Tag Archives: learning

Liquid Learning Blended Learning Conference 2013

So, I went along to the three day Liquid Learning conference last week, my first big L&D industry event.

It was a real eye opener. There were a number of heavy hitters speaking at the conference, and it was really pretty impressive. I thought it was great how a mixture of public and private businesses were represented, from government services like the IRD to huge private entities like Vodafone.

There were a few key learnings I took away from the three days, so bear with me while I try and explain it.

1. I ALREADY HAVE A PRETTY GOOD GRASP ON WHAT BLENDED LEARNING IS: I know I go on and on about eLearning, and I certainly love developing eLearning modules. But that hardly means the classroom is dead… and this conference helped me see there will always be a place for face to face training delivery. So PHEW. I really enjoy developing/making engaging training materials – workbooks, puzzles and games, handouts and the like – and I think I’m pretty good at it too, so I was pleased to hear that going forward there’ll still be a need for these sorts of materials. Yay for variety!

2. THERE’S NO ONE ‘FIT’ FOR TRAINING: There really isn’t. Some sessions were interesting, but I couldn’t see how the information I was taking in could be applied in my work… and from chatting with others during breaks it seemed this was a common feeling among attendees. Interesting. But we all seemed to have key points we’d be taking back to the office – just different points. This was also pleasing, because it promises future contracts with different points of views and needs. Bring it on!

3. GRADUAL RELEASE OF ‘COURSELS’: There was much talk over several sessions about how L&D peeps all seem to love creating content (usually in eLearning form), taking the time necessary to make it perfect, and releasing large-form modules at once. But what about the chance to engage learners in the time it took to develop the material? This was REALLY interesting, and I could all but see lightbulbs going off above heads all around the room.

What if you released material in draft form, throughout the development process, so learners could pick up the training piece by piece as you developed it? Once it’s completed, release it in it’s final format, but who’s to say that up to that point of ‘perfection’ the content wasn’t capable of teaching learners something?

The idea of also keeping modules bite-sized and unpacking large modules in order to provide ‘just in time’ training was also intriguing. And it makes SO MUCH SENSE. Once a module is unpacked into 5-10 minute chunks, it makes it easier for the learner to hone in on specific material that relates to the work they’re currently doing… and giving the training that contextual dimension undoubtedly helps the information stick.

I’ll definitely be working that into content I’m currently developing.

4: INTERACTIVE PDFs: I’ve been daydreaming about this for the best part of a week now. I didn’t even know PDFs could be interactive, so this was super exciting for me. Apprently this is a function of InDesign, which I definitely need to investigate. So basically you can take a smallish-document (5-6 pages at most, I’d say), and create buttons that move to different pages of the document. Hyperlink all the buttons and save it as an interactive PDF and VOILA – you’ve got yourself a mini-eLearning module that’s in document form. This would be a really versatile format that’s also really accessible. This has MUCH potential for future projects, I reckon (but don’t worry, I still love PowerPoint).

 

So there we go, just a few of the key points I took away from what was a great conference. The rest may follow in a few days time when I finish processing everything that I took in! Three days is pretty epic in learning terms, so we’ll see.

Sorry for the fortnight of silence! I’m sure you all missed me BIG TIME 😛

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Lost In Translation… Where There Is No Translation

Untranslatable

This post of ’11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures’ from Maptia Blog first appeared in my Twitter feed a few weeks back, and I just think it is wonderful. It really got me thinking about the relationship between words and their meanings – I think this piece actually celebrates the idea that feelings can transcend the most base elements of language. A feeling is more than ‘happy’ or ‘sad’, for instance. Rather, it might be Waldeinsamkeit!

You might be familiar with some common (and mostly German) words similar to these ones – zeitgeist, schadenfreude and the like – but there are many untranslatable words in many languages. Maptia did us a solid and put together 11 of the sweetest untranslatable words and illustrated them for us. If you’re looking for something to smile about today, make this it.

Image Credit: Maptia Blog

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Only Dummies Don’t Use Images

Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of 30 Rock, so I’m doing a Liz Lemon and calling everyone a dummy at the moment.

My point is supposed to be, if you’re presenting your information as just text, or just talk, you’re missing out! Here’s why:

1. Who wants to look at screeds and screeds of words? Sorry, but I didn’t show up to read a book – and that’s the only exception to my ‘words, words, words, boring, boring, boring’ mantra that I just made up now. Let’s take a look at some slides from a corporate team-building quiz night I organised a few years back. Each slide was simple: question on one side of the slide, image on the other. The design won’t set your world alight, BUT compared to a slide that’s just text, it’s a hell of a lot more fun to look at!

Quiz Slides with pics

2. If they’re reading, they’re not listening. You know how your significant other might be talking away to you while you’re surfing the net and you’re making ‘uh huh… mmm hmm’ noises at them? Yeah, you’re not listening. You’re reading, aren’t you?

