Monday, November 09, 2015

Remembering Jay Cross and Informal Learning

We lost an great leader in the Learning and Development community this weekend. His presence will be missed. But his impact will forever be felt by an industry struggling to see the future that appeared so clearly to him. 

I will miss Jay's casual, yet driven, approach to spreading the word about informal learning...and that smile. Oh, and those shirts. They were the perfect informal vehicle for carrying his message of informal learning. His warm presence will be missed at industry events all over the world.  

We love you. Rest in peace, Jay.


I am encouraging everyone in the industry whether you knew him or not, to record a short, "informal", video with a short story, or comment about Jay's impact on your work.  I will be collecting and editing them together to be posted on the ITA website or other appropriate internet location.

You can use to send large video files. And send it to brentschlenker(at)gmail(dot)com. 


Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Advice for New Bloggers - Don't do it!

Nick Leffler shared a tweet of mine in his blog post Community Advice for New Bloggers.

It's a great post. And I say that because it got me thinking. Not many posts that I read, or write for that matter, do that any more. In fact I reflected so deeply on the post that I felt moved to blog here again. I haven't posted here in a while and the few posts that I have done have been few and far between. So, special thanks to Nick for writing the post and for all those who shared their thoughts about getting started.

Blogging has changed so much over the last 10+ years. In the early 2000s blogs were pretty much all we had for sharing our own content online. Compare that to today's social media cacophony and I can see why people don't even feel it's necessary to blog. Why bother, when I can just post to twitter, or update my status in Facebook, or share an article on LinkedIn, or share photos on Instagram...I almost typed Flickr but that's not so cool these days...and now I feel old.

Today's blogosphere seems to have a lot of rules. There are a multitude of books on how to blog, how to write the best headline, how to make money with your blog, and so much more. The wild west world wide web of yesterday it seems has matured into the big city internet.

Professional writers have taken over the internet providing an unending stream of content to large blogging sites like The Huffington Post and so many others. Blogging has simply become a shorter form of writing for the professionals and aspiring professionals. And I find that quite sad. Those who simply want to write in a blog stop themselves because they don't feel like they are good enough, or ready. I call BS!

I never started writing this blog to "become a writer". Although I will say it built my confidence in sharing what I know. Honestly, my favorite part was knowing that I didn't need to be a good writer to start my blog.  I didn't need to worry about spelling, I didn't need to worry about grammar. I just didn't care because the only person I was doing it for was me.

When I first discovered that people were finding my blog and reading it, and commenting on my grammatical errors I was SHOCKED to say the least. But after getting over the initial fear and uneasy feeling of being judged I found a comfortable groove and enough positive, friendly supporters, that I just kept going.

It actually became quite fun to know that I had the power to irritate the grammar nazis with a misplaced apostrophe, or using too instead of to. But my personal favorite has always been using too many exclamation points. I LOVE IT!!!!! And more importantly...I really dont' care if you don't!!!!!!!

See?! That's what blogging was.  It was the internet's first gift of user-generated content. Then it all when to hell from there.

If you really want to start something with a little more 21st century kick, start a YouTube channel. If you really want to write about your chosen profession, then just use the platform built into LinkedIn. You don't need to mess around with wordpress, or the headaches that come with it, just to express yourself these days. There are plenty of really simple platforms for expressing yourself in writing.  Make your life easier and just start blogging in those spaces.

My blogging advice to those who are set on doing it stands as stated in Nick's blog.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that really isn't what I should be advising anyone. If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, then fine. Go start a blog and practice your craft. There is no better environment for practicing than in the real world. So go for it.

However, if you are looking to express yourself with the medium of tomorrow then consider video. The YouTube explosion today, is what blogging was 10 years ago. It's raw. It's undefined. And yet, it's got a large enough community for support and encouragement. Check out the backchannel for Vidcon this week. It's the largest gathering of YouTubers. You'll probably see me tweeting about it quite a bit this week.

Don't start a blog! Start a YouTube channel!!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Is Vertical Video the Next Big Thing?

I've always wanted a reason to try out Storify and so I took my own advice and just did it. This week I posted about Mary Meekers Internet Trends Report on the Litmos blog. There are just under 200 pages of information.  And each page lights up a new nugget of information shining light on an otherwise unseen trend in technology.

One of the most interesting items Mary reveals is the trending of vertical video.  You've seen these people. The soccer moms recording their kids with their smartphones in portrait instead of the video standard landscape mode.  Well, it's not just that soccer moms are doing it wrong.  They may actually have been the early adopters.

And of course knowing that the eLearning industry is a technology lagging indicator, I wrongly assumed that it would be a long time before training departments starts producing vertical video.

Wrong again!

