Designing Online Learning

As a coach with Advanced Learning Partnerships, I have the privilege of working school divisions participating in the Virginia is for Learners Innovative Network (#VA4LIN). If you live in Virginia you may have heard about this sweeping initiative launched by the Virginia Department of Education with support from VaSCL, JMU, and Ted Dintersmith. ALP coaches are working with the schools and divisions in the network who have identified their own priorities for promoting innovation.

One of the divisions I’m working with, Bedford County Public Schools, has already initiated efforts related to personalized learning prior to joining the network and asked for some support with developing online and blended learning. Division staff want to leverage online technologies to provide more personalized support for both learning opportunities for students and professional development for adults in the system. I met with a group of ITRTs (Instructional Technology Resource Teachers), library/media specialists, and others in Bedford County on May 9 to review instructional design for online and blended learning. Our goal was to develop design specifications for educators in Bedford County to refer to when designing their own learning materials.

Educators from Bedford County Public Schools discuss designing powerful online learning.

I provided access to materials based on my book, Online Professional Development, Design, Deliver, Succeed! and subsequent publications. We reviewed key instructional design principles, considered how staff are currently addressing them, and considered how these principles might be presented in the first draft of a design specifications document. The key ideas we reviewed include:

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Define your learning outcomes.
  3. Assess your learning outcomes.
  4. Consider your visual design.
  5. Match media to your outcomes.
  6. Evaluate your learning.

You can access the slide deck with links to handouts and templates on Google Drive. Let me know if it’s helpful. Next steps for the, the participants include returning to existing online professional learning to review what has already been developed and determine how the specifications might impact that work.

Considering implications of instructional design principles on practice.

What do you want to create today?

I had the great privilege of sharing some thoughts about promoting creativity and creative thinking with educators in Moreno Valley USD, California, on January 30, 2019. The following are links to resources that support my keynote presentation.

Slide Deck

Sir Ken Robinson’s website

How People Learn free download from the National Academies Press

What EXACTLY is Depth of Knowledge? (Hint: It’s NOT a Wheel!) article by Erik Francis for ASCD

Potential Basketball Learning Progression developed with Steven Doyle, Legacy H.S., Evergreen Public Schools, Vancouver, WA

Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning (2014) by Linda Darling-Hammond, Molly B. Zielezinski, and Shelley Goldman

Performance tasks I’ve helped create with teachers from across the country.

The Visible Thinking website from Project Zero at Harvard

Mind Expanding: Teaching for Thinking and Creativity in Primary Education by Rupert Wegerif (free PDF download)

Literature Overview: Ideas of what students should be able to do to demonstrate creative thinking and strategies teachers can incorporate in their classrooms to encourage creative thinking.

Can I play that video in my class? (or library, or assembly, or fundraiser…)

This is a response to a question from one of the ISTE forums on using video in online courses, especially ones using a password-protected Learning Management System (LMS). There were several points in the post, but the main question is whether it’s o.k. to rip videos from a DVD and post them to an LMS for students to view? 


Hi Ruben,

This is a great question and one that comes up often, in both brick-and-mortar and online courses, both of which may use LMS. Unfortunately, many educators believe that if they purchase a video, then it’s theirs to do with as they please, even showing it in classes. However, most commercial videos are licensed, which gives the license owner special rights, and you need to know what kind of license you own. For videos from most major studios, the license usually appears at the beginning of the video, sometimes paired with that familiar FBI warning. In most cases, commercial videos, even if you bought the DVD, are licensed only for personal use. That means that educators are likely infringing on the copyright of the owner of the video if they go to their favorite store, buy a DVD, and show it in its entirety in a class, at an assembly, as a reward, on a jumbo screen as a fund raiser… It doesn’t matter whether that showing is online or in person. You have to know what license you have.

Online streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon, and video-sharing sites, like YouTube and Teaching Channel, also have their own licensing agreements. They’re harder to find, but with a quick search and the click of a couple of buttons on the site you can often find the licensing terms for these sites. Most educators are unaware of video licensing and their obligations.

There’s always a bit of outrage and disbelief when I share this information, which was the reaction a couple of years ago when I shared this to a group of library/media specialists in a midwestern school district. But the assistant superintendent stood up and confirmed that the district had indeed been sanctioned three times in the past year by the owners of commercial video licenses and their lawyers were currently working to avoid substantial fines. It’s important to note that Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Domain are guidelines and not clear dictates. That’s why there are different interpretations, and the way these guidelines are tested is often through the courts. You probably don’t want to be a test case.

On the positive side, most commercial videos are licensed by one or more organizations (see Swank.com as one example) and institutions can purchase these licenses for different uses, like annual licenses or a one-time showing. These are most applicable for in-person viewing. Its more complicated and still murky for online streaming. One thing that is very clear is that you can NOT change the format of the video (or other media) for showing, no matter what purpose or setting. For example, it’s likely a violation of copyright to scan an image from a book and show it in class if the book is the format you have. So, it is a violation of copyright to rip a DVD and post it online, even behind a password-protected LMS. You can post portions of it in the format it comes in, generally 10% or less, in accordance with Fair Use, but that’s not going to solve your problem. (The U.S. Copyright Office has Circular 21 with more guidance on this.)

The best advice I have for you is to visit your school/university librarians or media specialists. They are usually the experts in issues like this. Mine always was, and when I told her I wanted to show a movie in class she would tell me whether we owned a copy with an appropriate license or she could obtain one or not. If not, I had to have a Plan B. Your library/media center may have access to options that your university has purchased that you may not be aware of. I’m hoping others will reply with examples of how their institutions are licensing video for classroom use, because it’s a changing field.

Best of luck and I’ll be following to learn more,
JR

P.S. If you’re an ISTE member, you can view other responses or contribute your own here.