Parson’s Problems for Interactive Assessment

Parson’s Puzzles help efficient learning and assessment in all fields.

Screenshot of a Parson Problem

In his Computing Education Blog, Parson’s Problems have the same learning gains as writing or fixing code, Mark Guzdial highlighted how useful Parson’s Problems can be for interactive learning modules.

Not Just Computer Science
The article emphasizes how useful these exercises can be for computer science, but these same concepts could be used for many other fields. For example, a healthcare module might use this technique to ensure that the students can follow the specific steps needed for specific procedures such as taking blood pressure or drawing blood.

One of the most interesting points to this learning tool is adding in distractors. Instead of a one-to-one answer, add in extra items that don’t meet the procedure being tested.

This is a sample Parson Puzzle, CSS Flexbox, built using Articulate Storyline 360, that I include in one of my web programming tutorials. The tutorial shows the code with examples and this puzzle is used as a summary page midway through the tutorial.

Here is a screenshot of the correct answer ;-)

Answer for Flexbox Palmer Puzzle

Here is the original study, Parson’s Programming Puzzles: A Fun and Effective Learning Tool for First Programming Courses by Dale Parsons and Patricia Haden.

Articulate Storyline 360 – Highlights

Highlights showing our favorite things about Articulate Storyline 360

Articulate Storyline 360 logo

I’ve been working on a list of Articulate 360 Highlights with Amanda Bell, another course developer. This is the newest version of Articulate. The software is now more cloud-based and it is very well designed.

I thought it would be helpful to others to see a list of the features that Amanda and I really appreciate and use on a regular basis.


Tools

  • Allows fast development with a very professional look and feel.
  • Everything is responsive automatically, works on all devices
  • Three development tools for different levels of development:
    • Basic: Studio 360 Converts Powerpoint to stand-alone tutorial
    • Intermediate: Rise – Quick module development
    • Advanced: Storyline 360 – a detailed development environment for very interactive and branching tutorials. Interactive slides created in 360 can easily be included inside of a Rise module.

The interface between all these tools is very consistent and fluid.

Auxillary Development Tools

  • Peek – Records screencasts similar to Camtasia and Storyline 360 has this feature built-in.
  • Publishing a course involves the click of a single button and finished modules run on any device.
  • Content Library
    • Contains 1,000’s of public domain images, with instant search and automatic accreditation to the copyright owners
    • Hundreds of characters, each having 20+ different poses and expressions – a click away. A wide diversity of people and occupations are represented. This collection is continually growing.
    • Images, illustrations, and icon are immediately available for all types of training situations
    • Templates for quizzes, click and drag, scenarios, and whole presentations. For everything. These are very professional looking and designed to be customized with any content.
    • Modern Fonts – Nine built into Rise and Articulate 360 with the ability to add custom fonts making font choice unlimited.
  • Articulate Review allows detailed collaboration between developers and stakeholders with version control.
  • Text-to-Speech is built in – Blocks of onscreen text can be immediately converted to voice and can be used to match various character avatars. This is a vast improvement over separately recording individual voice-overs and maintaining all those sound files. The speech is life-like.
  • Video Enhancement with Q/A Options Any video included in a module can automatically include questions throughout, making them much more interactive.
  • Interactive Tutorials from Screencasts A screencast demonstration can be automatically converted into a step-by-step simulation with the click of a button.

Community

  • Articulate has a huge community of thousands of active eLearning developers.
  • The ability for course developers (and stakeholders) to work together using the Articulate Review.
  • Very extensive online tutorials and training.
    • Short and concise – less than 5 minutes – focusing on a particular technique
    • Weekly emails with examples and tutorials from Articulate and other developers.
    • Regular challenges published showing how other developers solve eLearning problems.
    • Articulate Live – Live webinars with eLearning experts. New ones available every few days.

Leveraging Learning Concepts

  • Easy-to-implement branching with feedback based on student’s decisions
  • Easy-to-implement click-and-drag screens with a wide variety of templates to build on.
  • Interactive objects including buttons, sliders, dials, hotspots, input, and click markers
  • Gamification easy to set up using Articulate templates
  • Scenarios, timelines, process, tabs, and related content can all be built using existing templates.

Assessment

  • Multiple templates for self-grading quizzes for fast development
  • Ability to add assessment questions inside of videos
  • Graded quizzes that can be linked to an LMS
  • Controlled questions for branching
  • Built-in automatic feedback which can be customized very easily

The Articulate ecosystem allows the developer to focus on the content, not on the mechanizations.


