Saturday, December 30, 2006

IDOL 2006 : Reflections

The year 2006 is quickly coming to a close. This past year has seen many changes, including a move from Truman State University (Missouri) to San Juan College (New Mexico). This move allowed me to move from being the only instructional designer to being the Manager of Online Services and Senior Instructional Designer. This also allowed me to return to working with American Indian students in higher education. SJC is located in Farmington, NM which is located on the north east border of the Navajo Nation.

There have been a number of online advancements worth noting as well. This past year saw the creation of online video editing and publishing. Sites like YouTube and Video.Google experienced astronomical growth and access. Additionally, web to phone technology also exploded. In the past sending an SMS required you to have a cell phone, now it possible to use your browser.

These technologies demonstrate the power of collaboration and social connectivity. I am excited to see what happens in 2007. I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Learning is ...

I am working on articulating this notion that PRESENTATION + INTERACTION always leads to LEARNING. While simple, this concept is also profound. Throughout our life we are constantly LEARNING! Instructional Designers are devoted to providing support and expertise in the area of creating presentations and structured interaction experiences in order to reach a learning objective. This is true regardless of whether or not it occurs face-to-face or online.
There are hundreds and even thousands of content delivery approaches that can be effective. Presentation or communication requires a source and a recipient. For example a textbook is the source and the reader is the recipient. Also, the lecturer is the source (S) the listener is the recipient (R). We should be aware of the reality that source reliability and recipient preparedness each contribute to the effectives of presentation.
After content has been received, interactions need to take place. These interactions are not limited to, but typically include, S+R, R+S, R+R, R+non-R, R (self-dialogue), and R+computer. The Instructional Designer should be skilled and crafting scenarios in which these interactions can be mediated and recorded, for later assessment. The biggest challenge is likely to be understanding those variables (gender, culture, religion, language, etc ...) which can have a direct impact upon how individuals/groups interact.
This is our business. This is our vision. Hopefully, this is our passion! We believe that everyone capable of engaging in the presentation and interaction and capable of learning. This learning then becomes the foundation upon which future learning can be built upon. While I don't think the term "student" is appropriate for the 21st century, we typically say that we are serving them. Yet, how focused are we on measuring the degree of learning? Also, how concerned are we that learners have retained what they have learned?
I realize that this might seem rather simplistic, but I am concerned that learners have not been adequately primed to learn. When was the last time that you heard or read, an introduction into how the learner would be learning the material? Just a though ... think about it.

IDOL Toolchest - 06

With the Fall 2006 semester in full swing and faculty managing lectures, grading assignments, advising students, and facilitating course discussions ... I am reflecting on a few tools that are proven to be quite useful for assessment. These tools are not free, but they get my stamp of approval for being innovative and robust.
Articulate Quizmaker -
Besides creating flash quizzes, this tool allows you to create questions with custom feedback, progressive scoring, question review at the conclusion, emailing the results to the instructor, printing out a certification of completion, and posting the results to the gradebook. Since the quiz is in Flash (swf) the questions can not be copied/pasted.
StudyMate -
This product is less expensive than Quizmaker and interfaces with most course management systems (Angel, BlackBoard, WebCT) seamlessly. StudyMate includes templates for ten different activities and games. Perhaps the most valuable tool is the multi-language spell checker. Educational discounts and site licenses are available.
Respondus -
If you build online assessments, this is the must have tool for instructional designers and course developers. You can create your quizzes in MS Word or another word processor and import them directly into the program. You can also assign randomization variables to the quiz or test bank. You can also combine test banks and create even more complicated assessments. Since this integrates with the major course management system (SCORM compliant) uploading and managing quizzes is simple. Educational discounts and site licenses are available.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

IDOL Toolchest - 05

Well, while these tools might not seem related, they serve a great function. They are time creators! If technology does not make tasks easier and actually create time for the user, are they worth the investment? Each of these are free and big time savers.
Podcast RSS Creator -
Just by entering your information, this simple little program will create the XML file for you to provide to your subscribers. When you press the "Expand" button, you will find the description information for your episode. While this program only builds for one archived podcast at a time, the episode information can easily be copied and pasted from prior shows.
Pinger Instant Voice Messaging -
This service is awesome! Imagine using your cell phone to send voice message email(s) to your friends, family, co-workers, supervisors. You can add an unlimited number of contacts (First, Last Name and email address) and then any combination of contacts for groups. I use it to broadcast short messages to all of my staff. Also, this service is free to use.
Official Resizr -
Have you ever wanted an easier way to resize your images, so that they could be shared online but not take up so much memory? This web site allows you to browse your hard drive, find the image, upload it, resize it, and then save it back to your computer. You can also change (reduce) the quality of the image. Resizing is as simple as using a sliding bar.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Back to School ...

