Monday, August 31, 2009

Signals at Purdue U. - Increasing Student Success


To increase the success of their students Purdue University has implemented an intervention system called Signals. It combines predictive modeling and the data mining of their Blackboard Vista system to identify students who are academically at risk. Risk ratings are assigned, integrated with Blackboard and available on the student's Blackboard homepage. Signals also provides intervention e-mails from instructors and communicates available campus resources to assist the student.

See Purdue's description

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My e-Learning Toolbox

Every so often I see my fellow bloggers posting lists of what they have in their e-learning toolbox. These posts are always interesting and helpful. It is a glimpse not just into their development tool preferences, but it also provides some reflection into the approaches they take in creating courses.

Here is what I have in my e-learning toolbox and some notes on how I use these tools.

  • ToolBook authoring tool - this is the DHTML authoring tool used at my company, but prior to this I used TrainerSoft (now Outstart Trainer), which is my preference.

  • Adobe Fireworks - editing graphics.

  • Adobe Flash - creating interactive elements, including animation, games, immersive learning simulations, etc.

  • Adobe Captivate - creating simulations (software sims and occasionally soft skill, branching sims).

  • Sumtotal LCMS - already determined by the company I work for, but no complaints.

  • SnagIt - grabbing screenshots.

  • Adobe Dreamweaver - creating web pages and occasionally jerry-rigging the HTML in courses.

  • Adobe Acrobat - creating PDFs included in courses (e.g. job aids).

  • Notepad -  editing XML.

  • Windows MovieMaker - editing WMV files.

  • PowerPoint - creating storyboards.

  • Wordpress - editing and publishing my blog.

FYI: Most of what I make are asynchronous WBTs. Please feel free to share what is in your toolbox or any recommendations on tools I should add.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hurricance e-Learning Resources

Hurricane Fran

It's hurricane season, so I thought I would add a few hurricane resources to the Free e-Learning page.

Here they are:

Forces of Nature - National Geographic

Hurricanes - KidsKnowIt Network

Hurricane Motion Gizmo - ExploreLearning

Be Red Cross Ready - American Red Cross

Hurricane Preparedness - Propane Exceptional Energy

Monday, August 24, 2009

3-D Virtual Learning Environment - Right Here in Baltimore

This looks fantastic and is a great opportunity for students here at a local school in Baltimore (reported as a first of its kind in any U.S. high school). Johns Hopkin's Applied Physics Lab (APL) worked with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and the University of Baltimore to deploy a 3-D Virtual Learning Lab. This is a state of the art learning environment modeled after the facility APL uses for DoD and NASA projects.

The first project will be exploring and learning about Mt. St. Helens.
Peloff said the area around Mount St. Helens was chosen because the ecosystem has changed dramatically over the past 30 years and is a great place to begin integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts into the virtual environment.

And they are planning a Moon environment too!

I am very confident these high school students will learn a lot from this technology and have fun at the same time. It will be great to hear more about this project and the results of learning through games and simulations.

A big kudos and thank you to Baltimore County Schools, Hopkins ADL, University of Baltimore and their private sector partners for putting this together.

Read more about it -

Flash on Blackberry Rumor...We will still have to wait for Flash on Blackberry

Quick update on my recent post regarding Flash players being added to Blackberry browsers next summer. This does NOT appear to be happening, sorry for any false alarms. Thank you Yogesh from Upside Learning for confirming that the reports are rumor. Here is the link he sent me for more info - (John Dowdell of Adobe comments that these are only rumors).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Flash on Blackberry... Next Summer

Adobe Flash logoAccording to the Boy Genius Report, RIM is planning to add full Flash support for the Blackberry browser by next summer (2010). This is not Flash Lite, but a full Flash player. It will also support Silverlight. This has a lot of potential for m-learning. A significant portion of the m-learning developed is targeted for Blackberry devices, especially in the corporate world.

