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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stop Reading - Skim Dive Skim

Genie left a great comment on one of my favorite posts - Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog. She said:
"Because this is the way that we're going to learn in the future" - I love it!

Not sure about the 9 year olds though, my kids are downloading music and games and creating their own language on messenger. So not so certain about reading - no one reads these days - they play. Blogs are the last gasp before virtual interactive education takes over the schools. Plug in and turn off.
The 9 year olds reference is around a statement made by Karl Kapp - “my 9 and 11 year old sons have a deeper understanding of the tools” than you do.

Genie made me think a bit ... (thanks Genie) ...

While she is talking about kids in the future and their use of writing and reading, it really made me wonder:
Do we read anymore? Should we read anymore?
I know that I rarely really read anymore ... I skim and then dive in depth and then skim. I read as few words as possible. Just enough to get the general sense of what is being discussed. I miss a lot of detail, but I also am pretty good at being able to find the detail when I need to get to it.

I have a horrible habit of reading my email using this same reading style. This means that I sometimes miss important pieces of information buried somewhere in an email. [Edit - I originally wrote horrible. But I'm not so sure.]

And, in comparison to most executives that I know, I'm quite thorough. Send most executives a two page email and you are lucky if they skim the first two lines. Do they read their business books in depth? Did you read this? I don't think so, they find the single concept and then figure that the rest of the 200 pages give great support for that concept.

Genie is talking about kids, but in thinking about what she said and my own behavior, actual reading of items from start to finish is pretty much gone.
My bet is that many of you have skimmed right down to this item. Did you miss the question I asked in the paragraph above?

There's an embedded poll right here to show you how many people are skimming vs. reading.

My bet is most people, especially those reading blogs, are skimmers. And, they are right to be skimmers! So -

Stop reading.

Skim, dive, skim. That's the way to go.

Oh, and you need to have skills around understanding, keeping and refinding. You skim at a level that gives a basic understanding, allows you to make a decision around what it is, do you need this again and how you will store it away (if at all).

The only time you actually read something is when you need all the details for processing right then. Otherwise, it's a waste of time to go through all the details. You only need enough to understand what it is and get back to the details later.
Most often there is no payoff for reading. Skim dive skim is the best ROI on your time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Request for Proposal (RFP) Samples

Based on my post LMS RFP, I've been asked several times if I knew where you could find samples of Request for Proposals (RFPs) for custom eLearning development, performance support tools, learning content management systems (LCMS), elearning authoring tools, etc. Today the question was for Microsoft Project. This wasn't something I could directly help the person, but I had the sense that people may be missing some key search tricks that would give them a list of reasonable results.

The keys are:
  1. (filetype:pdf OR filetype:doc) - only show me actual documents in either of these formats. This trick works really well when you are searching for content on a wide variety of things, often I add in filetype:ppt as well to find presentations.
  2. (RFP OR "Request for Proposal") - find either of these terms
  3. (LCMS OR "Learning Content Management System") - find either of these terms
Obviously, substitute the key terms such instead of LCMS. And in the case of something like custom eLearning development, you want all of those terms, so you just add them at the end.

If you string these together in Google, you will find documents that give you suggestions what go in RFPs as well as actual RFPs that people have on the web. You have to scan down a bit, but it's well worth the effort.
Click one of the above examples, and modify with your terms.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Human Computer Interfaces

The post questioning Cursive Writing has turned to a few questions of alternative human computer interfaces. This is a fun discussion. Thought I'd post a couple of pictures here that go along with the recent discussion.

A picture of the direct brain interface that allows input direct control of mouse via brain ...

Conceptually what is happening ...

Wearable computing, full high end PC with connectivity ...

Automotive repair interface seen through projection on glasses...

What I plan to look like in 25 years ...

ASTD TechKnowledge 2008 - Conference Planning

ASTD TechKnowledge 2008 is coming soon in San Antonio. Now that it's less than a month away, I thought I'd sit down and try to do some conference planning.

To help me prepare, I went back to a few previous posts on related topics...

