Archives for September 2006
Discovery World opens in Milwaukee
There’s another cool discovery center out there. The New Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin opens this weekend in Milwaukee. Discovery World is billed as a hands-on, experiential museum, containing interactive exhibits, aquariums, and labs. The educational programming touches upon science, design, art, engineering, media, economics, history, and more— especially as they’re linked to the natural environment. The new building is located on the city’s lakefront and built into the shore of Lake Michigan.
There’s also this recent broadcast about the center from Wisconsin Public Radio.
I hope to make the trip up there soon!
Supporting the reuse of online learning materials
If you’re like me, you probably look at today’s course management systems as useful for the delivery of online learning activities, but lousy for the design of online learning activities. You’re ok if all you want to do is post a course you already have, but what about supporting the process of instrucitonal design? What about facilitating the exploratom and integration of new content? And what about sharing your courses with others, and at the same time being able to make sense of, adapt, and use designs created by others?
We’ve explored this issue a bit through our work on the design of the Adaptive Instructional Materials system (AIM) with UIC’s LITD center, focusing primarily on how teachers browse, make sense of, and customize online educational content— either in the creation of courses from scratch or the adaptation of courses created by others. We support teacher-designers in unpacking the “pedagogical affordances” of instructional resources by creating session-specific annotations on how the resources will be used to accomplish instructional goals. This supports reflective design as well as reusability, since it makes it easier for future “adapters” to understand the original design rationale.
The folks at Utah State have created Instructional Architect, a simple-to-use authoring tool which, unlike AIM’s custom-crafted resource-database, interacts with NSDL repositories. IA provides a straightforwad way for teachers to create classrooom-ready projects out of a wide aray of publically available resources (I really like the interoperability with existing digital libraries).
Finally, there’s the open-source Learning Activity Management System (LAMS), which provides a set of flexible tools for authoring, managing, and delivering online learning activities. The system has a really nice graphical interface for laying out the various components of online courses, though it is content-agnostic and doesn’t seem to provide much explicit support for customization and reusability. Heck, they’ve even teamed up with Blackboard— so perhaps course management systems are finally catching on.