Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 01 - BlendKit 2014 MOOC

So, we have started another MOOC in search of the never ending quest for professional education hours. This seasons MOOC is BlendKit 2014, a massively, open, online course on blended learning. While the first weeks readings and activities make clear that some instructor involvement is required for learning to be officially declared blended learning, there's seems to be no minimum nor maximum percentage of learning allocated as such. I still retain my concept that blended learning does not require any in-person nor online interaction with an instructor, but a blend of learning materials, strategies, and activities. The course designers appear to covertly imply consent to my viewpoint, in that, while there was a live instructor led webinar, watching a delayed recording of said webinar is also deemed sufficient for course progress. So one can complete the first week of the MOOC without instructor interaction. The point goes to Timothy.

One interesting aspect of the BlendKit 2014 MOOC is the use of badges. As applied, this is a poor attempt at gamification. While on boarding occurs by simply completing an assignment, there doesn't appear to be any scaffolding or increasing levels of difficulty to achieve follow on badges. I suspect this will result in boredom and a corresponding lack of motivation. How important is a badge anyway if one need do next to nothing to achieve it? Good dog! Here's a treat.

I've been able to point a few folks to information and have made some online contacts for the do it yourself (DIY) assignments, which many report as difficult. Perhaps they did not follow the advice from one of the pre-recorded MP3 audio tracks to keep things simple, at least at first.

As this is a six week MOOC and blogging seems an integral part of BlendKit 2014, expect to find five more rants or raves in coming weeks. I also created a Blended Learning board on Pinterest. I'll be pinning the best resources and examples as I did with gamification.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Learning Analytics: Logic and Structure

1. What do you want to do/understand better/solve?

I most want to develop an automated solution for collecting and analyzing pertinent data from online continuing education courses and other blended learning resources. The outcome of the analysis should not only document what learning has occured, but also be adaptive and recommend further learning resources. The data should be easily understood by both learners and training coordinators.

2. Defining the context: what is it that you want to solve or do?

a. Who are the people that are involved?

The people involved will be myself as the primary developer. Additional advice will involve the participants in the #LAK13 MOOC.

b.What are social implications?

The social implication is Arkansas will gain a pilot learning analytics system that should be repeatable by other public and non-profit agencies. These pilot learning analytics systems will benefit the regional society by improving acquisition and implementation of economic development and small business knowledge

c. Cultural?

3. Brainstorm ideas/challenges around your problem/opportunity.

a. How could you solve it?

b. What are the most important variables?

4. Explore potential data sources.

a. Will you have problems accessing the data?

b. What is the shape of the data (reasonably clean? or a mess of log files that span different systems and will require time and effort to clean/integrate?)

c. Will the data be sufficient in scope to address the problem/opportunity that you are investigating?

5. Consider the aspects of the problem/opportunity that are beyond the scope of analytics.

How will your analytics model respond to these analytics blind spots?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rapid e-Learning Development: Appalachian Trail Online Course

We recently launched our first rapid elearning course. The Appalachian Trail Online Course was developed by combining rapid elearning with blended learning.

Due to the learning resources already having been written and filmed, we were able to assemble a complete course in about 16 man hours. (We worked about 1.5 hours after work for two weeks plus a bit extra afterwards for the 3D ebook cover graphic.)

Here's a few things we learned:

1) Develop a course outline or mindmap first. Usually we mindmap our course and then move things around into a meaningful order. We skipped that step at the start, but it soon became apparent the laws of instructional design were still in effect. Our omission caused us to back track and rearrange considerable blocks of content and navigation links.

2) Conduct SEO research before adding content. For public, open courses that will depend on search engines to bring traffic, you should research the keywords and phrases that match your content. While we roughly knew what keywords to use, we ended up creating an entirely new set of pages and copying & pasting our content to the pages with new, improved filenames.

3) Break content down into specific tasks. Use action verbs, such as: read, watch, listen, or review, to provide clear instructions on what you want the learner to do.

4) Indicate the length of videos. While most online videos are short, there are a good many that are very long. One of our selected videos was over one hour in length. We adopted the standard of specifying the length of videos in parentheses after linking to the video. This allows the learner to make informed decisions as to whether they should watch the video at that moment based on their current situation.

5) Give credit to content authors. As much as possible we included the author or producer of the content we linked to. Part of our reasoning was to brand several content producers as the "go to guys" for information related to the course. Seeing the same names repeatedly eventually establishes the meme that person is an expert.

We showed an early version of our course to a business professor. His primary comment was the course was too linear. He thought we should look into converting the course to something more interactive using Prezi.com.

What are your thoughts and comments? Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Need to Know - Small Business Technology: February 20, 2012

We got behind in posting our near daily small business technology updates due to an intense training schedule. Here's what popped up in today's professional reading:

The Biggest Mistake Web Analysts Make… And How To Avoid It! - Great article by Google analytics guru. Suitable for both beginners and advance webmasters.

How Inbound Marketing Works, From Start to Finish - Clever infographic explaining the inbound sales process visually. Need to print some of these poster size for the classroom.

Ecommerce Comes to Twitter - How-to article on getting started with Chirpify, the Twittter ecommerce platform.

Infographic: The most recent (and incredibly impressive) Facebook stats - Another fun infographic to gawk at. Don't forget to pin it on Pinterest.com

Tools of the Travelgeek: Voice and Data Devices - Really useful article for anyone travelling overseas, including on cruises. Describes what equipment to take and how to use it to avoid high data and roaming charges. I didn't know cruise ships charged $5/minute for cell calls. I feel better about my $0.30/minute pre-paid  now.

Brailletouch app to bring eyes-free texting to iPhone and iPad - Very cool invention. Click through and check out this innovation.

Smartphone Users Say Web Access More Indispendable Than Texting - Did you know that most smartphone turn to laptops when they lose their phone's data connection? Good behavioral insight in this brief article.

Congrats, US Government: You're Scaring Web Businesses Into Moving Out Of The US - Diatribe with a tongue-in-cheek migration checklist for web based businesses. Read and ponder this.

The Post-Office Generation - Microsoft Office's growing irrelevance due to ubiquitous tablets, Dropbox, and cheapo editor apps.