Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Response to a Colleague

(This was composed in response to a colleague looking for guidance on how to develop simulated software training. If any of you can use it in your practice, feel free...any questions, let me know.)

I've been at the "simulating software without harm to the actual application" for a number of years now. We happen to work with an Electronic Health Record (EHR) and, not only out of fear of altering a patient record but, also, fear of HIPAA ramifications, do we have to create this 'imaginary reality'. We do it in a very streamlined development process, using Adobe Captivate. We create CBT and, for some of the more limited users of the application, CBT-alone training is all they require to get up and running (as their access might not be as impactful as others). For said other users, though, we offer a hybrid approach to our training, of both a synchronous ILT/CBT session for new users.

This hybrid approach takes the best of both of worlds and mashes them together. The CBT delivers the more foundational/basic elements and, once the users have completed the CBT elements, we regroups as a class, discuss, and delve into deeper topics. We've found this approach to be beneficial for a number of reasons. First off, it allows for individualized questioning on the basic elements, rather than one question stopping the whole class. For example, if it was a standard ILT experience, and there were fifteen students, one student raising their hand puts everyone else's learning on hold till that learner's question was answered. By using the CBT to get the learners' feet wet, questions can be addressed individually (which is more comfortable, I've found for adult medical professionals).

Additionally, by using CBT straight away, it puts MIH ("Mouse In Hand") and gets learners cued in straight away to the fact that this is a computer application. Too often, those of us with the knowledge fall in love WITH our knowledge and try to train it via standard lecture. By allowing the users to jump right in, they start making connections right away, where they might not have before. Then, when the group 'regroups', they already feel experienced in the topic at hand and can begin to discuss more finite details of the application. And, really, when it's all said and done, when you're dealing with an adult audience, you're looking for pragmatic, you're looking for practical - let's not hide it, let's start clicking! (Side note - The adult audience point is also why we don't go with 'strictly CBT', as they still need that 'traditional' experience to feel comfortable).

Finally, there's the time factor. By alleviating the 'group questioning' referenced above, and the typically 'tangential' nature a lecture based class would take, we've been able to cut typical class time in HALF (which, for anyone well-spoken on the art of the ROI, you know that's pretty huge). By doing so, not only have we saved human resources, time, and, therefore, money, we've been able to double, and in some cases triple, the number of class offerings we as a training team can make. The ROI here touches on so many levels.

Long story short, as I tell a lot of folks, this solution works and works HUGE for us. There's no such thing as a 'universal solution; to training needs (let alone application simulation training needs). I can say with utmost certainty that in a similar organization, looking to tackle a similar task, such an approach would be worth, at least, taking a long look at. The money, time, and personnel saved are priceless, but, then again, so is an effective training product that allows learners to get in, get out, and get using.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back With A Vengeance (and an extra kid)

Sorry it's been a while, but with the development load being what it is, and the whole adding another kid to the family thing (no pressure), let's just say time has not been readily available (despite my most rapid development). More substantial entry to follow shortly, but the rumors of my demise have been greatly to you all soon.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Murder Was The Case

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of press in our industry about the death of ID and how it signals so many negative trends, such as deficits in end product quality. The scholar that resides inside of me says of course - that's logical. The more time you take to map out and plan things, the more time you take in analyzing your audience and their tasks, the better your end training product will be. It's good to be methodical about laying out a blueprint, of sorts, but how many times do you have to put it on the page (in preparation for the stage) when placing it directly on the stage, after rehearsing it for years, would prove much more economical, efficient, and effective?

I'm here today to fess up to a crime...a grave and serious one in our industry. I show no remorse for what I've done, and I would do it again and again - I have killed Instructional Design (in my little microcosm, anyway).

I can hear all the academics screaming, saying that each product is a unique chance to address a unique group of learners. And that's where academia separates vastly from real world design/development. I've been doing my gig (which I've started lovingly referring to as "Hyper Development (c)") for coming up on 5 years. In the beginning, I went to each of the 'sub-teams' I was doing development work for and I started getting the same basic concept back. I created a module template, my team created a PowerPoint template for the 'SME's we were to work with, and, really, the analysis work was in the client's lap. They came to us and said "We need 'x'", being familiar with what we do and how it was to come out looking. The results have been nothing less than stellar, the ROI's beyond impressive, and the case studies the same (when little old me can rapid prototype better, faster, and cheaper than a major automotive company, there's good things going on here).

