Sunday, November 25, 2012

Is the Windows 8 Confusion All About Organizational Authenticity?

Imagine the xB without Scion
I played with a Surface tab the day it was launched, and I upgraded my desktop to Windows 8 during the first week. I didn't do this because I was an avid Windows fan--I just was curious, and a little excited by the color palate. After a few weeks with Windows 8, I am fully comfortable using it, but maybe not for the reasons Microsoft thought I would be. It's fast and it's pretty, but I'm not embracing many of the features Microsoft wants me to use. I'm not integrating my mail into the start page because opening Gmail directly is more productive due to archiving. Nor am I incorportating the "people" feed because I use all my social media in different ways and I use better apps on my Android device to manage this. Even though I am ignoring many of those apps, I do enjoy scrolling through the New York Times, and clicking through All Recipes. Yet something feels off.  When I use these colorful apps from the start screen, I have to be honest; I doesn't feel like I'm using Microsoft. Microsoft, to me, is traditional, reliable, but pretty much, no-nonsense. Instead, the start screen feels like a fun plugin that changes my Windows Experience and confuses me a bit because it doesn't fit with the Microsoft brand. In all honesty, it instead feels inauthentic. 
When Toyota wanted to come up with a fun, zippy car line, they realized that they had to develop a new public-facing company. If they had launched the Toyota xB instead of the Scion xB in 2003, it would have been directed to the wrong audience.  Reliability is one thing, but a car that looks like a box? Just plain weird. If Microsoft had been smart, they would have launched Windows 8 that looked like Windows 7 but was EVEN faster, then launched the tile interace under a different brand as a plug in. Now, I am not a programmer, and I don't even know if this is possible, but I do realize that the "pretty" tile interface doesn't jive with our image of Windows and it has consumers shaking their heads. Instead of being able to separate the tiled interface of the start screen from the speed and productivity of the back end of Windows 8, both are being branded together as one product and has many of large organizations questioning the payoff of large scale adoption. Had Windows 8 just been about speed and virus protection, I think it would have done well. But instead, it is an incongruity that has its loyal consumer base looking to other options.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why I'm a little depressed about eLearning

Good eLearning still requires resources
The reason might surprise you.
And I'm probably going to have a few people disagree with me. 
It's not because there isn't good eLearning out there. In fact, in the last year of exploring this field, I've seen some absolutely phenomenal examples of great m and eLearning. Creative people are using gamification, graphics, interactivity, flexibility, and performance objectives to create flexible learning models that increase employee productivity. So why am I so depressed? Because I am going to fall into a camp of people that believes strongly that good e and mLearning still needs to be thought of with the same seriousness as website development--otherwise, it's just not fair to the people who have been asked to create the learning. Even with flexible authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline and Captivate, I argue that the end product will be better if approached using agile team-based design. That means, your company's eLearning team should include a project manager, a storyteller (this could be an ID), a (graphic) designer, and a developer (either schooled in html5 or very savvy with the authoring tool). This sounds different than what I usually hear, as it's often one person who is responsible for the whole process who is then asked to liaise with the IT department. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting the good eLearning is impossible to create--what I am saying is that the impact of it will grow if the process itself is supported.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scoop.it and the Curation Invasion

Twitter was like a gateway drug for me into the world of online professional development. After a couple of months, I was favoriting tweets like crazy and trying all sorts of tools to keep track of articles I enjoyed. For awhile, I was still using Delicious to catalog articles that could be of some use to me at a later date, but I realized it was enough just to favorite a tweet--and adding an extra step to the mix wasn't sustainable.  
Then people I followed began to curate online collections. Especially in the eLearning and educational technology communities, Paper.li and Scoop.it  collections were published daily by people I respected. Curating seemed like the right thing to do. For a few months, I curated an eLearning collection called Mosaic Learning Design Process. It was more about the creativity involved with the process of eLearning than about eLearning itself. And then, I "scooped" the following post, Why your knowledge-sharing portal will probably not save the world. I realized that I was already following a couple of Scoop.it accounts that were fabulous, and to repeat them would actually take away from time I could spend learning directly from their efforts. Both Mayra Aixa Villar and Ana Cristina Pratas have wonderfully diverse eLearning collections which I can learn from and promote. In the short term anyway, I will continue to curate my People Part of Organizations collection, and I will, as long as it is useful to me.

