Reading Capture 1: Effectiveness and student perceptions of high-enrolment health studies online courses


In order to address cost concerns from students, Boise State developed high enrollment online courses, in addition to their existing online courses. Their goal was to maintain a high level of learner engagement, address the realities of competition from other educational institutions and reduced State funding, and to reduce bottlenecking of student enrollment. It was a mixed-method study of 3 high enrollment online health studies classes.


When I first began reading this study, I thought the tone was one of maximizing the school’s profit. But as I read on, it was more about trying to deal with their explosive growth, and ensure that their students wouldn’t have their graduation delayed because they couldn’t enroll in a required course due to high enrollment.

Another strength was how thorough the college acted in rolling out the approach. The teachers of the courses and their TAs designed the courses, they partnered with experts at Blackboard to troubleshoot technical issues, each course was thoroughly reviewed by instructional design experts, and then reviewed again by instructors at the school before it was offered to students.  


The course discussion, quizzes and study guides were designed to be self-graded. I wondered how the students could consider that engaging. I also think there is a good reason why the students thought the online course was better described: that as an online student you can go back and review materials as many times as you like, whereas ILT course understanding depends on initial comprehension and notes. As a student that strives to get A’s, I found it interesting that more students got A’s and less received B’s than usual. They explained this by addressing how online learning requires a higher level of participation and attention/study habits. Overall the online students reported spending less time in class online than suggested in the syllabus. That was also of interest to me, as I usually spend twice the recommended time in online courses. The biggest limitation, by far, was that the data was collected after the fact, not during.

Best Uses

I really loved that the courses were standardized in their layouts. Each course included a weekly summary of readings, quizzes, and learning materials. That’s been one of the issues I’ve had with our program, is the lack of consistency in course outline and expectations. It frustrates the learner when they have to spend (often) precious time searching for due dates and parameters.

Chen, K., Lowenthal, P. R., & Bauer, C. (2016). Effectiveness and student perceptions of high-enrolment health studies online courses. Health Education Journal, 75(3), 343-357. 10.1177/0017896915581060

Reading Capture 2:  An exploratory study of adult learners’ perceptions of online learning: Minority students in continuing education


The study was of 167 minority students in 6 different online undergraduate classes. The overall findings were, “learner–content interaction and learner–instructor interaction were significant predictors for student satisfaction in online settings in which group activities were not provided.” Providing interaction with the content, other students,  and with the instructor seems to boost the perceived value of the course, and the learner outcome (ie. grade).


I haven’t found many reports on minority student studies for online learning, so I consider that to be a strength: that they approach a little-covered topic.  


I found myself wondering about the learner-instructor interaction in this study. They emphasized the importance of that relationship for motivation and comprehension. I wanted them to quantify how much interaction was given in the online course vs. a comparable instructor-led course. There were many classes in my undergraduate program that provided very little interaction with the instructor. In contrast, I’ve actually had more interaction in this online graduate program.

Best Uses

This study argued that the two most important factors for positive student perception, and therefore learner success, were the learner-content and learner-instructor interactions, rather than learner-learner. With solid instructional design theory applied the content, rather than specific interactions such as games, the learner will be able to succeed. Equally important was that the instructor had quality and regular interaction with those in the course. Since the majority of the courses I develop are self-paced and asynchronous, I will look for opportunities to humanize the learning. Some of the ways I can do that: provide a video intro, use narration, provide robust feedback to testing and practice testing, to provide help and resource links, and continue to use a conversational tone in the instruction.

Kuo, Y., & Belland, B. R. (2016). An exploratory study of adult learners’ perceptions of online learning: Minority students in continuing education. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 661-680. 10.1007/s11423-016-9442-9


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Need or Problem

A common, and often accurate, perception of online courses is that they are boring for the learners. Recently, I was interviewing for a position, and at the end of the second hour I was asked, “What would you do in technical courses in order to make them more engaging for the learner?” It was actually the hardest question of the day to answer, as it can depend on the course itself. How I answered was by describing my process of aligning objectives, providing opportunities for practice, creating visually rich GUI’s and downloads. As I was answering, I was really thinking to myself, “But how do you ensure that the learners are engaged and aren’t bored out of their minds?” I haven’t stopped thinking about it, as it really is one of the most crucial questions an eLearning Developer can (and should) ask themselves.

There are many elements that I like to include in the courses that I build. For yearly compliance (such as Ethics) trainings, I prefer to allow the learner test out, rather than suffer through an hour long course. This isn’t always an option though, because most HR departments want legal proof that every employee has viewed each page, and passed the test. Supposing that’s the case, how would you make that course more engaging for the learners? My first inclination would be to suggest the use of professional, current photography; to use realistic scenarios that are specific to the company’s workplace; to provide a ‘choose your path’ style navigation so that the learners could see the repercussions of their choices; and to provide downloadable/printable resources of value for future reference.

