Instructional Design

Reflection on Learning: Original Graphic Assignment

I put this assignment off for a long time, because I hate making graphics. Other teachers (like my wife) tell me to try this or that website or app, because they make the graphic easier or prettier, and I am always frustrated and disappointed with my product. When I got the inspiration for the graphic I made, I did it without going back to the assignment first, so I forgot to look for and try new tools, and I chose to use something familiar.

Normally for projects like this I use Apple Pages, but because this assignment will be part of a larger project that I am building in Google Sites, I chose to create my graphic in Google Drawings. Google apps are familiar to me, and they are generally easy to use, although they tend to have comparatively very basic functionality. I knew that this would likely save me some trouble in the short term, even if it caused some frustration; but it would save me even more trouble in the long term, because Google apps will play well together. I ended up exporting my graphic as a jpg file for easy portability, but I could just as easily publish and embed it in the final product.

As a learning experience, this was not particularly valuable to me. I discovered that my vision for the graphic was possible with a very simple drawing tool. I discovered that I could put something like this together with very little effort, and I may begin doing that more often. But this was not an exercise in exploration. As a lesson about learning activities with minimal instruction, I see that I default to what is familiar or minimally novel when given minimal guidance. If I want students to learn a new skill, I need to accompany them, or else they will meet my requirements with the least risk and the least learning.

Instructional Design


This assessment correlates with the objective,

Create identity statements, properly using gender pronouns
and Indigenous land acknowledgements.
(self-knowledge, application, perspective)

Students will be asked to show understanding by writing about what they have learned in the form of a professional blog post, which they will submit either by posting it publicly on their blog or by emailing to their instructor in a Google doc. This assessment will address only one part of the objective; there will be a separate assessment for the remainder of the objective.


Create a long-form Indigenous land acknowledgement to post (either as a post or as a static page) on your professional blog. After viewing the resources included in this lesson, research the region where you hope to take the next steps in your career.

  • Who are the Indigenous people of that region? There may be more than one answer.
  • What name do the people of the Indigenous group use for themselves?
  • Is the region where you will work ceded or unceded territory?
  • Is there a particular treaty (or more than one) that governs that territory?
  • What is the current state of the Indigenous group? Do they live on the land or on a nearby reservation? Were they removed?

You may not need to include the answers to all of these questions in your land acknowledgement, but you do need to identify the Indigenous people of your region and be clear about the status of the land. Offer gratitude. State your relationship to the land and, if appropriate, to the people.


You may post your land acknowledgement on your personal/professional blog, or you may email it to me in a Google Doc for feedback before you post it.


All feedback from me will be constructive and conversational. If you post your land acknowledgement on your blog, I may comment on it there. Otherwise, I will offer feedback by email or our preferred method of communication. Since this is not part of a class, there is no grade.


Indigenous people namedLand acknowledgement correctly names the Indigenous people of the region in question.Indigenous people misidentified
Treaty statusLand status (ceded, unceded, etc.) and treaty are correctly stated.Land status or treaty incorrect or missing.
GratitudeGenuine gratitude is offered.Gratitude is absent or ingenuine.
Personal relationshipA personal relationship to the land is stated.No personal relationship to the land
Instructional Design

Learning Objectives

I have chosen to work with the enduring understanding,

Professional identity and presence can be leveraged
to benefit society, especially those who are less visible.

This is the understanding that led me to add this unit to the Career Services website that I am creating. I was attending a virtual conference on Zoom with some of my students, and one of the conference hosts introduced himself with his pronouns. The student sitting across the large table from me leaned over and asked me what that was about. I explained briefly why pronouns are thing and why people share them—including people whose pronouns match their appearance.

I want my students to understand, as they leave college and go out into the world, that their professional presence has a moral dimension to it, and that they can choose to use that for the common good. These learning objectives will, I hope, give evidence of that understanding.

Learning Objectives

Interpret identity statements, such as gender pronouns and Indigenous land acknowledgements, and respond to them appropriately. (interpretation, perspective, empathy)

Create identity statements, properly using gender pronouns and Indigenous land acknowledgements. (self-knowledge, application, perspective)

Evaluate the practice of identity statements in terms of which identities are stated in what contexts. (interpretation, perspective)

As I composed these objectives, I had the Six Facets of Understanding (McTighe & Wiggins) at the front of my mind, but I quickly recognized that the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (Krathwohl) is better suited for writing active objectives. Since I used both systems in the formulation, I included the facets that I intend each objective to uncover with the objective.

Instructional Design

Enduring Understandings

I originally planned this unit to come at the end of a college course where students will think about their career plans and goals and how to present themselves to prospective employers. The first half of that course would be about exploration and direction, and the second half about presentation.

I’m not teaching that course this semester, but I am building a website with career resources for my students. A conversation with one of them told me that this unit belongs on that website. That changes the delivery a little bit: it will be self-guided and self-evaluated, with strongly encouraged one-on-one interaction with the instructor.

The big idea for this unit is that a career is as much about cooperation as it is about competition. After so much discussion about self, it is time to put it all into a positive relationship context.

Enduring Understandings:
(These have been edited in response to feedback.)

Professional identity and presence can be leverageed to benefit society, especially those who are less visible.

Connections can be made and networks built through activites (i.e., service) outside of employment.

Professional community is part of professional identity.

