Post 5 OTL 101 – Showcase

Q: Take a look back through your previous posts and apply the ‘Showcase’ category to your best work.

A: I would highlight my learning outcomes in post 4.

Q: Write a few words about why you think that post or those posts stand out.

A: I like this post because I wrote it to demonstrate why and how I provide feedback that is tied specifically to an intermediate level accounting course.

Q: What are 2-3 of the most important ideas that you have studied during this course?

A: 1. Timeliness in responding and/or being proactive to students

2. Community of Inquiry

3. Presence – especially teaching

Q: What are 2-3 questions that you have as a result of this course? Identify ways that you can begin to answer those questions.

A: I would ask the following questions:

1. How do I approach inactive students? I would send email updates to encourage and prompt them to contact me if they are having difficulties or stuck on the course material

2. When and how often should students receive feedback? Is weekly, monthly quarterly the correct amount?

Q: Identify 2-3 specific goals that you would like to achieve in light of what you have learned about cognitive presence, approaches to learning, and feedback

  1. Continue to respond to students promptly and concisely.
  2. Achieve the correct level of being cognitively present.


Post 6 OTL 301 – Concluding Thoughts

Q: What are the most important lessons you gathered from the course?

A: Presence is everything in having a successful course but it changes when we remove the physical classroom element from the equation.

One needs to be proactive with students, not just reactive.

Final course completion dates can be very effective in motivation J

Q: How has your thinking changed as a result of completing the course?

A: Somewhat. I note that some adjustments I need to make in the online environment including being more proactive in creating and sustaining the interaction with students.

Q: In what ways did the platform (WordPress) influence your interaction with the content and other people and what you learned?

A: The publicness of the wordpress platform forces a definite respect and decorum in the community as it is an open environment.  Once I figured out how to get on it and post reasonably well all is good. It is good for one to be challenged in some new technology tool once in a while.

I would not choose wordpress as an overall Learning Management System as there are more friendly and proven platforms available that cover all aspects.

Q: What learning strategies were most effective for you? Why?

A: I found being pushed out of my comfort zone for these courses was very effective. One needs to do this on a periodic basis to step away from the normal routine and reflect on how they have managed courses or projects and determine if there is an improvement and/or change that can do things in a more efficient or effective way going forward.

Post 5 OTL 301 – Self Coding Activity

I was somewhat engaged and progressed in the stages of the critical inquiry process.

I think I am leaving this process with some new enlightenment. It was interesting to see different approaches to challenges in online teaching and learning and to see that my progress to date via trial and error is somewhat on track to create a reasonable online instructor.

The Lego© or building block approach I commonly already apply in my courses and I am reflecting on ways to perhaps strengthen some of these concepts in my online environment.

Getting students into the proper zone to learn through appropriate engagement is the key to their success. Getting them past just memorizing facts and into the understanding zone via the critical inquiry process is crucial as they need to continue their professional judgment moving forward into their professional careers.

Using the wordpress has been a frustration but a polite push out of my comfort zone. It initially frustrated my attempts to start the course and I much prefer the struct ure of Moodle due to my long association with it.


Post 4 OTL 301 – Interview

Given that this is August and nobody is around to be properly interviewed for this post I have decided to undertake a reflection on my first 11 months at hosting a continuous entry course on a technically challenging topic being ACCT 3231 – Income Tax 2.

A little background on this course. Over the past several years, all designated accountants in Canada have been combining into a single organization under the banner of Certified Professional Accountant (“CPA”) and CPA British Columbia was officially recognized in 2015.

In order to begin a career as a CPA, students are expected to have completed studies on a range of topics at the undergraduate level. On campus in Kamloops, we undertook in the Department of Accounting and Finance in the School of Business and Economics to align our course offerings so that TRU students could graduate ready for direct entry to the new CPA program. This was further expanded to include the same offerings via Open Learning and thus the creation of this course was a result of that process. Also, not all institutions in British Columbia offer the taxation courses and students utilize the Open Learning offerings to complete these requirements remotely.

