richmondmathewson at gmail.com
Sat Jun 20 11:54:11 CDT 2009
In all the institututions I have worked in where I have
prepared education content delivery and reinforcement programs
over the last 15 years the following have held true:
Most programs have been held on a local server (SIUC,
UAE University) or on individual computers (St Andrews,
My school). In the case of the UAE that was because that
is a conservative society with a conservative educational
ethos who did not want their students to have internet
At SIUC and St Andrews the applications were for use by students
on specific programs in specific computer labs.
In my own school I have no internet access at all as it is not required.
At St Andrews we ran some tests and found that programs on individual
machines tended to run faster, and load more quickly, than when stored on
a server. As Hard Drives are not the most expensive items on an educational
institution's budget storage space never came up as a problem.
Lynn Fredricks wrote:
> Hi Sivakatirswami,
>> With the advent of Rev Stacks running inside a browser, there
>> is interest here in our shop with the idea of doing
>> educational stackware.
>> The perception that such titles by CD would probably never do
>> well compared to
>> a) distributing printed materials
>> b) PDF's of the same
>> c) Some Browser app
>> led to us never putting any energy into educational stackware.
>> The "run a stack in a browser" changes the equation, big time.
> You might be focusing too much on the techology here.
> Almost every major educational software company and major academic press
> house in the USA has licensed Valentina. Most of them are using Director, a
> few Ive pursuaded to get into Revolution.
> One thing is clear to me though is that they choose solutions that have lean
> tech requirements and focus almost entirely on the content itself. Here's
> sort of a short list of what I see in common between them:
> 1. Focus on the content. Almost all work they do is towards making the
> content compeling to their audience - really rich audio, interesting
> graphics and video and the like. "Interesting" meaning, it may either be
> very special and on topic, or it could be fun or exciting on the branding
Yes, Yes, Yes: your first goal is to engage the student, and,
have them so "turned on" by the jazzy technology that they lose sight of
the content you want them to focus on.
> 2. Minimize recommended configurations. They make sure the titles can work
> without a web browser, best even without any internet connection at all. A
> lot of school labs which account for very profitable volume sales will have
> highly controlled internet access. If it cannot run without an internet
> connection, its often a "no buy".
My own applications are "bog basic" in terms of technology: I could,
if I wished, have all sorts of jazzy extras (and I take out my frustration
in not being able to use them by lobbing them at Use-List members).
However, an exercise in self-discipline is required here, and one must
eschew the bells and whistles lest one lose-sight of the rationale
behind the whole exercise (I believe the Sanskrit term for this type
of distraction is 'Maya' - and, about 5 feet from the keyboard I am
using right now I have a statue of Lord Shiva with his foot firmly
placed on the back of a Mara; an agent of Maya).
> 3. Easy to use local management. If its an application that benefits from
> "lab" level administration, make the teacher side of it easy to set up. A
> lot of Valentina customers get our Bonjour add-on because they can simplifiy
> a lot of lab level configuration by using it.
Just bung the programs on the classroom server.
> 4. Protect Privacy. This is a big one - if your software tests
> understanding/comprehension/etc, then make it secure.
> 5. Branding. Just one title doesn't really cut it; come up with several
> titles that can have a shared brand. When you ship your first title, make
> sure you can transfer your branding efforts to new titles.
And, something that I think is very important here; a fairly standardised,
and recognisable interface style. So that when a student fires up one of
your applications s/he can say "Ah, one of those programs" and feel
comfortable and relaxed; and, as a consequence, open to new
Once in a while I go "funny" and try out a new interface style in a
program - always a mistake - the kids I teach, have, over a period of
time, got used to the 'Richmond style' and respond well to it - and when
faced with a new interface get seriously discombobulated. Now as my main
aim is to "shoe-horn" some English into the kids' heads, a change in
is merely churlish and counterproductive.
> In most cases - these companies do not push the limit of what Director (or
> Revolution) can do - they don't want to, because it means they won't be able
> to be used in so many schools.
Push the limit? Everything I do could be done with RR version 1. Surely
the limit' is beside the point: most children who have access to
having their heads stuffed with (pardon the expression) COMPLETE CRAP that
pushes the technogical limits of whatever it is developed in everyday,
Now children have rather better criteria than adults normally give them
and, very quickly, if the content of your applications is engaging and
they will fast forget that is doesn't push the limit.
I have interleaved my remarks here as a way of showing how, oddly
largely coincide with those of Lynn Fredricks.
> Best regards,
> Lynn Fredricks
> Paradigma Software
> Valentina SQL Server: The Ultra-fast, Royalty Free Database Server
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