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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Free Image-Editing Programs: A Review

It is always useful to have viable options to Photoshop and other expensive image editing software. However, which web-based and mobile friendly image / photo editors really work? This article reviews a few popular (and largely free) image editing software.

Free version (which has numerous enhancements), which allows photo editing, creating icons, badges, and graphics. Large array of fonts and quirky seasonal graphics (Day of the Dead, etc.), touch-up tools included, also can make collages. Overlays include hair, hats, stars, fireworks, “critters,” “buggles,” “ordinary beasts.” It is very cute and easy to use.
Attributes: cloud-based, not necessary to download, very easy to use interface. Really cute library of built-in graphics and effects.
Downsides: Some of the more useful tools and attributes are not free

Do you ever wonder what photo editing software celebrity publicists use? After seeing the examples in the website, I can see using the PortraitProfessional software before Photoshop. The lowest-cost version includes skin smoothing, eye enhancing, hair enhancing, face sculpting, mouth enhancing tools, along other portrait-specific tools.

There is a free 30-day trial, and three levels of features:
Studio Max: $119.95
Studio: $ 59.95
Standard: $ 39.95

Picasa is ideal for use with social media, particularly since it's owned by Google and works well with Google+ sharing and tagging. It's not available for Macs. Picasa continues to expand its offerings and now includes 24 new effects. Unfortunately, Picasa is not cloud-based, but is necessary to download to an individual computer.

GIMP 2.8
GIMP is one of the longest-lived free image editing software. It is ideal for image authoring, image editing, photo retouching, and image composition. It's not cloud-based – you must download it. The good news is that GIMP is available for Mac OS X, as well as Windows and Linux.

Pixlr has three basic cloud-based / web-based programs, and you can use Pixlr with your mobile device:
Pixlr Editor: Allows you to create a new image, or open from file or URL, and edit with a wide array of effects (including adding text)
Pixlr Express: web-based, with many different built-in overlays and stickers to allow you to create custom greeting cards. You may use images downloaded, from your webcam, or from a URL. It works quite well with Flickr images (tried out and enjoyed it a great deal).
Pixlr-Omatic: Pixlr-Omatic allows you to add effects (reminds me of Picasa's effects), along with a wid range of overlays and borders. You can save to your computer and also to the cloud at imm.oi

Benefits: Web-based, and you can use it with your mobile device (as a download, rather than web-based)
Downsides: There are almost too many options (!) – a guide to creating effective graphics would be quite helpful.

Now that you have more options, what are you going to do with your holiday photos? This is traditionally a time when photos are uploaded and shared, and when digital cards, greetings, graphics are created not only for social networking, but also for end-of-year reports, new year brochures, catalogues, and marketing pieces. It's time to truly differentiate yourself by means of dramatic images.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Post-Postmodernism: What's Next?

I don’t think we’ll ever completely separate ourselves from postmodernist notions. After all, some postmodernist ideas have been percolating around in discourses of consciousness and meaning-making processes at least since Dante’s 13th-century Letter to Cangrande della Scalla in which the author (presumably Dante) discusses the fact that his work is polysemous. He expounds upon that notion and discusses four types of meanings which result in multiple strategies for interpreting texts.

Further, if postmodernist expanded the notion of “text” to include signs, natural phenomena, and more, well, we’ve had that in our consciousness ever since early Babylonian astrologers. In terms of creating patterns and developing codes / numerical strategies for text interpretations, we’ve certainly had that since Jewish gematria, and then also Kabbalistic practices.

This is not the place to develop a genealogy of postmodernist thoughts. I would love to do so, but I don’t want to deviate from the central idea, which is to say that for the last 10 or 20 years, theorists of all sorts have been attempting to declare postmodernism has declared officially “over” – and have proposed a wide array of alternative theories, many of which have to do with culture, technology, gender, and ethics.

There are aspects of postmodernist thought that I find very useful and I would not want to give them up. For example, I don’t want to give up some of the more interesting notions of reality and reality construction.

