What I Like About eLearning March 22, 2011Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning, Theory.
Tags: Captivate, Cathy Moore, Litmos, Screenr, StrengthsFinder, Twitter
I was never really good in art class growing up. I’d immerse myself in the project of the day and be proud of what I’d made, only to look up at the end and discover that everyone else had glued their macaroni or painted their plate just a little better than I.
I particularly liked collages, I think, because they offered the less talented more room for error — mistakes just look like creativity in a collage. Maybe elearning is like a collage. Some text here, a photo there. Some images I cut and paste along the edge.
And then maybe I move everything around and try another lay-out.
I like that. I like strategy and learning by experience. So mapping out a template and building it 14 ways definitely floats my boat. Rapid-prototyping was practically invented for the strategist and activator (StrengthsFinder) in me.
And I like a lot of other things about elearning:
- Having all these programs, and multiple instances of some, open at once: Captivate, Photoshop, PowerPoint, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Word, TweetDeck, Handbrake, Dropbox, Excel, and Project.
- The Rapid eLearning Blog and tips like how to make a PowerPoint template.
- Cathy Moore’s dedication to language.
- That elearning people are into Twitter and Facebook (community from Cali to London to Austrailia).
- Creative elearning people coming up with cool logos like the awesome little Litmos monster and the ninja photo of the eLearning Brothers.
- Cammy Bean.
- The beautiful, sleek, amazing app machine known as the iPad.
- Saying, “How about a hover over?”
- The writers I’ve read the most: B.J. Schone, Jane Hart, Tom Kuhlmann, and Clive Shepherd.
- Nudging assets on the screen.
- Tahoma, Verdana, and Kristen ITC.
- Articulate — the authoring tools, the company, the blogs, and the online presence.
- Drop shadows.
- PNG files.
- Editing the Captivate files being discussed during the conference call.
- Putting secret doors throughout my elearning modules, mainly so I can jump around quickly, but also the occasional surprise room I hope some learner finds.
- Absorb, the best LMS on earth.
The Return of Code March 14, 2011Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning Tools.
Tags: AICC, Design, iPad, mLearning, Rapid Development, Samsung Galaxy, SCORM, Xoom
So much work has been done to take code out of the equation. We’ve become a WYSIWYG generation with all the convenient tools for web and elearning development. This WordPress blog you are reading is a perfect example, and the proliferation of blogs in the past 5 years is a direct result of WYSIWYG tools.
These DIY tools are getting better and better, and there are more and more of them. Still, I see coding making a comeback.
Why is code going to become more important and popular? Three reasons:
1. Cookie Cutters Not Cutting It
Rapid elearning tools offer anyone the capability of publishing flash modules, SCORM or AICC compliant. But, for many, the templates and functionality have replaced instructional design. Although modules can look amazing, integrate multi-media, and offer interactivity, designers and developers find the tools guiding the development: what the tools can do replaces what designers set out in storyboard. Coding allows for custom work within the rapid tools.
2. The Many (Inter)-Faces of mLearning
The most intriguing mobile device, the iPad, doesn’t support Flash, demanding app development or web-apps developed for many devices. Since the competition is finally showing up, Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy, for example, web-apps might be ideal so any device learners have can display the elearning. Native apps, though, offer the most in user experience. Organizations might want to invest in a specific mobile device so communications and elearning can be created for that device.
3. The Web Teaches HTML
Just google HTML or how to code and you will see what I mean. The web is full of HTML tutorials by passionate coders. From simple HTML to more advanced CSS code, you can find help for any stage of your coding needs. If you are a beginner, you have some easy reading to do. If you are getting better, you’ll want some HTML Goodies. I also imagine elearning teams will hire coders to come in and create some HTML templates that the team can copy and paste and edit for variety. It seems far easier to edit existing code than to come up with it in the first place.
Top 5 eLearning Skills for 2011 – A Follow-Up March 7, 2011Posted by kevinthorn in eLearning, Theory.
Tags: eLearning Design, InstructionalDesign, Storyboarding, Writing
eLearning Weekly welcomes our newest contributor, Kevin Thorn.
