Monthly Archives: July 2015

4 Ways to Hack Your LMS

In an earlier post, I compared instructional design to training a marathon runner. When training a runner, I said, we would never make her stop in the middle of a run and read a map in order to figure out where to run next.

We’d have a route planned in advance. We’d probably take her somewhere she’s already been, or maybe we’d run along and lead the way. We’d probably have her run the same route over and over. After all, the purpose of the training is for her to become a better runner, not a better navigator.

If only LMS designers understood that.

Let’s be honest: the typical learning management system is about as easy to navigate as King Minos’ labyrinth—complete with Minotaur. I’m kind of a techno-geek, but I still find most LMSs incredibly frustrating to use. I can only imagine how hard it is for folks who don’t share my peculiar fondness for computers. Sure, students can find their way around if they search hard enough, but unless “dogged perseverance” is actually the topic of your course, it’s a colossal waste of their mental effort. Continue reading


What is an Edgineer?

A learner in motion tends to stay in motion. A learner at rest tends to stay at rest.

That idea was articulated by a keynote speaker at a conference I attended a couple of years ago. It inspired in me a whole new way of thinking about instruction. My ultimate goal is not only to teach the topic at hand, but to ignite minds: to create perpetual learners.

Just like perpetual motion, creating perpetual learners requires two types of action. On the one hand, you need to generate propulsion. On the other, you need to minimize friction. In this blog we’ll explore ways to do both. We will seek to become edgineers: engineers of education.

We’ll talk about instructional design, adult learning, and educational technology. We’ll imagine new approaches, commit to taking intelligent risks, and most of all, we’ll strive for empathy for our learners.

I hope you’ll participate in the conversation.

(by Rissa Karpoff)

Woman Marathon Winner

6 Ways to Develop Marathon Learners

I’ve been thinking lately about the word “training.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary online defines training as:

  • a process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job
  • the process by which an athlete prepares for competition by exercising, practicing, etc.

If I were a personal trainer preparing someone to run a marathon, the first thing I’d do would be to take her out running. I’d help her pick appropriate goals for her current level of ability. I’d help her work on her stride, her pacing, her breathing, and her endurance. I’d make sure she had the right gear, including insoles or knee braces if she needed them. When her determination started to waver, I’d encourage her to keep going. I’d also eliminate as many obstacles as I could. I probably wouldn’t make her leap hurdles or climb walls. And I definitely wouldn’t make her stop in the middle of each run, read a map, and then decide where to run next.

When you think about it, this could be a fairly useful comparison to what we do as educators. Continue reading