A Killer In Your Fridge ~ Sweet Poison…A MUST READ


In October of 2001, my sister started getting very sick. She had stomach spasms and she was having a hard time getting around. Walking was a major chore. It took everything she had just to get out of bed; she was in so much pain.

By March 2002, she had undergone several tissue and muscle biopsies and was on 24 various prescription medications. The doctors could not determine what was wrong with her. She was in so much pain, and so sick she just knew she was dying.

She put her house, bank accounts, life insurance, etc., in her oldest daughter’s name, and made sure that her younger children were to be taken care of.

She also wanted her last hooray, so she planned a trip to Florida (basically in a wheelchair) for March 22nd.

On March 19, I called her to ask how her most recent tests went, and…

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Post Mortem

El Manual De Los Padres


Las Manos Auxiliares Que Forman El Mañana



One of my projects was to create a Spanish Parent Handbook. When I arrived at my job they only had an English version. I arrived at my job in October. By the end of the year I had my first Spanish Parent Handbook completed and ready for distribution. Most of the children had been in school since July. I made sure there were copies in each classroom and where we kept family resources. When we had a new child sign up, the parents also received a handbook in English or Spanish.

The project was a success because I did most of it at home on my own time. I was not happy with the fact that roughly 30% of our families had no idea what the rules and policies were much less where to find resources if they needed them.

Each year the parent handbook is updated. Some years had more updates than others that needed to be translated. I started asking for updates in February. We had one school that was year-round. School let out in June and started back the first week after the 4th of July. I needed to have the handbook done, preferably by May 31. From February to the end of June, I was singing children up for the new school year to begin in July.

Although I did not need help in the translation aspect of the document, I did need the co-operation of the “management staff”. I asked the most important questions . . . When woud they know their information and when could they get it to me? The only thing I asked in return was for a one month deadline. I really needed to have their information ASAP so I could translate it at work and not on my own time. I did not get paid for my time and it took away time from my own family.

Each year was difficult. One person in particular was on the ball and always had her information UTD and color coded for me. It was important that I know what was to be deleted (red) and what was new (blue). This was a big help. The first year she color coded for me was the most difficult year. Folks kept making changes and I had to keep up with two translations plus the new translation I was working on. It was quite maddening close to the end.

It would have been great if we could have agreed on the deadline and stuck to it. Although I had asked for a specific deadline, no one really cared enough or respected the project enough to maintain a deadline. The reason for starting so early in the year was for the folks who dragged their collective rears – the same ones who could not keep to the deadline.

The positive side was that I could work on it little by little and not interfere too much with my day to day duties. The negative side was having to ask for extra time after work to finish because all of a sudden I had to meet their “deadline”.

The most gratifying aspect of the project was that my Hispanic families finally had a handbook to refer to if they had any questions. I received several “gracias” from my families. It helped them to feel more of a part of their child’s school and their education.





     When I was growing up, some of the cartoons were based in the future like THE JETSONS (2062). It had TV looking sets and could communicate by live video feed to one another from wherever they were, including their “vehicles”. Usually it was Mr. Spacely calling George to hire or fire him. “George had a computer called R.U.D.I. –an acronym for Referential Universal Digital Indexer. He had a human personality and was a member of the Society for Preventing Cruelty to Humans. While episodes made in the 1960s referenced rockets and other “space age” theme devices, reflective of the real-life U.S. space program which fascinated America, the 1980s episodes leaned more towards how computers would influence life in the future” (http://hanna-barbera.wikia.com/wiki/The_Jetsons).

In 1984, DUNE was released. It was based on Frank Herbert’s book by the same name. In the beginning there is a scene of a young male teenager watching his “homework” in 3D CG video on a screen. It was so crystal clear it looked real.

With the showing of AVATAR (2009), one could take a “screen” from a frame and put it into another “frame” or into the air and work on the project in midair. From The Jetsons to DUNE is about 15 years. From 1984 to 2009 is 25 years.

