Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Science: Showing the Effects of Drugs

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Science teachers, Health teachers, Counselors...
If you're looking for a way to show students how drugs affect the brain, then the Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah may have exactly what you need. And no field trip permission forms are required.
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The GSLC has an interactive simulation showing how various drugs affect the brain, and it shows it scientifically. Students can see how particular brain functions are hindered by the use of certain drugs. (Now you show a real-life connection between science terms such as anamide and dopamine transmitter, and move your students beyond vocabulary memorization.)
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Additional resources AND lesson plans (big "yay!") are available from GSLC as well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Virtual Field Trips

Have you ever wished that you could take your class on a field trip, but you were hampered by logistics? (That's a nice way of saying budget, permission forms, district approval). Well, then bring the trip to your classroom through Virtual Worlds like Second Life. Watch this video on how you can take your students on Virtual Field trips through places like the International Space Center.

Adding Graphics to Edline Quizzes

Edline is a popular CMS/LMS for schools, and in this video you'll learn how to add graphics to the normally text-focused quizzes that Edline hosts. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Web 2.0 Tools: High impact on Learning, Zero impact on budgets

Are you wanting to show your administrators how technology can improve learning environments? Then have them watch this short video. The tools shown here will have a positive impact on student learning and a zero impact on the school budget.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

SCORM...why it is necessary

The Advanced Distributed Learning organization originated because of a need to standardize the components of that are used in various learning systems. “ADL was established in 1997 to standardize and modernize the delivery of training and education. The Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD P&R) oversees the ADL Initiative. The vision of the ADL Initiative is to provide access to the highest-quality learning and performance aiding that can be tailored to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, anytime and anywhere.” (ADL).

Standards are needed in every environment where multiple creators, manufactures, and users are involved. For example Metric and Imperial are the only two standards in construction, with the former being the preferred. Western music notation has a standard set of terms used by the hundreds of thousands of music professionals and students. Yet standards have not been adopted by learning system companies. Institutions and organizations that invest in learning management systems (cms, lms, lcms) are faced with the strong possibility that their system can become obsolete when switching platforms, say from local-server-based to web-based. Many times products from one company cannot be used with another company’s LMS. Proprietary software can lead to an anti-competition stance. “The anti-open competition stance has a potentially chilling effect on learning platforms and the development of the industry as a whole.” (Siemens, 2006) The use of standards in graphics, audio, and business software allows for users to adapt the best features of products from a variety of companies to their individual needs.

“Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)” (Academic ADL Co-Lab, 2004) allows developers to create objects that can be used in a variety of ways inside of one or many learning platforms. “Sharable Content Objects (SCO) can contain any type of information, have any instructional design, can be many different sizes, and can be various types of digital content. All that matters is that they “fit” with conforming Learning Management Systems—that is, that they are designed according to SCORM.” (Academic ADL Co-Lab). SCORM, much like JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) allows standards to be implemented under the supervision of International Standards groups, such as the IEEE and the ISO. When content is created to follow the standards of SCROM, the smallest component is refined to a point where it can be used in a variety of lessons. The refinement process is called granularity and the usability is referred to as reusability. For example, a clothing manufacturing company may have a SCO on threading a sewing machine (granularity). The shirt, pants, and hat departments can use this SCO for their respective training (reusability.)