Following up on last week’s post titled, “Top 5 Skills for eLearning in 2011,” I’d like to explore this at a different angle. We could go two ways with this: Brand new to the eLearning industry, or a seasoned veteran honing their skills. The comments generated from the original post focused a lot on why Instructional Design was not included in the top 5, so let’s start there with three key points:
- Instructional Design is not eLearning Design. Whether you are formally trained in Instructional Design or you have spent a number of years in the industry practicing the craft, ID is not a specific skill rather a conglomerate of methods, models, practices, theories, and techniques.
- Instructional Design is the “design” of “instruction.” This profession has been around long before eLearning arrived and Instructional Design encompasses everything from classroom instruction to a job aide, while eLearning falls somewhere in the middle.
- Instructional Design is not a single skill but a varying degree of many perishable skills. The eLearning skills you need for 2011 may be directly influenced by the industry in which you work, and therefore some are more prevalent than others.
Let’s begin by suggesting you are either formally trained in ID or you have extensive experience applying the methods surrounding it. From there, what eLearning skills do you need for 2011 – the remaining ten months?
While I don’t necessarily disagree with this first list as each have their merit, but I’m not quite sure these fit as the top 5 skills needed for 2011 as opposed to the next 5-10 years. Let’s look at these 5 again from broader approach and discuss a few more I’ve thrown in.
- Video Production – As Eric pointed out, the cost of producing your own video and the editing software available today is very accessible. However, unless your company is doing an entire video series there really is no reason to spend time learning video production specific skills – this year. Additionally, there are many organizations today that don’t have the proper infrastructure to support video in eLearning. Although any video editing does require patience, it’s not anything a novice can pick up fairly quickly. An affordable HD video cam, Movie Maker (Windows) or iMovie (Mac) can produce quality videos without much effort.
- Social Media – As we all know social media is no longer a trend and is becoming the main stream of communicating. I don’t think SoMe is a skill so much as it is a practice. You gain knowledge of how SoMe works by the mere fact of being embedded in it. Similar to video production where many organizations are not set up to handle that type of media, even more organizations have not incorporated SoMe into their business. Just because there are several really great case studies using SoMe in training, doesn’t mean your organization has a business value to implement it. In preparation for the years to come though, I would encourage everyone to get a Twitter account, join LinkedIn groups, and engage in Facebook Groups, etc. to stay plugged in.
- Mobile Development – I will echo the same thing here…many organizations are not set up to deliver anything mobile let alone mobile learning. Several predictions and forecasting models show mobile (smart phones, tablets, etc.) will be mainstream by 2020 and the keyboard and mouse that we so affectionately love today will be archaic devices. As for gaining skills for mobile development, many eLearning designers & developers do not “code” their courses anymore and use one of the popular authoring tools today. I’ve not hand-coded a course in over 5 years and my guess is we will see tools in the near future that will output mobile designs similar to how authoring tools do today with eLearning.
- Graphic Design – Eric points out here that it’s not so much the skill of becoming a graphic designer, but rather where to find them when you need them as well as making your own. Researching images can be a daunting task, but having relevant research skills along with actually knowing where to go to find them should be foundational. Coming from a graphic design background, I’ve often made the decision to buy (or through CC usage) rather than create myself. In the end, the time it finally took me to search the appropriate images I could have built my own library!
- Rapid Development – First, Rapid Development is NOT a replacement for Rapid Design. The design process must still occur instructionally and visually before any development begins. Every project dictates, but by entering each project with that plan, rapid development is VERY efficient and shaves off hours of work. Two very important considerations need to be addressed here as well: 1) Rapid development is not the cause of poor design, and 2) Rapid Development is authoring tool independent.
- Project Management – Consider the entire process from start to finish. You begin with an initial meeting to determine the overall performance outcome. From there you begin your analysis and agree eLearning is the best solution. In the end you have a course/module published on your web or LMS. That entire process is a project. I’ve seen more times than I care to admit where an Instructional Designer is in the middle of an eLearning project and has hit a snag with no clear idea how they got there or how to get out of it. I’m not suggesting run out and earn your PMI certificate, but having fundamental skills in project management methodology is essential.
