In Support of Excellence

It's all about the students

Articulate Studio ’13 … Hello Boys I’m Back!


In 2005-6 I introduced Articulate Studio Pro software to the teaching staff at the University of Adelaide and for years it was used to develop what I call Interactive Learning Modules (ILMs). Then the iPad revolution happened with the need for HTML5 and not Flash to run on the tablets and Studio Pro became tired and in need of an upgrade. About a year ago Articulate released a superb new software product called Storyline. There has been a lot of buzz about it and it has become really more than software now and I wrote a blog entry in Mar 2013 called “Articulate Storyline: More Than Software It’s An Ecosystem” where I listed a great many websites and resources to support creative development using this tool.

A few months ago Articulate released a major upgrade to their Studio suite of software, Presenter ‘13, Quizmaker ‘13 and Engage ‘13. The most exciting feature being they publish HTML5 tablet friendly output. I have been tracking closely all the interest in Storyline over the last year and was wondering why Articulate worked so hard on a new version of Studio Pro.

So when I needed to develop a very important learning module, the first with my own content in 5 years, I took the opportunity to use the newly released Articulate Studio 13 Pro  suite of software. I decided to push the envelope with pedagogy and use as many of the features to enhance learning as I could. I am impressed with what is possible and this post is about what I discovered. During the development I couldn’t help but think using this significantly upgraded software was sending a message to the elearning community a little like the classic memorable line from the Blockbuster movie Independence Day … “Hello boys I’m Back”!

Please visit this Interactive Learning Module (ILM) “CALLED to Instruct Them in the Practice” and explore the pedagogy … I think it is impressive and I hope it inspires you to try out the new Articulate Studio 13 software and include some of these strategies. I am not saying you can’t do it all in Storyline … just that if you use Studio 13 Pro with your PowerPoint, you can now build pedagogically strong interactive learning modules which run nicely on iPads. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Learning Outcomes: I have to start with a clear definition of learning outcomes. This is not a special feature of the software but a must to get the best learning possible. Use Blooms Taxonomy, referring regularly to The Padagogy Wheel Learning Design Model and particularly the Grey Matter Grids mindsets.  This will be invaluable to you when thinking how to build excellent ILMs.
  2. Checkpoints: are the core architecture or backbone of an ILM. This module has four of them. When I develop an ILM I believe there should be no more than 10 minutes of audio delivered content (didactic one way lecture style) before a checkpoint. This is an interaction and most often is knowledge checking using formative assessment,  although it could be data mining with a survey or even an Engage style interaction.
  3. Teacher Bio and Email Link: Teaching using ILMs is always better in team and the teacher information can be changed by slide so learning can connect with the person actually doing the teaching. Email is a click away. Also you can build learning community by including a welcome video.
  4. How To Use The Module: I have used another Engage interaction to build a pop up interactive graphic. It is accessed from the tool bar top right hand corner. Its role is to give students an understanding of the Articulate interface environment and the learning benefits of using the features to the best advantage. Each new ILM will have a customized “How to” interface.
  5. Glossary: This has 430+ terms but more will be added later. It is accessible from the top right hand tool bar and is a global resource. I have also listed the Top 100 eLearning Tools for the current year as voted by eLearning professionals around the world. Each one with a link to an introductory webpage of its use in learning and teaching. Hopefully this will encourage people to explore the elearning landscape looking for better ways.
  6. Resources List: This feature is designed to upload documents that can be accessed by the learners. This is particularly useful for the text of scripts of the module voiceover and increases accessibility.
  7. Notes: I have also included the text of the voiceover in the notes area of each slide and included the text from each slide. Learners often find this helpful to read as the sound plays.
  8. Search Function: Having text notes enables the software to search not only all words on slides but the audio script as well. i.e. learners can search for a term the teacher actually said and it will pull up the slide with audio. This is a “biggie” as students/learners are not restricted to linear access and can find specific terms and concepts being taught – at least within a 2-3 minute slide audio. This benefit more than justifies scripting (committing to written text) what the teacher/facilitator says on the voice over.
  9. Resume Alert: This is a useful feature and you can use it to ask learners to take a break or carry out a task independent of the module and they can pick up the content where they left off.
  10. Embedded YouTube Videos: Video is playing an ever increasing role in Learning and Teaching and being able to embed directly into the module and use media streaming is so much more efficient. How to do this in Presenter’13 can be seen here
  11. Engage Interactions: Three different interactive models and diagrams from the Engage ’13 were used. The main clickable circle diagram to describe the Centre concept on frame/slide 23 and the Glossary and How to diagram from the top tool bar. Engage ’13 has 20 different interactions.
  12. Formative Smart Game: A good investment to add some creative resources to your module development is a subscription to the eLearning Brothers Library. They have hundreds of cut out figures and templates for Studio ’13 including Quizmaker ‘13 templates. The World Race metaphor lends itself well to increase learner engagement to a formative assessment.
  13. Formative Quiz: The quiz on slide 20 forward was made in Quizmaker ’13 without a template. It is a very powerful quiz engine with many ways to increase engagement. Using cutout figures in different poses really helps.
  14. Instant Feedback: These interactive quizzes can give instant feedback to the choices and teachers can really support the learning with quality feedback – even to the wrong choices.
  15. Required Completion: You can set the quiz so the learner has to complete it before moving on. It does help learners stay on task.
  16. Online Survey + Video: This was a first and quite an “ah ha”. I realized you could embed a web object (any thing you can access from a browser) in the middle of a Quizmaker quiz.  So the idea of putting an online survey mining data back to Survey Monkey is a great idea. Then I learnt you could embed YouTube Videos in Survey Monkey quizzes as well. Finally I discovered you could alter the embed code and clip a section out of a longer video. Important stuff because other methods use flash and won’t work on an iPad, The pedagogy I used works well on any device and now you can use video clips as discussion starters or part of assessment questions increasing engagement.
  17. Grading can be set: All the grading is adjustable within Quizmaker ‘13
  18. Built in Evaluation: Using an online survey as an evaluation to be completed at the time the learner is doing the module is an advantage.

