All in all, gadgets come and go, but in the end it all comes to the ideas that give them meaning, and in order to bring about the progress in the society we can't allow the flow of ideas to ever stop. Should you desire to share your valuable thoughts, we'll be happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Internet community is still debating over the proper name for the first decade (with “noughties” being everyone's favourite), yet we've already entered the second quarter of 2010 and it's right about time we try to assess the crucial concepts that will shape our world over the next decade.
Progress in any society has education as one of its main pillars, whereas we still can't agree over what exactly constitutes effective education. 10-20 years ago, most people would agree it's the teacher who mostly shapes the mode of education. Nowadays, even the most experienced educator would be lucky to get 50% of the vote, should such poll be conducted. For new-generation learners, the emphasis has shifted to the instructional material. In this issue, we will be exploring the challenges courseware creators are facing these days and the new approaches they are considering.
Progress is generally a gradual, almost unnoticeable process. It relies not only on new technologies, but also on perpetual improvement of the existing ones. E-learning development software is not an exception. Here, we will be talking about the new features Lextora X is to offer its loyal adherents, and the wonders of multi-dimensions that allow us to witness/experience amazing visual effects in our lives such as ones we saw in “Avatar”, the highest-grossing movie of a decade.
So click in right now!
The highlight of April of 2010 is our team's participation in annual Lectora User Conference in Cincinnati, US that takes place end of April. Five eLC members will be joined by the two grand prize winners to represent Singapore in the “land of innovation” (as the US is dubbed by many these days). See updates on this event in our next issue.
Last but not least, you can now purchase the latest Lectora eBook versions: Lectora Version 9 and Lectora X. For more details check out this link:
Introduction to the New Features of Lectora X
Lectora X comes with a plethora of new features that aim to make your e-learning content more engaging, yet faster and easier to create.
The new features generally fall under two categories - graphical features and usability features. Instead of going through the entire list of major features (which you can find here: http://www.trivantis.com/lectora-pro-suite/introducing-lectora-x), what I'll do is show you some of the new features that can be used to enhance your workflow and spice up your e-learning content.
Usability features to enhance your workflow
- Sharing media, templates and library objects online.
- Workspace personalization with dockable windows and customisable toolbars.
- Quick removal of conditions in object properties.
- Globally muting and unmuting FLV media.
- Saving custom form elements.
Graphical features to spice up your e-learning content
- Twenty six new flash characters.
- New flash games.
- Expanded clip art library.
Cognitive Load Theory Explored
IMAGINE a teacher teaching her students a certain principle in Science, what normally happens when a student does not understand what is being taught in class? Chances are, the student would normally clarify his question with his teacher or his peers, get the answers and move on with his learning journey.
Now, with the advancement of technology, should the student decide to learn through an e-learning environment at 1.00 a.m., what are his options if he was to encounter problems? A typical scenario would be him e-mailing his instructor at 1:30a.m. asking for help and waiting patiently for the reply. However, with his question left unanswered, the student may stop studying in frustration or worse, develop a misconception.
With these two scenarios in mind, how should the instructional designer (i.e. you) minimise the chance of the second scenario happening and yet provide the learning opportunities of the first?
To better answer the question, allow me to introduce cognitive load theory (CLT) before proceeding. CLT is an instructional theory that believes that our working memory is limited in terms of the amount of information it can hold and number of operations it can perform on that information (Van Gerven et. Al., 2003). In other words, when developing quality instruction, instructional designer should be sensitive to the role and limitation of the working memory (Cooper, 1998). Cognitive load may vary due to intrinsic (difficulty of the to-be-learned content), germane (load that helps make learning meaningful), or extraneous demands (techniques to present the to-be-learned content).
While it may not be comprehensive, the list below provides a start on what to consider when coming up with an instruction design based on the above theory.
A. Is technology a hindrance or an enhancement?
Technology is usually being lauded for its efficiency and effectiveness. Most times in an e-learning environment, the student is required to use technology and software as part of the content learning process. For students with limited technology knowledge and skills, how the content is being taught can be as challenging as what is being taught. Therefore, instructional designers need to be sensitive to the learner's technology skills and the level of content element interactivity. Hence, for this category of students, the instructional designer may choose to look into a strategy for learners to master a certain technology skill before presenting them the content area concept.
