Friday, March 31, 2006
Interestingly, it doesn't include any of his pictures. He doesn't specifically mention eLearning 2.0, but it sounds a lot like it. You can see pictures that go with the story and a discussion of eLearning 2.0 vs. his work in my post:
eLearning Technology: Rosenberg's Beyond eLearning - Is that eLearning 2.0?
* Technical still at top - but going down
* Lack of engagement and lack of interaction are rising fast
Interestingly, "unskilled facilitators" is going down as a challenge, but given the lack of engagement and lack of interaction going up, I'm not so sure. That's normally what I find to be the biggest challenge.
* WebEx and LiveMeeting top the list and are going up in market share
* Centra and Interwise appear to be losing marketshare
Interestingly, there was no "other" category. It seems that there are lots of solutions in the market that aim to be lower cost. I would be surprised if there aren't a lot of entrants based on open-source, low-cost solutions offering services over the next two years. TeamSpeak is a feely available audio conferencing system. Good web conferencing can't be far behind. Putting a low-cost service together based on these two would be easy.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
One of the most intriguing aspects of Web 2.0 and eLearning 2.0 is the ability to compose together separate services to create something new and different.
The "Authoring Tool of the Future" and "LMS of the Future" will be along these same lines where you will be able to compose together point solutions.
As a great example of how this is happening, take a look at Typepad's recent announcement:
TypePad Widgets -
A widget is a little piece of content or functionality provided by a third party
that you can place in the siderail of your TypePad blog. Technically, it's just
content module on your blog.
There's a good Analysis on TechCrunch.
I would definitely recommend looking at:
http://similicio.us/ - finds similar sites based on common tags
that I talk about in my article: eLearning Technology: Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective
http://thumblicio.us/index.php?tag=eLearning - Browsing based on screen shots. It's surprising how much more effective it is to see a preview of the content.
http://del.icio.us/help/tagrolls & http://del.icio.us/help/linkrolls- allows you to put your tags in your blog or site
The list is so long, that it's hard to know which ones really are that useful. If you are using other tools, definitely drop me a comment.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Teaching and Learning Online - Education World
Congress recently passed a bill that ended the requirement that colleges deliver
at least half their courses on campus (as opposed to online) in order for their
students to qualify for federal student aid. Surely, that change is a sign that
online learning finally has achieved a certain degree of legitimacy -- at least
Monday, March 27, 2006
Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective
Do Learning Professionals Make the Worst Learners?
Well, it looks like David Warlick has some good suggestions for what conference organizers should provide:
Conference 2.0 - Ten Tips for Extending your Education Conference
I wonder if we will see better up-front and follow-on activity because of some of these suggestions? To me, that's the key to really making a conference be useful.
Recently, we've been doing the production work more often using Captivate and I keep seeing people ask about using that tool because of some of its quirks (like file size). So, I asked a few of the tricks they use and here's what we came up with together...
There are a number of things you can do to manage the file size of your Captivate projects; but like most eLearning projects, the amount of leeway you have is largely dependant on the specific client requirements, such as:
1) Is audio a necessary component? If so, how important is the sound quality?
2) What is the minimum display size that will adequately present the application?
3) Are there drag-and-drop features that need to be demonstrated? and
4) Is 508-compliance a requirement?
Before you read more, I would strongly recommend visiting the Macromedia Captivate Developer Center (http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/captivate/), and in particular, the article: “File-Size Considerations for Captivate Demonstrations and Simulations” located at http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/captivate/articles/filesize.html.
This is where you can have the biggest impact on the size of your project, both positive and negative. Planning ahead is always an important practice for good Captivate development, but if file size is a key consideration, that “good-practice” becomes even more critical.
1. Minimize the Recording Area—Before I begin recording, my first step is to determine the optimum size for the recording area. My two key considerations here are the end-user display characteristics—are they likely to view on a laptop, is the demonstration likely to be used in a school or library where monitors can tend to be on the small side—and what is the smallest size I can shrink the application I am demonstrating down to, while still adequately illustrating the tasks involved. I often arrive at a custom size and will therefore tend to use the Custom setting in the Record New Movie options, selecting the window from the dropdown menu, and then snapping the recording area to fit.
2. Fewer Colors = Lower File Size—I’m as attached to my carefully selected desktop picture as the next guy, but if I do need to include my desktop in the recording area (i.e. to demonstrate moving from one application to another), I will set the picture to None, and ensure that my desktop is now a color that is already being used somewhere in the presentation, so I am not introducing a new color unnecessarily. If I’ve really got to crunch the size, I will remove all title bar gradients as well—ever notice that every window you open has a color gradient from light to dark? See http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/captivate/articles/filesize.html - “File-Size Considerations for Captivate Demonstrations and Simulations” for more details.
3. Sacrifice a little to gain a lot—I have found that in most cases you can sacrifice the Full Motion Tab options without losing any noticeable quality. Obviously this needs to be visited on a case-by-case basis: If I have to demonstrate mouse movements in a drawing application, then I will ensure that “Show mouse in full motions capture” is selected, and if I need to drag an object from one area to another, then “Automatically capture drag-and-drop actions” remains selected, but usually I am able to keep these deselected, and take my video quality down to 50, and still have the movie look smooth to the end-user. This is another good example of where pre-planning comes into play. If my demonstration is going to involve 10 movies, and there is just one instance of a drag-and-drop, then there is no reason that all 10 movies need to have that option selected. I also have never found myself needing millions of colors for the demo – use 16 bit instead of 32!.
4. Careful about scrolling: If your demonstration includes the use of a scroll bar, consider clicking the directional arrows instead of dragging the scroll bar.
Although the biggest saving can be gained in the recording process, there are some tricks that can be performed in the editing phase to accomplish further savings.
