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On the right side of the page is a navigation bar with links and other things related to education and technology.

If you have time visit my Texas Education Exchange wiki!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring Semester 2010...adios!

It finally happened. I lost a week. Not just any week, the last week of classes for the semester! Did my Google Calendar hiccup? Maybe it was my iPhone that transported me to the future, one week into the future. (Darn that Steve Jobs!) I'm reaching out for an excuse and there isn't one.

This was a good semester. Well, all the semesters have been good, but perhaps it works out that as the semesters pass the knowledge base grows and there is a better appreciation of the material.

With three classes to go and graduation planned for December 2010 I have to bid farewell to Spring semester 2010 and march on into the future.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

New e-Course: Using Google Docs

I am excited to unveil a new e-course called Using Google Docs. This course is aimed at those folks who are unfamiliar with or never heard of Google Docs(R).

I would like to thank a few people whose advice and input were invaluable to me. First a huge thank you goes to my wife and my children. They were both patient with my tantrums and served as my formative evaluators. Yes it fell upon them to be brutally honest with me and they relished in pointing out some things.

During this semester I was required to seek out the assistance of a field supervisor. Mr. Garrod of the Keelworks Foundation had no idea who I was before receiving my email asking about an internship program. He freely shared knowledge acquired from being an instructional designer in the commercial e-learning industry for over a decade.

Dr. Pan from the University of Texas at Brownsville was my professor this semester. Being the first time the course was offered I felt it was incumbent upon me to do well. Dr. Pan was an excellent facilitator during this course. He learned each student's strengths and weaknesses and used them to wring the best out of each of us. I know this is very true in my case. This e-learning capstone course is a model that the entire Ed Tech program should follow. Build a solid foundation in theory and skills, then spend several semesters creating e-courses.

Although this is closer to the end of my post than the beginning the people I thank here are critical to the success of any instructional designer. This group of people made up the formative evaluation small group. These individuals spent their own time evaluating the course without compensation of any sort. For your hard work I thank you again.

Don't hesitate to check out the Using Google Docs e-course. Link to it, pass it on to friends and enemies alike!

Have a wonderful day!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eeek! No, it's not a mouse...

The Spring 2010 semester is drawing to a close. That means the end is near. So according to the course calendars and my to-do list it is time to develop a sheen of sweat on my brow. Perhaps panicking may not be the option that produces top results, but at the moment it is the best option I can think of.

I believe all is going well. That is my story and I'm sticking to it until the grades are released.

School aside, my real concern is having something remotely as interesting as school for my kids!

My daughter already has her camps scheduled at two universities, UT Austin and Tarleton State. She is spending two wonderful weeks playing her flute. It was her idea and she is excited about it! She was having a hard time deciding between band camps and math/science camps. Maybe summer 2011 its math/science, since med school is her self-stated goal.

My son approached me the other day and announced he wants to learn a programming language and how to make apps for the iPhone. That may sound odd to some folks but he wanted the Photoshop 4 for Christmas. So I spent some of my precious time researching camps for him. I found two camps, Programming C++ at St Edward's University (my alma mater) and Game Development for the iPhone at UT Austin (my almost alma mater). Spending my precious time was far easier than turning loose of the hard-to-come-by dollars needed to pay for this!

When they are not in camp the University of Texas at Austin Sailing Team has a sailing clinic every Sunday morning on Lake Lady Bird Johnson in downtown Austin. They are avid sailors so Sunday mornings my wife and I will take turns shuttling them.

A parenthood, what would we do with the time and money spent on our children? Hmmmm, what would we do?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Using Blackboard Tutorial

It was pretty simple. Build a course inside Blackboard(R). I think that part went (is going) well.

Somewhere in past education classes I vaguely remember that it is recommended that we (course developers) learn a thing or two about the learners.

This bit of information became very important when I asked a group of potential learners to be a part of the formative evaluation process. The subject matter wasn't a big problem, maneuvering through the course material wasn't much of a challenge.

The problem most of the evaluators encountered was that they were unfamiliar with Blackboard(R).

I have learned that the entire corporate world does not use Blackboard(R). None of the evaluators were familiar with the program and I was reminded of that vague memory regarding learning a little about your students.

