Tag Archives: Instructional Technology

Getting started with eduMOOC 2011: Into the fray

I’m participating in the new eduMOOC: Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow,  which started on Monday. This is a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) sponsored by the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois-Springfield (UIS). So far, well… I’m learning, listening, and looking for resources.

There’s a lot to do and read. There are study groups, discussion forums, weekly panel discussions, participant blog posts, Facebook and Moodle groups, and a host of other items to review. It seems with a group this big (2450+ people in 65 countries and counting) you can be a little selective – attend to the parts that make sense for you, seek out the resources that meet your needs and fit your interests.

The other MOOC members represent a wide range of roles in higher education and K-12 – senior leaders, administrators, faculty members, graduate students, tech specialists, advisors and counselors, and librarians. I am going at this from the perspective of an instructional designer and education writer/blogger – How is the MOOC structured and moderated? What technologies are involved? How are the logistics coordinated? What are the most popular topics? Where are people gathering and what are they discussing?

To help focus my efforts, I’m following another participant’s lead and going in search of (my own) learning objectives. Yes, these are loose and more designed to keep me going back to the site than anything else. I suppose a better phrase might be “learning and participation objectives:”

  • Attend the 8 panel discussions. (or review the recordings before the end of each week). These are panel discussions held in Elluminate, but broadcast on a UIS system that also streams the Twitter feed. Slides are provided as a PDF.
  • Try new technologies, tools, and techniques. So far I’ve posted my introduction using Google Sites discussion threads, and added my location to the Google participant map, both new to me. There is also a demo of etherpad going on.
  • Join a study group. With this many people it may make sense to find a sub-group. Hopefully one will center on instructional design…
  • Identify new resources in the form of blogs, twitter accounts, journals, and more. And add these to my PLN and Feedly.
  • Develop a list of specific ideas and concepts for further investigation, reading, and writing.
  • Exchange ideas and perspectives. So far I’ve already connected with another participant in New Zealand (Hello, @VirtualMV!) who has a cool wiki.
  • Add my voice to the mix, where I can and it makes sense to do so – hope to contribute and not just add to the fray. Began with a tweet during today’s panel discussion. Lots of description of the benefits and challenges of for-profit models, but it wasn’t apparent that anyone on the panel had worked at a for-profit. Assumptions, I think, are prevalent on both sides, for-profit and non-profit.
  • Spread the word with re-tweets, blog posts, bookmarks and the like.

Have you considered joining? There’s still time! There are also resources you might want to track, even if you decide not to register:

And in case you are wondering, “What’s a MOOC?” here’s a great explanation from Laura Pasquini.

Image credit: stock.xchng

RSS Reader Review: Feedly

If you are like me, you’re trying to stay current, to manage the flow of information, and it seems like an uphill battle. After several failed attempts at Google Reader I decided to try Feedly.  I’m about two months in at this point and am glad I made the move. Feedly isn’t new, but if you are looking for something to organize all the stuff you want to read online, you might want to check it out. Here are a few of the reasons Feedly is working for me.

Cover page format – Advertised as “magazine-like” I have found this to be true, and I think this format is the key to me coming back to actually read. It offers a nice, simple layout and combination of headlines, text, and images. On this main “cover” page, and in the other views as well, you can view the details of each post, many in full text, before deciding whether or not you need to go on to the site. This page also gives you a quick look at the headlines.

Categories – You can assign each new blog or website you add to your Feedly account with a category. This works well to keep the work related streams separate from other interests for example. This feature also allows you to view just the feeds related to a specific category you’ve created.

Tie-in with Twitter – It’s extra easy to send a link out via Twitter within the Feedly page. You need to link your accounts then you are ready to share. Feedly offers several social networking elements that might be interesting to you. You can also share via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Reader, Instapaper, Tumblr, and others.

Tie-in with Delicious – I am a diehard Delicious fan and Feedly allows me to quickly add a link to my collection there. You can also add to Evernote, Pinboard, Diigo, and others.

“Latest” view – Probably my favorite view at this point. Gives you a long list of what’s been posted most recently – one line per entry with the blog or site it came from and the title of the post. Checking this view has become part of my routine at the end of the day.

Apps for iPad and iPhone – When I first started using Feedly, I didn’t find an iPad  app and was a little disappointed. But that has been remedied! The app interface is a little different, but you still get that magazine like feel and the “latest” view option and tie-in with Twitter.

Firefox Add-on – Another component that adds to the ease of use is the add-on. Use this to quickly open your Feedly account at any point and to add a feed to your account from an open blog or other site.

While I still have many, many unread entries, I am able to quickly identify a handful each day to read in full. The format allows me to scan for issues that are important to me and to easily share what I find.