Monday, November 5, 2012

How Flipboard Saved My Twitter(ing)

I was suffering from Info Overload!
During this last year of transition, I fell into quite a love affair with Twitter. I found that hands down, it was the best way to keep up with trends in the learning community, and to build connections with professionals all over the world. Yet, I found that after following 600 people, I just couldn't keep up anymore. For a couple of months, I let my account passively shift to wallflower status--hanging out as a casual observer in the technology world. I still obsessively checked CNET and Engadget, and tried to stay up on my technology news, but my learning and information interactions on Twitter stopped suddenly. 
Two weeks ago, I volunteered at the Learning 3.0 Conference and I was introduced to the mobile news app, Flipboard. Now, as an self-proclaimed nerd, you would have thought that I was using Flipboard already, but instead, I had been attempting to manage my Twitter feeds using TweetDeck. This worked for me just fine when sitting in front of a computer all day, but I found for mobile, it just wasn't cutting it. So when one of my fine session leaders suggested Flipboard, I went to the app, and immediately feel in love. Flipboard combined with Alicia Cowan's post, How to Deal with Twitter Overwhelm, has made me rediscover my love affair again. Instead of actively following everyone, I now used Alicia's ideas for using have specific lists--one for "regular follows" (about fifty people), other lists for CCASTD members, and specific lists for people who actively tweet about Articulate, Captivate and more. Additionally, Flipboard allows me to add news based on hashtag searches, so during #DevLearn, I was able to add that hashtag and follow the buzz on my phone and tablet. What I like most about it is that it enhances the interface, and I can access it anywhere. We'll see how this works in the long term, but for now it's putting me out there in the world again. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Listening to Myself

And that's my brain, working it out...
I have found myself in a curious hole. I good hole, mind you, but a bit of a hole. After proclaiming to the world, loud and clear that I loved eLearning, I realized that yes, I do love eLearning, but I do not want to spend my life just doing that. I, for one, miss people, and the strange funny-business that goes on at an organization. The challenges that arise from fitting people's strengths into clear-cut job descriptions, and the energetic buzz of being on a creative team. Yes, I can do all of these things both abstractly and literally if I am working on an eLearning team. But I also miss solving small organizational challenges. Intuition is a strange friend of mine. It shows up when it's least welcomed, and makes my life more complicated than it needs to be. I think my answer is slightly larger than I originally expected it to be. I can see slightly broader vision taking form, and we'll see where it takes me...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

eLearning vs. mLearning: Why I've been hanging in the eLearning Camp

I thought I understood mLearning. Or at least I thought I did--because categorizing mLearning is like me trying to call myself spiritual. I might know what it means, but everyone around me has a different definition. For a long time, I'd been thinking about mLearning as "learning for a mobile device." And I waved mLearning aside as being "too cool." I have spent my time working for organizations that are at the trailing edge of the technology curve, so why would I worry about mLearning? eLearning has meant deployment of training on specific company pcs, not an ipad or a cell phone. Plus, I have had a lot of assumptions about mLearning--for example, designing learning for a cell phone is much different than designing learning for a tablet, so how could they be lumped together?
Yet if I had followed the experts in this, I would have come to the realization sooner that mLearning is not about deployment on a phone--it's about flexible and responsive design.  
I've read two post's lately that have really affected my thinking on the issue: RJ Jacquez' recent post, Here's how Adobe Captivate 6 could have been a Game Changer for mLearning and Claire's Dashe & Thomson article suggesting: Mobile Learning: CHANGE YOUR WAYS OR YOU ARE DOOOOOMED! (Via Connie Malamed, the eLearning Coach). Both articles really got me thinking about the true meaning of mLearning.
Perhaps I'm over simplifying things, but the difference between eLearning and mlearning seems to be in the approach, not the design:
        My over-simplified comparison of elearning & mlearning
With this approach of "acknowledge learning will be deployed on multiple devices" mLearning is not about cell phones or tablets, instead, it's about letting go. Maybe we should have called it dLearning (for device-based) versus fLearning (for flexible)!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Receiving Learner Feedback: The Angry Customer

This was one of the slides the users liked....
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with some future users of the "Angry Customer" eLearning module that I've been working on. And once again, it reminded me how important it is to receive feedback as early/often as possible. As I sat down with two end users, they immediately tweaked my scenarios to make then as realistic as possible, and to include more policy ideas. I am grateful for their help, as they will be testing my  prototype once I have revamped it a bit. We had a lot of conversations about how to design the learning module in a way that promoted the ideal behavior (or performance), as well as some negative examples for me to build on.
And then there were ideas that needed revising!
Not only was this meeting a lot of fun, the engagement and feedback also promotes buy-in from the users. I'm excited to take their ideas and build upon them. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prototyping an eLearning Project: The Angry Customer

Thanks to all of you who gave me feedback on my Mapping an eLearning Project post. It's nice to know that I am part of a support system. On that note, I've been working on creating a prototype to take to my "learners" and my stakeholders to review and test. I want to make sure my idea of interactivity matches the expectations of my audience. I also want to make sure my scenario will actually reinforce the actions I want the staff to take. In other words: Will staff behavior change after using this eLearning scenario? I have already brainstormed with my SME, but I want to get a user perspective before I move forward. At this moment, I am using Articulate Storyline to create this module, although I plan to use Captivate and ZebraZapps for others. Additionally, I have some concerns with various software, as I know ahead of time that the users are not allowed to download Flash on their computers. The organization does not have an LMS either, so I will have to publish the scenarios in an accessible way.
One of the branches that I created.
I've added some of the background slides to test them.
So let's get to it: One of the reasons I am enjoying Storyline is that it really connects with the creative and imaginative side of my personality. You can begin to see the fun I'm having with just a small screenshot of the Storyview. Branches and triggers are easy to add, and the illustrated characters are dynamic. Here is an example of the prototyping idea:
I have used very basic shapes as placeholders.
Later, I will add the backgrounds, like the example below:
This was created using Tom Kuhlman's approach to ungrouping clip art!
(Obviously I need to resize the computer!)
I will wait to create more backgrounds until I have tested the interactivity and script of the project. Even though I have a limited number of backgrounds for this project, it still takes some time to create each one. It makes no sense to do that until the prototype is approved by the very people who will be using it--the learners

