I was at a barbecue at a friend’s house last weekend, and as I wandered past a cluster of people I heard the word ‘MOOC’. Now, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if this were a gathering of education-type people as MOOCs are a hot topic these days, but this was a plumber, a nurse, an office worker and… hmmm… I think the other guy tells everyone he’s an artist. [chuckles] Over beer and burnt sausages, the office worker was enlightening the others about a free Project Management course on Australia’s new MOOC platform Open2Study. There is much heated debate about the MOOC model (eg The real reason for MOOCs – thanks @petapash) and it seems that everyone is talking about them! But if MOOCs have somehow escaped your attention, perhaps check out What is a MOOC – you want to be ready when the topic comes up at your next barbecue.
HOW TO CREATE ANIMATED VIDEO (FOR DUMMIES)
Maybe you think a video would be a terrific addition to your website, wiki or online course, but then you realise you can’t act, you don’t know any actors, you don’t have any time, and…oh yeah… you don’t know how to make a video! Well, this might be an answer. “GoAnimate is a suite of web applications that lets you make amazing animated videos easily…You can literally sit down at your computer and produce a professional-looking video from scratch – within minutes – without having to draw or operate a camera.” A basic account is free, and although it has it’s limitations as per usual, I think it might still be useful for…say… introducing a scenario in your online course or even just welcoming your students in a fun way. Here are some tutorials and the video below will give you the official GoAnimate sales pitch. [grin]
LET’S TALK ABOUT POWERPOINT
Good ol’ Powerpoint. We joke about it (death by Powerpoint etc), but everyone uses it. You could model yours on the Best PowerPoint Presentations in the World to prevent your watchers from keeling over – something similar is Top 10 Coolest PowerPoint Slideshows on Slideshare. Apparently 10 minutes is the rule for attention span because “…neuroscientists now know that the human mind gets bored after 10 minutes or so.“ For something quite different, have you thought about Powerpoint Games? And what about all those Powerpoints you already have lying around? You’ll find hints and tips in 9 ways to re-use a Power Point presentation for blended delivery. If you’re keen to try something a bit different than Powerpoint, there is a tutorial 1 hour webinar coming up on 28th May called Prezi – Moving Beyond Slides. You’ll find it on the SA PD Calendar – it’s free!
PROVIDING HELP AND SUPPORT ONLINE
Whether it’s your company website or your online course, sometimes you wish you could just be on the spot to provide assistance for learners or clients. Live chat can be a fairly simple answer. I’ve talked about ClickDesk before but as there are quite a few newcomers to this mailing list, I’ll mention it again. The best way to get your head around what this great little tool does is to go to the SA E-learning Support Services website…and have a look in the bottom right corner. You’ll see a message pop up like the one pictured at right. Go ahead and say hello! But maybe you’re looking for something a bit different, like being able to help students with logging in or navigating. In this case I would suggest a screen-sharing tool like Screenleap. There is nothing to download or install…just click on ‘Share your screen now’. This will generate a link which you email to the other person….and voila! Your screen appears in their browser so you can easily demonstrate, just as if they were sitting next to you. For more tools along a similar line, check out 5 Free Tools for Providing Remote Tech Help.
FACEBOOK – STAY CONNECTED BUT STAY AWARE
I haven’t talked about Facebook for a while, but with the Facebook team changing things around again [rolls her eyes], perhaps it is time. Did you know that 13 Million Facebook Users Haven’t Touched Their Privacy Settings? I hope this isn’t you as with the arrival of Graph Search, you’ll want to make sure that you have your privacy settings all stitched up so you retain control of who sees what. Don’t let all this freak you out though, as it’s just a matter of staying in charge of your own digital ‘spaces’, making sensible choices and looking after yourself….just like you do in the ‘real’ world. Perhaps we need to Rethink Digital Citizenship and not see it as separate? Anyway, enough of being serious…how about something for a giggle? Check out the video below How Facebook Updates Would Look in Real Life for a hilarious glimpse at what might happen if Facebook came into your home and just made changes without your consent (sorry….you’ll have to watch the ad first).
