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ETEC 530

Constructivist Strategies for E-Learning


Final Grade: A+

Class Average: 90%

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.

This course provides the opportunity for participants to examine teaching that aims to learners’ learning. It will examine literature on current research and practice concerning contemporary constructivist instructional strategies considered to be canonically effective. It will provide the opportunity to examine personal beliefs/worldviews about the nature of knowledge and truths and how these impact or influence our pedagogy of teaching and learning. Key instructional approaches and methods including project-based teaching/learning and cooperative learning will be critically discussed. The principles employed in these strategies will be considered and applied to practical experiences of designing and delivering online instructions. Existing learning sites will be critically examined through constructivist theories of teaching and learning.


The course is aimed at offering opportunities for participants to:

  1. Critically examine the tenets of constructivism as an epistemology of how knowledge is acquired, and as a theory of learning in relation to constructivist principles that apply to major face-to-face instructional strategies;
  2. Recognize effective constructivist principles in online teaching and learning situations and be able to use them in designing online teaching and learning environments;
  3. Evaluate and critically incorporate constructivist principles in the development of lessons intended for online use;
  4. Critically evaluate online lessons prepared by peers and others in terms of the major tenets of constructivism.


Unit 1: Introduction: Unpacking Assumptions

Unit 2: What is Constructivism?

Unit 3: Promoting Active Learning

Unit 4: Constructivist Strategies

Unit 5: Evaluating Constructivist Activities

Unit 6: Evaluating Constructivist Activities



Assignment 1: 40% due end of Week 8 Select an issue or area of interest within the situated teaching/learning paradigm and constructivism and write a paper in which you critically discuss the issue or area in not more than 2,000 words. The paper should draw on existing literature on constructivism, situated learning, basic principles of constructivist instructions, e-learning, etc.

Assignment 2: 35% end of week 13 Prepare an online lesson or set of lessons for teaching a student-chosen topic and using one or more of the teaching strategies (35%). A lesson should not be less than 1hr or more than 1hr 15min. Note: 5% of the course grade comes from completing a concept map and set criteria for constructivist activities.


There are several online Discussion Forums woven into ETEC 530, and your insightful, active participation in these will be evaluated as 15% of your overall grade in the course. You will be expected to demonstrate excellent knowledge of the course material, as well as the ability to think critically about the issues arising in discussion, course readings, and in the contributions of your peers.


Diane P. Janes, Ph.D.

Dr. Diane P. Janes is currently an Educational Developer with the Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Alberta, located in Edmonton. Formerly she was the Associate Dean, Donald School of Business at Red Deer College (2013-2014) and an Associate Professor, who served as Chair of the Education Department (2009-2011) before becoming Chair of the School of Professional Studies, Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia, in 2011. She joined CBU on July 1, 2009, after working with the University of Saskatchewan (UofS), where she was an Assistant Professor (instructional design) and member of the Centre for Distributed Learning (CDL), a research think-tank on technology and learning. Since the closing of the Extension Division at the UofS in late 2006, she has been a visiting professor with five graduate programs offered by Royal Roads University, Cape Breton University/Memorial University, Athabasca University, the University of Calgary, and of course UBC. She teaches both ETEC 530 and ETEC 510.

Diane was a member of the core design team for the Post-Graduate Certificate in Technology-based Distributed Learning, the predecessor to the MET program. While much of her work is in online, web-based course development in the areas of nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, education, economics, law, political studies and physical therapy, she’s also consulted on distance education, instructional development and program evaluation in Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. Diane has a Master’s degree in educational technology and in 2005 completed a Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include e-strategic planning, faculty development, collaborative online learning, online teaching pedagogy, e-research, program evaluation and instructional design. Her current work is focused on MOOCs and Blended Learning projects at the UofA.

Diane is Past President of the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) and served book review editor for the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (formerly the Canadian Journal of Educational Communications) from 1993 to 2005. She has served as Prairie representative on the national board of the Canadian Association of Distance Education from 2004 to 2006, is a reviewer and editorial board member for several international journals, and has had a number of publications and conference presentations to her credit. She co-edited a book with Dr. Mark Bullen entitled Making the Transition to E-learning: Strategies and Issues (Hershey, Pa.: Idea Publishing Group, 2006).


