Monday, September 28, 2009

Adobe Cookbooks

Adobe's Developer Connection has added Adobe Cookbooks

Members can post Adobe code for Flash, Flex, Air, ColdFusion, Dreamweaver, and other Adobe products. At this point the majority of the code shared is ActionScript and Flex code. Anyone interested can browse the cookbooks and no registration required. If you are interested in contributing code and interacting with other members, then registration is required or log-in with your Adobe account if you already have one. The site has community moderators, who monitor and facilitate discussions and also have the ability to improve the content.

Adobe Cookbooks at

Friday, September 25, 2009

Video - A Vision of K-12 Students Today

Here is a video created to inspire teachers to use technology to engage our "digital natives."

Created by B. Nesbitt

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Learning Executives Discuss Social Learning

Tonight I was lucky enough to attend a Tony Bingham (ASTD's CEO) presentation at University of MD, Baltimore County (UMBC). A very engaging presentation about maximizing learning in the workplace and informal learning. He also shared several videos including the one below that I would like to share here.

The executives in the video are Mike McDermott (T Rowe Price), Karie Willyerd (Sun Microsystems), and Walt McFarland (Booz Allen Hamilton).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ordering Training is Not Like Ordering Pizza

All too often people request training and have already determined the delivery medium they want. Their decision is usually for various reasons, such as convenience or cost, but not because it is the most effective way to teach the content.

To borrow a phrase from a former boss,  "ordering training is not like ordering pizza." It is crucial to step back and begin with a need analysis, identifying the audience, their training need(s),  the learning objectives, etc. We must also conduct a content analysis. Only then can the best medium(s) of delivery be determined with confidence.  It may be e-learning, classroom training or blended learning.

In regards to using content analysis to make this determination, here is a very helpful article by Seung Youn Chyung and Armi Stephanie TreƱas, published in Learning Solutions e-Magazine - Content Design for Performance-Oriented Reusable Blended Learning. You will need to log-in to access it. If you are not a member,  joining as an associate member is free.

The authors provide a practical approach to analyzing instructional content with the purpose of determining the best media to deliver the content. They focus on teaching content in the cognitive domain. Here is a rule of thumb they provide that I agree with "As a rule of thumb, it would be cost-effective to use self-paced e-Learning for delivering declarative knowledge and some of procedural knowledge that can be codified fairly easily. On the other hand, it may prove rather difficult, although not impossible, to facilitate the development of situated knowledge via e-Learning alone."

If you want to get a better handle on determining what is best taught online, in the classroom or blended, this article is a great start. If clients are telling you the delivery medium instead of asking what the best delivery medium will be, follow the article's advice and you will save yourself a lot of time and trouble. And don't forget to tell them "ordering training is not like ordering pizza."

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Lot of Ingenuity and $148

Project Icarus photo near spaceTwo MIT students were able to accomplish a near space flight, capture images at 93,000 feet, track it with a GPS, and recover the equipment upon its return to Earth. You would think this would involve very high tech, expensive equipment. It did not. They did it with a weather balloon, cooler, a used digital camera, GPS enabled cell phone, and open source software. A total cost of $148.

I think this is very inspiring for those of us who may not have access to  high end technology and large budgets. These students truly demonstrate that with ingenuity and "can do" attitude a lot is possible in spite of limited budgets.

FYI: The time lapse video is shaky because the cooler that held the camera was not stabilized.

Go to their website to read the details of the Icarus Project and find links to pictures and interviews - I am sure we will be hearing a lot more from these MIT students.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Feds on the Cloud

U.S. Federal agencies are utilizing cloud computing and now have an app store,, which provides federal agencies and their staff with cloud computing applications. This includes business apps, productivity apps, social media apps, and cloud IT services.

Here is the video provides as an introduction to cloud computing.

Many corporations, and individuals, are still very hesitant to use the cloud, but hopefully the government's move to using the cloud will encourage others to use it. Especially if the government's use results in efficiencies, cost cutting, and being environment friendly.

How will cloud computing affect education? The Don't Waste Your Time blog just added a post on this very question. And he gives the "good" and the "bad."

You can also read how Google is playing a role in this.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Free e-Learning Page Hits 100

The Free e-Learning Page just reached 100 e-learning courses/tutorials. Here are the categories that have been established thus far:

  • Archaeology, Anthropology and Paleontology

  • Art

  • Compliance

  • Computer

  • Finance

  • Flash (Adobe Flash tutorials)

  • Instructional Design

  • K-12  (fun for adults too)

  • Public Health and Safety

  • Science

  • Sports

  • Wacom (graphics tablet)

  • Misc.

I continually added course as I find them. New categories are also added, as needed. The page contains plenty of great examples of e-learning and all are absolutely free, take a look. And if you have an e-learning course that allows open access, please let me me know and I will be happy to add it to the list.

