Tuesday, December 30, 2008

7 Things

Janet Clarey has thrown down the gauntlet of the "7 things" meme. So here are my "Seven Things You Don't Know About Me".

1. Getting married was the best thing I ever did and I wish more happily married people would speak up. My husband says, and I am sure he means this in the most positive possible sense, that we have to stay married forever -- because he doesn’t want me for an ex-wife.

2. If it weren’t for my global virtual village of training friends I would lose my mind, as everyone in my physical orbit thinks I am just speaking Plutonian or something most of the time.

3. If they made a movie of my life I would want the part of me to be played by Debra Winger or Whoopi Goldberg.

4. One of my favorite possessions is a “story people” card that says: “She accepts that she creates her own reality except for the parts where she wonders what the hell she was thinking.”

5. I would like to take credit for being brilliant and talented and gifted but in reality I probably owe most of my success to the facts that I can 1) follow instructions and 2) meet deadlines, which apparently hardly anyone else on earth can do.

6. They say that your favorite childhood book influences you more than you will suspect and will play out somewhere in your adult life. When I was 28 I was still single and liked it that way and lived in a funny little house on the edge of a little town with funny little pets. I even became a redhead. Looking back I realize: Yes, I was living the life of Pippi Longstocking.

7. I live at the top of one of the highest hills in Durham, North Carolina, and on a clear day can see the top of Duke Chapel from my deck. I would not change one thing about my house or my husband or my life. My favorite material possessions include my icemaker, my iPhone, my dishwasher with a timer, my under-sink hot water dispenser, the tall windows in my living room, my Mustang, and my little iPhone beanbag that cost way too much because of shipping but is perfect for watching movies on planes. I refuse to discard the Thin Clothes because you just never know. I am pleased we have so many great neighbors we genuinely like. I love my job and my work and yes those are different things. I am in deep denial that our beloved Corgi, Donald, is 13 years old and will likely not live to see 27. I do try to say, "Why not?" at least once a day.

And in the spirit of paying this forward I will pass the challenge on to
Karl Kapp
Jennifer Hofmann
Saul Carliner
Patti Shank
Jane Hart
Bryan Chapman
Phylise Banner

Monday, December 15, 2008

So do something already.

I get a lot of "my organization won't let me..." comments in training that I do. Steve Radick offers a wonderful response. Here's part of his post from yesterday. Visit him to read the whole thing:

"Don’t tell me it’s too hard or that your boss doesn’t know YouTube from an iPod. Those are excuses, not reasons. If YouTube is blocked where you work, get it unblocked. Write a white paper justifying why it shouldn’t be blocked. Meet with your boss about it. Meet with your boss’s boss about it. Start a blog where you talk about it. Volunteer to give a brown bag presentation to your office. Just DO something! Take the initiative and work on changing how your organization works - don’t just sit there sulking, saying, “I wish we could do social media here, but we can’t even get on Facebook so there’s no use.” Bringing social media to your organization isn’t something that happens from 9-5. It happens from 5-9, after everyone else has gone home...

Social media and government started not with some policy or memo from the senior leadership, but from regular people sitting in a cubicle who saw an opportunity and decided to do something about it. They didn’t see a policy prohibiting blogging and say, “oh well, I guess that ends that.” No, they pulled together briefings on why blogging was needed. They found examples of others who were doing it. They told anyone who would listen about the power of blogging. They got meetings with his bosses. They eventually changed the policy.

It’s time for you to be that guy and to step up, take the initiative and not let red tape and bureaucracy stop you. Don’t accept no as an answer and don’t let a couple unenlightened colleagues stop your drive to effect change. Stand out from the crowd and actually do something about it."

And I say A-men to that!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


One of the discussion points in my dissertation research involves the distinction between knowing how to do things (i.e., perform a task) and knowing how to get things done. At the agency where I work, for instance, we lost Grant of the Superpowers some years back. Grant was our "purchasing guy": apart from knowing how to fill out paperwork, Grant also knew who to call if you needed a check cut on a day not in the cycle, how to get stalled paperwork off someone's desk and back into the system, and which vendors would most likely extend agreements without lots of additional rigamarole. He knew how to get things done, and unfortunately, when he left he took that with him. And we haven't recovered yet.