So, ID's dead to me...I said it. I don't miss it, and I certainly don't mourn its passing. I will however say this - if you are just starting conversions to CBT, or don't have a system-wide standard template in place, it might be too soon to remove ID from your process. There's a reason analyses are such a backbone to our practice - they're smart, they're good, and they're meaningful. Of course, it would also be nice to gather up all the doctors to sit around the table and talk about the best course of treatment for every patient that comes through our doors. But if someone comes in, bleeding out and crashing fast...well, hopefully you see my point. While these analyses are valid and valuable, they are not always practical or feasible(increasingly moreso as our field develops better, stronger, faster practices).

If you love your analyses, and you cling to the information they provide - great. But if your management catches wind as to how fast, say, a group like mine can turn product around, be ready to justify your 80 hours of analyses for a 2 hour project. Be ready to explain how the pages upon pages of information you've compiled helps to make your training unique. Be ready to explain how understanding the learner helps the learner to feel better, and how those feelings translate to a positive ROI...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Leave it to the pros...seriously.

I apologize, once again, for my spotty (at best) attendance on this wonderful platform. Things are, shall we say, crazy with work and personal (we're expecting #2...due date Christmas Eve), but I'll try to stay focused on the work-based, as there's a lesson that I already knew, but is being learned by many. And it all starts with a simple analogy:

Take your favorite car that you own, give the keys to someone who's never driven before, and tell them to travel from point A to point B. Without my saying anything further, what would you expect to happen? Simple, right? CRASH, BOOM, BANG...repeat as necessary. If someone doesn't know the inherent workings of something (they know that cars transport people, beyond that...), how can you possibly expect them to take good care and be a safe 'driver'.

Some of you in the industry are probably putting it together...maybe some aren't. I'll speak in vague terms, so as not to draw professional flak, nor to be unprofessional (I'm going for caustic, not 'cost-you-your-job'-ic). Let's say a certain training organization has handled a regulary scheduled yearly influx of new staff members. And LET'S JUST SAY this training/onboarding was 1 day and that these new starts were coming from different 'departments'. LET'S JUST SAY this group has brought these folks on board for four years going, and everything was working well enough.

Enter your people in the respective departments who now say "We want to train these new starts. We want to do it our way, with our spin on things, but you (the training team in question) need to do it all for us." So, these departments design what they think is solid training and what they THINK is education, only to have the original training team be forced to be the messenger - to carry out this ill-thought, ill-prepared agenda. And now, instead of one day of the training team being devoted to training, they are pulled from their regularly scheduled duties for more than TWO WEEKS to work with each 'client', if you will.

Those of you quick on the calculators can probably figure, pretty quickly at that, the increase of 'cost' when you go from one 8-hour day to eleven of them. Those of you that develop and deliver training KNOW what happens when an over-eager SME tries to yank control on a project/module/etc. And those of you who have ever done classroom training know that it's a much more attainable task to teach to the middle line, specializing instruction afterwards, then it is to as you go along.

This HYPOTHETICAL situation I'm sure/I know is all too common in the industry, and it happens when you've worked with a group long enough that they begin to get that glazed look in their eye that equals "Training sure looks easy...I bet I could do it". It's only when they try to that they realize CBT doesn't just randomly generate from a computer program, lessons take time to plan (and that's from ME...king of rapid proto), and training takes panache, if I may be so bold. It takes a trainer to train.

Bottom line, kids - Leave it to the experts. We get it done more quickly, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively. Stick to your areas of expertise, we'll stick to ours.

Monday, May 4, 2009

CBT Monkey Thought of the Day

(Yes, I know...I am a slacker of a sorry...)

Here's a little nugget of knowledge I've found to be true when working in the realm of CBT for internal clients - Want to have these clients be more understanding of your timelines and how the review process works w/r/t CBT? Let them develop the source material for you!

