Archives for the month of: September, 2013

When I first came to the department I currently work in, the college was in the middle of a Learning Management System (LMS) transition. We were making the big move from Web CT to Angel. At the time I had very little experience with any type of LMS. I had played around with Moodle a few years prior when I taught middle school and then tinkered around with Web CT as an hourly instructor at the college but really had no idea what the potential could be for online learning within the context of an LMS. It wasn’t until I started designing online courses that I really got a taste for it. Back then (we are talking roughly 5 years ago) we would develop courses to virtually mimic what you would experience in the classroom. Because most post secondary classrooms sadly still rely on lectures to deliver information, our courses took on the same characteristic. Each course provided pretty much all the information that a student would need to complete the outcomes. The result was very text heavy courses with occasional opportunities for interaction within the discussion board. We would hire writers and subject matter experts (SME) and they would submit content. A formatter would format the information in a word document, add graphics, tables and videos where appropriate. Our media specialists would transfer the word documents to HTML (I know, this seems redundant), create learning objects to enhance the material and create some interactivity and the Instructional designers would design the course using the well known ADDIE model while closely following eCampus Alberta standards. These courses followed all the rules.  Aesthetically, the courses were beautiful!

However, we started to question the true quality and significance of the learning experience for the students (Fink, 2003). We also started to question our processes. If we were encouraging face-to-face instructors to step outside the box and create more learner centered/active learning opportunities in the classroom, why weren’t we doing the same thing online? How was delivering a text heavy course (even if it did have occasional discussion boards and learning objects spread throughout) different from an instructor lecturing the duration of every class using nothing but PowerPoint and an occasional question period. Couldn’t we do better?

As we started to explore all the different ways that could promote more student engagement in the online learning environment, we also started to become more frustrated with the limitations of Angel. Sure there was a discussion board (which we used), there was a chat room but it was clunky, as was the wiki. This coupled with the poor mobile functionality in an increasingly mobile dependent society was very discouraging for students, instructors and our development team. Furthermore, everything within the LMS stayed there offering very little opportunity to utilize any of the thousands of great web and social networking applications that our students (and instructors for that matter) were already using in their daily lives to learn and interact with each other. It was starting to feel like life outside the LMS offered way more opportunity for the types of learning interactions we were looking for.

 Then something big happened…

 Find out next week where this story goes…

D. Fink. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. Retrieved from 


I have sat through enough bad PowerPoint presentations to give the title of this post (admittedly a cliché) the validity it deserves. I’m sure we all have. I’m talking about the presentation that includes slide after slide of bulleted points or redundant text that is all too often read word-for-word by the presenter or regurgitated directly from the textbook. I have also sat through some amazing presentations where the presenter’s unique talent to tell stories or make whatever the topic interesting and relevant through illustrations, key points or other interesting tidbits. Isn’t this what makes Ted Talks so successful? The PowerPoint doesn’t necessarily dish out the information but rather supports it and enhances it in a way that resonates with the audience. This can be a rare but wonderful experience.


Here are a few examples of presentations that I think are done well. Of course both are TED but I encourage anyone who views them to think about what make them good… really think about it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Hans Rosling: Stats that reshape your world-view

Christien Meindertsma: How pig parts make the world turn




Jackie & Isla kyak

Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Jackie Doherty.  I spent my first years as a teacher in the international school system in Taiwan teaching everything from k-12. From there I lived briefly in New York while my husband finished his masters degree and then moved back to my hometown to teach at the college and raise our kids close to family (I’m not too sure what we would do without grandma and grandpa!). This eventually led to a position as an instructional designer (something I previously had never heard of) and then most recently I have taken a position as the curriculum manager in our Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation. I love my job but feel that I still have so much to learn! Luckily I have a wonderful team to help me through the journey!

I have two beautiful children and a very supportive and loving husband. I am currently in my final semester of this MEd program in Educational Technology and have decided to take two courses so that I can complete it in December. It is going to be crazy busy but boy, will it feel good to be done!

I am looking forward to learning from and alongside each of you this semester.