Month: February 2014

Integration of Technology in Today’s Classrooms

Today’s classrooms look quite different than they did a few decades ago. The days of green chalkboards with yellow and colored chalk, overhead projectors, and paper-based textbooks that weighed a ton have given way to whiteboards with dry erase markers, smart boards, and digital books. The integration of technology into the classroom has great potential to help teachers transform their classrooms into better learning environments for their students. However, technology alone cannot improve student learning. Teachers are a critical part in the success of using technology to enhance instruction and facilitate learning in the classroom — good teaching comes first, then technology (Lowther & Ross, 2012, p. 208).


Many strides have been made over the past three decades to help integrate technology into pre-, primary, and secondary school classrooms (Lowther & Ross, 2012). However, a gap still exists between what is currently being done in the classroom and what needs to be done to help prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in life after high school in the 21st Century (Lowther & Ross, 2012). Closing this gap will require a new educational framework that integrates student mastery of core subjects and 21st Century skills (examples: higher order thinking and learning skills, information and communication technology literacy, and life skills) into the curriculum (Lowther & Ross, 2012). The following are weblinks that provide more information on 21st Century learning / education and technology integration at the classroom level:

Next week, the conversation will shift towards how the integration of technology in classrooms has made today’s learning environments more accessible to students who are blind or visually impaired (B/VI). Smart boards, web-based course management systems, and digital books have been very effective in empowering students with B/VI to take ownership of their learning, advocate for their educational needs, and be active participants in their classes.

Lowther, D. L., & Ross, S. M. (2012). Instructional designers and P-12 technology integration.  In R. A. Reiser & J. V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.) (208-214). Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.


Designing Effective Cross-Cultural Instruction

by Rebecca Sailor

The Rise of Cross-Cultural Communication

According to Monica Tracey and Gary Morrison, the need for developing effective cross-cultural training in the workplace is growing rapidly (Riser and Dempsey 184).  Innovative tools such as email, internet, and Skype allow us to expand our business borders and work both nationally and internationally, and as our communities become more diverse, we regularly employ multiple-language speakers.

The need for effective instructional design is increased when the content of the training relates to worker safety, institutional compliance, public health, etc.  If workers cannot access, utilize, and employ the information provided in such trainings, the consequences can be devastating to all involved.

Factors to Consider

Tracey and Morrison emphasize that two factors should be considered when designing cross-cultural instruction:  societal cultural factors and learner cultural factors.

Societal cultural factors may include:

  • generational and social heritage and/or traditions
  • the ideas, values, and rules for learning;
  • the way problems are solved;
  • the interpretation of patterns, colors, and symbols;
  • and the comprehension of ideas and behaviors (Riser and Dempsey 182)

Learner cultural factors may include:

  • Learner/instructor role expectations
  • Concept of time and use of authentic activities
  • Learners communication styles
  • Learners approach to interpersonal relationships
  • Environment to which a learner transfers the learning (Riser and Dempsey 182)

Instructional designers should first research and consider each aspect of societal- and learner-cultural factors when designing training materials.

Tips for Effective Design

Instructional designers may use a variety of tools to deliver instruction; however, Richard Johnson-Sheehan, author of Technical Communication Today, suggests that those desiring to communicate well internationally and/or cross-culturally should spend plenty of time researching the target culture.  Different expectations in content, organization, style, and design can greatly affect the usability of materials.  Here are some questions that instructional designers might ask.

  • Content:  What types of information are acceptable?  Must an instructor establish his/her reputation in order to establish trust before delivering training?  Are persuasive techniques favored or disdained?  Is the trainee allowed to bargain with content, or is s/he expected to accept it compliantly?
  • Organization:    What are the target culture’s expectations for document and presentation structure?  Does this culture value “getting to the point,” or must contextual or interpersonal bonds be built first? Is repetition favored or disdained?
  • Style:  Does the target culture value plain or ornate language?  What levels of formality are expected?  Do trainees expect to collaborate in training sessions?
  • Design:  How do readers in the target culture visually scan a page or screen (Left to right?  Right to left?)  Does the target culture have strong associations with specific colors, symbols, etc?  Will your visuals and graphics translate to the target culture?  (Johnson Sheehan 28-37)

The Importance of Good Cross-cultural Design

It’s important that instructional designers work to meet the needs of all learners in order to make sure that both employers and employees are safe, that human performance is maximized, and that business goals are met. 

