Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Just say no...

My friend Karl Kapp (watch for his new book, Games, Gadgets and Gizmos, out soon from Pfeiffer) had a "Shoestring" discussion on his blog recently.

One reader's comment included this, as well put as I've ever seen it:

"How are these vendors able to come into a company and convince them that they need these items without someone inside the company saying “Hold the fort! We can do that for free.” I just find it really bizarre that there is no one there to wave the flag to these people. Also, wouldn’t some of these vendors be better off offering these companies, low-cost eLearning solutions that they can get return business and a good name out there for themselves?"

To which I add, "Amen!"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's about DESIGN, not software!

Aarggh! So yesterday I get a call from someone proudly proclaiming the completion of her new asynchronous course. She's concerned that it's "all text" and when I suggest using case studies and simulations the response was: "But I don't know how to do that."

The kicker: the organization spent TEN THOUSAND dollars on an 'authoring tool' (that doesn't do anything you can't do with PowerPoint) but not one dime on giving this person a moment of training in instructional design.

Can we all now say in unison: "And two years from now management will say ' We tried e-learning and it didn't work.' "

Monday, November 27, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ha! Talk about full circle...

I was just surfing and ran into this newest twist. CRACKS ME UP.

Check it out: how to create PowerPoint-type files...with Flash:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

FREE synchronous programs

Join me for these FREE online sessions. Visit and check the calendar for descriptions and registration information:

Holiday Stressbusters
November 20, 12:45 to 2 pm EST

And for spring 2007:
HQ: Your Happiness Quotient
January 16, 1 to 2 pm EST

Winner, Training magazine Editor’s Pick Award: Best Synchronous Program
March 13, 1 to 2 pm EST

Juggling 101: Managing Multiple Priorities
Winner, LOLA Award for Best Use of Synchronous Tools
April 10, 1 to 2 pm EST

Speaking with Sizzle, Substance, and Style
May 22, 1 to 2 pm EST

I'll also be teaching the "Synchronous Facilitator Certificate" program for InSync on Wednesdays in February. Check the InSync calendar for details.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Low cost web conferencing tool

Greetings from Vegas! I heard from a fellow government trainer today about a happy experience with the e/pop web conferencing software. Reliable, user-friendly, and LOW COST.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Smith-Corona Award Nominees

...the electric typewriter award for the IT Director most determined to block anything useful. Here are the top 3 so far:

1. The IT Director who will not let his training staff access the 5,000+ member Tr-Dev group because, he says, "If it's free, it can't be any good, can it?"

2. The IT Director who said, "If SIX people look at streaming video at one time, the ENTIRE state network will crash!" After which he admitted they were blocking all streaming media becuse the HR staff kept getting caught watching soaps at work.

3. The IT director who won't let staff enable the wireless technology on the laptops, so they can't access the Internet while on the road...which was the point of getting the laptops...

OTHERS? Oh please oh please send them to me!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Using MySpace for course hosting

Cheers to NC State University Professor Tim Hoban who, in the face of contrarian administrators, is supporting his "Social Movements for Social Change" course via MySpace. Says Hoban:

"N.C. State's distance education is primarily oriented toward what I would say is pushing information into students' brains and then trying to get them to prove that they've learned it," Hoban says. "I want my students to build relationships, to build friendships and to build trust in one another. No one can show me another tool. I've told the university, if they can show me one, I'll move."

Friday, September 22, 2006

URGENT! Wheel just invented!

Oh...wait... that's already been done, hasn't it?

I am in the middle of teaching my government-only "Online Trainer" course, which culminates in participants turning in a storyboard/outline/dummy version of a program the would like to put online. Drafts came in this week: Of the 16 enrolled, one's doing ethics, another 'cube etiquette', and another 'unlawful harassment'. That's great, but they're all planning to do it...from scratch. And...most of it's shaping up to be bulleted text-heavy slides.

I just googled 'free online harassment training' and got, and no I'm not kidding, no fewer that forty-eleven thousand sites to view.

