“Open Online Experience” starts 9/4…

If you’re into education and technology, or both of those things stuck together, you might want to check this out.  While the title is a bit vague and doesn’t really speak to the concept of the project, this is basically a school-year-long cMOOC for educators to share ideas in ed-tech, with a new topic every month.  It’s a cool concept, and one that undoubtedly has the potential to generate some great ideas, though it will depend on how tech-savvy the participants are and how often they log in – in my experience, teachers are busy folk, and good intentions might get supplanted by real life where this is concerned – as happens often with MOOCs anyway.  Regardless – I’ll be in there, so look me up!




“Your iPad: The New Mobile Office” is LIVE!

Happy days, my friends, happy days – my Udemy iPad course is live and ready for signup!

A bit of background: I was designing some iPad tutorials and lessons for office productivity and file management a few months back, and decided that for the amount of work I was putting in, it should be a bigger project than it was. Enter Udemy.

I had taken a couple of coding courses on Udemy.com, and I’ve taken courses with a lot of the free / MOOC / education-for-all sites – Udacity, Coursera, edX – Udemy is certainly a different kind of model, and I’ll admit that the fact that it was a paid (as well as free) model gave me pause. But I have to say that, having taken a couple of paid courses and seeing how well the iPad app translates the already-great web interface, I knew it was the perfect venue for my courses.

So! There it is. It’s $49, which will include all future iOS updates and the whole shebang, so I think it’s a fair price. This course brings together everything I’ve learned about making my iPad the only thing I need to bring with me on a daily basis – and I have a lot of irons in the fire, people, believe me. It’s completely changed the way I work and live, and that’s no joke. I hope you like what I’ve put together, and I really appreciate your support as I tinker with this model of online course delivery!

Sign up now!

Or, check out the trailer first.

Adventures in MOOCs, Part I

Yes, my hiatus has been long and I apologize. It was for a good reason, I swear. I was helping to design and launch a MOOC.

Let me tell you the biggest thing I’ve learned from this experience thus far: plan it. Plan it like you’re planning the invasion of a small country. And then plan how to use your plans.

We didn’t have it bad, don’t get me wrong. Full support of the institution and administration, a fleet of iMacs, and yes, good plans. So we were in a good spot, and it didn’t take that long to put together, all things considered. But, if you’re thinking of putting a MOOC together – for any reason – here are a few of the things we learned along the way:

I believe I mentioned this already. Give yourself enough time to allow for errors, re-shoots, re-builds, etc.

Research – and TRY – platforms for delivery.
If you’re going the free route – and who isn’t trying to do that, really? – you’ll want to try out several platforms to determine the strengths and limitations of each. We settled on the Canvas Network, but not because it was the only good option – there were many others. Do your homework and do a few tests before settling. If the whole world has the ability to see what you’re doing, you’re probably going to want to make sure it looks good. You wouldn’t wear a Slayer shirt to a wedding, right?

Outline the content organization.
Don’t just upload the content and then start moving things around. You’ll start to go a little crazy, and you can avoid this potentially time-sucking process by simply outlining where things should go, what they should be called, and how they should appear to the users.

Appoint someone to keep a constant eye on any interactive content.
If you have any content at all that fosters interaction (forums, Q & As, etc.), make sure you have someone moderating them on at least a semi-regular basis.

Finally, it occurred to me as we were developing this that, in addition to offering a great deal of valuable content for free, MOOCs are (and are often perceived as) largely a marketing tool for the institutions they represent. While this isn’t a bad thing by any means, I think it’s really important to make sure that it doesn’t just feel like a marketing tool to the people taking it. Moderation and interaction will go a long way toward keeping a MOOC out of “commercial” territory, which I think is a necessity if they’re to be taken seriously.

This may be our first dip in the massive open online pool, but it won’t be our last, so stay tuned. And if you want to take our MOOC, go here:


Using video in your course

One of the main areas that I focus on in my profession is the integration of technology into the standard course experience. Video is a huge area, obvously, and it’s also an issue, as there’s still no way around gigantic files in some cases, which makes servers strain and drives people generally a little nuts.

This app caught my attention this morning, and after trying it out, it’s pretty cool. It occurred to me right away that if you were in a course where there was current video content out there that was being updated in a semi-regular news fashion, you could have students subscribing to specific types of news for a course, so that you knew what they were seeing – might be a cool way to push some interaction without you really having to do anything extra! For example, you could have students add TechCrunch to their list of news sources, and if you also had TechCrunch, it’s reasonable then that you’d know what had popped up in their feed, and you could use this a springboard for discussions. I’m just throwing things at the wall here. I’ll play with this a bit more later on, but thought I’d pass it to whomever was interested…


Back and happily Reflecting…

The Modern Classroom returns after a brief hiatus. Okay, a few months. I was being reprogrammed; what can I say?

Later this week I hope to have my first round of thoughts on my experience as a student (again – yikes) – this time in one of the edX courses offered by MIT. So far, so good, but definitely food for thought as a whole as to how this whole MOOC thing is playing out from a user standpoint.

In the meantime, I’ve been finishing up an iBook that I hope to release for free via iTunes in the next month or so, and in compiling information and clips for that, I’ve been using a new-ish piece of software called Reflector (formerly called Reflection). If you have heard of it, it’s basically a means by which you can AirPlay your iPad to your Mac or PC screen and record your “movements” on your iPad in real time. Very cool stuff, and so far, it works pretty well, though the speed of the recording definitely depends on the speed of the WiFi network you’re on. Regardless, have a look – if you the type to want to “broadcast” your iPad in a classroom, meeting, or training session, it’s definitely worth the fifteen bucks! More soon.


Open Classrooms Gaining Momentum

Google’s announcement of a Course Builder today is an interesting development in the world of MOOCs – or potential MOOCs, as the case may be here. Having taken Stanford’s Programming Methodology course through iTunes U, I have to say that I think this type of thing is here to stay…the question is how it will affect courses you pay for. Not much now, but perhaps in the future…


Midwest Moodle Moot 2012!

For your JMLSers who are watching my blog, I’ll be at the Midwest Moodle Moot this week in Goshen, IN. If you have questions you’d like me to address to the Moodle representatives who will be there, let me know via email.