Teachers Talking | Mr. Bland & Coach Pabon | Book of Bland

We Should All Write A Book

No, seriously.
I believe we all should write some kind of book.
Everybody has something inside of them to contribute to the world around them.

There are those small things that we found ourselves repeating time and time again.
Maybe it’s some kind of quality advice.
Maybe it’s a step-by-step process for doing some kind of task.

  • Achieving a certain kind of style or look with make-up
  • Different way to perform various maintenance requirements for your vehicle(s)
  • Life lessons and how to capitalize on opportunities that stem from “mistakes”

The point that I’m making is that we all have something of value to share.  Maybe it won’t be a book that turns into the next block-buster movie event of the Summer, but who knows?  Maybe it will.

Either way, why not take a chance and just go for it.
I like Mr. Bland’s idea for a book, and I actually think he should write a book.

If you know who Mr. Bland is, and even if you don’t, you should encourage him to follow through with this idea & publish this book.

His youtube channel is: Mr. Bland
You can go subscribe & leave him a comment to get started on his “Book of Bland”.

While you’re at it, I would be most appreciative if you subscribed to my channel:
Coach Pabon.


Teachers Talking | Mr. Bland & Coach Pabon | Digital Principal

Who Are You?

Are you the go to person when it comes to digital media?
Are you staying abreast of how technology can improve what you do?
Are you the Digital Principal for your arena?

Real “job security” comes from creating so much value that you become an asset that others cannot do without.  Be the MVP for your organization. Since this conversation focused around education – if you’re in that arena, be the MVP for your school or for your district.

We’re in the 21st century, and we still have people outright refusing to engage with technology.  It is not a fad. Do not fear the technology – embrace it.  Use technology to simplify your life.

Is there a learning curve?

Sure – absolutely.
But, it should not be as drastic as some people make it out to be. (I know this sentence is grammatically incorrect, but we’re on the interwebs – so loosen up a little, ok.)

You have to get out of your own way.
“You have to get past your old you to get to the new you.”
– Dr. Eric Thomas (ET The Hip Hop Preacher)

What in the World is a Flipped Classroom ???

There has been much talk – and sometimes debate – over this idea of Flipping the Classroom.

Well, many people – including educators – still do not even understand what a Flipped Classroom truly means in order to be able to take an educated stance in favor of, or against this newer concept.

Instead of trying to write a very long explanation, I came across the following Infographic that explains the concept and its origins very nicely.  I came across the website for this Flipped Classroom Infographic when I was looking at the blog of one of my previous professors – brainmeld.

This Flipped Classroom Infographic was published by Knewton.


Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media


Virtual Immersion: The 3D Web

Originally Posted: March 11, 2011

Virtual Immersion: The 3D Web

While we may not be discussing the “final frontier”, we certainly are rapidly approaching the next frontier.  Kluge and Riley (2008) refer to 3-D virtual worlds as the next technological stepping stone that will redefine the internet as we know it today.  Web 3.0 could indeed become the 3-D virtual web filled with avatars (digital representations of ourselves), virtual businesses, homes, and learning environments.  Watch your step because the virtual rabbit hole is deep, and mostly unpaved.

ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine reported that virtual learning provides an abundant amount of flexibility and additional opportunities for different student populations to pursue their educational goals based on varying needs.  Some of the students served include:

  • at-risk students/dropouts
  • accomplished athletes
  • pregnant/homebound/incarcerated students (2011).  

In addition, utilizing and accounting for some of the considerations presented by Lee and Owens (2004) in their “Media Analysis Form”, there are several factors that support an educator’s decision to use a 3D virtual world such as Second Life.  These factors and considerations are displayed in Table 1.

Table 1

Summary of factors and considerations



Content requires interactivity (computer/internet).

Content involves computer software and practice.

Collaborative learning is desired.

There may be opportunities for group learning experiences including building relationships and sharing information.

Audience requires motivation.

Based on the target audience, there may be a stronger requirement for higher intrinsic motivation to increase likelihood of successful learning.

Audience requires convenience.

Time away from work is a challenge because of schedules and/or project requirements.

Audience has limited access to expertise.