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mapping an eLearning Project: The Angry Customer

My Mapping technique: butcher block paper + post-its,
markers, + Pencil with a good eraser!
As I am developing my portfolio, I've chosen one topic to develop into various eLearning samples. If all goes well, I will be donating my work to a local public organization. This post is one of the first I will be writing to support this process. I've been playing with various ways to map out an eLearning project. My current favorite is to use butcher block paper across my desk and to supplement that with post-its, colorful markers and more. We all use different processes to support our creativity, but this works well for me. After playing around with various techniques, I found that it worked well for me to show each branch in a different color. 
From the map above, it looked like I had tons of scenes, but it's really
only eight that can be customized.
I can then work on giving my characters
a unique personality--or rethinking their importance
The nice part about doing it this way is that I can see how many actual "scenes" I need to create as well as how many characters I need. This brainstorming works best for me if I am developing a more linear scenario. If I am using one or two basic screens, and developing most of the interactivity into those, I would use a different concept. What ways do you use? Next post: Prototyping an eLearning Project

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

eLearning Design Process

My Mosaic Learning Design Process is in Beta!
I am intrigued about the methods behind creative and effective eLearning. It seems as though everyone I admire and respect uses some sort of iterative process. Allen Interactions uses SAVVY, Cathy Moore suggests Action Mapping and many others are beginning to use Agile Design. This got me thinking about how important it is to develop learning through a technique that incorporates tweaking and testing along the way. For all of you (current and former) classroom teachers out there, have you ever designed a lesson and had it work perfectly the first time you taught it? I never did. Good instructional designers might argue that my lesson probably had some holes in it. I have to agree--it did, and testing it in front of a group of students was the fastest way to figure out the holes. When designing great eLearning (or any learning, in fact), if testing and iterations can be worked into the process, the client will have a much better idea of what the product will look like in the end. 
I've been playing around with an approach that I like to call Mosaic Learning Design. It came about when I realized that when I design a learning event or product, my process isn't always linear. In the background, I am moving toward completion, but all around that progression, there are spatters of thoughts, activities, and re-imaginings that amp up the end product. I didn't mean to call it a Mosaic process--when I began to put my ideas down on paper, it originally resembled a flow chart. As I began to brainstorm in different colors, however, it turned into a mosaic. Some of this has been tested, but I won't deny that it's in Beta right now! I also won't disagree that many of these ideas sound familiar because all of the leaders in this industry have proven that this is a good way to go. Mosaic Learning Design owes them a great debt.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

eLearning Goes Mainstream?

Mainstream eLearning
I was messing around on my computer last night, and I came across a great example of self-directed, interactive eLearning from a surprising source: InStyle Magazine! What started off as a brief curiosity soon turned into an obsession to become a superstylist to the stars. Although I didn't agree with some of the style choices, this I soon found that I had jumped into this "game" and had been "playing" for at least twenty minutes. When I woke up this morning, I realized I had a better idea of how I should match my purse to my outfit. What was it about this simple game that made it successful? I think it followed most of my eLearning rules (stolen from Allen Interactions): Context, Challenge, Activity, Feedback). Yes, the context was a bit vague (become an "Fashion Pro!"), but the feedback was excellent, and the level of challenge was perfect for me--every time I thought I had figured out the answer, the "game" added another subtly like texture. Try it and see what you think!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fast-tracking Career Transition: Work with a Coach,

Connections to inspire and support
Channel my mentors, and be grateful for my support system.
A lot of people thought I was crazy to leave a job during these times of economic uncertainty. Had I not been married to an amazing man, I probably would have stayed in my position with the public library. Luckily, Sam understood my desire to try something new, and reassured me that it was OK to pursue it.
To rationalize my choice, I decided to go back to school to pursue another degree. Although I always have said "two masters degrees are impressive, but three is just plain weird," I assumed that a formal degree would help me find a job. While ruminating over this decision for a few months, my instincts kept drawing me away from entering a formal education program. Knowing I was conflicted, I sought out the help of a life/career coach, Rosie Guagliardo and even more recently, I have supplemented that with T&D Corporate Coach Michelle FilicicchiaWorking with these two women has enabled me to move quickly through various phases of exploration while determining how to handle any knowledge gaps. As I evaluate the value of these interactions, I am guessing that this up front cost has saved me time and money that I would have spent on another degree--with the added benefit of getting me even closer to a job that is true to my values and interests.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just Undo It: The Control-Z Generation

