Learning podcasts

Learning podcasts

For our final assignment in the Learning and Collaboration Technologies module, we have the option of creating a 10 minute podcast on a topic of our choice. Podcasts are simply audio content, usually in the form of an mp3 file, which creators can post online for anyone to listen to. They have exploded in popularity in the last few years, as the availability of smartphones and free Wi-Fi make it easier than ever to download and listen to content.

And now podcasts can be used as an educational resource. Indeed, they have the potential to be a powerful form of mobile learning. Learners can listen to them at any time of the day and at their own convenience. Many learning podcasts take the form of an interview with a subject matter expert, while others simply present information on a subject that doesn’t require a visual component.

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Learning communities

Learning communities

One of the main assignments we have left before the end of the semester is to develop a digital learning resource using Adobe Flash and Dreamweaver. I have chosen to create a resource that introduces learners to bumblebees. The goal of this resource is to teach learners how to identify the 12 species that occur in Ireland.

It is important that this resource contain interesting interactive elements, such as buttons that the learner has to click on, or items that they have to drag and drop. Interactive learning materials such as these highlight one of the strongest features of e-learning, which makes it a far more stimulating resource than one which contains just multimedia. Interactivity helps to enrich learning and maintains the learner’s interest. However, designing these materials is another matter entirely.

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Final thoughts on the collaboration project

Final thoughts on the collaboration project

This week our team received our grade for the instructional document that we created together. All in all, I think we did surprisingly well. There were a number of errors in the document, which some of us probably should have noticed. But we also did many things quite well.

Overall, I enjoyed working in a virtual team. I enjoyed the discussion amongst people and being able to bounce ideas off other team members. It was great knowing that there were people who you could turn to if you were having problems or difficulties – I think that everyone in our group was considerate in that respect.

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Interview techniques

Interview techniques

Last week I conducted an interview with a professional technical communicator for an assignment in the module Workplace Issues in Professional and Technical Communication. The goal of the interview was to learn as much about the interviewee and their work as a technical writer. Bizarrely, I have been interviewed recently myself, using a new app called ZCast which allows users to create a live podcast using their phone. But I had never played the role of the interviewer before, and so I was feeling more than a little apprehensive about the whole situation.

Interviewing is an important skill for technical writers, as they often have to gather information from subject matter experts about the product for which they are producing documentation. In fact, as this article points out, content creators (and technical writers) should probably think like journalists in many respects.

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From a distance…!

From a distance…!

As a distance student, I happily appreciate the flexibility that it offers. It allows me to attend a university outside of my hometown, as well as enabling me to combine study with my other responsibilities.

However, it is not without disadvantages, one of which is the lack of face-to-face interaction with instructors and classmates. Fortunately, this is a blended learning course, and last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in Limerick where I got to meet some of the other distance education students.

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Almost there! The final stage of virtual team assignment

Almost there! The final stage of virtual team assignment

This week marked the final week for our team to complete our document for the virtual team collaboration assignment. Apart from a couple of queries about the translation, all had been pretty quiet in our Facebook group for a while now.

I know that on my part, I was completely overrun with other assignments in the past few weeks: the XML document, the storyboard for digital learning resource, the proposal for the dissertation project, and organising an interview with a professional technical communicator. In fact, I became so preoccupied with these other assignments and deadlines that I began to see this collaboration project as more and more of a nuisance, especially since it is worth so little in comparison to all the others. I could only assume that everyone else in the team had similar problems with coursework and encroaching deadlines.

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Writing for locals

Writing for locals

So far, the translation stage of the virtual team assignment seems to be progressing well. We have had to make only minor changes to the English text as a result of the French translation. And there is lots of guidance available on how to write for translation, so these errors are relatively straightforward to correct. In fact, our only major problem at this point has been due to a localization issue rather than anything to do with translation.

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