In looking back, I first found a lot of posts that really suggested the key was having a good set of questions to provide a lens onto the conference:
I need to figure out what questions I really have for this conference. I'm going to have to think a bit about that and come back to it.

I also found a few posts around practical attendee ideas:
Ray Sims had some good practical suggestions in the comments of Conference Networking Tools that suggest how to make contact. It somewhat presupposes you have a purpose. It also supposes you can get into and use ASTD CONNECT for the conference. I don't think I have a login yet. Does anyone else?

I also looked at a few posts more from the presenter / organizer standpoint ...
The better conferences post reminded me that one of the more interesting sessions I've been involved recently were very small (10 person), very early (7AM) sessions that were a moderated group discussion on a particular topic. For some reason, conferences that have table topics never achieve that kind of discussion. Maybe it's the separate space. Maybe it's the moderator preparation. Maybe it's the level of the discussion (more specific question / topic). Maybe it's the expectation of the people attending.

It doesn't appear that TK2008 has any formal ways of doing this. There must be an informal method.

So, my task list:
  1. Figure out what my questions are for this conference (really for this year).
  2. Plan my sessions accordingly. Review sessions handouts ahead of the conference (available one week before) to figure out what sessions make sense.
  3. Plan my trip into the Expo accordingly.
  4. Find informal opportunities to discuss these topics with other attendees.
What am I missing here?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Case You Missed It

There's been a fantastic discussion in my post - Touch Typing - Cursive Writing - Why?

I never know how to alert people, so I thought I'd just post.

eLearning Authoring Tool

Looking back at my post about eLearning Authoring Tools - and particularly whether custom or off-the-shelf is the way to go, I've been interested in seeing the varied response.

Paraphrasing justifications for custom eLearning Authoring Tool approaches:
  • A templated approach provides speed and consistency for repetitive tasks, freeing up time and budget for customizing demonstrations and adding in video and other engaging elements.
  • HTML and JavaScript are likely here to stay.
  • HTML and JavaScript are better from an accessibility standpoint. Note: this is more a question of what the tool produces (Flash vs. HTML and how clean the resulting HTML is - there are some complaints about Lectora produced HTML).
  • Lectora has a long way to go before it reaches the flexibility and efficiency of a courseware framework (XML > core media > engine).
  • Most eLearning tools do not promote the creation of effective courses, do not promote web standards, and do not promote accessibility; they merely make cookie-cutter course development easier for technically inexperienced course developers.
Paraphrasing reasons to use an off-the-shelf eLearning Authoring Tool approach:
  • Finished projects built with custom eLearning Authoring Tools become almost impossible for the clients to modify and update.
  • An eLearning authoring tool will provide consistent sustainability for courseware output.
  • You’ll be more likely to find someone with training/elearning expertise who knows the elearning authoring tools.
Looking at other posts and comments suggest some things to consider:
  • Team size (large vs. small) and composition (skills).
  • Which tool will still be in business in 5 years? Which tool will convert to something else when it does go away?
Some additional thoughts before choosing your eLearning Authoring Tool...
  • The comment - "Most eLearning tools do not promote the creation of effective courses" is flat out misleading. A book and a video can be really great learning tools for some content, but creativity is required. A painter needs to be creative with the medium they are using. So too for instructional designers / course authors. There's a lot you can do with off-the-shelf tools and especially if you are capable of dropping in more sophisticated interactions as needed.
  • You need to build what is good for the client (internal or external) (see What Clients Really Want). Maintenance is important in most all cases. In many cases, it is best for the client to be able to do quick maintenance themselves. Some choices make this much harder or even impossible. That said, maintaining some template driven systems can be the easiest for clients (if the system is built for it). However, it is almost always a bad choice to build something that requires significant, specialized knowledge to maintain.
At least, this all should be a topic of conversation with the client to make sure that what you are doing is in their best interest.

Maybe this topic should have been about maintenance of eLearning courses rather than about eLearning Authoring Tools.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Touch Typing - Cursive Writing - Why?