Since 1984, computers have evolved from huge rooms containing only one computer for N.O.A.A. to small hand held devices capable of communicating with anyone from anywhere in the world like mini iPads.

In 5-10 years, I believe there will be more students, traditional and non-traditional students, taking classes and entire degree programs online from A.A. to PhD. Although there are already some institutions out there that have these options, there are a lot more that do not. We currently have MOOCs, free online courses from major universities all over the world from the U.S. to Australia. It is my hope that education will become cheaper for everyone because of the volume of students online and onsite at universities.

In 10-20 years, it would not surprise me if the majority of core courses are taught entirely online with the exception of classes that require laboratories. There is no substitution for hands on learning in a lab. By then, I hope that instructional designers, through excellent design, have helped to dispel the idea of “diploma mills”.

New technologies are being improved and developed every day. Currently, Adobe and Microsoft Office are now in The Cloud. Adobe CS 6 will be the last disc and paper based version they put out. According to Aseiya, an online customer service representative of Adobe, “Adobe products will be available in CC” (Aseiya, CSR Adobe, 2013). Having these tools in the Cloud will make it easy for anyone to access the Adobe products from anywhere on the planet.

As an instructional designer one of the ways to be an advocate for improving society’s perceptions of distance learning is to always do moral and ethical work to the best of my ability. I do well in a structured environment. One thing that I would have a hard time compromising is my morals and ethical work. I have turned down a position where I would have been required to interpret words from Spanish into English that are not in my vocabulary. Some of the words and phrases, I had no idea they even existed. I do not want to pollute my mind with vulgarities so I choose not to work in that particular area.

In order to be a positive force for improvement in any area, one has to talk about their area. For me, distance education has been a gift. When I first started my online journey in education, I had to do a lot of the work on my lunch hour at work. Some of the work could be done at home without an internet connection but not for the classes with the book entirely online and the lab work online. After work and on weekends, I would be dropped off at McDonald’s and do my homework until 11:00 PM when they closed the doors. (I had dial-up at the house.) I was able to talk to a lot of people about why I was there. They saw the computer and figure someone is just catching up on Facebook or working. Then, they saw the pens and pencils, notebooks and books, headset and microphone and knew I was not messing around. Conversations began and my quest to recruit students for Walden began. I sang the praises of Walden as I believe in Walden University and what it is doing for distance education. Walden is helping to close the gap in accessible education. If it were not for Walden, I do not know if I would be still be seeking an online degree.

”We must, I think, look at the problem as a whole, not at a particular part of that problem, not at a segment or a fragment of it, but at the whole problem of living, which includes going to the office, the family, love, sex, conflict, ambition and the understanding of what death is; and also if there is something called God, or truth, or whatever name one might give it. We must understand the totality of this problem. That is going to be our difficulty, because we are so used to act and react to a given problem and not to see that all human problems are interrelated. So it seems that to bring about a complete psychological revolution is far more important than an economic or social revolution – upsetting a particular establishment, either in this country or in France, or in India – because the problems are much deeper, much more profound than merely becoming an activist, or joining a particular group, or withdrawing into a monastery to meditate, learning Zen or Yoga.”  ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti


Krishnamurti, J. (n.d.). Look at the problem. Retrieved from http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/view-daily-quote/20101120.php (2013).

Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum. Retrieved from http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/Paper105/Siemens.pdf

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

The Impact of Open Course – Spanish I

While taking classes online is usually FOR credit, there are options available to learn without cost to the learner. These courses are open courses for anyone to acquire more knowledge on a particular subject or as refresher courses. The Open Course I chose is from MIT – Spanish I.

     The site is laid out well. There are clear expectations and directions.

The course Home Page is laid out with graphics of Hispanic flags and a Welcome! In the Course Description, it states that it is “very different from other classes at MIT”. There are 26 videos lasting 30 minutes each to go along with the textbook and workbook. It goes on to talk about what they do in the “classroom”. At this point, everything follows what they do “in the classroom”. It appears not to be written specifically for online instruction.

