Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
The Read, Reflect, Display, and Do Model
Goals and Uses of This Book
Book Content and Organization
The Web of Learning
The Read, Reflect, Display, and Do Model
Continued Shortfalls of “Management” Systems
The Curse of Text?
The Blessing of Text?
Phase 1 of R2D2
Activity 1. Online Scavenger Hunt
Activity 2. Web Tours and Safaris
Activity 3. WebQuest
Activity 4. Guided Readings
Activity 5. Discovery Readings
Activity 6. Foreign Language Reading Activities and Online News
Activity 7. FAQs and Course Announcement Feedback
Activity 8. Question-and-Answer Sessions with Instructor
Activity 9. Online Expert Chats
Activity 10. Online Synchronous Testing
Activity 11. Synchronous or Virtual Classroom Instructor Presentations
Activity 12. Online Webinars
Activity 13. Public Tutorials, Wizards, and Help Systems
Activity 14. Expert Lectures and Commentary
Activity 15. An Online Podcast Lecture or Podcast Show
Activity 16. Audio Dramas
Activity 17. Posting Video-Based Explanations and Demonstrations
Activity 18. Online Sound or Music Training
Activity 19. Online Literature Readings
Activity 20. Online Poetry Readings
Activity 21. Posting Webliographies or Web Resources
Activity 22. Text Messaging Course Notes and Content
Activity 23. Text Messaging Course Reminders and Activities
Activity 24. Online Language Lessons
Activity 25. E-Book and Wikibook Reports and Critiques
Use and Outlook for Phase 1 Strategies
Final Reflections
Phase 2 of Read, Reflect, Display, and Do
Activity 26. Post Model Answers
Activity 27. Reuse Chat Transcripts
Activity 28. Workplace, Internship, or Job Reflections
Activity 29. Field and Lab Observations
Activity 30. Self-Check Quizzes and Exams
Activity 31. Online Discussion Forums and Group Discussions
Activity 32. Online Portal Explorations and Reflections
Activity 33. Lurker, Browser, or Observer in Online Groups
Activity 34. Podcast Tours
Activity 35. Personal Blogs
Activity 36. Collaborative or Team Blogs
Activity 37. Online Resource Libraries
Activity 38. Social Networking Linkages
Activity 39. Online Role Play Reflections
Activity 40. Synchronous and Asynchronous Discussion Combinations
Activity 41. Self-Check Reflection Activities
Activity 42. Electronic Portfolios
Activity 43. Individual Reflection Papers
Activity 44. Team or Group Reflective Writing Tasks
Activity 45. Super-Summaries, Portfolio Reflections, and Personal Philosophy Papers
Activity 46. Online Cases, Situations, and Vignettes
Activity 47. Satellite Discussion or Special Interest Groups
Activity 48. Small-Group Case Creations and Analyses
Activity 49. Small-Group Exam Question Challenges
Activity 50. Reaction or Position Papers
Use and Outlook for Phase 2 Strategies
Final Reflections
Phase 3 of R2D2
Structural Knowledge, Meaningful Learning, and Mindtools
Other Visual Tools and Resources
Activity 51. Anchored Instruction with Online Video
Activity 52. Explore and Share Online Museums and Libraries
Activity 53. Concept Mapping Key Information
Activity 54. Videostreamed Lectures and Presentations
Activity 55. Videostreamed Conferences and Events
Activity 56. Interactive News and Documentaries
Activity 57. Interactive Online Performances
Activity 58. Design Evaluation
Activity 59. Design Generation
Activity 60. Design Reviews and Expert Commentary
Activity 61. Online Timeline Explorations and Safaris
Activity 62. Virtual Tours
Activity 63. Visual Web Resource Explorations
Activity 64. Animations
Activity 65. Advance Organizers: Models, Flowcharts, Diagrams, Systems, and Illustrations
Activity 66. Virtual Field Trips
Activity 67. Video Modeling and Professional Development
Activity 68. Movie Reviews for Professional Development
Activity 69. Whiteboard Demonstrations
Activity 70. Online Visualization Tools
Activity 71. Video Blogs and Adventure Learning
Activity 72. Charts and Graph Tools
Activity 73. Mashups of Google Maps
Activity 74. Broadcast Events
Activity 75. Online Multimedia and Visually Rich Cases
Use and Outlook for Phase 3 Strategies
Final Reflections
Phase 4 of R2D2
Activity 76. Web-Based Survey Research
Activity 77. Video Scenario Learning
Activity 78. Content Review Games
Activity 79. Online Review and Practice Exercises
Activity 80. Mock Trial or Fictional Situations
Activity 81. Online Role Play of Personalities
Activity 82. Action Research
Activity 83. Interactive Fiction and Continuous Stories
Activity 84. Real-Time Cases
Activity 85. Course Resource Wiki Site
Activity 86. Wikibook Projects
Activity 87. Online Glossary and Resource Links Projects
Activity 88. On-Demand and Workflow Learning
Activity 89. Digital Storytelling
Activity 90. Online Documentation of Internship, Field Placement, Practicum ...
Activity 91. Authentic Data Analysis
Activity 92. Online Science Labs and Simulations
Activity 93. Simulation Games
Activity 94. Simulations and Games for Higher-Level Skills
Activity 95. Client Consulting and Experiential Learning
Activity 96. Online Tutoring and Mentoring
Activity 97. Cross-Class Product Development and Creativity
Activity 98. Cross-Class Content Discussions, Analyses, Competitions, and Evaluations
Activity 99. Learner Podcast Activities, Events, and Shows
Activity 100. Design Course Web Site
Use and Outlook for Phase 4 Strategies
Final Reflections
Comprehensive Strategies for R2D2
Reflections on R2D2


