OTL301 – Post 6 – Summary

This post contains a video in which I reflect on my learning journey through this course. I reflect on the main learning I got. Finally, I mentioned some of the goals I set for my self to improve my practice of teaching online and to design online courses that engage students in the process of critical inquiry

OTL301 – Post 5

After coding all my posts, I think that the majority when over the four stages of the critical process of inquiry. Certainly, some of them are clearly activities that were “triggered” and required at least some level of “exploration”. The ones that required higher level of cognitive presence forced and motivated me to “integrate”  several ideas to create meaning. These ones were also the ones that required a “resolution” because it was not easy to determine the “right” solution or direction. I have to explore, integrate ideas and make a judgment call to solve a dilemma, tension or problem presented by the triggering event.

Some of the dilemmas I had to solve where about how to provide feedback in online learning; how to align some of the learning outcomes I had and the learning activities to achieve those objectives; and how to bring social and cognitive presence in a continuous entry online course where students start, work and finish at different times their material. Therefore, it took time to explore and integrate the content, ideas, and experiences (i.e. in the case of the faculty I interviewed) to come up with a resolution to the presented dilemma.

In a future course, I will keep an eye not only to the learning activity at hand but also to the process of inquiry that I am in, to understand what is expected from me within that particular process. I may ask myself, is this activity requiring from me to explore, integrate, and have a resolution to an educational dilemma to generate higher-level learning outcome?

One of my take outs of this learning experience is that for the course that I am developing right now, I have to review the learning activities to see if they are encouraging and directing students to go over the entire process of inquiry. For instance, one activity is about reviewing the elements in an organizational design from a book chapter. Then, they have to go to a particular organization where they usually acquire some products or services (Subway, Walmart) and explore if each of these elements. This activity requires integration of several concepts that are related and it also requires to come up with a resolution in which they have to solve a series of dilemmas, and justify their answers. The face the dilemma if the organization has a higher versus a lower level of “written rules” for employees, another decision is to assess the level of horizontal versus vertical communication and coordination between departments and workers, and the level of centralization versus decentralization of decision making.

The key of these activities is to have not only a report that will be assessed by the instructor but also to ask students to share some of their “explorations”, “integration” of concepts and “resolutions” in a blog like WordPress. In this way, students can learn from each other, feel part of a community of inquiry and receive peer-feedback, in addition to my own feedback.


OTL301 – Post 4 – Interview

My questions:

I interviewed an online faculty member who teaches a variety of courses in Leadership and Organizations. I asked him: what have you used to create social and cognitive engagement and what problems have you faced with it?

A summary of the interview:

As in our reading of chapter 3, he suggested to use self-introductions and post them on a blog. He said that in a cohort every student can read the introductions made by other learners, but in continuous entry modality, it is needed a bit of adaptation. He suggested to ask students to make either a text or video self-introduction and post it on a blog. Before doing so, he asks students to read (or watch) another student’s introduction and incorporate anything in his/her own introduction. At least, he says, this can create some connection that you are not alone in this course. He also makes his own intro video as an instructor. He also suggests to reply back to each student’s introductions in a way that creates the sensation of two-way communication.

He also commented on a variation of the traditional closed blogs in online cohorts, where students are asked to read a chapter on leadership and then make a post in a blog and also to comment on other students’ blogs. He said that you can use a blog on the web that covers a particular topic, where people around the globe will read an article on leadership made by an expert in the field, and some of the readers may post a comment and other material. For instance, he suggested a website called lead change group, and specifically, the blog section (see: http://leadchangegroup.com/blog/ ). One article in particular is dedicated to the two-way street of leadership and respect(see:http://leadchangegroup.com/the-two-way-street-of-leadership-and-respect/ ). At the end of this article, there are many comments made by other members of this group and readers. One of these posts suggest another blog (see: https://medium.com/this-happened-to-me/the-difference-about-differences-3a1c1665c9e6#.kc4zqh2l5 ) for a more personal reflection.

The interesting this, my interviewee said, is that you can ask online students to read and comment, and be part of a wider community of inquiry to create cognitive and social presence. He also creates a Facebook page with the name of the course (e.g. Leadership & Change) where students are asked to have a FB page with their name (or pseudonym) followed by the name of the course (e.g. Sal_Leadership & Change). Then, students can post a video or written self-intro, can comment on the assignments, or questions about the material.

Finally, he pointed out at the importance of the instructor as directing and facilitating the learning process by maintaining a communication with the individual student who is working at his/her own pace. He suggested to have a list of students and every 2 or 3 weeks send them an email to check on them, in addition to the normal communication, or feedback after, about assignments. Some of the assignments have to use videos that the student can watch and then comment on a blog or write an assignment.

