Plagiarism – I Can Google That!



How many times during your undergraduate years did you find yourself pulling an all-righter to finish a paper the night before it was due? How much content from those papers that you wrote do you still remember and use in the real-world today? Plagiarism is about having behavioral standards about the work that you do and citing the work of others that you use properly (College of Agricultural Sciences, 2005). Back in 1997 when I graduated, AltaVista was the major search engine in use at the time. According to Wikipedia (2016), Google had not formally been incorporated until 1998. So during my time as an undergraduate, you did your research in the library, took materials home with you and wrote your paper using a Word processor. Back then, the means of determining plagiarism was done by manually comparing papers by hand. Today, there is a vast amount of resources available online that make it easier to copy and paste from websites and the potential to claim that verbiage as your own. However, search engines such as Google allow facilitators to track down copied phrases with commercially available plagiarism detection software and online services such as EVE and to compare individual student papers to Web documents and/or essay databases to find and report instances of matching text (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006). As a facilitator, I agree with Dr. Pratt in his approach toward making assessments that would mirror real-life expectations (Laureate Education, 2010). If I were to conduct a class on Shakespeare, I believe the likelihood of receiving papers on the interpretation of passages that might be plagiarize could be greater than if I was to give an assignment based upon how a student would approach a situation in the real world. Real-world examples can have many variables and students have different life-experiences that could lead them to different solutions to a situation. This consideration would make it less likely to plagiarize someone else’s work and claim it as your own. It would require a deeper understanding and method of producing a trouble-shooting workflow that can vary between individuals. By changing the scenario and altering a few variables to the situation, the student is put into a position of having to prepare a head of time for the situation and come up with original thoughts to demonstrate an understanding of the material, like Star Fleet Academy cadets would have to in the fictional TV show scenario of Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru.


Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Education Research Complete database

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from

The Art of Communicating Effectively

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The Art of Effective Communication

In the Art of Effective Communication, from one modality to the next, the tone of the message was conveyed with a little more meaning. At first, the message was composed of just words and would make it easy to dismiss or consider marking it to read later before anything would be done about it. As I heard the next message in a voicemail, I started to analyze the tone in the person’s voice to determine what the sense of urgency might be for me. What approach could I take to get her what she needed and how long would it take for me to stop what I’m currently doing and respond to her needs? The face-to-face conversation had the most impact out of the three conversations. Being face-to-face with someone allows you to read verbal and non-verbal cues and really grasp the meaning behind their message and the sense of urgency that is required. As a project manager, there are many aspects of a project that must be managed and various stakeholders that need to be kept informed about their progress. As a project can have drivers, supporters and observers that the project manager must consider how and when to get them involved in the project, as they come involved, throughout the project the manager needs to determine how to communicate with them. Considering the examples in the video that offered three variations of a conversation, a good rule of thumb to remember is that text does not convey tone, so before constructing that email to stakeholders, one should consider the context of the message, the purpose of the communication and if what needs to be conveyed is going to be best served with the chosen medium. If the message is meant to provide an update to a list of tasks that have been completed, then perhaps email would be the best vehicle for that information. If the project manager is experiencing scope creep and the project is going to be delayed by a couple of weeks, then that would be the type of information that should be delivered face-to-face to help them understand exactly why there is a delay. After the meeting, if voicemail was used to follow up on the meeting to re-enforce the notion of their efforts to produce a quality product within budget close to the deadline, then leaving a message on voice mail would be acceptable.

Perceptions of Distance Learning

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The thought of learning at a distance back in the early years had faced a lot of skepticism. Distance learning courses were once perceived as being diploma mills with no classrooms, untrained or nonexistent faculties and unqualified administrators with profit as their primary motivation (Simonson, 2004). As a college student back in the 1990s, I found comfort being in a classroom with students like me that I could collaborate with and having a professor that was accessible if there were questions. Also, it was extremely critical that the efforts I made to improve myself at an accredited institution paid off when I graduated. The thought of enrolling in an online course during that time seemed more like a waste of time and money as they did not leave the impression that they had my interest in mind and were more concerned with what was in my wallet. I believe that perception, shared by many, has greatly changed over the years due to transparency. The most important form of accreditation involves transparency of a school or college’s entire program by an outside evaluator at a regional accrediting agency (Simonson et al., 2015, p.18).

With the growing acceptance and accreditation of distance education, enrollment in online courses reach over 6.7 million students in 2013 (Simonson et al., 2015, p.4) Dr. Siemens, in the video The Future of Distance Learning, believes that this increase is fueled by online communication, practical experience with new tools that can be used for interaction, growing comfort with the online environment while realizing we don’t need to be in the same place in order to learn as well as a critical aspect in the ability to communicate with diverse and global groups that are not confined to a classroom (Laureate Education, n.d.).

