Friday, May 22, 2009
Welcome to an interview with Gregor Gimmy, of Sclipo.
What is your name and your experience with elearning?
My name is Gregor Gimmy. I am the founder and CEO of Sclipo - a social network for education. Prior to Sclipo, I founded Explico (San Francisco, 1998), one of the web's first site with How- To information (similar to eHow). In 1999, I started Metazoa (San Francisco), a web based lab notebook for biotech researchers. After selling Metazoa, I worked at Siebel Systems (San Mateo, CA) in software program management. One of the products I worked on was Siebel's eLearning system.
What is Sclipo and how does it work?
Sclipo is a Social Learning Network for continuing education that offers synchronous and asynchronous web apps for eLearning integrated with social features. At Sclipo, any member can teach and learn, making Sclipo a pioneer in enabling informal or social learning online. Sclipo is for formal & informal teachers that find traditional eLearning (Moodle, Blackboard, etc.) solutions too complex and costly, and not social enough.
Today, Sclipo is free for free teaching. Teachers who want to charge students, pay Sclipo a flat fee of 5 Euros / month. Students pay teachers directly via PayPal. Sclipo takes no commission.
Sclipo's principal social learning features:
1. Academy & Profile: Every member has an Academy and a Profile. The Academy is the space where a member teaches through educational apps like Courses, Library or Live Web Classes. The Profile (connected to Facebook) serves to socialize with people of common educational interests.
2. Courses: This app allows members to create and post courses they teach online through Sclipo, face-to-face or blended.
3. Library: The Library is to store, manage and share educational content in any format - videos, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, etc.
4. Live Web Classes: Allows to teach up to 100 students live through webcam, whiteboard and a document presenter. Students can participate actively through audio, video and chat. Teachers can present any document from their library. No downloads needed.
5. Live Web Meetings: Allows teachers to tutor your students, lead workshops and more with a whiteboard, chat and audio.
6. Payments: Teachers can charge students for their courses and web classes. Students pay teachers directly through PayPal. No commissions for Sclipo.
7. Facebook Connect: Allows to easily establish connections and publish a members activities (eg, post a course) to Facebook.
Who uses Sclipo? Please describe two or three examples.
1) Xavier: A tenured finance professor, who added plus 10 videos on finance and math, as well as courses on financial management. Xavier's educational content has been viewed over 500.000 times in less than 3 months.
2) Robbert: A retired minister for the Dutch Mennonite Church and an Assistant Professor of Christian Dogmatics and Ethics at its Seminary in Amsterdam. Since retirement, Robbert has become a writer and a free lance teacher on philosophy and theology.
3) Carme: a housewife, who added over 30 cooking video tutorials, which have been seen over 1 million times.
What is the vision of Sclipo?
"Transform eLearning into social eLearning ... for the rest of us!"
Transform eLearning into social learning
Learning is social in that a lot of learning is informal, happening between learners / employees / friends. But today's LMS hardly allow for such social learning. In an LMS, a user is either a student or teacher. Each with her specific tools. At Sclipo, everybody is a member. Everybody has the same tools for teaching and for learning.
eLearning for the rest of us
Today, eLearning is only accessible to people whose school, company or institution can afford the resources needed for an eLearning system like Blackboard, Moodle or alike. Even open source LMS are prohibitively expensive, due to associated costs for installation, configuration, hosting and maintenance. Because Sclipo is a web app, any teacher can set up her eLearning space (called Academy) in minutes.
We believe that there are many millons of teachers who cannot afford a traditional LMS.
What is the instructional philosophy? What is the key instructional strategy?
Social Learning. In addition to answer 4, the structure of our application is people based, not course based, like for example at Moodle. Anybody can teach, anybody can learn. The best content and teachers are those that are most active, best evaluated, most referenced, etc. A degree or tenure is no longer sufficient. The math amateur may be a more popular teacher than the MIT PhD...
In addition, we fully embrace hybrid learning: Sclipo helps with teaching that happens face-to- face and online. We are the only social learning tool that allows for both synchronous and asynchronous learning.
The web will be used as a tool to support any kind of teaching.
How can Sclipo help develop human potential?
Sclipo is a strong catalyzer for the creation and sharing of knowledge. It fosters learning beyond having to learn. It fosters teaching beyond "I am a certified teacher", enabling "I teach because I know". We also believe that Sclipo will play a role in transferring knowledge to countries in development. Due to the extremely low cost of use and ease of use, any teacher from ie, England, can now spend a few hours a month teaching children anywhere. To help needed children can now happen must faster and more efficiently, without the need for expensive travelling.
In addition, Sclipo enables global sourcing of teachers. Today, we are bound to learn from teachers nearby - who may not be the best. In the future, we can find the best teachers regardless from where they live.
In just a few months, Sclipo has attracted 20 thousand members, who added and share over 25000 educational videos and documents. There are hundreds of courses, even though our course app is only a few weeks new. Every educational activity and content element can be shared and triggers new educational activities. Every activity can automatically be fed into Facebook, and soon Twitter an other networks. In a few months, Sclipo has generated more educational activities than many schools have in years.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Hi Petra -- It is a pleasure to talk to you about your work with writing and reporting on issues that are of concern to the world's teens.