PLEASE, please, watch the temptation to reinvent the wheel! Development time for from-scratch e-learning is often in the hundreds of hours. There's already plenty out there on most topics we do. Unless you are working to train on your company's how-we-make-blue-left-handed-gorilla-widgets, the odds are that someone, somewhere, has already done much of the work for you. If you can't use it outright you can at least use it for idea-starting.

Those on tight budgets must start looking at the hidden costs of creating everything from scratch, especially if something better already exists for free or cheap.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Learn to use what you have before buying something else...

“In user testing, Microsoft found that nine out of every 10 features that customers wanted to see added to Office products were already in the program.”

-- Ina Fried Staff Writer, CNET Published: September 20, 2005

Monday, September 04, 2006

FREE PowerPoint templates

Check out Indezine for hundreds of beautiful, free PowerPoint templates, including many for health care, teaching, and computer-related topics.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Readers know I'm a proponent of the 'buy-what-you-need' approach; that is, rather than outsource whole projects, I advocate outsourcing work on components, like custom video or a flash piece, that may be beyond your grasp skill- or time-wise. Getacoder lists projects and accompanying bids; not only is this a good source for contacts, it's also a good way to get a feel for what particular work should cost.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Love the One You're With

I've had lots of questions this past week about products -- most costing in the upper hundreds -- that don't do anything that can't be done with things most computer users already have--like PowerPoint, MS Paint, and the MS Sound recorder. Become skilled at using--or at least knowledgable about-- the tools you already own. Check your programs-start-accessories button and take a look at what's there. And: know what you're trying to accomplish, then choose tools that meet your goal. Beware of solutions in search of problems!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Beware of "featuritis"

I can't say it enough...before you buy anything, identify the problem you're trying to solve. AND be sure that you can't already do what the new product does. There are endless products out there in the form of solutions in search of problems. For instance, I had someone come to me last week all excited about a new product he'd gotten an ad for: a 'cool thing' that would let you phone in powerpoint narration. I can't imagine why one would want to do that---there are a pile of microphones in my office (they only cost $10 anyway), and we actually have the luxury of having a soundproof room--but he just thought it was the neatest thing. Apart from the fact that recording sound by phone gives terrible audio quality, the product itself didn't do anything that powerpoint can't already do. Caveat emptor...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

FREE "Learn Italian" Podcasts

Basic lessons available to play online or to download. Add-ons are by subscription (still only a few dollars a month) but the basic lessons are free. . Also-- and coming soon .

Saturday, July 29, 2006

FREE Whiteboards, VOIP, etc.

Sourceforge is a repository with hundreds of open-source products. Click 'projects' for a searchable list of what's available.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cool FREE Timer

Check out this great timer! I use this in synchronous online sessions as well as F2F classroom events. It's available for free download from hahntech.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Online tutoring

A comment from partner in crime Nanette Miner, who saw on a recent Today show "a man in India who is tutoring a 15 year old CA girl in Geometry. The young lady's mother found him by conducting a web search. The camera showed a view of their computers, over their shoulders (both the teen and the tutor) and guess what they were using? WebEx! The tutor was using the whiteboard feature to write equations and explain them to the teen. Too cool, don't you think?"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Free Live-Online Classes!

My fall schedule includes FREE synchronous sessions of "TrainerSmarts", "Speaking with Sizzle, Substance & Style", "TGIM: (Thank Goodness It's Monday)Enjoy Your Job, Enjoy Your Life", and "Holiday Stressbusters", all in collaboration with InSync Training. We'll be using the WebEx virtual classroom platform. Hope to see you at some, or all, of these!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Just home from Ireland, thanks to the conference organizers of the the Irish Learning Technology Association, and saw this at an airport bookshop. Not necessarily "shoestring" (though only about $10 more than a new hardback book), it may be the coolest new tech-thing I've seen in a long while. Check out Playaway self-playing audiobooks. The company website offers suggestions for how to reuse/share the product, too. Though it may not look like much to hard-core iPoders, it's a perfect airport product, and may provide a gentle nudge for some technology resisters. And it would have been just perfect back when my elderly father, losing his vision, found books on tape too cumbersome to manage.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Location, location, location