Finally, a little note on my background to complete the preface to the discussion. I achieved my CPA, CMA designation in 1991 after completing 4 years of evening studies while working at a full time career. I have trained and mentored a large number of clerical staff, achieved an MBA in 2003 and have taught several courses leading to the exams for achieving an accounting designation.

So how does one create a “sense of community and connection” under such circumstances?

I have yet to find a cohesive answer on this one but it has been at best a “hub and spoke” type community with myself as the hub. I have been suspicious of moving away from this as the assignments have common answers and there is a strong risk of answer sharing amongst weaker students. This results in high assignment marks but low final exam results.

The majority of my work has been reactive in nature. My initial attempt at being proactive was met with a level of cynicism and scorn as several learners were feeling “pressured” by a single email. As such, I now focus my efforts on those who are active in the course and respond to them promptly.

Despite my desire to see every student succeed in Accounting, there are many who will fail and not complete this goal. It could range from insufficient capacity to immaturity or an inability to commit to the steep learning curve that is required to achieve success. Whatever it is, it can create a mismatch in student expectations and reality which can be irreconcilable.

Therefore, I am still looking for a way to succeed beyond the “hub and spoke”.

What strategies for facilitating the process of critical inquiry have you used?

I give what I call “honest” feedback to help them form appropriate judgement and approaches to the course material as much of it will be utilized in the CPA program and in their working career. If a student misses on a calculation, I guide them through the process of where their error occurred. I encourage students to break questions down into steps to solve and relate these steps back to items learned in prior courses.

This course relies on the student reading and honestly attempting the recommended self study questions. If the student has difficulty with a question, I expect them to contact me to further discuss.

What have I struggled with?  

  • Mark centric focus – as you can well imagine this is a competitive environment an high achieving students expect to always achieve top grades. Too many institutions and instructors cater this to maintain high evaluation scores and student ratings as a way to stay in business.
  • Lack of control – I am a control freak. Continuous entry and non paced classes seem to have no controls as you have a diverse set of individuals at different steps and expectations.
  • Incorrect presence – students associate me with the course material and exams developed by another OLFM. The only other similar experience I have had with this is the accounting designation course which was consistent across Canada, extremely accurate and proven to be error free.
  • Who’s on first? – I have had a steep learning curve primarily by trial and error on determining what my role is or isn’t under certain circumstances. I want to respect and maintain the integrity of courses and those on the development and maintenance side of the operations by not messing things up on Blearn.

Take away from this reflection

As I always have done, I keep trying to find the best way to deal with any endeavor I undertake. I believe in order to achieve that in this there needs to have the following happen in this course:

  1. Matching of students – a formula such as those who registered between date a and b or wish to complete the course by mm/yy are given a link to communicate with each other
  2. Deadlines – not just the complete the course by but rather Assignment 1 is due by dd/mm to allow for follow up from myself

Post 3 OTL 301 – Designing Allied Learning Experiences

ACCT 2250 – Introductory Managerial Accounting

Learning Objective #1: Analyze and describe cost classifications and behaviors

Instructional technique: read and practice

Review my presentation on this topic and read Chapter 2 of the text book. At the end of the Chapter, complete the self-study questions.

Complete your assignment and submit for grading to indicate your achievement of this learning outcome.

Learning Objective #2: Utilize an activity-based product costing system.

Instructional technique: read and practice

Review my presentation on this topic and read Chapter 5 of the text book. At the end of the Chapter, complete the self-study questions.

Complete your assignment and submit for grading to indicate your achievement of this learning outcome.

Post 2 OTL 301 – Your Current Practice

Q: How has your view of the effective practice changed now that you have read more about teaching presence?

A: My view has not changed based on this reading. I have developed a solid understanding of how important a professional presence is from my many years of experience as a professional accountant. Although not exactly the same, I have adapted this to the teaching environment.

Q: In what way(s) did the effective practice that you identified show the characteristics of teaching presence?

A: The effective practice I identified from my prior post is the way that this particular course material set the expectation for the course. It was important to the course as all participants were working at full time careers while completing this program (old CMA accounting designation) and the ability to focus on key elements led to greater participation in class.

Q: How could the idea of teaching presence have made the experience even more effective than it was?

