Introducing the "PEERS Framework": Quality control for book self-publishing
| Sunday, November 27, 2016
Part 1: Updated “PEERS” Framework
Quality Control for Self-Published TEC-VARIETY book
Back in May 2014, I self-published a book related to online motivation and retention (see blog post
from two years ago). This particular blog post concerns the peer review process (PEERS) that we put the book through. It only took me 2.5 years to finally finding some time to make this post.
It is important to point out that I originally dreamed of this book back in 2000 with my colleague Vanessa Dennen
of Florida State University (Vanessa's blog
). It only took 14 years to come to fruition. And my co-author was Dr. Elaine Khoo
from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, while Vanessa became one of the book editors.
The book title: is “Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and
Retaining Learners Online.” This book offered a new framework for
online motivation called TEC-VARIETY. Each letter of TEC-VARIETY stands for a set of overlapping motivational
principles. There are 100 activities in the book (10 for each principle of
motivation). Online instructors can learn how to foster curiosity, design a
safe climate for learning, give feedback, foster interaction and collaboration,
nurture student autonomy and creation of products, and much more. The intent is
for higher online learning retention and the development of more self-directed
With the 100+ activities, it follows the same format as my Empowering Online Learning
published by Jossey-Bass back in 2008 with a model called Read, Reflect,
Display, and Do (R2D2
). This new TEC-VARIETY book has a brand new set of 100+
activities and a focus on learner motivation and retention.
and I made this book free as an e-book
. We used Amazon CreateSpace as our publisher along with OpenWorldBooks
(which I own). AmazonCreateSpace were some of the most wonderful people in the world to work with. They were highly polite and customer service oriented.
To date, over 80,000 people have downloaded
the entire book in English and tens of thousands more have downloaded individual chapters.
Scholars at Beijing Normal University in China have recently translated it to
Chinese (also free as an e-book) and the Open University of China has published
it in print. Anyone can now download, share, and, with permission, translate it
in English or Chinese. By the way, my son Alex produced the book cover.
A common question of self-published books relates to quality. See below for the "Peers framework which I designed and used for this book so as to address quality. Others might find it a handy guide when self-publishing their own books.
Reference: Bonk, C. J., & Khoo, E. (2014). Adding Some
TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online. OpenWorldBooks.com and
Amazon CreateSpace. Note: Free eBook available
PEERS Framework (for review of a
Peer Review: Three e-learning and educational technology
experts were hired to review the entire book during the summer of 2013 (admittedly,
however, this was not a blind review). The authors made their changes and sent
the revised manuscript to the copyeditor. In addition, the copyeditor also took
on a role of editor throughout the process and made some solid suggestions on
deletions, modifications, combinations, additions, etc.
Extensive Planning and Pilot
Testing: The book 14
years to plan, 7 years to collect articles, and 3 years to write. In addition,
the framework in the book was discussed to large as well as a small audiences at
conferences, workshops, institutes, summits, webinars, university classes,
etc., for more than a decade. Tens of thousands of people attended those talks.
Feedback was received from hundreds, if not thousands, of such people during
Expert Team Approach: As with all book publishers, we contracted
with many experts to produce a book of the highest quality. We hired editors,
copyeditors, research assistants, website developers, proofreaders, graphic
artists, illustrators, indexers, formatters, converters to other formats (e.g.,
Kindle, hardcover, etc.), computer programmers, book publishers, consultants,
etc. Each were paid a fee (not cheap). We also talked about the process with
several others who had self-published a book in the past.
Relied on Format of Proven Book: Most importantly, the “Adding Some
TEC-VARIETY” book followed the exact same format as the “Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting,
Displaying, and Doing” book which was published in 2008 by Jossey-Bass. In
effect, the format works and was deemed to be high quality by a major
publisher. And unlike many activities book, this is a theory to practice with
not just 100+ activities but with extensive references and theoretical backing.
In addition, this book had the exact same first author as that book who went
through the same process in writing this book. As with the earlier book, he
partnered with an expert to co-author it.
Sharing Samples: Sample chapters were sent to other experts in
the field and other interested scholars, educators, and researchers for the
past three years as were the chapter resources, tools references, and
citations. Everything was shared as much as possible. The feedback that was
received helped us fine tune each chapter.
Part 2: The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing
Here is a
list 10 advantages and 10 disadvantages of a free self-published book. See what you think of these items. Please enjoy some TEC-VARIETY
- Impact: Life impact. The ideas in the book related to teaching and learning can impact others around the world. And perhaps there will be some life impact or personal change from a few of them. There is also the potential for curriculum impact, resource impact, innovation impact, etc.
- Longevity: Longevity of ideas. Someone could find or use or modify this book long after the authors are gone. Digital archivists and educators might stumble upon this book centuries from now.
- Rural and Disadvantaged: A free book helps people in the developing world learn new content. In addition, teachers and course designers can ramp up online and blended course development.
