Transforming your staff's potential

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 Tidbits: Elgg

Here is a periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Elgg." Elgg is an open source, and free-to-use social media platform that is often used for education, including the creation of personal learning environments.

Here is what I have:

Elgg: The site itself.

Elgg -- A Personal Learning Landscape: From The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language, a thorough summary article describing Elgg, its elements, how to use it, how it compares to Moodle and other backgroung.

Using Elgg as as Social Learning platform: From the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, a how-to SlideShare presentation on Elgg.

Elgg, Ning and SocialText: From eLearning Weekly, a quick-and-dirty comparison of the three platforms.

SOCIAL LEARNING STRATEGY - Comparison of Facebook, Ning and Elgg: Again from Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, a chart comparing Elgg to Ning and Facebook.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Finds: LINGOs

...passing on the love after hearing about this from Tom Kuhlmann at The Rapid eLearning Blog.

LINGOs (learning for international NGOs) is a consortium of over 45 international humanitarian relief, development, conservation and health organizations. The folks at LINGOs are looking for volunteers to help some of they member agencies build elearning courses. This is a great opportunity to practice and build elearning skills while making the world a better place.

If you’re interested, contact Eric Berg [eric at] or look over the list of courses and contact the agency. If you’d like to help but want to partner with someone else, Tom is offering to help you get connected. Leave some contact information in the comments link of his post, or contact him directly. He'll try to get you connected with others.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Finds: Ushahidi

The Ushahidi Engine is a platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Their goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.

The code is open-source, however. This means anyone can download the source code and utilize it for their own purposes. Think of the learning opportunities for collaborating over distance, particularly for research-styled activities!

What is Ushahidi? from Ushahidi on Vimeo.

Ushahidi's initial, core mission to make transparent incidents of violence and human rights violations is an urgent need. The possibility of its broader uses seem endless.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Putting some pieces together: Learning Activities and Learning Motivation

Watching this great presentation by Scott Kim on TED today got me thinking about the value of gaming and puzzle activities for learning:

And as I contemplated this, I also began thinking about the framing of these activities to best support learning, specifically the importance of separating the activity from any form of reward or formal testing system. The evidence for this is eloquently and humorously argued here by Dan Pink:

Sunday, November 29, 2009 Tidbits: Barriers

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Barriers."

Program Completion Barriers Faced by Adult Learners in Higher Education:

From the abstract - "This article identifies characteristics of the adult learner and briefly reviews literature on the attrition and retention of adult learners in higher education programs. A summary of that research shows that adult learners focus on their roles as learners, their ability to balance school with outside responsibilities, and their flexibility in attaining personal goals within the context of educational and institutional goals. Programs aimed at improving the retention of adult learners and lessening attrition rates must take into account these factors."

Why Group Norms Kill Creativity:

From the Introduction - "Unfortunately groups only rarely foment great ideas because people in them are powerfully shaped by group norms: the unwritten rules which describe how individuals in a group 'are' and how they 'ought' to behave. Norms influence what people believe is right and wrong just as surely as real laws, but with none of the permanence or transparency of written regulations."

The Real Reasons We Don't Evaluate:

An article on how to overcome the perceived and real barriers to performing learning evaluations.

Ten Common Objections to Social Media Adoption and How You Can Respond:

A List of Objections, Replies and Concessions Regarding Social Media and Tools.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Williams Instructional Design's Approach to Performance Improvement

Instructional Design and training are one part of a healthy program to support peak performance. Here is WID's model for building realistic and sustainable performance improvement.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finds: The 4 ways sound affects us: Julian Treasure on

With so much focus these days on visual learning, the point of this brief presentation by Julian Treasure is well taken: Don't lose sight of sound.

There is not much detail in Julian's talk, but more can be found on his blog, Sound Business. His focus is business applications, but his information can be leveraged for learning and performance improvement as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 Tidbits: Job Analysis

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "JobAnalysis." Here's what I have:

Job Analysis Overview: From HR Guide, a brief description of job analysis including its purpose, process and elements.

MUD Questionnaire: This .pdf from Designing for Learning is a questionnaire to use in a job analysis project. From the authors:

MUD Analysis is an interview-based method of job analysis. It is used to accurately
identify ‘job learning needs’, as opposed to individual learning needs or training
needs, in order to ensure training is relevant.

