Section 508 is an amendment to the US Rehabilitation


With publication in the Federal Register on January 18, 2017, the long-awaited Section 508 Refresh became a reality. Publication started a 60-day countdown to the rule’s taking effect on March 20. Compliance with the new Section 508–based standards is required starting January 18, 2018. This Spotlight provides basic information regarding what the Refresh might mean for eLearning.

What is Section 508?

Section 508 is an amendment to the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It requires federal agencies to ensure that all electronic and information technology and content that they develop, obtain, or maintain is fully accessible to people with disabilities. The Refresh updates the requirements that equipment and content must meet to be considered accessible.

So, what does the Refresh mean for eLearning?

Federal agencies are required to comply with Section 508; therefore, any business that supplies electronic and information technology, goods, or services to a federal agency must ensure that those items meet the updated accessibility standards. This includes hardware and software, website design, apps—and educational or training programs.

In addition, many state governments have adopted Section 508, and all states receive funding under the Assistive Technology Act. Therefore, most state agencies and their suppliers, including state universities, are also required to comply.

The regulations apply to all publicly accessible content and to most official communication content, including emergency notifications, policy announcements, notices of program eligibility or employment opportunities, questionnaires, forms and templates, and educational or training materials.

This means, for example, that all eLearning that a state university offers, whether standalone courses or elements of in-person courses, must meet the new guidelines.

Providing 3-D Models Virtual Objects That Enhance eLearning


Imagine providing 3-D (three-dimensional) models for learners to study—medical models, 3-D reproductions of sculptures, geographic locations, even of people. Now imagine creating these models easily and inexpensively. Using a 3-D model moves learners toward fully immersive or augmented reality experiences and adds exponentially to the potential for interactive learning.

Creating a 3-D model using photogrammetry is a shoestring method of creating a virtual object for study. Learners can view and interact with a 3-D model using their computers or mobile devices, turning the model around and looking at it from various angles. Online clothing retailers, for example, sometimes use this technology to show the fit of the clothing from all angles on a 3-D model that stands in for the customer.

Photogrammetry and smartphones

A 3-D model is produced from digital still photographs, not from video. An eLearning developer can create some 3-D models—of a person, a sculpture, or a building, for example—using a smartphone camera and free or inexpensive software, such as the 123D Catch app. Creating 3-D models of larger objects or locations or generating a digital elevation model of a tract of land requires aerial photography.

The process of photogrammetry converts multiple overlapping photo images into a 3-D model of an area or an object. It’s also used to create maps and measurements.

Aerial photogrammetry uses aerial photographs, taken from a drone or airplane, to create maps or digital elevation models. The camera shoots multiple overlapping images of the ground along the flight path.
Close-range photogrammetry uses photos taken with a handheld or tripod-mounted camera; the results are converted to 3-D models using point clouds. A 3-D model of a building or an object of any size can be created this way; some models can be printed using a 3-D printer.

A Few Questions to Ask When Choosing a Virtual Classroom Platform


A virtual classroom platform makes it possible to offer eLearning in multiple synchronous formats. There are several well-regarded vendors and products to choose from, though, and it can be hard for a new eLearning developer to select a platform. Here are some questions that can help with that decision.

1. What type of eLearning will you be doing?

Is your eLearning going to be primarily presentations or hands-on training?

The type of eLearning affects the extent and type of learner participation and could determine class size. The tools that your virtual classroom platform must include might be different for different types of eLearning, because you might emphasize different types of interactive participation:

A presentation or webinar can (and should) include interactivity, but it might tend toward polls, questions, and chats.
On the other hand, training entails learning and practicing a new skill. That skill might be using a software tool, or it might be role-playing and other discussion or talk-based participation. For this, you’ll want to be able to share a whiteboard and screens, set up breakout discussions, and more.
The type of eLearning also should be a factor in determining class size. A presentation or webinar might be presented to dozens or even hundreds of learners; a hands-on training, to be effective, should be limited to a small number of learners.

Class size and the type of interactivity are key factors in choosing a platform.

2. What technical infrastructure is available—and what limitations must you contend with?

Will you be hosting the virtual session from an office with an excellent Internet connection and full IT backup? Or from home or a coffee shop with questionable Wi-Fi? Is using VOIP an option? Do you need to integrate this eLearning with a corporate LMS? Knowing the situation can make the difference in choosing a platform. It will also help you prepare a backup plan—and a backup for your backup. What will you do if the Internet is down? Do you have spare equipment in case of a failure?

The Role of Education in a Culinary Training


Tossing together a little dinner of amaretto shrimp almandine doesn’t overwhelm you. Stuffed puff pastries don’t faze you.  You are ready for a culinary career!You relish the thought of a career standing in front of a hot stove.

