Friday, January 30, 2009

Open-Source Applications for Designer-Developed E-Learning

Jared Palmer, RWD, presented a session on open-source tools for the developer. Many colleagues are wary of open-source applications.

I'm an enthusiastic user of the Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail app. Both are free, robust, work on the PC and MAC as well as performing faster than IE and Outlook. I also use open-source "office" tools (Open Office, Google Docs), KompoZer (wysiwyg HTML editor with CSS editor) and Audacity (an audio editor).

For those in corporate setting, Jared referenced a handy cost of ownership comparing off the shelf and open-source from a Canadian government study, Here's the link to the spreadsheet download in MS Excel. I could open this file in Open Office. Once you determine is open-source is a fit for your organization, plug in the numbers and build a business case. You can also try this at home. Develop a relationship with an IT buddy (per Brent Schlenker, The elearning Guild) as they may be trying OS apps in some lab. IT has to understand the total cost of ownership (cost of licenses, support, necessary hardware, etc.) and free has to be compelling.

Authoring tools to check out: eXe and myUdutu (free to use, cost to host content with them)
Image editing: GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), Paint.NET
Screen capture and annotation: Wink

I'll download and play with GIMP and myUdutu. I'll blog on these tools later.

Second Life Session TK09

System froze twice on my above average MAC and DSL. Will need to explore the issue and try again. This was also at the end of a very long day for me with the session at 10 PM EST that started at 6 AM EST. SO it was easy to bail. I'm a Second Life newbie and frankly disoriented there. However, I haven't spent much time there.

For those interested in giving it a whirl, ASTD in SL allows you to put a toe into the Second Life ocean. Anders Gronsted hosts SL sessions on Tuesdays at noon EST. Anders has written several T&D articles and it a veteran presenter at ASTD Conferences.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Innovation for E-Learning Systems: LETSI & SCORM 2.0

This session connected me to LETSI, the International Federation for Learning-Education-Training Systems Interoperability. From About Us:
LETSI is a non-profit consortium of e-learning adopters and associations, standards bodies (think ADL, AICC), systems integrators, policy makers, and educational product and services vendors.

They have four working groups: Architecture, Business Requirements, Sequencing and Teaching and Learning Strategies. LETSI also has a rich, open wiki for those that want to learn more about Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM).

Standards are essential for technology-delivered learning. These standards will evolve over time. We as workplace learning professionals should be knowledgeable and we must be involved in the definition of the standard.

ADL Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative for more details on SCORM.

David Pogue Keynote 28 JAN

The entertaining and talented David Pogue (Pogue's Posts) and Pogue Press The Missing Manual series presented Web 2.0 2.0. He spoke last year on Web 2.0 at TechKnowledge. Highlight of the talk:
A Wikipedia edit war with someone determined to misrepresent his background
Everything must happen in real time, text message, IM, or Twitter
Nobody cares about privacy or selectively caring while publishing all sorts of thing and activities. Partially driven by ego in amassing friends and/or followers.

Interesting live Twitter experiment shared with readers of his blog today. He tweeted: “I need a cure for hiccups… RIGHT NOW! Help?” to his 5,000+ followers. In moments scads of helpful advice of 140 character or less streamed in. My favorite: "warcand: check your 401K. That should scare the hiccups right out of ya!" He was speaking early morning in Las Vegas.

User generated content has a dark side. Some have gamed the system in generating glowing reviews, dissing a biotech company by a short seller, posting of a false Steve Jobs hospitalization that caused Apple's stock to fall 7.5% in one day, and so on.

To fix the problem and retain and sustain credibility, David states:
  1. Require credentials for review, the you-must-be-this-tall-to-get-on-this-ride
  2. Require use of actual name for a review/comment
  3. Commenters rate the comment where the "bad" comments fall to the bottom.
  4. An established code of ethics
  5. Hire a moderator
Finally, the Gen Xer take 2.0 for granted; it's a trusted source.

Interesting 2.0 sites referenced in the talk:
As David sauntered off the stage, a baby grand piano was conveniently located for his lounge act; a rework of John Lennon's Imagine.