The MUD Analysis describes jobs not in terms of job outputs, but rather in terms of
different learning strategies (or learning processes) that the incumbent needs to use in order to learn to perform the job. Both what is to be learned, as well as how it should be learned, are identified.
MUD Analysis Guidelines: A partner document for the one above, this describes the process guidelines.

Employee Evaluation and Selection: From ACCEL Team Development, this document outlines a job analysis strategy to be used as a tool for recruitment and performance review.

Monday, November 2, 2009 Tidbits: Mobile learning tools

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tags "MobileLearning" and "tool."

The Mobile Learning Dilemma (and a few cool tools): From Mr. Robbo blog, a list of his favorite mobile learning tools.

Nimbuzz: The Nimbuzz application enables people to enjoy free & low cost mobile calls, free instant messaging, social networking and other rich communication features, using the internet capabilities of the their mobile device.

My Top 10 Mobile Tools for Learning: From Ignatia Web, one of my favorite go-to spots for low-resource distance learning ideas.

Mofuse: A tool for "mobilizing" websites, such as blogs. Looks to be free for small blog sites.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

On less being more

I have recently posted on three topics which tie nicely together in this "simply brilliant" graph by Indexed: visualization, humor, and the paring down of information to it's essentials to support learning.

On Needles and Haystacks and Such

A great summary of these topics, practicing what it preaches. Thank you Jessica Hagy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 Tidbits: 60 Second Lecture

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "60 Second Lecture."

It seems these pared down presentations are being utilized more and more in distance learning in conjunction with other, more interactive and/or self-directed activities to best fit the strengths and weaknesses of the web and other distance learning platforms for presenting material.

The 60 Second Lecture: From Jamie's Distance Learning Blog, a brief description of the concept and its benefits.

The 60 Second Lecture: From Punya Mishra's Web, another description of the concept and a longer discussion of its pro's and con's.

SAS 60-Second Lecture: Susan Schneider - "The Fundamental Nature of Consciousness": From Odeo, an example of a 60 Second Lecture.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Finds: Indexed

I believe it is now common knowledge that visualizations support understanding and impact of information by making it more clear, compelling and convincing. Humor has been found to increase the intake and retention on information. Wouldn't it be great to blend them? Well, someone has....

Humorist Jessica Hagy posts her observations of the world five days a week on her blog Indexed in the form of venn diagrams, scatter plots, and other traditional "visual aid" forms. Although her blog is not educational, per se, it does provide some great inspiration and examples of blending visualization and humor to communicate an idea.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Finds: Visualizing Information for Advocacy

This fantastic online handbook, written by John Emerson of Apperceptive and produced by the Tactical Technology Collective, is an overview and guide to the use of information design and visualization for education and messaging. The target audience is NGO's, but all instructional designers can benefit from the information and advice on the use of graphical interpretation to make data more clear, compelling and convincing. It not only supports learning in the cognitive domain, but helps trigger understanding in the affective domain as well.
The pamphlet provides examples of information design for:
  • Advocacy
  • Analysis
  • Consumer Education
  • Strategy
Then it provides a step-by-step guide, including:
  • Planning the Information Design
  • Assessment of Data
  • Sorting and Sketching
  • Assessing Media
  • Designing and Clarifying Graphics
There are a number of powerful examples as well as an index of further resources.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 Tidbits: Digital Literacy

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "DigitalLiteracy."

Towards a comprehensive definition of digital skills : From the ICTlogy blog, a discussion of what the author considers to be barriers to the creation of a comprehensive model for defining digital literacy and six main concepts that should be included.

Shouldn't We All Be Learning Digital Literacy Skills? : Michelle Martin at The Bamboo Project, outlines the digital literacy skills ID'ed in Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble and Gerald Baily.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

finds: Hans Rosling on mythbusting through data and visualizations

Hans Rosling, a doctor and researcher at Sweden's Karolinska Institute, spoke recently at the "TED @ State" conference on popular myths of differences between the "developed" and "developing" worlds, particularly regarding health issues. In his convincing, compelling and entertaining presentation Dr. Rosling uses imperial data set into graphs animated to show changes over time. This is a great example of the use of visualizations to improve understanding.