Am on the road a good deal the next few months so please do look me up if I'm in your neighborhood: Irish Educational Technology Users' Conference, Sligo, Ireland, May 26; Training Directors' Forum, Palm Springs, CA, June 11-13; NASPE, San Antonio, TX, Aug 13; Training Solutions, Denver, Oct 23-25.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

FREE file transfer

E-mail attachments getting blocked? Check out YouSendIt for file transfer. Upload your file to the web, send an email to the intended recipient, they go and get it. Very cool. Love getting around those IT dragons...

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Right Technology for the Job

I'm concerned about the oft-mentioned--and, in my opinion, false-- distinction between "classroom" and "e-learning". We need to start choosing the delivery method that meets the learning need. Here's an article about the success of podcasting in training cardiologists to recognize heart sounds. If the skill is listening, then we need training that requires listening...not reading PowerPoint slides or looking at animated hearts.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Do you PowWowNow?

Powwownow provides FREE voice conferencing, shared presentation, and PDF documentation--you pay the phone charges.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Coming to Training 2006?

I'll be in Orlando Sunday--Wednesday. Am presenting all day long Wednesday and have a book signing that morning as well. Please stop by and say hello!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Using Blogs in Training

Blogs (FREE!) can be used quite successfully in instruction: for reflective activities like journaling, support for writing courses, and knowledge management tools. Here's a link to a 52-page pdf file on blogging in corporate America.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Using Mobile Text Messaging

From David Gibson's Eureka! newsletter:
Pre-workshop - Send a text message welcoming learners to their workshop.
Post workshop - Send a thank you text message for their input to the workshop.
Post workshop - Send short tips (or shortcuts if it was a systems training) once a week for the next 6 weeks adding or helping embed what was uncovered during their time with you.
Post workshop - Send links or suggestions for additional resources via a text message.

More on Podcasts

From David Gibson's Eureka! training tips newsletter:
PodCasts are audio files that can be sent an iPod or MP3 player. The great thing here is that learners can listen to the audio file while travelling or whenever is convenient for them.
Why not consider creating and sending a PodCast to learners:

--Before the workshop, explaining what they can expect during their time with you during their workshop.
--Before the workshop outlining some of the content and asking learners to carry out specific tasks prior to their workshop eg for a customer service workshop ask learners to note good and bad service they receive over the next few days and bring these experiences with them.
--Post workshop with additional resources eg web sites, reading material, a bonus idea or technique they can use in the workplace etc.

For information on creating a PodCast go to:

Friday, February 10, 2006

Wikis at Work

Wikis are a great free tool to encourage collaboration, facilitate communication, and level the field by giving all employees access to an online vehicle for sharing information. Here's an article for those wanting to learn more.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Check out Taskstream

The remarkably low-cost product suite from Taskstream provides "a flexible, customizable, and comprehesive electronic portfolio, assessment managment and standards-based instruction solution". VERY reasonable prices. Tell Kevin Doyle I sent you!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Embrace Your Inner Geek

I am delighted to report that Amazon has added a link straight to products for "early adopters". Though they might not always be cheap, they are awfully pretty... Those of you struggling to keep on top of it all may find this a quick way to stay ahead of the curve.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hoppin' the Pond

For my friends on the other side of the Atlantic: I'll be the keynote speaker for the Irish Learning Technology Association's EdTech 2006 in Sligo on May 25. Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Free hosted LMS for 18 months has a special deal right now: 18 months of hosting, 500 learners for 2 programs. Great test drive--Check it out!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Create podcasts on your PC!

This article from WindowsDevCenter outlines steps for creating podcasts "...using tools virtually everyone has or can easily acquire on a tiny budget. Ultimately, if you decide to podcast on a regular basis, some equipment upgrades...will drastically improve the sound quality. To learn the process, though, you don't need anything fancy."

Click here for the article.