As we shift to global transactions and face the coming exodus of Baby Boomers from the workplace businesses worry about capturing tacit knowlege. We usually mean skills --how to do things--and so far we continue to struggle even with that.

How will we capture the ways to get things done?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Gift idea

In his latest post Karl Kapp kindly offers gift-giving ideas for the cost conscious, namely copies of his book. I wholeheartedly endorse this plan and recommend his Gadgets, Games, and Gizmos for Learning as the perfect complement to the collected works of Jane Bozarth. Now, you're probably saying to yourself, "Gee, Jane already owns 4 signed, dog-eared, tattered copies of Karl Kapp's book (Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning -- did I mention that already?), what could I possibly give Jane?" Well the answer, of course, is the Optoma EP-PK-101 PICO Pocket Projector. Is there anything anywhere cooler than this? Except maybe for Karl Kapp...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Pocket First Aid iPhone Application

I know that folks tend to have strong feelings about the iPhone (I love mine...it completes me :-) ) and understand that as far as phone applications go, well, to each his own. So please think of this post less as an endorsement of the iPhone, or even this particular application, but as yet another instance of excellent matching of function to technology.

This is the "Pocket First Aid & CPR Guide" from Jive Media LLC. It's an instant first-aid reference always with you on your phone, with additional screens for your own emergency medical information (link to your Dr.'s office, your emergency contacts, your preferred hospital, your allergies). AND: the first-aid instructions are available even when you are out of cellphone range. Reviewers at the iPhone app store are asking for the addition of emergency phone links even when out of country, and for pet first aid info, so I would imagine that, and more, will be added soon. $1.99 US.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Impromptu Bozarthzone Award: Most Innovative Use of YouTube

Check this out: Tonya poses a question, asks viewers to type their answers into the comments section below the video, and pauses the tape to give viewers time to answer. FABULOUS strategy. FABULOUS use of this technology! Be sure to visit the YouTube site to see the comments.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Who is research for, anyway?

Now that The Dissertation is finished I want to ask the question that always seemed to annoy faculty: Who is research for, anyway?

I feel it should ultimately be geared toward helping the practitioner. But most research is written in that stilted academic style (believe me, mine's closer to comprehensible English than most, and it was still like writing in a second language), often full of numbers incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't taken Graduate Statistics, published in journals that cost $200/year, and presented at conferences attended only by other academics. Then the researchers complain that research doesn't transfer into practice!

Any response to this?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warm wishes from me and Donald the Answer Dog for a happy Thanksgiving. Here's a little assignment for everyone, even those of you not here in the US. Get a piece of paper. Write:

1. One thing you are thankful for about your life, spouse, partner, or family.
2. One thing you are thankful for about your work.
3. One thing you are thankful for about yourself.
4. Anything items 1-3 didn't cover. I am, for instance, thankful for my iPhone. It completes me...

Now put that somewhere you can see it every now and again, like taped inside a cabinet door or in the drawer where you keep the antacids. We can all use a reminder every now and again. And while you're at it maybe draw a hand turkey, too!

Happy days--

Monday, November 24, 2008

Participation Inequality

This is a couple of years old but it's the first time I've seen it. No surprise for any of you who've ever participated in an online community, online course discussion board, looked at Wikipedia...

"In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.
All large-scale, multi-user communities and online social networks that rely on users to contribute content or build services share one property: most users don't participate very much. Often, they simply lurk in the background."

See the whole article for ideas on ways of better equalizing participation.

Monday, November 10, 2008

President-Elect Embraces "Collaboration on a Shoestring"

I had planned to comment on this tonight but my buddy Karl Kapp beat me to it. Regardless of your feelings about the outcome of last week's Presidential election, you gotta admit that Mr. Obama's team understood and embraced the possibilities of Web 2.0 technologies and social networking strategies. Here's what Karl said:

"... ask yourself, if it's good enough for a president-elect to deliver messages and information via social media and Web 2.0 tools...isn't it good enough for your learning and development department and your company to use these tools? If you want to break down the traditional and artificial boundaries of the learning function within your organization, you can use the web to help do it."

See About.com Web Trends and CNN for more -- as well as the Change.gov site itself.

I'll be doing my "Collaboration on a Shoestring" workshop live-online next month with Insync Training. Free, and open to the public, if you'd like to attend.

I think I'll be adding some new screenshots...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Control, anyone?