- Control: This IS the big one. The authors can design and change things how they want. Use the book titles and subtitles that they want and the examples that they want. And, yes, 2-3 experts peer reviewed the book just like another publisher (e.g., Jossey-Bass/Wiley) would have done.
- Experiment: It is an experiment. The authors can learn what works. We can practice marketing skills. We can share with others about self-publishing. We can start OpenWorldBooks.com. And we can continue the experiment with the next book.
- Less to Pack: Less guilt when someone has a request or when you visit a country with no gifts. I can always give people this book (or at least the link to download it).
- Fun and Novel Invitations: The authors can trade book royalties for interviews, discussions, invited panels, consultations, and speaking invites.
- Parting or Meeting Gift: It is something the authors can give to students, guests, and visiting scholars. I can send to anyone who visits or calls to interview me on the phone.
- Growing Network: The network of contacts around the world expands.
- Reputation: It brings attention to author reputation or brand and everything else that one does.
Disadvantages of Self-Publishing:
- Personal Time and Effort: This project has been my baby for a long time. And I made it free? This was not just 3 years in the making. I had an IST master’s student collect articles 7 years before completion. And Vanessa Dennen and I discussed a possible book on online motivation 14 years prior.
- Cost: The authors spent much out of pocket money designing and developing this book. Proofreaders, researcher assistant, Web designer and programmer, copy editor, editors, indexer, formatter, graphic designer, publisher, and website costs. It was not insignificant (I’m happy to share the costs via email).
- Potential for Failure and Looking Foolish: It could backfire and no one could find out about the book. If that happens, one could look foolish.
- Perceptions of Self-Published Book: People might think that it is low quality since it is being given away for free. The author reputation could take a hit. Some scholars/academics might look down on someone who self-publishes.
- Piracy and Plagiarism Battles and Legal Fees: People could more easily plagiarize this book. They could copy it, sell it, and post it online. There could be many moles to whack via attorney letters.
- Fairness to Self (i.e., potential for psychological and physical problems): My body could tell me that I am an idiot after expanding so much energy to get this far and not get much in return.
- Fairness to Co-Author: My book writing colleague, Dr. Elaine Khoo, deserves some remuneration.
- Translation Negotiations: The authors have to negotiate book translations rights and contracts, instead of the publisher. Tough decisions have to be made about selling the book in another language or offering only free versions. It takes time to produce a new version of the book.
- Marketing and Dissemination Requirements: The authors have many ways to market the book with organizations that have hundreds of thousands of connections; however, they will lack the connections and networks of a major publisher (e.g., conference exhibits, newsletters, Website promotions, etc.).
- Future Expectations: In the future, how can the authors justify charging a fee for any book that takes less than 14 years to produce?
Labels: Amazon CreateSpace, Elaine Khoo, motivation, PEERS framework, R2D2, retention, self-publishing, TEC-VARIETY, University of Waikato, Vanessa Dennen
30 Writing Tips Revisited and Expanded a Decade Later: Ten Years After and Before
| Tuesday, November 08, 2016
|Writing anyone? How about publishing? I was at a conference last Friday at the University of Houston. It was titled "Education 20/20: Innovative Teaching and Learning at a Distance." My talk slides are posted. I did the opening keynote as well as a breakout session right after it and a discussion session.
Prior to the conference, my colleague, Dr. Mimi Lee, asked me to speak about writing and publishing to doctoral students in curriculum and instruction at the University of Houston last week. So I did. I also spoke on forming solid research questions. I crafted a two-page handout of these tips and suggestions which was handed out to the budding scholars in the audience. It is recapped below.
Question: Why did I label this part "Ten Years Before." Well, now, you will just need to read to the end, won't you? Aha.
on Writing and Publishing for Doctoral Students
You can find these 30 writing tips about a decade ago at my blog. I add explanations of each one and some pictures.
Curt Bonk (2007, January 27). A Quick 30 Writing Tips for the Start of an Academic Career. TravelinEdMan (Blog), Note: This blog post was later re-published in: Curt Bonk (2010, April 2), 30 Writing Tips: Curtis J. Bonk offers advice for thestart of an academic career. Inside
A Quick 30
Writing Tips for the Start of an Academic Career
Again, read my original blog post from January 2007 for more details on the above.
- Edit your papers a lot (but, in truth, better to be a Combiner than a Mozartian or Beethovenian).
- Get feedback.
- Stay current.
- Be part explorer.
- Be part bumblebee in gathering ideas from different places (and later part butterfly, moth, or bird).
- Be a voracious reader (and ponderer).
- Persist like an ant.
- Be creative in your figures, models, frameworks, charts, and graphs!
- Try to publish the paper or as a chapter before presenting at a conference (but after your conference proposal is sent in and accepted--i.e., do not scramble to write your conference paper at the last minute).