He concluded the interview with some of the challenges he had faced in continuous entry online courses: 1) the challenges as an instructor to being proactive in initiating the dialogue with students and following up with them , 2) some students receive feedback too late from their post because they move on to another assignment, , and 3) students getting lost in the process and abandoning the course.

My learning:

After this interview, I am considering the use of an academic Facebook page, where students can join as they enter into the class. In addition, I search for other blogs on leadership that presents an expert, or member, who makes an article for people to read and then comment on it. In this regard, I search myself for an article on managing conflict and there is a conversation between the bloggers and the expert who wrote the article on conflict.

Two important key aspects for me to pay attention to are: 1) having the appropriate “open website” to ask students to read and post comments, and/or the Facebook page, and 2) the maintenance of a system to follow up students that are at different stages in the course. I will use an excel sheet to review every Friday, to follow up with students and mark on my excel my contact with each student every 2 or 3 weeks, in addition to the continuous follow up about answering questions to students or providing feedback to assignments.


OTL301 – Post 3

Learning outcomes:

  1. Contrast different strategic processes to attain organizational goals and anticipate their impact on organizational design
  2. Compare the strengths and weaknesses of various organizational structural forms

Learning activity:

  • Watch a video of an interview with Steve Jobs (from minute 58:40 to 1:03:03)(see video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLEzEL35Iyc )


  • Reflect and answer the next questions:
    1. Of the strategies discussed in Module 2: what type of strategy is Apple pursuing (low-cost or differentiation)? Explain
    2. Of the organizational designs and structures discussed in Module 3 (Mechanistic versus Organic), which type is Steve Jobs describing in this interview. Explain
    3. What is the role of the CEO (Steve Jobs) in this type of organizational design and structure?
  • Make a post with your answers and comment on somebody’s post

Four stages in designs:

  1. The learning outcome are described as verbs, including the  content,  in the context of organizations
  2. The learning activity is aligned with the learning outcomes and creates a learning environment in which students have to engage in sharing their ideas with others and read others’ posts.
  3. The assessment of this activity will be done with a rubric that evaluates: 1) the theoretical content of modules 2 (type of strategies & 3 type of design); the applicability of these theoretical content to a concrete organization described by its founder and CEO; and finally, the social interactions with others through comments on posts will also be assessed.
  4. These rubric will translate into a grading scheme

OTL301 – Post 2

  1. How has your view of the effective practice changed now that you have read more about teaching presence?
    • Rather than changed, I would say that it took on a bigger perspective on all the design that is behind a course to create not only appropriate cognitive presence but also social presence. Even if the design requires a lot of detail, there is still a lot to do to facilitate the process to the community of learners through the interactions we have with them and the feedback we provide them.
  2. In what ways did the effective practice that you identified show the characteristics of teaching presence?
    • I think that the effective practice I discussed on post 1 is relevant and certainly involves some of the principles for effective creation of a community of inquiry.
    • I think the activity is well design to promote open communication and critical reflection, but requires the facilitation process of promoting with the students the discussion and this has to be follow up by the instructors comments in a timely manner to keep the interest of the students.
    • The feedback is also part of the facilitation process in this activity because it will be  key aspect on directing students at achieving the proposed learning outcomes.
  3. How could the idea of teaching presence have made the experience even more effective than it was?
    • It really clarified the why? we do the things we have to do. The what to do? is already there with the design of the activities, but the ideas of the teaching presence  offers the context to understand not only how we have to design these courses but also how we have to facilitate and direct the process once we are involved as online instructors.
    • It also clarifies the roles of the designers, the instructors and the learners.

Finally, I read some of the posts of other colleagues and I found some similarities in regards to acknowledging these roles. One colleague also commented that her activity is still relevant but she gain some clarification or reinforcement of what she is doing is in the right direction.

OTL301 – Post 1

I am Salvador Barragan, I have taught in Canada for 12 years f2f. Currently, I am finishing my first online class that was designed by somebody else.

In this online class I am teaching there are many learning activities , accompanied by a learning activity composed of a few steps in the next order:

  1. Activity (e.g. reading a chapter book, analyzing a case, self-reflection on leadership style, etc)
  2. Analysis of the activity
  3. Posting – the key learning aspects on a discussion forum
  4. Open Communication – commenting on others’ posts.


This effective learning practice reminds me of what we have been doing in OTL 101, 201, and 301. This compares to the dialogue we have in a f2f class and the social presence we experience in that community of inquiry. This makes me feel that we are not isolated but socially engage to develop critical thinking as a group. I have enjoyed this experience because I can see the way in which students engage and share interesting comments and reflections. At the same time, I have some access to know a bit of how these students think and relate with their real life examples to the material discuss in class. This way of operating differs from f2f in the sense of the asynchronous time and the body language that is not present. In addition, the open learning modality offers opportunities for everybody to share regardless of their personalities and self-confidence in a f2f environment.

