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Top 99 Workplace eLearning Blogs August 26, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Tony Karrer recently posted a list of the Top 99 Workplace eLearning Blogs over on his eLearning Technology blog. This list is based on the blogs that are used to power the eLearning Learning site, which is a great aggregator of information.

Tony’s list was inspired by a recent post over on the Upside Learning Solutions Blog that listed the Top 47 eLearning and Workplace Learning Blogs. (And I’m happy to say eLearning Weekly made both lists!) Be sure to check out these lists to find some new sources of info.

I read dozens of blogs, but here are some of my favorites that I read on a regular basis. They are in no particular order:

(I will be updating my blogroll soon to include these sites.)

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Quick and Dirty Video Production August 21, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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I’ve become a big fan of the site, readitfor.me, which provides "the world’s most engaging book summaries" in video form. My friend (and incredible business/leadership consultant), John Spence, told me about this site and I’ve been glued to it ever since. Essentially, Steve Cunningham reads mainstream business books and then produces a short, entertaining video summarizing his take on the book. (Note: The image below links to a large version of one of the videos.)

Here Comes Everybody

You can see that this is a simple yet highly effective way to get a message across to your users / learners. Steve’s style reminds me of CommonCraft videos, which use pseudo-animation and paper cut-outs to communicate a message. Here’s an example:

Both styles use an informal, relaxed approach along with seemingly low-budget, low-quality video production. To be clear, I mean that in a good way. Essentially, these aren’t polished productions.

I wanted to show these examples and bring up the fact that video production is getting easier and the tools are getting cheaper every day. It’s now much more conceivable to create videos to help communicate concepts to our learners, rather than using typical eLearning consisting of bullet points, static text, and images. I also think it’s important to show these videos because they prove that visual perfection is not required; content is king, and you’ll be fine as long as the content is accurate (and entertaining). You can create videos like this using only a shoestring budget and a little imagination.

Here are some tools to consider for quick and dirty video projects:

  • Flip video camcorders are around $200 and I keep hearing that they do a wonderful job.
  • Jing is a screen-capture and screencasting tool that I’ve mentioned before. The basic version is free and I can’t say enough about how much I love Jing.
  • Captivate and Camtasia can help you assemble more complicated projects that include video, text, images, audio clips, etc. Once finished, you can export your project as a .swf (Flash file) and embed it on any web page.
  • Audacity can be used for editing audio. It’s free.
  • If you want to get fancy, there are a few YouTube-like systems you can set up at your organization to house video: PHPMotion (open source) and ClipShare are two examples.

What tips / tools have I left off? Have you attempted anything similar at your organization? If so, I’d love to hear about it…

Highlighted Blog: Social Media In Learning August 16, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Jane Hart’s Social Media In Learning blog is proving to be a great resource for keeping up with technologies related to social learning, a.k.a. Enterprise 2.0, a.k.a. Learning 2.0. This blog complements the Social Media In Learning Handbook & Toolkit, which is a free resource for those who want a quick, easy-to-use, structured introduction to social media for learning as well as a practical guide to using social media tools. If you’re new to these tools and technologies, Jane’s blog and associated tools provide an excellent starting point. (And the info is still helpful, even if you’re a seasoned veteran.)

Jane continues to offer amazing resources to the learning and technology community. As I’ve said many times before, thank you, Jane!

(Pardon my short post this week; I ran a half marathon today which has had me a bit distracted recently!)

#lrnchat August 8, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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If you’re looking for a great way to connect with other learning professionals to discuss experiences and share best practices, #lrnchat may be your new best friend. #lrnchat is an online chat that happens every Thursday night 8:30-10pm EST / 5:30-7pm PST on Twitter. Participants are people interested in the topic of learning from one another and who want to discuss how to help other people learn. (If you haven’t yet joined Twitter, this may be a good opportunity to give it a shot!)

#lrnchat is hosted by @marciamarcia, @quinnovator, @moehlert @koreenolbrish and @janebozarth. The official twitter account is @lrnchat.

You may want to consider using a free service like TweetGrid or Monitter to follow #lrnchat; these services make it much easier to tune into the conversation.

Transcripts are available if you are unable to attend the live #lrnchat sessions. Personally, this has been really helpful for me, because I can’t seem to synch my schedule to participate in the live chat sessions. Here’s an example transcript of #lrnchat from July 30, 2009.

Thanks to Jane Hart; her recent post on #lrnchat reminded that this would be an excellent topic to cover in eLearning Weekly.

Enterprise 2.0 August 1, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Enterprise 2.0, the use of social media and social networking tools in a business setting, is having a major impact on how employees learn and share information. As learning professionals, it’s becoming increasingly important that we stay aware of these changes and understand how and why they’re happening. We need to play a bigger role in understanding and selecting Enterprise 2.0 tools, and we need to partner and collaborate with our IT departments along the way. Let’s dive in to learn more about Enterprise 2.0 and learn more about why it matters to us.

What is Enterprise 2.0?

According to the Enterprise 2.0 Conference web site: "Enterprise 2.0 is the term for the technologies and business practices that liberate the workforce from the constraints of legacy communication and productivity tools like email. It provides business managers with access to the right information at the right time through a web of inter-connected applications, services and devices. Enterprise 2.0 makes accessible the collective intelligence of many, translating to a huge competitive advantage in the form of increased innovation, productivity and agility."

Essentially, Enterprise 2.0 is the idea of creating an ecosystem of open, connected tools while growing and nurturing a culture of learning and sharing. Yes, it sounds a little soft and fluffy, but the main idea is to encourage employees to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and become more independent learners. This is very much in line with the theory of informal learning and social learning. Some of the more common tools related to Enterprise 2.0 are blogs (ex. WordPress), wikis (ex. MediaWiki), micro-blogging platforms (ex. Yammer or Present.ly), social bookmarking sites (ex. Scuttle), and even in-house social networks, similar to Facebook.

What role should we play?

Rather than look for ways to integrate Enterprise 2.0 tools with the LMS, I believe we need to take time to experiment and identify which tools have the most value at our organizations. Enterprise 2.0 is definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation. In fact, I find that if you have the right mindset, you’ll naturally figure out what works at your organization. For example, if you determine that you’re going to help connect people to people, and people to information, you’ll start to see areas where these tools will fit naturally in your organization. Don’t try to shoehorn fancy new technology where you think it will succeed. Listen to your learners, run small pilot programs (many of these tools are open-source / free), and experiment. Fortunately, unlike an LMS, you can install several of these tools and experiment under the radar. Then, after you start to see potential areas of success, you can be more visible and vocal with your efforts. (Depending on your situation and your comfort-level with technology, you may want to have an ally in your IT department during your experimentation. They can help install some of the tools / systems for you.)

Enterprise 2.0 Resources

Take some time to check out some of the links below. These are some of the best Enterprise 2.0 resources I’ve found: