Jesse Matthews

Portfolio for TRU EDDL


One rather important element to my current covid situation is that I’m not actually teaching in a classroom, online or otherwise. Which was obviously not the intention upon applying for TRU online teaching and learning certificate last year. I didn’t realize how crucial the resources I was hoping to have through the school I would’ve been working at, would have been. My assumptions about online and remote education have really changed due to these unforeseen global circumstances.
The social and ethical topics around education are of great interest to me, and my experience in teaching so far has not been from wealthy schools or privileged circumstances. I feel personally invested in my students and always try to have a positive impact on their life. So confirming basics like equal access to all resources for all students, is a priority in moving forward with the new normal. Having the appropriate technology and the available assistance when necessary will provide a more balanced opportunity for all students. This doesn’t of course guarantee success, but at the very least all of the tools one may need are accessible. As an educator I need to put more contemporary technology into use in my lessons, and become more proficient with software, hardware, apps and the networks for information. I will inevitably become more available and resourceful for students, the more confident and fluent I am with technology. To further that, something else I’d like to put into practice is a better learning design through the content and delivery. As an arts teacher I have acquired many soft skills, but I seek to achieve more of a balance by developing more hard skills. Even simple ones like organization, that would be a huge asset to my professional and personal life.
I also want to improve my own digital literacy and be confident in having more conversations about the idea of being a responsible digital student and citizen. Digital literacy is a part of a larger conversation about the media and politics, and the socio-economic gap between in societies which of course greatly affects education. Being responsible for your actions both in real life and online, and practicing respectful and constructive dialog with everyone.
As an arts teacher, my recommendation for a future employer would be a focus on the skill of improvisation, creative problem solving and holistic alternatives as a main idea to pivot from. Spending more time and resources for developing strategies to be adaptive and flexible, which comes is good for learning and everyday life. I see some version of hybrid learning environments as the inevitable future of teaching and learning. Not many people, myself included, would prefer to be doing all of their studying online, all of the time. So if possible, some face-to-face and group learning scenarios would be highly beneficial even if it’s infrequent. I believe humans benefit from physical interaction and real time free play with others, and ideas are best translated through context, rather than content. Years ago in rural Nova Scotia I participated in a very productive workshop that was conducted entirely outdoors, and was essentially ‘lessons from nature’. I found that creating a learning environment in the outdoors, had a profoundly positive impact on everyone’s mutual engagement in the sessions.

The area of Southern Ontario that I currently live in, has a dramatic socio-economic divide that is very clear but completely unspoken. There is an upper class who champion the prestigious private schools and Brock University, there are as well handfuls of cathodic and public K-12 schools sprinkled in the suburbs and inner city. The industry here has always been tourism through the Falls and more importantly, wine culture which of course caters to a specific demographic. The homeless population has exploded over the past few years, while the price of housing and education continues to rise. The local areas relationship to education would improve if equal resources were supplied to all of the K-12 schools, and tuition costs were not so extreme for out of province and international students. I am happy to learn about all the countless programs, sites and resources already available to teachers and students online, and many of them free. I believe in making self-sufficient learners, who are proactive, prepared and adaptive learners.


No Size Fits All

What is the main position, hypothesis, argument, or finding of the resource(s)?

The main argument in unit 4 is that more consideration and creative pedagogies could be employed to make the most of online, distance or blended learning environments with consideration to ever evolving educational technologies. With subtle or substantial technological advancements, it’s common to get focused on the tools for teaching. When more often the heart of the knowledge transferred isn’t through the medium of technology, but rather the personalized examples and deeper insights gleaned from the information. “Another myth is that computers personalise learning…. they don’t. They allow students alternative routes through material and they allow automated feedback but they do not provide a sense of being treated as an individual. This can be done in online learning, but it needs online intervention and presence in the form of discussion, encouragement, and an understanding of an individual student’s needs.” (Daniel, p.12)

What do you agree with or disagree with, and why?