OK, well, today is Monday August 21st and I can tell that it is time for school to start because today marks the beginning of Truman Week. New Faculty Orientation, incoming freshman, football players, longer library hours, a new CIO (congrats George) and five days and counting.

It hit me, when Julie introduced me to the faculty as Truman State University's FIRST Instructional Designer, that I have been apart of history. For the past three years, I have had great opportunity to expolore the possibilities and create opportunities for both faculty and myself. The faculty that I have worked with have demonstrated a true spirit of innovation. There is a good reason that Truman has a reputation for excellence - their faculty and their staff and their students.

I could rave about the innovations here, in just three short years, but instead I will simply say that when creative individuals have support and encouragement (especially by their instructional designers) amazing projects can be completed. Facilitate and nuture your faculty! Remember that they want to be the best that they are capable of becoming, even those who seem to be in a rut. Dr. Bob Norton (MidAmerica Nazarene University), a longtime friend and Mentor taught me that.

Today also marked the first day of classes at San Juan College (Farmington, NM) ... where I will be heading this Saturday. I have already starting working with my staff (Lynn, Marty, Nathan, and Sam) and have high aspirations. It may seem like I am leaving instructional design as the Manager of Online Services, however it is really that I am moving to Senior Instructional Designer for an institution committed to taking online learning to a new dimension.

So, here we are - endings and beginnings. The circle of life continues. Seasons change! Semesters change ...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

IDOL Toolchest - 04

As the academic year begins, I want to invite you to examine three tools that should prove to be quite useful. These tools, while not necessarily linked in function, provide instructional designers with the tools to create amazing quality content. Understand that although my aim is to introduce free tools, this is not always possible.
iClone 1.5 -
I was a Poser fan from my first introduction, and then Reallusion improved a product called It's Me and called iClone. This product allows anyone, with little experience, to create 3D talking avitars inside a completely 3D environment. You can add clothing, backgrounds, motion, and character interactions. While the more sophisticated productions may take more time, just remember to view the free tutorials so you can learn these skills quickly.
Samson C01U -
If you ever have to record audio, then please get this microphone. I realize that it costs more than what you might want to pay by picking up that headset at Wal-Mart. You will find that this product, which I recently saw listed for $69 is a far better investment than almost any other hardware you are going to purchase. The mic is a studio quality condensor microphone and produces remarkable quality. It is a must have in my toolchest.
Windows Live Writer (beta) -
Although I am still a fan of BlogJet, I must admit that the this new product is going to make collaborative blogging much easier. I am using this free tool to create this version of the toolchest and giving it a run for the money. What I really like is the ease with which it recognizes the settings for my blog ( and allows me to easily edit past posts. I can even quickly insert links, pictures and maps ... now that is pretty cool for a free tool.

[ this is an example of the map feature ]

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Moving out West

Well, this might be old news to some – but I am sure NEW news to others. I have accepted an offer for the position of Manager of Online Services at San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico. I will be there to begin building a new managed section on September 1st. I have met the staff and feel totally confident that this is a good professional move.
I am leaving Truman State University, where I served as the director of Instructional Design Services for three years. I was fortunate to be a part of developing the eFellowship program and institutionalize the Summer Online Program. While there are many things yet to be achieved, I know that online learning and the advanced uses of instructional technology have become more firmly established.

IDOL Toolchest - 03

Well, after a brief hiatus, I think we are back on track. Remember the idea is to provide a link to a variety of resources that significantly impact the field of Instructional Design for Online Learning. Each of these resources are free.
Imagine, after installing this small program on your computer (local) and on a colleague’s computer (remote), you can print your documents directly to any computer that is running and has the software active. Print to an office across campus, or half-way around the world.
While I understand that not everyone likes to do programming, this Open Source Task Management and Help Desk System is awesome. Installing the program on a LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) system is pretty straight forward. The benefits are a robust and industrial quality project/tasking/help request tracking system that even prints reports.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share this amazing FREE service, which makes it possible to add text commentary to video. Using Flash video (*.flv) files complete video footage can have meta data assigned to frames along the timeline. This amazing service will make it possible for faculty and students to share the experience of creating reusable commentary.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

BlogTalk Radio

OK, now it is as easy as making a telephone call … while I thought pod-calling would be all the craze, the idea of creating podshows by having the host call a toll number (NYC) and then having listeners call a different toll number (NYC), streaming the call LIVE and even archiving for later playback is the ultimate synchronous podcasting experience!

BlogTalk Radio went live on July 25, 2006 and yesterday (August 7, 2006) finally got their full audio archiving feature functioning. Alan Levy (CEO) and his remarkable team deserve to be recognized as major innovators for podcasting in 2006! This sounds good right? Well, add that you can have up to 500 callers at once! Add that you can control upto 5 active callers (mic made live)! Add that revenue generated from building your audience and show, will be split 50/50 with you the host! Add that it is completely FREE, except the toll call!

