Hot on the heels of Flash- Dreamweaver 8.0.1 Updater Available

Just after I wrote about the Flash Lite 2 and the related Flash 8 update, I found out that a Dreamweaver update is available:

Scott Fegette: Dreamweaver 8.0.1 Updater Available: “Attention, Dreamweaver-wranglers- you can download the Dreamweaver 8.0.1 updater for Mac and Windows ASAP from the Dreamweaver Support Center, which addresses many reported issues with the 8.0 release”

Good stuff.

Too early for mobile learning? Or is it?

This domain is going on 3 years old. I got it in February of 2003 expecting to start a whole site on Mobile Elearning. With Flash on PDA’s and heading to phone I then thought the timing was right. It was definitely too early. I think we’re getting close now though. Since this is Mobilemind, maybe it’s time to share some links and resource for information on Mobile Learning.

Some of these resources are getting a bit dated, but they are good places to start investigating mobile learning.

  • Mobile Learning Example – Example of useful, relevant practical elearning. American Sign Language Finger Spelling available for Pocket PC’s in Flash 6 and Flash Lite 1.1
  • Elearnopedia m-Learning – As of this writing it seems like this was last updated in 2004, but the information on this ADL Co-Lab site is still useful.
  • Mobile Learning Group resource center – A site that has useful links to research and resource for those interested in mobile learning.
  • M-Learning Project– Resources and demos from a European research project that generated mobile learning in support of adult and continuing education.
  • Mobilearn – Another European project. This project focuses more on the collaborative, on-demand, and location-based aspects of mobile learning. Giunti is acting as coordinator and they have been very active in the mobile learning space.

Send me a note at mobilemind@pobox.com if you have an interesting mobile elearning project that you would like to share.

Mobilemind RSS Feed Change- January 12, 2006

Just an administrative note that the proper feed is now: http://mobilemind.net/rss/index.xml

In an attempt to somewhat satisfy Feed Validator, I changed the file extension of my feed to “.xml” instead of “.rdf”. This eliminates a few of the Feed Validator errors. I’m hoping that will make things more palatable to technorati and the Macromedia/Adobe MXNA Feed Aggregator.

Simulations are Speaking

Expect to see increased use of animated, speaking characters as guides, customers and colleagues in elearning this year and next. The tool are becoming more powerful, more approachable and more pervasive.

Output to Flash SWF format makes it much easier to incorporate these characters into elearning, whether you use Authorware, Breeze, Captivate, Dreamweaver, Flash, Lectora Publisher or Toolbook.

A year ago I posted about Animated Talking Characters for Elearning mentioning Oddcast and Sculptoris. Recently, the actionscript Hero (ash) linked back to my post and mentioned another tool along those lines from CodeBaby.

Vcom 3D also has tools for interactive characters that I really want to learn about. I look forward to seeing (and hearing more from them later this month at the AICC meetings in San Diego.

I saw a really impressive demo of Vcom characters during a NATO panel meeting at UCLA last Fall. Multiple virtual communicators interact with each other and use culturally-specific gestures (yea/nay nods or head motions) synchronized to their speech while presenting or responding to learners. The demo was part of a prototype for training soldiers who need to have dialogs with diverse cultures at checkpoints and in other situations.

It was really cool to see spouses glance at each other while speaking, or catch a child showing deference to a parent (if only it were so consistent in real life). I can’t wait to see how this has advanced since then, and how it might be attainable for more mainstream elearning applications.

Speaking of Simulations

There is alot going on with simulations lately.

Learning Circuits Blog- Clark Aldrich and others have been having a running dialog on the ASTD Learning Circuits Blog.

I particularly liked the “SimWord of the Day” series that started back around the 18th of December 2005

AICC Simulation Forum- The AICC will be hosting a mini-forum on Simulations during the AICC San Diego meetings January 30 – February 3, 2005. There will also be 2 full days devoted to researchers, organizations and vendors in the simulation space. I look forward to catching up with some of my Adobe (Macromedia) colleagues who will be presenting.

Simulation Interface Standards (Study Group)- The IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (IEEE LTSC) is working together with the SISO SAC (Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization Standards Activity Committee). Together they are evaluating additional standards are appropriate and feasible for elearning simulations. Together they issued a call for position papers, which is found here on the IEEE LTSC site. Related discussion will be held February 2-3, 2005 and co-located with the AICC meetings.

Talking Head Video is Boring… or is it?

Blog reader Paul Colombo of webLearning wrote to let me know this Jakob Nielsen article was recently slashdotted.

