Learning Management Systems

If you have ever had the opportunity to work with a Learning Management System (LMS) then you know they can be a step less than friendly. In addition, if you have had a chance to work with a few different ones you might have noticed that they are definitely not all the same. In this blog post I review three of the LMSs that I have had the most experience with and some of the take-aways that I have from working with them.

ShareKnowledge

ShareKnowledge
https://www.shareknowledge.com/

The main boasting point of Share Knowledge LMS is that it integrates with SharePoint. This makes having content available on the company’s SharePoint site easily assigned to learners in online courses. The downside is that you have to deal with the antiquated system that is SharePoint, but many companies still seem to be happy doing just that so this is also a very attractive option for that reason.

There is not a lot to be found online about how to use ShareKnowledge but if you are using it they have a superb Customer Service department that is more than willing to work with you over the phone or email to assist you. In fact they will even accept zip files of eLearnings that are not working on their LMS and test them for you on their end. This is especially helpful in diagnosing issues.

Another thing that Share Knowledge seems to do rather well is integration with other Microsoft products. For example, Instructor Lead Training (ILT) that is available in Share Knowledge will automatically send class participants emails and create calendar invites in outlook.

Schoology

Schoology
https://www.schoology.com/

As its name implies, Schoology, sounds like more of a classroom system that is used by schools. In fact Schoology has a thriving Corporate user base. The one thing that Schoology does support is an online learning community. It has a very well developed user forum function that allows users to interact in a social-media-type dialogue. Not to say that other LMS options do not have this function, it is just that Schoology does this especially well.

Schoology has many options in creating diverse online courses rich in multimedia. There is also an adequate quiz function that can automatically score multiple choice questions and pend short answer questions for review by the facilitator / instructor. Overall Schoology is a user friendly option that creates a strong sense of community.

 

SABA

SABA
https://www.saba.com/

SABA LMS is marketed as a “global learning management” tool. It has a very well developed online forum that has a very active participation from users around the world. To be honest you will need it. SABA is very powerful and can do many things very well. With all of the options that SABA offers it can be daunting to find the path to the option you want. However, when all is said and done the designer can find what they are looking for in the online instructional resources and forum.

The trade off is a very seamless experience for the user. SABA is extremely intuitive and users are generally very happy with the experience. There is a very nice 5-star-rating and written response for content that is simple to turn on and gives user the ability to provide instant feedback on learning materials.

Author

cropped-kolmer

David Kolmer is a Learning and Development Specialist who focuses on curriculum development and eLearning authoring.

Personal Vision Statement

Featured Image: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/848203

Personal Vision Statement

To create inclusive learning environments that provide opportunities for all learners to improve regardless of ability. Leverage technology to implement relevant, interactive and cost-effective learning environments that promote learning through exploration.

cropped-kolmer

Slide2
David Kolmer 2018

As an instructional designer, I am obviously interested in every step of the standard ADDIE model. However, my creative spirit  lends toward an AGILE development style.
I am involved in Assessing, designing, developing and implementing any given curriculum but tend to submit my material for evaluation while developing various iterations.
My emphasis for my Master’s degree at Fontbonne University was Learner Experience.
I believe that the environment that the learners find themselves in is fundamental to their success. A calm and peaceful environment is much more conducive to learning than a loud and overly critical environment.

Learning Opportunity for All

The word “inclusive” and the phrase “all learners” were selected deliberately. In, the course: Current Topics in Universal Design, JoAnn Mattson, the director of eLearning at Fontbonne University, introduced me to the CAST organization which included UDL or Universal Design for Learning.

http://udlguidelines.cast.org

We were asked to submit all work within the guidelines proposed by this platform. It was not a difficult decision for me to agree that all learning materials should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability. Audio files should have text-based transcripts, texts should have audio options and text should be in a larger 14 point font, physical activities should have text-based options. In this way, the facilitator will be prepared for any student with any set of abilities that enters their classroom. CAST (2018) I am not addressing the learning styles of learners as that concept never appealed to me much and as it turns out there is little to no evidence to support the theory of learning styles. (Husmann and O’Loughlin 2018)

e-Learning or e-Boring?