Perhaps it’s not productive to say that the world is completely an illusion, but it’s fun to think so. I also like the social constructivist ideas, especially when connected with power. For example, I have to say that I agree when Foucault and Baudrillard suggests prisons exist not only to enforce behavioral norms, but also to delude us into thinking that there is a “free” world and that “freedom” is an absolute, when in reality, there are all kinds of constraints to our freedom, beginning with language itself, and ending in behaviors, beliefs, and values that may be, in essence, coercive.

I think it is interesting that many of the new ideas of post-postmodernism have much to do with new technologies and the impact on identity (digital communities), selfhood (genetic engineering), privacy (Internet, surveillance, UAVs), communication (communications technologies), understanding the world (computing, Big Data), and more.

In fact, once one uses technology as the primum mobile of consciousness and global epistemological constructs, it’s easy to see how a next logical step would be a preferential shift to technocratic social organization, from individual communication to bodies politic. The implications could pretty scary. Technocracies are notoriously dehumanizing, especially when combined with command economies or oligopoly-tending capitalistic economies.

Here are a few recent ideas:

Pseudo-modernism / digimodernism: Digital technology can dismantle persistent postmodern issues such as “existential uncertainty” and “artistic anti-essentialism.” Kirby argues that the post-postmodern generation reverts to modernism, at least in the sense that there is a renewed belief in agency and in individual ability to influence others (by means of technology).  See Kirby (2009) Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure our Culture.

Automodernism:  Robert Samuels argues that new technology allow a new level of neutrality to emerge. At the same time, postmodernist identity “flux” is supplanted by new, hardened identity politics.

Complexism:  Philip Galanter has created a fusion of technology and the arts; it has been suggested that he echoes and updates the Russian and Italian Futurists (who were certainly pro-technology, with the idea that technology helps establish a coherent New World Order. Some of the enthusiasm died in WWI and in the early Soviet Union.

Hypermodernism:  Hypermodernism, coined in the 1990s, is a chaotic, high-intensity, fast-paced world of rapid and always evolving identity and social relationships. The hypermodern is not characterized by indeterminacy (as would the postmodernist world), but in quick moments of stasis, followed by discrete, lenticular “pods” of culture / socioeconomic / socio-political ontology.

Altermodernism: Nicolas Bourriaud embraces alterity and takes it further, suggesting that the creolization of our cultures in the global context will create a universal aesthetic. Multiculturism is worn out. The next stage is the “creole” (which will probably change, given the colonialist overtones implicit in the word itself.)


Alighieri, Dante. Letter to Can Grande della Scala. Accessed November 13, 2013

Awet (2013). Other Post-Postmodernisms: A Glossary. Heterodoxia. April 2013. Accessed Nov 15, 2013.

Kirby, A.  (2009) Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure our Culture. London, NY: Continuum Publishers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Interview with Lindsey Hill, Evanced Solutions: Innovators in E-Learning Series

Game-based learning continues to be one of the most engaging methods of learning for childing (as for adults), and fun, engaging learning apps can be very effective as well. Welcome to an interview with Lindsey Hill, Lead for Reading Engagement Innovation at Evanced Solutions and Evanced Games.

1.    What is your name and your relation to elearning?
Hello, Susan. My name is Lindsey Hill. I’m the lead for Reading Engagement Innovation at Evanced Solutions, LLC and Evanced Games. My 14 years of teaching experience has provided me with a unique perspective on previous and current trends in improving reading proficiency.

We’re empowering children to be creative thinkers and problem solvers through today’s e-gaming technology. This enables me to shine a light on the real issues around children and reading and other learning deficiencies. Even though I’ve left the classroom, I visit classes regularly to help kids take ownership of their intellectual growth. I have noticed that when kids identify and embrace their particular interests, they can break through reading proficiency barriers and experience real success. I spend time with parents, teachers, librarians, and students in and out of elementary classrooms to demonstrate this.

In the modern classroom, digital games are a powerful platform for motivating student learning. That’s partly because we know that games tied directly to students’ interests drive frequency of use. Also, if a game offers achievable challenges, kids will have success. This, too, drives frequency.