Dr. Rosling uses a tool called Gapminder to create these wonderful animated visuals. This organization allows others to submit data sets for possible upload to the Gaminder site.

Gapminder also created the Motion Chart Gadget to be used with Google's spreadsheet tool, for a more simple, DYI, version.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 Tidbits: Web Conferencing

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "WebConferencing."

Getting Started with Web Conferencing: Things to know when choosing a web conference tool.

28 Web Conference Training Tips: From E-Learning Weekly, this article offers some helpful tips specifically targeted to web conference training.

Dimdim: A free web conferencing tool.

Yugma: Another free web conferencing tool.

Cool Conference Live: Yet another free web conferencing tool.

Web Conferencing Services: A comparative table posted in late 2008 that compares a number of web conferencing tools, using metrics such as pricing tools, # of users, local/hosted, video, etc.

Monday, August 10, 2009 Tidbits: Standards

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Standards."

JISC CETIS: The Center for Educational Technology and Insteroperatility Standards at the Joint Information Systems Committee is an Innovation Support Centre providing advice to the UK Higher and Post-16 Education sectors on educational technology and standards. This web site brings together educational technology news, comment and analysis, as well as information on our community events. Our aim is to contribute to current debates and future thinking in this rapidly growing and changing field.

W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines: A new standard from the World Wide Web Consortium that will help Web designers and developers create sites that better meet the needs of users with disabilities and older users. Drawing on extensive experience and community feedback, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 improve upon W3C's groundbreaking initial standard for accessible Web content.

International Standards for Usability Should Be More Widely Used: A whitepaper by the Journal of Usability Studies which argues, "Despite the authoritative nature of international standards for usability, many of them are not widely used. This paper explains both the benefits and some of the potential problems in using usability standards in areas including user interface design, usability assurance, software quality, and usability process improvement."

Sunday, August 2, 2009 Tidbits: Leadership

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Leadership."

Kinds of Leadership Networks: A framework for leadership networks that focus on:

  • Peer leadership
  • Organizational leadership
  • Field-policy leadership
  • Collective leadership
Leadership and Change: A resource list from CTSD

A Recession's Role in Leadership Development: A white paper by the Perth Leadership Institute

The Seven Principles of Sustainable Leadership: This paper is directed toward educational leadership.

Sunday, July 26, 2009 Tidbits: Return on Investment (ROI)

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "ROI," which stands for Return On Investment.

ROI Resources: From the Canadian Society for Training and Development, is a list of articles and websites on a range of topics, including Return on Investment.

How to Measure Social Media ROI for Business: From Mashable, a list of qualitative and quantitative metrics to use.

Measuring the effectiveness and return on investment of e-learning: A model for calculating ROI, including a list of cost elements and discussion of benefits.

How do I measure return on investment (ROI) for my learning program?: A more in depth discussion of calculating ROI for learning, including links to further articles and reports.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Finds: Can We Increase Our Intelligence?

This article in the New York times by guest columnist Sam Wang, a neuroscientist working in the area of memory, discusses the impact of practice and training on the efficacy of working memory and IQ.

Can We Increase Our Intelligence?

There are strong implications for the use of exercises and application of learning for education and training. One of his most interesting conclusions is that:
" modern world, despite its annoyances (or even because of them)
may be improving our reasoning ability. Maybe even multitasking — not the most
efficient way to work — is good for your brain because of the mental challenge."
Now there's a silver lining!

Monday, July 6, 2009 Tidbits: Unconference

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Unconference."

Wikipedia's definition: "An unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose. The term "unconference" has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as high fees and sponsored presentations."

This is what I found I have:

The unconference - a new model for better professional communication: A white paper published in Lianza that is both a how-to guide and analysis of the value of and uses for unconferences in professional development.

Event organisation - Unconference: From Interactivecultures, a brief blog post on how to host an unconference.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Finds: Informal Cooperation trumping Institutions

This TED talk by Clay Shirky was given in 2005 but is even more relevant today as his predictions are coming true. Mr Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will be forced by the progress of technology to give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning. He give an historic example of how the printing press wrested control of knowledge from the Catholic church, with a new model, the nation state, ultimately filling the void as it could accommodate freely distributed knowledge.