In the second sentence of my mission statement, I brand effective use of technology as creating “interactive” and “cost-effective” learning content. Much has been written about the mass exodus of corporations from instructor-led content to the use of e-Learning as a way of decreasing costs. Normally, these articles and blog posts are linked with the opinion that a majority of this e-Learning content does not promote actual learning. This is why I have chosen to add the element of interactivity. It is all too easy to generate a quick e-Learning that serves as a “data dump”. However, generating an e-Learning module that engages the student and provides the environment conducive to learning requires skill and an understanding of the principles of andragogy. It is an art that has been hastily presented as a simple task that can be easily replicated.

Relevant interactivity is one of the most crucial elements of effective eLearning modules. These are not necessarily simulations that are specifically “learning by doing”, although they could be. What is really at play here is having the learner focus their attention on content to enter it into their working memory. Then, time is given for the learner to process the information in multiple ways (we often refer to this as a reinforcement activity). However, in my mission statement I have chosen the word “exploration”. This increases the probability that the learner transfers the information, or encodes it, into mental models in their long-term memory. (Clark 68-69) If this is done effectively, namely with a relevant context, then knowledge transfer back to the working memory can be achieved when needed. (Clark 253-254)

howbrainswork
Image Courtesy: Ruth Clark and Chopeta Lyons, Graphics for Learning

Or as Clark writes it:

There is little value to mental models in long-term memory that cannot be retrieved back into working memory when needed on the job.

(Clark 254)

On an even more personal note, I first decided that I might be interested in instructional design because of a set of e-Learning modules I took while working at Lowe’s Home Improvement. The tagline at Lowe’s was “Never Stop Improving” and I could work with that,  these e-Learning modules were bland “data-dumps” with faulty multiple-choice quizzes.  I wanted to know how those modules were created, because I felt I could do better, and that is when I started on my interest in Instructional Design.

works cited

CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2.
Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

Clark, Ruth Colvin. Building Expertise: Cognitive Methods for Training and Performance Improvement. Pfeiffer, 2008.

Husmann, P. R. and O’Loughlin, V. D. (2018), Another nail in the coffin for learning styles? Disparities among undergraduate anatomy students’ study strategies, class performance, and reported VARK learning styles. American Association of Anatomists. . doi:10.1002/ase.1777

Animated Lesson Introductions

Photo Credit: “Marceline – Adventure Time” via Tofu Verde – flickr.com/

Let’s face it, cartoons are fun to watch and if we are really honest with ourselves we have learned a lot from them.

I am interested in improving my skill-set around creating video shorts that explain a complicated idea in a short, light and easy to consume cartoon. I have seen similar content done on Prezi but really, although I do like digital zooms I really feel like that sort of presentation is really just a PowerPoint with extra bells and whistles to distract participants from the content. Especially now that PowerPoint has introduced the “Morph” Transition. I know it is a popular platform but I have heard a wide range of mixed responses to the platform. Some have even said that it makes them feel sick. Besides, a formal presentation is what I am trying to move away from. As I said, I want to make a narrative cartoon.

I had done some work with Animoto and it is a wonderful online app that is fast and very easy to use. I had not seen many ways to do much more than an animated slideshow with the Animoto platform so it really does not speak to my need.

I found an app called Wevideo that looked at face value like a simple online video editor that you might compare to a souped-up version of the legacy Windows moviemaker that came standard on Pre-Windows 7 Operating Systems. When I have some raw video that I would like to edit I look forward to leveraging that platform, but again I want to make some cartoons.

So then I narrowed it down to two platforms that I felt might be able to create something that I am looking to do. Powtoon, Vyond and GoAnimate stood out as industry standards which aim to do exactly what I want. Start with some audio and quickly build out some cartoons around the story. I researched both and at face value, GoAnimate seemed like the higher-shelf product. It had very modularized backgrounds or sets I would even call them, gobs of props, and characters complete with emotions and animations. The item the sealed the deal was they have the voice to lip sync technology (which I later found is not part of the free trial) that makes the characters actually move their mouths in sync with the vocal audio (but you know, like cartoons do.)

