Can We Create Machines to Scale Teaching and Care?

Using machines/algorithms/computers to teach seems to be popping up a lot recently, with many people expressing concern over the idea that we can program computers/machines to make qualitative decisions (ie – care about the students enough to effectively teach them). The reason we want to create teaching machines is, of course, based on the seemingly insatiable desire to scale human behavior to thousands… while hiring less people to do so.

Of course, using machines to scale our empathy and care is nothing new. Answering machines are one example of scaling care – those that use answering machines care about catching phone calls while they are gone, but don’t want to hire a personal assistant to stay at their house and take messages. So in way, they are able to scale the care that they have for talking on the phone to the number of incoming phone messages that they can’t cover. Generally, if you know the person that owns the machine and you know they want to hear what you have to say, you feel that this machine is extending the communication of that empathy into the times when that person is not physically present to answer the phone.

Something about the intent, design, and personalization of answering machines makes some aspect of communicating care scalable beyond the person behind the machine.

However, somewhere between the answering machine and computerized teachers, there is a disconnect for many in feeling what they see as the necessary level of real care and empathy. Despite this, some people just want to continue down the path of computerized teaching, feeling that perfecting the program/numbers behind the system will change that disconnect. They are spending millions of dollars to create program to write custom curriculum for each student, which is ironic seeing that we used to pay human beings $10-15 an hour at Sylan Learning Center to hand write personalized curriculum plans for each learner. Maybe instead of trying to perfect computerized teaching to the point that most actually feel “cared” for – what if we tried to figure out what people actually want to have computerized and what they don’t?

For example, many people really hate how answering machines are scaled to take care of customer service calls at large companies. So what makes that usage different than the basic home consumer answering machine? There are times when people want a person and times when they don’t. For example, if you just want your account details confirmed over the phone, you may not want to talk to a person who might have no business knowing those details.

So instead of trying to force all teaching into a computer algorithm that many might not be happy with, maybe we should look at what parts learners want to have automated and what parts they don’t.

For example, if you teach online, you have probably run into at least a few posts in the Help forum that start with “I’m embarrassed to post this here, but…” followed by a basic question about procedure or other things in the syllabus. Maybe that person would prefer an automated system that answers their question without public embarrassment?

edugeek-journal-avatarOf course, what learners want automated is often different for each learner. But it seems that the general idea is that we need to focus our research and money more on “answering machines” and less on “virtual teachers.” We need things that help us connect with people at a distance, not that replaces the people in the distance process with virtual non-people.

(image credit: Sanja Gjenero, obtained from freeimages.com)

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Instructional Design and the Search for the Golden Child

One of the things you quickly learn as an instructional designer is that you precariously straddle two worlds that don’t always like to interact: practical and theoretical. Most academic fields have some level of tension between these two sides. In education its usually between the more practical Curriculum and Instruction side and the more theoretical Educational Philosophy side. And, of course, there isn’t a hard line between the two – they tend to mix a lot in the middle. You often find the instructional designers hanging out in that middle mix.

That’s really what the instructional designer does – take the theory and mix it with the supporting research on what practically works and produce effective and engaging design.

Easier said that done.

One of the issues that designers often deal with is getting the instructors to focus enough on good theory in order to form a strong foundation for quality practical design. The fine line between good and bad design or even okay-ish and good design is often held back by lack of theoretical focus more so than lack of technical knowledge about technology tools.

But….

Most instructors seem to be convinced that there is a “golden child” technology out there just waiting to be discovered. If they can just find this technology, or combination of technologies, or even hidden features in technologies they already use… then their classes will magically transform into glorious utopias of engaged learners. Students will be happy, completion rates will skyrocket, everyone will hold hands, pass out flowers, and start a drum circle chanting the praises of how awesome the course is.

What most instructional designers know is the harsh reality that learning more and more about technology and tools often makes it harder to design a good course. Instead of a concentrated focus on what works best for what you want students to learn, technology becomes the driving focus. And this means the course often gets worse, or at best trades one okay-ish design for another okay-ish design.

Some of the most innovative and effective courses out there are being taught with things like blogs and Twitter and YouTube videos – basically just a bunch of tools that most people know how to use already. No golden child magical technology tool doing cool stuff that no one else seems to be aware of. Just really good theory and focused instructional design.

