The Key Podcast | @InsideHigherEd | Ep. 91

A few weeks ago, I was invited to join a podcast to talk about HyFlex Instruction. I was on travel when I saw the email from the editor in my inbox and, without too much information, I accepted to join the conversation. I really did not know what direction the podcast was going to take. I know HyFlex learning is “controversial” and even “unwelcome” by many, but I really was just going to speak facts. I reviewed some of the research I have done on the topic and the reviewed the literature I have read on the past in preparation for the podcast. I am very happy that the editor had a conversation approach to the podcast and that guided the conversation on the “what comes next” direction. I will be speaking and doing more research on this topic in the upcoming months. So, this is just the beginning of the conversation.

I really do not like listening to my voice in recordings so I just know what I said from the actual recording session. I have not heard the podcast, so I appreciate colleagues who have reached out to let me know that they enjoyed listen to the podcast and the points I shared as part of the conversation. Above is a link to the tweet from Inside Higher Ed and here is the link to the webpage: Ep.91: The Pros and Cons of HyFlex Instruction

UTK STEM Education Seminar

This past week, I was invited to speak as part of the STEM education seminar sponsored by the Theory and Practice in Teacher Preparation (TPTE) Department STEM team. I am part of the STEM Education team in the department and this semester a group of colleagues are organizing this seminar with presentations for faculty and graduate students every two weeks. I have really enjoyed all of the presentations this semester. Our STEM Education team is doing really amazing work and I love learning about it.

For my presentation, I was a bit nervous because I was not sure how my work would relate to STEM education. I know educational technology is consider part of STEM education. However, I think of my work as more than just educational technology. I actually see Learning, Design, and Technology as the umbrella term under which educational technology, instructional design, instructional technology, learning engineering, and others similar terms come together. Perhaps one of my main concerns is that under the term STEM, learning design is primarily associated with the “technology” term which I really see as just one aspects of the far more complex ecosystems of the learning, design, and technology field.

The presentation focused on how it is okay to have many areas of research interest. We are often encouraged to stay very narrowly focused on a topic. But, what if you are curious about other topics and want to explore them? So, basically, I used myself as an example of an eclectic research agenda. My research has evolved so much and in part it due to my curiosity to explore other topics. This has also been true in my life, curiosity to try new things or study programs outside my focus has helped me evolve and grow. Here is the link to the slides, in case you are curious.

The next big social network for me

Some academics are leaving Twitter. I have no plans to leave Twitter as of right now. I am not on Instagram or Facebook. If you join Twitter one day and do not see me there, please know that I have switched to the next big social network: The great outdoors. I do not feel motivated to join a different social network platform. So, again, if I remove myself from Twitter that just means I dedicate more time to spend outside in nature (i.e., a park, a bike ride, a short hike, a farm, kayaking).

I was already considering a Twitter break later this year. I will see how things go with over the next month or so before making a decision. But honestly, if things go South with Twitter and I just shut my profile down radically please know you can always reach out to me via:

You can also subscribe to this blog. In the main page of this blog (, you can type your email and click subscribe to read future posts. I write professional and personal blog posts. I am not a New York Times best seller but I put a few sentences together and sometimes share some decent content (in my humble opinion).

Conversatorio del Cafe Virtual de Learn for Improvement

Me dio mucho gusto participar en el conversatorio con las organizadores del Cafe Virtual de Learn for Improvement que ocurrió ayer. El Learn for Improvement es un grupo de diseñadores instruccionales a nivel corporativo en Latino America. Estos fueron alguno de los temas de los que hablamos durante el conversatorio:

¿Qué especializaciones de postgrado has seguido? ¿Cómo han contribuido en tu desarrollo profesional?

  • Master en Diseño Instruccional de la Universidad Estatal de Emporia (Emporia State University). Como a contribuido a mi desarrollo profesional:
    • Técnicas de Diseño Instruccional (modelos y teorías)
    • Conocimiento de teorías del aprendizaje y motivación
    • Emphasis en el desarrollo de capacitaciones para adultos
    • El uso de programas que se usan para el desarrollo de capacitaciones en línea y programas educativos en general
  • Doctorado en Educación con énfasis en Diseño Instruccional y concentración en Simulaciones para Capacitación y Aprendizaje de Old Dominion University. Como a contribuido a mi desarrollo profesional:
    • El enfoque fue más en mi crecimiento como investigadora. 
    • ¿Cómo se formula un proyecto de investigación?
      • Proponer el proyecto
      • Recolectar la data
      • Escribir el reporte o la publicación
      • Presentación del proyecto
    • Aprender a colaborar con colegas en otras áreas de estudios en proyectos que necesita la perspectiva de un diseñador instruccional
    • Leer para entender cómo los proyectos de investigación se pueden usar en la práctica

En tu experiencia, ¿qué ventajas te brinda contar con un postgrado especializado en aprendizaje para construir una carrera internacional en L&D?

