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Comment Online education difficult to deliver effectively (Score 1) 81

"The problem with most online courses is that the vast majority of people who sign up for them never finish — they aren't engaged " - Exactly.

As an educator who pioneered online courses:, I see the same issues being repeated over and over again. It is very difficult to deliver online courses effectively. In my 20 years of experience, I have seen only one effective online delivery and that is from The SIP School who provides certification for the Session Information Protocol for VoIP.

People learn using a combination of learning styles: visual, auditory, doing and thinking. Usually one style is predominant over the others. Plus there's the participation factor: if you attended a university lecture where the instructor presented the material and you sat back and just took notes, after 3 days, you would remember about 10%. If you did a laboratory exercise, after 3 days you would remember 80%. Doing things works the best.

The SIP School example uses an animated visual presentation with a voice over. The script is available for reading and reviewing also. Periodic quizzes are provided to re-enforce the material and provide a "doing" portion. I consider The SIP School the bar for online learning over anything the institute that I work at.

You can take a demo of their material to see what excellent online training looks like:

The other issue is that online courses focus on those individuals who primarily learn by reading (visually oriented). This makes it difficult for those who learn in one of the other methods.

Comment Cisco SOHO WiFi router believe it or not! (Score 1) 427

I stumbled across the Cisco SOHO series of WiFi routers about a year ago and I have to say that they are pretty nice. I've purchased 4 of the RV180W for labs in the school that I work at to replace Linksys WRT-54G routers - some running DD-WRT. They have a very complete web GUI that covers more then you ever want to do with a router from VPNs, VLANs, QoS, Security, etc.. They are on the pricey side as coming in around $150 a pop. First Cisco product that I really like - I've been teaching enterprise Cisco ISRs and VoIP for about 10 years now.

Comment Two good business models (Score 1) 33

I like the business model that Schmooze/FreePBX has. It provides a free Linux distribution based on the Asterisk private branch exchange (PBX) VoIP telephony switch. It does about 80% of what a large company would want and pretty much what a SOHO would need. They have paid support for those that are serious about providing a telephony solution for a business.

The part that I really like is that in the pull-down menus, they have options for the paid modules which are disabled but instead are links to the specs with instructions to purchase. This is nice because you don't have to hunt all over the place to find a particular compatible module and you can easily see what is available. This form of advertising works for both Schmooze/FreePBX and the user.

They also provide weekly emails that indicate new features, howto articles and other tidbits.

Another good example is ClearOS and their "marketplace". ClearOS is a headless CentOS server that you can load up with whatever services that you need (web server, email, ftp, etc..) They have a free community edition and an enterprise edition. The basic modules are free and there are paid subscription modules. Some are very inexpensive like Zarafa - $10. You can't beat that! And of course you can pay for support.

Comment Asked to resign???? (Score 1) 124

WTF is with that? If you lie on your resume, you are terminated immediately and walked out the door. What a bunch of two faced hypocrites. When's the last time that any of you were asked to resign because you screwed up? There are rules for the 99% and then the 1% get politely wrist slapped - don't do that again and here's your pension package. This is what's wrong with business today. The top 1% can do anything they want without repercussions while the 99% pay.

Comment Re:Sorry, I'm to blame.... (Score 2) 215

Forgot to mention one last thing: assimilation of information. One thing that many educators fail to realize is that it takes time to assimilate information. People require time to learn. In between learning, they need to relax and think about the subject. Sometimes, it just means not even thinking about it for a while. They may need a couple of days, just to let it all sink in.

A typical course is presented over a period of months, a couple of days per week and only a couple of hours per day. It gives you time to assimilate the information. Crash courses typically fail because they cram the same information in the same number of hours but all at once. It becomes overwhelming!

Comment Sorry, I'm to blame.... (Score 1) 215

I pioneered online learning back in 1994 with the Internet. After a year of struggling with online learning with post secondary learners and the problems that they faced, I came quickly to the conclusion that nothing beats face to face learning. I wrote up a multipage report on the problems and presented it to the Dean of our department. The report was ignored, shelved and never read. The attitude was that I must of been doing something wrong and that they could do it better.

Almost 20 years later, the same problems are occuring for online learning, it focuses on one predominat learning style: seeing. There are 4 basic learning styles: seeing, hearing, doing and thinking. The "seeing" learning style is characterized by a person who can pickup a book or read a webpage and gather knowledge in that manner. A "hearing" oriented learning, learns by listening. They are characterized by being able to follow verbal instructions or directions easily: "go two blocks North, turn left, go 4 blocks then turn right next to the blue garbage bin, etc..".
The "doing" learning style, learns by doing the work, this is the best way to learn. Our institute is heavily loaded with lab work, up to 50% of classroom time is spent in the lab. Another way to re-inforce doing is by taking notes, either through pen and paper or laptop. The last learning style is "thinking". A person who is predominantly a thinker will have to "think" about what was said or presented to him in order to understand. They "go away" for a little while to assimilate the information then return back to the conversation. A typical reaction from a thinker is that they will briefly look away when you tell them something new.
Nobody has just one learning style, we have combinations of all 4 and are predominate with one or two.

If I gave a University theatre style lecture, no interaction with the students, straight power point presentations with powerpoint handouts already given out, the students will remember about 10-15% after 3 days. If it was a smaller class size of 30 students or less, interactive questions between the students and instructors, note taking, then after 3 days, the students will remember about 30%. If it was a lab with hands on exercises and interaction, the students will remember about 80% after 3 days.

Online learning fails by not delivering multiple learning styles and by missing the teacher/student interaction. It falls somewhere in the University large theatre learning results - that's why the high failure rate. Often, it takes a person to explain how things work. I found that the majority of students were particularly hesistant to use online tools (email, forums, blogs, twitter, 1-800 numbers) to contact the instructor to ask questions when things didn't make sense. They preferred to struggle "days" trying to figure it out until they could meet face to face.

The best learning is obviously "to do", my preference is to have no theory classes, just lab classes and pass on the information on a need to know basis. It's time to do this lab, this is what you need to know to do this. In the past, I've found that no matter how many times, you talk about a particular topic: in the classroom, online, at the beginning of a lab, it will be forgotten until the time is right and the student is ready for the information. In one course, I used to repeat the same explanation to each student in the lab when they needed to know it. I would repeat the exact same 5 minute explanation over 100 times a week. The students appreciated the one on one time and I got really good at explaining it! LOL.

The problem with having "just lab" classes, is that it flies in the face of everything that Universities teach about learning. The mantra is present the material, give an example, students practice the material and then assess the students. That is the "best practice" (I hate that phrase!) teaching method. In my labs, I don't feel that it is right to be assessed on the first time that you attempt something. Where's the learning in that? How about the first time, you attempt to drive a car, you have to take the driver's exam? In my labs, you do the lab until it is right, make as many errors as you want, no sign-off until it works to my satisfaction and the student shows an understaning of the lab. Then the student is assessed.
The other issue is that labs cost money. Small lab/class sizes are expensive compared to large theatres on a cost per student basis. Large theatre size classes are money makers.

Comment Snake in the grass! Phoney propaganda.. (Score 1) 260

So Iran is posting lots of photoshopped, obvious false boasting of their miltary might. The US is thinking what a bunch of farmers, we're going to walk all over them. In reality, Iran probably has some pretty top secret shit hidden away, waiting for the right time (war time) to jump out and bite ya. Iran is lulling the enemy into thinking they are inept and you guys are falling for it. What military strategist would annouce to the world that they have a stealth fighter? The US had their stealth fighter for something like 20 years before the general public heard about it during the war with Iraq. Think about it. There's a lot of highly educated people in Iran

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