Thank you, it is a pleasure to be able to talk about it.
Have you discovered anything surprising about teenagers today?
First of all, I would have to say even though it's only been about ten or fifteen years since I myself was a teenager, things have changed immensely. Of course back then it was a different time but in many ways I think we were privileged. There weren't so many expectations among teenagers, you didn't have to wear certain clothes or labels to be cool, for example. But being a teenager is difficult in itself, no matter what decade you're 'surviving' it in. The most surprising thing is still the fact that there are almost 'rules' to be followed to being cool. It always is wonderful when I meet a young person who is keen about learning, studying or school and education. Especially since some of those are still being ridiculed. I had the privilege of working at a language school for a while and met with some amazing, goal-oriented teenagers who would not be side-tracked by anything and it was refreshing to see them work hard and being willing to sacrifice some of their free hours in order to achieve the life goals they had set for themselves.
What are some of their concerns? Are these new -- unusual?
I have been at times a little disappointed when discovering many of the teenagers are more concerned about the amount of money they might be able to earn with the profession they choose than the fact that they should choose carefully because it is most likely going to be a life-long commitment. This also most likely goes hand in hand with the consumer society which is so prominent nowadays. A lot of TV series also help with creating a life that teenagers want and will stop at nothing to get there. I would mostly recommend them to look inside themselves, find things that make them happy and they're good at them and follow that. They're more likely going to be happy doing something they love (and getting rich with it) than doing something they hate.
What do you believe are the "must have's" in terms of knowledge for today's teen? Are typical educational programs adapting for today's teens? Is there a role for informal learning? Where could they improve or change?
Of course schools, scholar systems and teachers are always the ones to be 'blamed' for good/bad education. While that is largely true, it is also up to the individual. The school systems often offer individual work on the topic you can choose by yourself. If you have to hand in a paper for geography, for instance, choose a country you're interested in and expand your knowledge. Also one of the best things you can do is to keep your ears open. There are so many things we don't know, so many interesting facts we can learn by only listening and observing and giving something we're not interested in, a chance, that if we let everything go by, we could end up being uninformed or even ignorant. There is always a good reason to look something up online, to open an encyclopaedia, to read about something that you're not familiar with in the paper,... If Albert Einstein strikes you up as an interesting man, look up his biography, you might learn he had a secret child and a brilliant wife who, many suggest, might be the big brain behind his theories. Quenching your thirst for knowledge and satisfying your curiosity are the best paths.
What do most teens tend to say about the future? Are they optimistic?
In some cases they don't realize that life is a serious game. But then again neither did we, when we were teenagers. Mostly you have to learn as you go along and truly take lessons to heart and learn them. Try not to repeat the same mistakes. I think everyone can be optimistic and with a reason since we all have opportunities and abilities to be everything we want. But we must realize nothing will be given to us freely, we must fight and work for it.
How do you see teens using information gained from the web and social networking? How can informal learning be integrated?
I will stress the same thing I did earlier. Whenever they're 'googling' something they're interested in instead of plain looking at silly videos or forwards they get on their email, it is informal learning. Internet is a great learning power tool and the fact that we can google a word when we don't know what it is and find ten meanings, is amazing. I can see teenagers spend a lot of time online every day. One of the magazines I work for, has an internet site that is swamped with visits. I think it's important to realize the fact that through learning comes educating and vice versa. That can be done in terms of informing and educating children and youngsters about interesting facts but also dangers of drunk driving, smoking or unsafe sex and help them solving troubles in school, for instance.
What is your philosophy of writing and reporting?
If by philosophy you mean my way of work, it is not as simple as sitting down and writing. Even with interviews there has to be a right moment in order to feel inspired. Interviews themselves are not mainly typing down what the person has said but you also have to filter, you must form and shape the words and the whole conversation which is many times not just question/answer all the time but a real conversation. The most important thing, though, to me is the truth. Being honest, not fabricating and putting across what the person was trying to say. That is why I despise tabloids that twist people's words and turn them into ambiguous statements.
Is the role of the journalist changing? How?
I started writing for a magazine when I was fifteen. I realize I was lucky to have found something I wanted to do when I was so young and stick to it and make a career out of it. And again, the role is changing. There are many more faux magazines and papers, as I call them, out there. I mean the tabloids, of course. They unfortunately affect too many people's minds and opinions. But thankfully there are still rays of hope since there are still great journalists to look up to, to respect and call real journalists, reporters and writers.
What should journalists study in order to be effective?
Mostly it is important to be informed. To follow the spinning of the globe and daily events. It is inexcusable to be uninformed. If a journalist specialises in culture, they should know about it, they should follow it more than the rest of the branches of human lives. But in all fairness, everything is connected, so be informed.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
What is your name and your experience with e-learning?