  • Conocimiento de la teoría que es muy importantes (diseño instruccional, psicologia, comunicacion, etc.)
  • Aprender a conectar los resultados de las investigaciones con la práctica (que funciona? Que no funciona? Y porque?)
  • Distinguir entre el uso de “programas” y importante conocimientos de pedagogía (para adultos o sistemas digitales)
  • Estar más al tanto de las últimas tendencias en diseño instruccional y tecnología y sus aplicaciones en diferentes niveles.
  • La realidad es que muchas posiciones requieren un postgrado

¿Qué alternativas de especialización-postgrado  a  nivel internacional recomiendan  para los  que trabajamos en L&D?

¿Qué recomendaciones deberíamos tener presente antes de elegir un postgrado?

  • Fijense en la página de Internet del programa
    • ¿Quiénes son los profesores y cuales son sus áreas de interés?
    • ¿Qué cursos se ofrecen? ¿Te interesan a ti estos cursos?
    • El program esta enfocado en preparar profesionales para el área que te interesa: educación secundario, área corporativa, universidades o instituciones del gobierno
    • Si el programa es en línea o presencial
  • Qué apoyo brinda al estudiante para hacer la transición a la fuerza de trabajo
    • Portfolio
    • Prácticas y pasantías

Upcoming Free and Open Speaking Engagements


This event is for Spanish speakers, who more than likely live in Latin America but anyone is welcome. If you are interested in an instructional design program or a program focused on learning and development for a corporate environment, join us! We will be talking about this topic on September 28! The organizers of this event are the Learning for Improvement group the is organized by instructional designers in Peru. I am thankful that I was invited to be part of this Cafe Virtual. Here is the link to register for the event:

Flyer for the “Cafe Virtual” organized by the Learn for Improvement group


On October 19, I will be doing a presentation for my alma mater, the Graduate Student Organization of the Instructional Design and Technology program at Old Dominion University. More details coming soon.


On Nov. 3, I will be presenting as part of the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) Theory and Practice in Teacher Preparation (TPTE) STEM seminar and discussing “inclusive and equitable learning design practices”

On Nov. 17, I will presenting for the members of the Hampton Roads International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) Chapter. Topic: “Social, Learner Centered, Culturally-Relevant Digital Workforce Development.” You are welcome to register for this virtual event. It is a free and open event:

For my Spanish speaking connections! On Wednesday, November 23 I am honored to be joining an amazing group of speakers as part of the Semana de la Innovación (Innovation Week) of the Centro de Innovación y Excelencia Docente de la Universidad Autónoma de Chile. Tema: “Inclusión e igualdad en la enseñanza en línea”. Mas detalles pronto.


Last but not least, for the European crowd, the ProDiGI project at the Technische Universität Braunschweig @tuBraunschweig is hosting a free & open conference in early December. I’ll be sharing more details about my presentation later on. But, in case you want to learn more about the conference or would like to join the conference here is the link:

Grateful for the opportunity to participate in this events in an online format. Also, grateful that colleagues thought about me and asked me to join them in these events.

Podcasts for Learning Designers

Huge thanks to all my colleagues who shared their favorite learning/instructional design podcasts as well as other podcasts that related to education or education research. If you see this blog post and have a podcast recommedation(s) that is currently not included in this list, please post it in the comments. I will update the blog post as needed.

Here are links to other podcast list for learning/instructional design professionals:

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

Recent Research on Online Social Communities

Earlier this year, I made a radical decision to cut off all social media from my life. I am grateful for the detox. I eventually returned to Twitter and LinkedIn, quietly, over the summer but now I am bit more active (let’s see how long that last). But I am not going to lie, one of the most difficult parts of that decision was leaving the groups and social communities to which I belonged that kept me informed or in which I could ask questions. These groups and social communities have also served as inspiration for my research on networked learning and informal learning in online social communities. So having said all of that, I want to share some of my most recent publications on online social communities in this post.