1. Remove Unnecessary Slides—Whether I use auto-record, manual, or some combination of the two, I always end up with extra slides. The first thing I do once I’ve recorded and moved on to my storyboard/edit window is to identify them and then remove them (having backed up my move first of course!). I tend to be able to tell just by previewing my movie and looking at the storyboard layout, but when in doubt, the Bandwidth Monitor can be a great tool. From the Macromedia “File-Size Considerations…” article: “Look for slides on the Slide Summary tab. If the slide time is less than one second, there is a good chance that you can remove it. A very short slide time indicates that very little action occurs on the slide. For example, a slide that lasts less than one second could simply show the a clicking effect on a button, which helps create a more realistic demonstration or simulation but does not make training more or less effective.”
2. Importing Files—Remember that the same rules discussed earlier apply when importing images, PowerPoint Slides, Animations, etc. Everything you import increases the overall size, so keep images small, keep color depth limited, and avoid color gradients.
3. Adding Audio—Audio can far exceed any other element of your project in terms of file size. Even though Captivate will covert the audio to MP3, it can still have a huge impact on file size. Background music, or cool sound effects can be great to have, but if bandwidth is a major consideration, and audio is not a requirement, avoid the temptation. When I do need to use audio—usually in the form of narration—I will stick to “High (FM Quality)”—a safe middle-ground, so far I have not run into any problems.
As with everything else discussed here, be sure of your client-requirements before deciding on your publishing options, but generally I will go with the following settings (under Movie > Preferences):
- Select Advanced Movie Compression—Yes
- Compress Compiled SWF file—Yes
- Include Breeze Metadata—No. Unless you are going to use the project with Macromedia Breeze, there is no need to include this.
- 508 Compliance—Be careful here! If you don’t need it, then deselect as it does increase file size, but be sure your client is aware of Section 508 and informed on whether it is something that applies to their website. You can always juts point them to http://www.section508.gov/ for more info.
- JPEG image quality—Much like choosing 16-bit over 32-bit video, there is really no need to exceed 50% here, unless you are dealing with high-quality photographs or video.
Breaking up Files
The last thing to consider is how many slides are contained in your movie. Usually I have a good idea in the planning stage of roughly how many slides a movie will pan out to, but I have on occasion found myself arriving at the storyboard screen with over 100 slides. Macromedia recommends not exceeding 60 slides in any one movie, with 30-50 being the optimum.
When this happens, the solution here is simple—break the movie up into manageable chunks. Instead of one movie with 100 slides, I will break that up into 3 or 4 movies, each with 25-30 slides. Depending on how I am presenting my demonstration (i.e., is it housed in an html shell as part of a larger application or is it a stand-alone demo), I will either link my movies into a single string by going Movie End Options > Action, select Open Other Movie, and then linking to the next movie in sequence, or if I’m just sticking them into a pre-existing navigation, I just make sure I have a logical naming structure and title accordingly.
You can also create a menu system within Captivate using the MenuBuilder Feature. For more info visit the Captivate Developer Center (http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/captivate/)
Friday, March 24, 2006
I got a notification that the folks at "Training that Sucks" had linked to me.
Of course, when a blog called that links to you, you had better visit!
Now that I think of it, great way to get people to visit your site. :)
But, then I had a weird experience, they had a post that mentioned: "And yes, to answer the most frequently asked question, we’re working on an RSS feed." but I just got their content through an RSS feed. I looked at my subscription, and sure enough, I hadn't used FeedYes or some trick like that to grab stuff from them.
So, I figured I would tell them about their RSS feed, only to not be able to find contact information on the blog.
Of course, it was simple communication problem. They have contact information back on their main site and its just not apparent from the blog page that I reached through the RSS feed.
There must be a joke in here somewhere. Or maybe it's Friday afternoon.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
From a technical perspective, there really isn't that much new, BUT...
When you step in and experience the use of Software as a Service, Add-ins and Mash-ups, it is remarkable how different it feels. I have a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Have been involved in software development since 1980. Taught undergrade and graduate Programming Languages. And, I've only really had a similar reaction a few times:
- Macros in Spreadsheets - incredibly easy creation of powerful data manipulation
- Turbo Pascal - first IDE
- Visual Basic - IDE with visual components and easy attribute setting, wiring
It honestly feels like that again with Web 2.0 with the caveat that we aren't quite there yet. In fact, this has the potential of being bigger than any of the above because of the software as service, distributed nature of the data/content and the integration of communication/people/time. But, even if its in the same ballpark as the above three we are talking something pretty special.
To get a handle on part of this picture I would first point you to look at:
eLearning Technology: What is eLearning 2.0?
Just like how Visual Basic allowed you to put components inside your application, you can now put components into your Web Applications. Look on the right side of this blog and you can find various components. For many of them, I would go to a site, tell it the attributes I wanted to use (size, color, field values) much like I would in Visual Basic. They hand me a little snippet of code that I literally cut and paste into my Blogger site. It's not quite drag-and-drop as in Visual Basic, but its awefully close. And while this is very much like Visual Basic, the data and applications are distributed, and provide as a service that I just go and use. Visual Basic was much less accessible in comparison.
Of course, we are still working on the wiring and the platforms. On the wiring side, we have Microformats - Bill Gates at Mix06 - “We need microformats” and a lot happening in Identity and Security (which are big issues).
On the application platform side, we don't yet have Visual Basic. We seem to have a divide between:
- Content publishing type platforms (Blogger, PBWiki) - where you can manually embed script (but they don't have any support for real scripting),
- Database oriented development sites (DabbleDB, ZohoCreator) - where you can easily build applications but that don't have the add-in stuff at all, nor scripting
- Application development platforms (Salesforce.com)
You've got to figure that someone is going to build out the Visual Basic of Web 2.0 in a Software as Service manner.
All that said, while I started as a skeptic, I actually think this is easily as big as Macros, IDE or Visual Basic, and my gut says that it's bigger.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective
Unfortunately, there seems to be a little information that really helps us understand how we can take control of our personal learning more effectively. There is some stuff coming out around "Personal Learning Environments" for example, take a look at: ePortfolio Model and the Concept Diagram for Personal Learning Landscape.
