Entries made in Instructional Design Technologies

Blog Entry

One way to create motivation to explore a topic more deeply is to make a public commitment to address a topic. Where this is high-risk is if one does not actually make the time to learn the topic well and there are people in the audience who are totally willing to call you on it (and there are always those).

If it were not for a double-booked conference, I would most certainly be having a discussion with an audience about ...

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Least-Cost Software Options

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In daily work life, there is very much a real cost barrier which is prohibitive various computational work. While many business organizations have some open-source aspect, many of these endeavors are highly limited (and maybe tied more to marketing and public relations than to anything of core interest—as it probably generally should be). What this means though is that one is constantly trying to cobble together functionalities from a range of free tools (many of them created in university ...

Blog Entry

Having just roughed out reports linked to several surveys for in-house usage (and eventually some public acknowledgment), I realize how important it is to establish rules for objectivity in the analysis—so that I don’t slip into subjectivity (and potential political hot water). While rule-following is generally fairly boring, there is a lot to be said such care.

What are some of these rules that have applied to the work, and how are they helpful in staying true to ...

Blog Entry

Now in my second year of analyzing information technology satisfaction survey results (and immersing in my third year of such campus data), I am realizing that there are two main ways that information from such surveys can generally lead to change. By change, I mean gaining the attention of administrators who control the resources and personnel who can make the requested changes.

One main way to be heard is by being part of a crowd. This means that it helps ...

Blog Entry

Alex Pentland’s ”Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread—The Lessons from a New Science” (2014) suggests that the study of how people actually live in “living laboratories”—enabled by sensors, innovative technologies, and big data—may enable people to build more resilient and prosocial societies. In a sense, this book is a strong follow-on to the studies of social networks.

If research on social networks has been about how people form social bonds and maintain them over time and ...

Blog Entry

Archiving a Digital Newsletter

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Sometime, I must have said yes to serving on the steering committee for a regional professional organization, but I’ve conveniently brushed aside how that might have happened. The work itself is actually quite minimal, and it will likely be so until some of our major events. That is, except for a few side projects here and there. One of the recent side projects involves the archival of the organization’s twice-yearly digital newsletter.

The Purpose of a Professional Community ...

Blog Entry

Usually, after the initial query about possible work, it doesn’t take more than a meeting or two to see what the potentials may be in a professional relationship. Usually, the first meetings involve a representation of self and capabilities and needs from the client side, and then there are the representations of self, capabilities, and constraints on the service provider (instructional designer) side. A recent situation brought some of the complex challenges to the fore.

Starting an Online Training ...

Blog Entry

A Motivating Sort of E-Textbook?

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After a national conference, what is telling is whether I’m interested in pursuing further contacts with various vendors, presenters, or attendees. The default is to not ask for a further presentation of a tool or to discuss possible collaboration. In other words, it takes a lot of motivation to get over the default state. People are busy, and they are not going to push for more information or work without good justification.

An Electronic Textbook Presentation

One presentation that ...

Blog Entry

Reliance on a Distributed Team

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In general, with edited projects, I am not much a fan for creating a team for its own sake. I’ve long suggested that it’s better to go either solo or with a lean team for development work. The more efficiently work can be done, the better. The more people that are signed onto a project without real direct need, the more make-work there is, and the slower a project evolves.

Of late, though, I’ve found myself relying ...

Blog Entry

Avoiding Make-Work

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One important skill in instructional design has little to do with pedagogy and technology. It’s the skill of “avoiding make-work.” “Make-work” refers to the needless effort invested in endeavors that are not directly relevant. An analogy could be the work of moving a stack of paper from area to another. Nothing is really achieved. It just might look busy from the outside.

Where make-work comes in for instructional design is in client requests. The clients may be both administrators ...

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Switchover to In-House Trainings for a Software Tool

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Our campus is coming up to the end of the first year of a multi-year site license for a data analysis tool for qualitative and mixed methods research. As part of the roll-out and of the awareness-raising about the tool, our campus has hosted almost monthly webinar trainings by the company. The costs of these trainings were extracted from the crediting of the extant universal licensure that the campus held for some of the licenses. The campus broadened access with ...

Blog Entry

Recommitting to a Project from a Year Ago

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In the graduate course that I’m taking this term, my professor mentioned that he will write up abstracts and outlines of ideas he could pursue for his research for decades. He said that he would shuffle these ideas and pursue certain ones as time allows and depending on changes in the field (what I’m assuming to be what others are publishing, and so on). While he only needs to publish an article a year (and that is if ...

Blog Entry

Pacing with the Audience

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Timing is everything, goes the old saw. There’s something to be said for that. This saying has come to mind of late as I’ve worked on multiple projects with differing audiences. The basic rules of design are to make sure that the contents fit the level of preparedness of the audience. One has to understand what their basic thinking is on a topic and then tailor the information (accurately) to be accessible to the audience. If one outpaces ...

Blog Entry

I totally admit that I can be dazzled by the capabilities of a software tool. I’m still very much entranced by what people can build and can design into software. That said, I have a strong practical streak that always asks, So what can be done with that technological capability? There has to be ways to frame a tool to make it relevant to research and practice. If that connection cannot be made, then there’s no way to ...

Blog Entry

Work-Based “Pet Projects”

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Occasionally, in instructional design work, there are projects that are so engaging and charming that they become “pet projects.” These are projects which offer new proof-of-concept (even if these are only local types of proof-of-concept). Or there are ideas that are alluring that need to be fully explored work-wise. Or there are unfunded aspects of a project that require full work to complete, even if the budget for that work has run dry. There may be technologies that are fully ...

Blog Entry

Publishing out Raw Survey Data?

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For a dreamy moment (counted in milli-seconds), the group of us around the table pondered an alluring idea. During a recent meeting, one of the members in the team asked: Would it be possible to conduct a mass-scale online survey and automatically output a report that was in publishable form—ready for consumption by all readers? In other words, could we skip altogether the machine-supported and manual data analysis? Could we skip the many dozens and dozens of data-drawn graphs ...

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Simple Tech Troubleshooting

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Recently, a colleague asked if a software we’ve been using on campus had changed its campus license key. He was responding to a service ticket that had been initiated by a faculty member who was curious about this—because she thought there had been a change in the new year. She wanted to acquire the new key.

She wondered if her version of the software had corrupted. She had reinstalled the software on her own over the top of ...

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Machine-Enhanced Diagram Drawing

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The idea of drawing with a mouse is instinctually problematic. A mouse is inexact. Its lines are not high-precision by any measure. It does not enable a lot of control. It is not like a stylus used on a calibrated device with specific software for freehand drawing. However, when a mouse is used with the right software, there is actually a fair amount of control in creating a diagram.

Most data that one tries to visualize has an inherent or ...

Blog Entry

Technical Production for Publishing

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From the outside, it may seem like publishing is overly complex and daunting. In terms of the technical side, though, it’s really not that complex. As long as the substantive contents are sufficient, the remaining work of ensuring that the digital contents meet standards is not that difficult. So what is necessary to get to the point of “technical production”?

Defining “Sufficient” Contents

Meeting publication standards for the contents is really where all the heavy lifting is in terms ...

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Coding in NVivo 10 Digital Poster Session

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Setting up a Qualitative or Mixed Methods Research Project in NVivo to Code and Analyze Data will be presented as a regular session at the Sloan-C / MERLOT 7th Annual International Symposium on Emerging Technologies for Online Learning in April 2014.

This will be in the Innovative Media and Tools series. Originally, this was set to be a digital poster session.

Blog Entry

A digital poster session has traditionally meant a slideshow, with clearly labeled and numbered slides and a coherent sequentiality. A poster session has to be comprehensive and self-explanatory, with engaging visuals (screenshots, diagrams, data visualizations, and others), because it has to stand alone in an understandable way. This means that the terminology has to be exact. The slideshow has to be comprehensive. It should include general informational value, so people can apply the learning to their own contexts. The way ...

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Using a Socially Networked LMS

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One of the learning management systems (LMSes) causing the most buzz now is one which has a robust connectivity with extant social network platforms. The thinking, it seems, is that there is competitive advantage in going to where masses of people are and in building a system complementary to existing social network platform structures. Whenever messages are posted on discussion boards, emails may be sent to the individual, or notices may be sent to the social networking account. Emails sent ...

Blog Entry

Research Tournaments Online

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My own direct experiences with crowd-sourcing research have been limited. One was an experience a few years ago to elicit ideas for an online lab in development. There were no comments even though serious efforts were taken to reach out to a wide audience. Then, I was exploring crowd-sourcing on online work sites that engaged in micro-payments for human-based work (by tapping into micro-expertise) but which also offered the occasional research contests. Those examples were intriguing but sufficiently complex that ...

Blog Entry

Recently, a publisher that I’ve worked with for a number of years shifted from a system that mostly relied on emails and dropboxes for sharing work to a new online integrated work system that enables a beginning to final-product system for distributed work. There will not have to be attempts to piecemeal a project together from a number of personal email accounts. Rather, the company will have access to all the related digital files to a project, not just ...

Blog Entry

There is a new call for chapter proposals, for a text titled Structure, Mechanics, and Practical Uses of the Hidden Web.

Please consider possibly proposing a work.

Blog Entry

An Invitation to Serve on a Campus Research Committee

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In some ways, the endeavors of a campus are shared; in others, closer to ground, the objectives and ambitions may be quite disparate. When there is a heavy push to turn a university into a top-flight research university, in a sense, the call is for everyone to do well what their roles call for.

However, for others, it may be that some administrators want to get in the game and contribute directly to the research. The research may involve skill ...

Blog Entry

Showcasing a Software Tool

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When people conduct trainings of a software tool, they will usually highlight a small feature and explain its application in depth. The trainings are light and focused. The context does not generally have to be explained because the tool is used in an office. (In a way, the trainings are like short YouTube training videos albeit without all that advertising.) The strategy of “atomizing” the focus to just one small feature of the tool makes sense because people often come ...

Blog Entry

Wrangling with an Excel Chart

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It’s totally common to get creaky with a technology if one doesn’t regularly use it. I have always found this to be so with Excel—even though it is a logical and robust tool which can be used to analyze data and to turn out all sorts of data visualizations (among many other things). Recently, I found out how quickly a graph could provide challenges.

In this particular case, a colleague asked me to try to render a ...

Blog Entry

Encouraging Adoption of a Software Program on Campus

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I was watching a YouTube video of a presentation by a member of a team that originated a cool open-source tool. This presenter demonstrated some intriguing ways that the tool could be used by showcasing some social graphs that were extracted and explaining what could be inferred from the visualizations. He was using pre-made graphs instead of walking the audience through the process of using the software, which made sense in terms of presentation efficiencies. What was left unsaid was ...

Blog Entry

Purchasing Tech for Campus

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My work does not generally involve any purchase of tech equipment on campus. However, obviously, a lot of tech equipment is purchased for my use and for those of the students on campus. I was having a conversation with a colleague about a particular device that was bought for wide campus use.

The machine was expensive (in the mid-five figures), and it was a lot more glitchy to use than first expected. A specialist team had to come in to ...

Blog Entry

QSR International has scheduled their first-ever two-day workshop in Overland Park, Kansas, on Oct. 30 - 31 (Wed. and Thurs.) from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. This workshop will cover the following topics:

Day One: NVivo 10 Essentials

  • Classifying and categorizing data
  • Grouping your data: Collections and links
  • Exploring your data
  • Models and relationships
  • Visualizing your data
  • Reporting and presenting your findings

Day Two: Further Analysis in NVivo 10

Location. The training will be held at the following location:

Sirius ...

Blog Entry

With the wide dispersion of expertise and the connectivity of fellow professionals, many faculty members invite guest speakers or guest presenters to go on Web cam to present their ideas and lectures. As such, professionals in a field both receive the largesse of their colleagues and also share their own expertise abroad.

One cardinal rule of multimedia recording or capture involves the dry run. This involves setting up all required software and equipment on both ends—the webcam and mic ...

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Show Pieces vs. Actual Work Files

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One of the most common questions that faculty members have in initial meetings with an instructional designer is what is possible with the current commercial technologies. More specifically, they want to know how lecture capture may be optimized for the various situations and contexts in which they want to teach and lecture. They may have a link to an online video that they particularly like from websites from places like gemology institutes and window cover companies.

Various Showpieces

For these ...

Blog Entry

Building an Evolving TOC

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A draft Table of Contents (TOC) like drafts of most anything does not look like much. There are the general sections. There are the draft titles. There are the author names. There are the sections highlighted in different colors for organizational structure and to indicate the state of a particular work (green is good, yellow is slow, red is concerning, and magenta means that more focus is needed right away on a particular issue).

There are the wishful thinking sorts ...

Blog Entry

As part of professional life, one is often a part of a number of distributed teams, with members hailing from all over the country and often globe. People do collaborate with colleagues whom they will never meet in person. Interestingly, as long as the communications are clear and the work is achieved satisfactorily, the lack of face-to-face meetings does not end up feeling awkward. In other words, people have to be able to synchronize…and connect…and cooperate.

A Shared ...

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Learning a New Software from Scratch

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It’s now that I’ve been through the process of learning new software fairly continuously for many years that I am even trying now to extract some heuristics from this. I am not referring to the simple interfaces of cloud-based applications. I am actually much more interested in learning tools that require long periods of hard work and investment to learn. I am more interested in the software that takes years to fully apply effectively.

The Formalist Approach

The ...

Blog Entry

Even if a software program seems highly familiar and is often used, every so often, I discover a new features every now and again. It is a truism that software is so complex that one likely only uses a small percentage of its features. And then many functionalities go unnoticed unless one actually needs a particular feature.

It’s rare to pursue particular functionalities for learning’s sake, unless one is part of an online training. Sometimes, one may run ...

Blog Entry

On and off for the past several months now, I’ve been crunching data from some satisfaction surveys. I’ve extracted quantitative information and made various composite and single-variable line charts. I’ve made numerous bar graphs. I’ve been analyzing text responses using frequency searches and manual coding. I have learned the importance of coming behind coarse word counts to glean further details for the few questions that I used machine analysis on first. I’ve also learned that ...

Blog Entry

In Position

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Recent work on fairly disparate teams with varying goals (hiring, editing, data analysis, and others) has brought to mind a basic truism: basically, a person has to be within aiming distance to achieve particular work. Even if intentions are aligned with certain work, the entity (individual, team, organization, or other unit) has to have the capabilities and leadership to achieve the work.

Some basic assumptions are helpful. It helps to note that there are certain general amounts of time and ...

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Identifying Academic Literature Gaps

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As a part of the work of those who publish or edit texts for a particular domain, those who lead large research programs, and those who work in grant funding organizations in a field, they have to develop clear understandings of what has already been researched (and to what state of “completeness”), who the main individuals and organizations are in the field, and the areas of promising research. At this higher level view, I would imagine that it can be ...

Blog Entry

Appreciating Podcast Series

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I wish I could write a journal entry about my very own podcast series or at least a series that I’ve contributed to, but I have no such direct experience. What I do have is an outsider’s appreciation for multiple podcast series that are intelligently done: Cigital’s Silver Bullet Podcasts (IT security) and the International Spy Museum’s Spycasts. I decided that I would deconstruct what made these podcasts so engaging. A lot of learning can happen ...

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Collaborating around Shared Research

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In a time of highly restricted budgets, faculty members do well to collaborate with colleagues in order to stretch the research dollar and to keep minds fresh and laboratories running. A faculty member / researcher and I were discussing this recently when she noted that such cross-disciplinary research is often difficult. We went on to chat about some of the challenges.

Ability to Cross Over

She made an interesting point that not all researchers have the capability to cross over to ...

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Integrating New Software in ID Projects

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One of the powerful aspects of instructional design involves the space to learn new software and to apply them to instructional design projects as well as research. Learning new technologies involves learning the thinking behind the design of the tool, the real-world ways the tool has been applied, and the research implications of the technology. A light way of using it would be to run it through its steps: inputs and outputs. A more complex way to apply it would ...

Blog Entry

A friend of mine will be changing jobs from being an instructional designer to a content expert (subject matter expert) in the healthcare field. She will be working on a team, and her role will be to provide a gaps analysis for a learning context…and to storyboard the learning…and then she will hand off the design to various development teams to execute the work. In other words, her work will be complex and meaningful. But she will no ...

Blog Entry

After the gaps in information have been filled and the manuscript has been generally refined, it helps to review the overall trajectory of the work. Does it read logically? Do the segues work? Is the tone consistent throughout? Is the point-of-view fairly consistent? Are the sections properly labeled and listed with the proper syntax or structure? Are there proper headings, subheadings and sub-sub headings and the proper level of nesting? Are there proper lengths of writing for each of the ...

Blog Entry

Getting any long document ready for public eyes is challenging. There are so many moving parts that have to be researched, created, verified, and cleaned up. While many such projects involve an underlying template, a template is only a skeletal structure. It provides a broad skeleton on which to hang the details. A document has to work both at the broad structural level as well as the finer points.

Distinct Phases of Work

For any large project, there are distinct ...

Blog Entry

Final Call for Chapters: Remote Workforce Training...

Blog Entry

Having spent some days now on the process of transferring course contents between LMSes, I have been thinking through the process. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to have a clearly defined and documented process for this work (not just a simplified slideshow) because of the potential for accidentally deleting course files. (These would still be retrievable from prior versions of the course though.) It would help to have an admonishment about the risks of ...

Blog Entry

For the past weekend, I have finally started moving online courses from one learning management system (LMS) to a new one. Any time there is a shift in a system-wide LMS, there is plenty of work to be done to efficiently move the information. This is especially so when a course was team-developed and taught for a period of time (which means that the contents have evolved). There are even more challenges when the course contents have transferred from one ...

Blog Entry

BIG DATA: A REVOLUTION THAT WILL TRANSFORM HOW WE LIVE, WORK, AND THINK. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2013. $27.00. 242 pp. hardcover.

“Aqueducts made possible the growth of cities; the printing press facilitated the Enlightenment, and newspapers enabled the rise of the nation state. But these infrastructures were focused on flows—of water, of knowledge. So were the telephone and the Internet. In contrast, datafication represents an essential enrichment in human comprehension. With the ...

Blog Entry

For a few years now, I’ve been aware of the sharing of research datasets by researchers using quantitative methods in the social sciences. The concept is that such data may have value for other researchers, who may query that same data in different ways for fresh ideas. The datasets may shed new light on the published research and enable more broad and narrow queries. The datasets enable granular analysis down to an individual record. In combination with the documentation ...

Blog Entry

Coding Secondary Sources (Part 1 of 2)

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In the hierarchy of information, secondary sources are necessary but not respected in the way primary sources are. A secondary source refers to materials that have already been published. Secondary sources are in the extant literature. They are publicly accessible. They have been peer reviewed and revised. They are known by others.

Even if secondary sources are not as respected as primary ones, they are important in a number of ways. They are part of the establishment of the context ...

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Early Models for Monetizing MOOCs

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Of late, I’ve been thinking even more about MOOCs, partly because I am using this topic as a basis for a simple modified Delphi research study. In the literature review phase, I am examining a range of issues. One involves funding sustainability. After all, if there are high-end courses created (with digital contents that will need updating, with faculty who need to be paid, with teaching assistants and tutors that need to be paid, with high-end tech systems that ...

Blog Entry

Hello, all: You are cordially invited to participate in a modified e-Delphi study re: MOOCs and feasibility.

This online survey is being conducted to sample some current insights, attitudes, and concerns about massive open online courses (MOOCs) to get a sense of the feasibility and near-term adoption of the offering of MOOCs by various universities and colleges. This will be conducted as a one-time modified electronic Delphi study to capture the insights of practicing faculty and administrators in higher education ...

