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Archive for September, 2006

Listing of tools for Learner 2.0

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Excellent listing provided at Solution Watch! Back to School with the Class of Web 2.0: Part 1

Web 2.0 tools for Organizers, Gradebooks, For Teachers, Clubs, and Management, Mathematics, Resume Building, To Do’s and Note Taking, To Do’s and Note Taking, Learning and Research and Media Sharing.

A coincidental continuation of my previous post on Learning & Learner 2.0

Written by anol

September 30th, 2006 at 7:29 am

Learning 2.0 and Learner 2.0

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A while ago Donald Clark posted an excellent mini article on Gagnes theory and the shortfall of the 50 years old theory in todays context. Here goes my take on it

Gagne claimed to have found the Nine Commandments of learning. A single method of instruction setthat applies to all five categories of learning, the secret code for divine instructional design. Follow the recipe and learning will surely follow.

Donalds interpretations and my scribbles all mashed together

1 Gaining attention

Normally an overlong Flash animation or corporate intro, rarely an engaging interactive event.

Learning 2.0:
Cut the crap get to the point
Why I need to know this?

That reminds me of this pie-chart from Kathys post

Todays world is 100 times complex than just one generation before, information tsunami is sky-rocketing, multitasking is not an added attribute anymore life demands that! You better grab my attention fast! Boing Boing and Gizmodo are waiting for me in the next 2 browser tabs! My friends are pinging on my IM clients! 30+ unread mails! Do something;be proactive to hijack my attention in the midst of this chaos of MAD (Multitasking Attention Deficit) Syndrome!

UPDATED: Motivating others: why “it’s good for you” doesn’t work from Kathy again!

Motivation not enough

Question 1: What do we want our users to do?

And no, we don’t get to say, “know more.” That’s not an action. “Like us more” is not an action. Even my favorite, “kick ass” is not an action. How many people take a course in Design Patterns and then go right back to work and write the same clunky code, reinventing the flat tire? How many customers interact with a web app and then… just leave? How many people say they care deeply about a cause, but do nothing beyond bumper-sticker activism? How many people listen to a lecture on the dangers of smoking, but keep smoking?

There is nearly always an action (or set of actions) you’re hoping users will take, and most of you already know what that is. But we also know that this sometimes involves a change in behavior, something that’s extremely hard to do. So it’s really the next question that matters more:

Question 2: How do we motivate them to do it?

That’s where broccoli and optimism come in (I promise I’ll get there in a moment).

We all know we can’t simply slap motivation on another person. All we can do is design an experience to help them motivate themselves. If we get them to spend time on our web site, and they have a good experience, but then leave without doing anything–and never come back–does it really matter that they had a Good User Experience? Is a good experience an end in itself, or is it a means to something else? For much of what we design, what matters is what happens when the clicking stops (or for many web apps, just before the clicking stops).

So, we really have two levels of motivation… motivation to interact and motivation to do something as a result of that interaction. Motivation to interact is something we’ve talked about quite a bit here… things like the flow state, levels/superpowers, spiral experience design, painting a compelling picture with clear steps to getting there, blah blah blah.

2 Stating the objective

Now bore the learner stupid with a list of learning objectives (really trainer-speak). Give the plot away and remind them of how really boring this course is going to be.

Learning 2.0:
Hugh MacLeod said it all

3 Stimulating recall of prior learning

Can you think of the last time you sexually harassed someone?

Learning 2.0:
What I need? Where I can find it? Lemme search my blog / links!
Let me ask my friends /colleagues over IM or Skype, Google it; go to Wikipedia, Yahoo and Google Groups. Search the keywords in Technorati,

4 Presenting the stimulus

Is this a behaviorist I see before me?

Learning 2.0:
If the learning experience itself is not stimulating enough I would better watch TV or Play with my Xbox!

5 Providing learning guidance

Weve finally got to some content.

Learning 2.0:
Get into conversations.
OK fine let me tell you what I already gathered from Bolgs/ Wikipedia /Other web resources. Anything else you have in mind?

You have some more content? Not a courseware right? In case you missed the boat – courseware is dead! If you have some engaging, byte size content please let me know!

I have some doubts and questions can we get into Skype/ GTalk/ Yahoo and clarify those?

6 Eliciting performance

Multiple-choice questions each with at least one really stupid option.

7 Providing feedback

Yes/no, right/wrong, correct/incorrect…try again.

8 Assessing performance

Use your short-term memory to choose options in the multiple-choice quiz.

Learning 2.0:
For 6/7/8 :I have serious problems with this! Imagine a situation – You are the product manager of a new product of your organization. You arranged an e Learning program to train your sales force. Every user/learner really liked the program (at least they said so in the smiley sheet!). Tracking systems of the LMS show excellent results and so does student evaluation. Just one problem though – after 6 months of launching the product you havent attained even 10% of the sales target! Well there may be many other factors at work here, but the point remains- without proving business results, any other measurement of the success or failure of a learning initiative is useless.

9 Enhancing retention and transfer to other contexts

Never happens! The course ends here, youre on your own mate….

You said it Donald!

