Archive for the 'instructional designer' Category

18
May
13

What the TV series “The Office” can teach Instructional Designers

I have been spending almost a year now designing a biblical Hebrew course.  Why would I do this?  Because being a language teacher, I didn’t like most of the courses that were offered.  Just like they say that doctors make the worst patients; teachers make for difficult students.  I employed various innovative methods from people like William Griffin.

I did my own graphics, used our photos from our trip in Israel, added cultural sections about the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even had words to popular Hebrew songs.  But it still did say “snap, crackle, pop!”  This course isn’t for the pedantic Hebrew scholars but for the “yuf” as we say here in East Anglia.

I strayed over to Powtoon and saw that they had fun avatars that I could easily use.  I did a video for my introduction that I really liked, BUT I could not save it.  It was lost.  But no use crying over spilled milk in the cyber world. I tried the Articulate learning software, but the avatars were too faded and old.  I went back to my original PowerPoint presentation and played with the shapes and made my own avatars.  It is not really hard to tailor the avatar to illustrate the text on the slide.  As I continued to work with them, they were no longer avatars but dare I say, characters, people. I uploaded my work on iSpring and here it is: http://rankin.ispringonline.com/view/6856-hA74n-W1d6V

While I was working on this video, I was also watching the TV series finale of “The Office.” (Am I the only one who works from home that does this?) Why do millions of people love this show so much? It took place in a boring, dead-end office where none of us would ever want to work.  The office was character-driven.  Even when the plots were lost, the writing bad, the audience could forgive.

We spend more time with the people with whom we work than we do with our families and friends.  In fact, in this day of dysfunctional families, some may see their workmates as family.  But as more people work from home, this changes.  We work in cyberspace where we still need that human touch. Many employees no longer get their training with their colleagues.  They are left alone with a light box.  Instructional designers can make it less lonely by animating the avatars.  They also need good story lines. We never really grew out of that need for a story, “Once upon a time…”

08
May
13

What Jerusalem Day and Teachers’ Day and Spock have in common

spockWithout teachers, there might not be a Jerusalem.  How’s that, you might ask.  Well, it is a matter of “Tradition” as goes the song in “Fiddler on the Roof.”  There has always been the Jewish tradition of teaching the next generation.  The whole liturgy of the Passover is one big object lesson for kids.  While university professors were lecturing away, enjoying the sound of their own voice, doing a data dump in their bored students’ minds, rabbis were facilitating before facilitators were in vogue.  Talk about home-schooling, Jewish mothers would teach the Hebrew aleph-bet by baking cookies in the shape of the letters.

When will educators leave behind the old Greek oratory lecture method of teaching and enter into interactive learning?  The Digital Age of Education is how we will teach the next generation.  It has to be quick, memorable, visual, putting the student in the driver’s seat.  This is scarey for the 20th century educator.  But I say to you, give it up!  Even Spock (Leonard Nimoy) has given his mantle to Zachary Quinto, Elijah/Elisha style, ensuring future generation of Trekkies.   See them together in Audi advert.

Right now I am developing an online course for the most ancient of languages:  Hebrew.  This will not be a course for old fogies who want a grammar lesson.  This is meant for kids–because they are the ones who need to find Hebrew fun, because it is.  Through a company called iSpring, I have been able to make powerpoint presentations and upload them on their site.  They convert them to flash presentations.  But this is the kicker–they keep all my animations–which are essential to the method of the course.  Also, the student has control on the slides: the student can set the pace. Other website where you can upload your ppt don’t always offer these features.  That is where YouTube doesn’t cut it–a video is too fluid–it’s gone before you know it.  No time for reflection.  With iSpring, a student can stop one a slide as long as needed.  it’s easy to go back and repeat.  In learning languages, it’s all about repetition.  The student can hear the word as many times as necessary.  What is good about iSpring is that it accommodates a language written right to left. Also, there is no problem mixing the English with the Hebrew.

Also, at the end of each module, there is a game, what some would call a quiz. For learning to take place, real learning, students need to have the opportunity to check what they have studied, and many times, the learning actually takes place during the game.

This course is a great way for kids who are preparing for their Bar-Mitzva and Bat-Mitva to actually learn how to read Hebrew and have fun.  After this course, they can easily learn to read the prayers and scripture that they need to know.  And if some adults who are still kids at heart want to learn how to read Hebrew, they can enjoy it too.

In the Jewish tradition, I am searching for beta-testers.  I welcome interaction from participants where I can learn from you.

06
Feb
13

Spring is Here in the UK!

We have had a dreary winter so far.  After Christmas I felt like I was living in Finland but without the snow plows.  The rain makes life damp here and you feel it in your mattress when you go to bed at night.  But, somehow, Spring is here!  Well, virtually anyway. I am a lonely instructional designer who is holed up in my bedroom-office.  I am trying to get our business going since that is about the only way you can get work now in the UK–you got to do you own thing.  But of course, I’m in a Catch-22–no work–no money–no money–no business.  But then came iSpring to give me the leg up that I need.

You see, I am developing a new type of language learning concept — for Hebrew.  Since I am still learning Hebrew myself, and I’m doing the graphics, and I’m doing the IT, my mind is juggling quite a lot.

Once I got some prototype modules done for beta-testing, I needed a platform.  Who would host a powerpoint presentation and keep all my little animations and click when you’re done pages, and my sounds, and still give me quality.  And, who could keep it private for me?  For free.  Like I said, Spring came.  iSpring.

Not only that, when I had some technical difficulties, some one actually wrote right back THE VERY SAME DAY!  Yes, I said some one, meaning a real person like Helen.  A real personality.  No automatic email.

This is all for free.  Thank you, iSpring, for shedding a little bit of sunshine on the rainy UK.