Blog Entry

Recently, our campus purchased a site license for a qualitative and mixed methods research tool for data analysis. This tool enables intuitive management of a range of digital data, and it is expected to involve a fair amount of faculty and graduate student usage.

In order to maximize the affordances of the tool and to provide support to users on campus, I will be learning this tool in depth. Further, I have proposed the tool as a presentation topic for ...

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NVivo Site License Rollout at K-State

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Those engaged in qualitative and mixed methods research at K-State may want to use a new software tool.

NVivo site license for K-State personnel and graduate students

Blog Entry

Contributing to an IT Knowledge Base

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Our campus has been working to integrate a ticketing and incidence-tracking system to support the work of the IT Help Desk. This enables close-in tracking of all services rendered, the amounts of time it took to solve certain issues, and administrative oversight on the types of services needed. This also holds service personnel accountable for the work they’re doing. This also helps notify those at second-tier and third-tier support of more complex issues that require trouble-shooting.

Part of this ...

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Rolling out a “How-To” Software Series

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Most instructional designers do not take well to writing software documentation. Usually, their work doesn’t demand it. There are a lot of rules to follow for applying tech writing to software usage processes. There is a high amount of precision demanded for screenshots and for the usage of terminology. However, every so often, describing some of the functionalities of a software may enhance the research work of faculty and therefore serves the needs of faculty.

For me, I had ...

Blog Entry

Thinking MOOCs

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The current fad is still “MOOCs,” massive open online courses. A recent provost’s lecture featured a speaker who discussed some MOOC endeavors at his university. Some webinars have focused on the MOOC phenomena. A forthcoming issue in an international journal is focused around MOOCs. That said, there are some who say that the “MOOC hype cycle,” two years in, is heading to the “trough of disillusionment.” Maybe so. Maybe so.

More compelling, there are still the demographics: huge human ...

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“First Mover” Effects in Online Courses

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One of the more important elements to monitor in an online classrooms would be the social dynamics. Online learners do want a safe online learning space, and they want all their members treated fairly. They know that how one person is treated by the instructor may well reflect how they will be treated. There are students who will hang back and watch through the pre-week and all the way to the absolute last deadline before we shift to the weekly ...

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Avoiding Software Over-reach

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Sometimes, there’s a reason for ever-dwindling pools of expertise in particular technologies. The reason is that the trend for that technology’s use has been winding down. There are more effective technologies on the horizon or in-use.

A recent query from a faculty member involved simulations created using a technology that has gone through quite a few iterations. The technology was bought out from its original makers by a big-name company. The software has been in use for over ...

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First Reasons

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In choosing to move across multiple states to take on a new job elsewhere, it’s generally wise to look into the near- and mid-distance to see if it makes sense to be in a particular position. This came to mind recently when I heard an intense bout of rumors that an office which I’d started my career at at this university might not be continuing with their own homegrown learning management system but might be going open-source.

Some ...

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Throwing Search Engines off Track…Not

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Years ago, one of my students had made the assertion that she her real life was an online life. In support of that assertion, she had multiple identities and accounts online. She wrote prolifically and powerfully on a range of popular culture issues. She traveled to conferences across the country to meet with friends she’d only known virtually, to put a face to the name. She also asserted then that she could keep her identities pseudonymous and that none ...

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Pulled Back into Old Projects

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It’s rarely a positive thing to be pulled back into old projects. Most PIs move on with projects that have been satisfactorily completed, and they work out other support in the bureaucracy for the work that they need. Or they maintain continuing ties (which is healthier because both sides can adapt to changes and both sides stay informed). For projects that have long moved forward—with new management several generations out, with new URLs, new designs, and other decisions ...

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Borrowing a Concept: Feral Information Systems

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Months ago, I came across an eye-catching term used in relation to information systems: “feral.” As defined by those who coined the term, this refers to “... an information system that is developed by individuals or groups of employees to help them with their work, but is not condoned by management nor is part of the corporation's accepted Information Technology (IT) infrastructure” (Houghton & Kerr, 2006). When I first saw this, I thought of developers who could code some of their ...

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Event-Driven Network Analysis

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The NodeXL Graph Gallery features publicly available graphs that have been created by its users. The graphs are created using the open-source NodeXL add-on to Microsoft Excel. This tool also enables data extractions from social media platforms like Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, and to a much lesser extent (currently), Facebook.

Real-world Events

After lurking now for about three-and-a-half months, I am getting a sense of the space. There are some moments of relative silence (few postings) and then mass and ...

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Conducting Maltego Radium Crawls

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It must be that I do not fit the demographic audience for the software, but when I watch the snazzy and stylized videos advertising Maltego Radium, I find resonance with the pounding music and the techniques on-screen, but I also know that much of the rest of the messaging is lost on me—the duality of the software that can be used by both cybersecurity individuals as well as black-hat hackers to malign purpose. My point here is only that ...

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Survey Fatigue but the Need to Engage

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Of late, I’ve attended maybe a half dozen local conferences for IT, teaching, cognitive science, and presentations on the economy, on gaming, and other topics, and each one has offered rich insights. Multiple post-event surveys have come through, and I have actually responded to all of them—even though survey fatigue has long set in.

Surveys on Campus

Throughout an academic year, a person could easily get surveyed a dozen or more times from on-campus endeavors alone. There are ...

Blog Entry

The following is a link to a draft slideshow for a forthcoming conference. The presentation is for the Conference on Higher Education Computing in Kansas (CHECK) at the end of May. The topic is Maltego Radium: Mapping Network Ties and Identities across the Internet.

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Closing the Reviewer Loop

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When I speak with some faculty about their work reviewing articles for journals or books, they describe the work as something extra and sometimes onerous. This work does not count for much in terms of tenure or the hierarchy. Unless they have the actual position of editor, just the reviewing is a responsibility that does not seem to pay back sufficiently.

For others, it’s about seeing what their colleagues are up to in other programs. In some fields, the ...

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Creative Differences

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Recently, I’ve been noticing the issue of “creative differences” in the public media between artists of various stripes. It’s been cited as a reason for walking off projects, for criticizing others in public, for pulling funding, and any number of other actions. I thought it might be interesting to think about various types of creative differences I’ve experienced as an instructional designer.

To be clear, I think instructional designers (IDs) have to have the best interests of ...

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Scoring a Repository Copy from a Publisher

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For a researcher who is publishing a work, the reality is that he or she has a choice of going with a proprietary publisher (and the prestige of closed systems and severe peer editors) or with an open-source publisher (and the much wider readership of open systems and severe peer editors). To give an example, a proprietary piece of writing may be read a few hundred times (at the high end), but an open source work has much wider play ...

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Reluctantly Freeriding an Open-Source Tool

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I was chagrined to look up a fund-raising page for an open-source tool that I had discovered two months ago and have been using for my academic amusement (and a little research) since. The page was polite. It made some suggestions for levels of support: some $750 per user license for a corporation per year, $150 per academic institution user annually, and the cost of a good dinner for students.

There were warring impulses in me. Part of me was ...

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Defined Pedagogical Priorities in an LMS

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Years ago, in a planning meeting for some new features for our campus LMS, there was a side conversation about building a pedagogy-agnostic platform for online learning. The concept was that the technology would enable a wide range of learning approaches and types. People could couple elements of a course, or they could de-couple elements. They were under no obligation to build a course in any particular way. Once a faculty member learned the tool thoroughly, he or she could ...

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Dependencies behind a Work

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I can’t say that I’m the most empathic person in terms of late work or a lack of deliverables from a project. (Any of my students can attest to that. They do get a pass the first time or two, if they can produce evidence, but the extensions are not forever, and they never get carte blanche.) And yet, every so often, I am caught up short with a fundamental realization: bringing a project to fruition requires a ...

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Acquiring a New Skill Set for a (Potential) Project?

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In the early phases of any conversation with a faculty member, there is a lot of assessing and cross-assessing. For my part, I am looking to see how serious the faculty member is in pursuing certain curriculum or learning object development. I am looking to see how practical they are in terms of funding. I am looking to understand how well they understand design and what it takes to actualize work. And finally, I am looking to make sure that ...

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Understanding the Self as a Novice Learner

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At a recent conference, the keynote speaker made a few side comments about the nature of novice learners (based on research). They generally tend not to pay attention to details. They only use the sufficient amount of attention to get by. Further, they do not often understand (the by definition unfamiliar) systems.

The Non-transferability of Expert Skill Sets

That started me thinking of how often we all engage in new environments and start all over again as novices. Anyone who ...

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Getting Used: Open-Source in Commercial Products

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For years now, I’ve used open-source software and digital contents for various non-commercial courses (at an accredited and non-profit institution of higher education). This has worked out well in many ways, with quality images and videos that we would not have access to otherwise. I’ve seen various open-source software programs in use to develop digital learning objects and contents as well. (Most of these resources have a non-commercial restriction on their use.)

What has been new to me ...

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Collaboratively Buying into a Campus Site License

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In my limited experiences with working across campus units to collaboratively purchase site licenses for software, most such endeavors end up with little achieved. There may be a small burst of interest, but then, everything goes to silence, and each department just purchases its own and doesn’t have to worry about anyone else. The potential savings are lost. Recently, though, a group came together and successfully set up the purchase of a site license. I thought I would examine ...

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Reuse, Reuse

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Several times now, I’ve had to share unsavory information with editors as a peer reviewer. The unsavoriness does not have to do with suggestions for improvement on the papers (which virtually all draft papers garner). Rather, the news is that the work had been published before. In other words, the author or authoring team want to get the most mileage (publication credit) for certain research or analysis, so they resubmit essentially the same work to multiple publications. (Multiple submissions ...

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Starting from Base Knowledge and Research Interests

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Recently, I met with a faculty member to discuss research possibilities with a new software tool (and methodology). From the outside, she could see various vague possibilities, but she wanted more in-depth insights about the affordances were. What we ended up discussing involved the limits to the techno and the methodology.

% Familiar; % Unfamiliar

It was probably a fortunate thing that we ran into a tech issue right away. Her Mac laptop could not install the software because she did not ...

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ANALYZING SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS WITH NODEXL: INSIGHTS FROM A CONNECTED WORLD. Derek L. Hansen, Ben Schneiderman, and Marc A. Smith. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 2011. 284 pp. softcover.

What is most memorable about “Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL” is the depth of information about the various social network sites that may be crawled using NodeXL. With so many evolving social network platforms, and each capturing and storing information differently, it helps to know what an actual data extraction means.

An embedded ...

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ANALYZING SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS WITH NODEXL: INSIGHTS FROM A CONNECTED WORLD. Derek L. Hansen, Ben Schneiderman, and Marc A. Smith. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 2011. 284 pp. softcover.

One of the strengths of “Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL” is that it introduces a powerful research method and a tool that helps tap electronic media and non-electronic social network information intelligently, in a way that does not over-state what is knowable. The authors, Derek Hansen, Ben Schneiderman, and Marc A. Smith, are ...

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ANALYZING SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS WITH NODEXL: INSIGHTS FROM A CONNECTED WORLD. Derek L. Hansen, Ben Schneiderman, and Marc A. Smith. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 2011. 284 pp. softcover.

“New tools are now available to collect, analyze, visualize, and generate insights from the collections of connections formed from billions of messages, links, posts, edits, uploaded photos and videos, reviews, and recommendations. As social media have emerged as a widespread platform for human interaction, the invisible ties that link each of us to others ...

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USAgov Twitter Network Data Extraction…Not

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In work where one has thin to no experience, one can sort of let hope take over…at least for a time. Recently, I’ve been putting a software tool through its paces. On a lark, I thought I would try to map USAgov on Twitter. I assumed it would be somewhat doable. I assumed I would hit the limits of the software and the data extraction…and I would end up with a very thick network of stakeholders, and ...

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Global Publishing

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Over break, a work was accepted in a print journal published out of Switzerland. And then, there were peer review exchanges related to a forthcoming book being published in the U.S. but edited out of a country in the Middle East. These recent interactions have left me with some fresh insights about some of the challenges of publishing internationally. Rather, the insights came from the latter exchange. (The first did include learning but had more to do with the ...

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YOU ARE NOT A GADGET: A MANIFESTO. Jaron Lanier. City: Book Publisher. 2010. $24.95. 209 pp. hardcover.

Jaron Lanier’s “You are Not a Gadget” (2010) reads the mainstream public into necessary conversations about the electronic-infused world that people are co-creating with each other. In his sense, code becomes destiny because it locks in certain types of experiences in the world. This situation is made worse when people misunderstand what computers can and cannot do. They may glorify tools ...

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YOU ARE NOT A GADGET: A MANIFESTO. Jaron Lanier. City: Book Publisher. 2010. $24.95. 209 pp. hardcover.

“We have to think about the digital layers we are laying down now in order to benefit future generations. We should be optimistic that civilization will survive this challenging century, and put some effort into creating the best possible world for those who will inherit our efforts.” -- Jaron Lanier

Various technologists have taken to the public airwaves to share their concerns about ...

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Maximizing the Applications of Processing Power

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Okay, I’ll own up. In general, I am not often focused on the innards of a computer or what it does to help me achieve my ends. If it’s any indicator, a colleague of mine once had a good laugh when I commented that someone we knew was at the helpdesk getting his monitor fixed. Well, it wasn’t his monitor. It was his iMac…the whole thing. I had not been paying attention much to Mac designs ...

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DIGITAL VERTIGO: HOW TODAY’S ONLINE SOCIAL REVOLUTION IS DIVIDING, DIMINISHING, AND DISORIENTING US. Andrew Keen. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2012. $25.99. 246 pp. hardcover.

“Behind this book sits the most visible corpse of the nineteenth century—the body of the utilitarian philosopher, social reformer and prison architect Jeremy Bentham, a cadaver that has been living in public since his death in June 1832. Seeking to immortalize his own reputation as what he called ‘a benefactor of ...

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With the discovery of a new freeware tool or the purchase of a new software with myriad capabilities, I always find myself back at the question of creating relevant research questions that may maximize the usefulness of that tool. (This is whether the software is for a current paid project or not.) There’s no point in owning software that is not fully exploited. I want to push software to its limits for my own purposes.

Recently, I’ve discovered ...

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TUBES: A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE INTERNET. Andrew Blum. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 2012. $26.99. 294 pp. hardcover.

Andrew Blum’s premise for his new book is that people conceptualize the Internet as something deeply intimate and social—based on its various functions and usages—and do not consider the physical structure. In “Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet,” he de-mythifies what the Internet is by tracking down its physical structure. That may sound ...

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For the past few weeks, I have been experimenting with a freeware tool called NodeXL, which is a plug-in for Microsoft Excel. This enables the visualization of social network diagrams. Even better, it enables the extraction of mass amounts of data from various social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and others) to map real-world networks from empirical data. There are easy ways to extract graph metrics. There are over a half-dozen visualizations that are enabled here.

The ...

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Handing Over Original Raw Files

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As a matter of course, I have always found it expedient and common-sensical to archive (hidden) the semi-finished raw files (files that are finalized ones but are the core and editable files in the formats created in the authoring tools vs. the exported versions that are given to learners). Having these posted with the course contents makes it more likely that these files will “travel” with the original course. It also makes it more likely that they’ll be updated ...

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THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE: WHY SO MANY PREDICTIONS FAIL—BUT SOME DON’T. Nate Silver. New York: The Penguin Press. 2012. $27.95. 534 pp. hardcover.

The way Nate Silver tells it in “The Signal and the Noise,” people have historically gone far afield in trying to predict the future. They will focus on minutiae of details at the expense of critical thinking and the bigger picture. They will use intuition in lieu of thought. The mistaking of noise ...

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THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE: WHY SO MANY PREDICTIONS FAIL—BUT SOME DON’T. Nate Silver. New York: The Penguin Press. 2012. $27.95. 534 pp. hardcover.

Without an understanding of the larger context, misreading signals becomes much easier, and predictivity becomes moot. In this way, “The Signal and the Noise” makes a similar point to Nicholas Nassim Taleb in “The Black Swan” by pointing to the complexity of systems and the potential for chaotic outcomes (chaos theory suggests that ...

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THE SIGNAL AND THE NOISE: WHY SO MANY PREDICTIONS FAIL—BUT SOME DON’T. Nate Silver. New York: The Penguin Press. 2012. $27.95. 534 pp. hardcover.

Humans were made to make meaning of the world around them. It is a complex world about which there is much to learn and do. The senses can be overwhelmed by the amounts of information that come flooding in. To adapt, people turn the signals around them into shorthand. They use stereotypical understandings ...

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Crunching through Semi-Big Data

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There’s been plenty of talk of late about various types of “big data” and how much it can reveal about the “universe” of information and about people. In general, unless one deals with high-end simulations, one does not generally have to access such systems. Recently, I used an amazing freeware open-source tool (NodeXL) to extract information from Twitter for analysis. I was nibbling at the edges of the possible for some side projects…and learning the tool as I ...

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Upholding Educational Research Standards

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Peer review is the standard on which a domain field’s reputation relies, but it’s a pretty messy process. Faculty, administrators, and staff are busy people. They have a range of different backgrounds and training regarding the topic at hand. Sometimes, they have no background except for the overlapping interests in education. By definition, the draft articles and chapters are supposed to be sufficiently new and cutting-edge, so that others in the field may not know the latest. Peer ...

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Getting Past Irreducible Complexity

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Usually, one of the factors I would consider before proposing a presentation topic for a conference or an article proposal is to figure out whether the “container” of the event or the article…is sufficient to contain the topic. After all, if the topic is too slim, then it won’t fill the time of the presentation and won’t attract an audience. If the topic is too complex, on the other hand, the presentation will come across as ineffectual ...

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Mapping Identities Online

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Recently, I came across a software tool in a book about hacking (of all things), and this penetration testing tool essentially maps the linkages of certain sites across the Internet. It surfaces emails linked to a site. It enables in-depth probes of linkages. (I saw a similar version of this in Microsoft Visio Professional many years ago, but it only mapped one site and did not then have the capability to probe more deeply in a variety of ways.) I ...

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REVIEW: 3D Illustration and Animation with Maya

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INTRODUCING AUTODESK® MAYA® 2013 . 9th Edition. Dariush Derakhshani. Indianapolis: John Wiley & Sons. 2012. $49.99. 626 pp. softcover.

“Art is a marriage of inspiration, hard work, and practice.” -- Dariush Derakhshani

So much in mass media involves immerse 3D: still images in publications and print ads; dynamic animated visualizations in film and video games. (In virtual worlds, the 3D involves a much lower resolution and amount of detail.) While such work has won a broad audience, 3D is also used in ...

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Going Invisible

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Here is an article on how to disappear from the Internet.

I'm not sure it's this easy, but it sounds like a lifelong vigilance thing, in addition to initial scrubbing.

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REVIEW: Coding in Java for Newbies

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JAVA SE 7 PROGRAMMING ESSENTIALS. Michael Ernest. Indianapolis: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. 2013. $39.99. 314 pp. softcover.

“When using a while loop, make sure there’s a distinction between an indefinite change and one that never occurs. A while loop, given a test condition that never changes, has no reason to stop. That’s not something you want in most programs.” -- Michael Ernest

To an outsider who has never coded using any language and only had a passing acquaintance ...

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Functioning Computer Systems

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Every week or two, I make a point of going through my various computer systems and cleaning off the digital detritus that has collected from the various projects. This is not a project-based clean-off. Rather, it’s a clean-off of extra materials from the computer systems, so the basic functions are available.

As part of the regular work of a day, I’ll do a CCleaner clean-off. That wipes off temporary files, memory dumps, file fragments, log files, temporary Internet ...