I'm working on a new leadership training program and this morning was looking through some books of training games. Here is something that caught me short:

"Use this activity to have a pleasant way to reprimand unpleasant behavior." And, "Don't give up when the participant hesitates to do an activity."

So much for adult learning, n'est-ce pas?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Young @ Heart

Ok here's the second non-e-learning/training post for the week, and I promise to start focusing again really soon. Meanwhile: If you have not yet seen the film "Young @ Heart" then do yourself a favor. It will make your heart glad.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So I'm Finally a Doctor! ...

... but as Randy Pausch's mother always said of him, "...but not the kind that helps people."

It took 9 years of continuing enrollment and much jumping through hoops, which could have at least also provided aerobic exercise.

My husband gave me a t-shirt that says:

"Graduation is for Quitters".

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mr. Grimes: Maintaining Classroom Discipline

A participant in the current session of my "Online Trainer" course sent this my way and thought I should share it with the world. I think I had this guy in the 8th grade, and he was still wearing that suit...

Friday, October 10, 2008

"27 Top Women Edubloggers"

So I have been saying for years that "women in technology" were getting short shrift. Thanks to Zaid for posting a list of top women edubloggers (as in, women who blog about education, not women who use Edublog). I am in very good company on a list that includes my hero Jane Hart.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Finally! Free robust tool for collaboration

Check out Wiggio, now in Beta. Shared calendar, real-time polling, mass text/chat,central-folder doc storage, conference calling... all in one, all for free.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Reluctant Adult Learner

"Every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

Credit to Mo Costandi, who posted this clip on his Neurophilosopy blog.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

101 Free Learning Tools

From Zaidlearn: Great stuff from web hosting and LMSs (do you really need an LMS? Really? Oh don't get me started.) to hosted virtual classrooms, screencasting, mindmapping, quiz engines...oh I could go on...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Lifelong Learning

Long story, but today while researching positive deviants for an upcoming workshop I ran across an article in a back issue of Psychology Today:

"Our current education system was created in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and was modeled after the new factories of the industrial revolution. Public schools, set up to supply the factories with a skilled labor force, crammed education into a relatively small number of years. We have tried to pack more and more in while extending schooling up to age 24 or 25, for some segments of the population. In general, such an approach still reflects factory thinking--get your education now and get it efficiently, in classrooms in lockstep fashion. Unfortunately, most people learn in those classrooms to hate education for the rest of their lives.

The factory system doesn't work in the modern world, because two years after graduation, whatever you learned is out of date. We need education spread over a lifetime, not jammed into the early years--except for such basics as reading, writing, and perhaps citizenship. Past puberty, education needs to be combined in interesting and creative ways with work. " (Emphasis mine--jb)


From Estroff, M. Trashing Teens. By: Marano, Hara Estroff, Psychology Today, Mar/Apr2007,40 (2).

Friday, August 29, 2008

Learning is not the opposite of teaching.

That's it. The whole post. Can't remember who said it and Google doesn't say, so my apologies to the originator:

"Learning is not the opposite of teaching."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kevin Brown, with the Office of the Worker Adviser, Central Client Services Unit, sat in on my "E-Learning on a Shoestring" session at last week's E-Learning Guild forum. We fell into conversation about our mutual interests in ergonomics (his) and accessibility (mine), which led to questions about keyboard shortcuts for those using PowerPoint-based elearning. As he puts it, "Providing multiple
methods of input is not only necessary to accommodate people who are
injured or disabled, but it is a great way to help prevent injuries." Converting your PPT-based programs to Flash should (depending on your converter) solve the problem and provide keyboard accessibility.

For those delivering the PPT files intact, Kevin also offered these tips:

"There are keyboard shortcuts to access hyperlinks that continue to
work in kiosk mode. The help file describes them as follows:

- Go to the first or next hyperlink on a slide --> TAB

- Go to the last or previous hyperlink on a slide --> SHIFT+TAB
- Perform the "mouse click" behavior of the selected hyperlink -->
ENTER while a hyperlink is selected

- Perform the "mouse over" behavior of the selected hyperlink -->
SHIFT+ENTER while a hyperlink is selected

Using the TAB, ENTER and SHIFT keys, users can cycle through the
available hyperlinks on a slide and "click" on their choice. I don't
know how well this would work with something complex with a lot of
links, but for most purposes it seems like a pretty good workaround.

