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Archive for December, 2010

Digital Learning Will Change Knowledge Creation


by Katherine Vander

In The Scholarly Kitchen, Alix Vance made a important realization: Scholarly publishers need to recognize, if they have not already,  that they are part of a larger knowledge creation sector that is changing rapidly–a fundamental shift that is not limited to the academia world. Knowledge creation happens in nonprofit research institutes, corporate R & D labs, in startup companies, and even on blog sites like this one.

Scholarly publishers are not alone in this shift–technology is affecting every aspect of our lives. Alix pointed to the Digital Learning Council–a rapid virtual policy development collaborative sponsored by the Foundation for Excellence in Education–as an example of a new form of knowledge creation.  The DLC included  representations education, policy, technology, publishing, and research (but, admittedly, not many).

Alix points to reasons that digital learning will ultimately impact the course of digital scholarly publishing:

  • Significant transformation in digital learning and educational technology will not be confined to or defined by traditional market boundaries—K-12, two-year, four-year, graduate, professional. Scalable technologies and commercial incentives virtually guarantee that what is embraced in one educational arena will quickly translate to the other.
  • Support for customized, technology-centered learning will advance the obsolescence of the traditional textbook model that many publishers have taken great pains to defend.
  • To the degree to which textbook publishers do not join the virtual learning movement, there will be new opportunities for scholarly publishers to downstream their content to virtual learning applications, in partnership with course delivery companies or open access platforms.

Universities have begun to create departments surrounding digital scholarly publishing. NYU created Digital Scholarly Publishing, innovative publishing services linking NYU Libraries and NYU Press. Most colleges and universities are in the process of transferring their information to an online system.

Note: Mike Smith’s OER post included a great list of open content sources for higher education.

This article was originally posted at http://edreformer.com/2010/12/digital-learning-will-change-knowledge-creation/


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Game-Based Learning for Health in Denmark


The BODYexplorer Project
By Jan Gejel

The Aarhus Social and Health Care College in Denmark is a key player in three initiatives that promote connecting game developers to educators, and developing high quality learning games. One of them involves a pilot project called BODYexplorer

Lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, are taking on epidemic dimensions in Europe, especially among disadvantaged groups and communities. The people who are most in need of changing their lifestyle to prevent these diseases have not responded to traditional public campaigns, nor have they been shown to attend traditional health care education programs.

These two major obstacles— ineffective public campaigns and disinterest in learning about disease prevention— are jointly addressed in a forthcoming project called BODYexplorer. Both shortcomings should be addressed by transversal initiatives, as they both relate to all kinds of disadvantaged citizens.

We need to create new, interactive, inclusive, technology-based learning opportunities for disadvantaged people, especially young people from less educated families who are also at risk of dropping out of school.

The BODYexplorer project is an in-development virtual program that meets these needs, while also presenting itself as a model to other lifelong learning projects.

BODYexplorer

During the two years of preparing the project, the project promoter analyzed the learning game market and found that no learning games existed in Europe for lifelong learning among disadvantaged citizens [1-4]. One of the reasons for this is that very few educational stakeholders are able to mobilize the technical, design, and financial resources needed to launch such initiatives, and the world of computer games, embedded in a highly competitive market, is a very long way from the everyday business of lifelong learning. With BODYexplorer, we hope to demonstrate that this does not have to be the case.

Games about learning, exploration, and problem-solving can indeed be a part of lifelong learning. BODYexplorer engages the user as a researcher in an exploratory journey in the human body, travelling along the animated body’s own natural “communication” lines—the lines of the blood, lymph system, and nervous system—along which the user, as researcher and problem-solver, meets a number of challenges, such as imbalances, symptoms, and other variables. These challenges appear to the user as different kinds of tasks to solve.

The game is not linear, but dynamic, meaning that the user is able to begin from different starting points. The game continuously captures and reflects the user’s choices and actions while she or he plays.

In designing the game, we wanted the player to be able to act as a researcher at a very basic level, solving simple tasks and challenges, but also on a quite advanced level where the problem-solving requires the player to combine and analyze the competencies she or he has cultivated so far in the game.

The “language” of the learning game is based on the animation genre, and the plot is based on the “language” of advanced and dynamic game programming.

The virtual environment reflects the classic narrative traditions of The Odyssey and Journey to the Center of the Earth, as well as classic detective stories. In his excellent analysis of the mechanisms of narration, Peter Brooks in Reading for the Plot (Harvard, 1987) highlights the importance of narrative techniques for any production of meaning. The narrative mechanisms have not yet been recognized as important organizers of learning in the world of education, as the academic world often opposes narration to the discourse of science and facts. However, this resistance to narrative is now being challenged due to the growing number of the successful outcomes from game-based learning.

