Tag Archives: work

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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My Own Personal Image Collection

I don’t consider myself very good at social media – I’m too verbose for Twitter, too informal for Facebook (I friended too many family members and now I think that anything funny I have to say will offend someone) and I don’t have the attention span for Pinterest.

I’m pretty good at Instagram though. I always enjoyed photography class at school, and getting an iPhone with a decent camera in it was pretty exciting. I’m still impressed by the quality of the photos I can take using my phone. It occurred to me a few weeks back that I’m starting to form a pretty great personal image collection too. I’ve developed the habit of trying to take a photo myself before trawling the internet for a free version too – especially for photos of surfaces, textures and the like, which are pretty easy to pull together right here at home.

Below are a few PowerPoint slides I pulled together* using some images from my phone. They’re pretty good, I think!

Eat Fresh

Parks

Prints

*I pulled these together using my imagination. I love Auckland parks but I have no idea how many people go to them compared to pre-2011, and I’m not fashionable, so don’t wear stuff because I said so. Really.

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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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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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“We don’t grow into creativity… rather, we get educated out of it”

Ken Robinson – How Schools Kill Creativity | TED

This video has had millions upon millions of views, and you’ve probably seen it. That’s okay, I’ve seen it too. Heaps of times. I go back to for repeated viewings because I really believe this underpins the work that I do.

Instructional Design, to me, is like when my mum tricked me into eating more fibre by dissolving Weetbix into bolognese when I was a kid (pro-tip right there, folks). Instructional Design won’t be obvious when it’s done well. If the lesson or resource you’ve made is engaging and enjoyable for the learner, they won’t even realise they’re learning – which is key, especially for adults who, from past experience, believe learning can only be a torturous thing. EVERYONE is capable of learning at any age, but there’s plenty of adults out there who would disagree.

If you’re interested in education, especially of adults who have already been through the educational system, then you definitely need to see this.

PS: Haven’t heard of TED before? You need to put aside a few hours and get lost in their videos ASAP.

Image Credit: Presentation Zen

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The case for Powerpoint

Part One Access

The majority of my (non-eLearning) work is created in Microsoft Office programmes,  Powerpoint in particular. I love Powerpoint. I really do. But it has a really bad rep after years of abuse. Everyone has a ‘death by PowerPoint’ story to tell, and it breaks my heart. So I’m going to start posting reasons why PowerPoint is rad… when in the right hands, and if you know what to do with it.

PART 1: ACCESS

Pretty much everyone in an office setting has access to Microsoft’s suite of programmes. I can’t deny that Creative Suite is far more advanced for design work, but that’s not to say that PowerPoint is of no worth. In fact, PowerPoint has really leveled up in the last couple years, especially for image and photo editing purposes. I like being able to provide clients with a working file they can update and make use of. This is why access is so important to me. I don’t think a client should have to shell out for software licences and upskilling courses in order to make minor updates to resources. I’d rather they shell out for my services on future projects, rather than on the upkeep of a resource I’ve already developed for them.

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