- Maintain a list and network of potential research and writing collaborators.
- Share your publication efforts.
- Find emerging areas to research that you are passionate about or at least interested in.
- Think ahead about the publishing potential of each project.
- Treat graduate students as colleagues.
- Find international and national colleagues to work with.
- Schedule time for writing.
- Have a plan or direction for the next few years and beyond--Goals are critical.
- Read a paper on how to create a writing plan.
- Use presentations as starter material.
- Get paid to write and research.
- Find professional balance.
- Find personal balance.
- Do not design too many new courses.
- Find a niche or direction for your research and drill down.
- Write all the time.
- Avoid high quality journal fixations.
- Quantity matters as well as quality (sometimes more so).
- You are just a grasshopper, so get a mentor and use him/her.
I then brainstormed 20 more writing and publishing tips since I first wrote that blog post (and article) about a decade ago. See below and let me know what you think. I labeled this part "Ten Years After" since the original list came "Ten Years Before."
More Tips on Writing and Publishing
for Doctoral Students
Professor Curtis J. Bonk, Indiana University, IST
Thursday November 3, 2016
20 Writing and Publishing Tips
Ok, that is 50 total writing tips. What do you think about them? Which are the best 2-3 tips? Which are the worst ones?
- Find good people to work with: life is short - avoid egomaniacs and people who lie.
- Form research questions: Record gaps in research, find creative opening, keep tweaking,
- Mark days in your planner when you will be writing. Find or create chunks of time.
- Find, save, and use starter text where possible. Helps to overcome writer's block.
- Save research articles for a rainy day (i.e., create file folders of articles on different topics).
- Make both short term and long-term plans and goals. Review and revise those goals often.
- Perhaps draft a timeline or multiple timelines for your publications with flexible goals.
- Make a list of prominent journals (e.g., SSCI journals) and go after them one by one.
- Look for special journal issues that you might contribute to.
- Organize conference symposia which could lead to special journal issues and books.
- Get to know the journal editor(s). Write to the journal editors with questions.
- Look at the available journals and decide on the best 3 or 4 for your article.
- Always look at the reference section to see where people are publishing similar articles.
- Sponsor visiting scholars who want to work with you; they often have writing plans.
- Become second or third author sometime in order to spread your limited time.
- Listen to your colleagues and team and shoot for the journals to which they aspire.
- Recap the reviewer points and how you have attempted to address them.
- Be polite and thankful to the journal or book chapter editor(s).
- Review your CV/resume: check in process, in review, in press, and published articles and chapters. Remind yourself of your annual accomplishments. Remind yourself of your shortcomings.
- Celebrate your writing accomplishments with friends. These do not happen often enough.
Do you want more? If so, my splendid friend and colleague from graduate school days at the University of Wisconsin in the late 1980s, Dr. Cecil Smith, detailed a bunch of writing tips back in 2004 in a paper for the AERA conference in San Diego. I helped him out for some of them...see below. People interested in this paper can contact Cecil via email for a copy. Cecil is now the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education and Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development in the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University (where I worked a quarter of a century ago).
See also: Cecil
Smith (2004, April 12). Advice for new faculty members: Getting your writing
program started. Paper presented at the American Educational Research
Association Conference (AERA), San Diego, CA.
Or Getting by with a Little Help from My Friends.
- Find a writing mentor-someone who is honest, direct, and quick with feedback.
- If you form a research team, commit to a time and place for weekly or monthly meetings.
- Identify good writing models in your field.
- Be careful being lured onto the research projects of others and senior faculty.
is the Key.
- Do your research and writing prior to your teaching and class preparation.
- Use bulletin board with push pins and index cards of writing projects to indicate progress.
- Set small writing goals for each week.
- If you must teach in the summer for the $$$, teach short or intensive courses.
- Try to familiarize yourself with the journal and the manuscript style and format.
- Find a direction for your writing. Rework dissertation to the gleast publishable unit.h
- Do not be afraid to call a senior person in your field for advice.
- Think about multiple papers from one project; e.g., publish both the research AND the model.
- If you find a niche area, keep publishing in it; go deep! Applied and theoretical articles is fine.
+ Priorities = Productivity.
- Try not to ever give up on a piece of writing. Persistence and grit wins the day.
- But still be willing to cut your losses and move on when needed.
- Avoid doing too many conference presentations. Finish your papers first.
- Get an effective laptop, tablet, or writing device for writing on planes and in airports and cafes.
- Try not to feel guilty declining a committee or other service or requests.
Ok, that is enough writing tips for one day...especially on election day. Ug! I hope that they help and perhaps provide a little ray of hope in this sea of mad madness.
Get grants and inquire about other sources of funding to give you time off to write.
- Attend workshops on grant writing.
- Find small pots of money from university for small projects and start-up research.
