Wednesday, August 31, 2005

WIKIWIKI WHAT? Important eLearning Development tool

If you haven't heard about WIKIs then you must start this blog entry by visiting wikipedia. Currently Wikipedia is the largest online, collaborative, encyclopedia with content managed completely by netizens.

I will not go into the history of wikis and the details can google "wiki" and some great information.

What I want to mention is how a WIKI can be used as a tool for YOU...the Corporate eLearning Developer. You may live in a Sharepoint world, or some other gigantic, beaurocratic, locked-down enterprise collaboration/KM tool, but that doesn't mean you can't safely, and effectively start a grass roots WIKI site and TRULY begin to witness the power of open source collaboration.

Check out how WIKIs help document the Gulf Coast disaster

I am currently experimenting with a WIKI (OpenWIKI) as a content gathering tool during online course development. This is working especially well when multiple SMEs are part of the project. The WIKI acts as the brainstorming repository and "debate" center when you are trying to get everyone on the same page. The nature of the WIKI paging structure also has the added benefit of aiding in the organization of the content in an instructionally sound manner. The SMEs begin to see relationships between the different data points and they begin to take greater control and ownership of the content.

Once the course is created you can leave the links within the course itself so that users can begin to populate the WIKI pages with their comments, knowledge, thoughts, and questions. While much of this type of collaboration may be (now or in the future) included within the enterprise LMS systems, not all companies have the budget for the million dollar LMS systems. Besides with no $$$ and limited set up time you lose nothing for giving it a try.

For a REALLY easy wiki you can also try TIDDLYWIKI . This is a fun little wiki that is completely contained inside of 1 HTML document. How much easier can it get. Throw it onto your web server and you are up and running.

Good luck and don't forget to have fun!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

IKEA Instructions Good and Bad

So today I wanted to write a cool little blog about how much I like the IKEA instruction manuals and that there must be some way to incorporate a No-text-image-only approach to eLearning I googled and discovered quite a backlash AGAINST those cute little androgynous figures. Actually, it turns out most people think they are "male" figures and so the company is being publically flogged for being funny. I digress.

More importantly, what I am reminded of is that we ALL have different learning styles and while some of us gravitate towards the visual, others rely heavily on the textual. I think in general our struggle as eLearning Developers is to strike that perfect balance between the two.

We know that the studies say most people SCAN web pages instead of reading them, so knowing that, we must still focus on extremely limited text...OR text that is designed on the page for scanning (i.e. newspaper-style columns). Supplemented with appropriate images that do not distract from the content and you should be doing well.

Remember, if you must create a page-turner...make it ROCK! Appropriate images only and limited text designed for quick scanning will get you one step closer.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Aibo NeoPets Nintendogs and Learning

Nintendogs Teach us New Tricks

Read the above article and then continue reading this blog...

done yet?...

Okay, so are you thinking what I'm thinking? Over the past few years many researchers, analysts, etc, have commented that Americans are undergoing a spiritual awakening. Churches are getting bigger, YOGA businesses are thriving, the signs are endless. Dan Pink in his book A Whole New Mind discusses the conceptual age where we begin to desire more meaning in the work that we do and lives that we lead...(hope I haven't lost you yet)...and how critical that is to being "successful".

In the article above...
"As it turns out, we're suckers for babysitting. Sherry Turkle -- the digital-age pundit and author of Life on the Screen -- has been researching the relationship between robots and people. She's discovered that the most popular robots are, unexpectedly, the ones that demand we take care of them. They trigger our nurturing impulses, the same ones we deploy toward infants, the elderly or any other vulnerable creature."
Nurturing is a big part of defining meaning. Therefore, and I don't think that I'm stretching this TOO far, can we put an element of nurturing, to foster meaning, in the training we deliver?

In my corporate experiences, the most experienced employees become Peer Trainers, or buddies, which ever you prefer. When training someone, or being their buddy, you are responsible for nurturing them and this gives your job purpose, even if for just one hour, day or week. I would guess that employees don't find much meaning in making more widgets, but they do find meaning in teaching others how to make the same widgets.

Idea: Perhaps online training could incorporate the use of a helpless person, or "vulnerable creature" trying to accomplish a task. The task of the user is to "train" the online persona to accomplish precisely the same task that they themselves are trying to learn.

Great eLearning Design NEEDS Great graphic design

If you've never seen this little gem then you must take a look. It's beautiful, educational, informational, and just plain ol' good design. Virtual Knee Surgery

This little ditty has no educational value but it sure is darn FUN: Cow Drum Solo and Music Video Creator

Certainly these productions enlisted the help of many specialized professionals, however if you are a 1-man elearning development army there is much to be learned. There are so many cool things in this project, but I will mention 2 easy ones that anyone can learn and improve: Great colors, and great photos.

Color theory is not as mysterious as it a book, take an intro art class, or ask an artist. But learn the color wheel and start practicing.

