Sunday, December 9, 2012

Using #Characters in eLearning, Part 1

I am a big fan of adding characters to my courses when they are appropriate and work with the course design. Starting with this post, I am going to begin a series of posts sharing examples of how I have used characters in learning. When I refer to learning I am not simply referring to only web-based training (WBT), but also job aids, informal learning and marketing learning events.

So, I hope these posts demonstrate how characters can be weaved into a learning design to engage course participants, personalize learning, add entertainment value, provide an avenue for the learner to interact more directly with the content, and lend greater depth and realism to courses. Also, in later posts I will share strategies and examples of using characters in marketing courses and employing them in social media/informal learning.

This post's examples are from a course title "Introduction to Benefit Banking" and its sequel, "Business Benefit Banking." The first course introduced banking staff to a a retail banking service and the second was a commercial banking version of the service. The courses were made in the style of a film noir movie and involved the president of a competing bank, Big Al, hiring a private eye, Sam Price, to visit a branch where he questions staff to learn more about this new retail service. As the user progresses through the course, clicking the movie clapboards, they learn more. When the user is ready they could "report to Big Al" where he asks a series of questions. This was the course's assesssment and by the way when you got an answer incorrect, Big Al was not happy.

A commercial sales relationship service was later offered by the bank and for the training I created a sequel, titled "Business Benefit Banking." In this episode Sam Price was hired again to report back to Big Al about this new service.  A big difference in this course was that it was designed more as a game. When you enter the branch the cursor becomes an interactive magnifying glass and you must search for clues. Each clue provides content regarding the service plus a piece of the secret code. Once all clues are found, the learner will have the entire code and can then report to Big Al... In other words, take the final assessment.

If you are using characters in your learning programs, please feel free to share in the comments section how you have been using them.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making Tweeps

I having been using Twitter for several years now and still loving it. The only issue I have are the challenges of getting others to adopt it. For me, Twitter is a great tool in my personal life and also a fantastic workplace tool. When trying to sell use of Twitter among my coworkers and personal acquaintances I tell them of the ways I use it and anecdotes of times it has been of great benefit. I have even sat with people assisting them with setting up an account and given one on one tutorials on using Twitter. Still, most have not adopted its use or gave it a limited try and then let their account stagnate.

Of course I am still determined to make tweeps of everyone - not giving up. Here are some of the things I tell people and coworkers when I describe the benefits of using Twitter.
  • It is a fantastic means of creating a personal learning network (PLN) no matter what industry your are in or your interests. 
  • Attending tweetchats, which are great learning events. These are where Tweeps in a specific community, like learning and development or health care providers, etc. discuss specific topics. Typically, they are fast and fun learning events. Interested, try #lrncht on Thursday nights. FYI, most tweetchats are very informal and about learning, connecting and having fun with people you share something in common. 
  • Use as medium to teach and share your own knowledge. One can also post their Twitter feeds in courses, web pages, corporate blogs, etc.
  • Be an active, vocal consumer. I will applaud great service from stores and restaurants, but I also provide my criticisms when necessary.
  • Participate in the back channel of a conference, while attending or from afar. Heck, if enough attendees are in the back channel it is almost as good as attending live. I have followed sessions at elearning conferences and even had several tweeps there surprised that I was not physically in attendance, but was so involved in the session's conversation (backchannel). 
  • Hear the news as it is happening and by the people making it. Yes, you must carefully consider the sources and accuracy, but that goes the same from most other sources too.
Am I missing something? Feel free to add it to the comments section.

For those of you who are not tweeps yet or want to some basics on using Twitter, here are a couple of resources. The first is is good intro for learning and development professionals. It is from @LnDDave and although it does not include his audio, the slide content itself stands up well even without the full webinar audio.

Twitter has an introductory tour available. This is also a good place to start for anyone new to Twitter.

If you know of some good ways "making tweeps" or have additional resources for introducing the power of Twitter, feel free to share them in this post's comments section. Thanks!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Coming to a Planet Near You

Tonight the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and NASA are landing the Curiosity Mars rover on the red planet. To say the least, no easy feat. They have put out videos that not only created some great hype for this venture, but are also very engaging and accessible means of educating the public on the purpose of the mission and how they will accomplish it. 

Check out the JPL YouTube channel for more videos and also the NASA JPL website for plenty of interactive learning. The JPL also has some wonderful infographics and a tool for creating your infographics.

Good luck Curiosity!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July - A Few Patriotic #eLearning Courses

Happy 4th of July everyone! I thought I would dig through the Free eLearning page for some of the US history courses in there. And here they are:

Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads – National Constitution Center
An Overview of American History (video) – Digital History
Constitutional Timeline - National Constitution Center
The Supreme Court – CSPAN
U.S. History Timeline – Digital History
Electoral College – Disney Education
Find the Flags – NCFL
NASA 50 Years – NASA
Do you know of any courses that should be on the list? If so, let me know in the comment section.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Featured on eLearningLearning

I'm happy to announce the eLearningCyclops blog is now featured in the eLearningLearning community. If you are not familiar with eLearningLearning, it is an aggregation of elearning blogs. My prior blog, prior to migrating it to this new location, was also part of this community. As it was then, it is an honor to be among these fantastic blogs. Give eLearninLearning a visit and get a wide perspective of what's happening in the elearning world.