I think I would still prefer the ability to assign keys to specific
buttons (e.g., right arrow for next or "M" for menu)-- mostly because
that would allow me to label each button with a keyboard shortcut.
But, as you rightly point out, sometimes a pretty good solution based
on what you have available and know how to use is better that a
perfect one based on something you don't." --Kevin Brown

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Am here for the Leadership Challenge forum (to reseach the new training package I'm writing as part of the LC series)and went out for a walk this morning awaiting the opening of the Bump & Grind Cafe (destination spot for any delicate flower of Southern womanhood). I'm staying near the Capitol so there are lots of historic spots nearby, highlighted by these great posters. You can walk along, call in, get a "story". I am thinking there are great implications here for training but am interested in hearing your thoughts?

Also, if you're ever in Denver, check out the Chicken Lips Theatre improv group. Great fun, especially for fans of Whose Line is it Anyway?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Way more than one born every minute

This just in from a training colleague with a municipal government in a Midwestern state, and no I am not making this up, because, well, I don't have to:

I thought the City was going to buy the PresentationPro PowerConverter ($199) , but now I understand they'd rather buy something that costs $7800. of course, I have no idea what the $7800 software does; I can't find their web site!

I thought this would be a good entry for your blog! Still crazy, huh! I had referred our IT people to your website for free and lowcost LMS info, but...there's this stuff the police department bought - $7800 for 80 users!

i'm thinking I'll just buy the software myself, install it at home, get my ppt. converted to flash, and post it."

Yet another high performer forced to go out of pocket to achieve the most basic of results...while spending precious energy to circumvent the paradigm, the bureaucratic class, and the Vermicious Knids determined to prevent anything that might resemble a real outcome.

I am so amused by this that I am not going to moderate comments about it. Y'all go to town.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

PowerPoint to Flash converter

...so while I am a long-term user and big fan of PresentationPro's PowerConverter product, in the interest of democracy and all things fair I feel I should share the good feedback I've been getting on Wondershare . Remember that any ppt-to-flash converter tool will have its pluses and minuses, and choose the product that fit your needs. (Hint: knowing what your needs are before you buy any product will help the purchase be more successful. I know it sounds obvious, but I hear near-daily horror stories about an organization purchasing a product, then subsequently forcing every need to fit it.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

...And the Learners Start to Drive...

With many innovations, the end users ultimately take the wheel. One of my pet interests is classroom trainer fears of e-learning, and I've been saying forever, or at least since 2001 (which is almost forever in e-learning years), that eventually the learners would start to drive. This week's Time magazine has a piece on "Daddy Boot Camp" for new fathers that includes this:

"...enrollment in childbirth classes has fallen from 70% of first-timers in 2002 to 56% in 2006--with the drop-off due in part to expectant couples' assuming they can learn just as much from books or online."

Several things here: Learners are recognizing that they can be self-directed and self-taught. The learner assumption that this can be learned via books or online won't change--we're there. So we'd better be sure the e-learning is good.

Monday, June 02, 2008

When to Use Video

Karl Kapp, Susan Boyd and I are in Philadelphia this week providing the ID Institute for the Society for Technical Communication Summit. I'm in the back of the room now while Karl's presenting his session on choosing instructional strategies. He just said something great about when and how to use video, and I think it's worth sharing:

"If the only thing moving is somebody's lips, then you don't need video."

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Greetings from Sint Maarten, where I've spent the past couple of days in the sun reading (appropriately, as this is the island of high temps and fine dining) Bill Buford's Heat. Like Atul Gawande's wonderful Complications, Heat is an interesting first-person account of how an adult learns. Those interested in adult learning, reflective practice, self-directed learning, the transfer of tacit knowledge, or communities of practice will likely find this a worthwhile read.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New ID book ships next week!

My new big red (very red) book ships next week, chock-full of tools, templates, checklists, worksheets, guidelines, tips, rants (well, only on problems with evaluation and "ROI"), most of them also available as printable/editable items on the CD.

The long list of contributors reads like a who's-who in contemporary training, including folks like Karl Kapp, Jennifer Hofmann, Jean Barbazette, Don Clark, Patti Shank, and Ruth Clark, and includes some lesser-known trainers with good stuff to share. Check out the searchable version on Amazon: From Analysis to Evaluation: Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Trainers .

