Sunday, August 3, 2014

I'm Speaking at #DevLearn

DevLearn Conference - Be Concise Session 101

I'm excited to be presenting again at the DevLearn conference this fall. Below is the description of my presentation

Be Concise: Designing for On-the-go Learners
eLearning designers often face complex training topics that are difficult to deliver concisely. This results in lengthy courses that are counter to the needs of today’s learners who need to be extremely efficient with their time. To deliver effective learning to this audience means being very concise in both content and course design, while still having impact and not sacrificing instructional integrity.In this session you will learn a strategy for keeping learning concise while remaining impactful, engaging, and retaining your audience. You will explore four measures to employ in the instructional design process. First, identify appropriate learning objectives and exclude the extraneous objectives trying to sneak into the course. Second, manage the stakeholder, subject matter expert, and design team’s expectations. Third, prioritize content into levels of “must know,” “good to know,” and “nice to know.” Lastly, streamline the content, language, and course interface. You will leave this session with a practical strategy for creating concise courses while not sacrificing learning.
In this session, you will learn:
  • A design process that ensures concise, but effective, eLearning
  • How to get subject-matter experts and your team on board with creating concise courses
  • How to efficiently prioritize and manage learning content
  • How to streamline the content, language, and course interface
  • How to use learning assets to succinctly deliver content (e.g., interactions, games, visuals, analogies, infographics, etc.)
DevLearn is an incredibly informative, and fun, conference. I highly recommend it for any involved in eLearning - it is worth your time whether a beginner in the field or an expert. 

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Our Many Hats

eLearning Designers wear many hats – some by choice, some placed upon us. Here are the hats I wear because I need these skills as an eLearning one-person shop. Those on the second list are ones placed upon me either because they are skills I can adapt my elearning skills to or because assumptions are made (e.g., you are an IT guy, right?).
  • Instructional Designer & Developer - These are the obvious ones and why most of us are hired. At many organizations these are two separate positions. However, I am responsible for both as I am a one-person workshop, which also explains much of the rest of this list. 
  • Graphics Artist - Unless you have one on staff or in the budget to hire someone, you are the project's graphic artist. You find the right graphics, make any necessary edits or create them from scratch when you can't find what you need. 
  • Copyright Expert - You need to know what you can and can't use or what you need to be citing, crediting and properly purchasing. 
  • Curator - Find that tutorial, guide, piece of knowledge at just the right time for… everyone. 
  • Social Media (SoMe) expert and Informal Learning CatalystSometimes I'm the go to guy to coach staff on utilizing SoMe or I'm the guy implementing informal/social learning. 
  • Videographer and Editor - Everything from taking and editing videos to editing videos others were nice enough to provide. Then appropriately incorporating them in courses, your Intranet, Yammer, etc. 
  • Sound Engineer and Voice Talent - Oh how I wish I had a budget for voice talent and a professional studio. With few exceptions, I am the voice talent and my basement is my studio. At least I have earned the right to call myself the Mel Blanc of my little eLearning fiefdom. 
  • LMS Admin - Although most organizations I've been with had LMS admins, their focus tended to be more on handling traditional classes managed on the LMS. That left managing eLearning courses along with enrollment, reports, troubleshooting problems on the LMS especially as they pertain to online courses to me. I have been at orgs where ALL is handling by LMS staff, which allows me to focus on course design and development. Plus, LMS staff are probably more proficient at managing the LMS tasks anyway. 
Things we probably weren't planning on being but...
  • Website Developer - I am asked to develop websites by people who don't know the difference between a website and eLearning, but that's OK. I can probably manage building a website better than most others in their network and cheaper too. Sadly, if it is at work I will refer them to the right department but somehow they often circle back and still try to convince me that I'm the "website guy."
  • Help Desk - For my team, relatives and neighbors down the street, after all "don't you work in IT or something like that?" 
  • Copyright Expert - For that yahoo who grabs whatever images, music and videos they find on the web and use them in their presentations, web pages, docs, etc. You know him, don't pretend you don't. I am the one to make these people aware of copyright law... and patiently tolerate the eye rolls. 
Did I miss anything?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

eLearning Toolbox Throwback #TBT

I started in eLearning in 2001. Although not long ago, it is light years behind us when it comes to development tools. Here are the eLearning tools I was using during my first few years in the industry.