Presenting is the same – if you put lots of text on a slide, your audience won’t be listening to you, they’re reading your content instead. Great, they’re getting the message that way, but you’ve removed yourself from the occasion! You might as well have stayed at your desk and played solitaire. This is a PowerPoint 101 point to make, but I’m going to make it anyway. Keep your text brief, but I reckon that if you can make your point with an image, and talk to that, even better! Here’s a couple examples I threw together using the Shakespeare quiz slide above:

Don't do it1

Do the Bard1

3. There’s plenty of good, free images to use. There really is! They might not be quite as good as paid stock imagery, but Clipart has definitely levelled up in the last year or two. Be prepared to trawl around a bit, but you’ll find some gems, I guarantee it.

So go forth and use some images already!

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Why I Shouldn’t Eat McDonalds: Three Messages, Three Methods

Don’t get me wrong, I totally eat McDonalds. If I’m doing to eat a burger, McDonalds is my number once choice. I love a good ‘ol cheeseburger, preferably the deluxe cheeseburger, because it comes with lettuce and mayo. Should I eat less of it? Yes, absolutely. Am I eating less of it? Yes, I actually am. Well, since this July just past.

What changed my attitude? I already knew it made me fat… I had an idea that it wasn’t so great for the environment… It had occurred to me before that it was a community issue that needed to be addressed by society.

What caused a change for me was that, in my infinite need to find new examples of teaching and presenting information, I came across enough well presented information on the topic to sway me. Here’s the three messages and the three methods by which that information passed into my (thick) skull. Each piece was compelling enough to start the cogs turning, but together they created a proper, informed notion that I shouldn’t eat McDonalds very often. In fact, hardly ever.

Message One: I’m not built to eat this stuff (i.e. it makes me fat), and it’s not good for the environment.
Method: The always excellent Michael Pollan at PopTech 2009.

Pollan Burger

I first clamped eyes on this presentation when it was used as an in Nancy Duarte’s book Resonate (an excellent resource, get yourself a copy NOW), and in a book it was convincing. When I finally got around to watching the video earlier this year, the tables turned. Engaging speaker? Tick. Polished and effective Powerpoint presentation? Tick (you can thank Duarte for that one). A demonstration that will leave your mouth agape? TICK.

If you haven’t already, check it out. The demonstration blew me away, but for you it might be one of the images in the presentation, or one of Pollan’s jokes. My point: there’s a tonne of opportunities to get the viewer onside in this talk.

Message Two: This is a social issue – it isn’t good for my community, it doesn’t make my neighbourhood better.
Method: Interactive map at the Guardian.com

McDs Map

This article was mostly about how McDonalds is charging its way into South East Asia now, with their first restaurant opening up in Vietnam. But there were two things that really caught my attention:

1) This interactive map which shows the number of McDonalds restaurants in 2007 compared to 2012 by country. Twenty more McD’s have popped up in New Zealand over the last 6 years, and I’m pretty sure FOUR of them are within ten minutes drive of my house. New Zealand is small, but it’s not THAT small. 20% of the new restaurants in the past 6 years so close to my house? No thanks!

2) The graph of people per restaurant (per capita) graph. New Zealand is fourth?! That’s a little high for my liking.

This combined with regular articles in the paper about increasing obesity rates, it was enough to get me thinking that perhaps I need to ‘vote with my fork’ as Pollan says, and vote NO to so much of this stuff being in my community.

Message Three: Food waste is appalling, especially in the western world. Who am I helping by eating this stuff?
Method: Infographics at thinkeatsave.org

burger infographic

The Green Party of New Zealand posted a link to these rad infographics on their Facebook page last week, by which time I’d already been burger-free for well over two months, but it was a nice motivator to keep up the good work. While I’d never throw out a hamburger (phew, I just saved a 60 minute shower), I have been known to throw out other food I’d purchased in my weekly shop because I paid an unplanned visit to the drive through. So I’m still being unnecessarily wasteful. In fact, this is the infographic which cut closest:

fish infographic

Being wasteful isn’t necessarily a middle-class or western problem, and this was a great reminder that I could be better (and to be perfectly honest, I think my waste is modest compared to some friends and family). Regardless, I could definitely work on this – and I reckon not eating fast food so often could be a good starting point.

So there you have it, three messages and three methods. There are lots of ways to present a piece of information, so don’t limit yourself by mastering just one – you might just find that a new method and new approach to your content can rejuvenate it entirely, and open it up to a new audience.