Shortly after publishing my Litmos blog post I had this conversation on twitter.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

VIDEO: Bschlenker - Streaming with Periscope and Meerkat

Live streaming apps on your phone have finally landed. And they are officially cool!
Check out Meerkat and Periscope. And here's my vlog on the topic.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Why is Instructional Design Trending Downward ...since 2004?

The graphic above comes from using the search term "instructional design". 

This is a bit surprising to me as I see online training becoming more and more popular every day. I see the digital marketing world promoting the online courses as another great form of content. I see more and more bloggers in the world of online training.  And of course the blog aggregation sites are still as popular as ever.

I'm curious to hear what you have to say about this. What's the deal with instructional design?

Friday, February 06, 2015

Future thoughts: Grades, Degrees, Certifications, Certificates Become Meaningless

The future of Higher Ed is in jeopardy for many reasons. But the single biggest reason is the declining value of their value proposition: The Degree.

The future of Grading scales in all of education are in jeopardy... well... because they just don't accurately measure true competency in a subject. How many adults do you know that took 2 to 4 years of a foreign language in school but can't communicate in that language?

Certification and certificate programs make for a nice addition to the line items on your resume, as well as a nice plaque for your cubical wall.  But do they really prove competence in a newly acquired skill or knowledge set?

Listen to Mark Cuban talk about the future of your social media presence and then we can continue.

I've had conversations prior to seeing this video regarding technologies he, and others, are working on in this space.  But until now, I haven't seen it openly discussed like this.  And what that tells me is that 1) it's real, 2) it's coming faster than anticipated, and 3) it means a LOT more than what Mr. Cuban mentions in this video.

He mentions the movie Minority report which sort of kills a little of the credibility here as viewers will most likely brush off his ideas as crazy. But if you think about what's currently possible (like how much Facebook knows about you) and how fast things are moving it begins to make a lot of sense.

Do you see the same connections to our industry that I see?

Can you read the first part of this blog post, watch the video, and see where this is going?

Let's put aside the fact that the video is fear mongering to help sell apps. He's trying to solve a problem that everyone views as a problem: the evils of the internet and how communicating on it will most certainly one day be what defeats you. That is a completely different blog post for another time.

I prefer to take a much more positive spin on these types of new technologies. If there are algorithms than can predict your personality type, and possible future actions, based on your social media presence, then I will tell you that there are, in fact, algorithms that can also determine your skills and competencies based on the same social graph.

It is not all that different from today's version of "being published" in academia, or showing a portfolio of work in artistic fields like photography, writing, and other fine arts. Your competence is on display every day. And you are only viewed as good as your last big success.

Leveling the Playing Field

There is a powerful leveling of the playing field when you are forced to prove your skills and competencies or basically they don't exist.

Instead of saying you speak 3 languages, the social algorithms will gather all of your online interactions and be able to know if it's true, and to what level you are competent in that skill. It will assess if you've ever communicated with others in those languages and how well you communicated. It will see pictures of your time spent in countries speaking those languages along with the dates to calculate your level of competence. It's a simple example, but it makes sense, right?

And opting out as Mr. Cuban's app supports will be more problematic for everyone. Apps like his will quickly become the default standard for communicating the things you wouldn't communicate publicly. And that's not a bad thing, but it does expose the reality of the human condition in that we all have our demons.

The way I see it, all of this new technology is simply forcing the progression of who we are as people. Are we understanding, forgiving, and loving of others... including their inner demons? Or are we the type of people looking to step on a few heads to get ahead?

In the end, we won't stop this technology from existing. But it will redefine our public institutions, and who we are as a collective redefining our culture. How we learn and what we learn and master will be measured and visible to all...for better or worse.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Serendipity and Reflection on Games and Learning

Cruising the twitter streams this morning I noticed this tweet retweeted by +Koreen Pagano.
A quick click on the link brought me to an article in the webzine Gamasutra.

Brenda is the winner of the Ambassadors Award as part of this years Game Developers Choice Awards...
"...honoring someone who is helping video games "advance to a better place" through advocacy or action..."
First off, a big shoutout to Koreen for retweeting. And an even bigger shoutout and congratulations to Brenda for being so highly recognized by her peers in the gaming industry.

Oh but wait...this is supposed to be a blog about eLearning and all that stuff. Don't worry. It still is.

I believe there is a very strong connection between gaming and learning. One of my favorite quotes comes from Raph Koster's book "A Theory of Fun".
"Fun in games arises out of mastery. It arises out of comprehension. It is the act of solving puzzles that makes games fun. With games, learning is the drug."
Learning is the drug! It's such a great line because it's so true. There is such a great high that comes from working hard on a problem and seeing it through until you get it right.