B. Exploratory learning = Efficient learning?
Time and again, designers struggle to find an optimum balance between challenging them with difficult materials while avoiding leaving them frustrated, and having materials so easy that the learner finds them meaningless. Problem-based learning (PBL), a popular choice amongst instructional designers, provides the learner with a realistic context to explore various options. While PBL allows greater engagement for most learners, given a time limit, efficiency of this practice could have opposite consequences. Also, should the learner have no prior knowledge on the topic, such method may not enhance his/her learning process. Therefore, instructional designers may want to consider providing a few worked examples before introducing the learners to a PBL environment to increase their involvement and mental effort.
C. Are animations always necessary?
Using animations has recently been almost an everyday affair in multimedia teaching and learning based on the assumption that they tend to increase interest, motivation and effectiveness. However, of late, many research findings have shown otherwise (Lowe, Richard & Schnotz, Wolfgang, 2008). In general, there has been a consensus that animations need not be intrinsically more effective than static graphics. One possible reason could be that the learner may not be able to process the presented information adequately. We have limited capacities for processing information, hence, should these limits be exceeded, learning will be compromised. Therefore, one may even consider whether the pace of the animation presented is exceeding the speed at which the learner can process it. One way out could be providing the learners the user controllable animations to allow the aspects like speed and audio commentary to suit themselves. That said, there has been a study which shows that based on the type of learners, the type of graphics and animations does matter (Kalyuga et al., 2003). In that study, Kalyuga and team found that the beginners cope better when shown an electrical diagram with integrated text on the topic of simple adaptive system, while the more experienced learners cope better when presented the diagram only.
While the above are just suggested guidelines to follow, they all boil down to the same point - understand who your targeted learners are. Once the instructional designer has forgotten who the content is for, regardless how much effort and time was spent, the instructional designer has ended the learning journey for the user.
Chipperfield, B. (2006). Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design Saskatoon. Saskatchewan, Canada: University of Saskatchewan (USASK). Retrieved on November 7, 2006 from http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/802papers/=chipperfield/chipperfield.pdf
Cooper, G. (1998). Research into Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design at UNSW. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales (UNSW).
Kalyuga, S., Ayres, P., Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (2003). Expertise reversal effect. Educational Psychologist,38, 23-31.
Lowe, Richard & Schnotz, Wolfgang (Eds) Learning with Animation. Research implications for design Cambridge University Press, 2008
Morrison, G. R. & Anglin, G. J. (2005). Research on Cognitive Load Theory: Application to E-Learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53 (3), 91-104.
Van Gerven, Pascal W. M. (2003). The efficiency of multimedia learning into old age. British journal of educational psychology, 73 (4), 489-505.
Kline, A. (2010) What is the difference between 4D and 3D?, http://www.ehow.com/facts_5985871_difference-between-4d-3d_.html, Date accessed 9 April 2010.
Yahoo! Answers (2010) What's the difference between 2D, 3D ... And Is There A 1D?, http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090614201820AAlRXYF, Date accessed 9 April 2010.
Chang, A. (2008) What's the difference 2D and 3D anyway?, http://ezinearticles.com/?Whats-the-Difference-Between-2D-and-3D- Anyway?&id=1634425, Date accessed 9 April 2010.
Thomson, L. R. (2009) Difference between 2D and 3D animation, http://www.articlesnatch.com/Article/Difference-Between-2d-And-3d- Animation/921882, Date accessed 9 April 2010.
Yahoo! Answers (2010) What is the difference between 2D, 3D and 4D?, http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090403222007AARaHff, Date accessed 9 April 2010.
Yahoo! Answers (2010) What's the difference between 2-D, 3-D and 4-D?, http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081207200828AAXHrM3, Date accessed 9 April 2010.
Answerbag (2008) What is the difference between 2D and 3D animations?, http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/61406, Date accessed 9 April 2010.
2D usually involves drawing or movement on a flat surface, for example, a sketch pad, in the vertical and horizontal planes. However, 3D involves modelling the object, for example creating objects in 3-dimensions, residing in an expandable virtual environment, full of lights, reflections, other objects, and shadows and so on. When a camera takes a photograph of a flat 2D animation, it can only take it “head on”.
The camera is unable to move to some other angle for a 2D graphic, whereas for a 3D animation, the camera is imaginary and is located within a computer. As the objects in the animation have volume, the imaginary camera can move around them and see their back and sides. When 3D is applied on films in cinemas, it creates the depth in which the background is behind the flat screen, while the object seems to be coming out of the flat screen and entering into the space of the cinema.