The body exploration itself will be situated within a net-based knowledge context, an online collaborative form, organized around and in close contact with the game itself, in which the users of the game help each other, discuss, and compete. It will also act as a resource for part of the problem solving, but the macro environment is the internet, drawing on its immense resources.

Although the focus of the game is the inside of the body, it’s not as if the world around the body does not exist. The world influences the body, of course, but the player only experiences the effects from within the body itself. The game’s simple graphic design combines animated and video-based elements, and it dispenses missions to the learner from the learning environment (teacher, mentor, online collaborator). The player is then invited to travel along the animated body’s own transportation routes and search for symptoms, changes, or other signals of disease.

Information, challenges, and new tasks can be found around the elements presenting the symptom, where the learner will be provided with knowledge about the external real-world source of the symptom or change. In most cases the learner cannot solve the problem on location and will have to travel the animated body to search for and analyze other symptoms, as well as search for specific information via the Internet or other resources in the platform surrounding the game itself.

The important gaming element is that certain tasks must be accomplished, certain roadblocks overcome, and certain knowledge collected to progress and level up.

The points of departure might be cases, a crisis, or a lack of knowledge, but also simple curiosity. The narrative discourse will reflect the classic and modern and perhaps even post-modern plot tradition.

The learning game will be of special importance to non-academic and disadvantaged children and young people, who prefer the visual and interactive learning style to the reading of long texts.

This wide scope of usability, at the same time justifying the market rationale of the program, is based on the fact that the program can be used at different levels, and on the fact that the Internet context ensures access to new information and knowledge. It must be possible to insert new elements in the game without interfering with the basic programming.

BODYexplorer is, of course, closely related to other health subjects. The standard version should offer a full exploration environment, “general exploration of the body,” and specific versions of the program should build on this standard version and add more or less complex or focused narrative content.

This article was originally posted at http://www.elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=articles&article=144-1

 

 

Supportive systems for continuous and online professional development


We highlight four differences between formal educational systems and supportive systems which have to be taken into account in order to design a system rooted in online environments and social media. These differences are: 1) from pre-produced to user-generated content, 2) from individual subject motives to joint qualification interests, 3) from limited duration to continuous and sustainable activity, 4) from subject and thematic areas to a broad perspective on the participants’ skills.

On the basis of the four prerequisites, some fundamental features of a supportive system are outlined. The system is based on existing forms of online environment but which are further developed and supported methodically and systematically. A supportive system can consist of a combination of individual PLEs (personal learning environments), which are coordinated via shared online learning communities (OLC) or a PLN (personal learning network). A developed methodology based on circular ways of working supports processes in the various media and works towards progressing the individual’s development.

Source: gfbertini.wordpress.com

Mobile learning sessions at MSTC 2010


More of the fun at the Midsouth Technology Conference. Previously, I included the link to the “Web 2.0 from the Beginning” workshop. Here’s the two other workshops that I gave on mobile learning. There are some really good stuff here, so I encourage you to browser through.

1. Mobile learning: What is it? What’s it look like? How’s it done?

Presenters: Michael M. Grant, The University of Memphis; Monte Tatom, Freed-Hardeman University; Kyle Menchhofer/Scott Newcomb, St. Mary School District, Ohio

Mobile learning, or mlearning, is a buzzword in all levels of education right now.  But what is it, and what does it mean?  This session will examine what mobile learning is, who’s doing it, and how it’s being done in K-12 classrooms and in higher education.  We’ll take a look at some schools that are implementing mobile devices into teaching and learning. We are also planning to Skype some folks in —just like Oprah—to give you some first-hand accounts.

Link to resources: Mobile Learning – What is it

2. Making Teaching and Learning Mobile

In this hands-on workshop, we’ll explore how to make teaching and learning mobile.  You’ll experience a number of technologies to create mobile teaching and learning opportunities for you and your students.  From using cellphones, smartphones, iPod Touches, iPhones, and iPads, we’ll look at ways to make learning engaging with tools your students may already have.  BYOM—You are encouraged to bring your mobile devices with you.

Link to resources: Making Teaching and Learning Mobile

Source: viral-notebook.com

A Win for Expanded Learning


The movement to give American kids more time and opportunities to learn took a giant leap forward with action in the Senate this week.

The Senate introduced an omnibus spending bill that includes two significant advances for which we have long fought, along with many leaders, in after-school and education reform. Under this bill, funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers would be increased by $135 million next year, potentially helping 135,000 more kids in the hours after 3 p.m. and during summers.

More historically, passage of this bill would allow states to fund expanded learning time programs as a viable school transformation strategy, while maintaining the growing national network of high quality after-school and summer programs. States would be able to use 21CCLC funds to re-design and expand the school day and year, in addition to supporting more traditional after-school programs.