I agree with this approach wholeheartedly, and have always been focused on generating a holistic learning environment where the bigger picture is an element of all education. Constructive conversation and different angles of comprehension allow for empathy and understanding, which in turn create balance in and out of the classroom.  Skills that show the student thinking for themselves are the most rewarding, such as creative problem solving, critical discourse independently or with peers and ultimately a sense of self-sufficiency as a student. I believe technology can aid the process of teaching and learning, but I want to feel that if the technology were to fail me, I’d know how to keep the students attention on the subject. I look to find the threads of interest running through a classroom, and try to capitalize on collective energy and pushing that forward. My goal is to get students thinking about their place in the world and how they can improve, challenge and engage with it. “People are not blank slates but begin with models and knowledge of the world and learn and exist in a social context of great intricacy and depth.” (Anderson & Dron, p.3)

How does it/do they apply to your own context or a setting you are familiar with?

As an arts teacher, my focus when teaching is seldomly reliant upon technology. I believe that educational exercises are most successful and impactful when the student can substitute one tool for another. Breaking it down to percentages, I support using 20% of a lesson in theory/focused mode and the remaining 80% on diffuse/creative mode. Therefore dedicating a significant amount of allowance for considering the deeper threads between lessons and how they may relate in an obvious but also an abstract way. An equal measure of purpose, content & technique can provide a balanced lesson that can put the learner into a self-sufficient mode where they are motivated and engaged enough to think critically about the topic. No matter what the subject may be. Though this is from an earlier unit, I found the following case study to be a very interesting angle of consideration towards pedagogy and technology;  “For  instance,  in  the  late  1980s  the vocational  focus  by  the National  Commission  of Nomadic Education in Nigeria provided funding for radio programs to educate the rural nomadic Fulbe community in Nigeria (Usman, 2001). The program covered prevention of animal diseases, information  on  animal  and  crop  practices,  production  of  cheese,  milk,  and  butter,  cooking  and nutrition  programs,  and  religious  programs.  The  funding  agencies  and  organisers  of  these programs however failed to consider the difficulties Fulbe women experienced in gaining access to  radios,  which  were  purchased  and  used  mostly  by  their  husbands.  Broadcast  times  did  not easily fit around the busy lives of these women, who also had domestic obligations and financial responsibilities  for  the  dairy  products. “ (Gulate p.4)

What recommendations would you make for your organization in relation to what you have learned?

I believe it’s important that there is transparency in any organization between everyone involved, especially with respect to education. For example; if a strike happens at the school students should understand why their teachers are striking and the circumstances surrounding the decision. Educating individuals, young and old,  about the realities of life outside organizations and institutions can only help in preparing them for the real world and its complexity. I’m less concerned about teaching the latest technology and more interested in providing students with the knowledge and power to make up their own mind, create change, and think objectively and empathetically. Not only in regard to their own life circumstances but the people and the world around them. As Anderson & Dron point out “To a large extent, the generations have evolved in tandem with the technologies that enable them: As new affordances open out, it becomes possible to explore and capitalize on different aspects of the learning process. For each mode of engagement, different types of knowledge, learning, and contexts must be applied and demand that distance educators and students be skilled and informed to select the best mix(es) of both pedagogy and technology.” (p.5) From an unrelated piece of writing by David Toop about making the most out of the tools and technology we’ve got available “ultimately these holes in the ground address a basic problem – how to make a small thing bigger – and by applying the principle of resonance they fashion an elegant solution whose imprint will gradually soften and crumble into an impression rather than a scar. We could learn something from that.” 




Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(3), 80-97.

Daniel, J. (2012, December 13). Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2012(3).

Gulati, S. (2008, February). Technology-enhanced learning in developing nations: A review. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 9(1).