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Musings about level 1 evaluation....

While I'm not much of a fan of Level I evaluation, I do think it can shed insight into the effectiveness of our programs if we ask the right questions and pay attention to the answers. I'm dealing with metrics-fans right now who want to ask smile-sheet questions like, "On a scale of 1 to 6, did you find the training useful? ..." What am I supposed to do with knowing that people ranked the training as an average of 5.9 in 'usefulness'? Or worse, a 2.6?

Here's an evaluation Kassy LaBorie and I did yesterday in the wrap up to our online "Games Synchronous Trainers Play" session. (See citation at the bottom of this post). It tells us much more than the typical "smile sheet"

What can I tell from this? That we emphasized the right things; that our points were clear; that we met our objectives; that we have provided people with tools (games) they feel they can integrate into their own synchronous programs. Next go round we may emphasize even more the need to incorporate games as they relate to content, not just as filler, I also see that we may have given the wrong impression about something: there's a comment in the lower right quadrant about self-paced learning, which we didn't discuss at all and certainly weren't casting aspersions toward. (Heck, I'd rather access the worst self-paced program than most lecture-based 'webinars' any day!)

And what else does it tell us? Well, for those who believe that the online experience suffers due to lack of eye contact and body language, look at this screen again: are people interested and engaged? Do I really need traditional "eye contact" to tell me that?

If you must undertake Level I evaluation, try to find something that will give you more meaningful information than "4.5" ratings with no explanation. And pay attention to the feedback!

What other ideas do you have for evaluating at this level?

Evaluation activity submtted by Michele St. Pierre; adapted from an activity in Pike & Solem's 50 Creative Training Closers (Pfeiffer, 1998).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

PowerPoint lesson of the day...

Yesterday I watched someone wrestle to remove a background from a photo, using expensive software with a long learning curve, with lots of time consumed and much frustration. It took me exactly 4 seconds using...PowerPoint.

According to the Office Assistant: "You can create a transparent area in most pictures except in animated GIF. (Make these changes in an animated GIF editing program, and then insert the file again.)...The Set Transparent Color option is available for bitmap pictures that don't already have transparency information. It's also available for some, but not all, clip art." (Most of the art I use comes from clipart.com, and have had good luck with transparencies.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Are you a technical communicator-type?

Are you a technical communicator? Lots of "application training"? User manuals? "Help" data?

I'm running the Instructional Design Institute for the Society for Technical Communications' annual Technical Communications Summit June 1-4 in Philadelphia. This is a big, fun event great for those who deal in technical communication and information (hint to those of you who do "app training"...)

Karl Kapp and Susan Boyd will be joining me for the ID Institute; we hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Using Game-Show Games to Replace Quizzes

Cathy Moore has been having a discussion about "shoestring" approaches, and among her suggestions are using, 1. photos of real people, and, 2. multiple choice questions recast as games. I give both of these ideas a lot of coverage in my books, but here's a quick example in practice.

Based on the "Hollywood Squares" game, this was developed for a new-hire orientation program both as a way to cover fairly dry content as well as helping staff recognize people they'd need to know to both "get around" and "get along" in the office. (I remember the morning one of our bright-eyed-bushy-tailed new employees encountered our agency head-- then Governor-Elect -- and greeted him with a hearty "Whassup!?")

The real program is proprietary but I dummied up a reasonable facsimile in PowerPoint this morning-- enough for you to get the idea. See E-Learning Solutions on a Shoestring and especially Better than Bullet Points for more ideas on using game-show game approaches to replace traditional methods of quizzing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What does "LMS" mean to you?

Will Thalhimer has a recent post in which he discusses "LMS" as the "Learning Means Sitting" mentality, while Mark Oehlert once called it a "Lecture Management System".

What does "LMS" mean to you?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Great E-Learning Tip 1: Develop a good treatment

Want to make e-learning "better than bullet points"? Start by finding a way out of the static-content box and into an engaging treatment that invites application rather than regurgitation. Here, for example, are two ways of approaching an art history lesson. The first is the typical bullet-points approach; the second, an interactive mystery about a painting found in an attic. "A. Pintura: Art Detective" from Eduweb asks learners to evaluate, synthesize, and apply information rather than just memorize.

See the bozarthzone main site for more examples-- and please send links to any you happen to run across!