And this is key: if schools choose to re-invent themselves through longer learning days, they must work with partnering community organizations to add both more time on academics plus enrichments that inspire kids to love learning. By taking this step, policy-makers protect against a system that penalizes poor kids by allowing these funds to support remediation-only school day extensions, denying the lowest-performing kids the kind of broad and rich education more affluent communities provide.

Just a few days ago I visited one of TASC’s Expanded Learning Time schools in a section of the Bronx, Mott Haven, that author Jonathan Kozol famously characterized as one of the bleakest points on America’s educational map. The Haven Academy charter school there is working with the community organization New York Foundling to send community educators into classrooms, alongside teachers, every day from noon to 5:45 p.m. Kids – a third of whom are in foster care, a third of whose families are in preventive services and another third who come from the neighborhood – not only get more intensive small group math and English instruction, but they also get support for their healthy emotional and physical development. They dance and make music and cook – just kids having creative fun together.

This looks like the school of the future to me, the thriving center of a community of learners.

To get to this point, historic allies in building after-school opportunities had to struggle toward a consensus over whether and how to deliver to kids the longer learning days many desperately need. Thanks to the close relationships we’ve built through organizations including the Afterschool Alliance, the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems and the Partnership for Children and Youth, we achieved a double victory.

The Senate bill preserves local choice so that states and communities can decide what kind of expanded learning opportunities best serve their kids – after school, during summer or through longer school days. And with greater support for Expanded Learning Time schools, we can help more kids get a world class education.

Item one on my agenda now is urging Congress to make this bill a law.

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Mobile Blogging: Benefits and Resources for Teachers


Many teachers reflect on their daily classroom interactions using a classroom blog that’s accessible to parents and students.  Frequently, these blogs reflect on the content, skills, and resources used in class on any given day.  “What worked” ,“what didn’t work” , and “what I’d do different” are common themes amongst many teacher blogs.

The primary issues I’ve had with the blogging process for classroom reflections are consistency and accuracy.  Since I typically blog at the end of the day (or lately, the end of the week), I forget some of the meaningful and trivial events (both of which many parents like to hear about) that happened during each specific class.  Rather than waiting until the end of the day to blog, why not do it during class as I’m walking around the room and monitoring student progress?  Mobile blogging provides a great solution for achieving this.

Benefits of Mobile Blogging for Teachers:

  • Builds student accountability for progress: when students see their teacher providing an electronic transcript of classroom events on-the-spot, this serves to help students stay on task
  • Enhances classroom reflections: mobile blogging removes memory gaps that typically occur at the end of the day
  • Provides “real-time” reflections
  • Seamlessly publish classroom media (images of student work, audio reflections, videos, etc.)
  • Leverages teacher time during formative assessments
  • Provides additional legitimacy for the use mobile devices in the classroom, which may helpadopt new norms and school policies
  • Constant communication: if you use Twitter as a blogging tool, you can receive instant notifications when someone replies to your classroom tweets (students could also do this from their mobile devices in class, which would provide you with instant and archived communication)
  • Classroom management: while both “traditional” and mobile blogging foster a community of learners, mobile blogging makes you more accountable for your classroom management.  Who wants to write about how students are acting out of control?  That’s certainly one thing I’m inclined to forget at the end of the day, but if I’m blogging right then-and-there, I make more efforts to cease ill behavior.

Right now, the biggest concern I’ve had with mobile blogging is my typing abilities on the iPhone.  Has blogging from the iPhone been more efficient than simply writing down what happened during each class and then inputting these reflections into my blog at the end of the day?  Not by much at this point.  However, I do know that I have become far more efficient with the iPhone keyboard interface as a result of mobile blogging.  Additionally, we can continue to expect the keyboard on these mobile devices to improve over time.  While I may not be saving a whole lot of time right now, I’m acclimating myself to the processes associated with mobile blogging.

If you’d like to get involved with mobile blogging, consider exploring the resources below that describe a multitude of mobile blogging tools.

Source: k12mobilelearning.com

eLearning Design: Interview with The eLearning Coach, Connie Malamed


It’s been an incredible year for the learning industry. Innovations in mobile technologies, the arrival of the ipad (was it just this year?) and the continued evolution of social learning,  are just some highlights of a year that saw learning design continue to mature along side emerging and maturing technologies. What a ride! Useful tools and helpful resources in a wide array of media help make consulting, managing, designing and developing much easier than even 24 months ago.  One such helpful resource is Connie Malamed’s eLearning Coach blog.  I had the pleasure to chat with Connie to find out more about her and her design insights.

MA: For those who don’t know you or your blog, can you briefly share your story?

Connie: Like many people in our field, I’m passionate about education and training and think it’s a path to solving individual and world problems. I’ve been designing and creating learning experiences for over 20 years and love this career (except when I’m working till 2AM).

