Nearing the Finish Line

For the past three months, I had been posting about reflections regarding my current course in Distance Learning, that of Instructional Media Resources. The term will officially end tonight at midnight and there is relief in knowing that I am very near the finish line.

Truth be told, I had my worries regarding the amount of work that the subject would entail even before term officially opened last May. I once had a colleague who took a similar class on website design and I had seen how complicated his assignments had been. Having little or limited knowledge in working with the different software available now, I had dreaded the subject.

Sure enough, week after week, we had to answer forum questions, submit activities, create eJournal entries, and respond to posts not to mention read through several resources for each module. On top of these requirements, the new school year brought about changes in terms of a modular approach to the subject I teach as part of the K-12 curriculum. This not only meant adjusting to a new load, it also meant paperwork and deadlines.

Saying that I was stressed out would be an understatement. I think the most frustrating part was finding out, at the onset, that the major requirements in class were to be done by group. Being enrolled in an Open University meant that my group mates could be anywhere in the globe and that we won’t be able to set a common time to log on the internet so we could all effectively plan together. I usually map out my week depending on the tasks that I need to work on, both in school and at work. I had dreaded the idea of conducting asynchronous group discussions because it meant the possible disruption of a well-planned personal schedule.

I guess one of the things that I have to learn is to understand that not everyone is wired like me. The one good thing I can say about working in a group though is that of knowing that there are at least five of us who have pending requirements.

In terms of the things that I have learned in the course, I think the one thing that has stuck with me is the way I should design my instructional resources. In the course of my teaching practice, I have come across websites that were developed by teachers specifically for their students. I would also like to make a similar endeavor for my students. The assignment on Multimedia Resource had me seriously considering putting up a website that my students can access offline (as we are discouraged from giving them homework over the internet). Should our policy on internet use change, I hope that I can put up an interactive website for my students which include practice drills and activities that will help stimulate higher order thinking skills.

In the end, I am also hoping that the past three months have also made me a better teacher. I am already applying most of the principles that I have learned in the course when preparing my PowerPoint slides. Now, only time will tell if they are as effective as I hope them to be.



This week in my Instructional Media Resources class, we learned about multimedia resources.  These resources are an amalgamation of print, audio, and visual resources and hence, provide for a more enriching and interactive learning experience (Lamb, n.d.).

Compared to the other two resources we studied (see Albion and Huang below), the Building Treehouses resource by Lamb (n.d.) was what I found most interesting and most helpful.  For one, it gave a list of the different slides that should make up a slideshow as well as the functional areas that slides have.

Aside from these, it also mentioned different software that can be used to create multimedia resources. One of these was Macromedia Flash Player, which comes as no surprise since most websites incorporate clips in them. It also listed Microsoft PowerPoint which I use to create my visual aids in school.

For a moment, it got me confused because Lamb had also mentioned PowerPoint as a good tool when creating projected visuals (Lamb, 2005).  Then of course, I came to realize that the fact that it is called “multimedia” would mean that it has to be projected somehow in order for it be as interactive as the designer would want it to be.

I have used clips, audio files, and hyperlinks in my PowerPoint presentations before.  Hyperlinks make for nonlinear presentations (that is, they allow users to jump from one topic to another).  However, the way I add hyperlinks in my slides still follow a linear outline (that is, it is part of a sequence).

I guess despite the limitation in interactive-ability, I realized that some of my slides are simple multimedia.  After reading Building Treehouses, I had this idea of creating a website for my students that will connect the slides that I have used in my lectures.  Of course, some of them will have to be revised and improved and some others still need to be designed (especially the interactive slides and student involvement area).

My greatest challenge about putting forth the project together will be to find the time to actually organize them into a cohesive stack (I can go crazy with sorting until I have several subfolders that I again will have to sort!) and the actual construction of a website.  Not to mention that the school has a policy of discouraging teachers from giving assignments through the internet.  Still, it will be a good science fair project that I can ask the students to be involved in.  I think, given their tech-savvy, it will also help them learn more about my subject along the way.