I'm not sure if it's only our school district, but 4th graders (9 year olds) spend considerable time learning cursive writing and are not taught touch typing. Why?

This is especially troubling because students certainly are expected to write their assignments on a computer. Oh, that is unless the teacher wants them to write it in cursive just to help them learn how to write in cursive. I had a bit of trouble explaining this to my son who struggled with cursive - the same son who did the Fourth Grader Wikipedia Update.

I personally only use cursive when I write my signature. And I'm not sure I remember the last time I even had to read cursive writing.

Can anyone explain this to me?

And will it change in the next two years before my youngest becomes a 4th grader?

Session Hopping – A Practical Guide

I just saw a link by Christy Tucker to a wonderfully funny, but a little too true: On the High Art of Getting Grades Without Learning Anything.

It caused me to remember that last year while attending a session at ASTD 2007, a few random people and I were discussing session hopping (prior to a session). I think the term is probably self-explanatory – but in case you don’t know what this is –
A session hopper moves between sessions at a conference that are scheduled at the same time in order to find the session that they feel provides the most value.
At any large conference, there generally are several sessions that sound interesting offered at the same time. As a session hopper, you identify several sessions for each time slot and then may choose to move around.

This is something I’ve been observing for years … and yes, I’m a session hopper. Interestingly, at ASTD 2007, I found several other kindred session hoppers. And, here are three guidelines around this practice …

Session Hopping Guidelines

First, as a session hopper, it is important to choose the right location – and that location is easy – it’s near the door on an aisle. That’s where we all sit. Notice that those are almost always the seats first taken in any session. Obviously, this marks you as a session hopper. So if you are not one, then please don't take those seats.

Second, know the right times to leave. The first opportunity is before the session starts after you’ve looked at the handouts - but don't take a copy of the handouts - that's just mean. Someone else who has the fortitude to actually sit through the whole session needs those handouts. The second opportunity is when the speaker goes through what they are going to cover – their outline. At either of these points, if it doesn’t look like they are going to cover something of value, then it makes sense to leave. Of course, during the session at various points there are opportunities to hop - maybe the speaker is either not all that great or has covered everything you care about.

What's interesting is that there are many speakers who seem not to understand us session hoppers. Through the whole presentation, they will continue to promise to show you something really interesting. Maybe it's the demo or its what they concluded. As a hopper, this is extremely frustrating. Cmon already. Get to the good stuff. And in many cases, it turns out not to be worth the 45 minutes investment. It seems that the speaker intentionally tried to get you to stay the whole time. You really feel cheated.

Third, know how to leave. I prefer to wait for the speaker to pause and look down – so they might not see me leave. Note: it’s hard to get out unseen when you are 6’6” (2m) tall and a fair number of people know you. It’s impossible to get out unseen if you have a middle seat. Thus, you sit on an aisle near the door. The other good time to leave is when a question or discussion with the audience breaks out. That way the speaker may think I’m leaving because the person asked a bad question or somehow it was the fault of the audience. I’ve been tempted but have never tried this – wait for the speaker to be in the middle of something. Get up. Give the speaker a big thumbs-up preferably with both hands. Smile. And then leave. They’d have to think I was being forced to leave for some other reason, right?

If you are really concerned about the perception of the presenter, you can always go up ahead of the session and tell the presenter that you might be getting a call in the middle and have to step out and take the call. I’ve used this technique. But the acting like I got the call part is more uncomfortable than sneaking out.

Speaker Perspective

Obviously, part of my strategy is due to worrying about the perception of the presenter. So, let's shift this a bit and talk from my perspective as a presenter:

I used to be pretty self-conscious about people leaving a session. I would worry what I had done wrong to cause them to leave. I’ve become somewhat less sensitive, but I doubt that any presenter doesn’t feel a slight worry when people leave. And as a moderator of panel, I definitely notice when people leave when one of the panelists is speaking.