I'm going to try to provide a few different posts that look at this topic. This first post looks at how we can take advantage of some of the relatively recent Web 2.0 tools to do a better job reading and researching topics.
Reading & Researching Rough Definition of Use Cases
First, let me start with what I roughly mean when I say reading and researching:
Reading - I sometimes call this scanning. Basically, I don't have a specific question in mind. I'm just trying to find out "what's new" or "give me some interesting ideas." Mostly, this is just trying to stay abreast of what is going on. I do this normally by skimming lots of magazines, newsgroups and blogs. Sometimes, I'm in this mode when I'm attending local presentations, online presentations or conference sessions. Normally, what I find are farily random pieces of information. All I will do with that information is remember the high level concepts and then, if I'm doing a good job, I'll make sure that I can get back to the details again later.
Researching - In this case, I'm trying to find the answer to a question. Sometimes it's fairly broad like "What are the things I should do before and after a professional conference to get more from the conference?" or sometimes specific like "What simulation tool best meets this requirement?" I may research this by searching the web, talking to people or asking questions in newsgroups. I will use the information I find to do what I need to do, I'll probably remember roughly what I found, and then, if I'm doing a good job, I'll make sure that I can get back to the details again later.
Hopefully, you recognize these two high-level use cases to some degree. It would seem that they match pretty will with how other's view this. For example, if you look at the diagram from the post I cited above:
Jeremy has a good model of the likely elements along the bottom. For my Reading and Researching use cases, I'm focused primarily on Collecting, Reflecting, Connecting (somewhat) and Publishing (somewhat - although I would call it sharing). Alternatively, take a look at the use cases in: Four Modes of Seeking Information and How to Design for Them.
Using Web 2.0 Tools to Tag and "Get Back to Details Later"
In both the reading and research use cases, one of the keys to long-term success is to be able to "get back to the details" later. Web 2.0 tools help us in doing a better job of this.
The beauty of tagging is that it taps into an existing cognitive process without adding add much cognitive cost. At the cognitive level, people already make local, conceptual observations. Tagging decouples these conceptual observations from concerns about the overall categorical scheme.
Tagging provides immediate self and social feedback. Each tag tells you a little about what you are interested in. And you find out the social context for that bit of self-knowledge. How do others view that item? Together this piecemeal feedback creates a cycle of positive reinforcement, so that you are motivated to tag even more. This might not make tagging easier, but it does make it more fun.
Now, I'm assuming that we will be disciplined enough during our use cases to roughly do the following:
- Articles in Print Magazines - No matter how you do it (I personally rip out the articles as I read), get the article in front of the computer. Find it online. (BTW, what ever happened to that mouse that would find the online copy for you?) Bookmark and tag it.
- Presentations at conferences - Find a link to the presentation later. Bookmark and tag it.
- Online materials - Bookmark and tag it.
Bookmarking / Tagging Tool
I've just recently switched to Yahoo's MyWeb 2.0 from del.icio.us. While I like the del.icio.us interface a lot more, it doesn't support a few features that I wanted (page caching, searching within linked pages, control on link sharing). Also, since Yahoo acquired del.icio.us, my guess is that MyWeb is the way Yahoo will be going since it is already integrated with other aspects of their social bookmarking. Also, I don't expect Yahoo to go away soon, where I'm a bit concerned about some of the other social bookmarking, tagging tools.
Now you might say, "but, I already bookmark using my browser?" Here's what you are missing that you get with Yahoo's MyWeb 2.0:
- You can access your bookmarks from anywhere via a browser (i.e., they get shared between home, work and on the road)
- You can share your bookmarks and get bookmarks from other people
- You can control who has access to your links (private, group of friends, co-workers, CoP group, public)
- You can search within the content of your bookmarks for tags, contents of the pages you've link, what other people have linked
- The system can save copies of the pages (cache them) so they don't rot (give you "not found" messages later)
- Tagging beats bookmark categories because you don't have to rearrange your categories nor do you need to figure out your categories ahead of time
- You can use the bookmarks to create a "link roll" that you can post to your intranet, your blog, or wherever to be able to share with people who aren't using the same service
Some Remaining Issues:
- Pages on sites like the eLearningCentre that contain long lists of good links cannot today be easily included in your links. However, going forward, these list pages will be dynamic based on link rolls, so this will go away over time.
- Appears that the system does not cache PDF pages or Docs - which is a drag. So these may get lost over time as people remove the documents.
- Tagging and searching is still across web resources. I also use a desktop search tool which has radically changed how I handle email and directories. I find that there is little need for email folders and a lot less need for directories. I'll just find it via search anyhow. I would really love it if the Web 2.0 tools I'm describing extended down to my desktop so that I could search across all of it at once.
When you save a bookmark, you will be asked to provide tags. To get the greatest value from these systems, it is best if you provide reasonably good tags. However, I find that I will sometimes need to go back and tag things again as I find that other people are using different tags and/or I find myself using different tags.
The articles Folksonomies: Tags Strengths, Weaknesses And How To Make Them Work and Tag Literacy provides some good background. Some common mistakes:
- Misspelt tags (e.g., libary, libray) - avoid this by almost always selecting an existing tag. Some will be suggested, others come up based on the first few words. Generally, try to use an existing tag and make a conscious decision to use a new tag.
- Group compound terms together - for example personalLearning is a tag I use. Also openSource would be a good idea.
- Use plurals to define categories. When appropriate, instead of blog or tree, use blogs and trees. Tags signify a category which can encompass various resources, so the plural is generally more appropriate. This will avoid having to check both the singular and plural version of a tags. However, sometimes having both a singular and a plural tag is necessary. For example, I would expect to find very different resources under the tags apple(as in the electronics manufacturer) and apples(as in the fruits).
