Friday, January 29, 2010

History of Adobe Flash

I am a big user of Flash and find it to be one of the most effective tools in my e-learning toolbox. Earlier this week I was very disappointed to learn Flash will not be included in the Apple iPad. I was hoping the iPad would be a great new medium for m-learning delivery, but without Flash it will be very limited in its ability to deliver the level of interactivity mobile learning deserves.

Now that I got that out of my system, here are a few resources on the history of Flash.

Of course there is "The Rather Amazing and Slightly Distorted History of Flash" created by Nectarine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If You are Reviewing It Online, Why Do You Want Me to Print the Course

All too often people reviewing a web-based training (WBT), including subject matter experts (SMEs), request the course printed for them. If it is the absolutely only way they will review it, then I do accommodate them. Keep in mind this is after I have exhausted all other attempts of getting them to do a proper online review.

Here are reasons not to print courses for a review:

  • It is important for anyone reviewing a course to not just look at content, but to review the entire learning experience including the delivery medium.

  • If they themselves are not willing to participate online how can they expect, or request, our audience to participate.

  • Online courses are very often non-linear. Thus, do not fit in a printed, linear format.

  • Courses are interactive. They may contain anything from simple rollovers to complex games or simulations. Interactivity does not translate to a printed page.

  • Once printed it is occasionally handed around for others to review without the designer's knowledge. This can result in not being able to identify the origins of edits, if needed. It can also result in draft content mistakenly being distributed to the end user. This can all be prevented by setting appropriate access in an LMS.

  • Depending on the authoring tools used, it can be time consuming to print a course. For example, a course that contains many interactive Flash elements will require many screenshots to be taken. Time is better spent on on design and development.

  • It is more environmentally friendly to review online. As a fellow e-learning designer said to me recently, "I killed many trees with "WBT to be printed out" for SMEs, higher ups, etc."

The reality is people reviewing courses are going to push for a printed version and sometimes the only way to get them to review it will be to comply. However, I am not going to comply without at least explaining the importance of an online review. In the end, even if I send them a printed version, or screenshots, I always supply easy access to the online course along with several reminders of how important it is to also review it online.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Google Image Swirl

From time to time, I like to visit Google Labs and see their most recent projects. One of their latest is Google Image Swirl.
"Google Image Swirl organizes image search results into groups and sub-groups, based on their visual and semantic similarity and presents them in an intuitive exploratory interface. Try this tool to resolve an ambiguous query visually (applejaguarbeetle) or to explore a concept from different visual perspectives (Eiffel Towerbeachimpressionism)."

Below are some the results/swirls from searching "Caesar." It is nice to see Sid is right up there with Julius.

image swirl screenshot - Caesar

It is still in the labs, so I am sure there will be improvements when released, and I do hope they increase the size of the images in the swirls. They are a bit difficult to view. What I do like is that I can very quickly dig into subgroups of the image results, refining the search visually.

Go ahead, give it a try, Image Swirl.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What is HTML 5?

I have been hearing more and more about HTML 5 during the past year. It has received A LOT more attention in the last week since YouTube released an HTML 5 Beta program. So, what is HTML 5?

HTML5 is the next major revision of HTML. It is currently still a draft, but expected in 2012 (W3C Candidate Recommendation status). Here are some of the improvements that will be found in HTML 5:

  • There will be new tags that make it much easier to embed applications and handle interactive elements.

  • Offline data storage.

  • Ability for visitors to edit sections of web pages.

  • New HTML elements that better describe content.

  • Improved web form handling and validation.

  • Numerous APIs

  • Will it compete with Flash?

For more information on the improvements that will be found in HTML 5, visit "5 Exciting Things to Look Forward to in HTML 5, "HTML5 and the Future of the Web" and "HTML 5 Differences from HTML 4."

Here are a few places where you can see examples of HTML 5 in use today:

If you want to learn more about HTML 5, here is also a video from Google. Be forewarned, it is 42 minutes long.

If anyone has additional info on HTML 5 to share or if you have examples, please add them to the comments section.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Want to Learn More About Beta Testing?