A big part of why people leave is that you simply aren’t talking about what they expected based on the description. I try really hard to make my session description accurate to minimize people leaving. Along those same lines, a session hop (or leave) early in the session when it’s obvious that the content is not a good fit for them doesn’t bother me much. It clearly wasn’t a good fit. So, early hopping is okay. One caveat that I mentioned above, I’m not a big fan of people who come in to grab a copy of the slides and then go to a different session, especially when there aren’t enough copies for people who come and stay. A better practice is to come up and hand me a business card with your email and ask me to mail you a copy of the slides. I’m happy to do that.

Despite a lot of self-counseling, I’m still a bit self-conscious about people who leave in the middle. I’ve had enough discussions with people who tell me that they were upset that they needed to leave in the middle because they had to catch a flight or meet someone or do a conference call, that I’m not quite as worried about it. Of course, they may be using my suggestions above around session hopping. Still you would always rather have people coming in half-way through (from another session) than having them leave half-way through.

Also perception is heavily based on the number of people in the audience. If 10% of your audience leaves, that feels like a lot. 10% of 200 is 20. 10% of 40 is 4. So in a small room if a few people start leaving half-way through – it really makes you wonder.

Other Random Thoughts

As long as I’m on the topic of perception as a presenter, the best sessions always seem to be when I get scheduled into a small room and people are literally sitting on the floor, standing along the walls, looking through the door. There’s a funny energy in the room created by everyone feeling like – “hey I got into this session – other people can’t – I’m lucky – this must be good stuff.” Of course, at ASTD 2007, there were a bunch of sessions that were overfull at the same time (they had too many attendees for the size of the rooms). That's not a good thing. And I realize it’s not really a good thing for people who are coming. It's nice to have a bit of personal space. And people who couldn’t get in are likely not happy about it. Still anytime you present to an overfull room, it seems like people are more engaged, want to talk more, throw ideas out, challenge me, ask great questions. It’s fun.

On the flip side, probably the worst session I ever did was in November 2001 at the LA Convention Center. I was a featured speaker on Trends in eLearning. The conference almost didn’t happen because of the terrorist attacks a month and a half earlier. The conference was very much under attended and my session had room for about 600 in a large auditorium. I had maybe 100 people scattered around the seats, and the energy was not there. How could we care that much about eLearning Trends when the world as we knew it had changed?

On the other hand, Bill Clinton was a speaker at the conference and drew a standing room only audience. And I was very glad I attended his presentation. He truly is an impressive speaker. And it was good to hear his perspective on the attacks.

Friday, January 18, 2008

eLearning Course Development

BJ Schone asks a good question in his post - How do you build eLearning courses?
I have built our courses using a custom template created using HTML and JavaScript. They couldn’t believe I wasn’t using Lectora or another similar authoring product. They stressed that my courses would be difficult to maintain over time (in case I leave the company). My point of view was a little different: I chose this method because I have greater ability to customize courses as I please, and I can control every little detail of the course. I can easily embed Captivate movies, Flash movies, and anything else I please. I have a background in web development, so it was very easy for me to lean in this direction, too. And I think it’ll be just as easy to find somebody with HTML and JavaScript experience compared to Lectora or other authoring tools. But that’s just my opinion - I could be wrong.

So, here’s my question: How do you build your eLearning courses? Do you build them from scratch (ex. HTML, JavaScript, etc.)? Do you use an authoring tool for the whole course structure? I’m anxious to hear your response!

A long time ago we used to build our courses / eLearning from scratch as well, and we sometimes still do on some occasions, but generally it is better for everyone if you use an eLearning course authoring tool. Lectora gives quite a bit of flexibility and acts somewhat like an HTML / JavaScript course shell. You can still add custom HTML / JavaScript. You can embed Flash interactions. Unless you are trying to do something where you are automatically generating the pages based off of a CMS or database, then I'm not sure I get why you would use a standard tool.