- Don't use symbols in tags with the exception of a tag like eLearning2.0 where the "." is okay. Don't use # or _
The good news is that most of this is not as important until you start to share your bookmarks and tags. But it is a good idea to have a consist pattern to your tags to make life easier when you look things up.
Finding Bookmarked and Tagged Items
In most cases, I can quickly find any page via tags. Even if I have 500 pages, I will have relatively few pages maybe 30 pages with "personalLearning" as the tag. Even then, sometimes, I'll want to subselect with another tag like "Web2.0" to find the particular pages (now down to 5 pages).
Probably the nicest feature of Yahoo My Web 2.0 is that I can search the contents of the pages. So, even if I've not done a good job tagging my pages or can't figure out what tag I used for a particular page, I can generally search the contents of my pages to find the page anyone. Normally, I start with a tag search and then use a full-text search as a back-up. Oh, and then I tag the page with whatever tag it should have had. :)
Additional Recommended Activities
Okay, up to this point, I'm just suggesting something that is pretty simple and I would venture to say that this is the minimum you should do. But, there are a couple of more things that I would recommend you also try:
Move Towards Reading Online and Expand Your Sources
While, I still read paper publications, I've found a very interesting trend. As I've shifted towards reading a more diverse set of resources (primarily blogs and discussion groups), I've come to realize that I get more relevant diverse and deeper information from these sources. People are able to write about things in more detail that a magazine can possibly do. I still skim the magazines, but I find myself consciously spending more time with alternative sources.
At Training 2006, I was SHOCKED to see only 5 hands go up out of an audience of 200 who said they read blogs to find out what's happening.
If you are among the other 195 people, the first step is to get an RSS reader. If you don't know about these, probably the easiest way to get one and get moving quickly is to go to a previous post: Quick Way to Find and Sign-up for Blogs (it uses BlogLines).
And here are a couple of articles on how to incorporate your blog reading: Ten Tips for Effective Blog Reading - Part 1 & Effective Blog Reading - Part 2.
Once you start reading blogs, you will pretty soon realize that there's lots of other stuff that you can subscribe to. For example:
- Magazines publish their contents as RSS feeds or see my post about RSS Feeds from Static Magazines. Pretty soon you'll subscribe to those so you can more easily link the articles.
- Subscribe to particular searches, e.g., "eLearning 2.0", so that as new information comes up in blogs or get tagged by people, you can get notified of that.
This can quickly pile up, but it also can be much more focused than just reading the same old articles in Training Magazine. And, since you are reading online, its simple to bookmark and tag the items that you want to be able to get back to at a later time.
One of the interesting aspects of the social side of tagging and Bloglines is that you can use these tools to Pivot from one resource to another. Some examples:
- If you find a blog you like, use BlogLines to find related blogs and/or go to users who subscribe and see what else they are reading. When you do this, always put this new blog in a "quarantine" so that you give it a certain amount of time before you ignore it. I would suggest making a quarantine based on months. Any new blog that hasn't produced anything of use in a month is going to get the boot from me. But, if it has something good, then I'll move it out of quarantine.
- Also, many blogs have "blog rolls" and "link rolls" ... if their content is good, chances are they are pointing at good stuff.
- Using tags, you can see what other resources are that people have tagged with it.
- Use http://similicio.us/ to put in the URL of a site and find sites that are linked by other people (based on del.icio.us). You can even pivot from those, to find more.
Because of tagging and social aspects, pivoting is quite useful both for research and reading.
Up to this point, I've been suggesting things that will only marginally add to the effort of doing what you should already be doing today (reading and researching). Now, let me suggest something that will take possibly a little more work, but that will actually help your learning tremendously. And, yes, its sharing your reading and research.
Let me give an example. Let's say that you've been asked to look at software simulation tools for an upcoming project. You will definitely do some research. If you follow my advice above, you will probably search for pre-existing lists of simulation tools (and hopefully some commentary). (Link + Tag those). You will visit the sites of those tools. (Link + Tag those). And, you will do some analysis yourself where you make notes on the tools, select the tool that you think fits the best, make notes on why.
At an absolute minimum, I would say that you should make your Links + Tags + Notes available publicly through your social bookmarking service, e.g., del.icio.us or MyWeb.
Preferrably, you would create a blog post or a wiki page with your analysis. Do you not have a blog? Then go to Blogger and sign-up (it takes less than 5 minutes). Create a post that describes what your requirements were and provides a link roll or tags that people can get to your Links + Tags + Notes. This can be done either by exporting or by embedding a badge or link roll directly into your post. Blogger will generally give you a warning that you can ignore when you do this. <
Alternatively, you can accomplish the same thing with a Wiki. Again, this is incredibly easy and I'd recommend checking out PBWiki (it also takes less than 5 minutes).
Why would I suggest doing this as a blog or wiki? If you have a team working on this, its a no-brainer. It is a great way to share the information. But what if you are solo? And why make this public?
First - there's value provided to the community. We can collectively gain value from this kind of information. If there was more of it, you would have had an easier time in your selection process.
Second - this forces you to codify what you've done and makes sure that you have your research available to you (and others on your team) at a later time. There is lots of research showing that doing exactly this kind of activity codifies your learning. One such article, Promoting Durable Knowledge Construction through Online Discussion, points out:
Knowledge construction is best accomplished through collaboration. In general, students learn through the give-and-take among classmates. That is, as students write contributions to discussions, they learn what it is that they are trying to say. The replies that they receive from their classmates further this learning.
Okay, what if I'm just reading? Well, even better. Then create a post with notes on something interesting that you just found. Or, just put notes in your My Web link. (One thing about notes is that they are specific to the link - so you don't have notes on a group of links. That's when you have to go to a blog post or a wiki page.)
Yes, I understand this represents more work than you do today, but it really is worth it. I think you must try it before you will really know the value.