- Writing – This industry did not exist as a career path when I started. Many people today who work as Instructional Designers earned their ISD or IDT degree. Others came to this industry through circumstance with an English, Journalism, or Technical Writing degree, while others may or may not have any ID or writing background at all. Yet, I suggested that ID is assumed for purposes of this post, one cannot effectively develop eLearning if they do not know how to write content, scripts, or storyboards.
- Storyboarding – Think of the storyboard as the project plan. There is no standard around the exact way to storyboard an eLearning project as each situation dictates. Most I see are sparse and not very useful if someone had to pick up the project on a whim. Think of storyboarding as a project workbook with all documentation supporting the eLearning project.
- Rapid Prototyping – Not to be confused with Rapid Development, this widely unused phase is invaluable. Rapid Prototyping can occur early on in the process and be reviewed for instructional flow and usability. Other aspects such as writing scripts, asset collection, etc. are happening simultaneously.
The days of the workforce training departments with Instructional Designers, Graphic Artists, Developers, etc. is of the past. Today, teams and even individual contributors are the one-all-be-all Training Project Coordinators. This is not an official role, but the title fits more of what the real world is experiencing. One person is responsible for the entire eLearning project from cradle to grave. To be competitive, and more importantly create meaningful and memorable eLearning, one must learn multiple skills.
There are a multitude of industries deploying eLearning. However, the corporate workforce seems to be where the most attention is needed in getting the right skills in place. With eLearning Weekly’s permission, let’s shake the list up a bit. From the perspective I shared above, two of the original and four additional skills make a new list of the Top 6 eLearning Skills for 2011:
- Project Management
- Rapid Prototyping
- Graphics (design or researching skills)
- Rapid Development
What do you think? Are there more/less specific skills for eLearning that we can impress on people to learn or hone this year? Are there timeless skills needed no matter which direction the industry moves this year?
The Luxury of Instructional Design March 2, 2011Posted by Eric Matas in Theory.
Tags: eLearning, InstructionalDesign
It’s better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. – James Thurber
You hear about the next training project you and your team have to manage. What questions come to mind? After questions about the main content, you’ll probably have questions about time, people and money.
- How long do you have to prep the course?
- How long should the course be?
- Who is the audience?
- What’s the budget?
These and other logistical questions help frame your strategy for making the course. They are crucial questions, even part of many trainers’ tool kit for analysis–the ‘A’ in ADDIE. ADDIE is widely used and tauted, but following ADDIE often leads to a fatalistic unanticipated side-effect: focusing on performance outcomes and writing learning objectives to get there means working backwards from the end, and the end causes worry. Side-effect: anxiety.
- Will we get done in time?
- Will everything we plan actually work?
- Should we just use the same materials as last time?
Wondering whether or not you can put it all together can stop you from putting it all together. Or, it makes you focus less on design and more on implementation. With deadlines and resource constraints, you need to get some ducks in a row:
- Can you really afford the luxury of instructional design?
No way. Not this time. We need to have a course ready for when the class shows up or logs on. We’ll look like idiots if we don’t look prepared or if our elearning doesn’t work.
Does this happen?
How about this: someone thinks about the learners and the learning they need. Someone takes a moment to imagine a learner after training, out on the front lines of life, where they need to know those vital nuggets of their training, and where success and sales either happen or do not. If you are someone who thinks of that, then maybe you have asked this question:
- Can you afford to forget about instructional design?
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. – Dr. Seuss
The Thin Mints of eLearning February 21, 2011Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning, Theory.
Tags: eLearning, Girl Scouts, InstructionalDesign, Learning Theory, Thin Mints
(It teaches them about business. About selling. Money. Honesty.)
I’d like to sell to you, for $3.50, a box of thin chocolaty-minty learning cookies. Learning that you would enjoy. Binge on. Freeze for later. And even share with friends and family.
(I am talking about elearning.)
