LMS for WordPress Released (Sensei)

Well it’s finally here.  A new Learning Management System (LMS) plugin for WordPress made by Woothemes.com.  There is a demo there that you can play around with as the role of “student.”  It looks a bit jumbled right now, but before we pre-judge Sensei, we’ll be buying it and testing it out – We’ll report the results back here after some thorough testing.

 

sensei-definition

 

Face value from we see now is that it’s cool – really cool.  I especially like how it is integrated with the shopping cart plugin WooCommerce so you can sell courses that you develop.  As with all V1 releases, it needs to be refined based on user feedback.  I would also assume that Woothemes.com will open up the floodgates to developers who can offer additional functionality to the LMS.

Definitely one to keep an eye on.  The next thing we need to look at is server load testing which we will also be reporting back here.

WordPress LMS

WordPress LMS

Woothemes.com is releasing a WordPress LMS known as Sensei in January 2013 and if it is anything like the simplicity of their WordPress Shopping Cart Woocommerce, it will be a winner.

If I were a betting man (which I am!), I’d put my chips on the table for this one.  The developers at Woothemes.com know their stuff when it comes to simplifying.  I’ve seen it first hand when they took the complexity of e-commerce shopping carts (which if you used Magento you would know what I mean) and simplified it into an intuitive interface that integrates with the most widely used content management system and blogging platform- WordPress.

 

Learning Management System

So what to expect?

  • Easy installation (as easy as installing WordPress and a theme)
  • Minimal server requirements (unless you plan on a big scale project)
  • Integration with Woocommerce (to take payments for online courses)
  • Deep integration with existing Woothemes.com themes and compatibility with other WordPress themes.
  • Simple interface for adding courses, quizzes, discussions.
  • Social media integration and WordPress rich interfaces.
  • An open marketplace where developers can write LMS extensions for this platform.
  • Issues, fixes, and many updates.
  • Good usage for smaller scale projects (at least initially)

What not to expect out of the gate:

  • SCORM support (it’s been well documented that this will not be happening in the early versions of Sensei WordPress LMS)
  • Large scale compatibility (Don’t expect to convince your school or organization that it’s time to ditch your existing LMS for this.  It’s going to take time before the grease is on the wheels and the bugs are worked out so that scalability can be reliable).
  • Compatibility with ERP systems (Most LMS systems have some compatibility with ERP systems that allow their LMS’s to communicate to the organizations Human Resources systems or in the case of education- an Admissions/Records Office) This I think will come soon in the form of an extension.

It’s something to be excited about.  If you look at Woothemes.com’s track record – it’s been good and solid.  When Woocommerce was opened up to the marketplace for developers to create extensions – it made Woocommerce that much more viable and it moved the product forward. The same I suspect will happen with the Sensei WordPress LMS.

Your comments? Thoughts?

Competency-Based Training: What Do you Already Know?

Competency-Based Training: What Do you Already Know?

Competency-based training models allow learners to demonstrate what they know and move on if they already know the material.  I’m sure you’ve sat in a class before thinking to yourself “I know this stuff already!” Many organizations allow you to test out of certain courses but, in most cases you have to take the whole course even if you know it.  So the idea of competency-based training models is viable – and even more-so in the current educational and training landscape.

How Competency-based Training Models Work

The short answer is, it depends.  I say this because some subjects lend themselves better to competency-based testing than others.  Of course there are some politics involved as well such as standards, articulation to colleges or certifications, butts in seats, and of course money.  Generally, though there is no subject matter that someone could not “test out” of if the test is developed correctly.  This is easier said than done.  We’ll look at some of the obvious coursework that lends itself to competency-based testing.

  • Programming (computer science)
  • Micro-computer applications (MS Office)
  • Skills based (forklift operations, overhead crane operation)
  • Electro-Mechanical (knowledge of electrical systems, mechanical operations, hydraulics)
  • etc.

You should get the idea from the list above.  The student who can demonstrate they already know the material can test out and move on without taking the class.  They are also performance based subjects and it is very easy to distinguish if the student does not know the material.  You simply give them a task to complete, a scenario, or a project and perhaps a written test to demonstrate competency.

The Test

The test has to be based on the main objectives or the certification standards that the course is trying to achieve.  In the actual classroom, the instructor should be basing everything they do on their goals and objectives of the course.  So for competency-based models, the test could be the same test that is given in the classroom.  If the student passes that test, they are demonstrating they know the material and should not need to go through the entire classroom course. If the test is not designed correctly, it renders the competency-based model unreliable.  This is why test design is crucial to “testing out.”

Conclusion

For companies, it reduces training costs if they hired a skilled worker who says they already know the material, and that company could validate the fact that they do.  In terms of workforce development for a college or vocational school, competency based training models get unemployed workers back into the workforce faster.