Facilitating Virtual Events: Success Factors from the World Bank Group

Darlene Christopher, World Bank Group, (her blog) shared the PREP model:
  1. Planning - become familiar/comfortable with the tool
  2. Rehearsal - important step, practice with the facilitation team, test with mock audience
  3. Execution
  4. Post Mortem - solicit feedback from participants key, use system features
The World Bank Group employs the two person model, lead facilitator and a producer. Use an extra computer logged in as a participant. Can also serve as a backup. VIOP is not an option since they have locations all over the world.

Good tip: have a printout of participants with photos so you can relate to the learners.
  • Use the system to have some fun with the participants
  • Use webcam to establish a "social" presence. The turn it off to save screen real estate. They turn the web cam on during breaks so participants know when the session is restarting
  • From the chat - scheduling a "play date" with new SME presenters with the tool
Wonderful use of WebEx chat function to gather tips from the participants.

Staffing for Success: How to Meet Changing Business Needs

Nyla Reed, Edugroup, presented an interesting session on training moving from traditional to some desired future state.  Implicit throughout her presentation was the concern that the current learning teams may not have the skills to meet this new business need. As an example she suggested from a business unit dedicated learning team to one at the enterprise level. Factors to consider are organizational structure, departmental skills and deficiencies. In comparing current state versus desired state, what's the skills gap and how will you "skill up?  

From the participants and the current state of hiring freeze it appears that retraining current staff or recruiting internally those that have the desired skill set. 

I wondered how many learning groups use competency models for the desired skills. If models exist, I wonder how many models include a competency on INFLUENCE and ORGANIZATIONAL SAVVIERNESS (apologies to Stephen Colbert). Can the learning staff influence decision makers, SME, vendors, etc. 

I was reminded of a large company I worked for that built a matrixed learning organization with the business units owning their functional training while the enterprise group owned the corporate stuff - business compliance, sexual harassment, workplace violence, etc. You don't want multiple versions of those programs with business unit perspectives. We lacked the INFLUENCE competency and it took some time to figure out how to make things happen, organizational savvierness. This became very clear to me in reading Dana and Jim Robinson's Strategic Business Partner

Skill up on INFLUENCE and find those people that can make things happen in your organization and build that savvierness.


First session cancelled, taking the time to watch some of the videos. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Leverage the Power of Social Media to Attract, Develop, and Retain the Millennial Generation

Jeanne Meister focused on social media and the Millennial generation. Couple of nuggets here:
  • Millennials still prefer the classroom and mentoring/coaching, online no so much and nope on reading books/manuals
  • Desire a manager that will coach and mentor as well as being tech savvy
  • Training and development across the world scored highest (53%) across all respondents; however here in North America and the Caribbean it's flexible work hours (53%), cash bonuses (43%) and the free private healthcare (38%).
Presuming this is from research she's conducting (ed) for a forthcoming book. Suggesting in "learning" social media are:
  1. Experiment
  2. Select, implement tools
  3. Teach tools
  4. Use the tools and propose pilots with your team
Alas, according to Jeanne, we mostly do 2 while 1, 3 and 4 are critical.

She introduced the term wearable learning; iPod, smartphone. Googled "wearable learning" and 696,000 hits. Is clothing optional learning next? BTW three hits on Google.


So we now have many, many scenarios on the closing of Gitmo, here's the best with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gaining American citizenship.

So where was the congressional creative scenario-making for Iraq, finance, climate change, etc?

Measuring Learning TK Results: Research Insights for Better Evaluation Designs

Great session with Will Thalheimer, Willatworklearning, his blog. Will is a researcher bringing the theory into practice. He stepped through the use (or lack there of) assessments for training citing the eLearning Guild's 360 Measuring Success report. We should leverage assessment to support learning, prove benefits and improve design.

  • Consider a delayed Level 1 assessment, not the moment before dismissing the class or flagging the online course as complete
  • Use the Level 1 assessment as an opportunity for feedback for those that design and deliver
  • Consider the forgetting curve and design follow up "authentic" learning to sustain learning transfer
  • Shrock & Coscarelli, Criterion Referenced Test Development have "raised the bar" in scenarios should be the minimum in assessing ability to do a job versus memorization content
Plenty of good free stuff in his catalog.