The increasing popularity of online learning in education and training (Allen & Seaman, 2004, 2005), combined with insufficient instructor development, poor strategic planning, and high dropout rates (Frankola, 2001), generates many challenges and dilemmas for instructors, trainers, and instructional designers. One key challenge relates to the generational differences in learning experiences and preferences among online learners. Learners, especially adults returning to college for additional degrees or certifications, want their e-learning experiences to be personally empowering and highly relevant to their occupations and interests. But so do younger learners who may be highly savvy with the educational technologies that are integrated into such online instruction. However, they may have quite different educational experiences and learning expectations.
With the advent of the Web of Learning (the phrase we use for learning-related uses of online resources and technologies) to supplement a course, deliver most of a course, or handle an entire course or program online, instructors, trainers, and students have increasing needs and expectations (as well as the means) to individualize and customize instruction. As online opportunities proliferate, instructors, instructional designers, and administrators need models or frameworks and rich examples of how to address the many types of learners signing up for their online certificates, modules, courses, and programs.
Corporate training and e-learning guru Elliott Masie (2006) has repeatedly noted that we live in an age of fingertip knowledge, where memorizing lists is much less important than knowing how to access them. There are serious implications for the lowered expectations regarding memorization in our instructional designs. Do we recognize and perhaps even promote the fact that our learners no longer need to memorize most information? And while technology -savvy young learners may be able to navigate efficiently to the needed information, what skills do they need once they locate it? What are the digital learning skills of the twenty-first century, and how might online learning experiences facilitate the acquisition and use of such skills?
We are only at the initial stages of Web use in education and training; the emphasis on fingertip knowledge skills is just one of many trends. Diversity, variety, flexibility, choice, and options—these are key components of the age of online teaching and learning. Instructors who either lack experience in or are more hesitant or reluctant to try online teaching and learning may simply need additional guidance and frameworks to support their efforts (Bonk & Dennen, 2003). Of course, even online experts from time to time need to try out new models and lenses for navigating this enormous Web of Learning. Likewise, a plethora of new centers and institutes for e-learning, blended learning, technology integration, and teaching excellence springing up around the globe have a mission to find, document, and showcase the best online learning practices they can find. Naturally, such centers make use of frameworks, guidelines, and labels for the online learning activities and teaching models that they employ and advocate to others.
Of course, there are myriad reasons why such teaching and learning centers are gaining attention and, for some, increased funding. For instance, as a direct result of the explosion of Web-based learning during the past decade, there are hundreds of thousands of new online instructors around the planet each year who have never been trained or certified to teach in online environments, nor have they taken an online course as a student. Given this dilemma, it is not surprising that in our journeys within North America as well as around the world we have discovered excitement about models, frameworks, stories, and examples of effective online teaching and learning.
The vast majority of those new to this form of instructional delivery simply want to know what works and what does not. Many teachers, trainers, and college professors or lecturers we encounter are worried that they cannot keep pace with the technology skills of their students. They read reports about each new generation of learners having unique learning preferences and experiences that are vastly different from previous ones. Currently, there is extensive discussion about Generation X and Y students and how they each are distinct from the Baby Boomer generation (Oblinger, 2003). In fact, educators such as Chris Dede (2005) from Harvard ’s Graduate School of Education now discuss and debate the emerging neo -Millennial learners and their technology preferences when they work and learn online.
But the Web of Learning opens avenues for both younger and older adults. As the age range of students widens, instructors need additional assistance and support to address these varied student needs and preferences. In response to this difficult situation, it is important to recognize the rich body of literature that has emerged in the area of learning styles within face -to-face (FTF) instruction (for example, Kolb, 1984; Lawrence, 1993). At the same time, there is a pressing need to extend theoretical frameworks and practical guidance related to FTF settings to promising ideas about integrating online technologies and resources to address varied learning styles, cultural backgrounds, and preferences.