This blog post is one of many that I am working on inspired by the OLC Emerging Technologies Symposium this week, and the conversations that occurred around/at/because of that event. I was in the test kitchen there playing with cool new tools and apps as much as the next person. I love emerging technology and finding new websites and tools and services to use. I also love it when people find great educational uses for these cool new things. But most of the really awesome courses out there are not coming from people getting more technical training, but from people that dig into the theory side and said “I want to accomplish this theoretical idea” and then found the basic technology to realize their vision.

Of course, that is easy to say for people like me that love the theoretical side of learning, whether it is epistemological, ontological, or just purely philosophical. For those that find theory to be more on the dull side, its not quite so easy. But we need to push back against the slow creep of technological solutionism in instructional design that tells us we need to “get more technological training!” to fix our courses.

Think of it this way: if you need to have more technical knowledge in order to improve your courses, then your IT department is going to be the best instructional design department on campus. But your IT department will be the first ones to tell you they can’t help you with digital learning, because that is (generally) not what they know.

So, if you find theory a bit intimidating, I get that. Find something you already know and dig deeper. You don’t have to learn it all.

If you find theory boring, well, I don’t get that. :) But I see where people could feel that way. Find the one part that is least boring and dig in to see if maybe it will surprise you.

If you think you already know theory well enough (but you don’t work primarily as a theorist in some way)…. ummm…. let’s talk a bit about scale. One of my incredibly brilliant professors once told me he had read one book by Jurgen Habermas over 20 times and still maybe grasped about half of it. Habermas has many books, and is himself just one of hundreds if not thousands of thinkers that influence educational theory. You may understand the cliff notes version of theory in general or maybe a few specific theories at a Wikipedia level, but that is not nearly all there is out there.

edugeek-journal-avatarThe people that are exploring the depths of theory out there are the ones that are coming up with truly revolutionary ideas like connectivism or rhizomatic learning, or creating revolutionary tools like ProSolo or a Domain of One’s Own. Or to tie back to OLC this week, its not the people that find a better tool than Twitter that are going to change education, but the people that Bonnie Stewart that dig into an existing tool like Twitter to see what is going on there that will. I promise you – if you dig more into Bonnie Stewart’s work than you dig around for technical training on a tool, you will see bigger and better changes to your course.

(image credit: Mariana Figueroa, obtained from freeimages.com)

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Google Misses the Boat Again (Yet Another Google Reader Rant)

So a large number of people are not happy that Google Reader is getting killed. Because, let’s face it – its not like it was really dying if 500,000 users have already moved to Feedly alone. So this is not Google putting an old service that few care about on the shelf. It is a good service being cut down in its prime because…. well, I have never been able to figure out Google’s reasons for killing anything. But I am guessing that money has something to do with it.

But I guess the big question I have is: why kill something with millions of users and force them to go somewhere else for their service? Why not integrate Reader into Google+? I rarely use Google+, but to be honest I might give it another try if it had better content.

Yes, I know that you can share articles with other users in Google Reader – so why does it need a social network attached? Because so many people don’t use those sharing features. But they will post articles they read on Facebook all the time (and you can see in the link that they originally read it on Google Reader). So the question for Google: why not integrate Reader into your ghost town of a social network and inject some life into it? I would personally like to read my RSS feeds in an integrated social network stream.

Even better for educators, you could use Circles to share articles of interest with only your students. Which you already can, of course – but it would be so much simpler if you are reading and sharing those articles all from the same service.

But you could probably also say the same about many of the other dead or dying Google services. Makes you not want to sign up for anything they do – why get attached to a service that will be gone in a year?

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Is the Problem With Traditional Education the Lecture or the Lecturer?

The Chronicle has an interesting article about how A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn’t Working. It also touches on how a techno-phobic professor is having success with standard lecture formats.

I think at some point we are going to have to realize that old methods aren’t all bad, and new methods aren’t always the saviour.

What this article shows is that anytime anything is used as a quick or easy fix for education, students lose interest. Lectures might take time to prepare, but once they are set they typically get re-used over and over again and in many easy ways they become quick and easy fixes for education in subsequent semesters.

Technology is also often used as a quick easy fix. Need engagement? Sign up for Twitter! Need connection? Create a Facebook Page! Need to confuse your school administration? Teach a MOOC!