If you have access to Storyline 360, check out the automated step-by-step tutorials that you can easily make from screen capture videos. Here is a three-part tutorial showing all the details. https://community.articulate.com/series/107/articles/articulate-storyline-360-tutorial-how-to-create-interactive-simulations

Building your digital story, one digital block at a time…..

By Paul Wasko

Image of DS106 Assignment Bank pageMany educators are beginning to explore digital storytelling as an assessment methodology within their courses or programs.   The ideas behind “digital storytelling” are not new and began to emerge in the later part of the

20th century. (If you are interested, the Center for Digital Storytelling has a brief history at  http://storycenter.org/history ).

As the former director of eFolioMinnesota, I am very interested in the use of digital portfolios to support digital storytelling efforts.

What is new in digital storytelling are the tools students and educators can use to author their digital content.  

Historically, digital authoring tools often involved some knowledge of HTML commands.  However, with today’s online tools, creating a simple photoshow is straightforward using tools like http://Flickr.com.

So, if digital storytelling tools have become accessible to the average digitally literate student/educator then why are we not seeing digital storytelling emerge in classes throughout our education community?  The reason: the tools might be simple but we still have to figure out how to apply and use them. This takes practice and knowledge. (I know how to use a hammer but I still couldn’t build a house on my own.).

Helping you and your student’s proficiency using several different story-telling tools is a goal of the University of Mary Washington’s DS106 open class (http://ds106.us/ ).

For educators, an especially useful component of the course is the Assignment Bank.  The course author’s have done a wonderful job pulling together assignments that build proficiency with a variety of web-based authoring tools and services.

For example, check out “Your Favorite Teams Mashup” assignment in the “Mashup” section. The instructions for the assignment are as follows::

“Combine the logos of two or more of your favorite sports teams. Don’t just create an image with the two logos next to each other! Make the final logo look natural and cohesive.”

For educators, consider using some of these assignments as a way to build student proficiency.  It is a fun, straightforward way to help us return to the art of storytelling in the 21st century.

Note that not every assignment is appropropriate for all age groups so K-12 teachers may want to modify the assignment based on their grade level.

Special thanks to my friend and colleague John Ittelson, author of Documenting Learning with ePortfolios, for introducing me to DS106.

Peg Legg and Sal A. Mander

Many of them are very inappropriate for a lab situation, but I was able to cull about 25 very safe ones from the list.

Often you may find the need to populate a course with sample users so your students can log onto a course and experiment around.

Having sample users is also a great solution for demo courses when you want to allow students to experience hands-on a specific technique.

I discovered a fun list of names at http://www.ethanwiner.com/funnames.html. Many of them are very inappropriate for a lab situation, but I was able to cull about 25 very safe ones from the list.

Here are a few examples: Missy Sippy, Peg Legg, Marshall Law, Mary Christmas, and Sal A. Mander.

Course Design Philosophy

As I develop more and more online courses I’m starting to fine-tune my design philosophy. How do these bullet points fit with your experience?

Externsteine rock formation in Horn-Bad Meinberg, GermanyAs I develop more and more online courses I’m starting to fine-tune my design philosophy. How do these bullet points fit with your own experience?

Overall

  • Have a clear path for the learner to follow.
  • Strive for deeper learning.
  • Focus on the learning, not the technology.
  • Be platform independent whenever possible.
  • Utilize open source frameworks
  • Create adaptable content for both mobile and desktop devices.
  • Pluralize your content. Present the same information in multiple formats for maximum learning.
  • Always nudge your students’ learning up to the next level of Bloom’s taxonomy.

Presentation of Material

  • Incorporate short video (3-4 minutes) with sound and closed-captioning.
  • Written materials must be presented in an interesting manner.
  • Create succinct checklists for future fast reference and re-learning.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Be Hemingway by removing all extra words, phrases, and explanations.

Utilize the Writer’s Craft

  • Create suspense
  • Be clear and organized
  • Use scenarios, creating memorable and personable “characters” that the learner can identify with.
  • Overlap information in a kind and gentle manner.
  • Follow the Hero’s Journey pattern  established by Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and incorporated by George Lucas, director of Star Wars.

Listen Closely to Your Students

  • Their questions tell you where you need clarity.
  • Their observations or ideas can be used to enhance the content.
  • Ask for their feedback near the end of the course.  What worked? What didn’t. What should I change? Take notes!
  • Throughout the course, highlight changes you’ve made to the course as a result of previous student input.