Having had some experience with building engaging courses, and many that are less than, I was curious what other methods I would discover to engage my learners.

Search Method

Having viewed the provided video tutorials, I searched the Auraria library for my topic. The search parameters I used were: online learner engagement; then I added adults; then I added asynchronous, 1/1/16-12/31/18, scholarly materials, discipline: education,


  • Lai, K. (2017). Pedagogical practices of NetNZ teachers for supporting online distance learners. Distance Education, 38(3), 321. doi:10.1080/01587919.2017.1371830
    • This article turned out not to be in line with what I was searching for. I added the word ‘adult’ to the search query, since this was for K-12 learners.
  • Covelli, B. J. (2017). Online discussion boards: The practice of building community for adult learners. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 65(2), 139. doi:10.1080/07377363.2017.1274616
    • The author suggests that discussion boards are a key component of online learning. If the instructor fails to consistently support constructivist theory, discussion boards won’t be useful, nor will they be supportive of learning.
  • Smith, S. P. (2017). Adult learners: Effective training methods. Professional Safety, 62(12), 22-25.
    • Emphasis on allowing adult learners to identify their own training needs, completing needs assessments with employees to ensure alignment, choosing proper delivery methods for the training, and assessment. The author states that the learners own experiences are the most important training took, and they must be involved in their own training.
  • Deschaine, M. E., & Whale, D. E. (2017). Increasing student engagement in online educational leadership courses. Journal of Educators Online, 14(1)
    • The test subjects were online graduate program students. The authors encourage teachers to learn the capabilities of their LMS, and to use all available features of it. They also encourage a great deal of interaction with the students where possible. They argue that students with a great deal of interaction are more engaged, and therefore better students.
  • Glenn, C. W. (2018;2016;). Adding the human touch to asynchronous online learning. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 19(4), 381-393. doi:10.1177/1521025116634104
    • This article spoke to long online courses, such as our graduate program. It contained great advice for the teachers here at CU Denver. The author emphasized the importance of a well-designed course, and clear support materials for learner success.
  • Dousay, T. A. (2016). Effects of redundancy and modality on the situational interest of adult learners in multimedia learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(6), 1251-1271. doi:10.1007/s11423-016-9456-3
    • The audience tested for this research is exactly the one I’m most familiar with: an hour long asynchronous course which is interrupted often, and a wide range of ages (25-65). They found that reading content to learners (narration) makes learners disinterested. Allowing learners to read content themselves stimulated interest, and it’s important to, “use short redundant phrasing when combining narration and text.”
  • Baldwin, S., & Ching, Y. (2017;2016;). Interactive storytelling: Opportunities for online course design. New York: Springer US. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0136-2
    • The authors suggest providing options for users to explore different paths, and to keep things non-linear. They suggest that using stories combined with interactivity will increase curiosity and enjoyment for the learner. Specifically, to include not just text, but images, audio and video.


I feel as though I just discovered a whole new internet. This is my first course on research, and I didn’t realize how important peer reviewed materials were. I learned several things during my search. The first would be that you need to be pretty specific in what you are looking for, since there is such a massive amount of material to source from. I feel like the range of the 6 papers I downloaded was too wide, and I will need to narrow them a lot more for the final project. I read each of the papers completely, and found it interesting the wide range of tone. I had expected them to be quite stuffy. Perhaps because this is my field of interest, I didn’t struggle with digesting the majority of materials. There was one example that was written very conversationally (as compared to the rest), and another that was extremely technical. The second major thing I noticed was that all of the materials mentioned Constructivism Theory. I will be looking more into that theory with a renewed interest, as it appears to be the most popular approach when it comes to engaging online learners. While I didn’t learn any new methods for making my online courses more engaging (they touched on methods I am familiar with), I did learn a lot about the research process.

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We’ve been playing around in my Creative Designs for Learning class, with a few free resources that I’d like to share.

Deep Art

You upload your image(s) and choose the artistic style, and they turn it into a piece of art. Below are the ones I made. The one of me is a little freaky because of the eye swirls, but I really like the way the other two turned out. You can even order prints:


This site allows you to make your own Picasso-themed illustration. We were asked to make a self portrait, and this is what I came up with:

picaso head

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Today I was driving home from a lovely brunch, and one of my neighbors was in front of me. At first, the I plate’s meaning didn’t register with me. I was engrossed in a This American Life episode, but then it went off like a lightbulb. Here I am, in my 40s, and feeling it, but not appreciating it. This week I’m having my birthday, and while I’m looking forward to a nice dinner with my friends, I have been subconsciously brooding about being a year older.

I decided to take a chance, and follow my neighbor home. I waited in his driveway, and said, “knock knock.” He responded with, “who’s there?” I knew for sure at that point that he was a kindred spirit. I told him that I was his neighbor, and where, and that I would love to take a photo of his plate. I told him that I am turning 43 this week. He (George) said, “Well, you know why I got that plate? Cause I am 88! I’m glad you liked it, and figured it out.”