Expertise is limited and must be leverage across the organization.

Keep travel expense low.

Travel requirements are a barrier due to budgets, distance, and business considerations.  Web-based delivery eliminates travel expenses.


Note. Adapted from “Media Analysis Form,” by W. W. Lee and D. L. Owens, 2004, Multimedia-Based Instructional Design. p. 355. Copyright 2004 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


On the surface, many of the pros and cons related to education in general, and in a real world setting, translate to the same benefits and challenges of using 3D virtual worlds, such as Second Life, for teaching.  Educators still have the ability to create interesting and intriguing lesson plans (or not), and students have the ability to be helpful to other students, or to be disruptive.  However, the simple idea of engaging students in a 3D virtual world helps to promote interest, at least initially.  Additionally, there are some controls that may be utilized by educators to help minimize disruptive behavior, such as access control lists.

One of the immediate benefits to utilizing 3D virtual worlds for education is “The Death of Distance” as discussed by Dr. Tony O’Driscoll in his list of seven sensibilities that differentiate virtual social worlds from other interactive media (2007).  By nature, the 3D web may be accessed by anyone with broadband access to the internet.  However, the technological requirements of broadband access, computers with more memory, better graphics, etc. may, itself, impose limitations on students that do not have ready access to the minimum technical requirements to engage in the 3D web.  

Personally, I had the opportunity to attend a “ribbon cutting ceremony” by the University of Hawaii staff members recently in Second Life.  There were attendees, not only from all over the United States, but literally from all over the world.  There was plenty of opportunity for professional networking which is another important aspect of the present and future role of 3D virtual worlds in education.  As may be expected, there was also some “unintentional” disruptive behavior when I accidentally advanced the speaker’s slides which eventually caused the speaker to have to take a few seconds to ask the attendees to refrain from such behavior.  This showed the need for educators to familiarize themselves with some of the internal security controls such as limiting which and how avatars may interact with “in-world” objects.

The rabbit hole is deep and mostly unpaved, but the 3D web is the next frontier.  As educators we must immerse ourselves in the future of virtual learning environments, and acclimate ourselves to the expectations and experiences of our future students.  




ASCD. (2011, February). Double Take. Educational Leadership, 68(5), 8-9.

Kluge, S., & Riley, R. (2008). Teaching in virtual worlds: Opportunities and challenges. Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology 5, 127-135. Retrieved from


Lee, W. W., & Owens, D. L. (2004). Multimedia-based instructional design. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

O’Driscoll, T., (2007, March 22). Virtual social worlds and the future of learning [Video file].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2jY4UkPbAc

Examining Synchronous Virtual Classrooms

Originally Posted: February 5, 2011

Image with Web 2.0 Buzz WordsWe now live in a globally connected, diverse, and multicultural world.  Everything from online games (computer or console based), blogs, and social networks in general have made it completely possible for anyone to develop an ongoing interaction with others outside of their own culture.  The specific technology may change over time, but the underlying activity has become firmly rooted in modern society.  The same may be said about education in general, and e-learning specifically.  “The role of the teacher is changing” (McIsaac & Craft, 2003, p. 45).

Oliver, Kellogg, Townsend, and Brady (2010) suggested that utilizing synchronous communication methods, such as messaging and/or chat, may assist with collaboration and/or planning projects (2010).  McIsaac and Craft pointed out that the exchanges taking place between instructors and learners are morphing as a result of synchronous online learning environments.  In order to be successful, instructors must be able to adapt and utilize their knowledge to design interactive content (2003).

Most courses will be a combination of synchronous/asynchronous activities.  Horton (2006) suggests utilizing synchronous activities when students need to actively interact with other students, synchronous events provide positive peer pressure, students have the same requirements and/or need for teacher interaction.  Piskurich (2006) suggests several components and/or activities that should be considered when implementing synchronous virtual classrooms with VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol).  Table 1 lists these various suggestions:

Table 1
Summary of design considerations for synchronous virtual classrooms

Component Activities
  • Small one-minute icebreakers
  • Agree/Disagree questions about content
  • Polls
  • Learner(s) to instructor(s)
  • Learner(s) to learner(s)
  • Learner(s) to panel

Note. Adapted from “Design Considerations for Synchronous E-Learning,”
by G. M. Piskurich, 2006, Rapid Instructional Design: Learning ID Fast and Right.
(2nd ed.). p. 350-353. Copyright 2006 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Jackson and Helms (2008) documented various strengths and weaknesses as reported by students regarding their experiences with (a)synchronous activities.  Some of the strengths included being able to learn from other students’ perspectives, better utilization of time, and professional networking opportunities.  Some of the weaknesses reported included the inability to form true study groups due to geographic location of students, less time with the professor, and more time to procrastinate.