Romero-Hall, E.J. (2022). Supporting Instructional Design Graduate Education through Networked Learning and Institutional Social Media. In Stefaniak, J. & Reese, R. (Eds.), The Instructional Designer’s Training Guide: Authentic Practices and Considerations for Mentoring ID and Ed Tech Professionals. Routledge.

This chapter is really a self reflection on the work that independent study students, interns, and I did while working at The University of Tampa connecting the current students, alumni, and public to IDT program using institutional social media accounts. But in all honestly, those practices were highly influences by the practices of other IDT programs who run their own institutional social media and research on networked learning. Here is a short blurb from the abstract: “In this paper, it is argued that social media represents a convivial technology in which individuals are engaging in networked learning. A review of the literature yielded examples of how institutional social media is been used in teaching and learning specifically in instructional design and technology programs. Insights from a case study about an instructional design and technology program that has been actively using different institutional social media to enhance the networked learning experience of the graduate students (and other stakeholders) in the program is shared as a way to connect research with practice.”

Gomez-Vasquez, L., Romero-Hall, E., Jaramillo Cherrez, N., Ghani, S., Rodriguez, A. & Ripine, C. (2022). Keeping Citizens Informed and Engaged During the COVID-19 Pandemic Using #YoMeInformoPMA: A Case from Latin America. Health Communication

This paper is dedicated to my motherland, Panama! When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, I was on sabbatical in Panama. The days after a pandemic was declared were crazy. I have written a bit about it in this blog post. To keep myself informed of what was happening in Panama in response to the pandemic the Panamanian Health Ministry recommended that everyone use the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA (which literally translated to: “I stay informed Panama”) in social media. As a researcher, it immediately triggered my desire to know: “What are people learning, discussing, and sharing using this hashtag?”. So I quickly emailed my collaborator Dr. Lina Gomez-Vasquez so that we could start tracking tweets with this hashtag. Huge thanks to Lina for leading the write up of this paper and co-authors for assisting with the analysis. Here is a short blurb from our abstract: “Using quantitative content, social network, and thematic analysis, this study examined 2,500 tweets from April to August 2020 that included the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA. Panama’s Public Health Ministry created the #YoMeInformoPMA hashtag to keep citizens informed and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research on social media use and implementation in Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic, to inform and engage the public, is limited. Therefore, the aim of this investigation was to analyze strategies, themes, multimedia formats, key actors, and overall communications patterns of a Latin American health community hashtag. Our results determined that actors using the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA mainly used an interactive strategy, a message that aims to promote casual conversations, advice, and problem-solving.

Romero-Hall, E.J. (2021). Undergraduate students in online social communities: An exploratory investigation of deliberate informal learning practices. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(3).

We often do not realize that there are many instances of informal learning practices: implicit learning, reactive learning, and deliberate learning. In this paper, I focus on “deliberate learning refers to informal learning that occurs when an individual takes time to think about how and where to gather information.” This paper further analyses data that was collected as part of an internal grant sponsored by the University of Tampa on the use and participation of undergraduate students in social media (with a specific focus on teaching and learning). Here is a blurb from the abstract: “A total of 573 undergraduate students consented to participate in this investigation about deliberate informal learning practices using social media. Data analysis consisted of parametric and non-parametric statistical procedures. An analysis of the rankings provided by undergraduate students for the different deliberate informal learning activities performed in their most used social media (MUSM) showed that listening to podcasts related to their area of study, following/connecting with professional organizations, and connecting with leaders in their field of study were ranked higher than the other activities. The results also showed evidence of statistically significant differences in the ranking provided to the informal learning activities performed by undergraduate students in their least used social media (LUSM). Listening to podcasts related to their area of study, viewing videos that can assist with coursework, and following/connecting with professional organizations were ranked higher than the other deliberate informal learning activities.” This journal article is open access.

Guest Edited Special Issue

Romero-Hall, E.J. (2021). Informal Learning in Online Social Communities. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(3),

First, huge thanks to all the amazing authors who submitted their work to this special issue and worked with me to make this a reality. Second, you should take the time to read these journal articles because each of them will enhance your teaching or advance your know of the learning design field. Last, this special issue includes an award winning article (AECT Culture, Learning, and Technology Division, McJulien Scholar Best Paper Award) published by Spencer P. Greenhalgh, Daniel G. Krutka, & Shannon M. Oltmann titled “Gab, Parler, and (Mis)educational Technologies: Reconsidering Informal Learning on Social Media Platforms“.

