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.


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


Video Games and Learning

Originally Posted: April 12, 2011

Green 3D Puppet Pulling Another Puppet Out of Laptop ScreenVideo Games and Learning

We are well into the information age, and educators are at the forefront of this paradigm shift.  Additionally, educators must have a concrete understanding of learning theory in order to create successful courses.  Professor Ted Henning asks whether students agree or disagree with the argument presented by Prensky, Gee and other researchers, “…that video games and technology have fundamentally changed the way students have learned how to learn” (Personal communication, April 10, 2011). 


Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education, answers this question best in an interview with ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine where she states, “When you add any new technology…something is amplified, and something is reduced.  Part of being literate in the 21st century…is being able to make careful decisions about technologies and their uses” (2011, p. 20).

Learning Theory

“Learning theories attempt to describe how humans learn….what are the key elements in the process of gaining new knowledge and capabilities and how those elements interact” (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008, p. 18).  Fundamentally, the three main learning theories (isms) are still at play even with students‘ increased use of video games and technology.  


The theory of behaviorism is based on physical events that are visually discernible, in other words, a person’s behavior.  Learning takes place when desired behaviors are reinforced or rewarded, and undesired behaviors are ignored or punished; this is called operant conditioning (Medsker & Holdsworth, 2001).  The theory of behaviorism is very much at play in most video games.  There are very specific behaviors that lead to winning, successfully completing quests, and/or developing a following in the online gaming world.


Taking a slightly different approach when compared to behaviorists, supporters of the cognitivist theory focus on that learning which occurs in the mind of the learner.  Supporters concentrate on the visual aspects of content delivery concerning themselves with the learner’s ability to recall the material being conveyed (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008).  This theory is also very much utilized in the video game world – especially when it comes to role playing games, and even first-person shooter games that blend aspects of real time strategy into mission objectives.


In describing Constructivism, it may be easier to begin by confirming that it is neither behaviorism, nor cognitivism.  Medsker and Holdsworth (2001) go on to explain that adherents to this theory believe in granting learners more control and freedom to decide the direction of their learning.  According to this theory, the goal of the instructional designer is to provide an immersive training environment where learners are able to engage in a hands-on approach to learning.  Not to be left out, constructivism is very much  a part of the various role playing games that are available.  Additionally, constructivism is a big part of many immersive virtual 3D worlds such as Second Life.

επιλεκτικής : An Eclectic Approach

From a personal standpoint, the “ism” which I adhere to is “eclecticism”.  When it comes to learning, there is no “one size fits all” approach.  People are different, and as such, people learn in a myriad of ways.  According to Januszewski and Molenda (2008), an eclectic approach combines ideas from the different learning theories without forcing the implementation of an entire “parent theory”. 


Like any other tool, mainstream video games have a double-edge.  When implemented properly as part of the learning process, they truly can bring a subject alive for students and generate enthusiasm like never before.  However, if implemented haphazardly for the sole purpose of “hoping” to connect with students, an educator can quickly lose control and oversight of the original objective(s).

Three for Me

The three games (and their respective genres) that I have chosen to research utilizing the XBOX 360 platform are: Call of Duty: Black Ops (First-Person Shooter), Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution (Real Time Strategy), and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Role-Playing Game).  Both, Call of Duty and Sid Meier’s Civilization have an enormous amount of information that could easily be incorporated into just about any World History/Geography lesson.  Both games provide several opportunities for (a)synchronous class discussions and/or debates.  The Oblivion game may take a little more creativity to implement, but can be used for lessons that involve social interaction skills, economic principles of supply/demand and/or concepts of buying low and selling high.



ASCD. (2011, February). Transforming education with technology: A conversation with Karen  Cator. Educational Leadership, 68(5), 17-21.

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Educational technology: A definition with commentaryNew York, NY: Routledge.

Medsker, K. L., & Holdsworth, K. M. (2001). Models and strategies for training designSilver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance Improvement.

All or Nothing ???

