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Want to write for eLearning Weekly? July 4, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Up to this point, I’ve used eLearning Weekly as my own personal blog to talk about my experiences with learning and technology. I’d like to open up the format for others to contribute so we can all benefit from different perspectives. If you are interested in writing for eLearning Weekly, please email me at . I’m open to most topics related to learning and technology. I will allow vendors and consultants to contribute if and only if they contribute new ideas and perspectives. I will not allow people or companies to push products or services to my readers.

eLearning Weekly is read by thousands of people each month. This could be a great opportunity for you to get visibility and engage in dialog with peers around the world. I look forward to your contributions!

Email me at if you have questions or to submit ideas. Thanks!

P.S. – I will continue to write for eLearning Weekly, too. I’m not leaving. 🙂

How to Get the Most Out of a Conference May 7, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Conferences have been on my mind quite a bit lately. I will be presenting a session on mobile learning at the Corporate University Summit in a couple weeks in Chicago, and I’m getting ready to submit a proposal or two for DevLearn. So you can see why I was pleasantly surprised today when I ran across an excellent blog post on how to get the most out of a conference. The post is by Dan McCarthy, and he wrote it over on his Great Leadership blog. Here’s a summary of his suggestions:

  1. Choose your conference wisely.
  2. Take time to to explore and experience the surrounding area.
  3. Try to suspend your judgement, be open minded, curious, and open to possibilities.
  4. Watch your diet and stay fit.
  5. Force yourself to network.
  6. Don’t be one of those attendees that race up and down the trade show isles with a shopping bag, avoiding eye contact with the vendors, and grabbing handfuls of useless junk.
  7. Keep a running list of ideas, insights, and action items; your key take-a-ways from each day.
  8. Have fun, but be on your best behavior.
  9. Ship your stuff back to your office.
  10. Don’t forget to thank your manager for allowing you to attend.
  11. Share something with your team or coworkers.
  12. If you can, offer to be a presenter, break-out facilitator, discussion moderator, or any opportunity to get involved.

Read Dan’s full post, How to Get the Most Out of a Conference, for more information on each of his suggestions. And if you see me at a conference, please stop and introduce yourself!

Additional resources:

The Future of eLearning is Social Learning May 2, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Jane Hart has been creating presentations recently to help explain social learning to her clients. Fortunately for us, she is now sharing some of this content online: Jane is working on a 3-part series related to social learning, and the first 2 parts are now available (and embedded below). Keep an eye out for the third part, which should hopefully be published in a week or two.

These presentations are valuable for several reasons. First, they explain the significance and importance of social learning in simple, people terms without getting overly technical. I would feel very comfortable using these presentations to help educate upper management on the benefits of social learning without hesitation. Second, the presentations describe a solid approach (using Elgg) for getting started with social learning. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the social learning tools out there, and even though I’ve never used Elgg, it seems like it would be a great starting point. Finally, the presentations are extremely portable on SlideShare; you can embed and share them very easily with others. Take a look…

Part 1: The Future of eLearning is Social Learning

Part 2: Using Elgg as as Social Learning Platform

Part 3: Coming soon!

Ten Commandments of eLearning Design April 25, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Cath Ellis has a great post outlining her Ten Commandments of eLearning. These basic principles, if adhered to, can make a huge difference in whether or not a project will be successful. These principles apply whether you are designing an eLearning course or introducing a new tool for your learners (ex. a blog, wiki, discussion board, etc.).

Here’s a summary of the Ten Commandments, but be sure to read Cath’s post for detailed information on each of the items:

  1. Put the pedagogy (not the technology) first
  2. Be aware of workloads and work patterns (yours and theirs)
  3. Balance risks with safety
  4. Balance obligations with rewards
  5. Make ethics a priority
  6. Model good practice
  7. Make expectations clear
  8. Establish patterns and stick to them
  9. Keep spaces available for students to use and shape to their own needs
  10. Use/develop protocols

Read the full Ten Commandments of eLearning.