Furthermore, as learning professionals, I think we have a responsibility to try these kinds of things to understand how we can be better learners so we can help others become better learners.
The good news is that the tools we are talking about here are going to get much better quickly, I'll talk about other aspects of these tools in later posts.
I also plan to talk about more of the social aspects and how to take advantage of that.
And, finally, I hope to start to discuss some of the conversation coming out of Do Learning Professionals Make the Worst Learners?
Keywords: eLearning Trends, eLearning 2.0, Web 2.0, Personal Learning
If there is one idea that encapsulates what Web 2.0 is about, one idea that wasn’t a factor before but is a factor now, it’s the idea of leveraging the network to uncover the Wisdom of Crowds.but you'll also want to see: One of us is smarter than all of us that explains what is really meant by the wisdom of crowds concept.
FYI - RSS readers won't see the poll or maybe even the links.
Some reading on eLearning 2.0 to help you decide:
Web 2.0 Makes Me Cringe
Does eLearning 2.0 Make a Difference?
E-learning 2.0, whatever that is
What is eLearning 2.0?
Is E-Learning 2.0 For Real?
Whatever you call it, it's yummy
Blackboard Beyond Cites eLearning 2.0 as Part of Their Plans
A place where you can add your own reading items and vote on the above items:
By the way, there must be a better way to vote on each of those links (especially where no registration is required). If you know of such a tool, please leave me a comment or send me email.
http://www.janeknight.com/resources/freebooks.html - Free eLearning Books list
Hot Topics in Training - A Crude (but mildly interesting) Analysis - Gives an overview of what topics are being discussed now as opposed to in 2005.
Resource List Posts:
eLearning Technology: Rapid eLearning Tools - List of Rapid eLearning Development Tools
eLearning Technology: Virtual Classroom Instruction - Resources - Resources on better virtual classroom instruction.
eLearning Technology: Discussion Resources for Learning Professionals - Discussion groups for learning professionals.
eLearning Technology: Software Simulation eLearning (w/ links to Tools) - Articles and tools for creating software training eLearning.
eLearning Technology: eLearning Blogs - Quick Way to Find Good Ones
Thursday, March 16, 2006
But, I've come to the conclusion to move from del.icio.us to Yahoo's MyWeb 2.0. It provides all of the features I'm currently looking for in a personal learning, social search solution:
- Searching within the contents of my bookmarked pages
- Page caching (so I don't lose the pages I've bookmarked)
- Control on sharing of bookmarks (private, friends or public)
- Categories of Friends (so I can have family, work, etc.)
- Web Badge for Integration into my Blog
And there's the little fact that Yahoo acquired del.icio.us and so to me it seems that I can trust Yahoo to continue to build in this space and they likely are not going away.
My only problems are:
- My Web 2.0 is still beta and is a little buggy
- I need more people to use it so I get more value (but we'll probably all be using it soon when del.icio.us gets sucked in)
By the way, if you decide to give it a try, drop me a message and we can link up as friends.
Note: while Yahoo also offers a blog, an RSS reader, social networking, I'm not planning on switching to those Yahoo services anytime soon. Instead, I'll continue to use:
- Bloglines as my RSS Aggregator/Reader. I just like it better than Yahoo's current version.
- Blogger as my Blog engine. I like it better than the current blog engine.
- LinkedIn as a networking tool. Has critical mass for me to get value.
Oh, and I already also use Yahoo Groups as my Group front-end, so no need to switch there.
The TrDev discussion has turned the original question into the following questions:
- How can learning professionals get more out of their educational opportunities?
- Why would they want to?
- What would happen if we wanted to make our experiences more meaningful?
- How do we make learning opportunities more meaningful for learning professionals?
- Why would we want to?
- What would happen if we wanted to make these opportunities more meaningful?
- Isn't accountability the final goal? When an organization spends the money, and the employee's time, which also equates to money, to send them to training (or a conference), shouldn't they ultimately be held accountable for applying and sharing the learning to/with their jobs/teams/organizations?
I think its safe to say, that these questions closely parallel what we are supposed to be doing as the designers of learning solutions in the first place.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I enlisted the help of a couple of people who know quite a bit about this, namely Karen Hyder (who runs online sessions for the eLearningGuild and consults around this) and Ann Kwinn (who works with Ruth Clark … and is co-authoring a book with her on this very subject). Karen also enlisted help from Bill Bateman. So, between the four of us, here’s what we have:
Articles, Documents and Whitepapers:
Behind the Screens
Harnassing the Virtual Classroom
The Road to Success is Paved with Preparation
Teach in Your Pajamas
How to facilitate e-Learning Courses
eLearn Mag: Being an Online Learner & Professor
eLearningGuild and WebEx: 834 Tips for Successful Online Instruction
Virtual Classroom Starter Guide
Motivating Online Learners
Synchronous Exercises From Scratch
Making Synchronous Training a Success
eModerators.com - The role of the online instructor-facilitator
Facilitating Every Student in an Online Course
What Makes a Successful Online Student
How to Leverage Virtual Classroom Technology for Successful Training and Webinars - Clark Training
Jennifer Hoffman from Insync Training does periodic training on this.
Karen Hyder will do training and coaching around this.
I've recently added some data from the eLearningGuilds Research at the bottom of the page - eLearning Tools Satisfaction. This shows satisfaction among tools that fall into categories related to software simulation: screen capture, electronic performance support (EPSS) and simulation. There are some definite issues with some of these tools not really being for the same purpose, but I was looking to get Assima (which comes under EPSS) listed next to Captivate, Camtasia, etc.
Based on a request on a message board around Software Simulation, I thought I'd pull together some quick links to useful information on the topic:
See also: Camtasia and SnagIt free.