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Re-Reading a Software “Manual”

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It’s totally not fashionable to own up to reading manuals. After all, there are intuitive interfaces. It’s not that hard to use many technology programs, at least at a base level. What I’ve learned is that these assumptions are a little reckless.

What is the organizational regime for the software, and what terminology is used? What is going on on the back end when a particular tool is used? How is the software used in various research ...

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In online learning, there are repositories of learning objects of varying degrees of complexity. Most seem to be short-term development projects that result in discrete learning objects. A few are multi-year projects such as knowledge structures built in websites or wiki structures. Lately, I came across an intriguing agent-based modeling simulation tool that has been in development over about 15 years and has been supported by steady foundation funding during many of those years. It is a project hosted by ...

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Of late, I have been trying to learn multiple new technologies because I want the enablements of creating social networks, modeling agent-based systems, and conducting content analyses. In terms of these three areas, I’m at varying stages of learning, with multiple projects involving the first and very early work on the latter two. Much of my time is spent immersing in the technologies, but a surprising amount of time is also spent perusing the research literature.

The Environmental Scan ...

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If there is a proper order to approaching instructional design work on certain types of projects, I may not actually follow that all the time. (On projects, I am much more formal. In terms of my own informal discovery learning, I’m not. I’m game to approaching any learning from any direction.) Of late, I’ve been learning how to use UCINET, a software program that enables analysis of social networks and their visualization. The way I came at ...

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Integrating Mainstream Media Strategies

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The way modern digital media organizations package contents has always been of interest to me. They are able to take complex information, and while maintaining the integrity of the information, present it to a broad readership in a way that is engaging to them. I have long decided that I needed to look at technologies to build such contents and to advocate their use on projects as needed (e.g. beneficial to the project). What are some of these elements ...

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Acquiring…Acquiring…

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The first thing I noticed about online node-link diagrams was that many were dazzlingly appealing. They came in many colors. Some were 2D and others 3D. It was clear that there were inherent relationships and understandings related to each of them. They all had back stories even if not all of them were legible or interpretable from the outside. Then, an off-campus colleague of mine sent a cool video snippet in which he used social networks to express something about ...

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Review: Pervasive Algorithms in Daily Life

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AUTOMATE THIS: HOW ALGORITHMS CAME TO RULE OUR WORLD. Christopher Steiner. New York: Portfolio / Penguin Publisher. 2012. $24.95. 248 pp. hardcover.

Christopher Steiner’s “Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule our World” opens with an amusing story about how a 1992 book on the genetic development of a fly ended up priced at $1,730,045 and $2,198.177 respectively by two Amazon sellers. The prices on the book kept escalating for weeks with a price peak ...

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Review: Indie-Publishing E-Books (Part 2)

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PUBLISHING E-BOOKS FOR DUMMIES. Ali Luke. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. 296 pp. 2012. $24.99 soft cover.

After the e-book has been written, there’s more to be done.

Finalizing the Manuscript

Ali Luke’s “Publishing E-Books for Dummies” offers step-by-step how-tos for saving a Word file into .pdf format, and also from HTML format for rendering to MOBI and EPUB. (While the author talks about putting the works into fixed form to make it somewhat harder to edit, this ...

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Review: Indie-Publishing E-Books (Part 1)

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PUBLISHING E-BOOKS FOR DUMMIES. Ali Luke. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. 296 pp. 2012. $24.99 soft cover.

E-publishing has come to the fore online. There are public libraries offering e-books for checkout. Many subscription-based repositories offer access to a wide range of e-books. Many higher education courses use only e-books, delivered on various e-reader platforms. In the physical bookstores, most print books have accessible e-versions for purchase or rent. (This is understandable since all print books go through an electronic ...

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The Limits to a For-Fun Word Count Text Analysis

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I am looking at a Wordle image output. This online tool takes a list of words or the text of a website (with an RSS feed) and creates various word art visual depictions based on the prominence of the words (as defined by word count). These “word clouds” are deeply eye-catching. They’re not really to be used for qualitative analysis, but there’s something (small) to be said for using them as such. This tool is a very light ...

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A Getting-By Level of Technology Use

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Something that has always concerned me professionally has been the fact that one can get by with a functional level of software usage (authoring tools, data analysis tools) and miss whole modules of functionality. Software users, as a rule, do adore features. Software developers encapsulate complexity with some very high-level functions, which makes it important to understand at least the bare concepts of what’s happening on the back end. Given the pressure of development cycles, one generally learns as ...

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Several times a year, the question of how to achieve the learning in on-campus wetlabs via online labs (or distance means) is considered by individual faculty members. Then, every few years, the question of how to achieve the learning in on-campus wetlabs is considered on campus.

The challenges are the same. There has to be the learning of complexity. Visualizations need to be accurate. There has to be accounting for potential negative learning (misunderstandings). There has to be the ability ...

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Thinking Library Resources

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At a recent conference, I attended a session put on by some of the librarians from my campus. The trio spoke about various endeavors that they engaged in to bring library services to far-flung online students.

Standards for Distance Learning Library Services

One resource that they pointed to involved the Association of College & Research Libraries’ (ACRL’s) “Standards for Distance Learning Library Services”. This document uses an “access entitlement” principle to convey the sense that all individuals on campus should ...

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Recommending a Core Technology for a Project

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Making a recommendation for a core technology to use for a training project is always a little iffy, particularly when there is no budget and no real common understandings of the choices on the table. The particular project involved a simple concept of creating modules for online faculty to hone their craft and to enhance their online teaching.

What’s in the World, and What’s Supportable by the IT Administrators

The options were actually not that many. We could ...

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This presentation was given as part of C2C's SIDLIT ("sidelight") Conference held at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS.

http://www.k-state.edu/ID/BuildingEffectiveStudyGuidesforOnlineLearningandAssessment/

https://softchalkcloud.com/lesson/rFnD0AQX3xRVTa

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This presentation was given as part of C2C's SIDLIT Conference held at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS.

http://www.k-state.edu/ID/BuildingAnalyzingNodeLinkDiagramsSocialNetworks/

https://softchalkcloud.com/lesson/c4d8tSWMCwm39n

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WHEN GADGETS BETRAY US: THE DARK SIDE OF OUR INFATUATION WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES. Robert Vamosi. New York: Basic Books. 2011. 222 pp. $24.99 hard cover.

On a daily basis, many people rely on electronic gadgets. There are the various mobile devices that people use to connect and socialize. There are the computers in our cars (for security and for GPS, among other features) and security systems in our homes. There are the computers we use at work. Then, too ...

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If I’ve learned nothing else reading a variety of works from the political science literature, it’s that many who work in the field take on the coloration of the defense industry—the assumption of near-constant malice and the need for a constant defense. It is so, too, with Dr. Gary M. Jackson’s “Predicting Malicious Behavior: Tools and Techniques for Ensuring Global Security.” As a clinical psychologist and former employee with the CIA and U.S. Secret Service ...

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Satellite Offices and Centralized Services

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Recently, a staff member who works out in a satellite office linked to campus dropped by without warning. She was on campus to attend a function on campus, and since she and I had spoken about software and grant writing, she wanted to swing by.

We were able to discuss her project work, tour some of the high-tech resources on campus, and make a thin promise to meet again to go over authoring tools and other software. The meeting only ...

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As part of instructional design work, one constantly has general bids out on various projects. Some of these are for-pay projects. Some are grant projects. Some are unpaid projects but are interesting ones (like publishing projects). And then there are the submittals for presentations at various conferences. There’s always a degree of uncertainty of whether an approach will work or not, so one usually tends to have more “irons in the fire” than will actually result in a full ...

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For many faculty and staff on campus, they have ties to private industry organizations that they work with in alignment with their work or research. One of my colleagues, overwhelmed with work, referred me to one of her colleagues from off-campus to serve as an instructional design SME and to possibly contribute some development work to a project. (Public-private partnerships are much more critical in this time of budget cuts across the board.)

We had a Web conference recently in ...

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The Promotion of Multi-Discipline Coordination

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One of my recent projects has involved the endeavors by leaders in the field to promote greater multi-discipline coordination among various professional practitioners in the hard sciences (related to human / animal / environment health)—in a shared endeavor that may enhance each of their respective fields. This seems like a special moment-in-time in the fields, and it’s fascinating to watch the various ways that innovators in the field are trying to move this idea forward—almost as a kind of ...

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Most people, broadly speaking, do not talk about their graduate school years with huge amounts of fondness. Many describe the grueling work loads, the unpredictable professors, the pressures on relationships and marriages, and the many bills—for tuition, for books, for assessments, and various and sundry costs. However, too, there’s the excitement of beginning a new program of study. There’s the heady sense that what one learns will all apply somewhere down the road. There’s the sense ...

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From firsthand experience, after many years of creating diagrams using 2D drawing tools, I find that my initial temptations in building digital visualizations is to noodle with the data to try to get a certain visual output. I was chastened to realize that one tool would allow the download of the original data set, which would confuse any users and would show that the data had been massaged for a certain output. (I was trying to get the system to ...

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Acquiring a New Software Skillset

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To be a basically effective instructional designer, there is maybe a listing of a dozen and a half software programs that are useful to know in-depth (or at least to be on one’s way of knowing in-depth). There are many opportunities to learn new apps and new devices (all with simple interfaces). Where things get interesting is when one pursues new software technologies to add to the skill set. The challenge here starts not in the long lag times ...

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Designing Uniformity

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The rule of the Oxford comma applies to many aspects of instructional design. The Oxford comma is the comma that comes before the end in a list of multiple objects. The rule is that if it is used once in a work, it always has to be used. If it is left out, it should not be used once. The basic concept is uniformity in the document. Those who work in document design are aware of these rules as well ...

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Avoiding the Repetition of Public Presentations

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So shortly after a presentation to a small group of academics at a local conference, my supervisor swung by and asked if I would present the same work again in the main conference. I politely declined—for a number of reasons—but the main one was that it was the same hosting organization that would be engaging us. While the audience members would be possibly different and more plentiful in the main conference, I felt that repeating the topic would ...

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Outlining Slideshows

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While slideshows are much-maligned in the boutique-y parts of academia, they are still very much a staple of presentations—both face-to-face and online. And indeed, slideshows have evolved with the times. They not only offer some sequencing and visuals, but there are many ways to present data in tables and columns and informational graphics. There’s live linking. There are notes that may be integrated. Those who prefer voice and interactivity may add those elements as well. This entry, though ...

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An Automated Training about Policy

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Years ago, at a conference on the East Coast, I attended a session by a man working in instructional design who created an automated training (a slideshow) to fulfill compliance requirements for his private company. He had trainees from all over the world who had to go through the compliance trainings annually on a variety of topics, to fulfill a legal requirement, and his job was to make the training as direct and simple and effective as possible. Back then ...

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Suggesting Technologies

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Coming up on a new on-campus grant funding cycle for online classes, many faculty members will call or email with questions about what technologies to purchase. For locals, they will swing by to the cubicle to see how various technologies work. Those who are located elsewhere in the state or abroad will either visit when they can or consult by telephone and email.

The requirements for the technology are basic. The faculty member has to be able to use the ...

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Science Obtuseness

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If I knew back in the day that I would end up being an instructional designer working in courses that engage science knowledge, I would most certainly have taken more science courses. I would have built a stronger basis for science literacy. I would have worked more on higher-level math.

Why? It does seem like every academic field had a science-based underpinning. There’s the rigor of empirical research. There’s the application of statistical analysis of quantitative data. There ...

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Photographing a Campus Event

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Every so often, it’s good to learn a new piece of equipment and to maybe benefit a workplace. My supervisor, wisely, suggested that I set aside some time every week to acquire new technologies. And being a little tired of exploring software that I can’t directly apply to a project right now, I decided to learn the Nikon D 7000. That said, I only borrowed the camera a day or two before the event and did some night ...

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Data Analysis of Responses to a Survey

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In the absence of information, we as people often go with impressions that come in piecemeal and gut instincts and maybe prior tendencies.

It is easy for a committee (no matter how professional and well intentioned and skilled) to misfocus on impressions and pre-existing ideas if one doesn’t have empirical evidence. It’s easy to sort of lose one’s way into focusing on politics or other external issues to the work. That sort of concern was at the ...

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Going Public as a “Forcing Mechanism”

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In IT, a “forcing mechanism” is just a design feature that channels people in responding with particular information in a technical system. These mechanisms are created to increase—ultimately—the functionality of socio-technical spaces. Another use of a “forcing mechanism” in real life, real space, is to structure a work situation in order to acquire a new skill or new knowledge. If one doesn’t focus on our self-interest in self-development and professional growth, one can’t expect anyone else ...

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The Need for Simple Animation Skills

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A lot of instructional design is about the expression of ideas to enhance learning. Much of the ideas expressed are elusive or theoretical or imaginary. Some types of “internal states” are impossible to depict any other way than through fictionalization. Or they may involve processes over time. Or they may involve processes that are infeasible to capture using a camera (such as atom-level processes or cross-sections of organs as they go through particular functions). For a few years now, I ...

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Smack into Yet another Software Bug

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3-3. There I was again using a software program to update contents on a third-party remote Web server, and the system was hanging again and kicking out failure messages and failing to update the site. I was giving the system the benefit of the doubt and trying multiple times. I’ve used software technologies enough to know that sometimes persistence can work, and it helps to tamp down an initial frustration and to get second wind before asking for possible ...

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My Worst ID Mistakes

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Recently, I was at a presentation by a high-level CEO of a multinational confectionary company. The speaker said that he received helpful advice from a colleague: “fail early, fail cheap, but always fail forward.” In other words, learn from the mistakes. I talk about failing like I mean it…which also means taking on sufficient risks in order to grow professionally and personally. In the spirit of these, I decided to review some of my worst instructional designer mistakes.

People ...

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It doesn’t take more than a few experiences with a computing machine that balks at simple tasks to really just want to trade it in. In a work day, there is only so much time one can spend coaxing basic performance out of a machine. There are the typical underlying reasons for under-performance, the huge amounts of content that may be clogging a machine…some malware possibly…or the behavior of the software…or user error (usually in some ...

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A Value to Software Tool Stability

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The prior week, I had two experiences that were somewhat scary in terms of technological behavior. First, this blog lost several of its most recent entries—which just disappeared—without any logical reason. There was not any known update to the server or compromise in terms of the accounts. Rather, some of the entries and replies to those entries just vanished. And then, I was working with a faculty member to get onto a wiki. Once she created an account ...

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Using a Blog for Heuristic Research

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As a new year commences, I spend some time thinking about what commitments to carry forward and which ones to leave by the wayside. I think about whether to continue blogging, with such a massive onslaught of people who post messages to this only to promote certain SEO (search engine optimization) links—and who never actually check back to realize that their postings have long vanished and seldom last more than a day or two. The emails I get are ...

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In doing research for another project, I came across a phenomenon described as “didactic transposition”—which was described as moving (transposing) some of the skills needed in the professional realm into the academic one in a particular domain field. This is a fancy term for a kind of “gaps analysis” between what a professional needs in the workplace and what is actually known by the novice learner. The point is to identify what is necessary for students to learn and ...

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Troubleshooting a Wiki Issue

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In lots of aspects of life, experience makes a big difference. This came to mind again of late with a colleague who ran into an issue with an open-source wiki (locally hosted). A group of us are using a wiki understructure to create a faculty resource for e-learning. We had stratified the site’s contents in order to enable customizing of contents to particular groups of online faculty based on their amount of experience teaching online. The problem arose when ...

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Ensuring Single Sourcing

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In a recent meeting, we were talking about the need for one content developer to have single sourcing for his slideshows. He wanted to be able to upload and control his slideshows without having to access proprietary systems in order to make sure that the works were appropriately up-to-date. In that situation, one of the team members suggested deep linking from the content developer’s server…and any other source would just point to that particular link. This offers easy ...

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Multiple Computing Machines

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It is not often that one comes across a faculty or staff member with a very defined thought-out computer management strategy. Many are brilliant in their areas of expertise, but they also often do not see a need to have a computer and data management plan that may make their work more efficient.

A lot of the decisions seem to be made in an ad hoc way. One recent interchange reminded me of this. The occasion was a meeting at ...

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Stringing Technologies

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A slideshow is something that is simple enough, yes? That’s what I thought when I headed out to help a staff member with creating a slideshow for an upcoming presentation. He needed a basic refresher. Easy enough, I thought. Three hours later….

Okay, well, I should explain that an early part of the consultation dealt with multiple technologies. I have seen this before with other faculty, staff, and administrators who do not use particular technologies much. They will ask ...

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Join us for a Webinar on February 22

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/210380904

Interactive articles (and e-books) are an enriched form of digital publication which may build in deep exploration, interactivity, and value-added learning for readers. These articles integrate multimedia and other digital contents, are accessible and have mobile friendly content.

This webinar will highlight the building of two published articles created with SoftChalk, with a focus on organizational structure ...

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Selecting by Functions without Considering UI Design

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The jury was in. Their verdict: No way.

We had a group of faculty members and administrators crowded into a small room. They had just spent the prior few months using a new third-party software that had been integrated into the university’s learning / course management system. This software was to offer some Web 2.0 functionalities for online learners—in the way of wikis and blogs. Ideally, this would enable students to share information with each other and their ...

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Capturing Everything, Purposefully Forgetting

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To simplify the capturing of lectures in classroom spaces for delivery online, many universities and colleges are going with built-in systems that automatically capture the classes and make them available in various online course spaces. These systems involve various sorts of hardware (recorders, servers, cameras, microphones, networking hardware) and software (for the server, for the recorder). All of these items will need maintenance and upgrading. Further, there will have to be local expertise trained in running and maintaining such systems ...

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Creating the Spaces for Innovation

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The PIs that have hired me onto their projects have made spaces for me to innovate and to push the edges of instructional design. In the same way, I try hard to make spaces for my development team members to try new things and to stretch their capabilities. While “proof of concept” is a cool idea, in reality, it’s just anything that has not been broadly tried in the field and which may / may not be directly doable.

In ...

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“How Did You Learn Computers?”

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Usually, if a person you’ve met for the first time asks you, “How did you learn computers?” it’s probably not a good sign. After all, my small professional niche involves some small knowledge of computers. The person asking the question was a high-level administrator who had recently retired and returned to teaching. He had swung by to get some feedback on a particular L/CMS function. We got that all clarified, and then we were just shooting the ...

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Bug Hunting

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Those who work in software development are in a state of constant awareness that there may be bugs in the software. A “bug” is some code that makes the software not quite work right. For those of us in instructional design, we will run across the occasional bug, but these are usually known by the developers, and they are just working through their work before getting to the particular bug. Those who use technologies coax performances out of the software ...

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In a Time of Continuing Austerity

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It is said that too much material wealth spoils people. It makes it harder to get work done efficiently. It is harder to work in a lean and competitive way. If that is all true, and if the opposite is true—that lean times help people run more efficiently—then we’re in the middle of one of the more interesting challenges of our work lives: how to run lean.

That Resilience

When people are under pressure, many shut down ...

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Sitting in on a Lab to Turn it Digital

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“Learning equivalency” is a complex state to actualize for some types of learning. I was thinking this as I sat on a stool and hovered over my iPad taking notes and making observations during a diagnostic medicine / pathobiology graduate course.

I was sitting in on a lab to see how it might be digitized. I was looking at the learners and how they interacted with the materials and each other. I was looking at the equipment and the functions of ...

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Reverse Turing

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Lately, I’ve been reading articles on artificial intelligence that refer to the Turing Test (of course). This well publicized technology standard suggests that AI will have arrived (in a manner of speaking) when a machine can emulate human intelligence in a conversation with a human interrogator. AI is used in automated tutoring agents. They are in AI spaces in virtual worlds, with virtual chatbots holding court in their own virtual worlds. They are in service centers meeting the needs ...

