Thursday, September 18, 2008

What's your Web 2.0 Quotient


While Kevin Kelly talks about Internet of things as he predicts the next 5000 days, the question is are we even ready for the present? We are still struggling with Web 2.0 and Learning 2.0, trying to bridge the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants.

So are we really ready for the future? How well do you use the web in the present? Are you familiar with the Web 2.0 mumbo-jumbo? Do you utilize the web to connect, learn and grow? What is your Web 2.0 Quotient? Here’s a simple form I created to check your Web 2.0 Quotient.

Check your Web 2.0 Quotient here.

Simply answer a series of questions and see how you score on the Web 2.0 quotient.

My score: 68. What's your score?

Have I missed anything? I am sure I have missed many things. Do provide your suggestions to improve this.


Uses rudimentary MS Excel features and is highly dependent of retaining the format and location of cells. No great programming has been attempted here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Instructional Design: Two questions


This post is written by Sandipan Ray. Sandipan is an e-learning professional with more than 7 years of industry experience, in almost all disciplines from Graphics, Quality, programming to ID. Presently working in a product development company for their internal training needs.

I am little bothered with two common words:


Instructional Design, as I understand, is make sure that the learner is listening to what I am saying, and the way to that is to keep the course simple. But I am just wondering, with the ever-increasing complexities involved in creating a course, are we really achieving that target of "simplicity"? Is it time for us to become little "lean"?


Ever since I joined this field, I had been hearing about the sin called plagiarism. But till date, I haven't come across a clear definition about it. Wiki says: "Plagiarism is the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work." Well- close imitation of the language and thoughts-- isn't that very subjective (how much is close enough)? And in the field of learning, can we be really sure about who the original author is? And if a thing works in a X way, or has X attributes, no matter whatever language and in whatever way we say it, the fact remains the same. So, I wonder, can we really avoid plagiarism?

Waiting for you all to throw some light!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Comic Strip as an Educational Tool


This post is written by Anamika Biswas.

Google launched its new browser with a bang. By now there must have millions and billions downloads of the same. Before I could really start with browser I got hooked to its engaging comic- Google Chrome Comic. During our childhood, we all were charmed by comics and their characters. We have admired those fictional characters and their colorful backgrounds. Comics remained as our good companions and entertainers.

Even though, the use of comic strips/comic characters for advertisement has received good response. But Google Chrome Comic made a mark on my psyche as Comic strips can be used as an effective educational/tutorial tool. I have read it more than four to five times. Every time I had a different reason to read it: of course, first reading was to understand what this new browser has on offer? Rest of the re-readings was to appreciate the brilliant usage this medium known as Comic.

Scott McCloud the artist behind this Non-Fictional comic has made it into an engaging tutorial by:

  • Converting life cycle of the product into an illustrative narration. (We all like to read stories, so do we like this one as well)
    Narrative product life cycle

  • Introducing names of the team members to make narration authentic

  • Presenting visual of various actions/reactions of technical ingredients/elements of the chrome

  • Employing animated facial expressions and body language of the team members to inspire the reader to feel emotion of the narrative

    Animated Facial Expressions and Body Language

  • Using symbols/icons to expand the linguistic aspects of the narrative.

  • Utilizing limited and essential technical terms used with ease

  • Creating easy to relate illustrations from day to day life to narrate technical concepts

  • There is a desired attempt to make user familiar with the features and feel of the chrome through various indirect method as:

    layout panel

    Reinforcement through repetition

    • It carries the theme of the chrome i.e. simplicity at its best. So the back drops of the comic strips are quite simple

    • Scott McCloud has used similar blue color with combination of white, as the Chrome has

    • Comic is divided into five parts. Every time a new part starts the layout of the strip carries the New Tab Frame of the chrome

Hope to see more such unusual mediums to be part of educational/learning tools.

(Images from googlebooks/chrome)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Teacher: An expert or a fellow learner


This post is written by Sandeep Padhi.

This is a question that first came to my mind when I was working as software trainer six years back in a software training institute. While I was still completing my graduation, most of my pupils were students of BE, B Tech, and young engineers working in startup software companies. I was surely not an expert in the field and used to consider myself as a fellow learner still learning the tricks of software engineering. One day I pondered over the question “Am I eligible to be considered as a teacher” and the rationale my mind gave me was “Well! I am good enough for my students because I am able to meet their learning expectations. In fact, a scholar from computer science department of IIT may not really be a right fit for these students.”

