On Thursday May 13th, Robin Good is offering another free review of technologies. This time he has selected over ten interesting and emergent low-cost videoconferencing technologies. After his brief analysis of those technologies selected from a buyer’s standpoint, the floor will be opened to participants to ask direct live questions to Robin or to anyone representative of the tools being showcased.
Conference starts at 1:00 PM Atlantic.
has made available his speaker notes for a presentation on "What do
Instructional Designers design?" Much of what he says resonates with my
own experience and perspective. First, that tradional instructional
systems design cannot address the multitude of?Ç¬ï¿½ alternatives available to us today – such as knowledge management,
performance support, blogs, workflow learning, communities of practice,
Morrison also says that Google is a learning tool [I agree, it’s how I
learned HTML], and that it favours information
over instruction. This is an
interesting point. A few years back, I had a conversation with the
design team at Tecsult-Eduplus
about their learning programs for astronauts. They recounted how they
had initially designed some courses which adhered to the "standard"
rules of using only 7 points of information per screen. The feedback of
the astronauts was that they wanted not only more information, but the
maximum information possible per slide. For these bright students, time
was of the essence and they couldn’t waste it by clicking on the next button.?Ç¬ï¿½ I have noticed
that medical school students are the same in their learning style –
they absorb information like sponges, and later reflect on it. Speaking
for instuctional designers, Morrison says:
That if Google is being perceived as
the best learning tool ever, it’s because it has developed relevant
notions like adjacency, weight
, implemented them
in a smart, innovative process which is embedded in a lightning-fast,
What LMS, what LCMS, what competency engine, what third-party or custom
course library or curriculum, what instructional design theory has done
anything close in terms in responding to today’s learning needs??Ç¬ï¿½
I think you and I both know the answer. Not one.
In comparison, our response has been linear, turgid and unimaginative.
Morrison goes on to discuss a number of design models, including some
more advanced models (and lesser known within many instructional design
teams) such as van
Merrienboer’s Four-Component Instructional Design Model , as well
as more general Cognitive Load Theory. The whole text is worth a read,
and worth the effort of reviewing or researching Morrison’s references.
This text should also be read by anyone in higher education where
educational technology is taught, to show that there is a heck of a lot
more to learn than how to put courses online.
So you think that the idea of wikis is a bit confusing? Still trying to get your brain around blogs and RSS? Well folks, check out Lion Kimbro’s Wiki Proliferation article on how we should really be using wikis to create the public web. This is not for the faint of heart – and not what you’ll find on the Wall Street Journal in the near future.
I found out about Lion via Seb.
ATutor has announced the latest version of its open source, standards compliant LCMS, which should be available in a couple of weeks. The new version 1.4 includes:
Templates for creating your own custom look-and-feel
Roles & Privileges for students to create teaching assistants or additional instructors
Automatically marked tests
Search the TILE learning objects repository, and import content packages directly into ATutor by entering a URL
Evaluate content with the content editor accessibility checker to ensure learning materials conform with international accessibility standards
Visual Content Editor (currently disabled) format content without knowing any HTML
ACollab Groups for running group activities within ATutor courses, as well as file sharing, managing assignment submissions, collaborative document authoring and archiving, and more (also available as a standalone)
I will be putting the standalone version of ACollab through its paces in a short while, and will provide a detailed evaluation of this platform as we go along.
This blog will soon be moving to the LearnNB site. This site is hosted by the NRC and will be an excellent portal for learning in the region. Unlike TeleEducation, which no longer exists, the LearnNB site will not be linked to any specific organisation. This means that if this community closes, the LearnNB site will remain for new initiatives and groups. It will be our “one stop shop” for the long run.
My intention is to start our community web presence with a blog, and very quickly add a collaborative work space, including access to a wiki. If you haven’t used a wiki, let’s learn together.
Stay tuned here for further announcements.
While I was in Fredericton this week, I started some conversations around the focus of this community. One area of interest is around the sharing of technology. The idea being that the use of common platforms would facilitate collaboration. For instance, if everyone used the same LCMS, then it would be easy to develop a single solution using multiple suppliers. The R&D focus would be to determine what kind of technology would be suitable for co-operation. Simulation tools probably would not be suitable, as they can give a company a competitive edge. Content management platforms might be mnore suitable, as most companies need one, and one does not provide a significant competetive advantage over another. Sharing in the development and implementation of open souce platforms for multiple organisations received some interest (e.g. see this model. For instance, Engage Interactive has developed some add-ons for the open source CMS, Mambo. If other learning companies wanted to use a CMS, why not choose Mambo, where we already have some expertise in the region? Some people even suggest using a CMS instead of an LCMS. hmmm?
Another suggestion, from John Heinstein:
I was thinking about our conversation today and the question of settling on a small-scale project that could bring together members of the eLearning community, and which also championed Open Source as a low-cost and effective alternative to commercial software. I think that one good candidate is: a SCORM test-bed.