My conclusion - without additional knowledge - the consultants in this case are right. It likely would be better for your company and your clients to use an authoring tool.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wiki Course Authoring

In my Ten Predictions for eLearning for 2008, I said -
Wiki + SCORM + Add-ins will become more common for easy authoring.
Not sure if he saw my post, but I was just reminded by Tim Seager from Xerceo about their Prescribe tool that provides:
Full Wiki, RSS functionality that is SCORM conformant for tracking and managing competencies.
He also pointed me to a video that shows the tool in action. However, this video may be the worst video I've ever seen in terms of making me want to use something. It's horribly cryptic, you can't tell what's happening and it defeats the whole point that I see in using a Wiki for authoring...
A Wiki should make course authoring extremely easy and even easier to make updates. It also could allow learner contributions in some kinds of controlled scenarios.
Their video makes it look really complicated. My guess is that it's not that bad and would make a lot more sense if I knew the tool. Tim, you may want to get help on better presenting your tool.

The other thing that they aren't currently talking about is using various add-ins to provide additional functionality within the course. This is something I described a long time ago in: Authoring in eLearning 2.0 / Add-ins & Mash-ups.

Monday, January 14, 2008

2007 Traffic Stats - Hopefully a Meme

I've seen a couple of posts (Matt Cutts, Dave Taylor) talking about their relative web statistics for 2007. While my stats are very low in comparison to theirs, I was hoping that I could entice fellow bloggers to post some stats about their traffic in 2007. I thought it might be interesting to share with each other and I'm guessing there will be a few surprises.

Some thoughts / comments...
  1. You can get more detail on my Top eLearning Posts.
  2. You can see that Search Engines generate more than half the traffic. Referral traffic is generally from other blogs. Direct traffic is generally from RSS readers.
  3. This somewhat understands reach of the blog since I provide full feeds and many people never leave their reader to come to the web site.
  4. I would guess that these percentages are similar on other blogs, but I don't know.
  5. You can see that traffic is pretty steady and growing. Weekends and holidays are very slow compared to weekdays.
  6. As compared to many of my clients, my percentage of new visitors is very high. In fact, I would tell most of my clients that they should be doing a lot more to capture and keep those visitors. But, my guess is that these numbers are similar to other bloggers and I shouldn't worry too much about keeping them.
  7. The two pages per visit has been astonishingly consistent over the past few years. I'm curious how that compares as well.
Will anyone else share similar stats?

I'm especially curious about folks in the worlds of learning / eLearning and KM.and maybe the related world of KM.

I'm hoping some of the following folks would be willing to reciprocate with some stats.

Andrew McAfee
Are you game?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Test SCORM Courses with an LMS

I was just asked by someone about how they could test a course they were creating against a particular Learning Management System (LMS) (in this case Docent 6.5). This is something we run into fairly often. We are developing a SCORM or AICC compliant course either custom or using an authoring tool. And we run into the same tough situation each time:
  • If there's an integration issue, like the score or completion is not getting set appropriately, we want to be able to make changes to the course to try to fix it.
  • We don't have direct access to a version of the LMS to test on.
  • The client's staff won't give us direct access to the LMS to run tests.
  • The client's staff is too busy to run a series of tests and they have no patience for problems.
  • The client has not set up a version of the LMS just for this purpose.
This happens both to external and internal developers. Likely this sounds familiar to many of you. The question is what to do about it. Here are some ideas -

SCORM Test Suite

One of the best things about SCORM (ADL's Sharable Content Reference Model) is that it is pretty easy to test and diagnose problems. In fact, it comes with a do-it-yourself test suite. The test suite was created to try to help get implementations to work together better. The problem is that there is no guarantee that two SCORM implementations that pass the self-test suite will integrate okay. The test suite can be downloaded here.

My first piece of advice for anyone developing a course is to make sure it runs with the ADL's test suite because that gives you cover in case there are issues. If it doesn't work out, then you can say - "Well it works with the SCORM test suite. We'll have to figure out what this LMS does different than the SCORM test suite."