Forget Gen Y or the Millennials--anyone who has grown up with a computer, I like to call the  Control-Z Generation
And I am jealous of how they learn.
At (almost) 39 years old, I am on the cusp of the "computer comfortability" level. A Mac Classic arrived in our home when I was in high school, but most of my technology memories were based on learning how to type on an electric typewriter. I remember filling out applications on my parent's Smith Corona while praying we had enough correction tape to fix any errors. Making a mistake meant cautiously backspacing the carriage while hoping the correction tape was lined up properly. Accuracy was valued over speed and because mistakes were difficult to correct, I was especially timid to try new formatting or design. 
Now going back to the Control-Z generation, I think one of the reasons they are so tech savvy is because they are not as worried about messing up. Who cares if they do? They can just time travel backwards to undo their actions. By eliminating the stigma of making mistakes, interactive (e)learning is more powerful than ever. I am trying to learn from their confidence, but I think a small part of me will always wonder if we have enough correction tape in the house.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

eLearning Challenges: Why Graphics Aren't Everything

I grabbed your attention, didn't I? But can I keep it?
There have been a rush of new tools out there which are helping people create online learning programs. Articulate Storyline is one, and Zebrazapps is another. As excited as I am about these new technologies, it is really important to recognize that graphics don't create learning. Over and over I have seen great graphics on one screen, then confusing multiple choice text-based questions on the next. Or, a choose your-own-avatar scenario, which then turns into a true and false screen.
Now we have the tools, so why do we keep choosing text-based quizzing as our learning environment of choice? I have made the same mistakes, and I am trying to fix them. When I get discouraged, I just keep repeating Connect with Haji Kamal, Connect with Haji Kamal, to remind myself that great elearning can take place. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

AGILE ADDIE with Rapid Prototyping


What was my favorite quote of ASTD ICE 2012?
ADDIE is what we do, and AGILE is how we do it*
My head has been spinning in the last few weeks as I try to superimpose new learning models on top of what I have experienced while working in other environments. What I am finding is that a waterfall implementation of ADDIE feels structured and safe, but sometimes can be limiting. Creating good learning can be more of an art than a science. So for me thinking of developing learning in an assembly line method seems a bit awkward. 
I'm trying to figure out why the concept of Agile speaks to me, and I think it's because designing and implementing training (especially elearning) takes a more creative and "organic" approach. I have always worked on a team, and because of this, our solution has continued to evolve as we tweaked our ideas together. Agile promotes early and continuous communication with the client, as well as multiple iterations of the product. 
This is not unlike an artist commissioned to design a piece of public art (I thank Ethan Edwards for this example). She might start out with a text-based description of the project but without at least a rough sketch or a model, the end result could look very different than the agreed upon idea. This is when rapid prototyping comes in--especially in elearning design. Nowadays, with the visual nature of learning, signing off on a text-based document is like agreeing to marry your spouse after reading his Match.com profile--he sounds great, but does he really know how to disco?
*Quote from Leveraging Agile Methodologies in the Learning and Development Function, presented by Diane Tiger and Karen Hart from Vanguard. Thank you for an inspiring introduction to Agile 
*Also thanking Amy Groves and Connie Cassarino from IBM for their great workshop, Leverage Points for Targeting the Desired Results: Are you ready for Agile Learning Design? This highlighted rapid prototyping in Agile

Monday, May 7, 2012

ELearning and Instructional Design Certification Reflections

Let's be honest. At heart, I am a big tech nerd. My husband and I connected over OS X, and to make matters even worse, he showed up in a Linux t-shirt on our first date. In the last month, as I have settled into my decision to work within the elearning context of the training & development industry, I feel kind of sneaky, like have gotten away with something. As I dig even further into good elearning examples, I'm feeling my creative ideas from teaching and the technology from promoting the library blend together like a magical concoction. I'm in my zone. That being said, I have a grin on my face after completing my two day certification program. After the sessions I am much more comfortable standing up for the type of elearning I believe in. The program was taught by the fabulously goofy Ethan Edwards, who is the Chief Instructional Strategist for Allen Interactions. I was honestly a bit hesitant to attend this session knowing that Michael Allen, the founder of Allen Innovations has been prominent in the field for over ten years. I've kept up-to-date with effective elearning models, and I was curious to know how the samples in this workshop compared. This did not disappoint, and I now have a lot of new ideas to take with me when I go back to Chicago.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

ASTD ICE 2012

Now to change things up a bit as I get ready to head out to the training and development  national conference in Denver. I'm going to test my luck a bit by leaving my laptop behind and instead taking just my phone and tablet. This will be the longest I've gone without the laptop, so we'll see if the tablet can handle my heavy use.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Galaxy Tab versus iPad

My beautiful iPad + my workhorse Galaxy 2 7.0
I am now the sheepish owner of more new technology. Yes, I bought an iPad about a month ago, and have loved playing around with it. There are some amazing apps that make learning pretty phenomenal (iThoughtsHD, Tools 4 Students, and more) As an elearning professional, I felt that it was necessary to at least explore it, but yesterday, I panic-purchased a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 from Best Buy. Why did I do that if I was so happy with the iPad? Well, it's because the iPad still feels like a luxury item to me. It's all about beauty and fun, whereas, I need my Google Calendar and Task list to synch. Yes, there are Apps for that, but within fifteen minutes, my Galaxy Tab was set up in a functional way, similar to my Evo. I had fully expected to return the Samsung within my thirty days, but now, it has become my little workhorse that is seamlessly connecting my Google world, my Amazon Cloud player, my Kindle, and more. 
So what do I do now? Do I keep the iPad and enjoy it? Do I "donate" it to my mom who is IN LOVE with her iPhone? Or do I sell it? 
I'd better decide fast because my nerdy techy husband is even losing patience with me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reasonable Technology?!