Building a Reading List

Deciding which feeds to read is an ongoing process of adding and deleting. If you try Feedly, or any other RSS reader, give yourself the flexibility to continuously fine tune and stay on the look out for new sites and authors. Here are just a few of the feeds I am now following and recommend:

What about you?

What sources should we all add to our lists? Your recommendations are welcome! Suggest a few of the blogs and websites that you follow to stay informed.

If you have tried Feedly, please consider sharing your experience here. If you are hooked on another reader, let us know which one! What are the features that make it helpful to you?

Managing the Flow of Information (or Not)

Information and advice about instructional design and technology is everywhere. And it’s being generated everyday, 24/7 – on websites, at conferences, in journals and magazines, in email newsletters, in social networking communities, and on blogs. Much of what I find sits in my Delicious bookmarks account – neatly tagged, but unread.

How do we manage the constant flow of information? And perhaps more importantly, how do we attend to it?

At the end of a recent keynote presentation titled Say it in Photos (which was apparently presented from bed), Alan Levine (@CogDog) was asked: how do you keep up with the stream of information? Alan’s answer was quick and to the point: you can’t. I think he even laughed a little bit when he said it. His advice was to focus on the things that “give you energy” and “empower the work you do.”

This advice is both permission to step off of the information treadmill and a challenge to identify those sources that can make a difference. There’s also a hint here that it’s personal. What energizes and empowers you may be different from what energizes and empowers me.

Read on…

What do you rely on for instructional design and technology news and information? What and/or who energizes your work?

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Getting Ready for Conference Season

We are in the midst of what might be described as eLearning conference season. There are conferences happening throughout the year, but a number of them seem to be concentrated in the August to November timeframe. I am involved in four events (how did that happen?!) in the next nine weeks, so now is the time to get ready. It’s a personal goal of mine to attend two professional conferences per year. In some years the budget, location, and timing stars align and more are added to the schedule, but two is a reasonable goal with some purposeful planning.

Choose

The conference opportunities for instructional designers and technologists are many to say the very least. (Take a look at the sites provided on this previous post: Professional Conferences in ID, IT, Distance Ed… includes several conference search sites in the Updates). We can’t attend them all so we have to choose carefully.

  • Niche – Conferences range from large and broad to quite small with very specific topics.  What is your professional focus now (K-12, business and industry, higher ed)? What would you like to learn more about (virtual worlds, technology resources and decisions, course development, a specific content area)? Conferences can also be a great way to branch out and explore something new.
  • Budget – Funding is an issue for all of us these days. Look for registration options that allow you to attend part of an event, pay by-the-day, or just expo/vendor rooms. Consider what the conference fee covers in terms of receptions and meals. There are more online conferences these days – the registration fees for these seem to be significantly less and there’s no cost for travel and lodging. Many traditional conferences are also now offering virtual tracks taking place simultaneously with the face-to-face schedule. (You can present virtually, too!)
  • Location – You will find interesting events all over the country and in a lot of international locations. You can also look specifically in your area. This can be a budget or time driven decision. You might be surprised at some of the smaller events taking place at the regional level, at local campuses, and within the local business/industry sector.  Smaller events also lend themselves to an easier networking process.
  • Timing – Scheduling conference attendance around your workload can be tricky. Look for events that take place over a weekend and/or holiday. It’s not unusual to work a conference into a vacation, especially if the event is held in a resort-type location.

Prepare

Conferences can be significant investments in terms of time and resources, so get a game plan together before you go. Here are several posts with tips on preparation. Some targeting specific events, but all offer great advice no matter the conference.

Dan McCarthy – How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

  • Dan suggests taking time to see the local area if you are traveling to the event. My dissertation advisor was a fan of this, too. Otherwise it’s just hotels and airports. And they all look pretty much the same. Take advantage of the location.

Chris Brogan – 9 Ways to Rock the BlogWorld Expo

  • I particularly like the recommendation to “bring three good questions.” Make them specific and work on seeking out the answers through sessions and conversations.

Inc. –  How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

  • Among Inc.’s tips: start networking before the event begins. This is getting easier with social networking tools like Twitter.

Participate

You’ve gone to the trouble to get to the dance, so… dance! Attend the sessions, ask questions, network between sessions and at receptions. Networking is often a major reason to attend a conference, and depending on your goals, may be a more important use of your time than the sessions. Think about your goals for the event. What do you want to take-away?

  • Present – Consider submitting a proposal to be on the schedule. This process usually takes place well in advance, but can provide you with additional experience, exposure, etc. And it doesn’t have to be just you up there. Think about projects you are working on with others and collaborate on a session. Presenters often get a reduced registration rate as well.
  • Volunteer – Look for opportunities to help with registration, introduce sessions, moderate panels. Students often get a discount for this kind of thing. It’s also a good way to meet people, especially the conference organizers.
  • Share – Tweet from the sessions! Share links, insights, your observations. Others in your circle will be interested, too. Blog about what you learned and keep the conversations going. Share your notes with colleagues. Take a look at this post from Michael Gray on how to use Evernote to document your conference experience.

