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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interview with Paige Johnson, Project RED: Innovations in E-Learning Series

Welcome to an interview with Paige Johnson, Intel Corporation, on Project RED, a research-based method to bring technology into the new "smart" schools.
1.       What is your name and your relation to elearning?

My name is Paige Johnson and I am the education strategist for Intel Corporation. Intel gets directly involved in education programs, political advocacy and technology access efforts that enable today’s youth to develop the skills they need to be the innovators of tomorrow. Over the past decade alone, Intel and the Intel Foundation have invested more than $1 billion and Intel employees have donated close to 3 million volunteer hours toward improving education in more than 60 countries.

Intel has invested millions of dollars in education transformation efforts through our Intel Teach program, which offers professional development to over 10 million teachers around the world, to Intel’s support of the K-12 Blueprint, which helps with technology planning and deployment in schools.

2.       Please describe Project RED – What are its goals?

Project RED provides a research-based method to effectively integrate technology into the classroom. To analyze what’s working in technology-transformed schools and to show how technology can lead to improved student achievement and return on investment, The Greaves Group, The Hayes Connection and One-to-One Institute conducted extensive research of 1,000 schools across the U.S., which is the first and only national research study of this kind.

The second phase of Project RED utilizes that foundational research to provide a series of educational opportunities, including webinars and regional institutes, for district leaders and school administrators who are passionate about improving education through technology. With the knowledge gained from Project RED, districts can avoid mistakes that have led to past failed technology implementations, and instead, successfully uplift their instruction’s productivity through the research-based curricula.

The researchers identified 9 “Key Implementation Factors” that related to better student achievement. In very successful implementations, the following characteristics were evident:

1.       Technology was integrated daily into intervention classes
2.       Principals were trained to guide 2nd order/transformational change
3.       The principal lead the transformation 
4.       Students were allowed to collaborate online
5.       Technology was integrated on a regular basis into all core subjects 
6.       Teachers and students used online formative assessments on a regular basis
7.       Students took virtual field trips (this may just be an indication that the teacher is using technology in novel or innovative ways)
8.       Students continuously used search engines to support their learning
9.       The closer to a 1:1 student to computer ratio, the better the student outcomes. Many cost savings cannot be achieved without each student having a dedicated computer for home and school

In regard to funding a robust technology implementation, the researchers found that one-to-one schools can actually become revenue positive if they achieve many of the efficiencies through the use of technology. One easily understood example is the potential cost savings of switching from printed textbooks to web-based digital content.

3.       What does Project RED involve?

The Project RED team, with the financial support of Intel, HP, SMART Technologies and Pearson, is creating an online community of practice, and will provide guidance and resources to help districts in their implementation efforts. Members of Project RED are given access to a free professional learning community where experts will share the methods and tools for effective technology implementation. Examples of tools are a comprehensive project planner, a one-to-one ROI calculator and a school readiness assessment. Members can access resources, participate in webinars, research, forums, summer institutes and more. During these events, members will gain the knowledge to effectively implement technology into their own districts.

4.        Who are the people responsible for it?

Project RED is the brainchild of:
·         Thomas Greaves, CEO, The Greaves Group, Co-Author, America’s Digital Schools
·         Jeanne Hayes, President, The Hayes Connection, Co-Author, America’s Digital Schools..
·         Michael Gielniak, Ph.D., Director of Programs and Development, One-to-One Institute.

Intel Corporation is the founding sponsor of Project RED. Additional sponsors include Hewlett-Packard, SMART Technologies and the Pearson Foundation.

5.       Who implements it?

We hope that every K-12 school in the country will use Project RED to guide their transformation of schools that use the latest and greatest tools to engage students, personalize learning and improve academic outcomes.

6.       Who are the beneficiaries?

Future generations of students, and the country as a whole, will benefit tremendously if the Project RED findings are implemented properly.

7.       How does Project RED relate to today's increasingly mobile world?

Every student having ubiquitous access to personal, portable technology connected to the Internet is essential to dramatically increase achievement and to maximize cost savings. Project RED is the blueprint to the proper implementation of that technology.

