Subways and Mac’s


I want my online courses to be like Subway sandwiches and not like MacDonald buns! I want the learner to choose the ingredients of the course. To choose the style of activities that makes them learn. They cannot choose the objectives nor the duration. Subway and Mcdonalds have the same objectives: to give you calories and nutritions. One style allows you to choose the ingredients that the you want. The other gives you limited alternatives to choose from.

At Subway, if you aim is to lose weight, you choose more vegies than bacon. If you want to put on weight, you double the cheese, bacon and mayo’s. At Macdonald, you do not have this flexibility. I want my online courses to be the same. They should have clear objectives: (1) the learning outcomes dictated by the curriculum; a and (2) a fixed duration by which the learner should complete the outcomes*. The course will offer a variety of activities. Paced and self paced. Traditional sequential reading material and leaping hyperlinked reading material. Videos and handouts. Synchronous and Asynchronous interaction. Learning by doing and learning by observing. Self reflection and networked interaction. Mayonaise and Catchup. Peer learning and self-learning. The list need to be completed.

The one who chooses to learn using my online course should know what they want and how they learn. Like the Subway customer: they know what they like to eat and know how to choose. For the others, let them go to a Mac restaurant (i.e. packaged courses) or to a fancy restaurant (i.e the structured-constructivist-interactiving course) . Not mine. I want my student to “Learn Fresh”. … and I woke up!

Questions: Was it a daydream or something that I can really make? Do you think there must be more objectives? Like assessment? Any suggestions for more ingredients I need to add the “menu of the course”? I know McDonals is far more popular and profitable than Subway around the world! Do you think traditional online/distant course delivery will prevail over my styles?

Week 3 – Question 1:

[This is the answer to EDDL514 W3Q1 question: What do you find is the single most significant difference (that actually impacts learning in either a positive or negative way) between teaching and learning online as compared to in a face-to-face environment ?]

The most significant difference between the f2f and OL learning is “who owns the learning”. In a f2f, the learners’ expects the teacher/facilitator to be the source of their learning. In an online course, the learner should own the learning.

An online learner who does not switch to this attitude will fail a well designed online course. On the other hand, the instructor who designs a course without facilitating the shift of learning to the students will face major challenges (I can list them if requested!)

I drew this image to illustrate it:

Owners of Learning

For example, in a classroom the “learners’ mode of thinking” expects:

  1. Full and clear directions from the instructor on what they learn.
  2. Constant feedback on whether the learning is going in the right direction.
  3. Immediate response on the learners queries
  4. (who can add more! about collaboration, assessment, note taking, etc..)

While in an online course, the successful learner knows that  she owns the learning and she:

  1. does not expect full and clear direction. They expect clear written instructions about the outcomes. But not direction.
  2. does not expect constant feedback. They know the feedback will be given whenever possible. But not always. (In this course, for example, I have published 16 posts and got fedback on few only!).
  3. does not expect immediate response. She expects that the response will come when it comes. She continues learning while waiting. She does not say: oh I was waiting for your answer to continue!)
  4. (any addition you can contribute to?)

So, in my opinion, the attitude of the learner to own their learning is the single crucial element between the success or failure of the learning experience.

P.S.: I truly believe that the ownership of learning should be delegated to the learner even in the classroom setting… but I believe most teaching styles still does not know how to apply it! Even the constructivist approach finds major challenges.

Notes from Educause Webinar

These are the notes I captured from the Educause webinar about:

6 emerging technologies through 5 questions.

The trends are towards

– More into the Cluod and Decentralization

– More Collaboration

MetaTrends from 2007-2010:

  • More Collective/Collaborative/Team
  • More mobility and cloud technology
  • More gaming, virtual worlds

Challenges 2007-2010

  • Supporting Learn whenever and wherever they want
  • Engaging information from anywhere
  • Move from Print to Digital t0 Networked education

Mobile Learning

  • The trend to move into bigger than mobile phone to smaller than laptop (like Skyped laptop, iPad)
  • Used for short duration information (FaceBook, news, Twitting, Texting). Still, long duration information depends on laptop/PC.
  • Challenges: cost, ownership, spread (some students do not have it).


  • Example: Kindle, iPdas
  • eBooks will become the new trend to read.
  • Allows rich contents to students
  • Reduce carrying heavy books.

Read the Horizon Report

Use CampFire discussion approach.


Today I discovered a site that summarizes the words used on a blog. it is I liked it. I took a snapshot of my blog and this is what I got:

The interesting find is that I use the word “needed” a lot… “last”, “games” and “live” are next… is there a shrink out there who can figure out my personality through this observation?