This would be an extremely useful service for NB eLearning companies. After having been through the painful SCORMization process ourselves, we can testify to the difficulty of comprehending the SCORM spec, much less implementing it. In fact, I’m still not sure exactly how conformant we are. Having an easily accessible SCORM test bed would enjoin NB companies to marshall around an international standard, emphasizing the importance of interoperability, and provide direct evidence to eLearning consumers that NB is on the leading edge of the courseware industry.
It would demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of integrating Open Source software with commercial software. It would provide a model of how collaboration can be achieved within an industry that is highly competitive. Companies could promote their SCORM-conformant courseware by displaying demos on the website; NB [and the region] could better sell itself as having a coherent approach to eLearning. Wikis, forums, chats, papers, newsletters, blogs, etc. could provide support services for participants.
Commercial consulting services for SCORM-related matters could be offered. Eventually services like EduSource and Knowledge Agora could be integrated into the system. The SCORM test-bed could also be used by schools with eLearning curricula.
I attended the New Brunswick knowledge industry’s KIRA awards in Fredercton on Thursday evening. It was a a well-organized event, with comedienne Bette MacDonald as MC, which was a rare treat. There were many deserving recipients, including export category winner Engage Interactive, an elearning company; most promising start-up Ensemble Collaboration; and Christian Couturier, of the National Research Council, who is also responsible for the elearning research group in Moncton.
I still have some difficulties with the term "knowledge industry", especially as it’s used in this region. It seems to be interchangeable with "information technology sector". Many of us can honestly say that we are knowledge workers, and work in a knowledge-intensive industry, without being in IT. Our fascination with technology may take us away from the real task at hand – innovation for the betterment of society.
Via Stephen, is this article from USA Today on the use of laptops in schools. It’s getting to the point where the the conservative majority will not be able to argue against students being connected with information technology. In a short time, using laptops will be more economical.
Back in the Dallas suburb of Forney, Superintendent Smith doesn’t know what he’ll do after the experiment with textbook-loaded laptops next year. It all depends on the price, he said.
"A child’s set of textbooks costs $350," Smith said. "If they can get these notebooks down to $500, it gets cost-effective in a hurry."
Knowledge@Wharton [requires free subscription] has an article on global entrepreneurship as discussed at a recent panel discussion at the Lauder Institute Alumni Association Global Business Forum in New York.
So what makes an entrepreneur? It seems to boil down to these basics:
Panelists emphasized less the solitary aspects of the entrepreneurial life than the social ones. Forget genius, they said; what really counts most is building a strong network to turn to for help and advice, treating people with dignity, and serving your customers well.
So keep building your network, through personal contacts, work, socializing, writing, blogging, etc.
Another interesting comment, from one of the panelists, especially for those in elearning:
Sectors that are in flux are often particularly rich in opportunities, he advised. ?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨?ï¿½When there?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢s chaos, the existing relationships are in turmoil. In a slow-growth setting that?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢s been stable for five years, it?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½Ñ¢s hard to get a fresh idea to penetrate the existing structure.?ï¿½ï¿½Ç¨ï¿½ï¿½
A recent report, on the state of the elearning industry in Qu?É¬ï¿½bec was commissioned by Alliance num?É¬ï¿½riQC and conducted by Am?É¬ï¿½lioraction. The executive summary, in French only, is available for viewing and the entire report will be available for purchase soon.
Here is my quick translation and summarization of the executive summary.
The report’s authors describe the Qu?É¬ï¿½bec elearning industry as comprising about 60 companies, with a total of around 600 people. Most of these companies have fewer than 15 employees. During the past two years, many of these companies have seen 30 to 35% reductions in their annual earnings. These companies do not have the necessary resources to bring their products to market, especially since the elearning marketplace requires a complex "go to market" strategy.
Using Moore’s "chasm" model, the report states that Qu?É¬ï¿½bec companies have done a good job of attracting the early adopters, but are failing at convincing the more conservative buyers about the merits of elearning. In Qu?É¬ï¿½bec, most executives believe that classroom training yields better results than elearning. For this reason, the authors suggest that blended learning may be a better strategy for Qu?É¬ï¿½bec elearning companies. They also suggest that the elearning industry look at creating complete, or end-to-end solutions, in order to compete in an industry that is witnessing major mergers and acquisitions. They see fragmentation as the major obstacle to their industry’s growth.
The authors suggest that the industry look seriously into partnerships and collaborative models. They see Alliance num?É¬ï¿½riQC providing a provincial industry focus, and mention the national role of CeLEA for industry and CSTD for professional development.
Some of the 33 proposed actions include reinforcing the role of Alliance num?É¬ï¿½riQC; increasing the business competences of business leaders – especially in marketing, exporting and partnering; and identifying events to educate major potential clients about elearning. They recommend that the markets to be addressed should be, in order – Qu?É¬ï¿½bec, Canada, USA.
This is an interesting report, particularly for its similarities to other Canadian studies. There are some unique Qu?É¬ï¿½bec perspectives, and I hope that the spirit of co-operation will go far beyond the provincial borders. Obviously, when you add the figures from the elearning industries in BC, Ontario, Quebec and NB, we’re still only a few thousand people, and it’s a big world.