Compress Yourself – Blast from the Past

Tag Cloud Your Resume

I was browsing through my WP site and came across this poast.  Remember when this was all the rage?  I would have my students take their resumes and paste it into a word cloud app.  I also knew colleagues who would have their students paste their essays and compositions into a cloud maker so the young authors could visualize their work.  The students would post the image with their compositions in their portfolios.  Talk about early multimodal composition!  TagCrowd is still operational.  Here’s what I look like today.


Blast From the Past Post – July 10, 2008

Recently, I received a message from my colleague, Htay Hla, Director of Information Technology at University of Arizona. Htay is a member of our Epsilen Web 2.0 group. He had put one of my posted journal articles through a tag cloud generator, Tag Crowd. He sent the generated tag cloud to me in a pdf format. I thought, “AMAZING! Could this be a tool for the classroom?” I tried it. I put my resume through the Tag Crowd. Look! It’s me, professionally compressed!

Nancy Wozniak Professional Tag Cloud

Go to the site – and catch a vision. I see it used in visual arts, economics, writing, history, biology … you name it. Try it. Let me know what you think.

eLearning Instructional Design

Excellent infographic posted in the Best Education Infographics  by SH!FT Disruptive Learning Blog.  It’s an excellent blog and they’ve posted it for public use.  I’m still investigating.  This might be coming down quickly, so soak it in while you can.  :)  Comments?  I am a strong supporter of Ryan’s and Deci’s Self-Determination Theory.  I use it in my classrooms and with my student workers.  It’s a no-brainer to me and I don’t understand why the theory on autonomy, relationship, and self-efficacy  (competence) isn’t practices universally in every situation where people must work and learn collaboratively.


Designing eLearning for Motivation Infographic
by SH!FT Disruptive Learning

Simply stated, motivation is what people WANT to do, CHOOSE to do, and COMMIT to do. Motivation is the WHY that makes people do what they do. It is the WHY that makes people choose an object or a goal over another and forego something pleasurable to pursue his object of desire.

As an eLearning designer, you want your learners to be motivated about taking a training program and keep alive the motivation throughout the course.

Motivation is critical to achieve effective learning. Unfortunately, it is hard to achieve if you cannot address the WHY of the learner. To compound matters, adults are notoriously short of motivation. The challenge for eLearning designers is to create and cultivate motivation in learners.

Knowing what drives people to learn is crucial to create high engagement levels in your eLearning courses. Psychologists and scientists have developed three theories to help explain the way the human mind works. As eLearning professionals, we should apply them to create courses that inspire and persuade people to move forward and complete the required tasks.

The Designing eLearning for Motivation Infographic presents the basic tenets of these motivation theories:

1. Flow Theory

Being in the flow is the ultimate manifestation of intrinsic motivation. It is that state of intense focus when you are so absorbed in the work at hand that you forget the passage of time.

In eLearning, being in the flow happens when the learner is fully and voluntarily engaging with the course and can control the pace and flow of the learning according to his/her needs and preferences. Being in a state of flow maximizes the effectiveness of every training activity.

2. Self-Determination Theory  

You want focused, willing learners who are driven by some innate urge to take your course. Truth is self-motivated participants absorb and internalize learning much more efficiently than those who approach a training program with skepticism, unwillingness, and apathy.

The Self-Determination Theory focuses on human being’s natural tendencies and psychological needs. Fulfilling these needs facilitates self-growth and promotes well-being. You can apply the tenets of this theory to create courses that appeal to the basic needs of your learners and let them respond according to their innate tendencies.

3. Path-Goal Theory

The Path-Goal Theory is based on the basic human tendency to follow examples set by others. In a learning environment, who better than the trainer or the eLearning designer to BE the motivation that learners will want to learn from?

This theory, developed by psychologist Robert House in 1971 and later refined in 1996, lays down the principles of how leaders spur followers to action. The foundation of it is the belief that learner’s motivation and consequently, his/her performance is heavily influenced by the behavior of the instructor.

The above-mentioned motivation theories peek into the minds of your learners and lay bare their expectations so that you can create eLearning courses with different flavors.

5 Digital Tips for Infusing Cultural Responsiveness in Your Course 


First think, what does cultural responsiveness mean to you?   What is your definition?

Our own, personal, cultures are the essence of who we are and how we interact with others in community settings.  Our cultures, also, provide the foundations and preferences for how we learn, process information, utilize knowledge, communicate and relate to others.  The challenge for educators is developing the ability and creativity to include culturally responsive learning design and activities in our courses to foster more understanding of the ways in which each student approaches learning, relatedness, communication, and life.   Culturally mediated instruction creates an environment in which multicultural perspectives are the norm and the learning is relevant to each student.  The learning is authentic.  When students are allowed to learn in different ways or to share viewpoints and perspectives in a given situation based on their own cultural and social experiences, students become active participants in their learning. (Nieto, 1996).  They develop self-determined, lifelong learning habits and take ownership of their learning experiences.