Job Outlook

Two million more jobs will be added by 2017 for a total of 14.8 people employed in the industry.The National Restaurant Association notes that an estimated 12.8 million people make the restaurant industry the second-largest industry next to government.

The increase is attributed to several factors. For one, more people return from trips to foreign lands where they tried exotic foods and liked what they ate. Secondly, those TV personalities who so casually flip crepes have shown how much fun gourmet cooking can be to watch and to prepare. In addition, more and more Americans spend their leisure dollars in restaurants.

Education & Training

However, a formal culinary education is a must if you want to make cooking your career. Not only will you learn a wide variety of cuisines and different theories and techniques about foods with a degree or certificate from a culinary school, but you will also likely start in a higher position.

Of course, many people do train on the job, but the disadvantage is that you will be exposed to only one type of cuisine that the restaurant serves, and it will take you longer to learn all the techniques associated with the different jobs in a kitchen.

What Culinary School Gives You

Culinary and hospitality schools offer students the theoretical foundation of cooking as well as hands-on classes in three major categories:

Culinary Arts, which includes training in classical and contemporary techniques
Patisserie and Baking, which teaches pastry and baking arts in breads, custards, confections, etc.
Hospitality and Restaurant Management, which prepares graduates with training in management, finances, communication, and business operations

Many culinary schools have college food services and restaurants. Schools usually offer externships in local restaurants, giving you even more experiences.You will also get the opportunity to work in a variety of environments.

When you graduate, you will be prepared for a career in any number of establishments, from restaurants, bakeries, corporate food-service departments to health-related institutions, as well as in the rapidly expanding fields of catering and food-to-go.

Tips on Improving eLearning Design


Today’s instructional designers have the daunting task of designing an experience, not just a training program. Designing such experiences requires a deep understanding of the modern learner, the latest trends in technology and new media, and augmented and virtual reality tools, plus the ability to grasp and work with a lot of content. The eLearning Guild’s new free eBook, 157 Tips on Improving eLearning Design, offers insights on ways to improve eLearning design from members of The eLearning Guild community.The ideal learning experience designer should have a combination of skills in advertising, technology, and new media, and a passion for learning.

Topics include:

Customizing and personalizing learning
Demonstrating your value
Designing for mobile
Documenting and managing your designs and standards
Effective instructional design and development
Making learning stick
Managing project costs and time
Download 157 Tips on Improving eLearning Design for free today, and discover what you can do to improve your eLearning design.

Access more from The eLearning Guild

The eLearning Guild’s eBooks are FREE for everyone, and Guild membership is not required to download them. With more than two dozen published titles, every Guild eBook is focused on one theme. Some are collections of tips we gather from the industry experts and experienced practitioners who speak at our online events, while others offer tips from Guild members around the world, or collections of articles from key industry leaders. In any case, you’ll find valuable information that you can immediately put to work in your organization.

Design Can Inprove eLearning and reading Comprehension


Does reading comprehension suffer when learners switch from paper to screens? This question has been studied from multiple angles, with varied findings. There’s no definitive answer, but for eLearning professionals, a better question might be: How can eLearning design maximize learning potential and mitigate potential barriers to comprehension?

Anyone considering implementing eLearning—or converting existing training to eLearning—should consider the differences in how learners take in and process information when using digital means (like desktop or tablet computers) versus reading printed material, and design accordingly!

Learners perform better on paper

So, what are those differences? A 2013 study compared participants’ reading comprehension when reading on paper versus on computer screens. It found that people performed better on reading comprehension tests when they read from paper. The researchers offered several possible explanations for why this is the case.

Scrolling: The researchers cite several studies that support the contention that scrolling interferes with reading comprehension because it affects the readers’ mental representation of the text. In simple English, that means that people often recall text by picturing where on the page they saw it. When learners scroll through multiple screens of text, the text is not fixed in a location, and the learners cannot form a mental picture of where a specific passage is located, as they can when reading on paper.
When reading on digital screens, learners can only see one screen of text at a time. Partial or entire text: When holding books or printed documents, learners can leaf through and skip from page to page—the entire text is available to them at once. They lack the physicality of a book or printed document, which also gives them a tangible way to tell how far they have progressed and how much they have left to read.
Myth of multitasking: When answering reading comprehension questions about a digital text, learners have to switch back and forth on the screen between the text and the question. This type of multitasking places additional demands on the learners, possibly interfering with comprehension of the text. Considerable research has shown that, when people think they are multitasking, they are actually switching between tasks, and they lose efficiency with each switch. But when reading a paper text, whether answering questions on a digital screen or on an additional piece of paper, learners can have both the text and the questions in front of them at the same time, so multitasking is not required.
Bias: The researchers cite a common perception that digital media are more useful for short messages, while serious study “should” be done using paper media. Learners holding this bias are less likely to focus deeply on the material they are reading on-screen. However, this condition is difficult to study objectively or measure.
Visual fatigue: People who spend a long time reading a tablet or computer screen often report visual fatigue or headaches, which can interfere with reading comprehension and recall, or may simply cause learners to prefer paper. Electronic readers (eReaders), such as Kindles, that use electronic ink and reflect light, rather than emitting light, cause less visual fatigue. Since most available research groups computers, tablets, and electronic readers into a single category, additional research that looks at eReaders and paper might provide useful insight.