A Concept Map on Constructivism

Course: ETEC 530 - Constructivist Strategies for E-Learning



In the 81 second audio reflection I discuss how one of my strongest assets almost became a liability in the development of this concept map.

To view a larger version of the concept map, please tap or click on it.

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


Essay: From Objectivism to Constructivism

Course: ETEC 530 - Constructivist Strategies for E-Learning


Why This Essay Fulfills Key Competency #1

audio reflection (approx. 4 minutes)

The word cloud, based on the analysis, is linked to a pdf version of it:

Detailed Information about the essay (taken directly from the course content page).

Assignment 1: 40% 

Select an issue or area of interest within your own teaching/learning or practice experiences and examine how it incorporates, does not incorporate or should incorporate constructivism. In the paper critically discuss the issue or area in not more than 2,000 words. This assignment should draw on existing literature on constructivism, situated learning, basic principles of constructivist instructions, e-learning, etc.

Source: ETEC530 Course Content Page on Assignment 1 

Tap or click to read comments from Professor Diane Janes, Ph.D.

Professor’s Comments:

Solid job Gary…a very good overview of the issues between constructivist learning and blended multimedia writing as described…clear, concise and easy to read…good use of sources and solid use of APA (actually quite rare so good job)… I wanted a more critical approach in your discussion and you did that, with your own thinking mixed throughout, which improved the final work! Overall an enjoyable piece…39/40


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

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


Online Constructivist Lesson Sample

Course: ETEC 530 - Constructivist Strategies for E-learning


Online Constructivist Lesson Sample

The reflection for this artifact is in the toggle below the image. To see the online lesson, please tap or click here or on the image below:

Reflection of the Online Constructivist Lesson sample:

Because this lesson came from a course that I actually developed with a blended approach, there have not been any radical changes in this revision. It turns out that I have already been using constructivist strategies that are key aspects of the Constructivist Instructional Model (CIM) (Driver & Oldham, 1986), Predict-Observe-Explain (POE) (White & Gunstone, 1992) and Conceptual Change Model (CCM) (Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982) approaches, but I just didn’t know the labels for them.

Because the assignment called for the development of an online instructional/workshop lesson that included about 1 hour of instruction, I did have to make some changes in a few areas, though.  For example, the self-introduction was put on video and I eliminated many administrative aspects of the real-life course’s first two weeks (such as setting up students on Gmail and a learning management system) in order to focus on the most essential elements of the course curriculum: developing digital literacy through blogging, photography, writing, and filmmaking.

I also added online surveys that would enable even the quietest, shiest students to have a voice by making predictions about key aspects of online privacy, the future of the internet, and digital footprints. Not all the surveys require students to identify themselves, so under guarantee of anonymity, they are able to reflect sincerely and “speak” honestly about their true beliefs.  This is rarely possible in a face-to-face environment—especially on the first day of classes. Surprisingly, many internet users are still sadly unaware of the need to take reasonable precautions when going online. As a result, Part 1 of the lesson attempts to encourage students to engage in the most serious possible self-reflection before they get started with building their blogs. This is not so easy to do in the classroom.

Part 2 of the lesson is very similar to the way I currently teach it. Rather than lecture or do a live demonstration of how to set up a WordPress blog, I provide students with short video tutorials that provide just enough information to get them started, but also leave out a lot of details.  This is partly because students generally lose interest after about 6 minutes of video, but mainly because I want them to experience the challenge—and success—of struggling through their Zones of Proximal Development (McLeod, 2014; TCU Psychology of Thinking and Learning, n.d.; Vygotsky, 1978).   Because many of my previous tutorials had become outdated (because of changes in the WordPress interface), I thought that Assignment 2 would be a good opportunity to remake the videos and ended up producing a total of eight.

I also discovered, while building the site, Padlet makes it easy for students to post their blog URL’s on the parent website for the course.  This is something that I have always done myself—and students have frequently expressed the desire to do it themselves, so this is a change that I may be implementing very soon in the real-life course.  

