Free e-Book on TEC-VARIETY from Curtis Bonk and Elaine Khoo


A bit over two years ago, more than 3,500 people enrolled in the first Blackboard MOOC on “Instructional Strategies and Technology Tools for Online Success” with Professor Curtis J. Bonk from Indiana University. This course helped to set the stage for this exemplary course MOOC! In one of the synchronous sessions of that course, Dr. Bonk presented his online motivation framework called TEC-VARIETY with each letter representing a motivational principle backed by decades of research on human motivation. In a polling item at the end of that session, his MOOC participants overwhelmingly voted that Curt’s next book on online motivation and retention should be free to the world as an e-book.

Well, guess what? He did just that! After nearly 15 years of planning and 3 years of writing, his new book, “Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online” is done. And Curt Bonk has made this book FREE for anyone as an interactive PDF document both by chapter as well as in total. Explore the book homepage and you will find a download link for the entire 382 page book ( More important, there are dozens of low risk, low cost, low time activities featured in the book. In addition, each individual chapter is free to separately download and share with your students, trainees, colleagues, and administrators (see You can find chapters on creating a safe tone or climate, learner engagement, online collaboration, interactivity, encouragement and feedback, learner autonomy, goal setting, and much more. You even can find a chapter on ways to support instructors who might remain hesitant or a tad resistant to online or blended instruction.

According to Professor Bonk and his co-author, Dr. Elaine Khoo of the University of Waikato in New Zealand, you are free to download, use, share, and, with permission, even translate any part of the book (for more details, see the Creative Commons license in the copyright page of the book). Adding Some TEC-VARIETY is already being translated into Chinese by scholars at Beijing Normal University as a free e-book. If you have any questions or comments about this new online motivation and retention book, you can contact Professor Bonk via email at

Online College Students 2014: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences

2014 Online College Students

11 Key Findings About Online College Students

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012 approximately 2.6 million students were enrolled in fully-online degree programs, while 5.5 million were taking at least one online course. For institutions to fully understand how to best serve this growing population, it is critical to understand who is studying online and what they are looking for in from their degree program.

The “Online College Students 2014: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences” report, a joint project of Learning House and Aslanian Market Research, shares the findings of the third annual survey of 1,500 former, current and future online students.

Some Key Findings of the Report

Online students are studying further away

Fifty-four percent of students attend an institution within 100 miles of where they live, showing a three-year trend of students increasingly willing to attend an institution farther from home. (In 2012, 80% reported attending an institution within 100 miles of where they lived. This declined to 69% in 2013.)

Cost and financial aid important, but not critical

Although students reported that cost was a primary selection factor when choosing an online degree program, approximately two-thirds of respondents said they did not choose the most inexpensive program. Only 20% said they would not attend an institution if financial aid was not offered, although approximately half said they would need financial aid.

Job placement messaging resonates

When given a choice of 18 marketing messages, the overwhelming favorite was “90% job placement.” This makes sense, given that a large majority of students pursuing an online degree are doing so for job-related reasons.

Transfer credit makes a difference

Approximately 80% of students have earned credit elsewhere, and those students want to bring that credit with them. Having a clearly defined, generous, and easy-to-navigate transfer credit policy can help institutions stand apart.

Download Online College Students 2014: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences

5 Golden Rules of High-Quality Instructional Design

The quality of an instructional design is often gauged on three things: effectiveness, efficiency, and cost. Here are 5 rules that will help you achieve a high-quality instructional design:

  1. It must begin with an end in mind.
  2. It must be student-centered.
  3. It is refined through continuous assessment and improvement.
  4. It follows a well-defined system.
  5. It considers the big picture.

Source:, via e-Learning Infographics

What additional rules would you add for high-quality instructional design? Leave a comment with your ideas!

