Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Podcast About the Past, Present, and Future of Rapid Elearning

I listened to a podcast this week which was an interview with the Director of Customer Support for Articulate, Gabe Anderson (part 1 and part 2). Articulate produces a software program that I regularly use at work and also a favorite tool for corporations doing Rapid eLearning Development. As the title suggests, Gabe talks about what Rapid eLearning is and where it is headed. Most Rapid eLearning works with PowerPoint as a foundation, but uses tools such as the Articulate suite to add content and functionality which PowerPoint is not normally capable of producing. The primary objective of Rapid eLearning it to enable the learner to have access to and assimilate new information or skills in the shortest time possible. This is a field that is growing exponentially and companies such as Articulate are working to meet the growing need.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Too much information

Lois Lindell has been blogging quite a bit about about Micro-Blogging. I've been reading a number of micro-blogs and some of them are really good, but most of them don't seem to say very much. If I'm going to take the time to read something, I want it to challenge me or move me in some way. As is probably obvious, I have trouble being that brief. The flip side is a blog that is too long or gives me more information than I have time or motivation to try and digest. A blogger that I really enjoy most of the time is Karl Kapp. Lately, though he's been writing blogs that are full of links to other blogs. I'm sure they are all very good. But just looking at the list turns me away. It seems to me that it would be better to briefly summarize the information or just give one or two links that are especially good. I respond best to an article that is short and to the point. When I see too much information, I usually click away thinking that maybe I'll return when I have more time...but, I rarely do.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Changing World of Learning

I've been doing a lot of reading about Rapid eLearning (my chosen topic for my Emerging Technology Class), Virtual Worlds, and Web 2.0 Tools. The world is changing faster than most of us in the field of education/training are able to keep up. It's natural to find things that we're comfortable with, the way we like to do things and just settle down. Its hard to keep up with all the change even when we are trying too. There are a lot of trends that are developing that will, I believe, radically change the world of education. A course that takes several months to develop and several more months to implement will probably be dreadfully out of date by the time it reaches the students. One of the concepts promoted by Rapid eLearning is to shorten the distance between the SME and the learner. Tools are on the market that will let anyone develop training materials. This allows the people with the knowledge to be more involved in developing the courses. The quality may suffer a little, but the speed with which content can be brought to the learners is amazing. We may look down on these methods, but most businesses are moving in that direction. The role of the professional instructional designer is changing. If we are to remain relevant, we need to stay on the cutting edge of what's going on.

Some of the things that I've read:
An excellent article on "Rapid eLearning"

A blog on how to effectively use wiki's and blogs in an online class:

Another blog that talks about what's happing in the world of eLearning:

Monday, September 17, 2007

We Need a Revolution

David Warlick on his blog, 2¢ Worth, talked about a group of educational coaches that he was going to speak to. Each coach is going to go back to their school with a whole slew of toys (computers, printers, cameras, and lots more). He says, "It's pretty a classroom like this might stir the imagination of a truly inventive educator." I agree, but most teacher's wouldn't know what to do with it all. Most of us ( I include myself here) find it much easer to just incorporate the new "stuff" into what we've always done.

I read a statement that came from AECT today, which talked about the need for systemic change in our schools. Systemic change is more than just learning how to do things a little different. It means chang from the bottom up (and the top too). For the new technology to reach its potential in our old shcool systems, the old "systems" must be completely changed. Completely new paradigms must be developed. I love technology. It has the potential to revolutionize education, but to work, it will take a revolutionary change.

My Well Connected Family

As I said in my last blog, my family is very well connected. Click on this link to see what I mean.

By the way, the video was created at
David Warlick and Gary Stager had an interesting discussion about Animoto on their blogs last week. It's certainly a fun toy, but can it be used for education? I think it has possibilities.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

1 to 1 - A Great Idea?

I just finished reading Sarah Levendusky's blog on 1 to 1 Computing. 1 to 1 computing is, so it seems, all the rage right now, at least in educational circles. I have to admit that I find myself a little skeptical about things that have the appearance of a fad. As a pastor and an educator, I’ve seen more “great ideas” come and go than I care to mention. Unfortunately, I’ve bought into one too many of them, and now I’ve become something of a skeptic.

I’d never heard the term before I started back to school almost 2 years ago. I’ve heard the term a lot since then, but it wasn’t until this semester that I found out what it meant. That makes me a late comer to this discussion, and, as you may have guessed, my reaction has been somewhat mixed.

As I set out to do a little research on 1 to 1 computing, I looked for both the positive and the negative. I found a lot of positive, but quite a bit of negative too. I’ll not take the time to review all that I found, but three writers stood out to me.

David Cole a professor at Georgetown University shared why he tells his students to “unplug” in a recent issue of Scholastic Administrator. In his opinion, laptops distract as much as they enable. Most students “multitask” while in class and don’t fully engage in the discussions that are going on around them. Using a computer to take notes, allows the student to capture the lecture without really thinking about it. Professor Cole says that, “attention diverted is attention diverted.”

Ryan Bretag, a high school administrator responded to Professor Cole by saying that he agreed with him so long as the teacher hasn’t “gone through the pedagogical shifts needed to use such a tool successfully. It is only when instructors shift their practices that technology possibly begins to play an important role in the classroom.” (The Four Eyed Technologist) Simply trying to integrate laptops into a traditional classroom setting will only create problems.