The Assignments are clearly communicated and include links to outside sources as well as an online version of the textbook: Destinos. The assignments are laid out by the class day. These are not laid out in Unit-Module Topic Guideline format. As stated by Simonson, et al, 2012, “When courses are planned, the designer might want to use the Unit-Module-Topic approach model (UMT approach)”.

In the Resources section, the first resource, LLaRC (Language Learning and Resource Center), is no longer active. There is not an opportunity to work in a “lab” setting. They need to have some other source for a language lab. In learning another language, part of the process is learning “how” to sound. The textbook seems to have an option so one can listen to sounds. However, the “voice” giving directions sounds mechanical. To me, it is not very inviting nor engaging.

In order to assess how one is progressing, there are quizzes and tests along the way. I took a 20 question Basic Quiz on the verbs Ser and Estar. When I was finished, it was graded. I had missed 4 and it gave me hints on the ones I had missed and an opportunity to change them and get graded again. I scored 100%. Having a positive assessment is important when learning. It gives a person confidence and the desire to continue with the course.

There is a list of “In-Class Activities”. Although the handouts, in PDF form, are great and it is good information, there is not an option for grading to see if one has the correct answer or not. Here is an example of the first 10 activities listed.

1 Vocabulario de las presentaciones (PDF)
2 Actividad Verbo SER (PDF)Completar con SER o ESTAR (PDF)
3 Actividad para descubrir los parentescos (PDF)Repaso del episodio y de los verbos regulares en tercera persona (PDF)
4 Repaso vocabulario y verbos en el presente (PDF)
5 Horarios y asignaturas (PDF)Vocabulario: asignaturas, y horas (PDF)
6 Destinos Lecciones 1-6: Repartir una serie de 10 oraciones a varios grupos de estudiantes. Los estudiantes deben leer al oración conjugando los verbos para que otro de los grupos identifique al personaje (PDF)
7 Repaso Episodios 7 y 8 (PDF)
8 Verbos irregulares (PDF)Presente de verbos de raíz irregular (PDF)
10 Actividad: ¡Es hora de encontrar un novio para Raquel! (PDF)

Here is an example of an activity without the benefit of an answer sheet.


So, in regards to the questions we were asked, it does appear to be well thought out, carefully pre-planned but not designed for distance learning. It is possible to be a self-paced course but there is still the issue of “grading” in some aspects of the course. Without an answer “guide”, a learner will not know whether or not they are progressing well through the course. This course was clearly designed for a traditional brick and mortar classroom environment as it clearly and consistently refers to “in the classroom”. The activities will give a student a better understanding of the language but could have been more interactive as they were only on paper. A few ideas for interactivity would be an online crossword puzzle, a fill in the blank story, etc. However, it would need to have software to check the accuracy of the work. All in all, it is a good resource for a refresher but not for an actual distance learning course.


Groeger, Margarita, and Solivia Márquez. 21F.701 Spanish I, Fall 2003. (MIT OpenCourseWare: Massachusetts Institute of Technology),http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/foreign-languages-and-literatures/21f-701-spanish-i-fall-2003 (Accessed 6 Oct, 2013). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA


Week 1 DISTANCE LEARNING http://wp.me/p2jRA3-1M

Mind42 – Distance Learning

Welcome to Distance Learning!

There is only one thing that is constant in this world: change. Everything evolves, adapts and grows including distance learning. Many factors drive this change. New breakthroughs in technologies, better raw product to make equipment, young men and women bringing their knowledge and expertise, etc. Since technology is ever-changing, then anything and everything having to do with technology must evolve or perish.

Back in the 80’s, we had Atari and what we thought were “awesome” games with PONG and ASTEROIDS playing on an ATARI or Commodore 64. We graduated to Pac-Man and Tempest arcade games.Today, we have the capability to play games with excellent 2D and 3D images and fantastic “realistic” graphics on personal computers, laptops, iPads, and smart phones. It is possible to play with multiple players all over the world at the SAME time. I wonder what would have happened if the bright young minds back then had quit “creating”? Would secretaries still be typing on IBM Selectric typewriters? Would the government have the only computers, one that could take up an entire room for only one purpose? Would we still be sending ALL mail through the Post instead of instant messaging or email?