As we work predominantly with Adobe Captivate, our niche training market is to recreate the user experience of using an Electronic Medical Record. We've gotten away from Captivate's innate functionality which is to captuare motion and interaction on a screen and, instead, create more of a 'simulation' than a 'demonstration' by utilizing static images and required actions. So, that's what we (the deisgners/developers) do...

Part of working with Electronic Medical Records is realizing that there's not just one EMR...there's many subdivisions beneath this umbrella and, as such, many areas of specialty. Examples include, but are certainly not limited to: Outpatient, Inpatient, Surgery, Emergency, and so on. For us (the team of two) to go in, navigate around whatever specialty area is requesting CBT to be developed, and capture not only screenshots, but accurate screenshots would require functionla knowledge that only the 'subdivision' analysts and users would have.

Solution? We created a PowerPoint based template that directly mirrors our Captivate template both in form and function. In the PowerPoint version, though, all fields are editable, so that the SMEs can insert their approved (and, what's more, CORRECT) verbiage/explanations. The SMEs can also Alt+PrntScrn for each 'click of the mouse', as we tell them, and paste each screen into PowerPoint. Highlight the area you want focused on with the pre-made highlight box, add your text...and you're done! Not only is the subject material accurate, but it's in a format that allows the client the chance to see what it looks like as a CBT, rather than just having a figurative picture in their head until 2 or 3 weeks later.

The first question I get asked about this method is usually, "How do you get your SMEs to do this?" Quite simple, really - If you explain to a SME that (a) Allowing me (the developer) to go through and attempt to capture screens/action correctly will only end up in endless edits/corrections, (b) This method will allow you to more easily translate updates/changes to the developer (instead of having to recreate the source doc over and over again), and (c) Preparing the source document like this will cut the time it takes for your course to go-live AT LEAST in half....well, if you explain these things, they tend to like the idea.

Does it take the SME more time? Up front, yes - but when it comes off, Version 1.0, looking like it's been through a couple of rounds of edits, the benefits of this method of Subject Matter Documentation are pretty clear.

If any of you (the three people that might read this) have any questions, just let me know. Let's hear it for monthly updates!

Monday, April 6, 2009

To all the non-trainer managers out there...a word from our acidic sponsor:

If there is a deficiency in performance on your team, it is YOUR responsibility to address this. The employee exhibiting the deficiency cannot know, because it (the deficiency) was created by your never showing them what they needed to do in the first place. Stop shifting blame, start taking responsibility - we're all trainers, to an extent. Start acting like it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Still very much alive...

Just haven't had the chance to collect my thoughts upon returning to the mass chaos that is my employment. To put it simply, I left with a very empty plate and, within a week of returning, currently have approximately 20 courses being developed (or redeveloped, as it were) between myself and my 'other self'. Sound like fun? Didn't think so...

Kvetching aside, though, the next entry I scribe (and I assure you it's coming soon) will be centered around one single, solitary question my Program Director asked me, unsolicitedly, upon my return: "So, this Twitter thing...should we know about that?"

The 2.0 revolution has begun...details to follow...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Future entries...

eLearning Guild's annual gathering was a blast! Taking a break from the blog, but some upcoming entries will include:

- Overall thoughts of AG09
- Verbal Economy - My linguistic concept expanded and explained
- Healthcare Instructional Technologies - Why so different?

Talk to you all soon!

Session 1002: Letting Go of the Words - Writing eLearning Content That Works (Ginny Redish, Chris Willis)

Ginny Redish is a founder of Redish & Associates, Inc and an author. Chris Willis is CEO of Media 1.

The theme of this presentation will be "Content as Conversation". Introducing the concept of eLearning as conversation and writing eLearning content as conversation will be topics covered.

Information gets from the designer/developer to the learner in the old model by means of 'one-way transmission'...from PC to student. Faulty because one way does not allow for active questioning...they get what they get. Instead, an improved model involves an innate understanding between the designer/developer and learner. An important concept to remember is that learning is not pouring information into the learner's head, but rather a conversation (involving concepts like Active Learning, Hands On, Brains On, and Active Engagement). (Side note - I really like the concept of 'brains on' learning...what a great term...)

Write Conversationally...