Labels: Cecil Smith, Education 20/20, publishing, Ten Years After, University of Houston, writing, writing tips
Seoul Man speaks: The Fourth Industrial Revolution Meets the Fourth E-Learning Revolution
| Wednesday, September 21, 2016
|TravelinEdMan is in Seoul at the moment. It is a short trip. I got here Monday night. I head home tomorrow. Yesterday, I gave the keynote speech at E-learning Week at Coex. I was asked to speak about the Fourth Industrial Age (more info on it; see the Davos Reader). At the start of the talk, I spoke on self-driving cars and planes, robotics, 3-D printing, augmented intelligence, artificial intelligence, and much more. Below is the abstract that I came up with. My slides are posted.
I met many high ranking education ministers and officials yesterday before the ribbon cutting ceremony (e.g., the Vice Minister of Education, the President of the Korea Council for Online Universities, the Vice Minister of Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy, etc.). Today there are many presentations on virtual reality and gaming. I was fortunate to be part of the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Based on feedback from others, I think my talk went well despite the internet connection on their laptop lapsing just when I went up to speak (after testing it for 2 hours). I had many videos loaded. I ended up showing a few of them after the Internet connection came back. I also had to deal with 50 minutes for my keynote instead of 60 minutes as we did not start right away (that happens, but this was a new talk with much in it so it was tough to adjust this time). Another problem was that the 60 TEC-VARIETY books that I sent to the conference did not arrive. I wanted to give them away to people at the end of my talk. Darn.
Here is the abstract of my talk.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution Meets the Fourth E-Learning Revolution
Abstract: Over the past few centuries, humankind has entered and exited a series of industrial ages from the age of steam and water power to the immense benefits of electricity and efficient assembly line workers to the tremendous life enhancements from computers and pervasive automation. Now we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial age related to cyber physical systems with extensive physical, biological, digital, and educational implications. It is in this age that we now are witnessing hyper-accelerating advancements in robotics, mobile supercomputing, artificial intelligence, drone technology, autonomous vehicles, and much more. Similarly, in education, after just two decades of Web-based learning, we have entered the fourth phase or wave of e-learning. Interesting, each of the four waves of e-learning have come exactly seven years apart. First was the establishment of Web browsers and learning portals, brought about by Web search companies like Netscape which was founded on April 4, 1994. Seven years to the day later, MIT announced the OpenCourseWare (OCW) movement on April 4, 2001 and the age of open education was spawned. Another seven year span resulted in the first massive open online courses (MOOCs) in 2008. Now we enter the fourth phase of e-learning involving the personalization of e-learning. This is the age where mentors, tutors, experts, colleagues, and instructors can appear instantaneously on a mobile device. As with the fourth wave of the industrial revolution, there is immense change around the world today related to new forms of learning typically involving technology in the fourth phase of e-learning. In fact, there are three megatrends related to learning technology today: (1) technologies for engagement; (2) technologies for pervasive access; and (3) technologies for the personalization and customization of learning. To better understand these new forms of learning delivery, Professor Bonk will discuss these three megatrends as well as his recent research on the personalization of e-learning. Along the way, insights will be offered into where the fourth industrial revolution bumps into and fuels the fourth e-learning revolution.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
I will try to post some pictures from my involvement in e-Learning Week here in Korea later.
Labels: access, Coex, e-learning, e-learning week, engagement, fourth e-learning age, fourth industrial age, Korea, MOOCs, personalization, Seoul
The Annual Pilgrimage to Milwaukee and Madison for the Annual DTL Conference
| Friday, August 05, 2016
|What happens ever summer? Answer: A trip or two to my roots in Wisconsin. And one such trip is coming up next week. Hooray!
I cannot wait to go to Milwaukee (where I was born) and the University of Wisconsin Madison (where I went to graduate school). I am heading up Monday morning for the 32nd Annual Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Madison August 9-11. There is no better place than Madison and Milwaukee in the summer. So many festivals in Milwaukee. And such a delightful ambience in Madison in the summer. I miss that place every day.
My car (a 2004 blue Honda Pilot) will eventually be quite full. Full of MOOCs books to give away at the conference and many suitcases and dishes for my brother Richard. And full of people. First, I will pick up my former student Dr. Minkyoung Kim in Bloomington. We will drive through Chicago (the mess that it is) and pick up Dr. Tom Reeves from the University of Georgia in the Milwaukee airport Monday afternoon. We will stay a night in Milwaukee so I can show them around places like the Milwaukee Art Museum. I will also show them the house in West Allis (2468 S. 94th Street) that I grew up in on the west side of Milwaukee. Unfortunately, it is presently for sale (check out my old house; see also pictures below). My mom passed away back in December and my sisters and brothers are now selling it. This will likely be the final time that I see my old house and neighborhood. Sadness. I will come back to Milwaukee on Friday to drop off Tom Reeves at the airport and then go to the State Fair with one of my brothers (Richard) and best friend Stan Lowe. It is an annual pilgrimage.