8.       How does Project RED overcome/counter the creeping mobile digital divide?

The Project RED team believes that every student in the U.S. should have continuous access to personal, portable technology connected to the Internet. Many districts use a lack of funding as justification for not implementing one-to-one technology. Project RED research shows how schools can make revenue positive decisions by giving every student a laptop combined with good connectivity.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Interview with Sameer Bhatia, ProProfs, E-Learning Innovations

Welcome to an interview with Sameer Bhatia, founder of ProProfs, innovators in interactive elearning elements which are used in mlearning and elearning, with degrees, including online teaching degrees

1. What is your name and your relation to elearning?

I am Sameer Bhatia, the founder of ProProfs. ProProfs provides comprehensive elearning tools for building, testing and applying knowledge. Through its Quiz and Training products, ProProfs offers trainers and educators powerfully-simple features that allow them to create elearning courses, quizzes and managing their classroom online.

2. How do you see the role of mobile learning evolving in the future?

By 2013, more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online. Mobile is having a significant impact in elearning and helps learners stay engaged anytime and anywhere. Learners expect that the mobile experience will be as good as the desktop experience, however there are restrictions around screen size, support for technology, etc. The challenge for instructor is to cater to multitude of devices, browsers, screen sizes & operating systems that the learner may be on. At ProProfs, we simplify that process so any course or quiz created once works across all devices so the instructor is ready for the ways today’s learners interact with elearning content.  

3.How can we overcome the problems of a) rented digits, rather than being able to download information for later access when there is no connectivity; b) intermittent connectivity creating a digital divide?

The web is growing and accelerating at mind-boggling rates. The quality of connections has continued to improve, limiting the impact of issues like intermittent or no connectivity. There is also increasing adoption of interactive & adaptive content that simply cannot run offline.  However, there is also content that is authored offline such as PDF or word documents. Today's instructor has the dual problem of taking offline content online and dealing with content that needs to downloaded to go from online to offline. We focus on solving that problem by essentially handling that issue end to end for the instructor. As an example, our new technology allows instructors to upload PDF or Word docs, which can then be converted to a webpage automatically - or instructors can simply click "Allow Download" and content becomes accessible as downloadable content. 

4.  What is QuizMaker and how can it be used in mobile applications? 
Quiz Maker allows users to create custom quizzes quickly and easily by using the largest library of pre-made questions (more than 3,000,000) and quiz templates (more than 300,000) on the Web, and track performance through a powerful new reporting tool.  Quiz Maker is fully mobile compliant and works across all devices & browsers.  It even converts any user uploaded documents into HTML5 so they can be loaded seamlessly across mobile devices. Any video uploads are also converted into a mobile friendly format, so it essentially does all the work for the instructor to ensure compliance with mobile while still allowing them to use their existing teaching or training material.


5.  What are new capabilities of QuizMaker?  What are the pedagogical purposes of products / activities made on QuizMaker?  

We just added several new features including pre-made quiz templates and questions, as well as the ability to create and track quizzes for separate classes or groups.  Users also now have access to an enhanced statistics dashboard that allows them to generate reports by quiz-taker, individual question, quiz and group or by custom meta data, view quiz data by average time spent per question, percentage of correct/incorrect answers, and more.  These new Quiz Maker features are focused on giving users a powerfully-simple, comprehensive tool set that helps them not only gather and manage quiz data, but also apply that knowledge, empowering them with valuable insight about their quiz-takers.  And through Quiz Maker’s dashboard, educators and trainers now have the ability to reveal knowledge gaps, helping them create more efficient and productive learning environments.

6. What do you think will be the future of mobile learning?

I can sum that up in one word: "ubiquitous"

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Content Management Systems and E-Learning: Thoughts, New Dimensions / Directions

As mobile applications begin to be an integral part of elearning solutions, it is increasingly important to have a robust, flexible, and easy to use content management system (CMS). Not only will your CMS support the widest possible range of content types, including documents, audio, video, animation, multimedia, and web pages, it should also integrate well with other servers, databases, and systems, including the learning management system (LMS), the student information system, and the various cloud-based servers from which you'll pull content for online programs and courses, including those for online teaching degrees.

A good CMS is easy to use, and the workflows are intuitive and easy to follow, from file creation (with clear naming protocols and directory structure) to file sharing and automated notification processes.

Because the CMS constitutes the heart of the organization and is essential framework, the content must be accurate, the delivery consistent, and it must be easy to manage updates and changes.