Knowing how learning is such a big part of games, and fun, it bothers me to continue seeing the eLearning industry struggle to figure out how to make learning fun. Game designers seem to have an innate ability to figure out fun, and yet instructional design is void of any discussion around fun.  The closest we get is talking about "engaging the learner".


I'd rather tell designers to figure out how learners can have FUN!

And NO! I'm not talking about a Jeopardy template, or crossword puzzle, or drag'n'drop matching quiz game.  That's what we get when we attempt to connect pre-made games with learning. I'm just talking about fun. There must be a way to create learning content that is so fun for learners that they WANT to "play", or "engage", with the learning.

The Serendipity of Social Media and Reflection

This entire blog post is really just an attempt to capture fleeting thoughts and memories for me. Seeing Koreen's tweet reminded me of meeting her for the first time at DevLearn.  And how we all used to be so excited about the coming together of games and learning. Koreen even created the Zombie Apocalypse game for DevLearn2010. Other eLearning community members, Kris Rockwell (@KrisRockwell) and Alicia Sanchez (@gamesczar) later created a card game for mLearnCon called "A Game of Phones".

And reading about Brenda's success reminded me of booking her to do a workshop at DevLearn2010. I was only able to sit in on the workshop briefly, but I do remember wishing I could have spent the entire day in there with her and the other attendees.

I booked a lot of speakers for eLearning Guild events, but I can honestly say she was by far my favorite.  And quite frankly I think she does more for learning and education than most who are actually IN Learning and Education related fields.
If you really want to know why I find Brenda so exceptional, then just watch her TEDxPHX talk for a brief glimpse into her work and how she views games...and the world. Trust me on this. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Back at Wikis - My Early Days of DevLearn - and 2015

Nobody really talks about wikis any more. I think the closest most people get to a wiki these days is wikipedia. Bummer.

They were my absolute favorite new tech back in the day. The genius of the wiki was it's edit-ability. Of course today, everything is sharable and editable by multiple people.

Google docs is the best current example. Ho hum... I still dream of an old-fashioned wiki circa 2005-ish.

It's the end of the year so I'm already feeling a bit nostalgic. So imagine my delight when I read an email from PBwiki reminding me that I have sitting idle.

Cool. I wonder what could be there?

Wow! DevLearn2006 stuff...

LOL! Now I remember how busy Heidi kept me at early eLearning Guild events. Looks like I did 3 sessions and sat on a panel discussion:

  • RSS: The New Learning Pipeline
  • Interactive 3D Simulations w/ Macromedia DirectorMX
  • MMOs Gaming and Learning
  • Learning2.0 Panel Discussion
Does anybody remember DevLearn2007 and the pocket guides I created for the event? 

From the extreme lack of interaction on the pbwiki site I'm reminded how much these technologies scared training people. I remember the rolling eyes, the many dissenting opinions around security, and my personal favorite...
  "We can't just have everyone creating and editing content however and whenever they want!!!" - Corporate Gatekeepers and fearful training leaders circa 2005
Will anyone admit to being freaked out by this stuff back then? Probably about as many twitter "experts" will admit to "not getting it" when they first signed up.

(Feel free to join the pbwiki and add your comments or memories from back then. Maybe I'll keep it around and breath life back into it.)

Times have changed...FINALLY! 

I'm looking at 2015 as the year everything we longed for back in 2005 has finally come true. Complex corporate cultures are even beginning to come around...even if the old guard corporate leadership continues to struggle with it.

2015 will certainly be filled with new incredible technologies. But for our little world of training and eLearning, 2015 is the year we finally see the culture shift we've been looking for. More on that later.

Monday, December 22, 2014

BSchlenker Talks about eLearning - Episode 4 - Learning Rebel, Shannon Tipton

This is episode 4 of The Brent Schlenker podcast. Shannon Tipton, Founder of, is my guest. Shannon is the 4th corporate training professional I've interviewed for this podcast.  We covered a lot of ground in our conversation and had a lot of fun.

If you would like to be a guest, feel free to contact me @bschlenker on Twitter, or leave a comment here. Or if you'd rather just ask a specific question you can always send me your questions with the hashtag #askBschlenker. (...because #askBrent is already taken by Brent Rivera who apparently tweets naked.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BS Talks About eLearning - Episode3 - Microlearning with Tom Spiglanin

This is episode 3 of The Brent Schlenker Podcast.  In this episode I chat with Tom Spiglanin, engineer turned training professional. Tom and I have been connected online for a long time, but only recently met face-to-face at DevLearn2014.

We talked about microvideos, and microlearning, as well as answering a question about keeping up with rapidly changing content.

After you listen to the podcast I'd love to get your feedback.  Hit me up on twitter @bschlenker, or just leave a comment here.