Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gaining Audience Attention >

Whether face-to-face or online, gaining attention is a crucial element to course design. This element is prevalent in both Gagne's 9 Elements and Keller's ARCS Model. The important thing to consider in implementing this element is that it does not need to be a single occurrence at the start of course, but can be integrated throughout the course. And it must have a learning objective and/or reinforce the content at hand. Caution, don't overdo it. Adding attention grabbers can also become annoying distractions. So, be careful and get your beta testers' opinion too.

[caption id="attachment_875" align="aligncenter" width="149" caption="Here are a few things to consider when gaining attention."]Here are a few things to consider when gaining attention.[/caption]

  • It's ok to use humor, just be careful not to offend. Also, make sure it is not culturally specific...everyone should get the joke.

  • Quality graphics or animation are great. Remember only use them to reinforce and support the learning objective(s).

  • Sims,  scenarios or videos of how the content is applied will not only get their attention, but also reinforce the relevance of the course.

  • Do not be hesitant because something may be perceived as silly. I propose that increases in silliness have a positive correlation with learner retention. Yes, that is my hypothesis. At this time I have plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this. I would share this evidence with you, but my dog ate it.

  • Add educational games, puzzles, group exercises, etc.

Most importantly, if you have fun and add your personality in designing and/or facilitating the course your audience will have your attention and attention will be given to the content you are delivering. And of course retention and learner motivation will follow right along with it.

How do you gain attention?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New e-Book on the Guild - Getting the Most Out of Your Budget

 The e-Learning Guild has released its latest e-book, 65 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Budget. And as with all their e-books you can't beat the price, free. Here the link where you can download it.

I have a couple of tips in there too. I hope they are helpful.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Explore and Learn About Mars

Google Earth now includes Mars. It is free and uses updated photos taken by NASA. Besides being able to explore the red planet and its features, it also includes an interactive tour with Bill Nye the Science Guy, visits to landing sites of craft that have visited Mars, historical maps and a whole slew of other educational material.

If you are interested in the rest of the solar system and deep sky objects (e.g. galaxies and nebulae), they also have a Sky view. This allows you to explore a plethora of objects and plenty of info about these objects. This is definitely a must see for anyone interested in astronomy.

Below is a video tutorial for exploring Mars. Or go straight to Google Earth and start exploring.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Farewell to a Great Corporate University


Tomorrow on 5.22.2009, Provident Bank will cease to exist. It was founded in 1886, but has now been acquired by another bank. With the end of Provident Bank, so ends a fantastic corporate university, the University of Provident.

The University of Provident is the absolute best training department that I have seen. And I am truly honored to have been a part of it. In this short post I will not be able to do justice to the high quality of training produced, but I will try. The University was a compilation of extremely talented trainers, managers and LMS administrator whose priority was sound instructional design, quality facilitation and assuring that the learners' needs were met. The incredibly high level of skill and talent among the team was not chance. I afford this to a combination of great leadership, mentorship, partnership among the team, and sincere caring about our audience who desired to be the best bankers in the industry.

So, I say thank you for giving me the honor of being a part of this incredible team of trainers and leaders. And thank you to Provident Bank staff who were so eager to learn.

And a big thank you to our fearless leader (TB), who established the corporate university and did not only lead, but mentored.

Here's the Course

Business Benefit Banking WBT Today, I was able to participate in Corporate Learning Trend's e-Learning Tour. Thank you Tony Karrer for including my presentation.

Demonstrating the course via screenshots did not give full justice to the the course. So, here is a link where you may view it at your leisure. The course is a non-linear self paced course created for my corporate university and introduced a new relationship banking service.

Business Benefit Banking WBT

The e-Learning Tour had some really amazing examples of m-learning, games, and self-paced courses. A big kudos goes out to Tony Karrer for putting this together. Hopefully, their will be many more like it to come.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Wacom Graphic TabletI am considering buying a Wacom. If you do not know what is, it is a graphics tablet. You can connect it to your PC and with it's pen you can write, draw, illustrate, etc. This can give more of a pen to paper approach to creating graphics, which for me is a big advantage over creating graphics only with a mouse. And it is compatible with a fair amount of software including many Adobe products such as Flash, Fireworks, and Photoshop. I am a big user of Flash and can see many advantages to having a Wacom at my side when developing in Flash. And not just animations, but also enhancing sims and videos developed or imported into Flash. Especially  videos, which I love to "Add Pizzazz to videos."

I do not have formal training in graphics, but without a graphic artist at my disposal I have been forced to learn enough to hold my own. This is probably the case for many e-learning designers. As a side note, having a skilled graphic artist on an e-learning team is essential, but not always a reality. So, any tools I can get my hands on to improve the quality of graphics I use and speed up the process, the better.

Here are some tutorials I have found while exploring Wacoms:

40+ Tutorials for Working WIth Wacom Tablets

How to Create an Animated Walk Cycle in Flash (Using Flash and a Wacom)

How to Work With a Wacom Tablet in Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop Tips and Tricks (Wacom)

Friday, May 15, 2009

US Army Using Interactive Videos

Here is an article on one way the army is using videos in online learning.

