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 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. 
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.
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!