Make the most of online tutorials

We live in a visual world. We have access to devices and the internet. Nobody needs to be stuck. We haven’t quite got to the stage where we are capitalising on the value of video tutorials . Some people are still text based and want text information. Most people have shifted to ingesting video information and it’s worth its weight in gold:

You can find out quickly how to do things
You can promote information to fill in learning gaps
You can highlight relevant information

Different age groups view technology differently at the moment. Older people would probably think it is not very sensible, secure or appropriate to be doing their banking with phones and tablets. It would seem too casual for them and not the way they have been brought up with the highly valued bank book, the important banking and financial meetings and the belief that financial dealings are a very serious business. Younger people would want the ease and convenience of device banking because they are time poor and have a different way of looking at it. Not everything should be done online because there is real value for all concerned to have genuine people contact with real conversations. Online videos , though, can smooth the way to getting people more comfortable with how they can do things differently. All businesses and organisations need their little video tutorials about how to make the most of their services or ideas. Video tutorials help people to know how to do things so they can participate. Trawling through FAQs can often leave people as baffled as they started unless they are well organised and presented. Even FAQs could have videos to help people navigate interfaces and thinking around content.

The how to create a website video by WordPress has had nearly a million views. It was well worth the making of the video and the comments attest to that. Backing up online content with video help is a good way to engage everyone as the aitsl site clearly demonstrates. Videos initiate a culture of participation and can shift thinking and practice. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook all have video capability and so we can all share our thinking, ideas and knowledge in a very easy way to create those connected conversations which will move us all forward instead of dividing us. In truth, there is no generational gap. There is generational advantage which can be shared now across the internet. Every generation has its strengths and videos and images are an efficient way of making those connections.

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Virtual schools

There has been some talk about increasing online options for students. It needs to stay like that until clear and successful models have been established for online learning. There are then the issues around online learning in virtual schools like isolation, social engineering, social justice, care giving, duty of care, cyber and real life safety. It is going to come and it is going to happen but we are the ones who need to drive this because we want technology to work for us not for us to be entrapped and enslaved to technology. Of course it’s cheaper to run online schools. It saves about half the costs. That would make it an attractive option for some but we need to think about the other costs. It would suit some students well, you just know it. It would suit some teachers better. There is no longer a one size fits all so there is no reason to ignore the benefits of webinars, online conferencing and communication tools which we now have. It needs to be thoroughly thought out and planned and then carefully trialled.

Good online tools for learning provide quality content, report on progress, create local and global activities, allow work to be customised and set and then report on participation. They allow student and staff input , participation and feed back. They have a proven track record. Students can ignore all of that, though, and so someone needs to be monitoring participation and progress. SBS looked at Aurora Online school and its progress earlier this year. That is a school which runs synchronous online lessons. Victoria is running online schools in languages with some success. The Victorian virtual schools network is also running other online subjects via video conferencing tools. This keeps the people aspect of learning going. Babble has a parent point of view on virtual schools which is worth the read. Geoff Masters has written an excellent piece about the challenges for Australian schools and that looks at flexible learning arrangements. There has also been some useful research into the differences between online and traditional learning  by Joseph Cavanaugh and Stephen J Jacquemin. Kevin Gumienny  has looked  at what you really need to run successful online courses and has isolated the issues well. Not that you could ever quantify or objectify the lifelong impact of a teacher who has written on your life.

Online learning has to be targeted, effective and able to achieve its goal. It has to involve the learner and for that to happen it has to meet the needs of the learner . Participation both cerebrally and emotionally is important. A learner needs to have input and help. Online learning tools need to consult the learner about how to progress and improve the delivery. That two way conversation again – create content, share, gain feedback, improve.

