jump to navigation

Buzzin’ on the Biz March 6, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in blogging, e-learning, Learning, social networking, training industry, Web 2.0.

As a service to the company for which I work, I’ve been doing a biweekly summary of hot topics of conversation on learning-related blogs. It occurred to me, with a little help from Michele over at the Bamboo Project blog, that this information might be valuable to people outside my organization as well. So, here’s the first installment of Buzzin’ on the Biz for the worldwide audience.

Buzzin on the Biz

This week’s hot topic on learning-related blogs:  Good Design, with a number of posts providing tips and showing examples of good online learning design.

Games and Web 2.0 as always were big topics of discussion. Also, since ASTD had just had their TechKnowledge conference, there were a number of posts about that, as well as a post about ELearning conferences in general.

Miscellaneous topics covered everything from Shakespeare to ELearning as a green solution.

Buzz in the Professional Organizations
  • ASTD Learning Circuits: March’s Big Question: What Is the Scope of Our Responsibility as Learning Professionals?
  • E-Learning Guild: Review of serious gaming software developed by IBM.
  • ELearn Magazine: Graduate student experiences of how they learn through blogging.
  • Training and Development Blog: Big brother is watching your Internet use.
  • The MASIE Center: Use of emerging technologies in the political campaigns; and a video about the Starbucks training shutdown.
  • Training Day: Make sure you’re not trying to solve every problem with training.
  • Educause: The value of feedback; and how people can experience the flight deck of the Space Shuttle in Second Life.
  • HCI featured blogs: So many Internet postings—does anyone work anymore?; result-Performance Management; d-Future business blog; reference to a blog with ideas about creativity, marketing, advertising, branding, interactive, social networking, web 2.0, design, democratization of the web etc.


Check out these top-notch posts:

100 Ways your iPod can up your IQ
Need some ideas of how to use iPods for learning? Prepare to be overwhelmed with GREAT ideas!!

Welcome to Creepy Valley – Motion Portrait – 3D Facial Animation
This is absolutely amazing technology that converts a static image to an animation. The face actually follows the movement of the cursor. You can output the animation to PC, TV, Game Console, and Mobile devices.

5 Ways to Make Linear Navigation More Interesting
There’s a great slideshow here that provides 5 great tips for making learners WANT to click that Next button.

Wikiful Thinking
Talks about considerations for making wikis successful as enterprise tools.

Instructional Design Conversations
For the past month or so, there’s been an interesting discussion about whether or not people need a degree to be an instructional designer. This post adds to the discussion, but provides links to other parts of it. Really interesting!

Are Social Sites Good for Educating? 
This is an old post from last fall, but provides some insight into 1) how schools are handling social networking and 2) the online and social networking usage of the 9 – 17 age group. Fascinating stuff. The link to the report in this post is wrong. Use this one instead:


Webkinz as Learning Tool January 29, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in e-learning, Learning, social networking, Web 2.0.

Webkinz–the Social Networking Tool for the Youngest Set
For the past 6 months or so, I’ve watched over my daughter’s shoulder as she played in the world of Webkinz. If you’ve never heard of it, Webkinz is probably the most brilliant marketing scheme ever. Your child buys a stuffed animal for about $12 to $15 and can then participate in a whole online world geared toward those “pets” and their owners. While not a true social networking site, Webkinz is the first step in that direction. But what I’ve been impressed with, as I watched my child become totally absorbed in this world, is how much she’s learning.

What Can Kids Learn on Webkinz?
On Webkinz, my daughter “earns” KinzCash by playing games and doing jobs. And she can shop for virtual items she’d like to “buy” with her KinzCash. She has to take care of her pets or their health and happiness meters go down. She takes her pets to school where they work on various skills. And at Quizzy’s Question Corner, she can work on her own science, math, reading, and other academic skills. Also, scheduled events help her learn to keep an eye on and manage time. There’s no one telling her any of this, but the types of things she’s learning include:

  • The value of taking care of things
  • The value of a job well done
  • How to manage money
  • How to manage time
  • Not to mention all the little pieces of knowledge she picks up in games and quizzes

She’s learning in a very real way by the results of her own actions. And the good news is  that learning in Webkinz translates to the real world. For example, it isn’t such a large leap from saving KinzCash to buy virtual items to saving allowance money to buy real items.