I see great promise in the interaction libraries. Wasn't that the promise of reusable learning objects? My fear would be the "developer" that falls in love with one interaction and subsequently overuses.

Don't know about the price points since there's the buy-the-library or monthly subscription model in my limited research. At least they provide a try before you buy.


Best Practices for Virtual Learning with Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional

will be rescheduled, presenter MIA

The host has not arrived, please stand by

Drones the WebEx robot. Remember that atomic aftermath movie On the Beach

Expediting the Development and Deployment of World-Class Online Learning

Bailed on this one, nature called in EST

ASTD TK4 The Art and Science of Test Creation

Nanette Miner, The Training Doctor. Nice, crisp presentation on does and don'ts of test creation. Coming from compliance-focused industries (health care and commercial aviation) there was not much new for me.

However she did focus on awareness of those with learning disabilities. How many times have we wondered about unexpected test performance by a chatty engaged individual in our classes. That individual may not be able to read but has adapted well to the work environment. Reminded me of many years ago I was delivering a learning map session to a group that required learners to read from cards and then the group would discuss. This was a mixed group of technicians, professions and support staff. I was having problems with individuals in volunteering to read. Soldiered on without 100% class participation in reading but the discussions went as designed; good thoughtful discussion. I was puzzled. After the class in a debrief with a colleague, she pointed out that these were probably functionally illiterate individuals. They couldn't read. However, they could sign in on the course roster and interact within a discussion. Big lesson early on in the career.

A good reminder for us all.

ASTD TK3 Zero to 60: Launching E-Learning

Peggy Page TD Banknorth
Good case study on rolling out e-learning in a NE bank. Stressed the partnership with IT and aligning with the culture; e.g., how will elearning work within your culture. Nuggets from Peggy's team:
  • Technology is the vehicle, not the driver
  • It's OK to play
  • Experience is the best teacher
  • View mistakes as gifts
  • There are no experts in the fiels
  • It's all about the learner's brain
  • Have fun

ASTD TK 2 Virtual Classroom Instruction: Strategies for Keeping Learners Engaged

Enjoyed this session although they unfortunately had the day's first technical difficulties. I don't spend a great deal of time in design of VILT so this was of limited interest. I liked their notion of giving a tour of the technology, as Anthony Allen did earlier in the day. Useful nuggets from Georgianna Marie, the GMarie Group:
  • Assign learners into small groups ahead of time
  • Conduct small group activities within these groups
  • Mix up the activities (don't rely solely on polling)
  • Mix up the timing of activities and interactions
Cool tool on the presenters website: asking effective questions, a Flash-based tool using Bloom's taxonomy to improve questioning. Worth a look.

I was also randomly called upon, first time ever in a VILT session. Behavior change on my part was to pay close attention.

ASTD TK 1 Orientation Session

ASTD TK is live with the orientation. Why do we feel the need to chat when that function is available? Many times distracting so I minimize.

Update 1: Good orientation to all WebEx features. Thanks to ASTD in giving this a try. Posted 2 discussion in the conference LinkedIn re Chat etiquette and Lessons Learned.

So far so good, participating on the PC while note taking on the MAC and multitasking (yeah right)

Let's be careful out there, pt 2

Catching up on the trade magazines on the treadmill and came across Crash and Burn in Electronic Musician about hard drives, why they fail and what to do about it when that inevitable event occurs. Yesterday, I  heard of two colleagues and their troubles with HDD failures with both life and business on hold or distractingly impacted. We can learn from the world that relies on metric tons of HDD storage. In the multimedia, video and music recording world, commercial viability rests on their ability to manage data and HDD. All of us must invoke practices that mitigate the eventual moment when disaster strikes. How many have a HDD backup routine? Do it and do it now. 

Crash and Burn (Bonus material) more details on data recovery from using a pro or DIY.

I use Time Machine on the MAC and currently using the VISTA back up program across redundant USB drives

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ASTD TechKnowledge Virtual Conference 2009

Will be attending this conference from the comfort of the Marginally Competent world headquarters. Appears that this experience will be shared by 90+ other souls. The conference kicks off tomorrow at 11 AM EST. I'll periodically blog about the sessions using Twitter to announce a new post.

