Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Problem Based Learning Works for Me

So, I've been agonising over how to set up my DPLA portfolio. Obviously making it bigger, brighter and better is essential (not because the expectation is there, more because I can), but how exactly?

I'm working with some restrictions. I still want my portfolio to be hosted within a Blackboard course. I know it's accessible from school and more importantly it's the simplest way to tackle issues around copyright. There are some limitations, it's a tad..awkward to work with, less personalisation...or so I thought...

I have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to embed a prezi package as a way to break down my context statement and introduction. I've been able to do this previously after downloading the prezi package as a zip file and then uploading it into the BB as an item set to unpackage with the index.html file set as the start point. Sadly, it doesn't appear to be that simple any more. Since Prezi has moved past beta stage they now download differently and the index.html file isn't anywhere to be found in the package and nothing else works - that I've found yet. I've not given up totally, and I've now sought out some advice from other places in the hope I can get it sorted.

But then something popped up on the #eqelearn and #dpla twitter network:

Well, that made @Mrs_Banjer and I sit up and pay attention, that's for sure. You mean you can set up a html file to automatically load within BB? Wow...you mean we can make it pretty and shmick?

You can guess what we both went straight off to do as soon as the email came through. And best of all, it works and it's actually dead easy to follow @Josephperkins' instructions.

So, the problem of how to prettify my BB (and therefore my portfolio) was solved. Just one small problem...I don't know how to code OR use Dreamweaver (dedicated program on my computer).

So I sat on the information for a little while and thought about exactly what I'd create - if I could code or use Dreamweaver. Usually, if I have a clear idea of what I want to produce I can draw on what little I do know, trusty Google and the help files to make it happen.

What I eventually came up with was inspired by something that blew me away nearly 12 months ago. The final formal assessment piece for our Year 12 English students each year is to produce an extended written piece telling a story from their lives. How this piece is then framed and submitted is up to them, so long as the final presentation reflects something of who the author is. Last year there were a small number of high quality digital submissions and one was a Wordle of the final piece with key words for each "chapter" hyperlinked to the appropriate section.

The idea appealed to me because I would be able to break down my thinking and responses into smaller "chunks" (I believe the fancy word is node from the hyperlink unit at the start of the year), and after my context statement got wrapped up yesterday at 2000+ words, I'm not keen on creating mass slabs of text again for my portfolio. I figured the concept was pretty difficult to achieve, the student who inspired the idea was one of our top ITS students for that cohort...but I figured I'd give it a go. After generating the Wordle I wanted to work from framed around the question "How do learners learn?", I imported the image into Dreamweaver and started to play.

Once I figured out how to create a "hotspot" with the select tool I was off and away. I created my pages and I set up the hotspots to link to the right one. Easy. Then I got stuck again, I didn't like the idea of each hyperlink opening a whole new browser page, what I wanted was smaller, popup windows to make moving around the Wordle easier, afterall part of why I wanted to bring this concept into life was those smaller, more manageable chunks.

This morning it took a couple of Google searches (primarily because I didn't know the correct terminology of what I wanted to do), some searching through the Help files and some fiddling and BAM! I'd done it. And I have to say, I'm totally in love.

Problem solved!

1 comment:

Fiona.Banjer said...

Isn't a challenge wonderful when you focus on a frustration and solve it successfully! My copy of CS3 is not working at the moment, if you need to work on your html coding somewhere else a freeware alternative is MS Visual Web Developer. Appears to have similar features and you can download free http://www.microsoft.com/express/vwd/