I start to wrap up the tower of cookies and put it back in the box with its twin, when it occurs to me that these individual Thin Mints are really very thin. Super thin. Like, they’re barely even a whole cookie. In fact, it would probably take three Thin Mints to equal one regular-sized cookie. Which means if I eat two more, I’m really only finishing up one cookie, right?
That’s the truth according to the Didactic Pirate.
The truth about elearning: The experience of elearning needs to be so thin that it leaves learners wanting more.
That’s all folks. A thin mint this.
Easily Add Flash Interactions to eLearning February 16, 2011Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning.
Tags: Adobe Captivate, Articulate, eLearning Brothers, Flash Interactions, Tools, Training Games
Don’t worry: no Flash is required. You don’t need to know how to program in Flash, and you don’t even need to own Flash software.
You just need to head to eLearningInteractions.com and use the intuitive online tool. Once online, you are five steps away from having a beautiful Flash file (.SWF) to insert into your elearning.
- Click to launch the eLearning Interaction Builder.
- Choose a training activity template (from more than 70 like glossaries, process maps, pyramids or games).
- Add text, images and audio.
- Choose a theme (lots of colors and patterns, or make your own).
- Download the .swf file.
It’s really far too simple for what you get: amazing looking Flash activities for your elearning that add interaction and fun for your learners.
eLearning Interactions comes from the eLearning Brothers, Andrew and Shawn Scivally. They also offer elearning templates and custom Articulate skins as well as blog posts and good-natured ninja-tastic attitudes.
The interactions builder kicks out a Flash AS2 file, which easily scales to fit into your PowerPoint or your authoring tools. The games can be used in classroom training too. Since Captivate 5 has, questionably, limited support to AS3 only, these ineractions are not for Captivate 5, but they work great with Captivate 4, Articulate, Atlantic Link, and others.
For a nice, quick tutorial, watch their screenr video that shows the simple steps that result in awesome elearning interactions: http://screenr.com/y0F.
eLearning Thought Leaders: OpenSesame February 9, 2011Posted by Eric Matas in Interview.
Tags: eLearning, eLearning Start Up, LMS, Open Sesame, SCORM Video Player, Thought Leaders
They are changing the way elearning, module-by-module, is bought and sold online.
eLW: I go to OpenSesame.com and see that you are the elearning marketplace — what does that mean?
JB: OpenSesame has a simple mission: Make buying an elearning course as easy as downloading a song from iTunes. We connect elearning buyers and sellers in an easy-to-use online marketplace where developers publish and sell their courses and training managers find the off-the-shelf content they need to create an effective and up-to-date workforce.
For the first time, OpenSesame allows buyers to research, evaluate and purchase courses from a diverse set of publishers in a single location. OpenSesame is also a solution for elearning developers, who can use our marketplace to reach new customers. Developers can sell existing off-the-shelf courses, thereby leveraging work they have already completed, or create new courses specifically for the OpenSesame marketplace.
OpenSesame addresses another elearning pain point by solving the interoperability hurdle. Our technology connects SCORM or AICC courses to any learning management system, enabling developers to focus their attentions on creating great courses instead of resolving technical hurdles.
TT: Emphatically yes. We are proud that our platform technology enables any course creator to connect any content to any LMS. We’re solving the interoperability problem for course developers and end users, while making diverse courses trackable on a variety of systems.
We rely on the SCORM and AICC standards to act as the bridge between content authoring tools and end users’ learning management systems. When organizations purchase a course from OpenSesame’s marketplace, they upload a license file to their LMS just as they would with any other course content.
JB: The OpenSesame team has a deep background in the elearning sector. During our 10 years in the elearning business, we realized that the biggest impediment to the growth of elearning was organizations’ inability to easily find, select and deploy high quality elearning content. We decided to found a new company that would act as a platform for these connections.
Between us, we have software, business, design and communications experience driving our development of the OpenSesame marketplace solution for the content conundrum. We believe that in the long term, our open marketplace will make elearning accessible, easy to implement and rewarding for everyone.