A: I honestly think that this activity nailed it. He was able to not only achieve a solid teaching presence (really, how do you question someone who wrote it?!) but he pre-emptively reduced his workload as well by proactively answering questions the majority of questions students might have had. Remember, this was done in the pre email days when instantaneous responses to questions were not available nor expected.

Post 1 OTL 301 – Effective Practice Experience

My education dates back to a time when computers were a little less part of the landscape. In fact it is fun to hold up my current “smart” phone and explain to my students that it has more power than the first 3 desktops I used! Explaining to them about working with offices in Europe and Africa without the aid of email or internet truly makes them shutter. However, I digress.

As such, the most effective practice I experienced in my studies was when taking a professional accounting class (CMA program) in Advanced Financial Accounting (TRU OL equivalent is 4201) and receiving a coil bound handout book from the instructor with his analysis and thoughts on the topics we were studying. Say what? I thought I bought a textbook for this one! Needless to say, he succeeded in taking us far beyond the textbook and moved us into the upper end of the SOLO scale. This way of thinking of researching, inquiry and application set the tone for my approach to financial accounting throughout my career.

Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (“CGAAP”) are continuously evolving. New issues arising from changes in the business world and accountability for non financial items such as environmental and social costs will continue to challenge the profession going forward.

I would not change this practice in the slightest. In fact, I have adapted it to the Intermediate Financial Accounting I & II (ACCT 3200 & 3210) teachings I do on campus. This can now be done much more efficiently through the course web page (moodle) providing students with the basis to achieve those levels we did thirty years ago.

Post 5 OTL 201 – Integration

Q: What are the 2-3 most important concepts that have impacted your thoughts on student engagement and retention during this course.

A:  a)  Multimedia is now expected as a birthright by all students. They do have their place and can be effectively used in explaining complex concepts or as supplemental lecture material. In the virtual world we need to understand their place and appropriate use in our classes. By being capable of both creating and integrating appropriate resources available can enhance the learning process well beyond the textbook and study guide.

b) How to replace the sense of “community” that is found in a traditional on campus course in the virtual world. This is extremely challenging to undertake as many online students are focused on the finish line and final grade rather than the exploration along the way. This is especially prevalent in low volume continuous enrollment courses as students are at a variety of stages and not interested in communicating with other students or only topics based on assignment and exam grading.

Q: Discuss your rationale for implementing 1 or 2 course facilitation strategies to increase student retention and engagement.

A:  The rationale behind such is as necessary in the virtual class as it is in the face-to-face class. The need to motivate and direct students to correct goals does not change, merely only the methods of getting there do.

Q: Identify 2-3 specific goals that you would like to achieve in light of what you have learned about social presence and creating effective educational media.

A:  Goal 1 – Give students the opportunity to communicate with each other. This would require matching of groups of students and monitoring and facilitating ongoing discussions between them. This allows students to work together from a distance to solve problems.

A: Goal 2 – Employ strategies to encourage student engagement. This obviously starts with prompt and directed feedback from marked grade items and by responding within a reasonable time frame for other queries and directing students to the correct areas or resources to address their concern. In addition, proactive strategies including ongoing contact and follow up if student activity has been absent for a period of time.

Q: Additional question: How does the OLFM integrate more supplemental content efficiently and effectively into a course offering?

A:  Use of existing third party resources enhanced by supplemental short comments and directions on properly integrating them.

Matthieu Ricard: The Habits of Happiness

Sometimes called the “happiest man in the world,” Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, author and photographer.

After training in biochemistry at the Institute Pasteur, Matthieu Ricard left science behind to move to the Himalayas and become a Buddhist monk — and to pursue happiness, both at a basic human level and as a subject of inquiry. Achieving happiness, he has come to believe, requires the same kind of effort and mind training that any other serious pursuit involves.

Post 4 OTL 101 – Feedback

Q: Are there any gaps between your practice of offering feedback to students and what Hattie recommends?