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Ghost in the Wires

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In the popular media, Kevin Mitnick was a daring hacker of the late-1980s and 1990s while in his teens and early 20s. He would “social engineer” people to gain the credentials or information or window-of-opportunity to access the various servers of telephone companies, corporations, and government agencies in order to find information, download source code, read emails, and create all sorts of havocs.

In the 1990s, he and co-author William L. Simon authored “The Art of Deception” about some of ...

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Objective Difficulty Levels

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I have been thinking about the difficulty in curriculums and rueing the fact that many of the courses that I work on as an instructional designer are ones that I at least have some background in. I want to know how well instructional design works on course topics that are complex and confusing. I want to know how easy it is to create a sense of overlapping understandings for the purpose of building an online learning course.

Defining Difficulty

What ...

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This is a link to an article that just ran in Educause Quarterly:
"The Participatory Design of a (Today and) Future Digital Entomology Lab."

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Establishing Video Production Values

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One basic rule in multimedia is that it’s always harder than it looks. It’s also almost always more expensive and more time-consuming. The doing requires a level of sophistication that many people do not realize. For videography alone, the production values are critical.

The Technical Elements of a Production

A “production” makes a situation sound like something complex and highly grand. Any video shoot is part of a video production—because the work has to be produced. The ...

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My iPad

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People who work in instructional design have to like people first. Instructional design is about teaching…and it’s about sharing. It’s about understanding “human factors” in learning—and maximizing what can be done to help people teach and learn. Secondly, instructional designers have to love technologies. And while I’m not the type to go ga-ga over technologies, I do appreciate a designed thing of beauty every now and again. I do very much appreciate how software evolves ...

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Knowing Which Way is Up

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The first indicator that there may well be a challenging curricular build is the nature of the question in the initial interactions with a subject matter expert (SME). One recent case involved a professor who came in with a simple question: “How can I actualize the capture of various lecture-captures from around the state?”

Getting Situated

An effective approach with a new instructor is to get them situated, and the easiest approach is to base the situating on legal and ...

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Borrowed Equipment

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In an ideal universe, equipment that is lent out comes back in tip-top shape, and all one has to do is use an anti-bacterial wipe on the common surfaces, and the equipment can be used elsewhere for other purposes. Now, rotating equipment around is not a direct part of instructional design work, but it’s critical to be able to access equipment to actualize a project every now and again.

Run to Nothing

This all came to mind recently when ...

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Moving Beyond Slideshow Limits…to Microsites

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Slideshows are some of the most common forms of digital information delivery used in online classes. Presenters have added multimedia elements to them. They have added voice-narration, and they have added some annotations. These all add value, but the nature of the digital file type still has its limits. The main constraint has to do with the appropriate length of a slideshow—in terms of the number of slides that may be coherently consumed. Another limit had to do with ...

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My First Node-Link Diagram

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For years now, I’ve read node-link diagrams. These are used to show social relationships. They offer a systems view of different relationships. They are used to define game-theory games and the dynamics of play. They are used in so many ways to show so many dynamics.

That said, I have never actually tried my hand at creating one until recently. The context for this creation was for a course project. Instead of waiting until the end of the term ...

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Mobile Learning

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With new technologies that help in the authoring of mobile activities, the following is an entry about mobile digital learning objects and approaches.

Mobile Learning

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Hands-on Work Face-to-Face; Lectures Virtualized

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At the recent SIDLIT conference, Tracy Newman (tnewman@jccc.edu) presented on “Mobile Learning and the Inverted Classroom, Not Just for Hybrid Courses.” She was highlighting a recent phenomena to improve blended learning by having students use their online time to experience pre-recorded lectures and virtual experiences; face-to-face time with the instructors would be used to apply that learning in various types of discussions, games, laboratory experiences, and hands-on applied learning practices.

As a matter of fact, many are going ...

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Dr. Heidi Upton presented on a multimedia project that she used to engage learners titled “Discover New York,” at a recent conference I attended in San Jose. She explained that she had to change this course to a degree because of the competition for contact hours with students, which limited her face-to-face time to only two days a week. This could have threatened the student engagement in her class.

Her Pedagogical Understandings

It was useful to have her describe her ...

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A Twitter-Based Graduate Business Course

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One of the more creative uses of Twitter for blended education was described in a conference that I attended recently. The European professor taught a graduate-level business course wholly through Twitter. No course site. No L/CMS.

He had his students use their Twitter accounts and follow him and follow each other—to create a real-time and asynchronous circle of communications. People would also post Tweets with hash tags that would identify the nature of the messages being posted. What ...

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Software More Alike than Not?

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People go to conferences to find out “how the other half lives,” to use a quaint phrase. In other words, we want to scope out the competition and find out how to improve our own work. I used to go to conferences on the East Coast to see what money and smarts (including educational psychologists) and feedback data (of the players) can buy the military in terms of immersive games. I went to those conferences expecting some glitzy designs, and ...

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An “Asymmetry of Intimacy”

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Every so often, a phrase will be eye-catching and thought-provoking. In David Rice’s “Geekonomics: The Real Cost of Insecure Software” (Addison-Wesley, Pearson Education, 2008), he describes an “asymmetry of intimacy” between what people know about technology and what technology “knows” about them. Computerized technologies affect people’s daily lives and lived experiences. Much of their experiences are captured in electronic profiles and innumerable databases—which may be cobbled and queried in rich ways to form a sense of a ...

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Building to Small Screens

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The next new hot thing is the uses of mobile devices for online learning. Or so that’s been said for many years now. But only recently have there been authoring tools that allow us to build to the small screen—and now—even in HTML 5 and without the requirement for a Flash player for much of the interactive contents. Instructional designers do work as the technologies enable them—although some do have the skill sets of coding the ...

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Protectionism and Open-Source

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I never thought of how grateful I would be at the fortunate limits of some technologies—in this case—the challenges of putting an authentication layer around a publicly available wiki site. When the technologists went to try to hide a wiki behind an authentication layer, it pretty much rendered the entire site inaccessible and broke all links. This unfortunate turn of events occurred because an administrator unilaterally chose to “protect” the resource because the project had evolved into a ...

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Justifying Instructional Design

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“What is instructional design?”

“Finally, I know that you really exist! So what is it that you do anyway?”

“Do you upload contents for us?”

A lot of the early questions I get when meeting with a new faculty client shows just how common the lack of knowledge is about what instructional designers do. Of course, what they do is defined by the particular work place and the policies that are in place.

In some ways, instructional designers also self-define ...

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Let’s See What Happens If…

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Authoring tools are built for particular designed purposes. They are meant to create particular designs. Or they’re set up to edit particular file types and output particular file types. These are designed based on the needs of the particular user base for the software, and these are designed by testing against theoretical and applied “use cases.” Then, too, there’s testing against unintended consequences. Popular software programs will be conceptualized differently than their intended use.

Working a System at ...

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Adding Sparkle to Lecture Captures

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With the popularization of desktop screen capture software and flip cams and web cams (and faster Internet connectivity for many learners), very simple lecture captures have become more popular with faculty members. While many struggle at first with just learning the technologies, and with adjusting to how they look and sound on camera, many others already have a long history with quality teaching and learning and build for quality early on.

Baseline Quality

One of the first realities of lecture ...

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The Research Piece in Instructional Design

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Research in instructional design almost always has to align with other partners. It is not a stand-alone sort of field that can offer up deeply fresh insights as a stand-alone situation because instructional design is a field that aligns with certain domain fields, learners, instructors, and technologies. It is not stand-alone in any sense.

Strategic Partnering

Willing partners to conduct research and writing may include faculty members, funding organizations, e-learning consortiums, software technology companies, and students. Out of this lot ...

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Designing and Building Learning for Children

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At a university, rarely does instructional design involve designing for children. However, every so often, a grant-funded project will surface that offers interesting and unusual work. One recent one has involved the potential of designing learning for Pre-K and K-3 learners.

One of the truisms in instructional design is that the designs are unique to each learning situation. The designs have to be tailored to particular learners. That’s not to say that people cannot generalize about learning. One can ...

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Revisiting an Old Curricular Design

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“No way?! I did that!”

Ideally, designed curriculums will be put into service, adapted and evolved over time, and used consistently and continuously over time. That way, it evolves with the learners and the various instructors who use the curriculum. It doesn’t go out-of-date. It stays relevant, and it’s in use.

However, based on circumstances, free courses may or may not be offered, and if a busy schedule takes over, then a curriculum can be left to lapse ...

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Cautions re: the Uses of Apps on Mobile Devices

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One presentation I attended dealt with the uses of free apps on mobile devices. The presenter emphasized the importance of reading directions and end user license agreements (EULAs) before downloading apps. He suggested the importance of making sure that all apps are being downloaded from reputable sites, such as those vouched for by the makers of the particular mobile device or official appstores. He also suggested that it’s important to crowd-source information about the value of the various apps ...

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Building a Workflow for Image Handling

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Images are a critical part of numerous instructional design projects. At the lowest level, free clip art and imagery may be used to illustrate some basic concepts. Middle-range projects may involve the collection of some original imagery to illustrate concepts and resources. In some image-intensive projects, the team originates all of the images for the project. The images are all original. And oftentimes, the equipment used for the image capture may be fairly high-end.

Every project has its own unique ...

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Undesignated Server Space

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Instructional designers are not generally given access to undesignated server space. Rather, they are given access to particularly defined spaces, so they can upload and publish contents in particular circumstances. Usually, this means plenty of vetting by the principal investigators on projects.

I was going to write that it has taken me years to get access to server space, but that’s not quite true. I had access from very early on in my work at my university. However, it ...

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Evolving Technologies

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After a dozen years in online education, I am realizing that many of the technologies that I used early on are no longer around, or they’re only around in limited use as glorified ego projects by wealthy company owners (my highly interpretive read). And others seem to have utterly disappeared or been sidelined to a limited custom use. Survival in a highly malleable field such as high-tech seems to really depend on survivability in the marketplace first—and that ...

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This is a link to an article and slideshow about a "digital entomology lab" project at Kansas State University. This project is in its early phases.

Starting a Digital Entomology Lab at K-state

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Going Back to Fix Color Balances

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There’s a lot to be said for getting complex processes right the first time. A certain amount of this may be done through proper planning. After that, it helps to pay close attention to how the process is working in a couple dry runs and tweaking the process for efficacy. This came to mind in a recent project, which partially involved the processing of specialized images for a particular domain field. What is not taken care of upstream has ...

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Getting the Tech Systems Right Early On

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Once a project starts rolling, a certain dynamism sets in. Different people with different skill sets are brought on board to execute certain parts of the project. People come in from out-of-town. A few technology experts are brought in from around the campus, and there are longer-term alliances to tap particular skill sets. I was thinking about this in relation to a particular project in which I set up a meeting for the team precipitously—in response to a meeting ...

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Call for Chapters: Proposals Submission Deadline: March 30, 2011 Full Chapters Due: July 30, 2011

http://www.igi-global.com/authorseditors/authoreditorresources/callforbookchapters/callforchapterdetails.aspx?callforcontentid=49406cf9-f565-4649-a5c5-3c863bf5629c

Introduction

Open-source development of tools and contents have existed for a long time as a complement to for-profit approaches. This concept and practice describe R&D and production that includes savvy users of a particular software or information product and enables the widespread sharing and distribution of created resources among users. In information and ...

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Human Interplay and Videotaped Group Interviews

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Most of us do not pay attention to conversations in deep detail unless there is something critical on the line. In most cases, deeper attention is not warranted. However, when one does actually start paying attention to interviews and other conversations, one starts noticing interesting dynamics. On a recent project, I focused on transcribing a series of interviews and conversations in order to understand what had gone on on-the-road while I was working on other aspects of the project. We ...

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The Electronic Trail in Online Learning

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One of the key affordances of an online e-learning environment involves the tenacity of an electronic memory. By this, I mean that all student and instructor actions in an online space are recorded and are searchable and archivable. This is all fine and good unless one begins with magical thinking or adopts magical thinking at any time during or later. In other words, this level of electronic memory becomes problematic if you want to change your narrative purposefully.

Instructors who ...

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A University Substructure that Encourages Research

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One of the main aims of a university involves research, the surfacing of new information and insights. New faculty members make their names by the quality of their work and their thoughts. The research spills over into the teaching, by helping faculty train new researchers and also encouraging the uses of more updated learning materials / information. Publishing and presenting at conferences help further the field. They also help information spill out into the public.

The Research Substructure

The university culture ...

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Dumping Archives with a Clear Conscience

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In my visits to various faculty offices, I’ve seen plenty of types of data storage. Papers and print journals are not uncommon. All manner of digital storage devices are popular—from giant plate-sized digital memory devices (for real—but the professor was just keeping those for fun) to floppy disks to 3.5” disks and then to all the various miniaturized hard drives and thumb drives and what-not that people use today.

When faculty members retire or go on ...

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The Strategic Use of Artifice

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In instructional design, part of our work is to tell stories or create contexts. And the materials we use range from the non-photo-realistic to the photo-realistic. The non-photo-realistic may be drawings and diagrams; they may be image captures from virtual worlds. The photo-realistic images are actual photos.

Recently, a PI working on a storytelling slideshow sent us a variety of screen captures overlaid with different image filters—to emulate oil painting effects, water color effects, and so on. Her question ...

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Domain-Specific Requirements for Quality E-Learning

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For a long time now, I’ve been following what is considered to be quality learning in online courses. There is a lot that has been learned about quality in general for mainline students, but there has also been a bit of research in terms of case studies based on certain domain fields. I have wondered what some unique aspects of quality may be…and thought I would review what I’ve heard about domain-specific quality issues. It may well ...

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Cuckoo’s Egg Today?

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Back in 1986, young astronomer Clifford Stoll ended up shifting jobs and was writing software for academic usage to support professors in the hard sciences. While managing the servers and looking at the office’s billing, he noticed a small 75-cent discrepancy in the billing. He ran the system through the paces and could not find any mistake in the accounting software even though that software had been cobbled together informally by various students who’d worked in the lab ...

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Just a year or two ago, the world was aflutter with the possibilities of virtual world learning. There was talk of engaging simulations. There were dazzling examples of eye candy. A local project involved the uses of a virtual island for multicultural studies. Another project involved a simulated geological time space. People offered very nuanced versions of their digital doppelgangers. And then, almost overnight, it seemed, people were saying, That’s so passé!

This phenomenon of using virtual worlds seemed ...

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An Instructional Design Approach to Updating an Online Course Curriculum

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Not Going beyond the Data

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Authors and editors all have different relationships based on each other’s working styles. Plenty of such relationships last over time because a certain level of comfort is created in the interactions between these two groups, and there’s less of that necessary level of work in feeling out the work styles and standards of others.

A recent endeavor involved working with a new editor on a very short deadline. There was a call for drafted chapters on a set ...

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Interruption Overload

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At the work station or at the laptop, one’s work is constantly interrupted. And this is not necessarily only in reference to a cubicle environment where people are stopping by to chat or people are calling on the work line. The computer itself has all sorts of interruptions built in—email notifications, IM-messages, system alerts, agent requests (such as for software updates), probes for electronic mailing lists, emergency notices on the cell phone and the work phone and the ...

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Useful Void

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The WWW is a great tool to use to jog one’s memory. Just recently, I was remembering a snippet of a song I wanted to hear, put in a line, and the artist and title of the song appeared in milli-seconds. The electronic collective memory that we have around us has made it near impossible to forget anything. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger makes this point thoughtfully in “Useful Void: The Art of Forgetting in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing” (2007) (available ...

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Supercomputer Use for Non-Pros

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A recent presenter on campus discussed a recent strategy in another state university to open up its supercomputers for statewide use to crunch various data, create simulations, project into the future, and solve large problems. He said that such openness to the state enabled his university to go after grants more competitively and did not cost much—only 1% of the processing of their machines. There clearly involves some work in training new users, but he pointed out that many ...

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Crowdsourcing and the Power of Audience

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So I spent a part of the afternoon at a lecture by a renowned expert on using Web 2.0 technologies for teaching and learning. He had founded digital ethnography and made his reputation via the Web. In person, he’s articulate, smart, funny, and amenable to handling pretty much any question which comes his way.

This day, he was speaking on “Crowdsourcing.” He went through a litany of ways that people collaborate around music—by singing to a man ...

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Machine-Speak (for Web Display)

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It’s surprising how long one can work in IT and still really know so little about different types of code. I own up. I have always had the support of great site designers who’ve built sites that are usable and which have a back-end piece which allowed me to upload textual and visual contents directly. Or I would use wikis that used a very simple mark-up or markdown syntax that really didn’t require much work. After all ...

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There’s a lot to be said for attending conferences purely to learn and without the need to focus on either organization work or presentation logistics. A recent conference (“Frontiers in Mobile Learning”) sponsored by the C2C organization highlighted some of the challenges to the uses of mobile devices in education.

Some Extant Challenges

The most fundamental challenge has been the wide range of mobile devices available—from smart phones to laptops to iPads to netbooks to e-readers. These devices ...

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In a recent conference, I was chatting with a small group that had stayed after, and one asked about a small notation I’d made about digital “slow fires.” We were talking about a wiki project and the collecting of information…and then later that day, I was talking about value-added digital imagery, and the issue of slow fires came up again. I was asked to talk a bit about this issue, at some later date, and I realized that ...

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Complimentary Copies of Textbooks

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For faculty members, it’s a fairly easy process to get complimentary copies of textbooks. They just have to call up or email their book rep, and the new books arrive in crisp packages and with zeroed out invoices. Running books by faculty members is a huge part of the work of book companies, and they can often find that faculty can be quite loyal to a text that they enjoy and which they’ve built plenty of assignments and ...

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The late Garrett Hardin proposed the term “tragedy of the commons” early in his career to describe a situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and in their own interests, will deplete shared limited resources. (He was arguing for limited international aid to poor countries that could not sustain themselves, and in later essays, he compared the US to a lifeboat. He suggested that having excess capacity would be important in terms of resources.)

Real-World Resource Management vs. Digital Resource ...

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Strategic Program Use of Electronic Mailing Lists

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The email messages would show up in the email box—about various services on campus…the recreation center, the student union, the performance hall, the grant research resources, the PR wing of campus. A university of a middling size will have thousands of electronic mailing lists from many entities on campus.

There will be many electronic mailing lists for particular projects and groups, with many activated and live only for the life span of the project. The more silent electronic ...

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Sometimes, it takes seeing a lot of “bad” examples to begin seeing what makes a particular learning object—like a slideshow—“good.” A recent project involved some work perusing videotaped graduate student presentations on a range of public health issues. These were captured by tapping into a tech classroom’s audio feed (which resulted in some strange electronic fluctuations that added noise and “gain” to the audio feed) and the room’s camera…and then the slides portrayed on the ...

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A new resource for immersive learning will be released by IGI-Global in late August 2010.

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Setting up a Digital Poster Session

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In a recent online conference, one of the “sidebars” dealt with poster sessions. Those were my first exposures to creating poster sessions…and it was also my first exposure to a range of different types of poster sessions. These do add plenty of value. Those whose presentations did not get accepted into the main synchronous presentations are sometimes offered slots in the poster sessions in live face-to-face conferences. That is so here, too. In online conferences, the live presentations are ...

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Tending a Public Wiki

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This entry is based on very thin experiences…just about a year of work tending a public wiki. During that initial year, I spent most of it conducting research and creating contents to offer lures for site visitors to explore the site more deeply. I was interested in setting a baseline for quality. I also wanted to share relevant information with a larger public. In that first year and a half, now, tens of thousands of visitors have come to ...