Culturally-responsive design strategies allow students to realize they are important as participants in the class community and respected as unique individuals.  The University of Alaska Anchorage includes culturally-mediated design as a major development strategy for their Robust Online Learning Program (Title III Grant) focused on General Education Requirement (GER) online courses.  The goal is to create online environments that nature and support cultural exchange and community.  One thing to remember, when designing culturally responsive activities, is that students learn best, collaboratively.  They learn effectively by discussing their ideas with one another and by participating in peer-to-peer learning activities and reviews.  Here are 5 digital tips for infusing cultural responsiveness in your course.

  1. Make the Learning Social and Safe.  Use Blogs and Microblogs.
    Create a culturally responsive learning community.  By creating a safe, engaging learning environment, students can develop mutual respect and trust for one another in a multicultural setting. The use of interactive discussion forums keeps the topics relative and current.  In this case, social media, such as blogs and microblogs is highly recommended.  Create active exchanges and presentations in VoiceThread.  Consider the tools the students use to communicate in their everyday lives.  The learning exchange and community continue long after the course is completed.
  2. Use ePortfolios
    Transformative reflection is the hub of integrative and culturally responsive learning and portfolios provide a rich venue for reflective practices.  The learning is authentic and develops culturally-responsive behaviors and mindfulness.  Portfolios also promote peer learning and cultural understanding.  An excellent example of a culturally responsive learning experience and reflection is VishwajaMuppa’s Writing 303 course portfolio with her personal essay and digital story.  Dr. Cynthia Davidson, Stony Brook University Writing and Rhetoric Program, includes culturally-responsive prompts with her multimodal assignments that students post as artifacts in their portfolios.
  3. Tell Us Your Story
    Digital storytelling provides an engaging way to build a culturally responsive learning environment. The creative storytelling process fortifies communication, presentation, creative and critical thinking skills.  Have students digitally tell a short, 3-minute story about themselves.  Allow them to select their own presentation technology (Buncee, Storyfy, iMovie, Flickr with ezvid, Prezi, StoryKit).   See Story Center for examples of culturally responsive digital stories at  Darren Chase, Librarian,Stony Brook University, publishes an excellent guide for Digital Storytelling and Multimodal Literacy.
  4. Gamify.  Develop Games and Simulations.
    Games and simulations bring an experiential touch to the classroom and the learner takes an active part in the learning.  Research shows that games take the learning to a deeper, more authentic level.  Students can apply the learning to other areas of their academic, professional, and personal lives.  Have students collaborate in groups within interactive digital venues and design their own games to lead the class in synchronous and/or asynchronous play (Metaphors and Analogies, Word Play, Lesson Review).  A possible culturally-responsive simulation involves students interviewing and introducing a classmate from a different culture or with different life experiences to others in the class using a discussion forum, class blog or portfolio.  Students reflect on the experience and what they have discovered in the forums and their personal portfolios.  It is important to emphasize that these activities are student-controlled forms of interaction.  Provide prompts, but provided the students opportunities to design and control a significant portion of these learning experiences and exchanges.  Autonomy is key.  Make the learning their own.
  1. Digital Badges
    Use digital badges to credential achievements, such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, creative thinking, and teamwork. Digital badges dig deeper to realize skills and abilities that are not recognized with graded assignments.  Use badges to encourage cultural respect and to reward self-determined learning behaviors (autonomy, self-efficacy, and relatedness) and professional achievements. Include students in the design of the course badge constellation.  Encourage the students to post their badges in their LinkedIn accounts and portfolios.  Unsure? Credly provides a good starting point.

Use Peer Review Learning Strategies
Bring students into the assessment process.  Peer reviews are a learning tool that facilitates communication between students and can help students drill deeper into the concepts of a course and learn from each other.

  • Develop a project rubric that will clearly set the criteria and expectations for the learning activity. Students will use the rubric to design, complete, and review their projects.  The rubric with serve as a checklist and discussion map for peer-to-peer reviews and discussions. Set specific policies to the review exchanges and include Netiquette Rules, constructive, positive, and respectful exchange.
  • Place the students in small, collaborative learning groups using interactive features in your LMS or other technologies such as VoiceThread, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Wikispaces, Flickr, YouTube, even Facebook.  Consider building a course blog for the display and peer review of the projects. As an example, see the Media Literacy & Cyber Communications course blog for Dr.  Manny London’s and Nancy Wozniak’s Leadership course at Stony Brook University.
  • Schedule peer reviews throughout the project production process. This will make the final review comfortable and natural.  The students will be united in a community of learning.
  • Be visible. Leave positive comments in the group forums to let students know you are an active part of the exchange.
  • After the final review, have the students submit their reviews of their classmates’ projects. Format the rubric as a checklist.  Use the reviews to give added insight to your own reviews for grading purposes.

Peer reviews give depth to individual learning. The process elevates a course learning community to a community of practice and professional exchange.  These are soft skills students will use throughout their professional careers.

Using collaborative, social media tools to enhance culturally-responsive learning activities and projects fosters intrinsic, self-determined learning behaviors (autonomy, self-efficacy, and relatedness) and equips students with the professional skills necessary for transitioning into the workforce. The learning is authentic and creates an active community of practice that continues long after the course is completed.  Please share your thoughts and ideas on infusing culturally-responsive experiences in the classroom.  How do you create a culturally-responsive classroom?  What tools do you use?  We appreciate your input and contributions to this study.

