Using the Jigsaw technique

One of the benefits of participating in a close, collaborative group involved in learning is the wealth of knowledge that is shared. Shared learning is often the result of using the jigsaw technique, an instructional technique developed by Elliot Aronson and his colleagues in the 1970s (American Psychological Association (APA), 2003). Although the purpose of this instructional technique was to reduce interracial tensions when it was first developed, it is now used as an effective method of creating collaborative learning within a specific group of individuals.

Puzzle pieces

First image

As with all instructional techniques, there is a variety of ways of implementing the Jigsaw method. In the MALAT program, we had the opportunity to practice two levels of this technique. The first level consisted of members within one team each sharing two examples of technology-mediated programs that they were familiar with. In this way, one team of four was exposed to eight different available programs.

The second level consisted of each team choosing only two of their

Puzzle pieces 2

Second image

programs to share with the entire class. Since there were eight teams in the MALAT program, this resulted in each team being exposed to 14 other programs, on top of the eight they had shared within their team. In simple terms, in one week, I learned about 22 different technology-mediated programs available in Canada.

Without this collaborative activity, I would likely not know about the FASD Learning Series that the Alberta Government provides free for families and caregivers affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Or that there is a certificate program for yoga instructors to learn how to design specialized treatment programs for clients with chronic health issues. Business managers and entrepreneurs may be interested in the Social Media certificate course offered by Humber College. And health care professionals who work in neonatal departments likely would need certification in neonatal resuscitation offered through Lakeridge Health Education and Research Network in Ontario.

I was excited to learn about BAWL (Building Aboriginal Women’s Leadership), a fully online program for aboriginal women interested in working with tribal or band councils, management boards and boards of directors of Aboriginal organizations. And for those into data science, a course on R Programming for statistical analysis is available through Coursera. Programs that open many doors of opportunity include the Applied Management Certificate program offered online through both Camosun College and the University of British Columbia (UBC). Surprisingly, even diplomas for teaching are available online through professional institutions such as the Vancouver Community College.

Puzzle pieces 3

Third image

All of this information, and more, gathered by one class of 31 students within one week as a result of a simple, yet astonishingly powerful, instructional method: the Jigsaw technique.


First image retrieved from

Second image retrieved from

Third image retrieved from

Alberta Government (February 9, 2015). Learning and Resources: FASD Learning Series. [Website]. Retrieved

American Psychological Association (December 19, 2003). How to Build a Better Educational System: Jigsaw Classrooms. [Weblog post]. Retrieved

Camosun College (n.d.). Continuing Education: Certificate in Applied Project Management. [Website]. Retrieved

Humber College (n.d.). Continuing Education: Social Media. [Website]. Retrieved

John Hopkins University (n.d.). Coursera: Data Science: Data Analysis: R Programming. [Website]. Retrieved

Lakeridge Health (n.d.). Advanced Medical Training: Neonatal Resuscitation Course. [Website]. Retrieved

Mount Royal University (n.d.). Continuing Education: Yoga Therapy Extension Certificate. [Website]. Retrieved

Sioux Hudson Literacy Council (n.d.). Good Learning Anywhere: BAWL. [Website]. Retrieved

University of British Columbia (n.d.). Continuing Studies: Project Management. [Website]. Retrieved

Vancouver Community College (n.d.). Instructor and Teacher Training: Provincial Instructor Diploma. [Website]. Retrieved

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Standing on the shoulders of giants

As the first two courses in my MALAT program at Royal Roads come to a close and I look back over the past two months, I am amazed at the individuals that came together to form the cohort of which I’m a part. What each individual has given me to take away is astounding. Unfortunately, it cannot be summed up in 300 words or less, so grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy…

Marlas Kuiper has provided me with a better understanding of phenomenology. I would never have connected poetry with phenomenology if I hadn’t read her blog. “Not unlike the poet, the phenomenologist…infuses us, permeates us, infects us, touches us, stirs us, exercises a formative effect” (van Manen, as quoted in Kuiper, 2016).