The Read, Reflect, Display, and Do Model

In response to these fascinating education and technology related trends and mounting challenges, this book introduces an easy -to-apply, practical model—the Read, Reflect, Display, and Do (R2D2) model—that should help online instructors integrate various learning activities with appropriate technologies for effective online learning for a diverse array of e-learners (Bonk & Zhang, 2006). R2D2 is a new model for designing and delivering distance education, and, in particular, online learning. As the title of this book, Empowering Online Learning, indicates, it is meant to empower e-learners and e-instructors. (Our R2D2 model is distinct from the instructional design model from Jost, Mumma, and Willis, 1999, with the same name. Our model is not an instructional design model in the traditional sense, and, unlike Jost et al., it is intended for online environments.)
R2D2 is a framework that can help one plan, design, and deliver online courses. The R2D2 model has four distinct phases—reading, reflecting, displaying, and doing—which help address diverse learner needs, backgrounds, expectations, preferences, and styles. The first phase of R2D2 relates to methods to help learners acquire knowledge through online readings, Web explorations, and listening to online content such as the popular use of podcasted lectures which students can download to their iPods or MP3 players or sit and listen to at their desktops. As such, Phase 1 addresses verbal and auditory learners. Phase 2 of the model focuses on thinking and reflective activities such as online blogs, reflective writing, and self-check activities and examinations. In Phase 3, visual representations of the content are highlighted with activities such as virtual tours, timelines, animations, and concept maps. Last, Phase 4 emphasizes what learners can do with the content in hands-on activities including simulations, scenarios, and real-time cases. When thoughtfully designed and effectively delivered, content and activities created from a perspective such as R2D2 are more engaging and enriching for learners.
We have demonstrated the R2D2 model in many presentations delivered across the globe. Audience feedback indicates that the model is highly intuitive and that it works. Equally important, our research in both corporate training and higher education environments indicates that there will be a shifting from text-based environments to more hands-on, collaborative, and active learning opportunities as well as a movement toward increasing online learning activities and tools and features that enhance visual learning (Kim & Bonk, 2006). R2D2 can help with this upcoming shift.

Goals and Uses of This Book

We have mapped out continua of instructional options from low-risk to high - risk strategies; from low-time to time -intensive activities; from low-cost to highly expensive endeavors; and from heavily teacher-centered events to those that are more learner centered. Based on interactions with myriad online trainers and instructors during our global journeys, it is clear that, given pervasive and rapidly escalating budgetary and accountability concerns related to education and training across all sectors, many online educators as well as their supervisors want to know more about the low-risk, low -time, and low-cost strategies that can be effectively deployed. Of course, some may want to be pushed to the upper edges of these continua and take more risks or spend more time planning and developing online activities. We hope to accomplish both goals with this book: to gently nudge or push ahead the experts and high risk takers as well as those who are hesitant or too intimidated to embed online technologies in their teaching and training practices.
There are many ways to employ this book. For instance, it might be used in technology integration courses at the undergraduate level as well as educational technology master’s and perhaps even doctoral-level courses. In higher education settings, this book could be adopted as primary or supplemental reading for courses on instructional design and technology, online course design, technology integration, distance education, e -learning, and the like. At the same time, it could be used in instructor and administrator professional development institutes and workshops related to online teaching and learning.
While all of the 100+ activities discussed in the book can find application in higher education settings, many can also be applied in corporate, government, K-12, and other training and education settings. The book is intended to provide a compass (albeit just one) for instructors and course designers to use when creating or conducting an online class. While the R2D2 model is not an instructional design (ID) model, at least in the traditional sense of ID, it can provide vital assistance in designing online courses. In addition, R2D2 (and the activities detailed here) provides first-timers, whether they are instructors, tutors, trainers, or instructional designers, with a crutch to support their efforts, while more experienced e-instructors might use it as a tool for reflecting on as well as integrating their existing online teaching practices.