This is certainly already happening in universities and other institutions where costs to manage systems, create structure and create inherent exclusion are outweighing their historic value as information, knowledge and learning cannot be as easily monopolized.

Shirky asks compelling questions about what cooperative models will form as loosely coordinated groups get more leverage and how institutional models will evolve to remain relevant.

Compelling ideas and questions include:

How will the emergence of mass amaturization impact professions?
Coordination will increasingly replace planning.
What will the new imperatives and motivators be?
The concept of coordination of group output as a byproduct of the operation of the system (integration of cooperation into infrastructures).

Sunday, May 31, 2009 Tidbits: Social Design

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Social Design." This is what I found I have:

Social Architecture: A definition and other basics, from "Incredibly Dull."

Future Learning Landscapes -Transforming Pedagogy through Social Software: From "Journal of Online Education," an article by Catherine McLoughlin and Mark J. W. Lee which discusses the "new pedagogical landscape' made possible by the emergence of Web 2.0 social software, which allows users to become active contributors. Through a discussion of emerging learning scenarios enabled by social software, McLoughlin and Lee posit that future learning environments must capitalize on the potential of Web 2.0 by combining social software tools with connectivist pedagogical models. The combination produces what the authors call Pedagogy 2.0, a model of learning in which learners are empowered to participate, learn, and create knowledge in ways that are personally meaningful and engaging. Note: you will need to register to view.

Communicating the benefits of social media to management: A blog post from Gavin, listing a simple how-to on selling management on social media.

Why I’m excited about the Google Social Graph API: From the Bokardo blog, an explanation of the new API that allows developers to expose social relationships embedded in web sites.

Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0: A wide ranging discussion of these topics by John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler.

Please also see my tags: "Social Learning," "Social Media" and "Social Networking."

Sunday, May 24, 2009 Tidbits: Corporate Culture

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Corporate Culture." This is what I found I have:

20 Ways to Evaluate Contributions to a Corporate Social Network: In this blog post, Dave Duarte argues that for companies to utilize their newly minted social networks to successfully:

1) facilitate idea-sharing around a theme or topic (e.g. “Our Brand”),
2) help users find out more about their peers
3) form useful insights to solve particular challenges, and
4) for the network itself to become a useful repository of resources (ideas, inspiration, files, people) for participants,

the technology needs to be managed or curated effectively. He offers 20 subjective criteria to help evaluate contributions to these networks.

Corporate Policies on Web 2.0 : eLearning Technology: From Tony Karrer at eLearning Technology, examples of good corporate policies regarding use of Web 2.0 / social media for work and learning.

How to set up online collaboration in corporations: A practical how-to guide, in PDF format by Jay Cross at the Internet Time Group.

Collaboration consulting—fostering a collaboration culture: From Anecdote, a great discussion that outlines what leaders do that affect corporate culture and provides a how-to outline for creating a collaborative corporate culture.

Saturday, May 9, 2009 Tidbits: Branding

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. Usually, the topic focuses on some aspect of the craft of instructional design. This time I decided to focus on the business of instructional design. I chose the tag "Branding." This is what I found I have:

Personal Branding in the Age of Google: From Seth's Blog, a cautionary tale about the transparency of the Internet.

Personal Branding for the Business Professional: A great how-to white paper by Chris Brogan, in PDF format.

Using to Create an Easy, Always Updated Online Portfolio: From the fabulous "Bamboo Project" blog.

Job Searching the Web 2.0 Way: Developing Your Personal Brand: Another gem from Michelle at Bamboo Project.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Non Sequitur: On Humor and Confidence and Compassion

Watch the video, then read on....

Research has found that laughter enhances memory. This little story is also a good reminder about other great qualities that serve a trainer, and their learners, well:

An Easy, Quiet Confidence
Gracious Hospitality (no matter where you are or what role you are playing)
Generosity of spirit

I would love to leave a class or audience knowing I had inspired those with me this authentically and deeply.

What implications do you see in this for training?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Finds: Designing for Big Data

Here is Jeff Veen talking about principles for effective use of visualization in communicating data, and how Web 2.0 is both leveraging and transforming those principles by providing tools and a new expectation of end-user control.