Clayton Christensen (2003) has stated that distance education has come to “dominate…by filling a role…that the older technology could not fill” (Simonson et al., 2015, p.11). The possibility of teaching face-to-face at a distance was achieved during the 1980s with the introduction of broadband technologies that allowed for interactive learning, rather than being taught passively (Keegan, 1996). Enrollment in online courses for many institutions during 2013 saw growth that exceeded over 6.7 million students (Simonson et al., 2015, p.4). In 2009, the United States Department of Education published a meta-analysis and review of online learning studies that concluded that online learning students achieved better than traditional students because they tended to allocate more time to their studies (Simonson et al., 2015, p.7). Simonson, Schlosser, and Orellana (2011, p.139) argued that research clearly showed that distance education is an effective method for teaching and learning (Simonson et al., 2015, p.7). So with this information, what would the future of distance education look like?

As Dr. Siemen pointed out, there is a practical use for new tools that can be used for interaction. When I was in school, the technology I used to communicated with involved email or the telephone. Now a days, technology allows you to communicate in multiple ways that include Google Hangouts, social media, online whiteboard apps, texting as well as Face Time, just to name a few. Jim Finn (1964) and Richard Clark (1983) argued that technologies themselves do not cause change, but rather changes occur because of new ways of doing things that are enabled by technologies (Simonson,  Smaldino, & Zvacek, 2015, p.13). It is clear that the ability to interact and communicate with others online is critical toward building a learning community. With the growing acceptance of online learning, distance learning of the future could be rich with tools that allow for communication to occur as though everyone was in the same room together in a virtual environment. Perhaps, reinventing Google Glass for education where students are in a classroom together as avatars or a version of their true self and are able to work on a problem together, build an engine or operate on a patient. Despite the innovations brought forth by technology, there will still be some that have their reservations about the effectiveness of distance learning.

A point to consider regarding distance education today is that Dabbagh & Bannan-Ritland (2005) stated that it is more probable to find students from a variety of locations participating in an online class that will be mainly comprised of young learners (Simonson et al., 2015, p.191). In 2001, Marc Prensky used the term digital native to describe those born into the digital age that naturally use technology and described those that adopted technology later in life as a digital immigrant (Gundogan & Eby, 2012). The way we do things can be changed dramatically by the application of technology. In less than 10 years after I received my undergraduate degree and had the perception that online classes were a waste of time, over 6.7 million students found value in distance learning. Eventually, skeptics that adopted technology later in life will disappear and in the future the main audience for distance education will be digital natives that grew up with technology and are able to quickly embrace the next big thing online that will give them a competitive advantage in the job market. As an instructional designer, I have always considered myself to be a life-long learner in the technology field and after 20+ years, I am continuing to grow with the changing times. It is extremely exciting to think about the possibilities that lie ahead and having a passion for technology, I will continue to carry my soapbox, present at technology conferences, learn through online resources such as MOOCs and model the proper use of innovative technology for all that come into my digital world.


Gundogan, M. B., & Eby, G. (2012). A Green Touch for the Future of Distance Education. Online Submission,”

Keegan, D. (1996). Foundations of Distance Education. London: Routledge. Print.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., & Zvacek, S. (2015). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (6th ed.) Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

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A growing consideration for many companies is to transition their traditional face-to-face training sessions into an online format. With online courses becoming such an integral part of education, in 2013, Huss, Sela & Eastep (2015) reported the total number of students in the United States taking at least one online course had risen to 7.1 million, which proportionally is 33.5% of all higher education students (Allen & Seaman, 2014). A first impulse could lead someone to see what courses could be easily converted into an online environment (Minnaar, 2013). However, before doing that, there are some strategies to consider first.

Most people that have been teaching face-to-face courses usually don’t have any formal experience in developing an online course. As a result, this can lead most to adopt a “craft approach” in their eLearning initiatives (Moller et al., 2008, p.67). Using the craft approach leads a teacher to fully design and develop an online course, along with related materials, based upon what worked for them in the traditional classroom (Moore & Kearsley, 1996). This would be a mistake as the learning management system your organization is likely to choose has features and tools that promote student interaction and communication that are different from the traditional classroom experience.

Click here to learn more…Converting to a Distance Learning Format

The Brain and Learning

Our native curiosity is driven by our brain’s inherent search for the unusual in our environment. – Dr. Donald J. Ford

How long has it been since you rode a bike? What are the chances that you forgot and needed to re-learn how to do that all over again? I found two very interesting articles on the brain and learning that I would like to share. The first article is called “How the Brain Learns” by Dr. Donald J. Ford (, 2011). It talks about the cerebrum being the most important area of the brain because that is where high-ordered functions like memory and reason occur. As learning happens through a network of neurons, researchers at the University of California Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory proved that when neurons frequently interact, they form a bond that allows them to transmit more easily and accurately, but when neurons rarely interact, the transmission is often incomplete, leading to faulty memory where you seem to remember only half the story or you have no memory of the experience at all. How does this relate to you? Think about something you do all the time, which is so routine, you don’t really give much thought to it, like driving to work, going to your favorite restaurant or even the park. It is so ingrained into your memory, that the neurons that control that particular memory have formed a tight bond.

