April 22, 2006

Breakthrough on PsychOne design

When I began working on my final project for this class there was a disconnect between the goals for the project and the online aspects of the project that i was developing. On the one hand, i was arguing that the University as represented by the Departmnet of Psychology needed to reach out to high school students in Minnesota as a means of creating a more seamless relationship between high school and college. Yet, my initial design for the Psych 1001 website was simply putting the Psych One course on the web. This is okay in and of itself but it did not reflect the goals of the broader project.

Well, I had a breakthrough when working on the course in that I took a step back from the course itself and considered using the course as a means of introducing people at the undergraduate level to the discipline of psychology and the practice of this discipline at the University of Minnesota via Psych One - INTRODUCTION to Psychology. With the reconceptualization I created a page that put together the major conceptual and CONTEXTUAL pieces of this broader vision together - including 1) an interactive Flash piece plus a focused timeline for the class itself - sort of a syllabus/lecture interactive snapshot; 2) a small square highlighting a research lab and a research experience pportunity open to undergraduate students; and 3) a small square highlighting the advising opportunities open to undergrads; 4) a fourth square is a stable welcome to the site from the coordinator for Psych 1001, sort of a face for the project; and 5) a box of quicklinks for the site targeting different involved groups - instructional partners, parents, enrolled students, general public.

March 17, 2006

Multimedia Checklist

As mentioned in my previous entry, I liked the checklists in the Deubel book. I especially liked the big checklist taken from the Vilamil-Casanova book, An Interactive Guide to Multimedia (Que Education and Training, 1996) As a means of "rehearsing" the checklist, I'm going to work through the checklist and identify how some of the guidelines could help shape the development of the Psych One OnLine course that I am working on for my final project:

1) Keep Cognitive Load Low: One of the components that we have considered implementing into the P1 OnLine interface is a little "Core Concept Corner" that would display links to interactive modules on the "Core Concept(s)" being covered by the lecturer during that lecture. A handful of tiles from a broad collection would be displayed based on keywords passed to the Flash application in the XML file that is already in place. If a student clicked on one of the tiles, the video would stop and an interactive module would come up covering a specific core concept such as "correlation" or Hebb's rule" or whatever. The "Core Concept Corner" would be an instance of "layering information" and, thereby, moving the cognitive load onto different layers - offering either a remeidal or an advanced path.

2) Avoid dividing attention: By using a "Core Concept Corner," the cogitive load would be managed by the user. We had also considered using pop-ups to identify "core concepts" at different times but we figured this might actually "divide" the student's attention between the lecturer/synchronized slides and the pop-ups. I do think we need to be very careful about this "core concept" window to avoid the problems mentioned in the article - citing research by S Tergan (1997) - that "With multiple representations, there is a high probability that at least one representation will be misunderstood."

3) Use Media to Direct Attention: There are (at least) two ways in which we could do a better job of using media to direct attention. a) We need to develop a little tutorial that reminds students how to use the "table of contents" scrolling bar so that they are able to have more control over the media in general. b) We need to figure out a way to capture mouse movements that the faculty make during their lecture so that our online students get the same visuals as the students in the live lecture. We could do some of this through animation after the fact but it would be less accurate and more time-intensive. This improvement is a matter of technical know-how and implementation rather than design at this point.

4) Keep Important Information Visible: this could beaccomplished by posting a button to the learning objectives content within the lecture interface. It could be a button within the "Core Concepts Corner" and it would serve as a link and as a reminder for students to check the "learning objectives" for the week.

5) Encourage Rehearsal: "Place practice exercises after presenting a subject to reinforce learning by transferring information from working memory to long-term memory." Yep, we do need to do this. We have the option to post a SWF at the end of the lecture, right in the screen where the slides were shown during the lecture. A SWF could use XML data to generate questions for a little, post-test. We could also use a SWF to do some prompting at the beginning of the lecture as well. The lecturers always do an overview at the beginning of class but it would be good to do a little more active preview.

6) Use Concrete Words and Multiple Media: thumbs up.

7) Design effective exercises: Keller's ARCS - attention, relevance and confidence strategies. Attention sustaining strategies: keep instructional segments short, ease of reading, intermingle information and interaction, use a consistent format with some variation, avoid "dysfunctional" attention-getters. Motivation strategies: question-response-feedback,

["Metacognitive demands are greater for loosely structured learning environments than for highly structured ones; therefore, provide prompts and self-check activities to aid learners in monitoring comprehension and adapting individual learning strategies." (I Park and MJ Hannafin, 1993)]

8) Create realistic simulations: I would love to create realistic simulations. And, according to Deubel, "It is possibleto create relistic simulations and adaptive instruction, if designers use the knowledge architecture that Merrill proposed in his Instructional Transaction Thoery . . . an algorithim-based approach to ID, as opposed to a fram-based approach for branching programmed instruction typical of most authoring systems." But I have only a vague idea of what is being discussed here . . . so,I'll have to follow upwith Merrill at another time.

January 29, 2006

Final Project Notes

I am curious as to how many people would take advantage of viewing school board meetings online or major speeches by the mayor. Does it matter if they have cable? What are the barriers? What would be the draws? What would be a saturation point for following local politics? What is the interest?

I am very interested in local and regional politics. I see them as being very relevant to my daily life. But I do not know how pervasive that feeling is - some sense of this would be a good place to start.

Class Blogging Week 2: 3

Final Project -

I am involved in two projects whose long-term viability will depend on others in the community to contribute material - written work, audio, video. The two projects include an IP-TV station for the Minneapolis Public Schools and an online, local newsservice called the TC Daily Planet. In each instance, I am part of a larger body of people working to develop these projects, I am a avolunteer, and I have a certain degree of autonomy. Both projects involve "education" broadly defined as the IP-TV is for MPS and I am the "education editor" for the Daily Planet.

Anyway, I have always loved getting people together to put on a show, put out a newspaper, etc. I really enjoy the process of working with others to create something that tells real stories about what people do and how people think and feel about their lives. I like fiction but fiction that is close to history, I like music but as emphasis or explanation rather than as form . . . I love politics, I love history, I love the news, I love blogs, I love THE NEW YORK REVIEW, and I love documentaries. I like to write my own stuff up, I like sharing the work of others, and I like encouraging people to produce thier own stories.

And so I would like to figure out how to do that - how could I develop resources that would help people learn how, feel comfortable, take advantage of online community based resources. How to develop an active, engaged citizenry using online means of communicating - targeted specifically at MPS staff, students, parents, and dedicated sommunity members.

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