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Greetings, Litmos community! Thanks to Nicole and Rich, I’ll be helping out with the blog. Our goal is to speak to (and with) Litmos trial users, Litmos clients, eLearning peers, and anyone getting into online learning.
The Litmos team gave me one strict editorial requirement—Write about whatever you want. While the business thrives by helping you to “love your LMS,” we’ll be using this space to explore eLearning ideas and strategies that complement your use of an LMS.
eLearning, online learning, distance education, web-based training… whatever you call it, it’s a broad and perpetually changing topic. The community of practice is talented, passionate, and (often) wildly opinionated. This blog is a response to questions about strategy and content—questions that range from “I’ve picked an LMS vendor, what do I do now?” to “We’ve droned our learners into unconsciousness. How can I create a conversational tone in eLearning?”
We’ll talk about development tools, content development, and trends in online learning. We’ll speak with industry luminaries about topics that strike a chord, and we’ll take a look at training needs in specific industries.
In the coming months, expect posts on any or all of the following:
Storyboarding, storyboarding, and more storyboarding
Social media tools for professional development (or How I Met the Litmos Crew on Twitter)
Design inspiration from art, music, literature, and media
Social media tools for organizational learning
Support networks for authoring tools —where to find help
Industry-focused posts—what are training-related hot buttons in healthcare? Compliance? Technology?
Success stories and cautionary tales—interviews with Litmos clients
Project management basics for eLearning
Online Learning industry developments / awards / new tech / new companies / new tools / conferences
Writing for clarity, and scripting for tone
You’ll see a strong focus on resources. For example—instead of explaining how to use a specific widget in Adobe Captivate or create a specific effect in Articulate, we’ll point you to those who have done remarkable work, and shared their expertise with the community.
This blog is solution-oriented, but there’s no way it’s going to push “one-best-way” thinking. It’s our small part of a global conversation, and the posts are really just starting points. If our efforts make you think, or point you in a new direction, great. You are always welcome to comment as you see fit, and please share alternative processes, resources, or strategies. Thanks!
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The #LearnX conference was on this week (June 9th – 10th) in Sydney at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre and was keynoted/opened by Lrnchat‘s very own Jane Bozarth, which was a real treat.
I only attended the first day but found it to be action-packed with keynotes, breakout sessions and a great expo area. I was disappointed to see how few people there were tweeting, but I did manage to meet almost all of those who were. It just goes to show Twitter is indeed a very social tool! I recommend following these fantastic people: @ryantracey@rhysatwork@MarnieBristow@roseg@mdoriean@mylearningspace@Janebozarth
So, here are my top 7 takeaways from Day one of the LearnX Conference:
Dr Jane Bozarth: “Social Media for Trainers: Extending learning, building community”
Environmental scans are great because people do not argue with their own data
Traditional model of learning = structured events: It’s vain and naive to think this is what makes a difference in an employee’s career
As much as 80% of learning seems to occur outside of the classroom
Adobe Team and Philip Roy: “Delivering engaging eLearning to your organisation with best practices learnt from experience”
Massey University are migrating from WebCT to the Moodle LMS and are using Adobe’s Presenter and Acrobat for asynchronous content design and Adobe Connect Pro for synchronous web conferencing with students.
Les Lisz: “Running L&D like a business”
Ask yourself – could your people do their jobs the way you want them to if their lives depend on it? If the answer is ‘yes’ it’s not a skills gap and you shouldn’t be looking for a training solution.
Ian Whitehouse and Chris Toselli (GlobalNet ICT): “Design and development strategies for engaging programs, including m-learning”
Design – use iconology, don’t push the content out there let the participant pull, use rich and visually appealing content, make it personal, foster a culture of innovation and improvement.
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I was really surprised to find that an eLearning / learning technology conference I’m attending in Sydney in June does not have a presence on Twitter. In fact, the very same event must have just announced the winners of their 2010 awards on their website but the only way I found that out was by doing a hashtag search on Twitter for the conference name. Luckily, a few proud vendors had posted their victories which then led me to the results page of said conference’s website.
So I wrote to the conference’s email address today asking if they plan to be on Twitter before June because it would be a great opportunity to get the word out about what should be an awesome, action-packed two days. Not to mention the wonderful speakers who deserve some build up and a little exposure. Plus, there’s all the live session tweeting that can go on during the conference if there’s already some kind of hype built up around it. I should note that them not being on Twitter won’t stop me tweeting about it, but imagine the potential if they had more of a social media strategy in place and had been listening to the chatter online! Such a great way to get the inside scoop from your paying attendees before your event even begins.
