Monday, August 8

Brainstorm: The New Curriculum for E-Learning Developers

I have a question for this community. If you were a university offering an advanced degree in Instructional Technology, what are the tools (not philosophies) you would strongly urge your students to learn?

8 comments:

mindful learner said...

I'm not sure you should teach specific tools as this dates knowledge incredibly quickly. However, so I don't stray too far from your post, I'd say I'd teach them to program (in fact I'd force them to do a whole development lifecycle from requirements to design to development to testing). I've found ID people who have done technical work pick up new technology/tools very quickly and also have a very good understanding of what interactivity works under different constraints.

Mike said...

I have been a programmer on eLearning projects for the past eight years, and I have used a wide variety of technologies on my projects. There are many tools that I have learned how to use over the years that are now sitting on my bookshelf. I am sure that the tools will continue to develop and change. As a result, it is hard to pick just one tool or technology.

But, even with all of the change, there has been one central tool that has played a role on almost all of my projects, the word processor. Most people can figure out how to type, spell check, and save documents in a word processor, but it seems that very few people know how to take advantage of the advanced features that a program such as Microsoft Word has to offer.

I have found that my projects have been more successful when the project begins with a properly designed document template and styles. Properly formatted content can then be more easily converted into Instructor and Student Guides, help manuals, PowerPoint presentations and be copy and pasted into other applications.

So, if I had to select just one tool to teach everyone who wanted to work on eLearning projects, I would teach everyone how to take advantage of the advanced features of Microsoft Word.

Alan said...

* Image creation/manipulation/optimization, ideally medium level skills in PhotoShop/PaintShopPro
* Basic audio editing, working on a timeline, application of filters. These days it is hard to beat the features at the price (free) of Audacity
* HTML/CSS down to text editor level. WYSIWIG editors are fine to use, but an underpinning knowledge of how web content is constructed is critical
* Some sort of programming, scripting to generate interactivity. anywhere from JavaScript to ActionScript/Lingo to PHP/ASP
* Data management/manipulation, from database (e.g. mySQL) to even manipulation of batches of number in Excel

The tools are ephemeral, the transference a better goal. Better yet are the information literacy skills to develop a network of resources and people you can tap into for what you do not know.

Corrie said...

Agreed with the above comments.

An instructional designer is like an architect or design engineer. They may not be proficient with the tools used on the job site or factory floor, but they need to know what's possible, what's easy, and what's hard.

Re technology, they should be able to write basic code in an interpreted scripting language and an object-oriented language.

They also need to be able to *write* clearly and concisely, so the "tool" of technical writing should be taught.

They need to be able to communicate with a project team, sponsors, and clients, so the basics of Excel, Project, and Powerpoint are important.

jay said...

Networks: social, information, etc.
Ecology, complexity, biology
Cognitive science
Art appreciation
Writing

...but mostly apprenticeship in a variety of situations. Perhaps some prototyping under the rules of Extreme Programming.

Martin said...

I would have to agree with ‘mindful learner’ and Corrie, some of the most powerful tools in my kit bag are those developed through going through an object orientated multimedia design and development lifecycle.

I came into ID through the backdoor in 2000. I started off life as a html hacker for a small courseware development company but quickly realised I was lacking some key competencies (usability, accessibility, design/development strategies) so went back to Uni for a year to do a MSc in Interactive Systems Design (the proliferation of e-Learning degrees were but a twinkle in the Institution’s eyes). The course was a great eye-opener particularly in terms of HCI (c/o Benyon and Tuner & Tuner).

Because of the funding for the course there was a lot of JAVA programming (much to the dismay of all the BA students), in retrospect the hours I spent poring over and designing code was key. As an object orientated language there is so much that I learned then and that I still use now but in a different context. Probably the most useful tool in terms of design was geeting to grips with Unified Modelling Language (UML). The great thing about UML is it’s not only a design tool it’s also a communication tool, and as architects of learning communication is key.

Kathy said...

You may also want to take a look at some of the documentation recording tools and simulation tools. These are they type of tools that if you learn one of them, the others will come easily. In addition to learning how to record, you'll learn the importance of standards, estimating ratios for recording and editing, and publishing options.

Anonymous said...

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