Albion, P. (2001). Developing interactive multimedia using a problem-based learning framework. In L. Richardson and J. Lidstone (Eds), Flexible Learning for a Flexible Society, 30-38. Proceedings of ASET-HERDSA 2000 Conference, Toowoomba, Qld. Available at

Huang, C. (2005). Designing high-quality interactive multimedia learning modules. In Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics, 29, 223-233. Available at

Lamb, A. (2005). Designing and developing resources: Projected materials (Chap 9). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms. Available at

Lamb, A. (n.d). Designing and developing resources: multimedia materials (Chap 11). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms, 385-438. Available at

Discriminating Websites

This week for my Instructional Media Resources class, we focused on internet resources and how they can be effectively used in teaching and learning.  I found the Building Treehouses resource (Lamb, n.d.) interesting and useful as it mentioned web sites that I can use in my classes.  Though I usually frequent the Enchanted Learning website, as well as resources for quizzes listed in the document, there were listed resources that I was unfamiliar with, or have heard of but have never really visited before.  I had checked out the interactive website and found the weather activity challenging.  Now if I could just throw it into my Earth Science classes. 🙂

I have to admit, despite the sheer volume of information that I could lay my hands on using the internet (for my lesson plans and activities), there are times when I sometimes feel dissatisfied with the results displayed on the page.  Other times, I feel lost and overwhelmed with the amount of information available that I don’t even know where to begin.  The latter I feel despite my background in research.  Sorting through all that information takes time.

It was a good thing that Glencoe (2006) had listed five basic criteria to evaluate the appropriateness and credibility of websites.  It also helped me make sense of “web speech” and what those tildes (~) and percent signs (%) on URLs mean (that is, they are usually found in web sites authored by individuals).

Apart from being useful to me as a teacher, I think that these resources will also be invaluable to my students especially since they have investigatory projects that they need to review literature for.  The world wide web is like one big library. But as with any old library, we need the skills in discriminating which reference is good and which is not; which source is relevant and which is not.  We need to teach ourselves how to properly use it. Only then can we teach the “net generation” how to responsibly and critically utilize it, just like how we teach them to use printed, audio, and video resources.

Helping our students to evaluate web resources also helps them develop critical thinking skills.  And isn’t that what we all want our students to develop?


Glencoe. (2006). Evaluating web sites – five basic criteria. Available at

Lamb, A. (n.d). Selecting & integrating resources: Teaching and learning with internet (Chap 4). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms, 119-158. Available at

Sound Bytes: Not Just for Teaching English and Music

This week, it took me a while to read the module on audio resources.  We have just finished working on a major homework (submitted on June 12th) and I found myself busy preparing decorations for my classroom, in time for the opening of classes on the 18th.  Coming in from the summer holidays, the full days spent at school left me tired when I got home.  I was chiding myself for my excuses but for my part, I was trying to squeeze in reading the required resources while I was in school, setting up my classroom and finishing my lesson plans.

Anyway, the module for this week was about audio files.  I have forgotten how audio can be effectively utilized in the classroom.  As a kid, we had Oral Language books where sentences had rising and falling lines.  I remember getting excited whenever my Language teacher would enter the classroom with a cassette player in tow.  That was a signal that for the next period, we would be moving our heads up and down to follow the intonations indicated in our workbooks while we repeated after the person in the audio cassette speaking.

As I grew up, audio use in the classroom was mostly limited to English and Music.  In college, when I enrolled in a class on Radio Broadcasting, our professor used audio files to demonstrate sibilance.  As a teacher, some colleagues (who all taught English) made use of audio files in the classroom.

I guess I was just so used to using video clips in the classroom when teaching Science that I have come to overlook the usefulness of pure audio in lectures, thinking that they are more of an “English thing” than others (remember how I admired Tony Stark’s holograms?).  Reading about digital media (JISC Digital Media, 2013) and audio cassette tapes (Smaldino, Russell, Heinich, and Molenda, 2004), as well as how audio resources can be used in the classroom (Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA), 2015) has made me rethink the media.

