27 June 2010

SCORM: The Basics

When first learning about Instructional Design, I found the United States military played a key role in the development of the discipline. During WWII, America had to quickly train an army, and thus much of the research and progress in the field truly began. I read quotes from German officers stating they (Germany) severely underestimated The United States' ability to rapidly and effectively train an army. So, we can see why the Department of Defense would put a premium on R&D for training. Given this, it seems reasonable to me to look to the Department of Defense for excellent information about the theory and development of Instructional Materials.

SCORM is an acronym for Sharable Content Object Reference Model and originated from the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative developed by the Department of Defense in 1997. Many of us are familiar with Learning Management Systems (LMS). Moodle and Blackboard are probably the most well known, but I would guess Drupal, with it's open source format, could be customized to be an excellent LMS. SCORM seeks to establish standards so that "lessons" can have universal "plug and play" capabilities across LMS. This allows for greater efficiency when distributing instructional materials online. We can eliminate the need to develop multiple lessons on the same subject, instead having one "best" lesson that can be shared across thousands of users, operating systems, and servers. Furthermore, SCORM is not just for military applications, its use has spread to business, Higher Education, and K- 12. The writing is on the wall: instructional designers can ignore SCORM at their peril. The efficiency and quality implied by such a model is hard to discount.

I think Philip Dodds, chief architect of SCORM sums it up the best: "The whole idea of SCORM is to have a set of technical standards that will allow learning content to interoperate across multiple products, environments and tools, and to make it easier to discover and use such content."

Here's a great introductory video; links at the bottom.

Philip Dodds on SCORM

09 June 2010

Visual Tools for Representing Data

While studying ID, I am finding helpful software tools for visually representing data. The first, Inspiration, was suggested by our professor.

This software helps the user to represent ideas with flow charts, and is of particular value to those in ID developing ideas within the ADDIE framework. Sure, you can build flow charts in Word, but this software, being dedicated to the task, makes it painless. Make your life easier and buy a copy. After all, we are "saving time through technology."

I found Tableau while googling about data. You know you've got it bad when you're googling about data. This find was exciting, because the software is free, and used by large companies like The Wall Street Journal. The way Tableau takes raw data and creates an infographic is nothing short of magic. Do yourself a favor and head over to the Tabeau site and look at some demos.

I haven't downloaded it yet, but I can barely wait to begin creating infographics with this software. I think it will yield valuable assets when making the case for instructional needs and opportunities.

These two programs deserve their own category in the sidebar, and so I will create one called "Visualization Tools."

After downloading Tableau I come to find there is no version for the Mac!!!!