UPDATE: 126 in the virtual conference. 29JAN 7:23 AM EST
UPDATE: 130 in the virtual conference. 29JAN5:07 PM EST
UPDATE: 131 in the virtual conference for the finale. 30JAN4:18 PM EST

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let's be careful out there

MACs are vulnerable to trojans if you download pirated software,  in this case Adobe Photoshop CS4. Serves you right for downloading pirated s/w. Probably should be exploring protection for the MAC.

Links 26 JAN

Twitter has jumped the shark Apparently just discovered by ad agency CEOs.

Jing TechSmith, (Snagit and Captsia) provides a great free tool for both image and screen action captures. Available for Windows (XP and Vista) and MAC OSX (10.4.11 or higher). Snagit was a lifesaver for a project a few years back. I've been using Jing across both platforms for a month and I'm impressed. Considering updating to the pro version at the very reasonable $14.95 per year.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Links 24 JAN

Make Way for Millennials! How Today's Students are Shaping Higher Education Space
Persis C. Rickes notes how the millennials are impacting higher ed space planning; e.g., more meeting space, more team collaboration space, and the supporting technology in those spaces, not just the classroom. One result, less private offices as many companies in the US have done in supporting a telework/virtual staff.

Idee Labs
Advanced image and visual search. Check out the color picker for Flickr or a stock photo house.


Myths the Business Side Has About Learning: Result of Data Gathering. Sorry I didn't make the time to participate. His top myths are:
  1. Bad Learning Designs are Thought to be Good Learning Designs
  2. Training Alone Produces Improvements in On-the-job Performance
  3. Information Presentation is Sufficient as a Training Design
  4. Training & Instructional Design Require No Special Skills or Competencies.
  5. Learners Know How to Learn
  6. Managers Think Learning & Development is a Low-Priority Part of their Role
I can relate to all of the above especially 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Through happenstance I found Will in 2006 with this post:People remember 10%, 20%...Oh Really? In it he debunks the we-remember-10%-of-what-we-read, 20%-of-what-we-hear, and I'll pause while you chant the rest.

Just heard this old chestnut at an ASTD local function this week.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Language" "watch"

If you can read this thank a teacher, if you can read this in English, thank a soldier?

From the post in Language Log, I too wonder what this means. Is the English language under attack, the language of commerce, commercial aviation? Or is this part of the English only crowd, by jingo?

You can "quote" me on "that." Be forewarned, they're on the "lookout." Quotation Mark hunters have our "backs" as well as a Facebook page.

Friday, January 16, 2009

One demitasse over the line?

A British study has concluded that coffee intake doesn't lead to hallucinations, despite the press sensationally reporting otherwise.
... study itself,which found that self-reported caffeine intake was correlated with scores on the Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale (LSHS), a 16-item questionnaire that is supposed to measure people's propensity to hallucinate. The scale, which includes questions about vivid daydreaming, "intrusive thoughts," and hypnagogic images, does not indicate whether subjects actually have experienced waking hallucinations. The researchers called the relationship between caffeine consumption and LSHS scores "weak" and noted that it does not prove caffeine raises the likelihood of hallucinations.
Apparently the NHS Knowledge Service was obligated to calm the nervous (over-caffeinated perhaps) UK citizenry. Simon Jones and Charles Fernyhough of the Department of Psychology, Durham University did the research.

The best tip:
Anyone who has a psychotic episode should always consult a doctor, rather than assume it is caused by caffeine.
Duly noted. Found at The Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan

Update: My spouse asked, "how do you know if you're having a psychotic episode?" Presume you refer to the Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale and then seek medical attention.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


To Tom Peters (irony intended) for #151 in 100 Ways to Succeed.
"An unstinting commitment by all of us to accelerated lifelong learning."
Look at the past years in both business and government and the failure in learning while championing projects and initiatives since we "know." One characteristic I look for in leaders is the ability to learn, to grow and admit it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

When you gotta go...