It may be a challenge to use audio in my Science lectures but I have thought of a few ways to incorporate them in my classroom activities this year when we try to simulate earthquakes in the classroom. I hope that by using the sound of rumbling earth will help my students perform in the drills better.  Much like the thundering music in a film’s action sequence, I hope that using audio in my classes will also motivate them better and make the class encounters more interesting this year!


Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA). (2015). Using audio (Parts A, B, & C). Available at

JISC Digital Media. (2013). Using audio in teaching and learning. Available at

Smaldino, S. E., Russell, J.D., Heinich, R., and Molenda, M. (2004). Audio (Chap 11). In Instructional technology and media for learning (8th ed), 264-280. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Available at

Creating Visuals: A Work In Progress

Visuals are materials that usually contain words and pictures that are used to support or enhance instruction.  Visuals are of two types: non-projected or projected.  The difference is that projected visuals are those that are displayed using a screen while non-projected visuals include charts, posters, and models that may displayed on walls.  Regardless of whether they are projected or not, visuals should be designed carefully.

Just like print materials,  it is important to know what message you want to convey, to consider the setting and the available resources in preparing them, and to be clear with the purpose of using them (Lamb,  2005).  Of course, you must know your audience’s experiential and intellectual knowledge (Smaldino, et. al., 2004).

I remember this one scene in The Big Bang Theory where the characters played Pictionary.  Sheldon, one of the lead characters who played a physicist in the show, kept on drawing complicated stick figures to depict such words like a chocolate chip cookie and nail polish.  Bottom line? It is all about keeping things simple.

Selecting visuals to put in presentations is just like choosing your words when writing a composition.  No matter how wonderful the words may sound, if your readers do not understand them, then you will not be able to communicate your message effectively.  The same is true when designing visuals.  It is true that a picture paints a thousand words and when we choose visuals haphazardly, students may interpret them the wrong way.  This is why, aside from taking caution and careful planning in designing visual aids, we should also teach our students how to look at images and “read” them.

Design principles in creating visuals focus on simplicity, unity, emphasis, and balance (Smaldino, Russell, Heinich, and Molenda, 2004).  The choice of font type, size, and color as well as use of contrast is important.    Reading through the resources that outlined the importance of alignment, and spaces between letters and lines of text, I felt that I was on the right track, at least where non-projected visuals are concerned.  Whenever I design my bulletin boards and my classrooms, I always try to achieve a unified look.  Using themes are a great help in doing this.

We have LCD projectors and screens in the classrooms and I usually conduct my lessons using PowerPoint presentations.  I do leave plenty of white space in my slides but I still have to make them simpler.  Lamb, in his book Building Treehouses for Learning: Technology in Today’s Classrooms (2005), again emphasized on keeping things simple by using pictures instead of words as a visual guide during lectures.  I find this reminder challenging because I need words as cues while I go around the classroom as I deliver instruction.  The only time that I make use of just pictures in my slides is when I give morning reflections to students which I read off from a piece of paper. I guess you could say that when it comes to projected visuals, I am still a work in progress.



Lamb, A. (2005). Designing and developing resources: Projected materials (Chap 9). In Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms. Available at

Smaldino, S. E., Russell, J.D., Heinich, R., and Molenda, M. (2004). Visual principles (Chap 4). In Instructional technology and media for learning (8th ed), 79-105. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Available at

All About Print

This week, we learned about printed materials in my online class.  Two of the resources we had for the class talked about designing and printing your very own materials using a computer desktop or laptop, and a good quality printer (Matiru,  1995 and Lamb, n.d.).  Imagine the possibilities: I could write and publish a book all by myself!

We have come a long way from when the first metal press was invented by Gutenberg in Renaissance Europe the 1400s.  The technology did not only “change the world of printing” (Bellis, n.d.) by making the mass-production of books possible, it also paved the way for the development of the arts and sciences (Bellis, n.d.) by making information more accessible.

