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


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.