I am always on the look out for new things to learn, so I was kind of excited about this assignment to research a variety of e-learning opportunities on the web.

1. Watercolor and ink drawing- Video tutorial

Over the break this past week I wanted to have some fun with more fine art type of stuff, and I got the idea that I want to try my hand at doing a watercolor and ink drawing. But I quickly remembered that I haven’t done anything with watercolor before and I’ve heard it can be kind of a challenging medium.  So, I wanted to look into doing some tutorials first. It was actually a little hard to find good tutorials on this topic, but I finally found this one by Mark Crilley that I think is excellent.

watercolor Crilley videotaped himself painting and drawing, a la Bob Ross, and broke down how to do each part. Before watching this tutorial I was wondering if you would put down the watercolor first or the ink first. I think Crilley makes a good argument for putting down the watercolor first.

I really enjoy watching good video tutorials because I can pause and rewind and go over things that I need more review on. I want to integrate either some type of video or screen cast in my e-learning site because I think it is really valuable for the user.

2. Stanford University- iTunes Podcast

I think it’s really cool that universities are now starting to put their courses online and allowing some portions of these courses free to the general public.  I wanted to see what Stanford University had to offer for free on iTunes, so I checked out some of the libary of podcasts that are available.  I decided to choose a completely random subject, so I chose a title that caught my eye. The podcast I listened to was called, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Robert Sapolsky. [Here’s an article I found about Sapolsky]

I think a key component to a good podcast is having a great speaking voice. Maybe this is all too obvious of a point, but I have found it hard to get into podcasting because I’m much more of a visual learner, rather than an auditory learner. I have tried to check out podcasts before, but haven’t really gotten into it… until now. In this podcast, Sapolsky completely sucked me and engaged me into a subject matter that I don’t have any experience with and really haven’t given much thought to before. Sapolsky is a fantastic storyteller and is actually really funny, but also is clearly very knowledgeable about the subject matter. In listening to this podcast, I picked up some interesting ideas about how to manage stress and why stress can lead to bigger problems.

If I do any kind of podcast in my e-learning site, I want to do my best to make my voice animated and engaging, and to set the scene for the listener. I have a lot of respect for people that can tell a good story, which might not be my forte, but maybe I’ll give it the old college try.

3. Lynda.com – Screencast

Most of you probably know that Lynda.com has really great tutorials on a million different types of software. I currently don’t have a subscription, unfortunately, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Lynda has free video podcasts on iTunes.  Almost all of the tutorials on Lynda are done by screencast, which I think is an awesome way of teaching people how to use software. Compared to trying to learn software from a book, I think this is a much more effective way of learning.

I chose a podcast on iTunes that was involving Actionscript 3.0, which is something I’ll be learning about this quarter in the second Flash class. Specifically, the screencast dealt with using particles in AS3, which looks really cool by the way, and I want to learn more about.  Screencasts enable the user to easily see how to accomplish what the instructor is doing. This particular screencast was a little hard to follow if you didn’t have the source file with the AS3 code, but it was still worth watching.

Again, if I do a screencast, I’ll want to make sure I organize a script ahead of time and speak with energy. I have done some tutorials on Lynda where the speaker’s voice was a little lackluster and it made the experience less enjoyable. Also, I think it’s important to break up tutorials into smaller, more easily digestible segments for the user.

4.  Crisis of Credit – Motion Graphics


I’m not sure if it totally fits with the curriculum of this class, but I think motion graphics are an awesome way to facilitate e-Learning. I found out about this video late last quarter and I thought it was a really effective way of breaking down a complex problem. The designer, Jonathan Jarvis, does a great job in creating entertaining and unique graphics for a subject matter that usually isn’t shown in that kind of light. The narrator in the video, John Levoff, who kind of reminds me of Kevin Spacey, is able to make the subject matter come to life. I feel like after watching this video I have a much clearer understanding of how the credit crisis came about.

I would love to create something like this for an e-learning application. I haven’t quite thought of a complex problem to break down, so if anyone has any ideas let me know :).

5.  The LouvreFlash e-Learning


The Louvre has this awesome way to learn more about its paintings with this interactive Flash presentation.  Specifically, I checked out, “A closer look at The Virgin and Child with Chancellor Rolin.” As the narrator speaks about a specific part of the painting, the animation zooms in and follows what they’re speaking about. This seems like a really interesting way to learn about art history.  I love that there are many different ways to learn within this application. You can watch and pause the video, as well as read the accompanying text, you can click on specific parts of the painting to zoom in, and you can look at a timeline and bibliography related to the painting.

I would love to create something like this because I think it’s a powerful learning tool. My Flash skills might not quite be there yet, but I might be able to create something similar.