At some point I realized it was time to start sharing what I’ve learned, so I started a blogazine about Instructional Design and online learning, called The eLearning Coach. My focus is on providing practical advice as well as learning theory to those just starting out in the field as well as to experienced designers and developers. A wonderful unexpected byproduct has been how much I’ve learned by meeting people, researching new ideas and interviewing others.

Because I have a background in art too, I felt compelled to research and write a book that presents visual communication principles based on cognitive science rather than intuition. The book is called, Visual Language For Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand. There’s a hard back and Kindle version on Amazon.

MA:  I love your blog because there is a pragmatic approach to your posts. How does this pragmatism render in your designs and/or consulting?

Connie: I guess I’m pragmatic in the way I think about design and implementation simultaneously, which might not be the best approach for brainstorming. So when a client or the content requires a creative approach, I also think through the ramifications of the idea. For example, if we decide to use photos and audio of 10 customers in an eLearning course, I’m simultaneously thinking about how we can save costs by getting 5 narrators who can perform two unique voices each. Head in the clouds…feet on the ground.

MA:  In your blog, you expertly discuss the value and interplay of cognitive psychology, visual communication/design, information design, and learning theory in learning products/solutions. What is the typical pushback you experience from clients about any elements of this philosophy and how have you overcome it?

Connie: Hey, I’m slogging around in the same mess that everyone else in our field experiences. Clients who don’t understand that less is more; that visuals are often better than text; that creative storytelling is more engaging than lectures; or that just-in-time information and performance support are often more effective than a grueling 8-hour course.

I truly like and respect my clients and want to help them, so I try to meet them where they are at and attempt to educate them about the most effective approaches to learning. Often, I can only make incremental changes in their thinking. Then I just do the best I can with what I’ve got.

MA:  I’ve found a common up-front inhibitor for producing effective learning products is clients or SMEs insisting that adding more content to a learning product is better. What are some of your best practices to help content stakeholders understand that simple, streamlined content focusing on the single-most important actions the learner needs to know and do is better?

Connie: A few things that have worked for me are getting clients to stay focused on the skills and actions that their employees need to perform, by consistently pulling the client back to the key goals. I’ll ask, “Will that extra information help learners get the most important skills they need?” Sometimes this can be difficult when working on certain types of compliance courses, where pure knowledge is the end goal. Also, I find that Bob Mosher’s Five Moments of Need is a good model for explaining when an audience needs performance support and when they need training.

MA:  What do you see as the top three most important learning design trends (meaning a trend that broadly encompasses visual design, cognitive psychology, information design, and/or learning technology) in the last few years that will have the greatest long-term impact on the eLearning industry. How?

Connie: One trend is the broader recognition of the importance of visual thinking. For example, in March of 2010, the Obama administration appointed Edward Tufte (design thinking guru) to an advisory panel. The visual problem-solving book, The Back of the Napkin, was Amazon’s #5 Business Book of the Year. And a few months ago, news outlets around the world announced research findings that showed doodling can improve concentration. This heightened awareness should eventually impact and improve the visual side of eLearning.

Another trend is the mainstreaming of information graphics and data visualizations. There’s been a huge jump in the number of information graphics (online and offline) used to explain data and concepts in newspapers, magazines and on websites. As people learn how to understand infographics, they’ll be used more in online learning.

A third trend I’m seeing is a greater acceptance of the “less is more” philosophy, mostly due to the fact that people are oversaturated and overwhelmed with information. If this persists, it could improve the clarity of instructional visuals as well as the technologies we choose. For example, businesses might be more likely to implement micro-courses or visual performance support tools on smart phones, realizing that people have limits with how much they can absorb at one time.

MA:  In one of your posts , you mention you do not to use ADDIE as framework for developing online learning. (I also do not use ADDIE as a framework.) Can you shed more light as to why?

Connie: The ADDIE model, though very worthwhile, seems to be geared to creating Instructor-Led Training. I think we need a model that fits the eLearning design process and that also fits our current project, audience, content and client.

If you’re creating a high-end interactive course, then you might want to create serial prototypes to get the job done. If you’re using a Rapid Development approach, Design and Development might merge. If your project is very large and complex, then you might perform many different analyses at the start. I still think it’s good to learn a formal or classic approach first (I learned Dick and Carey’s method in Grad school) and then modify things as you gain experience.

MA:  What’s next for you in the next few months? Where will you be speaking or what are your current projects? Where do you see yourself in 1-2 years?

Connie: Presenting is a great way to share knowledge and to continue to learn from your audience. I enjoy speaking about how to design for the human mind, so in the next few months, I’ll be presenting at the ASTD’s TechKnowledge Conference in San Jose and also at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions conference in Orlando. In the long-term, I’d like to write more books, particularly self-published eBooks. Then you can update them and send out a new version to your audience whenever the book is revised. Really, I have endless ideas of what I’d like to do. We’ll see what the future brings.

Thanks so much Connie! Great interview!

Source: marianklein.com

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