Webkinz Motivates Reading
About the time that I was checking out Webkinz and composing this post in my head, I stumbled on an edublog post about how Webkinz motivates younger kids to read so they can do more in Webkinz world.

For the most part, the commenters, most of whom seem to be educators, agree that Webkinz is a powerful learning tool. One teacher even had her 10th graders use it to teach safety to younger kids.

What Ideas Can Translate to Adult Learning?
As a parent, I think WebKinz is a good learning tool. As an e-learning developer, I’m impressed as heck. And I’ve been looking at it pretty closely to see what strategies I can use to keep my learners as engaged as my daughter is on WebKinz.

Browsing the Blogosophere January 19, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in blogging, e-learning.
1 comment so far

As part of my study of blogging, I am also trying to pay attention to the hot conversations. The Marketing Director at my company wants me to find the “high-value” blogs for our industry–talent management. I happen to know that the Human Capital Institute pulls together a number of industry blogs to browse. So, I started there. And since my personal focus is learning and performance support, I focused on the High-Impact Learning blogs. I don’t want to call out any blogs specifically, just focus on the main topics being covered so I can see if there are any trends.

So, here’s what’s hot in High-Impact Learning:

  • How Google works
  • Online resources for learning more about new technologies–from here I linked my way to a site where you can create your own Harry Potter character avatar. My daughter has been busy for HOURS!
  • Data portability–centralizing your identity online:  good thing or bad thing
  • Mapping the domain of ignorance with a taxonomy of fallacies
  • An online community where people help to grant each others’ wishes
  • Creative training ideas mentioned in a recent issue of ASTD’s T&D magazine
  • Episode 30 of the e-Learning Lingo podcast series
  • Social networking in education–time for the hype to give way to thoughtful research
  • Virtual worlds are to become as important as the Web–references a ComputerWorld article about the recently released Forrester Report
  • Talent Development–a question from HCI about how interdisciplinary and organizational language is taken into account when developing simulations

And then if I go to my own personal faves, here’s the conversation:

  • InspireAction–Effective e-learning? It’s about a lot more than browsers:  Discusses the results of a recent survey of the top e-learning tools by ELearn magazine.
  • Karl Kapp–Web Stats Meme Answer: Talks about blog statistics in response to Tony Karrer’s e-learning technology: 2007 Traffic Stats: Hopefully a Meme; AND a callout to me! Nice! I’ll definitely have more to say about this one because it has some good thoughts about blogging stats and reasons people blog.
  • Elliott Masie–Learning Trends #499: Classroom 2.0–what will the classroom of the future be like; and Learning in a Recession.
  • TrainingDay–Low CEOs?: Talks about different ways of understanding your CEO better
  • Learning Circuits–January’s Big Question:  Asks for predictions for the learning industry in 2008.
  • Influencer by VitalSmarts–Supporting Your Social Networks: Describes tactics for becoming a valuable, supportive member of your social network
  • Will at Work Learning–Neon Elephant Award: Will awards his Neon Elephant Award to Sharon Schrock and Bill Coscarelli who wrote a book “advocating against the use of memorization-level questions in learning measurement and for the use of authentic assessment items, including scenario-based questions, simulations, and real-world skills tests.”
  • Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid E-Learning Blog–How Walt Disney Would Use PowerPoint to Create E-Learning Courses: Tom shows some good strategies for adding animations to PowerPoint, without having to be a trained graphic artist.

I guess I’m not really surprised, but the decided majority addressed issues related to using technologies for education. It took me about an hour and a half to look through all this, and I definitely learned a lot doing that.