There was a lot of work to develop this ILM using the features I have described above but I consider it worth it. I am extremely happy with V1 of this module. Yes I will change it further, I consider any ILM to be like software with versions – continually improving.

My Conclusions and Lessons Learnt: I believe if you use PowerPoint and are very comfortable with it and the majority of your teaching is linear i.e. not simulations or scenario based learning then Articulate Studio ’13 Pro is the better choice for you than Storyline. If you are planning a lot of simulations requiring the branching feature then Storyline may be a better choice. You can do a lot more customizing in Storyline providing there is a little bit of the nerd aka programmer in you. However if you are a time poor overworked academic wanting to create stronger pedagogy with the minimum of new stuff to learn, then Articulate Studio ’13 will be an easier take up.

I am planning to use multiple modules similar to the one described in this post as the backbone of a course embedded with other activities into learning sequences managed by LAMS.  This will create more engagement, a better student experience and improved learning outcomes for the courses.

I have a Dream: Because student feedback from assessments can be exported from Quizmaker quizzes in the TinCan API  (the latest SCORM standard) I want to build effective elearning course/s to run from a WordPress website using a new plugin called Learndash.  This is low cost, flexible and a LMS for the rest of us.

I hope this has been a help to you and I invite you to look at the Pedagogy in action in the module itself by visiting “CALLED to Instruct Them in the Practice”.  Contact me directly if you would like to know more of the “how to’s”.

In Support of Excellence
Allan Carrington

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Using The Padagogy Wheel: It’s All About Grey-matter Grids (GGs)

padwheelposter thumbnailDOWNLOAD THE LATEST VERSION: This PDF has all the Apps hot linked to their iTunes preview pages and other online resources. It could provide the backbone of a complete course or seminar on Learning Design. If you would like help with this please just ask.  It also prints well as an A3 poster. With QR Codes linking to this post and the Version 3.0 explanation.  You are also encouraged to print it out for use in your college or school.

GETTING THE BEST USE OF THE WHEEL: The Padagogy Wheel was born out of a desire to help teachers at the coalface of teaching. I wanted a model that could be applied to everything from curriculum planning, development, writing learning objectives and designing student centered activities. Then quickly help teachers access relevant educational technology e.g. individual iPad apps or sequences of apps, to enhance those activities. Finally to help teachers use that technology to redefine activities to include tasks previously inconceivable. I believe this will increase student engagement, improve learning outcomes and empower a student towards transforming into an excellent graduate.

This model is a work in progress … always under review and improvement. Remember its purpose is a reminder to teachers to rethink everything they are doing. A warning: ignoring steps is in my opinion, part of the reason some of our teaching and learning, especially in Higher Education, is so ineffective in bringing about transformation. It is helpful to think about the Wheel as a number of grids through which you filter what you are doing – a way of thinking.