Another colleague, Jim Stauffer, also contributed to my understanding of phenomenology by analyzing the work of John Griffin, author of Black Like Me. Jim used Griffin’s work to provide a very clear example of phenomenological research, concluding that, “…Griffin’s practice of entering and returning from the world of the subject he studied has framed my initial understanding of the limits of Phenomenology” (2016, Aug. 14).

Reading Colin Craig’s blog and the infographic he shared in class has also given me a greater understanding of specific cultures of inquiry. Colin has the ability to paint an image that is clear and relevant. For example, in his blog he tells us that, “If action research were the force, I’d surely be a Jedi” (2016, July 14).

Yet another colleague, Brian Lorraine, has helped me to better understand research by connecting how we view the word research and specific cultures of inquiry. With a carefully constructed twist, Brian shows how “re-search” relates to hermeneutics and “re: search” relates to phenomenology (2016, Aug 5).

Mary Snobelen has the ability to not only use common life experiences, but also humour to explain the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. It takes a lot of talent to incorporate humour into a dry topic like research in such a way that it makes sense and is relevant to the topic. “…there is a valid and important place for both Quantitative and Qualitative Research. … Which is great if you don’t know whether or not you want a refill” (2016, Aug. 9).

As a Masters student, I will be conducting a lot of research and, regardless of how strong or how much support I have for my argument, I must acknowledge both sides. Rhonda Darbyson provides a good example of this technique in her blog in which she addresses the issues of copyright infringement, preserving integrity, and accessibility. She leaves me pondering, “Where do we draw the line?” (2016, Aug. 1).

Satish Kotha also provides a good example of both sides of an argument. In pointing out the benefits and consequences of seeking knowledge using the Internet, he reminds me of the responsibility I have as a scholar and a learner, advising that “a critical evaluation of the text we are accessing as well as producing is necessary” (2016, Aug 7).

Other colleagues, such as Patricia Larose, help me to understand theoretical frameworks by providing a simple metaphor. In her blog, Patricia explains that theoretical frameworks are the blueprints for the research. “The framework is the underpinning, the base of which your research (house) is built” (2016, Aug. 1).

My colleagues have also helped me to understand the different learning theories introduced in class. For example, Kim Forgay provides a clear and concise explanation of constructivism. The examples she provides in her blog of how she uses this theory in her classroom solidifies my understanding of it. “…technology resources, such as Seesaw, allows them to construct meaning on an even deeper level by extending the learning and sharing it with others” (2016, July 15).

After reading Kristi Thomas’s blog, I now have a better understanding of scholarly communities. The relevancy of her examples helps me to understand how different scholarly communities form. And she provides some guidelines as to how I can find my own scholarly community, reassuring me that, “Before you know it, you’ll be immersed in one” (2016, Aug. 5).

And if it weren’t for Stephany Castilla, I would not have recognized how our cohort has created our own community of practice. She points out that we are sharing our knowledge through the various assignments. She identifies the attitude that is making this cohort so powerful, “We share a passion for our subject matter and want to learn how to do it better” (2016, Aug. 9).

In her blog, Deb Peros has effectively outlined the process involved in working together as a team. She identified the important headings of “concern”, “why this concern?”, “team dynamics”, “cultures of inquiry decision”, “presentation”, “my take away”, and provided a very brief summary of each step (2016, July 26). This was a very challenging aspect of my residency, and I will need her step-by-step analysis for future group work.

Michelle Johnson not only summarized the Community of Inquiry Model, but she also showed how each of the key features – social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence – applied to her experience in this program. By reading her blog, I, too, am able to “take what I knew, layer on what others had shared, and make new meaning” (2016, July 31).