They are creating "immersive cultural simulation" programs, which uses realistic video created in California, but also combines it with actual footage from Iraq. They make an important point in the article that "...soldiers relate more to human characters than virtual avatars." I would think this is extremely important when it comes to cultural sensitivity, which they are using the simulations for. Bottom line, they are presented with a realistic video depicting a scenario where they must make a choice and then shown the results of their choice. Not a terribly complex design, but probably effective.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Audience Take-aways From LinkedIn Training

A quick, very informal evaluation of my Online Professional Networking class. Several weeks back I held my last online professional networking class, which focused on using LinkedIn. And due to the bank acquisition and upcoming lay-offs, it had a very strong focus on using LinkedIn as a tool for employment networking.

With less than two weeks left in this bank's existence, there is no viable need for a course evaluation. However, for the sake of knowing what skills are being applied (level 3 - Behavior) I can peruse the profiles of my attendees, many of whom are connections, and see what learned skills they applied. The class did teach many skills I will not be able to view via their profiles such as writing an effective introduction, searching for business or employment opportunities, actively participating in groups, using LinkedIn as a CRM tool etc. I can see if they are joining groups, completing their profile, using applications, recommendations, status statements, etc. This will be far from a true level 3 evaluation, but it may be helpful to anyone providing a similar training.

The random sampling of 10 attendees are all in the U.S. banking industry and vary in education from high school diploma to advance college degrees. It is also important to note that the vast majority are returning to the job market and attended the class due to this fact.

The number of the 10 sample participants using these features are in parentheses.

  • Joined groups (8)

  • Completed all sections of their profile (6)

  • Utilize LinkedIn status statement (4)

  • Customized their profile URL (4)

  • Received recommendations (4)

  • Used applications (1)

I strongly advocated joining groups in the training. And of the 8 who joined groups, 7 joined multiple groups. So, it is great to see they took my advice. It is also nice to see that people are taking the time to complete their entire profile. 

If time permitted I would have liked to compare these numbers to a control group. And evaluate all aspects of the course, not just what can be measured from looking at an audience's profiles. Perhaps I will be facilitating some version of this class in the future and then evaluate the class in a more formal manner.

Well, this is my very informal evaluation. Hopeful it provides some insight for any LinkedIn trainers out there.

FYI: In addition to the classroom training, I did create some Captivate sims of my LinkedIn tips. Feel free to give them a try and please feel free to share the link with any LinkedIn users, they are absolutely free.

Monday, May 11, 2009

e-Learning Tour - May 21

Learning Trends will be hosting a free tour of e-learning examples that are being implemented out there. The event is on May 21st and you can learn more and sign-up at

I am also happy to be participating in Tony Karrer's portion of the tour. During his portion there will be demonstrations of different types of asynchronous, self-paced eLearning. I will discussing a non-linear WBT* created for my corporate university at Provident Bank. 

Presenters include:
Bob Mosher - Performance Support Tools
Judy Brown - Mobile Learning Solutions
Karl Kapp - Games and Simulation
Tony Karrer - Self-Paced and Other eLearning Solutions

The Self-Paced portion will include:
Really Rapid eLearning - A rapid process, integrating SMEs to produce software overviews.
Ben Duffy, eLearning Program Manager, Fairchild Semiconductor

Narrative eLearning - Teaches about Pandemic Influenza Preparedness at Work and at Home through conversations at work and at home, and newscasts - incorporating audio and bandwidth constrained “video.”
Kim Koehler, Learning Center, Park Nicollet Health Services

Scenario eLearning - Introduces AmeriCorps VISTA to new members through an exploratory environment with interactive scenarios.
Angela Nicholas, Instructional Designer, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory

*Non-linear, Clue/Puzzle eLearning - Introduces banking staff to a banking service and customer enrollment through a film noir setting where learners play a private detective search for clues.
Jeffery Goldman, e-Learning Designer, Provident Bank

Social eLearning - A reusable product that invites conference audiences into a conversation with keynote presenters before and after the event.
Douglas Flather, Vice President, Product Development, Washington Speakers Bureau Multimedia

Hope to see you there! View the event overview

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Additions to the Free e-Learning Page

Here are a few new finds for the Free e-Learning page.


International Space Station - NASA

NASA 50 Years - NASA

What is Printing - Museum of Modern Art (MoMa)

Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night - Museum of Modern Art (MoMa)

FAUXTOGRAM - Red Studio (MoMa) If you are a fan of Man Ray you will enjoy this .

If you have of any open access e-learning courses please let me know and I will add them to the Free e-Learning page. Thanks.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Course Design Plans

Whenever I design a course, e-learning or classroom, I will write a course design plan (CDP). How CDPs are written may vary in the instructional design field. What we call them varies too. Either way, they lay out a great foundation for the creation of sound instruction.

Here is what I include in my course design plans:

  • Rationale

  • Course description

  • Target audience

  • Participqant prerequisites

  • Learning objectives (terminal and enabling)

  • Evaluation plan (I subscribe to Kirkpatrick's 4 levels)

  • Course map

I have been following this format since grad school and it has not failed me yet. After writing a CDP, I then proceed to creating storyboards or go directly to development phase, depending on the complexity of the course and if there are other developers involved in the project.

Here are a few helpful  resources:

ISD From the Ground Up - This book is great resource for CDPs, lesson plans and applying Gagne's 9 events of learning. It has been on my bookshelf from my early days in e-learning.

Training Management Plans From Don Clark's Big Dog, Little dog site, which is chock full of ISD resources.

Do you use a course design plan or something similar?