Learner 2.0

My friend Daisy got nothing to do with IT, she holds 2 masters degree in Genetics and Bio-informatics. Now she is preparing for Research Fellowship entrance exam along with her day job in a Bio-informatics lab in India. One day over IM she said something like I couldnt study the whole day due to power outage. I was taken aback. What power outage got to do with study? Then she clarified NO internet means No study!!! I requested her to write up her study methodology for me and she did it! Check it out- in her own language – the study process of Learner 2.0!

Thanks Daisy!

There are a number of good biology animation websites which Ii either bookmark on my computer or Sites like and have a large collection of animation/audio/video/links on most of the common bio topics. After going through the animation with explanation/narration, the basic concepts get cleared and I proceed with reading about the topic either from the Internet or book. I prefer contents with diagram again. If the required information is available on books or easily searchable through google, its fine. If I’m not satisfied or need some more details, I generally search in the list of free and very good online bookshelf from NCBI (National Center of biology information). For example here if i search with keyword “Genetics”, see the number of hits I get :-)

It takes time to go through each of the books n search for the info needed, but by now I’m familiar with books.
For studying biology, a good illustrative diagram is very important along with the explanation. So, one more thing I do for uncommon topics is to search in Google IMAGE using the keyword, if the diagram appears to be good in the thumbnail, I follow that link and read from there. This works quite well for the uncommon topics and takes less time then normal search.
Every good site that I come across by searching or by accident ;) , I tag it in So, whenever I need them later, I can simply check my bookmarks in The tagging keyword for the bookmarks is be very useful; e.g. In my items tagged Genetics: view all, popular, recommendations….I follow the popular and recommendations links, and discover lots of interesting and informative sites. Most of the sites saved by a large number of people, are very good most of the time. I got this site of MIT OpenCourseWare saved by above 4000 people and webcast/courses (berkley). Each of these has a whole range of lecture archive with video/audio/pdf. I was like i found a treasure…lol is for saving the links, but when i want to save a particular portion of a site n compile an online note along with the URL of the sites, I use the Google notebook. Here’s one of my notebook ….I can also search n peek into other user’s notebook if its public ;) . Again, I get to know new informative sites through this. I have installed the Firefox extension installed so whenever i find good notes, I just add the imp stuff from the website into my notebook.
Sometimes, I search blogs also with keyword n bump into good sites…
Whenever I don’t feel like studying seriously, i visit the online lab sites… One of the sites is very good… one can actually do the laboratory experiment, get the result and even analyse the result . Ofcourse this may be helpful for serious study too n for refreshing the procedures of lab…….

I forgot abt online communities’ n yahoo groups…for asking in case of doubts…

again – Thanks Daisy :-)

What’s your learning ’style’?

Written by anol

September 29th, 2006 at 7:39 am

Google feed reader : Updated!

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Found at Micro Persuasion and Read/Write Web :)

Better buckle up – Bloglines!!!

Google today released big update to its feed reader. They’re characterizing their RSS reader as “your inbox for the Web,” which I kinda like. One of the big new features is that each user now gets their own public page where they can share feed items. It’s similar to Bloglines’ clip blogs. Another feature is feed discovery tool. More info is here.


UPDATE: Bloglines Does UI Upgrade Too..


Hot on the heels of the well-received Google Reader re-design, I received a tip tonight (thanks Mike Rundle) that Bloglines has also done a slight re-design. On their blog they note:

“You might have noticed a few fancy little changes we’ve made to your feed tree on the left pane today. You’ll like them even more when you learn what’s behind the scenes!

We no longer update the entire left pane when the unread or “kept as new” counts change. Now the counts update in place with a fading yellow indicator. The result is a faster, more pleasant way to cruise through your feeds, especially for those quick on the hotkeys.

We’ve decreased the time between automatic updates to your unread counts so you don’t have to press the “r” hotkey quite so often.”

It also appears to be a different typeface and a slightly ‘fancier’ look. Some nice ajax touches. This is just on the left navigation pane though – the actual reading pane stays the same. It’d be great if the ajax changes could be applied to the whole screen…

The Game is On!

Written by anol

September 29th, 2006 at 3:14 am

6 Ways to Fix a Confused Information Architecture

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Jacob’s 6 Ways to Fix a Confused Information Architecture :

When your website’s users consistently navigate to the wrong sections, you have many options for getting users back on track, from better labels to clearer structure.

When users go to the wrong section most of the time, your site obviously has an IA problem.


Six Fixes:

  1. Merge the two sections
  2. Rename the two existing sections
  3. Explain the two choices
  4. Restructure the site
  5. Move information around
  6. Add cross-reference links

Written by anol

September 28th, 2006 at 8:04 am

Posted in Information Design

3D Animation of processes inside living cells

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BioVisions at Harvard Univesity produced a neat animation of the processes taking place inside living cells.


Here goes how they did it!
Cellular Visions: The Inner Life of a Cell
What can character animators learn from those who render microscopic worlds in 3D? Plenty. By Beth Marchant

The Inner Life of a Cell, an eight-minute animation created in NewTek LightWave 3D and Adobe After Effects for Harvard biology students, won’t draw the kind of box office crowds that more ferocious˜and furrier˜digital creations did last Christmas. But it will share a place along side them in SIGGRAPH’s Electronic Theatre show, which will run for three days during the 33rd annual exhibition and conference in Boston next month. Created by XVIVO, a scientific animation company near Hartford, CT, the animation illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli.

Thanks Daisy! :-)

Written by anol

September 26th, 2006 at 4:08 am