So one day, you decide to move from you current residence to a new location. Now you are taking a new path to get to your job and since this is all new, you have to pay attention and new bonds need to form with the neurons in your brain so that you can remember this new path like you did the old path.

In the second article called “How Does the Brain Learn Best? Smart Studying Strategies” by Ingfei Chen (, 2014) it talks about how forgetting is a powerful spam filter as you try to recall a word or fact, the brain actively works at suppressing or forgetting competing information. So there you are on your new route to work that you now have memorized like the back of your hand. If you leave at a certain time it takes you exactly 12 minutes to get to work. You mention this to a co-worker one day and during your conversation someone overhearing your story chimes in and suggests you should take an alternate route that includes the highway and it would save you 2-3 minutes on your commute. As you stand there quietly acknowledging their suggestion, you know that you have looked at all the maps, did your research and found the best way that works for you. As your mind tussles with this new, competing information, what do you think happens?

The article continues and talks about how the brain is a foraging learner building knowledge continually while it keeps things that are important to you and adds to your thoughts about those items subconsciously as it tunes in to any relevant information you see or hear around you. Dr. Ford in the first article How the Brain Learns touches on this as well from a study that mentions if we both see and hear something, we are more likely to remember it than if we hear it only. If we experience an emotional reaction to something, then that emotion becomes part of the memory and strengthens it dramatically. In recalling memories, subjects who had experienced an emotional reaction were far more likely to remember the event and with higher accuracy than those who simply witnessed an event without any emotional attachment.  That explains why highly emotional events such as birth, marriage, divorce and death become unforgettable.  When it comes to learning, we need to make sure we engage all the senses and tap into the emotional side of the brain through methods like humor, storytelling, group activities and games. As an instructional designer of online courses, how could you use this new information to make your courses unforgettable?

As a way to assist the brain in remembering information while in a school environment, I conclude with four (4) examples by Ingfei Chen:

  1. Break up and space out study time over days or weeks compared to lumping everything into a single session.
  2. Study class material in a café or garden rather than in a library or try listening to background music as it can help to reinforce and sharpen your memory of what you are learning.
  3. Take breaks! If you have been working at something for a while and get stuck, the interruption can allow for flashes of insight.
  4. Quiz yourself by reciting the material out loud from memory or explaining it to a friend. This is a powerful way to master the material rather than just re-reading it over and over again.

Blogs and a Resource

The first blog that I chose comes from DePaul University and talks about instructional design. They were named as one of 50 must-read IT blogs in higher education and have award-winning instructional designers as well as educational technology experts. Just browsing through a few of the post and looking at some of their categories give me the impression that I will have quite a few resources to assist me in my continued development as an instructional designer. I think this site will be helpful in seeing how a team of designers, noted as well-qualified, contribute post to trends in the instructional design field.

The second blog I chose is from LSA Global and posts about the best practices in instructional design. They have been in business since 1995 and have worked with over 1500 certified and vetted experts to align their clients’ culture, talent and develop leaders as it relates to strategy execution and change behavior. I could have used this site for my OI&C course. Also to note, not only do they have blogs pertaining to Instructional Design, but there are 27 other blogs relating to Sales, Customer Loyalty, Leadership & Management with great topics on interviewing, HR & Training, as well as Project Management. Learning from experts in the field with these types of topics will be very useful in the long run.

The third option I chose was a resource from the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and is the world’s largest association dedicated to training and development professionals. On their site you will find a wealth of training resources, certifications, a community of blog contributions from industry professionals, and most importantly, professional resources to help you find a job. I have personally been aware of this site for years and have attended a conference or two they hosted. This is a great resource for those in the training and development profession.


I am a technology enthusiast, a great listener, a proud poppa of a 5 year old and a training and development professional with over 20 years of experience working in a classroom environment. I have gained a wealth of experience in my field that dates back to the early beginnings of DOS and Windows 3.1 where I  have developed my skills not only as an employee with various companies, but also as a business owner. For the past 10 years, I have been employed as an Instructional Technologist in the 4th largest school district in the state of Texas. As a natural progression to enhance my leadership role in my profession, I am currently pursuing my masters degree in Instructional Design and Technology with Walden University. Technology has been my journey and my passion. With great relish, I look forward to what tomorrow will bring – Imagine what you could be learning…