Brandon Hall had their 2007 Software Simulation Shootout. This shootout had:
- Assima www.assima.net
- Atlantic Link www.atlantic-link.co.uk
- Kaplan www.kaplan.com
- Qarbon www.qarbon.com
- RWD www.rwd.com
Articles & Posts:
- Simulation Levels in Software Training
- Instruction and Feedback Models for Software Training
- Captivate File Size Tricks for Software Training via Simulations
I've listed these tools in roughly the order of popularity based on my experience in presenting this topic at conferences (training & eLearning conferences).
Adobe/Macromedia Captivate - most popular tool, easy to use, file sizes a bit large
Viewlet Builder - easy to use, good for more advanced development, works on Linux
Camtasia - simple to use, but mostly for demonstrations - now have free version
Wink - simple to use, freeware, used a lot in academia, primarily demonstration
Xstream Rapidbuilder - primarly aimed at Windows applications, good balance of ease of use w/ flexibility
FireFly - flexible, powerful, but somewhat expensive tool
STT Trainer - normally used on larger, enterprise application kinds of roll-outs
Assima - great tool for doing larger implementations, e.g. ERP roll-out, especially those with multiple languages, job aids
Swish - Aimed more at animation creation, works well for demonstrations
SoftSim - Easy to use, lacks flexibility for more complex software simulations
One thing to note, we've recently been doing many of our demonstrations/simulations seamlessly integrated into the reference system either through a Portal/CMS or through a tool like RoboHelp/RoboInfo or as HTML pages.
There are a bunch more tools out there as well. A recent Bryan Chapman presentation listed the following:
6.OnDemand (Global Knowledge)
10.KS Tutor (KnowledgeSolutions)
15.InfoPak Simulator (RWD)
21.RapidBuilder (XStream Software)
Text From Chart:
KnowledgePresenter eLearni.. GeoMetrix Data Syste.. 4 9.50
NexLearn SimWriter NexLearn 7 8.97
Content Point Atlantic Link Limited 3 8.97
Performance Analyzer7M (Simul.. XStream Software 3 8.90
Snaglt Screen Capture and Sha.. TechSmith Corporation 763 8.79
HyperSnap Hyperionics Technolog.. 31 8.70
Elicitus Harbinger Knowledge .. 5 8.60
EPSS Assima 3 8.40
KnowledgePresenter KnowledgePresenter 13 8.28
Lectora Trivantis 251 8.24
Adobe Captivate Adobe Systems, Inc. 2412 8.15
Macromedia Flash Professional .. Adobe Systems, Inc. 546 8.12
datango Knowledge Suite datango AG 4 8.10
KnowledgePla net On-Demand .. KnowledgePlanet 6 8.05
Adobe Acrobat Professional Adobe Systems, Inc. 372 8.01
Camtasia Studio Screen Record.. TechSmith Corporation 585 7.99
Flashform Rapid eLearning Ski.. Rapid Intake 48 7.90
Second Life Linden Research, Inc. 19 7.87
Raptivity Harbinger Knowledge .. 32 7.87
ReadyGo Web Course Builder ReadyGo Inc. 3 7.80
ViewletACE Qarbon 14 7.78
Adobe Acrobat Connect (Pro/Br.. Adobe Systems, Inc. 349 7.59
Overall Rating _______
Macromedia Authorware from .. Adobe Systems, Inc. 145 7.56
RWD Info Pak RWD Technologies 6 7.50
SAPTutor SAP 12 a 7.43
OnDemand Personal Navigator OnDemand Soffivare 29 r 7.42
Capture Professional v6 Creative Softworx, Inc. 7 isca 7.40
KnowledgePlanet Firefly KnowledgePlanet 83 . 7.38
SimBuilder Phasient Learning Tec.. 3 a 7.37
ViewletCam Qarbon 23 7.33
RapidBuilder (Software Simul.. XStream Software 12 7.27
Plateau Learning Management.. Plateau Systems, LTD 8 7.16
Altova XMLSpy Altova 17 6.99
ToolBook Instructor SumTotal Systems Inc. 50 6.78
IBM Simulation Producer IBM 18 6.61
Lectora (OpenOffice-Impress/T.. eLearning Consultants.. 4 :::1 6.58
Visual Studio Microsoft Corporation 4 6.45
CodeBaby Production Studio CodeBaby 6 6.43
CustomDoc OnDemand Software 3 6.33
Decision Tool Media 1 3 6.20
OutStart Softsim OutStart 28 6.00
LearnCenter Learn.com 11 5.56
Wizard Training Suite Assima 6 5.45
Rapid Content Dev System Knowledge Anywhere 3 5.33
This post lists a variety of forums (discussions) that relate to learning, training, online learning:
- ASTD Boards - Must be a member: ASTD Discussion Boards
- Development of Training: trdev : Training & Development Discussion Group
- General discussions around training: Training-Ideas : Coaching & Training Ideas
- ROI: ROInet : Measuring HRD/HR programs & activities
- Online learning development: online-learning : Developers of online learning
- Instructional design: Instructional_Designers_Forum
- Evaluation: Evaluating E-Learning
- LMS: brandonhall-LMS
- Authoring tools: brandonhall-AT
- Corporate education: corped : Corporate Education Group
- Online learning: onlinelearning : Online Learning
- Knowledge Work: DiggingDeeper : Fuel for Knowledge Workers
- Learning communities: Creating Learning Communities.
- Communities of Practice - Research Oriented Communities of practice as a subject of formal research and study
- Communities of Practice - Implementation Communities of Practice
- Onlinefacilitation: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/onlinefacilitation focuses on communities and issues that are primarily online.
- Learning-Org: http://www.learning-org.com/ a public dialog on learning organizations.
Monday, March 13, 2006
The old adage:
Doctors make the worst patients.
The new adage:
Learning professionals make the worst learners.
I was truly struck by several interesting overlaps at the recent Training 2006 conference. Consider the following:
Item 1 - Marc Rosenberg’s Presentation - As experience level of learners grows, we need to provide learning and performance through access to knowledge and collaboration with the learner really owning the learning. See my previous post for more on this.