Hopefully I will hear back as to why they aren’t on there but these days it seems almost ridiculous that an Asia Pacific-wide brand would not have a presence on one of the largest social networks in existence. It’s not really a big job running an event-focused Twitter account, someone just needs to check in once a day (if that) to answer questions, re-tweet a conference related tweet or put out an event update, a count down, speaker bios or some session titles. Then ramp it up a little before the actual event begins and voila! You will have some attendees who have already met online and organized to meet up at the event or at their hotels, attend dinner groups together to continue the session discussions and build lasting friendships. What a great opportunity to create community around an event and make it all the more memorable so that when the next year rolls around the word of mouth promotion kicks off without any help.
*They should take a leaf out of the eLearning Guild’s book – these guys really know how to ramp up to a conference, months in advance and get everybody wishing they were going! Just search for the hashtag #mLearnCon on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean.
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“The three current big megatrends in the web/tech sector are mobile, social, and real-time. I like to think of this as the golden triangle”
This is a quote from Fred Wilson, VC and Principal at Union Square Ventures, in an article I read earlier this week. He says that these days if you have these three bases covered you’re probably going to be successful. I would like to agree, but I guess time will tell. Both Fred Wilson and Brian Solis’ posts (linked to above) offer great reading nonetheless.
Here’s an interesting tidbit of information – we developed a Twitter/Yammer-like tool to run inside the Litmos learning management system a short time ago. When we offered it to a select group of our customers to give it a try, there was a unanimous”No thank you”. The major reason given by these companies for not wanting to use a micro-blogging / sharing tool was that it would enable their ‘silos’ to communicate and this could lead to a ‘ganging up’ of sorts, on the management.
This brings us back to Mark Oehlert’s Fear, Trust and Control talk from DevLearn09, which are without a doubt the major reasons why the adoption of new tools that encourage learning (collaboration, sharing, Social Media etc.) in the corporate sector is going to be a long time coming..
But back to Fred Wilson’s quote which, although it is in reference to start-ups, could just as likely be applied to any business out there. In a corporate training context, if you are not making your training system accessible on the web/mobile devices, and if there is no social, collaborative element to the training (because we are social animals) and you’re not offering a real-time connection to a trainer and/or peers, then it’s probably about time you started thinking about how you’re going to put those pieces of the puzzle in place.
‘I think the days of “designing learning” are numbered…research shows that people need a place/space to connect.’ – Jane Bozarth
The general theme surfacing along with the prevalence of Social Media (SoMe) and the availability of cool collaborative learning tools, in combination with Gen Y coming through the ranks – is that even corporate learning is [very slowly] coming to terms with more of a ‘provide the tools that encourage learning’ approach, instead of a one-way information dictatorship.
If there’s one thing that I re-learned at DevLearn09 it’s that the old saying: ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’ rings very true. Or alternatively and maybe more appropriate: ‘you can put a man through school but you cannot make him think’ (now I’m quoting Ben Harper lyrics).
But new social and collaboration tools mean even the ‘reluctant’ learner – and those Gen Y’ers – can create their own canvases to share knowledge and in doing so, they help chisel out the learning needs of the group and pro-actively find the answers.
I’ve always considered ‘travel’ to be the ultimate learning experience. Travel is usually a voluntary choice as a result of a pro-active decision. It’s often about putting yourself in to unfamiliar situations where you must adapt, learn new languages, culture, history, life skills, art – you name it – and it’s such a fun way to learn! Therefore, maybe a very positive form of learning comes when a learner voluntarily places them self in to an unfamiliar environment and has to adapt?
Following that logic the new wave of learning could well be more about the acquired knowledge base that develops as a result of an organization putting itself in to the ‘unfamiliar territory’ represented by the social media, collaboration, and knowledge sharing tools and adapting. It’s kind of like a package tour where all learners are safely seated inside the bus (organization), yet they are exposed to and can safely interact with the new environment on their own terms, and learn.
Now, just to solve the problem that ‘traveling’ isn’t everyone’s cup of tea…
The discussion started with a question, that was never really answered. In fact, as suspected this whole topic is pretty airy fairy because in order to measure social learning, you have to first define social learning. Since no one in the group had a concise definition of social learning, the metrics can’t really be identified, hence there was no real answer…yet.
What does social learning look like? How do we measure it? What are the metrics? All great questions which were set out to be answered, but it was definitely overly optimistic.
The usual objections to social learning came through in general audience responses, which are the same as those addressed in the last session I attended in the Social Learning Camp. Some people just concerned with results, not the learners experience.
Silvers wrapped up by saying that we need to ‘give social learning some time to breathe – lets figure out what it is before we start to apply measures to it’. Then the discussion turned to Facebook and how was it that ‘that kid’ could develop such an amazing LMS (essentially) that handles millions of data transactions, while so many vendors out there with years of experience that are handling way less data transactions, are failing. It’s a good point. There was a show of hands for anyone that knew of an LMS provider that actually wanted to make learning fun, and easy and exciting for the learner, like Facebook is for users. Sadly, not a hand went up (I guess they haven’t seen our customer feedback ;o)).
