Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I get a lot of questions about narration for e-learning programs, particularly adding narration to PowerPoint. Here are a couple of sources for voice talent that will give you an idea of the voice talent available (both North American and British English) as well as ballpark parameters for pricing. Do-it-yourselfers might find some inspiration and guidelines here as well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

FREE Training

There's been a discussion on one of the training listservs about free training and/or free content. The discussion is open to pretty much anything, from ILT to web-based. Based on the comments so far it appears that many are looking for ways to use new collaboration technologies, with universities are leading the way. Here are some of the suggestions offered. Rice University's Connexions project: MIT Open Courseware: Wikiversity: Teachertube: Sapling Systems Microsoft OER Grapevine

Please add your own suggestions. I've had to start moderating comments but am approving them asap.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

FREE tool for creating content for iPods

This just in from the Learning Consortium:
"Mogopop is a free service that lets you create content for iPods. Mogopop says to think of its projects like "a mini website that runs on your iPod." Mogopop has a project builder where you can add text, photos, audio, and video to your project. When completed, your project is published on the Mogopop site for the public to download. All mogopop contenct can be found in an iPods NOTES."

Click here to view video tutorials for using Mogopop

Monday, October 01, 2007

JotSpace FREE online whiteboard

"JotSpace is a free web-based, collaboration whiteboard. It allows multiple users to work on the same board simultaneously as if in the same room. Whiteboards include sticky pads, photo uploads, chat, connectors and markers that never run out of ink. Great for training and planning."

JotSpace is preparing to launch its alpha version and is looking for prelaunch testers. Visit the website for more information.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Great new FREE features from SnagIt

SnagIt, one of the best investments you'll ever make (and still only US$39,95!) has just added new one-click features for publishing to blogs, flickr, or skype, and added a nifty new 'desktop sticky note' tool, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's GGG....REAT! Karl Kapp's Book Tour-- Week 2

If you haven't yet gotten your hands on Karl Kapp's Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning are missing out on a real treat. I spend a lot of time in trainer development work and have lately run into (yet another...) disturbing trend. Lots of trainers are interested in "Generations" training, but invariably these trainers are 50+ who stand and orate, backlit by their boring PowerPoint slides, about "Them": "the Millenialls", "the Xers"... and how we must tolerate and accommodate Them. It's about time we heard from someone who understands and defends Them-- the gamers, the future.

Kapp is a champion for "Them" and I, for one, can't wait to see more of Them in the workplace!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Fewer words, more text

Here's a new item for my "end of email" campaign. And amen! Frumpy Netiquette from Donald Clark's "Plan B" blog.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Just because they've HEARD of it doesn't mean it's valid...

...So lately I've experienced a new phenomenon: trainers and instructional designers knowingly including invalid, untested, or discredited tools or theories in training because it's "what people have heard of". To wit 1: a certain 4-letter personality-type assessment that has no construct validity, no predictive value, and boasts a body of "research" for which the insturment's publisher has provided the grant money on the condition that the grantee's research "promote the use of" the instrument. To wit 2: a certain TAXONOMY of training evaluation-- not a "model", or a "theory"-- that everyone has heard of, hardly anyone uses, and that has been shown time and time again to be flawed and, basically useless.

Both times the designers insisted on leaving the stuff in because "It's what the learners have heard of."

As practitioners, isn't it our responsibility to help people discover things they maybe haven't heard of?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wouldja like some snake oil with that, ma'am?

Love it, love it. Today's pretty email ad said I could attend a "webinar" (red flag! red flag!) and see how a "Web communication tool" could, for several thousand dollars, let me:

"Add interactive audio, video and animation to existing presentation and create and deliver dynamic and effective training courses".

I already have that product. It's called PowerPoint.

And PS: NO PRODUCT will take slides and magically transform them into "engaging, rich, multimedia content." That takes innovation, creativity, and instructional design expertise.

It's about design, not software.

So buyer beware.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Attention Government Trainers

Can't make the NAGTAD (National Association for Government Training and Development) Conference in Helena, MT this year? Then join the concurrent LIVE ONLINE NAGTAD CONFERENCE August 20-22!

First, join in for real-time participation in the keynote along with those attending in Helena. Then participate as three of the most popular conference presentations are repeated just for the online group.