Are You a Learning Guru? April 18, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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I recently had the pleasure of meeting Karen Boyle, the founder of LearningGurus.com. Learning Gurus is essentially a staffing agency for professionals in the learning and technology field. Karen has over 15 years experience in corporate, government, and education settings, and she specializes in the learning and development/training industry. She started Learning Gurus to help place people in jobs, and at a time like this her services are even more critical.

I heard about Learning Gurus a few weeks ago, and I was surprised to learn that Karen was based just a few miles away from my office in San Diego. Karen and I met for lunch, and she filled me in on her philosophy and reasoning for starting Learning Gurus a few years ago. I was very impressed; Karen is in this to help match great people with great jobs, not to get rich. And Karen’s background in training and development plays a huge role: She’s able to match the right people with the right jobs. That’s a key difference when comparing Learning Gurus to other staffing agencies.

I would highly recommend that you submit your information to Learning Gurus to be considered for jobs (it’s free). I’m very happily employed right now, but in this economy, it’s always smart to be aware of great services like this. And if you have a need for learning/technology talent at your organization, you should also get in touch with Karen.

Here’s a more thorough description of the services offered by Learning Gurus, from their web site:

Learning Gurus provides top-notch Workplace Learning Professionals for your learning and development initiatives. Our staffing and employment agency provides contract, contract-to-hire, and direct hire services. Our nationwide network of Learning Gurus design and develop training and performance solutions for corporate, government, and educational institutions. Whether you need a instructional designer for a 1-month project or you’re searching for a new Chief Learning Officer, we’ve got the guru for you! Our gurus specialize in the following areas:

  • Instructional Design & Development
  • Facilitation & Instructor Led Training (ILT)
  • Performance Analysis & Needs Assessment
  • Project Management
  • eLearning, Web-Based Training (WBT)
  • Multimedia/CBT Development
  • Technical Writing & Documentation
  • Quality Assurance & Evaluation

Visit LearningGurus.com for more information.

Spotlight On…You! March 10, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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Over the past few months, I’ve been excited to see traffic to my blog increase rapidly. However, it’s bittersweet because I’m seeing a large portion of this traffic going directly to two posts I wrote a while ago: eLearning Jobs and More eLearning Job Resources. This tells me that people are increasingly seeking employment (no real surprise, I suppose). So, in an effort to help job-seekers even more, I’m introducing a new feature on eLearning Weekly, called Spotlight On…, where I will feature a profile of a learning and technology professional seeking employment every few days. The featured individuals gets at least 3 days of face-time on the home page of eLearning Weekly, along with a detailed profile.

Advantages

There are a few big advantages for doing this:

  • You’ll get exposure on a blog that is read by thousands of people each month.
  • Your profile will be indexed by search engines, so your name may begin showing up when people search for certain keywords.
  • The right person may happen to see your information and give you a call.
  • It’s 100% free, no strings attached!

Submit Your Information

To be considered for this feature, please send the following information to me at , with the subject line Spotlight On…:

  • Name
  • Your picture (Optional)
  • Email address and/or phone number (Note: This will be shown in your profile.)
  • LinkedIn profile (Optional, but highly recommended)
  • Preferred location (city / state / country)
  • Professional interests
  • Description of your skills
  • Description of your work experience
  • Something interesting/fun about yourself
  • Anything else you feel is relevant

Disclaimer:
Participants will be randomly chosen, and not all submissions will be used.

Attending AG09 Remotely February 27, 2009

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

As I’ve mentioned before, I won’t be able to make it to the upcoming eLearning Guild Annual Gathering conference, but I’m already starting to figure out my plan of attack for keeping up with the conference from 2,400 miles away. If this conference is anything like past eLearning Guild conferences, many social media and social networking sites will be buzzing with updates on a regular basis. I plan on using the following sites/tools to keep up with everything:

What else? What am I missing?

And please let me know if you’ll be there – and if you’ll be blogging from the conference. I’ll be sure to publish a list of AG09 bloggers. Thanks!

Using Toolkits to Aggregate Learning Resources February 7, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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I wrote about learning portals a couple weeks ago as a solution for aggregating learning resources in one place for an organization. I still think learning portals can help with the big picture, but I’m finding additional help is needed when organizing content one level deeper.