Web Design for Web Developers Course

Web Design for Web Developers When I first started the Web Design for Web Developers Course with Jonas Stedtmann on Udemy I wasn’t sure if it was going to be good or not. It starts off slowly and so I was wondering. By the end of the course I was really pleased and had learned a lot. This is the first Udemy course I have done which offers back up by way of downloads. I was able to download a free e-book by Jonas Stedtmann and then the slide presentation so Jonas is the only tutor so far who has given me things which I can use as resources after the course and to have my own copy of the slides is valuable because I can go back and check what he was saying about different aspects of the course content. For an online course that is helpful. The other courses I can log in and go back through the lessons while I am online. This is a beginners’ course but what you learn is really important to being able to produce better visual content online and , in a classroom, on an electronic board. I learnt about colour psychology, white spaces , font sizes, text presentation and image selection. Teachers are using technology and it is important to have some basic understanding of how you present electronic material or how you select good websites or how you can create effective digital presentations. There are basic skills you can learn which enhance and optimise digital presentations and for effective teaching and learning it is probably wise to learn them. I really enjoyed this course in the end because it was all useful and all usable. It opens your eyes and then Jonas very gently allows you to learn what you need to know.

SEO for Beginners

SEO for BeginnersI have to thank Daragh Walsh for clarifying quite a few things about search engine optimisation on websites and pages. Each of his lectures was relevant, to the point and easy to follow. By the end of each lecture I knew what the benefit of doing it was and I knew what to do to apply the knowledge to my own situation. I didn’t particularly need the lecture on search engine optimisation for business sites but I learned a lot about how Google sets this up and so how it is working or not working for me when I am looking for a local business online. Daragh actually took the time during the course of the lectures to explain how to use the comments and questions sidebar in the Udemy courses. He is the first of the four lecturers to do that even thought they all invite you to use the question section. It is a good idea to have the sidebar but it is a better idea to explain its use and maybe each of the Udemy courses needs the first lecture to be that and one which is not counted towards the course but a generic explanation so that everyone knows what to do and is consistent in their approach. It might also help to suggest ways of using it effectively. This is my fourth free course so I have one more to do. In the four courses I have had different English language accents. This is great for anyone learning English but it is also great to see that Udemy is drawing on human resources from all over the world. In terms of what Daragh said in his SEO for Beginners , it builds authority and one of the most useful pieces of information I gleaned form this course was how to check and build authority on sites/pages. My next course is going to be Web Design for Web Developers: Build Beautiful Websites! by Jonas Schmedtmann and I am looking forward to it.

Wireframing

Wireframing with Balsamiq I have just completed  Wireframing with Balsamiq on Udemy. It was a shorter course than the others I have done . Leon Barnard was clear, effective and focussed one hundred percent on the content. As someone who delivers online courses , his voice is soothing, he does not clutter the information with anything other than what he is delivering. From that point of view it was very interesting for me to do this course. Balsamiq is the industry standard and traditional software for Wireframing . It is very effective for building mock ups for applications and websites because they are a stripped down version of how the site or app will function. Its built in capacity to make changes across elements would be effective and the fact it is all in a tool or button makes the job easier. It was good he used a music site to demonstrate its effectiveness because most of us are familiar with how we set up our online music libraries and so he could connect the new knowledge to something we knew. I used to build sites with Dreamweaver and that was very good at the time. This is so much easier.

There is other Wireframing software you can use and creativeblog gives an overview of the paid and free ones. The two free ones I really like are the Firefox add-on Pencil which you can read about here on GitHub. It is very easy to install as an add-on. The other one I like is Framebox because it has a very clear interface and you can work very cleanly with it.

Mock ups are the way to go when you want to present things visually. It will give you an idea of how to set things out on your page or slide even if you don’t want to build at app or website. It centres on improving visual literacy.It will also give you an awareness of which sites and apps to use to deliver information because you will understand the notion of clarity of delivery of information. With larger presentation projects it is good to create a mock up of how you are going to organise that information on a screen. That was another thing Leon Barnard was very good at. His screen was never cluttered or confusing. You always knew what he was doing and what he wanted you to focus on.

That is my 3rd free Udemy course so now I am down to my last two. The next one I am doing is SEO on site optimisation. You can never know enough about optimising your online site. This one is by Google so it ought to be valuable.

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