Bridget Clementi is executive director of Children’s Health Education Center. Bridget joined CHEC in 2000 to work with the organizations’ injury prevention team. During her tenure, she established prevention programs and expanded the center’s injury prevention programming throughout Wisconsin. In 2008, she was promoted to executive director. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and holds a degree in communication and public relations.
What is BlueKids.org? Please describe how it started and why?
BlueKids.org e-learning programs are innovative, online, game-based learning courses that deliver effective health and wellness topics to students in grades 4 through 8. With computers becoming more commonplace in the classroom, and children growing up more comfortable than ever with technology, educators have had to adjust their teaching methodology accordingly. Studies have shown that hands-on learning leads to greater retention than traditional textbook lessons. Engaging, interactive learning also allows students to develop the necessary critical thinking skills needed to make the right life choices as they get older and are faced with more complex decisions.
Children’s Health Education Center, a member of the renowned Children’s Hospital and Health System, created its Bluekids.org e-learning programs as an interactive way to educate kids on a variety of health and societal topics. These e-learning programs use web-based games and activities that allow children to become more involved in the learning process, enabling them to better retain the information discussed in each lesson.
All BlueKids.org programs are supported by Moodle, a learning management system that provides teachers the ability to track students’ progress and collect pre-test and post-test data.
What is the mission of BlueKids.org?
CHEC is the lead organization behind BlueKids.org. It is the mission of CHEC to develop and deliver engaging, interactive health education programs that help keep kids healthy and safe. CHEC accomplishes this mission by offering on-site field trips, outreach and e-learning programs.
Please describe the top three courses.
CHEC has been offering innovative online, game-based learning programs under the trade name of BlueKids.org for the past four years. It’s Up 2U and Drug Defense: Get UR Facts are designed for middle school age children, and teach the important topic of alcohol and other drug use and abuse prevention. The Real U, for middle school age children, helps develop positive mental and emotional health attributes. BullyFree Basics, for upper elementary children, teaches the basics of bullying, including both prevention and intervention techniques for bullying and related violence.
These online courses utilize design elements conducive to game based learning by implementing strong narrative context and attending to the theories proven to enhance overall learning. This advanced level game based curriculum requires higher order thinking, analyzing and synthesizing skills based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. The content has been reviewed by professional medical and teaching staff and is designed to capitalize on the attention given to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Why do people like BlueKids.org?
BlueKids.org e-learning programs are easy for teachers to implement and the kids are happy to learn this way, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone. Using advanced game based technology and applications, the programs are developed in a way that engages the students, provides for problem solving and thinking on behalf of the students, and builds motivation from within the student.
99% of the teachers have a positive view of the online courses and would recommend to another teacher.
90% of the students like the online course format.
Are there a few things you're planning to change?
We continue to look for new ways to engage the learners and improve the outcomes of the courses – knowledge, attitude and behavioral intent. Specifically, this summer, we will build in more skills-based approaches to learning in an obesity prevention program series that will launch in the fall. The series will have programs available to school districts with students in kindergarten to grade 8.
What types of techniques are you using in your e-learning to encourage interaction and collaboration?
Participating students spend approximately six sessions in the computer lab followed by six classroom discussions with the teacher using this blended approach to learning. During the classroom time, students interact with each other and the teacher to bring the online lessons into their own context of classroom, school, home and community. The greatest value comes from the interaction between the teacher and the students, and the ability for the students to have dialogue and discussion around these “social” topics. This allows them to share stories and gain ideas for dealing with the issues. The teacher is guided by a comprehensive teacher’s guide that contains stem questions, objectives and all activities.
Are you using social networking in any way?
At this time we are not using social networking sites.
We have a grant proposal in process with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where students will be divided so that half of the class will be in groups using the blended approach and the other half in groups facilitated asynchronously. The asynchronous facilitation will be conducted by a highly trained group of high school students called the Teen Health Crew. These students will be trained in asynchronous discussions, web etiquette and protocol, and will be supervised by adult professionals.
Do you have to be careful with privacy (health & kids)?
As administrators of the program, we do not assign individual logins and passwords to students. Each teacher we work with provides us with the number of logins/passwords that they need and we provide them with a generic list that they match to their classroom students. This way, we have no knowledge of the individual students’ names or any personal information. In addition, for any evaluations that we conduct, we need to go through an internal review board through Children’s Hospital and Health System to ensure quality and validity of the study.
How can BlueKids.org help develop human potential?
BlueKids.org e-learning programs are devoted to developing human potential. For example, ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug) abuse is a universal problem that this research will assist in mitigating through self care education to change knowledge and behavioral intent. The data for depression and suicide attempts is no better, and the prevention of bullying through our BullyFree Basics online program is a beginning in the quest to stem violence of all types. The evidence is extremely strong, or you might say overwhelming, that kids that are depressed, using ATOD or are afraid do not learn well…thus destroying the opportunity to excel.
For more information, visit www.HealthyKidsLearnMore.com or www.BlueKids.org.
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