Book Content and Organization

In this book, you will find the following:
• Practical guidance for online instructors, instructional designers, courseware designers, and course management developers and vendors
• A plethora of ways to create engaging learning activities for a variety of learners
• Stories and examples that online instructors can personally relate to
• Useful references with examples on how to integrate free and emerging technologies into active learning experiences for diverse learners
We felt that it was time for a book that both acknowledged the growing importance of the Web of Learning as well as a model for making sense of it in at least a small way. While we realize that the learning styles literature is replete with problems and misconceptions (see Santo, 2006), we designed the R2D2 model as a means for reflecting on and adjusting one’s teaching and learning practices as well as a way to address individual students’ needs.
Instead of focusing on distinct learning styles or approaches, the aim of this book is essentially to address diverse learner needs. The increasing diversity of learners in any learning setting or educational situation places escalating demands and pressures on instructors, instructional designers, institutions, and organizations. In the end, this book is intended to serve as a resource to help such individuals address these diverse learner preferences and needs.
In Chapter One, we introduce the R2D2 model and explain how to use it in different types of e-learning and blended learning settings. In particular, we outline the R2D2 model—Read, Reflect, Display, and Do—and address different learning styles and various generations or types of learners in online courses.
The following eight chapters provide an overview of emerging technologies for online reading, reflecting, displaying, and doing as well as more than 100 practical activities and ideas for implementation of the model. In Chapters Two through Nine, we discuss each type of learning approach and the available technologies that have emerged to nurture or support it. Even-numbered chapters describe the learning styles addressed by each phase of R2D2; odd-numbered chapters provide sets of twenty-five instructional strategies or activities addressing each type of learning. For example, Chapter Two describes how to use this model to address auditory and verbal learners, while Chapter Three presents twenty-five distinct ways to carry this out with variations and extensions from the original example, instructional procedures, and additional advice and instructional considerations, including our sense of the degree of risk, time, cost, and learner-centeredness of each activity.
This sequence is followed in the remaining chapters of the book. For instance, Chapters Four and Five address reflective and observational learning as seen through many online reflective writing and self-assessment activities. Once again, the former chapter describes technology trends and innovative pedagogical ideas related to this type of learning preference, whereas the latter one contains twenty-five activities that can be attempted in a variety of settings. Next, Chapters Six and Seven focus on visual learning tools, resources, and activities. In completing the R2D2 model, Chapters Eight and Nine present a series of hands-on activities such as simulations, games, and scenario learning. Finally, in Chapter Ten, we summarize the ideas from the previous eight chapters while specifically addressing how to integrate all four types of learning activities in effective online courses.

Caveats Regarding the Web Resources, Tools, and Activities Listed

Key Web resources that are mentioned in each chapter are also listed at the end of the book by chapter. The Web resources listed for each chapter are also sub-grouped by category or type of resource or activity. We realize that over time many of these Web sites and associated URLs may change or disappear. And, as fads and trends change, they might also lose their educational appeal and luster. We hope that the reader will understand the dilemma related to attempting to capture interesting educational aspects of a dynamic learning resource (that is, the Internet) with a static document. As the Web of Learning expands, we hope that you will share with us the resources, tools, and materials that you have found educationally impressive and valuable and perhaps used in your own online learning and instruction. We will attempt to maintain an up-to-date list of such Web resources on our own respective homepages.
It is important to also point out that we are not directly endorsing any of the tools, resources, systems, consultants, or researchers mentioned in the book, nor do we offer guidelines or recommendations on how to select from them. Along these same lines, the 100 + activities outlined in this book are simply examples, not prescriptions; please modify, add to, or delete any idea or step mentioned here or combine pieces or kernels of them as needed. When you do that, the 100+ strategies of this book multiply exponentially. It is the intersection among such technologies and pedagogies that is the most valuable. If there is a particular technology or activity that you believe is noticeably absent from this book, please write to us and let us know.
Curtis J. Bonk
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana
Ke Zhang
Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan

Many individuals contributed to the production of this book. We thank a host of people around the globe who have learned about the R2D2 model and have given us their reactions and testimonials regarding its use. We appreciate all those who have attended our workshops and other presentations and provided feedback, friendship, and far-reaching ideas leading to improvements in the original design. The optimistic and energetic among you have supplied us with the fuel to generate this book. A warm thanks to each of you!
There are indeed many kindred souls walking this planet who have decided, at least for now, to explore the area of online teaching and learning. It is you who have made this field grow and who have helped increase the quality and authenticity of online courses and programs. Please, never stop pushing ahead and making a personal dent or mark in the reform and progress of education and human learning! Each of you must continually attempt to make your dents!
More specifically, we thank our editor, David Brightman, and his assistant, Erin Null, who provided guidance for the structure of this book. In addition to the support from folks at Jossey-Bass, we are each blessed with some of the best students and colleagues in the world, who provided candid feedback on our ideas as well as ample encouragement, humor, and resources where and when needed. Countless former students served as colleagues who provided comments and suggestions related to various chapters as we completed them. We think of each of you daily. In addition, many other colleagues around the planet offered us inspiration, encouragement, ideas, suggestions, advice, resources, and other feedback. Such individuals include John Savery of the University of Akron, Thomas Reynolds of National University, Veronica Acosta-Deprez of California State University at Long Beach, Christina Mainka and Panos Vlachopoulos of Napier University, Mimi Lee and Grace Lin of the University of Houston, Xun Ge of the University of Oklahoma, Jon Dron of Athabasca University, Jay Cross of the InternetTime.com group, Chris Dede of Harvard University, Vanessa Dennen and Hye-Yoon Jung of Florida State University, Julie Young of the Florida Virtual School, Abtar Kaur of the Open University of Malaysia, Ron Owston of York University, R. Lena Lee of Ohio University, Hyo-Jeong So of the National Institute of Education in Singapore, Kyong-Jee Kim of Sungkyunkwan University, Randy Garrison of the University of Calgary, Gilly Salmon of the University of Leicester, Jim Hensman and Andy Syson of the University of Coventry, Siew-Mee Barton of Deacon University, Norah Jones of the University of Glamorgan, Inae Kang of Kyung Hee University, Okhwa Lee of Chungbuk National University, our wonderful colleagues at Indiana University and Wayne State University, and many others who are far too numerous to thank individually here. We thank you all! May each of you find success as well as support the successes of others in the Web of Learning. Finally, we thank our families for putting up with us while we were writing this book.