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A Mobile Learning Resource

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There is a free e-book available through Athabasca University Press on mobile learning that sets a clear baseline for this possible new direction in e-learning in higher education. Dr. Mohammed Ally's "Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training" is available at the following URL.

Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training

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Several months ago, the query came in to the office. A colleague wondered if I’d be willing to present a live webinar to a conference with approximately 70 people in the room and possibly others logging in online. The webinar would be recorded. The default for me has always been, “Sure,” particularly if the work has its own fresh challenges.

The Lead-up Work

First, I spoke to a couple of the representatives and got a sense of the audience ...

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Digital Preservation

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Online learning work does involve digital preservation albeit not in ways that one might generally imagine. So many works are “born-digital” and need to be protected in multiple digital formats and proper storage. Another method for digital preservation, though, involves taking from-world artifacts and storing them in digital format. This issue arose recently with a history course in a hard science field.

Up Close and Clear Imagery with Text

A conversation with the instructor illuminated this situation. He featured digital ...

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A Fully Open-Access Scholarly Press

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The following is a link to an article about an open-access scholarly press which makes all of its contents available in .pdf form from their site.

A Fully Open-Access Scholarly Press

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The Need to Update Software

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Two hours into the meeting with the faculty member, we finally got around to doing a desktop lecture capture using his brand new computer and his new headset. We had tested his equipment, reset his computer settings, deleted and re-installed his software…and finally did the piece that was probably the initial problem. We updated the lecture capture software we’d just installed. We’d gone on the false assumption that an update that we’d done based on an ...

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Slideshow Consistency

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Every so often, there is a push for some mind-numbing work. A colleague of mine had to render a bunch of contents from DVDs in order to repurpose them for a new client who wanted all the contents on a website. (This was done with copyright permission.) And recently, I worked on several projects just to get some slideshows rendered for some online courses. No ID really goes into this field in order to have to format slideshows, but this ...

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Hrrrrmmm. The student was clearing his throat again. We were looking at him through a large screen. He was several hours away taking our shared course. And he was alone in a classroom, just him, his readings, and his laptop. He was clearing his throat because he was looking for a way to jump into the conversation without seeming rude. The really cool upside was that he was well prepared for class every day even though the class was an ...

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A New EQ Issue on Cloud Computing

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Educause Quarterly has a riveting new issue on cloud computing

This is an issue which affects a number of aspects of instructional design work but seems like an issue only about hardware, software, and where data resides.

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Transcoding Work

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As an instructional designer, I work with at least a dozen (or two) different software programs that are used for the editing of raw digital files and the authoring of born-digital files—for e-learning. Plenty of this work involves “transcoding” between different digital file types in order to add value to a particular text, image, slideshow, audio file, or video file.

Transcode: A Basic Definition

A transcoding effort involves the digital-to-digital conversion of one digital file type to another (http ...

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Invariably, a new socio-technical system will run into first technical problems, then structural problems, and then social ones. This truism has implications for the design work.

Throwing Content at the Technology

For an instructional designer, to get a system to fully “stand up,” it is important to make sure that all the layers of technological dependencies actually function. The only way to discover where problems are is to push the system. For me, this has meant creating a variety of ...

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Creating Structure from Formlessness

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The nature of work is that there are often needs that are not directly met by existing technologies. In cases where the needs exist sufficiently close to the existing technologies, there can be work-arounds and the imposition of an artificial structure around the technologies to achieve particular aims.

One common example is the use of learning / course management systems as virtual teaming work spaces. Hiring committees will use L/CMSes to share privy documents and to exchange information and to ...

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Textual Feedback in the Grade Book

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Learning / course management systems (L/CMSes) usually collect quantitative grade information for students. This is because of a tradition regarding the use of grades, and this is also because numbers are very easy to manage, handle, and calculate. Qualitative feedback and critiques are usually sent to students via email or private messages in the online classrooms.

Rarely do online grade books include textual feedback. However, one of the L/CMSes I use does include a text window next to the ...

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Setting up a New Digital Calendar

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It was with trepidation that I thought of manually moving over a couple months’ worth of scheduled events over to a new calendaring, email, and collaboration system. There were enough horror stories of problems batch-moving all the events, and repeating events apparently do not show up at all. The smart money was on physically moving events and then removing the old calendar client.

Ramping up to the Move

Moving to a new laptop without the old calendaring system was one ...

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Winging It

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It probably helps to have a little desperation to drive some risk. Here it was the day before the launch of an intensive intersession course, and the two faculty teaching the course were not fully ready. They had captured an interview using one (desktop lecture capture) technology but had switched to another technology because they felt more comfortable using that technology to edit out some repetitive comments. They also wanted to add in some annotations.

What happened was that they ...

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Tech-Savvy SMEs!

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In any number of fields, SMEs come to work with a range of tech savvy. Many now seem to have a basic understanding of learning / course management systems (L/CMSes). They may not grasp the more esoteric and complex tools, but they have the general gist. A majority also have a firm general grasp of the office suite of tools, particularly word-processing and slideshow building (but not so the Excel-sorts of files). A few have a grasp on lecture capture ...

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Adding Value to Screen-Based Lecture Capture

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Recently, several of us instructional designers presented to faculty working on a graduate degree project. One of the early presentations involved training the faculty on some technologies for screen-based lecture captures. That involved lowering the learning curve on those technologies and encouraging them to be comfortable with the experimentation, the fumbling, and the way they sound to themselves online. We showed that it was okay to show themselves as human, and we showcased some endeavors for telepresence.

Comfort with Experimentation ...

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Templating for Quality

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Sometimes, simple tools can add an outsized contribution to the overall quality of a curricular build. Dr. Atul Gawande, in The Checklist Manifesto, showed the application of checklists to a variety of fields—medical, flight, and others—that added plenty of value.

In the same way, templates may be pedestrian, but they can offer efficiencies and competitive advantages that are quite surprising.

What’s a Template?

A template is a form that is used to create other objects of a ...

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The State of Play: Law, Games, and Virtual Worlds by Jack M. Balkin and Beth Simone Noveck New York: New York University Press 2006 304 pp. hardcover

“I always knew what virtual worlds promised: freedom. Freedom to do, to be, to realize. I like this kind of freedom, it’s a good thing; virtual worlds are a force for good. Furthermore, what we have at the moment is just a foretaste of the wonders that idealists like me believe are ...

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Two Angles on Educational Social Networking

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"While Internet users claim to be concerned about online privacy, their behavior rarely reflects those concerns." -- Julia Gideon, Lorrie Cranor, Serge Egelman, and Alessandro Acquisti in "Power Strips, Prophylactics, and Privacy, Oh My!" (2006)

A greater sense of sobriety seems to have seeped into discussions of social networking sites used for higher education. Two recent webinar presentations addressed this issue. This seems appropriate given that social networks and blogs are the fourth most popular online category for information sharing, and ...

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Polite Clapping on Live Webinars

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It’s easy enough to maintain a sense of niceties for short webinars. Then, it’s easy to know when to activate the polite clapping button. It’s easy to know when to put one’s marker on a world map to show one’s location. It’s easy enough to annotate a whiteboard or a slide. It’s fairly easy to type in responses in the chat window at the behest of the presenter.

However, what exactly is different ...

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Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games By Edward Castronova Chicago: The University of Chicago Press 2005 332 pp. hardcover

The way Dr. Edward Castronova tells it, he was an economist minding his own business some years ago when he got blindsided by the phenomena of virtual worlds.

Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games then is his intelligently written foray into MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games,” pronounced by some as “mor-pegs”) and metaverses, which ...

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A recent project evolved into an intriguing conversation. I won’t go into the specifics of the project, but the conversation involved the use of Second Life avatars to tell a story and to create a sense of loyalty among a defined set of learners. The idea would be to use four central characters around whom particular stories would be told.

All the planners at the table are attuned to the needs to be inclusive, to avoid stereotyping, to “mirror ...

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Control and Constraint in e-Learning: Choosing when to Choose By Jon Dron Hershey: IDEA Group Publishing 2007 340 pp. hard cover

“The most interesting potential for a virtual environment for learning is that it is itself far more plastic and malleable than physical space—the computer is the medium and tool as well as the environment. Through e-learning, it is therefore possible for the context to actively shift, playing a role in changing both the intrinsic and extrinsic constraints that ...

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E-Learning and the Science of Instruction By Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer Pfeiffer, A Wiley Imprint 2003 322 pp. hardcover

For many, multimedia evokes splashy effects and the best that digital technology can offer. Yet, when multimedia is applied for learning purposes, a more grounded approach is effective. Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer’s E-learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning have created a handy topic-based text for ...

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e-Moderating: The Key to Teaching & Learning Online by Gilly Salmon London: RoutledgeFalmer 2004/2005 2nd Ed. 242 pp. softcover

Dr. Gilly Salmon’s e-Moderating: The Key to Teaching & Learning Online focuses on a particular support role in online learning that may be crucial for the larger, higher education, online classes with professors, teaching assistants, research assistants, and now e-moderators.

Early on, the role of the e-moderator seems to be a culmination of mediator, online facilitator, teacher, trainer, and digital friend ...

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Integrating Technology for Meaningful Learning (5th Ed.) by Mark Grabe and Cindy Grabe New York: Houghton Mifflin Company 2007 431 pp. softcover

The next big push in eLearning may occur in K-12. The acceptance of distance learning is at an all-time high. K-12 instructors are training in the online curriculum development and instruction methods. And there are strong texts supporting such endeavors, as with Mark and Cindy Grabe’s stellar Integrating Technology for Meaningful Learning (5th ed.).

These two authors ...

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A Classy International Online Web Conference

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People who’ve worked for a time in a field become harder to impress. I’m no different. And yet, last week, I participated in a two-day online web conference that left a strong positive impression.

First, this featured a range of presenters and keynote speakers. These had been culled from a competitive list of presenters. Many who didn’t have a chance to present offered online poster sessions. The live event was scheduled with a fine choice of seminars ...

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Instructional Design for Web-based Training By Kerri Conrad and TrainingLinks HRD Press 2000 280 pp. soft cover

Kerri Conrad and TrainingLinks’ formulated Instructional Design for Web-based Training through their various projects as a small Web-based training (WBT) company. As happens with many texts, they’d looked for one to use, and when they couldn’t find the one, they decided to write a book themselves.

The final product is a highly-accessible conversational text that starts readers off with an assessment ...

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Function ask Q (): Interactive Multimedia 101

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An Introduction to Interactive Multimedia by Stephen J. Misovich, Jerome Katrichis, David Demers, and William B. Sanders Boston: Pearson Education 2003 212 pp. softcover

“…computers are literal machines. That is, you must include all of the marks and words that you see in the scripts in this book. Even a tiny difference can cause a script to fail.” --An Introduction to Interactive Multimedia (p. 165)

Instructional designers working in interactive online courses would do well to approach their craft with ...

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"You're supposed to be skeptical all the time!"

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Academics have taken various stances on the changes to their respective fields with the popularization of the Internet and the WWW these past couple decades. Dr. T. Mills Kelly, of the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University, swung by K-State for a presentation titled “Building a Better Yesterday, Bit by Bit or What hurricanes, communism and pirates can do for your teaching” on Mar. 9.

He described a course that he teaches to undergraduates that is ...

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Starting the Design of Digital Short Courses

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There’s been a slow move towards building commercial learning from academic courses. Our campus has looked at ways to create such short courses and ways to transition from situations of “fair use” to commercial…with some very effective ideas. Now that some of the early thinking work has gone in, we have a theoretical template that now needs actual building work.

The Basic Concept

A short course then consists of one to two hours of study on a particular ...

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Creating a Digital Lab Section

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Many of us in instructional design are challenged by the interesting work of creating online labs. Some types of lab learning are created by stringing together various online resources, such as simulations and open-source learning. Others are commercial types of labs that include learning aids and digital recording devices like digital journals. A recent on-campus science course involves a corresponding lab course, and while the instructor wants to focus on the lecture course first, the question of whether the lab ...

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The Workflow Integration of New Techno

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As various projects have become more complicated, it’s quite common to have multiple authoring tools and editing programs open and functioning in fairly integrated ways. For example, one could have a screen capture tool for stills of various websites and software; photo editing software open to process imagery, and then a drawing tool open for manipulating those images. There would be a lot of recursiveness in terms of moving between the software for particular effects.

Bridging Software

Software makers ...

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Updating and Upkeeping Public Departmental Computers

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The classroom laptop was all set up and ready to go when the students filed in. The prof stepped out to fill his mug with water, and by the time he’d stepped back, the machine had turned itself off.

That started the prof on a riff about his department’s laptop. It had gotten infected with a particular virus because it had not been used sufficiently to have a continuing updated profile of malware. He had used the computer ...

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Second Life Machinima Tour

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It’s always inspiring when a faculty member decides to get off the beaten track and to try something new. “New,” of course, is a relative term. However, the idea for doing video captures using machinima was sufficiently sparkly to be interesting and to require a basic tour of the extant machine + cinema videos in public spaces—to get a sense of the state-of-the-art. I was also motivated to sort of control for client expectations, so the mental imagery of ...

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The Popularity Ratings of Student Postings

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Popularity ratings have been all the rage with social sites, where people may be evaluated on any number of things, usually “hotness.” And there are evaluations of digital visuals and contents that people share. On art sites, people can post comments and feedback about the effect that a particular work had on them. Faculty members may be rated by their students. I even read fleetingly of a site that sort of lists people’s gripes about each other. This came ...

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New Software Installation

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Uploading new software for the new year is often a joyful experience of discovery of new functionalities and affordances. Yesterday, not so much.

A new software package includes some 9 GB of integrated authoring and editing tools, and it’s a fantastic package from a superb company. However, putting 9 GB of contents a computer means a lot of uninstalling of extant software programs, some of which are used more than others. Many of the programs were used a few ...

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Failed Designs

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An engaging article dealt with the phenomenon of failed instructional designs and the importance of learning from them. Taking a page out of that work, I decided to mull some of my failed designs as learning opportunities.

Defining Failure

First, what is meant by a “failed” instructional design? For me, failure may be defined in a number of ways.

A non-executable design is the worst kind. Instructional design is an applied science. It’s not a theoretical construct (although it ...

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An E-Books Update

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Back in November, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology hosted an “E-Book Expo: LYRASIS Panel Discussion” that examined some challenges with integrating e-books for use in higher education. This event occurred live and face-to-face but also with webcasting to an equal-sized audience. This was one of those events which I’d planned to participate in but which had such a weird scheduled time (probably a mistake) that I wasn’t even in the office by the time this event occurred ...

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LYRASIS eBook Expo

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LYRASIS hosted a recent eBook Expo that surfaced quite a few intriguing concepts about some of the gaps preventing the smoother integration of electronic books into university libraries and repositories.

LYRASIS eBook Expo

The audio could be better, but the web conference may be viewed at the following URL.

Archived Session

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A Click-Happy L/CMS

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So here, I had nearly 4 gigabytes of contents for a complex course that needed to be uploaded into a new learning / course management system (L/CMS). This L/CMS had been developed by a small company and was bought out by a mainline publisher, and its interface was like nothing I had seen before. As a person who has worked with a dozen or more L/CMSes over the years, that’s saying something. (And yes, this is low-level ...

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Disallowing Popularity System Hijacks

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A recent article described a major mobile phone maker that removed over a thousand device apps created by a particular developer who apparently swiped others’ codes and who tried to manipulate the system by hiring people to give his apps high popularity ratings. A fellow user wised up and notified the company. The company apparently went into the back end and checked out the statistics of the popularity ratings and found anomalies—such as the ranges of evaluations (all 1s ...

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Purposively Appearing and Disappearing Information

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A computer science assistant professor at one of my alma maters is working on a subject I’ve long wondered about—how to erase information or destroy data after a certain amount of time. Apparently, there are quite a few ways to achieve this in the digital space, but in peer-to-peer social networks, this researcher has found a way to disappear it.

The Vanish Program

“The Vanish program encrypts a message, breaks the encryption key into many tiny pieces, and ...

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Virtual Worlds: Opportunities and Opportunity Costs

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Edward Castronova’s “Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun is Changing Reality” melds his economics and policy background with his enjoyment of “synthetic worlds” to offer a provocative thesis, namely: people will head to virtual spaces en masse (“hundreds of millions”) within the next generation and bring with it huge impacts on the real world economies, workforces, and policy-making.

Speculative Non-Fiction

In a work that he terms “speculative nonfiction,” he projects into the future and sees virtual reality ...

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Digital Imagery and Informational Graphics

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"Digital Imagery and Informational Graphics in E-Learning: Maximizing Visual Technologies" will be released in November 2009.

http://www.igi-global.com/marketingdept/newsletter/novnewsletter/hai-jew.html

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Hands-On Online Clinics / Webinars

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A couple weeks ago, I was part of a free webinar that was supposed to be a clinic. People were given simple tasks…sent off to do their work…and were to rejoin the group some 20 minutes later to share their work. The work that emerged was very divergent, and it became clear that these faculty and instructional designers all had different mental models going in. The presenter very graciously made positive comments on their works and quickly moved ...

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Learning Styles Accommodations Webinar

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Recently, I caught the tail end of a webinar that left a strong, positive impression. The presenter Dr. Patricia Ritschel-Trifilo (of Hardin-Simmons University) was demonstrating how she versioned a course lesson for the various types of learning styles based on a conceptualization by Albert Canfield summarized here http://people.usd.edu/~ssanto/canfield.html .

She applied the Canfield’s Learning Styles Inventory

http://arispa.com/styles/canfield1.html

or

www.tecweb.org/styles/canfield1.html

to her students and compared ...

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Participatory Sensing

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Participatory Sensing

For a kind of “situational awareness,” various fields (law enforcement, environmental science, landscape architecture, biological sciences, architecture, agriculture, and others) are now tapping into “participatory sensing.” This is a kind of information capture based on the widespread distribution of mobile devices that capture imagery and sounds in a location-sensitive way. Many mobile technologies enable live and easy emailing of the information and uploading of the contents to the WWW. Dedicated remote sensors also enable rich information captures.

Citizen ...

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Defining "Cloud Computing"

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“The Network is your computer,” goes one of the slogans.

The techno buzz around the office and online has been about “cloud computing.” So when the email appeared in my box about Sun Microsystems offering a webinar called “Introduction to Cloud Computing…for Enterprise Users,” I signed up—only to see that opportunity get overshadowed by other commitments. Then, they sent a follow-up email offering the archived webinar online. Perfect.

The Next Big Thing or a Fad?

Dr. Lew Tucker ...

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Making the "Business Case" for a Particular Technology

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The draft article came in a neat little package. Here was a college that had found some open-source freeware that could help its institution deal with student service issues as well as resource management. They are arguing that their going the open-source route was saving them a lot of money and time and resources. However, the argument did not include baseline definitions of the pre- and post- intervention situations. There were no real metrics to speak of, only assertions without ...

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Using Textbooks as a Starting Point

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There are a number of strategies to organize course contents in the field of instructional design. One de facto one is to rely on the tables of contents of the selected textbook(s) for a course.

Using the TOC

For many faculty, this is almost assumed. They are relying on the subject matter experts of a field who also have the ability to write and express themselves. Or they’re using collections that include many contributions from different authors organized ...

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"The Immersive Parasocial"

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MERLOT's JOLT (Journal of Online Learning and Teaching) just published a position paper titled "Exploring the Immersive Parasocial: Is it You or the Thought of You?" related to 3D immersive learning.

http://jolt.merlot.org/vol5no3/hai-jew_0909.htm

http://jolt.merlot.org/currentissue.html

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The implications of the future internet are that it will have a kind of machine knowledge of the individual user, so searches for information may be customized, and services (and advertising) may be tailored to the particular users. In a ubiquitous setting (with wifi and mobile devices and ambient intelligence), people could have their needs (digital and beyond) met in a variety of ways.