If this seems a little vague, let me give you an example. I met a third-grader who told me he didn’t like to read, but he loved playing zombie-related video games. His interest in zombies led us to a discussion of R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps mystery series. I followed up my classroom visit with an email to his teacher about his interest in mysteries.  Not long after, she told me he had been reading the series and writing his own zombie comics that he shared with the class.

2.    Tell me more about Evanced Games.

Evanced Games is a division of Evanced Solutions, LLC. We’re a technology company that empowers children to pursue learning outside of the classroom and develop closer relationships with the people around them. Our dedicated team of educators believes that gaining and sharing knowledge through children’s keenest interests is the best path for learning success. We introduce kids to the world of technology, while helping them to uncover their interests further, with special consideration to their individual learning styles.

We have partnered with Demco, our parent company, and have gotten great inspiration from our sister company, Edupress, to create digital versions of its award-winning educational content. We offer edu-gaming apps for children in grades K-6 that encourage learning beyond the classroom walls. Our three mobile apps—Froggy Phonics, Tic-Tac Bananas, and That’s Baloney—offer a fun way for children to practice a variety of Common Core skills, from phonics and algebra to cause-and-effect and simple problem-solving.

3.    What is your area of expertise?

As a former elementary teacher and my school’s two-time Teacher of the Year honoree, I’m able to bring my first-hand experience and perspective to Evanced. Each new school year gave me an opportunity to foster relationships with my students. Making personal connections with my students valdidated who they were outside the classroom, as well as inside. Through a daily Community Circle, my students had the choice to share their fears about a sick pet or last night’s winning touchdown, for example. This process proved their two worlds could coexist, showing school was a safe place to use their imaginations and discover who they were.
Leaving the classroom was one of my toughest decisions, but I knew I was joining a team to impact even more kids with Evanced. I think my role as a parent of two young boys also brings another interesting perspective to the table. My real passion—my favorite thing in the world—is to help kids to experience a love of learning that goes beyond the classroom walls. They do this through self-discovery and creativity.

4.    How did you go about designing an elearning game? How, in your experience, does game-based learning offer special advantages to teachers?
The Evanced Games team is made up of designers, teachers, artists, and developers. We work closely with kids as our experts. They help us create games that they will want to play without being told to. We invite them and their families into our design studio to play prototype games and give us their thoughts. We make changes to characters, sounds, story lines, and other elements based on what we hear from them.

Game-based learning helps resolve some of today’s educational issues. Classroom practices are changing all the time. With the initiation of the Common Core State Standards in 46 of our 50 states, the classroom atmosphere will, no doubt, change slightly. But, the impact of those changes will be minimal. Classroom teachers will focus more heavily on the conceptual understanding of skills as opposed to procedural proficiencies alone.

Teachers will feel confident in their approaches, when they see results from their students. The students’ interest in the activity will soar, because it is related to what they tell us they specifically want.

5.    Is there such a thing as a *bad* elearning game?  What are some things to avoid?

Any game that is designed for children—including e-learning games—should be fun. Plain and simple. If kids don’t think a game is naturally fun, they won’t play it.

“Bad” games tend to miss the mark on the story behind the game. The story line needs to be compelling to kids. They need to be interested. They need to care. “Bad” games provide unachievable challenges, and they offer very little autonomy, or choices, for the players.

Only after a game is considered enjoyable to play by children, should it be made to include the content that parents and teachers want. In other words, if you first start with the educational elements you want players to practice and become proficient in, and make fun an afterthought, you will have a significant failure on your hands.

6.    What is the relationship between motivation and game-based learning?

Kids are motivated to play games of all types because they provide them with choices, achievable challenges, and they allow for social interactions with their friends and family. For older kids, they may even have some social interaction with other online gamers in other parts of the world, if they’re playing something like Clash of Clans or Minecraft, which are both very popular.

When playing a well-designed game, kids feel that there is a purpose to it—whether it’s meeting all of your froggy friends in Froggy Phonics or beating your little brother at tic tac toe in Tic Tac Bananas.