Ah but not to fear, I quickly recovered and put together a tutorial introducing the learner to Blackboard(R) and the features that are needed to be successful in the course I am developing.

If anyone is interested in seeing the tutorial follow this link, http://www.jlazyl.com/files/using_blackboard_demo.swf.

The tutorial was created with Adobe Captivate(R). I used the text to voice feature to create the narration.

Text to voice is a nice feature. Pretty much it involves typing the script into a text box that you want narrated. It is especially valuable when crafting a well narrated piece.

The program gives the option for a female or a male voice. The voices lack inflection and sound a little computerized.

In a future post I will present Adobe Captivate(R) and post a simulator for anyone to play with.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

5 Suggestions When Building an e-Course

There are many tips or pointers for people building e-courses. I will add mine to the mix. These are based on personal experience.

1. Keep it simple silly. Just because you have the technology doesn't mean you have to use it all every time.
2. Don't bite off more than you can chew. This also goes with number one about simplicity, keep the lesson short and only focus on one training objective. Keep breaking it down to the lowest common denominator.
3. Nothing is ever as quick as you think it is. It takes time to build a course and more time to build an e-course, period.
4. The devil is in the details. Be neurotic about the course material and appearance. Pay attention to the alignment, spacing, eye appeal, voice overs, scripting and more. Adopt the standards for the Internet and the standardized vocabulary to make it easier for the learner to follow and understand.
5. Test it out on others. You may understand exactly what you mean and ace the e-course every time. Let others be the judge about the understandability of your course. After reflecting on the comments and deciding which warrant implementation, do it. Implement those changes that will improve the e-course.

I am building an e-course for a client and have found that keeping these five rules in mind is helping considerably. There are many more but five to seven things to remember is stretching my capabilities.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Making an e-learning solution for a client

In the capstone class for the e-Learning Certificate a requirement is to find a field supervisor who will work with you to develop an e-learning solution.

Last fall I came across a non-profit organization called KeelWorks.org. The primary KeelWorks mission is to change learning outcomes for the economically disadvantaged. I really wanted to do an internship with them as an instructional designer. They take on new interns monthly. The interns work in groups of five developing an e-learning object.

Being in graduate school taking two classes per semester and working 53+ hours per week didn't leave much time for KeelWorks. Family got whatever time I had left.

The spring semester of 2010 found me in the e-learning capstone class and looking for a field supervisor. Since I am a firefighter and don't have access to someone in the education field who could be a field supervisor, I contacted KeelWorks. My proposal to them was that I could create an e-learning solution for them. The executive director quickly responded and asked that I build an e-learning product that will expose new interns to Google(R) Docs.

It is a wonderful experience working with a "client" developing a product. The one thing I did not do, and the field supervisor addressed, was to make certain that there was a design plan agreed to by all parties.

Just like any other contractor, be it a plumber, house builder, or even a lawyer, the designer has to know what the client expects and the client has to know what the designer is planning to do. Seems simple enough.

Something to keep in mind if anyone is planning on getting into the instructional design contractor field.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Time is Marching On!

I looked at a calendar today and realized that today is March 1! Yes I was surprised, shocked would be a better way to put it.

Taking two classes while working and keeping a presence in the family is a challenge. But not as big a challenge as what was and continues to be experienced by the men and women who march into our wars.

Tomorrow is Texas Independence Day. I thought it fitting to acknowledge the sacrifices and bravery that colored our wonderful state's history. As with every state in our union and every country in our world, our history is rich and full of tales that grab our collective attention.

Although it isn't a widely celebrated holiday, take a moment to remember our heroes. Not just the Texas heroes, but the heroes throughout history the world over.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The EDUCAUSE SWR Conference 2010

The EDUCAUSE conference was exciting!

I attended a pre-conference seminar titled Meeting the Challenge: Designing Engaging and Active Online Courses. It was presented by Dr. Patricia Mcgee of UT San Antonio and Dr. Leah Wickersham of Texas A&M Commerce.

The Wicked Problems of Online Course Design and Delivery were introduced and the top ten were presented. The discussion revolved on how to avoid these problems.

An e-learning tool box was presented as well. It is located on the web at http://elearningtools.wetpaint.com/.  In this toolbox are resources for educators.