Powtoon was attractive simply because it also looked very good. The animations looked very colorful and compelling. The backgrounds looked great if not as adjustable as the sets on GoAnimate or Vyond. The attribute that made me really long and hard at Powtoon was they have a permanent free option whereas the lowest level on GoAnimate (after a 15-day trial) was $50 a month. Not bad if you make cartoons for a living but too much if it is just something you do once in awhile.

So I have decided to try out both Powton, Vyond and GoAnimate. So far I have only created a short 1 min. video in GoAnimate and I absolutely love working with the platform. I had a beer and knew my way around before the beer was finished. Not bad… Not bad at all. An hour later I have a link to my final product. What did I learn? With the free trial, GoAnimate will place a watermark on the whole video, whereas friends at work have shared that PowToon just pops in a little icon on the bottom corner of the screen. The same is true with Vyond. Powtoon is the lowest pricepoint, and higher than that would be GoAnimate. In my opinion the most expensive platform, Vyond, is worth every penny. There are just so many more characters, set peices and automated animations. In addition set peices themselves are moveable.

Here is an example of a cartoon I created on Vyond:

member loyalty

Learn from the Narrative

Title Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/

This blog post explores the idea of leveraging Podcasts to support the learning and instructional process. With the connectivity of the Internet age and the increase of social learning, Podcasts have become a very popular way for people to learn new ideas and gain new skill-sets.

In my personal life, I have enjoyed the narrative of podcasts like Radiolab, Serial and S-Town. Although these podcasts are true stories, that are gripping and enlightening, they do not necessarily build a definable talent or even marketable knowledge, or do they? These immensely popular podcasts do generate a deeper understanding of the human condition and I have enjoyed them immensely. If nothing else they increased my sense of empathy for other people who are not like I am. Did they teach me a new skill? Well, no, not really but does all learning need to give you a practical skill?

HEY! I work for The Man.

So, I am looking at this from the corporate perspective simply because I am currently employed as a corporate trainer, working for “the man”. From my perspective what is learned is defined by business needs and ways to increase the profit margin. When you introduce a topic, in the corporate training environment, you list the behavioral learning objectives using verbs that describe what learners will be able to “DO” (to better serve the business) at the end of training. I do not mean to cheapen the concept of what learning is, much the opposite in fact. So, with that in mind let me dream about pure learning for the sake of learning, say at a school…

 

Podcasts in Class?

In his article for The Atlantic, Michael Godsey, shares of his difficulty to get students to read but how he discovered the same students were activity engaged in discussing podcasts, such as Serial, outside of class. He even compares this difficulty to adult’s excuse that it is hard to find the time to sit down and read but Podcasts, on the other hand, present a learning modality with a different set of rules. So, he introduced a unit that leveraged the engaging power of the Podcast. Michael shares are feelings on the subject:

“While I felt guilty the students weren’t reading very much during this unit, their engagement with a relevant and timely story—their eagerness to ask questions, their intrinsic motivation to use critical thinking—seemed to make it worth it, at least temporarily. The students voluntarily studied maps, evaluated clues, argued with each other, and wrote twice as much in their journals as they previously had.”

 

Freakonomics Radio

freakenomics Radio - The hidden side of everything
The hidden side of everything

 

There are other Podcasts that I have enjoyed in my personal life that I feel have come closer to teaching me an actual skill. Freakonomics is a podcast that I have listened to the most. This show aims to debunk common misconceptions of the modern world through the discoveries of Economics. Branding themselves as “The hidden side of everything” they ask experts in niche areas of Economics to share what they have deduced from their data-sets. If nothing else this show has helped me think more critically and analytically. Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, or the Steves, got their start on the subject by co-authoring “the book and blog by the same name” and then decided to break into the Podcast space. I for one am certainly glad they did.

 

Steve_Levitt_presents_Freakonomics_at_Dell_World_2012
“The Steves”- (Dubner seated Levitt standing)          Image:https://commons.wikimedia.org.