If that sounds claustrophobic to some (as it does to M. Andrejevic in his insightful book ...

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"Suzy's Strategies" Webisodes

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Check out the trailer for an educational webisode series ("Suzy's Strategies") on doing well in college.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UobRqWGZNK8

for a college student well-being site located at

www.universitylifecafe.org

This webisode series will launch this Fall 2009.

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All the Stuff that can Scotch a Video Project

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A recent wrap-up to a project ended with my comment to my direct lead that we were very fortunate that everything went well with this half-year collaborative course build. I quipped, “You have no idea how many things could have gone wrong.”

That same lesson came back to haunt me on a different project, which involved a fair amount of videography. Let me preface this with the reality that I’ve had very good videography support on all my projects ...

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The simulation creator and author Clark Aldrich held a webinar recently titled “The Unifying View of Highly Interactive Virtual Environment (HIVE) Learning.” While I’d long looked forward to this presentation, I ended up with one of those mash-up days that allowed me to log on for the last 10 minutes of the presentation, and so I ended up experiencing this presentation as a re-run. Still, I found much that was thoughtful about his ideas.

(Truth to tell, I have ...

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Scheduled Site Tune-ups

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When faculty clients or groups contract with web designers for a product, they often use a memorandum of agreement (or understanding) to define the work that will be done. The MOA or MOU should often specify a site tune-up within a particular time frame after a site launches.

The rationale is that no matter how prescient a development team is, it takes testing a site in the real world with real users to know how well the design ideas play ...

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Escalating a Ticket to Level 2

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Every so often, the proverbial curtain is pulled back, and one gets a sense of the inner workings of a company. This happened recently with an anomaly with a grading system in a learning / course management system. The downloaded grades did not fully download, and a number of columns of student work did not show any points.

I replicated this on my multiple computers and then called the 24/7 helpdesk. The person there asked me to delete my current ...

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Going Scriptless for Podcasts and Vodcasts

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There are plenty of educators who can speak coherently and amusingly off-the-cuff. They jot a few notes down about the main points they want to it, and you turn on the camera or the digital audio recorder, and they’re off. One or two takes, and you’re done.

This approach seems quite popular—with greater speeds of creation, more of a sense of speaker personality, more impulsivity, and more casual informality. There are also more chances for instructor gaffes ...

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Your Own Talking Avatar

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This seems like an interesting resource for some specific purposes.

http://www.voki.com/

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WolframAlpha Video

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Making the world's knowledge computable...and visualizable...

http://www.wolframalpha.com/screencast/introducingwolframalpha.html

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An Outcry over Bb Takeover of ANGEL

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http://angeliclearning.blogspot.com/2009/05/flight-from-blackboard-to-angel-and.html (or http://tinyurl.com/BB-Angel

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Avoiding Malware Infections

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Instructional designers work with a range of folks to have a secure technological working environment. Part of safety means being aware of where information goes and the devices it resides on…especially when data goes portable on small devices like thumb drives.

We recently had a computer security conference, and one of the sessions addressed how to avoid malware infections. The lead presenter highlighted campus statistics of those who had their information compromised or who responded to phishing schemes and ...

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Conficker Eye Chart

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http://www.confickerworkinggroup.org/infection_test/cfeyechart.html

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Threshold Concepts and Decision Points

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The work of an instructor is to make information understandable and easy-to-acquire. This means identifying critical main principles (How much learning is needed before certain concepts are attainable?). This means identifying threshold concepts—those ideas that if grasped will open up whole new vistas in a particular topic. This means identifying the critical decision points in a process that are crucial to the new learner. This is about identifying the learning moment when the “Aha!” occurs.

In mainstream films, these ...

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Call for Chapter Proposals

Proposal Submission Deadline: July 15, 2009

Virtual Immersive and 3D Learning Spaces: Emerging Technologies and Trends

A book edited by Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew, Kansas State University, USA

To be published by IGI Global: http://www.igi-global.com/requests/details.asp?ID=626

Introduction and Objectives: Immersive learning has come to the fore with the popularization of Second Life and the development of open-source immersive 3D learning spaces. Those in e-learning have been working to find ways ...

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Hello, all: I am soliciting responses to a brief survey on the experiences instructors and facilitators have had regarding security in 3D immersive, interactive and persistent spaces (like Second Life) in higher education. This information will be used for a forthcoming article or chapter.

Survey Title: Security in 3D Immersive and Interactive Spaces in Higher Education

This survey will be offered Mar 9, 2009 through Mar 31, 2009.

To participate in the survey, please go to the following link:

https ...

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Starting a Wiki Entry Page

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I see students in various stages of distress as they wrangle with their academic papers. They’re lying across their desks staring into the computer screens as they search for the words or ideas that they need to build the contents. They send emails about their concerns as their papers are in various stages of development, particularly when they’re stuck on a thesis or on the possible use of a particular source.

Recently, I had a déjà vu moment ...

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A Forever Kind of Thing

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Here's an interesting column about Facebook, which has been integrated with some e-learning endeavors.

http://redtape.msnbc.com/2009/02/didnt-you-know.html

And the latest

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-fi-facebook19-2009feb19,0,4088613.story

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The Design of Socio-Technical Systems

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Design of socio-technical systems is an interesting thing. For all the anticipation and thought that has gone into each one, there are still sometimes surprises when a system goes live. This phenomena has been addressed in many different ways. The “lab” of theoretical use can only anticipate so much. Here, developers work with others to make systems as self-explanatory as possible. They build for the widest common use. They use features that are both explicit and implicit. They build in ...

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Building E-Learning outside an L/CMS?

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Discussions have been rampant that e-learning may happen more and more outside the structures of a learning / course management system. The concept is that a cobbling of tools may offer learners a loosely coupled online learning experience at a lower cost than the proprietary or open-source L/CMSes may offer. The idea is that people may tap various user sources that are Web 2.0 and improve functionalities from there by adding contents and using the technologies in ways that ...

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Plugging the "Student Editing" Gaps in a New LMS

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Adapting to a new learning management system involves a fair amount of learning. Going live with it also means dealing with some surprises—in this case, the disappearance of student work. Usually, the default settings I have in Message Boards is to disallow student deletion of their own posts.

There are a number of reasons for that. Foremost is the need to have data integrity, so if students posted a particular message or assignment, and I responded to that work ...

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Check this out.

Dasher Project, Cambridge University http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/ http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/mackay/ http://www.cs.toronto.edu/uai2005/

Google Tech Talks http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5078334075080674416

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Early Proposal of a New E-Learning Faculty Wiki

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A small team has been researching and mulling the idea of launching an e-learning faculty wiki for “the good of the order” and as a university contribution to the Web-enabled information spaces. The idea would be to use the wiki to surface implicit knowledge and also to create a professional community mediated through technologies.

Scoping out the Competition

The team diligently scoped out the competition through direct research and queries posted to professional listservs. They found quality wikis like Edutech ...

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Why do computer games need to evolve to keep people’s interests? How may AI enhance game playability?

For Darryl Charles, Colin Fyfe, Daniel Livingstone, and Stephen McGlinchey, who have teamed up for a new text that highlights biologically inspired AI for computer games, the answer is to create worthy game opponents. Games that adapt and learn are more challenging and therefore offer more learning and play value.

In Biologically Inspired Artificial Intelligence for Computer Games, these authors offer case ...

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Notes for a Site Handover

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Handing over a project is a necessity, or else one could be a stringer for a project into eternity, which would mean lost project opportunities into the future. The handover moment is a fragile one because it involves conveying the rich understandings of a project over the many months of the design and build work. It’s also about letting go in a way so that the work is successful into the future.

Role Definitions

One critical piece is to ...

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A Data Hungry Site in Development

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One ongoing project has involved the launching of a brand new site with plenty of interactivity, some curious AI security functionalities, and plenty of user-generated contents, along with professionally created contents. The ambition of the site meant that the coding would likely take longer than initially planned. And the many voices at the table would also mean more delays.

Loading Contents

To push the site’s development, while the site was still in development, a version was pushed out into ...

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Acclimating to ANGEL Learning

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A month or so ago, I went ahead and zipped up course materials on Blackboard and downloaded that onto my desktop. Then I uploaded the zipped contents into a course shell in ANGEL Learning. And that was as far as I got in terms of transferring curricular contents en masse. I will admit to a great deal of skepticism that this particular organization should just ask faculty to move their own work even though I have instance manager privileges on ...

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Changing Rules of Engagement in SVW

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It came as a bit of a shock to faculty at my university that there would be a foray into Second Life for educational purposes, social networking, and university service provision. There had been apparently long debates over concerns of what could happen in immersive 3D spaces in terms of griefers or other buses. And after some deep analysis, the advisory committee apparently was putting forward some solid recommendations along with hopes to maximize the use of this social virtual ...

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IDT Roundtable Nov. 12: Podcasting and Vodcasting

The next roundtable is 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (CDT) Wednesday, Nov. 12, Union 212. Brent Anders, Bryan Vandiviere, and Ben Ward will present “Podcasting and Vodcasting”. Join us as we see what’s hot and what’s not, the effectiveness of these tools in teaching, how to get started, how to look like a pro, and where to show off your efforts when finished.

http://ome.ksu.edu/webcast/live ...

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The Lineage of Digital Information for Data Quality

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In some fields, the lineage of digital information affects its validity, and therefore its usability in a learning context. This is true for the empirical sciences, for geographic information systems, for legal chain-of-custody, and other fields. And yet, much of this lineage information is never captured, or even if known, is not captured in metadata. Many educators create their own contents, and they just keep the information about the information lineage in their heads…and assume that it’ll always ...

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A "Laptops Down" Moment

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Dr. Michael Wesch always offers an engaging presentation, mixed with aptly used high tech, and there are always surprises—of the technological kind and absolutely of the human kind. In a recent standing-room only presentation at K-State, he spoke of the need to use technologies to help college students engage with learning. (“A Portal to New Media Literacy: Engaging New Technologies to Engage Students”)

He showed his digital ethnography dashboard http://www.netvibes.com/wesch#Digital_Ethnography To show his uses ...

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K-State's Second Life Academic Users Group will meet Nov. 20, 2008, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Union Stateroom 1...
Current or potential SL users are welcome to attend.
Contact Larry Jackson at ljackson@ksu.edu for more information.

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I must be some sort of optimist. The “master” courses that I work on building are set up as perennial files, started one day and projected to go out to the year 2030 or beyond.

There’s no possibility that these courses will be offered in the same form as today some 20+ years from now, but that date is shorthand for “sometime into the future” until this course is sunsetted.

Digital Content Repositories

While we instructional designers may not ...

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"Here Comes Everybody" (Brief Resource Review)

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Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations” shows how the affordances of Web 2.0 changes human potential. As a socio-technical system, Web 2.0 benefits through the power of networks—which grows in complexity “faster than its size.”

Connective technologies enable people to cover much more ground. Photo-sharing sites enable photographers to be virtually anywhere at any time…and to capture digital information that may not have apparent value enough for a company or ...

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Human-computer interactions research offers quite a few occasions for laughter. On the one side, you have the machine, with the various affordances and limitations. On the other side, you have the persons, with their affordances and limitations and idiosynracies. The building of socio-technical systems then happens somewhere inbetween and with a complex mix of understandings and inputs / outputs.

It was in this spirit that I ran into a discrete strategy to relax speakers dealing with a speaker-dependent system…in a ...

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A Suicide Prevention Strategy

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A current federally-funded project involves the building of a site that hopes to improve student mental health, and in so doing, prevent suicides.

The stats say that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Young adults 18 – 24 have the highest incidence of reported suicide ideation. A recent study apparently found that half of students had suicidal thoughts at some point in their history. Mood, interpersonal and academic concerns apparently have driven some students to be ...

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An Encapsulation Strategy for ID

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“Encapsulation” makes a lot of sense not only as a design strategy for software design but also for some instructional design. This basic concept is that of hiding elements that may be distracting or irrelevant or extraneous for learners. Apparently, the term comes from object-oriented programming in software design.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object-oriented_programming

I’ve seen this theory in action in the designing of graphical user interfaces on a learning / course management system (L/CMS) and also in ...

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Schlepping Gear

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So I came to this split in the road, and neither turn would lead me directly to the doorway of my destination building. I was loaded with a digital camera, a tripod, a notepad, a bag of required knick-knacks for life, and a water bottle. I could trek across the nicely manicured lawn, or I could turn one way or the other. Then, I saw one of the professors in the department I was heading to, so I turned towards ...

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Expanding the L/CMS Client Base

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It’s in virtually all the business textbooks about entrepreneurship. When a new killer app comes on the horizon, a lot of competitors get into development. They all have a sense of what the public needs. They may have no sponsors per se, or they may have a local sponsor, but they get on the bandwagon and innovate with the rest of them.

The choices they make then in terms of how they’re going to execute their infrastructures and ...

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Defining Specs

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Clients know what they want, but they have a hard time explaining what they want in a way that is specific and usable enough for developers and site designers.
I’ve come to this conclusion after seeing projects languish, without any traction or support (and then the predictable finger-pointing). I’ve seen this with websites where faculty clients may not know what is available or possible technologically, and they have one image or groove in their minds. There’s no ...

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Connecting on Second Life -- Sorta

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Usually when an all-day training takes the morning to launch, few will return in the afternoon for the rest of it. So there were about a dozen of us huddled in an upscale hotel conference room with very minimal wireless connectivity and trying to get in on Second Life and to embody our avatars.

Here was yet another foray into Second Life, this time, under the able guidance of Dr. Jonathon Richter (U of Oregon) as part of a day-long ...

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Relationship Oriented Computing

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Surely, most people have received invitations to join professional social sites. Almost invariably, these come from people that one has met fleetingly at a professional conference. Or a person whom one hasn’t spoken to for years because of differing interests and divergent lives.

The idea is to maximize professional relationships as busy professionals by highlighting the relationship and taking advantage of each other’s connections. It’s like how people scaffold relationships through mutual acquaintances… It’s a kind ...

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Effective Sound

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Effective sound in instructional design refers to the initial sound capture and then the editing that follows. Initial poor sound capture (full of ambient sounds, poor voice quality) cannot really be enhanced much with desktop software. Live events that are not properly mic-ed ends up as a lost event.

With many departments videotaping their own events, there are plenty of digital videos with all-right video but fuzzy audio. Unintended ambient sounds—people walking down a hallway, the closing of a ...

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A Randomizer and Bingo Cards

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So bingo cards can draw numbers from between 1 – 75. There’s often a free spot on the card. And the cards may be 5 x 5 (25 spots – the one freebie)…or 5 x 6 (30 spots – the one freebie). The randomizer could put out as many sets of the numbers as I wanted. I needed 29 numbers chosen from the 1-75 inclusive pool, and I needed them in random order. I needed three bingo cards per sheet, so ...

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Two Projects and the Open Journal Systems Software

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For the past half-year, I’ve been privileged to take part in several projects that have used the Open Journal Systems software (distributed by the Public Knowledge Project http://pkp.sfu.ca/).

This publishing system uses a logical workflow from when an author submits a work to the site and ends up in a submission cue. Then, the editors select reviewers and submit the writing to the various reviewers. The submission is then revised and edited, copy-edited, laid out, proof-read ...

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The Automatic Generation of Online Help

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Various research writings have originated creative ways to capture information as a byproduct of work. For some, creating help texts and directions can be unwieldy and time-consuming. An article by Paris, Colineau, Lu and Linden summarized an endeavor that captured a procedural help based on how people used a computerized system. This automation was to help replace the “labor-intensive and tedious” writing and maintenance of procedural help texts. Their system apparently captures use information from various data streams: textual, graphical ...

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Formal "Lecture" Notes for Online Learners

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Back in the day, there were some of my freshman classes that had some 700 – 800 or more students per auditorium. Our learning was facilitated by TAs, and there were notes that we could buy in case we missed a lecture date or two. That’s how I recall it. I never actually bought lecture notes as study aids although I probably could have earned some extra points with that. I remember seeing some, and they were full of typos ...

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ITV

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It was a friendly invitation between two Kansas universities to chat about ITV via Polycom. We were meeting from two universities and one branch campus. The dry run had gone well. The automated dialing system didn’t quite work, but we all did finally get online live to discuss the issues at hand.

Virtual Teaming around an ITV Deployment

One of the universities in the state was seeing ITV (interactive television) as the way to do distance learning. While they ...

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Check this out. This Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (of MERLOT) special issue focuses on next generation learning management systems.

http://jolt.merlot.org/guest_editors0608.htm (Guest Editor Colleen Carmean Intro)

http://jolt.merlot.org/currentissue.html (The Current Summer 2008 Issue)

https://wiki.asu.edu/jolt/index.php/Main_Page (The Response Wiki)

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Virtual Fairs and Expositions

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In a recent professional conference, one of the speakers presented on his use of virtual fairs and expositions. As a computer science professor, he would combine these virtual fairs (which people may attend from their desktop computers) with short research assignments for students.

He demonstrated a few of these for the audience. Essentially, these were websites that put a mental frame around the delivery of pre-packaged or live digital contents. There was a screen for live or canned speeches. There ...

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Instructional Design for Peacekeeping

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In my line of work, I occasionally meet people who are quite intriguing. A recent individual was a university professor for many years who now works for a peace organization in the West. She has traveled to numerous global hotspots around the world.

She has a nimble mind that analyzes the world as a power-based place, full of human emotions and angers that needed directing and diplomatic interventions and leadership interventions, or else these situations would hit “trigger point” and ...

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Automated Book "Writing"

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I have always had a kind of reverence for books—not the fabric covers and bound paper—but for the craft of writing that goes into quality works of literature.
It’s as the wise Mortimer J. Adler wrote: “Confusion about what it means to "own" a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type -- a respect for the physical thing -- the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that ...

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Importing Questions in a Batch

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Every new functionality that I learn regarding my university LMS gives me that much more ability. A recent one increased my skills in a pretty major order of magnitude. I say this in part because I spent years working unintelligently in terms of question creation and upload…for a few faculty clients. One involved plenty of chemistry symbols, which meant very slow creation of the formulas and questions. (And yes, this is not typical ID work, but I make it ...

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Colin Barras’ “'Matrix'-Style Virtual Worlds 'a Few Years Away'” (Apr. 4, 2008, by ABC Internet News Ventures) suggests that people can immerse in 3D spaces in protracted and possibly even inextricable ways with the new realistic virtual worlds that are being created.

This author paraphrases Michael McGuigan at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. “He says that virtual worlds realistic enough to be mistaken for the real thing are just a few years away,” asserts Barras. He describes ...

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On Feb. 11, 2008, Dr. Cable Green (Director of eLearning for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges) hosted a virtual session for 42 faculty and administrators from around the US (with a cluster in Washington State) around “Developing a Culture of Sharing and Receiving: Open Educational Resources.” This used the Elluminate technology for the virtual participants and actually had a physical location, too, at the Bellingham Technical College.

A Session for Discussion

This was billed as a ...

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Expanding the Faculty DIY Sphere in Academia

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One central premise of most support offices for online learning is the faculty DIY aspect, that is, the “do-it-yourself” potential of faculty. This idea has been persistent for a very long time even though there have been examples that might lead one to abandon this concept.

Yes, But…

The stories abound. One faculty member had wrapped a scarf around her CPU, so it wouldn’t get too cold. Others have somehow lost their courses that they created on the learning ...

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"Web of Things"

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While ubiquitous and mobile learning have not made that much headway in higher ed, I am reading more and more about various technologies that would enable some truly rich and engaging learning using such technologies.