Spider web
A spider web

Recent Publications related to Online Teaching and Learning

In this post, as I have done in other posts, I want to share some research that I have co-authored and published so far this year related to online teaching and learning:

The three-tier design process: Streamlined guidelines for designing and developing a course in a learning management system to promote effective learning” You can access this journal article here

This is a collaboration with Weiwei Ji (Instructional Designer at Arkansas Tech University) and Pauline Salim Muljana (Doctoral Candidate at Old Dominion University). It is a design framework supported by research-based evidence and influenced by the instructional design practice of WeiWei (Will) and his experience as an instructional designer. Of course, it is also supported by the knowledge, skills, and experience of Pauline and myself. As we state in the abstract: “We propose a set of guidelines called the Three-Tier Design Process (TTDP), providing a pathway for faculty and other higher-education professionals who intend to design and develop a course in a Learning Management System and to promote learner-centered experiences. This paper includes detailed discussion about each tier of the TTDP, its subcomponents, and an example of its application. The TTDP borrows from existing theories, models, and literature in the instructional design field that focuses on key aspects that help create positive learning experiences. Tier 1 focuses on course design and serves as a foundation for the next two tiers; Tier 2 emphasizes course development; and Tier 3 concentrates on the user-experience considerations. Examples from a real course are additionally provided.” We were invited to write a blog post about the journal article for the Online Learning Research Center. Here is a link to the blog post:

“Hybrid flexible instruction: Exploring faculty preparedness” You can access this open access journal article here

I was excited to see this journal article finally published. This journal article is the result of a collaboration with University of Tampa undergraduate elementary education major, Caldeira Ripine. It is a research project supported by the Undergraduate Research and Inquiry Grant from the University of Tampa. The data was collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic during Fall 2019. As the pandemic started and plans for continuity of instruction were shared by higher education institutions, I knew that the data Caldeira and I had collected needed to get publish as soon as possible. But, due to a number of factors (including lack of childcare) it took a while a to get this out into the review pipeline and of course, then it had to go through the peer review process. In any case, as stated in the abstract: “The aim of this investigation was to survey faculty members on their perceived level of preparedness to design and implement hybrid flexible (HyFlex) instruction. Participants included 121 full- and part-time faculty. Using an electronic survey, faculty members: a) rated their preparedness to engage on different HyFlex instruction competencies, b) shared which pedagogical strategies they felt prepared to use in this instructional modality, and c) listed the resources and support that they felt were needed to successfully implement their course.” The journal article is open access, you are welcome to download, read, and share.

Photo by Samantha Borges on Unsplash

Writing during “Stay at Home” Orders

How much fun was it to write manuscripts during “Stay at Home” orders without childcare? Well if you have not experience this during the last year and half of the COVID-19 pandemic then consider yourself lucky! It is not fun at all. I wrote the following in a reflection I was putting together on what April 2020 was like:

Upon our return to the U.S. we were faced with the news that, due to the pandemic, our childcare center had closed indefinitely. My partner and I had to adjust to working from home while providing childcare for our 4-year-old son. I had to quickly realize that some of the projects that I was hoping to start before the end of my sabbatical were going to be delayed or canceled. The projects that I was planning to complete were going to require a massive amount of focus and dedication. In order to accomplish all our work requirements, my partner and I had to divide our days into three “shifts.” The morning shift (8 am to 1 pm) in which I worked and he would care for our son. The afternoon shift (1 pm – 6 pm) in which my partner worked and I would provide care for our son. The evening shift (6 pm until midnight) in which were are exhausted but aimed to spend time together as a family.”

In April 2020 during a three week period during my “morning shift” I wrote a manuscript for a special issue that was published in the Educational Technology Research and Development (ETR&D) journal. The realization that I was going to have less than the estimated amount of time to write this paper stressed me so much. But I had to channel that stress into getting the work done. During the process of writing the proposal I had gathered and read most of the literature and had put together an outline. Having this things done was a lifesaver! During the three weeks of writing I had to buckle down and eloquently put the literature and my ideas into a document.

I should give a little bit of context: I initially thought I was going to have a month of full-time work hours during a term in which I was on sabbatical. But because of the lack of childcare (due to COVID-19) I actually had three weeks with 4-hours per day (during week days) to write the paper. I do not know how fast others are at writing papers but gosh I am such a tortoise. To make it more interesting, this was a solo-authored publication.