If Flash does arrive on Blackberries it will mean opportunities to develop more  interactive m-learning for these devices and expand users' access to m-learning currently developed in Flash and Flash Lite. Because of the number of Blackberry users and the amount of m-learning targeted to Blackberry users, having Flash as a development tool will be quite a boon for m-learning designers and users alike. Plus, this may be a motivator for Apple to add Flash to the iPhone.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

m-Learning Devices

The Don't Waste Your Time blog posted a poll regarding the best devices for delivering m-learning. The list was comprehensive, but made me think about when is it not e-learning and becomes m-learning. There are gray areas such as laptops and netbooks. Technically they both should be included, being very mobile, but I am still hesitant to include these as m-learning devices. Probably because what is typically accessed on these are e-learning courses and not courses designed specifically for mobile devices. As far as the other devices like phones and PDAs, you must apply “m-learning” design due to such things as the small screen, limited processing speed, lack of Flash players (in some cases), etc.

I can be swayed a bit on netbooks due to some design considerations needed. However, if m-learning is defined by the design approach not the device, then laptops are off my list.

Here is the list from the Don't Waste Your Time...poll:
  • Phone / iPod Touch

  • MP3 Player

  • Mobile Phone

  • Smart Phone

  • Laptop

  • Netbook

  • eBook Reader (Sony, Kindle, etc)

  • PDA

  • Games Console (PSP, Nintendo DS, etc)

  • Thanks Don't Waste Your Time.. for this comprehensive list. Myself, I cannot think of any devices to add, but if anyone out there does, please feel free to comment. And take the poll too.

    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    If It Works in the Classroom...

    For many of my e-learning courses I like to make the content conversational. This is especially true if it is facilitated by a character. I also like to use humor, when appropriate and with great care not to offend.

    I have encountered on several occasions some resistance to delivering content in a conversational style and using humor. If the resistance is from a fellow trainer, my response is, "Do you speak in a conversational tone to your classroom audience and do you ever use humor in the classroom?" The answer has always been "Yes." Then why not online. Plus, online we can proof and test the content as to assure it is still effective and professional. So, I conclude if it is done in the classroom and can be "pulled off" online, then it is perfectly acceptable.

    Here are a few more things done in the classroom that should also be acceptable in online classes. They may have to be approached differently due to the medium, but can be engaging both for classroom and online audiences.

    • Games and puzzles

    • Role-playing (immersive learning sims)

    • Coaching/immediate feedback

    • Guest speakers (videos in an online, asynchronous delivery)

    • Flip-charting ideas, concepts, etc.

    • Group activities/"break-out" sessions

    • Use of Twitter

    Granted, some of these are challenging in an online environment, but not impossible. Bottom line, if it is done in the classroom and works well online go ahead and use it. What can happen? You end up with an engaged audience who know you put a lot of effort and resources into being an effective trainer.

    What else transfers from the traditional classroom to an online course?

    And what elements from online classes would work in a traditional classroom?

    Saturday, August 8, 2009

    Moodle Demo Site

    While  searching for ways to learn more about Moodle, I found their demo site. It is a great way to learn and explore this open source LCMS. They provide access to Admin, Teacher, and Student levels, so you can get a good feel for the system's features as they pertain to each role. And the demo system is erased and restored every hour, allowing you to do whatever you want without any harm. Also, the demo is offered in numerous languages. If you want to learn more about Moodle and like to learn by doing, this will be just the place. Here is the link -

    Sunday, August 2, 2009

    August Big Question - Feedback

    The Learning Circuits' Big Question for August is to provide feedback on the "Big Question" itself. I have a high opinion of it and have always enjoyed reflecting on the questions posed and reading the responses posted.

    One of the goals of the Big Question is to "Get different perspectives on topics that are of interest to workplace learning professionals." I feel the Big Question achieves that goal. General questions are fine, but I feel it has really excelled when the topics address very specific challenges or solicit practical advice. This provides not just perspectives, but valuable solutions. Here are just a few some examples that I have found beneficial.

    Choosing Tools

    Economic Impact

    Getting Unstuck

    Where are the Examples

    ILT and Off-the-Shelf Vendors

    So, while I always enjoy the Big Question, my feedback is to focus on very specific issues and challenges we face in e-learning and less general questions. With all the people participating, it is a great opportunity to tap into the collective knowledge and skills possessed; all focused on solutions for a common issue.

    Here a few issues I would like to see addressed in future Big Questions.

    • Working effectively with subject matter experts

    • What is your approach to evaluating e-learning courses?

    • Making a highly interactive course in spite of low bandwidth

    • What should not be taught online?

    My apologies if any of these or similar topics have already been addressed. I must have missed that month.

    I always look forward to the Big Question. So, a big thank you to Learning Circuits.