SCORM Technical Test Version

At the start of each project where integration with an LMS is required, we create an early technical test version of the course. This is created using whatever authoring tool we will be using and it will contain no content. Rather, it simply allows us to quickly set particular variable values, e.g., test scores. Most often we put this in a SCORM wrapper to be able to diagnose what issues there are. This can show you what works and doesn't work long before you author the course.

The late Claude Ostyn created one test wrapper and also a diagnostic SCO. There is another called SCORM Test Tracker. We use our own so I can't vouch for these tools.

Note: there have been cases where we needed to go to HTTP stream tracking software to figure out what was wrong. This is less common these days, but it's good to know that there are tools at this level.

LMS Specific Testing

I would love to tell you that there was an easy way to take this technical test version and/or your course itself and load it under the LMS to test it before you hand it to your client. My experience has been that it's rare to have this happen.

Does anyone else have a different experience?

Do any LMS vendors provide test beds for people to test their course?

For the person who wants to test on Docent 6.5, what should they do other than what I suggest above?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Learning Systems

I normally am not a person who spends time on the definition of things. I generally consider these discussions arbitrary, mundane, stuck in the minutiae, boring, etc. However, we certainly suffer from the lack of terminology around certain kinds of learning systems.

I've received a couple of good comments on my recent post, EPSS and ePerformance. One comes from Jay Cross who challenges the use of the "e" in front of various terms...
Tony, you might drop all the e's to simplify the terminology, ending up with performance support, performance, development, and learning. The "e" obscures the importance of these things.
I use the "e" when I want to indicate "delivered with technology" ... If I tell you something is a learning system (or learning) vs. something is eLearning, it conjures very distinct ideas of what I'm talking about. Of course, Jay, I should need to tell you that. :)

Valerie comments -
Why the interest in separating out support for learning from support for doing?

Seems to me that the most critical learning is that which is in support of performance. And the most effective teaching platforms are those which keep the learning close to the task which is to be performed.
I agree with Valerie that the best learning systems are those where the performance is close to or part of the learning. But my challenge is this:

What do you envision when I talk about "Learning" or "Learning System" or "eLearning" as compared to "Support" or "Support System" or "eSupport"?

For most people learning implies training ahead of and away from performance. If I call it eLearning, you have some very particular kinds of solutions in mind. And they likely are not Support or Performance Support solutions.

"Support" suggests slightly after a problem has surfaced during performance. eSupport implies some very particular kinds of solutions.

"Performance Support" suggests along with performance. EPSS or ePerformance implies particular kinds of solutions.

Likely all three imply learning, but if you want someone to have the right vision of what you are talking about, using terms that conjure the right vision is important.

Or do you disagree? Do you honestly believe that while the definition of these terms may say something, most people have very particular ideas in mind of what you mean when you say them?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

EPSS and ePerformance

In a comment in my post Amusing Findings in Keywords Jack Pierce asked:
I'm searching for the right term for what a lot of us do when we do EPSS type solutions.

We could use EPSS as a term, but it seems a bit old, and a bit engineering-like. So, for some time, we have added "ecoaching" to our "elearning" offering, to describe our electronic support options. Now, go to get plenty of hits if you search ecoaching, or eperformance, for that matter, but they mostly do not have to do with anything related to elearning.

Searching on eperformance I ran across your 2003 LearningCircuits blog entries (E-Performance Essentials) separating eperformance into edevelopment, einteraction and esupport.

Do these still hold to you (a search on esupport or e-support gets you mostly remote software support sources)? It seems like no term has taken such a firm grasp as elearning, to describe what we think is a real value-add for our clients.
This is a question I've struggled with for quite a while. I've actually had some interesting conversations with Clark Quinn about this as well. And the answer is that there is not a well known term to describe kinds of eLearning Solutions that are not typical courseware. I talked about definitions of eLearning a while ago and the basic conclusion I came to is that when you say the term, while it could mean a wide variety of possible solutions - most people think of formal training delivered electronically (virtual classroom, courseware).

So, what about these other terms:

EPSS (Electronic Performance Support Systems)

This term is still used quite a bit, but most often it refers to online job aids or a modified front-end to software systems. While I highly respect Gloria Gery's work, I think she did us a disservice by continually pointing to Turbo Tax as THE example of EPSS.