Color Picker - This is the best online color scheme generator (mixer/selector) I've seen lately. Another color picker

If you still insert graphics and photos into your html pages and scale them NEED to learn more about working with graphics. I still see this in corporate eLearning, communications, and presentations. In general you scale graphics down, but NEVER scale them up (i.e. bigger). Unless you know how to do it maintaining the quality.

Friday, August 26, 2005


I received an email from a very well known LMS/Content creator developer company the other day, and while I normally delete them I read this one because of this phrase which caught my eye...NO SKILLS REQUIRED.

Wow! If that doesn't just sum up what eLearning Development is all about within the walls of corporate america. Anyone can do this, right? ABSOLUTELY!!! All of the routine tasks that we do as developers to pump out page-turning elearning are being automated in every system on the market. After all, don't we automate our own work as well to make our lives easier? Templates...for Dreamweaver, Flash, etc.

In the past we (instructional technologists) spent a large portion of our time creating from scratch the main elements of our software. Now that we don't need to do that anymore...why are we still creating BORING pageturning elearning? I'm guilty of it as well, and we can all make excuses about why...more courses is better than better courses, short timelines, lazy SMEs, and the list goes on.

I have many directions to go on this topic but the main point is this...

WE MUST ADD VALUE!!! Duh, you say. Hear me out. Most of us are graduate level educated professionals. Why does any company need to pay us a graduate level salary when NO SKILLS are REQUIRED for SMEs or interns to populate a template...or convert a powerpoint presentation?

The tools are automating the majority of ISD tasks, and the development work can easily be shipped overseas to India. Where is YOUR value? What do YOU bring to the table? Why is your work different/better than the $4/hr worker in India?

The writing is on the wall...STOP learning more about ISD... and START perfecting your right-brain skills and talents. If you MUST make a page-turner, make it ROCK!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

StoryTelling Postmortems Debriefings Lessons-Learned

So why is storytelling a critical part of what we do in Corporate eLearning. Whether we DO anything with it or not is beside the point, however we LIVE with it and participate in it frequently. I'll go as far as to say we all tell stories every day of our lives. Think about the story you tell every time some asks, "How'd your day go?", or "How'd that meeting go?" or simply "How are you?" this link. Oh yeah, and this link too Collaboration, Storytelling: Potent potions for Pharmaceutical

After a major implementation effort (which includes our training efforts) we participate in "postmortems". What is this but simply a campfire of storytelling: What went right, what went wrong. What makes a great, successful, productive, postmortem? In my corporate experience its the one with the best stories. The stories that EVERYONE related to...the context of the facts AND the associated personal experiences and emotions felt...EMPATHY.

Don't forget that when we create instructor led courses with "hands-on" activities we ALSO include a debriefing at the end. (Business training/simulation consultants utilize this as the MAIN learning moment for the team.)

Simply stated...If your people cannot reflect, and tell a good story, you will gain very little from postmortems and debriefings completely missing out on the ever so valuable LESSONS LEARNED!!!

Another great related story

Imparting Knowledge Through Storytelling: Part 1, Part 2

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Knowledge Management DEAD one word GOOGLE

I am a big proponent of support systems that give people "what they want, when they want it, and in the format they need it". But there is no need for the training experts and vendors to be wasting their time developing new systems, databases, metatagging, and so on. Our job is simply to use the AWESOME tools created by our impressive IT friends at Google.

If GoogleAds can check content and offer up links of "like" content, then we aren't far off from content that organizes itself into custom based training NUGGETS that get us information "when and where we need it". The giant GoogleGrid will be ubiquitous but the same power will be available Intranet style...perhaps IntraGoogleGrid, or MicroGrids, for internal corporate goings on.

Proof...GoogleMail, GoogleIM, GoogleVideo, GoogleBlogger, GoogleGroups, Massive FREE harddrive storage space, FREE kidding...have you bought your Google stock today? At $285 bucks it's still a bargain. Excellent Article

We must begin engaging the employees in our charge with instruction/courses in story telling, and metaphor, so employees are prepared to fill the GoogleGrid (Giant respository) with meaningful interesting stories. More on story telling and why it's important's a good primer

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Thanks for stopping by Corporate eLearning Development. I chose the title because it can mean so many different things, and I hope to cover many topics that are so real to me at this moment in my career.

I've been wanting to start this for quite some time and the time has come. After presenting 2 topics at the eLearningDevCon2005 in Oregon, I have committed to making this blog and it's resources a reality.

I don't believe that many eLearning professionals, especially those under a corporate blanket, understand that the field as we now it is undergoing a drastic change we are not prepared for. I am constantly amazed at the number of seminars, conferences, and EdTech curriculums still preaching old school ISD and how to create all of the "elements of effective eLearning"...forget about it. I would urge you to consider updating your skills in graphics design, color theory, image manipulation, Interaction design, cartooning, comics, audio/video production, and story telling.

Please read the following books: Re-imagine! by Tom Peters, and A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink...

I will be following this post with updates to the blog as well as other materials