Top Advantages of Asynchronous eLearning

Top Advantages of Asynchronous eLearningvia LeanForward

Asynchronous eLearning Advantages:

  1. Greater Accessibility
  2. Save Time and Boost Productivity
  3. Minimize Disruption to Workflow
  4. Scalability
  5. Eliminate Travel Costs
  6. Simplified Training Documentation
  7. Personalization
  8. Consistency
  9. Free Up Instructor Time

What additional advantages do you see for asynchronous online learning that you’d recommend adding to this list? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Creating and Using Course Wikis

As part of the 2014 Teaching with Technology Institute at Northern Illinois University, I led a breakout session for faculty where we explored creating a course wiki.  We looked at both 3rd party wiki tools as well as integrated course wikis within the learning management system (Blackboard), using a sandbox wiki on Jottit. The following are links to the resources and I shared regarding wikis during this session:

What is a Wiki?

Collaborative website where all participants have equal ability to make change to content

Key features:

  • Easy to use
  • History of contributions
  • Ability to revert to previous versions

Why Wikis in Higher Education?

  • Facilitate constructivist approaches to learning
  • Equal “voice” for all participants
  • Students retain access to constructed knowledge after course ends
  • Can be public or private
  • Easy to use; no advanced programming skills needed
  • View and contribute from any Internet connection

Uses of Wikis

  • E-portfolios
  • Group collaborations
  • Soliciting input from others
  • Presentations
  • …any collaborative content creation activity!

Wiki Activity Ideas

  • Brainstorming of ideas
  • Outlining text materials
  • Drafting weekly summaries of instructional content
  • Collecting bibliography of supplemental resources
  • Creating interactive glossary of key terms
  • …the list goes on, limited only by your imagination!

Sample Wikis

Free Wiki Tools

  • Wiki Tools – directory of 30+ free wiki tools compiled by Jane Hart, Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies
  • DokuWiki – open source wiki software which can be installed on your own web server
  • Jottit – wiki tool that makes getting a website as easy as filling out a textbox
  • MediaWiki – open source wiki software that powers Wikipedia
  • WikiMatrix – compare multiple available wiki tools
  • Wikispaces

Selecting the Right Wiki Tool

  • Does you institution already offer and/or support a wiki tool?
  • Is free hosting available?
  • Is a “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get) editor built into the wiki?
  • Is special “wiki markup” needed for advanced editing?
  • How long with the wiki be available to students?
  • Can pages be made either public or private?
  • Can other files be uploaded & stored with wiki pages?
  • Can other media elements be embedded in wiki pages? (e.g. videos, spreadsheets, calendars, etc.)
  • How well does the wiki tool integrate with other online services?
  • How stable is the wiki hosting provider?

Wiki Resources

Tips for Teaching with Wikis

  • Decide whether to use single wiki for class or multiple wikis (e.g. each group)
  • Provide suggested organizational structure or create empty pages (recommended)
  • Customize navigation for easy access (ie: links to pages)
  • Create sub-pages within hierarchical structure

Tips for Designing Wiki Activities

  • Specify clear purpose for use of wiki
  • Provide expectations and structure for contributions
  • Allow time for students to become familiar with the wiki tool (e.g. make contributions to individual page)
  • Include instructions for use and/or links where students can find more information (e.g. screencast instructions)

Wiki Issues and Limitations

  • Authorization of users (ie: users must have a login to the wiki tool)
  • Monitoring for inappropriate user
  • Risks to allowing manipulation of site data
  • Structuring initial content and pages can be a challenge
  • How one accesses information, navigates, creates links, etc. must be addressed early
  • Represents collective perspective

Blackboard Wikis vs. 3rd Party Wikis

  Blackboard Wikis 3rd Party Wikis
Access Only registered students and instructor can access in Bb course Can be made available for anyone to access publicly without a Bb login
Availability Available to students and instructor for duration of course Available to students, instructor, and potentially others after course ends
History History of changes tracked and can easily be compared, reverted back to History of changes tracked and can easily be compared, reverted back to
Integration Can be easily graded using interactive Bb rubric and feedback securely provided to students in Grade Center No integration for grading in Bb
Security Student-created content is secure and only available for other students in the course to view Depends on the wiki tool selected
Support Support offered by Blackboard support personnel Depends on the wiki tool selected