Composite image from "Better than Bullet Points". Image from A.Pintura: Art Detective used with permission of Eduweb.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For my "E-learning Solutions on a Shoestring" readers

I have been accused of neglect! Mea culpa! Readers of my "E-Learning Solutions on a Shoestring" can check the bozarthzone for updates on e-learning addons, tools, and a recording of my presentation "Collaboration on a Shoestring: Using Web 2.0 technologies in Training". Don't own "Shoestring"? Amazon will gladly send a copy your way...

And while we're discussing mistreatment, let me also direct you to one of my favorite sites, Sue Palmer's Home for Abused Apostrophes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

FREE! Online course: "ID for the SME"

I've been toying with the idea of developing an asynchronous "ID basics" course, and here Clive Shepherd has gone and created this, a gift for us all. It's a FREE online program, "The 60-Minute Masters: ID for the SME". Quick, clean, commonsense, and targeted correctly at the SMEs with whom many of us work.

It's available at http://www.kineolearning.com/60minutemasters/

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Virtual Worlds and Grammar Girl

The Illinois online conference was chock-full of interesting sessions and much fun, including "cocktail hours" in Second Life (on Squirrel Island, where my avatar got herself in trouble, as usual...) and a great keynote from Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty. This was an excellent way to attend good informational sessions, many on cutting-edge technologies, as well as meet and network with new colleagues.

Here's a question I asked during Grammar Girl's session, when the participant talked turned to concerns about text messaging bringing about the downfall of good writing, spelling, civilization...:
Is text messaging meant to replace writing, or conversation?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Blog by Any Other Name

I just did my "Collaboration on a Shoestring" session for the Illinois Online Conference, where we talked about using Web 2.0 technologies for training purposes. I'm always interested in seeing how people repurpose these technologies in interesting ways and to suit varying needs. A local restaurant, Piedmont, is using a blog as a quick, easy-to-edit, free way of updating its daily menu. (The restaurant's good, too!)

What other unusual uses are out there for blogs, wikis, and other Web 2.0 tools?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Proposal for Banning.... Pencils

I heard Anders Gronstedt speak at Training 2008. After a great presentation on Web 2.0 technologies, including a nice visit to Second Life, he wrapped up with a reference to "the Bureacrat Class". You know 'em: the ones in the organization who try to block anything marginally innovative. Finance says everything is "expensive", Legal says it's "too open", and of course IT says it's "too dangerous". (PS: Raise your hand if your organization is being held hostage by its own IT department.)

Meantime this week, in keeping with the same theme, I see that Karl Kapp has comments on schools disabling the very technologies students use most (to discuss education, even).

So for all of you who share the concern and pain of this, check out Doug Johnson's A Proposal for Banning Pencils .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

When is design done?

This month's Big Question on the Learning Circuits blog is: "If, When, How Much?". To follow up on a follow-up question from Jay Cross, "When to stop designing?"

I'll add:
Design is done when there's nothing left to take out.

Illinois Online Conference on Teaching & Learning

I hope to see you at the Illinois Online conference. There are lots of sessions on using Web 2.0 and virtual worlds for training and education, a whole track called "using cool tools", and even some on-demand and virtual poster sessions. And no trips to the airport!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Coming to Training 2008?

Lots of famous training folks will be in Atlanta next week for Training 2008. I hope to see you at my "E-Learning on a Shoestring" session, to include material from Better than Bullet Points. Also be sure to look for workshops from Patti Shank, Karl Kapp, Jennifer Hofmann, Saul Carliner...

And this year marks the return of the fun "99-Second Presentations". With emcee Thiagi, I'll be joined by people like Lou Russell, Marc Rosenberg, Donald Kirkpatrick (yes, that Donald Kirkpatrick), and Ray Jiminez.

I'll be signing books on the Expo floor at noon on Tuesday, so if you're coming please be sure to look me up! Hope to see you there--

Monday, January 28, 2008

Top 100 FREE Tools for Learning

Last year Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies asked learning professionals to submit their recommendations for top training tools. She's configured the answers in several ways, including
Top 100 Free Training Tools.

Watch for the results of her 2008 poll!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The problem with most e-learning # 471

So how often does this happen? A trainer or instructional designer comes up with a great idea for making online content engaging and interesting-- something better than bullet points-- and by the time management and marketing and the Policy Police get through with it it's turned back into a dry, cover-every-possible-contingency-CYA-and, yes, bullet-ridden mind-numbing, learning-less online presentation (not "training").

