Archive for the 'Training Simulations' Category

How to Build A Strong Online Classroom Community in a MOOC (A Beginning) #edcmooc

tag: #edcmooc

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have recently exploded on the Internet.  Currently participating in the “Elearning & Digital Cultures” Coursera MOOC has been both an exciting and enriching experience so far. Many of my classmates have noted that it’s difficult to connect or even find what you need. I see that. If I haven’t had experienced both participating in and designing smaller online courses, I think I might have run screaming from this class. I decided to take this class to learn more about the MOOC experience and because I knew a course like this would attract a great many folks who can teach me more about online learning and collaboration. And I’m not just speaking about Digital Vikings or Digital Experts ;).

To some extent, online learners do have to take a bit of responsibility in learning how to use the tools, discovering the rules of etiquette and how to use the content creation options (Storify, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Prezi, Storyline, etc.). It’s like taking Dr. Who’s advice about Time Travel… it “ is like visiting Paris. You can’t just  follow the guidebook. You’ve got to throw yourself in, eat the food, use the wrong verbs… “

Part of the fun of engaging in an online course is taking a few risks. And because we don’t get the interpersonal and facial cues from being in a classroom, you have to adapt and sometimes overcompensate when communicating with others online.

I have a few suggestions from my initial experience in this MOOC, and as I continue to take this course over the next few weeks I’m sure I will have more:

1. Provide a digital tour  with a facilitator narrating it that walks through the major places to contribute in the course. This can include guidelines for  using the forums and subforums correctly. You’re not going to prevent everyone from posting to the top threads instead of using the search to find the appropriate ones, but you’ll cut down on a great deal of the clutter and chatter

2. Provide a way for the newbies to practice using and develop confidence using the communication tools.  At the TCC Education Technology Conference they allow all participants to play in ‘sandboxes’ in Illuminate. This allows them to get comfortable with the tool and engage. In a former life I designed a chat activity for our LMS chat tool that incorporated an online scavenger hunt. Students were directed to share thoughts and links on a topic and discuss. Integrating the learning about the tool in an activity that uses it while allowing students to practice helps them both master and become accustomed to online modes of communication.

3. Leverage the skills of  the Digital Natives & Proficient Digital Immigrants to help get the newbies up to speed.

4. Have a learning manifesto that defines what you feel the learning should look like. Encourage the students to contribute to it. It looks like the University of Edinburgh has one... but I didn’t see it linked in our actual #edcmooc. Having a manifesto personalized by the facilitators & students of the course can help everyone start.

5. Provide a mechanism or place in the course for people to join cadres where they stick with each other throughout the course. Provide some general guidelines for providing support in the cadres. If possible have folks who are more experienced with tech volunteer to lead each Cadre. Give them guidelines to help start conversations. Encourage fun competitions between cadres that help build team spirit.  I know this can be rather challenging in a course with tens of thousands of people, but I think perhaps setting up the space and modeling the behavior for the cadres is a start. I see that in our course there are some self-generated study groups, but how do they know what to do or even study online without some amount of guidance?

6. Require that students have a blog. They can build one specifically for this course or use one that exists already. The blog is a way for folks to reflect and have larger thoughts about their experience with the course and topics.

How about you? Add your ideas on how to improve the MOOC Experience at this Wall on Wallwisher

Screen shot 2013-02-02 at 9.52.37 AM

Go to the wall and add your own comments.


Using Games and Social Networking to Teach – Great Podcast

I’m just catching up on listening to some podcasts I’ve neglected. “Smart City” is one that continually pulls me back.

Here’s a great podcast that talks about the impact of new media and technology on educating kids (media/tech = video games, social networking sites, etc.). 

Doug Thomas (author of Hacker Culture) from the Annenberg School of Communication at USC notes that games are actually a really good way for students to learn.  Students need to be prepared for different ways of thinking and innovation. Games are good at (multiplayer games) setting dispositions or outlooks towards certain ways of knowing, understanding how people share information.  Games can help students learn exploring different paths and possibilities and therefore may be able to help students simulate innovative thinking.  Games can allow players to solve problems.

Thomas also notes that educators today (some) are really having a hard time transitioning to accepting new ways of learning that include games…. I’m thinking that this is most likely because these educators don’t like to give up control over the learning and the content that is being presented.

I have to get back to work, but if I have more time later today I’ll try to comment more on the second half of the podcast on use of social networking media.

Notes from Karl Kapp’s Talk on Games and Gizmos for Learning

Digital Natives want electronics….

Kaybee, FAO Schwartz and Toys R US have all declared bankrupcy (NL: That’s sad…having manipulative toys is a key part of childhood, not to mention developing hand-eye coordination and motorskills)

Information and knowledge are the thermonuclear weapons of our time.