Kerri very nicely relates what she has learned to her work. Her blog helps me to understand how important it is to take time to reflect on my learning and how important it is that I use my learning in my work. “We implement these [processes and programs at work] with a foundation of assumptions/standards that don’t ever get discussed” (2016, Aug. 8).

Perhaps Darlene Bakker sums it best with her short blog on rabbit holes, a term given to the practice of jumping from one research topic to another in the quest to understand scholarly topics. Many of the questions she outlines in her blog have been discussed amongst the cohort over the past month, leaving a lot of us, including myself, doubtful of our abilities. Reassuring me, Darlene leaves me with practical instructions, “Trust the process. The rest should take care of itself” (2016, Aug. 7).



Bakker, D. (2016, Aug. 7). Rabbit holes and how much trouble can I get into? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Castilla, S. (2016, Aug. 9). Scholarly journals – Following the yellow brick road. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Craig, C. (2016, July 14). How do I situate myself in research? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Darbyson, R. (2016, Aug. 1). LRNT 502 – Unit 4 – Critical Analysis. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Forgay, K. (2016, July 15). Thumbs up constructivism. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Johnson, M. (2016, July 31). Royal Roads research panel. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Kerri, M. (2016, Aug 8). LRNT 502: Tying it all together. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from, S. (2016, Aug. 7). Muse on critical analysis. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Kuiper, M. (2016, July 27). Phenom-a-wha? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Larose, P. (2016, Aug. 1). Theoretical frameworks and how I see them. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Lorraine, B. (2016, Aug. 5). ‘Re-search’ or ‘Re: search’? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Peros, D. (2016, July 26). A reflection of my first “in person” cohort assignment. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Snobelen, M. (2016, Aug 9). Descartes walkes into a bar… . [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Stauffer, J. (2016, July 14). Terminology and meaning II – What you’re saying is not what I’m feeling. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

Thomas, K. (2016, Aug. 5). How I see scholarly communities. [Weblog post]. Retrieved from

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The digital age: Changing how we educate, learn, and conduct business

Many researchers, educators, and entrepreneurs claim that the digital age is changing the way we think and learn, and how the economy works (for example: Bates, Bautista, Brown, Michalski, Rosenberg, Siemens, Suarez, Tapscott, Watson, Weller, and White, to name only a few). The themes that arise from these claims centre on relationships, connections, and abundance. This blog will explore the concept of abundance and how that is changing the nature of education.

According to Weller (2011) and Michalski (2011), traditional education is based on scarcity. Michalski (2011) claims that even curiosity is scarce in traditional classrooms. I agree with Michalski, and this lack of curiosity is the main reason why I homeschooled my four children.

The digital age has allowed this curiosity to continue, or resurface, in adulthood.

Image from Don Tapscott's video, "The Net Generation."

Tapscott, D. (2015). “The Net Generation.” ideacity [YouTube]. Retrieved from (at 25:05).

According to both Weller (2011) and Michalski (2010), content and experts are no longer scarce due to forums, blogs, videos, content-sharing sites, wikis, and social networks that connect peers, experts, and learners. “The old one-way media highway is now two-way, and crowded. Barriers are falling everywhere…People are collaborating. Ideas are having sex” (Michalski, 2010, 4th paragraph).

This abundance has created pressure on institutions to change the way they provide education (Tapscott, 2016). This abundance is also changing the way we need to view learning (Siemens, 2005). One could argue that the abundance of information does not lead to knowledge; however, what one does with that information does lead to knowledge.

According to Tapscott (2015), millennials are the smartest generation in history due to the fact that they are not passive recipients of the information, as previous generations have been, but active generators, initiators, organizers, authenticators, and composers of the information. This generation is now entering the workforce and universities. Their expectations of what should be available to them are far different than the expectations of previous generations. Educators need to be prepared to accept these millennials as active creators of their own learning and businesses need to be willing to adapt to the reality of “a smarter, interconnected, mobile, always-on consumer force” (Suarez, 2013, 1st paragraph, bolded and italicized as in original).


