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A week of hyperspeed e-learning publishing: R2D2 and Beyond!!!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
This was a highly productive and somewhat strange week from an academic publication standpoint. I never had such a week before--we hit hyerspeed about half-way through it. As an example, I sent a book manuscript off to Jossey Bass for the production process this week after months of haggling about the title and length of the book. It is about my R2D2 model. Here is the title or current citation:

Bonk, C. J., & Zhang, K. (in press). Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

In the picture below, Ke Zhang and I display our R2D2 talents.

I guess it will be out in 6-7 months or so. I hope by Xmas so I can send it to family and friends as a Xmas gifts but who knows. If you cannot wait until Xmas to learn about the model, write to me and I will send you what I can (perhaps the preface), or read the following:

Bonk, C. J., & Zhang, K. (2006). Introducing the R2D2 model: Online learning for the diverse learners of this world. Distance Education, 27(2), 249-264.

The above journal article summarizes the R2D2 model and provides many examples, though we modified it slightly in the book. Below is a brief summary of the book pulled mainly from content that was deleted from it prior to the production phase.

Brief Summary of the R2D2 Model and the Book
Ok, below, I provide some comments related to R2D2 that we deleted from the book before sending to Jossey Bass (Note: 6 chapters were deleted from this book (chapters on online learning trends (originally Chapter 1), learning styles and preferences (Ch 2), different generations of learners (Ch 3), problems with LMSs and CMSs and training instructors online (Ch 4), comparisons of R2D2 to other models and our MATRIX model (ch 15), future directions of the Web of Learning (Ch 16)). I can send you some of these if you like...just ask.

As I indicated, the book goes through the R2D2 model (Read, Reflect, Display, and Do)--Note: we could not use R2D2 in the title due to concerns related to Star Wars repurcussions. There are 25 sample activities for each phase of the model or 100 ideas total and for each activitiy, Ke Zhang (my collaborator) from Wayne State University and I go through at least one variation or extension so there are more than 200 activities and ideas for fully online and blended learning courses in the book.

In effect, R2D2 is a relatively simple instructional design model that offers a macro lens on the processes that an instructor or instructional designer might want to consider in designing, building, or moderating an online course or module. It simultaneously provides a window into specific ideas that might help in the successful delivery of a course or module. It is more a problem solving process than it is a way to address learning styles. In part, it is a motivational model, a problem solving model, an instructional design model, and a learning preferences or styles approach. Or maybe it is none of that (Note that neither Ke or I believe that any learning style approach is valid or reliable but they do encourage instructors, instructional designers, course developers, and administrators to think about the varied and diverse needs of their learners).

Ke and I intend for the R2D2 acronym to be an easy mnemonic for instructors as well as students to remember. It is a label that distance educators and researchers can use to discuss the quality of an online course and perhaps structure the redesign of it. Clearly, it is advantageous that the Read, Reflect, Display, and Do (i.e., R2D2) model is easy to remember and can be applied in a versatile manner! It might be used as a general evaluation framework for a course, set of courses, or a program, or as a specific tool for generating interesting and engaging activities within fully online or blended courses.

Ke and I also hope that thoughtful use of our model can lead to transformative blended and fully online experiences. Of course, this book offers a few windows into how this might occur. Those reading this book should keep in mind that what was possible in the Web of Learning at the time of this writing was scarcely imagined a few short years before. The same will undoubtedly be true in a few years.

Instead of focusing on distinct learning styles or approaches, the aim of this book is essentially to address diverse learner needs. By the term of “diverse,” we do not intend to directly address diversity from the standpoint of social, ethnic, or race-related criteria (though it might). Instead, the notion of diversity here relates to the varied interests, particular learning preferences, generational differences, and special learning needs in online learning. The R2D2 model offers a starting point for online instructors to understand the diverse nature of e-learners and become better able to address their diversity.

Intended Value of the Book
For each of the four key types of learners, the R2D2 model suggests a variety of learning activities for active and effective online learning with various distance learning technologies. In Chapters Three, Five, Seven, and Nine, we detail twenty-five or more online learning strategies for each of the respective quadrants or phases of our model. R2D2 is an easy-to-apply, practical model that helps achieve active learning through four types of activities: (1) reading, (2) reflecting, (3) displaying, and (4) doing.

