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.
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.
It’s no secret that as technology grows – the world gets smaller. China, with it’s booming economy has recognized that investment in talent and people goes much further to increase profits than doing nothing at all.
With companies like Microsoft spending at least $20 million a year to get some of their worldwide employees together twice a year for some training – you can expect a growing number of both e-learning companies and internal training departments to seize the moment. In addition, with energy costs rising as they have been and mobile devices becoming increasingly relevant – it will be an obvious choice for corporations looking to both maintain and recruit top talent.
We expect a huge demand for mobile learning and e-learning to continue as travel costs and communication channels increase. Talent can be recruited and professional development can be delivered through innovation and we think corporations and business will drive the future of mobile learning markets – allowing higher education to follow suit.
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)
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 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.”
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.
Online teaching should really be called online facilitation.
I’ve seen it time and time again; traditional classroom instructors are told they have to teach online. The problem is, many of them don’t know how. They are used to lecturing with a PowerPoint, going on field trips, or doing a lab – they TEACH. But in online environments, “teaching” is not as necessary. Some may argue this, but the fact remains that a clear majority of online courses out there are facilitated courses. Some may site some great innovators who do live lecture sessions, recorded lessons, and more; but the beauty of online learning is that it puts the student in the driver seat and the teacher in the navigational passenger seat.
So I ran across a great article today regarding online facilitation, and I thought it to be pretty simple and accurate tips for online educators.
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.
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.
Creating a rubric can set proper expectations for your students. This short tutorial will show you the basics.
Performance Tasks (Range)
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.
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.
Online Teaching 101
Learners will be able to effectively teach online using Blackboard.
Performance Task Description:
Create an online course using Blackboard
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.
How do students know what is expected of them to get a desired grade?
How does the instructor grade consistently?
“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.
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.
Mentoring is especially conducive to the online environment. We talked earlier about facilitating instruction and coaching students. Mentoring is a form of teaching that enables students and encourages them as a guide rather than a provider of knowledge. Mentors serve as the model for expected behaviors while challenging students to perform at higher levels.
In regards to online learning, instructors can mentor and model behavior in several ways.
Offer your own personal experiences in discussion boards.
Include examples of assignments or projects so the students know what is an example of exemplary work.
Try some case studies or role play exercises in which you can constructively offer feedback and encourage expected behaviors.
Case studies present students with a detailed description of a situation related to the class material. The students can then analyze the decision making process of the characters involved. Using hindsight, the students then can identify things that went wrong and explain or justify why they might have went that way. On the other hand, students can identify what went right and explain or justify why it may have went that way.
Case studies give students a look into real situations that have occurred. This lets the student know that the material they are studying is relevant to what they actually need to know out in the field. Case studies allow students to identify mistakes, analyze them, and figure out how to solve the problem. You should be able to find cases in your subject area. Often there are books that are full case studies.
Other ideas for application:
You can put students in a situation where THEY are the case study in progress. You could give only bits of the actual case study at a time then ask the students how they would react. For instance, you could give them a situation, then ask them how they would react. Have them post their reactions using a discussion board. After the students have reacted to the first bit of the case, you could give them what actually happened, then move on to the next bit of the case.
These activities are a creative way for students to assume roles and to think outside of themselves.
Project based work allow students to pursue their own particular interests. They can take place individually or in groups. Many online activities are project based already. Projects allow for students to receive feedback and different viewpoints from other students – not just the instructor. Students can then reformulate their project before final submission. Collaboration is key for peer evaluation-based projects.
Project based activities also enable students to gain a sense of accomplishment while participating in a practical application. Projects often-times start off small and lead to student continuation of the project after the course has ended.
There are tons of things you could do for project based activities. The online environment can accommodate through discussion boards, chats, instant messaging, and the vast resources available on the World Wide Web. Many of the project based activities that you have in your traditional class will also transfer over to the online environment.
Ideas for project-based activities:
Create a website
Perform an experiment
Write a paper
Interview an expert and report your findings
Create something… etc.
To support project based activities and small group exercises, students will often communicate with each other using various forms of asynchronous and synchronous communication. Text messaging, cell phones, palm pilots, laptops, and wireless communications are continuing to become more and more sophisticated. Education follows these trends and many times leads the way. As these tools become more and more accessible, you can have students communicate in many different ways.
You might want to keep fairly up to date with what is available and what is trendy in technology. Often times, creative project ideas stem from new technologies that arise.