The key ingredients are the quality of the learning “activity”, the motivation and abilities of the students in doing the “analysis” involved in that activity, the “posting” of the key learning take outs, and the involvement of students in engaging in “open communication” with the posts of other students.

What I may change would be to replace those learning activities that do not promote higher-level outcomes and those that students did not engage as much.

OTL201 – Post 6 – Learning Activity 5

Learning Activity 5 – Organizational Culture & Design


ORGB 3811 – Organization Theory & Design

Brief description of the activity:

In this activity you have to watch a youtube video of the company Zappos, a leader online shoe retailer (see link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYNssS_DCPo )

Reflect on and answer the next questions:

  1. Based on Module 7 – Organizational Culture, which of the type(s) of organizational cultural models (bureaucratic, mission, clan, & adaptive)best describe the culture at Zappos?
  2. In what ways, the values of the founder have had an impact the organizational culture of Zappos?
  3. How is the organizational culture at Zappos shaping the organizational design of the company? (formalization, centralization, professionalism, hierarchy, mechanistic versus organic)

Explanation of this teaching practice:

The purpose of this activity is to use a media to create a more human connection between the students and a real company, its founder, and employees. In addition, students can relate the theoretical concepts on the content of Module 7 to a real life organization. Student need to understand the material, watch the movie and engage in a higher-level analysis by reflecting on and answering some questions.

My learning experience:

I think that this activity will be more useful than I thought because it will bring the benefits of media in addition to text-based knowledge.

OTL201 – Post 6 – Learning Activity 4

Learning Activity 4 – How to Analyze Cases


BUSN 6041 – Leadership & Organizational Development

Brief description of the activity:

This activity consists of watching the instructor’s video on how to analyze cases (see link to youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKVe9eShOnk&t=4s)

After watching the video, you have to solve the next hypothetical case. You have a challenge in the short term. You are leaving your parents’ home to come to TRU to study the MBA program. You have to solve the issue of housing in the context of your current financial situation. Use the process of case analysis (describing each step discussed in the video) to present your case. Remember to identify the problem, and to propose three alternatives of solution. What elements should you consider in your decision criteria (3 to 4 items) to assess each alternative? The most important part is to have a plan of action with detailed steps, time frame, evaluation of your plan, and possible contingencies.

Good luck!!

Explanation of this teaching practice:

The purpose of this activity is to show the steps of analyzing a case through a video to create a social presence and a more human connection between the teacher, the student and the content (i.e. learning activity). The second part of the activity is to put into practice those steps by presenting the students with a challenge of solving the housing while coming to study the MBA program at TRU.

My learning experience:

Despite that I read the “principles” of instructor-generated muti-media, my first attempt at creating a video and an activity to create social presence and engagement, I still need to re-work this video and the activity. However, I am excited to do so because it will be applicable to more than on-line and f2f course

OTL201 – Post 5

As I have mentioned before in a couple of posts, I started course OTL101 & continued with course OTL201 considering the question: how to engage students in online education?

So far, I have discovered that “social presence” is not only a priority for me but also a key element in facilitating high-level learning outcomes through specific aligned learning activities. Therefore, it is paramount to design online courses, and teach already designed courses, with that goal in mind. Two concepts are relevant for me. First, the key strategies to increase the level of social presence. And, second, the incorporation of instructor-generated multi-media.

As mentioned on my post 3, I have some learning activities that can potentially increase the social presence (e.g. self-introductions, & teamwork activity). I have to set two goals. One is about providing feedback in terms of their self-introductions, in which I have to respond personally to each of them to set the tone of the social interaction. This has to happen in the second week of the course. I can also ask students to choose a couple of students’ bio and make a comment to create interpersonal communication. The other goal is about providing feedback to teams who participate in the “Everest” simulator to create a sense of belonging to a specific team and point out to the intra-team interactions during the simulation. This has to happened on the week after the simulation is done.

I have some questions after reading about multi-media as a way to potentially “increasing” the engagement or at least, increasing students’ perception of a “more personal” course material. How can I start my first attempts to creating instructor’s videos to create learning and engagement? So far, I already started by being pushed to do so through this course. I thought it would be more difficult but by using a very rudimentary video recording with my iphone, I have my first video. Of course, I will have to adopt better software for video production in which I can have power point with my face inserted, while having some text appearing as I talk in a way that doesn’t distract students with an out of he blue “gorilla”. I also want to use a software that will allow me to circle or underline text or images in my power point as I speak to make it more dynamic and to center the students attention.

In summary, once I have the software to do better multi-media, I will use the principles suggested in this lesson.