Bates, A. W. (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age. BC Campus. Retrieved

Bautista, S. S. (2013). Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community, and Culture. USA: AltaMira Press.

Brown, J. S. (2002). Learning in the digital age. M. Devlin, R. Larson, and J. Meyerson (Eds). The Internet & the University: Forum 2001. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved

Michalski, J. (2010, June 4). What is the Relationship Economy? [Weblog post]. Retrieved

Michalski, J. (2011, Nov. 13). Scarcity vs abundance in our schools. [Prezi] Retrieved

Rosenberg, M. (2001). E-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age. USA: McGraw-Hill.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning (ITDL), January, pp. 1-8.

Suarez, L. (2013, Sept. 3). Giving up control in the era of open business. [Weblog post]. Retrieved

Tapscott, D. (2015). The net generation. [YouTube]. Retrieved

Tapscott, D. (2016, May 10). Universities must enter the digital age or risk facing irrelevance. The Star. Canada:The Toronto Star Press Centre. Retrieved must-enter-the-digital-age-or-risk-facing-irrelevance.html

Watson, R. (2010). Future Minds: How the Digital Age is Changing Our Minds, Why This Matters, and What We Can Do About It. USA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, pp. 223-236. Retrieved

White, G. K. (2013). Digital fluency: Skills necessary for learning in the digital age. Australian Council for Educational Research. Retrieved article=1006&context=digital_learning

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How useful are peer-reviewed journals?

What purpose are peer-reviewed journals if nobody reads them? According to Biswas and Kirchherr (2015), less than 20 percent of peer-reviewed articles are even cited, much less read. If less than 20 percent of these articles aren’t even used to support the arguments of others, then why are more than 80 percent even being written? It certainly isn’t for the benefit of educating the masses. As Biswas and Kirchherr (2015) point out, the language used in these articles are too difficult for many practitioners and journalists. Furthermore, the articles are too long, even for government leaders and decision-makers (Biswas & Kirchherr, 2015). These factors would certainly rule out the average citizen.

Image of journals. Retrieved from

Image of journals. Retrieved from

“We know of no senior policy-maker, or senior business leader who ever reads any peer-reviewed papers, even in recognized journals like Nature, Science or The Lancet” (Biswas & Kirchherr, 2015). If policy makers and government are not willing to read these articles, then it is imperative that average citizens read them. No matter how thorough, unbiased, or thought-provoking is the research being reported, if the average citizen can’t or won’t read the article, the time spent on the research is of no use to society. Society doesn’t change because of a collection of peer-reviewed articles.

I believe that the time has come to value the work that is actually being read, and not just count the number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals. Biswas and Kirchherr (2015) also believe that the number of published articles should not be used to determine the success of an academic. Academia needs to re-assess its purpose and ensure that value is given to those that have an effect on public consciousness.


Biswas, A., & Kirchherr, J. (2015, April 9). Citations are not enough: Academic promotion panels must take into account a scholar’s presence in popular media. [Web log post].

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Does one’s learning theory and/or epistemology change over time?

While researching studies to support my own learning theory, I stumbled across a longitudinal study that addressed this very question. Walker, Brownlee, Whiteford, Exely, & Woods (2012) studied if and how teachers’ learning theories and epistemologies changed throughout their training, from when they first entered the program to when they completed their four-year degree (pp. 24-35). Their findings have significant value for future teacher-training programs.

SpringAs the students progressed through their teacher training, they were: “more likely to believe that knowledge is integrated rather than consisting of a series of facts” (p.28-29); “more likely…to believe that learning might take time” (p. 29); “more likely to believe that the characteristics of successful students include more than innate ability” (p. 29); and “more likely…to believe that knowledge is uncertain” (p. 29).