Think of what you are writing as part of a conversation, rather than cold hard fact (isn't this what I was doing before the powers that be told me to trim back the verbiage?). The presenter recommends developing and using personas in eLearning (yes, Topher, you might have been right...the human face makes the instruction process much more conversational and, as such, much more comfortable for a learner...makes them feel understood).

We can learn useful principles from linguistic research on conversation...

HP (Paul) Grice holds four maxims of conversation. They are assumptions about conversations and contain expectations we all have as speakers and listeners in a face-to-face conversation:

Maxim 1 - The Maxim of Quality (Truth) - Do not say what you believe to be fault, Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence

Maxim 2 - The Maxim of Quantity (Information) - Make your contribution as informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange, Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

Maxim 3 - The Maxim of Relation (Relevance) - You can talk about stuff, or you can talk to people...

Maxim 4 - The Maxim of Manner (Clarity) - Avoid obscurity of expression, Avoid ambiguity, Be brief, Be orderly

Writing eLearning content as conversation...

Applying Grice's maxims, here are some guidelines to writing eLearning as conversation:

- Don't hog the conversation
- Take turns by including useful headings
- Start with the context - on pages, in paragraphs, in sentences
- Write the conversation - active voice, personal pronouns
- Respect the learner's time - short sentences, strong verbs
- Be clear - use simple words, explain technical terms
- Think in scenarios

Steve Krug's book, titled "Don't Make Me Think", was referenced as a goldmine and the presenter mentioned that, based on this book, she should write on called "Don't Make Me Read" (again, based on Grice's maxims).

Activity involving the fumigation of yams (not as scary as it sounds) illustrates that information usually comes to us from SMEs with specifics up front and general topic info at the end. The problem of creating coursework laid out like that is that once a learner starts to read, you have a couple of seconds to catch them. If they see "Methyl Bromide" up front, they won't read on and realize it's what they need to read about "fumigation of imported yams". Give the topic first...sound advice.

When people get instruction without context, do they wait for the rest of the instruction or do they jump to act? Great question...even on the sentence level, we should be putting the context FIRST rather than anywhere else (Ex: Give the context before the required action).

Active versus passive voice was covered (I'm in heaven)...while passive is more conversational, active is more direct and the subject/verb agreement indicates a more direct correlation between the action and who should do the action. Fine line to tread...Ginny also brought up using writing to "you" (the learner) and how it personalizes the material to the learner without getitng too bulky. (Note - This is a practice I'd like to start implementing more and more in our own product, despite provider opposition).

Steps, not paragraphs...awesome. Anytime you have a list where you are repeating 80-90% of the information, with only 10-20% differentiating, use a table rather than paragraphs or lists. Awesome again. Tables work because of their "If/Then" setup.


eLearning is a converastion in which you should be accurate, brief, relevant, and clear. The most important thing we can remember in all of this, while we may keep in mind these adjectives it should be, is that it is a CONVERSATION, not a dictation or lecture.

I could not be happier that this was my last session that I attended...not because I'm glad the conference is over, but because this was BY FAR my favorite session. It took my English teacher disposition, paired it with eLearning practices wow. I learned a bit about why and when to use lists, headings, and tables, but I also was able to relate (hardcore) to Ginny as a linguist and as a 'wordy' overall. (The fact that she dropped my term (Verbal Economy) a couple of times after I brought it up couldn't have made me more proud).

Again, landslide victory - this session was the perfect ending to a perfect week...great, great, GREAT presentation Ginny...thank you so much!

Session 901 - Beyond the Blend: Optimizing the Use of your Learning Technologies (Bryan Chapman)

Bryan Chapman is owner/founder of Chapman Alliance and a research partner with eLearning Guild. He is also associated with the Brandon Hall Awards and the Training in Action Awards program.

Presenter puts The Family Feud game format out there because there's no one right answer...good concept. Did an activity, using the Family Feud format, citing the top 7 reasons why people don't use simulation based learning, especially from a rapid development standpoint: Cost, Too Much Time, Steep Learning Curve, Hard to Integrate, Why should I? (user resistance), Not in PowerPoint, and Lack of Creativity.