Curt Bonk and Ke Zhang designed this book based on their more than two decades of combined distance education teaching experience as well as the insights they have acquired from conversations with thousands of individuals during their travels around the globe. Countless questions, issues, and suggestions arose in those conversations that they address in this book. They each have experience teaching fully online as well as in blended environments, courses using videoconferencing, and, of course, face-to-face (FTF) or on -ground courses. In addition, Bonk was involved with correspondence and television-based courses during the 1980s at the University of Wisconsin.
This book would certainly not exist without distance learning. The seeds for this particular book, in fact, began to germinate during a videoconferencing presentation from Bonk to one of Zhang’s classes in the spring of 2005. Bonk and Zhang have each conducted extensive research in the area of online learning, in particular, on collaborative teaming, problem-based learning, online mentoring, and national and international trends in online and blended learning in both higher education and corporate training. Their work has also addressed K -12 environments and military settings. Bonk and Zhang are highly interested in the support structures for effective online teaching and learning.
Curtis J. Bonk is a former corporate controller and CPA, who, after becoming sufficiently bored with that, received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin. After serving on the faculty of West Virginia University from 1989 to 1992, he arrived at Indiana University (IU) in 1992 where he was a professor of educational psychology for thirteen years and is now in the Instructional Systems Technology Department and an adjunct professor in the School of Informatics. Dr. Bonk was a senior research fellow with the Advanced Distributed Learning Lab within the Department of Defense. He has received numerous teaching and mentoring awards from IU, as well as the CyberStar Award from the Indiana Information Technology Association in 2002, the Most Outstanding Achievement Award from the U.S. Distance Learning Association in 2003, and the Most Innovative Teaching in a Distance Education Program Award from the state of Indiana in 2003. In 2004, Bonk received an alumni achievement award from the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Bonk has presented more than eight hundred talks around the globe related to online teaching and learning and has more than two hundred publications on topics such as online learning pedagogy, massive multiplayer online gaming, collaborative technologies, synchronous and asynchronous computer conferencing, and frameworks for Web-based instruction and evaluation. Two of his previous books are Electronic Collaborators (1998) and the Handbook of Blended Learning Environments: Global Perspectives, Local Designs (2006). Finally, he is president of CourseShare and SurveyShare and can be contacted at cjbonk@ indiana.edu or via his homepage at http://mypage.iu.edu/~cjbonk/.
Ke Zhang moved to the highly recognized Instructional Technology Program at Wayne State University in July 2006 as an assistant professor. Prior to that, she was on the faculty at Texas Tech University for three years. She received her master ’s of science and Ph.D. in instructional systems from the Pennsylvania State University with a minor in business administration. Dr. Zhang has professionally consulted in areas such as instructional design, organizational change, training, and workforce development with clients like Siemens, Procter & Gamble, Pepsi, and Otis. Her extensive research activities have resulted in dozens of refereed journal articles, book chapters, and conference presentations on topics related to online learning, collaborative technology, problem solving, problem-based learning, e -learning, and computers as mindtools. Ke can be reached via email at ke.zhang@wayne.edu or via her homepage at http://itlab.coe.wayne.edu/kzhang/index.htm.


