About akbacademic

Interested in e-learning, innovation, science, technology, life, the universe and everything (to some extent).

E-learning development by numbers

Recently, I demonstrated an evolving e-learning interface in use at UoD. So I thought a little more should be said about the step by step process.

homeScreenshotSmall2Step 1 of this new interface started when Plato was redesigned as an HTML product, rather than Flash.

Step 2 occurred when I was given the opportunity to host products on a web server that runs scripts. This capability had been requested about 4 or 5 years ago, and the opportunity finally cropped up due to serendipity rather than effective strategic planning. They do say that patience is a wonderful attribute to have.

Step 3 is a project to develop a product to deliver training on Equality and Diversity, so it was not surprising that the requirements included an interface that supports accessibility criteria. The same functionality also allows support for mobile devices.

So throughout 2013 you can expect to see some e-learning products with the following features and benefits:

  • A clean user interface
  • Simple navigation buttons
  • Contents list (side bar)
  • Section contents list / map
  • Site map
  • Support for mobile devices
  • Accessibility features
  • Hide the contents side bar (for small screens)
  • Take notes (per page)
  • Multiple choice question and answer
  • Proof of participation certificate, using above with a minimum threshold score.

I hope you find the new interfaces useful, and I welcome your feedback.

PS: There is also a Step 4 currently in progress.  This and some other cutting edge R&D activities are posted at Adam Bostock on Google+ if you want to keep up to date.

Why is research vital to e-learning?

The Christmas Lecture snow scene

Okay, it’s not quite the Royal Institution, but locked unsecurely (or is that insecurely) behind the walls of TEL is a top secret team called LSR.  We do all the technical under-the-bonnet work that is required to develop e-learning systems and resources.  Within LSR one individual asks:

Why is research vital to the development of e-learning?

The following explains why research and development are important in the generic sense; and summarises some of the research that has been conducted by me over the past seven years.

Hopefully, you’ll learn at least one amazing fact that you didn’t already know; and you’ll find that lots of questions you’ve asked about e-learning are answered below.

Find out the answers to these questions and more:

  1. What’s the connection between innovation and dinosaurs?
  2. What links Kodak, Raleigh Bicycles and the Roman Empire?
  3. When is it time for you to retire?
  4. What are 21st century skills?
  5. When will there be an elegant user interface that supports accessibility and mobile devices, plus other goodies?
  6. What’s social learning?
  7. Stick with Blackboard or switch to Moodle? – What’s the answer?
  8. What’s the future of the VLE?
  9. Web services – what’s that?
  10. What are the two types of research?
  11. How do we learn and what’s that got to do with e-learning?
  12. What’s the future of e-learning?

To get some answers read: About Research and Development

The Internet knowledge minefield and validation

The Internet is a mine of useful and useless knowledge. One could say it is a minefield of knowledge. So a key skill for a student, or any Internet user, should be the ability to validate claims on there. Are the things you read true, false, or just true to some extent? Do you ask yourself: How much of a claim is true, and is it relevant to your perspective?

A key research skill is validation of the “knowledge” you find. You can do this by going to: quality sites that are peer reviewed (preferably by experts in the given topic); leading industry publications and organisations; and official sites run by relevant experts and national / international authorities.

Don’t just take the word of a stranger, or a salesman 🙂 Common sense can also help to flag up something that may be inaccurate.

Should we explicitly help our students to develop this core skill, and if so how should we do it?