7.    Who are your favorite authors who are writing on game-based elearning?

In order to understand a variety of perspectives on learning proficiencies, I’m currently enjoying How Children Succeed by Paul Tough and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.
I’m also reading The Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens by Stephen Apkon. He discusses the concept of “screenagers” and the challenges of raising a very different generation of kids.
Each of these authors, however, explores building confidence in our children by using what kids know and how they use that knowledge. I also enjoy discovering different “mommy” and “daddy” bloggers, as well as teacher and librarian writers. They provide current, first-hand experiences with this next generation of kids that is our future.

Free Access for E-Learning Queen Learners!
Writing for Human Relations
E-Learner Survival Guide

Monday, October 07, 2013

Tell Us What You REALLY Think! Rate My College Survey

What was really great about your college experience? What would you tell someone who is considering going to your dear alma mater?  Tips? Tricks? Lessons Learned?

Fill out the questionnaire here and share what you experienced.

Then, take a free read of E-Learning Success: From Courses to Careers - free ebook!

You may also win a free e-symposium from AAPG - just complete the survey and send an email to to let us know.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Interview with David Falzani, SMF - Corgi "Big Bark" Award

Mentoring is vital for the future of innovation as it relates to leadership, management, engineering, and new technologies. While technology is marked by ongoing change and a focus on the future, a recognition of the past vis-a-vis experience and lessons learned is invaluable. This is where mentorship become a focal point. Welcome to an interview with David Falzani, who dedicates a large portion of his time to Sainsbury Management Fellows' Society, which provides educational scholarship and career development for aspiring young engineers. 

What is your name and your relation to career development?

David Falzani, CEO of business consultancy, Polaris Associates, and President of the Sainsbury Management Fellows’ Society (SMF), a charity that provides educational scholarships and career development for aspiring young engineers.  I was a beneficiary of an SMF scholarship.  I am also a Visiting Professor at Nottingham Business School (NUBS).  NUBS is a centre of excellence in the development of enterprise and entrepreneurial skills, innovation and understanding the commercialisation of research.  I teach about the value to the economy of hi-tech wealth-creating industries and modern manufacturing, and how they can extract value from engineering and technology.  I share my experience of steering entrepreneurial businesses through the development of ambitious business and marketing strategies.  I aim to give students an insight into the challenges faced by a new business, from raising investment to scaling up an operation.

David Falzani, President, Sainsbury Management Fellows' Society
What is the importance of interdisciplinary education?
The world is an increasingly interconnected place.  Consequently business problems, and their solutions, are becoming increasingly interconnected too.  For example, today, every organisation is an information business and data is the most valuable asset to the operation.  The ability to interpret and understand data and information in a business context is a major benefit because it creates opportunities to add value to a business and thus its performance and success. To achieve more elegant and effective business solutions, we need better ways to handle higher levels of complexity.  The best way this can be delivered is through broader approaches to problems, rather than through the traditional single ‘silo’ disciplines.

That’s where SMFs’ philosophy and scholarship scheme comes in.  The Society promotes the benefits of a combined business and engineering education to help improve the performance of the UK economy.  We believe that by equipping engineers – experts in understanding how to best apply technology – with business knowledge and experience, they can use their mix of skills to build new products and services that enhance business performance more rapidly and ultimately improve both the UK economy and people’s lives.

What is the SMF programme?
SMF aims to improve the economic performance of UK engineering, manufacturing and construction businesses.  This is achieved by providing highly motivated professional engineers with MBA scholarships to undertake a first-class business education in an international setting.  This helps them to embark on leadership roles in business with a high level of confidence.

Through its scholarship programme, SMF enables professional engineers to add business, finance and marketing expertise to the diverse skills gained through their engineering training and qualifications.  SMF awards £300,000 worth of MBA scholarships each year to engineers with exceptional education qualifications and leadership potential.  SMF has already awarded £7m worth of scholarships.

An award of £30,000 each is made to 10 successful applicants annually so they can do a full-time MBA course.  The Award is given on condition that the candidate obtains a place at one of the 12 business schools (in Europe and USA) that participate in the SMF programme, which is administered by the Royal Academy of Engineering. 

