dan lasota's masters in education portfolio for online innovation and design


Graduated and More »

24 September 2015 onid project

At long last I have finished the ONID program. I consider this an end of a phase, not the end of an endeavor. Now I have an additional line I can place on my resume, but more importantly I’ve picked up knowledge in design, research, and writing.

The Faraday Effect RCL is making progress. Over the summer UAF’s School of Natural Sciences was able to purchase six flint glass rods for potential use in the Physics labs. On Wednesday of this week, I was able to do some quick testing of the rod’s effectiveness as a Faraday Rotator. The rod, manufactured specifically for the purpose of being placed in a solenoid, was able to rotate the polarization angle of a red laser by about 10 degrees. I was pushing about 11 amps of current through the solenoid, about what the power supply and the coil would handle. The rotation is significant, and will be an effective demonstration in an educational lab.

Yesterday I made a presentation to a senior design class at UAF’s School of Engineering and Mines. Prof. Sunwoo Kim is leading the design class this year and thought that the automation of my Faraday Effect lab would make an excellent candidate for senior engineering undergrads to work on as a design project. They seemed interested in the project, I should hear soon if any are willing to work with my RCL concept as their capstone project.

Oh, and my project report? It’s available. Read on, and comment if you’d like.

Faraday Pages Created »

20 April 2015 onid project

In order to fulfil my M.Ed. requirements I’ve had to take classes, write a project overview, and of course do a project. In part, the project involves creating a web interface as a demonstration of how students would interact with the RCL.

screen shot from a web page

My project web pages for the Faraday RCL are done!

The four web pages that I made represent what a final completed RCL would look like. Some of it right now, like the lab controls and the web cams are not connected to the lab, but they do show how such controls would fit in with supporting materials that would make an instructionally sound lab experience.

I did think it a good idea to create instructional material, and some learning activities, after all, that is the essence of instructional design. Further, the web pages are presented in their own little shell, ornamented with a web theme that would pass the muster and guidelines of official University of Alaska Fairbanks academic pages.

The theory is meant to give relevant information for the learning activities in an engaging way, the lab equipment section gives some background to the student helping them realize that they would be working with actual equipment, and the activities are meant to reinforce the ideas presented as theory and allow students to apply their learning and investigate the Faraday Effect.

AR in the Real World Virtual World Spectrum »

7 December 2012 onid

I'm reading A Pilot Study of the Effectiveness of Augmented Reality to Enhance the Use of Remote Labs in Electrical Engineering Education. There is an interesting conceptual diagram about the placement of augmented reality along the spectrum of real to virtual world spectrum.

I am not seeing the connection between AR and Virtual though. If there are no real world components isn't it all virtual? Or could it be in a sense like a situation in a completely virtual world like Second Life or World of Warcraft where you can see other players avatars and chose whether to see their names float above their heads. In a sense those floating names are still just virtual. In my mind AR enhances real world stuff rather than being an additional virtual layer.


Mejías Borrero, A., & Andújar Márquez, J. (2012). A pilot study of the effectiveness of augmented reality to enhance the use of remote labs in electrical engineering education. Journal of Science Education & Technology, 21(5), 540-557. doi:10.1007/s10956-011-9345-9

More Transparency and a Peek into the Edit Process »

14 July 2012 onid

I wanted to make the pages and finished work in my portfolio more reflective of my instructor’s and cohorts’ comments. One way to show the changes in work is to display differences side by side. Some of these finished pages contain a list of revisions at the bottom of the page. The revisions show the time and date when each edit was made.

Once you click on such a revision you’ll see an older version of the page. In order to help highlight the differences, the changes are listed side by side at the bottom of older versions of pages. Some of the later revisions I do are based on feedback given by people in the class.


ED431 Mobile Research Jumpstart »

8 July 2012 ed431 onid

One silver lining item to being late on a mobile assignment is that I can see what my cohorts have done for research. I went through my cohorts Diigo Libraries and looked for items they had tagged as onidmobile. The ones that interested me are now saved in my library with the original curators tags and my additional onidcohort tag.

Later tonight I will round out my Diigo Library with items that I have found. It is nice to be part of a learning cohort!

What Does an Apache Web Log Look Like? »

3 July 2012 ed431 onid

A typical Apache Web Server log looks line many many lines of text; Each line contains information about a request for information and the result of the web server trying to fulfill that request. I took this from my web server and asked for the last 50 requests. The first entry is the IP number of the machine/device/person requesting it. 137.229.whatever are University of Alaska numbers. Then there is the time/date stamp. Followed by the actual http request, usually a GET, but sometimes a POST. In most cases there are path names to images, articles, etc that are on the web server. The last two numbers are the result code (200 is ok, 404 is not there, etc), the last number is the size of the resource in bytes.

I posted this because of the discussion on digital footprints in ED 431. This is what my server, which runs Apache, tracks. The majority of web servers in the world track similar information. Most web servers, mine included, do not keep these logs forever. Mine is set to delete logs older than 30 days. Some servers keep them around for longer.