Author:  Nancy Wozniak, Instructional Designer, AI&e, Robust Online Learning
August 1, 2016


  • Nieto, S. (1996). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education(2nd ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman.

Course Design and Online Group Collaboration — What’s the Connection?

Debbie Morrison cuts through the online design rhetoric and provides 5 course design strategies for online group collaboration and activities. This is an informative blog for online course design and professional development.

Online Learning Insights


Facilitating group work in an online course for instructors is often the most challenging aspect of teaching an online class. The amount of time invested by students and the instructor in the group process can be significant; unfortunately there’s often more time spent on logistics of the assignment than on meaningful learning. But there is a solution that significantly improves the process and the outcome. It’s course design. Effective course design, which includes the timing, description and instructions for the group project, is a determining factor in the quantity, quality and type of interactivity (Swan, 2001). Facilitation skills of the instructor is another factor, more so when the instructor uses a specific skill set that supports meaningful group interaction. In this post I focus on the course design component. Though I’ve written several posts about group work, I want to share with readers findings from a journal article “Creating Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment” (Brindley, Waiti & Blaschke, 2009) that emphasizes the connection between…

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Eric Tremblay’s Active Learning in the Online Classroom

I’ve been doing some research on turning the carved in cold stone, virtual learning management space into a personal, living, breathing, interactive learning place and came across Eric’s post on active learning in the online classroom in his E-Learning Acupuncture blog.  This is an active, interesting blog that I’m posting in my Blogs I Follow page.  He’s taking learning interactions beyond the regular read the content and comment on a linear discussion board assignment.  Of course, reply to at least 3 other posts.  BLAH!  It’s time we move beyond the cold, virtual spaces for online learning and let the students transform the spaces into personal, interactive learning places.  He breaks the interaction and learning activities into 4 different categories.  Brilliant!  (See below)  He lists the activities under each category and is asking for his readers to add to the lists.  Let’s do it!  I would add interactive personal and team portfolios to the a few of the categories.  And, how about under Learner-to-Learner Interactions add digital concept mapping to enhance group brainstorming?  Why not?  As educators our first responsibility is to ensure that our students become productive citizens in society.  Like it or not, our students are transitioning into a workforce that requires mastery of digital media and cyber communication.

Visit Eric’s blog and add to the lists.  Let’s all do this. I’m adding my activities today.  Again, brilliant job, Eric!

Learner-to-Learner Interactions

  • Group brainstorming
  • Group role-playing
  • Study/support groups
  • Peer feedback on student work
  • Exploring a Virtual World as a team
  • Creating visual posters to share with the class
  • Creation of video presentations to share with the class
  • Asynchronous individual or collaborative learning activities (i.e. Projects)
  • Creative writing (in groups or individually) that is shared with peers
  • Problem-based learning Learning activities which encourage critical thinking
  • Cooperative learning group discussions (real time video chat or via asynchronous discussion forum)


  • Tutorials
  • Reflective questioning
  • Relating learning to relevant current events and personal life
  • Problem-based learning Learning activities which encourage critical thinking
  • Cooperative learning group discussions (real time video chat or via asynchronous discussion forum)

Learner-To-Virtual Environment

  • Interviewing people
  • Exploring a Virtual World individually
  • Learning activities which encourage critical thinking
  • Online quizzes (graded and non-graded) that provide immediate feedback
  • Advanced adaptive technologies like simulations and sensitivity analyses

Learner-To-Physical Environment 

  • Interviewing people
  • Home-based laboratories
  • Real-life data collection and analysis
  • Learning activities which encourage critical thinking
  • Learning activities with hand-on experiences and tasks
  • Learning activities which apply the content of the lesson in real-life situations

E-Learning Acupuncture, Eric Tromblay, Educational Developer, Queens University

Three years of writing about education’s future

Bryan Alexander will share his insights on the future of education at the 7th Annual Teaching & Learning Colloquium & Educational Technologies Expo, Friday, April 17, 2015 | 8:30am to 3:00pm. Stony Brook looks forward to welcoming Bryan to campus and invites you to attend this inspirational and stimulating day of sharing and conversation. See for registration information.



Bryan Alexander

FTTE logoIt’s hard to believe that, as of this month’s report, FTTE has run for three years.

Three years ago I shared the first issue of Future Trends in Technology and Education.  Back then it was just called Future Trends, and was published as a membership benefit for the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE).  Its mission was the same as now: to scan the horizon for significant trends that could shape the future of education.

Over the months then years that followed categories and rubrics appeared: higher education in context, the higher ed bubble.  Each additional month added to the pile of references and pointers, growing a longitudinal way of analyzing new events.

Now we can look back and see which forces loomed largest over time.

FTTE word cloud 2012-2015

I’ll say more about those trends in forthcoming posts, talks, and… other venues.

Initially there were several dozen subscribers, then…

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