Jeff describes three main principles for communicating data visually:
  1. Storytelling: Find a story in the data
  2. Visualization: Assign visual cues to each dimension of the data
  3. Editing: Remove everything that isn't telling the story, as long as the type and dimensions of the data do not change
He then discusses how the culture of Web 2.0 demands (and the tools enable) a shift of control to the user so they can create their own story from the data:
  • From storytelling to discovery
  • From visual cues to interactivity
  • From editing to filtering
I see an opportunity to leverage this in instructional design by utilizing the Storytelling approach at the start of a learning experience and finishing at the Discovery end of this spectrum. It would be, effectively, the use of scaffolding to build confidence and research, analysis, synthesis, and interpretive skills in any area that includes large quantities of data.

What ideas and reflections does this presentation spark in you? How might you use this approach?

Sunday, April 19, 2009 Tidbits: Attention Management

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Moodle." This is what I found I have:

"Zerstreutheit" and the Attention Management Cure: From 43Folders, Linda Stone — who coined the phrase “continuous partial attention” — makes a thoughtful distinction between managing time and attention, deflating the misconception that making long lists and then overscheduling your day can be a bulwark against distractions, interruptions, and the crippling feeling of being overwhelmed.

In this recent blog entry from the Huffington Post, Stone talks about a pattern she’s noticed from talking with people about how they think about and plan their day.

The Future of Ignoring Things: From Internet Evolution, an article by Cory Doctorow on the need for technology to help us filter information and distractions.

Sunday, April 12, 2009 Tidbits: Moodle

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Moodle." This is what I found I have:

Moodle: Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.

Moodle Rooms: By leveraging the power of Moodle, Moodlerooms has created an online learning platform that solves the instructional, financial and technology needs for K-12, Higher Education, Corporations, Government Agencies and Non-Profits.

Social Media makes this Course Stand Out: From Ignatia Webs, a review of a course developed by a colleague on Moodle using a variety of free social media tools.

Moving to Moodle: Reflections Two Years Later: From Educause Quarterly, this article outlines the issues Royal Roads University encountered during its transition to Moodle between mid-2006 and mid-2007, including lessons learned, some of the university's ongoing work, and anticipated future directions.

Thursday, April 2, 2009 Tidbits: Competencies

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Competencies." This is what I found I have:

Do competency approaches really improve performance?: From Gram Consulting, a discussion of the relative merits of three different competency philosophies.

Link between Learning Objectives and Competencies: From Tier 1 Performance Solutions, and article on competencies and learning objectives as they relate to formal and informal learning.

Competency and competency frameworks: From the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, an article on development of both the framework and the competencies themselves.

Data is good, data is your friend, but beware of GIGO!: From The Pursuing Performance Blog, a discussion of data as they inform the development of competencies.

Monday, March 23, 2009 Tidbits: Open Source

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Open Source." This is what I found I have:

Geek to Live: 6 ways to find reusable media: Resources for copyright-free content.

Innovation Happens Elsewhere: This open source book is intended for anyone considering using Open Source. It describes what open source is, discusses business reasons for using open source, and describes how an open source project works in a day-to-day manner. It will help you decide on whether open source is right for your project, and, if so, what steps you should take to proceed and some mistakes you should avoid.

Cultural and Organizational Drivers of Open Educational Content: This essay, in PDF format, by Malcolm Read presents the benefits of open educational content and argues for its use.

Top 40 Free Downloadable Open Source Social Networking Software Vivalogo Resources: Vivalogo's list of best free, downloadable, open source social networking software.

OER Commons: This initiative provides support for and builds a knowledge base around the use and reuse of open educational resources (OER). As a network for teaching and learning materials, the web site offers engagement with resources in the form of social bookmarking, tagging, rating, and reviewing.

Moodle: A free, open source course management system for online learning.

Insoshi: An open source social networking platform.

OpenEd Practices: A community of practice for teaching and learning with open/community-source tools.

Sunday, March 15, 2009 Tidbits: Storyboard

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Storyboard." This is what I found I have:

Creating Scripts and Storyboards for e-Learning : From Kevin Kruse at E-Learning Guru, an article on the major elements of storyboarding.