This podcast (and Blog) work in with my Personal Learning Network because the content cuts through all of the emotional baggage and lies we tell ourselves. We are looking at data to locate the truth and it is less important how we feel. An instructional designer must use a needs analysis to find the truth of what is really needed by the learners. It is up to them to build the curriculum around those needs and involve actions that train to those needs, not use some activity they like which does not serve the higher purpose of what needs to be learned; or use the latest trick in Captivate or Storyline to make them look fresh and cutting edge. In addition, serving the needs of the learning is also up against resistance from business leaders who want to add insignificant granular details or destructive animations and sound effects to the training. A true ID will stand up for the truth. They will become an outsider and build a training that will actually improve the world. Not just add more noise.

Bigger Pockets

Another Podcast that I think does a fantastic job of training people in their everyday lives to build a valuable skill-set or knowledge base is The Bigger Pockets Podcast. The Bigger Pockets team actually started out by creating a social network around real estate investments which has grown to be one of the (if not the biggest) to date. Biggerpockets.com is a social media site of sorts where you can log in and network with other real estate professionals (and novices) from around the world to grow your real estate prowess. At one point the creators noticed that their plan had actually worked so they decided (the verdict is out on who decided to) start a Podcast. Now, over 200 podcasts later the show is a smash success.

Josh-and-Brandon-for-Podcast-Page
Brandon Turner (left) and Joshua Dorkin (right)

The reason the show works as a learning model is that it relates to the listener on a social level. Joshua Dorkin and Brandon Turner are not afraid to take cheap shots at each other and even throw in some amazing (as well as questionable) humor when they speak with their incredibly successful guests. This realness of the show leaves the listener feeling as though they have simply met up with the team at a coffee shop or bar somewhere and are listening in.

As studies have shown, this communicative storytelling narrative drastically increases knowledge retention. Research supporting the personalization principle shows that more knowledge is retained when it is presented in a conversational tone. (Moreno and Mayer 2000) Similar to Freakonomics the Bigger Pockets crew also invite the best of the best on to their shows, subject matter experts if you will, who have amassed millions of dollars through real estate and are proven experts on the subject. So, you know you are getting solid methods that have been tested in the real world. One of my favorite parts of the show is they ask every guest what their favorite real estate book (that they did not author) is. In this way, I have discovered (and read) numerous books on the subject that I otherwise might never have heard of.

At this point, the interview with Austin Fruechting is still one of my favorites. Check it out here.

https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/biggerpockets-podcast-239-achieving-financial-freedom-age-32-austin-fruechting/

The Bigger Pockets podcast is a large part of my Private Learning Network (PLN). I am a designer, a performer, a teacher, a trainer and I am an instructional designer with an emphasis in Learner Experience. The interest I have in these topics revolves around a love of learning and sharing what I have learned. However, when I have achieved a certain amount of capital it is real estate that I am ultimately interested in. I like buildings, I like houses and I am excited by the prospect of owning more of them… Ultimately, I would like to design learning content around real estate investing but I am simply not there yet.

So what are your thoughts? Have I convinced you to use Podcasts in your teaching or training efforts? Please leave your thoughts below.

playerfm.pngAnd if I have convinced you then check out this list of featured Learning Podcasts that were hand selected by our friends at Player.FM

work cited

Monero, R.& Mayer, R.E (2000b). Engaging students in active learning: The case for a personalized multimedia message. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 724-733.

Godsev, Michael (2016, March 17). The Value of Using Podcasts in Class- Ironically, they can encourage students to read more. Retrieved from URL https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/03/the-benefits-of-podcasts-in-class/473925/

 

 

Social Networking

Title image: Social Network Analysis Visualization.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I shared my portfolio with my mother last week, who exited the full-time professional world back in the 80s, and all she could say was, “Oh, wow. Times have really changed.”;  and she was right. Times have changed more than we know in countless ways we will never know.

Take the job search for example; it will never be the same. Finding work has always been loosely related to who you know, but now it is easier to connect with people from all over the world with the click of a button. (In fact, many of the first steps into our next role starts with being discovered by an online search-bot, not a person at all.) But HOLD ON! wait just one hot minute Improvement Dave, this blog post is about being social, not about cold lonely robots that live online.