Originally Posted: November 13, 2010

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Learning Styles Don’t Exist
– Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

First Impressions

“Hi, my name is Dan Willingham. I’m a Cognitive Psychologist and a Neuroscientist [emphasis added]….I’m gonna talk to you today about learning styles, and how Cognitive Psychologists know [emphasis added] – that they don’t exist” (Willingham, 2009, “Learning Styles Don’t Exist,” ).

Initially, I had to review this video several times just to get passed my own and personal hang-up and impression that Mr. Willingham’s introduction sounds pretentious – to me; that was my initial perception.

The fact that Mr. Willingham makes the distinction that he is a “Cognitive” Psychologist seems to indicate that he has chosen to accept and distribute the theories of Cognitivism as undeniable and unquestionable truth.  If we use child-like faith to accept Mr. Willingham’s message as absolute truth, then Learning Styles do not exist.

I do not have a “traditional” educator’s background.  Actually, my background is in IT – the Information Technology kind, as opposed to Instructional Technology.  I mention this just to bring up the point that I am not completely partial (yet) to any particular learning theory.

Learning Theory
“Learning theories attempt to describe how humans learn….what are the key elements in the process of gaining new knowledge and capabilities and how those elements interact” (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008, p. 18).  When discussing learning theories, there are three main models or strategies (isms) that are often referenced: Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism.

Supporters of the cognitivist theory focus on that learning which occurs in the mind of the learner.

Cognitivism focuses on the actual cognitive processes of learning.  It sees the brain as multiple compartments that are more integrated and interdependent than the straight stimulus/reaction view in behaviorism.  It says that learning is an active process of filtering, organizing, and integrating information within and between these different areas of the brain making learning sometimes harder to observe than something like a Skinner box. (T. Henning, personal communication, September 30, 2010)

Januszewski and Molenda (2008) point out the following limitation to the theory of cognitivism: “…it is meant to apply to learning in the cognitive domain….It has much less to say about motor skills or attitudes except as regards the cognitive elements of those skills” (p. 30).

All or Nothing?
Mr. Willingham seems to, purposely, use examples out of context.  Yes, you may have a student that performs better through auditory learning, but, as Mr. Willingham points out, when it comes to learning the shape of a country, that student has to, visually, see the country’s outline.  Perhaps listening to the teacher describe the geography and population of the country while seeing the shape of the country’s borders will help solidify the information in the student’s mind.  While the preferred modality for a particular student may be auditory, that does not mean that the student is not able to learn by other means.

Unfortunately, it appears that too many people put the proverbial “blinders” on, and take an all or nothing approach when it comes to learning theories.

Champions of a particular learning theory, which  may have a strong grounding in research and is therefore a quite useful description of how people learn, sometimes forcefully argue that their prescriptive instructional implications must be equally true whether or not they have been tested and upheld empirically. (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008, p. 18-19)

An eclectic approach combines ideas from the different learning theories without forcing the implementation of an entire “parent theory”.

Personally, I believe in the “supermarket approach”; take the parts of the learning theory that are needed at the moment, and leave the rest “on the shelf” for another day.  Whether as an educator, or as an instructional designer (or both), one has to analyze the types of learners that one has as an audience.  Then, are we able to “go shopping” and implement the best portions of each of the learning theories.

What Now?
In the end, we have to accept that different learners, not only have different learning styles, but also have different motivations to learn, different life experiences, different cultural influences, and even different levels of knowledge.

I, for one, have come to the realization that learning theories must be blended.  This is the best way to ensure that we, as educators, are able to impact the maximum number of learners as possible.


Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Educational technology: A definition with commentary. New York, NY: Routledge.

Willingham, D. (2009, July 30). Learning styles don’t exist . Retrieved from http://www.teachertube.com/members/viewVideo.php?video_id=119351&title=Learning_Styles_Don_t_Exist

Blue Pill or Red Pill – How Deep does the “How” Rabbit Hole Go?