The opening remarks were presented by Dr. Darcy Hardy, Director of the UT Telecampus. Her presentation was titled The Forever Changing Role of IT in Online Education. She spoke as a user of technology and explored how IT and academics should work together to solve problems with innovative solutions.

Oh, and to make the week even more special an airplane flew into a building in my district and I found myself and the rest of my fire company on the scene for approximately seven hours!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

EDUCAUSE Southwest Regional Conference 2010

Boy does time fly! When I first registered for the EDUCAUSE Southwest Regional Conference 2010 back in November 2009 it seemed like a long time until the event. Well, as I write this it is less than a week away!

The following description of the conference is taken directly from the EDUCAUSE website:

"This year's conference, "The Ever-Evolving Role of IT," will explore the creative, effective, and sustainable ways that the higher education IT community is transforming infrastructure, enterprise services, and teaching and learning while coping with financial challenges. It has never been more important for us to provide reliable, efficient, and timely IT solutions while effectively and transparently communicating what we're doing for customers. This conference will provide real-world examples, insights, and discussions regarding ways to succeed within the educational environment.

Preconference seminars begin the morning of February 17, with the full conference program February 17–19, 2010. The program follows five key tracks:

•E–Research and E–Scholarship

•The Evolving Role of IT and Leadership

•Managing the Enterprise

•Teaching and Learning

•Corporate and Campus Solutions"
I will be attending on February 17 and participate in the pre-conference and the regular seminars. This will be exciting! There will be a post sharing what I will learn.
Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Teacher Resources - HotChalk

HotChalk is a learning environment for K-12 teachers, students and parents that includes a learning management system (LMS), a rich library of teacher-contributed lesson plans, premium digital content, and professional development for teachers in a Web-based environment. Available through any Internet browser, the HotChalk Learning Environment is an easy to use system and brings teachers, students and parents together to improve education.
Check out this website by clicking here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Digital Nation a Frontline Episode from PBS

My son and I watched a Frontline episode titles Digital Nation on PBS.org. It seemed appropriate that we played the show on a laptop computer connected to the Internet wirelessly while sitting on the couch in the living room.

He is a digital native (running through the forest naked grunting native) and I am a Digital Immigrant (arrived via airplane not ship). Both of us think we're tech savvy. It is possible that he may be more so than me. I said it is possible, but since I am the Dad it is not likely. ;-)

Back to the show. During and after the program we had really good discussions. I am coming from the "go play in the backyard" childhood and he is living the "have a Macbook, iPhone, Adobe CS4 suite" childhood. Because of our differing childhoods (he is 14+) it was easy for each of us to relate to those people and ideas that represented our beliefs.

I will always be a believer that everything changes and evolves. Change isn't free. There is always a cost associated with it. As we barrel deeper into the 21st Century the changes seem to be coming at us ever quicker and the losses appear to be great.

Often times technology is portrayed as being the demon that is stealing our minds. There are some who will cite that the young people of tomorrow are not reading books, loosing the ability to write cursive, do not have the ability to write whole sentences, have a short attention span, and addicted to technology. Maybe it is really an issue of responsible uses of technology.

Perhaps it is our responsibility, both individually and collectively, to make good decisions. For instance, in my youth reading books was all I wanted to do. I would read one book after another. I was a chain-reader. In fact, according to my mother I would not get enough sleep at night because of this addiction.

I had to learn, as all humans do, to back away from the books! Really, I had to learn to stop reading when it was time to retire for the night. It wasn't the reading that caused my problems, it was the poor decision-making. "Put down the book and go to sleep" can be updated to "turn off the computer and go to sleep!"

So the conversations my son and I had revolved around personal responsibility and good decision-making skills. As a parent it is my responsibility to teach him sound decision-making skills and to take responsibility for them. Those skills apply to all facets of life, not just tech gadget use. We teach our kids to eat healthy, don't smoke, don't drive too fast, do homework before play, and on and on. The common thread in all these themes is to make good decisions.

But what do I know? Watch the program and draw your own conclusions and have your own discussions.

Frontline - Digital Nation on PBS.org

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dual Credit for Texas High School Students

A Texas high school junior or senior may take college courses and receive dual credit, that is credit toward graduation from high school and college credit. Tuition and fees are waived for qualifying courses. A high school student could earn up to 12 hours of college credit at no cost (other than books and supplies).

