Mar 25, 2009

Getting to Know Twitter

I signed up for Twitter to see what all the buzz is about. I've been using it about a week and I still don't quite get it. Well that's not entirely true. I do get how it can be a useful tool to communicate and share ideas. I don't yet get why it is hyped as much as it is. I don't see it being much different than the status updates that already exist in networks like Facebook and Linked In.

The value of Twitter seems to be highly tied to the people you follow. I've been following some people in my industry this week; however, I really haven't had anything ground-breaking come across my desk yet. I've found more value in the blogs I'm following. Maybe I need more colleagues and friends using Twitter before I find the value. And I'm not sure why this bothers me so much but I don't like that many people using Twitter love to share hyperlinks. I don't have the time to check out what's at the end of every hyperlink that is tweeted. I don't find value in that. Am I alone?

I'll keep Twittering for the next few weeks and see what happens next. I do like the fact that Twitter seems to be a little more personal than social networking and blogging. I do think there is value in seeing what people are up to day to day. It can give me insight into improving some of my day to day activities. I know what projects people are working on so I can ask them about issues while they are still fresh on the mind. But I don't think this is golden nugget of Twitter. I think there is more I'm missing.

Mar 17, 2009

Storyboarding and Objectives

I've started reading Creating Successful E-learning by Michael Allen.  It is an interesting read so far and Allen's thinking seems to be very pragmatic.  A thought hit me while reading the book that maybe I've given too much attention to the storyboard in my course development process.  I'm even thinking I don't need a separate storyboard step since the course itself serves as the storyboard.  Because of this, I think I'll go back to the development process I'm writing and give more attention to the learning objectives than to the storyboard.

I'm using rapid development tools which make it easy to change the course on the fly.  If I have to change a learning objective late in the process it is a bigger deal than changing the way a learning objective is presented to the learner.

The current training project I am working on has brought this to my attention because the learning objectives were a little fuzzy from the start.  I am taking a brick and mortar classroom based course and putting it online in a self-paced format.  It was decided that I would not cover everything in the course for the first release of the online version; however, as I was developing it I realized that I needed to cover some of the omitted objectives from the classroom based course after all.  If we had spent more time on the objectives earlier, we might have caught this problem.  I don't want learners to feel they are missing out when they take the online version of the class.

What's your experience with objectives in relation to the course development process?

Mar 13, 2009

Lectora Score to LMS Basics

I have completed developing my first course in Lectora and it is ready to run inside the LMS. The LMS I am using is Saba. This is important to note because each LMS handles SCORM content slightly differently and some SCORM related settings must be adjusted appropriately. For this course, I am not requiring a passing score for an assessment. Instead, I am requiring the learner to have simply completed a series of simulations and a non-binding assessment at the end. So once all sections of the lesson are complete, the user will receive a score of 100% and a status of complete. To set the score and status in the LMS the following variables need to be modified:
  • AICC_Score = 100
  • AICC_Lesson_Status = completed
The AICC_Score variable is a percentage between 0-100. If I had a Lectora test or assessment in this course, then the variable would be set automatically. I do not, so I am setting it manually.
The screen shot below shows the AICC_Lesson_Status variable being updated in Lectora. Notice that this variable is set to "completed" and not "complete", "passed", "finished", or some other value. This variable must be set to "completed" for Saba to correctly interpret the course status.

Mar 11, 2009

eLearn Authoring Round-Up

As my organization selects an LMS and gears up for web based training, I've been looking at a variety of authoring tools for online training. I was naive enough to think that tool existed that would have everything I want. I imagined something similar to Microsoft Word or PowerPoint that was designed for eLearning. Such a tool does not exist yet. I'm sure this is due to the complexity of web based learning content, the variety of requirements out there, and the market size of eLearning. However, there are several tools on the market that have a lot to offer. For this post I tool a look at the following products:
  1. SoftChalk
  2. Articulate
  3. Lectora
  4. Captivate
My Findings
SoftChalk and Articulate are the easiest to use and are good for basic courses. Both have a different focus (HTML vs. Flash; Word vs. PowerPoint). Check out Articulate if you are interested in leveraging PowerPoint or in doing voice presentations. Lectora and Captivate have a steeper learning curve but allow for more advanced interaction with the learner. With the release of Captivate 4, Lectora and Captivate have become very similar products. However, Lectora provides a bit more flexibility for customizing that Captivate.
Summaries of Each Product
  • Easy to use
  • Works like Microsoft Word
  • Provides an good organizational structure for courses
  • Content is easy to add and includes multimedia, flash, and questions
  • QuizPopper, TextPopper, and Activities are easy to add
  • Exports to HTML and is SCORM compliant
Articulate, www.articulate.com
  • Easy to use
  • Works like Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Provides an good organizational structure for courses
  • Content is easy to add and includes multimedia, flash, and questions
  • Uses PowerPoint so user authors in PowerPoint (very nice integration)
  • All of PowerPoint's slide features can be used in authoring
  • Excellent for doing voice overs with annotations
  • Includes Quizmaker and Engage for adding flash based interactions
  • Exports to Flash and is SCORM compliant
  • Works like Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Provides an open organizational structure that can be customized to users needs
  • Content is easy to add and includes multimedia, flash, and questions
  • Actions can be determined based on variable values
  • Variables allow sequencing and decision making based on previous responses by learner
  • Imports PowerPoint slides
  • Exports to HTML and is SCORM compliant
  • Excellent for software simulations
  • Works like Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Provides an open organizational structure that can be customized to users needs
  • Content is easy to add and includes multimedia, flash, and questions
  • Actions can be determined based on variable values
  • Variables allow sequencing and decision making based on previous responses by learner
  • Imports PowerPoint slides
  • Exports to Flash and is SCORM compliant

Mar 4, 2009

What exactly is a friend?

I was asked to give a Web 2.0 workshop yesterday for a group of school technology coordinators. Web 2.0 is a huge topic to try to cover in an afternoon. This is especially true when you discuss the benefits and caveats of using this technology in the classroom. As I was talking about how students are using social network sites like Facebook, I found myself wondering exactly how we determine who our "friends" are.
There was a friend I recently made contact with that I haven't seen or spoken to in nearly 25 years. I was in the 5th grade last time we were true friends. While I consider him a good friend, do I really know who he has become in the last 25 years? There are many friends and old acquaintances that I've run into on Facebook. Many I've been longing to reconnect with and I accept as a friend without further thought. But still there are many who I only knew vaguely in the past and while I'm kind of curious who they've become, I don't feel comfortable sharing photos and updates that I really intend for true friends. So do I friend them just out of curiosity? I've decided I want to be a little more picky about who I "friend" and who shows up in my status updates. I've got a busy life with information overload and I feel that reining in my "friends" list just makes things less complicated. What are your thoughts?
I make an exception for my Linked In profile because I use that profile professionally and often make business or trade contacts. I'm not sharing personal photos with these guys, I'm exchanging ideas and networking so I define a "friend" differently in that environment. Does any one else do the same?