Many professors use Twitter, Facebook, and mobile devices and still come across as the “sage on the stage.” In the same sense, many professors stand at the front and lecture and still come across as the “guide at the side.”

Like many of us know in education, it is not as much the tool or method you use as much as how you use it. Active learning can sometimes be as much about active teaching as it is about what the learners do. Passive teaching can happen with or without technology, and students won’t engage with it no matter what fancy new tech tools you use.

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

First Impressions of Google+

When Google releases a new service, they usually do a decent to excellent job on the design and interface. You can rarely fault them on their ideas. Even if a particular idea isn’t your cup of tea, you can at least see where others might like it.

But having said all that, it is still getting harder and harder to get excited about new Google services.

Its not that they are boring or pointless. It really just has to do with not wanting to invest in a new tool to only have it canceled in less than a few years.  Many people point to the untimely death of Google Wave as the main cause for their lukewarm response to Google+, but those of us that have been following Google for a while know that there were many other disappointing closures before Wave.

But if it can make it, Google Plus has some great ideas that could be very useful in Education. Or at least I think. Very few of my friends are on it yet, despite me sending out invitations… so it is hard to get a good feel for truly how well it works. But here are some initial thoughts:

  • As many have said, the ability to only share certain information with certain groups of friends is a great idea. It was a great idea when ELGG and Facebook first came up with it, of course – but Facebook kind of never really bought into the idea once they added it (and the average online user has never heard of ELGG). After all, they were trying to monetize your connections, so why make it easy to reduce the number of connections and interactions you can make?
  • The killer app to many people seems to be the free group video chat. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet because of my limited circle of friends that are in Google Plus, but the early feedback sounds positive. But I know that this is a feature and price point that many educators have been looking for.
  • Am I supposed to say G+, Google+, or Google Plus? What is the official spelling?
  • Programmers are already writing browser plug-ins. Sure, Facebook has apps, but not until years after FB was created, and none of them seem to be able to change the core functionality of how Facebook looks and operates.  Maybe there are some out there and I don’t know it. The Facebook + Google Plus integration was pretty nice, even if it was a little basic (there were concerns over it being malware, so I uninstalled it). It added a button on your G+ page that let you open your Facebook stream right there in G+.
  • The true measure of whether G+ will be successful or not depends on how well the people in charge understand networks. George Siemens wrote a recent post examining the importance of this.  Siemens also comes to the conclusion that Google just doesn’t get it. That may be so, but I would also say it may be too early to really tell. The user base for Facebook is so huge while the base for G+ is incredibly small. Facebook will probably seem to work better just due to its size, while G+ may appear to fall short due to how new it is.  I think it also depends on what you look at. Siemens looks at Facebook friends suggestions, something I usually ignore completely. Unlike Siemens, over half of the friend suggestions I get on Facebook are the “way out there” kind.  So I have to admit that I have been ignoring that feature in G+ because I also ignore it in Facebook. Besides – I don’t need and algorithm figuring out for me who I need to connect with. I prefer to do some research on my own and find my own connections. Maybe Siemens is right about Google recommending only “power users” to him, or maybe he doesn’t realize that he probably qualifies as a power user himself (much more than myself or most people I know) and the possibility is that since Google sees him in the same category as these people that it is also recommending them to him. So, ultimately, the success of G+ will probably be more in the eye of the user, based primarily on how well they do the specific things each user is interested in.
  • It is probably a given that most Google services will integrate with G+ at some point, but how long will it take for the ones that haven’t already been connected? I can’t seem to find a way to share anything from Google Reader with my circles – other than the old school way of copying and pasting a link. But I could already do that in Facebook. In order for me to switch from Facebook, I am going to need to see integration with the things I already use.
  • Google also says that Plus pages for companies (like Facebook fan pages) are coming. In reality, they are already there in the form of Google Sites, Google Groups, and even Blogspot. Once all of that is brought together into a page for companies or classes or whatever in Google Plus, that will be pretty cool. Cooler even than Facebook Fan Pages… if there are enough users on G+ to take advantage of it.
  • I like the idea of Sparks, but I am wondering how to make them more useful. For instance, I like music. But not all music. But there are a large number of bands I follow. Do I have to start a hundred Sparks to follow them all? Sounds daunting. OR will it be possible to start a Spark on a broader topic and then go in and specify what parts of the broader topic you want to see?

