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Advice for Learning and Technology Professionals September 23, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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I will be facilitating one of the Breakfast Byte sessions at the upcoming DevLearn 2008 conference. The session will be called, "I’m new to eLearning and I have no idea where to start!"

This will be an open session for people who are new to the learning and technology (eLearning) field. I will provide resources, tips, tricks, suggestions, etc. I’ll do my best to help people get on the right track. I figured I would break my information into these groups:

  • Learning Management Systems / AICC / SCORM
  • Tools and technologies
  • Useful blogs, eBooks, and books
  • (e)Learning 2.0

I believe I only have an hour, so I will be covering these from a very high-level; however, I will be available each day at the conference, and I’ll be happy to chat if anybody wants more info.

So, what advice would you give to people starting out in the field of learning and technology?

I’ll start out with these…

  • Never trust a vendor that says they are 100% SCORM compliant. Always test courses thoroughly in your LMS before agreeing to any type of purchase.
  • Exciting and flashy interactions do not always equal effective learning.
  • Don’t create boring eLearning; people will fall asleep if they aren’t engaged. Use techniques like storytelling to get (and keep) your learners’ attention.
  • Always read eLearning Weekly. 🙂

Please chime in if you have any other advice and I’ll be sure to pass it along. Thanks!

DevLearn 2008 – Register Now To Save $100 September 19, 2008

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Early bird registration is almost over for DevLearn 2008! Register by September 26th to save $100.00 off the total cost.

DevLearn, which runs from 11/14 to 11/18, will be held once again in San Jose, CA. If you’ve never been, DevLearn is an excellent conference for learning and technology professionals. You’ll have great opportunities to learn new skills, see what other organizations are doing, and network with peers. I will be presenting Session 702: Virtually Anywhere: A Case Study of Mobile Learning at Qualcomm, along with a co-worker, Barbara Ludwig.

The Adobe Learning Summit will be co-located with DevLearn, too, so be sure to sign up for that if you’re interested.

Download the DevLearn 2008 brochure (PDF) for more information about the conference.

Learning and Technology Conferences June 14, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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This happens to me every few months: I’ll hear about a great conference that took place for learning and technology professionals just a few days after it occurred. Bummer. So I wanted to open up this week’s post to get your input (please!). What learning and technology conferences have you attended, and would you recommend them?

I’ll go first: I made it to the Training Magazine 2006 conference and thought it was great. They had fantastic keynote speakers and the sessions covered a wide spectrum of topics. I’ve also been to several of the eLearning Guild’s conferences (Annual Gathering 2007 and 2008 and DevLearn 2007). These have been my favorites, especially in terms of networking with colleagues and seeing excellent example/case studies. I don’t plan on missing any of these going forward.

Now it’s your turn: I look forward to your input!

(P.S. – I wrote this blog post on my phone, so please excuse the lack of links in the post and any weird formatting issues.)

eLearning Guild – Online Forums Presentation – Working Harmoniously with your IT Department (Yes, It Can Be Done!) May 15, 2008

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Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation from the eLearning Guild’s Online Forums, titled "Working Harmoniously with Your IT Department (Yes, It Can Be Done!)." I think we had around 27 participants and good discussion was shared.

Here are the handouts from the session. (PDF)

Good luck working with your IT department!!

AG08 – Day 3 – Summary April 18, 2008

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The AG08 conference wrapped up nicely yesterday with a great keynote from Stefan Sagmeister (of Sagmeister, Inc.), who discussed several of the concepts from his book, Things I have learned in my life so far. Here’s a quick run-through of the things he’s learned:

  1. Helping other people helps me.
  2. Having guts always works out for me.
  3. Thinking that life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now.
  4. Organising a charity group is surprisingly easy.
  5. Being not truthful always works against me.
  6. Everything I do always comes back to me.
  7. Assuming is stifling.
  8. Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
  9. Over time I get used to everything and start taking for granted.
  10. Money does not make me happy.
  11. My dreams have no meaning.
  12. Keeping a diary supports personal development.
  13. Trying to look good limits my life.
  14. Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
  15. Worrying solves nothing.
  16. Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
  17. Everybody thinks they are right.
  18. If I want to explore a new direction professionally, it is helpful to try it out for myself first.
  19. Low expectations are a good strategy.
  20. Everybody who is honest is interesting.