A: Yes. I tend be very straightforward and occasionally misread by students. I try to direct students to be as direct and logical in approaching accounting and taxation topics and steer clear of “filling in the form” approaches which some have difficulty in relinquishing. Generally, I strive to provide feedback in a reasonable time frame through the most efficient means possible either via email or class web site (Blearn or Moodle). Once I get to know a student, I make every attempt to tailor feedback as individually as possible.

Q: In what ways can you improve the effectiveness of the feedback that you provide for your students?

A: Allowing them the appropriate opportunities to make learning mistakes while providing opportunities for future growth from making such mistakes. This is often limited when single attempts on assignments or quizzes are allowed.


Post 3 OTL 101 – Learning Outcomes

ACCT 3231 – Income Taxation 2 – Learning Outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:
• Apply the income tax provisions for the determination of gains and losses on the disposition of capital assets.
• Evaluate the various deferred income plans available to Canadians and how these plans can be used for retirement, education or general wealth building purposes.
• Calculate the net income, taxable income and taxes payable for a corporate entity.
• Demonstrate how corporate entities are taxed on their investment income.
• Interpret the technical corporate taxation issues involving the acquisition of control, association rules, investment tax credits, paid-up-capital and distribution of corporate surpluses.
• Explain how a corporation can be used to reduce taxes, defer taxes, and facilitate income splitting.
• Quantify the income of a partnership for tax purposes and allocate this income to partners.

  1. The learning outcomes for this course generally range from SOLO 2 Unistructual to SOLO 4 Relational in nature. At the SOLO 2 level, students must be able to utilize standard terms and rates from the Income Tax Act. For the SOLO 3 level, the students are required to perform steps that include adjustments and calculations specific to the entity and nature of transactions being reported. For the SOLO 4 level, students are asked to compare alternatives in structuring a transaction to minimize the taxation impact on the entity.
  2. Students are assessed by assignments untimed which are graded and commented, timed quizzes and a final exam that is problem based.
  3. The alignment of the learning outcomes and the assignments is relatively good PROVIDED that the students take the time to do the unmarked assignment questions that have the solutions provided with the text. These are crucial to developing the confidence and recognition of problems and relative solutions when given large scale problems on the exams.
  4. For accounting and taxation questions in general, a question could be worded to force a very specific calculation with all parameters clearly identified and laid out leading the student to perform a basic straight forward calculation. To make this more challenging, a problem that contains several concepts can be combined into a single question that has several pieces that need to be analysed and calculated and that can be combined in several ways that require a student to clearly state their assumptions and reasoning for taking the approach they have when answering the question.



Foundations of Teaching with Technology with Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is a consultant for higher education institutions and education technology startups, with a doctorate of education from University of San Francisco. Kevin has 15 years of experience teaching educators how to improve their teaching with pedagogical strategies and technology. On the flip side of the learning coin, his fully online course—”How 2 Lrn w ur iPod”—teaches students at San Francisco State University how to improve their learning with metacognitive strategies and technology. Kevin is dedicated to fostering higher levels of student self-sufficiency, motivation, and achievement for today’s untethered learners. Click here to start


Gamification of Learning with Karl Kapp

This 2014 course by Karl Kapp, the author of several books on games and gamification, a professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University, and a co-principal investigator on several National Science Foundation grants where we created video games for teaching science and engineering concepts. This course highlights the different types of gamification formats that can be used in the design of engaging and exciting instruction.


Link to this course.

Post 1 OTL 101 – Self Introduction

Me: I am a professional accountant, (CPA, CMA). I began teaching as an adjunct lecturer in 2009 and have been a full time lecturer at TRU since September 2012. My focus is on accounting courses.

I believe that the most important characteristic of any learning environment (online and face-to-face) is the opportunity to learn and grow from both our successes and failures, both as instructors and students. To accomplish this, both students and instructors must be respectful of the instruction environment and attempt to exercise integrity and good judgement throughout the course duration.

An item that has impacted me in the last year is learning more about the beliefs and values that students bring from their varied home cultures to the learning environment. As each of us uses our  own cultural imprint as a frame of reference on making decisions and responding to situations, I have begun to incorporate specific items in my classes to allow for a variety of cultural practices in student responses.

My main question around online teaching is about maintaining student focus on a course without the specific date based activities of a paced course.