Summary:
Eyetracking data show that users are easily distracted when watching video on websites, especially when the video shows a talking head and is optimized for broadcast rather than online viewing.

That quote is from Jakob Nielsen’s post. In email, Paul indicated that he notices business managers often want talking-head video with an executive message in compliance training. Yet, a still picture of the person and supporting text often works best– clear, less distracting and highly effective.

I certainly agree with Paul on that, given all the typical costs associated with video. However, I think I disagree with the interpretation of the esteemed Mr. Nielsen– talking head video isn’t boring, it is, however, something people are very good at processing and multi-tasking. I actually like having the talking head and being able to access additional information. If I hear something in the voice, I can jump back to look at the face. I think the talking head is particular effective if the content addresses the affective domain. To me at least, such video obviously has a place in learning. However, as Paul implies, a still image can be just as effective as conveying the source and significance of a message for instructional purposes– and often less distracting and more cost efficient.

Dreamweaver 8 vs Nvu 1.0

Briefly, Dreamweaver 8 wins hands down. This is a follow-up to my earlier post about tools from PortableApps.com.

I really wanted to like and use Nvu, since I’ve come to love Firefox and Thunderbird. Nvu has the right pedigree, extensibility, speed, rendering and more. Nvu just isn’t as fully featured as it need to be and requires too many compromises and inconveniences for daily work. Currently, there aren’t enough extensions to patch those issues either. For me the key issues were:

  • No “round-tripping” of code; Nvu messes with your indents and line breaks.
  • No ASP/CFM/JSP/PHP/XML editing; I want code highlighting and hints for more than just HTML. And if I wanted to use Eclipse for that, I would have started in Eclipse tools.
  • No local/remote sync; you can work with either local files OR a remote/FTP location
  • No “offset” when editing a remote site; My web site is NOT at the root level of my server. Unlike Dreamweaver Nvu doesn’t have a convenient, way of indicating that “http://mobilemind.net/” is equivalent to “ftp://ftp.mobilemind.net/www-root”. In such cases Nvu gets confused and sees any tags with relative references to the root like “/images/logo.gif” as broken links.

I will still use Nvu as my “thumbdrive HTML editor,” but even that requires a few critical add-ons.

  • HandCoder– Adds advanced source editing tools including code formatting (which requires HTML Tidy), a Dw-like tag structure status line, and tools to link to external editors (for text file formats).
  • Nvu Site Manager ConText– Adds context menus to the Nvu site manager to launch external editor (for ANY file type found in your site). Similar to Launchy extension for Firefox/Thunderbird.
  • URL Cleaner– Nvu extension to transform local URLs (file:///) into relative URLs.
  • HTMLHeader– (Note: Links to XPI file, DON’T click and accidentally install into your copy of Firefox.)- an extension for editing the header of your HTML files

Conveniently, one of those critical add-ons has a FAQ that reiterates most of my gripes (see http://fabiwan.kenobi.free.fr/HandCoder/#faq).

Cool Stuff- PortableApps.com

A few weeks ago, I had to part with my laptop and I was worried about getting internet withdrawal symptoms. While I was waiting for my new laptop to arrive, I set up a 1GB USB thumb drive with Firefox and all my bookmarks stored on it for browsing. I also set-up Thunderbird for POP3 and IMAP email access, and GAIM a multi-protocol IM client (simultaneously supports AOL, Google, MSN and Yahoo messaging).

This is way cool, I can walk up to any decent Windows machine, pop in the USB thumb drive, and voila– all my browsing, email & IM clients are raring to go. The only downside is that you must scan that portable drive for viruses VERY carefully if you’ve used it on any public machine.

I had heard of the USB drive approach over at the FurryGoat blog about one year ago, but never got around to doing it. Now I had good reason to do it and while looking for something about Thunderbird on Mozillazine, I found out about all the other applications that John Haller has helped set-up for this sort of use.

     PortableApps.com – Your Digital Life, Anywhere™

PortableApps.com is a community site devoted to the development, promotion and use of portable applications. The site was created by John T. Haller (aka me), the developer behind numerous portable applications (like Portable Firefox, Portable Thunderbird and Portable OpenOffice.org) as a way to centralize the knowledge and development efforts of multiple portable application efforts.

Though I expect to be getting my new copy of Dreamweaver 8 real soon, I was intrigued to see that there is a “portable” version of the HTML editor Nvu (pronounced en-view). This looks like a fairly compelling open-source offering for web-page editing; tabbed document interface, W3C validation, spell check, FTP site management, CSS support and more.

I’m curious to hear if any open-source advocates in the elearning community have tried Nvu. I’m going to give it a shot later this week and report back.