There is much to do at the conference in Madison. I have been prepping for weeks. I have a spotlight session on the personalization of MOOCs. And I have another spotlight session on how to use Web and videoconferencing to bring in experts, former students, and others to one's classes and events. Third, I have been asked to introduce the recipient of the Charles and Mildred Wedemeyer Award for Distance Learning Practitioner. I was fortunate to receive the award two years ago and so I have been asked to be involved this year. And fourth, I am on a closing panel. These events are detailed below.
Let's start with the ending panel. There are tons of brilliant people coming this year as keynote, spotlight, and invited speakers. I am truly impress with the work that my friends Les Howles and Kimary Peterson have put into this year's event. Many of these people will join me on the conferencing closing panel, Stumble, Fall Rise Again: From Failure to Transformation Change. During that panel, we will all relate stories where things did not work out as planned. It should be fun. Many of my friends and colleagues are also on the panel; they include, Ellen Wagner, Simone Conceicao, Michael G.
Moore, Tom Reeves, Darcy Hardy, Ray Schroeder, and Michelle D.
Miller. Les Howles will moderate it. Many of these people will join me for dinner on Tuesday night at the Great Dane Pub and Brewery restaurant in Madison near the Capital.
In one Spotlight session on Wednesday afternoon, Personalizing the MOOC: Insights from Experts Around Planet Earth
, Tom Reeves
and I will not only update you on the present state of MOOCs, but we will discuss
what contributors to our book, MOOCs and Open Education
Around the World
published a year ago, have since recommended to us about
how to personalize and be culturally sensitive when designing and delivery a
MOOC. We will also present some brand new data collected by my research team and I during the past
month on how 150 MOOCs instructors from varied disciplines around the world
have personalized their MOOCs.
A book discussion and signing session will follow immediately after the spotlight session where people can
receive a signed copy of our MOOCs and Open Education Around the World
book for free (I should mention that Mimi Lee at the University of Houston and Tom Reynolds at National University are co-editors but they unfortunately cannot make it to the conference in Madison). Book signings and discussions are always fun. I will also do a "Book Nook" discussion on Thursday morning at 9 am. I am really looking forward to presenting at this conference with my super-splendid colleague Dr. Tom Reeves. He and I make for a fun team despite a bit of wear in the tires.
As indicated, in another spotlight session, Through the Words of Experts: Lessons Learned from Over Two Decades of Synchronous Conferencing
, my former graduate student, Dr. Minkyoung Kim, and I will detail many ways that Web and videoconferencing can be used to bring in guest experts. Here is the abstract: "The tools for connecting students with experts around the world have
enabled a new type of learning apprenticeship. No longer must your
instructors and peers come from your own institution or organization.
This talk will detail a series of pedagogical innovations and lesson
learned from Web and video conferencing experimentations meant to extend
the classroom to the world community. Tools such as Adobe Connect,
Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom will be highlighted. Extensive examples
and advice will be provided."
I have dozens of such examples that I can share. Most of the time it is a eye-popping and head-knocking sort of experience. People see new perspectives and ideas. They learn about different cultures and the importance of course content in various regions of the world and disciplines. And they better appreciate the content being taught in the course. These are exciting times for work in this area of global education with technology.
I should point out that this will be Minkyoung Kim's first presentation since passing her dissertation defense in June. She heads to a position at Texas Tech shortly after the conference. Congrads to her!
So, that is it for my brief recap for next week. Madison is so much fun in the summer. I will give Tom and Minkyoung and Rich Culatta a tour of the UW Campus on Tuesday afternoon. We will try to meet up with my former student Kurt Squire
for ice cream at the main union overlooking Lake Mendota as part of the tour. It will be great to see my Kurt for the last time in Madison. He and his wife Constance Steinkuehler
recently accepted jobs at UC Irvine
You can find my slides
in my archived talks in TrainingShare.com. In the meantime, below are pictures of the front and back of the house
that I grew up in there in West Allis, Wisconsin (along with 2 brothers and 2 sisters). I will miss the old place when it is sold. Pictures of the inside can be found in the link above. One bathroom and three bedrooms for 7 people was not easy. Eventually, my father built a 4th bedroom and 2nd bathroom in the basement. Enjoy the home tour! Perhaps you might want to buy it? Let me know.
Labels: Charles Wedemeyer, cultural sensitivity, Les Howles, Madison, MOOCs, personalization, Tom Reeves, videoconferencing, Web conferencing, Wisconsin Distance Teaching and Learning Conference
"There's no learning in e-learning": Such was the "State of E-Learning" back in April, 2002
| Thursday, July 28, 2016
|Note: The snippet below "And the State of E-Learning is..." comes from the introductory section of a journal article that just went to press. Part of it had to be cut due to length (I tend to write too much!). Oh well. The article that I wrote is based on a keynote talk (Education 3.0: The Learning World of Middle Earth is Fast Changing!--see slides)
that I gave in April 2016 at the DEANZ
conference (now called FLANZ or the Flexible Learning Association of New Zealand). By the way, can join FLANZ.
