Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Learning objects that work!

It's no secret: I don't know everything! (*smile*) In conjunction with the provincial general election, there is an referendum in Ontario on October 10th on electoral reform. I've been hearing about it on TV and on the radio. We have two choices in the referendum. We can vote to keep the current 'Past-the-Post' method or we can choose to adopt a new method: 'Mixed member proportional'. So despite living in Ontario my entire life, I had never heard the expression 'Past-the-Post' and of course, I have no clue what 'Mixed member proportional' even means. Clearly I had some learning to do before October 10th so I can make an informed decision.

There are a couple of ways I can go about to find the answers to my question. I could try to Google those two methods and read about them. However, instead I chose to see what the Elections Ontario was producing to educate citizens on the subject. I'm glad to say I was pleasantly surprised!

In addition to an informative website they created a Flash object that did an excellent job in educating me. It has a few features that I think are best practices in Flash object design:
  • The navigation is excellent. The learner quickly understands that there are 7 chapters. It's easy to pause and move around from chapter to chapter at anytime.

  • The learner chooses the order in which the chapters are viewed depending on which topics they are seeking information on. This non-linear progression through the learning object is excellent for customizing a learner's learning.

  • The people showcased in the learning object also act as the learner's guide. They give the learner tips on how to navigate and they participate in the transition between chapters by clicking, along with the learner, on the buttons on the screen. It really gives you a sense of being 'supported emotionally' in the learning by these people in the learning object.

  • Closed-captioning can be toggled to allow the learner to read what is being said in the learning object.

  • The learner can even download a printable version of the video in PDF format.

  • It is also available in two languages. Here is the French language version.

So after examining this very excellent learning object I can now say I know how I'm going to vote on Oct 10th. Can you see any other excellent features in this learning object? Do you see any weaknesses? If so, please post your feedback as a comment.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Engaging Interactions!

B.J. Schone, the author of the eLearningWeekly.com blog, has finally released his free eBook called Engaging Interactions For eLearning (downloadable here). BJ sought my opinion on the content of his eBook when it was in an earlier draft and I really liked it from the first read. For instructional designers, professors and instructors working in the field of web-enabled learning this eBook does a good job at highlighting ways to make learning experiences interesting and engaging at the level of student-to-content. It's a challenge we're always faced with as most of us know that when we create a course, we want to avoiding creating a really boring 'page-turner'. BJ has assembled 25 student-to-content interactions suitable for the eLearning context that can improve the learning experience by engaging learners to the content instead of simply having them read mountains and mountains of material. By using some of these examples and also by including a component of student-to-student interaction in your online course, then you'll start to observe the synergy between these two aspects: it's the real 'sweet spot' in student satisfaction and in online learning. You'll build engaging and motivating courses which include a positive and useful sense of community; it's a perfect foundation to learn at a distance. So have a look at this free resource. It's worth a read. Enjoy.