At the bare minimum, a CMS should be able to

            * establish easy-to-follow workflows
            * allow the easy importation of files
            * automate notices of changed content
            * maintain version control
            * enable automatic distribution of new docs to defined users
            * facilitate the integration of databases

Many of the content management systems that are used in higher education are built on a content management framework (CMF) that makes it easier to use reuseable objects. A CMF is often written in one of a half dozen or so popular programming languages / technologies:

  • Django-CMS (uses Python, Django or MySQL)
  • Plone (uses Python)
  • Drupal (uses PHP and MySQL)
  • Joomla! (uses PHP and MySQL)
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server (works with .NET Framework, works with SQL Server)
For organizations that do not have a small army of developers and programmers, it is often advisable to go with a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution for one's CMS. They are generally cloud-based, so security protocols and requirements must be reviewed. The solutions include software, hosting, and support with a single vendor.  Some of the more popular SaaS solutions include:

Google Apps (not just for business -- some universities are using Google Apps with great success in conjunction with an open-source LMS such as Sakai)
  • Agility
  • Windows Live (Free)
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Amazon application hosting
It’s a bit difficult to see how a SaaS solution could work as a flexible CMS since the existing software would have, by definition, a number of limitations. However, there are definitely a number of advantages with having applications that work fairly seamlessly together. For example, Google docs works as a very useful document-sharing platform, and can integrate with Google sites.  Whether or not one of the Google apps works as a relational database, is not immediately evident. It would be interesting to see a Google solution appear as a templatized relational database that walks the user through a series of frameworks that integrate object repositories with applications. These solutions could be customizable “ready-mades” for schools of all sizes and strips, including home schools and very specialized professional development.

Proprietary Software CMS solutions include the following:

This list is by no means inclusive, but contains a few examples of popular proprietary solutions. It is useful to note that most of the proprietary solutions are Rackspace / Akamai ready, which is to say that they are cheerfully cloud-based. Many of the CMS solutions contain easy-to-use interfaces, even drag-and-drop, to make it easy to get started.  Further, some, such as Centralpoint, have incorporated Single Sign On in order to allow the simultaneous log-in to all the relational databases. At the same time, there is data mining capability in the ability to emulate customer relation management functions and develop adaptive and targeted mailing lists.
  • OpenText Web Site Management (Formerly RedDot) - on a Java platform, works with Oracle, SQL Server
  • DotNetNuke - on ASP.NET - on SQL Server
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server on ASP.NET, with SQL Server or SQL Express
  • IBM Enterprise Content Management, with Oracle, SQL, or DB2
  • Percussion Software CM1: Java / MySQL / Derby
  • Limelight: MySQL

Devotees and apologists for OpenSource are passionate, to say the least. They do have a point. There is something rather romantic about thinking that not only do you have the opportunity to obtain software for free (although labor costs always trump licenses in the overall scheme of things). The real appeal of OpenSource is usually the radical simplicity of it. They are ready to go, and are very basic. Unfortunately, if you have special applications, or need more functionality, you may find yourself paying quite dearly in terms of programming-hours as well as time. However, if you have aspirations of developing your own solution or marketing a custom template, using OpenSource could make sense. If you choose Drupal or Joomla!, you definitely will be joining a global army of people who think you’re right on target by supporting the concept of OpenSource. You’ll also be joining the ranks of people who have learned to be patient and, in some cases, settle for a solution that does not quite do what the commercial competition can do.

  • Joomla! (MySQL)
  • Drupal (MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server)
  • Mambo (MySQL)
  • SilverStripe (MySQL)
  • WordPress (MySQL)
A final thought about Content Management Systems.

A CMS is all about creating a framework that allows the useful and predictable manipulation of schema having to do with digital objects. It’s easy to get lost in the structure and forget that we’re in a time of rapidly evolving delivery systems, and that “going mobile” represents the leading edge of one or more sea changes. So, it’s fairly short-sighted to think of CMS as only relating to content. It has to be delivery-friendly as well, no matter what / how / when the delivery manifests itself.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Interview with Miguel Salinas, Adobe Youth Voices / Aspire Awards: Innovators in E-Learning Series

Welcome to an interview with Miguel Salinas, who has helped develop the Adobe Youth Voices program, dedicated to encouraging creativity and self-expression using high-impact media. Awards for this year will be announced on May 4: The program, sponsored by MTV, Dell, and Samsung, as well as Adobe, allows students, teachers, and communities develop creativity and technological skills. It uses a set of open, downloadable curricula as well, ideal for online courses and online teaching degrees.  

What is your name and relation to e-learning?
My name in Miguel Salinas and I’m the Program Director and Senior Manager Corporate Social Responsibility for the Adobe Foundation. I’ve been at this post for seven years now and my role is primarily to manage the programming for Adobe Youth Voices, the Adobe Foundation’s global signature philanthropy program.

