We were at Online Educa Berlin 2012

“”Online Educa Berlin annual event takes place in November. It’s one of the largest global conferences on Learning Technologies for Education and Training and an exhibition for eLearning software providers. This year there was also a first presentation of Edynco team.

The conference brought together  more than 2000 visitors from around the world, who had an opportunity to meet 78 different exhibitors.

Visitors of our stand were quite impressed by  the new approach to the learning contents presentation in a form of a Learning Map, which is the main feature of Edynco Learning platform. As you may know, Edynco doesn’t use a linear Table of Contents (i.e. chapters with subchapters) but non-linear interactive Learning Map. You can read more on Learning Map here.

Visitors noted a strong visual power of the Learning Map, which helps learners remember the structure of a learning topic based on so called spatial memory.

We have  also presented a beta version of the Andorid / iPad Edynco app which enables learners to use learning maps, watch recorded lectures or solve quizzes on their tablets or smartphones. The app will be officially available in 2nd quarter of the next year.

In addition, you can watch a short video of how a Learning Map created with Edynco works on tablets.

Second most noted Edynco feature was the ease of use, which provides subject matter experts (SME) a possibility to create the whole online course on their own. Without any programming skills they can create Learning Maps, record lectures based on PowerPoint slides, create quizzes or establish an online learning environment in the cloud.

At the end, we would like to thank everyone who stopped by our stand and supported our last steps towards the official version next year.


What are the key elements of an online course?


When discussing an online course as an organized form of education through the internet on a theoretical level, an online course consists of three components:

  1. Information
    Information in an online course is organized in such a way that it enables learners to build knowledge (e.g. understanding facts, procedures, theories,…)

  2. Communication
    If an online course does not provide a communication channel between the learner and a tutor or among all learners, then the course is just an “information dump”, where learner feels lonely and this may affect his/her overall learning experience.Communication channel (e.g. forum or email) encourages learners on their learning path and simultaneously allows us to check their understanding of information at higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains (for instance, we put a question to which learners can freely post answers or ask them to present a solution to a particular problem).
  3. Evaluation
    The purpose of each online course is to help learners achieve learning goals. Evaluation gives us a set of tools to measure whether these goals have been met or not. Conducting a final assessment by an extensive online quiz is one of the most popular ways of evaluating learners’ progress. Some subject matters require taking practical exams. A combination of both approaches is sometimes the best solution for online course evaluation.

What is content structure of an online course?

If we want to define content structure of an online course, then we quickly fall into a trap of different terms describing various content parts of the course. To illustrate, I’ll give a few:

  • module,
  • lesson,
  • learning object,
  • chapter,
  • learning content,
  • learning topic,
  • learning files,
  • learning resources.

A diversity of this set of terms is a consequence of an endless number of e-learning software providers. Each of them, who offers a course content creation, uses his/her own set of terms.

Despite this, I prefer the following course content structure:

An online course has at least one module presenting one learning topic. A module has chapters and chapters have learning contents (e.g. recorded lectures, online quizzes, animations, simulations, PDF documents) or learning resources (e.g. web links).

Chapters are organized in a linear form (e.g. table of contents) or non-linear form (e.g. learning map), which is a primary form in Edynco Learning platform.

At the end, I would like to emphasize that the presented course content structure is only a synthesis according to different structures and my own experience with online course creation.


Refurbished teaching model?

“”You’ve probably noticed that the e-learning field is witness to a new “band wagon in town” called “flipping the classroom”.

In fact, it’s some kind of an e-learning trend or teaching model founded by Salman Khan (watch this video, where Salman explains the “flipping the classroom” model).

During the past year, I’ve been observing this model with interest. Especially in terms of quality: is this model yet another marketing approach from the education industry or is it really a refurbished model of teaching, which will become quite common in the future?

Today I can state with certainty that a new teaching model is (re)born.

What is the essence of the “flipping the classroom” model?

The focus of the interaction (learner) is addressing the learning content in electronic form (i.e. video) as opposed to a classic classroom, where the focus is primarily on the teacher taking care of interaction between learners trying to tackle problems with the learning topic.

What I like the most about this model is that its developers are teachers themselves. The Economist’s article “Flipping the classroom” describes only one such case in the U.S.

What influence can such a model have on the education industry?

Last trends in formal education in the U.S. show that the idea of open digital learning content has been widely implemented. Let me list a few :

  • MITx, where well known university MIT– Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers free and open learning content from their study programs.
  • Coursera – is a web-based platform, where American universities – University of Michigan, Stanford University, University of California and Berkeley – offer free courses from their study programs.
  • Udacity – currently one of the most popular learning platforms among technology fans, where well renowned Standford University professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig started offering free courses on Artificial Intelligence and then continued with additional ones.

When learning content (course) is freely accessible on the web and its credibility is confirmed by the recognized educational organizations or by teachers, we get the key element in the “flipping the classroom model” – the responsibility for learning shifts to the learner. S/he alone is to determine when and especially how S/he will learn. Consequently, the teacher’s role changes from the learning process organizer to learning process catalyst. It’s worth mentioning that the teacher is still responsible for assessment.

At the end, I could say that the “flipping the classroom” model is not a new teaching model. However, due to the internet and the “digital natives” generation changes in education are required.

Therefore the “flipping the classroom” model may become a refurbished teaching model.