Monday, April 6, 2009

Podcast Do's & Don'ts

As a listener of podcasts I have come to realise that there are several factors that contribute to a podcasts 'success'. When I consider 'success' I refer to whether it has been an enjoyable experience to listen to the audio presentation/discussion regardless of whether the message has been communicated effectively.
Relevance to the audience - Was the description/information accurate about the podcast to indicate what the content included therefore allowing the listener to make an informed decision as to whether it is relevant to them.
Technology - There are often unavoidable delays or dropouts when listening to podcasts & they can be frustrating for the listener as they are for the participants. If a podcast is focussing on a presentation & you are only listening to the audio this can cause you to lose complete understanding of what is being discussed. A good eg of overcoming this is on E-learning insights presented by Kerry Jay who intervenes during a presentation on Digital Literacies to read words on the slide, when a facilitator has asked participants to read the slide as a podcast can be repetitive if a facilitator is just reading their slides.
Background noise - This can include typing (participants keeping up with chat room questions etc), phones ringing in the background can be very distracting & rude, people in the background (often this background noise can be louder than the speaker if it is coming from behind a participant who is not speaking at the time). Use of mute or a private room when participating in audio hookups is recommended.
Following a basic program/agenda - Knowing who is speaking first then who they will pass to & what the expectations of guest speakers or level of participation from the audience. In some podcasts it is evident that the agenda has not been made clear to all involved or sometimes there has been inadequate preparation on the part of the presenter or participants.
Set the scene - It is important to clearly outline your expectations of participants. If you require active participation throughout & want all questions via verbal or written chat then let them know this. If you will address all questions at the end of a topic also let participants know this.
Introducing, welcoming & thanking - This can sometimes be overdone eg, there is a leadline that explains the content of the podcast then the session commences & the leadline is repeated in the introductions & welcomes. When a guest is introduced the informal Hi, how are you can be seen as false or fake from a listeners perspective (prepping the guest to explain how the session will run should be done before any session & explain that what formalities are expected & which are not).
Rapport - It is obvious when presenters or participants have a good rapport, they can have a joke & the listener can appreciate this even if they do not find it amusing. When guests are involved there can sometimes be so much gushing at the introduction that the listener becomes embarressed for the guest - perhaps this is just not the way we do things in Australia (or New Zealand) so we find it uncomfortable to listen to. Being on the same wavelength is an important factor in achieving a comfortable mood, a good eg of this is a podcast by EdTechWeekly (#121)which is a collaboration between a group of educators who conduct a round robin style discussion where each provides a website reference & a brief blurb about the value or content of the particular site. They willingly have a dig at each other in a jovial & encouraging way, not only is it informative but easy & fun to listen to.

Friday, April 3, 2009

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and put simply it is a method of tracking Web page updates. An RSS feed provides you with a summary or an update of the websites that you choose to follow. May 1st is RSS awareness day ( You need an RSS reader to access your RSS feeds, some of which are Google Reader, Bloglines, Newsgator. Once you have this set up you can access RSS icon on most webpages, this icon is an orange square with 3 white lines to indicate noise projecting. Wikipedia has an extensive explanation of RSS (

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ten Web 2.0 Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes to Be a More Successful E-learning Professional

Ten Web 2.0 Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes to Be a More Successful E-learning Professional is an article that I stumbled across via the website. This is a good list of things to do to clarify your thoughts, ideas & new info, particularly in such a fast moving industry. Perhaps I am just at a premliminary stage where all of the technicalities of this new industry are somewhat overwhelming. I intend to keep plugging away at my research bit by bit until these references become somewhat familiar to me - at least as not as foreign as they currently are. Stephen Downes is the author of this article, he worksfor the National Research Council Canada & the article was published in elearn Magazine.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Knowledge Presenter v7 - an e-learning tool

This software appears to be an effective & easy to use tool for creating e-learning lessons. Not only can you create a series of standard question types (multi-choice, open answer, click correct picture) but the software also offers administrator features such as ability to print the screens of the lesson(s), learners can email results or print certificates & it supports other software such as Windows Media Player. The web-page offers developer/administrator tools such as KP University, Common questions & a support service. They offer a 30 day free trial along with many online demos. Knowledge Presenter is copyrighted to Kookaburra Studios Pty Ltd, they appear to be a NSW based company (U1 44 Allworth Ave Davidson 2085).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Facilitating online communities - free online course

Facilitating online communities is an online course offered by Otago Polytechnic (NZ) to formal learners (fee paying learners who have their work assessed & receive certification for successful completion of the course) and informal learners (lurkers or non-fee paying learners who follow the course to develop professional expertise). The course was facilitated by Leigh Blackall (Educational Developer for Otago Polytechnic). The course ran from July 2008 for 17 weeks & attracted an international audience. Leigh intends to run the course from July 2009 & is hoping to offer it to all learners free of fees. Leigh offers a concise & honest retrospective of the course on the blogspot page.
My intention is to work through the course program & complete the research topics on the weekly To Do lists & come July I will be able to participate in the real-time activities ie. Preparation for online mini-conference, considering feedback provided from other participants in the course. The course offers a blend of theories along with technical explanation of tools to use when facilitating online.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Practical guide to e-learning for industry

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework (AFLF) website offers a wealth of knowledge & information relating to e-learning or online learning on their Home page dedicated to e-learning in Industry.
One particular resource that stands out on this site is the 157 page 'Practical guide to e-learning for Industry'. This document provides details for consideration when understanding, planning, requesting funding, designing, producing, testing & delivering e-learning. The document is themed in a similar format to the London tube guide & is easy to read with general information targetted at various audiences who may be involved in e-learning; designers, stakeholders, subject matter experts - in fact anyone who wants to understand how e-learning modules are created & used.
This document was produced as a result of the Industry engagement project of the AFLF in 2007, the producers are Dr Neville Higgins & Dr David Keightley. Whilst this resource is now 2 years old the information is generic & as a result is not out of date.
A more up to date document that complements this guide is 'Guidelines for supporting e-learners', produced in Feb 2009 by Clint Smith (Learnworks PL as a result of Industry Integrations of e-learning business activity. this doc offers statistical results from research about uses of e-learning in workplaces. It is about looking at e-learning uses & as the title suggests "suporting" e-learning in the workplace by suggesting strategies for increasing such support.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Big Dog and Little Dog productions

Whilst googling I have come across a comprehensive site that inlcudes all things 'Training Theory', from learning styles to MBTI, with a dash of coaching to boot. This site is a rabbit warren of information & the author/producer, Don Clark maintains the site with updated articles every few months.
Clark is a prolific "referencer" who talks about what others have talked about. As a result each topic offers many further references, therefore a very valuable resource for research or further reading purposes.
At every opportunity Clark includes a 'concept map' to guide you through the rabbit warren of topics. These colourful guides take you on a roundabout journey of acquiring information rather than a linear start to finish approach. It can be frustrating as you question whether you have reviewed each of the topics on offer, but you need to resist temptation to click on the array of further references & navigate back to your original concept map which will highlight the topics you have covered. They take a bit of getting used to but he also offers a Content page which offers a more linear approach to the topics covered in the site.
Clark's 'About me' page provides insight into the man behind the thinking & theories. He is, obviously, a dog lover with a US army history who now works as a consultant (in learning & performance) & designer (of e-learning & training platforms).