Thursday, August 21, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
Last week at Northern State University where I work, Darrell Scott came to present about Rachel's Challenge. His daughter, Rachel Scott was the first person killed in 1999 at Columbine High School when two boys opened fire on her as she ate lunch outside. Darrell's speech to congress later that year was not about the need for gun control, which was a surprise to many. His speech was about the need for kindness and compassion.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Right now you are thinking, "but wait, iBooks Author is made by Apple, and Apple is cool, right?" Apple is cool, but Apple is not multiplatform, and this makes all the difference in my world. My textbook is on educational technology, and when it is ready, I intend for it to be read by my own university students (and students at other universities) on any device. I want all of the interactive elements to function on a Windows laptop, Android-based mobile device, Apple computer, Linux desktop, and yes, an iPad. How many of these devices would work with a textbook developed using iBooks Author? Only the iPad (and no, not the Apple computer).
When I started out writing my textbook, I looked into many different platforms for publishing an interactive digital textbook. I looked into iBooks Author, but I realized that anything I created with iBooks Author would only work on the iPad. It was simply not going to work for me to ask all of my students to buy iPads when some had Android tablets, Windows computers, Apple computers, etc. already. Ethically, I couldn't justify requiring students to buy a certain type of device in order to succeed in class.
So I looked a bit deeper into the options for publishing interactive digital textbooks and found only a few alternatives that were truly multiplatform and interactive, one of which was Inkling Habitat. Habitat offers a multiplatform experience so that students on Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, and whatever else can access and interact with my digital textbook. When my textbook comes out, it will be available on whatever device through Habitat.
Because Habitat has worked well for me, I am presenting a workshop at this year's AECT International convention on how to create your own interactive digital textbook and I already have a good number of people enrolled. I am looking forward to the experience! Check out Habitat at https://www.inkling.com/habitat/. And get ready for the first ever multiplatform interactive digital textbook on Educational Technology for Teachers, coming soon!
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
re talking about.
AECT International convention. I attended a presentation on PBL in which the presenter had implemented a PBL experience for one semester which had all of the hallmarks of PBL, most significantly, the PBL experience provided minimal guidance and coaching for students. The result was a failed class, student scores did not improve significantly. "But," said the presenter, "we implemented some changes the next semester, and saw markedly improved student scores." The second semester was a great success. The presenter still called the second semester approach PBL, but I think it was mislabeled.
As I sat in this session I noticed that the changes that were made to improve the second semester scores were the same types of practices advocated in a TCL approach, not a PBL one. These included the instructional guidance and coaching that are so much a part of the TCL and First Principles of Instruction models for learning. So I guess that is the reason for the article. I believe that this distinction should be important for anyone in instructional or educational technology.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
The original assignment had well defined requirements in which students were required to create a website for a fictitious client according to specific requirements. But the experts suggested that there is rarely a time when a client knows what he or she wants and can explain that to you. A lot of the web design process involves communicating with the client to find out what he or she needs and negotiating with the client to determine what is wanted and what can reasonably be done within the project timeline. The experts suggested that in addition to the technical skills of being able to create a web site, I should require students to learn communication skills to help them negotiate with clients.
Any web design class can teach about HTML and CSS, but a high-quality class helps students practice the skills they need to be able to communicate and negotiate with clients to provide a quality web design.
Learn more about E-Learning at Northern State University
Friday, May 11, 2012
I hear a lot about Adobe products lately. As I look at the job market for my students at Northern State University, many job descriptions in the E-Learning field list familiarity with Adobe Products as requirements or qualifications for the position. However the individuals that write these descriptions are usually not familiar with free and open-source software (FOSS) alternatives to these programs that can do 80-90% of what the Adobe products do. In some cases, such as Adobe Flash and captivate, it is hard to find a good free/open-source alternative, but in the case of photoshop and illustrator, there are some great programs out there that are absolutely free and very functional that I have used with great success:
Adobe Photoshop alternatives
GIMP - http://www.gimp.org/
GIMP has been around for years, yet there seems to be relatively little knowledge of its existence among E-Learning professionals. GIMP is the ultimate photoshop alternative, offering fine-grained photo enhancement, retouching, cropping etc. features.
Google Picasa - http://picasa.google.com/
Picasa is a great photo organizer/editor similar to iPhoto (but free and open source). It doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of GIMP but it does offer quick and easy photo enhancement, retouching and cropping and the most recent version offers new image filters for fun photo effects.
Adobe illustrator alternative
Inkscape - http://inkscape.org/
Inkscape is an excellent vector graphics editing software package. It is my go-to application to help me design and edit graphics for E-Learning projects. I recently used inkscape to create some icons for a touch screen project and it worked very well:
These FOSS applications don't have all of the bells and whistles that the Adobe versions have, but in the end it doesn't matter what tools you used to create your e-learning project, as long as it is effective!
Learn more about E-Learning at Northern State University
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The first thought that I had with regard to this article is how do they define “work,” or whether a certain activity is working or not. It is made clear that this is when learned items are stored in long term memory. But aren't there many other ideas in the field of whether something works or not based on other criteria? For instance, instead of just storing something in long term memory, shouldn't we be able to perform in some greater capacity than we were able to before an activity. What if motivation to learn is a specific problem, then shouldn't this be used as a criteria for what works in an activity? And what of problem-solving ability, is this not very useful in our information age?
The authors also blanket all types of subjects and learners into one great whole when they say that guided instruction works better than minimal guidance. The only distinction that is made is between novices and experts. I see a more comprehensive continuum between novices and experts and at some point, I think we are better off giving minimal guidance as learners become more experienced.
Also, one of the main tenets of the article is the idea that so many constructivist activitys are done with too little guidance and that adding guidance is admitting that constructivism is inadequate. I don't think this is the case. Based on my experience working with some constructivists, the authors' view of constructivism is very different from what actually happens. In fact most would agree that giving no guidance is ineffective for promoting learning on either side of the spectrum. It seems to me that the difference is that constructivists want to give enough guidance to help the learner along, but not so much that they stifle the creativity and problem-solving ability of the learner.
Lastly, the authors mention that giving learners complete and correct information is the best method for learning to occur. A constructivist may say “whose information are they being given?” In other words, constructivism may challenge the notion that there is one correct version of the information irrespective of the situation or knower of the information.
Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance during Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75.