Helping Learners Figure it out for Themselves

Image via www.gourmetmomonthego.comI’ve been working a lot lately on creating e-learning lessons based on branching scenarios. Where branching scenarios differ from traditional lessons is that they are less linear and they put learners in specific situations where they have to make decisions and then see the results of those decisions play out. In cases where we’re trying to change attitudes, approaches or develop learners’ skills (as opposed to just knowledge), branching scenarios help us move towards an interactive model where learners make the same types of decisions they’d make in a real-world environment.


As an instructional designer what you’re trying to do is move away from a one-way model of learning where you just supply information without any real learner interaction or engagement. I think most people have taken some sort of course where the biggest challenge was to stay awake long enough to click the “Next” button over and over and over again! Branched interactions come in useful when you’re trying to help people think about problems and make appropriate decisions. We’re not so concerned about specific, step-by-step procedures as we are on the principles that guide those decisions.
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Learning Technology in the Translation Classroom

First published as Byrne, Jody (2008) Learning Technology in the Translation Classroom. Proceedings of the XVIII FIT World Congress 2008 in Shanghai, China.

The Internet has touched virtually every area of human activity and it presents tremendous possibilities as well as serious challenges. Translation is one area which has experienced significant changes as a result of the Internet. These changes are manifest in terms of the demand for translation, the way translators work and in the way translation is taught. E-learning, defined by Wentling et al. (2000:5) “the acquisition and use of knowledge distributed and facilitated primarily by electronic means”, is a $23 billion industry (Driscoll 2002) which Continue reading


Getting into screencasting using Jing

I recently started using Jing for producing quick and easy screen recordings to help show students how to use certain software functions. What I like about Jing – as opposed to Camtasia, even though they are both made by Techsmith – is that the Jing controls are semi-hidden at the top of your screen until you are ready to use it. When you’ve finished recording a clip, Jing lets you upload it directly to the website where you can create your own repository of videos. It will even generate the HTML code or give you the URL so that you can share it. Pretty nifty I think. The beauty of using tools like this to produce small, bite-size videos is that if, say, a student sends you an email asking how to do something with a piece of software you can, in the space of 5 or so minutes, record the answer (including audio commentary if you wish) and send them a link to the video which they can then play and replay as many times as they need to until they are happy. Obviously this is going to save everyone time: no making appointments, finding the student in a computer lab, showing the student how to do it over and over again… and to top it all off, once you make one of these recordings you can reuse it time and time again. Eventually you could even have a list of recordings posted on a website somewhere which students can use as a study aid or as a sort of FAQ/helpdesk.

The free version of Jing is limited to producing 5 minute clips but this is plenty of time for most tasks and in any case, you really shouldn’t be producing anything longer anyway. I wanted to see how quick and easy to use it was out of the box so for the first one (shown below) I kept it simple, didn’t use audio and relied on the default settings. The results are really very good – the picture quality is great (it looks a little dodgy in places but that’s because I’ve resized it after the fact) and the files weren’t excessively large. I didn’t add any audio to the first one but will add it to future recordings. Overall I’m very impressed with Jing. OK it’s not overflowing with functions but what it does it does very well and thanks to the sheer convenience of this tool it’s now a firm fixture in my toolkit.

If you’ve never tried screencasting or creating screen recordings before, Jing is a really good and easy-to-use option which will have you up and running in no time. More experienced users will love how quickly and easily you can create recordings.

Direct link to the file on