Amazing technology and practical applications.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Instant Message Etiquette

I would like to highlite the points published by author Stowe Boyd (June 01, 2006), and encourage you to visit and read the entire article (click here). The article is based on an interview with Carl Tyler (CTO of Instant Technologies).

  • Use status and status descriptions effectively.
  • IM isn't email.
  • Be careful when using acronyms.
  • Don't be afraid to use the phone.
  • Don't hide behind IM.
  • When you leave the office, or you're done for the day, log off from your IM system.
  • If you're on the phone with one person, or someone comes into your office to chat, try and avoid still taking part in IM conversations.
  • Be aware of other people's typing skills.
  • Be aware that CAPS LOCK in the IM world is considered shouting.
  • When it makes sense bring in other people.
  • While these may seem obvious, they do represent a major source of confusion and frustration among IM users. If you are interested in a more formal (and somewhat edutaining) guide to Instant Messaging, check out The Instant Messenger Handbook (published at Black Table).


    Saturday, May 27, 2006

    IDOL Toolchest - 02

    In this week’s Toolchest, I have included links to download three great (free) utilities to aid in your work with graphics. By clicking on the link you will be able to download the program installation file(s).
    Webthumb 2005 v4
    You can use Webthumb 2005 for creating a photo gallery and generating all of the HTML - but, most importantly you will be creating smaller (controlled size) versions of larger images. An entire directory and subdirectory can be created in minutes!

    Image Brander
    With Image Brander you can add your watermark to images in a number of different formats, GIF, PNG, JPG and TIFF. You select the watermark image to use (I suggest a PNG file with a transparent background) and the images that you want to brand, and the Image Brander does the rest! It is that simple.
    With Pixeur you can easily view the color, RGB, Hex, and Long value of any color you see. Pixeur will also keep a history of all colors you have selected, so going back is as simple as choosing the color from the Color History list. The new Color Selector, Color Scheme, Advanced Color History tools, makes Pixeur a top in its class.

    Top 10 Blunders

    I came across this presentation and thought it would be a nice addition to the inside IDOL blog. Joseph Ganci of DazzleTechnolgies Corp has created this list of common mistakes that can be devistating to those responsible for developing eLearning. In addition to the Top 10 Blunders in Developing e-Learning, details are provided and suggestions for avoiding them included.

    The Top 10 Blunders …
    1. Skipping steps
    2. Starting it all wrong
    3. Underestimating the work
    4. Choosing the wrong team members
    5. Choosing the wrong tools
    6. Choosing the wrong media elements
    7. Designing incorrectly
    8. Allowing later scope changes
    9. Not evaluating the coursework
    10. Not expecting the unexpected

    Current Research in Learning Design

    A 'learning design' is defined as the description of the teaching-learning process that takes place in a unit of learning (eg, a course, a lesson or any other designed learning event). The key principle in learning design is that it represents the learning activities and the support activities that are performed by different persons (learners, teachers) in the context of a unit of learning. The IMS Learning Design specification aims to represent the learning design of units of learning in a semantic, formal and machine interpretable way. Since its release in 2003 various parties have been active to develop tools, to experiment with Learning Design in practice, or to do research on the further advancement of the specification. The aim of this special issue is to provide an overview of current work in the area. This papers introduces Learning Design, analyses the different papers and provides an overview of current research in Learning Design. The major research issues are at the moment: a) the use of ontologies and semantic web principles & tools related to Learning Design; b) the use of learning design patterns; c) the development of learrning design authoring and content management systems, and d) the development of learning design players, including the issues how to use the integrated set of learning design tools in a variety of settings.

    Koper, R. (2006). Current research in learning design. Educational Technology & Society, 9 (1), 13–22
    [ download ]

    Link Checking?

    There are very experiences that online learners will find more frustrating than “broken links” (Barbee, 2004) … but managing these links can be tedious and time consuming if done manually. However, there is a freeware program that can effectively assess your page, folder or website. The program is called REL Link Checker Lite 1.0, and it is easy to install and easy to use. Check out the screenshots or visit the online users manual. You can’t beat the price and it will save you time in keeping your sites current.

    Barbee, M. A. (2004). Web design and usability testing for school web sites. Instructional Technology Monographs, 1 (1). Retrieved May 27, 2006, from

    Learning Online Survey (2005)

    It is important, as scholar practitioners to be aware of research sources to guide both our practice and professional development. Most recently the Sloan Consortium has published their third annual report on the state of online education in U.S. Higher Education. The report is called Growing By Degree: Online Education In The United States, 2005. You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to view this complete 30 page report.