Energy of Intelligence

  1. THE ATTRIBUTES GRID: This is the core of learning design. Teachers or Educator/Academics must constantly revisit Graduate Attributes, things like ethics, responsibility and citizenship, as well as Capabilities for employment. They need to do the hard yards of articulating what they expect an excellent graduate of a program is to “look like” i.e. what is it that a graduate is and does that makes them and their communities define them as successful. Some universities at least in Australia and England, and I would expect in the USA, are constantly working on their graduate attributes and are mapping their programs to them. The blog post by Geoff Scott is really eye opening for college educators. Please visit “If you exercise these capabilities.. You will be employed!” If teachers don’t have a clear picture of the qualities and capabilities of an excellent graduate of their program is, then that is a huge problem and they need to set aside quality time to define this. Now when they have this list of attributes and capabilities, they need to look at their courses and pedagogy and ask ‘how does everything I do support these attributes?’ Is there any way I can build content and activities that help students become “excellent”? Have a look at what the University of Greenwich is doing in the UK. Please visit  “Graduate Attributes – Spin or Education?” and the podcast episode “What Does a Xxxxxx Graduate Look Like?
  2. THE MOTIVATIONS GRID: Once they are thinking attributes and capabilities, teachers then need to constantly revisit motivation. Asking themselves “Why am I doing this again?” That is not a joke. I am referring to the choices of learning outcomes, development of activities and design of content e.g. writing text and even making videos. So the wheel introduces a 21st century model of motivation that science has developed. It is so well presented by Dan Pink in the TEDtalk “The Puzzle of Motivation” Thinking through the grid of Autonomy Mastery and Purpose and filtering everything you do from idea-creation to assessment will, I believe, significantly help your teaching be transformational. Consistently asking the question, “How does the learning environment and activity experience I am building give the learner autonomy, mastery and purpose?” Asking that question and adapting what you do could change everything.
  3. THE BLOOMS GRID: The Blooms Taxonomy is really a way of helping teachers design learning objectives that achieve higher order thinking. You start by thinking “cognitive domain categories”. You start with “remembering and understanding” that’s the easiest category to serve with objectives but produces the least effective objectives in achieving transformation. When supporting academics, I recommend they try to get at least one learning objective from each category and always push towards the domain category of Creating where higher order thinking takes place. This is the “By the time you finish this workshop/seminar/lesson you should be able to. . . ” type of thinking. With the emergence of the importance of social constructivism i.e. research showing the effectiveness of student centric and activity based learning, those learning objectives need to be mapped clearly to activities. So a better question is “By the time you finish this workshop/seminar/lesson you should be able to <choose and action verb> BY <then choose an activity or outcome>. Now you are ready for technology enhancement.
  4. THE TECHNOLOGY ENHANCEMENT GRID: With learning objectives and outcomes sorted, now think about technology aka apps. How can this serve your pedagogy? You can choose any app or technology you like, the wheel only suggests apps that can support the learning objectives and activities at the time of publishing. The Padagogy Wheel constantly needs updating with apps as they are released. Teachers also should think customization all the time – is there a better tool for the job of enhancing my defined pedagogy?
  5. THE SAMR GRID: Now is the time to think about how to apply this powerful
    Sievemodel. For more information on SAMR  visit this Queensland Govt. Schools Classrooms Connections website. You need answers to such questions as “How are you going to use the technologies you have chosen”?  Take each of your activities and think through how you will use the technology for each task. Ask yourself “Does this activity just substitute i.e. students could easily achieve tasks without this chosen technology, or can I augment or modify the tasks  to improve the activity and increase engagement”? Finally sieve your curriculum building activities and your teaching practice through the SAMR grid of redefinition. Is there any task you can build into the activity that without the technology would not be possible? You can tell when you are successful with this, as there is bound to be one student who will comment “Hey that is cool!”

Please take the Padagogy Wheel out for a spin every day you are teaching and use it.  Then share your experiences especially your best practice … your colleagues will benefit from your collaboration, appreciate it and together we can build transformational outcomes and help students become excellent practitioners and graduates.