More Resources That Could Help:

  • SAGE Publications, including journals such as Cross-Cultural and Intercultural Communication, Global Media and Communication, and Journal of Business and Technical Communication.
  • Intercultural Communication Institute.

Works Cited

Johnson-Sheehan, Richard.  Technical Communication Today.  4th Ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012.

Reiser, Robert, and John Dempsey.  Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology.  3rd Edition.  Boston:  Pearson, 2012.


Instructional Design in Today’s Business and Industry by Selani Flores

As business globalization increases so does the demand for employee training and instructional design. In 2007, the training industry in the United States nearly doubled in revenue from 1999, bringing in over $134 billion dollars (Paradise, 2008). There has been a shift in emphasis from a knowledge and performance-driven industry to present day where employers strive to delve deeper into understanding and analyzing human performance.

Tracey and Morrison (2011) outline three broad categories of roles for instructional designers who work in the corporate America arena.

  1. There is the sole designer who might work solely and permanently for a smaller company.
  2. There is the team member who is typically working with other lead members for an organization. As globalization increases it is more practical and efficient to belong to a virtual team rather than working together at the same physical site.
  3. The third category of instructional designer is the external consultant. Often an external consultant is hired to conduct a needs assessment in an effort to troubleshoot issues and solutions.

For an instructional designer to be effective their client must identify a subject-matter expert (SME) who can commit to assisting the designer with the necessary information needed for instructional materials, content or services (Morrison, 1988). Unfortunately as well-intended as all players are (client, instructional designer or SME) there are inevitably constraints that limit effective outcomes. Tracey and Morrison (2011) give examples of contextual constraints such as lack of time or resources, lack of designer’s locus of control for decision-making, and client perceived necessity to approve certain activities. Another caution they share is the risk of having the instructional designer taking on the role of the project manager. The more intimate the designer becomes with the project the more their responsibility will increase. This can lead to a dilemma of having to choose between completing the instructional design or the project management tasks. Either way, one will suffer.

As you think about how informational design will complement and enhance your human performance, consider the following:

  1. Identify your SME so that they can work collaboratively with your instructional designer
  2. Designate a project manager to oversee the instructional design project to ensure these roles and responsibilities do not overlap
  3. When thinking about the bottom line and considering who will get the job done better, faster and cheaper, consider the technical expertise of your designer. Look for someone who:
  • Can deliver rapid, quality prototyping
  • Is well-versed in a technology-based training delivery
  • Has experience with advanced evaluation techniques
  • Has research and scholarship in the area of instructional design 

Thank you for your time and interest and please look for my next blog where I talk about The ADDIE model (an instructional systems design model)



Tracey, M. W. & Morrison, G. R. (2011). Instructional design in business and industry. In R.A. Reiser & J.V. Dempsey, Eds. Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Integrating Technologies in Teaching Medicine by Eric L. Osborn

Because of the risks often involved within the medical profession, medical education and training must provide experiences that bring confidence and proficiency in carrying out necessary procedures.  Although numerous technologies are currently involved in medical education and training, great strides are being made to further improve the education and training within the medical field.