Never been to a conference?

As with most things, it’s about taking the first step – create a short list of events you would like to attend in the next year. Then check out the websites, review last year’s program, look for proposal and registration deadlines, and put your plan together to attend. Get it on your calendar.

Experienced conference attendee?

Please share your tips here! What are your favorite ways to choose, prepare, and participate?

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds, Flickr

Jobs in Instructional Design and Technology

Months before finishing graduate school I set up several email search agents on job search/career sites in higher education and industry. That was over three years ago and I never shut them down. While I did find a job after graduation I like seeing what comes up each week. The fields of instructional design and technology are still pretty young, undefined, and evolving. This evolution comes through when you read these announcements over time. Setting up a search agent or alert allows you to set the parameters of the searches to meet your needs: location, salary range, etc.  You can also usually add a list of keywords.

Are you looking? Here are a few sites you might want to consider adding to your search:

  • Instructional Design Central – As promised in the name, a central site for all things instructional design. In addition to a jobs board, this site also provides info on conferences and organizations.
  • Chronicle of Higher Education – Jobs – For those interested in working specifically in a college or university setting, although there are a few industry and non-profit listings as well.
  • HigherEdJobs.com – Another good site for college/university positions – user friendly search agent feature.

Professional association job boards:

  • Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)
  • Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
  • American Society for Training and Development (ASTD)
  • The eLearning Guild – Job Board

Some of the big job search sites – search specifically for instructional design. You can also set up advanced search filters.

If you like Twitter…consider following:

  • @InstrDesignJobs – This account posts multiple jobs daily. Most seem to be industry focused, but you’ll see other settings, too.

Not looking? Consider setting up a search or two to stay current – know what employers are looking for now in terms of experience, education, and skills. If you are thinking about continuing your education and training, check these posts first to see what is in demand.

Other recommendations? Please let me know your suggestions and I’ll add to the list. By the way, this post was inspired by Deb Ng’s post: 25 Places to Find Social Media Jobs. Interested in the use of social media in education? You might find her list interesting, too.

Photo credit: everything.in.blue, Flickr

Reading about Learning Science, Psychology

This post was inspired by a question I saw on Twitter (thanks, @Ryan_Eikmeier!): “Can anybody recommend a text that summarizes current research in learning science, the science letters in stone of learning, that is?”

My response included several books that together cover most of this territory, but I couldn’t put my finger on just one item/volume that would cover it at all. My recommendations are below. Please add yours to the comments area!

Psychology of Learning for Instruction – Marcy P. Driscoll

  • I have an early version of this, but it looks like a new edition is on the way. This book is a solid, easy to digest, overview of learning psychology. Major learning theories are presented in detail. This one has become a handbook.

Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology – Robert A. Reiser and John V. Dempsey

  • This book adds to the previous, bringing technology and instructional design and strategies into the conversation. A number of notable chapter contributors give this one a nice scope, including industry, and some general guidance on competencies for those entering the field.

Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide – Sharan B. Merriam and Rosemary S. Caffarella

  • My response to Ryan included this as a ‘classic for adult learning theory’.  A good reference and a different perspective from the previous two. Also provides an overview of learning theories detailed in Driscoll’s book listed above.

The original question specifically asks for texts. While the books do offer collections and summaries, they certainly aren’t as current as journals and other publications with shorter production times. Another post, perhaps…

photo credit: myfear, Flickr

Speed and Agility in Higher Education

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning last week and three themes surfaced as I attended sessions and talked with other participants:

NeedForSpeed-AmnemonaPart 2: Speed

The opening session with Frank Mayadas started this theme in motion. He stated that those of us involved in the development and delivery of online learning are moving at a frenetic pace and achieving success. That is in spite of the fact that words like “speed and agility are rarely used to describe higher education.”

How fast can we go? How fast should we go?

The concurrent sessions covered issues related to technology and how it allows us to manipulate data at a faster pace that we would ever be able to do on our own. These technologies have the potential to impact how learning takes place and how networked learning changes the way we design and deliver formal courses.  It occurred to me that while technology can make our work easier, it also adds to our to-do lists.

The closing session with Stephen Laster included this statement: “What I did yesterday isn’t good enough for tomorrow.” The speed at which we must move to keep up with the need seems a little daunting. Keeping up with not only what is new, but what is also useful will be a constant challenge as we move forward in the fields of instructional design and instructional technology.

How do we balance careful decision-making and development of effective online courses as our budgets, bottom lines, and student demands push us forward?

photo credit: Amnemona, Flickr