Allan

 

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The Padagogy Wheel V3.0: Learning Design starts with graduate attributes, capabilities and motivation

PadWheelV3.0_SMALL

  • DOWNLOAD: This is good quality Acrobat PDF of the Padagogy Wheel V3.0 which has all the Apps hot linked to their iTunes preview pages. It also prints well as an A3 poster with QR Codes linking back to the blog entry and Youtube Video. You are encouraged to print it out for use in your college or school.

I am still a little numb at the amazing interest in, and discussion about, the Padagogy Wheel from teachers and educators around the world. It is only a week since I published my last blog post “The Padagogy Wheel V2.0: It’s all about transformation and integration“. and the poster is at 8000 downloads and 500-800 people visit the blog a day and about 300 tweets a day as well.. I owe a sincere thank you to Jeff Dunn and the team at Edudemic for the encouraging first article “Integrate iPads Into Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy With This ‘Padagogy Wheel’”  then the second blog post “New Padagogy Wheel Helps You Integrate Technology Using SAMR Model”  The second article really did whip up an interest storm. I think you will appreciate the posts.

So why yet another version only one week later? Well out of the buzz about V2.0 came a suggestion that I couldn’t lay down, it ran around my head for days. A good friend said, “You know motivation is also at the core of the Wheel … how would that work?” Add to this line of thinking the fact that it seems all the excitement is about how Blooms interacts with the SAMR model and no one seems to be talking about the core of the wheel – Graduate Attributes and Capabilities. I wanted to upgrade the communication about the core concepts of the wheel so nobody missed their importance.

Prof Geoff Scott from UWSGraduate Attributes and Capabilities: Without this your learning design will drift. A major ah aha for me was when Prof Geoff Scott, the Executive Director of Sustainability at University of Western Sydney (UWS), was introduced as a keynote speaker at a Learning and Teaching Conference at the University of Adelaide in 2012. It was in during that presentation Geoff introduced research they had done within the business sector. They had asked CEO’s and executives …. the people that do the hiring, what they desired to see in graduates from Higher Education programs. When he introduced us to the top 15 requested capabilities, there was almost an audible gasp. Most of these are heart attitudes and values based. There was even more exclamation when we realised that most of them were not actively targeted by our courses. The top 15 are

  1. Having energy, passion and enthusiasm
  2. Being willing to give credit to others
  3. Empathising & working productively with diversity
  4. Being transparent and honest in dealings with others
  5. Thinking laterally and creatively
  6. Being true to one’s values and ethics
  7. Listening to different points of view before coming to a decision
  8. Understanding personal strengths & limitations
  9. Time management skills
  10. Persevering
  11. Learning from errors
  12. Learning from experience
  13. Remaining calm when under pressure
  14. Being able to make effective presentations to different groups
  15. Identifying from a mass of information the core issue/opportunity

These capabilities should be identified as part of our graduate attributes and woven into the fabric of our courses in the activity design. We need to have transformation at the core of what we do as teachers if it is all about the students. Don’t jump into learning outcomes, activity design and choosing technology without first reflecting on graduate attributes and capabilities then how to improve motivation and engagement. Skip these and your course design will be weaker for it.

Please visit the blog post and listen to the podcast episode at: “If you exercise these capabilities.. you will be employed!

The Puzzle of Motivation: Teachers use the term engagement all the time. Engagement is about motivation. If students are not motivated learning will not happen. As I researched about motivation I discovered this TEDtalk …. of course 2.5 million others knew about it first, which naturally raised my interest. As I watched it, lights went on big time. “Ah Aha! These concepts are a grid to help people improve learning activity design and they have to go into the wheel” – V3.0 was born.

Dan Pink shows what science knows about motivation and what business does about it are largely mismatched. He presents a very strong case for a rethink about motivation in business and offers a new approach and model for the 21st century. It is built around intrinsic motivations. He introduces the elements which he says are the building blocks of a completely new operating system for businesses.

  • AUTONOMY: The urge to direct our own lives
  • MASTERY: The desire to get better and better at something that matters
  • PURPOSE: The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

Dan expands on the concept of Autonomy.and introduces examples of three levels of application of this type of motivation. “Fedex Days” where staff have to deliver outcomes overnight then “The 20 Percent time” … done famously at Google. Finally the “Results Only Work Environment or ROWE” where he compares the motivation and implementation for two models of encyclopedia i.e. Encarta and Wikipedia.

Please watch this video and think about how you build curriculum, how to facilitate your courses and how to motivate tomorrows students to become all they can be as leaders that make a difference. Could this model of motivation change the way we build curriculum and teach courses – I believe used as part of the Padagogy Wheel it will go a long way in the hands of passionate teachers. Please post your comments and suggestions for new apps.

