Recently in Flash Category

Zooming in on Elegance: A Classy Flash App

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I just wanted to share an example of a partcularly effective museum Flash viewer from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). The exhibition is on European Decorative Arts focusing on the 17th-18th centuries.

If you're familiar with furniture from that era, you'll know that the pieces were very detailed. You really need to get in close to appreciate the artistry - which would require a fairly high resolution image (which would then take up a lot of downloading time and screen real estate). However the MFA uses a nifty Flash viewer to get around the bandwidth and screen problem.

If you click on the Tour button, the Flash viewer opens and it has the standard thumbnails of items to view at the bottom. Click on one to see a closeup. Unlike other museum Flash viewers, this one has two levels of zoom, and you really need them both. Another nice feature is that the thumbnail remains in place but has a red rectangle which you can use to pan to different areas of the close up.

I've seen similar viewers before but this one is particularly well executed. The zooms are really high quality so you can see a lot of detail (check out either the clock or cabinet), and I was amazed at how much detail I could really see. Plus I loved being able to zoom anywhere on the object. Most zooms seem more restricted.

In order to save on bandwidth, I notice that the images pixelate while you're zooming around much like Second Life. I think this really speeds up the movement process so that it's in real time. I feel so totally in control. Sometimes it is the small details that make a difference.

Does Course Content Matter for Instructional Design?

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I used to be involved in a project which created Flash animations and graphics for different courses. One question I was asked was how applicable it was across disciplines.

For instance, do I really expect a philosophy instructor be interested in an animation of supercritical fluids? Actually I don't...But would a philosophy course focusing on Greco-Roman schools of philosophies be interested in a set of historical maps, like the one we did for a Jewish history course? Maybe they would.

This leads to the larger question of whether academic discipline matters when considering tools. On the one hand, it doesn't matter. All courses have target learning outcomes (changes in skills/attitudes you want to see in your students), and the process for mapping objectives and tools should be the same no matter which course you are designing.

But here's a caveat - courses vary widely in their objectives. Even in the philosophy department, a course that focuses on ancient philosophy may share objectives with a history course as well as a course in modern policy, while a formal logic course may have goals similar to an algebra course.

I think that to expect the same courses to use tools in the same ways is doing them a disservice. So instructors naturally benchmark themselves with similar to theirs (i.e. a logic instructor is probably interested inother logic courses).

There are many tools like blogs, images and audio that can be applied in many disciplines, but the uses may have different nuances. Podcasting is a great way for students to create their own interviews (journalism), but is also a great way to capture the sounds of a natural environment (biology) or compare dialect samples (linguistics).

I can truly see three different courses in which students are creating audio, but it's not the same audio. I can also see courses where students aren't necessarily creating audio (maybe blogging is better because you need to learn the craft of writing concrete poetry, include phonetic symbols or explain still photos).

As an instructional designer, I like to look at examples from different disciplines because I do learn more about the capabilities and possibilities of a new tool. And maybe I will find that a technique from math can also work in a philosophy course like logic.

Ultimate Flash Protest Video

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Is this a parable of man vs. machine or just a developer having a nervous breakdown dealing with the Flash Interface?

Animator vs. Animation

It is a reminder of why I both love and loathe Flash.