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Monday, July 09, 2007

News from eLearn magazine

Of Hot Tubs and Beowulf: E-learning for Seniors
By Mark Notess, Indiana University
I recently sat with a nonagenarian relative, trying to teach him how to use a program for designing and printing greeting cards. He spent all afternoon rehearsing the steps I'd shown him, hoping he would remember.
I could tell this experience was difficult for him. His mind is still sharp and his memory good. But he had trouble remembering and executing all the mouse movements and keystrokes.
Also, some of the interface concepts were incomprehensible to him: Why did he have to scroll through a list, select something, and then click a button?

About the author

Mark Notess is a development manager and usability specialist in Indiana University's Digital Library Program. He was a director of user experience at a higher education startup and before that worked at Agilent Technologies and Hewlett-Packard on e-learning portals, user interface tools, and user-centered design. Mark speaks and consults on e-learning and user experience topics.

Confessions of a Neophyte Distance Learner and Full-Time Procrastinator
By Clare Gill
Why do distance-learning students procrastinate? It's obvious that doing so makes a class harder for both student and instructor. It is also widely reported that poor time-management skills, most notably the tendency to procrastinate, are major contributors to high online course attrition rates. From the instructor's point of view, a clearer understanding of the source of this peculiar behavior, and of how to minimize it, would be very valuable. Unfortunately, such understanding is hard to come by. Procrastinators are, by their very nature, elusive characters. By the time the identity of the worst offenders has been confirmed, they've probably dropped the course. Even if they haven't, have you ever tried to get a survey back from a procrastinator?

About the Author
Clare Gill has a BA in Religious Studies from McGill University, a MEd from Tufts University, and a CSS in Management from Harvard Extension. She has served as the director of religious education at two Boston-area Catholic parishes, a graphic designer at Inc. Magazine, and as a professional computer trainer. She is currently pursuing her EdS degree in Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. She anticipates continuing her research into procrastination behavior at some point in the future.