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The Benefits of Scenario-Based Learning … the New Instructional Design

As a kid, my ultimate Christmas present was a Davy Crockett coonskin hat, the ones with the tails, remember? :-)  At the end of 2012 when I leant about a conference being held in a hotel across the road from the Alamo in Texas I have to confess I thought it was the coolest location I’ve heard of in 10 years.  Of course it being the Second Immersive Learning Conference and Symposium, focusing on a pedagogical approach I have been passionate about for 9 years also helped.

kenspero_leftI made contact with Ken Spero, a Senior Strategist with The Regis Company, and who helped design and launch the Immersive Learning University (ILU).  The ILU hosted the conference and thanks to his support I was able to attend.  This podcast episode recorded on SKYPE is with Ken who actually is in Philadelphia USA with me in Adelaide South Australia. Ken has been thought leading, teaching, promoting and supporting Scenario-based eLearning (aka Immersive Learning) for almost 25 years. His experience and understanding of the subject is awesome and you need to listen to the podcast a couple of times at least.

I asked Ken the question, “What are the benefits of Scenario-Based Learning” and in this podcast episode he unpacks the following seven benefits. I encourage you to reflect on these and think about your own teaching opportunities:

  1. They are a Form of Storytelling:  A couple of notable quotes from the podcast are “If we don’t have a motivated and engaged student we have nothing” and “Harness the energy of a good story into our learning applications and we have more freedom to achieve our learning outcomes”. Ken also talks about the mother-in-law example from his booklet, how everybody can relate and so people remember. What are your thoughts on these concepts? Please use the comments area below. I also asked Ken if educators need to be good storytellers and his answer and it’s rationale is quite an “ah aha”
  2. motherinlawfinalThey Engage Our Emotions: We talk about remembering and retrieving. Long term and short term memory.
  3. They Enable “Failing Forward”: We discussed if the concept of “failing is not an option” is needed in learning, about how giving students a chance to fail helps them build capacity to fix their mistakes as they would in real –life situations.
  4.  They Promote Critical Thinking:  Ken talks about context and the need for thinking and the process of judgment. We touch on the big question of “Is scenario-based learning good for all disciplines in higher education?” Ken gives a fascinating example from the teaching of history.
  5. They Accelerate Time: We discuss how the learning designer can use simulations to compress time to help the learner make a decision, implement it and experience its consequences all within the same exercise.
  6. They Provide Shared Context:  Ken returns to the power of the shared story and how it impacts the learner and we discuss the profound idea that simulations may be a better way to train and may accelerate community building or bonding between people and improve morale … go listen and comment on that idea please, we would love you to join the conversation.
  7. They Trigger Our Memories: Ken refers to studies on how the brain works and how simulations can create linkages.

We encourage you to listen to this podcast episode carefully and reflect on how you might use scenario-based elearning in your discipline. Also please join the conversation in the comments below and if you would like to email either Ken or me Allan we would be happy to hear from you.

Podcast Episode:

Online Resources

  • Scenario-Based E-Learning: Ken Spero, ASTD INFOline series Oct 2012
    Allan’s comment: This is a 16 pg. booklet published by ASTD targeted at and priced for the corporate marketplace. It sells for U$25.00. Ken mentioned a one off entry.  I was not able to check that for when I went to this search page, I visited a different one of the results and am now locked out.  Please take care on your first visit if you want to see the book
  • Learning’s Hierarchy of Tools: Addressing Transactional Need Through Experiential Simulation: In this article Ken talks about a model he calls “Learning’s Hierarchy of Tools  and models it on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs … well worth a read
  • Three Keys to Designing Good Scenarios: This is a short article but touches on three important tips for designing good scenarios
  • ASTD Philadelphia E-Learning SIG Presentation Capturing and Deploying Experience Through Simulations with Ken Spero:  This was a presentation Ken made at the ASTD in Philadelphia on Thu Sept 20th 2012. There are a good set of PowerPoint slides here for downloading.
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A Passion for Immersive Learning … a Nine-Year Journey

Passion for IL blog entry imageLearning (and teaching, such as it is) is not a process of communication, but rather, a process of immersion. Put loosely, it suggests the idea of teaching not by telling or even demonstrating but rather through the creation (or identification) of an environment into which a learner is immersed”.