Read, Reflect, Display, and Do

The Web of Learning

Given that you have decided to read at least part of this book, chances are you have explored online learning and become enthralled by its tools, resources, and overall educational potential. Other times you probably have experienced extensive frustration and hesitation. As we mentioned in the Preface to this book, we have named the place you have entered many times “the Web of Learning.” We use this phrase in an attempt to help online educators, learners, and policymakers focus on what is available or potentially available online for learning instead of on the technologies. Within the Web of Learning metaphor, educational professionals can begin to design models and frameworks that can clarify and simplify online educational possibilities. Our hope is that more innovative, engaging, and exciting pedagogy will ensue.
The Web of Learning contains a plethora of educationally relevant and continually evolving resources, tools, and learning materials, many of which are increasingly open and free to the world. What will you find there? Without too much digging, you will discover online games, virtual worlds, simulations, online conferences or professional meetings, podcasts (typically, online audio files that can be downloaded or listened to) on nearly any topic imaginable, community-developed resources such as wikis, cultural and historical information, links to museums, libraries, and learning resource centers spanning the planet, and countless visual records of human history. Any of these resources and materials can be embedded in online courses and programs.
But many educators are stymied when they enter the Web of Learning, and rightfully so. There seems to be an endless number of learning portals and resources relevant to one ’s courses, a growing number of tools that one can utilize within a course, and thousands of resources that might find their way into online course activities. With so many instructional opportunities, technology tools, and e-learning resources and materials inundating instructors today, it is not surprising that many simply choose to ignore the Web of Learning or use it in the most minimal way possible. To help those who are hesitant or resistant, we offer more than 100 ideas for employing the Web of Learning in fully online and blended courses. And we provide a model or framework for reflecting on and organizing or compartmentalizing such activities.

The Need for a Comprehensive Online Teaching Model

As noted in the Preface, there is a mounting need to address diverse learning preferences and various generations of learners. It is clear that e-learning tools and learning approaches within the Web of Learning hold exciting possibilities for personalizing the learning experience of young and old, visual as well as verbal learners, and digitally inexperienced as well as digitally savvy online learners. Unfortunately, currently popular online learning courseware of most any stripe or name (that is, course management systems [CMSs], learning management systems [LMSs], virtual learning environments [VLEs], and so on) is severely limited in the means to address the diverse needs of online learners. As most online instructors and students realize, typical online courses rely heavily on text-based assignments and intensive online readings. Course materials, including syllabi, handouts, PowerPoint presentations, assignments, and online discussion activities, are primarily available in written text (though, as Chapters Six and Seven make evident, there has been a recent shifting toward augmenting or perhaps even transforming such activities with visual learning enhancements).
In any online environment today, communications either among students or between students and instructors—the heart and soul of online learning (especially in higher education)—are mostly achieved through written formats such as e-mails, discussion boards, and text chats. The lack of visual tools such as graphics, charts, diagrams, and the like challenges learners who would prefer visuals of some type to help with their conceptualizations, manipulations, and memorizations. Reflective learners may also find text-based readings less engaging, since they tend to prefer to learn through various forms of observation and deep pondering. Likewise, those who resonate with hands -on activities and real-world applications would most likely anxiously look for the same experiences in their online learning tasks and activities. Suffice to say, most online courses, no matter what the discipline, topic, audience, or work sector, are limited in scope and fail to take advantage of the abundant educational opportunities in the Web of Learning.

The Read, Reflect, Display, and Do Model

For educational progress, it is vital to make sense of this mammoth Web of Learning. The Read, Reflect, Display, and Do (R2D2) model was designed specifically for addressing varied student learning preferences, diverse backgrounds and experiences, and generational differences. Some students may excel with tasks that are visual, while others might prefer hearing the words or reading from electronic or paper-based texts. Still others might want to jump in and try things out for themselves. And some individuals might be happy reflecting on expert models or their own learning journeys. Of course, most often the learning materials and activities are not as discrete as this but instead involve a combination of such approaches (for example, an activity might be both visually intense and hands-on). R2D2 can help there too!
Throughout this book there are dozens of detailed activities and examples related to the four phases of R2D2 along with suggestions on how they might be used with different types of learners and situations. Our primary goal is to divvy up the Web of Learning so that educators, trainers, teachers, tutors, mentors, freelance lecturers, and instructional designers across educational sectors will actively employ it in their own instruction, and not avoid it at all costs. Baby steps, as Bill Murray repeated to himself over and over in the movie What About Bob?, are perhaps what many hesitant or resistant educators need. Using pieces of the R2D2 framework is akin to taking baby steps into this extremely daunting yet enticing Web of Learning. At the same time, it can foster giant leaps for those wishing to take more extensive risks in their online teaching activities.
R2D2 arrives in an age that is overflowing with educational transitions. These transitions include the movement from lecture-dominated classes and lockstep or predefined content to the use of learner-controlled hypermedia and exploratory events. In effect, it is a revolution across educational settings, from teacher-centered content and delivery of such content to learner-enabled and learner-centered learning. There is a simultaneous shift from the primary use of face-to-face (FTF) instruction across educational settings and events to one that blends two or more delivery formats while providing a plethora of learning options. There is also an associated transformation, then, from teaching or training only learners whom you can see and physically interact with to teaching anyone located anywhere on this planet (and beyond, of course); with R2D2 your students might go where no online learner has gone before.
As you explore this book, consider it part of a personal pilgrimage into what you can do online in the Web of Learning. This book is purposefully not laced with prescriptions, though we do offer ample suggestions, caveats, and guidelines. As such, it is perhaps most suited to those in the online teaching and learning trenches who are looking for ways to make sense of this somewhat forbidding online world. Nevertheless, this journey into the Web of Learning is meant for everyone. Use what you can and modify, ignore, or discard the rest. Safe journeys!