Era of Baby Boomers and their technology

  • Color Television….
  • Disney’s wild world of color… technology that drove things… 1 way broadcasting
  • Passive ways of absorbing tech

Need for War Stories in the Workplace (Knowledge Management)

  • Lockheed Martin hiring 14,000 in a year
  • US Defense department will loose 500,000 people
  • Average age of retirement is going down (59)

Learning Styles

  • Characteristics of Baby Boomers… formal learners
  • Gamer Generation… informal learners

Games, games, games

  • Casual games à Example you don’t know jack
  • Girls play games
  • 43% of gamers are female.
  • Play PC games a lot more.
  • Women over 40 fastest growing segment
  • 70% use of Sims users are women under 25 (I am)
  • Grounding kids don’t send them to the room… Say…No Screens.

Multitasking and Absorbing all that information

  • They like to think that they can multi-task… we don’t think so but they can…
  • ADD??
  • Kids can wipe out background distraction? Is this true?
  • They have to deal with massive amounts of information. They’ve always had a lot of information.

Net-gen communication preferences

  • Kids go to instant messaging from e-mail.
  • E-mail is too SLOW. Again… e-mail is for old people
  • Generation wants to share all the time and be virtual. Example: Twittr
  • 85% of the kids have a media device
  • 44% have two.
  • 15% of 2-5 year olds have a cell phone.
  • This kids are linked in…
  • Internet has been around for 14 years

Gamers Characteristics

  • Problem solver à can solve problems in game… some cases can apply outside of game
  • Confident
  • Resilient
  • Social à Online social via games and electronica
  • World of Warcraft make Clans of people
  • Multitasking
  • Informal Learners
  • Don’t want to sit through 45 minutes of class when they can google to get the answer.
  • 3D world where you get your own stuff.

My thoughts….There’s a diy movement right now I think that there’s no coincidence that this is happening as technology is moving us more into a virtual world.

People want to make physical things.

More games examples

  • Laundering money in Second Life… Hey, vinny don’t forget the virtual cannoli…..
    Protosphere… 3D business environment.
  • Kids are getting into these games earlier.
  •… kids get involved in games where they build their own business.
  •… learn about history via games

What the teacher should be today…

  • More of a guide rather than a lecturer
  • Not my best friend
  • Socrates was a really great example of a guide
  • We should Teach young people to be observant.

Mobile Learning Examples:

  • Example settting up a display in a store
  • Taking SOP’s and putting them in a video with audio that can be viewed on a hand-held device
  • Note some things translate better to video than others
  • Flight simulator game…
    • Demonstration mode
    • Practice
    • Test
  • Sales rep game
    • Teach a doctor how to sell pharmaceuticals
    • Choose your strategy

Distance Learning Conference – My notes

I’m currently attending the Distance Learning Conference in Madison, WI (when I have time I will post the conference stats/details), and will post my notes and general reflections on the lectures that I attend.

Please note – these notes are not complete, I’ll fill out the details to some of these notes more as I go along.

Problem Based Learning for Online

Margaret Drew and Lori Mardis

Note: clicking on the image above will open up the full concept map.


Suggestion: Provide a collaborative lab project.

  • Provide something that’s broken and get people to fix it.
  • Multiple solutions to complex medical prob. (suggestion – use blog).
  • Idea-make people take an active task oriented solution
  • What…about using blogging to facilitate discussion/collaboration on the process.
  • Creation of individual learning scaffolds… learning is meaning full
  • Began with open-ended ill structured problem that initiated discussion.

Building Virtual Communities

Dr. Rena Pallof & Dr. Keith Pratt
Importance of online Community

Now, I’ve always suspected that it’s not okay to just dump and run when it comes to delivering online content, but now it seems that the novelty of this realization is becoming dated. This presentation highlighted the importance of instructors establishing a rapport and building a ‘community’ among the students. Big takeaway for me was the presenter’s suggestion not to openly communicate intent of building community because many learners will protest because they’re just in the class to get credit… and or NOT to make friends.

I believe that it’s important to demonstrate the value in learning from your peers by providing learning experiences that allow the students to do this. Those people who continue to want to be anti-social can do so, but not at the expense of the rest of the students. Also courses an the purveyors of a curriculum who employ this social approach to learning should continue to do studies and investigations to the efficacy of this method of learning and provide education on the importance of virtual communities.


Note: the “suggestions” are part of my notes to myself not the lecture.

Construction of Online learning community in which instructor is on the same level as students as a contributor… research says.

Intentional work on the development of presence online as well as other means which community can emerge are important… on student learning satisfaction.

Give the instructors and opportunity to communicate with students as a human level.