Of course, the technology has undergone several major changes since but from then on, books have become synonymous to education.  Aside from books, there are other print media that are used in the classroom that also serve to inform and instruct students.

Despite the advent of the internet and the availability to e-books and other digital media, I think that print media are here to stay.  Personally, I prefer old-fashioned-ink-and-paper books to e-Books. I guess I just like to feel the paper when I am reading.  I find the scent of a newly-bought book relaxing and exciting at the same time.  The rustling sound of a page being turned is so much more delightful than the soft tapping of keypads when you scroll down a page in an e-Book.  Besides, the light from the computer monitor hurts my eyes.

By the way, calling something as non-print media (like audiovisuals, e-Books and e-Journals) is actually a misnomer since it contains printed materials (Abolade, 1998).  This is especially true since pictures are actually printed anyway.

Anyway, whether we call technologies we use in the classroom as print or non-print, I think the most important thing to consider when selecting, designing, and using them is to really know your target audience.  From there, it will be easier to design and determine content for any material.  Going back to what I said earlier, I could very well print an entire book via desktop publishing for my students.  But if I don’t know the general profile of my students, it will all be for nothing.


Abolade, A. O. (1998). General techniques for evaluation of learning and instructional materials. Retrieved from

Bellis, M. (n.d.). Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Press. Retrieved from

Lamb, A. (n.d.). Designing & developing resources: Print materials (Chap 7). Building treehouses for learning: Technology in today’s classrooms, 243-272. Retrieved from

Matiru, B. (1995). Printed Media. Frankfurt am Main: IKO. Retrieved from

Tony Stark and his Computers

I have been meaning to write about my fascination for the film industry’s depiction of Tony Stark (aka Ironman) and his computers. Watching TV serials like NCIS and CSI where characters often use advanced computers to analyze data, I have found myself fascinated and wondering if there are actually computers that do that. When the first Avengers movie came, I was again fascinated by the glass interfaces used by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. I was equally impressed about how Stark’s AI butler, J.A.R.V.I.S, was able to scan models and project them as 3D images where (and this is the most fascinating of all) a person can actually walk through to inspect.

What’s my point? You might ask.

Well, I have to admit, I actually started wishing for that kind of advanced technology when I was teaching Biology last year.  Teaching cell structures to my students had proved challenging because my girls thought the images of cells were just revolting.  When it came time to teach them about cellular respiration, I found that video clips of how a 6-carbon sugar is converted into energy were not enough.  I had to retell the story in such a way that the components “came alive” for them.  I had thought then, how neat would it be if I could project a 3D image in the middle of the classroom and have the girls manipulate it just to see what the effects will be?

This week in my Instructional Media Resources class, we were introduced to the TPACK Model designed by Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler (2006).

The TPACK Model by Mishra and Koehler Image source:

The TPACK Model by Mishra and Koehler
Image source:

TPACK (or sometimes TPCK) stands for “Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge” which is an important framework when it comes to using technology as a tool to enrich knowledge transfer in classroom encounters.

In the midst of reading the resources for the topic, I found myself researching about the likelihood that Tony Stark’s computers actually exist in real life.  There have been amazing developments in technology akin to that of the films like those by Elon Musk (Tolentino, 2013) and Hewlett-Packard (Bright, 2014).  I think that in the very near future, computers like those in Tony Stark’s universe will indeed be available to us.  Budget-constraints notwithstanding, the question that remains to be answered would be how they will impact education and how teachers will be able to use them effectively in the classroom.


Bright, P. (2014, October 30). Gears and Gadgets. Retrieved from ARS Technica:

Koehler, M. J. (n.d.). TPACK explained. Retrieved from

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9620.2006.00684.x.

Tolentino, M. (2013). Elon Musk to Unveil Holographic Technology Akin to Tony Stark’s. Retrieved from Silicon Angle: ,