Item 2 - Saul Carliner’s Presentation surveyed the audience of roughly 200 people:
How many years of experience do you have as a learning professional?
· 1 year or less – 10%
· 2-5 years – 30%
· 6-10 years – 30%
· 11+ years – 30%
Where do you learn about what’s new in learning?
· Publications, e.g., Training Magazine, CLO, etc. – 99%
· Blogs – 2.5% (5
hands went up out of 200)
· Attending conferences – 100% (all of them were
at a conference of course)
I don’t remember if Saul also asked about participating in communities, but I know that participation is dismally low in learning professional communities.
Item 3 – Stephen Johnson’s Presentation - The author of Everything Bad is Good for You made several interesting points, but one that stuck with me were the examples of how people participate heavily in forums around things like the game Civilization IV and the TV Show Lost. See my previous post for more on this.
Item 4 – Many Presentations including My Panel on Blended Learning - The key to successful learning interventions is planning for follow-up. Providing a singular learning event without follow-up is destined to fail.
Not much controversial so far.
Questions for Each of Us
But, then why is it that as a learning professional, we are comfortable going to or sending our people to a conference like Training and treating it as an isolated learning event?
Why are we willing to talk about follow-up and collaboration, but not to do it for ourselves?
Why do we as a community not care about what we do as much as the people care about Lost or Civilization? How many people are going to leave the conference and write something in their blog?
Heck, how many people will even begin to read blogs? Or read threaded discussions? Or in any way really extend the learning experience beyond a few days in lovely Orlando sunshire?
What to Do After Attending a Conference?
Let me turn this around for a minute, and pose this as an opportunity. Let’s assume for a second that we are learning professionals and that we want to help people grow. They are going to be attending a conference.
What types of things would you recommend that they do after attending the conference in order to make the conference become part of a larger personal learning and growth experience?
What sources exist to help us with this?
FYI – I did a quick search and what I found was an article that said:
If your HR staff are less productive after attending a conference, here's why. Workplace stress saps productivity, according to a survey of 600 frequent business travelers commissioned by Kensington Technology Group (San Mateo, Calif.). Business travel makes it worse, with two out of five business travelers reporting headaches, back or neck pain, or sleeplessness while traveling. Nearly three out of five endure "significant fatigue." Travel time itself is unproductive and upon their return, half of travelers need two full days to catch up on work responsibilities and some (12%) say they need three days.
Hardly the glowing praise for attending a conference. :)
I have some ideas of what could be done, but I would be curious what other people think? Post your comments here or on your blog and point me to your blog post via comments.
If you are among the 2,000 learning professionals who attended Training 2006, or maybe a different event, am I being unfair about how well you are acting as a learner?
Since you are reading this blog, you are likely in the 2.5% that read blogs, but if this is an isolated occurence, i.e., you don't even have a blog reader set up, then I would say that right now, this very instant go to BlogLines and set yourself up with an account and subscribe to my blog and the list of blogs on the right. At a minimum, that will help you stay in the loop of ideas that will emerge about how we should all improve ourselves as learners.
What other immediate actions do you recommend or are you going to take?
I’m going to try to post these questions a few places to see what kinds of answers, I would welcome your comments.
It seemed like I was one of the few people who were similarly interested in these presentations as it was attended by about 10-15 people. However, Will Thalheimer was one of the attendees who is generally quite a good presenter and also a good critic on eLearning design, so I felt at least justified in having chosen the session despite the small showing.
As the title of this post says, I’m giving this session an award as both having the best content and the worst presentation at the conference (of the 6 or so sessions I attended).
The session showed recorded examples of the winners in custom content including:
- BrightWave and First Choice – customer service and sales training in a foreign exchange retail setting
- Avon and Allen Communications – teaching Avon reps how they can work their business into their busy lives.
- Enspire Learning and SAP - working effectively in virtual teams
- Karta Technologies – Aeronautics technical training
For example, the Brightwave/FirstChoice piece did a classic simulation with three choices, but used illustration style human characters with lip-syncing to the narration. The instructional model was common (but seemed appropriate), but the presentation style was very well done. Of course, the natural question – what technology did you use? The primary presenter was Tom Werner from Brandon Hall and he didn’t know.
The Avon example allowed interactive creation of the plan for the day (you have 2 choices for activities for morning, afternoon and evening). You would then get to hear how you could work Avon selling activities into your busy schedule. The debate among the audience was whether they were using interactivity in the wrong spot, e.g., are we teaching Avon reps whether its better to workout in the morning or run errands or should we focus on the things that could be done associated with going to workout? Some of us saw it as potentially the wrong target, others saw it as motivating, and at least one audience member pointed out that no woman on earth could actually do all that stuff. The conclusion was that it was hard to understand design decisions without context and it would have been hugely helpful to have had entrants provide descriptions of the design choices they made, limitations they faced, etc., and have the session focus on these.
This combination of interesting content and frustrating lack of answers continued throughout the session. Why did one include audio narration with so much onscreen text? How did it work out using an intentionally fictional setting for culture/work style training? What was the concluding exercise that the judges raved about but was not captured in the clip?
Brandon Hall has access to some really great content through the awards. I hope next year we’ll have a better chance to learn from it.
Funny enough, I would be interested in going to the session again next year. Better yet, would be to help pull the session together using all that wonderful content and having discussions with the winners to help highlight interesting things going on in eLearning!!!
Good post by Will Thalheimer on what stops us from using more research in our designs.
It seems like a big part of the reason that we don't use research is that we often disagree on what the research really says and how it applies to us in particular situations.
There was a recent debate on a newsgroup (Brandon-Hall AT Group) around audio narration vs. on-screen text. After much debate, there was some agreement on what the research says, but still a lot of debate about the specific situation. I.e., no one could come in and say definitively that the research says to do X.
What I took away was:
1. For learners who will not be getting audio, you need to have an option where the narration can be read. This can be an alternative delivery mode.
