Parson Problems for Interactive Assessment

Example of a Parson Problem

In his blog, Mark Guzdial highlights Parson’s Problems offer the same learning gains as writing or fixing code. Mark highlights how useful Parson’s Problems can be for interactive learning modules.

Not Just Computer Science

The article emphasizes how useful Parson Problems can be for computer science. Many other fields use this same type of learning instruction. For example, a healthcare module might use this technique to ensure students learn specific steps for procedures like taking a person’s blood pressure or drawing blood.

Increasing the Challenge with Distractors

To increase the challenge to students, add distractors. Instead of one-to-one answers, add extra items not critical to the process.

Try a Parson Problem Yourself!

Here is a sample Parson Puzzle. Students can check their learning after finishing the tutorial on using CSS Flexbox.  The tutorial shows the code with examples. This puzzle summarizes the content midway through the tutorial. Notice the distractors.

You may not be familiar with Flexbox coding, so here is a screenshot of the correct order 😉

Flexbox answer to Parson ProblemFor more details, read the original study, Parson’s Programming Puzzles: A Fun and Effective Learning Tool for First Programming Courses by Dale Parsons and Patricia Haden.

This sample Parson Puzzle was created using Articulate Storyline 360.

Peg Legg and Sal A. Mander

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

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.

Designing Social Interfaces

Patterns for Improving the User Experience

 

 

Patterns. They are so useful because we design things to do similar tasks over and over. Like a login screen. This book is filled with best practices and patterns on how to create a great user interface.

I first heard about this book while listening to a podcast with Christian Crumlish, Erin Malone, and Jared Spool as they discussed UX (User Experience). They talked about use patterns and how these can be applied over and over for a better user experience as part of the User Interface Engineering podcast series.

Christian and Erin have written a very readable volume that is indispensable for anyone creating software, especially if it is a social-based web application.

Each pattern has colorful examples describing the what, when, how, why as well as accessibility issues to be aware of, related patterns, and a list of example web sites. There are lots and lots of excellent screen shots showing how the pattern is used out on the Web that flow in and out of the text just at the right times.

The authors also include several anti-patterns: things that don’t enhance the user’s experience. These are just as valuable as the useful patterns. As you read about each anti-pattern you’ll say “Yes, I find that so irritating when ‘they’ do that.”

Other experts have been invited to the party as well and each chapter is interspersed with short articles that go into greater depth.

This information could be SO dry, and it originally was, but Christian threw out the first two versions and wrote the finished book in a talkative, friendly, fun-to-read manner.

I’m enjoying the read and am already using this as a reference as I talk with people about their web sites and what they want to accomplish.

 

Tutorial videos from my courses

I’ve been creating some demo movies as part of my on-line classes and have posted them out on blip.tv.

I thought you might like to look at the series. I’ll be adding new ones on a regular basis.

Here’s a link showing all the videos available out on Blip.tv.

I’m using ScreenFlow to create my onscreen videos. This is an amazing program that allows me to capture video and sound and edit using scrolling and panning. Mac only. What is displayed here is only the video portion of the more complete tutorials I offer as part of my online and face2face courses.

The videos shots of my whiteboard talks are taken using a very inexpensive ($150) Aiptek HD1080P pocket-size video. Chad Peterson, one of my students is working on the editing. These resulted from one of my online students asking me to record my entire class. That is very difficult, getting good sound, but I thought I’d try some simple videos that focused on specific concepts to see how enhance the learning activities for each module.

I’d be interested in your comments on how useful these would be to you as a student. Thanks!