Like Jack, I find that this term is a bit tired and many people turn off when they hear it. Still, of the terms, its probably the one that is most recognized.


This is a term that I tried to put out there back in 2004 through a series of articles in Learning Circuits:
The core definitions provided were:
ePerformance: Improving individual performance by leveraging technology

ePerformance = eDevelopment + eInteraction + eSupport
eDevelopment eInteraction eSupport
Performance reviews
Development plans
Virtual classrooms
Self-paced online learning
Informal learning
1-to-1 (e-mail)
Online communities
Threaded discussions
Communication templates
Tools and job aids
Knowledge bases
Search capability

I used it because I wanted to differentiate solutions where learning was not the outcome, but rather performance. For example, one of the systems that we built helped retail store managers improve customer satisfaction through planning, goal setting, communication support, eCoaching, etc. Yes, they learned, but really these were tools aimed at helping them DO more than LEARN. eLearning and EPSS as terms really are not appropriate for this kind of solution.

I personally still like the term ePerformance, but it has not taken off and it has somewhat has been overloaded by optimization and performance review applications.

Similarly the terms eDevelopment, eInteraction, eSupport, and eFollowUp have not taken off even though I similarly consider them valuable to define very particular kinds of solutions that we build. And especially when EPSS and eLearning are not appropriate definitions.

I'm open to the best approach to giving names to some of these approaches.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Amusing Findings in Keywords

Quick update (1/5/2008) - I feel much better now - 3 people have searched and found me through the highly relevant search - incredibly cool elearning guy ... thanks for helping out my mental state. Maybe I would have been in a better mood when I made my Ten Predictions for 2008.

Interestingly, Google has managed to find this particular post as the one that is most relevant to that term. So the comment that I may be messing with search results and making myself even more lame seems to be turning out correct. While I had dismissed it, I'm now no longer #1 for the search - top ten lamest people - even though I was yesterday before Google spidered this page. I'm still considered the worst learner, an innovation laggard, etc. But at least I'm not top ten lamest people!
People search in order to find information. The job of a search engine is to put the most relevant results at the top. When you plug in search terms, the engine tells us what it considers to be the most relevant results.

So, if you rank high in Google's results for a particular term (that people search on), you can see what the engine thinks are relevant terms for you.

For me, the good news is that I rank #1 for terms such as:
  • tony karrer
  • elearning technology
  • best elearning blog
The last one made me happy. Of course, there's the downside ... Below are some of the search terms that people used to find my blog and where Google considers me to be the #1 result ...
  • worst learner
  • laggard in technology innovation
  • bad day elearning
  • corporate training sucks
  • worst presentation award
  • bad things about e-learning
  • worst learning experience
  • beer elearning
  • bad rfp requirements
  • wasting time on technology
And my personal favorite where I rank #1 is:
  • top ten lamest people
Don't believe that Google thinks I'm the "top ten lamest people" or "worst learner" ... Try it yourself.

Should this worry me?

Luckily, I'm also #1 in "incredibly cool elearning guy" ...

(Of course, no one was kind enough to search on that term and then click on my blog).

Ten Predictions for eLearning 2008

The Big Question this month are Predictions for Learning in 2008. Here are my predictions, but realistically they are more about trends in eLearning and eLearning Software.

Prediction #1 => eLearning 2.0 - Increasing Pressure

It's safe to predict that you'll be hearing more and more about eLearning 2.0 during 2008. While large scale adoption will be slow, specific solutions aimed at particular audience needs will be more common. There will be increasing pressure on each of us to understand eLearning 2.0 for ourselves in order to apply it within our organizations (eLearning 2.0 - An Immediate, Important Shift). This will increase adoption of Web 2.0 tools by learning professionals (More eLearning Bloggers). It will also cause us to look more closely at Personal Learning for Learning Professionals - Using Web 2.0 Tools to Make Reading & Research More Effective.

