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research & disseminating knowledge

insights into my research skills, interests, and experiences 

As I finalize my coursework, I've started to narrow down my research interests. However, I have yet to develop specific questions or problems that need to be solved - let's say as part of a dissertation. Currently, my research interests are trying to read and learn more about current trends and concerns in the field of instructional design - specifically in online environments. Below are my research interests: 

Online Learning:

  • Community of Inquiry Framework

    • Specifically - looking at the factors, items that instructors can control to develop effective online communities of inquiry​

  • Bridging the gap between research and practice in online learning theory and trends

In the process of finding my true research passion, I have worked on (and will continue to work on) different research projects to open myself up to a variety of topics and collaborations. As a practicing instructional designer, I find joy in disseminating academic knowledge to those who may not be able to access or find the information on their own. I strive to take my own experiences and growing skill set and share those with others. 

A research highlight I experienced in 2020 (and possibly my career), was the recognition from Dr. Randy Garrison (professor emeritus at the University of Calgary) who's life work focuses on and around the Community of Inquiry framework. My first single-authored published paper was selected as a blog topic by Dr. Garrison. Both the article and Dr. Garrison's response are linked below. Additionally as a result of my publication, I have been invited to several guest speaking events to faculty at different universities to help aid and guide them to create online Community of Inquiries. 

In 2021, our autoenthnography work was selected as the inaugual year for the the Outstanding Research and Theory Division-Sponsored Accepted Student Proposal Award of AECT. This award will be held close to my heart as this project was a one of passion, blood, sweat, and tears. It resulted in publication in Educational Technology Research and Development in 2022. I am so proud of this project and know that it will have major implications for our field as a whole - both for instructors and learners. 

Research Awards 

Accepted Publications

  • Fiock, H. (TBD). Desiging an Online Student Center. Accepted for Publication, International Journal of Designs for Learning. 

Selected Publications


Fiock, H., Meech, S., Yang, M., Long, Y., Farmer, T., Hilliard, N., Koehler, A., & Cheng, Z. (2022). Instructional design learners make sense of theory: A collaborative autoenthnography. Educational Technology Research and Development.


Understanding theory is essential to instructional design (ID) research and practice; however, novice designers struggle to make sense of instructional design theory due to its abstract and complex nature, the inconsistent use of theoretical terms and concepts within literature, and the dissociation of theory from practice. While these challenges are generally understood, little is known about the sensemaking process of learners as they encounter these challenges in pursuit of deeper theoretical understanding. Using a collaborative autoethnographic approach, six ID learners investigated their sensemaking experience within an advanced ID theory course. Autoethnography, a form of qualitative research, focuses on self-reflection “to gain an understanding of society through the unique sense of self” (Chang et al., 2013, p. 18). Collaborative autoethnography, a type of autoethnography, explores anecdotal and personal experiences “collectively and cooperatively within a team of researchers” (p. 21). Using individual and collective reflexive and analytic activities, this inquiry illuminates the numerous sensemaking approaches ID learners commonly used to move beyond their initial, basic theoretical understanding, including deconstructing theory, distinguishing terminology, integrating concepts with previous knowledge, and maintaining an openness to multiple perspectives. Additionally, ID learners experienced significant struggles in this process but viewed these struggles as significant and motivating elements of their sensemaking process. Finally, this study offers implications for learners, instructors, and course designers.

  • After over three years in the making, this paper provides insights into how doctoral learners make sense of theory. This project was awarded an AECT RT&D Outstanding Student Submission and is published in Educational Technology Research and Development - a proud accomplishment for six doctoral students who conducted a collaborative autoethnography.



Richardson, J. C., Caskurlu, S., Castellanos-Reyes, D., Duan, S., Ud Duha, M. S., Fiock, H., & Long, Y. (2021). Instructors’ conceptualization and implementation of scaffolding in online higher education courses. Journal of Computing in Higher Education 

This multiple case study explores how instructors conceptualize and employ scaffolding in online courses. Participants included full time faculty (n = 4) who have designed and taught at least one online course within the past 12 months. Data sources included pre-interview surveys, semi-structured interviews, and online course observations. Data were analyzed by employing a general analytical strategy for developing a case description (Yin, 2018). The results showed that (a) instructors define scaffolding as a support to help students achieve course outcomes and (b) instructors implement different types of scaffolding (i.e., conceptual, metacognitive, procedural, strategic, and motivational) in hard and soft scaffolding forms. The results also showed that instructors' conceptualization and implementation of scaffolding differed based on their discipline and teaching philosophy, and the unique features of online courses. Implications for practice and research are discussed.


  • This paper (a product of a course project) provides insights into online scaffolding - an area lacking in research. In addition, in the appendix, there is a very helpful list of how scaffolding has been defined and the different types we found as part of this study. 



Fiock, H. (2020). Designing a Community of Inquiry in online courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(1), 134-152. 

This article describes a practical approach for implementing instructional strategies in order to build a Community of Inquiry (CoI) into an online course. Online community building has positive effects on the quality of student learning, increases student engagement, and encourages motivation of students in online courses. The CoI is a theoretical framework focusing on facilitating meaningful learning experiences through three presences: cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence. This article will introduce the CoI framework by way of literature review focusing on CoI instructional strategies. Using Sorensen and Baylen’s (2009) seven principles of good practice, the author will structure CoI instructional activities into presence categories for practitioner use.

  • This paper was my first, single authored paper. In addition, I'm proud of its impact it has for pracitioner use - something I feel is lacking in the current research on the Community of Inquiry Framework. This article has received a response from Dr. Randy Garrison and has also been translated into two different languages. 

A full listing of publications & presentations can be found on the LDT Goals pages via my CV.  

Research Teams

  • Member of a^pl research team led by Dr. Adrie Koehler-Blair.  a^pl looks at analyzing problem-centered learning problems in instructional design settings.  We are currently researching problem solving in an advanced instructional design master's level course.  



ID theory is hard. We used a collaborative autoethnographic approach to investigate our experiences learning about complex ID theory. Check it out!



Read about my experiences developing an online community center for online students!

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