Originally Posted: November 9, 2010

Do you want to know what it [emphasis added] is?…Unfortunately, no one can be told [emphasis added] what the matrix is. You have to see it for yourself….You take the Blue Pill. The story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe – whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill. You stay in wonderland – And, I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember – all I’m offering is the truth; nothing more. (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999)

Reflection of Neo in Morpheus' glasses during the Matrix (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999).
"Remember - all I’m offering is the truth; nothing more." (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999)

Relationship between Embedded Theories and Instructional Models
For whatever reason, when I began to consider the question regarding the relationship between Embedded Theories and Instructional Models, I could not help but think about the scene (quoted above) from the 1999 hit, The Matrix.

Generally speaking, the comparison between learning theories, embedded theories, and instructional models, is an exercise in providing ever deeper explanations and/or examples of “how”.  Learning theories provide an overall explanation for “how” learning takes place.  The embedded theories in each learning theory takes us deeper into the “how” rabbit hole by providing the specific context for “how” its parent learning theory should successfully produce the intended results. Taking us even further down the “how” rabbit hole, instructional models provide us with the “how” to actualize embedded theories in real life settings.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The more you can find out about your target audience, the more likely it is that your training will meet its needs….you are finding out these things to help motivate your trainees and make them more comfortable in whatever learning environment you create. (Piskurich, 2006, p. 77)

Because of human nature (or perhaps nurture), we tend to gravitate to the combination of learning theory/embedded theory/instructional model that we believer and/or feel the most comfortable in which to learn.  However, we should give some thought to the concept that not everyone will respond to material in the same manner as we respond.

Different factors such as:

    • motivation
    • life experience
    • varying levels of knowledge
    • cultural background

all have a profound impact on learning.

For a course to be of value, it has to answer a need – successfully.  This is where Instructional Design (ID) becomes important.  It is the analysis at the beginning that will help determine the “consumer’s” need, and how best to address that need.  “An advantage of using instructional design is that it helps you choose the most effective way to present your content, which can be translated as the easiest way for the trainees to learn it.” (Piskurich, 2006, p. 9)

From a personal standpoint, I have mentioned the “super market” approach before.  I believe that certain models are more conducive to a learner’s successful knowledge acquisition depending on the specific content, in addition to, the learner’s background as mentioned above.  I do not advocate going to the extremes of pin-pointing a specific theory/model for each individual learner.  Instead, I prefer using a blended approach that will utilize the most contributory aspects of the various theories/models.  My son takes courses with National University’s Virtual High School (NUVHS) which employs various theories/models depending on the specific course content.

Blending in Action
For example, NUVHS utilizes a form of Behaviorism by implementing some of the ideas in Skinner’s Operant Conditioning, and Programmed Instruction.  High school students in the NUVHS program basically progress through their materials at their own pace, but they do have an “end date” to their semesters.  As they complete each “unit” in their course, they must achieve a passing grade on the final unit test, or they are not allowed to proceed to the next unit.

Additionally, some NUVHS courses employ a Cognitive approach by utilizing Elaboration Theory combined with ideas from the Inquiry Teaching Model.  Many NUVHS courses have their content organized in a way that begins with simple concepts and gradually progress to more inclusive and/or complex concepts/principles (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008).  Furthermore, some instructors require hands-on experiments/assignments that need to be conducted then photographed and/or videotaped by the students in order to submit a successful project.

Finally, almost by nature, some of the same NUVHS courses make use of the Constructivist embedded theory of Cognitive Flexibility which is “…especially formulated to support the use of interactive technology (e.g., videodisc, hypertext)” (Kearsley, n.d., Scope/Application, para. 1).  Some of the science courses usually include Discovery Learning where students may utilize a web-based lab simulation that allows them to use previously acquired knowledge in order to “discover facts and relationships and new truths” (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2008).


Kearsley, G. (n.d.). Cognitive flexibility theory (R. Spiro, P. Feltovitch & R. Coulson). Retrieved from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/tip/spiro.html

Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2008). Discovery Learning (Bruner). Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/discovery-learning-bruner.html

Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2008). Elaboration Theory (Reigeluth). Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/elaboration-theory-reigeluth.html

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

Wachowski, A. (Producer/Writer/Director), & Wachowski, L. (Producer/Writer/Director). (1999). The Matrix [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures.