Thursday, January 31, 2008

Take the eLearning Guild's survey on Games and Simulations!

Take the Survey
A quick reminder: The research team is hard at work gathering data for this years report on Immersive Learning Simulations and they need your help. Share your work and experience with your learning colleagues by taking the survey. Even if you're NOT doing games and simulations, its still important for all of us to know that.

Thanks for you time and willingness to share with your Guild colleagues!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Scott McCloud - Understanding Comics

Scott McCloud just wrapped up his part of the final general session. He gave a quick overview of his Big Triangle.

If you haven't read his books you should start with Understanding Comics.


I have all of his books at home so I had nothing for the book signing. So I took a picture.
Yea, I know, I know ;-)

CommonCraft - Photo Sharing in Plain English - VizThink08

Husband and wife team Lee and Sachi LeFever were at VizThink08.


If you are not familiar with their work then you haven't been "doing the web" correctly. The commoncraft videos are AWESOME! Check out this one explaining photo sharing online:

One quick point I'd like to make is that they are NOT instructional designers. Lee mentioned the simplicity that he thinks makes the videos so popular. In our conversation he also agreed that constraints can make for greater creativity and not less. A video camera, pens, paper, and a white board (and editing software) can create a compelling instructional video.

About Simplicity
KISS - don't forget kiss...Keep It Simple S****D. Everything that you train can be broken down into a very simple image, visual, series of visuals, or text(yuch!), or text and visuals. Have you ever looked at your training and thought about stripping it down to its basic elements? Maybe reduce a paragraph down to one sentence...then shorten that sentence. Now replace as many of the words that are left with images. Can you do that?

VizThink08 - Thoughts from Monday

I wish I took better notes. It's Tuesday morning and I'm a little brain dead from all the conversations yesterday. In trying to recall ANY of them and I'm drawing a blank. So I'll review a few pics in an attempt to shake loose a few coherent thoughts...

Karl Gude - visual storytelling

I sat in Karl Gude's session on Visual StoryTelling. He is very dynamic and passionate about his work. I didn't stay for the entire session because I wanted to get into a couple other sessions. However, one of the key takeaways for me was this: "Its not about drawing. It's about communicating information." And maybe that will be one of the main themes that I take away from this conference. He talked about his early days in the business of doing visual graphics for magazines and how he would create a fantastic image and the editor would put it aside and say "that's nice but we need something that looks more like this..." And the editor nailed it. Its a humbling experience as you can imagine for a creative person.

The second piece that I remember is that visual graphics designers go through the same issues that training professionals go through. Specifically, someone is always telling them that they need to add more and more stuff into the graphic. And what you end up with is a graphic that's too busy, too splashy, and not focused. The reader has too work too hard to find out what the main idea is.

I think instructional designers attempt to avoid this with objectives. If the content doesn't specifically support one of the main objectives that it doesn't belong in the course...right? Wrong. It gets put in the course when the customer tells you too and you say yes ma'am. But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know...and experience.

Oh yeah! The Power of the 2x2 Matrix. This may be new to everyone, and actually its not new to me because I draw them all the time. But the thing is that I never knew that there were other ways to draw these graphs and use them in so many different situations to visually show others what I mean.

And THAT is what I think is cool about this community. Remember, its NOT about drawing. Its about communicating information. A 2x2 graph is not an intimidating image. Anyone can "draw" a big "L" and put a value on each axis and then fill in the space with data...any data. That's visualization and that's powerful tool.

The last lesson I need to share and write down is the idea of the PROCESS is more important than the final image. The process required to create a image that represents a strategy is what helps you define that strategy and gets everyone on the same page. The final image then simply tells the story of your experience to others who need to know.

Gotta go.

Monday, January 28, 2008

VizThink08 - Day 2 - Morning General Session

Dave Gray convinced us all that we can draw. I used to draw a lot. I like to draw. Its nice to have permission to do it again.

learning to draw with Dave Gray

Bob Horn Interview

bob horn interview

Visual Language: Thinking of it as an International Language and an auxiliary language.
When to using visuals vs. words: Visual language is still emerging. 2 chapters in his book are on answering this question.