Title: Differences Among The “D”
With today's technology, watching a movie in a cinema is getting more and more advanced. Films have been shown in the theatres in a 2D format for many years; however, the films are starting to be produced not only in a 2D format but in a 3D format as well. In some special theatres, which mostly can be found in theme parks, there are even 4D films. Today, I would like to compare the differences in all the “D”s.
“D” in these forms means dimensions. Ever heard of a 1D? Of course, 1D graphics exist; however they are not used in any graphic form, much less in cinemas. 1D, a one-dimensional image, is basically a line, or a dot, nothing else. A 1D film would be a very boring film to watch for an hour and a half or two. Hence, I would not elaborate further on this and instead focus more on the differences among 2D, 3D and 4D media.
2D, a two-dimensional flat image, uses only the X- and Y-axes to create dimensions. From the front, it would have some depths but when you rotate it to the side, it would just be a line. A 2D film would be shot in only one roll of film and use of one lens.
3D, a three-dimensional graphics, adds in another dimension, known as the Z-axis. This allows the image to have depth, plus it can be easily rotated.
A 3D film is shot using two rolls of film and with two lenses, one corresponding to the left eye and the other to the right eye. In other words, in a 2D format, we have the third person view, watching a film from outside. On the contrary, 3D is the world we live in, it allows us to see it from a first person view and when applied to films in a cinema, objects would feel like they are popping out at us.
Now that we are starting to compare 2D with 3D, let's pinpoint more differences among them, before we start exploring 4D. A 2D image tends to look “flatter” than a 3D one due to the natural limitations of horizontal and vertical planes. Since 3D introduces “depth perspective”, in 2D, we would see a square, and in 3D, we would see a cube. The difference would be best presented by a photograph of a glass of water, 2D, and being able to reach out and pick up the glass of water, 3D. It is essentially the difference between a painting and a sculpture.
How does the cinema make the film jump out at you? Well, as mentioned above, for filming a live action, two cameras are used side by side to film one perspective for the right eye and another for the left. The difference between each film creates the same effect similar to when we process information in our brain sent from our eyes. In other words, the 3D effect takes place in our head; it just needs to be sent the right information for it to work.
Computer generated imagery (CGI) is another technique used to create 3D. CGI allows perspectives to be manipulated in post production. This system is most commonly used for animations. A 2D film can also be transformed into 3D using this process. Delivering a 3D experience in cinema requires these images to be synchronized and projected, plus the audience has to wear the right glasses. For 3D, there are two films running through, and we see life in three dimensions because we have two eyes looking at it from different perspectives. The glasses you wear in the cinema are not red and green but rather represent a polarised system which filters the colours. This makes the film very believable and allows you to feel like you need to duck from the objects or reach your hands out to touch. 3D may involve the viewer into the action on a more intimate level, and create a very enveloping experience.
Finally, 4D, four-dimensional graphics, insert real time into a three-dimensional film. The fourth dimension is actually time and not touch nor smell, however, the term 4D has been used as a marketing term for an entertainment presentation combining 3D film with physical effects in the theatre, which occur in synchronisation with the film. This would allow viewers to not only see things coming out of the screen but also feel things in the film, as if the viewer is within the film's world itself. It is about experiencing the movie and the characters in real time. For example, if the water splashes up, the viewers feel the water being sprayed on them or if the wind is blowing in the film, the viewers will feel the wind blowing in their faces as well. A typical 4D film uses our senses such as touch, sight and smell. Such effects are created in theatres by means of moving and shaking chairs, wind blowers, fog machines, water sprays, andair jets and so on, all to help the audiences feel like they are really participating in the film's adventures. The difference between a 3D film and a 4D film is that the viewer can actually experience the environment-related effects in the film.
This is the visual experience when watching a 3D or 4D film as compared to the usual television or 2D films
Simply put, a Rubik's cube in a one dimensional film, would be a dot, in a two dimensional film, a square and in a three dimensional film, a cube. However, in a four dimensional film, if the 3D cube is thrown and bounces off the audience's feet, the audience would be able to feel it. 2D is any shape or form with only two dimensions such as height and width or depth and height. 3D is any shape or form with three dimensions: height, width and depth. While in 4D, the entertainment industry creates the time and space by introducing effects in which the viewers feel as if they are in the same time and space as the characters in the film.