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No More eLearning Software May 13, 2011

Posted by Eric Matas in eLearning, Theory.
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9 comments

I cursed myself in a current post (What I Like About eLearning) when I included a semi-sarcastic comment about having umpteen programs open on my computer every day in order to get my elearning work done.

Since then I have articulated at least one non-HR-approved word in reaction to slow computer action or even crashes. I need more memory. I need dedicated video memory. I need software that doesn’t take so much of my computer’s resources! (I love you Adobe.)

Or maybe I need to just get all the software and even the operating system off my machine all together! Can it work for elearning professionals?

Can it work for you?

Flash Player Coming to the iPhone March 19, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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1 comment so far

Well, here’s another reason why I may consider getting an iPhoneAdobe‘s CEO, Shantanu Narayen, recently spoke about developing a Flash player for the iPhone during the Adobe Q1 investor relations call. Narayen said:

“Well, you know, we really believe that Flash is synonymous with the Internet and frankly anybody who wants to browse the Web and experience the Web in all its glory really needs Flash support. I mean, we were very excited about the announcement from Windows mobile adoption of Flash on their devices and the fact that we’ve shipped a half billion devices now, non-PC devices — so we’re also committed to bringing the Flash experience to the iPhone and we’ll work with Apple. We’ve evaluated the SDK we can now start to develop the Flash Player ourselves. And, we think it benefits our joint customers so we want to work with Apple to bring that capability to the device.”

Now, I won’t claim the iPhone is the ultimate eLearning/mLearning tool, but the addition of the Flash player certainly gives it TONS more possibilities. I just hope they find a way to make it easy on developers (ex. no special licensing). And I hope it’s a full version of the Flash player, not a lite version.

Found via Silke’s blog. Read the full scoop at the Flash Devices blog.

DevLearn 2007 – Day 2 November 8, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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6 comments

Holy cow – today went by FAST! It was a blur but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s a recap:

  • I began the morning by dropping in on a discussion led by Clive Shepherd on the use of Facebook and social networking applications in learning. It was a great discussion and Clive is quite knowledgeable on the subject. I don’t use Facebook myself, but I was surprised and encouraged to hear about the possibilities it presents. Just like wikis, Facebook allows learners to contribute their own information and collaborate with others, which shows good potential. We also discussed the fact that there’s still a definite generation gap with tools like this, but we believe that’ll fade with time. It was good to kick ideas around regarding social networking and learning. Many of us think there’s a lot to benefit from in this area, but I don’t think any of us know exactly how to use it in a training scenario (yet).
  • Paul Saffo gave an interesting keynote on the progression of media usage and how it may ultimately affect learning. He discussed a shift from media consumption (ex. watching TV, reading web pages) to media creation (ex. YouTube, Wikipedia, etc). Paul believes the eLearning world could strike big in this movement, especially as people begin to better understand the importance of learning-how-to-learn. He said our industry is "Standing on a whale, fishing for minnows." Hold on!
  • Later in the day, I attended Clive’s session, 30-Minute Masters for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Clive, along with Cammy Bean, came up with this concept, and I’m already a big fan. They suggest that we (training professionals) spend time with SMEs and teach them basic instructional design skills and then provide them with rapid development tools such as Captivate and Articulate. Granted, you can’t get too deep into instructional theory, but you can definitely give them some high-level design dos and don’ts. This way, SMEs are able to quickly create training and (hopefully) address the basic needs of most individuals within the organization. This frees up the training staff to focus on more complex training solutions, high-end courses, immersive learning solutions, etc.

    Later in this session, we began discussing the management of content (ex. training modules, job aids) generated by SMEs. Clive suggested that their content could be dumped into a large repository and we could allow users to search it, just like they search Google or YouTube. He also suggested allowing learners to rate the content (ex. 4 out of 5 stars). This way, higher-quality content (training modules) float to the top and are featured in the system. This approach would weed-out (or bury) poorer quality modules. I like this idea, and I don’t think it’d be that hard to implement.

    Clive set up a wiki for the 30-Minute Masters – check it out.

  • Silke Fleischer held a session where she covered several (Adobe) rapid development tools and showed excellent examples of how they can be used to create podcasts, eLearning modules, audio clips, and short videos. Some of the tools included Captivate, Visual Communicator, Contribute, SoundBooth, and others. My big A-HA moment came when she showed how Contribute can be used as an editor for writing and editing blog posts. How cool! I’ve never been happy with WordPress’ editing capabilities. It’ll be nice to use the Contribute editor instead; it looks very intuitive.
  • Finally, I attended a session on Instructional Alternate Reality Games (I-ARGs), put on by the folks at Exceptional Software / Media Edge. WOW, this is cool stuff. They covered the ARG concept in full, which is just SO cool, and talked about ways in which it can be used for training. These folks are the first ones to tackle ARGs in the education/training world. I think there’s major potential here… I’m going to keep an eye on this stuff.

    Here are a few links related to ARGs and I-ARGS:

Oh – and then I went out for drinks with several other eLearning bloggers. Good times! Now, it’s time for sleep. Good night!

