Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Remembering L&D Entrepreneur Leader Don Pierson

The L&D industry lost another member of the community last week. Don Pierson died in a car accident last Friday.  Read In Memory of Don Pierson here.

This month last year we lost Jay Cross who was such a visible and outspoken advocate for learning and development. But Don was not part of that side of our industry. He was a strong member of the Phoenix entrepreneur community and a builder of software products. He was part of the L&D vendor community. Most ISDs, and practitioners of training and eLearning, probably didn't know him. But many of you have used the products and services he's built for us over the years.

Don was a co-founder of Learning-Edge, and founder of Interactive Alchemy. Then went on to launch Flypaper which was acquired by Trivantis 3 years later. He then jumped outside of L&D, but not by much, and started a business that could track and predict sales performance based on activities (at least that's how I understood it.) He most recently joined the Indecomm team providing software services for some of the largest companies you can think of.

I met Don in 1997 when he hired me to work for him at Learning-Edge. That was my first experience working with a small company and the entire team he assembled was top notch. I was honored to be a part of that team. I didn't end up staying long, because I was just starting my family and Intel was pulling me back with offers I couldn't refuse. I was only there a year, but that year built many great relationships.

I lost touch with most of my Learning-Edge colleagues during my Intel years until I discovered the Interactive Alchemy offices a half mile down the street from my house. Then he and I met for lunch and he introduced me to his latest project, Flypaper. It was very cool! I was programming DevLearn at the time and I remember their first appearance in the expo...they had the coolest stickers. Those were the golden years of eLearning to be sure.

Don and I had just recently started meeting for lunches again and talking L&D.  I was actually looking forward to our next lunch today. I will miss him. And my heart goes out to all of his family and friends.

Don was a big part of the Phoenix startup community. StartupAZ #yesphx has created a memorial fund in his name that will support the StartupAZ Foundation. Please consider giving a small donation in his honor.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Video Friday - Scoping Video Projects for eLearning

Today we're joined by the President of Cine Learning Productions, Diane Senffner, for a fantastic discussion about all things Video Learning!

You can find out more about Diane and Cine Learning Productions at:

Some fun tangents videos we referenced:

Keep this conversation going on LinkedIn:

Also chime in with your 140 characters of comments on Twitter!

...And we'll see you here every weekday at 8am Pacific / 11am Eastern

Thursday, August 25, 2016

L&D Talk: Gartners Emerging Tech Hype Curve, LMS Platforms, The Changing L&D Industry

L&D Talk is presented by - Get your FREE trial at

Today our panel discussion centered around the new Gartner Hype Cycle For Emerging Technologies report.

We also discuss LMS markets, trends, and issues.

Keep this conversation going on LinkedIn:

Also chime in with your 140 characters of comments on Twitter!

L&D Talk is every day 8am Pacific Time. We are currently testing new live streaming platforms.
But you will always find us at

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Christmas Items for the Training Professional on Santa's Nice List

Check out these 3 great lists of gift ideas for the corporate training professional in your life.

This is a 3 Part Series from The eLearning Blog.

Trainer's Emergency Kit Items
Video Recording Gear

You can also see the Holiday Gift Guide for that Special L&D Professional in Your Life from Brian Washburn at his blog Train Like a Champion.

Brian was the inspiration for part 2 of the Litmos blog series the Trainer's Emergency Kit. So, I'm certain you'll find more cool stuff in his latest post.

There are big items and there are stocking stuffer ideas. You're sure to find something for the trainer in your life. Let's stop giving apples :)

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.