So, you use FaceBook

What’s with games? In the last few days, I was exposed so much to games concepts and how it is far better than education. And today, I saw the below video which blow my mind off! Very funny, very true but I do not know if I will live in the predicted future. I always hated the point system in the first place!

My Virtual World

I have been spending the last few days interacting with new virtual friends over the concept of online teaching and learning. This morning, I felt I need to live the real life. I needed a break. I needed to touch again with reality. So, I went to FaceBook and redecorated my CafeWorld and redesigned my mansion on FarmVille… Where is my reality? This is like an onion… you peel one layer to find more layers… and as I understand, most of the nutritions of the onion is in the cover, which we throw away…

I know this should make me think about my life… but what is wrong with doing what I enjoy even if the society say otherwise… I am reacting with real people except I do not experience their physicality… how different is this from talking with a real person? … more realities to be discovered from the virtual world…

The Whale and the Squid

I watched a 1997 movie called the Whale and the Squid. I found it slow, lacks action and unclear about the message it is trying to portray. I read the articles about it and found out it was highly acclaimed. It made me think: what point I am missing when I watch a movie that the critics find interesting while I do not?

The answer was in the movie.

Besides the obvious plot that tries to highlight the impact of divorce onkids, I noticed it portrays the complex relationships between two social types: the Philistines and the Bohemians! In a brilliant twist, the director makes you take a stand. If you are a philistine, you take the stand of the mother/Frank and you see them as the normal people. If you are Bohemian, you will take the stand of the father/Walt. In his brilliance, the Director create the script to allow you to make your own judgement. Then is a sudden Twist, mixes up things when Walt switch sides and you discover the mother is Bohemian herself…

I am still contemplating on the final scene where Walt goes back his nostalgic memory where the mom had prominence and I am trying to figure it out! Is he trying to say that the nostalgic memories we carry are far more important than values we believe in? Or is that the mother care for pragmatic details about life if the core the we should focus on? What does the Squid and the Whale represent? The fear from fighting between the parents? How the mother can ease the fear of kids? The fight between species (in this sense the Bohemians and the Philistines?)

So, this slow boring movie turned out to hide brilliant instigators for us to think about life and ourselves. Brilliant.

EDDL 514

TRU Logo
TRU Logo

I have just enrolled in the EDDL 514 course offered by It is an online course about online teaching and learning. From the introduction of the course, it seems that we will be using some sort of blogging. I am preparing my blog to be my working environment for the course. I have created a special category and I am wondering if I should put all the course material under the category or as a page. This will be determined later. So far, the course seems interesting. Although navigating to it is annoying where I have to go to 3 different portals to get to the Blackboard course. And believe or not, I am forced to use at least 2 different password which is making my life more complicated. The nice thing is that the system synchronize their password which is a nice feature.

Resurrected Blog

I haven’t been here in a while. My other blogs took the attention. I am reviving this blog again to be used as part of the EDDL514 course I am taking which requires the creation and use of a blog to create a learning community. The focus of the new posts will be on online teaching and learning, which I hope will enrich my knowledge and experience in the field. A quick briefing on what happened to me between the last blog and today:

  1. On Wikipedia front, I have more than 9000 articles on the English and Arabic Wikipedia. My contribution to it has diminished due to busy-ness of life although I am still involved with its community.
  2. I made many travels since my last trip to Hawaii and California that are:
    • an RV trip between San Francisco and San Diego and everything in between.
    • Another trip to LA (which I fell in love with) with my son and wife. Visited Universal Studios, Disney Land and had a glimpse of the Oscars.
    • Went with my son and wife to Florida where we spent time in Kissimme and the Atlantic coast of Florida.
    • My son took us to NY and showed it to use through his eyes… it was a magnificent trip.
    • Spend a week with my sister in Ontario visiting Niagara Falls.
    • Had my adventure trip for 4 weeks where I went to NY, Montreal, Cuba, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Minneapolis.
    • Spent New years ever with my wife in Mexico
  3. At the work front, I am enjoying my new role working with a tremendous team on introducing new educational reals.
  4. On personal front, my self discovery and living in the now has taken a steep turn… I still dizzy figuring out my orientation…
  5. Miraculously, I was offered my dream job at AUB which, miraculously as well, disappeared… I am still trying to understand that dream that came and gone.

You must visit my other blogs to know the detail of the above.

My newest adventure is enrolling in the EDDL514 course which promise to be full of new discoveries and interesting encounters. You will be posted on its impact and progress on the blog.


Recently, my body is telling me I am getting old. My brain still rejects the idea. But my body is not responding to what the brain is telling it. I still hope I can control my body… I am trying, but not succeeding. I hope I am wrong and that it is just a phase.