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, at the University of British Columbia. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate level courses in Child and Adolescent Development, Cognitive Development, and Learning Theories. Her research is focused on adolescent and youth development, with a particular focus on understanding contextual influences on developmental wellbeing. She is currently investigating the relationship between adolescent development and information technology – especially the interfaces between Internet use and socio-emotional and cognitive outcomes. To this end, she is exploring cyberbullying as well as issues around youth’s understanding of their online privacy. She is also interested in examining factors which impact school-based outcomes, such as motivation, self-concept, achievement (especially gender differences in math and science outcomes), and career and educational aspirations. For more information, see:

Online Presentation of Vygotsky's Theories

Course: ETEC 512 - Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction (core)


Modern Web and Instructional Design for an Online Presentation


Our task was to choose a learning theory (or theorist) and build an online presentation that demonstrated not only a solid understanding of the basic theory, but also presented evidence of additional research that went beyond the course readings. Because we all agreed to use a hosted WordPress site, our presentation was able to include interactivities and make Online Learning Communities (OLC’s) (Khoo & Cowie, 2011) (Stodel, Thompson, & MacDonald, 2006) a priority.

I was able to find a good chat plugin so each member of the group was able to engage in synchronous or asynchronous chats with site visitors. Other useful affordances were eduCanon’s interactive videos and the Tricider social voting system system, as featured on the Interactivities page.

In addition to interactivity, two other important design features include navigability and responsive design, and they are both explained/demonstrated in the video, which also serves as the reflection for this artifact.

To see the online presentation, please tap or click here. Tapping or clicking on the thumbnail below will play the reflection video.

Update (07-11-15): Since developing the presentation in November, 2014, some of the apps and plugins have evolved and may not work as originally designed. If you notice this, please feel free to let us know!

Tap or click to check the references for the above artifact and reflection.


Animated Video for Online Presentation

Course: ETEC 512 - Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction (core)


Context: This short animation was created by a first-time animator (me) on PowToon. The reflection is in the toggle below.

Reflections on Making a PowToon Animation

Our three person team worked well on this project, with each of us using his/her greatest strengths to contribute to the effort. My best contributions were in the technical realm: looking after the web design, producing some videos, and creating this PowToon animation.

I had seen them on other teachers’ presentation sites and really liked the pen-writing effects and hand transitions, so I decided to learn how to make a PowToon animation for our Vygotsky presentation. The learning curve wasn’t bad at all–slightly easier than most other cloud apps!

However, I was disappointed by two things: the price for a premium account is far too high and, in a later incident (while trying to make a similar animation for another ETEC course), the site didn’t automatically save my work and I ended up losing everything after spending a lot of time working on the new animation.

Despite those concerns, I still think animation is an excellent way to engage the audience without overwhelming them with too much “up close and personal” content that is often found in podcasts and vodcasts. Of course, one should always consider the demographics of the audience first–then decide on whether to use animation, live video, or some other type of engaging media.

Tap or click here to check out the references for the above artifact and reflection.


Three Thought Papers

Course: ETEC 512 - Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction (core)


Apparently, I Really Can Think!

Because I was able to critically evaluate and draw logical, clear, objective, and well supported conclusions about learning theories and relevant literatures, I not only earned high marks, but had a good time doing so! 

Please tap or click on “Play” to learn the reason it is the 2nd artifact for Key Competency #1:

Professor's Feedback on Thought Paper #2

by Jennifer Shapka, Ph.D.

Tap or click to read, from the course content Thought Paper Assignment page, about the strict grading policy :

There are a total of 3 Thought Papers that you will need to complete during the course, each worth 5% of your mark. Although the Thought Papers are based on the readings, they cannot be answered directly from them. That is, you cannot simply summarize the readings to answer the question. Rather these questions are designed to provoke deeper understanding about the readings and should be viewed as an opportunity to delve further into an issue. As such, this assignment is evaluated quite rigorously in terms of content. Top papers will be clear and thought-provoking, with well-supported arguments. They will also be well-written and free of any spelling or grammatical errors. Please do not be discouraged by low marks on your initial Thought Papers; rather, use the instructor’s feedback to develop stronger responses. The Thought Papers are to be 300 words, or the equivalent of 1-page double-spaced, which will be strictly enforced. At times it will seem difficult to fit all you have to say about the topic into 300 words; however, as graduate students, the ability to write clearly and concisely is an important skill to develop. The Thought Papers will be evaluated based on clarity and the degree of insight and thought that is evident. Given that summarizing the reading is worth no points, do not waste any of your 300 words summarizing!

Source: ETEC512 Course Content Page on Thought Paper Assignments

Tap or click to read the papers via Google Drive's PDF viewer (for devices that don't have Adobe Reader installed)

Tap or click to check out the references for the above artifact and reflection.