While Stefan didn’t tie these much back to learning, he focused on the overall importance of good design and good practice, while emphasizing what’s important: exploring creativity, doing the right thing, being brave, and working hard. His book is described on Amazon as "a complex blend of personal revelation, art, and design—an eclectic mix of visual audacity and sound advice." This was certainly inspirational stuff.

I was only able to attend one session Thursday morning, and it was David Metcalf‘s Instructional Design for m-Learning. David has done some great work in this area, but I think the true impact of mLearning will come in the next 2 years or so. And I still have several questions related to mLearning such as: If an organization wants to roll out mLearning, how can they ensure all employees have a cell phone (without purchasing phones for some individuals)? Will organizations require all employees have a cell phone? If an employee has a personal cell phone, will they be required to pay for a data plan in order to be able to access mLearning? Or would the organization pick up the tab for the data plan? (This would definitely increase the rollout and maintenance cost for the organization.) I’m anxious to see how these decisions are made. There’s so much potential.

Again, this was a great conference. I met tons of smart people and had plenty of intriguing discussions. Now I’m looking forward to the next eLearning Guild Annual Gathering, which will also be hosted in Orlando, the week of March 10th, 2009. Now, I just need to think of a great idea for a session to present at AG09…

AG08 – Day 2 – Summary April 16, 2008

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Another successful day, but I’m so worn out! I’m ready for a 24-hour hibernation…

This morning’s keynote was great. It was John Patrick discussing the Future of the Internet. He didn’t necessarily apply the keynote much to eLearning, but it was very interesting and thought-provoking. I’ll let Inge de Waard fill you in. She did a great job of live-blogging the session, and she managed to grab some video, too.

I attended these sessions today:

  • The Current and Future State of SCORM and Other e-Learning Standards (Rovy Branon)
  • Scanning the Globe: Connecting your Digital World to the World Around You (Brent Schlenker)

My session, Working Harmoniously with your IT Department (Yes, It Can Be Done!), went well. We only had about 12 people in the room, but the discussions were great. Everyone(!) participated and we got some good thoughts out on the table. (Note: Many sessions were lightly-attended today. It was sunny outside and I suspect many people chose to hang out at DisneyWorld…🙂 )

Here are a few scattered thoughts from today:

  • When SCORM is discussed, people get out their pitchforks and start inching toward presenters. Evidently, there’s still some animosity over its inability to be completely plug-and-play. Too many vendors have implemented loose interpretations of the SCORM runtime, and eLearning developers are the lucky ones who have to troubleshoot the shortcomings. Rovy Branon from the ADL Co-Lab was brave enough to field some questions, but unfortunately there aren’t any big answers on the horizon.
  • SCORM sequencing is a bit too buggy and/or complicated to be easily used. I’ve felt this way for a while, but this was validated today.
  • SCORM will soon be taken over by an international non-profit organization called Learning-Education-Training Systems Interoperability (LETSI).

I promised to put my session handouts up on this site, but I probably won’t get to it for several days. If you’d like a copy, please email me at bjschone at gmail dot com.

I’ve been hanging out with Tracy Hamilton (from Discovery Through eLearning), Gary Hegenbart (from eLearning Development News), and Mark Chrisman (from badsquare). It’s nice to meet everybody in person… A few of us are headed out to an Irish pub tonight. Should be fun!

AG08 – Day 1 – Summary April 16, 2008

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Day 1 of AG08 was busy and completely wore me out – but it was all worth it! The day started with an early discussion at one the Breakfast Byte sessions and ended with dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant with some great newfound friends.

