Friday, July 24, 2009

Notes on Mayer, Moreno, "Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning"

  • "The goal of [their] research is to figure out how to use words and pictures to foster meaningful learning," and the biggest hurdle to doing that successfully is minimizing cognitive overload.
  • This paper is a summary of the entire Cognitive Science I syllabus. Every paragraph represents at least a paper or chapter. Wow, it's chock-full.
  • I think my website design avoids the split attention effect and reduces incidental processing by allowing only one section to be open at a time. So while you are looking at the information in one section you aren't distracted by what's going on in another section, like a video or school assignments. This is done with this nice little bit of JavaScript:
    collapseprev: true,
  • Signaling: tell them how to use the information.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Final Project Web Site

My final project web site is coming along. Here is the link to it. And here is a picture of my flow chart for the site.

Creative Commons Licensed Media

I just found this article that lists more than 30 websites where you can find media released for public use (with attribution and varying restrictions). Here is the link: Creative Commons Licensing can be a little confusing, so you can learn about it here:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amazon Erasing Digital Books Should Come As No Surprise

Kindle users were angered when their "1984" and "Animal Farm" copies were deleted from their e-readers because of a copyright issue. I would have been pretty annoyed (or very pissed if I were the student who lost all his notes for his summer assignment with his copy) but not surprised. Appearance is not the biggest difference between physical books and ebooks. A digital format offers a vastly greater amount of control by those who control its distribution than an analog format. An ebook is data to Amazon. Amazon has created a data architecture whereby they can monitor and manipulate everything they sell to Kindle users, which is pretty brilliant, though I don't like buying into that level of control myself. It's the way they executed their solution to their copyright problem that caused such a public relations fiasco. If they had given customers a bit of warning, say, in an email the day before to explain the need for the refund, most people would have had no problem.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Social Architecture of Cyberspaces

In "Code Version 2.0" Lessig has a great section on virtual world spaces, specifically comparing Second Life and There. The major distinction he points out is that the architects of SL let members be the owners of anything they create; it's their intellectual property. In contrast, the creators of There follow a corporate model and take ownership of anything created in There with the exception of other businesses (Nike, etc.) with a presence in There. There's creators imagined businesses playing a central role in providing assets that individual users would then simply enjoy. Consequently, while There is still here it's fizzling as Second Life continues to grow.

A small but interesting point of comparison is the manner of accessing each. They both have their respective client VW viewers but There also allows you to access your account, including assets, help forums, and shopping, through the corporate Internet Explorer browser and its activeX technology.

Lastly, I wish Lessig would had discussed OpenSim, which I'm working on setting up now for my school. He discusses Open Source somewhat in the abstract in other parts of the book, but it would add an interesting perspective to the virtual world discussion.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Get Dropbox

Go to now and get it if you regularly work on more than one computer. Dropbox does one thing really well, which is share and update versions of files among different computers. You get a folder at your user account level on your Mac or Windows computer and you drag an file you want to have access to at your other computer/s. Sure, you could easily do this by emailing it to yourself or uploading it to a web site of some kind, but this just takes all file types, up to 2 GB free, and makes the task so darn easy. Just log in to your other computer and after a little spinning of arrows the contents of your dropbox on that computer are updated. And if you are at a public computer, just go to, log in, and download what you need. Seriously, get it.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fair Use Explained Clearly

This document, "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education," is an excellent resource for understanding Fair Use. It puts the power and responsibility of choosing appropriate media for instructional use in the hands of the educator as the law intends instead of making us feel like we are getting away with something by using any media. It also makes clear to me that in cases where I have felt like students' use of media wasn't covered by fair use I was right. "...students may use copyrighted music for a variety of purposes, but cannot rely on fair use when their goal is simply to establish a mood or convey an emotional tone, or when they employ popular songs simply to exploit their appeal and popularity." The original work needs to be repurposed or transformed in such a way that its use contributes to an educational goal.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Prensky, Digital Natives/Immigrants

I noticed a point in Prensky's "Digital Natives Digital Immigrants" that was similar to the way I'm thinking of the Learning Wiki. To create software to teach engineers how to use a new type of CAD software Prensky had the developers and professors (content specialists) "create a series of graded tasks into which the skills to be learned were embedded." The skills were not to be organized by concept or vocabulary or in a certain sequence, but by practical application. This is how I envision information being organized in the Learning Wiki.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Point about Identity in Cyberspace

Reading Lawrence Lessig's "Code Version 2.0." There's a good point about identity on the Internet. "While in real space...anonymity has to be created, in cyberspace anonymity is the given." On the Internet your identity is built from the IP address up. What you add to your IP adds to the picture of your identity. Of course, the main point of the book is that commerce, the law, and government have created an architecture of the Internet that prevents you from accessing many, if not most, spaces without significant creditials that certify who you are.

Learning Wiki

In a constructivist learning environment providing sufficient support for students to be successful is tricky. Since students are working on solving unique problems at varying levels of difficulty the teacher can't predict very easily exactly what information they will need to find their solutions. In addition, the teacher can't, and shouldn't, be there to help every student with every problem. I propose developing a learning wiki as a means of providing some of this scaffolding. This wiki doesn't have a predetermined structure, nor specific predetermined content. The students will decide and maintain both. My hope is that when they encounter a problem they will be able to find possible solutions in the learning wiki. The key to making this successful is for students to update the wiki with their solutions as much as possible and create the structure of the wiki around the problems they faced. More on this later.