Many, if not most people are connected to some kind of technology these days. It could be as simple as a cell phone or as complex as a laptop. Many are still limited by the costs of the higher priced items like iPods, iPads, and iPhones as well as other higher priced items like Alienware Gaming PC’s. By the time a person can save the money to buy one of these items, they are already “obsolete” and one is in the works and waiting in the wings ready to replace it.It does not matter what profession a person is in or how much technical knowledge he/she has. Change is imminent.

Before coming into this class, I had already taken courses online. According to http://www.merriam-webster.com, distance learning is “education that takes place via electronic media linking instructors and students who are not together in a classroom”. For me distance learning is much more than that. It is having the capability of transferring knowledge from one person to another through the use of the internet, multimedia, books, online articles, etc. It is the interaction between students and professors via discussions, emails, phone calls, class time via BlackBoard Elluminate, blogs, etc. It is connecting with people from all parts of the world in one centralized place (Walden University) to learn and grow together as we proceed through our courses. Sometimes, our “classmates” become friends and keep in touch beyond the program. The old Nigerian proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” is true. It is also true that it takes people connected through technology to make a better world. That is what distance learning is all about.

Before taking classes myself, I knew that there were mediums such as Blackboard to create a classroom and enhance the online learning experience. After having taken a dozen courses from French and Spanish for Healthcare Professionals to Foundations of Research and Distance Learning, it would be quite difficult for me to sit in a traditional brick and mortar setting. Geography would be the biggest hurdle if I wanted to attend Walden University. It is halfway across the US and I cannot leave my responsibilities. Having a smaller “classroom”, albeit online, is great! I am able interact with my classmates more often than I would have in a traditional setting. I also “chat” more with my “mates”. Wondering why? People are busy these days. Most folks work. Many “students” have spouses, children, or other family members to take care of. Some may even work a second job. The point is, people go to school, exchange a pleasantry or two and then leave as soon as possible. They really do not have, or take, the opportunity to interact on a level that is possible through distance learning. Online, there is a possibility of effecting change, whether it is on a social or global level, through such a medium.

As a former home school parent, even though it did not go as I had planned, it would have been a tremendous help to have access to K-12 online like it is offered today. One has a choice of free or paid K-12 online schooling. If you have children who are bright yet are bored with school, a K-12 online learning environment would be an option. Living in the rural mountain of North Carolina, my children had to travel around an hour and one half each way. It was only 6.5 miles to school. that is three hours out of their day that they could have been doing something other than sitting on a bus. They were the first ones on and the last ones off of the bus.

As technologies adapt and improve, our educational opportunities and the mediums with which they are presented will too. “The ID is placed in a situation of having to train a workforce so they will be ready to execute innovations that have not yet been identified” (Moeller, Foshay, Huett, 2013). As Instructional Designers at this point in time, we are in unique positions to help effect such a change. Nowadays, geography, the physical location of a school or student, does not matter. We have the capabilities to truly reach the world. In my opinion, regardless of location or methods, whatever is the “most effective strategy is the one learners will actually use” (Moeller, Foshay, Huett, 2013). For example, students who have physical limitations can now take their courses online through K-12 in the comfort of their own home environments. They can have access to a tutor, in person or online, as well as a teacher driven class or in an asynchronous environment. Whatever method suits their needs, they can truly create and tailor their own educational experience to their specific needs, schedules, etc.