On the Road to R2D2

As indicated, there are four phases—Read, Reflect, Display, and Do—within the R2D2 model. Based on the work of many educators who have explored individual differences in learning and associated learning preferences and styles (for example, Kolb, 1984; Fleming & Mills, 1992; McCarthy, 1987), Table 1.1 provides details on the four phases of R2D2, including instructional activities that link to each area and various types of learners: auditory, verbal, reflective, observational, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile. However, nearly every activity discussed in this book addresses, at least in a small way, more than one phase and learning preference or style. Our classifications, therefore, are meant to indicate which aspect is primarily, though not solely, being addressed. If instructors, trainers, and instructional designers involved in distance learning initiatives take these four types of learning preferences into account when designing and delivering online and other forms of distance learning courses, they should experience higher levels of success.
Despite its applicability to instructional designers and the online course design process, R2D2 is not an instructional design model; instead, it is a framework for the design of online learning environments and activities. It is a lens that might be positioned over the top of one’s instructional design approaches. The focus is on what instructors can enable learners to do, not necessarily what sequence of steps or procedures to embed within a training event or course.
As evident in Figure 1.1, the R2D2 model aligns well with various learning style and multiple intelligence measures. In particular, it draws on ideas from Kolb’s (1984) learning cycle, McCarthy ’s 4MAT system (1987), and the VARK (that is, visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic) learning style model of Fleming and Mills (1992). Like 4MAT, VARK, and many other learning style or preferences schemes, the R2D2 model proposes an integration of four types of learning activities: (1) reading, (2) reflecting (including reflective writing), (3) displaying, and (4) doing. Clearly, by targeting auditory or verbal, reflective, visual, and kinesthetic learners, R2D2 is highly similar to the VARK method. However, the R2D2 method places more emphasis on reflective activities by emphasizing writing processes and activities in the second phase of the model rather than grouping them with reading, as the VARK model does. In addition, the R2D2 model has a special focus on the application of emerging learning technologies in fully online learning and blended learning.
As shown in Figure 1.1, the first phase of R2D2 (reading) relates primarily to methods to help learners acquire knowledge through such tasks as online readings, e-learning explorations, and listening to podcasted lectures. As such, it addresses verbal and auditory learners. The second phase of the model (reflecting) focuses on reflective activities such as online blogs, reflective writing, and self-check or review activities and self-testing examinations. In the third phase (displaying), visual representations of the content are highlighted with activities such as virtual tours, timelines, animations, and concept maps. The fourth phase of the model (doing) emphasizes what learners can do with the content in hands-on activities, including simulations, scenarios, and real-time cases. When thoughtfully designed and effectively delivered, content and activities created from the R2D2 perspective are more engaging and enriching for learners.
At its core, the R2D2 model is a starting point to help online instructors understand the assorted backgrounds of online learners and become better equipped to address their diversity. Such a model can be used to appeal to the wide-ranging preferences of online learners of varied generations and different levels of Internet familiarity. It also affords users a means to apply the widely available and often free technology tools and resources in many types of online learning activities.
R2D2 may also work well for problem -based learning or in a problem-solving process in general. As indicated in Figure 1.1, the four phases of the R2D2 model introduce a variety of learning activities for the different problem-solving stages, from initial accumulation of knowledge (that is, reading) to reflecting on such knowledge (that is, reflection) to visually showing what one has learned (that is, displaying) to trying out that new knowledge (that is, doing). For example, readings address problem orientation and knowledge acquisition, whereas reflections help with problem clarification and knowledge construction. In addition, activities for displaying learning would be particularly powerful for knowledge representation of the problem or situation as well as solution seeking and analysis. Finally, the doing phase aligns well with solution evaluation and knowledge transfer in the problem-solving process.
Also worth mentioning is the dynamic nature of the model, as events occurring in different phases of the model impact other phases and may cause the learner to revisit steps already deemed completed. As a nonlinear model, R2D2 suggests a dynamic approach to online learning and encourages instructors, designers, and learners to select diverse learning activities strategically from different phases and to incorporate them in various sequences to better address learners’ different needs and preferences.
While the journals and research literature devoted to e -learning continue to increase at dizzying rates, there exists a severe lack of practical models such as R2D2 that can help instructors, trainers, instructional designers, and other educational professionals with easy-to-apply learning activities that result in effective and enjoyable online learning.
As will become clear in reading this book, the R2D2 model reaches beyond any given CMS or Web-based learning platform or system. Given the infinite resources available within the Web of Learning, courses designed using this model or framework could offer online learners massive and captivating opportunities for reading, reflecting, displaying, and doing.