Quick Tips for Effective eLearning Storyboarding : From ASTD, a presentation handout in PDF format that was used as part of a larger training on storyboarding. It includes 7 activities to guide the group through analyzing storyboarding challenges and developing an action plan.

Really Fast Storyboarding for E-Learning Projects - DSA Learning & Performance Tips Newsletter : A post by Thomas Welsh on using SnagIt and MSFT Word to create storyboards.

Storyboards and eLearning (Pt. 1) : From eduTech Geek, a post that answers the questions: 1) What are eLearning Storyboards? and, 2) Why should a storyboard not include transitions, hyperlinks or animations?

Storyboard Template : From Xinsight, a downloadable storyboard template in PDF format.

Free Online Graph Paper / Storyboard Paper : From Incomptech, a storyboard paper generator.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Finds: Information Architecture

Maya, a design consultancy and research lab, posted a great essay, deconstructing the concepts of "information" and "architecture" (with the help of two wonderful videos), and discussing the implications for constructing information architectures that keep the information itself relevant and pliable for future evolution and uses.

They call out the problem with subjugating the information to the delivery format and/or current purpose:
"Often we find that an existing system has been built as a monolithic solution
that jumbles the raw plumbing of the system with the business process and the
user interface. Unfortunately this leads to a brittle solution that can’t evolve
with new user interfaces, new underlying systems, or new business realities."
They advocate for deep analysis of the current (or proposed) system to identify and separate the information from the system and business process, then redesign so the information is independent from the latter two factors, to facilitate its re-purposing over time in meaningful ways.
"When we say Information Architecture (IA) we are really talking about
everything you can define about a solution without specifying the underlying
system (the raw plumbing) or specifying the particular user interface that will
be employed to deliver and manipulate the information. By thinking about the
architecture of how information is used, how it flows, and how it fits within
the user’s world (its context), you can capture the essence of how to build a
system that is not only intuitive but futureproof."
As the worlds of Web 2.0/ social media / communities of practice / wirearchy / open source continue to evolve at an ever-increasing rate, the pressure to separate information from it's delivery form and method will become increasingly crucial to allow for its effective re-purposing, use, as well as its own evolution.

This is a tall order. How do we deliver on it?

Thursday, February 26, 2009 Tidbits: YouTube

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "YouTube," as it is being broadly used for instructional ends. It is also a flexible tool. YouTube videos can be embedded into PowerPoint and SlideShare presentations as well as webpages, social media sites, etc. Here's what I found I have:

7 Things You Should Know About YouTube: From Educause Connect, this .pdf article describes what YouTube is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning.

How to embed high quality YouTube videos: From Download Squad, an article describing how to embed a higher quality version of YouTube videos than what is commonly used.

TubePress: TubePress is an open source PHP library that displays YouTube video galleries in your blog. It's available as a WordPress plugin or as a stand-alone PHP library.

YouTube videos inside SlideShare: A how-to SlideShare presentation on embedding YouTube vid's into SlideShare.

How to add or embed You tube videos into power point slide shows: From TechnoSpot, a step-by-step post on using the YouTube Video Wizard, a Power Point plugin.

How to Insert YouTube Videos in PowerPoint Presentations: From Digital Inspiration, another how-to on the YouTube Video Wizard, this time using video.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 Tidbits: Budget

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. Given the state of the economy these days, this time I chose the tag "Budget." Here's what I found I have:

A Manager's Guide to Maximizing Training Investment: From, a laundry list of ways to trim training budgets. To read the full article, you will need to register on their site.

Six New Training Tactics for the Downturn: Again from, which is a community of practice for IT project managers, this article is a list of six training areas to focus on to get the biggest bang for the buck.

Ten Quick Wins in eLearning: A good laundry list by Clive Shepherd for responding nimbly in the economy while still thinking long term.

Learning and Development in a Down Economy: From The Learning Journal by Catherine Lombardozzi. This article discusses her four pillars of guidance for ensuring cost-effective impact in training through tough times: Alignment, Immediacy, Quality, and Applicability.

Estimating Training Design and Developing Time and Costs: From the "Performance, Learning, Leadership, & Knowledge" website, a how-to article with guidelines and instruction for building an accurate training development budget.

