Ok, so I went to a good talk on Friday to listen a guy from one of IBM's research labs ... he talked about eLearning and focused a lot of attention on how to provide quick, customized content to learners. Now, he was coming at it from a training perspective, so it’s a little skewed relative to what we do, but there are some really good ideas to port over. As I was listening, I felt like most of it was sort of ho-hum, but it did get me really thinking about how I could start to make our courseware (like the 110 topics you all are reading) a little better ... it also made me want to ask you all what you think. Here are a couple of quick questions for you:
Right now if you click into a Topic you get the opportunity to select any lesson and then from there, navigate through a series of pages ... back when we started the Online IST project we felt it was critical to "chunk" the content so it could be easily read ... over time, I have gotten less and less impressed with that approach ... for one thing, it makes printing really tough. The other thing it does is make it tougher to move around whole lessons at a time to let faculty and students build new topics quickly and easily – in other words, it screws with the concept of modularity a bit. Here's the question ... how would you all feel if each lesson was really one long html page instead of the 6-15 screens they are now? Let me know, I am ready to make a change.
How important would it be for you all to have quick search capabilities from within the syllabus or a given topic? I know it would be cool during a lecture if a point came up I could quickly find the information I was looking for with a simple, google like search. Why don't we have search now you ask? Well, we got huge push back from faculty because they felt that would allow cheating during "open browser" exams ... I am at the point where I care less about them and more about what you guys think ... so, what do you think?
I doubt many of you are taking advantage of rss feeds for news or podcasts, but I do ... I also think you'll all be using it within a couple of years as the whole Internet experience moves towards an end user centric approach. RSS allows you to select what feeds you like and the content is delivered to you automatically ... in other words, if you read Wired.com five times a day, with an rss feed, you'd never have to point your browser at it -- the content would be downloaded to you in the background as it changed. What I am thinking about is how we could add rss capability to the syllabus so you could subscribe to all sorts of news -- IST stuff, other blogs, news sites, sports, whatever and it would show up for you ... what do you think?
The syllabus now gives you some basic communication capabilities -- direct links to individual emails, team emails, and IM status. I have gotten good feedback on the whole IM status thing, but I'd like to take that further ... I am looking for ideas. You see, I came up with the whole IM status thing from two experiences ... the first was at a big meeting at Apple that showed me IM is not a toy, but the other was by asking (and watching) students what they want the most -- they said IM! So the SI team put it in. I use it all the time to get to you guys. The question is, what the hell do you think would increase the social connectedness of out of class communication?
You guys have been a great group and I think you are starting to get the whole teaching with technology thing, so I would really value your ideas. Leave some comments and help us make Edison Services 3.0 kick ass ... what do you think?