I was quite amused to read about the idea of the “web of things,” or various electronic devices that are semi-sentient and wired in wifi space and that can embody virtuality. They would be connected by “hyperpipes”. (The authors explain: “The two endpoints of a ...

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Pursuing a Virtual Microscope Experience

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Every so often, a faculty member will start a query that leads in intriguing directions. And delightfully, this often comes from faculty who are new to online learning.

A Tall Order

So this came about when a faculty member asked about letting her distance students learn how to use a digital microscope…and also wanting them to see various slides virtually. She wanted pretty much all live F2F microscope functionalities as well as access to a number of slides that ...

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Planned Serendipity

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A chance comment by a faculty member started me on a brief run of research on “herding” behaviors in automated agents. The idea was initially to have a herd of cows online behavior as their real-life counterparts do when approached from a particular angle. Having only seen one cow up close (at a gas station, no less), I wasn’t sure about the actual behaviors, but I had read a little something about “flocking” behaviors and figured I’d look ...

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Indelible Digital Ink

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There it was in a mainstream article—the concept of being “web dead.” The concept is that some people want to be off-the-grid. They don’t want an online persona. They don’t want to be easily trackable. They don’t want automated digital messages selling them all sorts of unwanted junk and false promises. They don’t want to be known for what they’re doing or where they’re going.

In a sense, what can be made can ...

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Acclimating a College Coming Online

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There’s something charming about being able to watch a small college come online in creating an online program. What’s even more intriguing is watching from a distance and through the framework of an online course to train the faculty, staff and administrators—using the LMS they’ve selected for their program.

Having never set foot on the campus of this college and only driven by the small town where it’s based once on my way elsewhere, I ...

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Considering a DL Faculty Wiki

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Starting out a new venture in an academic setting involves plenty of collaboration-building and consideration. Universities are complex environments, and decisions can have ripple effects and unintended consequences—even when different constituencies have been fully

So we had our first meeting to consider launching a distance learning faculty wiki out of this university…potentially through the division through which the university’s e-learnings offerings are supported, coordinated and created.

A Wiki What?

Not surprisingly, the first meeting involved some general ...

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A Virtual Community for Learner Retention

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Student retention has always been a bit of a challenge in many academic programs. Doctoral programs seem to feature about a 50% dropout rate. High schools have a 30% dropout rate. For e-learning ones, there are additional challenges, many of which have been mitigated with more student screening, student support, learner outreach, and faculty and staff training. That said, the challenge of retention does crop up in different ways.

Recently, a program that has high student entry traffic but low ...

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A Haptics Device and Demo

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Visualize a doctor who needs to trim a bone in order to fit a new hip. Or imagine some other surgical procedure which requires a steady hand and practical finesse.

A manufacturer of a haptic device showed what such a learning experience might be like by combining 3D computerized visuals with sound along with a haptic device (linked to the haptic virtual objects on-screen). Haptics, of course, relates to “touch” or “contact.”

The tabletop device was a white pen device ...

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LETSI

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The Learning-Education-Training Systems Interoperability (LETSI) group is now the center for the public SCORM development, outside the auspices of the US Department of Defense.

http://www.letsi.org/letsi/display/welcome/Home

It looks like they're still looking for more founding sponsors at a cost of $10K..to have a seat at the table in defining this organization. The deadline to join will be March 13.

Meanwhile, it's wait and "let's see" for the time being.

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Games and Simulations in Online Learning Edited by David Gibson, Clark Aldrich and Marc Prensky Hershey: Information Science Publishing 2007 402 pp. hardcover

The three powerhouse editors of Games and Simulations in Online Learning -- David Gibson, Clark Aldrich and Marc Prensky - each have contributed to the field in their own ways.

Their editorial hands are clear in this text that addresses what's done effectively now, given pedagogical, cost and technology constraints.

The learning created through digital gaming and sims ...

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Authoring Tools

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Every so often, there's a moment for a breather to look around at how the digital landscape has changed for e-learning. I marvel at the quality of various authoring tools for building digital learning objects. These tools now have features for accessibility. They have cooler design elements. They have high usability for even novice users. The designers have taken an anticipatory approach in building well designed tools.

The types of outputs are rich and varied. It used to be ...

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A Blog Site for a Community Publication

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The new year starts off with plenty of resolutions. And this also seems so for community organizations. Years ago, when I was in my teens, I started volunteering for a local community newspaper, and amazingly now, many years later, I'm still friends with many who are related to that paper. And somewhat less surprisingly, I've been called on to work on building a blog site for one aspect of that newspaper.

2008 is opening with the financial pressures ...

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Self Playing Games

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There are various ways to test the efficacy of a computerized system. I've read about how theoretical systems are tested with known inputs and known outputs, and the real-world results are often used to test the theoretical programming that happens in the "black box" in between the inputs and the outputs.

A couple weekends ago, I came across the notion of self-playing games. This, too, is another method to test software games through trial and error. The game developers ...

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Getting Wiki-ized

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It's all becoming do-it-yourself nowadays. One project / conference / publication after another, people are setting up wikis and expecting work and information to be submitted through these.

A conference in the planning stages is using a wiki to store prior digital artifacts and to draw potential attendees. http://arclite.byu.edu/id+scorm/index.php?title=Main_Page

For one publication set to go live early in 2008, the editors set up a wiki page on which contributors may evolve the ...

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Endeavors to Cross the Paper-Digital Divide

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Perusing the academic literature often results in delightful endeavors of others. Even if the work never directly overlaps with mine in instructional design and instruction, I can at least ponder it. It offers a brain tickle. A recent article addressed the issue of how one hardy band of academics would map between printed and digtal document instances.

The Role of Static Paper in a Document Life Cycle

In various design plans, paper has a role. While much paper has been ...

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Digital "Doodling"

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Some technologies just have an "attraction." They're well designed enough to empower users to look smart and produce well.

While many people seem to like to Microsoft-bash, they keep turning out technologies that are highly usable, fun, and that really help people to think. They make capturing digital contents easy. As a person who works in a tech office, I am beginning to learn how much design and thought and expertise goes into the back-end in terms of the ...

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Invisible Tour of Facebook

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"Facebook is a huge identity risk." -- A security guru at K-State

Universities are reaching out into the "metaverse" to retain and attract the "gamer generation" of students.

One part of this endeavor relates to going out into the social software spaces in order to create identities and digital spaces around which they may interact, bond, and get familiar with the university brand.

An Invisible "Self"

In service of this idea, I recently went onto Facebook for some initial research. I ...

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Christopher Chambers, with the Juxtopia Group, presented on a virtual sim that occurs in real 3D space. Live fire combat involves some muscle memory, similar to marksmanship.

Based on research into sports psychology and with an eye towards fully exploiting cutting-edge technologies, a traning was created to sustain and improve live fire combat skills: the speed of engagement, identification and acquisition of the target, and the accuracy.

Because of the need to engage actual physical muscle memory, this sim occurs ...

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Tangibles for eLearning

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In some research on gaming, I ran across interactive fiction (IF) games and the related idea of tangibles. Here, game developers would create boxes that would emulate books that had text and manipulables. They would have other objects created to intensify the mainly text-based gameplay. Indeed, tangibles are created for online learners, so I thought I'd add a small entry about that.

What are some Tangibles?

Tangibles most commonly involve textbooks, magazines, CDs and DVDs and even videotapes. Some ...

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One-Button Solutions

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There it was again, another department's story of the search for what my supervisor SF calls the "one-button solution." Various academic departments have educational needs. They want to set up particular functionalities.

They then send a graduate student or a staff member to search out a solution. Or an administrator will go to a conference, hear a rave about a software and then throw cash at that. A one-button solution is one that just requires pushing the play button ...

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Virtual Standardized Patients for Training Health Professionals to Deal with Biological Agent Exposures

Dr. Dale Olsen (formerly of Johns Hopkins University and now with SiMmersion LLC) presented on "Virtualized Standardized Patients for Training Health Professionals to Deal with Biological Agent Exposures" (at the Washington Interactive Technologies conference hosted by SALT).

Building Rapport through Practices with Photo-Realistic Avatars

He opened with a short PBS movie clip about the importance of cultural sensitivities in law enforcement approaching people to get information. So ...

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Virtual Sims Standing in for a Dwindling Workforce

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Demographics figures into projections for the economy, the future workforce, and the price of housing, among other things. The retiring out of the baby boomers is anticipated to have wide-ranging effects on job availability, future pay and also the quality of workplace training. With the complicated machinery in the energy industry, and the average industry worker at 48 years old, "human obsolescence" may prove a challenge to this industry, suggests Matthew Sadinsky, president of System Operations Success, International. Sadinsky presented ...

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"Negative Learning" and Digital Sims

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So I've been working on an in-house whitepaper on educational games and sims for quite a few months now along with my other projects (with all faculty projects taking priority).

I've immersed in a number of books on gaming.

One practice in academic research is to come clean on one's background and initial thoughts, in order to approach the materials without any of that important information un-surfaced. The idea is also to get this on the table ...

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As part of a blog tour, Dr. Karl M. Kapp agreed to a Q&A. A future "brief resource review" will follow later this year.

Q: What are some strategies that you find are effective in reaching the so-called gamer generation?

A: Well, first I want to say that what we already know about good instructional design works with the software, gadgets and games of the gamer generation. You still teach facts with chunking, association and organization. You still teach ...

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But Why M-Learning?

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A Real-World Business Scenario

Here is the scenario. A successful chain of hotels opens up a new chain of exclusive hotels (approximately 200), with its own unique brand and niche market. They would like to employ some computerized method of training for the service staff, particularly those who would maintain the hotel rooms.

Their average stay is 2- 3 years only, which is fairly high turnover.

Many are English-as-a-second-language speakers.

An organization is brought in to distribute the training. There ...

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Adapting Classroom Training for the Web...at the IRS

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It's always good to know that umm the IRS is reaching out to its constituency with trainings. Chris Ammon and Amy Gareis presented on "Adapting IRS Classroom Training Content for Web-based Training" at the recent Interactive Technologies Conference in Virginia. Originally, this training was delivered in a F2F way by the customer education wing of the IRS at various locations around the country and reached several thousand participants. The objective of this was to train those who worked in ...

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Maximizing Lo-Tech, Too

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During the August 22 - 24, 2007, Washington Interactive Technologies conference in Crystal City, Virginia, an international consulting organization offered a powerful presentation on their use of mobile technologies to train their international workforce, with a particular focus on their executives.

I think it may be wiser not to mention their names because I'm going to bring in something that they may not want to be connected with - which is the effective use of low technologies cobbled with high technologies ...

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Stepping out of Virtuality into Real-Space Ruggedness

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For many of us who work in the online realm, a lot of what we create is digital representing the real. I attended a session recently at the Washington Interactive Technologies conference that dealt firmly with real-space. Dr. Maria Lizano-DiMare discussed "Rugged Mobile Computer Technology."

The concept here is that ubiquitous research and learning require bringing potentially sensitive computer equipment into the field - whether that be a live volcano or crop field or an ocean habitat. While I've seen ...

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LMS Migration

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Those who head online learning programs have the unenviable task of deciding when it's time to change to a different LMS. As an online instructor, I get to watch this from a comfortable distance.

The scenario looks quite daunting. First, there's the political management piece. Instructors need to understand why changes are necessary, in order to move beyond the built-up inertia of system familiarity and pre-built course materials posted online. Often, people face new learning with an inordinate ...

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The Automated Writing Generator

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A couple years ago when I was teaching full-time at a community college in Washington State, my supervisor let me know that there was a student who wanted to work on an independent study project. This was a software engineer who had created a product that could create automatic writing. He and I met, and it turned out that he wanted help writing a book about his product and also some publicity materials. I went online and read some of ...

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Another AxioTM LMS Rollout

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This year when the Axio LMS rolls out on August 6, I will not be in the office sweating any help documentation. That job is in the very capable hands of our content specialist, and I am more than full-time on curricular builds, research, grant proposals, and other work. Still, while I'll actually not even be in with the roll-out, that's a very special time.

The instructional design function is part of an IT office. While this office ...

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SoftChalk Lesson Builder's most recent Webinar involved a presentation by Lisa Young, a hydrology professor at Gateway Community College (part of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges of Phoenix, AZ). Young also is a part-time elearning coordinator and co-chair of the RLO Action Group. Some 100 individuals had gathered online to listen in on "Re-usable Learning Objects - The Maricopa College System" (June 13).

An Aligned Effort

Young used a purchased template from SoftChalk that was made for the particular college ...

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Not Giving up on "Four Million Lines of Code"

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Of late, I've been thinking a lot about a software program that I've been using for the past year and a half. It is flexible. It has a kind of elegance after one gets used to it. It facilitates learning for tens of thousands of students. I know from firsthand observation that a lot of work has gone into the architecture of this product. Tens of thousands of people hours have gone into the writing of the code ...

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Mulling over the Periodic Table of ... Information

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A First Run at the "Periodic Table of Information" Concept

H. Wayne Hodgins, in the context of digital learning objects, offers the concept of a periodic table of information. This idea has been around for many years, and it has resided there in the back of my mind for quite a while.

This is the concept that if digital learning objects are well-designed at the right level of atomistic granularity that all known information may be categorized into different types ...

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"Clean Slate" Design for the Net

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The management literature talks a lot about facing change and assuming change. Effective leaders anticipate changes. They don't get blind-sided by the changes in the environment. Change is repeated like a mantra.

Recent articles in various national publications talked about a "clean slate" effort for the redesign of the Internet. The way it was conceptualized years ago did not take into account the widespread commercialization of this tool or of the need for massive security and identity authentication. There ...

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Software makers that reach out to instructional designers with trainings and engaging events improve my ability to do my job. One of the coordinators in our building sent me an email about a series of Webinars ("Innovators in Online Learning") hosted by SoftChalk Lesson Builder, LLC. Their software is used extensively in our office and puts out some very usable and engaging interactive elements in Flash and Javascript and HTML. The other day, I participated in a seminar presented by ...

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Naming a New LMS Functionality

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One of the more engaging aspects of ID work here involves being able to sit in on development meetings where individuals brainstorm various features to add to a new tool, the developers argue over specs, and final decisions get made about the functions. At a recent meeting, one of the developers said something about "this spaghetti of a mess," which I thought was very apt. The various constituencies represented by the members at the table all need their parts heard ...

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Speeding the Meditation

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A meditation is supposed to be something reflective and calming. These are often accompanied by soothing intonations, bells and backstories stemming out of the Himalayas and clouds. Maybe I can just say that an ID may not always have time to meditate. Or maybe the rush is part of the techno age.

I was digitally scrolling through a series of video captures of a course that involved stress management. Part of the curricular build involved the live course sequencing to ...

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Adjusting his Virtual Hair

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In an academic office with plenty of technology-minded people around, it's not often that one sees a lot of obvious primping. As I consider this further, I am awestruck by the rarity of this event that occurred.

So there we were at the end of a virtual simulated tour conducted by a representative of an East Coast company. A group of us were beings in Second Life. One kept walking around with a virtual torch for quite a while ...

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Jeff Merriman of the OKI / MIT highlighted some interoperability trends. [A quick Wikipedia search defining the Open Knowledge Initiative suggests that this organization works on the specification of software interfaces comprising a "service oriented architecture" (SOA). This endeavor was sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, MIT, and IMS Global Learning Consortium.]

"The goal of an SOA is to provide a separation between the interface of a service and its underlying implementation such that consumers (applications) can interoperate across the ...

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Caveat: Whenever I write on technology issues that are beyond my purview, I should use a double or triple cover, so I may disavow that I wrote this. I think that what's going on on the back end is important enough to discuss, but I also know that I'm going to embarrass myself by writing about something in a way that a software engineer never would. I've faced the disdainful glare (once was enough) of a software ...

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The SCORM Handover

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Dr. Bill Blackmon (Chief Technical Officer at ADL), in his presentation "ADL and SCORM," took a lowkey approach but dropped a surprising bit of news. Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) is looking for some other organization to steward "SCORM" and to develop the public global version of SCORM. The Department of Defense's needs for SCORM have long diverged from that of global users' needs, and it's time for new direction, development, and a diverging of paths. The new public ...

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SCORM + ID =

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The technology learning curve for instructional designers seems as steep as the cutting edge roller coasters that plaster your cheeks against your ears as you pull out of the starting platform and do the first loop-de-loop. There's no real keeping up. If it's any comfort, technologists will tell you that they know their areas very well, but it's near impossible to extend their expertise beyond a region of specialty. Their learning curve gets too high, too, and ...

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The Power of "Use Cases"

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"Use cases could be a cultural tool (Lave & Wnger, 1991; Candlin et al., 1999) that (is) used for mediation between the various 'cultures' that take part in learning technology specification." (Hoel, n.d., pp. 2 - 22)

Defining "Use Cases"

As an outsider to software development, I would never have assumed the importance of a so-called "use case." Now, as a person with a small toe in the door, I at least have a better sense of why "use cases" are ...

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Digital simulations may be used in situations where live simulations may be expensive, time-consuming, impractical and / or fast-changing.

Voice Interchanges

At a recent conference, a representative of Chi Systems introduced the use of synthetic teammates for undergraduate pilot training. Here, pilots-in-training may practice the various voice communications with the tower (controller) and others in a runway take-off situation. Their voice inputs would be captured by voice recognition software (and VOIP for Net-mediated learning), and their responses and the timing of ...

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The Insidiousness (and Necessity) of Plug-and-Play

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Alice-in-Wonderland

The Alice-in-Wonderland moment happened a couple days ago. There I was in the middle of an online course. I was making a change to an announcement when I accidentally hit some weird combination of keys and ended up in another person's account. I had access to that person's courses and all her "powers." I had attained "super powers" even without using my actual "instance manager" powers.

That got me musing about Alice-in-Wonderland moments. In these past 10 ...

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The "Black Hole": Data Hungry Curricular Models

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Insatiable. Voracious. Demanding.

It doesn't take long working as an instructional designer to realize that some curricular builds will be "data hungry" ones. Data hungry curricular builds require massive amounts of digital learning objects and information.

They require huge amounts of research. They require complex data tracking. They require lots of legal copyright releases and permission seeking.

They demand fact cross-checking and accuracy. They demand attention to details because every change has a price in terms of investment of ...

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"The Geographic Method"

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Imagine a tool that could help manage the world...

That was the proposition made by Jack Dangermond, founder and president of ESRI, the forefront company that designs and develops GIS technology. Dangermond visited K-state to present "GIS Vision and Enabling Technology" on Mar. 8. He visited as a speaker for the Provost's Lecture Series.

(A blurb introducing him reads: "Dangermond fostered the growth of the company from a small research group to an organization with more than 3,100 ...

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IDs and LMS Workarounds

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Getting smart machines to collaborate with humans may require some cajoling. One of my colleagues has a way with both people and with machines. He very masterfully originates workarounds that solve a variety of live issues for faculty as they use the campus-originated LMS. Being able to deliver such support requires a mental agility and a deep knowledge of the various technological systems. The very human demands on the technologies originate in the intersection of the teaching, communications, learners and ...

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0 to 60 in... Milliseconds

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Getting up to Speed with SCORM and LMS Repositories

I had ensconced myself in a 24-hour student cafe in the basement under the main library. The only "cafe" food was from vending machines, but at least I was out of the office enough to read a stack of articles on SCORM and digital learning objects. It had been a year since my last whitepaper on this subject, and I'd been snowed with numerous projects and clients. I was behind ...

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Voice and Scripting Animated Screencasts

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For many years, I earned my keep by giving lectures and speaking in public. I know what I sound like in various spaces - from a room with hundreds to more intimate 20-30 student spaces. I know what I sound like in various moods and circumstances. I know what I sound like in several languages. I know what I sound like in full strength as well as with laryngitis coming on. Indeed, this voice has been on radio. It's been ...