Walker, et. al. (2012) discuss other research studies in their article that illustrate how teachers’ epistemological frameworks influence their teaching styles. For example, students who believed more in an objectivist epistemology at the start of their teacher training “…were less likely to accept a range of solution strategies or algorithms [in mathematical thinking] that were invented by children” (p. 26). The article also discusses a study that shows how the use of contradictory articles helped develop critical thinking skills, which, in turn, influenced personal epistemologies (p. 32).


The authors conclude that, “Engaging in reflection, experiencing contradictions in theories and opinions, developing a deep understanding, and gaining further knowledge are categories which suggest that challenging, meaningful learning experiences seem to have an impact on preservice teachers’ personal epistemologies” (p. 31). If these categories impacted new teachers’ ways of thinking, then one could surmise these constructivist type activities would have an effect on different students’ thinking in other ways.


All images by DGJ, Retrieved from

Walker, S., Brownlee, J., Whiteford, C., Exely, B., & Woods, A. (2012). A Longitudinal Study of Change in Preservice Teachers’ Personal Epistemologies. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(5). Retrieved:

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Learning about research

After working my way through the tutorial for the Tri-Council Policy Statement (2ndedition): Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) Course on Research Ethics (CORE), I was amazed that researchers could willingly undertake some of the very unethical research projects in the past.

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Frankes, Retrieved from

Throughout history, the belief that the “end justified the means” has been strong. This allowed a number of horrifying research projects to take place. Granted, some projects were allowed to start due to the ignorance of the researchers in how damaging the project could potentially be, such as the Stanford Prison Experiment. However, far more were not only allowed to start, but to continue even though the researchers and funders involved knew better.

Perhaps the most famous would be the horrific experiments that the Nazis completed on their prisoners during WWII. These became internationally known during the Nuremberg Trials. “The actions were so despicable that 20 physicians were put on trial in Nuremberg for violation of the Hippocratic Oath and behaviour incompatible with their education and profession” (N. MacDonald, R. Stanwick, & A. Lynk, 2014).

Justice was served, at least with regards to the Nazis and their experiments.

The Nuremberg Code of Medical Ethics was drafted in 1947. In 1964, the World Medical Association (WMA) adopted the Declaration of Helsinki to address the ethical principles for research involving humans. During the time from the start of the Nuremberg Trials to the drafting of the Declaration of Helsinki, any researcher, at least in the developed countries such as Canada and the USA, would have been well aware of the need to respect the dignity of the subjects of any research.

Unfortunately, some Canadian researchers seem to feel that the Nuremberg Code did not apply to them. Just recently, information has come to light about the research conducted on Aboriginal children in the Residential Schools, which began in 1942 and ended in 1952, five years after the first draft of the Nuremberg Code that listed recommendations for experiments completed on humans. Perhaps the researchers of the Aboriginal studies could claim “ignorance” due to the tight timelines. However, when we analyze the purpose of the experiments, it is quickly realized that the potential results were already well known even before the experiments began (MacDonald, Stanwick, & Lynk, 2014). These experiments should never have even started, much less continued after the world analyzed the Nazis’ experiments during WWII.

Slow Road Sign

schoolfreeware, Retrieved from

There have been other unethical research projects that have been undertaken in Canada. In his paper, Research Ethics Boards: A Historical Background, Douglas Kinsella, MD (2010) lists a few (unbelievably) unethical research projects in both Canada and the USA
and calls for the Tri-Council Code of Conduct to move from a non-legislated policy to a legislated policy in order to prevent continued lack of protection for research subjects. Let’s hope that some of Dr. Kinsella’s recommendations were implemented in the current TCPS 2, that researchers will never be able to receive funding and support for unethical research in this country again, and that those who are found to be guilty of conducting unethical research are held accountable for their crimes.


MacDonald, N., Stanwick, $., & Lynk, A. (2014). Canada’s shameful history of nutrition research on residential school children: The need for strong medical ethics in Aboriginal health research. Paediatr Child Health. 2014 Feb; 19(2): 64; retrieved


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