Toop, D. (2017, September 29). gone to earth


Blended Realities

As previously mentioned, I am entering the teaching field from a background in fine arts. My BFA diploma from 2008 states my field of study was ‘Inter-Media’, a short lived piece of  technology terminology that was a quick breath between multimedia and interdisciplinary arts. I find technological innovation enabling creative and practical problem solving skills to be of interest to my teaching approach. The technology I see making the most impact on the future of education is the combined efforts of Virtual (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) hardware, tethered to an open and universal knowledge software. Immersive technology such as these, coupled with a personalized, modular learning approach would ideally make for self-sufficient learning. Could virtual and augmented reality be the most effective educational technology if used in tandem with a universal design for learning and open learning environments?


VR & AR are not necessarily new technology but they’re more commonplace than most people think. Classic examples of this kind could be; gaming, make-up, sightseeing and tourism, athletic training or competition, and military applications. In the past few years, even visual art and live concerts have been exercising new ideas and possibilities through the use of virtual, augmented and blended realities. VR & AR also have a history as a tool for simulated learning; mock-up medical procedures, architecture and design, emergency search and rescue scenarios, physical and emotional rehabilitation, environmental or experiential investigation, STEM education, as well as scientific and mathematical equations. In the latter examples, the three dimensional quality of the technology is used to articulate what is difficult or impossible to describe in text or on paper. According to Leung, et al. (2018)  “VR provides a controlled environment in which learners can navigate, manipulate, and observe the effects of virtual objects found within. As such it is very well suited for providing exploratory learning environments for learning through experimentation.” (p.3)


I see VR & AR working very well in a blended learning environment, where they could accompany other tools for teaching. As the world shifts to online learning as a most common way to educate, the role of the teacher changes along with it. The future of face-to-face real time teaching and learning is changing everyday. I believe the Universal Design Learning (UDL) and Open Education Resources (OER) would be the best approach to teaching and learning VR & AR. UDL & OER could provide the student with a modular, flexible and progressive workflow that is specific to the individual’s optimal learning habits. Cooperative learning structures, feedback sessions and regular assessments would provide a solid foundation for further educational assistance. If self-sufficiency is the goal with education, and creating teachers out of learners then empowering the student with knowledge and confidence is the first step. Once you’ve taught a new tool to someone, the best outcome is that they can practice this new skill themselves as well as pass it on to others, and on repeat.  


One issue with making VR & AR a universal educational technology is the cost to manufacture and maintain such devices. As Google gains more leverage over the internet and its educational programs and technology, there is an opportunity to make a technology like their Google glasses a free and accessible form of hardware that could function with open software and universal resources, in hopes of bridging the digital divide. As Traxler notes (2007) “With increased popular access to information and knowledge anywhere, anytime, the role of education, perhaps especially formal education, is challenged and the relationships between education, society, and technology are now more dynamic than ever.” (p.2).  Another ongoing concern with VR & AR is the possible security threat inherent in the technology, with its recording and monitoring capabilities as well as facial recognition and social media connectivity. Towards the end of 2019, augmented reality game Pokemon GO was in the news when 2 players in search of Pikachu ended up on a Canadian Military base in North Bay, this bizarre incident also caught the attention of the New York Times. Regardless of these troubles, I still believe VR and AR could coexist in harmony through open educational resources in a universal design for learning.


References : 


Hegarty, B. (2015, July–August). Attributes of open pedagogy: A model for using open educational resources. Educational Technology, 3-13.

Kennette, L. N., & Wilson, N. A. (2019). Universal Design for Learning (UDL): Student and Faculty Perceptions. Journal of Effective Teaching in Higher Education2(1), 1–26.

King-Sears, M. (2009). Universal design for learning: Technology and pedagogy. Learning Disability Quarterly, 32(4), 199–201.

Leung, T., Zulkernine, F., & Isah, H. (2018). The use of virtual reality in enhancing interdisciplinary research and education. arXiv, 1–6.

Manovich, L. (2006). The poetics of augmented space.