What’s a self respecting learning function to do in an economic crisis?: From Gram Consulting, a discussion of 5 things you can do during the downturn to get leaner and improve your value to the organization.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finds: Agnotology

Stanford historian of science Robert Proctor has created a new word: "agnotology."

Agnotology: The study of culturally constructed ignorance, purposefully created by special interest groups working to create confusion and suppress the truth.

The word is derived from the Greek root agnosis ("gnosis", meaning knowledge , and "a-" indicating an absence).

From Wired Magazine's article, "Clive Thompson on How More Info Leads to Less Knowledge:"

As Proctor argues, when society doesn't know something, it's often because special interests work hard to create confusion. Anti-Obama groups likely spent millions insisting he's a Muslim; church groups have shelled out even more pushing creationism. The oil and auto industries carefully seed doubt about the causes of global warming. And when the dust settles, society knows less than it did before.

"People always assume that if someone doesn't know something, it's because they haven't paid attention or haven't yet figured it out," Proctor says. "But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what's true and what's not."

After years of celebrating the information revolution, we need to focus on the countervailing force: The disinformation revolution. The ur-example of what Proctor calls an agnotological campaign is the funding of bogus studies by cigarette companies trying to link lung cancer to baldness, viruses—anything but their product.

Naming a thing (concept, emotion, idea) is empowering. It is easier to identify it when you see it. That awareness makes us less apt to be unconsciously influenced/manipulated by it. Now, how do we teach the critical thinking skill of agnotological literacy? What can be done to counter disinformation campaigns?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Visual Thinking and the Power of Context

David Carson's TED presentation: "Design, Discovery and Humor” illustrates the power of graphic design to inform and the importance of context in delivering information.

I don't want to give too much away before you watch the video, but here were some highlights for me that held implications for instructional and presentation design:

  • His comparison of two, nearly identical, "no parking" signs clearly convey the concept of design as context and its use in reaching the affective domain... the emotional impact of design.

  • His moving example from Time Magazine of the need to use design responsibly because of its emotional power.

  • The use of partial information to drive readers to “complete the sentence”…. to make sense of what they see, drawing them into deeper engagement.

  • This quote: “Don’t confuse legibility with communication," which begs the questions: Does your work really communicate?, and, Does your work communicate the right thing? The former question reminds us to confirm clarity, logic, relevance, etc of the content. The latter reminds us to ensure that context and delivery methods and style reflect/reinforce the messaging and values.

Monday, February 2, 2009 Tidbits: Authoring

Here is the periodic sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "Authoring." Here's what I found I have:

Nvu: Nvu (pronounced "N-view," for a "new view") is a free, open source software program that allows you to build websites and web pages using a simple WYSIWYG editor (what-you-see-is-what-you-get). Nvu makes creating web pages as easy as using a word processor and rivals such programs as Adobe's Dreamweaver and Microsoft's Expression Web, only for free! With Nvu's built-in site manager, connecting to your website and making changes is a snap.

Udutu: A free online course and simulation authoring tool.

CourseLab: CourseLab is a powerful, yet easy-to-use, e-learning authoring tool that offers programming-free WYSIWYG environment for creating high-quality interactive e-learning content which can be published on the Internet, Learning Management Systems (LMS), CD-ROMS and other devices.

eXe: Open Source authoring / HTML editing application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup. Resources authored in eXe can be exported in IMS Content Package, SCORM 1.2, or IMS Common Cartridge formats or as simple self-contained web pages.

A post from the Learning and Performance blog on authoring elearning for the iPhone.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Finds: Visual Learning in action

Here are a couple wonderful examples of ways to help learners grasp ideas and information through imagery and visual thinking.

A great TED presentation titled "Picturing Excess" by the artist Chris Jordan. He uses art to help audiences grasp the magnitude of big statistics and numbers. A great example of using images to enhance meaning making and affective learning.

Here is a powerful infographics tool from the New York Times for analyzing and contextualizing pieces of writing.

This example highlights the language of past US presidential inaugural addresses. The most-used words in each address were sized by number of uses. In addition, words highlighted in yellow were used significantly more in this inaugural address than average.