    IDOL Toolchest - 01

    I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the emerging tools that can directly impact instructional design for online learning (IDOL). I will post this topic on a regular basis so that readers can explore the possibilities.
    AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML)
    like using Miscrosft Word online
    like using Adobe Illustrator online
    like using Miscrosoft Excel online

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Making the move to mLearning

    While this article (eBook) is over a couple of years old, the information is perhaps more important today than when it was originally published. Withe the increase use of mobile devices "world wide" rapidly surpassing computer use ... we (instructional designers) should be considering applications for online learning.
    The future of learning:
    From eLearning to mLearning
    Desmond Keegan
    This project is supported by the Leonardo da Vinci programme of the European Union
    Ch 1 The future of learning
    · The project
    · The status of learning
    · Statistics
    · The nature of technology in learning
    · The future of technology
    · The future of learning

    Ch 2 From dLearning to eLearning
    · The nature of dLearning - definition
    · The history of dLearning
    · 1970s the foundation of the open universities
    · 1990s the impact of the WWW
    · The acceptance of dLearning

    Ch 3 From eLearning to mLearning
    · Statistics
    · The nature of eLearning - diagrams
    · The status of eLearning
    · The acceptance of eLearning
    · EU documentation
    · The arrival of mLearning

    Ch 4 mLearning initiatives in 2001
    · Telenor mLearning Wap project
    · Mobilearn
    · EMobility 2001 conference
    · UniWap (Univ of Helsinki/ICL)
    · MobiLearn: Mobile computing in learning environments
    · AvantGo
    · IBrite
    · Isopia
    · Insead/Nokia/Icus
    · Univ of Birmingham HandLeR
    · MLearning IST project (Ultralab)
    · MLearning forum
    · Audrey Choden Wireless learning in your pocket
    · Empowering Technologies The mobile learning era
    · Codeonline
    · Pjb associates latest news
    · Setero Distance learning through wireless devices
    · Palmpowerenterprise (Knowledgenet and Smartforce)
    · EVIST
    · The changing faces of virtual learning
    · Supermemo
    · Go Reader
    · Learning circuits Goin Mobile
    · Global Learning Systems UK
    · Stanford Learning Lab

    Ch 5 mLearning on the screenphone
    · The proposal
    · Illustration
    · Limitations
    · Decision

    Ch 6 mLearning on the Compacq Ipaq
    · Proposal
    · Illustration
    · Limitations
    · Decision
    · Development of system
    · Development of courseware

    Ch 7 mLearning on the smartphone R380
    · Proposal
    · Illustration
    · Limitations
    · Decision
    · Development of system
    · Development of courseware

    Ch 8 mLearning on the WAP telephone R520

    · Proposal
    · Illustration
    · Limitations
    · Decision
    · Development of system
    · Development of courseware

    Ch 9 Conclusions
    · The future of learning

    Journal submission guidelines ...

    You publish NOT because you submit NOT!

    Now that doesn't seem to be too difficult, but I was recently searching for a list of journals publishing on the topic of Instructional Design and decided to publish the list with links to submission guidelines.

    Journals are listed in the order that they have recently published articles in the area of instructional design, according to a search using EBSCO.


    Avatars for IDOL

    Ever since discovering 3D human modelling with Poser, I have been fascinated with the idea of using virtual creature models to simulate life as we know it here on earth. Additionally, programs like 3D Studio Max are used to create accessories, environments, and creatures. There is one prohibitive factor associated with these sophisticated tools for most IDOLers. The learning curve is steep and the GUI are complicated. All of this started to change in January 2006. Imagine being able to pick a character, add some voice, drop in a JPEG background, add some movement, and save the video as either an AVI or Flash Movie. Thanks to the creative minds at Reallusion, now you can accomplish all of this and more in less than an hour using a great program called iClone. OK, so after being part of a beta test group, I have become convinced that the use of 3d, human avatars are going to become a staple in the online social interaction experience.

    Recently, I learned about a 3d avatar IM (instant messaging) program which allows users to buy clothes, accessories, toys, property, furniture, living spaces and create a unique identity. The service is called IMVU (eye-emm vee-you). In this 3d space, people (through their avatars) can interact by communicating and exchanging physical gestures/behaviors. On their site they state – “Chat in bubbles. Shake hands, kiss, even tackle. 100s of actions in all!” So, if this is any indication of what is happening – the future of IDOL has just taken on a very powerful meaning.

    Conclusion – keep this on your radar!


    Blogger for Word?

    This posting is my first in working with Blogger for Word! The free program is available at and is easy to install. You enter in the username/password and it automatically finds your available blogs. In this posting I am also attempting to include a graphic image, a hyperlink, and text styles.

    Imagine how easy posting to blogs can be, when you post directly from within a program like Microsoft Word. However, when I select Publish, I am informed that with this initial release images, audio, and table information is not currently supported. Even still, it offers potential for increasing the usage of blogs for educational purposes.

    Comments? Please add your opinion to this posting.