The “Empowering Online Learning” book (I preferred "E-Powering E-Learning") should find value for online instructors, trainers, instructional designers, and designers of web-based courseware or course management systems. For example, this book introduces the R2D2 model as a practical and easy-to-apply mechanism for online instructors to integrate various learning activities for different types and generations of learners. With a solid theoretical foundation and practical guidance and examples, it may work as a quick, practical guidebook for online instructors, trainers, and instructional designers. In effect, this book is intended to help readers with the design, development, and delivery of learner-centered online learning. At the same time, there are ideas and examples that are more instructor-led as well; if one prefers such options.

Open Issues of R2D2
As with any new idea or model, there are numerous open issues and questions that remain to be sorted out as well as various limitations that must be disclosed. One limitation is that there are an assortment of ideas that cut across multiple phases of the model. Given that many of the 100+ strategies detailed in the book do not fall squarely in one quadrant or another, some online educators may get confused when applying R2D2. Of course, this is a perennial problem related to the lack of validity of learning style approaches and any scheme or framework that attempts to label or somehow segment human learning. Certainly, an equally problematic aspect of R2D2 is that it has yet to be widely used or embedded in blended and fully online courses.

The model or framework provided by R2D2 can help new as well as experienced users of the Web of Learning (i..e., the new name Ke and I gave to the Web) better grasp what is now possible, while perhaps helping glimpse what might be possible in the tomorrows to come. No longer must we remain passive browsers and polite connoisseurs of the Web of Learning. In contrast, we can exploit Web 2.0 technologies and beyond which allow learners to engage in reflective as well as participatory learning wherein they build, tinker with, and share their learning. The use of the R2D2 model will provide guidance for professional educators wanting their learners to generate ideas online as found in the use of podcasts, wikis, blogs, virtual worlds, and social networking software.

Consequently, it is critical to determine how easy it is to train instructors in the use of this model. At the same time, stakeholders will want to know if student retention increases when instructors are properly trained to use this model. Are students more satisfied in courses wherein the instructor had training in how to use R2D2? Do achievement scores go up and are such gains higher in courses that use the R2D2 method over those that do not? And is there a greater opportunity for learning transfer from one context to the next when this model is successfully applied? And, of course, can it take your online instruction to hyperspeed?

The jury is still out on whether the pre-assessment of learning styles, whatever their format or components, can help instructors and trainers better deliver online and blended courses. While it is just one framework, the R2D2 model is a means for instructors to consider online learner needs and learning activities in four different phases or aspects of learning, thereby providing a more enriching and stimulating environment for learning. At the same time, R2D2 makes available a problem solving process that shifts instructors and instructional designers from an overriding focus on the acquisition of content knowledge and basic facts to active learning and reflection including the visualization of one’s learning.

Final Comments in the R2D2 Model
The explosion of online learning events, activities, courses, and programs during the past decade have only scratched the surface of what is currently possible while scarcely hinting at the opportunities of tomorrow. As a result, during the next few years (or decades), researchers will likely compile extensive information about how to address learner needs using models such as R2D2. There will definitely be significant inroads and advances made in personalizing and customizing fully online and blended learning environments. R2D2 certainly pushes us in that direction, but it is clearly not enough. We all have to do more! What will you do to make a contribution toward understanding and using the Web of Learning? May R2D2 take you and your learners to places where no instruction has gone before! Engage!

Other Publications and In Press Stuff this Week...
I also had a whole bunch of stuff published this week and other stuff going to press including 4 chapter reprints in a mammoth book that the Information Science Reference (i.e., Idea Publishing) people are putting together. It is a six volume monster with 200 chapters on online and distance learning. It will sell for a mere $1,750 and is set to come out in July, 2007. I think I may have the most chapters. You can get more information at A sample of one of my chapters is below.

Bonk, C. J., Wisher, R. A., & Lee, J. (2008). Chapter 1.47. Moderating learner-centered e-learning: Problems and solutions, benefits and implications. In L. Tomei (Ed.), Online and distance learning: Concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 536-561). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

I have 3 more chapters being reprinted in there (perhaps the most of anyone in this book...not sure yet). It was quite a surprise to me that they were being reprinted.

Some other publications this week are noted below.

One book chapter went to press in a second edition of the Encyclopedia of Distance and Online Learning. As indicated by the title, this article one explores how to take a learner-centered approach with online instruction:
So, H. J., Bonk, C. J., & Wisher, R. A. (in press). A learner-centered perspective on e-learning: Mounting possibilities. In P. Rogers, G. Berg, J. Boettcher, C. Howard, L. Justice, & K. Schenk (Eds.). Encyclopedia of distance and online learning (2nd edition). Information Science Reference.