Finally, Jim Hirsch (the director of technology for Plano ISD in Texas) suggested that educators should be willing to look beyond laptops, to incorporating all types of technology. (Moving at the Speed of Creativity) As technology is rapidly progressing, there are a growing number of devices, that could serve the goals of 1 to 1. As one who relies quite heavily on his Pocket PC, I would agree with this.

I’ve listened to the arguments for 1 to 1 and I recognize that there are tremendous advantages that can be gained, but I also see some dangers. While my kids have always had access to computers, and our household has been connected in one way or another since the late ‘80’s, I’m still not ready to give them complete and unsupervised access to “their own computer.” Maybe I’m just too old fashioned.

Monday, September 10, 2007


I was getting ready for bed when I remembered that I was supposed to write a second blog for this week. Blogging is not something that I am naturally drawn too. I'm not sure why. I would consider myself to be a pretty techy person. I've been aware of blogs since their inception. Yet I've probably spent more time reading blogs in the last two weeks than all of the time prior. I know several people who regularly blog, including my sister. I have their blogs saved in my favorites, yet I never find the time or the motivation to read them unless specifically asked to. I even set up my own blog about two years ago...on which I made one very short entry. I have always found journaling difficult, both to do and to read, and to me, blogging is just another form of journaling.

I was thinking about this in the context of learning and applying new technologies to education. While I'm sure I need to put more effort into learning and using this technology, I also see another lesson. As we begin to use new technologies in our classes, we need to be sensitive to the fact that not all learners are going to be comfortable with or motivated by everything we try to do. We dare not get stuck using one particular technology (no matter how great it is) and expect everybody to get it. Not everybody will. We need to be willing and able to adapt our teaching to the needs of different students. Even students who may not like our favorite way of doing things. Something that I've heard several times since beginning my Master's program: it is the teacher's responsibility to make learning accessible to the students. Technology is great, but only to the point that it helps with the learning process.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Second Life

As part of my graduate program I worked quite a bit with virtual worlds. I've researched them and even created an extensive site on Active Worlds. Unfortunately (for me), Second Life seems to be the place where everybody wants to be. So, now I'm trying to learn Second Life.

Both businesses and educational institutions are working franticly to create an online virtual presence. Whether this will turn out to be a long term development or just a fad, I'm still not sure. Some businesses are making money and some schools are creating effective educational content, but most are still trying to find their way. I find myself amongst the second group. I believe that virtual worlds, like Second Life, have tremendous potential, but it will take a totally new approach to both business and education. I need to get this figured out as I may be getting myself into a major Second Life project.

I find that the first thing that I need to do is to get better acquainted with and skilled at functioning in Second Life. I've tried just exploring and trying things out, but I'm really not getting very far. Today, after reading Dr. Z's wiki on Second Life,, I started researching other resources. I found a great site with tons of tutorials. Over the next few weeks, I plan to spend a lot of time there. I'll let you know how things work out.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

I hope everyone had a good Labor Day. I grew up knowing that Labor Day was a day to labor. On the farm in Ohio, hay season was still going strong at this time of year. Labor Day was another day that I could help in the hay field, because I didn't have to be in school. This year, I labored again. My wife has been wanting the garage cleaned out for over a year. So I agreed to help her do it today. By the time we were done, we had 12 lawn and leaf bags full, plus a pile of scrap lumber that wouldn't fit in a bag. I'm sore and tired, but I have to admit, I kind of enjoyed doing the physical work.

As technology has created new ways of working which require less physical exertion most of us don't do as much "work" as we used to. My kids have no concept of how hard I used to work, and my parents thought I had it easy. Technology does so much for us, but we can also become overly dependent on it. This is true in education too. Much of what people used to have to learn has become unnecessary because we now have computers and other gadgets to do things for us. My daughter took a practice ACT test today and she had to take a break to go get her calculator to do her math. As I am typing this post, my word processor keeps correcting my spelling and my grammar. People used to have to do these things without the aide of technology.

We need to make sure that we use new technologies to help us become stronger and smarter as opposed to the other way around. I love technology, but I want to be careful that it doesn't make me lazy (physically or mentally).

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Rapid eLearning

One of the things that I have learned in my current job (I think this applies to most situations) is that no matter how hard or fast you work, there is never enough time or resources to get done all that needs to be done. This fact is quickly becoming a critical issue in the world of instructional design. Technologies are advancing so quickly that it is virtually impossible to develop training fast enough to keep up. Traditional instructional development methods can take months to implement. By the time the training is ready to use, the technology is often obsolete. As a result, the idea of "Rapid eLearning" is becoming a mainstream concept within the corporate training community.

One definition given for Rapid eLearning given on the Rapid eLearning Blog is: "The ability to create the highest quality course in the shortest amount of time."

Rapid eLearning encompasses both special tools and methods. There are several different software packages that are designed to simplify and speedup the development process. At work we use Articulate. This program allows the developer to take a PowerPoint presentation with animations, embedded flash and other learning objects and create a flash movie that is SCORM complaint and can be loaded directly to an LMS (Learning Management System). There are several other programs available that perform a similar function.

I have subscribed to "The Rapid eLearning Blog" ( and hope to learn ways to implement both the tools and methods of Rapid eLearning more effectively in my own work setting.