Too Many Tools? July 30, 2007

Posted by cjescribano in e-learning, information management, tools.
add a comment

Big Question 2

This month’s ASTD Learning Circuit’s Big Question is about choosing tools for e-learning. This year, I’ve been experimenting a lot with blogs, wikis, and personal knowledge management tools. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

 My quest for tools began with a promise to myself that this year I would master the glut of information that pours into my office and computer every day. It was clear to me that all those unread books and magazines, emails, blogs, newsletters, etc. weren’t doing me any good. What could I do to better harness and use all the information available to me?

That question led me to tools–lots and lots of tools, including blogs, wikis, a post-it note tool called stikkit, PersonlBrain, as well as Google and all its gadgets. So, now my problem was compounded. With all the choices, how could I find the tools that would help me solve my original problem?

That led me to my professional network of colleagues. It was clear that I couldn’t know everything about every tool, but there are plenty of people I can ask and learn from.

So, here’s my 3-step process for staying current on tools:

1. Clearly define a purpose. With all the choices available today, it’s more important than ever to know where you’re going. Otherwise, you’re bound to get lost and overwhelmed. Having a clear purpose, and criteria for what the tool must do, is a quick way to eliminate a bunch of choices.

2. Draw on your networks. Once you know what you’re looking for, use your networks to get as much targeted information as possible. Read what other people are saying on blogs and wikis. See what tools are mentioned most frequently. Ask questions: “Hey, do you know of a good tool I can use to…”

3. Get to know a tool. Reading about a tool is no substitute for using it. I read a lot about blogs before starting my own, but I didn’t really know how to use them and couldn’t see their potential as a learning tool until I’d played around with them for a while. I’m still learning. You have to use a tool and make it your own before you can get the most out of it. Recently, I worked with a graphic artist, Rob, who uses Adobe Presenter a lot. When I was certain that something couldn’t be done, he would find some way to make the tool do exactly what we wanted.

I think that the number of tools is just going to continue to grow. All we can hope is that at least one of those tools will help us find, learn about, integrate, and better manage tools.

Examples of E-Learning June 28, 2007

Posted by cjescribano in e-learning, Learning.

Well, once again, I am squeaking in at the very end of the month to answer the Learning Circuit’s Big Question. My Big Question is: Where did June go?!

Anyway, to respond to the Learning Circuits Big Question, I am proud to share two e-learning examples developed by my employer, Vangent, Inc. of Arlington, VA. At Vangent, we help organizations create a high-performing workforce through a variety of talent management services, including customized blended, instructor-led, and e-learning solutions. I wish that I could say that I had designed either of these two pieces, but I didn’t have anything to do with them. I’m just glad I work with such talented people.

Example 1. American Red Cross Disaster Services Training.
To motivate people to become Disaster Services volunteers and to provide more information about how to volunteer

What to Notice:

  • This piece was created using our library of standardized Flash templates. These templates have been usability tested and used for numerous organizations, so we know they work.
  • The piece does a nice job of guiding learners through a process of getting them interested (why), providing them with more information (what), and then inspiring them with a call to action (how).
  • Drama is created using only photos, music, and sound effects. This engages learners and motivates them to find out more.
  • The teaching is held together via a storyline of a fire. Learners watch how Red Cross volunteers respond, and occasionally they are invited to help out.
  • Interwoven through the action are Red Cross principles and testimonials from celebrity volunteers.
  • The module ends with a call to action. Learners complete a survey identifying their interests; then, they can view relevant volunteer positions.

Example 2. Fifty Lessons
Purpose: To provide managers and leaders with targeted leadership lessons from the world’s most prominent business leaders

What to Notice:

  • These lessons harness the power of storytelling to convey important lessons on leadership.
  • Each video is about 3 – 5 minutes.  
  • Supporting materials, such as Ideas for Action and Questions to Ask, are provided to facilitate knowledge transfer and behavior change.
  • I especially like that you can select a topic and then pick from a list of relevant lessons.
  • The lessons are flexible–offered in a variety of different media and different packages.