Candidates must be UK citizens normally domiciled in the United Kingdom.  Candidates should ideally have a first or upper second class honours degree in an engineering subject and have Chartered Engineer status or be making substantial progress towards it.  Given SMFs’ goal of getting more engineers into business leadership positions, candidates must have the potential and ambition to achieve senior management responsibility early in their career.  To learn more about applying for an SMF scholarship click here.

 On graduation, scholarship awardees become Fellows of the Sainsbury Management Fellows’ Society and gain access to an impressive network of professional contacts and activities including networking events, the opportunity to participate in special projects such as round table debates that are important to the UK economy (e.g. Energy Round Table), publications, career advice and mentoring from within the SMF network and from external captains of industry.  They can also participate in the SMF LinkedIn Group Engineers in Business.

There are now 300 Fellows – 10 of these are studying for their MBA degree currently.  Nearly 90% are employed in industry or services to industry and 70% of these are based in the UK or work for UK firms.  Sixty Fellows are entrepreneurs and own and manage their own enterprises.   Some of these recipients have already gone on to create new businesses worth in excess of £500m, whilst others have helped further develop some of the UK’s largest corporations, creating economic wealth and providing jobs for many thousands.

 Who is Lord Sainsbury?
Lord Sainsbury is the founder of the Sainsbury Management Fellows’ Society.  You will know him better as David Sainsbury, former businessman and politician – he was the Minister of Science and Innovation from 1998 to  2006.  Now a life peer, he sits in the House of Lords as a member of the Labour Party.

In the 1980s, David Sainsbury (now Lord Sainsbury of Turville) felt that there should be more people in the boardrooms of British industry who have both the knowledge of how things are made and effective management skills.  By contrast, he found that many overseas companies, particularly those in Japan and Germany, were succeeding because their senior executives and boards included qualified engineers.  To help bring about a change in business culture in the UK, in 1987 Lord Sainsbury set up the Sainsbury Management Fellowship scheme to develop UK engineers for future leadership roles in commerce and industry.

How can engineers improve the performance of companies?
SMFs (and other professional engineers who also have high calibre business degrees and real life business experience) have a unique combination of technological and commercial knowledge and experience that makes them particularly suited to strategic decision making processes.

Yet, historically, professional engineers have not been seen as a natural choice to sit on boards of blue-chip companies, however, things are changing.  Business leaders are starting to recognise that once equipped with the essential financial, marketing and leadership skills, professional engineers have a myriad of talents that help businesses grow faster.  A professional engineer’s ability to span both the technological and business spheres enables him or her to help in the rapid commercialisation of new products and technologies.  While there are many facets to the successful launch of a new technology or product, the speed of commercialisation can be the difference between success and failure – the faster a new technology or product can be brought to market, the more benefit a company and its shareholders will reap.

SMFs can take a view on internal and external factors that influence business that a director without an engineering background may not take because they start from different perspectives.

SMF has produced a downloadable publication Re-engineering the Board to Manage Risk and Maximise Growth, which explains the transferrable skills that engineers bring to business. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Strategy for Disruptive Technologies

New technologies create opportunities. They can also destroy your business in the blink of an eye, and leave you without the resources needed to land on your feet. 

Waves of disruptive technologies have been distinguishing features of industrial revolutions, and we can trace typical responses to them by taking a look at the first European industrial revolution. An early knee-jerk reaction was to burn down factories and pass laws that did not admit the importation of new technologies such as, say, mechanical felt-making. The goal was to protect jobs by blocking labor-saving technologies. 

However, establishing walls of tariffs and blocking the implementation of new technologies did not work. English Luddites found that all their efforts did were to strengthen the position of the low-cost offshore competitors, who manufactured felt hats using the new processes in other countries, thereby destroying markets for high-cost felt hats made by hand in England. Banning the import of machine-made felt hats did not work, either. It simply created an underground economy and a black market for smuggled in new, stylish, high-quality, yet inexpensive machine-made felt hats. 