Stephen Downes (July 1 2006)

I re-discovered the above quote on a one of my seminar slides made back in 2006 while thinking about this podcast episode and blog post. Profound stuff and it was in fact 2004, when I received an unexpected email from someone who subsequently became a good friend and colleague meeting face-to-face 1.5 years later, after regular weekly Skype chats and collaborative projects together.  Dr Randall Kindley from Minnesota USA introduced me to what we called then Scenario-Based Learning (SBL), Situational Learning (SL), Simulations, eSims, Role Plays and Games.  This was all describing a methodology now becoming of age, which is often called Immersive Learning (IL).

The interest and energy around the campus was building steadily fueled by our work with Sheila Kavanagh OAM, a colleague and awarded burns nurse for her help in the 2002 Bali Bombings Disaster. Together we built an early example of immersive learning called the “Disaster Down Under”   to help if such a tragedy ever happened again.  In 2005 Randall visited Adelaide for a series of seminars and workshops.   I can remember vividly how much trouble we had trying to find software to serve the need for what is called branching.  IL works by presenting a learning with the 3C’s Challenges, Choices and Consequences   Back then the only affordable way we could find handling branching was Moodle and that was in its early stages. Everyone realized the potential of IL but as learning designers/educators it was a challenge to support the methodology with interactive learning modules or software managed processes.

We were devastated in 2006 when we heard Randall had a massive heart attack without notice and had died – educational research lost a pioneering thought leader. However his legacy has lived on in Adelaide and he would be thrilled at knowing that today the technology has caught up to the pedagogical needs and it is a new day for IL.

Randall Kindley photoIn this blog entry I have listed the available links to the work of Randall and it wont take you long to realize how far ahead of the wave his thinking was – spend some time listening and reading … your teaching may never be the same again.

In 2007 while on a trip to the USA I was introduced to a software product called Simwriter.  It was in its early development as well so I have been tracking it’s progress ever since. Late in 2012 I received from NexLearn the publishers, notification about an exciting new development in IL.  The Immersive Leaning University  (ILU) was having a Conference and Symposium in San Antonio TX in Jan 2013.  Thanks to some significant prize money from 2012, I was able to attend and it was really worth it.  My passion for IL has been rekindled and now “we have the technology!”. I am now exploring, learning and developing with  three major software offerings

Simwriter Simplicity  , Articulate Storyline  and the cloud based Zebrazapps  In future episodes I will be unpacking this software and sharing insights.  I am also excited to be able to talk to some of today’s pioneers in pushing IL forward and publishing them as episodes… stay tuned.

Please join me in this journey and share your examples of Immersive Learning and how it helped achieve outcomes in transformative education.

The Heritage of a Prophet: Dr Randall Kindley’s Legacy

  1. The New Instructional Design: Situational Learning. The complete presentation as published using the early Articulate Pro software in 2005
  2. Distaster Down Under Scenario-based Learning: Burns Nurse Planning experience published in 2005
  3. Journal Article:The Power of Simulation-based e-Learning (SIMBeL)” (2002)
  4. Online Magazine Article: “Scenario-Based e-Learning (SBeL): A Step Beyond Traditional E-Learning We All Can Take” (2002)
  5. The Situational Learning Cycle: Foundation of Simulation Learning. “Part 1: Identifying and Combining Appropriate Learning Technologies” (2003)

Immersive Learning Today: Tools and Resources

  1. Simwriter Simplicity
  2. Articulate Storyline
  3. Zebrazapps
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LAMS: The Future of Student Centric Learning Design


If you consider the “Continuum of Shift” applied to learning management systems, at one end you have a content-centric tool like Blackboard, then you find Moodle in the middle, and at the other, activity-centric, end you have LAMS (Learning Activity Management System), which is being used for interactive learning sequences and constructivist design in teaching. “LAMS is not really a LMS as such, it integrates with both Moodle and Blackboard and provides teachers with a highly intuitive visual authoring environment for creating sequences of learning activities. These activities can include a range of individual tasks, small group work and whole class activities based on both content and collaboration” (LAMS website). I believe this is the most useful tool for developing strong pedagogy in learning design, Higher Education has available. And when I tell people in workshops “it is Learning Design, not for dummies, but time strapped academics”, I usually have their attention.