2. The best result when using text + audio was when the text was short blurbs that reinforced key points - single words best.
3. Having the narration text on-screen has mixed results in studies and does not appear to add value except in cases such as non-native speakers. Many users find it annoying because the narrator speaks slower than they read and will turn off the audio.
4. Having long text passages on screen that are supposed to be read simultaneous with DIFFERENT audio narration is highly distracting and is detrimental to learning.
5. (Clark & Mayer) Use first and second person language and learning agents where possible.
Learners will be more engaged and learn more by using "you" and "we" in the learning. Further, establish a person who is talking to you and directing the learning. According to Clark & Mayer - the appearance and style (realistic, avatar) doesn't make much difference in learning - of course, it does need to match with the audience. These "learning agents" should speak via audio narration, use a conversational tone and have familiar human accents. On-screen text or machine-generated audio does not work as well.
Friday, March 10, 2006
I've been dismayed that many of the magazines that I read don't have RSS feeds for their primary content. So, I experimented with creating feeds to various publications and found that some worked well and others didn't.
FeedYes - was the easiest to use but since I've run into a few roadblocks I'm going to try each of them a bit more. The primary barrier was whether the publications provided links with meaningful text associated with the links on the page. Training Magazine and CLO Magazine also had barriers in terms of extraneous ads, or complex structures that Feed Yes couldn't get through. But the following worked well, and you can subscribe to see the results.
I'm also unable to use FeedYes to solve a problem I just had the other day. I wanted to be able to make a TagCloud or ZoomCloud off of the Training 2005 & 2006 schedules. Both of those systems required an RSS feed. So, I then tried to convert HTML to RSS, but none of the solutions out there worked very well especially since the site is dynamically generated.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Key aspects of eLearning 2.0:
- Extending the platform: e-Learning 2.0 is about using specialized software extensions developed by and for educators, as well as with rich, interactive digital resources.
- Facilitate Social Networking: e-Learning 2.0 is about enabling a social experience that recognizes the course is but one social-organizational group in a broader education environment.
- Enable Lifelong Learning: e-Learning 2.0 is about integrating the educational journey across a longer period of time through techniques such as "e-Portfolios"
- Create Network Learning Environments: e-Learning 2.0 is about moving beyond the course towards a more holistic conception of a networked learning environment
Sources of definition on eLearning 2.0:
What is eLearning 2.0 - Good overview article with links to various of additional information.
Wikipedia eLearning 2.0 Definition - Brief description of eLearning 2.0
E-learning 2.0 - Stephen Downes' Article in eLearn Magazine
e-Learning 2.0, Whatever That Is - David Jennings' Commentary
Future VLE - The Visual Version - Great picture of a possible eLearning 2.0 scenario.
Categories of eLearning - Broad Categories of eLearning
Keywords: eLearning 2.0, Web 2.0
Dynamic Links from MyWeb follow, but do not appear in RSS feed.
Remember that Blogs were cited 0 times in the topics of talks.
Clark is basically arguing the point that coaching and support is required to build the results that Stephen Johnson claims:
I would agree that it IS somewhat hit or miss whether users of these complex games will develop skills without specific coaching/support. However, Stephen's point in the keynote is that the richness and complexity of games and TV has grown significantly and provides the opportunity for users to develop these skills which you don't get from playing Pac Man and watching Dallas. He cites as counter examples SimCity and Civilization IV as game examples and Lost from TV.
Stephen Johnson's argument is that playing such games develops new and necessary skills like systems-thinking (which I support as a curricular item) and
I agree that such games require them, but not that they develop them. I cited two data points in a question to him, that there’s much evidence that kids ask around for solutions rather than solving them, and normally reflective kids will turn ‘twitch’ in the presence of a computer game. He responded that they’ll only ask about the tough questions, and that there are some concerns about twitch but you can’t succeed well in the complexity of modern games.
Both true, but they sort of avoid the point. I’m willing to wear that (some) kids will develop such skills, but I also want to suggest that they won’t develop and transfer without support.
Like Stephen, I also play Civilization IV and the complexity and richness of this simulation is incredible. Small choices early in the game can have major impact throughout the game. And, it is hard to be able to think through and understand the impact of these choices. He points out that large communities emerge to help users talk through the potential impact. He also mentions how there are vast discussions around these strategies to help people think through what works in what situations. Take a look at this thread: Representation vs. Universal Sufferage. And then maybe click on the link to go up a level or two and you'll realize the size and complexity of the conversation, decision making required. It really is quite amazing.
Stephen also pointed out that the complexity in TV has greatly increased and points to the social complexities in shows like 24 and Lost. He also pointed us to this great post on a Lost Forum: Complete Analysis of Hatch Interior (+Maps) which you truly have to see to believe.
Having seen my children grow up with more complex games, I am very thankful they aren't playing PacMan - which WAS a waste of a lot of quarters and time when I was growing up.
One last point - and I'm going to write about this shortly:
Where are the rich forums for Corporate Training?
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
It's funny how topics come and go. And you can tell what's hot (or at least what vendors think they can sell and conference organizers think is interesting) based on what's being discussed at various conferences.
So, I ran a script based on an online service that gave me a keyword count over the list of Titles of Sessions at Training 2005 as compared to Training 2006. This is very crude and not very accurate, but it suggests a few, mildly curious trends...
A couple of things that jumped out at me:
1) Blogs, Wikis, Collaboration are still not on the radar of corporate training. More on this is another post coming soon.
2) ROI & Metrics were big last year - seems less interesting this year.
3) Games were a big topic.
4) Strategy and strategic were way down.
5) Training & trainer increased, learning was down. Yikes!
6) Closest to eLearning 2.0 was Marc's Beyond eLearning.
I hope you find this at least mildly interesting. :)
Oh, and if anyone knows how to use a Tag Cloud or Keyword Cloud to do this for me automatically the next time, I'd love to hear it.