If you prefer to follow this community's posts on Twitter - your will find them at @eLearningPosts.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My New Location - eLearningCyclops

I am glad you found my blog's new home. Not only have I moved all my old MinuteBio posts, comments and pages over here, but I also renamed the blog to "eLearning Cyclops." So, while I hope you enjoy future blog posts, I also hope you continue to value its past posts and the Free eLearning and Cloud Apps pages.

I also updated my Twitter handle to @eLearninCyclops (same twitter feed, just a new name).


Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Johns Hopkins Medicine Simulation Center

Last week, I had the pleasure of touring the Johns Hopkins Medicine Simulation Center. This is a training center that uses numerous types of simulations - everything from live actors to mannequin and online sims. As I toured the center, I tweeted a few pictures and some notes, which I am sharing below.

Simulation Center's observation area for proctors.
Observation Area

Looking into one of the Simulation Center's examination rooms from observation area.Simulation Center Examination Area

Simulation Center's Operating Room
Simulation Center's Operating Room

Simulation Center Mannequin. They breathe, move, bleed, have a pulse, specific medical issues, etc. (the center has 20 total mannequins).
Simulation Center Operating Room Mannequin

Programming the Simulation Center's Infant Mannequin
Programming the Simulation Center Infant Mannequin

Infant Mannequin - These can also be delivered from a female mannequin including simulating a multiple births.
Infant  Mannequin

The Simulation Center is an extremely impressive training center and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to get a tour. You can learn more about the center at the following link - Johns Hopkins Medicine Simulation Center.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Saw a Virtual Patient at MedBiquitous

I am currently attending the MedBiquitous conference, which is hosted at Johns Hopkins (my employer) and focuses on how learning technologies can transform heath care education. Today, I attended some great sessions including one on using virtual patients in training. Several organizations shared the tools used develop these virtual worlds. One, CliniSpace, had a nice interface and from the demo appears to have an easy to use authoring mode. I was also impressed on how authors can quickly add or change scenarios on the fly during a simulation. Below is a video that gives a glance at CliniSpace's virtual world and its patients, doctors, nurses, etc.

CliniSpace Features from CliniSpace on Vimeo.

I am looking forward to seeing more exciting things at the next two days of the MedBiquitous conference. I am also tweeting (@minutebio) some of what I learn at the conference via its #medbiq2012 hash tag.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New eBook from the eLearning Guild - "58 Tips for Breakthrough Instructional Design"

eLearning Guild

I have always enjoyed the eLearning Guild's eBooks and they just released a new one - 58 Tips for Breakthrough Instructional Design. It has some great tips on research, design, development and project management, all coming from 14 experts in the field. Oh yeah, it's free too. Access it here.

Past eLearning Guild ebooks are also available for download.

As a side note, you may have noticed it has been quite a while since my last post. Work, and life, have been extremely busy for me. However, I am making it a point to get back on track with writing new posts.

Thanks for your patience and for visiting my blog.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Deconstructing My #DemoFest Course – Part 3 (Development) #DevLearn

Of the questions asked of me during DemoFest, I think most were regarding development tools. In regards to development tools used, the course is truly a Frankencourse, a term I believed coined by David Anderson (@eLearning).

So here are the development tools I used for this project.

Adobe Flash - The initial interface was built in Flash. This provided greater ease of animating the characters, creating the navigation, which is non-linear and not as simple as adding next and back buttons of which it has none. However, the Flash movie sits within Articulate Presenter and navigates to an assessment made in Articulate Quizmaker which also sits within the same Presenter project (more on this later).

Adobe Captivate - I used this for creating every simulation in the course. I find Captivate to be a great tool for software simulations, plus I could easily edit instructions in the sims, add graphics including the Captain and Ossie 7. It also afforded me the opportunity to have several sims be more exploration than just task driven. For example, the sim where Ossie 7 lets you explore each ribbon at your own pace and direction. Note: All the sims are "try me" sims in which the participant completes tasks and/or explores the application. They are not demonstrations were they simply watch the application being used.

Articulate Quizmaker - Very easy way to create the assessment at the conclusion of the course. Most of the questions in the quiz were scenario based and  involved clicking the correct button on a graphic representation of the Office application (e.g., an Outlook ribbon). Quizmaker easily accommodated this, plus worked well within Presenter - it should since it is also part of the Articulate suite.

Articulate Presenter - This is what I plopped the Flash and Quizmaker into. Essentially, the first page of the Presenter project is the Flash course, which has numerous pages and opens all the sims and links to its additional resources. It also has a button that takes you to the quiz. It actually takes you to the next presenter page introducing the quiz. The third page is the Quizmaker assessment. And because it is in Presenter, I could easily publish the presenter course as SCORM compliant that would work well on my learning management system (LMS).

Social Media - Ongoing support includes the use of social media, including TwitterScreenr videos, and Diigo social bookmarks.

That's it. I know to some it may seem insane to use so many tools, but with so many different aspects of the course it did require these tools to get this project done. Don't believe me? Take a look - Introduction to Office 2010.

Note: Microsoft Office 2010 was used to the extent that it was the subject of the sims, job aids, etc., but not actually a development tool itself.

View the course - Introduction to Office 2010