Singleton, Korey Jerome, et al. “Integrating UDL Strategies into the Online Course Development Process: Instructional Designers Perspectives.” Online Learning, vol. 23, no. 1, Jan. 2019, http://doi:10.24059/olj.v23i1.1407

Traxler, J. (2007). Defining, discussing and evaluating mobile learning: The moving finger writes and having writ …. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 8(2).

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Chapters 1 & 2. In, Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press.


A Sampler

My name is Jesse Matthews, and I am a new teacher. My introduction to teaching comes from various short and long term contracts, facilitating creativity arts and music workshops for teenages and young adults. General disadvantages as well as physical and/or learning disabilities were common with most of the students I worked with during this time. I used whatever technology was appropriate and available, to engage with the students to hopefully have them express themselves. I could see the cognitive wheels turning as the students would amaze themselves at how easy it was to be creative in the right environment, with the right tool at their fingertips. 

In these workshops and sessions I mainly focused on sound and music, and over the years I employed the same piece of technology in every scenario. Mostly for its ease of use, but also to try to get the most out of one tool, rather than finding the newest or trendiest ones. That single piece of educational technology is a very basic piece of electronic music equipment, commonly known as a sampler. After noticing that a lot of the students wanted to make music, but were very intimidated to learn the piano, guitar and even drums. It takes time, and with no guarantee you will be a master any time soon. However, the sampler offers a different way into the creative process of making music. Simply put, one can use the microphone to record a sound onto one of more of 16 available pads, that they can then push with their finger to ‘play’ or arrange into a sequence to make a song. Therefore you’re not limited to your musical knowledge or proficiency, but instead can use your creativity to carve out your own voice using the sounds that mean something to you. Some actual audio examples from previous students include; their dog’s bark, a rumbling stomach, rain on a bus shelter, smashing light bulbs, a whirlygig, and combing the hair of a childhood doll, just to name a few. These sounds were then used by the student as a part of a story or a song they put together, and it was the tool that aided this learning process.

Though the sampler is a very basic tool that anyone could use with some instant success, it is more importantly one that leaves the user wanting more. The tactile quality of the sampler allows the user to play it like a traditional instrument, but one that is personalized in a very immediate way. Which generally stimulates the player to learn quicker and consequently become confident and comfortable enough to then teach someone else the basics. Which is always great to see, and hear. 

I’m very excited by the creative potential and learning experiences I witnessed students having by using a simple tool like the sampler, and the possibilities that immersive educational technology could inspire. In a fantasy future classroom, AI/VR/AR could be commonplace educational technology to teach and learn with, especially with students who may need a different kind of experience to fully understand the material being taught. As an arts educator I’m always looking for the best way to allow students to bring their ideas to life and I believe creativity to be an important key to pattern recognition, problem solving, total comprehension and self-sufficient learning. 

Research question:

I’m very keen on what AI/VR/AR could do for people suffering from developmental challenges, and other disadvantages that could make traditional learning environments difficult.  Does immersive educational technology actually activate cognitive thinking more than traditional methods? Could these types of educational technology allow students to learn more efficiently or to express their ideas more clearly? 


Wyse, Lonce. (2019, July 30.) Mechanisms of Artistic Creativity in Deep Learning Neural Networks Communication and New Media Department National University of Singapore  


Utz, Vanessa, DiPaola, & Steve. (2019, September 15). Using an AI creativity system to explore how aesthetic experiences are processed along the brain’s perceptual neural pathways. Retrieved from Science Direct


McDermott, E. (2020, January 7). Holly Herndon on Her AI Baby, Reanimating Tupac, and Extracting Voices. Retrieved from Art News


Schwarz, G. (2019, April 4). The art of virtual reality. Retrieved from Apollo Magazine


Loh, A. K. (2017, November 1). Alyssa K. Loh Virtual Reality and Empathy. Retrieved from 

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