Saturday, July 15, 2006

Let's Decide on Evaluation Criteria

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Designing a Slider

Designing slider is another important “trick” to know for effective creating of interactive visual representations in Flash. In the coming class we will explore this process. Below is Flash display showing how dragging a slider can change not just numerical values on the screen but also display changes as in graphical way (bars change size). So changes in visuals tell us about something, in this case, that if a variable represented by the slider increases, something else with also change and therefore some relationship exists.

Click HERE to download sourse code of this file

Slider can also be used for incremental changes and also control changes in non-liner information. Explore the design below. Once you change slider position, it will lock itself to one or preprogrammed stages and make change in the displayed image.

Click HERE to download sourse code of this file

I designed a step by step video showing how slider is crated and used to change some information on the screen. Click HERE to download it. In addition, some students were interested to know how to create drag and drop interaction. This is not very user friendly in Flash and I will not attempt to teach it in this class. However, some venturous students might study this Flash file as see if they can make sense of it.

Click HERE to download sourse code of this file

Have you discovered and new “trick?” Share with us your experience.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Interactive Map of Hong Kong

You can download a movie showing how to develop the interactive map of Hong Kong which we built in the class. I hope that this will help.

Click HERE to download movie step by step [zip file].

The same file can be created in a different way. HERE is one more movie showing how this can be done differently.

The purpose of the MITE6323 module is largely conceptual in the sense that my aim is to get the students to think about and explore possibilities for communication of information in visual and interactive format. I think that this is occurring very well as evidenced by the quality of stuff provided in the students’ blogs. However, I observed that some students are experiencing frustrations with Macromedia Flash. I would like to hear some idea from students as to how to deal with this problem.

In relation to your project, you should ask me to help you solve any technical problems. Some of you are already doing this. For example, two students asked me for help with the file shown bellow. Interact with the file by inputing values for times and observe how input is processed into some actions on the screen. If you want to access source code of this file to study how it is done click HERE.

Monday, July 03, 2006

What do you need to know about Flash?

After the last session I begun to think a bit more about what exactly my students need to know about Flash in order to make its effective use for design of visual and interactive representations. Flash is a very powerful development tool, many programming and multimedia design things can be created. However, to start using the tool to effectively design representations, one does not need to know all of these. To my opinion, my students need to understand:

-- Use basic drawing tools, import images, create and understand symbols (button, movie and graphics)
--Create buttons (visible, invisible, animated, with sound effects etc) that can be used to either move to a different location on a timeline or to control another move that is housed on the main stage.
--Design and utilize sliders
--Create simple manipulations of variables.

I noticed that some in the class still have small difficulty understanding “anatomy’ of a button. A button might have three states (up – as is seen on the screen by a user; over -- as displayed once the user position a mouse arrow over the button, and don – as displayed after the user click on the button and before lets off the mouse), and defined hot-spot area (hit area). Here are some examples of buttons:

Let’s hear form you what other things you like to know about Flash...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Learning Objects -- What do you think?

What is a learning object? I have been working on this question for over three years now. Constantly, two points of view get in focus: one from instructional design perspective that is concerned about “learning”, and another form computer science perspective that is concerned with concept of object as in object-oriented programming practice. A lot of definitions are available, but I am not happy with any of them. Current definitions in literature appeared to me to be concentrating on design of didactic instructional sequences rather than on design of educationally useful, technology-empowered material. I found this to be limited and I asked a broader question: what kinds of material are educationally useful and how technology enables creation and educational application of this material? Through this question I derived classification of learning objects:

1. Information object – any information can be educationally useful if appropriately used in learning tasks.
2. Conceptual model – interactive, visual and often illustrated representation of specific concept form any discipline. These are not just informative, but they can be used as external tools to help us to make decisions, solve problems and learn new things that require that conceptual knowledge.
3. Contextual representations – these are “vehicles” used to deliver certain authentic data to student so that they work with this date, reason about it, investigate it, and draw conclusions. Huge potential for this type of objects is Web 2.0 API for Mashups, eg. use Google Map and local weather condition to provide contextual representations for students for explore weather condition.
4. Practice objects – these allow learners to practice certain skills, drill certain answers, or check recall.
5. Simulation object – allow students to learn how to operate certain machinery and tools, and explore how things work
6. Presentation objects – these are the traditional didactic instruction objects (those which most of definitions of learning objects promote) and any other objects (e.g., PowerPoint presentations) developed with intention to transmit certain body of knowledge to students (who are passive receptors in this context.

Here are some examples (can you classify them in different types): (go to demo and select frog)

You can examine some repositories of educational material such as Merlot ( or look at my own collection at Learnactivity ( to see if any new category emerges according to your understanding.

So, is this classification and complete, comprehensive enough and useful to designers of learning material as well as to teachers to plan their educational use. I usually get suggestion that games or game objects can be another category of learning object, however, somehow I arrived to believe that games are just an another form of practice objects. Intention behind games is to allow practice however underlining rationale is that this practice will be supported by extrinsic motivation triggered by the game itself. Are there is any other type of learning object that can be included? Do you think that my classification includes something that should not be there? Comments and contributions are welcome.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Reflection of Middle of the Module Feedback

Results form the feedback in certain way place pressure upon me to step away form my own pedagogical principles which I abide and which I developed for last 15 yeas as a classroom practitioner. On the same evening and the day following the feedback, after examining the results I was ready to cancel the last task on the “Rain Drop” as a number of students indicated that there is too much work in this module. Someone asked me “Do you think that there is too much work for MSc students in this module?” Two days later, I asked my self “What are all these tasks that I am setting up for students and how do these contribute to their learning?”

My major objective is to provide students opportunity to develop understand of theory through application (not application through theory) and also to develop certain skills in line with their own capacity, that will be useful in context of their own work and further independent or formal studies. The initial tasks in the module were designed to take students form developing understanding and some skills in designing visuals with user-friendly tools, and then to progress into making these visuals a bit interactive. I understand the last task to be critical as “mind teaser” to get students to deeply consider and appreciate importance of their own knowledge when designing, as well as to deeply think about interactive elements that might bring static images into dynamic and manipulative tools of communication and learning. If I cancel this last task, I would deny my student the final step on this learning progression. In this context, my decision is to keep this task, even though some student might be further annoyed by perceived “heavy” workload. I examined digital portfolios of students (blogs) and I noticed that most students are progressing well. Form a perspective of a teacher, I am pleased with this progress.

Just some remarks about work load. In the MSc programmed I believe that in general students are expected to carry out module work outside class to the equivalent of a further 6 hours of study per week. I wander if this is practiced in other modules?

I would like to hear more from students about their thinking in relation to workload. In particular, focus should be in the workload is useful and leads to learning, in the thinking contribute to more useful understanding and if the workload results in useful skills development or is it just unnecessary. I would also like students to examine results of the survey and to describe any other pattern that they can see in this data. The survey results are given in THIS PDF file. Please contribute.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Educational Value of Blogging

Judging by quality of submitted outcomes of the last week’s task, I notice that the students begun to bring much stronger ideas about use of visual representation. Also it appears that blogging has done some benefits. However, this is still early stage and I am looking forward to seeing how things develop further. I would really like to get some ideas form the class about their perception of blogging. Guys, please comment, add link to any educaitonal blog, and we all appreciate your contribution!