Tag: albion college

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

More Ways to Make Your eLearning GREAT

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A little creativity goes a long way.

Last month, at the Midwest Moodle Moot, I attended a workshop by Melinda Kraft of Albion College.  “The Moodle Mash – It’s a Web 2.0 Splash” covered many free (or inexpensive) and easy-to-use online applications that you can use to add more connectivity, interaction, and interest to your Moodle courses.  I’m splitting this into two posts:  this one on multi-media and a second one on collaboration and interaction.  Both build on previous posts…if you have time, read them all!

Create your own multi-media for your content. These will make your eLearning GREAT without breaking the budget on production costs.  You don’t have to be an artist, but a  little creativity helps…Here are some of the applications Melinda demonstrated, with my business content take on them.  Warning: some of these examples are, uh, rough around the edges.  I would recommend more polished versions for real courses.

  • GoAnimate.com Create cartoons for memorable lessons.  So much business training is so dry, so boring.  Lighten it up with a cartoon here and there (don’t overdo it) to highlight really critical messages you want students to remember.  Or, use them to offer a mental break after a particularly intense topic. Watch Zeb help Gerry remember the things to look for in a 10 Second Inspection in the Fort Swampy course at BeeLearn.com.
  • Xtranormal is another site that allows you to create animated movies online.  There is also a desktop version.  There is more functionality here than with GoAnimate.com, but you’ll have to pay for everything after the initial test.  Here is my first creation; crude, but not so bad for ten minutes worth of my time.
  • Aviary.com Super easy online image editing.  A picture is worth 1000 words and every eLearning course should contain some!  I have spent hours searching for just the right stock image or trying to adjust an existing image with Photoshop.

    Buzzy Made-over at Aviary.com

    I don’t recommend dressing your logo up like he’s been out on an all-night bender, but you can do it in a few minutes if you choose. You can get a free screen capture/editor as a browser extension, too.  A great time saver when you are building content.

  • Create and edit more than images with AviaryTools. Obtaining a license to use copyrighted material in a commercial project (which applies to eLearning courses used by all business, for profit or not), can be expensive or forbidden.  These online tools are affordable and useful when you want to:
    • Include music in your content.  Create your own score!
    • Add sound effects (including your own voice) to your Engage animations, GoAnimate or Xtranormal videos, or as stand-alone content in your courses.
    • Add comments or otherwise mark-up screen captures and images.
  • Snagit and Jing by TechSmith – Easily create “how-to” videos, narrated slideshows, and other objects to show your students, comment on what they’ve done, and help them collaborate with each other.
  • WidgetBox.com Mix up the way your content is presented by displaying it in a widget (copy the code into any HTML area in your course). Some ideas for displaying content in a widget:
  • BrainPOP was not covered at the Moot; Brent Schlenker tweeted this one about Hurricanes (given the current event of Hurricane Irene threatening the east coast of the US and Canada).  Very, very nice…

Most of these come with widgets and buttons that you can place in your content to direct students to create their own as part of assignments.

Mobile Widgets at WidgetBox.com. This is a fee-based service, but you can try it out for 30 days.  Offer your clients a free app that supports your training content. Even if one already exists, customize your own with your logo and contact information, specific to your training content and expertise:

  • A mobile version of a quick reference like the Pill Identifier or Seafood Watch (above).
  • Things to look for in a 10 Second Inspection; any checklist or guide that would be helpful to people when the job takes them away from their computers.
  • Calendar with important events.  Include your “office hours”, required web meetings, chats, and even assignment due dates.
  • Assignments.  This app could provide details on the assignment, links to resources, quick tip guides.  This is especially helpful if your course requires field work, whether it be in a hospital, a mall, the manufacturing floor, or literally a field.

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Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

More ways to Jazz up Your Moodle Courses with Collaboration and Interaction

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Jazz up your Moodle coursesBuilding on an earlier post and a Moot workshop presentation by Melinda Kraft of Albion College, here are some ideas for using online applications to stay connected with your students and to encourage them to interact with each other. Make sure you check out the companion post to this one, More Ways to Make Your eLearning GREAT.

WidgetBox.com Add unlimited features to any Moodle course or Front Page– for learning, communicating, or just plain fun. Create an account, design your widget, using one of their many templates or your own, and copy the code into an HTML block in your Moodle course (or front page). Some ideas for using their templates to make your courses more engaging:

  • An RSS feed from your blog (much nicer formatting than the standard Moodle RSS block), a YouTube widget, Twitter updates; you can see examples in the Pluto course at BeeLearn.com.
  • Poll widget – use on the home page to gather demographics about your site visitors; within courses you can use this much like the Moodle Choice activity to gather instant feedback such as “Would you like to see more examples like this one?” or “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”
  • Form – use as a sign up form for an event, a newsletter, a free information product, a follow-up call for a quote, a free consultation…View an example in the Fort Swampy course at BeeLearn.com where the form is used to sign up for peer study groups.
  • Countdown – are you holding a webinar or speaking at a conference?  The Countdown widget lets you customize the event name, the countdown display, and a custom message once the event is over.  You can put “Sorry, you missed it, but you can download the presentation here” and put a link. See an example in the Pluto course at BeeLearn.com.

Note that the WidgetBox.com Basic account is free, but has fewer design options than the fee-based Pro account.

Chat, VOIP, and Web meeting clients that add interactivity to any eLearning course:

  • Meebo Put the Meebo Bar on your site to make it easy for both visitors and participants to share with others, connect with you, and even allow affiliate advertisements without negatively affecting the aesthetics or distracting learners.
  • Trillian I am not an online chatter anymore.  Twenty-five years ago I was enthralled with, so I avoid the temptation now.  But if you are, Trillian is the IM client for you, aggregating all of your screen names in one place so you can keep up.
  • For VOIP calls and web meetings, Skype remains a favorite.  There was a Skype activity module (plugin) for Moodle; I’m not sure if it’s working for 2.x or not.  Regardless of that, you can create a customized Skype button and place it in any HTML content area in Moodle.

Use these scheduling applications to connect with your students/clients for coaching sessions, consulting, speaking engagements.  You’re not bogged down by multiple “are you available” emails; you don’t need a personal assistant to schedule for you.  These can be linked or embedded in your Moodle course content and can sync with your Moodle calendar.

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