Here are the sessions I attended:

  • Positioning your Careers in Social Networking and Collaborative Learning (Ray Jimenez)
  • Learning 2.0: Harnessing the Potential of Contextual Informal Learning (Janhavi Padture)
  • Mobile Learning Today and Tomorrow (Judy Brown)
  • (Briefly attended) Tips & Tricks for Adobe Captivate and Presenter (Silke Fleischer)
  • (Briefly attended) Storyboarding for e-Learning Video Production (Steve Haskin)

Here a quick wrap-up of the various thoughts I picked up throughout the day:

  • Keith Sawyer’s opening keynote was pretty good, but I think many of us were expecting more specifics. He discussed innovation and how we can better hone collaboration efforts to be more innovative. Much of his discussion covered high-level education concepts that I think many instructional designers have mastered. I wished we could’ve seen more examples or heard more tips for applying this to our organizations. Still, it was pretty good. And he is a professor at Washington University in St. Louis (not too far from where I grew up ).
  • I twittered about this, but I get the feeling that the overall world of eLearning is shifting more toward learning and performance, with technology in the back seat. We’re no longer as thrilled and ecstatic over the latest tools. We’re now looking more closely to see how tools can better help us achieve our goals. And we realize that technology won’t solve every problem. I think eLearning is maturing, in a good way.
  • I found out there’s an Enterprise version of Facebook. Interesting. I know many companies are interested in Facebook, but are afraid to let their employee data outside of their firewall. If the enterprise edition can be installed locally, I think this’ll interest many people. (Note: I didn’t have time to verify or research this, so take it with a grain of salt for now.)
  • Many people are wondering if the LMS is dead, or will die soon. I think the role of the LMS will shift to become less important in the next few years, as people realize the value of social learning tools, such as wikis, tagging, social bookmarking, blogging, etc. We’ll probably have LMSs around forever to track important training, such as compliance, legal, and safety training. Legal departments have to have that information somewhere.
  • I visited with Judy Brown and David Metcalf. They’re both doing great things with mLearning, and I would love to somehow work with them. Judy has many of her presentations posted on her web site. Great stuff!
  • One interesting note related to mLearning: People will scroll vertically on their mobile devices, but they hate to scroll side-to-side. Simple observation, but impactful. Need to keep that in mind… Also, check out this mLearning page validator: mr.dev.mobi.
  • I keep running into Mark Chrisman of the badsquare blog. We’ve yet to sit down and have a good conversation. I’m hoping we can meet up soon.

(Don’t forget – I’m micro-blogging about the conference on Twitter…)

The eLearning Guild Annual Gathering 2008 January 4, 2008

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The eLearning Guild has announced that registration is now open for The eLearning Guild Annual Gathering 2008. (Or you can be hip and call it AG|08.) The conference is in Orlando, FL, April 14-17. I’m as excited as ever; last year’s conference in Boston was excellent. You can grab a copy of the conference information brochure here (PDF).

I will be presenting a session at AG|08 titled "Working Harmoniously with your IT Department (Yes, it can happen!)" The idea for this session stems from plenty of personal experience. In eLearning, you often depend heavily on your IT department and working with them can sometimes be a handful. They may not be as cooperative and responsive as you would hope, and they may push back on your projects for unknown reasons. Over the past few years, I’ve figured out ways to work well with IT and keep projects moving along smoothly. (I have an IT background and this has helped me figure out their ways.) I’m hoping to share my experiences and provide ideas for you to take back and use. Drop by the session if this sounds helpful!

DevLearn 2007 – Day 3 November 8, 2007

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Ok, so I’m cheating a little. Today is a half-day at DevLearn, and I’m writing this before I attend the events. I’m headed out for a few days of vacation right after the conference, so I thought I’d go ahead and put up a brief post…

This morning’s keynote speaker is Frans Johansson. After the keynote, I plan on attending a session by Jay Cross titled Informal Learning – A Management Guide to Strategic Planning. That’s it! It’s been a great conference…and I’ll definitely be back for the next one. The Adobe Learning Summit takes place over the next 2 days, but I wasn’t able to attend. Maybe next time!

DevLearn 2007 – Day 2 November 8, 2007

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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!