Blended eLearning for Editors Provides Focused Skills Practice and Engaged Learning

Close-up of a hand proofreading a manuscript with a red pen

Members of many professions seek continuing education courses to sharpen or update their skills. But in a profession like editing, where contract or freelance work is very common, and where employers have drastically cut training budgets, attending conferences or in-person seminars is not always possible. What’s an education-hungry professional editor to do?

Turn to eLearning, of course.

Editing is an applied skill; the learning must go beyond presentation of concepts and facts. Learners must practice, get feedback, and apply that feedback to new editing assignments. Thus asynchronous eLearning and offline exercises, while essential, could be only a partial solution. Live lectures and discussions held in a virtual classroom, as well as individualized instructor feedback on editing projects, complete the eLearning picture. It’s the only way to improve, whether that practice occurs in class or on the job.

This case study presents a blended solution—the product of a veteran institution dedicated to educating journalism and media professionals, The Poynter Institute, and a professional organization for copy editors, ACES—that can assist others in developing similar solutions for a variety of professions.

Poynter’s NewsU

The Poynter Institute, in St. Petersburg, Florida, was long renowned for its in-person training seminars for journalism and media professionals. A gorgeous location right on Tampa Bay; top-notch instructors, both permanent faculty and guest instructors flown in for the seminars; sumptuous meals; networking opportunities … then came the early 2000s. As the age of legacy media—newspapers and television—gave way to the digital era, media organizations no longer had training budgets that supported sending staff to week-long seminars in Florida. Poynter had to change gears; it began to offer seminars within newsrooms, and it created training models that combined online or independent study with short on-site seminars.

And Poynter moved into eLearning in a big way.

News University, or NewsU, was born in 2005. The eLearning division of The Poynter Institute, NewsU is a pioneer among professional development organizations, notable for the depth and breadth of its offerings. NewsU produces dozens of webinars each year as well as offering replays of previous webinars; it offers hundreds of asynchronous eLearning courses, many available free of charge, and several certificate programs. And, increasingly, NewsU and Poynter pool their considerable expertise to offer what they call OGSs, or online group seminars.

Turn Effective Instructor-led Training to Captivating eLearning

E-learning and education

The Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California (USC-ICT) is a US Army university-affiliated research center. This center conducts research and development for training across multiple domains including simulations, games, artificial intelligence models, virtual and mixed realities, and more. This article is a case study of learning technology work my organization is doing for USC-ICT.

Among USC’s many programs is one titled Captivating Virtual Instruction for Training (CVIT). A portion of the stated goals of CVIT puts it this way: “CVIT is a multi-year research effort seeking to produce blueprints for mapping effective instructional techniques used in successful live classroom settings to core enabling technologies, which may then be used for the design and development of engaging virtual and distributed learning applications.”

The challenge of creating captivating distance learning

Let me unpack that statement. There is a purposeful focus within CVIT around the word “captivating.” The user experience (UX), the learning experience: Is it captivating? The USC learning and behavior scientists are looking to take the concepts that make popular and effective live training “captivating,” and keep it captivating while digitizing and blending it into distance learning. There is a tremendous value in the training content’s holding your attention and keeping you engaged. This particular content has been designed with learning science, is considered documented training materials or platform instruction, and is deemed to be effective at meeting a standard of performance when delivered by the instructor. Considering that instructor-led training, or ILT, has often been referred to as “death by PowerPoint,” there is good reason to develop examples of captivating distance-learning blueprints.

Badging and achievements

The course title is Intelligence Architecture Online Course (IAOC).The USC-ICT behavior scientists were looking to take an instructor-led information assurance (cybersecurity) training course, bring the training into the digital realm, and make sure it is captivating.

How to be a Food Stylist?