I tried several online collaboration apps and ruled out those that don’t work on Android or that require students to register. (Popplet, Spiderscribe, etc.)  I favored eduCanon, Padlet, and Google Forms because they give teachers the option of allowing learners to interact without being required to log in.  I used Camtasia to create the video tutorials and found the basic WordPress setup tutorial to be the most difficult to produce.  This is partly because WordPress’s interface has changed and become much more complicated than it was when I made my first tutorial.  However, I am pleased to note that the vast majority of WordPress setup tutorials are exponentially longer than mine.

I take a more holistic approach to evaluation because, although blogging is an important aspect of digital literacy, it is also a very ambiguous one, beginning with the issue of how to name a blog: should one use a pseudonym or real name?  If one uses a pseudonym, doesn’t that detract from the authenticity of that blog? On the other hand, is the blogosphere becoming too dangerous for one to use a real name?  Other ambiguities include a wide range of other issues — from aesthetics to politics to art appreciation to the old Apple vs PC debate.  Evaluating blogs, images, videos, or anything else related to digital literacy is not a black and white process.  It is not like math or physics, where the facts are the facts—and very little grey area exists.  With so much grey area in the realm of digital literacy, I think it is presumptuous to formulate a precise set of criteria by which to evaluate students’ work.  For that reason, my rubrics take a decidedly holistic approach.

Although I enjoyed working on a one hour online lesson, I found it impossible to compartmentalize all the best constructivism into just one hour.  In Part 3, students are set up for a 3 week project in which they will collaboratively learn about filmmaking shots—then produce some of them in their own work.  And Part 4, I suspect, may not be doable at such an early stage of the course. It may be more reasonable to ask students to share their newly made blogs after they have had more time to get them organized and looking good.  This, among many other aspects of this lesson, is something that will require careful assessment and reflection on my part.


Interactive Formative Quiz Video with Feedback

Course: ETEC 530 - Constructivist Strategies for E-learning


A Reflection and a Warning

First, here is a quick audio reflection (2:20):


Now, here is the warning:

Clicking on following image will actually take you off this site and bring you to the eduCanon website. This is only because eduCanon has still not figured out how to make their embedding code responsive (mobile friendly). They said they were working on it over a year ago, but nothing has changed. Because one of this ePortfolio’s top priorities is to be mobile friendly, the only way to provide you with a responsive interactive video is by using the eduCanon link (not embed code) which forces you off this site.  However, feel free to either complete the formative quiz and be taken back to this site automatically or just use your “Back” button to return to this ePortfolio. 


Feedback Video for 'What Do YOU Know about Online Privacy?' (tap/click to view)

To gain some additional insight about online privacy, please watch the feedback video below. When doing so, please try to remember what your original answer was and reflect on what you hear in the feedback so you can better understand the realities of online privacy.

When you build your blog, it will be “out there” and live on the internet, so it is extremely important for you to remember and respect those realities.


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


Setup Video for Assignment in Online Constructivist Sample Lesson

Course: ETEC 530 - Constructivist Strategies for E-Learning

Audio Introduction and Reflection to the Setup Video (2:06)



Clarification: The setup video was produced for a sample online constructivist lesson in ETEC530. I have been thinking about redesigning this particular lesson in my real life multimedia writing class and will being implementing those changes either this September or next January. If time permits, I will also be implementing a formative online quiz like the one I refer to in the audio introduction (and that is demonstrated in the last few minutes of this Moodle Site Tour Video.)

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



Discussion Forum Video: Applying Constructivism in an Online Lesson

Course: ETEC 530 - Constructivist Strategies for E-Learning

Discussion Forum Video

Some topics and ideas are better explained with multimedia, as I demonstrated in this post to our ETEC 530 Discussion Forum.  At first glance, it may seem strange to include this in Key Competency 5, but the theories that I am linking to practice are multiple intelligences theory , learning style theory , and universal design for learning (UDL) theory .  Rather than confining myself and my classmates to a text-based discussion of some very complex relationships and concepts, I am using those theories that all seem to agree that multimedia is preferable over text only in such situations.

In the video itself, I also apply the assigned Constructivist theories   to my own online course sample lesson, which is, in turn, directly linked with my real life Multimedia Writing class. 



Tap or click here to check the reference for the above artifact.


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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