And my LMS...

What is in your Throwback Thursday Toolbox?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Using #Infographics

For a course I am currently completing, I included an infographic. The course is an overview of a new line of business at my org. I knew that for many, especially those not directly involved in the new line, retaining detailed knowledge about it will be a challenge as time passes. So what better way to provide a refresher than an Infographic that highlights and visualizes its important features? I hope to see these printed from the course and pinned on a few office walls and hopefully passed around a bit too. 

I found creating the infographic was not as difficult as expected. I found the content was easily drawn from the course, just needed to trim the wording as to be much more concise and find ways to visualize the content. As far as tools there are quite a few; several are listed below. You can also create one from scratch using tools such as Illustrator, Photoshop or even Word. 

Here are some Infographic tools I have added to the Cloud Apps page
You can also find more at If you have any Infographic tools you recommend or advice on creating them, please share in the comments section.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Being Concise - #IMPS

I like to think I have a knack at being concise, at least when it comes to creating courses. Being concise, while retaining instructional integrity, is important in keeping your audience, knowledge transfer and retention. With that said, I thought about what I do to make courses concise and came up with the following strategy. 

I call it IMPS. Notes are added, but of course I'm keeping it short.

Identify appropriate learning objectives and exclude the extraneous objectives trying to sneak into the course.
Note: Identify the learners' needs through a solid needs analysis  - do not rely on what the stakeholders "think" they need. Remember, ask the tough questions and observe the audience. This stage usually overlaps with the next and provides a focus throughout all the stages.  

Manage stakeholder, subject matter expert and design team’s expectations - get them “on-board” with designing concise, but effective courses.
Note: They not only need to know the advantages, but need to be vested in the approach. Be prepared to explain and sell the benefits of a concise course (e.g., reducing cognitive overload, increase retention, time efficiency among staff, etc.).

Prioritize content into levels of “must know,” “good to know” and “nice to know.”
Note:  These will be crucial in the following stage when you determine what to include, how to include it or perhaps if it will be delegated to additional resources. 

Streamline the content, language and course interface.
Note: Use the prioritized levels to trim your content, present it logically and to efficiently utilize learning assets (e.g., interactions, games, visuals, analogies, infographics, etc.). Also, edit the language for succinctness and design the interface for quick and easy navigation. 

I will be writing more on this subject in future posts. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section - Thank you. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Serious eLearning Manifesto

Serious eLearning Manifesto Logo
I have got on-board and signed the Serious eLearning Manifesto. I believe it is a good blueprint for ensuring quality eLearning. For successful implementation, I believe it not only requires the commitment of eLearning designers, but also the support of course stakeholders and learning & development management. I am continually negotiating with the aforementioned for the time and resources needed to develop effective learning programs. So, I think it is very important to note that we must also get them on board so we can deliver eLearning that meets the manifesto's standards. Without their support it is easy to fall into the trap of cutting corners and not meeting the level of quality our learners deserve. 

Thank you Manifesto Instigators for putting it all together - you did a good job.

I encourage everyone involved in eLearning to read and consider endorsing the Serious eLearning Manifesto.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Here's a Recent Course I Made

It is a rare exception when I can publicly share one of my online courses. That is because most are on a corporate learning management system (LMS) which is only accessible to my fellow employees or they are on our Intranet, which is also inaccessible to non-staff. This course is one I created for our public site and is accessible to the world. It is a pretty straightforward course that includes scenario based learning. So far, the design appears to be working well in assisting our health care members to learn more about using their benefits, especially important due to recent benefit changes. Please use the link below to take a look at the course. 

Feel free to also visit my eLearning Screenshots Pinterest page to see some screenshots of a few other courses I've made. And of course there is the Free eLearning page which chock full of examples from others.