While most folks interested in the Culinary Arts choose to work in the kitchen as chefs, there are a few others that are interested in the more unusual culinary careers that are out there. One of those is being a Food Stylist.

What Does a Food Stylist Do?
Food stylists combine culinary art and science to prepare food for cookbook and advertising photographs, television commercials, and scenes in movies. Stylists are responsible for finding unusual ingredients and preparing food so it looks freshly made and appetizing. A culinary school degree is a must for a food stylist, as the job requires extensive knowledge of how food acts, both aesthetically and scientifically.

Tricks of the Trade
Stylists know that looks are more important than taste during a photo shoot, and they use culinary tricks to make food the star of the show. For instance, they might substitute heavy cream for milk when photographing cereal (heavy cream looks much more appetizing). By adding aspirin powder to champagne, stylists create extra fizz. Talcum powder sprinkled over charcoal simulates ash.

There are other tricks too—applying lipstick on strawberries to deepen their redness, using hair dryers to cook a slice of turkey, or using shortening mixed with sugar to simulate ice cream. The Food Stylist’s job has gotten much easier with the advent of digital photography. No longer does the stylist need to worry about such details as the food sitting under the hot lights for hours and hours—photos are now taken and assessed much more quickly.

Tools of the Trade
Being a food stylist is a fascinating and challenging job. Each Food Stylist has their favorite tools of the trade, whether they are a good set of shaping knives, needle-nose tweezers, Q-tips, or various things from art supply stores. But it’s not all about fooling the cameras! Food Stylists also get to experiment with new recipes when they are helping do the photographs for a new cookbook, and they get to create the new and interesting foods that restaurant chains such as McDonald’s launch.

A Food Stylist is only as good as the last photo or commercial, so it requires an individual that is detail-oriented, organized, and focused.But being a food stylist requires always being at the top of your game, and food doesn’t always behave.

Job Training & Education
A good food stylist starts out with a solid culinary education, and spends several years working as a traditional chef before working in the field.Food Stylists can earn anywhere from $450 to $850 a day once they are established. The best way to break in to the market is to work as an assistant to a well-established stylist, and then branch out into having your own clients.

Being a Food Stylist is an excellent way to combine artistic vision with culinary skills. If this sounds like you, enroll in Culinary School and get your career underway today!

Professor lawsuits University Forced Him To Teach Maths Only Because ‘Asians Are Good At Maths’

A Korean-American professor filed a lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Chicago last week, claiming that officials in his department “systematically harassed” him because of his ethnicity and forced him to teach a math class because he was Asian.

Seung-Whan Choi, a professor of international relations, says that UIC’s political science department denied him fair raises, according to a lawsuit filed last week and obtained by The Huffington Posttreated him unfairly and forced him to teach classes that he wasn’t qualified to teach.

“They don’t like Korean-Americans,” Choi, a retired Army officer who was born in South Korea, told The Chicago Tribune. “I’m supposed to be very submissive to the department head, who is white-American.”

The lawsuit claims that department officials forced Choi to teach a statistics class because, as it quotes one department head as saying, “Asians, especially Koreans, are very good” at math. Similarly, Choi claims that the department pressured him into teaching a class in Korean politics, even though he has had no formal training in that field of study.

The lawsuit also claims that Dennis Judd, who was head of the political science department in 2015, changed one of Choi’s student’s grades without first telling Choi. When confronted about the grade change, the lawsuit says, Judd told Choi that, “as a foreigner,” he “has to keep in mind who he is dealing with and what he is wishing for” and that Koreans “are stubborn and do not understand American culture of compromise.”

The professor also claims that his colleagues have wrongfully accused him of lacking in academic contributions, though a copy of Choi’s curriculum vitae posted on UIC’s website shows that Choi authored two books in 2016 and has had 35 scholarly articles published.

Choi believes that some of the mistreatment stems from his decision to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010, after he was fired for an undisclosed reason. As a result of Choi’s 2010 complaint, the university settled with the professor through a mediator and reinstated Choi with a promotion in 2011.

The lawsuit says that Choi’s colleagues resented him and retaliated by isolating Choi from the rest of the department and treating him unfairly.

The professor filed a second complaint with the EEOC in October 2016, accusing the department of relatiation and continued discrimination, according to court documents obtained by HuffPost. Days later, Choi received a “right to sue” notice.

The harassment has humiliated Choi, causing him physical illnesses, severe anxiety, depression and high blood pressure, the lawsuit claims.

“It’s frustrating and sometimes I just don’t want to go to work because of … the bad and dirty politics within the department,” Choi told the Tribune.

UIC’s department of political science did not immediately return The Huffington Post’s request for comment.