Technology can greatly aide performance and instruction within the medical field, where the concept of “learning by doing” carries too much risk.  While problem-based learning offers a good beginning for medical education, the nature of the positions these students will hold demands that technologies be developed, improved and utilized.  Technologies currently being improved in the field will bring detailed change in medical education and training because of the sophistication of the technologies.  Existing technologies being improved include: Web-based teaching, and real-time automated tools, including virtual reality and high-fidelity simulation programs.  Using these technologies will enable students to learn by seeing detailed demonstrations and participating in virtual reality simulations, so that when they actually “do” the procedure on a patient, they have a higher level of proficiency, thus lowering the risks.  This approach becomes particularly important with rare procedures, where these procedures can be completed over again and again in a virtual reality, despite the unavailability to perform the “real” procedure.  (Vozenilek et al., 2004)

As simulations and virtual reality technology improve, medical students, residents, and other trainees will be able to complete very realistic procedures over and over again, possibly gaining great proficiency, before ever attempting the procedure on a real patient.  Improving these processes should improve medical training and bring better results on the job.  While great strides have been made in medical technologies and medical training technologies, there is a need for continual improvement, especially in virtual reality.  Much of the current virtual reality currently in use utilizes computerize models, where even microscopic views are available.  In addition, students can perform a full surgery using tools connected to a virtual reality program.

The following video provides a good example of how virtual reality can aid in medical training:

The use of virtual reality in the medical field goes beyond education and training.  Virtual reality can also be used to treat phobias and numerous mental health issues, including bulimia (Gian, et al., 2013) and post-traumatic stress disorder, which bring a different side to this medical technology.  It can be used for physicians to practice a difficult surgery beforehand or help the process with image-guided surgery (Szekely and Satava, 1999).  Neurosurgeons especially benefit from virtual reality training and practice, where little room for error exists (Chan et al., 2013).  Virtual reality can also aide in remote diagnosis for patients in remote areas or to help with specialty areas (Szekely and Satava, 1999).  The more realistic the various aspects of virtual reality become, the better the training experiences.  For example, the way tools behave in a virtual reality situation should be as close as possible to how they would behave in a real procedure.

Current simulation programs can imitate real-life situations quite accurately.  Clinical problem-solving can also be used when using simulations, with computerized mannequins that can imitate numerous emergency situations.  Simulations can also include aspects of virtual reality.  The following video gives a helpful overview of simulation technologies currently in use:

Simulation-based medical education with deliberate practice has been found to bring better training results when compared to traditional clinical practices (McGaghie, et al., 2011, Singer, et al., 2012, Cook, et al., 2011).  For example, one study found that first-year medical students trained with simulations performed significantly better than third-year medical students trained without simulations on clinical care competency (Singer, et al., 2012).  Another study found that simulation-based medical education show significant improvements in knowledge, skills, and behaviors, while showing moderate improvements in patient-related outcomes (Cook, et al., 2011).  Thus, the use of technology in medical education appears to bring a better overall situation in the medical field.  As technologies for medical simulations improve, these positive affects may increase.

The technologies being used are quite impressive in their own right; however, possible advances in this field are many and can greatly improve education and training abilities.  As an instructor or a student in the medical field, being open to using new technologies in the classroom or in clinical experiences will likely bring better outcomes for student abilities.  


Chan, S, Conti, F, Salisbury, K, Blevins, N (2013). Virtual reality simulation in neurosurgery: Technologies and evolution. Neurosurgery: 72 (p A154-A164).

Cook, DA, et al. (2011). Technology-enhanced simulation for health professionals education: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association: 306(9).

Gian, LC, et. al (2013). Virtual reality for enhancing the cognitive behavioral treatment of obesity with binge eating disorder: Randomized controlled study with one-year follow-up. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 15(6): e113.

McGaghie, WC, Issenberg, SB, Cohen, ER, Barsuk, JH, Wayne, DB (2011). Does simulation-based medical education with deliberate practice yield better results than traditional clinical education? A meta-analytic comparative review of the evidence. Academic Medicine: 86(6): 706-711.

Singer, BD, Corbridge, TC, Schroedl, CJ, Wilcox, JE, Cohen, ER, McGaghie, WC, Wayne, DB (2012). First-year residents outperform third-year residents after simulation-based education in critical care medicine. Simulation in Healthcare: The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare: 8(2): 67-71.