Bonk, C. J. (2016). What is the state of e-learning?: Reflections on 30 ways learning is changing. Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, 20(2), 6-20. Available: http://jofdl.nz/index.php/JOFDL/article/viewFile/300/205 and http://www.jofdl.nz/index.php/JOFDL/article/view/300
There is a second piece of that article that was also cut entitled "From Men on Stilts to Bill Clinton." I blogged on it this morning (in part since Bill Clinton just spoke at the Democratic Convention). I recommend that you click the link above and read through that blog post after
you read the information below. I should point out that my most excellent colleagues, Dr. Noeline Wright and Dr. Elaine Khoo, ran the conference and are now editing the special journal issue. You will find their pictures below.
Thanks so much Elaine and Noeline. By the way, you may recognize Elaine's name as co-author with me of the "Adding Some TEC-VARIETY" book with me (free copy of e-book). And you might recognize Noeline's name as a chapter contributor to my 2006 book, The Handbook of Blended
Learning: Global Perspectives, Local Designs.
See below for the main part of my second blog post of the day...
= = = = =
the State of E-Learning is…
As I write this article,
it is Monday June 20, 2016. Looking at my calendar, it is the summer solstice
and the end of spring. During this time of extended daylight, I am staring out
into the forest behind my house here in Bloomington, Indiana.
I am reflecting on the
speech that I gave at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand during
the annual DEANZ conference two months earlier. In it, I discussed how the
learning world in which I had grown up was in rapid motion. Some thirty
different learning related trends had somehow, though not totally unexpectedly,
started to coalesce. Learning had increasingly become more informal,
video-based, ubiquitous, collaborative, self-directed, global, mobile, open,
massive, and so much more.
Each trend on its own
would have sparked a learning revolution. The fact that they were occurring
simultaneously should force every human being walking this planet to pause and
stare into the distance just as I was engaged in. In fact, you might try it
right now. Turn off your computer. Close this journal article. Then reflect on the
differences between your learning journeys today and those you took one, two,
or three decades ago.
What I was pondering was
the fact that exactly fourteen years earlier I had trekked through those same
campus grounds at the University of Waikato. Back then, I attended a pivotal
and exciting e-learning summit wherein I gave a series of talks about the
pervasive myths, pedagogical possibilities, and problems of e-learning. At the
time, e-learning quality, incentives,
completion rates, instructor training and support, and challenges and obstacles
were among the many topics of interest. Interestingly, they remain so today.
The other invited keynote presenters at the summit, Gilly Salmon of the Open
University in the UK and John Hedberg (see
his research) of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, offered much insight
issues and other instructional options and opportunities in this growing field.
The one item that struck
me repeatedly back in April 2002 was how often I was asked to explain the
present state of e-learning. This question was first posed of me during a live
national TV program in New Zealand (Channel One morning news); to which I had
no answer. To my utter embarrassment, all I could offer was a series of
mumbling sounds. Later that same day, I was asked that exact same question on
Radio New Zealand. By that time, I had an answer, “It depends.” Amazingly, at
the end of the E-learning Summit, the conference organizer, Dr. Mark Topping, had
all the keynote speakers line up and tell the audience their perspectives on “the
current state of e-learning.” Apparently, after the epic success with the Lord
of Rings movie trilogy, people in New Zealand were hoping for another success
in conquering the field of e-learning. Unfortunately for New Zealanders, so was
every educator and politician in every other country that I visited at that
In retrospect, my talk
at the 2016 DEANZ conference was perhaps unintentionally designed to attempt to
answer that question about the state of e-learning (or perhaps just learning); I
was just 14 years too late. However, as someone who has given more than 1,000
talks in dozens of countries since that unique summit in 2002, I can attest to
the fact that it is extremely difficult to keep up on the fast changing forms
of learning technology and distance education. Interesting and ground breaking
new technology reports seem to arise every hour of the day.
Back in 2002, a segment
within one of my talks in Hamilton was titled “There’s no learning in
e-learning.” In it, I showcased pictures from various conferences that I had
attended the previous couple of years. The rationale for that talk should have
been part of my answer on television, radio, and the E-Learning Summit about
the “state of e-learning” back in 2002. As you will see in the section below,
there really was no learning within e-learning. No. No. No. No. No!
(Remember to read Part 2 of this article which I wrote early this morning, "From Men on Stilts to Bill Clinton." Reading them together is important in order to make sense of some of my key points.)