The dawn of the internet age has changed our world forever. As Marcia Conner reminds us in her interview on theelearningcoach: access to mobile devices is more prevalent than access to clean water. Let that sink in, the number of us that have smart phones is greater than the number of us that have access to water to drink. Her interview is amazing by the way. Check it out here:

marcia-conner-podcast2

 

Professional Network Groups

Professional Network Groups are an added layer to this ability to connect across large distances. Joining a group is a fantastic way to grow your circle of influence, learn about best practices in your industry and just meet some new people who share common interests with you. Although the Groups on Facebook do include a vast range of interests, for professional development and performance enhancement Linkdin.com is the place to go.

facebook

Personally I find that the groups I join on Facebook reflect my personal interests that I enjoy in my free time, and sure those interests do cross over into my professional life. Overall, there seems to be an unwritten perception that Facebook is more of a Social Network and Linked In is s Professional Social Network.

 

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Just by the nature of Linked In I have joined groups that directly relate to my career. Being a Learning and Development specialist I have found numerous groups that discuss best practices in training facilitation, Instructional Design and eLearning. Not to mention I have befriended and then followed people from those groups. It is their posts the enrich my feed with what is called social learning.

Social Learning

We are social creatures. There are many studies that reinforce the hypothesis that people learn more in a social environment. In her article on elearningindustry.com, Juliette Denny presents the 70-20-10 model. The research around this model shows that we learn 70% to 90% of what we know from work while on the job. It breaks down like this, while at the workplace learning is:

  • 70% ‘on the job’ that is by experience
  • 20% by watching others
  • 10% through formal training

What can we take away from this? Social Networking is not simply a way to meet a new friend or find your next gig. Social networking is an extremely effective way to learn; a proven modality to better yourself and increase your workplace performance.

So, the next time you find yourself beating yourself up for spending 10 minutes on Linked In reading content related to your industry, stop. You are doing yourself a favor. However, if you find yourself spending hours at a time watching cute cat videos, then you might want to take a look at your priorities in life.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

works cited

Denny, Juliette (2017, November 22). Social Is Sexy: 11 Reasons Why You Need An Informal Learning Strategy. Retrieved from URL https://elearningindustry.com/informal-learning-strategy-11-reasons-need-social-sexy-70-20-10-model

Malamed, Connie (2016 ?). Social Learning Is A Way Of Life – Conversation with Marcia Conner. Retrieved from URL http://theelearningcoach.com/podcasts/29/?utm_source=linkedIn&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialWarfare

 

 

Social Bookmarking

  • Have you ever had a computer die on you and you lost all your sweet bookmarks?
  • Has your cell phone ever nearly crashed because you had 30 web browser tabs up that you were going to “check out when you find the time?”
  • Have you ever sat and gazed at the stars wishing there was a way to have a platform where you could save bookmarks that will follow you for the rest of your life?

Well welcome to 2018! Where have you been?! There is a thing for this and it’s called Social Bookmarking.

There are a number of options from Pintrest for the more visually inclined and symabloo for more of an app-like tile look.

Whenever you have a link you like just add it to your profile and there it will stay until the end of time, or the end of the internet, which ever comes first. Click below to see my personal attempts with these tools.

Pinterest

Apps-Pinterest-B-icon_125

I have had Pintrest for awhile and I will get on evry once in awhile and spend 2 to 3 hours playing around. Check out my profile here.

Symbaloo

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Symbaloo is a beautiful grid of icons that link to pages you like or want to visit at a later time. There are many option to customize your tiles to look just the way you want. Check out my page of links on Learner Experience here.

Truly Free Web Design

Image Credit: Pixabay Manuchi. /

In this post I aim to explore web-based design platforms that offer truly free web development. The criteria is that the user can design a web page, and have it hosted indefinitely, for absolutely no payment. I am comparing two options that I have heard the most about (Weebly.com and Wix.com) to an option that I am already using (WordPress.com)

Weebly.com weebly

Offers a free easy-to-use cloud-based drag-and-drop web site builder. According to PC Magazine’s Lead Software Analyst, Michael Muchmore, the web-editor does not let you place things anywhere you like similar to Squarespace ($12) but unlike Wix (free). The templates are clean and contemporary and present many image-rich options. Not to mention you get a free domain name (free includes “weebly”) and a $100 credit to Google Ads. The web-based builder boasts custom fonts that can be typed right onto the page (as opposed to typing text into a side-bar) and an image editor. You will have a weebly.com subdomain but will enjoy 500MB of storage with SSL Security. Muchmore states that the main thing that sets Weebly apart is that you can receive the HTML code of what you have created in a zip file via email, that does not include all of the store front code but most free editors do not offer any HTML save. So not bad at all for $0.00.