Suggestion: Encourage Office Hours / Train Instructors on how to do this effective

  • Need to be intentional and create the environment… you have to make the effort.
  • Aspects of learning:
    • Teaching students howt o inquire/construct knowledge
    • Teaching students to become self-direct

Suggestion: I-Search Papers

Competencies of Online Instructors (Martha Davidson):

  • Creating a Learning Community that is Intellectually Exciting and Challeging
  • Pepper collaborative activity throughout the course
  • Encourage learners to perform to the best of their abilities
  • Demonstrate Effective Use of Group Dynamics and Dialogue – need to know when to intervene and when not to intervene
  • Use a variety of methods other than lecture
  • Stress the interrelatedness of the complete curriculum and the value
  • Know workplace trends and perspectives
  • Draw out creativity, innovativeness, and ideas in a collaborative manner
  • Integrate curriculum designed to provide learners with experientially based learning environment
  • Evaluate learning outcomes
  • Continue personal development


  1. You must be able to connect with the people in the course.
  2. You need to establish a sense of rapport/ and portray yourself as a ‘real’ person in the online environment
    1. Non Example: professor who put his whole CV online
    2. QUESTION: Do you think there’s a level of infomality in creating this presence that some instructors might not be comfortable with? How do you get them comfortable with this?
  3. When there is a high degree of interaction between these participants…

Social Presence Online Correlates with:

  • Increased learner satisfaction
  • Greater depth of learning
  • sense of belonging to a learning community
  • Increased perception of learning
  • Begin the course by focusing on the development of social presence.
  • BUT DON”T TELL THEM THIS…. (They say…I didn’t take this class to make friends… I just want to take the class to get a grade).


  • Give minimal guidelines (note to self – don’t make up fussy rules)
  • Let students know -It’s NOT okay to do all your posts on the same day
  • Agree on what’s a substantial post
  • Allow them to disagree

Suggestion: offer modeled examples and many practice opportunities for instructors. For example show them samples of chat discussions (recordings, simulations), have them practice in various online activities

Working as a Team: Collaborative Online Course Development

Emily Hixon, Ph. D

This was the best lecture/activity I’ve attended at the conference so far.

She provided 4 case studies of working with Faculty and SME’s talked about the challenges of working with faculty to develop an online course. She outlined the challenges and provided suggestions for selecting Faculty participants. I’ll post more details later including some interview criteria she listed for selecting good Subject Matter Experts (or Faculty).

One of the biggest takeaways I got from this was… bottom line – you need to find SME’s who are collaborative and can work on a team of folks who also communicate their process and progress along the way. Moreover, you have to find a SME who really believes that teaching online is possible.


Managing Flash Game Development

Jon Aleckson

Another great lecture and probably one of the best here at the conference, that I was able to attend… because the presenter basically confirmed my hunch that creating really great learning activity requires a well-balanced team with the right skills and doing this takes moolah. If you want to be stuck with word documents and handouts then discount the need for these types of people on your team or look to moving into the online publishing business.

Biggest Takaways

  • Good Game Design Requires a Superlative Team including:
    • Instructional Designer/Writer
    • Artistic Illustrator
    • ActionScript Flash Programmer
    • Project Manager
  • DONT SKIMP IN HIRING (Note: I will post my notes on each of these position descriptions later)
  • Using CMMI (CapabilityMaturity Model) – importance of logging time for data collection purposes and learning for future teams and projects. It is important to communicate intent for data collection to employees (positively)
  • Use a Wiki for Knowledge Management/Capture – Saves time builds knowledge
  • Brainstorming tools:
    • Learning objectives and content outline
    • Activity List
    • Benchmarking
    • Include people with different roles!
  • Game or Simulation Continuum (3 dimensions)
    • Roles
    • Goals
    • Interactivity

Using Webcasting technologies

Coco Kishi and Tomoko Traphagan

What students wanted out of player technology

  • Wanted to see what the instructor was doing clearly
  • Synchronized audo, video, slides (clearly see the blackboard or slides
  • Content Searching
  • Playback and Speek Control
  • Flexible Viewing Controls
  • Bookmarking
  • Annotation

MySpace is not YourSpace

View the slides from the link here:

Christy actually took better notes than I did during this presentation. Check them out.

I really liked the fact that these presenters encouraged us to think about the consequences of technology and also really question whether or not some learning media were truly appropriate for all learning.