Flash Accessibility (508 Compliance)

Adobe Flash Logo

I have been doing some research on making Adobe Flash SWfs 508 compliant and found some great resources I would like to share. FYI: Adobe has come quite a way in making Flash more accessible. Accessibility with Flash has been a challenge over the years and prevented many organizations, especially U.S. Government agencies, from using Flash.

Creating Accessible Sites in Flash - This Adobe presentation provides a great introduction on how to make Flash accessible to users with disabilities. It is also a good example of an accessible Flash site.

Adobe's Accessibility page - Resources for accessibility and Adobe products, including case studies and examples.

Flash Accessibility Tips - DoodleDoo's practical tips for making Flash accessible.

Flash Accessibility Requirements and Methods (FARM) - DoodleDoo's requirements guide along with an "Accessible Flash Checklist."

If you know of any resources for making Flash accessible, please share. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Big Question - Working with SMEs

This month's Big Question at Learning Circuits is on working with subject matter experts (SME). First off, thank you Tony at Learning Circuits for using my suggestion as this month's question. In my opinion, working successfully with SMEs is the most challenging part of instructional design. I have written quite a bit about this subject on my blog. Here is a link to my posts with SME tags and my tips on working with SMEs (pasted below from a prior post along with an addendum).

Originally posted November 16, 2008

When working with subject matter experts (SME), you must keep them involved and engaged in every step of the e-learning process. Here are some tips to accomplish this goal.

Lay the foundation

Introducing e-learning to the SME lays the foundation of a successful collaboration. E-learning is still new to many people and many misconceptions exist. Someone not exposed to quality e-learning may think it will be a page turner, which is not good e-learning. Explain what e-learning is, when it is appropriate, and its capabilities. Suggest they look at courses already available. This will provide some reference to what they may expect in a course.

Introduce their role in the process

Inform SMEs of your expectations of them, allowing them to schedule their time and prepare for the tasks ahead. They will not just hand over some form of subject matter and that’s that. They will help identify training needs, learning objectives, etc. Also explain other expectations you have of them as it relates to the different phases of the course’s creation (proofing prototypes, drafts, clarifying subject matter, etc.).

Ask the right questions (Analysis)

Never assume the SME knows the training need. A needs analysis is very important. Reality is that needs analyses are often informally conducted. If a needs analysis has not been conducted by you or anyone else then it will be your job to identify the training need. And your SME will be your first resource.

Share the plan (Design)

Unless your SME has worked with an instructional designer before, a training design plan will be new to them. So, prepare them on how to interpret it and make sure you explain the difference between terminal objectives and enabling objectives. Once you and your SME have identified the appropriate objectives and agree to the design, get their approval. Remember, write your design plan to a non-training audience. You do not want to confuse them with a lot of training jargon.

Put them to work (Development)

Keep your SME updated during the development stage. Development takes a significant amount of time and they may wonder, “Whatever happened to that e-learning designer?” Do not let SMEs forget about the project while you are busy creating it. Let them know of your progress. If possible upload what is available so far and call it a prototype. And get their feedback.

Provide detailed instructions for reviewing drafts. I also provide a checklist. They should not think they are to look at grammar or content only. Be sure they also look at the flow of the course, accuracy of questions, usability, and identify any technical problems. Also request SMEs to provide names of anyone else familiar with the subject well enough to provide useful feedback.

Market the course (Implementation)

You may release the course on your learning management system, but there is more to implementation. It must be marketed. Participation requires strong communication efforts and buy-in from supervisers. Have your SME help communicate the importance of the course. SMEs can help promote the course via e-mails, intranet announcements, employee newsletters, presentations, etc.

Is it effective? (Evaluation)

SMEs are subject matter experts because they apply the knowledge the course will teach, or work closely in some form with those applying it. Thus, they have an inside view of seeing the knowledge or skills applied and have a relationship with those applying it. This will be helpful in connecting you to the people that will provide evaluation data. SMEs can also support the process by selling the importance of working with you in evaluating the course.

In the end, effective collaboration with your SMEs will compliment your project. The key to this collaboration is keeping your SMEs informed, invested, and involved throughout the process. And always give them appropriate credit and a big thank you.

Addendum - September 1, 2009

I will add that recently I started a new position with the bank that acquired my prior bank/employer. One thing I learned during this transition is that when joining a new team of instructional designers it is very important to get a  good grasp of how they approach working with SMEs.  Although the team works well with SMEs some aspects of my approach created shifts in a process in which the SMEs had become very accustomed. However, using my new team's approach while introducing aspects of my own worked well, but I made it a point to explain to the SMEs why I was approaching certain tasks differently than they experienced in prior projects. SMEs can become very accustomed to specific ways of working with their instructional designers. So prep your SMEs well, especially if they already have pre-conceptions of the SME-instructional designer relationship. This is not to say one way is wrong or right, but it is what works well for each person and for the needs of the project.