If you jump up to the Pro level it only sets you back a mere $12.00 a month and adds a good deal of goodies. You can add a search bar that helps your users find content. Media will jump up to video backgrounds and HD grade video and audio. Not to mention you get a free domain name (that does not include “weebly”) and a $100.00 credit to Google Ads. The pro level does have options to sell with a checkout on Weebly.com. If you jump up to the business level ($25USD/mo) you get a storefront right on your domain. For complete pricing options visit the Weebly Pricing Page.

 

WIX.com 

wix

Offers a free easy-to-use cloud-based drag-and-drop web site builder that above all is free form. Wix has modern clean templates to start you off but you are not bound to them like you tend to be with the likes of Weebly and Squarspace. Wix is the free web developer / hosting program that truly gives to free reighn to create a unique online space. You are locked in to hosting it on their site but that’s a pretty fair trade off for having a more complete artistic freedom. Besides it is free, so it isn’t like you are locking into a paid service. Another nice attribute of Wix is that the features just seem to keep growing. The list of new features is well, just expansive! To get started with With Wix all you need is an email and the templates are much more diverse than the mere seven that Weebly offers.

The paid services that Wix offers are also very tempting. If you already own a domain name you can use that domain with your Wix content for only $5.00 per month. Bumping up to the VIP option includes some incredible offers, including: 20 GB of storage, shopping cart / storefront, a unique domain name and unlimited bandwidth. To check out all of the paid options check out the pricing chart here.

 

WordPress.com 

wordpressIf you haven’t noticed the phrase wordpress is in the URL of this page. That is to say I am using the free wordpress platform to generate this blog. For blogging WordPress is fantastic and top of the line. There is not much leeway on having a freeform drag-and-drop experience without knowing some HTML. You can even use CSS language (but that will bump you up to $8/month). However, if you are composing a Blog, that’s not really the point anyway. All I want for a Blog is an ability to select my font, chose a size, maybe select some text color and have some basic controls on how my images appear. So, far WordPress.org has done all that I have wanted all for the price of zero dollars. Now if I wanted something a bit more creative, say to show of my artwork, or advertise my business I might something a bit more flashy. So, it’s really all about what you are trying to do; and to share my thoughts on Instructional Design and Educational Technology I am more than happy with the extremely easy-to-use interface of WordPress. It is true Web 2.0 and I haven’t even had to think of things like FTP and code not working.

Now as you start paying for WordPress the optimization and customization really kicks in pretty quickly. It really is only the free option that limits you to a basic blogger experience. At only $4 a month you are already well above what most other sites offer for their basic paid plans (Wix is the lowest and it starts at $5.) Just $4 gets you your own domain name with no WordPress Advertisements, templates, email tech support not to mention a hefty 6 GB of storage. If we jump up to the the top plan, the “Business” plan, It’s only $25 and it is loaded with all you need from exclusive pro templates to Google Analytics. The only thing really missing is a shopping cart for eCommerce. Worpress’ answer to that is third party plug ins. Shopify is a big trusted name and accounts that allow ecommerce start as low as $9 a month. If you want the details of the wordpress paid options check them out here.

Perspectiveamazon

This blog is about designing instructional content…

…but just to put this all this business in perspective you can open up a storefront on Amazon that supports e-Commerce, as well as full logistical and Customer Service support, for roughly $35 a month. The win is that you have the name of Amazon backing up the legitimacy of your storefront. The loss is that you are not building your brand up you are building up Amazon’s name. So, if you want to sell on-line and building your brand is not important to you then Amazon.com might be a whole lot easier for the same.

Conclusion

All of these platforms have something to offer. If you want to design something and have a reasonable amount of creative control and be able to take the code with you then Weebly is a good fit for you. If you want a true drag and drop experience but don’t need a copy of the code then Wix would do you right. If you want a platform to simply, and quickly, share your thoughts and photos with the world the WordPress is for you.