Connecting Visual Thinking with eLearning Lesson 1:

Visual thinking is NOT just about drawing/sketching. So, stop it! Stop thinking that you must be a "creative" or an "artist". Or that Visual thinking is about becoming one. Its about communicating thoughts and ideas using images, NOT about being good at drawing. Understanding visual thinking is not just learning how to draw better graphics for your eLearning courses. Its not about the final image either. Its about the process you go through in creating that final image.

VizThink08 - Evening 1 - My search for the VisualThinking eLearning connection

A few weeks ago my colleague Tony Karrer questioned the idea behind the VizThink Conference. There was a lot of buzz around his post and so Tom Crawford the CEO, hooked up Tony with Dave Gray of XPlane for a webinar to try and figure it out. I listened to the recording and it didn't sound to me like Tony was convinced.

vizthink blog » Blog Archive » Webinar #1 Recording Posted

So here I am in rainy San Francisco looking for that elusive connection between eLearning and the visual thinking community. My flight was delayed, but I arrived just in time for the doors to open on the expo floor for the opening reception. I must say, I was very impressed with the entire setup. It was strange walking around an expo and feeling like I don't know anybody. I did my usual first night scan and cruise. Don't engage...much. Just check it all out and soak in the vibe. Here's a quick update of my scan and cruise: - Welcome to TheBrain
I talked with Harlan Hugh of and that is VERY cool. I downloaded the Personal Brain demo and but have not tried it out yet. I'll review that later.

Visuals Speak
I chatted with Christine Martell as well of VisualsSpeak. We've been blogging at each other since Tony's blog post brought us together as commenters. Its always great to finally meet virtual colleagues/friends face-to-face.

Emaki Productions • The website of Neil Cohn
I also met Neil Cohn from Tuft's University. He's a big visual language, and comics guy.

I did see a couple other cool things but I'm out of blogging time this morning. I'll get back to those booths later today and try to keep blogging. So now that my scan and cruise is complete I've got some serious talking I need to do. This stuff is very cool and most of all I want to talk with other attendees and find out what the heck they do, or want to do, with visual thinking. Then maybe we can better understand a framework for visual learning.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Are online college rankings accurate? Necessary? Not for me.

The online education database has posted its online college rankings for 2008.
What do you think?
Here are the metrics listed:
"Key to metric acronyms — AR: Acceptance Rate, FA: Financial Aid, GR: Graduation Rate, PW: Peer Web Citations, RR: Retention Rate, SC: Scholarly Citations, SF: Student-Faculty Ratio, YA: Years Accredited"

Personally, I hate numbers. The eye-chart of numbers means NOTHING to me. Tell me a story, either using words or with pictures, but just don't lay out a bunch of data in a list.
Maybe the gathering of VizThinkers in SanFran next week can use this data as an example and create something a little more compelling and user-friendly. Anyone up for it?

Personally, I'd find more value in a social networking site that carried discussions about courses, the content, the instructors, etc. Who really cares about Graduation Rate, Acceptance Rate, Years accredited. If I have a need and I have a friend or colleague tell me good things then I'm more questions.

Yes. Transparency is a good thing, but this is the WRONG kind of transparency. This is the kind of transparency that administrators, and accountants use to brag at dinner parties, the real users don't care.

This is Web1.0 data a Web2.0 world. When Time declares YOU as the person of the year, they mean YOU the single end-user (the little guy), not the collective big corporate YOU.

Sorry OEDb, I'm not your target audience.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Got Drowning Prevention? No problem, mon!

If you are wondering why I haven't been blogging much there are many reasons, but most notably I was in Jamaica last week with my family. The
Jamaica Gleaner covered our stay at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios. The article pretty much sums up the complete story.

I'll have more pics up on my flickr feed soon.
Yikes! Getting back to work is not easy to do after chillin' in Jamaica ;-)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Online eLearning Summit - January 23, 2008

I absolutely love being on panel discussions. Mostly because I get to learn so much from some of the smartest people in this industry. This is no exception! It is going to be GREAT fun!
I am honored to be sitting amongst greatness.

