This free SWF to video converter built by Newgrounds is a tool that I have been looking for for more than 8 years. In this time I have tried any number of hacks, kludges and workarounds to convert a .swf cartoon that I made to a reasonable video version. (I had a .mov and a .mp4 but only at 320 x 240 resolution) with a frustrating lack of success. Swivel let me export my movie in full 1440 x 1080 HD with no dropped frames and no loss of audio sync. (Well none that wasn’t already present in my rather rough and ready flash animation) Part of me feels like a bit of a saddo to be working on a video on a Saturday night but most of me is just excited to have fixed a long term technical problem. I’ll add the video – which isn’t particularly about tech or education – as soon as it finishes uploading to YouTube.
This post by Cathy Moore (and another that I came across not too long ago here at Computing Education Blog ) struck a chord with me. In essence, they are both saying that learners can benefit by having their skills and knowledge tested right from the beginning of a subject. Whether it involves participating in a scenario and completing some kind of formative assessment, putting this activity up front lets your learners see what they are expected to know, what they don’t currently know and why this is a relevant and worthwhile part of their studies. The odds are pretty good that they will fail the scenario or quiz or whatever the first time around but as long as we make it clear that this is OK and that it’s just a part of learning, the memories of this experience will give context and meaning to everything else that they learn afterwards. I took this approach perhaps a little inadvertently in a digital literacy course that I trialled last year. I wanted to test the value of a particular quiz
This post from the always interesting Elon University Instructional and Campus Technologies team gives me all manner of wicked ideas about misusing QR codes. (Not for nasty things, just for gentle mischief) Best tip by far is to only use QR code readers that display the URL before accessing it. (Of course, that begs the question, what if it is simply a bit.ly url?) On a similar note, the evolution of augmented reality technology – particularly the ability to use images instead of qr codes to link to websites – has me wondering what might happen if people start attaching their own resources/videos/etc to corporate logos?
Some useful lessons about running MOOCs gained by looking at a poorly run one. The fact that these courses were still being built as they were being delivered – something perhaps not uncommon in face-to-face land but rarely an inspiring sign – should have been the first give away. It’s hard not to think that this was the result of a top-down “OMG, everyone else has a MOOC, we have to have one too, now, now now” mentality that even I have been bumping up against lately
This article looks at some interesting research that suggests that getting your learners to take a short test on the content in your course before they’ve learned about it will actually help them to retain it later. At the very least I guess it gives them an overview of what they will be learning and what they do and don’t already know about it.
Cathy Moore is one of the smartest writers about training and education design going around.
She simply gets that we need to focus on what we want learners to be able to do and that we need to tailor everything that we do to support that.
This post touches on an idea that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently – the fact that we should be taking lessons from marketing and advertising (yes, evil marketing and advertising) about designing messages that appeal to our audience. After all, this is what they exist to do and these people spend obscene amounts of money and time finding ways to reach people who long ago learned to ignore or resist their messages. (It’s also a pretty funny and well made ad)
The following short video (5:03) showcases some of the fantastic design work that one of our Creative Industries teachers – Karyn Milne – has done in her Moodle course. (We call our Moodle system eLearn, in case you find references to eLearn in the video confusing).
The main tips that I have taken from this are:
Use advance organisers to give learners a context and a framework for the activities and resources that are coming. In this instance it is as simple as expanding on the topic heading – Printing (Technology, literacy and cultural change) or The Bauhaus (Form follows function – and the new hopes)
Visual representations of the content help add extra meaning. Now Karyn is a skilled graphic designer so maybe your topic banners might not be quite as artistic but it is still relatively easy to add simple images that also help to break up the dreaded Moodle wall of text
Provide simple and direct instructions with the actions emphasised
Provide a range of different resources and activities – in these two topics we have documents, videos, a quiz and a discussion forum.
Having run the Gamerlearner blog for a couple of years – albeit intermittently – I found more and more often that I wanted to discuss aspects of the use of technology in education that didn’t relate to the use of games. Now maybe people don’t worry about the name of the blog as much as the titles of the posts but somehow it felt that I have reduced my opportunities with the Gamerlearner name.
So here we are – screenface to me represents the place where we work as e-Learning designers or educational technologists or whatever the name of the week is now. Miners used to work at the coalface, teachers taught at the chalkface and now we have moved on to the screenface.
I sat with a teacher this morning and explained some – what I considered – fairly basic steps in the process of adding content to our eLearning repository and she seemed genuinely blown away by how much I knew. She even referred to me as the Yoda of eLearn (the name we have given our eLearning platform built on Moodle, Equella and Adobe Connect). This was nice but it didn’t sit well with me – I would much rather teachers saw our systems as just another tool that they use every day than some slightly mystical entity that only a select few really understand.
This I guess is my goal – for ed tech to be just another (albeit useful) tool that makes teachers’ lives easier and provides more opportunities for learners.