Kind of funny, I can write without problem in a busy cafe with all sorts of background noise. I pretty much wrote all of my dissertation in a Panera a few blocks from my apartment when I lived in Norfolk, VA. But it was so hard to write this paper from home while having my family members’ voices in the background. I remember putting on my headphones and close the door and still every now and then I would still hear their voices and conversations in the background.

I think that been really passionate about the topic I was writing about made a huge difference on how I approached this writing project, despite the hardship endured in the process. I am grateful for Reviewer # 1 and the editors of the special issue for such wonderful and detailed feedback. I truly helped me improve the paper during the R&R submit process. The manuscript was published “online first” this January 2021 and is titled: Current initiatives, barriers, and opportunities for networked learning in Latin America .

This was the first of many experiences like this. Our son stayed home for 6 months while we worked from home without childcare. And, even after he went back to the childcare center, there were other instances in which he has stayed home and we had to maneuver the same dynamics of still completing our work. Having the deadline of special issue submission did add more pressure in this specific instance (shared in this post)! It made it hard for me commit to any special issue submissions for almost a year (hence why I missed out on so many opportunities to submit for COVID-19 related special issues in 2020, sadly)!

Happy Monday everyone!

A sabbatical during COVID-19

Where do I start?

I guess I can start by writing that a few months into my sabbatical the world turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, I was able to use my time to complete the tasks that I had outlined for my sabbatical period. April and May did require a significant adjustment since we had to manuoiver a new work schedule without child care. Maneuvering this new schedule required being realistic about what I could accomplish and saying “no” to some invitations for new collaborations.

The first two months of my sabbatical were as planned. I worked on writing two chapters for the book “Research Methods in Learning Design and Technology.” Book chapter authors submitted their completed and revised book chapters to me by the end of January and I worked on doing final reviews of each book chapter. I initially had planned to submit the book to the publisher by mid-March, but I switched the format of the last chapter, and this required giving extra time to my co-authors to complete their writing. This meant that I had to delay the submission of the book documents to the publisher until mid-April. Thankfully, by the time the world turned upside down in mid-March, all my co-authors and book chapter authors had turned in all required documents to me.

One of the elements of my sabbatical that was partially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was work-related travel. I was scheduled to attend the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Convention in San Francisco in mid-April and the conference was canceled. I am glad it was canceled, I am also glad it was not held virtually. April was a month of re-adjustement, tension, and stress for many. I was also scheduled to travel to Florence, Italy to present at the DEPIT Annual Meeting at the University of Florence. This event was re-scheduled for an online format.

I had some personal travel plans changed because of travel restrictions. I was scheduled to spend all of March and a portion of April in Panama City, Panama, where I was going to work while spending time close to my family. So, I traveled to Panama at the end of February and was monitoring all the news related to COVID-19. Due to the way the virus was spreading, my family and I decided it was best for us to travel back to the United States, so we changed our flights to travel back on March 22 (which is the day Panama was scheduled to close their international airport). On the evening of March 20, I received an email from COPA airlines letting me know that our flights had been cancelled. I was shocked and extremely disappointed. However, we all stayed calm and determined that we would just ride the storm in Panama. That same evening, as a last attempt, we figured we would see if there were any flights on March 21 to Tampa with a different airline. Thankfully, we did manage to fly back to Tampa on March 21. My dad was in Panama with me and we were also able to find a flight for him to fly back to Toronto (within one hour difference of our flight), which gave peace of mind. I would not have left Panama without my dad.

The weeks after returning from Panama, were weeks of adjustments as mentioned at the beginning of this post. In addition to all the tasks for the book, I was also scheduled to write a manuscript (with a deadline) that I had not even started. It took discipline to stay focus. I admit that there were many emotions related to what was happening in the world with the pandemic, leaving Panama, and experiencing the “new normal.” I felt like I had to work hard on my “emotional intelligence” to get the paper written and deliver all the book materials to the publisher.

I am thankful for the sabbatical term. In addition to the tasks mentioned in this post, I also used the time to work in revisions to several manuscripts and continue mentoring my undergraduate student (we presented at a conference in February and are currently working on a few writing tasks). Of course, I spend time with my family (even more than planned due to the lack of childcare).

Since my sabbatical ended, I am back to serving as the Graduate Coordinator of the Instructional Design and Technology program and I taught a six-week summer intensive course on Learner Motivation in June. I definitely missed my students and the joy of our convos.