 

Author

bluedavesmallDavid Kolmer is a Learning and Development Specialist who focuses on curriculum development and eLearning authoring.

 

Work Cited

Michael Muchmore (2017). Weebly Review
retrieved from: http://uk.pcmag.com/weebly/34504/review/weebly

Michael Muchmore (2017). Wix Review
retrieved from: http://uk.pcmag.com/wix/34506/review/wix

 

 

 

IoT Opportunities in Education

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Image Rights: Pixabay

The Internet of Things

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Image Rights: Wikimedia

When we think of the Internet of Things, that is objects in the real world being enhanced with smart-chips that enable them to send data over the internet, a few of us might recall Skynet from The Terminator franchise. If you have not had the pleasure, this is the story where a cloud-based internet system was leveraged by intelligent machines to overthrow the humans. Although this is a potential outcome of the IoT, it is not very likely. Well, not according to the AI FaceBook chatbots of 2017 anyway.

IoT, What Could Go Wrong?

Well, a lot could go wrong actually. In keeping with the skepticism of the opening statement of the blog post I would like to share a short clip from the recent Internet TV success Mr. Robot.

It is at this point in the story that the hackers involved appropriate the “Smart Home” and use it for a landing spot for a party. Although this scene is a bit dark, it does get us all onto the same page around what the Internet of Things encompasses.

It is important to remember that technology is not inherently good or evil in nature but it is the user that makes it so. This scene also reminds us of the potential safety and privacy risks inherent with implanting the internet into the objects around us.

It Can’t Be All Bad

The IoT revolution is not certainly all bad and there is no reason to assume that it will only end in disaster. In fact, in his his article for Business Insider, Andrew Meola makes a few very strong arguments on why the IoT is going to be extremely beneficial to the area of education. Depending on when and where you went to school the world of education might not be the first place you think of when you think of smart objects. However, as Meola points out in his article, there is a lot that the internet is already doing for the classroom. (Meola 2016)

Higher Education

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Image Rights: jisc

Meola writes that the majority of the forthwith “disruptions” in the education system are happening in the area of higher education. It is useful to highlight here that I received my undergraduate just after the start of P2P file sharing. What we now refer to as WEB 1.0 was in full swing and we had yet to see any disturbances of social media as we know it today in these final days of WEB 2.0.

 

At that time (2001) a majority of students went to the on-campus book store to purchase their books. If you were thrifty or taking a class you were not all that excited about you would simply purchase a used book. Amazon.com was certainly around but a majority of students didn’t think of purchasing books online. Sure it happened but not many of us had the idea of shopping online in the forefront of our minds. As I started my masters degree in 2016 I found a much different environment.

Online Learning

For starters the classes were completely online, I haven’t even had to go to campus. I have gone a few times because I am nostalgic and want to see the place that I am getting my degree from, but let’s be clear, I didn’t have to. The Schoology platform has really been all that I have needed to get my work done. It is a Learning Management System that also functions as a communication platform. If I have my laptop and WiFi I can get to work.

To Books or Not to Books?

In my first few Higher Ed. classes, in 2017, I have found that purchasing books is an optional task. Most of the courses have simply leveraged portions of digital resources owned by the school library. In my second class I did purchase books at the school bookstore. However, I shared this with a friend at work who happened to be a young millennial and he scoffed at my apparent lack of understanding. You know there are sites online that just let you rent the PDF, right?

As I have moved through this paradigm shift I have found that the library at my University has really embraced this brave new world. The biggest difference that I have benefitted from has not only been finding digital copies of needed texts online but in a number of cases the library had audio recordings of the readings I needed to complete. I downloaded them all in MP3 and loaded them onto my smartphone. I queued them all up and played them via bluetooth connectivity over my car’s audio system. In this way I had my homework read to me as I drove to work. Solid move Improvement Dave.

Research and Sources

Having legitimate support in your writings is now also much easier than it was back in the not-so-long-ago days before the internet. If you need data to support your ideas, it is now remarkably easy to locate a legitimate source. You simply search through a database with very a comprehensive search engine that allows many ways of searching, including multiple topics at once, to find the perfect article. (Example: EBSCOhost) Sourcing academic journals has never been easier.