I usually don't steal images, but this was a perfect example. Thanks, WIREFLY
This is my grumpy post. The one is which I rant to Samsung and HTC and say, "Not all of us want five inch screens on our phones!" Some of us, like me, have small hands and short little fingers, and would like my Android phone to match (preferably with a qwerty, HTC!). Right now, I'm rockin' an older HTC EVO Shift because it's smaller, and it has a qwerty. Let's be honest, it works, but it has a slower processor than I would like. But I'm not willing to lose productivity by switching to something like the Samung Transform Ultra, which is smaller, but more of an entry level phone. Nor am I willing to move to an iPhone. I know it's small, but my life is on Google. For now, I'm stuck with my good ole EVO Shift it's one of the smallest "real" smartphones out there. And with my qwerty keyboard, I can actually blog from my phone.
Which I did.
I know this isn't my typical post, but I need my Android on the go for all that I do, and I wished I could upgrade to a reasonably-sized qwerty Android that was FAST FAST FAST, and was going to get Ice Cream Sandwich sometime soon. I'm talking quad-core with ICS... Yum. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

WLPI Final Presentation

Let's be honest. After a day of watching presentations, the last thing anyone wants to do is go home to review the material that she picked up. Knowing that, I wanted to create a mini-learning portal that housed the resources I used for the presentation. I can also move this to the LinkedIn WLPI group if others feel it is helpful.
Here we go:
I used Prezi to make the Zooming presentation. There is a bit of a learning curve with this cloud-based application, so it's worth it to watch a few instructional videos.
The presentation itself compared first impressions of Pinterest to Delicious for bookmarking articles (and inspiration). Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it would be worthwhile to read a bit more about each one.
For taking notes, I love graphic organizers. I recently found an iPad app that does basic organizers very well. It's called Tools 4 Students. Another great one for adults is iThoughtsHD for amazing organizers on the go.
It's been a pleasure getting to know everyone in WLPI. I wish you all the best, and I hope you stay in touch! You've all taught me quite a bit.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

IPad as the New Legal Pad?

This is how a lot of us work: Laptop + Other Information
When the iPad first came out, my husband Sam and I ran out to buy one. As a developer, Sam thought it was fabulous, and as a librarian, I thought it was a great tool to reach timid technology users.
At first we adored it. It lived on our ottoman in our living room, and we grabbed it when we had a quick question ("I'm not sure...Let's google it!") or when we needed  to play Harbor Master or Sextuple Word Challenge. But, as soon as we wanted to find restaurants, bars, or fun places in the neighborhood, we ran into FLASH issues. Halfway through the search, we'd have to give up and switch to our laptops. After awhile, the iPad just wasn't being used. I wasn't reading on it (it was too heavy, and I loved my Kindle), nor was I checking my email (I already used my Evo for that). One day, I came home, and I realized that the iPad was missing. My husband had sold it three days earlier, and I hadn't even noticed. 
But now, I find myself yearning for one again. As learning becomes increasingly self-directed, I find myself watching instructional videos on Youtube while I attempt to practice the skill on my laptop. Clicking back and forth between windows is fun for about twenty minutes, but it gets frustrating fast. In the old days, while I was learning a new skill, I was surrounded by notes and other resources (like textbooks). Now, most of my information lives on my computer screen. If I think about the iPad in this way, it makes a lot more sense to make the purchase again.
And it wouldn't hurt to move my Angry Birds obsession from my Evo to a bigger screen...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

University of Me?

Self-directed possibilities?
For anyone who has talked to me recently or read my blog (Christy Tucker, I am honored to know that you read my last post!), you know I have struggled with whether to pursue more formal education. Three months ago, I thought it was the best approach to breaking into a new field, but now I'm not so sure. I think the key is to figure out what skills I am missing, and where I can best get them. I'm one of those nerdy souls who love formal education. I thrive in that environment, and I deeply enjoy being pushed by faculty and my fellow students. I am wondering, however, it is time that I  move past this comfort zone and design a learning program that suits me where I am now. I've already downloaded Moodle and Captivate to my desktop, and I've almost hit the "subscribe" button on lynda.com at least three times. This self-directed learning along with my daily obsession with my colleagues on Twitter and LinkedIn has informed me in a way that a university program could not. To make matters more complicated, many of the training and development professionals I respect the most (Cathy Moore, Cammy Bean, Trish Uhl and others) have found themselves in this field through circuitous routes. 
If I were able to design my own learning program, I know exactly how I would do it. I would make it structured and project-based, and it would be transparent. I would blog along the way, and keep my learning resources close at hand on Delicious. 
I'm not afraid of self-directed learning. My only fear is that I won't end up with the proper credential for my dream job at Kineo....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Straddling the Introvert-Extrovert Line

