Friday, October 16, 2009

Setting Learning Objectives

Just read a great post from talking about learning objectives. As mentioned in the post as an instructional designer you have been drilled with Gagne's nine events of instruction of which number 2 is to inform the learner of the learning objectives. How is this done - well generally in a very boring, non-engaging way... After finishing this topic you will know: and then the bullet list.

Why not be more creative about learning objectives. Set the scene so the learner can see why these learning objectives are important and how they relate to the REAL WORLD. One of the comments even suggests getting the learner to set the learning objectives - what a great idea.

Pointers form the post:
  • Begin an upfront discussion with learners that involves a series of questions about what they know/do currently.

  • Paint a scenario for learners that depicts a “real world” situation where specific knowledge/skill is required.

  • Identify challenges related to the course topic and have learners use/share their own experiences.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

MySQL Workbench

Trying to get MySQL Workbench working this weekend - to no avail. It kept complaining that I didnt have the right library files. As far as I could see in /usr/lib and /usr/lib/mysql all the necessary library files were there.

A fix was found on the MYSQL bug site:

[23 Sep 10:06] Ignat Alexeyenko

I fixed this in following way in Ubuntu 9.04 (Just created a symlink in /usr/lib

cd /usr/lib
sudo ln -s

and presto it worked!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Disrupting Class

I have just finished reading Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson and just wanted to do a quick post about the book.

Christensen is a famed professor at Harvard Business School and the author of The Innovator's Dilemma. In The Innovator's Dilemma, Christensen describes disruption theory and its effect on the business world, innovation and entrepreneurship. In Disrupting Class Christensen et al. outline how disruption theory can be applied to the US K-12 educational system.

To summarize the book: Christensen puts forward a compelling case on how Technology Enhanced Learning is a disruptive technology which will completely change how we think of education - for the better, allowing for student-centric learning. For more information on disruptive technology or innovation see the wikipedia article at

Although the potential power of technology in education is not new for anyone working in the area, how technology can be integrated into education to have maximum effect is something which we have struggled with for many year. Christensen believes the answer to this is where education technology sneaks up on the traditional educational sector as a disruptive technology.

The book starts by looking at how everyone is different and how all students learn in different ways. This is demonstrating through very clear and relevant examples. The book stops short of defining the different ways people learn, but just states everyone learns in a different way. The book uses Harvard Psychologist, Howard Gardner, classification of knowledge. Christensen advocates that education must be aligned to a persons brain "wiring" for learning to be effective. Also, within each knowledge type a person will learn better when a particular learning style is used. In order to cater for all students, every course would have to be customised along these dimensions (not to mention lesson pace). This is expensive, and a barrier to student-centric learning.

Christensen also outlines the characteristics of a disruptive pattern and what that means to the educational system. According to disruptive theory, if Christensen is right, by 2019 50% of all high school courses will be delivered using e-learning technologies. Christensen also believes we are just about to witness major uptake in e-learning in the educational sector. All of these conclusions are based on his disruption theory.

The book also looks at the outer limits of the educational system to see what else needs to be considered when looking at e-learning and how to maximize its effect on education. In chapter six the book looks at the astounding effect a child's first 24 months of life have on the rest of its intellectual life. Chapter seven looks at educational research and why it wont satisfy to allow for an acceptable predictability of the effects of an instructional approach given a specific educational scenario.

In chapter eight the book goes on to look at how change can happen. To do this the degree of agreement among people in an organisation must be plotted on two axis 1) The extent to which people agree on what they want and 2) the extent to which people agree on cause and effect. Where an organisation lies in relation to these two axis determines the best tools to use to invoke change in an organisation. The following chapter then looks at how the schools should be structured to allow for change. Examples are drawn from industry, for example the change required in Toyota to build a hybrid car.

A very good book, well written and thought-provoking. It outlines a feasible methodology that could allow for technology to empower human teachers become facilitator and coaches in the class room, where learning will be student-centric. I would have liked to see a bit more on the role of teachers in this new environment. The book concentrates on high school and primary school education, I would like to see a book for higher education and beyond.

The book is available from at

Friday, May 1, 2009

Apple Education Leadership Summit

Julie Lindsey provides a brilliant overview of the Apple Education Leadership Summit which she attended in Hong Kong. There were a few infulential speakers at the event, such as Stephen Heppell, Tom Kelley and Marco Torres. The conference highlighted Apples approach to learning - challenge-based learning. Julie also posts a video summary of the summit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank

Well the inevitable finally happened last week, the "zoombie bank" of Ireland, Anglo Irish, finally got nationalised by the Irish government exposing the irish people to a massive risk. Investors in Anglo Irish have seen their share go from 18 euro two year ago to 22 cent. One notable loosers is Sean Quinn the CEO of the Quinn group. 

Minister Lenihan says that this was a necessary step, he better be right, if this goes wrong - it will go wrong of icelandic proportions. 

David McWilliams got it right again, I read in one of the papers, in a column he wrote over Christmas that the bank will be nationalised before Feb. Well done David, this is not the first time you got it right. Mr. McWilliams states that he knows whats going to happen because he has a basic understanding of economics, something sorely lacking in the government. He also notes that all the bad assets in the Irish banks should be taken over by anglo irish - sort of a toxic waste ground. Minister Lenihan disagrees. So who do we believe the solicitor who's party's policies have got us in this mess or the economist who keeps predicting it right?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

So its out with a horrible 2008 which sent Ireland spiralling into economic peril and in with 2009 which promises to be a whole lot worse?!?

So just to cheer you up I though I would give some links on interesting things to look forward to in 2009 - as the curse goes - may you live in interesting times...

Whats going to be hot in Java

Some elearning predictions

If you have some opinions on the future of learning communities and technology perhaps you could contribute to the upcoming research symposium in Hong Kong
The symposium is not until March, in the meantime you can post your opinion as a response to this months big question on learning circuits