Overall, an interesting new product that could go many different ways. Something for everyone to keep their eyes on.

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Make Sure You Do Your Research Before Insulting an Entire Discipline

Chegg.com definitely has a rocky history with the EduGeeks.  At least they got a Chief Executive after those questionable acts – so maybe that will turn the companies reputation around?

Or maybe not.  Read this article on new features that Chegg.com has added.  Let me draw your attention to one of the last lines – a quote from Dan Rosensweig, the current chief executive:

“Education is one of the areas where technology has not had a chance to work its magic”

Really? Thank you for insulting everyone that has been working in the Ed Tech field for the past 50-100 years. Yes, there is much more that technology can do in education that has not been tapped yet. We have a long way to go. But we have also come a long way, too. There are thousands of examples where technology has had a chance to “work its magic” on education.

I guess at least they are not as bad as the Borg, thinking that they invented all of the magic that is happening.  They just want to ignore all the magic that has already happened.

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Let’s add dimdim to our list

Received the following email yesterday evening from web conferencing site Dimdim:

Subject: Dimdim aquired by salesforce.com

Dear Customer:

Dimdim has been acquired by salesforce.com. Your free Dimdim account will remain active until March 15, 2011. After that date, you will no longer be able to access your free Dimdim account.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for additional information.

We appreciate your understanding, and we thank you!

This affects free accounts as well as paid accounts. All recordings you have on their site must be downloaded before your account expires, which depends on whether you were a monthly or annual subscriber. [official announcement]

Katrina Adams

Howdy folks! I’m an Instructional Designer at UT Dallas. I have a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Angelo State University and a Master’s in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas. I’ve been working in edtech for 11 years. Hmm… what else? I’m a *huge* fan of that little Irish band called U2, and I’m a bigtime Firefly/Serenity advocate.

Response to Yahoo’s plans to shut down delicious

Warning: This is an emotional response to yesterday’s announcement by Yahoo! that they are shutting down the popular, absolutely essential, epitome of web 2.0 tool delicious.

What the hell?! First Facebook and now Yahoo! have screwed me (us) over. Two really simple, very functional, extremely valuable web2.0 tools that I’ve been preaching and pushing all year b/c they are/were incredibly useful — delicious and drop.io — and the parent companies pulled/are about to pull the plug.

  • October brought us the announcement that Facebook bought drop.io and that free accounts were to quickly disappear and paid accounts discontinued Dec.15.
  • Yesterday brought us even more shocking news that Yahoo has decided to sunset their very popular social tagging tool delicious.

Damn them.

Now what do I tell faculty? What are you going to tell your faculty? How are you going to sell them on some really amazing online tool that does something incredibly useful for their class and yet runs the serious risk of being acquired by [huge company name here] and very quickly wiped out?

Yes! I’ve found this great tool that helps you meet that learning objective, keeps your students engaged, encourages active learning … but just an fyi — don’t get too dependent on it, b/c it’s very possible someday you’ll suddenly have to export everything, find a new tool, and figure out how to migrate from one to another.

[Update: Now Yahoo! Says Delicious Will Live On … Somewhere Else]

Katrina Adams

Howdy folks! I’m an Instructional Designer at UT Dallas. I have a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Angelo State University and a Master’s in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas. I’ve been working in edtech for 11 years. Hmm… what else? I’m a *huge* fan of that little Irish band called U2, and I’m a bigtime Firefly/Serenity advocate.

Cloud Computing For Videos and Music Creators

Although there have been various tools out there to edit video and music online, this month we see two more added to the mix. The difference this time is that it is two big players in the tech world that are giving us these tools – two companies that you might already be using.

First up is this small company called Google you might have heard of. Last week they announced that you can edit videos online with YouTube Video Editor.  A few basic features are present – you can crop the beginning and/or end of a video, combine multiple videos together, and even add music from a free music library.  Well, not totally free – if you use the music there, the editor says ads will be displayed. I’m not seeing anything about the ability to download what you created.  Although, there are always ways of doing that with YouTube.