The usability of SCORM content in individualized systems and across platforms is the use of metadata tags. “SCORM metadata contains information that describes and identifies the resource, gives the history of the resource and documents who created or altered it, provides technical information about the resource, describes the pedagogical characteristics of the resource, provides intellectual property rights and usage information, and tells how a resource works together with other resources”. Metadata is extensively used by photographers and photographic resource companies and publishers. Think of Metadata like this: You take a photograph of Niagara Falls. You can apply the following metadata tags to your photo: waterfall, water, natural wonder, horseshoe, and Canada. Now, when a search is performed the metadata tags will allow the searcher to find any and all relevant photos (or in the case of an LMS, any SCO) to their lessons.
Standardization is necessary for the future of LMS. The interoperability and exchange of information has been used throughout history because of standards. It should be continued in the future of learning.
Academic ADL Co-Lab. An introduction to SCORM 2004 3rd edition. Retrieved June 10, 2010 from http://projects.aadlcolab.org/scourse/2004_3rdEd/_viewer/index.html
Advanced Distributed Learning. Who we are. Retrieved June 10, 2010 from http://www.adlnet.gov/About/Pages/Default.aspx
Siemens, G. (2006). A review of learning management system reviews. Retrieved June 12, 2010 from http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=243

Thursday, June 10, 2010

LMOs Demystified (or What is CMS, LMS, LCMS, and PLE?)

This video explains the differences between various learning management systems: Course Management System (CMS), Learning Management System (LMS), Learning Content Management System (LCMS), and Personal Learning Environment (PLE).


Anderson, T. OER's & A good educational system. Retrieved May 4, 2010 fromhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwM4ieFOotA

Gibson, I. - LMO Learning Platform Terminology Mind Map. Retrieved May 4, 2010 fromhttp://www.viddler.com/explore/joebeebee/videos/20/.

Gibson, I. - LMO Learning Platform Terminology Mind Map. Retrieved May 4, 2010 fromhttp://www.viddler.com/explore/joebeebee/videos/21/

Hardeway, R. Coursework. Emergent technologies in a collaborative culture. Full Sail University, Winter Park, FL

Shared content object reference model (SCORM). Retrieved May 6, 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharable_Content_Object_Reference_Model

Video clips by Michael McCurdy. Shot on Sunday, May 6, 2010 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Learning Platforms

This entry is from my Week 1 Blog entry for Learning Management Systems and Organization for Full Sail University with comments from classmates

A learning platform is generally defined as “software tools designed to manage user learning interventions.” (FSO). Some of the basic functions that pertain to learning platforms are:

“Management flexibility, communication (between teacher and learner), active participation (rather than passive participation), use of advanced technologies, and establish a culture of trust”. (Liu, et al., p. 184) While these are general functions, some of the specific functions that are involved in a learning platform include online: “quizzes, discussions, class content, calendars, assignments, syllabi, and course listing.” (Morgan, ap. 41)

The enormity of the basic functions of a learning platform creates a need for institutions and users to better understand the CMS industry. Without an better understanding users (teachers and students) can become lost in a sea of overwhelming technology. Understanding allows for better control and direction for a new emerging technology

The Course Management Systems (CMS) industry is ever-growing. It is moving towards a global mentality in terms of learning and sharing of information.

“As software providers introduce greater sophistication and functionality and as faculty and students become more proficient in their use of the technology, what may become possible is “a major global upgrade of education.” Commercial software developers, faculty, and students are today working on new tools that promise to lower the economic, pedagogical, linguistic, and technical barriers to full global online participation in a high-quality post-secondary education.” (Katz, p.59)

Although there is a move towards the global model, the CMS industry is still faced with a few hurdles in terms of growth and direction. These hurdles are not unmanageable. Rather they must be recognized and treated as valid points to allow for better, and eventual seamless integration of technologies.

“CMS are becoming increasingly more sophisticated both in their architecture and in their feature set. On the one hand, there is a strong shift to a more open architecture for these systems, which will in turn allow for the creation of a marketplace of third-party applications that can be integrated into the core system as modules. On the other hand, there is also a trend to enable increasingly seamless integration with other major campus information systems: the student record system, the campus portal, and the library system. (Meerts, p. 3)

Lastly, use of a CMS in education is becoming the norm “Course management systems are likely to become as commonplace as email and the web. No institution of higher education will be able to do without either an open source or commercial version of the software.” (Meerts, p. 4). As such it behooves educational institutes to familiarize themselves with the characteristics of a CMS/LMS.