In the early years of my 10+ year career, Dr. Allen was the first person I heard address the stupidity of many "traditional" ISD models...BLASPHEMY!!! Yet so darn true! Every word he uttered to an Intel conference room of training specialists rang true for me. It was comforting to hear the "hired gun" define new methods, new models, and exploring new solutions to business problems. (You'll notice I did NOT say TRAINING problems) I was forever convinced that eLearning Design was moving beyond...WAY beyond...the constraints of industrial age educational theory. Dr. Allen has been 2.0 WAY before we even knew we were in eLearning1.0.

I'll be meeting Jennifer for the first time and I am looking forward to it. I know she is highly regarded as one of the leading minds in synchronous learning and I'm very curious to hear how she sees the evolution of eLearning.

These are my sessions but there are many others filling the day.

8:00 a.m. PT / 11 a.m. ET
Expert Panel: The Next Evolution in eLearning – 2008 and Beyond

Join a panel of distinguished experts who will investigate the technologies and trends that are shaping the future of training in 2008 and beyond, including social communities and Web 2.0 trends.

Speaker: Brent Schlenker, the Emerging Technologies Analyst, The eLearning Guild
Speaker: Dr. Michael Allen, Chairman and CEO, Allen Interactions Inc.
Speaker: Jennifer Hofmann, President, InSync Training

Heidi and I will close out the day with a fun look at the future of collaborative learning and the emerging trends we are hearing from Guild members. Lots of great stuff to talk about!

(Pssst...before I forget. The eLearning Tools Report is being released VERY soon. Its awesome! Download it ASAP)

1:00 p.m. PT / 4:00 p.m. ET

Emerging Trends in Collaborative Learning

Drawing upon the most current research and fascinating case studies, this closing session will examine present and future trends in collaborative learning – from synchronous platforms to wikis and blogs to virtual worlds and beyond.

Speaker: Heidi Fisk, Co-Founder, The eLearning Guild
Speaker: Brent Schlenker, the Emerging Technologies Analyst, The eLearning Guild

Check out the website and let me know what you are MOST interested in hearing about. These topics are HUGE and while I have a good idea of what to include in our short time together, I'd love to hear from you. Comment on this post with your suggestions.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Have you caught the eLearning Bug? The Mobile Device that is!

Bug Labs has finally released their long-awaited DIY consumer mobile device.

Bug Labs

From the products page:
"BUG is a collection of easy-to-use electronic modules that snap together to build any gadget you can imagine. Each BUGmodule represents a specific gadget function (ex: a camera, a keyboard, a video output, etc). You decide which functions to include and BUG takes care of the rest letting you try out different combinations quickly and easily. With BUG and the integrated programming environment/web community (BUGnet), anyone can build, program and share innovative devices and applications. We don't define the final products - you do."

This should be loads of fun! OpenSource software paired with OpenSource hardware. Wow! This is going to be LOTS of fun.

Looks like they have a touch screen module already and more are planned for Q2 release.

Bug Labs: Products

I want to know what the Teleporter is going to do. Seriously!

The Early Adopter Price is $299 for the BUGbase which is the foundation for the device. Each additional module looks to be under $100. So to create your own GPS enabled Digital camera you're going to be set back over $400 when all is done. Of course that's if its truly user-friendly and you can get yours to work.

Let's just say that it's no-brainer-easy to put together, code, and use. What do you do with it? What does it allow you to do that other devices cannot already do? Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of this thing...really. So, for me, I'm itchin' to get my hands on this thing.

I sported for the MakingThings module a few years ago after seeing its connectivity with Adobe FLASH. That was loads of fun, but I'm not that good at soldering wires. I should check back with them and see if I can get my little project working again...but this time on my Mac. But I digress...

Can we use the BUG to create a Mobile learning device specific to the Corporate training/elearning world?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bar codes + Cell phones = Next big thing 2008

I think I listed QR codes in my predictions for 2008. No, they aren't yet available in the US. But they're coming. And its already hitting the streets on the Sprint network.

I just saw a full page Sprint ad in WIRED (Jan2008) with the tag line "The captivating future of the bar code". I couldn't find any info on their web site.

With a camera phone and a Sprint data plan, text "scan" to 70734 and download the free application. The use the new app on your cell phone and snap a pic of the bar code in the ad to receive your secret prize.

Of course I'm an iPhone guy, and this is the first time that I'm mildly unhappy about that. Does anyone out there have a Sprint camera phone. If you do please do this little experiment for me and let me know how it turns out.

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