In mid-September, I attended an Online Learning conference in Chicago that was sponsored by Training Magazine. Although as far as I could determine I was the only attendee from an academic organization, the corporate trainers and instructional designers at the conference gave me plenty of insights into not only the software and techniques they use in their workplaces, but also into the state of e-learning today.
Good news: ATSU is definitely a leader in this area. Much of the talk at the conference revolved around interaction, gamification, and assessment, which reminded me very much of the discussions taking place on our campuses at ATSU. Movement toward creating presentations that engage the student into the process of learning, and away from a static, top-down approach, was very much in evidence. Keywords that cropped up at multiple sessions: Discovery; Learner Creation; Team Challenges; Learner Becomes Teacher; Motivation; Stimulation; Facilitation; Investigation; Collaboration.
Of course, there was also much discussion of how to handle the proliferation of devices that are available to learners now. How can we create materials that will be available to learners no matter how they want to access them, whether on a laptop, a tablet, or by way of a phone? There was a definite feeling of excitement about what was to come, and a definite agreement that in five years today's tools would seem primitive.
There was also a lot of enthusiasm for Articulate Storyline, a program for creating interactive content that can include narration, videos, images, and provides for attaching pdf and Word documents. I attended a session where the presenter compared Storyline and Adobe's Captivate, a similar application that has been much-used in the elearning community. His take-away: while Captivate includes more features (many of which can be categorized as more options available to do a particular thing), Storyline allows the creator to do things more efficiently, in fewer steps. He also felt that Storyline is easier to learn, with Captivate having "a pretty steep learning curve."
Overall, the conference reinforced the idea that elearning is here to stay, and our work has to be directed toward making our use of it better and more effective.
We are happy to announce the acquisition of a new iMac for the ETDC Creation Station. It is available for use by faculty, staff, and students working on projects. This now means that our Creation Stations both in Mesa and in Kirksville are outfitted with state-of-the-art machines running the PC and Mac environments.
In addition to all the familiar Mac programs and apps — and that wonderful screen resolution — we've loaded it with Camtasia for Mac, as well as the iBook Author app with which you can create presentations for iPads that incorporate video, images, audio, and pdf documents. You can create new presentations, or update and edit old ones using the software available here.
It's located in the ETDC office inside the library in the Mesa campus main 5850 building. Come on in and check it out!