Another approach, which involved confiscating the intellectual property of innovators and declaring it a “public good” and property of the state did not work, either. Nor did imposing high taxes on royalties or profits made from new technologies work to protect against disruptive technologies.  Instead, the innovators simply left to work in more hospitable environments where they were able to receive royalties and to implement their new processes and equipment without a huge penalty.  

Clearly, blocking or attempting to neutralize the impact of new technologies does not work.

So, what can you do if you’re in an organization that is facing potential disruption? In point of fact, all organizations are vulnerable, so it is important to have a strategy in place. 

Here are five steps to take to develop a strategy for disruptive technology, innovations, and processes.

1.  Identify potential areas of disruptive change that will affect your organization’s core business:
a.  new technologies
b.  new processes
c.  new services
d.  new ways of organizing your business

2.  Describe what it is about your core business that is unique and valuable; explain why your customers choose your products and services, and then explain what you might do to disrupt yourself to create a new product that supplants your existing one. (Think like your competitors).  Where is your “extendable core”? 

3.  Identify the group that will hang onto your existing core products and services to the bitter end.  How can you build and enhance their experience? 

4.  Detail the steps and investment required to develop a parallel product that will capture the market that would go to a disruptive product (technology or service). How will you develop both at the same time and keep from cannibalizing your existing market, but at the same time beat your competition (which seeks to capture your market by introducing a disruption) at their own game?

5.  Describe the team you’ll develop to effectively develop the new parallel products, and how they will behave in complementary ways that will cross-market products, without confusing the public or muddying your brand identity/identities.

The goal is not to resist or block change. Nor is it desirable to disavow your entire heritage and legacy line. Instead, strengthen your legacy core while you bring a new line into existence and compete head-to-head with the innovative / disruptive new products or services.

Useful References

Raynor,  M. (2011). The Innovator’s Manifesto: Deliberate Disruption for Transformational Growth. NY: Random House. 

Wessel, M. and C. M. Christensen (2012). Surviving disruption. Harvard Business Review. December 2012: 56-65.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Interview with Janhavi Padture, Harbinger: Innovators in E-Learning Series

Understanding the needs that organizations have for eLearning is challenging, not only due to the rate of change of technology and the high level of uncertainty, but also because of emerging opportunities for careers and new industry directions. Companies and individuals who are in the front lines in satisfying needs are well positioned to provide important insights about the directions of change and opportunities. Welcome to an interview with Janhavi Padture, Harbinger Knowledge Products.

1.  What is your name and your relation to elearning?
Janhavi Padture, VP Strategy & Business Development at Harbinger Knowledge Products, Inc. Harbinger Knowledge Products is recognized as a global leader in interactivity solutions for knowledge-sharing applications including learning, presentation and web development. It is a part of Harbinger Group, which serves customers in over 60 countries through its offices in Pune (India), Redmond (WA, USA), Pleasanton (CA, USA) and through its partner network worldwide. Our flagship product Raptivity is a unique one of a kind interactivity builder that helps eLearning developers to easily create engaging interactions for their online courses.

2.  What do you think are some of the issues that currently concern elearning program developers?
One of the challenges is technology! It is evolving at lightning speed. In today’s day and age eLearning developers are faced with an overwhelming number of technology choices for creating their courses. Would it make sense for them to switch over to HTML5 or continue to support both Flash and HTML5? What devices should they support and how to deal with the differences? How to optimally design for the various devices? Should they bite the bullet and be early adopters of Tin Can or is it too early? And many more questions like this. The difficult thing is that often the choice is not always clear.