Szekely, G and Satava, RM (1999). Virtual reality in medicine. British Medical Journal. 319 (7220): 1305.
Vozenilek, J, Huff, JS, Reznek, M, Gordon, JA (2004). See one, do one, teach one: Advanced technology in medical education. ACAD Emergency Medicine. 11 (11).

Integrating Technology into the Classroom by Diana Herrell

Currently, it is more important for classrooms to use technology to help expand a students’ learning than ever before. With the growth of the internet and invention of technology to make the internet more accessible and mobile, learning using technology and the internet has begun to increase. It is the instructor’s responsibility to select appropriate technology for the purpose of the class. Technology needs to be able to expand a student’s learning without detracting from it.

In my personal experience, technology can be both a blessing and a curse. Technology can be a blessing in the sense that resources and information not normally quickly accessed can be. However, the access of information, especially on the internet can come at the cost of plagiarism. Some instructors use digital-drop boxes and tools like to make sure that students do not plagiarize. Technology can also be a disaster if the instructor or student does not know how to properly use it. Instructors as well as students need to be advised and given instructions on how to use certain technologies. Properly integrating technologies into a classroom is also needed.

In chapter 21 of the textbook, Trends and Issues In Instructional Design and Technology, the ASSURE model is one such integration model of technology that is suggested. This model follows six steps that start with analyzing learners. Analyzing learners simply means identifying the students and their characteristics, learning styles, knowledge, special skills, and more. The next step is to understand and state the objectives of the class as well as the standards for technology that will be used. The third step is selecting the technology, media, and other materials. This step is based off of present skills of the students as well as what they expect to learn. Step four is to utilize technology, media, and materials, which means that the teacher will use the technology and other tools to help the students achieve their learning goals. The fifth step is to require learner participation through ways that will allow students to use and apply their new skills and knowledge that they have learned. The last step is to evaluate the achievement that has happened among the students mastery of the skills and the impact of technology and other tools in achieving this mastery of skills. This step allows for the instructor to change things about the course or technology and tools used if they need to.

Today, instructors in the United States and beyond are using technology in and out of the classrooms and conducted studies have shown the success of using technology. This link will take you to an article that discusses the use of IPads and tablets in the study of science. The research discussed in this link suggests that studying with a tablet can stimulate learning gains even in a short amount of time. It also suggests that tablets may be beneficial when studying complicated scientific concepts such as time or other large subjects. This article is just one that shows how the use of IPads and tablets is helping students in the classroom.

Another use of technology in the classroom that I find interesting is the innovative idea of flipped schools. Flipped schools or classrooms are where the student learns at home first and then does homework or projects at school. This idea is one that will need a lot of research to show its success but many parents seem pleased by it. This idea takes the cost of technology and the use of it almost away from the school and puts it on the parent. With most libraries offering computer and internet access and a lot of people having personal computers, this idea might help cut the cost of technologies that schools would have to pay for while also promoting technology and learning. This innovative idea is getting a lot of attention as some schools are showing improved test scores. Students in the case of flipped schools are watching lectures, that were prerecorded, outside of the school day and then doing homework and projects together during the school day. This allows students to ask instructors for help if they run into a problem. Two articles/links that I feel discuss flipped classroom well are and Time and research will show and tell if this new innovative model of teaching is successful and useful or not.

Overall, technology is important in today’s society. Most jobs want people who have basic computer and internet skills. I think that it is important to integrate appropriate technology into the classroom at an early grade level so students can learn and improve not only their learning but their skills with certain modes of technology. Today’s society is becoming more and more connected and quickly accessing information. Instructors need to incorporate the internet and other resources into classroom instruction so students don’t fall behind in skill level. Technology has also been shown to be helpful in teaching difficult concepts to students. More research is needed on what technology is appropriate to use with students and just how it impacts them. Instructors need to move from a traditional classroom into a 21st century classroom.