Lesson Plan Critique

Course ETEC 512 - Applications of Learning Theories to Instruction (core)

Why This Artifact is First for Key Competency 5

Audio Reflection (1:27)

Lesson Plan Critique Reflection

I very much enjoyed this assignment. We were able to choose any lesson plan from any source and then apply at least three valid learning theories to improve upon it. With a value of 30% of the total grade, it was important to do well on this one – and, fortunately, I did.

Where I lost a mark was in the category of “Theoretical Understanding.” As I reflect on this, I realize that, in the entire critique, not one mention is made of the name Jean Piaget, a widely respected developmental theorist, who is usually at least mentioned in any discourse about constructivism and Vygotsky. I remember thinking about Piaget as I worked on the critique, did not write about him. Perhaps it was an oversight. Or it may have been my bias getting the better of me and causing me to selectively omit him. Or maybe I was worried about the maximum word count and didn’t think I could fit in all that could be said about Piaget. In retrospect, I would hope to not make such an oversight (or selective omission) in the future and I look forward to the day when I can write without worrying about maximum word counts.

Whatever my excuse, there’s this thing called credibility and presenting a perspective that one disagrees with can actually help establish one’s credibility–especially in academic circles.  Having been around for a few years, I know this stuff – but, in this case, I messed up.

Please tap or click on the image below to read the critique.

Please tap or click here to read the paper in Google Drive if the above file does not load on your device.

Help Me Fix My Mistake 😉

Please feel free to use the space below to suggest how Piaget’s perspective may have been easily applied in the critiqued lesson plan.

Lesson Plan Critique Criteria

The purpose of this assignment is to consolidate your thinking about how the different theoretical perspectives presented in the course are applied in educational settings. This assignment will involve critiquing and improving on an existing lesson plan. This assignment will be completed individually. There are two components to this assignment. First, you will need to identify and get approval for an appropriate lesson plan. More specifically, by the end of Week 6, you will need to submit a lesson plan to the instructor for approval. This submission should include the lesson plan you will analyze, as well as a 150-200 word (maximum) overview of the theoretical perspectives that are relevant to the lesson plan. This part of the assignment is worth 5 marks, and you will receive feedback from the instructor about the appropriateness of your lesson plan and theorizing. You can choose something from your own teaching or learning experiences, or you can find something available on the internet. You will likely get the most out of this assignment if you choose something that is relevant to your own teaching (e.g., similar age or similar topic). Finally, do not try and find the ‘perfect’ document as it will be difficult to change or improve it. You also don’t want one that is too short such that you have no material to work with.

Once you get approval for your lesson plan, you can begin to critique and update it. You should use at least three theories presented in this course as the basis for your critique and changes. The analysis should describe how the lesson plan reflects each of the theories, as well as the ways in which it doesn’t. You should also describe how your proposed changes will improve the document, from a theoretical perspective. Additional references may be used to support your analyses. Please keep in mind that this assignment is not about critiquing how the lesson plan was written (e.g., whether the learning objectives match the learning outcomes); rather it is an analysis how the goals/objectives/assignment fit into different theoretical perspectives. Also, we are using the term ‘Lesson Plan’ very broadly. There is no pre-determined form that it must take, although it must describe the lesson thoroughly. If you are not familiar with making lesson plans, there are plenty of good examples on the internet.

Your analysis should be no more than 3 to 5 pages in length (double spaced; maximum 1500 words). Along with this critique, you will need to submit the original Lesson Plan/Syllabus, as well as your improved-upon version.

Your Lesson Plan Critique will be evaluated based on the criteria listed in the rubric shown here: 


Source: ETEC512 Course Content Syllabus Page for the Lesson Plan Critique Assignment (2014)

Innovative Discussion Forum Media

Examples of how the use of multimedia can enhance discussion forums that are usual text only

Using New Media for MET  Course Discussions

In most of the ETEC courses, students interact and collaborate in the Blackboard LMS Discussion Forums using text only. I prefer to challenge myself to push beyond text-only communication, as shown in the WebQuest analyses below. It is interesting to note that, according to YouTube analytics, not everyone in a class took time to interact with the video posts. Perhaps the videos were too long, or maybe some folks just didn’t want to see/hear what I had to say, or perhaps I posted too late in the week and some students are not in the habit of backtracking and revisiting old topics.  I’m not sure what the reason(s) was/were, but it would be interesting to find out with some solid research.

Real Life Examples of Linking Theory to Practice:

The following blurbs will connect you to current examples of linking theory to practice.

More About Gary

additional information about Gary’s background & current practice

Reflections on HYU Practice

ongoing initiatives to support learners and faculty at Hanyang University

Overview of Current Sites

e-learning spaces that Gary currently uses in professional practice

Links to Old Spaces

discontinued spaces that trace Gary’s online footprint back to 2001

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