Instructional Design


This is not my first time mapping my personal learning environment. A previous incarnation can be found discussed here and here. Looking at the diagram from 2018, I am a little surprised how much has remained, despite moving across the continent and going back to a job with an office. (I was a stay-at-home dad then.) I wanted to do something different this time, instead of the circular structure I’ve used in the past, so I thought I’d place it over a tree and group the four parts. I see now that my understanding of a PLE is kinetic: in the 2018 diagram, I used the metaphor of a wheel, with information clodding on and spinning off, maybe sticking long enough to be reflected upon; in the 2021 diagram, I am following the course of sap in a maple (or birch) tree.

Sugar is made by photosynthesis in the leaves. That’s connection. Sap (sugar water) moves down through the branches and the trunk. That’s collection—for the tree. Sap accumulates and is stored in the root structure of the tree for the winter. That’s where reflection can happen (not that a tree reflects on anything, but then there’s this). In the spring, sap goes back up the trunk to power leaf formation, and some of it is tapped off by humans. That’s sharing.

Here are two earlier drafts. In the first, I included app icons for some of the tools I use and media I consume regularly. That looked cluttered to me, so I deleted them. From the second to the third, I changed the location of the SHARE section, to better illustrate sap flowing out, rather than only back up, and to be a little less symmetrical.

Much of my PLE is mediated by my iPhone, especially in the Connect realm. Collecting and sharing happen largely on my laptop. Information comes in by email, on radio and podcasts, from Google and Wikipedia, among other sources. It goes out by email, Zoom and FaceTime, and social/professional/educational networking apps.

My reflection is hard to identify right now. As I looked at my old blog posts, I realized that I am listening to much of the same music, and I am still washing diapers, but these things do not have the same reflective effect for me that they did three years ago. And now that I work from home, due to the pandemic, my daily walking commute has been replaced by baking bread and cookies, but that is not as conducive to focused reflection. I can’t believe that I have no reflection in my PLE; but it is not focused in a way that I can identify.

As I was working on this, my wife asked me if I have an internal monologue. She had just read an article on a science website about people who have no voice in their head. My internal monologue is never silent—never. Perhaps that is my reflection, and perhaps that is why I cannot identify it.

Online Pedagogy


I have always thought of teaching as transformative. Whether delivering knowledge or instructing skills, I have always hoped to expand my students’ thinking—in context or in complexity, if not in content. I had two teachers, who explained to their classes what they were doing, who influenced my philosophy.

Online Pedagogy


For my unit-sized lesson plan, I prepared and delivered a four-session unit on “skills and values” for a Vocational Exploration course being tought by two of my colleagues. The course is one credit hour, pass/fail, seven weeks long, offered in the second half of the semester. In fall 2019, it met Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:10-1:00 pm, in a computer lab in the library. There were eight students in the class, ranging from first-years to seniors. Their majors included Business, Criminal Justice, and Psychology. I had existing relationships with four of them; the other four I did not know. The lessons that I taught were scheduled for the last two weeks of the semester, the weeks before and after Thanksgiving break.

Online Pedagogy

Pedagogy Article Review 2

Returning to Online Pedagogy after a long break, I found that I was still interested in the learning theories—behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism—that were discussed in the second module (previous post). In the intervening time, I also took a course that discussed Indigenous ways of knowing and passing on knowledge. This led me to wonder if there is research documenting an “Indigenous learning theory.” A search of that phrase in academic databases eventually brought me to Elizabeth Lange’s (2004) article “Transformative and Restorative Learning: A Vital Dialectic for Sustainable Societies,” which, as the title suggests, explores an application of transformative learning theory. Knowing little about transformative learning theory, I also read a chapter of Edward Taylor’s (1998) The Theory and Practice of Transformative Learning: A Critical Review, which I found in Lange’s works cited, for more background. Although transformative learning theory does not exactly satisfy my search for an Indigenous learning theory, it has potentially interesting applications for my work.

Lange, E.A. (2004). Transformative and restorative learning: A vital dialectic for sustainable societies. Adult Education Quarterly, 54(2), 121-139. Retrieved on 26 December 2020 from DOI: 10.1177/0741713603260276

Taylor, E.W. (1998). The theory and practice of transformative learning: A critical review (ERIC Clearing-house on Adult, Career, and Training for Employment, Information Series No. 374). Columbus, OH: Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Retrieved on 27 December 2020 from

Online Pedagogy

Pedagogy Article Review 1

After reading George Siemens’s 2005 proposition of Connectivism as the new learning theory of the digital age and Mohammed Ally’s 2008 discussion of online learning theories, I wondered if Connectivism had been accepted and become relevant in the decade since. (I should have had some indication, based on its inclusion in this course, that it had.) I searched for “connectivism” in the Rasmusen Library, and this short, very recent article was the third result.

Utecht, J., Keller, D. (2019). Becoming relevant again: Applying connectivism learning theory to today’s classrooms. Critical Questions in Education, 10(2), 107-119. Retrieved 12 September 2019 from

Web 2.0 Fundamentals

PLN Revisited

a diagram of a personal learning network: two concentric circles labeled reflect (inside) and collect (outside) surrounded by arrows and boxes representing connection and sharing

I was hoping to revisit my PLN from the beginning of the semester and find some great evolution or fulfillment, but I don’t think much has changed in the illustration I posted then. I have made some efforts toward a public PLN page on my website, but it is not ready to be published. I have also thought of two things that should have been added to the “Reflect” circle: diaper washing and music.