I discovered this wonderful new software platform in 2005 and have been tracking its development ever since.  In June 2011, I developed a workshop entitled “It’s All About the Students”. Forty academics attended and agreed with me about the importance of the students, and many committed to pilot the pedagogies and technologies. Actually we only had room for ten courses

The results in the pilot were all positive and I’m thrilled our leaders have captured the vision and the University of Adelaide has now adopted LAMS campus wide. We now have “LAMS@Adelaide“.  I am leading the rollout project and am excited that the academics, who want to improve the student experience through strong learning design, have a practical tool they can use.  They don’t have to understand all the theory behind good social constructivist  pedagogy, they can easily access learning activity sequences built with best practice, customise and populate the content and run a monitored learning event face-to-face or remotely. It can be either synchronous, asynchronous or blended.

LAMS is an ideal environment for developing curriculum. It helps the design to move towards the Activity end of the Continuum of Shift. Academics can use this as a simple exercise (e.g. a survey) within a more formal lesson like a lecture and publish results in real time. Some of our academics are developing entire practicum experiences using LAMS and students can start a one hour lesson together in a computer lab guided by the teacher, and finish it in a coffee shop with their friends from the course.  After one use of LAMS one course co-ordinator is planning an entire Program next year with 500+ students.

The software is open source and the best way to understand why I am excited about LAMS for Learning Design is to visit LessonLAMS.com sign up (it’s free) and “play” with it …. you will see the potential.

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H.E. … It’s in the Genes for Olivet and Bethany

My host was dropping me off at the Admin building at Olivet University in Scotts Valley just south of San Francisco CA.  Our car turned into a village like community snuggled in the countryside with bush (that’s Australian) all around. We approached the sign and it was hard to distinguish what was university and what was the community.  It is completely physically embedded in the neighbourhood all 74 acres of it. I spent the entire day there answering questions and sharing vision.  I was very comfortable.  It took me quite a while to nail down what I was feeling.  I realised it about lunch time – this is just like a YWAM base, it has pioneering written all over it.  I was thrilled to play even a small part in their plan to build a 21st century online university from the ground up.  We brainstormed the entire day starting with the students, defining how they would  “look” or be and the need to define their graduate attributes. Then how they were working on the program learning outcomes and mapping courses and learning to these outcomes.

I almost became jealous of their flexibility, how they were identifying the drivers and who was the most important stakeholder.  They had clearly recognised the importance of the student then the pedagogy, then servicing their academics or teachers and then the support needed for the teaching and learning to be world class. They had it the right way around.

There is a lot of work ahead and the staff are committed to do what it takes.  It was a great experience to see that the higher education DNA of Christians is alive and well.

Some links from the Podcast episode and Online Resources to think About:

  • The university website of Olivet University
  • Selected photos of the campus on Flicker
  • A thought provoking address titled “Christian Academe vs. Christians in Academe”  Kenneth C. Elzinga the Robert C. Taylor Professor of Economics at the University of Virginia delivered this Centennial University Address in September 2005 at Abilene Christian University.

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What Does a Xxxxxx Graduate Look Like?

representation of valuesI have been challenging academics with that question for many years. The Xxxxxx part is their discipline e.g. What does a Perioperative Nursing Graduate look like?  It is all about defining excellence in students who complete a program or discipline. It is about the difference between good and excellent not between good and unacceptable.  “What do you mean?” is the usual response.  I am talking about values and skill sets, about who graduates are and what they believe to be the drivers of life. What they value and how they will make a difference and impact their world.

I am about to leave on a three week tour of mainland USA to ask Christian universities and colleges how they map their values (graduate attributes) to their programs and courses.  I have chosen Christian educational institutions as they have a mandate as part of the foundational beliefs to “make disciples” the Bible calls it.  To shape their students to “be”, live and work, modelling the life of Christ.  A big ask and I am particularly interested in how they use elearning methods and technologies and whether they believe the new pedagogies and technologies support their graduate attributes.

Some links from the Podcast episode and Online Resources to think About: Richard Morris, a mate and colleague is travelling with me for a large part of the trip.  Richard is director of Missions Aviation Fellowship Learning Technologies or MAFLT which has as its focus learning and teaching support in the Majority World. Richard’s perspective will be very valuable to ensure the focus is Global and will help students who not only come from what used to be called the “developing countries” to learn in such countries as the USA and Australia but help them make a difference to their world … the Majority World

Finally Universities in Australia have been defining and working with graduate attributes for some years and Murdoch University in Western Australia has even a software program to help them map their attributes to their programs.

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