Today, when I look back again at this question while creating some high-end technical courses as an ID, I again ask myself this question. But before I reflect, I would like to share the “best” definition of teacher I found over the Internet. A teacher is an ‘acknowledged’ guide or helper in the process of learning. This learning might be cognitive, behavioral, or physical. Here, the term “acknowledged’ gives an idea that teachers must be experts in the disciplines that they “teach”. But, if you examine the term further with respect to the learning environments and set ups that we usually see around or would like to see, acknowledgement is a very subjective term. That acknowledgement need not be in the form of a university degree or a “successful” practice of the discipline. Acknowledgement might be in the form of the economic consideration you get for your service as a teacher or it might be any independence examination of your knowledge/skills to impart that teaching.

It is always good to be an expert if you can modulate your training according to your audience. Unfortunately, I still see gaps in that aspect of teaching. And as long as that is the case, I would like to be taught by a teacher who is a fellow learner and can meet my learning expectations rather than by a scholar who talks about moon while I am still hopping around the grasslands:). And that’s where I believe instructional designers fill in the gap. We bridge this gap between teachers who are experts and students who have specific learning expectations by acting as a teacher who is a fellow learner. And, while doing that, we provide various other benefits to different stakeholders in the learning process such as taking care of the costs and time of an expert.

However, there are some obvious advantages of a teacher who is an expert, both for the teacher as well as the student. Let’s first take the teacher. One, the teacher is assured about the respect from students. Two, the teacher is assured that students would be eager to listen to him/her and won’t really be in a mood to challenge. Three, the teacher would be able to answer difficult questions immediately without needing to cross-reference or consult with anyone. And last but not the least, teacher can feel really proud and enlightened at their vast knowledge/experience while teaching the “silly” students:)

Now, let’s take the students. One, they can expect quick answers of their queries/questions. Second, the fact that the teacher is an expert leaves no chance for doubts in the minds of students; and therefore no need to crosscheck. Third, students might get that extra “gyan” to build that broader understanding, so critical at times, to understand the nitty-gritties of a subject. And finally, they can take pride in being taught by an expert and become more confident than they would otherwise.

Overall, I conclude that a fellow learner can be a “teacher” while an expert who can conduct themselves as a fellow learner can be a “best teacher”. And for the teacher, the role they take upon depends on the set up and the expectations of the students.

If you still think that I am confused and/or you have something to add, you are welcome to throw in your comments/opinion.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Google Jockeying!


This post is written by Taruna Goel

With so much up the Google sleeve already, here's another related news to use.

Google jockeying! This is an interesting technique by which selected participant(s) in an online classroom google (search) for terms, definitions, and ideas related to the concept being taught. The search is also displayed alongside the classroom content and is expected to provide enhanced learning opportunities to all other participants! While the name suggests ‘Google’, any search engine would work too!

Now, isn't that an interesting way to build some real-time learning opportunities?
But like all things in life - there are two sides to the Google jockeying story too.

What works:-
  • participants can learn how to acquire Internet searching skills. In most classrooms, the jockey changes with every class. So every participant gets to search!

  • participants gain immediate access to online search – which they may or may not have access to – at a later point

  • facilitator can implement the A and R (Attention/Relevance) components of the ARCS model through jockeying and by displaying relevant content

  • facilitator can make the class more interactive by discussing the search results in the context of the concept taught

What may not work:-
  • an online search along with classroom content could be distracting for some – use of split windows is not easy for all
  • much depends on the skills of the ‘jockey’ to perform a relevant search – bad search –> bad discussion –> poor learning
  • the jockey and the facilitator need to be mind-mapped – good coordination and communication skills on both sides is important too

Here’s an interesting article from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) that provides some more details:

Another good link is here:

What do you think?

Can we leverage such a technique in the courses that we develop for universities and colleges? Or even internal classroom training sessions?

What will work for us and what will not?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Have you been Chromed yet?


In case you haven't heard yet, Google released its new browser Chrome. Microsoft Internet Explorer has 72% browser market share and I don't believe that Chrome will make a big dent into it. I feel this is because we don't really consider browser a productivity tool and we are too lazy to learn how to better use a browser.