There are a number of readily identifiable characteristics of a Learning Management System (LMS). Xiaolin Chen identifies two major characteristics under which all other characteristics should fall are:

“1) Collaborative interaction: E-learning platform must support the interaction and collaboration among the objects, including the two-way transfer of information and interaction between two groups of students and between teachers and students.

2) Openness: E-learning platform should have openness, mainly in terms of time, space and the object. That is, the objects can get access to the information through the system at any time and in any place. OR they can have real-time or non-real-time exchange of information with other objects who have different social background.” (Chen, p. 178)

Chen lists improvements in the following areas once an e-learning platform as been successfully implemented: 1) The reform of traditional paper-based homework into electronic documents. 2) Time-saving and effort-saving web form scoring instead of traditional scoring means, and 3) teacher-student interaction through Question & Answer. (p. 180). These improvements reduce the redundant busy work of teachers and allow for better development of new learning practices. No longer is education simply a one-way street, but through CMS/LMS education is developing into a enormous exchange center of information for teacher to student, from student to student, from student to teacher.


Chen, X. (2009). Design and application of a general-purpose e-learning platform. International Journal of Business and Management. 4(9), September 2009. Retrieved May 6, 2010 from:http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ijbm/article/viewFile/3785/3395

Liu, Y., Wang, Z., Zhao, Y. (2009). Research of e-learning system and its supporting products: a review base[d] on knowledge management. Proceedings of the Second Symposium International Computer Science and Computational Technology(ISCSCT’09). December 2009. Retrieved May 6, 2010 from:http://www.academypublisher.com/proc/iscsct09/papers/iscsct09p183.pdf

Katz, R. (2003). Balancing technology and tradition. Educause Review. July/August 2003. Retrieved May 6, 2010 from: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0343.pdf

Meerts, J. (2003). Course management systems. Educasue Evolving Technologies Committee. October 10, 2003. Retrieved May 6, 2010 from: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/DEC0302.pdf

Morgan, G. (2003). Faculty use of course management systems. Educasue Center for Applied Research. (2) 2003. Retrieved May 6, 2010 from: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ers0302/rs/ers0302w.pdf

4 Comments Manage Comments for this Entry

Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 04:05 PM
Jamin T.
As you mention in your paper, LMS brings a collaboration interaction between teacher and students. This provides a more solid understanding of concepts, and at the same time a personalized learning environment. The ownership of work in a person creates this open atmosphere that makes the person create at his or her own pace. It creates a more technological era and it reduces the amount of work a teacher produce per year. It starts a social participation and learning by having networks of online education. LMS provides in a way a more structural work for students leaving the aspect of creativity and ownership at their own judgment.

Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 06:50 PM
Hey Michael,
You captured the enormity and complexity of learning management systems and you did a very good job to explaining the different terms. I agree that there is value to learning management systems, however in my experience they are cumbersome and not very intuitive to the user. I think for LMS to be embraced by its users LMS needs to embrace learning communities advances in usability and finally advances in unified communications. I have seen a few attempts at incorporating those factors but the take up in corporate training has not been that swift.

Sunday, June 6, 2010 - 10:38 PM
Michael, you took the alphabet soup of learning management solutions and turned into a palatable meal. As we continue to nibble our way through an immense technical feast, it is imperative that we try to keep it simple and have our students and teachers foremost in our mind. I appreciate the way in which you continually examined each platform in its nutritional value for the student and intructor.

Monday, June 7, 2010 - 09:12 PM
Joanie W.
Mike, these two characteristics of learning management system collaborative interaction among objects and a two way transfer of information and interaction between groups of students and teachers I believe would be those of the interpersonal social networks and web 2.0 tools that are applicable to today 21st century learner. This was a great description by Chen that brought forth the second characteristic openness, which I feel dealt with the history of virtual learning environments development over the history of time, space and exchange of information to create new platforms of learning for our students in the 21st century. Great job!