The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I forgotten interest...

At the beginning of the school year I was informed that a new class in our Instructional Design and Technology program was being offered, an advanced Computer Based Instruction course. I had taken the first course about 2 years ago. In this class I learned how to use the software Authorware. This is a package that allows for relatively powerful interactive software programs to be built with little or no background in computer programing. It is basically drag and drop. I learned that I enjoyed doing this and developed a small program in this first class.

After I finished this class though I did not return to using it because 1) I was busy with other grad school stuff, 2) there were only 2 computers on campus with the software, and 3) the software is pretty expensive for personal buying on a grad student's salary (about $600).

I did not buy it because of it being so expensive and I also felt I did not have enough skill to do what I would want to do with it (I needed to do quite a bit of more 'advanced' stuff with my first little project). But now I will be learning more scripting which should allow me to do what I would like to, so I bought the program with the assurance that I would use it extensively.

My primary use right now would be to build a study system that would be available online to students in psychology classes (questions, notes, note-taking ability), that is similar to the system that I have used in my research that would built by my advisor. Because I am about to embark into my own career and must begin to be more independent of my adviser's study system, I have begun to start development on my own study tool system using Authorware.

This involves a lot of preplanning and thought into how I want this to look. Luckily, in my first CBI course we were forced to do this preplanning including planning documents, storyboards, and logs of media and elements used in the program.

I plan to develop something similar to what my advisor has created, but I want also to try to incorporate some other elements. Things such as interactive online notes (notes with links to information on the Internet, if this is possible, and areas for the student to annotate using their own computer and storing these annotated notes for future use. With more and more schools issuing laptop computers and wireless access in classrooms, students could annotate notes on their computer rather than downloading them and annotating the "old fashioned way" with a pencil. Both options could be available, but I would like to see if it would be used at all.

I think it may also be able to make a dynamic type of online questioning, basically forcing students to focus on content areas where they perform more poorly. This may be a second or third version however as I can foresee this being a quite involved process for one person to program.

But through all of this I am remembering how much I enjoyed doing this. This activity is something that I am spending my weekend free moments doing. It is work but also I enjoy it. Now that I have dedicated myself to building this system, I hope that my investment will pay for itself in the research that I could potentially produce.


  • At 9:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Wow.... writing software is a big task. Successfully deploying a software system that can do what you describe will be a huge undertaking. A system which consumed and somehow interpreted a students ability to comprehend subject matter, and then attempt to reinforce those weak areas would be something truly amazing.

    Anyway... Good luck on your endeavor.

    Check out

    It is a nice way to manage a group of people, and the information they need to absorb.

    "If I have seen a little farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants."
    --Isaac Newton

  • At 9:14 PM , Blogger kmc21 said...

    Thank you for the link, it looks like an interesting place to organize groups. Unfortunately for me I will be starting this on my own pretty much. I do not have the resources to hire others nor the position in which to have student assistants. But it may come in handy someday when I might.

    I know my ideas are complex, but I think I can get at least a shell of the online questions working in a few months. Authorware is pretty powerful and relatively easy to use for creating interactive programs. I just hope that I can get things to work in time for when I (hopefully) move on to bigger and betting thigs, (i.e. a real job at a college) this next fall.


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