This topic sure pulled in the DevLearn09 crowd – I think it was Silvers that made the comment that he’d never seen so many people that actually wanted to talk about SCORM.
It’s not an I.T.issue, it’s not a money issue – many social media tools are too affordable – it’s just fear, control and trust
Being an eLearning professional means being a psychologist, anthropologist and counselor, because you’re constantly having to overcome and work around the human and emotional issues people have
Oehlert spoke about his experience with the Department of Defense and other government agencies and how Facebook and Twitter are not allowed because of operational security. There is a fear of exposing vulnerabilities within their community. He says this is a valid concern, but then went on to ask ‘does this mean that they then block access to these networks at the soldiers’ homes’? No. At the end of the day, it is corporate culture that’s the real problem.
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So I arrived in San Jose this evening and managed to meet up with a few DevLearners at the Fairmont Hotel and head out to dinner. Not sure exactly what happened to our Peruvian dinner group, but in the end there were just the three of us – Steve Nguyen, Darrin Hayes and myself.
Great conversations though, a sign of things to come over the next few days for sure: learning management systems, eLearning authoring products, blogging, integrated social tools, SCORM, compliance, gaming, wikis – you name it – and this was only the dinner before the real DevLearn storm!
Very exciting and just a taste of whats to come. The word frustration seems synonymous with ‘LMS’ which I don’t like, but that’s what we’re working hard to change.
I did meet Tim & Chris, from Lectora, who were super friendly and are exhibiting so I’ll make sure to drop by their booth tomorrow in the Expo.
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Yesterday I attended the first ever TEDx conference to be held in Auckland and all I can say is WOW. It’s humbling to hear what some people are doing every day; unbelievable things that will positively impact the future of our society, environment, health – you name it, they’re doing it. Anthropologists, Futurists, Doctors, Scientists, Adventurers, Technologists – the range of speakers was astounding and left me feeling just a little inadequate. Not in a bad way, but in the way that makes me feel I can do better, I can do more and I shouldn’t waste any time getting out there and making a difference, somehow.
So, here are 10 things I learned from 10 amazing people:
Michael Henderson (Corporate Anthropologist): The difference between Cult and Culture is a cult leader/chief (CEO?) values himself, while the leader/chief of a culture, values the group.
Wendy McGuiness (Futurist): There are 3 types of sight – hindsight (past), insight (present) and foresight (future).
Nigel Parker (Technologist): Great companies and great people fail often; without failure you can’t have success.
Robin Kelly (Doctor): Ear acupuncture is being used as the first line of medical treatment for pain in Afghanistan and Iraq today drastically reducing the amount of morphine needed.
Brenda Frisk (Learning Technologist): 12 year olds are accessing online university webinars, yet our schools still teach them to use pen and paper resulting in a big disconnect between kids and teachers.
Scott Gilmour (Philanthropist): He kicked off the “I have a Dream” program in Auckland with a first round of over 50 ‘under-served’ school kids involved. Fact: It costs $13,000/yr to fund a youth through university compared to $90,000/yr to have them in prison!
Glenn Compain (Policeman): Showed us all that cops can rap to hip-hop – enough said!
Billy Gammon (Adventurer): He just spent 3 months rowing across the Indian Ocean with 3 team mates – unsupported – to raise awareness for prostate cancer charities. The journey, in not much more that a 29ft tin can, involved a 2hr on/2hr off rowing schedule – every day. Pure mental and physical exhaustion took them to a dark place where the two rowing pairs did not speak for 3 weeks. It took a death in the family to drag them back, reinvigorate their determination and remind them how precious life is and they went on to become the 2nd team to complete the race.
Andy Blood (Creative Director): Offered these words of advice – “Don’t be anti-social, the real-time web is here.”
Ray Avery (Scientist): The most common medical procedure is IV therapy, yet an IV Infusion Pump in developed countries costs $2000 so it is not affordable for developing nations. Avery helped develop a reusable IV Flow controller for $6 and this little invention will improve the health of 2 billion people. Fact: It was Colin Murdoch, a Kiwi, who invented the disposable hypodermic syringe.
Finally, well worthy of a mention is Conductor/Composer David Squire. The orchestra positioned themselves amongst us (the crowd) as a finale to close the event and I learned what it feels like and sounds like, to be part of an orchestra, inside the music rather than having it projected at me – truly awesome!
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Today on TechCrunch there’s a review of a cool new browser-based app called Screen Jelly that has just launched today.
It’s from the same people that brought us ScreenToaster and it allows you to record and share short screencasts. You can capture 3 minutes of screen content (video & audio) which you can then tweet out a link to or you can use the link to put content in to your Litmos online courses. @Schnicker