I find these fascinating and very effective. If you know of other great examples, or commentary on when the use of visual thinking would be most appropriate (or inappropriate) please chime in!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thoughts on Creativity, Science, Exploration and Reflective Practice

My last post, discussed instructional design as a form of artistic expression. It inspired some great, thoughtful comments on balancing form and content, and on creativity. Michele Martin of The Bamboo Project wrote,

"Lately I've been thinking a lot about learning experiences as a form of artistic expression and part of what intrigues me is the process part and what it takes to get us as designers to a place where we are able to allow ourselves access to the creativity necessary for designing great learning experiences. It seems like we can get so hung up on design as some kind of rote, scientific activity that we can easily lose sight of the artistic side of things."

Michele made a great point. This got me thinking about varying perceptions (and sides) of science as it relates to creativity. Science is relied upon as the determiner of fact and truth, based on a method that demands reproducible outcomes. Once a fact or reliable process is established through scientific method, we rely on it and use it time and time again. This facet of science, the goal of identical outcomes and derivative uses, doesn't exactly seem to encourage improvisation.

However, another side of science, the "front end" so to speak, is that of exploration. Exploration and the testing of hypothesis is a profoundly creative act. This line of thought reminded me of this great list of ways to, " an Explorer of the World," I found on the Kamaldeep Dhillon blog recently (click on the list for a larger version):

This type of reflective exploration can lead to great growth and creativity by experimenting with / applying the observation to practice... observation, documentation, contemplation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, experimentation/improvisation.... and, cycling around, the helix rises and widens.

Innovation should not be done at the expense of the learners' experience, however. How do we strike that balance? What checks and balances must be in place to ensure we do not sacrifice the effectiveness of the learning experience in our efforts to improve through creative change?

Read more at The Bamboo Project on Reflective Practice and the concept of the Helix in engagement and learning.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Art [including instructional design] is an Idea that's Found its Perfect Form"

This video of Paul Rand defining art and aesthetics and their value has me thinking about instructional design as an art form striving to the same ends as other artistic expression, namely, truth.

In discussing how art is realized when form and content are indistinguishable, he says,

"When form predominates, meaning is blunted. When content predominates, interest lags."

I find this particularly relevant to instructional design when choosing delivery methods and composing any type of presentation. The constant battle against "death by PowerPoint" is a perfect example of content overload. The debate over the effectiveness of eLearning tools, such as Second Life, speaks to form's ability to drown out the message.

Rand also lists the "vocabulary" of visual art and aesthetics, such as order, symmetry, tension, shape, and color. What is the "vocabulary" of instructional design and its delivery in education and training? Context? Creating relevance? Or, is it elements more concrete such as "activities" and "case studies"?

What is the vocabulary of instructional design and its delivery? How do we find the balance between form and content?

Thursday, January 1, 2009 Tidbits: Change Management

Here is the weekly sampling from my favorites list. This time I chose the tag "ChangeManagement." Here's what I found I have:

Giving People Time to Deal with Change: A blog post from "Experiencing eLearning" that discusses the strain on learners that comes with a change in delivery method, such as to online learning, and how to create a training "bridge" to support the transition.

Change Management - Tracking Change: From the Project Management Hut blog, a post describing a simple method of tracking, evaluating and recording changes for easier project management of OD and other systems changes.

The Secret To Coping With Change: MIND + NETWORK: From the ProjectShrink blog, a post discussing how the ability to cope with change is tied to resilience which, in turn, is a product of an individual's capacity to adapt and their support network.

The Satir Change Model: From the blog of Steven M. Smith, a post describing a change model developed by Virginia Satir, a pioneering family therapist, to help families process change. Her model fits high technology organizations equally well. This article also offers insights into how to more effectively manage the change process.

The #1 answer to the rhetorical survey question about implementation barriers: culture : A post from Janet Clarey about how "small" cultural factors in an organization can end up making the difference between success and failure in systems and organizational change.

Weekly Knowledge Management blog by Stan Garfield: From the HP Communities site, a Q&A resource on change management in the knowledge management arena.

Collaboration consulting—fostering a collaboration culture: A great post from Shawn at Anecdote on the leadership behaviours that affect organisational culture.