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Exercise + Assignment
Where to from here?

Joe Old

Taking stock and looking ahead:
Hopefully, you have acquired some skills that will increase your options when making instructional technology materials. I think you will find that as you begin to use the kind of instructional technology dealt with in this short course, you will find more and more ways to use it and your skill will grow.

We have not been able to go very deeply into each software, but I think you should have enough to make it begin to work for you at a level that will be useful. Beyond mastering the tools talked about here, there are other tools to explore.

For example, if you just used Word to build web pages, which is a good start, you might want to try to get Netscape Composer or explore an HTML editor such as Dreamweaver, which is made by Macromedia. I personally use Dreamweaver, but there are many other web development tools. There's a whole world out there, including animation, which fascinates some people. I only use web pages to deliver basic content, but animation may be the kind of thing you would like to add to your pages. The Macromedia site will show you a range of its offerings beyond Dreamweaver. (I add the link here for information purposes only. There is no endorsement of the product implied. Entering a search phrase such as "web development tools: into Google will bring up several other options.)

There are also more advanced programs than Paint, which comes as standard software on so many computers. The more advanced the program, the more control you have over the images you produce. (And with all programs, there is a learning curve. I have found though, that once you learn one program, the second one is easier, as many of the "tools" inside the programs are similar.)

While you can do some modification of photos with Paint, you can do a lot more with a program such as Adobe Photoshop, which is available at the Adobe web site. It's pretty pricey, but if you're serious about dealing with images, it's powerful. There is a simplified and much less expensive version called Adobe Photoshop Elements, which came with my computer. It's fairly easy to use. (Again no endorsement is implied.) Your institution may already have a site license for one or more of these programs. You can find out with a quick call to the inflammation technology office.)

In the Unit on PowerPoint, I pointed to many capabilities of that program which we did not take time to explore. PowerPoint is reasonably easy to use and mere experimentation with its other capabilities will no doubt bring them under control. And if you encounter problems, there is surely someone at your campus who can help you.

I have specifically not talked much about the users manuals related to any of the instructional technology we have used here, because I did not want to scare anyone off! However, the manuals are loaded with useful information, even if some of it is a bit complex. There are users guides that are simpler than some of the manuals. (I first learned about HTML with a little book that promised to teach it to me in "ten minutes a day." And I wasn't disappointed! And even though I started learning to encode documents with a more advanced HTML book, it wasn't long before I moved to HTML editing software that saved me even that trouble.)

It was confusing and awkward burning my first CD, but a simplified handbook on Windows XP walked me through the process. It didn't take but a couple of tries to get it, but I will confess that I took a blank CD to class one day because I omitted a step! That only happened once. With use comes competence.

Finally, I have always found the information technology people at my campus to be extraordinarily helpful when I encountered problems, so don't hesitate to use the IT people at your institution. There may also be local workshops on instructional technology that will help you increase your command of these powerful tools.

Probably the most important thing you can do is just practice using what you know. I have found that the more I use these tools, the more I like to use them.

I don't think it's any cause for concern, either, if what you've learned seems to slip your mind from time to time. I recently had to ask my web master about the details of logging on to upload some files. I had forgotten a small detail that brought everything to a halt until I could ask about it. The web master was understanding, and I was back in business after a couple of e-mails and a phone call.

I would suggest that you keep a folder (in a secure place, of course) with a list of all the proper procedures -- and passwords -- for logging in to various accounts you will find yourself accumulating as you broaden your use of instructional technology. It will make things a lot easier for you!

Now that you've gotten a basic exposure to some powerful instructional technology through this Lite Tech course, I think you will find that it won't be long until you are doing some heavy hitting with it. Good luck!