Sessions are:"TrainerSmarts": Live session in real time with the Helena group (me). Succession Planning in State Government" (Laurette Burdyl, State of South Carolina)"Creating a Culture that is Resilient to Change" (Pauline Higgins, State of Mississippi)"A Soft Sale: Using Proven Sales Strategies to Build Training Commitment" (Susan Lowman-Thomas, State of Idaho)

PLUS: conference updates — Enjoy access to conference session handouts, a conference blog, updates and networking opportunities. Conference correspondents will create audioblog messages to keep you posted on activities, themes, and “the pulse” of the live conference in Helena, and offer ideas for helping you stay in touch with new friends you’ll meet in the online sessions! See for details.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Yes You CAN Create E-learning Games

Here's a great reference tool from Diane Elkins and Desiree Ward of Alcon, Ward & Partners. It's their handout from Training 2007. Nice outline of products, most low-cost or free, and quick description of each.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Remote test proctoring: An old problem solved

While I'm not much of a fan of testing I do feel obligated to pass this on for those whose organizations require it. There's also potential here for going beyond the paper-and-pencil test and have remote learners provide teachbacks, demonstrations, or other application of skills by way of a 'test':

Thursday, June 14, 2007

E-Learning Guild event: Note To Attendees

Greetings to those who participated in today's live online event: "It's About Design, Not Software". With over 150 attendees many chat comments just flew by, and some of you were left with unanswered questions. Here are some questions and my comments:

Q. How do you make a screen shot with new data fields more interesting?
A. Don't focus so much on the individual shots. How can you put the entire training program into a more interesting context? Realistic problem, scenario? Airplane engine assembly isn't very interesting... but Karl Kapp suggests creating the "Case of: Why Won't This Engine Start?"

Q. What about learners who don't have their own computers?
A. Well, we don't all have our own photocopy machines, either. Users will likely only need access to e-learning programs for half an hour (I hope!) at a time. Set up a shared station or otherwise arrange short-term access for such users. Michael McGinniss, when he was at Jabil,Inc, began his first organizational e-learning program with surplused machines set up in the corner of the employee cafeteria.

Q. Does ELearning consist of a chat response like what we have here or is there some other interactive component?
A. Depends. Most of the participants here seem interested in developing asynchronous e-elearning programs, so no, there likely wouldn't be a live chat component. Today's session was a synchronous presentation more than "e-learning".

Q. Can you suggest sources for art?
A., ,

Q. What about global training? Don't you have to be careful that pictures, etc. are universally recognized?
A. At some point you may decide to have more than one version of your programs for use by different audiences. I love the add-in characters from VoxProxy; voices can be set to, for instance, American, British, or Australian English. Be careful of making something so generic for all that it becomes relevant to none.

Q. We will be training faculty and they will not want to play games. What other ideas do you have for interactivity?
A. "Interactivity" is not just clicking or playing games. Try using scenarios, cases, etc. Also, be careful of too many blanket assumptions about faculty--- people are more amenable to games than you may think. AND NOTE TO ALL: Please refer to the chart of different activity types-- it's in your handout.

Q. What about a topic like "Professionalism"?
A. Well.... without knowing more about your objectives: a first-person tour of day one on a new job, showing desirable and undesirable on job behaviors (NC has a great classroom program on this, with a great video we're going to convert for the online version); 'what's wrong with this picture' scenarios; quick photo-supported-by-audio examples of good/bad behaviors in a job interview/customer service situation/telephone troubleshooting; photos of dressing for success, or not, offered as multiple choice quiz w/ feedback...

Finally: There were lots, and lots, of comments on what Legal, or management, or SMEs, or somebody, will and won't allow: no scenarios, no humor, nothing interesting.... This is analagous to the classroom trainer who cannot set up a classroom in a way that promotes interaction and collaboration because management ordered heavy unweildy tables that can't be moved. Regardless of whose fault it is, or the rationale, the learning experience -- and the learner -- is ultimately what is hurt by it. If all we are allowed to do is load content onto slides, then what is the point of "doing e-learning" in the first place? Work to educate those around you (and work 'around' when you can). Keep fighting the good fight.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pay Attention: Using Technology in Training

Happy Blog of Cheesecake

One of the best new low cost/FREE technologies is the blog. Take a look at --it's a blog supporting students in Japan learning to speak English, and shows the perfect marriage of technology, instructional goal, reflective practice, and meaningful learner-to-learner collaboration. Scroll down for links to individual student blogs.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


....So I am just home from a fab (or should I say 'magical'?) time at Training 2007. Kathy Sierra kicked _ _ _ , as usual, and it is always good to see Mr. Kirpatrick, Ms. Barbazette, Dr. Hale, et al.

I did my "collaboration on a shoestring" presentation, in w hich we explore training applications for free technologies like blogs and wikis. It's always a fun one, and very gratifying to see the 'ah-ha' lights in attendees' eyes when I show them "23 Things" or the ESL wiki project. What has me concerned, though, is that every, and I mean it, question asked during the session was on the issue of control: "What if they post inappropriate comments? Can I password protect it? Can I install inside our firewall?"

I know that these are legitimate concerns, and yes, there are solutions to them, but: No one asked any questions about effective design, results, whether we felt the approaches were working, etc.

This seems to come up again and again. People are concerned with tracking but not with outcomes. They're concerned with the equivalent of what we used to call "butts in seats" reports, with seemingly little regard for whether anyone can perform better after they leave those seats.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

FREE 10-minute email

Check this out-- FREE 10-minute email accounts that evaporate. Great for times you need a verification email but don't want to give out your real address. See