This is by no means the only part of one’s digital foot print. The reason I am calling attention to it, however, is that its an example of an ephemeral piece of data. Two things to mention about it: One, there is no personal information associated with it. My server only knows the IP number, the Internet address, of the machine asking for the page information. Two, this information is only kept on my server for about 30 days. By today’s standards this is relatively low tech. Most websites are able to capture a lot more information which generally serves the purpose of letting the people running the web site know if they are serving visitors well. Web site authors and administrators can determine the kind of browser used, the size of the visitor’s display window in pixels, the user’s operating system and a few more tidbits. This is all done with javascript, if the user allows it. A lot of web admin people use Google Analytics which helps determine who is visiting a web site and what they do once they are there.

Some web sites do track a lot more. But not every web site tracks or is even interested in who you are. Only the most basic information is kept, and only for a short while. This would fall into Allison’s description of foot prints in the sand rather than those cast in concrete. But Allison does make a good point about the growing lack of privacy and the blurred lines between what some companies think is user experience and what becomes profit motive. We must pay attention to who tracks what, by understanding it we can chose to opt-in or out as the case may be, or abandon or refuse to participate in some social networks.

Web Presence Page »

21 June 2012 ed431 onid

I have placed first draft of my web presence assignment under the ED 431 section. It’s actually placed on a page type object, but I intend on making the various revisions to it available for review, so I think the WordPress page works for the intended purpose of the assignment, better than the WordPress post object.
I’m looking forward to hearing from cohorts, please leave your comments on the reflection page itself. I’m going to head over and see what the rest of your thoughts on this assignment are.

Introduction »

7 June 2012 ed431 onid

I’m Dan and this portfolio represents the major works from each of the classes in my graduate program of study. It is my hope that the style and functionality of the site will convey some sense of my design philosophy as well. I’m very eager to study the area of Instructional Design, where technology and pedagogy intersect.

My immediate goals for this ONID program have already partially been met. I wanted to improve my working and practical knowledge of pedagogy especially as it relates to online course design. I am an instructional designer at UAF eLearning and Distance Education. I was very happy that my first class, Online Pedagogy, had such a strong theory based foundation, but also provided opportunities apply that knowledge in real situations. I was able to draw upon experiences from work in class, but was also able to use new skills in the design of classes that will be offered in the semesters ahead at UAF.

My long term goals for my program involve replicating some of the work done in Germany at the University of Technology Kaiserslautern in relation to the use of remotely controlled laboratories (RCLs). I first read about RCLs in one of my article reviews for Online Pedagogy. I would like to create such a resource at the University of Alaska Fairbanks first in Physics, but then in Chemistry.

Dan LaSota
Twitter: @danlasota

Restructuring and Fine Tuning »

6 June 2012 onid

One of the items in Google Sites that gave me designer hives were the blank pages created as a result of structuring a hierarchical site. Web pages structured in a hierarchy help structure information organization and navigation. The practice of using a parent page to form as a sort of supervisor to its subordinate child pages kind of reminds me of traditional HR org charts. Still, its a good to have nicely crafted URL schema and a nice side bar navigation for users to find material. What comes off poorly though is the empty page created as a result.

On my original class site I had a section for article reviews. Note that that page serves only as a place holder. It’s a waste. It’s a distraction. It will not stand.

Now take a look at my new design for the article review page. I was able to use the excerpt function of WordPress to manually highlight cogent and interesting bits from my writing sample and use that as the teaser text. By default WordPress uses the first 50 words of a page or post as the excerpt. With just a little more work I used the text I wanted for the excerpt and am able to place the focus where I think best. I have also used the same template on my reflective weekly writing page.

Two more items remain before this is ONID portfolio is ready for prime time. I need to enable comments and craft the landing home page. Enabling comments is easy. Doing it the way I want might not be, but I am determined not to get caught in a design/redesign vortex on this. I want a simple working model that provides a discussion platform for cohorts and my instructors. I think this will mostly involve fiddling with CSS. I already have Akisment spam protection in place. I intent to have my landing home page be a dash board of sorts for rest of the site. I’ve done this before too. Ready by tomorrow morning? That’s the plan. That’s my story and we’ll see if I stick to it.

Progress »

4 June 2012 ed431 onid

What started as transferring a UA Google site over to a personal, external Google Site turned into a much larger exercise. Google Sites has a lot going for it, my favorite is the page content editor. It is quite adaptable in taking pasted content from word processors and giving WYSIWIG control of table manipulation directly in its editor. But it is lacking in so many ways. In order to streamline the process of web design, many customizations are not possible.

I desired more. Perhaps foolishly, but still. Part of this ONID degree is about online design, is it not?

So, I grabbed some WordPress code (nearly from scratch), made a new theme, revamped an old server with Apache, MySQL and php current versions and went to it. Along the way I learned quite a bit about fonts, layout and got a refresher on several aspects of CSS.

The big chunk of work involved moving my ED 655 content over to this blog. Much of the formatting had gotten mangled between original composition and multiple edits on Google Sites. I had to clean most of the pages up so my writing would satisfy APA 6 style.

There is more to do, I need to enable comments, design a more proper front page, deal with page file attachments and get a better dynamic sidebar.