I think I am starting to figure things out. Thanks George.

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This week, in my Creative Designs for Instruction class, we watched a couple of amazing TED talks. Very few people think that they can draw well. I happen to be in that camp. My family is actually riddled with creative talent, and my family encouraged, recognized and helped develop our individual talents. Most of my childhood, I really loved drawing. I think it was around my Junior year in high school that I decided that I couldn’t. My mother is a very talented artist. She paints, sculpts, draws, woodblock prints, paper crafts, you name it… I remember, even when she colored in coloring books with me, my drawings were never as good as hers. So by comparing myself, I fell short. That’s all perspective. We can all draw, we just have our own styles. In fact, she probably has told me something similar herself. My inner dialogue/critic was just more noisy than her words of encouragement. I encourage you all to watch these two short TED talks, and participate with the speakers. You just need a couple pieces of paper and a pen.

Just for fun, here are the drawings I made:


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This is my poem about loving Colorado storms, but missing the ocean.

Deep blue poem pdf download

Photography, audio, poem and mixing by Christina Moore. 2 soundtracks used for the background:

Thunderstorm: Patty Jewet, Colorado Springs, CO, USA – Front Range Thunderstorm by Sylvia Shale, Published June 10, 2016, Usage Attribution 3.0,

Ocean: Lagos, beach, Atlantic ocean, by Frank Schulte, Published December 1, 2009, Usage Attribution-Share Alike 3.0,

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A Tale of Two Courses

It Was the Best of Instruction; It Was the Worst of Instruction


While sometimes dreaded by instructors, course evaluations are important for a number of reasons: materials become outdated, new organizational objectives are created, historical organizational objectives are updated, and student/organization needs change. Ideally, evaluations would occur at least yearly for each course and instructor, or as needed when major changes occur in an organization.

To read the full paper, click here:

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Have you ever wondered if you had a subconscious hidden bias? One of the topics we discussed in my Master’s class a couple of weeks ago (an ongoing and important discussion to have throughout a lifetime) was that of equity.

One of my fellow students shared this website, where you can anonymously, and at no charge, take quizzes to see how you are biased in your thinking. It was a very eye-opening and enjoyable experience. I highly recommend it to anyone that is curious and has 15 minutes to spare.

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I’ve been working on a term project on how to hit the reset button on your career, and start over fresh. I have collected a bunch of quotes, that I’ve found inspirational over the years, and applied them to some of my photography. Feel free to download them, and use them in your own materials, if they resonate with you. -Cheers!

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I recently deleted Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram from my phone. I still have the accounts, I just won’t be posting to them from my phone, or surfing them as often. I’ve got my blog and portfolio set up to automatically post to my business Facebook page, and to tweet. This election cycle has been brutal. I was finding myself spending a significant amount of time watching people bicker on Facebook and Twitter, and I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

After watching this video for class:, I removed the tags of my kids on FB. When they were here this summer, they commented that, “I always post the most embarrassing photos of them.” I had already removed the offending images, but I went ahead and removed all the tags as well. I figure if they want to be tagged in something, then they can add the tag themselves.

Another step I took was to clean up old photos on my business page of Facebook. There were a few old random events that I had photographed, and left all the best photos. I chose to clean those up, keeping only the best of the best. I plan to go through my photos yearly moving forward.

Care to share your thoughts on privacy and tagging? I welcome the discussion.

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A beautiful guided meditation to relieve anxiety. It’s great for all levels, and I found it to be very relaxing. It’s only free this week, so here’s the overview if you find this blog post later:

  • Sit on the ground in a position that’s comfortable to you. I prefer cross legged. Keep your back straight, hands resting on your knees. Keep your eyes closed. 
  • For five minutes, breathe in through your nose for a count of four seconds. Hold for five seconds. Then breathe out through your nose for six seconds. 
  • Focus on your breathing, and the sensations in your body. If your mind starts to wander, lovingly bring your thoughts back to your breathing. 
  • Return to breathing normally. Introducing the mantra: I am safe, I am loved, I am ok. Repeat this mantra, with relaxed breathing for one minute. 
  • Place your right hand over your heart and your left hand over your navel. Repeating your mantra: I am safe, I am loved, I am ok. Do this for two minutes. 
  • Place your hands on the floor. Feel yourself being grounded to the earth. Feel yourself being powerfully anchored to the ground beneath you. Continue this for one minute. 
  • Bring your palms together. Raise your hands, resting the tips of your thumbs on your forehead. Relaxed breathe. Focusing on calm and peace. Continue for one minute. 
  • Keeping your hands up, take three deep breathes, in through the nose for 4 seconds, hold for four seconds, out through the mouth for five seconds. 
  • Lower your hands to your heart, and feel yourself relieved of your anxiety. Namaste. 

#FreeVideoFriday – Meditation to Relieve Anxiety Right Meow — MOJO Yoga –

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