Posted by brooks in Misc
on Jul 29th, 2008 | 0 comments
Preach it Rands.
When Rands says, “sales is historical” I just hear chanting in my head: “history is a trap.” Then I start thinking of the innovators dilemma and how to avoid the historical quicksand.
Passionate geek alert–you might want to approach with caution until there’s a little less juice in the pipe. I’m a pretty persistent change monger and now my battery is all charged up. Now to just find a few geeks who are willing to plot nerd-world domination and fix bayonets. I wonder if the big cheese will let me cordon off my office and declare it a separate organization…
Posted by brooks in SCORM
on Jul 29th, 2008 | 6 comments
SCORM 2.0 needs to learn lessons from the past:
- Don’t let whoever wrote the spec / documentation for versions 1 and 2 anywhere near the spec (well just don’t let ‘em write anything public facing). ;-)
- Nix sequencing. This should of been laughed away with the first draft (again, probably brilliant minds at work, but way over engineered).
- Eliminate metadata from the spec. Instead recommend that Dublin Core (or flavor of your choice) be used inline in the html entry point or injected via XMP. Allow it to be bolted on, but DO NOT make it a part of the spec. I get metadata. I think its critically important, but it doesn’t belong in the spec.
- Eliminate the manifest file and define an entry point naming convention (entry.*).
- Make a REST API spec. A solid API is all you need for interoperability. This should make it way easier for LMS / server-side developers and content creators alike to implement.
- Eliminate all of the packaging crud. Just zip your files up.
- Actually write real documentation for the API. Build lots of working examples. Make it approachable / accessible.
- Destroy all traces of SCORM 1.2 and SCORM 2004. Seriously. The biggest problem is I have with SCORM 2.0 is that its going to take years for it to become codified and implemented. All the while the existing specs will continue to calcify. We need a scorched earth policy folks–something that forces us to rebuild and move on.
Three simple steps to relevance:
- A simple packaging system (a zip file). Described in simple terms (one sentence please).
- An entry point naming convention (entry.*).
- A simple rest API. No bloat. Keep it simple and straightforward.
I have little hope that such a simple recipe will emerge from LETSI, but from my ivory tower this is the only way I can see the ocean. However, there is great conversation taking place and that’s reason to hope. I encourage everyone interested in the space to check out the links below.
LETSI Call for White Papers / White Papers:
Aaron Silvers – Get Involved:
Tom King – Get Involved + War of Words:
Posted by brooks in Flash, Screencasting
on Jul 23rd, 2008 | 4 comments
Last week a link was quietly dropped on the TechSmith website which includes the ActionScript 2 source code and graphical assets for Camtasia Studio’s ExpressShow Flash playback wrapper. This package allows Flash developers to the customize look / feel and behavior of the playback controls, hotspots, quizzing and captioning for Camtasia Studio 5.x ExpressShow screencasts. Instructions for compiling and using the new wrapper with Camtasia Studio are included in the zip. If you end up creating a custom skin or adding some cool behavior leave a link to a screenshot or screencast.
Posted by brooks in Misc, User Experience
on Jul 23rd, 2008 | 3 comments
Simplicity. A word to live by. An unending quest. The holy grail of software. As software makers our raison dâ€™Ãªtre is making complex tasks easy. We’re back to that elusive word–simplicity. In a beautiful twist of irony it turns out that even thinking about simplicity involves a great deal of complexity. Enter John Maeda’s Ten Laws. I’ve read Maeda’s laws in the past, but as I’ve matured as a software developer they resonate more and more with each passing day. Here are a few of my favorites:
Posted by brooks in Flash
on Jul 17th, 2008 | 2 comments
Tom King makes some excellent points in response to my last post which means its time for me to get serious and add some real meat to the discussion rather than just dumping gas on the burning carcass of elearning and dancing gleefully. ;-)
Here are a few things to consider when analyzing the depth of the problem:
- Reusable content, the raison d’Ãªtre of SCORM / AICCC, sounds like a great idea, but never materializes. It turns out that organizations want to completely customize and tailor their learning experiences so reuse just falls flat on its face. I’ve found it to be near impossible to achieve reuse across departments within a single organization, let alone industry wide. Even with soft skills, companies rarely are willing to use a generic presentation. Its always amazing to me to see the lengths and expense organizations will go to chase reusable content without ever achieving it.
- Testing (SCORM + LMS) has been a failure. Despite all the fancy API features you still can’t reliably certify results. Physical environments and instructors are still required for anything needing mission critical result certification. We might as well be using simple survey tools rather than bloated standards.
- The cost of developing lean forward elearning experiences is at least an order of magnitude greater than its pitched at. In fact elearning is pitched as a cost saver when in reality its usually a net loss. Most elearning is PPT based because the cost of creating a compelling experience from an SME’s physical course is so high (at least that’s been my experience).
- Every LMS / LCMS vendor I’ve worked with gets a FAIL. They’re bloated, difficult to administer and use, and often require organizations to wrap their infrastructure around them (which just doesn’t happen too much). Again these tools are pitched as cost savers, but typically require full-time administrators and the large vendors have notoriously bad service track records.
- Distributed content / repositories reign supreme whether on the Web or across organizations. Again the LMS / LCMS get a FAIL and SCORM SCOs have had little tangible value.
- A real infrastructure and community never really developed, at least not on the scale we should reasonably expect. Actually you could say the Web raced ahead and that search (GOOGLE), Wikipedia, Creative Commons, etc. form the backbone of real elearning. Adding community features doesn’t mean your going to build a great community and standardization here might hurt more than it helps.
- The elearning industry failed to fundamentally improve the old classroom led paradigm. Big institutions still employ SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) as course developers and instructors. The elearning movement as we know it has largely failed to create tools that can effectively allow SMEs to create elearning courseware. This meant the introduction of a new class employees–IDs (Instructional Designers) and Courseware Developers. In most cases we’re talking about new hires under different managers and even departments. There’s a huge level of distrust between these groups based on paranoia, ego and organizational allegiance. All of this results in increased operational overhead (financial and development).
All this said, there are some really fantastic people in the elearning world–maybe they’re going to kick some ass and surprise me with SCORM 2.0. :-P