This author has had the opportunity to witness the benefits/weaknesses of synchronous classroom activities personally, in addition to, watching his wife complete her Master’s degree via National University, and watching his son participate in synchronous activities via National University’s Virtual High School program.  Overall, it appears that classmates are very cooperative and more than willing to assist whenever possible.  There usually seems to be a short “feeling-out” process during the first synchronous activity until participants achieve a level of comfort with each other.  Once the timing of a synchronous activity is figured out, the effectiveness of the activity seems to be on par, if not superior, to that of asynchronous activities.


Horton, W. (2006). E-Learning by Design. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Jackson, M., & Helms, M. M. (2008). Student perceptions of hybrid courses: Measuring and interpreting quality. Journal of Education for Business, 84(1), 7-12. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.nu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=34772191&site=ehost-live

McIsaac, M., & Craft, E. (2003). Faculty development: Using distance education effectively in the classroom. Computers in the Schools, 20(3), 41-49. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.nu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=12440246&site=ehost-live

Oliver, K., Kellogg, S., Townsend, L., & Brady, K. (2010). Needs of elementary and middle school teachers developing online courses for a virtual school. Distance Education, 31(1), 55-75. doi:10/1080/01587911003725022

Piskurich, G. M. (2006). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Online Course Components

Originally Posted: January 29, 2011

Cole and Foster (2008) list several recommendations that should be considered by instructional designers intent on developing quality courses.  While implementing everyone of these considerations is not feasible, the instructional designer that is able to implement as many as possible will design a better quality course.  The recommendations are divided into three categories as represented in Table 1 below.

Table 1
Summary of categorically based solutions

Factors Considerations
  • High expectations
  • Respect for diverse talents and learning styles
  • Emphasis on early undergraduate years
  • Coherence in learning
  • Synthesizing experience
  • Ongoing practice of learned skills
  • Integration of education with experience
  • Active learning
  • Assessment and prompt feedback
  • Collaboration
  • Adequate time on task
  • Out-of-class contact with faculty

Note. Adapted from “Course Design Patterns,” by J. Cole and H. Foster, 2008, Using Moodle:
Teaching with the Popular Open Source Course Management System
. p. 213-214.

Copyright 2008 by O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Additionally, Cole and Foster suggest that learning goals and feedback are the key aspects that differentiate virtual learning environments (VLE) from other typical web sites.  Learning objectives provide the goals that students would not, likely, set for themselves.  Learning objectives also provide the framework for how students will interact with the VLE.  Feedback is paramount when it comes to providing students with a method to gauge their progress towards accomplishing their goals.  Feedback may be presented in several forms including: tests/quizzes, assignments, synchronous/asynchronous student-student and/or student-teacher interaction to list just a few (2008).

Horton (2006) goes on to suggest that there are three unique activities that are requisite in order to achieve VLE course objectives.  Absorb activities include presentations, teacher stories, reading, and/or field trips.  Do activities involve student practice, discovery, and/or games.  Finally, connect activities include learner stories, job aids, and/or original work.  The order in which these activities are presented to students will be based on the analysis that takes place as part of the overall instructional design process.

Oliver, Kellogg, Townsend, and Brady (2010) list several online activities as alternatives to simply having students reading assigned text.  These interactive activities include:

  • lab experiments
  • design-oriented projects
  • online research
  • collaboration activities

Furthermore, Oliver et al. assert that students may better process course content when able to utilize asynchronous communication tools similar to discussion boards and/or blogs.  Whereas, utilizing synchronous communication methods, such as messaging and/or chat, may assist with collaboration and/or planning projects (2010).