THE PRICE OF IGNORING ACCESSIBILITY
“Travis Moses is a blind student who can’t always do his homework because an online program the University of Montana uses is inaccessible to him.” This is a quote from the article Disabled UM students file complaint over inaccessible online courses, and it’s a very timely warning about the legal implications of ignoring the rights of students with a disability. What would your organisation do? Eeeek! Ok, don’t panic….to prevent any future law suits, I would suggest you first check out the National E-Standards Accessibility site as your first stop. You might find some useful ideas at 8 Online Tools To Help Educate Students With Disability. otherwise Creating Accessible Audio and Video and PDF Accessibility, or Microsoft Word Accessiblity. Whatever you do…please don’t ignore the issues as it might just come back to bite you. If you’re interested to know about the outcomes of the law-suit, come over to E-learning Conversations to find out, and also talk about this issue….what can you do?
VISUAL DICTIONARIES – WHO NEEDS TEXT!
Back in days gone by, if you wanted to look up a word you went to the Dictionary. Which still works fine if you have a good grasp of the written English language…but what if you don’t? Wouldn’t it be easier if you could see pictures/video of the word, and hear it spoken? I was alerted to a new kind of Dictionary (thanks @traciereagan) called Vidtionary which I think would be amazing for those with learners from non-English speaking backgrounds. To get the idea, click on the video below which explains the word ‘cube’:
Intrigued? Have a look at Bubbles or Colour or Pigeon. Nice, hey? You’ll find more information about Vidtionary plus different tools and options at Departing the Text: Interactive Visual Dictionaries.
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WIKIS
OK, I’ll admit to being a huge wiki fan, and the reason for that is because I haven’t the foggiest idea about HTML or building websites, but I can make something like SA E-learning Support Services all by myself, just using a simple wiki! And if I can do it, anyone can. [nods her head sagely] The reason I’m bringing up wikis though, is because Wikispaces (my favourite site) has just announced Wikispaces Classroom which is “...exclusively for teachers and students.” It’s free…it has no ads…and it’s private. This might be easier than a Learning Management System if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, or I reckon it would be great for class projects. Getting Your Classroom Started will have you up and running if you already have a Wikispaces account. If you’re new to wikis though, perhaps begin with the Intro to Wikispaces tutorial video, and then take yourself on the Wiki Tours.
WHEN YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT PEOPLE THINK
Whether it’s your customers…or clients…or your students, sometimes surveys are the simplest means of finding out what people think. I’ve recently been told about a new one called Lime Survey (thanks @brontemoran) and they say “To cut a very long story short: LimeSurvey has a lot of features and contains everything you need for doing nearly every survey with grace.” Sort of big for their boots, hey? [laughs] But in some way they can afford to be because unlike a lot of other survey tools, this one as an amazing list of features and you can even offer the survey in multiple languages. All for free! They have a demo version if you want to see what it does. I guess my one ‘frowney moment’ was when I discovered that it is a tool you need to download, and your survey therefore needs to be hosted, but there is also a free hosting service so…hmmm…might be worth looking into for sure.
GOOGLE GLASSES….WEARABLE COMPUTERS ARE ON THEIR WAY!
I want to finish this Newsletter by blowing your mind, just a little bit. Have you heard about Google Glasses? You will soon! Google Glass is actually the name of the Google project which has created a wearable computer with a head-mounted display, and which will soon be commercially available. Essentially, the glasses connect to the internet entirely ubiquitously and hands-free, controlled by voice command. If you want to know more then read Google Glass: What you Need to Know. If you want to know how wearing glasses like this would be like, check out the How it Feels video. BUT, if you’re thinking “Oh give me a break, what on earth has this got to do with teaching!“…. then perhaps the following video might give you some ideas. [cheeky grin] Hang on tight…the future is already here!
I think that’s enough for this edition. Hopefully you feel updated, inspired and ready to take on the VET world and technology with renewed energy! Don’t forget that I am always here to answer questions and help with e-learning….it’s my job so don’t be afraid to ask. [grin]
If you think this Newsletter is worth sharing, why not send it on to a colleague? You’re also welcome to add it as a link on your organisation’s intranet. I’d love it if you helped me spread the word!