I am both, but most people know me as "The Extrovert"
As I have transitioned from "flight attending-teaching-librarianship" to training and development, I have struggled to decide where my skill set fits the best. The T & D field is diverse, and I enjoy so many facets of it, that making a decision about what to pursue is difficult. The introvert in me loves new technologies, instructional design, and the A.D.D.I.E. structure. The extrovert in me loves team building, facilitating learning, and connecting people to resources. It should be a benefit to enjoy both dynamics, but it makes career decisions a bit more complicated. I thought that going through the Workplace Learning and Performance Institute through CCASTD would clarify my decision, but instead, it has only succeeded in exciting me about the possibilities within the field. 
I had decided to continue my education by pursuing a Credential in Instructional Design at Roosevelt UniversityI enrolled to obtain a solid foundation in adult learning design, but I have to admit, I am tempted to take one more class to pursue a Credential in Training and Development. To make a decision to focus on Instructional Design almost feels like cheating on the extrovert in me. I am curious if anyone else has struggled with this issue?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Exceptional Instructional Design Models

During the last few days, I have taken some time to explore various models of online learning. Many of you in the design community will be familiar with these two examples, but I feel that it is worth it to reiterate how effective this type of instruction can be. The first example by the company eLearnerEngaged, uses Articulate (with other software) to create Broken Co-workerCathy Moore ("Let's save the world from boring e-learning!" is her tag-line) has posted her company's work for the U.S. Army. This Flash example called Connect with Haji Kamal is one of my favorites because each of the characters are well-developed and have their own input. 
What I like about both examples is that they are both visual and scenario based. Each demonstrates the use of the "branching" concept to teach interpersonal communication skills. By allowing users to make decisions which change the outcome of the learning scenario, both are effective in teaching a skill that is difficult to convey in the online learning environment. 



Friday, March 9, 2012

Wow, What a Difference Training Makes!

The other day, I wrote a post about Twitter for Professional Development. Along with the post, I uploaded a screencast that I had made. Very shortly after I uploaded it, I took down the link. I decided that I wasn't satisfied with the final product, and I needed help quite desperately. 
I took matters into my own hands, and signed up for the free imovie and Garageband classes at the Apple store. (I blogged about that too). Well, here I am, three days after the training, and I feel like I have a totally different video. It is clean, fasted-paced, and fun. It is not necessarily a "training" video, but it is a good introduction for someone who is interested in getting a fast-paced overview of twitter. There are still some things I'd like to fix about it, but I think it might mean using a different screencasting tool. 
I'd say that training works, but you be the judge: 


And my original video below: 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Delicious: Sometime You Don't Want to Tweet It Out

And the winner is...Delicious 2012!
Like many users, I am on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin all day long. In that time, I read many well-written and intriguing articles. My usual response to my article lust is to "Share, Retweet, Share, Retweet, Repin!!!" (Say that ten times fast).
Lately, I have realized that when I find an article, I am not looking for a social response. What I really want is a way to save the information as a resource in usable, searchable folders, so when I have a specific question, I have a library of information at my fingertips--all in one place, no matter where the original information was found. I know I could use Pinterest to do this, but I really feel that Pinterest's value is in design and visuals, not in article collection. When I thought of my ideal tool I came up with some prerequisites: 
  • Easy. I want a button in my toolbar. (no copy, paste, save as pdf--I could do that on my computer, but it's too time consuming) 
  • It must live in "the cloud" so I have access to it everywhere
  • I wanted to bundle the topics for later access
After a bit of research, I was down to a few different options. Pinboard (a ten dollar one-time fee for this service which calls itself "social bookmarking for introverts"), Evernote which I am already using to take text-based notes, or Delicious which I used in good ole 2005. 
Since I am a fan of using tools I already have, I tried Evernote. It worked well to give me a basic screenshot of my desired article or the url, but I just felt there was something better out there. Since Pinboard was a fee-based service, I decided to visit my old friend, Delicious, and man, it has evolved since 2005!
With some easy set up (much like Pinterest), I now had a "Save on Delicious" button in my browser. I quickly created a couple of "stacks" and added an article. When I went back to the link, I could see an image, the linkable url, and a long summary. 
Perfect. 
Apparently, finding the right tool for the job sometimes means revisiting a website from the past...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Images for Inspiration

Keyword "Inspiration" from Fotolia
Recently, I have been asked where I get my photographs for this blog. I can tell you what I don't do. I don't take images from a Google image search and plop them into my posts. When you do that, unfortunately, you never know when you are using someone's brand logo as your designated "art in the park" post. 
The last blog I wrote was a travel blog, so my photos were my own. For this blog, I had to get creative and research some inexpensive (or free) photo services. I decided to use Fotolia. The photography on the site is royalty free, so I can buy what I need (most of my images cost about a dollar each), then not stress about using an image that might belong to someone else.
An additional perk of paying for stock images is that many of them are slick, colorful, and creative. I am a huge proponent of making sure my images are aligned with the ideas in my text, so using this service allows me to pick and choose the more appropriate image. I think the image above from Fotolia tells a much better story than this: 
Not very inspiring (Free Microsoft Clipart)