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Zero-Day Exploits

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  1. A training by our resident security expert touched on various ways digital information may be grabbed and exploited. He addressed issues of open wifi networks. He talked about the risks of portable memory devices. He discussed regular patching. He talked about encryption. He gave vivid examples of data compromises along with some humorous Rumsfeldian quotes.

    He didn't go into the weakest link, which would be the human factor. He maybe was being too polite.

  2. A while ago, I'd ...

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A Working Life in Email

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Back in the day, when I was a full-time faculty member, I could do my job without wondering what my colleagues thought about my email life. Sure, there were emails from students and colleagues daily. And the assumption was that one would answer in a day or so. However, in this shift to an ID environment (and in an IT position of sorts - yes, my friends are laughing about this), I'm seeing that my email life really makes a ...

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Web 2.0 Phenom

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So Dr. Michael Wesch (assistant anthro prof at K-state) has caused a YouTube splash with his witty video. Worth a look. Even more electrifying live.

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/feb/13/professors_video_creates_sensation_youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE

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Mobile Learning and Connections to an LMS

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The elements that would allow the integration of mobile learning with an LMS have been seriously evolving. Dr. Heather Katz and Bob Sanregret presented on "How to link mobile content results into your LMS system" at the recent SALT conference in Orlando, FL. Using the Hot Lava Mobile Learning Author (open source?), mobile devices may be set up do up to 5 API calls for SCORM-compliant data: the start and end times, the test results, and other data. Using SOAP ...

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Virtual Puppetry and a Simulated Urban Classroom

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Faculty Entrepreneur

Christopher Stapleton, one of the staff members of Simiosys at the University of Central Florida, calls himself a "faculty entrepreneur." With decades of experience working in the entertainment industry "creating memories of a lifetime," he left managing a megabudget (over a hundred million) and a fat salary...in order to apply himself to meaningful work. That said, he still describes some of his works that he's helped create with an earned sense of pride. He describes the ...

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PENS-Enablement and LCMSes

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Scott Edwards (of Outstart) presented on "Why your LCMS should be PENS Enabled" at the Jan. - Feb. 2007 SALT conference in Orlando. -His presentation addressed why the standard "package exchange notification services" (PENS) standard should be integrated into an LCMS or LMS. PENS is an AICC and SCORM-supported specification. PENS allows for the automating of the process of content publication, transportation, and messaging between servers hosting LCMSes, LMSes, and data repositories. PENS allows not only for the transfer but the ...

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Enhancing the "Multi" in "Multimedia"

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Thomas Held (of MetaMedia Training International) came right out with his view in his keynote: Instructional designers coming out of the various higher education institutions need more scripting and video capture experiences. I'd have to agree with this assessment.

From the outside, multimedia looks quite simple to create. Neophyte consumers of multimedia consume the end product in very short time and often do not have any idea of how much work goes into the back end to create the ...

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Building Digital Content to the "Installed Base"

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So Tom Held of MetaMedia Training International, in his address at a prior SALT conference, talked about the concept of the "installed base" while considering which of the various DVD types (blue ray, high def, holographic) may be around for the (relatively) long haul. (This is only one small aspect of his content rich talk, but this is the only aspect I want to talk about here.) The concept here is that a critical mass of people will own a ...

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"Denaturing" in DLO Design

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Denaturing the World

There's something disconcerting about the term "denaturing." To denature something is to remove the natural character or properties of something. It's to undercut something natural. These would be fighting words for an environmentalist. So when I ran across this word in the context of the design of learning objects (DLOs), I had to take a second look. The concept goes like this: all building of digital learning objects is necessarily unreal, fake, simulated, and not ...

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Morphing Games

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"Humanists look at these games as a new expressive genre like drama, opera, or movies; social scientists view them as anew form of collective behavior; computer scientists, engineers, and industrial designers find them a new focus of invention." -- Murray, Bogost, Mateas and Nitsche

Evolving Games

So digital gaming has been around for 35 years now. So the talk in the academic literature on educational gaming is that games can be much more than that. They serve a learning purpose. They ...

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Ode to Simplicity

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Former Microsoft "chief architect" Charles Simonyi's has said that he wants to be the first geek in outer space. He has bought a round-trip ticket for just such a trip and will make history as the fifth tourist cosmonaut ever. In a recent interview (in this case, with The Seattle Times), he has described his engineering approach to studying for this out-of-this-world field trip.

The interviewer asks him: "Is it circa 1990 technology on the spacecraft you'll ride ...

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Early LMS Affordances Wish List

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'Tis the season for wish lists, at least in our commercialized culture. In that spirit, I thought I'd put out a wish list of affordances for an imaginary LMS.

I want to be able to post grades right at the point of responding to the learner's posting of the assignment. I don't want to have to skip over several screens in order to punch in a grade. I want a running update of each learner's grade ...

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Stigmergy: Digital Crumbs a la Hansel and Gretel

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Academics and theorists have discussed the self-organization theory of (informal) learning communities, with these creations identified as critical to lifelong learning. These grow not by any designed infrastructure per se but evolve on their own as people pursue their individual and shared interests. This concept relates to the one of the Internet evolving like a "tree," with its main trunk and branching off until the tips, where there are no nodes but tiny petioles. It's a form of the ...

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Weathering Electronic Storms: Bombardment

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Sometimes, the Internet acts like a live amorphous being ready to lash out at users who poke it. Okay, that's a little melodramatic. Maybe a lot melodramatic, but I've noticed some interesting issues.

More Than Survey Responses

Last month, I launched an online survey, and to publicize it, sent emails out through listservs and postings to various eLearning sites. I got maybe a couple dozen responses on the survey, which was a complex one, but also, I had ...

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Augmented Reality and Annotating the World

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Virtual reality consists of simulations. Users suspend reality in order to participate in this universe. Augmented reality consists of add-ons to the real-world.

Sci-Fi Version

The sci-fi version goes like this. A person puts on fashionable light-weight glasses empowered with cameras and displays. He or she goes into a live environment. The glasses collect information in the live environment and report that back to a computer. The computer generates informational overlays and details not available in the natural environment in ...

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Customizing Automated Online Learning

For the past several years, a series of articles in academic journals have engaged the technological strategies deployed for customizing or adapting learning for different learners. This, of course, is done by the faculty (some) in an instructor-led course. However, in automated courses, the instructional design and the technologies then come into play to try to achieve this. The research discusses various strategies from creating learning models to profile users (based on psychology, cognition, preferences, personality ...

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Fractal Representations of Information

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Representing information in different ways changes people's senses of reality. IDs have a suite of various authorware tools to present data - whether it be in tables, graphical representations, drawings, 3D models, audio-video, and a range of other data.

The Wikipedia offers a formal and informal definition of fractals. For my purposes, I'll quote their informal definition: "In colloquial usage, a fractal is a shape that is recursively constructed or self-similar, that is, a shape that appears similar at ...

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Run-time Adaptation of Instructors

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One of the major skills / talents of seasoned instructors (and some new ones) relates to their live "run-time adaptation." This computer term refers to the operation of a computer program. As applied to instructors, this relates to how an instructor leads and supports a group of learners. This involves a fair amount of complex multi-tasking and the nuances of reading human behavior and meaning (verbal and non-verbal). This run-time adaptation also involves a deep body of knowledge about a particular ...

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Virtual Spaces for Instructional Collaborators

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One of my more engaging projects has been a multi-state endeavor that involves teaching and course redesigns based on the cultural backgrounds and worldviews of a particular diverse group of learners. One of the tools that this community uses is a shared virtual site where individuals may share resources, hold conversations, post questions and observations, and feel a sense of connection to others involved in this shared labor.

Anything There Yet?

One of the challenges of making this virtual group ...

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E-learning E-learning, E-learning!!!!!

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I returned from the E-Learn 2006 conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, which was from October 13-17. This was my first time to attend the E-Learn conference. I had registered to attend the tutorial sessions on Friday, (a day before the conference started for everyone). Each was scheduled for three hours. The first session I went to was "Blended Learning Situations, Solutions, and Several Stunning Surprises", by Curt Bonk, professor at Indiana University. He talked about blended learning and gave several examples ...

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Working in a Backwater

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Definitely, this commentary will offend some. (If you're my direct supervisor, you can stop reading here.) It's a good thing I'm using a pseudonym. After I attended an international conferences on elearning, it's impossible not to feel like I work in a backwater. The irony is that I would feel the same wherever I was, probably, and whatever I was doing.

What was once cutting edge becomes passe very quickly in terms of digital functionalities. Building ...

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Vinton Cerf (or Need I Say More?)

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So celebrity usually doesn't affect me. I've met famous people and even talked to quite a few of them for the purposes of writing articles. I have a high threshold for the ga-ga factor. But sometimes, some modern celebs sort of push the mold, and so it was today.

One thing about Vinton Cerf that I liked right away was that he looked like his press photos. Usually, the mismatch is quite great, and if it weren't ...

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Digital Bubble Wrap

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When we buy a piece of software, we pretty much assume that it'll be plug-and-play. Few of us read the manual first, and most just follow the directions for the upload and then noodle around until the pieces start coalescing into sense. The immense amounts of support that go into a software product's launch and the continuing help provided for its users often seem invisible to most users. Lately, I've been noticing this "digital bubble wrap" that ...

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Ubiquitous Learning and Real World Noise

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Pervasive or ubiquitous learning has been evolving with the explosion of new technologies from portable multimedia players to PDAs to cell phones, in a wifi environment. The concept seems to be not only lifelong learning but anytime-anywhere learning. In-class instructors have long struggled with trying to keep student attention in lecture halls where learners are multi-tasking on their laptops by checking email and TMing on their phones and scheduling on their PDAs. Now, instructors who create podcasts for deployment are ...

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  1. How much of yourself do you bring to a classroom?

    As a writing / mass communications / literature instructor, I find my students and I will get into various types of unpredictable discussions. One of them led to the issue of identity and how much of a "self" is brought into a classroom. Their responses ranged from about 5% to 100%. The 100% responder said that he brought all of himself to the classroom and communicated all of himself wholeheartedly and without ...

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The "Wizard of Oz" Effect

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Part of the seductiveness of technology relates to the "Wizard of Oz" effect. This is that ability to multiply the effect of one's work as through a megaphone. It's the digital multiplier effect. It's about creating a big impression from modest means (you know Frank Baum's story with the wizard's identity eventually revealed). An example of a multiplier effect occurred at a presentation that I saw about a year ago. It was one on educational ...

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Double Vision, Gadgetry and Craft

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Geekdom

In an office that originates its own LMS, survey system, grade submission system, and other technologies, there is a major geek factor going on. And that rubs off on the instructional designers. I submit to you that my colleagues both have this geek characteristic although you'd never tell it by looking at them.

You can see that LCD glow on their faces when they get new hardware like tablet PCs. One of the IDs just got one with ...

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"It's my brother's paper, and I didn't know he cheated."

Professor Mary Pat McQueeney of Johnson County Community College spoke about plagiarism detection software. (This was at the SIDLIT / Summer Institute on Distance Learning conference on Aug. 3 - 4 at the Kansas University Edwards campus.) She identified some side benefits to such software. One is that publicity about the uses of such universal adoption of programs at an institution of higher learning may deter academic dishonesty and ...

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Age of the "Literate" Machines: Electronic Grading

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English professors Maureen Fitzpatrick and Mary Pat McQueeney presented on software programs that ostensibly "grade" writing. (This was at the SIDLIT conference at the Kansas University Edwards campus on Aug. 3 - 4, 2006.) Apparently, various standardized testing outfits use such software. The development of such programs begin with measuring and quantifying elements such as English mechanics, writing organization, development, stylistics, and content. How would one begin to measure this? How would one be able to quantify this? Fitzpatrick explained that ...

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Little Red Boxes

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  1. So there was my supervisor sitting in my office with his head in his hands. Not a great sign 8 months into a new job. Not a great sign at any time.
  2. Think. Think. What do you think of when you think of little red boxes? Jewelry? Presents under a tree? Children's drawings? Department store displays?

So here it was on a Saturday. It was go-for-launch day. Much like NASA with their launches, the weather and everything had come ...

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PowerPoint to Flash File Versioning

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So the SIDLIT (Summer Institute on Distance Learning" conference (Aug. 3 - 4) had an insightful presentation on different software programs that may convert PowerPoints to Flash. Davy Jones of Johnson County Community College offered some reasons for why this might be done. Converted files tend to be smaller and may download faster and be more email friendly. There's a broader availability of Flash which allows for deployment and play on Macs, PCs, and PDAs...and on various browsers. The ...

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The Virtual Complaints Department

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People in customer service have to get tough. When they're faced with irate and frustrated customers, they can handle the issue by troubleshooting it and getting out of the way. Others will "get back" at the complainer with further delaying tactics, ignoring strategies, baleful looks or filing the complaint in the circular bin.

Grumbles

For the past several hours, I've been reading digitally archived complaints. These are textual ones submitted by email and web forms. I'm not ...

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Building RLOs

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One of my most engaging projects of late has been a national one involving the use of reusable learning object or RLOs. In this case, I used Cisco System's RLO model, with its rigorous standards. This work reminded me a lot of my days as a distance runner a long time ago and the pacing needed to make sure I could hit my marks. While I did not absolutely fill in every single blank in the tables needed to ...

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Bugginess

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Bugginess has been on my mind lately. It's bugginess in terms of Kansas insects, with spiders that run incredibly fast, grasshoppers and an unusual bug on my window screen that was white and looked like it was wearing a fur (it had poor recovery skills when I flicked it off the screen, and I think it fell into my egress window well). Bugginess has been on my mind relating to a project I'm engaged in which has plenty ...

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Necessary Functions of an ePortfolio System

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Software development often happens in a siloized way. Except for instances when international or national organizations take a lead on standards-setting or a mega-corporation ends up in a semi-monopolistic situation with a software program, there often are many versions of a thing...and the versions often don't talk to each other. They're interoperable. They're stand-alone.

A recent article by Nicholas L. Carroll and Rafael A.Calvo of the U of Sydney ("Certified assessment artifacts for ePortfolios") addresses ...

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footnote embed, anthem, meatball

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So I just got spammed another round. It's sort of strange to get these emails with apparently word-generator-created subject lines that make no human sense. And while I haven't opened one of these in ages, the contents never seemed to make any sort of rational sense either. I have wondered why people would generate these, or if this is just some sort of scripting run wild (sort of like virus strands). The only thrill seems to be the ...

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Digital Effects and Gremlins

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Inexplicable things happen in a complex universe.

In digital space, this human-made mass of data and interaction and messiness, mysterious occurrence happen as a matter of course.

In a word processing program, my text suddenly starts to puddle. I receive mysterious programmer messages from the great beyond, which then takes some online research to find out what that means. Files disappear into cyberspace. I wonder if they'll morph and come back in a different form Internet years later. (in ...

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RU4Real? and "Intelligent Agents"

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So a fair amount of research dollars have gone into natural language systems, AIs, and computerized intelligent agents. When I call some phone systems for information, I get the automated voice that directs me to where I want to go. At the grocery store, I check out my items by interacting with a canned digital voice. My banking is done online, but if I need to go to the phone, there's that same digital voice. I can go to ...

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Applying Techno for Learning

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Dr. Roberto H. Bamberger, a Government, Education, and Public Health Briefing Consultant with Executive Engagement and currently working with Microsoft Corp., suggests that eLearning may lead to a global exchange of ideas and the combined wisdom of people from various cultures, in a sense echoing Tim Berners-Lee's idealistic ideas for the WWW.

In his AAC&U plenary presentation "Creating Spaces for Learning: Exploring Technology's Role," he envisioned a world where technology is applied to solve shared challenges.

He ...

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Human Patient Simulators in Nursing

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One of the more engaging poster presentations at the recent AAC&U conference engaged the use of human patient simulators in nursing. Dr. Paula Dunn Tropello's "Interactive Learning with Human Patient Simulators" shed light on the practical use of human patient simulators, which have grown in complexity.

I'd recently had a brief run-on with a simulated baby when I was at an open house at KSU. I was at a table introducing eLearning when a young woman came ...

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Being an Agreeable Intelligent Agent

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For the longest time, I'd wanted to read The Art of War. I'd already read quite a few Chinese classics, which often dealt with feudal warfare and then familial warfare. And now, without hundreds of student papers to read every other day, I found myself at the library with a copy of this ancient tome in hand. I came across the following passage on foreknowledge.

Foreknowledge

*"What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and ...

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Failsafe LMS?

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When an LMS gets extremely popular, it becomes used 24/7 daily, which means there's no down time except for the mere slices when changes may be made. Programmers know when they have the most traffic to their servers, and they assiduously avoid using those times to upload and update. However, every so often, updates need to be made without much prior warning. And those are done in short stints.

Such an update was made to an LMS (which ...

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Educational Gaming

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Building Open Systems Complexity into Automated Games

I was speaking to Nick deKanter, VP of Muzzy Lane Software (http://www.muzzylane.com/). His company creates educational software games of varying complexity for the liberal arts.

One complaint of online games is that many are necessarily closed-systems. Players choose limited options. There are only so many factors that may be played or input, and every game is bounded. Real-time interactive live-player games add open-systems complexity by the addition of the other ...

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Crashing the Database

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Anyone who has dealt with technologies has had moments of stupefaction. I'm sure of it. I just had one on Saturday. I was uploading images into a database (hosted off another out-of-state university) when I kept getting graphics boxes that wouldn't accept an image...and wouldn't disappear. I could move them around, and they just sat there shadowed and unresponsive.

I could live with some computer garbage, I thought. Then, the whole thing froze. And I was ...

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It seems like in every discussion for selecting technologies that decision-makers have to vote between one platform or another, or go platform agnostic. They have to play off against others in commercialism... They have to figure what combinations to configure for service to learners. They have to decide what would best serve their users' needs.

The temptation is to remain non-committal. After all, any decision made means an investment in staff time, mental space, hard work, server space, potential licensing ...

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Gatekeeping, Keys and Trying to get on Base

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Gatekeeping as a concept makes sense. There are times when some people should have access to particular information and other times when they don't really need to know. I thought of this recently when I got turned away by some army folks at the nearby military base. It turns out I didn't have the full documentation needed to gain entry, and they were right. When I returned in the afternoon with the proper documentation, they very graciously gave ...

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RSS. What is that?

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The buzzwords at the Educause Annual Conference in Orlando, last year was blogging, RSS feeds and readers. Even though everyone was talking about RSS at last year's conference, it has been around since 2002, when the New York Times began offering news by RSS feeds for the first time. Learn more on the history of RSS.

Some of you may already know what a RSS feed is and how to use it. But for those of you who do ...

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The Nature of Blogging...

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I found myself in an unintended discussion about the nature of blogs last night. I mentioned to my wife what I was going online under the guise of work (spreading the word about online learning, instructional design and community building), and next thing I know we are having a head-to-head about whether anyone is going to bother to read this stuff given the style of writing I am using (kinda a stream of consciousness, quasi-literary style, or in other words ...

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There has always been a mystique regarding software developers, at least where I'm from. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I met various people from the tech industry---some on the periphery and others at the heart. Those at the heart were the developers and the project leads. They were the ones who could speak to the machine and command it to execute on certain commands, with a deep precision and elegance. That was the ideal, of course, and one certainly ...

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Robust LMS Features

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So a conference participant asked about what factors would make for a useful learning management system (LMS). This participant never left a business card or a note, so I was never able to deliver the details.

In doing some quick research, I found a great rubric tool from Edutools. However, before I got to this great tool, I went ahead and did a quick brainstorm.

Brand Reputation: The brand does matter in terms of how well they back up their ...