I've heard from people who've been told games are "too much fun", "we aren't allowed to have anything light", and my favorite, to the student who knocked it out of the park on his final project for one of my e-learning development courses, "It's too entertaining". HUH? Time to push past the fear and give something interesting a try for a change. Stand your ground!

"Death by Risk Aversion" image used under creative commons license: Kathy Sierra/Headrush.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Finally! A FREE virtual classroom tool

I've gotten many, many questions about this and finally have an answer.

Here's a product with much of the functionality as the big boys:
Chat, VOIP,video, and an object-oriented whiteboard (one of my favorite features, and one missing from several commercial products).

Check out www.wiziq.com (pronounced Whiz + IQ like the test). Live demos scheduled regularly.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Driving School

Yesterday's "Zits" comic pretty much sums up much of what's wrong with most training...e-learning...presentations....

See the left side of this panel.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Storyboarding with PowerPoint

Readers of Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging E-Learning with PowerPoint will have noticed all...all...all...the artwork in that one. With 400 images there were bound to be some glitches. In the section on storyboarding with PowerPoint there's a discussion of sending PPT files to Word to create a printed "script", and figure 2.20, page 50, needs a correction. See the Bozarthzone, "bullets" link to access a printable pdf with several sample screens showing the side-by-side image with text result. (One screen is shown above).

Monday, January 07, 2008

Evaluating E-Learning

Happy new year!
Students in my facilitated multiweek "Online Trainer" course look at lots (and lots) of examples of e-learning, good, bad, and ugly. One of their final assigments is to apply their new learning in developing criteria for evaluating an asynchronous program. One of the groups in the Fall 2007 class came up with this excellent list, with items not seen on many existing checklists or tools. Thanks to the members of the "Red Group" for letting me share this.

And: "Better than Bullet Points" ships on Wednesday! Order early and often!

Evaluating an E-Learning Program
by Stephanie Freeman, Steffi Adams, Deanna Sevits, & Freya Brannon

What criteria would you use to evaluate the quality of an e-learning program, either one a vendor is offering or one you were developing in-house?

Objectives: Does the course clearly state the objectives up front and does it deliver, does it provide the amount of information required, does it provide too much information?

Instructional Strategies: Are they varied, are the strategies appropriate given the subject matter and backgrounds of the learners, are different learning styles addressed?

Appearance (Graphics/Concept/Theme): Is there enough white space or does the course look “busy”, are the graphics of good quality, do they enhance the subject matter and are they consistent throughout the course? Does the course have a concept or theme – does it engage the learner, does it work with the subject matter and enhance the experience or detract from it?

Functionality (Organization/Navigation/Accessibility Issues): Is the material well organized, does it need to be provided in a specific order, are the modules too long or too short? Is the navigation easy to follow; is it consistent throughout the course, does the interface work? Are accessibility issues addressed, are accommodations made for hearing and vision disabilities – audio transcripts, color blindness, captions on graphics?

Language: Is the reading level appropriate for the intended audience, are unfamiliar terms explained, are acronyms spelled out, are neutral terms used regarding age, sex, race and religion, are there grammatical or spelling errors?

Interactivity and Feedback: Does the course allow for interactivity for the learner, does it provide positive reinforcement and is it helpful when the learner is incorrect, does it allow for interaction between learners and with the trainer, does it allow the learner to give feedback to the trainer?

Evaluation & Measurement: Does the course allow the learner to evaluate its effectiveness, does it allow for measurement of the learner’s progress - can they apply what they learned, does performance improve?

Delivery and Updates: How will the course be delivered, will more than one method be used, will it be a blended course, will the course require changes to keep it up to date, if so, how will they be delivered and will delivery be in a timely manner?

Technology: Is the required technology and software available, do the links work; are the file sizes acceptable for downloading or viewing, will there be support if the learner has a problem?

Cost and Copyright: Is the course cost effective to deliver, to maintain and update? Is the course material protected, are the resources referred to in the course properly cited? Will copyright issues increase the cost?

Additional Resources: Are they chosen so as not to overwhelm the learner, will they aide the learner and are they easy to find, are web-base resources reliable, trustworthy and kept up-to-date?