Jing – simple multimedia presentations

Jing is a screen capture technology that offers a quick and easy way to make multimedia presentations.

Combine an audio commentary with whatever is happening on your computer screen.

Jing outputs to the standard .swf (Flash) format and is available for free at http://www.techsmith.com/jing/

Jing Pro offering additional features is also available at low cost.

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bFree Blackboard content extractor

Here’s a useful tool for Blackboard users. bFree allows users to make an offline copy of Blackboard content, including discussion boards. Ideal for learners with limited Web access or keeping an archive of study materials after your course has finished.

bFree is available for free download by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the Creative Commons License.

See http://its2.unc.edu/tl/tli/bFree/index.html

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Personalized Learning – A New Educational Paradigm

One of the greatest promises offered by e-learning is its potential to offer a personalized learning experience to each individual learner.

In traditional learning education providers offer courses to which learners sign up. A course consists of a fixed syllabus, or list of things to be learned or objectives to be met. The learning is delivered by a particular instructor using a fixed method at scheduled places and times. That’s fine as far as it goes, and indeed many of us learned a great deal from traditional learning.

But the online world changes everything. No longer do instructors hold a monopoly on knowledge to be dispensed to the privileged at their discretion. We are now surrounded by knowledge and the challenge of learning has become that of seeking the guidance to follow a meaningful journey through the information jungle best suited to our needs and interests. Read more ›

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Learning Theories and Learning Styles

Understanding how people learn is the key to producing effective instruction, both traditionally and in the form of e-learning. Although many theories of learning have been proposed, with some leading candidates described below, it seems clear that different individuals learn in different ways. One of the strengths of e-learning is its ability to provide a unique learning experience for each participant rather than the one-size-fits-all approach dictated by the classroom. The most effective e-learning will be grounded in learning theory, and will also facilitate varying experience to suit varying styles of learning and instructional need. Read more ›

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Designing e-learning

Instructional Design for e-learning

Instructional design is the process of designing learning experiences so as to maximize learning effectiveness. This document describes some of the major issues involved in designing beneficial instruction. It is primarily aimed at those creating online/distance learning experiences for mature learners, however the principles described may be applied to all kinds of learning. It also serves as a portal to the best Web and print resources available for those seeking further information. Read more ›

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An e-Learning Production Model

The author was recently engaged by a leading English academic institution to undertake the Web design and development on a major e-learning project. This paper describes the transferable production model created to facilitate project completion.

The Brief

The aim of the project was to create a distance-learning course presenting in-depth and up-to-date academic materials in the form of an engaging, interactive learning experience. Read more ›

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Education 2.0 – How Technology is Changing the Way We Learn

The early 21st century is proving to an era of unprecedentedly fast and relentlessly accelerating change. Initially this change is technological, but ultimately it will also be societal. This article discusses the relationship between this era of change and the quantity and quality of learning it will demand. It also considers the mechanisms by which that new model learning might be delivered.

In the 20th century those entering the workplace might expect to keep the same job throughout their working lives. In the 21st century new entrants might expect to change job, and even occupation, several times before retirement. The 21st century citizen will need learning for each transition. Read more ›

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Is e-learning Right for Me?

A Guide for potential students

With the ongoing recession many people are considering furthering their education, either to enhance their chances of keeping their current work, or to better position themselves for finding new work. The external commitments of many rules out returning to full-time study, but distance learning and e-learning are increasingly common options. This article examines the pros and cons of this form of education and helps you find the option most suited to your needs.

What is e-learning?

Distance education is any kind of learning that takes place without the need to attend a specific place. Traditionally distance learning took the form of the so-called correspondence course that provided students with printed study materials. e-learning is the increasingly common modern variant, which involves the use of computer technology in the education process. However, e-learning can also figure in on-campus education too with technology used to supplement the traditional learning process.

e-learning shares distance learning’s advantage of flexibility, allowing learners to study when and where it’s most convenient to them. However, it has the added benefit that study is possible from any online computer, removing the need to carry around textbooks and other materials.

With the potential to teach in a variety of novel and stimulating ways e-learning goes way beyond the printed page. Study material may take the form of audio recordings, video clips, animations and interactive simulation.

The sense of isolation often experienced by students was a major disadvantage of distance learning. e-learning attempts to overcome this by providing online academic support and creating a virtual community of learners. This may take the form of asynchronous bulletin boards in which users create and respond to threads in their own time, or real-time tutorials and seminars. Communication with instructors and fellow students is not restricted to text on screen and may include sound and vision using hardware such as web cams and cell phones and software such as Skype.

With e-learning it is possible to enrol with institutions based anywhere in the world, thus widening the choice of available courses. By searching the Web you can select the course that best fits your needs, and offers the highest quality of instruction.

Any kind of study requires commitment from the learner. Though e-learning has come a long way from the mind-numbing computer-based training (CBT) of the 1980s and 90s you still can’t download knowledge effortlessly into your brain. As with any kind of independent study, e-learning demands a high degree of motivation and self-discipline. If you’re unsure, see if there’s a short, taster course you can take to get a feel for what’s involved. Some institutinons may even publish samples of learning material on the Web or CD-ROM.

Institutions have many reasons for adopting e-learning including its potential to facilitate learning, increasing market share, and reducing costs. Obviously some will produce better offerings than others. Some points to look for in selecting an institution/course include:

  • How widely recognised is your proposed institution? (The Internet makes it easy for bogus institutions to offer worthless qualifications just for paying the fee)
  • Who will be your instructors? What are their qualifications?
  • What level and nature of support is available? (ie how you will contact your instructors, whether you will have contact with fellow students)
  • What time commitment does the course require? Must it be completed within a fixed schedule? Does the commitment fit with your current schedule?
  • How long has the institution been engaging in e-learning?
  • How long has your course of interest been running in e-learning form? (e-learning is rapidly evolving and institutions often improve courses after their first presentation. If your course of interest is new, enquire if a discount is available in return for offering constructive feedback)
  • How will you be assessed – by assignment or examination? If an exam is required will you be able to sit it at a convenient place and time?
  • What are the computing requirements? (hi-tech courses often require a particular specification of hardware and software, make sure yours is compatible)
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What is a Learning Technologist?

Recent years have seen a new title appearing among the job vacancy ads, that of learning/educational technologist. The terms “learning” and “educational” technologist are equivalent, with “educational” favored in North America while “learning” is preferred in Great Britain. But what exactly does this rapidly growing profession do? Read more ›

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e-learning: The Threat and the Promise

e-learning refers to any learning process that partly or wholly uses computer technology for delivery and or support.

The concept of e-learning is not new. Psychology professor Sidney Pressey developed a mechanical teaching machine in the early 1920s. Numerous computer-based training (CBT) applications were developed in the 1980s to exploit the evolution of the personal computer. However, the proliferation of the Internet has fuelled the growth in both volume and scope of what is now known as e-learning. Read more ›

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