Handy Decoder Ring

For translating face to face and print learning to online learning experiences. I stole the use of the term “Decoder Ring,” from my friend Katy, who applies the term to tools or information aids that just make sense of a lot of categories that a user might not be familiar with. The beauty of any decoder ring or Rosetta-Stone-type translation tool is that it bridges the gap of misunderstanding that can divide two parties. In this case the two parties are an instructional designer and the SME’s or subject matter experts. My hope was to accomplish two things:

  • Begin to show the wonderful possibilities for online learning and help get their creative juices flowing
  • Start to explain what I needed from the SME’s to get the ball rolling

Now this is my first stab at this, and it’s far from done. I still have not finished the columns indicating which levels of Blooms Taxonomy or Gagne’s Nine Events for Learning. Also, the Online Training Decoder Ring would only be complete if there were examples or live links to examples to share. This is an undertaking I need to spend some time on. I have a good number of examples, it’s just a matter of posting them to my server.

Also, many of the examples I provide here rely primarily on Adobe products to develop. This isn’t to say that you could use less-expensive or even free open source solutions to these products. But again, if you want to maintain what you build it’s nice to have reliable tools with adequate end user support from a licensing agreement.

If you have an suggestions or additions to the “Decoder”please let me know via e-mail or comments to this post.



Ovaltine “Secret Decoder Ring.”

Choosing/Designing great interactivities for e-Learning

Lately, I’ve been challenged to think of better and sensible ways of bringing learning experiences to people online. I found some great resources recently for designing great e-Learning taking into consideration proper learning intervention selection (instructional design) and web accessibility.

From my past experience, it’s always been good to start with Gagne’s Nine Events for learning. The link below provides a good example of how to apply Gagne’s Nine Events to an e-Learning.

For me one of the greatest challenges I’m facing is translating or explaining what’s possible and feasible for online training to folks who are primarily focused on designing face to face training or for people who are used to authoring learning materials for the printed page. I started brainstorming some additional possibilities to add on to the Gagne Nine for eLearning. It’s just a start… I’d like to think that there are additional possibilities and we can stretch our imagination to see what’s really possible. If we really want to help ourselves out we should start by looking at how people learn naturally first. Then look at what people are actually doing today in the real-world with the help of technology. Again, it’s all about making connections.


I actually was able to post a “handy decoder ring” or matrix of possibilities for online learning solutions. It’s not complete or comprehensive, but it’s a start.

Gagne’s Nine Events

Possible solutions/applications

1. Gain attention
  • Story
  • Flash/Captivate visual
  • Video story or scenario
  • Animation
  • Cartoon
2. Inform learners of objectives
  • Presentation slide with audio clip
  • Avatar relating course objectives
  • Video cast or podcast of instructor introducing the objectives
3.Stimulate recall of prior learning
  • Captivate, wiki page or blog for course (asking participants to post their own experience regarding the subject/topic being treated)
  • Students post brief podcasts
4. Present the content
  • Audio visual presentation (Flash/Captivate)
5. Provide “learning guidance”
  • Synchronous meeting online (Adobe Connect, Elluminate) including speaker/participant access to audio sharing/microphone.
  • Use of online chat for “Office Hours.”
  • Question and answer/discussion thread
6. Elicit performance (practice)
  • Captivate performance based test
  • Discussion thread
7. Provide feedback
  • Synchronous meeting online
  • Wiki/blog where instructor and peers can post comments to students work
8. Assess performance
  • Interactive quiz or test
  • Self-survey or assessment or skills
9. Enhance retention and transfer to the job
  • E-Portfolio or project either individual or group work. Portfolio judged by instructor.
  • Students build blog site and interact with live responses

Captivate 2.0

We were slow to get this new version of the tool, which is too bad because I could have used it three months ago.

Check out this rough draft of a modularized simulation I created this weekend. The user can choose to view the entire simulation or just parts. Note: I created this rather quickly using the freeware CMAP tools as my subject matter. There are a few kinks I need to work out in the sim, but still I’m very pleased with some of the time-saving features in Captivate 2.0’s arsenal.

Click on the image to view the simulation (Adobe Flashplayer v. 8.0 is required)


I am really digging some of the new features

  • The branching feature – you can create decision paths in tasks and scenario based simulations far more easily
  • Resizing feature – you can shoot in one resolution and then compress the shot simulation as needed. No more having to shrink your desktop resolution to get window size needed. CAUTIONS: Resizing does not resize the fonts in your captions. You have to apply new font sizes in the caption properties or reposition your captions so they point to the right area. Also the compression of the images may render them slightly fuzzy.
  • Property application – you can apply property changes to all objects in the simulation of the same type. Personally, I love having this freedom because when I create simulations I use two types of captions: 1.) Info captions which inform what’s happening or provide background information and knowledge needed to complete the simulation task 2.) Action captions which tell the user how to act during the simulation. In the past it’s been difficult to do a universal formatting change to captions because it would apply my changes to all and wipe out formatting at times.


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