Distance learning will continue to evolve. It has to. As newer innovations and technologies are developed, the capabilities of distance learning programs will have to evolve as well or they will also go the way of Megalodon and T-Rex. I look forward to seeing new technologies that have not been dreamt of yet. Maybe we will be able to have computers like the ones in AVATAR. They can move screens from a portable “hard frame” to “open air”. Maybe we will have computers like the ones in Demolition Man. Oh wait! We already do: we have cars with live voices from far away = GPS. We have video conferencing via a handheld device – can you say iPad? It may be that we have two-way tv’s like they did in one of the scenes. We have that too as long as each person has a webcam.

My opinion and definition of distance learning will evolve over this course. My opinion can only grow stronger in favor of online distance learning. As I learn more about it, I am sure I will be able to add more to defining my “definition”.


Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5). 63-67.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008a). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 1: Training and development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70-75.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008b). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66-70.

Week 8 Reflection

While I am not new to online learning, I am new to an asynchronous environment. During this course, I found it surprising that there are so many different theories about learning.  When I started out, I knew that everyone learned differently. I understood a little about learning styles; visual, auditory and Tactile / Kinesthetic learning. I am a visual and tactile learner in most things. However, I am an auditory leaner when it comes to languages. Whether it is on the phone, via BlackBoard, or in person, I listen intently to “hear” the variations, tones, inflections, etc. in the speaker’s voice. When I speak Spanish on the phone or in person, my ultimate goal is to sound like a native, and to be understood. So far, my Mexican families say I do not speak like them. I speak like a Cuban. So, their name for me is “Cubana”. Evidently, I have a Cuban “accent”. I have had teachers from Panama, Mexico, Spain, South America, and several from Cuba. It seems that Cuba has been “impressed” upon me.

     While I started out with a learning style, I have learned some things about theories, about why I do things the way I do them. I learned Behaviorist principles in school; memorizing, practice and stimulus and response (math).”The use of periodic practice or review serves to maintain a learner’s readiness to respond (Schunk, 1990).  Back “in the day”, we used a lot of memorizing, practice skills, and task based learning. In my Spanish classes, my “reward” was to go to County and State Spanish Conferences. In my first State Spanish Competition, I was the youngest to ever go. I was thrilled and scared to death at the same time. This meant competing front of people I did not know and was not sure of my skills. However, through three county and three state competitions, I was able to utilize and hone my skills (observable and measureable). The stimuli / rewards were several factors. We traveled to Orlando, stayed in a hotel for most of a week, went to a theme park, won ribbons and placed in a high rank in the competitions, and the pièce de resistance, we went to Disney World on the way home.

     Depending on the class, I use cognitivism to reason and solve problems using encoding, storage and retrieval. Jonassen, 1991, stated that “the focus on the conceptualization of students’ learning process and address the issues of how information is received, organized, stored, and received by the mind. Learning is concerned with not so much with what learners do but with what they know and how they come to acquire it.”

     In other ways, I use constructivist and connectionist theories. Much of what we learn in an actual school setting, for me, is constructivism at work. We create meaning. We engage, participate, and are socially and culturally aware. Part of our online culture was to have a Commander for our instructor. We also had people from Mexico and Africa. One thing that I am a fan of is cultural intelligence and awareness. We need to be aware of each other and our cultures as we design instruction as well as trying to keep everyone engaged in the learning process. We need to understand geographical and cross-cultural communications to successfully navigate build relationships, and work successfully with many different groups

     I amazed and honored to have a Navy Commander for a professor. This made me want to do a better job. For some reason, I wanted him to be proud of me. I believe this to be a little in reverse order. I am proud of my family, my friends, and of our men and women who serve / have served in the military. I am also proud that I got a little taste of military “teaching” to be the best I can be. Even though our professor did not act like Navy in any way, after reading his CV, I wanted to do a better job. I wanted to “Be All That You Can Be” (Army slogan).

     In an online learning environment, I believe it would be a combination of behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectionism. We will be within a diverse, social and technological framework. We will be in an ever increasing changing environment with diverse knowledge.  These theories and other learning strategies will combine and connect one to another.