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Learning to Edit

Sometimes, I am my own worst critic. I just watched my last video tutorial and said, "The timing isn't quite right. I need to refine it."
I know in this day and age, perfect doesn't always matter, but with training, I think many videos are too long. My "Twitter for Professional Development" video fell into that category. 
Learning new technologies is sometimes about giving it a go, and deciding that you need a little more training. Screencasting and making video tutorials are like that for me. I started using them about two years ago, but had always worked in a team environment to produce the final content. This time, I am on my own. I have decided to take a class at the Apple store to learn how to better use imovie software. I thought I would have to pay for the workshop, but it turns out that the class is free. I don't mean to tout Apple products, but imovie lives on my computer already, so if I can learn a bit more, the quality of my videos will improve. Taking time to do it right is worth it--especially if it builds a stronger foundation for future projects. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Twitter for Professional Development

Have you ever worked for an organization in which staff members pass professional journals from one person to the next? I have. By the time the journal got to me, I had already read the relevant articles--they had been tweeted and retweeted by followers on Twitter. Yes, I'll admit it. I would love to use Twitter to follow #meme all day, but instead it's an easy way to keep track of trends in the industry. 
For many of you, this post is like, "duh!" of course! But for others who have heard the words Tweet, Kardashian, or Lindsay Lohan in the same sentence far too often, Twitter seems like a guilty pleasure. Believe me, it can be (uh, #topchef)! But for other things, just by following a few industry microbloggers (tweeters!), I have learned a lot. I have created an overview video below for those of you who have created a Twitter account, but have no idea what to do next.
UPDATE:
I originally created a video tutorial, but I have been practicing my imovie skills, and I am excited to revise the video. I will repost it as soon as possible!
  

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Need to Know (Now!) Basis

This post isn't anything new. If you are a learning professional, what I am writing is something that you've been experiencing for quite some time. I decided to write this post because some organizations haven't yet moved in the "learning on demand" direction. For some, training is still very traditional, and social learning is synonymous with playing around on Facebook all day. Whatever assumptions there are, it is very apparent that employees are using a user centric model to access information at the time they need it. Knowing this and embracing it are two different concepts. 
Ask yourself: 
  • Does your organization allow employees to use Youtube to surf for helpful videos? 
  • Are training Webinars uploaded and easily findable? 
  • To create a portal for social learning, are you using Ning or another social networking platform to connect employees?
  • Has management decided to use Salesforce or Sugar CRM to provide an accessible communication platform to monitor customers, sales needs, or budgets?
Face-to-face learning will never completely go out of style, but a lot of time and money can be saved if employees have access to the information they need at the time they need it. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Favorite Free Training Tools

A lot of organizations would like to have a training program or at least a collection of training resources. Sometimes that means being open to new technology, even if it means that the information lives in "The Cloud." Here is a list of great free resources that can be used to create free or low cost training:
  • If you ever wanted to demonstrate how to use specific software, or a website, Screencast-O-Matic is a great tool. Film a video of your computer screen--even add narration; download it, then upload it to Youtube, or another service.
  • You want to use Web-ex for the Cisco name, but it's too expensive. You can use Anymeeting for conferencing.
  • You would love to use a Learning Management System to create designated coursework, but once again, it's too expensive. Check out Moodle instead.
  • Animation and gaming is hot, but it can also be really expensive. Go Animate is great for simple animations, or Xtranormal is more in depth, but can be used to make animated movies. Although it's not my thing, you can also use Sploder to create free basic games.
  • Last but not least, online quizes are a great way to learn as well. One of my favorite resources is ProProfs. You can even insert video content as one of the questions. 

Why Does My Blog Look Different?

I know, I know. You woke up this morning and decided to check out my blog, only to be surprised by its new look. You wondered,"What happened to her fun flippy-card links? They were so, mod..."
Let me be frank with you. I miss them too. I really liked the look of the blog.
But then I got real.
Here's the thing; most of the time, people who are reading my information won't even come to my blog directly. They might link to bits via Google, or follow me on Twitter.  Yes, it's nice if a website looks appealing, but in this world of parsed information, it doesn't really matter. As long as my interface is clean and can offer people the ability to find my information, the coolness factor isn't that necessary. 
That being said, the problem with my other look was that it used "Dynamic Views." Dynamic Views are flexible image-based blog posts, but they haven't been as customizable as a traditional style. It also has not been possible to add Gadgets (think "Follow me on Twitter" link) to the layout. As of this week, an update has created new docked gadgets, but since this is relatively new, I have decided to go with the basic blog style. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Training With Humor

Just admit it. This guy is FUNNY!
Have you ever looked at which blogs and Youtube posts get the most action? Sex and violence probably rate the highest, with funny coming in at a close third. Since using sex or violence in organizational training doesn't seem to be the smartest idea, using humor is probably the best alternative.
Let's be honest.Training isn't always very funny. Just say the words, "multiple choice exam," and a deep snore resonates throughout the training room (second only to the words "power" and "point"). 
Funny works. Funny is memorable, and funny takes away the insecurities that people feel when learning new things. This doesn't mean that a person has to be a stand-up comic. Humor needs to come across as genuine and appropriate--not forced. 
There are some easy ways to use humor.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't Forget What Assuming Does...