Image Credits: Amazon.com (how convenient, it’s a link to Resonate!), theguardian.com, thinkeatsave.org

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How Sesame Street Helps Make My Work Better

Over at Full Potential a week back, we were talking about the importance of self-teaching and team-teaching at the start of a new project to make sure we have a working understanding of the job at hand. Makes sense, right? Surely you need to know what you’re talking about in order for your work to be functional in the context it will be used in. You would think so.

When you think how many industries there are out there, and how many roles and tasks are at play in each industry… well, that’s a lot of information to take in. But if, as an Instructional Designer, you don’t take the time to understand the actual content that you’re working with, you’re doing both yourself and your client a real disservice.

Which brings us to my Sesame Street approach to new projects. My favourite clips growing up were ones that explained processes, or how things are made – for example, how a jar of PB is made (“it takes a lot of little nuts to make a jar of peanut butter!”). More recently, I saw an episode where Elmo was learning how the postal service works. When I think I have a decent grasp on new content, I consider how I would explain it to a kid, or someone with little working knowledge of the content. I don’t actually go find a kid, but I think about how I’d explain it, and fill in any knowledge blanks that fall out of my imaginary conversation.

I’m perfectly comfortable with the idea that I don’t know EVERYTHING. In fact, I find it challenging – and I’m often surprised at how seemingly ‘unsexy’ industries or ‘boring’ content turns out to be anything but.

I’ll leave you with the Sesame Street Clip where they go to the crayon factory to learn how to make crayons. It’s my absolute favourite.

Crayons

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48 Things You Didn’t Know Had Names

I feel properly clever right now, because I had heard 31 of these words previously. Could I recall the words to use them in conversation? No. But did I recognise the words, so that counts, right?

As a card-carrying trivial hound, it goes without saying that I love the folks over at Mental Floss, and I just wish I could get a subscription to the magazine in New Zealand. Oh well, I’ll just continue to live vicariously through the lengthier Mental Floss posts at Neatorama.

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Friday Infographic: 120 Years of Women’s Suffrage in NZ

Suffrage Clip1

This week we’re celebrating Women’s Suffrage Week in NZ, and it’s a big anniversary – 120 years! That’s right, NZ were the first country in the world to give women the vote. Bravo!

To mark the occasion, Statistics NZ released this very awesome infographic.

Elizabeth_Yates,_New_ZealandI particularly enjoy the ‘Female Firsts’ part of the graphic, which says that the first NZ female mayor was appointed in 1893. This was Elizabeth Yates, mayor of Onehunga from 1893-1894 and the first woman mayor in the whole British Empire. By the end of her term she had succeeded in reducing the debt of the council, kept the streets and footpaths maintained and lobbied for the Onehunga Cemetery Bill.

Image Credit: Statistics NZ, Wikipedia

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Today’s Find: Minimal Posters

Euclid

Minimal Posters – Five Great Mathematicians and Their Contributions

I stumbled upon this beautiful collection of posters by Hydrogene earlier today, they’re simply stunning.

I’m really quite useless with numbers and confused by math, but I recognised all the names on the posters, and the images too – but I wouldn’t have put the names and images together independently. I suspect a lot of other people are the same.

This is a great example minimalist design – it contains only essential information, and the idea is simple but striking in it’s simplicity. And I LEARNED something from it, or rather it compounded a learning from my school days. This is a beautiful all-rounder!

I recommend taking a peek at their whole portfolio, there’s some amazing work in there.

Image Credit: Hydrogene

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Shuffle Culture: How Apple Changed the Way we Listen to Music

Shuffle

I had never heard the idea of music played on ‘shuffle’ until I owned my first ipod in 2004.

The thought that I could import every single CD I owned into iTunes then set my music to shuffle so I’d effectively have my own personal jukebox was a revelation. To boot, I could make my own playlists which would kind of act like my own personal radio station, playing music of a particular genre at random, without pesky ads or DJs.

I was hooked, and so were millions of others who purchased iPods in the past ten years. As a mass we managed to create ‘shuffle culture’. The way people were listening to music actually changed,  and this change was created entirely by Apple.

Almost a decade later and I’m still a proud owner of several Apple devices (though I don’t think I qualify as a fangirl), but I’m starting to find shuffle kind of annoying. It seems that some playlists play the same set of tunes repeatedly, even when shuffling a thousand songs or more at a time. The frustration at this got me thinking about great albums that I love but haven’t listened to in long form for years.

So I started listening to music by the album recently – and it’s wonderful! Albums have become so much more interesting to me than the parts of the sum I had been listening to on shuffle.

How does this relate to instructional design? It doesn’t, not really, except it did get me thinking about how learning and especially instructional design at times seems to focus on producing small bites of information to be consumed ‘on the run’, in between work commitments and busy lives. This is all well and good, and I’m sure learners appreciate it, but are we at risk of losing the greater lesson or message of the work in the desperate need to keep learning brief and in morsel form? Just a thought.

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