     Everything connects. From learning processes to the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation. Know yourself. Know your biases. Correct your biases and be fair in your presentations all the while being mindful and bringing meaningful instruction as you further your career in the field of instructional design. In order to do this, one needs to have an understanding of the Learning Theories. The Learning Matrix is a great guide to keep on hand, just in case one might “forget” to include a thing or two. Constructive feedback, whether positive or negative, is important. “Even negative feedback can be affective when it promotes competence and self determination.” (R. Butler, 1998; Corno and Rohrkemper, 1985; Reeve, 2006; Tunstall and Gipps, 1996). “If it provides information about how to improve in the future, thereby implying that the individual can eventually be successful, it is likely to promote intrinsic motivation.” This allows the learner to know where he/ she stands in the scheme of things. If one does not know “where they stand” this could contribute to poor studying habits, grades, etc. “To learn effectively, you not only have to have the cognitive processes to enable you to learn effectively and to remember it effectively; you also have to want to learn it.” (Ormrod, 2009).  As I stated in last week’s post regarding this university, “One positive aspect is that everything is “spelled out in crayon” for the student. One needs to know “where” they are and “where” they are going. Giving specific dates, times, and expectations is important in an online environment. Equally important is flexibility. Everyone wants to “be a success” or at least “feel” like they are a success. Giving assignments that are meaningful, challenging, and interesting will help a student BE a success. Being or feeling like a success also puts “control” back into the student’s hands. This engages them and empowers them to want to do better.”

     In an online environment, I would implement Keller’s ARCS model to motivate using the  acronym ARCS: Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction in the design. Motivational design is defined as “the process of arranging resources and procedures to bring about changes in motivation. Motivational design can be applied to improving students’ motivation to learn, employees’ motivation to work, the development of specific motivational characteristics in individuals, and to improving peoples’ skills in self-motivation. Motivational design is systematic and aims for replicable principles and processes.”

     “The design process includes:

v  Knowing and identifying the elements of human motivation,

v  Analyzing audience characteristics to determine motivational requirements,

v  Identifying characteristics of instructional materials and processes that stimulate motivation,

v  Selecting appropriate motivational tactics, and

v  Applying and evaluating appropriate tactics.”

As I stated last week, one thing that is key in online classes is the discussion boards. One gets to “know” another through reading others thoughts and posting their own thoughts. This starts a conversation albeit a virtual conversation. As one gets to “know” another, they begin to feel less anxious and more comfortable with the class.  I believe this connects with “affect” in that one “feels” and shows emotion through positive and affirming statements that makes one “feel” good about themselves and their work. An instructor (or another student) could make a positive statement such as, “I liked the way that you…” or “You stated that…” In doing so, this shows the student that he/she read the material and that they paid attention. In turn, the student emotionally connects because they “feel” that they have done a good job. In my opinion, this is a great motivator. If one feels good about themselves, one is going to want or desire to receive the same results time after time. This will also help keep me motivated. If I receive only one “atta boy” or other positive affirming statement, I may not feel as inclined as I do not “feel” as if I have presented a good paper or presentation. Even though adult learners are adults, they still have a “need” for affirmations.” Having the tools and knowledge to do one’s job is half of the battle whether it is working for someone or being self employed designing instruction. It is how one presents the other half, to make it a whole, which will make for a successful instructional designer. If I can pull together everything that I have learned and will learn in these courses, I believe I will be an effective instructional designer.



Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed ). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Brooks, J., & Brooks, M. (1999). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32–42.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly.

Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).

Keller, J.M. What is Motivational Design. Retrieved from: http://www.arcsmodel.com/pdf/Motivational%20Design%20Rev%20060620.pdf

Lim, C. P. (2004). Engaging learners in online learning environments. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 48(4), 16–2 3.

 Ormrod, J. (Video program) Motivation in learning.

 “ ARCS Model of Motivational Design (Keller).” Learning-Theories. 2008.

 http://www.learning- theories.com/kellers-arcs-model-of-motivational-design.html

Retrieved from: Poulsen, A., et al, “ARCS Model of Motivational Design”, 2008.