Guidelines for online courses

I wrote this draft proposal for developing some criteria for online courses a few years back.

Guidelines for Online Courses


Words of wisdom from Bill Fenwick

In a meeting today, Bill Fenwick articulated a key point that was also deliberated at Campus 2010 retreat in Trinidad,

“Participation in society in the future requires computer literacy.

Almost all aspects of your life will be limited if you cannot access a computer. This could cause an explosion in the gap between the able bodied and people with disabilities.”

TipTap potential product line can be critical as a possible interface device, particularly for those with use of only one hand, as well as the visually impaired.

Excerpts from “Developing an Effective Online Course”

“There are five rules that make up good writing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

—William K. Zinsser, author of On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

“I am not a teacher but an awakener.”
– Robert Frost, American poet


Choose the best way to communicate information

The goal of instruction is to close the gap between what people already know and what they need to know in order to perform the module objectives.

In “Making Instruction Work,” Robert F. Mager proposes the following formula for determining the content (in this case, the Instructor’s Notes):

What needs to be known

(minus) – What is already known
(equals) = What needs to be taught

Ask yourself:

  • What prevents the student from already practicing the objective?
  • Does the student need to know common errors to avoid?
  • Does the student need to know the procedure?
  • Are examples necessary?

Did I remember to:

  • Discuss the relevance of the module to the student?
  • Clarify how this module fits into the big picture?
  • Provide logical guidelines, or a clear model, for competent performance?
  • Describe or demonstrate “how to”?

Which Medium is Best?

The best way to communicate information depends on what you are communicating and why.
According to two folks at, Jakob Nielsen and Donald Norman:
”We believe that education comes first, technology second. We exploit the power of each specific medium: Books, lectures, videos, the Internet, and the computer.”

  • Texts: Best medium for communicating concepts
  • Lectures and Videos of Lectures: Best for motivation, engagement, and emotional/empathetic or visual content
  • The Internet: A powerful tool for knowledge management, for social interaction, research and current events
  • Simulations and interaction: A powerful tool for engagement and exploration

Innovation requires respect- Top 10 ingredients for innovative teams

and 2 Rules for innovation management

To feel good most humans need:
– to be considered
– to be recognized for their contribution
– to be rewarded in often
– to feel like members of the community

What people hate:
– to be disrespected
– to have less qualified/deserving people rewarded
– to be told what and how to do things by people with less knowledge/ability
– to be isolated

Ingredients for creativity and innovation:
– both internal (I enjoy doing this) and external (I am rewarded for doing this) rewards
– acknowledgment that all contributions are important (from carrying out the trash to coming up the big idea)

Key rules for innovation management
(1) to provide meaningful and lucrative work for all those who work with the company;
(2) to provide meaningful educational experiences for the end user.

Although there is a hierarchical structure and project leads have the final say but all team member’s ideas must be considered.

Bob Kern added:

Trust. People need to be able to trust the people they work with. They need to feel trusted. They hate being distrusted, or feeling they can’t trust someone.

Trust and respect aren’t unrelated. If one fails, the other will follow.

Program for the Future Notes from the Lunatic Fringe

Ten Top Take-a-ways from The Program for the Future
The Program for the Future met March 3, 2010 for a CoLABoration.

Note: The tables at CoLAB had various affinity groups — education, government, health care, communications, business, technology — I asked to label a table “lunatic fringe.” Eileen Clegg describes it “as a popular if amorphous concept, and another table with the same name popped up. The focus turned out to be people doing leading edge work, often as sole proprietors or small businesses — thinking differently about traditional organizational assumptions.”

The group engaged in a BRAINSTORMING activity about what was necessary to augment Collective IQ through collaboration.
Valerie’s Top Ten Questions for Innovation:

10. How do we orchestrate “Constructive Cacophony?” Taking a whole bunch of mismatched ideas and making them work together.

9. How can we separate message from the messenger so good ideas are taken seriously no matter who thought of them?

8. How do we create structures to include “people on the lunatic fringe” who love change but are usually so often rock the boat they they are thrown overboard?

7, How do we communicate that Architecture is important?

6. What can we learn about power sharing, structures and collaboration from old earth practices?

5. How do we keep a repository where we can tag and find “Reusable Ideas”?

4. How can we make World Cafe a “life style”? How can we engage in small diverse groups and mix them?

3. How do we create a culture where we build prototypes, then, throw every thing away and reuse only what we learned.

2. How do we design a structure where your failing and what you learned from it is rewarded?
Rewards for failures – how do we build systems that reward the sharing of failure? It is just not the failure but the process that led to failure. A major failure may be made up of hundreds of successes.

1. Why is scale important?

Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck?

Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck? Facebook Fan Page

This facebook campaign really caught my attention, (and the attention of another 197,773 people) but I wonder, how we harness this mass frustration against Glenn Beck and convert it into a social/political movement towards change?

Or is knowing we are not alone in our opinions a viable first step? keying, chording, typing

The iPhone App, TipTapSpeech, just launched.  It’s based on a Doug Engelbart invention. Available at  iTunes store for $4.99.

One of the things that Doug Engelbart invented in the ’60s (along with the mouse and just about everything else about personal computing) was the “chorded keyset.”  His idea was you had the mouse in one hand and the chorded keyset in the other.  With the chorded keyset you could type any of the characters on a keyboard, using a combination of finger taps (think a “court recorder” type approach.) just launched it as an iPhone app!  It’s called TipTap Speech.  With it’s ONLY FIVE KEYS you can tap out any text with just one hand–and without looking.  And it converts to speech at the same time.

On top of all that, while Tip Tap Speech is for English text, it has already been configured for Hindi, Urdu, and Russian with more to come.  If you have any questions, contact me.

Andres Landau, my nephew, took this video of himself typing his name with TipTapSpeech with the built in camera on the laptop, while I was on the phone.

Doug Engelbart explains how it works.

Engelbart’s birthday wish about to come true

After Engelbart’s 81st birthday,

Valerie Landau and Doug Engelbart
Doug and I at his 81st birthday celebration at Stanford

I asked Engelbart which one of his ideas he wanted to see implemented in the near future. He said he would like the notion of chorded texting to take off. So for the past few years I’ve been working (on a volunteer basis) with some amazing people: Evan Schaffer, Rob Stephenson, Eric Matsuno to bring this to the marketplace.

TipTapLogo icon
TipTapSpeech Logo

We now have an iPhone App The Engelbartian chorded typing app: TipTapSpeech

Brief summary of the courses I taught on Applied Engelbart at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Class of Engelbart Scholars
Engelbart Scholars pose for the camera