Friday, November 18, 2005

Open Courseware is Growing!

Together with colleagues of mine, we recently built a list of Open Courseware sites. I have mentioned some of them on this blog before (i.e. MIT and Sofia). Here's a much longer list. Definitely worth a look.
If you have any other Open Courseware websites to add to this list, please let me know.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Effective e-Learning Presentation: NewsU

Probably the most common application of Macromedia Flash is to create banners on websites. These Flash banners have been delighting and annoying us for several years now. We all know there are other effective ways to use Flash animations. I recently came across a lovely little Flash presentation from a training company called NewsU. They create and offer e-learning courses for journalists.

This presentation is really nice because it shows people like us that work in the e-learning community how a little bit of creativity can result in a very effective presentation with a little bit of Flash technology. My guess is that the creation of this presentation was relatively cheap too. The presentation is humorous at time, very creative, fun and compelling in the way that it sells its product. It also outlines several important features of effective e-learning courses (i.e. addressing your target market specifically, having engaging products, using puzzles, games, quizzes, problem-solving activities and giving students feedback, etc.) and it also identifies several common pitfalls of e-learning course (i.e. like avoiding the text-heavy online "page turner" or creating synchronous lectures that simply mimic the classroom environment.)

Turn on your speakers, sequester yourself for five minutes and have listen to this great pitch about e-Learning courses at NewsU.

What do you think are the most effective parts of this Flash presentation?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

4,000+ hits!

The hits on this blog keep-a-rolling at a pretty consistent rate. It took 15 weeks to move from 2,000 to 3,000 hits and 14 weeks to move from 3,000 to 4,000 hits. Will anyone predict if it will take 13 weeks to get to 5,000 hits? (*grin*)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Simulations and Problem-based Learning in Online Courses

I attended a really great two-day workshop last week in St-Jean, Quebec. It had the theme of defining the roles of the Training and Development Officer and the Educational Services workers within the framework of the Canadian Defence Academy. The topics on the second day were particularly interesting to me, specifically, the topics and workshop on e-Learning Innovation. Three proactive themes were distilled that were thought of as being alternatives to weaknesses in the current instructional design models: rapid prototyping, simulations and the creation of performance supports.

Consider simulations for a moment. When most people think of simulation they think of something rivaling a video game and that’s ok because those are indeed simulations. If you’re an instructional designer and someone comes up to you and says… “why aren’t you using simulations in your online courses?” You might cringe in fear of the work involved as well as the cost involved of designing and developing a detailed and immersive simulation. (That’s my reaction anyway HAHA!) But there are other ways to develop simulations. Problem-based Learning (PBL) comes to mind. It’s a way to emphasize the constructivist approach to learning and to promote higher-order learning in a scenario-based framework (i.e. address learning objectives into the levels 4 through 6 of Bloom’s Taxonomy for cognitive skills.)

A great article was published recently in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Education (IRRODL) that presents a case study for using PBL in an online biotechnology course. If you’re interested in using PBL as a type of simulation in your online courses make sure you read this article. It does a great job at outlining the detailed rational needed when designing this activity. It’s not an easy job to create; it’s tougher to create a PBL learning activity than it is to create a multiple choice exam, but you don’t need high-powered graphics, animations, or predictive and interactive software to provide a simulation to your students in this case. All you need is the student’s imagination and a real world problem for them to work on.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Google Print is off the the races

Google Print has been launched at It's a search engine that allows you to view the entirety of public domain books as well as the Table of Contents of copyright protected works. For example, I was able to view the entire text of:

Before and After Socrates
by Francis M Cornford - Philosophy - 1932 - 144 pages

Note that a free Google Account is required in order to view the full-text of public domain books on the Google Print website. The utility of Google Print may be limited at this point due to the fact that only public domain books are available full-text but I wonder if in the future we will see Google negotiating rights to reproduce some of the copyrighted material. Hmmm. Maybe Google will charge a fee for this service to the end user? Hmm. Time will tell. Check it out and let me know what you think.