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Labels: Bill Clinton, DEANZ, e-learning, FLANZ, flexible learning, Gilly Salmon, hobbits, John Hedberg, New Zealand, University of Waikato
Online Learning 2001 in LA: From Men on Stilts to Bill Clinton
Note #1: The following story was cut from my 2009 book (as were dozens of other stories), "The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education." Last month I wrote an article for a journal from New Zealand based on my talk there in April. It was cut once again. So I thought I would finally publish it in my blog given that former President Bill Clinton spoke at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia last night. I have seen Bill Clinton speak live twice...once in 2008 here in Bloomington, Indiana when he was stumping for his wife Hillary Clinton and once in 2001 as a keynote speaker at an online learning conference in Los Angeles (see below for that story). Smile.
Note #2: This is the first of a two -part story that originates from a recent talk in Hamilton, New Zealand. I will post Part 2 later today (or so I hope). Hang on...
From Men on Stilts
to Bill Clinton
When I was a new faculty member at West Virginia University
in the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of my graduate students, Padma Medury,
and I conducted a national survey of collaboration and groupware tools. We
found five different levels of tools from simple email exchanges to what we
labeled as cooperative hypermedia (Bonk, Medury, & Reynolds, 1994). Little
did Padma and I realize at the time the extent to which Web-based collaborative
tools would help shape and elevate various newly emerging fields, including
online learning, computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL), and computer-supported
collaborative work (CSCW).
In pilot testing one of the more powerful collaborative tools
at the time, Aspects, we were excited to see that people in different cities
could work on the same document at the same time. And Aspects did not just foster
for text collaboration; it also allowed for the online sharing of pictures and
other visual illustrations in multimedia documents. It was one of dozens of
When I arrived at Indiana University
in the late summer of 1992,
there was a cadre of doctoral students interested in research on such collaborative
tools. We compared asynchronous and synchronous discussions (e.g., Bonk, Hansen, Grabner, Lazar, &
. We coordinated case collaborations among students in
Finland, Peru, the UK, Korea, and various universities in the U.S. (Kim &
Bonk, 2002). We observed explorers in the Arctic interacting with kids in
schools around the world (Bonk & Sugar, 1998). If there was a collaborative
project or idea someone came up with, we researched it. Much of these efforts found
their way into a book called Electronic Collaborators: Learner-Centered
Technology for Literacy, Apprenticeship, and Discourse
(Bonk & King,
Shortly after the Electronic Collaborators book was
published, online learning survey data began pouring in from two of my follow-up
national research projects. In September of 2000, I presented some of the
results at the Online Learning 2000 Conference held in Denver (Bonk 2002a,
2002b). I soon found myself in a convention that was anything but ordinary. I
should mention that it was a full year before 9/11 and in the heyday of the
dot-com bubble. Still there were warning signs of a pending crash which no one
wanted to talk about, let alone believe.
What were the signs? Well for one, many vendors were
talking about potential products, not actual ones. They were quick to pass out
the t-shirts, coffee mugs, and tote bags, but had minimal product information to
share. I remember walking through the massive exhibit hall at the start of the
conference with Bob Cole, Vice President of Corporate Sales from JonesKnowledge
(which was connected to Jones International University
; among the first fully
online universities in the world). Bob looked at me and then spoke honestly
about the vendors, “Curt, it is just a lot of trinkets, toys, and trash that they
are handing out. My wife tells me to quit bringing the stuff home.”
And so it was. I watched vendors in booth after booth
trying to bring people in to see what they had. There were magicians doing card
tricks, flame eaters, jugglers, men on stilts, and, of course, a cadre of pretty
women in the booths. Not content with the potential business such trickery
would draw, there were laptop giveaways every hour or so at one or more of the
booths. I vividly remember a guy on stilts coming into the men’s bathroom. I
wondered how in the world he would complete his mission.
As an education professor and former accountant, I was not used to all this
hype or the amount of money being tossed around so freely. What I soon realized
is that the phrase of the day was “burn rate,” and they were all attempting to “outburn”
the competition. It was burn, baby burn! That was the time when companies were
flush with money or venture capital from someone else. Employers also created
their own jobs and job titles. Many of these companies were showcasing quite
exciting ideas, but unfortunately were short on viable products. Something had
to cover up that fact. It was a giant shell game. In addition to magicians and
attractive booth attendants, there was expensive signage and colorful handouts,
none of which fostered the learning of the people of this planet.
The names of the companies at the time added to the
charade. If you did not have one of the following words in your company name:
“intelligent,” “mind,” “brain,” “collaborative,” “knowledge,” “learning,” or
“smart,” and, better still, placed the letter “e” somewhere near the front or
back of one of the above words (e.g., “Smart-E,” “e-Brain,” “e-Telligent,”
“e-Know,” and so on), you were not cool and would likely not survive. But if
you could combine two or more of these words or symbols together as in “SmartKnowledge”
or “LearningSmart” or “E-MindCollaboration” or “e-LearningBrain,” your product
was deemed superior to everyone else despite not yet having a product to sell.
