Connectivism Project 1 – Deep Learning

Our first project that we invite colleagues to participate in is on the topic(s) of Deep Learning and Connectivism. Sign up on our mailing list and we will send directions on how to join.

What is Deep Learning?Deep Learning

We hear a lot about the idea of deep learning, but what is it, is it unique to each individual, and how can we assess where it was achieved?

This course will allow us to delve into various topics related to deep learning. Participants can explore all the topics or if they choose focus on only a few topics. Each topic community of inquiry is hosted and facilitated by a member of the research team who have been exploring both the notion of deep learning and connectivism.

To assist with your explorations, we are setting up a TEAMS area that includes a resource library, along with existing articles and other resources. You are welcome to contribute other articles as they are shared during the short course.

We plan to begin the course in 2020. The course is free and open. Please make sure that you sign up on the American Center for the Study of Distance Education mailing list.


Rick Shearer

Dr. Rick Shearer has been involved in the field of distance education for over 30 years. In his administrative and instructional design roles he has developed distance education courses for computer-based instruction, educational television, traditional print correspondence courses, two-way interactive video, and the internet. Dr. Shearer has worked for both private and public institutions of higher education and has consulted on distance education projects with community colleges, and public school systems.

His research interests include systems dynamic modeling of distance education processes, learner control in distance education, content/interaction analysis, and current policy issues surrounding accreditation and copyright law. Dr. Shearer has published several articles and book chapters on the field of distance education and presented at numerous conferences. His 2010 book looks at the theoretical aspects of Transactional Distance and Dialogue in relation to the theory of transactional distance by Michael G. Moore, this is an extension of the work conducted on the theory of transactional distance by Saba and Shearer in 1994. His recent chapters in the fourth edition of the Handbook of Distance Education and in Open and Distance Educational Theory Revisited review the theory of transactional distance and the CoI model and how they impact instructional design and practice in distance education.

Jessica Resig

Jessica Resig is the lead instructional designer for the World Campus Business Program. She joined Penn State as an instructional designer in 2013 and has collaborated with faculty and program directors to design, develop, and offer a variety of online, hybrid, and executive-style programs. Jessica also maintains an active research portfolio that explores the potential applications for and implications of personalized learning experiences in online courses. She holds a master’s degree in instructional technology from Duquesne University and a Ph.D. in instructional design and technology from Old Dominion University.

Penny Ralston-Berg

Penny Ralston-Berg is a senior instructional designer for the Penn State World Campus and telecommutes from her home in Iowa. She has also served as a designer for University of Wisconsin-Extension and Western Illinois University. Her research interests include student perspectives of quality and how this impacts design practice; and the use of games and simulations in online instruction. She has presented at various regional, national, and international conferences, serves on the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning (Madison, WI) planning committee, and is currently the chair of the Quality Matters Instructional Designers Association. She is also the Quality Matters Coordinator for Penn State.

Rebecca Heiser

Rebecca Heiser is an Instructional Designer for The Pennsylvania State University’s Lifelong Learning and Adult Education online graduate program with World Campus. Her research interests include identity-centered design, inclusive and equity-centered design, online learning communities, learning analytics, informal learning spaces, aesthetic design, open educational resources, and meaningful instructional design strategies in online distance education learning environments.



William C. Diehl

Dr. William C. Diehl is assistant professor, coordinator of online graduate programs in the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education program at The Pennsylvania State University, associate editor for The American Journal of Distance Education, director of The American Center for the Study of Distance Education, and co-editor of the Handbook of Distance Education 4th Edition.