Secondly, It may sound cliché but I truly believe that even though the economy is on a rebound in theory, most of the training departments are wary and applying a conservative approach to eLearning spending and development, which means most eLearning developers are still dealing with the “do more with less” challenge. And in this situation, even though developers realize that interactivity is critical to effective learning, unfortunately find that it is also the most compromised aspect because it can be time consuming and expensive. But many eLearning developers have come to rely on Raptivity to help address this problem. Raptivity is a tool that helps make interactivity creation quick, easy and affordable. Moreover since Raptivity keeps up with new technology users can rest assured that they will be able to rely on Raptivity for many of the desired aspects like HTML5 or multi-device support or even Tin Can

3.  What is Raptivity and how does it work?
Raptivity is a rapid interactivity building tool that helps educators and trainers of today to add the most essential and critical element of learning, which is interactivity. Raptivity houses a library of over 180 easily customizable interactions which enable you to create effective interactive learning content without any programming. The versatility that each Raptivity interaction brings forth by helping achieve multiple learning objectives makes life easy for course designers. It’s wide range of interactions covering categories like games, simulations, presentation aids, visual aids, brain teasers and assessments, allow course designers to effortlessly select an interactivity to cater to any learning style. Depending upon how interactive and engaging you want to make your courses, you can select and customize an interaction that will help you achieve the learning objective. Whether it is games based learning, role based simulations, character based learning or explorative learning, Raptivity is the one solution to all your interactivity needs.

4. Please provide two or three examples of how Raptivity has been used  
[Here is the link to the case studies that we have published. This shows the work by some of Raptivity users.

5. Describe plans for future developments in Raptivity.
There are a lot of new and exciting new developments that are happening on the Raptivity side. For one, Raptivity now supports AS3. This is part of our ongoing effort to make sure that we keep up with latest developments in technology. It will also ensure better compatibility and integration with other tools like Captivate that now produce AS3 output. Hence this was a much awaited feature for many customers and we are happy that we delivered on the promise. At the same time Raptivity will also continue to provide the AS2 publishing output option for use the legacy courses built using older generation tools that do not support AS3. Another thing to look ahead to is the conversion of the complete library of 180+ interactions to HTML5. Currently more than 2/3rd of the library already supports HTML5, including all games and simulations. By the end of the year, users can expect the remaining interactions to also support HTML5.

Raptivity also recently announced an annual licensing option for customers who wish to purchase Raptivity, but would rather pay annually from their recurring budget than get the perpetual license by paying full cost upfront. With the annual licensing model, Raptivity allows you to deliver high quality interactive learning experience to your learners while also staying within your budget.

6.  What is your philosophy of education in a multi-platform BYOD world?
The philosophy is simple… In a multi-platform BYOD world, learners are predisposed to being easily distracted and also have shorter attention spans, so it has become even more critical to ensure that the learning modules are engaging and interactive. Interactivity helps keep the learner engaged, thus producing better learning outcomes. Research has proven engagement and enjoyment has a direct correlation to learning and performance. So whether it is eLearning, mLearning or a combination, eLearning developers need to make sure they plan for and incorporate meaningful interactivity in their online courses or training modules. The type of interactivity to incorporate will vary depending on the situation, whether it is effective use of media in its simplest form, to including simulations and games in a more advanced situation. The flexibility of media allows teachers to readily and easily meet individualized learning needs. Moreover, using devices that they are comfortable and familiar with, empowers students to take greater charge of their learning which makes them eager and engaged learners!

7.  What are two or three books that you'd recommend.
“Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead”, by Sheryl Sandberg
“Telling Ain’t Training” 2nd edition by Harold D. Stolovich and Erica J. Keeps
“The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Reis

Thank you, Janhavi! 
we loved this interview!
Corgi happiness! We loved this interview! 

Strategic Decision-Making: An Online Course
Free preview (OpenCourseWare version // instructor-led course & certification available via AAPG).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Innovators in E-Learning Series: Interview with Paige Johnson, Intel Education Strategist

The appropriate use of educational technology can be challenging, particularly in a time of rapid change and disruptive technologies. It can be difficult to find the best fit and to select the correct technology for a college, university, school, or organization. Further, while many feel they're in a constant game of "catch up," others are excited about the road ahead, and are looking at ways that technology is being used in other uses and industries can be applied to education.

Welcome to an interview with Paige Johnson, Intel Education Strategist (@IntelK12Edu), who matches the educational need with the appropriate technology.

Paige Johnson, Intel Education Strategist

1. What is your name and relation to e-learning and technology-facilitated learning?
My name is Paige Johnson and I’m Intel’s K-12 education strategist. My goal is to ensure schools get the return on their technology investments in terms of students’ achievement and performance.