Dual credit frequently asked questions

Interested high school students should contact their high school counselor to get more information.

Opportunities for Texas junior and senior high school students to take college courses while in high school are available. Below are links to various institutions that offer dual enrollment courses. Many institutions waive tuition and fees:

Texas Technical State Technical College Tech Connect - offers online courses

Texas Virtual School Network - offers online courses

University of Texas at Arlington

University of Texas at Permian Basin - offers online courses

State U (collaboration of UT Arlington and Lamar College) - offers online courses

Click here for a college locator!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Texas Veterans' College Tuition Exemption

 Dear Texas Veterans,

You may be able to pay for yours or your children's college tuition with the Hazlewood exemption. The exemption waives tuition at state colleges and other state supported schools. This can be used forassociate, bachelor, graduate and post-graduate level classes as well as law and medical schools.

Below is information about the Act from the Texas Veteran Commission, http://www.tvc.state.tx.us/Hazlewood.html.

The Hazlewood Act provides qualified veterans, spouses, and children with an education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition and fee exemptions at state supported colleges or universities. (Spouses only if the veteran is disabled or died.)

To be eligible to receive a Hazlewood Act Exemption, a veteran must:
  • Have been a Texas resident upon entry into the military, entered the service in the State of Texas, or declared Texas as his or her home of record;
  • Have a military discharge of honorable or general, under honorable conditions;
  • Served at least 181 days of active duty service (excluding training);
  • Not be in default on an education loan made or guaranteed by the State of Texas and not in default on a federal loan if that default is the reason the student cannot use his or her federal veterans’ benefits.  
Additional information and requirements can be found in the following pamphlet:

Hazlewood Act: Frequently Asked Questions

Transferability of Benefits (Legacy Program)

Eligible veterans may assign unused hours of exemption eligibility to a child under certain conditions. To be eligible, the child must:
  • Be a Texas resident,
  • Be the biological child, stepchild, adopted child, or claimed as a dependent in the current or previous tax year,
  • Be 25 years or younger on the first day of the semester or term for which the exemption is claimed (unless granted an extension due to a qualifying illness or debilitating condition), and
  • Make satisfactory academic progress in a degree, certificate, or continuing education program as determined by the institution.
  • If a child to whom hours have been delegated fails to use all of the assigned hours, a veteran may re-assign the unused hours that are available to another dependent child.
Veterans' spouses are not eligible to receive a transfer of unused hours.

For more info visit http://www.texedex.com/!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Instructional Design Internships

If you are looking for real life experience in the Instructional Design field take a look at KeelWorks.

KeelWorks is a non-profit organization that teaches life skills via the Internet to children of all ages and economic backgrounds.

As an intern you will be part of a design team. The design team takes an idea and makes a completed learning object.The intern gains valuable experience collaborating via the Internet and working on a project from inception to completion.

In return for completing an internship, KeelWorks will be a job reference giving the intern a distinct advantage over many other job seekers.

Take a look at what KeelWorks has to offer at http://www.keelworks.org/.

Have a wonderful day!


Technology Summer Camps

If you are looking for technology summer camps for the kids here are links to two residential camps at St Edward's University and the University of Texas at Austin, and the third link is to an online camp.




For other locations where these camps are offered follow these links:



This link is to Giant Campus. It offers online high school classes in technology including game design:


There is so much to learn and do for kids today that I am, well, jealous!

Have a great day!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spring 2010

Happy new year!

A new semester has started and I feel the anxiety that presents at the start of every semester. Actually, it is giddiness born of excitement mistaken for anxienty. I really love school...that's why I'm still a student.

Some changes and additions have been made to the http://www.texedex.com/ website. I am trying to keep up with it. Narrowing my focus should help me keep on task.

At present the site is a general education clearinghouse. The theme may change by graduation (May 2011).

I am becoming more addicted to Adobe Flash(R). I have the Adobe Creative Suite 4, bought last spring for a Flash class. It is so impressive that my son wanted it for Christmas. He is learning Photoshop(R) in school this year so I sprung to get him the CS4 version for Mac.

I am taking two classes this semester. One is the capstone class for the e-Learning certificate offered by the university. Both will keep me very busy, so busy that I will once again be surprised that the semester has ended!

Have a wonderful day!