Teacher Training Videos October 10, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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I ran across a great resource today: a web site that provides free tutorial movies that can help you better integrate learning and technology. The site is Teacher Training Videos, created by Russell Stannard. Russell is a principal lecturer at the University of Westminster.

Some of his tutorial movies include:

On the site, Russell says, “Look out for the new videos on Moodle, Facebook & social networks and 2nd Life.” I look forward to them. Thanks, Russell!

Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional Users Group September 26, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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If you use Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional (from here on, let’s call it AACP), you’ll want to join the free users group over at http://www.ConnectUsers.com. They’ve got news, forums, tutorials, and information about upcoming events – all related to AACP. It’s great stuff. I learned a few new tricks within 5 minutes, and I also found out there’s a new service pack available for AACP.

This users group is a great idea. I love this product, but it seems hard to connect (ha!) with other folks who use it. It’s probably because it is so expensive. I look forward to trading ideas and tips with the group. Join if you’re an AACP user, or if you’re interested in learning more!

Large-scale Applications Training September 20, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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14 comments

I’m about to face an enormous challenge at work: Our company is getting ready to do a major upgrade to our core business operating system (PeopleSoft). This upgrade has been in the works for quite a while now, and it’s time for our department to start discussing a plan to train hundreds of employees on the new system. I don’t know much about the new system, but I understand that it is quite an overhaul; one estimate said we would need 80+ hours of face-to-face training. However, due to logistics, time, and money, it appears we will be training about 80% of these employees using a combination of self-study eLearning courses and webinars (using Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional). Everything will be tracked in our LMS.

Sure, this is a big task, but here’s why I’m concerned: If you’ve ever used a system like PeopleSoft or SAP, you know that it’s not very engaging. In fact, applications training like this can be excruciatingly boring, especially when taken as a self-study eLearning course. These courses generally consist of step-by-step instructions where the learner watches a task as it is performed, and then they try the task on their own in a simulated environment. This type of training can be effective, but with this upgrade, we will have a HUGE amount of training for the end-user. I’m worried that we’ll bore people to tears and that they’ll mindlessly follow along with the step-by-step directions…and then not retain anything. Luckily, I’ve got a few more weeks to get my thoughts together.

How would you tackle this? What ideas do you have?

Using Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional for eLearning July 13, 2007

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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10 comments

We recently implemented Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional at work. We have employees located in all 50 states, and our department needed a way to conduct training via virtual classroom. I thought I’d write a little about our experience with the application, how we use it, and discuss some of its pros and cons in terms of eLearning.

What is it Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional?

I’ll let Adobe give you the long definition:

Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional is the complete web communications solution that enables live online meetings, virtual classes, and group collaboration, allowing organizations to effectively share a wide range of content, including Microsoft® PowerPoint slides, live and recorded video, Adobe Flash® content, live screen-sharing, application sharing, audio, and multiuser text chat.

I would simply say that it’s a robust web conferencing tool that can also be used to administer virtual classroom sessions.

What’s in a Name?

Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional was originally called Macromedia Breeze. Then Adobe purchased Macromedia and began integrating Breeze with their Acrobat product line. I think Adobe Connect would have been a great name, but instead they went with Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional. Seriously – 4 words? Can you imagine Toyota introducing a car called the Toyota Camry Avalon Turbo? Seems like a bit much. Luckily, the product stands up really well. So I’ll get past the naming issue. 🙂

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional has a clean, simple, and flexible interface; you can create different layouts (we call them ‘rooms’) and then arrange a variety of pods in each room. There are chat pods, file/screen sharing pods, survey pods, note pods, and more.
  • LDAP integration allows us to use our company’s single sign-on system, so we don’t have to manage additional usernames and passwords.
  • It is very easy to schedule meetings.
  • Wonderful phone conferencing integration is possible with Premiere Global Services. Users can opt to have the system call their phone to join the phone conference, and then they can adjust their audio settings (volume, muting, etc.) using on-screen controls. The facilitator can also mute participants and control other aspects of phone conferencing (ex. dial-out to other users).
  • As a facilitator, you can share your screen (desktop) and even give control to a participant. So you can have somebody else "drive" the session for you.

Cons:

  • This product is very expensive, especially if you host it in-house.
  • If you decide to host it in-house, you’ll most likely need to go through a third-party to get it implemented. Anticipate the extra expense. We used GetConnect and had a good experience.
  • It’s tricky to integrate Acrobat Connect Professional with your learning management system (LMS). Here’s our current workflow: First, learners register for a course in our LMS. Next, we hold our virtual classroom sessions and the learners attend. Finally, we go back to the LMS and indicate which learners attended and what score they achieved (if applicable).

The Toughest Part

The toughest part about a system like this is learning how to use it effectively for learning / training. Ultimately, your facilitators will have to push themselves to identify new ways to engage learners using this delivery method. Here are a few resources to help facilitators jump into virtual classroom training:

Give it a shot

If you’re evaluating web conferencing or virtual classroom products, check out Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional. It’s a great product that’ll make it easier for you to deliver effective training. Our users agree, too. We’ve heard nothing but great feedback from them. They tell us that it was a breeze (get it?) to attend, and they enjoyed the interaction during the sessions.

More information on Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional can be found in this PDF data sheet.