So here are two questions for you about Chrome. You can vote here in this post or in the sidebar. (UPDATE: Poll closed)

Any portal/blog/community worth its salt won't be complete without discussing about Chrome. So we must do our bit. Would love to hear more about your experiences, thoughts about Chrome and its release.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What is Good Quality elearning?


This post is written by Taruna Goel.

How many times do you wonder if the elearning course you are making is of good quality? All the time? Most of the time? Atleast sometime?

I am sure there are enough matrices and checkpoints with the Reviewing/Quality Assurance/Testing teams that also give you the quality figures - defects/hour is the norm. The general belief is Zero Defects = Good quality. More the number of defects, poorer is the quality.

But what is a defect? Is it those grammatical mistakes? Is it the text-graphic mismatch? Is it the two-pixel shift? Or is it something more? Are we focusing on what really matters?

Here's an interesting article around what is quality and a list of guidelines on how to evaluate it.

"We tend to judge quality only from the perspective of our own domain. Consider the views of all the stakeholders: the training manager; the designer/developer; the system administrator/IT manager that will host the application; and, of course, the end users. In some cases quality measures are of no concern to one stakeholder while of considerable importance to another. Learner-centered design would propose that you make all decisions exclusively for the learners' benefit. Yet, all stakeholders must be partners if success is to be achieved. Since development and delivery are a team effort, one must weigh all viewpoints on what constitutes quality. "

The article/site provides a list of factors (quality measures) that you can use to evaluate elearning. Since it’s a list of 22 (guidelines), you can assign weightage and create a scorecard of the most important quality measures that matter to you!

For each factor, you enter a score (scale of 1-5), multiply it with the weightage, and obtain an adjusted score. Add up the adjusted scores for all factors to obtain a total score. Use this total score to compare one elearning course to another or better still, develop a target score for your team and evaluate it against your goal!

This is a fresh perspective on quality - it still may have the much-dreaded 'rejections' - but this time, you reject - because YOU evaluate the quality of your course before the Reviewing/Quality Assurance/Testing/Customer teams do!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Indian education


This post is written by Viplav Baxi.

In my first post on eCube (thanks, Manish for having me here!), I felt I must take the opportunity to share some interesting reading on Indian Education (specifically science education). I will reproduce certain excerpts from two sources - one, a Position Paper by the National Focus Group on Teaching of Science that was published by NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) in 2006, and two, a section from George Siemens' January, 2008 article presented to ITForum. First the excerpt from the position paper.
First, we must use science curriculum as an instrument of social change to reduce the divide related to economic class, gender, caste, religion and region. We must use the textbook as one of the primary instruments for equity, since for a great majority of school going children, as also for their teachers, it is the only accessible and affordable resource for education. We must encourage alternative textbook writing in the country within the broad guidelines of the national curriculum framework. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is also an important tool for bridging the social divides. ICT should be used in such a way that it becomes an opportunity equalizer, by providing information, communication and computing resources in remote areas.

...ICT as a tool should be used with care so that it serves to bridge the social divide and equalize opportunity; inappropriate and insensitive use may as easily widen the divide.

The second excerpt is from Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing roles for Educators and Designers by George Siemens (2008). He is talking about various metaphors of the educator - such as the educator as a master artist, as a network administrator, as a concierge and as a curator.
What Becomes of the Instructional Designer?

The previous consideration of metaphors of educators was largely conceptual. While equally conceptual, the roles of instructional designers flow from changes to teaching and learning. Availability of open education resources, increased complexity of technology choices, and ongoing dialogue on different pedagogical models all place substantial pressure on the educator. It is not realistic to expect subject matter experts to be well?versed in different technologies, pedagogies, and open content sources. The critical role of the instructional designer is to be an educator to educators. The four metaphors provided above are equally valid for instructional designers as they work with faculty, designers, and technical staff.  Translating the numerous open education resource sites, communication tools, collaborative content filtering and creation options, and learning networks into language understood by educators form the core tasks of instructional designers. The numerous activities of traditional instructional design (context evaluation, content sequencing, fostering interaction, etc.) will continue to be important, but additional emphasis will need to be placed on addressing knowledge as existing in networks and learning as developing and forming diverse, multi-faceted networks

I was struck by the immediate contrasts and challenges between what we have here in India, and perhaps most of the developing countries, and what we have at the cutting edge of learning in the developed world. And I would love to hear from all of you what your perceptions are!


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