Regarding e-learning, Adobe Youth Voices has a set of open, downloadable curricula, called Adobe Youth Voices Essentials that empowers any educator to create breakthrough learning experiences. From material that provides a context for youth media making in general, to special content that illustrates the "how-to" of youth- centered instruction, Essentials helps educators teach the process of media making and strategies for exhibition and distribution.

Through AYV, youth ages 13 to 18 create compelling videos, animations, photo essays, presentations, music, and other pieces that contribute the essential perspectives of youth to critical topics and inspire new solutions to long-standing problems. Youth participating in the Adobe Youth Voices program both inside and outside of school are creating high-impact work to share with local and global audiences, they are also building valuable skills that open doors to future successes.

What are the Aspire Awards?The Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards is an international juried media competition that recognizes projects that best illustrate the program’s ‘Create with Purpose’ philosophy. This is the first global virtual media festival of its kind, honoring youth who creatively communicate a vision for change in their communities and lives through video, print and audio projects. Winning submissions are original, high-quality youth-produced multimedia created to address critical issues and effect positive change. 

We’re very pleased to have MTV, Dell and Samsung among our supporting partners for the first year of the Aspire Awards. As part of the 2012 AYV Aspire Awards, MTV will present the MTV ACT award. This award will recognize one young person whose exceptional video content leverages music, and provides a clear call to action for the audience to get involved. The MTV ACT award winner will win a trip to MTV studios in New York City, along with the other prizes provided by the Adobe Foundation and our generous partners.

Additionally, MTV Act will feature Aspire award winners at

More details on the Aspire Awards can be found at Entries will be received through April 20. Following, the top 20 finalists per category will be showcased online at on May 4. Public online voting for the Audience Choice Award in each category will run May 4-June 8 and winners will be announced on June 18.

Winning youth producers will also have the opportunity to showcase their projects at partner film festivals, art galleries and exhibitions worldwide, including the Seattle International Film Festival, the Sarajevo Film Festival, Digital Arts Magazine, and many more.

How do they promote learning? How do they encourage the practical adoption of technology?In an environment where so many aspects of youth’s lives – from personal communications to entertainment to basic commercial interactions – are increasingly digital, youth often feel that when they learn in school and how they learn it are far removed from the reality of their everyday experiences. Through a mix of supportive learning environments and powerful technologies, Adobe Youth Voices is helping educators in schools and beyond develop unique, breakthrough experiences that re-ignite a young person’s passion for learning.

Adobe Youth Voices encourages the adoption of technology several ways. Working on their own and in teams with teachers and mentors, young people can express their creativity and vision, first through interactive discussion and story boarding and then using technology to capture and communicate their work. Program participants are encouraged to go out into their communities, interview peers and community experts, and along the way, capture real-world footage and images that best communicate their stories.

What are some examples?· In Kampala, Uganda, 19-year-old Ronald Kasendwa produced a documentary about gender disparity in science.

· Similarly, in London, 14-year-old Rameesha Malik created a short film showcasing how people from different countries meld into a unique blend of backgrounds and cultures.

· For RajKumar Raikwar, a 15-year-old in Delhi, Adobe Youth Voices provided the change to develop a media piece called "Beating Terror" about the impact of terrorism on children.

Please find several more examples on in the Adobe Youth Voices media gallery.

This program is not impacting youth, but also the educators. Here are supporting statistics for you:

YOUTH: After participating in the Adobe Youth Voices program:
· 90 percent reported that they are interested in continuing their education after high school

· 83 percent learned to express their opinions in new ways

· 86 percent reported that they can influence others with their ideas

· 79 percent improved their abilities to work with a group to solve a problem

EDUCATORS: After participating in the Adobe Youth Voices program:
· 80 percent report improved efficiency with technology to engage youth with concepts like story- telling, media formats and media literacy

· 78 percent of educators report a deeper understanding of how to facilitate youth-led projects and how the media creation process fosters 21st century skills

· 70 percent of educators report a deeper understanding of youth development and how to tap into youth interest and motivation

What are some of directions that Adobe Youth programs are pursuing?
Moving forward, Adobe Youth Voices is exploring workforce development connections to provide scholarships and internships. In the future, we want to build an efficient and productive pipeline of talent to college and higher education institutions. We are also exploring an increased amount of international exhibition opportunities.

What do you see as an exciting new direction?
Through the use of mobility, touch tools and cloud platforms, Adobe Youth Voices hopes to deliver programming in interesting, exciting and intriguing ways that engage youth.



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