Yet more animals. In organizing and moving photos from the Pictures folder, I found this wonderful shot of a chimpanzee at the DC Metro Zoo. The Zoo allows for exercise from the chimp house to another area using these overhead cables. Moments before, this chimp let loose raining urine over the pedestrian walk to the delight of the kiddos.

For those interested, shot with a Nikon D80, 1/500, f 5.6 @ 130mm. Beautiful blue-sky November 8, 2007.


Brownie, our rescue kitty, will not use her own perfectly good cat bed but opt for sleeping in Kipper's bed.

Suspect it's to annoy Kipper, the smaller high strung dog.

Brownie came with a place we bought in the North Georgia mountains. Our vet thinks she's a Norwegian Forest cat. She's got a great gig now with multiple warm places to sleep and a never empty feeding bowl.

Brownie tips the scales at 14 pounds and is the alpha animal among the pets in the household. All of our pets are rescue animals. Please consider a rescue animal when choosing a pet.

Friday, January 9, 2009

T&D Magazine: E-Learning No How

In the JAN 2009 T&D magazine, Mark Simon writes of seven disastrous decisions that contribute to e-learning failure. In the article he addresses marketing; assessments; work environment; learner course interface; LMS and end user sets. I would add this one: Failing to design your course to be evergreen.

I've found that many courses that were focused on a specific initiative tended to live on and on. Here's the course introducing some product/tool with a supposed limited shelf life and now it's used in new hire training. Therefore go ahead and design it to be evergreen. Take into account accessibility issues on the front end. Add those image ALT TEXT and design for colorblind learners per 508.

Build once, use many times.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

You've been upgraded

From the best terms for downsizing from Workplace Prof Blog:
A reader reports that when she was fired by her US company in mid-2008 she was told: “We are going to upgrade you with immediate effect. We are going to allow you to move on in order that you can you use your talents and skills more effectively and thus upgrade your career and opportunities.”
Honorary mention: dynamic rightsizing.

Tip of the hat to Evil HR Lady.

Risk Management?

Interesting story in the NYT Sunday 4 JAN 2009 by Joe Nocera titled Risk Mismangement that looks at the quantification of risk within an investment.

We really want to believe what the numbers tell us based upon what we want to believe; e.g, housing prices always increase.

When technology crashes 2.0

Was scheduled to participate in a webinar this past evening. Went to the site early to log in as is my practice. I had used this service before on the MAC with no issues across the multiple browsers.

As I logged in and waited, waited, waited and waited some more, a curious message appeared: "Your computer appears to be off line." Weird since I could navigate within other tabs on the browser. How does an online meeting service return a message that you appear off line? Reminded me of HAL in 2001: "Don what are you doing, Don?"

I went to the service site and attempted to log into the session and again, no no. Clicked on support and received this message: "This service is not available. Please try again later." The service was overloaded by the volume of participants and crashed. This is a well known and well-marketed service.

End users remember these difficulties. Hopefully, the sponsor has learned some lessons about scalability across its service provider and the consequences of heavily marketing a session.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

More on Greed and finance

See the NYT Op Ed long piece "The End of the Financial World as We Know It" with more disturbing observations from Michael Lewis and David Einhorn. I read it as self interest over responsibility. Will we ever trust again?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

So it was greed

I've been struggling to understand the economic challenges that have impacted us all. Spirited conversations (really arguments) were the result looking for the root cause. My belief it was greed. Greed in building these complicated and, for the most part, unregulated instruments.

From David Brook's Op Ed in yesterday's NYT on the Sidney Awards, read Michael Lewis' piece “The End”.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

UGA 24 Michigan State 12 GO DAWGS


Refreshingly UGA didn't self-destruct in the Capital One Bowl. This season held much promise and delivered disappointment.

I attribute most of the poor performances this year to a lack of discipline. Maybe some maturation next year in handling success as well as set backs?

The first post

OK it's now 2009. I've been exploring this channel as a creative outlet for sharing and a means to promote my business. So rolling up the sleeves and get to it. Bear with me as I get my bearings here (would that be sea fingers?)

I have high hopes for 09 for US and the rest of the world.