Prediction #2 => Virtual Classroom Tools - Meeting Tool + Second Life Lite

A medium size Virtual Classroom / Meeting Tool will announce features in 2008 that are not 3D immersive, but that are more like Mii characters in a 2.5D world. This will allow more natural kinds of interactions in classroom settings, especially for things like breakout activities.

Prediction #3 => Authoring Tools - Captivate and Articulate Will Dominate

It rhymes and it's an easy prediction that these two tools will dominate authoring. Interestingly, they both were originally considered rapid authoring tools but now are becoming THE authoring tools. Some lower-end, PPT + Audio tools will do well with none winning huge shares of the marketplace. Wiki + SCORM + Add-ins will become more common for easy authoring.

Prediction #4 => Less Authoring - More Web Pages

While we may want to use our authoring tools all the time, there's going to be more and more cases where clients (internal or external) are going to be just find with some web pages and maybe some embedded training snippets or an embedded fun Flash Quiz. Short, fast and to the point will be the standard. This will increase the discussion of the relevance of ISD / ADDIE (see also ADDIE Not Relevant?).

Prediction #5 => Mobile Learning - Continued Scattered Examples and Disappointment

This is going to be another somewhat disappointing year for mobile learning. While the iPhone and other mobile devices continue to proliferate and while the amount of web access via mobile devices will continue to grow rapidly (now approaching 20%), mobile learning solutions will continue to find adoption in scattered, specific examples. More podcasts and video casts for audiences with easy access, think students, remote sales forces, etc. Specialized tools for mobile professionals. But large adoption of mobile as THE learning platform still won't be there.

Prediction #6 => Metrics-Driven Performance and Learning Interventions

My article coming out in January will spark discussion around what is actually a quite common model. And because it ties directly to metrics that matter to the business, this will get significant attention during the year.

Prediction #7 => LMS => More of What You Don't Want

Large players will continue to move towards functionality in Talent Management - likely mostly features that you really don't care that much about. Luckily a few will also add in more community and wiki capabilities. Unfortunately, these will be even worse than Sharepoint, the solution you already hate. All of this will cause of to continue to ask Do You WANT an LMS? Does a Learner WANT an LMS? Unfortunately, you can ask all you want, you will still be doing a lot of work with LMS products this year.

Prediction #8 => Serious Games - Seriously Sorry, Not for You

They will continue to get talked about A LOT. And people will continue to be interested and excited. Likely YOU will get to attend a session on them. But YOU won't get to build one, or buy one, or participate in one.

Prediction #9 => Niche Online Discussions

Based on a series of events (success of small group discussions at eLearningGuild in the Fall, success of the virtual conference with George Siemens, discussion with Jay Cross and others about a conference for people with more experience, and discussion by Luis Suarez about a targeted virtual conference), I'm starting to think that the way to go is to have frequent, more targeted online, virtual discussions on particular topics. The format of the virtual conference that George and I put together wasn't quite right - still a lecture - threaded discussions weren't quite active enough and the questions weren't focused. We need a targeted discussion. For example, I just had someone ask about using Facebook in a corporate context as part of on-boarding. I'll likely schedule a call with this person to discuss what they are trying to do. Why not have several people involved in the discussion? Why not record it? Is the barrier the lack of free access to the tools? The overhead of pulling it together? My guess is that it doesn't take much more to get it to happen with a small group than getting it to happen with two or three people. And the barriers are getting lower all the time. I'm thinking this is going to start happening - A LOT.

Prediction #10 => Knowledge Worker Skills - Just Beginning in 2008, Big in 2009

The discussion of knowledge work skills is going to be BIG ... We won't hear much this year, but in 2009, this will be something you'll hear in a big way.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fun Sign Generator

Fun way to generate signs, magazine covers, etc. at Similar to the Headline Generator that I had mentioned before.

You give it a picture to include in the generated image, choose a template that you want to generate, choose the size of the generated image and it generates a fun resulting image.

This will be fun to use to create different kinds of images.

Found via Jay Cross post.