Linking the Phases of R2D2 to Human Problem Solving

While the chapters of this book detail four distinct phases to the R2D2 model—Read, Reflect, Display, and Do—we admit that nearly any instructional activity or approach attempted within the Web of Learning will undoubtedly involve more than one phase. Our four-part classification scheme is simply meant to indicate which aspect of learning is primarily being addressed. If online educators and trainers take these four types of learning and associated learning activities into account when designing and delivering their courses, they would likely experience higher success rates. And, as shown in Table 1.2, they might also use them to foster learner problem solving and the overall human problem-solving process.
The R2D2 model may serve as a framework to guide the design and implementation of a comprehensive problem-solving or problem-based learning environment. In fact, the four phases of R2D2 also represent different phases and steps inherent in human problem solving. For example, a problem-solving process may start with precursory reading activities to help students understand the nature of the problem or make sense of what the problem really is (that is, Phase 1: Reading). Next, the learner might move to Phase 2 with re flective activities to assist in further clarification of the problem and sort out possible problem-solving paths (Phase 2: Reflecting). Third, such a learner might then proceed to tasks involving information organization, analysis, synthesis, and representation (Phase 3: Displaying). Finally, this problem-solving cycle ends with the evaluation and use of the data that the learner has gathered and sifted through (Phase 4: Doing). While these are perhaps the most logical steps, as noted later in the chapter, it is conceivable that the problem-solving process as well as the use of the R2D2 model could unfold in the exact opposite direction.
Phase 1 of the R2D2 model is pithily and purposely labeled as “Reading.” In reality, however, it involves much more than simply reading text-based materials. We believe that it is the most comprehensive and complex of the four phases. As noted in Table 1.2, the “reading phase ” is the exploration, fact-finding, and knowledge acquisition stage of the learning process. You need new knowledge and ideas in order to have something to reflect upon (that is, R2D2 Phase 2), to visualize and organize (Phase 3), and to apply your learning and make it meaningful (Phase 4). Instead of overloading and boring students with written texts, Phase 1 of the model introduces a wide range of learning activities and experiences to help learners acquire knowledge, including the use of podcasting, synchronous conferencing, instant messaging, and other content -rich events and activities. It is the stage of learning meant to intrigue and engage learners in the learning process, not to bore them or cause them to promptly file out.
Phase 2 of the R2D2 model emphasizes learners ’ reflective processes, speaking to reflective or observational learners who learn and problem solve from watching or observing others as well as thoughtfully deliberating on expert models and examples. While closely related to Phase 1 reading activities, Phase 2 pays special attention to activities and events that stimulate personal reflection through collaboration and virtual group activities, self-questioning, reflective writing and prompting, and intense and interactive challenges.
Phase 3 of the model, displaying one ’s learning, is geared to visual learners. This phase of problem solving aims to help online learners not only to understand the content being taught but also to further build their own knowledge base with strategies such as concept mapping, visualization, and advance organizers.
Finally, the “Doing” phase, Phase 4 of the R2D2 model, addresses the crucial need for hands-on experiences in online learning environments, which is probably the weakest link of current e-learning phenomena. The doing phase guides instructors to utilize widely available online resources and technologies for various learning activities. These activities not only meet the expectations of those doers, but, as noted in Table 1.2, also promote knowledge application, problem solving, and other higher-order thinking skills in general.

Summary of Activities for R2D2

Chapters Two through Nine of this book elaborate on each phase of the model, with more details on their theoretical foundations as well as dozens of practical applications and examples. Table 1.3 summarizes the twenty-five activities related to each phase of R2D2 that we outline in Chapters Three, Five, Seven, and Nine. We recommend you use this table as a guide for your reading of the remainder of the book. Perhaps check off or circle the strategies that interest you or that you have already attempted. Then come back to this table as you read different sections of this book.
Later in the book, Chapter Ten expands upon this list by including other factors such as time intensity, cost, risk, and duration of the activity. In fact, Chapter Ten reassembles the ideas from the previous eight chapters and therefore, offers opportunities to contemplate the overall framework and power of the R2D2 model. At that time, you might ruminate on whether we met your expectations in designing a model that addresses the learning-related preferences of the highly diverse learners of this planet.

Further Thoughts on R2D2