2. What constitutes today's "technology-rich classroom" and what are some of the “must-haves”?
The most important thing in a technology-rich classroom is a great teacher. You can have the best resources in the world, but without an inspired, innovative educator you won’t get excellent learning outcomes. One new form factor that is coming out now is called a 2-in-1; it’s a notebook when you need it and a tablet when you want it. These devices are still a little expensive for schools, but look for them to come down in price in the coming year. A lot of these devices will have full pen enablement so students can accurately make diagrams, concept maps and write out complex mathematical equations. I also think you will see a lot of work in the adaptive learning space in the next few years. Right now, most “adaptive learning” products use very structured data. For example, a student answers a question and is shuttled to appropriate content. With the advent of tools that allow for analysis of unstructured data, such as information on where a student is looking on a screen or if the student shows signs of frustration or boredom, it will be possible to create a truly personalized experience for students. This trend is moving quickly in healthcare and retail, so you can expect similar trends to get picked up in education, as well.

In today’s classroom, I’m a big supporter of using blended learning environments to support learning. A great teacher with access to a blended learning environment can tap into student passions in new ways. The blended platform allows teachers to spend more energy and time on learning and less on classroom management. Intel invested in an Intel Teach Elements course to help educators think about using blended learning in their classroom. This free resource can be found at

3.  How does technology help today's teachers achieve their learning goals?
Technology in schools can help support deeper learning and bring the world into a teacher’s classroom. The Internet now allows students to have access to complex data systems that previously were only available to professionals. Educators also need to rethink their instruction in order to get the most out of their investments. For example, requiring educators to be more self-directed in their learning and shifting assessment by seeking performance-based evidence of understanding will help students prepare to be college and career ready.

4. How does the technology-rich classroom help teachers teach to the tests the students must take? 
Student achievement on tests is tied to deep conceptual understanding of content. Technology can be a platform that allows teachers to design meaningful instruction for students. One thing I think many districts are struggling with right now is ensuring equal ubiquitous access to technology for all students. I work closely with Project RED  a research-driven organization that focuses on successful technology implementation in districts. The Project RED research has shown that schools that implement a 1:1 student-computer ratio, for example, outperform other schools in terms of academic achievement and financial benefits. However, the Project RED research shows access is not enough. If your students are just reading e-books or playing on apps that don’t require them to gain a deeper understanding of core curricular content, then you won’t get the most out of your investment. This is why Intel supports a site called the K12 Blueprint, because research shows that careful planning, great professional development and strong implementation support does result in better student achievement, reduced disciplinary actions and higher graduation rates.

5. What are a few examples or specific cases of students feeling more engaged thanks to technology in the classroom? 
One example I like to talk about is the implementation of 1:1, project-based learning in San Diego’s Del Sur Elementary School. Megan Power, a kindergarten teacher, participated in a pilot program where each of her students was given their own laptop in an effort to personalize their learning. Megan took advantage of this technology and taught her students how to write by creating blogs. This video shows hows Megan’s kindergartners collaborating with one another, engaging with the technology, and most importantly, being excited about learning.

Another example of a school we work with closely is Crellin Elementary School in the rural town of Oakland, Maryland. This school is an Intel School of Distinction award winner for its support of math learning. The school’s principal, Dana McCauley, has worked with teachers to bring real-world projects in support of math learning. The school’s achievements have been showcased by PBS as a model for STEM education in rural schools. You can see a short video on the work at

7. What is your personal teaching and learning philosophy?
Learning is a lifelong endeavor. I recently went to a conference about technology integration in the classroom and met Sister Angela, a 79-year-old nun who was there to learn how to better use technology in her classroom. As you might guess, she struggled with the technology. But, whenever someone asked her why she wasn’t retired or why she even came to the event, she would say: “The day I stop learning will be the day I lay down and die.” Learning to use technology was by no means easy to Sister Angela, but she knew it was important for her to learn so she could better engage with her students while modeling life-long learning in her own work.

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