Although there is an abundance of tools available for implementation by instructional designers, it is not necessary (nor recommended) to use every single tool when designing course content.  It is important to consider what the stated learning objectives and/or goals for the course are, and then implement the components and/or activities that will ensure a successful virtual learning environment.



Cole, J., & Foster, H. (2008). Using Moodle: Teaching with the popular open source course management system. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Horton, W. (2006). E-Learning by design. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Oliver, K., Kellogg, S., Townsend, L., & Brady, K. (2010). Needs of elementary and middle school teachers developing online courses for a virtual school. Distance Education, 31(1), 55-75. doi:10/1080/01587911003725022

Examining Hybrid Courses: Online vs. Onsite Supplements

Originally Posted: January 15, 2011

Perhaps contrary to what some may believe, distance learning has actually been around for over a century.  “‘Distance education’ has been in existence since the state of New York authorized degrees offered through ‘home study’ in 1883” (Tandy & Meacham, 2009, p. 314).  The differences between 1883 and 2011 are the available delivery methods.

Young Woman Lounging in Living Room on Couch with LaptopOne modern adaption is the hybrid/blended course.  By nature, a hybrid course blends aspects of traditional onsite education with aspects of distance learning; in modern times this is, usually, accomplished through technology (El Mansour & Mupinga, 2007).  The study, “Students’ Positive and Negative Experiences in Hybrid and Online Classes”, conducted by El Mansour and Mupinga provides credence to the cliché that you cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time.  They assert that no one teaching and/or delivery method is ideal for everyone.  Some of the feedback recorded by El Mansour and Mupinga was that students liked the immediate feedback and/or live sharing of ideas with their instructors and/or classmates during the face-to-face portion of their hybrid class(es).  They also liked the flexibility of being able to attend to classwork from almost anywhere with access to the internet, and still being able to maintain full time employment.  Some of the negative feedback included disruptions to students’ social and professional lives in order to attend scheduled onsite meetings, and delays in getting feedback from instructor(s) and/or fellow classmates during the online portion(s).

Horton (2006) provides different levels of blending to consider when deciding to what degree of blending a course should be developed.  At a minimum, course designers should consider Horton’s “Level 2: Strategic Blending” when developing a hybrid course.  This level of blending would be driven by the actual subject matter and course goals when deciding how to combine classroom and web-based evolutions.

Blended learning provides the opportunity to capitalize on the pros of both onsite and online learning while, simultaneously, creating the potential pit-falls of the negative things associated with each kind of training environment.  Hybrid courses truly are akin to a double-edged sword.

One other aspect to take into consideration when discussing the pros/cons between onsite, online, and/or hybrid courses, is that of access for those with disabilities.
Tandy and Meacham (2009) provide several examples that support the idea that the sword cuts in both directions.  While onsite courses may be difficult for people with physical disabilities, they provide opportunities for people with other disabilities such as low-vision or blindness.  The opposite side of the sword is that online courses provide convenience for those people with physical disabilities.  However, developing online courses that may be utilized by people that have low-vision or blindness presents some technical and/or financial challenges for the course developers.

Ultimately the quality and success of hybrid course delivery methods will be about the same as regular classes.  There will be the champions of hybrid developed courses, there will be the inevitable antagonists, and there will be those that remain indifferent.  In the same manner that not everyone enjoys the same kinds of music, movies, or sporting events, not everyone will have the same experience(s) when participating in a traditional onsite course, completely online course, or a hybrid course.  Whether or not to recommend hybrid courses would depend on the potential students’ personal preference(s), comfort with technology requirements, and personal goals such as the need for immediate feedback, flexibility to limit social/professional interruptions, etc.




El Mansour, B., & Mupinga, D. M. (2007). Students’ positive and negative experiences in hybrid and online classes. College Student Journal, 41(1), 242-248. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.nu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?

Horton, W. (2006). E-Learning by design. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Tandy, C., & Meacham, M. (2009). Removing the barriers for students with disabilities: Accessible online and web-enhanced courses. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 29(3), 313-328. doi:10.1080/08841230903022118