I’ve recently seen a trend (ok, maybe it’s just new to me) where training departments create toolkits for employees in order to aggregate learning resources for a particular topic or project. Essentially, the toolkit is a web page containing a ton of great information, links, etc. This way you can send learners to a "one-stop-shop" to get the info they need. It could be something wide-ranging (ex. engineering resources) or something specific (ex. presentation skills). In my experience, we used to send out training documents or point people to the LMS to access an online course when they needed information. (And we would send out an email if an instructor-led class was available.) Now we can point learners to a web page (a toolkit) that may contain the following items:

  • Articles (Word documents, PDFs)
  • A calendar of upcoming events, instructor-led classes, etc.
  • Links to internal and/or external web pages
  • Links to online courses
  • Recommended books
  • Social bookmarking tags
  • Links to wikis / forums
  • Embedded videos
  • …and more

I’m not saying this is a huge breakthrough, but you have to admit that we have more and more information available for learners. This seems like a good way to keep it organized. What do you think? How are you handling mass amounts of resources for your learners?

The gLearning Challenge January 31, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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The eLearning Guild has announced an interesting challenge for their upcoming Annual Gathering conference in Orlando. It’s called The gLearning Challenge and the concept is to create a learning solution using ONLY Google products. Here’s a more thorough description, from their web site:

The gLearning Challenge is your chance to use the slew of free and easy-to-use Google tools to showcase your e-Learning design chops. Your entry must use any, or many, of these free Google tools to create a course, a module, or even some informal learning. Get Creative! Win Prizes! Be crowned the Master of gLearning!

The suggested list of tools includes:

Submissions will be accepted until Friday, March 6, 2009.

Read more about The gLearning Challenge.

Building a Learning Portal January 17, 2009

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
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We implemented a learning portal at work several months back, and it has turned out to be one of the best things I could recommend to an organization for improving access to learning materials. In the past, I’ve worked at organizations where we would tell learners, “Look in the LMS” to find materials and information. I’ve realized that a learning portal creates a self-service environment for users that can’t be beat. They can go, search, find what they need, and move on. It’s a Google-like experience, for what has generally become an information-on-demand culture. Let’s take a closer look at learning portals…

What is a learning portal?

A learning portal is a web site that contains links to all different types of learning and training materials for employees at an organization. It may display upcoming classes, online courses, job aids, programs, links to web sites, etc. It may also include search functionality, a rating system, bookmarking ability, and more. The content displayed on the portal may be general to all employees at an organization, or it may be customized for that individual and the role they play. In a perfect world, the learning portal would be able to analyze the person’s department, role, and previous training history. It would then automagically determine learning resources that may be most valuable to that person. It may take a little while, but we’ll get there.

How to build a learning portal (in a nutshell)

First, analyze your users. Interview power-users and find out what resources they access on a regular basis for learning and looking up information. Find out what information is most important to them and find out how you can aggregate it in a way that is simple, clean, and useful. Look at your HR/training systems (ex. your LMS). Find out what key information should be displayed in the portal. You may want to show the learner information on their upcoming classes (if they have already signed up). You may also want to show them all upcoming classes that could be relevant to them based on their job role or specialty. Contact vendors or systems specialists at your organization to find out if this information can be extracted and displayed on a web site, such as a learning portal. (Beware that vendors may charge you for this extra work.)

Build it. Test it. Improve it.

Start small with the first version of your learning portal. Aggregate some useful resources and slowly add features and functionality based on users’ feedback. Interview users and put a poll on the portal. Get as much feedback as you can. It will improve naturally over time if you listen and respond.

More portals are coming

Some LMS vendors are introducing portals of their own, so keep an eye out. Your LMS vendor may have one coming out soon. These may be rigid at first, but I’m sure they’ll get better with time. I’d recommend you analyze the needs of your users, and then determine if it’s best to build your own or use a vendor solution. Either way, it will probably be an extremely helpful resource for your learners.