 

It is going to be Great

So, although we have our share of television shows and movies that paint a picture of doom around connecting our things to the net, there really is plenty to be excited about. At this point there is no real threat of them becoming sentient beings that crave our destruction. This revolution has just started and we have really only scratched the surface. I can’t wait to see where this all takes us and what higher ground we find.

Author

bluedavesmallDavid Kolmer is a Learning and Development Specialist who focuses on curriculum development and eLearning authoring.

 

 

Work Cited

Meola, Andrew (2016). How IoT in Education is Changing the Way We Learn, 1.
Retrieved from: http://nordic.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-education-2016-9

 

 

Reflections on using Web 2.0 for Instructional Design

mountain-1246554_1280 Pixabay
Image Rights: Pixabay

Web 1.0

When I started my efforts in web design I was working with Web 1.0. We had content that we uploaded via an FTP to a static web page. The process was tedious and the outcome could be a bit unpredictable, but it was something that you made from scratch. I am still a fan of the fully customizable nature of the Web 1.0 world.

Web 2.0 Tools

With the dawn of the web 2.0 cloud-based design technologies, we might have lost a bit of that hands-on approach to design. However, I still embrace this new world of design and see a number of good things coming from it.

We are not all Designers

The thing I like the most about Web 2.0 is that it makes all of our content look relatively good. In the web 1.0 days, it was not uncommon to see a pink page with white letters. Or a forest-green background with dark grey letters. My point is that you can’t read text when it is displayed in this way but in Web 1.0 those poor decisions are all too easy to make. I realize that if you try you can still produce these outcomes with our new Web 2.0 design tools, but there is a default setting on most platforms that already looks clean and sleek so there is not much motivation to go in an tweak the options.

Power to the People

Web 2.0 has literally opened the floodgates and allowed nearly anyone who is interested to create content for the web. This obviously created a number of problems with validity and security. However, it also liberates the masses and allows for the unheard voices of the world to have a space to share their perspective.

My Favorite Web 2.0

At this point in time, as a Learning and Development Specialist who prefers to work in eLearning design; I would have to say that the new Articulate 360 suite is my favorite bit of cloud-based authoring software.

riselogo

Specifically, Articulate Rise touted for effortless responsive authoring. With Rise, a designer quickly ends up with a learning artifact that is both user-friendly and has a modern feel. If a designer wanted to create a similar artifact with traditional on-premise software it would take hours and hours of painful labor.
Rise does have its limitations, but for rapid development, I am willing to work within those confines as a trade-off for the ease of development and spectacular outcomes.

 

Author

bluedavesmall David Kolmer is a Learning and Development Specialist who focuses on curriculum development and eLearning authoring.

Using Web 2.0 Tools for Instruction

Image Rights: alexgpr.com/

This post is a review of 3 instructional sites included in the Web 2.0 space that can be used to create online learning artifacts.

Voicethread

Voicetrhread is an online space where group members are able to discuss videos, images, and documents. Users are able to add comments whenever they want. The platform is pitched for three main user groups: business, higher education, and K-12 school levels. An instructor could easily post content related to a classroom topic or business problem. Then the platform could be used to facilitate user discussion to dive deeper into the subject matter.

Animoto

Animoto is a cloud-based video editing platform. Users have the ability to upload content including videos pictures and music that can be used to a create a seamless slideshow video production. An instructor could assign group or solo work that includes creating a video presentation. The length and content could have set goals that need to be reached and at the end of the project, the learners could watch the content as a community.

Coursera

Coursera is a free online learning platform that offers over 2,000 university-level courses from institutions such as Stanford and Yale. The coursework is presented in a sleek media-rich online platform. There are opportunities for group discussion among learners in the same class. When completed a certificate of completion is offered to the learner for a nominal fee (starting in 2015). Instructors could assign a single module or a small portion of a course in order to enrich the student experience.

Author

bluedavesmall David Kolmer is a Learning and Development Specialist who focuses on curriculum development and eLearning authoring.