 

 

 

Lucid Way Launches New E-learning Website

We’ve launched a new brand, a new identity, and a new focus- e-learning.  That’s right, in fact it’s nothing new to us, we’ve been doing it for over 10 years and we’ve gone full time with Lucid Way over 3 years ago.  The difference now is that it’s all we do now.  Sure we’ll be developing websites and e-commerce functionality, but we’ll be doing it for e-learning applications.  Check out our promotional video below.

Our excitement revolves around responsive design.  In fact, just do something for me right now – resize your browser window really small and watch what happens to the Lucid Way website.  Now that’s responsive design.  In another post, I’ll be talking about how it’s done and why we did it but for now just know that it’s a game changer in more ways than one.

Responsive Design

Responsive Design


Our real focus, e-learning and mobile learning will benefit from responsive designs, and the market (including us) we predict, will respond with some really cool products for e-learning training.

We hope you love our new website. We are working on getting some more samples up on the site. We’ve done a lot of projects through the years and we have to be selective.

So, stay tuned for some tutorials and other e-learning goodies.  Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the latest blog posts.

 

How to Create a Rubric

How to Create a Rubric

Creating a rubric can set proper expectations for your students. This short tutorial will show you the basics.

  1. Competency (Objective)
  2. Performance Tasks (Range)
  3. Criteria (Degree)

You’ll want to start with the competency, then you will find that your rubric will just flow right together with the performance tasks, and the criteria.

Competency or Objective:

What is the ultimate goal of this project. What is it that the student will have learned when the instruction is complete? This is the area where you will state the ultimate goal or objective. For example:

Competency: “Learners will be able to effectively teach online using Blackboard. ”

Performance Tasks or Range:

This component of the rubric defines the process or product that will provide evidence of learning the competency from above.

Performance Task: “Create an online course using Blackboard”

Criteria or Degree:

This is where you will list the criteria, or specific characteristics that will tell you that the learner has met expectations for the performance task above.

Criteria:

  • Student is able to navigate effectively inside of Blackboard.
  • Student will be able to scan at least two images to post inside of their class.
  • Student will be able to create and edit discussion board items inside of Blackboard.
  • Student will be able to create quizzes and exams inside of Blackboard.
  • etc. etc. etc.

After you have the 3 sections above complete, you can plug it into any kind of rubric template and give it to your students and use it as your grading tool. Students will now know what is expected of them and you can justify your grade through the rubric.

Course:

Online Teaching 101

Competency:

Learners will be able to effectively teach online using Blackboard.

Performance Task Description:

Create an online course using Blackboard

 

 

Criterion

Yes

Yes, But

No, But

No

4

3

2

1

Able to navigate to 8 out of 10 given areas of Blackboard. Able to navigate to 6-7 out of 10 given areas of Blackboard. Able to navigate to 4-5 out of 10 given areas of Blackboard. Able to navigate to 3 or less out of 10 given areas of Blackboard.
Able to use the available “tools” to add and setup 6 or more course components. Able to use the available “tools” to add and setup 5 or more course components. Able to use the available “tools” to add and setup 4 or more course components. Able to use the available “tools” to add and setup 3 or less course components.
etc. etc. etc. etc.

 

Grading Criteria:
15-16 — 4.0
13-14 — 3.0
11-12 — 2.0
9-10 — 1.0
8 or below — 0.0

 

Purpose and Overview of Rubrics

Purpose and Overview of Rubrics

How do students know what is expected of them to get a desired grade?

  • How does the instructor grade consistently?

Rubrics

“if you get something wrong, your teacher can prove you knew what you were supposed to do.” —- Quote from a student who said he didn’t care much for rubrics.

Rubrics are simply a scoring tool that lists criteria for projects, assignments, or other pieces of work. Rubrics list what needs to be included in order to receive a certain score or grade. It allows the student to evaluate his/her own work before submitting. Instructors can justify their grades based on the rubric.

Rubrics fit well into any kind of course delivery. In regards to online teaching, they fit in very well. The reason is because students can view the rubric for the assignment or project, and then immediately know what is expected of them to get the grade they want. Any questions the student may have is usually answered through the rubric. Students can begin on their project right away and not have to wait for the instructor to answer their question through email or discussion boards.

In most cases, rubrics are set up as follows:

Competency or Objective: What is the ultimate goal or outcome?

Performance tasks or Range: What is the process that will provide me evidence of the goal being met?

Criteria or Degree (in which it is met): What characteristics of the performance are we looking for in order to achieve the best grade? Scale below shows the grading scheme for a sample rubric.

 

*Yes

Yes, But

No, But

No

4

3

2

1

Student has met ALL criteria for the performance task. Student has ALMOST ALL of the criteria for the performance task. Student has met SOME of the criteria for the performance task. Student met NONE, or FEW of the criteria for the performance task.

* Please note that there are many variations for rubrics, but competencies, performance tasks, and criteria almost always remain (terms vary depending on who is explaining it, but the idea remains the same). You may need to get creative with your rubrics depending on your project.

In the sections ahead, we will break this down so it is easier to understand.