But that is about it for this service – still probably in Beta at best, and you can’t edit or mix audio.  That would be the next nice step. But the big deal is that it is also connected to the largest online video sharing site ever.

But what if you are wanting to create music of your own?  Not just mix a soundtrack, but create music like you would on a synthesizer… but online?  Aviary recently released Roc:

“Use Aviary’s music creator to simulate dozens of musical instruments including piano, guitars and drums. Create music loops and patterns for use in Aviary’s audio editor (Myna) or as ring tones.”

And you can add your own voice or music to the mix. I gave it a shot – it is surprisingly easy to use. you can listen here:

(oh, and all of the embed and share stuff you see above was part of the package deal with Aviary. Nice.)

For hardcore video mixers or musicians, this is probably not that great of a deal. For teachers and amateur creative types – this is huge.  Many different projects could be created online and easily shared with students around the world.

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

When Staleness Creeps In To Your Content

No matter how student-centered you are, no matter how often you tell others you are not a “teacher” but a “coach”, at some point you are going to be putting some content in to your course.  Even coaches will sit down their players and show them how to do things on a regular basis. Your students need to hear from you – and I don’t just mean a weekly due date reminder or an occasional “atta boy” comment.  Students need to hear your take on issues, facts, controversies, current events, trends, etc.

For most of us, a blog has been the extent of how we keep the content flowing while avoiding the creation of online textbook monuments.  Blogs are great for that, but they do have a few short-comings.  For one, they tend to be text heavy – which can grow stale after a while. You can insert images, videos, and audio clips in posts – but that takes a lot more time and effort to accomplish even after you have produced the media.  And even if you own a iPhone, blogging is much easier if you are sitting at a desk. Blogging on the go sounds great, but it is still pretty time-consuming.  If only there were a way to make this all easier…

Enter in to this equation Posterous.  Their tag line says it all: “The place to post everything. Just email us. Dead simple blog by email.”  That is the basic idea – but here is low-down. You create an account, based on your email. Then you create an email and send it in.Posterous takes your email and turns it in to a blog post. The subject becomes your title and the body becomes your post. But that is not all. You can add tags with ease.  But you can also attach images, audio files, and videos – andPosterous will crunch it all for you and add it to your post. You can even designate where you want the pictures to go in the post.

But that is not where it stops. Posterous will then push that content out to any site you want it to:  Twitter, Picassa, Flickr, YouTube, Delicious, and even a WordPress blog (there are even a few sites they publish to that I had never heard of).  They only give you about a Gigabyte or so of storage (you can buy more) – but you can always use other sites to hold your larger media – like videos (on YouTube). Posterous does all of the heavy lifting for all of that.

So how can this help the educator/coach/what-we-are-supposed-to-call-ourselves-now? Well, for one – it makes mobile blogging much easier.  There is even an app that lets you take advantage of the built-in camera on your smart phone to shake things up a bit each week. After a couple of weeks of text blogs – why not record yourself and post a video blog? Or why not go somewhere in the city and film something that connects with your content? A civic event, an art exhibit, building architecture, etc?  Maybe even go talk to a colleague or content expert and record the conversation (with permission, of course), and then upload that audio one week as a blog post. I know these will not be the best produced videos in the world, but the spontaneous nature of them will give the students a sense that they are “following you around” as you practically apply what is being taught in class.

Why not even make it seem more like a tour of your subject? You serve as the lead journalist of the group. Take them on a tour of the city from the perspective of your subject. Mix up the media (text, audio, video, images, etc) each week. Don’t get so formal with everything you say. Start off some of your posts with statements like “You know, I was pondering the engineering concepts in this week’s reading while at Starbucks – and I had this revelation about the relationship between this coffee cup and this week’s subject.”  But really film yourself at Starbucks having the revelation.

The less you script it out for yourself, the more fun you will have and the more students will enjoy it.

Remember what I posted a few weeks ago about Delicious as content? Posterous can push your content to Delicious. So add your class tags every week and your content will be inserted in to your class stream on Delicious seamlessly.

Oh – and don’t forget those web cams on your desktop computer. You don’t necessarily have to have a smart phone to do any of this. I know this might be hard to believe, but good revelations can also hit us while we are sitting at our desks.  So do some media productions there if you like.

(this post was cross-posted at Soundings)

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.