I wanted to shout “E-nough”! And so I did. After the Online
Learning 2000 conference in Denver, I created a PowerPoint presentation to be
embedded in my upcoming keynotes, including the E-learning Summit in Hamilton
in April 2002. I titled it, “There’s no learning in e-learning,” while mocking
the situation with the lyrics and a sound clip from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody
song playing in the background as each slide automatically played; “Easy come easy go, will you let me go?
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go. (Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let
you go. (Let me go!) Will not let you go. (Let me go!) Will not let you go let
me go.” The examples in PowerPoint went on from there, but, suffice to
say, what I was attempting to convey is that one could not get out of the
booths once you entered. You were stuck there for at least 15 or 30 minutes and
they had nothing to you could actually buy. And I had proof with dozens of
pictures I had taken from wondering through e-learning conference exhibits at the
time (see below for pics from Online Learning two years later in 2002 in Los Angeles).
It was clear from a few hours walking the hallways of such
conferences that there was no learning in e-learning. In fact, it was highly
doubtful that many of the people placed in the booths even understood what the
words “learning” or “collaboration” meant. And they definitely had no clue as
to the true learning impact of the tools that they had for sale, or, at least,
hoped to sell one day. There was no discussion of the range or types of
collaborative interaction that was now possible as in the five-level online
technology collaboration scheme that my colleagues and I had developed about a
decade earlier. Still, the conference was bulging with attendees, and only the
people walking around on stilts could really get an accurate head count.
About a year later, that same conference was held at the
Los Angeles Convention Center. As a sign of the venture funds backing up
companies in this space, Bill Clinton (who, at the time, he was charging about $120,000
per speech) was the keynote. Unfortunately, because the 9/11 disaster had
occurred some three weeks prior, the conference had nearly as many vendors as
attendees. This was the first event in the LA Convention Center after the
tragedy in New York. Clinton spoke at 6:00 p.m. on October 1, 2001.
I arrived late and was carrying two tote bags, two laptop computers, an LCD
projector, and other props from a talk that I had given earlier that afternoon.
I expected to be in an overflow room, but I got right into the main room for
Clinton’s talk without anyone inspecting my belongings. It was just three short
weeks after 9/11, the former president of the United States was speaking, and
no one opened my bags to check what I had.
Almost everyone attending Online Learning 2001 was in the
room, yet many seats remained open. Unfortunately, for the conference organizers,
the annual Online Learning conference had drastically shrunk in size from the
year before in Denver. It was downsizing in a major way. Suffice to say, I no
longer heard people bragging about their burn rates. The causes for this
shrinkage included the 9/11 crisis, worries about travel, slashed travel
budgets, and the implosion of most dot-com companies; especially those lacking viable
products. Along with all this turmoil, it seemed to be the end of an era where
magicians and men on stilts could distract people from a lack of quality e-learning
products. I sure miss those men on stilts and ladies in the booths attempting
to define the words “learning” and “collaboration” for me, let alone
“E-MindCollaboration” or “e-LearningBrain.”
Despite such flaws, the e-learning boom did accomplish
much. It raised the consciousness of the planet about collaborative technology
and the flexibility of learning online. Now millions of people were aware of
the importance of online collaboration and knowledge-sharing. It was a new era
for education, training, and society at large. Collaborative tools changed the
way in which we worked, learned, and socialized. Such was the state of
e-learning back when I visited New Zealand the first time back in 2002 (see next blog post...later today). I was
caught off guard, however, when asked about it on national television and
radio. While jugglers, flame-eaters, and magicians are no longer needed to draw
attention to this field, it would likely have made for interesting press
releases and news stories had I remembered to tell the above anecdote.
Bonk, C. J. (July
2009). The world is open: How Web
technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, a
Wiley imprint. (see book homepage for freebies: http://worldisopen.com/)
Bonk, C. J., Hansen, E. J., Grabner, M. M., Lazar, S., & Mirabelli, C.
to "Connect": Synchronous and asynchronous case-based dialogue among
preservice teachers. In C. J. Bonk, & K. S. King (Eds.), Electronic collaborators: Learner-centered
technologies for literacy, apprenticeship, and discourse (pp. 289-314). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Bonk, C. J., &
Khoo, E. (2014). Adding some TEC-VARIETY:
100+ activities for motivating and retaining learners online.
OpenWorldBooks.com and Amazon CreateSpace. Retrieved (FREE) from http://tec-variety.com/
Bonk, C. J., & King, K. S. (Eds.). (1998). Electronic
collaborators: Learner-centered technologies for literacy, apprenticeship, and
discourse. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Bonk, C. J., & Sugar, W. A. (1998). Student role play in the World Forum: Analyses of an
Arctic learning apprenticeship. Interactive
Learning Environments, 6(1-2),
Labels: 911, Bill Clinton, collaborative technology, CSCL, CSCW, dot-com era, online learning, Queen