TT: We believe in collaborating with our technology partners to solve problems and create elegant features for elearning professionals. We offer software developers the opportunity to add value to their elearning products by integrating with the OpenSesame marketplace through a read-write API.
LMS developers can integrate the OpenSesame catalog into their marketplace in two ways. First, developers can enable LMS users to purchase and deploy courses from the OpenSesame marketplace in one step. Our API will enable LMSs to automatically create and configure courses using files and metadata from OpenSesame. Furthermore, LMS developers can enable users to browse the OpenSesame catalog from within the LMS user interface — never needing to visit http://www.OpenSesame.com to access the elearning courses they need.
We are also developing an API for course authoring tools, which will enable developers to build authoring tools that publish courses directly into the OpenSesame marketplace, offering additional income and advertising opportunities to their clients.
TT: We are thrilled to welcome elearning course developers who are sharing their existing elearning courses or perhaps creating new, all-purpose courses on topics where they have created custom courses in the past.
Watch our Getting Started screencast to take a tour of our marketplace. Take the first step towards selling courses by visiting our site and clicking register in the top right corner. Once you have created a user profile, you can upload your course files, set the per-seat and site license prices and enter information about the topic, target audience and learning objectives.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
JB: A SCORM video player.
We’re making it possible for simple, YouTube style videos to be completed and tracked as SCORM courses in learning management systems. We’re excited about this for two reasons: First, making videos trackable like elearning courses will lower the barrier of entry for subject matter experts who have experience and information to share but don’t have traditional course design skills.
Second, videos are often the simplest and most straightforward way to illustrate a new idea or concept for learners. It’s the definition of rapid elearning to enable a developer or subject matter expert to make a screencast or other quick video to respond to new technology developments or demand in the marketplace. We’re making it possible for organizations to track and manage their learners’ participation in video-based learning experiences.
JB: There’s no place I’d rather be than here, making elearning accessible, effective and fun! But in an alternate universe, if I had to choose another profession, I would coach the USC football team.
TT: Like Josh, I enjoy this opportunity to start a new business focused on extending learning opportunities across enterprises but if I had to choose something else, I’d be producing children’s movies.
JB: I’m proud to sport my “hAPI hAPI Joy Joy” shirt.
TT: How about the strangest place on Earth that I will go to next week? My wife and I are taking our two boys to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, at Universal Studios Orlando. While I love reading with my kids and I love Harry Potter as much as the next Muggle dad, I can’t imagine that there are many stranger places on Earth than that.
JB: We are hitting the road this spring and we want to meet you! We love to meet new people, try new hotel restaurants and talk about the future of elearning.
- DrupalCon, March 7-10, Chicago
- SXSW Interactive, March 11-15, Austin
- Enterprise Learning! Summit, March 22, Washington DC
- Elearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference & Expo, March 23-25, Orlando
- ASTD International Conference & Exposition, May 22-25, OrlandoAlso, if you missed out on the OpenSesame hoodies at DevLearn, don’t worry. We ordered more.
Map Your eLearning Career Path February 3, 2011Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning Careers.
Tags: Career Path, eLearning, Instructional Designer, Job Search, Monster.com
Many people recognize the potential of elearning and want to know more about how to get into the industry. I get asked how I got into elearning. For me, it started with being a techy, then a writing teacher, then an online course designer and developer, then an instructional designer, and finally to an elearning specialist and LMS administrator.
I think it’s helpful to see career paths in case yours might evolve similarly. I recommend polling friends and colleagues in your networks to learn about their career paths. And you can map out yours, too, on paper or online.
Monster.com has a career mapping tool, in beta, that can help you visualize your career path–in elearning or otherwise. You simply plug in the job title you have and possibly the one you want to move to, and then interact with the tool to view the career mapping. I like the linear view, which I was playing with for this post, using instructional designer as the starting point.
The screenshot from Monster.com shows the moves an instructional designer might make as their career progresses. You can click it to see a larger view so you can see that the tool links to open job postings and helps you see how likely certain job transitions are.
I’d love to hear about your elearning career path. How did you get into the business?