Sometimes it's good to be honest about current challenges. As much as it hurts to admit, we often learn the most from situations that are the most difficult at the time.
This week, my dog and I are having a communication breakdown. She has had minor surgery and is wearing an elizabethan collar to prevent her from scratching the injury. Although she practiced wearing the e-collar before the surgery (yes, we did!), I failed to consider that her "tunnel vision" would greatly affect how we interacted during her walks.
Her regular breaks have now become exercises in fixation. Her limited vision is now the cause of a telescope-like focus on all sorts of delicious trash. Because of this unrelenting interest, my "leave it" commands have little impact on her obsession, and instead, I have been pulled around like a carriage behind the Headless Horseman.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rethinking Titles (Even More!)


After I published the Rethinking Traditional Titles post, one of my colleagues, Layne, posted a comment that got me thinking. She wrote, "...I am still one of those people who really likes telling people that I am a librarian, and I lament the fact that we have not successfully rebranded the title itself. I wish we could continue to just be librarians..."
During the last week, I have pondered this response. Since I am also a librarian, to think that my hard-earned title lacks meaning is a bit disconcerting. After a bit more thought, I realized that perhaps it is up to the library schools to rebrand (public) librarianship. I could see this being done in two very different ways:

Friday, February 17, 2012

I said, "Come!"


I am not always the bluntest communicator. I don't like to hurt people's feelings, and that sometimes creates a battle between diplomacy and direction.
As I have gotten older, I have realized where the problem lies: clear, concise communication is sometimes seen as potentially masculine or overbearing. As a result, many times females downplay their requests. Unfortunately, meek or wishy-washy attempts to explain oneself do not result in effective directives. 
Even though I have seen this phenomenon, I have also worked with some powerful, direct, innovative females. Through them, I have begun learning how to channel some of my inner badarse (i.e., my ability to be a direct communicator). But lately, these lessons are sometimes best taught by my dog.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If I Could Speak Honestly...

As a person who has been outside the library world for a bit, I have had some time to reflect on my experience in public libraries. During my seven years in the industry, I realize that there are some common mistakes that libraries are making. Well, let's not call them mistakes. Let's refer to them as missteps:  
Too Much Energy is going into the "Moving of Books"
Think about it. Instead of facilitating programs or supporting literacy, many libraries spend most of the time packing, unpacking, checking in, and driving books around. This Oprah-like "Ah-ha!" epiphany dawned on me the other day. Is this what the public really wants from libraries?
Lots of Introverts in Customer-Facing Roles
Let's think about this--in the past, many people went into library science not because they wanted to facilitate interactive programming, but because they liked quiet places to get work done. The library today is no longer a great place for shy, regimented personalities. Instead, they are better suited to loud mouthed, gregarious, friendly, community activists who can multitask and think nonlinearly.

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Heart Cries Out

To my hard working former colleagues. Every day, they fill the void a bit more. They are flexible, yet under-funded, And many times, they are misunderstood. Every day, they fill the role of social worker, genealogistjob counselor, technology instructor, literacy expert, archivist, story teller, community advocate, and connector of information. 
The next time you hear someone say that libraries aren't needed in the digital age, expand your view of what a library does. I wrote once before about replacing traditional titles to promote a library's worth in the community. Whether that has to happen officially, or perhaps just in the minds of elected officials and the public, all of a sudden, it becomes apparent that they are needed more than ever. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The View from the Outside

Why use a consultant? 
For those of you who know me understand that I can be a silly, off beat, and semi-hilarious human being. I also tend to become really passionate about the people, places, and things that I care about the most. Unfortunately for me, I am also a "fixer" by nature, which doesn't always work best for me if I am in a situation that I care about that perhaps isn't living up to its potential. 
I do best when I can back up and take a breath to reevaluate the context. After I do this, I don't always have the right answer--sometimes my ideas are so "out there", that they need to be reined in by a practical soul, or refined by a group of people who can provide a different perspective. But many times, I can at least see the problem more clearly than someone who is in the middle of the situation. And being honest about what needs to be fixed is sometimes the hardest step to take.

Managing Priorities

Let's say that you've done the strategic planning, the buy-in meetings, and most everyone is on board. Everything is great--except, all of a sudden, your list of "Must Haves" is a lot longer than it was when just upper management was on board. Is that better or worse? Well, perhaps at first, this seems a lot more daunting than before--after all, upper management probably spent a lot of time aligning change with the in-place strategic plan. As other opinions were brought in, so were ideas that didn't fit under the original umbrella. So, the challenge comes from the discomfort that follows.