Benjamin Martin has published "Beta Testing an Online Course" in Learning Solutions Magazine. It details his approach to beta testing online courses and provides practical advice for what is a very important stage of e-learning development. If you are creating e-learning, then you are probably involved in beta testing and will find this article helpful. If you are not beta testing your courses, then you should be and this article can help you get started.

You will need to subscribe to Learning Solutions Magazine or have a membership to the e-Learning Guild to read the article in its entirety. However, associate membership is free and in my opinion an absolute must for anyone in the e-learning field.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 Predictions - Big Question

January's Big Question at the Learning Circuits blog asks for our 2010 predictions. So, here we go;

  1. m-Learning continues to grow. I think the growing popularity of social media apps on mobile devices will assist with a growth of social learning (I consider social/informal learning on mobile devices m-learning too). Micro-courses for mobile devices will become more prevalent too.

  2. Google Wave will be released as a much less cumbersome application than the current beta version, but will struggle with adoption by general public.

  3. Those corporate training departments that moved so much training online in a haste to cut costs will recognize the ROI of quality classroom training. There will be much more reflection on what works online and what is more effectively taught in the traditional classroom.... and what is best blended.

  4. Tablets will be very popular in 2010 and eventually some will add ability to effectively display reader friendly book text. Perhaps an e-reader mode.

  5. I recently started using Yammer so I will make a few predictions regarding Yammer. They will expand many of their business friendly features. This will include better search functions, a mobile app that actually works (yes, I went there), and a TweetChat style app (increasing its ability to function as a social learning tool).

  6. We will begin to see more growth of Adobe AIR, including uses  in e-learning.

  7. Some large corporation, maybe Microsoft, will buy Adobe. I don't wish it, but predicting it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Informal Learning - 2010

Informal learning (a.k.a. social learning) grew immensely in 2009. I think there is little doubt that it will grow further in 2010, but I also expect it to find more of a foothold in corporate training departments where its adoption been a challenge. Now I know there are corporate training departments that have embraced informal learning, but those are the more innovative companies. There are many that are slower to change and often do not adopt new approaches until they see others, including competitors, reap the benefits of such approaches.

As I am confident we will see informal learning become more prevalent in the corporate environment, companies must also be cautious when jumping into the social media and informal learning stampede. There are many social media tools and approaches. Be strategic when identifying social media tools, how they will be implemented, and how you can facilitate learning within the media. Remember, you cannot truly manage informal learning, but you can facilitate learning along with coaching others to facilitate learning. You can also coach learners on how to effectively use social media to meet the learning objectives they set for themselves.

Here are some great resources on informal learning that help us understand this transition from the formal to informal.

First off, Jay Cross and Clark Quinn on how meta-learning subverts the traditional training hierarchy.

Jane Hart's "From e-Learning to Social Learning."

Plus, last November the Learning Circuits blog's Big Question was "Presenting the Value of Social Media for Learning," which had many valuable comments and advice for anyone implementing social media in the workplace.

I think this democratization of learning will be a benefit to corporate staff and if engaged by corporate training departments it will be boon to their ability to assist learners in acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary for their success.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Preview of Flash Player on the Google Nexus One

Each time Flash appears on another mobile phone I get ever more hopeful about Flash becoming THE delivery platform for m-learning.

So, will Flash be on the new Google phone that everyone is buzzing about? It is not currently, but Adobe will be making it available for download sometime in future and here is a preview.

We are moving a little closer to a world were Flash is on every smart phone... iPhone, where are you?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Interactive Surfaces (Multitouch) at the Museum

This weekend I visited the Maryland Science Center and was very impressed with an interactive table that had a computer screen projected onto it. Navigation was controlled by tilting the table and you could zoom in on objects by twisting the table. See the video below to see the interactive table screen in action. Forgive the quality of the video, lighting was not in my favor.

Here are some more interactive surfaces being used at museums around the world.

Emakhosini Museum, South Africa

The Adventure Science Center in Nashville, Tennessee

Australian Museum

Coimbra's Science Museum, Portugal

Here is also an interesting video by Adobe on the future of multitouch.