Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rapid Blended eLearning Course: Hiking the Appalachian Trail

We've been studying blended learning and rapid eLearning professionally for the office. As information doesn't become knowledge until acted upon, we have started an after-hours project. We are developing our first online blended learning course using rapid eLearning techniques. We decided to build a hiking course as "playing" is how programmers learn to use their tools of the trade.

For those unfamiliar with rapid eLearning, its a development process that uses subject matter experts to author learning materials using off-the-shelf technologies. As there is already a diverse supply of articles, blog posts, videos, lectures, and other materials for the Appalachian Trail and backpacking, we are actively building activities and links to quality resources. With luck, we shouldn't need to develop any new materials.

We'll update this post to keep you advised of our progress.

4/5/12 UPDATE: We're about halfway through our course development. Have had numerous "Ah-hah!" moments. We selected and organized a nice set of video, blog, and other resources to instruct you on hiking the Appalachian Trail. We've also thought up and added some practical hands-on exercises for you to do as well. We're still moving things around and hope to invite everyone to visit in about second weeks time. (We've also had the idea to use this course as the base for our first Pinterest hosted course.)

5/25/12 UPDATE: Done! We've got the content finished. We're having some trouble with Blogger/Blogspot removing internal links and need to make the links handicap accessible. Feel free to bokmark and tell a friend!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Appalachian Trail Weather from Google

Just discovered you can get Appalachian Trail weather via a cell phone by sending a SMS text message to Google. Google offers an SMS Search service. You can text various short texts to Google and receive detailed text search results on your mobile phone. One of the SMS text searches is for weather.

To get Appalachian Trail weather reports, just open a new outgoing SMS message and send "wx" and the nearby zipcode to 466453 (GOOGLE). You'll receive a weather forecast for the next 24-48 hours from Google.

I usually depart for the Appalachian Trail with a ten day forecast from the Weather channel. One of my peeves about the trail is the lack of current weather data along my hike. Often there's a bulletin board with warnings and admonitions, but no one seems to pin-up a 72 hour forecast for long distance hikers.

This year I plan to annotate the zipcodes of nearby towns on my hiking schedule so I can get updated weather from Google as I work south along the Applachian Trail. When I send an SMS text message to my safety person following my hike, I'll take a moment and get updated weather from Google!

In addition to adding the Shenandoah NPS 24-hour emergency center (800-732-0911) to your phone's contacts, give strong consideration to adding Google SMS search.