Ok, perhaps more importantly, two journal articles were published this week. The first one below is one of many on instructor perceptions and suggestions regarding online learning though we attempted to end it more uniquely than most on this topic. A earlier version of the second one below one an outstanding paper award at the eLearn conference in Hawaii in October 2006.

Liu, S., Kim, K-J., Bonk, C. J., & Magjuka, R. (2007). Benefits, barriers, and suggestions: What did online MBA professors say about online teaching? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 10(2), see

Liu, X., Magjuka, R., Bonk, C. J., & Lee, S. H. (2007). Does sense of community matter? An examination of participants’ perceptions of building learning communities in online courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 8(1), 9-24.

In addition, a book chapter came out early this week (co-published with my colleague, Dr. Vanessa Dennen from Florida State University) that summarizes many of the frameworks I have designed for online learning environments during the past decade. It is in Michael G. Moore's Handbook of Distance Education (it is an updated article to what we had in volume 1 of this handbook). I recommend this book given the number of well known scholars he has contributing to it (e.g., Randy Garrison, Zane Berge, Terry Anderson, Robin Mason, Sir John Daniel, Michael Hannifin, Farhad Saba, Som Naidu, Janette Hill, Linda Wilcott, Tom Clark, Donald Hanna, Charlotte Gunawardena, Chris Dede, Walter Archer, Rick Shearer, Marcy Driscoll, Michael Simonson, etc.). Apparently, Michael G. (note the "G" here) Moore knows a ton of important folks in the distance learning field. Well, he has been at it for some time so he should. Great book. I highly recommend it as it is even better than the first edition and quite a bit lighter to carry around. Here is the chapter from Vanessa Dennen and myself:

Bonk, C. J., & Dennen, V. (2007). Frameworks for design and instruction. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance education (2nd Ed.) (pp. 233-246). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

On top of that, a key technical report (or minibook) came out Wednesday that was produced by Brandon Hall Research ( I got a copy Thursday. It looks great though it does cost $595. Pictures and bios of my entire blended learning research team are in there. More information on it is here This is aimed at blended learning in corporate training settings. Our section of the report relates to strategic planning for blended learning in corporate training settings in 5 countries--Taiwan, China, Korea, US, and the UK.

Teng, Y.-T, Bonk, C. J., Kim, K-J., Oh, E. J., Son, S.-J., Zeng, T., & Cheng, J. (2007, June). Strategically planning for blended learning: A cross-cultural comparison. In J. Clarey (Ed.). The real story: Blended learning (pp. 101-114). Sunnyvale, CA: Brandon Hall Research.

Ok, that is a sample of some of the articles I had come out this week or go to press. There were more and a few others sent out for review. Now I am finally (yes, finally!) working on my Learning World is Flat book. Been talking about it for more than 18 months. After that is done, I will write a book related to online motivation and retention which will outline my TEC-VARIETY model. The World is Flat book will be my summer 2007 project and the other one will be my project during the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008 or so I hope. Who knows...these are just goals.

Due to my focus on book writing, I will be missing the Ed Media Conference in Vancouver in a week or so. I have been going every year since 1999 so this really hurts not to go. As my post on Canada below notes, I love Vancouver in June. So many friends and colleagues will be there. There are some wonderful researchers who present at Ed Media each year--many from Australia. The Aussies travel well. Oh, tear, tear, cry, cry. I will also not be going to the annual distance teaching and learning conference at the University of Wisconsin (my alma mater) in August. More tears to shed!!!!!!

Ok, send me notes if you want to know more about my Empowering Online Learning book or about any of the other book projects I mentioned here. I am sure I will be adding a blog post when the book is closer to publication though you can likely inquire with Jossey Bass about ordering a copy soon. I am pretty sure it will not arrive by hyperspeed or Warp 9, but it will get there someday. Until then, full impulse power.

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  posted by Curt Bonk @ 9:15 PM  
  • At 11:04 PM, Blogger MW (My Wish) said…

    Look forward to it. Yes, you are very hyper productive.

  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Thanks there Lori. Some weeks are quite good and some are not. Better to reflect on the good ones.

  • At 12:29 PM, Blogger Guohua said…

    I have been invovled in developing online courses but has met many instructors who are using some technology in their teaching. What you talk about in the book may be of much value to me and those instructors. Would be very intersted in reading the book, and the model in particular.

  • At 5:55 PM, Blogger Curt Bonk said…

    Well, then, at least we will have 1 book sale Guohua...thanks!

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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