Mr Chapman wrote Chapter 22 in the ASTD HandBook, title of the chapter being Learning Technology Primer. The diagram he referenced had the LMS front and center, with "Off the shelf" pre-built courses, Virtual Classroom Synchro. Learning, Authoring Tools, Self-Paced/Service Online Learning, Learning Content Management, and Informal Learning (Knowledge on Demand).

Bryan covered his company's rapid prototyping model: (1) Initiate (Learning Strategy Design, etc.), with the following in a cycle: (2) Implement (Learning Infrastructure Implementation, Courseware development, Evaluation, Rapid Development), (3) Innovate (Informal Learning Strategy, Single-Source/Multimode Delivery), (4) Inventory, (5) Improve (the edit process), and (6) Impress (basically, show off your polished product).

How long does take to create learning? (A study by Mr Chapman)

An hour of classroom learning - 36 hours
An hour of eLearning - 221 hours (comparison to classroom is a ratio of 36:1)
An hour of PowerPoint based online learning - 33 hours (Low range ~ 12hrs, High ~60hrs)
An hour of simulation based learning - 750 hours (WHAT?!?! This is crazy!! Speaker referenced soft skills as opposed to hard skills, but still...)

How do you clock rapid development?

IBM's Learning Model was reviewed. IBM found that 60% of their training was more 'fact-based' learning (Word docs, White papers, Student Guides, Product Knowledge, etc.). They came to the conclusion that they shouldn't be training this 60%, these facts, in the classroom (agreed!). This 60% of computer based, then, was covered before they graduated to higher level concepts (Role Play, Practice, Self-Assessment, etc.), with these higher level concepts accounting for 20%. This all culminates in a 20% Instructor Led Culminating Experience.

(Bryan brought up a good point that to develop 100% of training with captivate is tedious...hmm...what could we do with some of that 60% that isn't necessarily screenshot based...just thinking out loud about my situation...)

So how much time should all this take? Look back to the number of hours, referenced above, and apply to the following:

- Fact Based, developed with Rapid Authoring Tools
- Rapid Simulation Development
- Classroom Development Model

Why Gagne is wrong...and why Remember/Do is right

Instead of 7, 9, or a hundred thousand different theoretical concepts, the ID model that simplifies it all the way down is "Remember, Do". Looking at Bloom's Taxonomy, every one of the six stages can be classified into either one (basically, three and three). Don't optimize on what technology you pick, but on satisfying the objectives within your organization.

The Power of Content Management

Yum!, a chain restaurant management company, has 900,000 empoloyees worldwide, 34,000 restaurants, and open 3 new restaurants a day (with 30-35 average employees per site). There is a need for customized, regionalized need for training at each location (see: KFC in China). Their prior methods of content management involved a set of binders containing ~300 Word docs. They employed manual page customization by location, by inserting or removing pages based on corporate edict.

Now, everything is done through XML, with a customized needs menu that creates the appropriate, regional and need specific training documentation that they need at each site.

The Power of Informal Learning

Jay Cross defines it as "that which is not directed by an organization or somebody in a control position". Agree/Disagree? Food for thought, as he's running short on time...but, if you agree, why and if you disagree, why not?


Bryan touched on a lot of things that I either knew or knew a part of already, but just having the dialogue helps to snap a routine-driven brain out of its standard cycle. Main takeaway here is Are we teaching fact level knowledge (the 60%) in the classroom or via simulation? If so, why are we still doing that and what can we do to get away from it, free up the resources doing it, and reassign the resources otherwise? Definitely gave my brain a good scratch...great job, Bryan!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Session 711 - Case Study: Team-based Development of Simulation-Based Application Training (Alana Meeker & Michele Stouffer)

Alana Meeker and Michele Stouffer represent Ford Motor Company, both Instructional Designers.

The fable of Re-Learning eLearning - How process and priduct changed to meet the needs of a specific project

Quick overview of the case study - Training on Finance Software to be delivered to a golbal audience of new and existing users. Five finance modules, plus an overview to be developed. Application training ONLY was they put it, "no fluff".

One thing I noticed straight away when looking at their content was that it was very simple in its design and appearance - clean, nearly clinical. They use on-screen 'coaches', as they put it, that is a human face giving instruction, rather than a cold, hard text caption alone. Peoplesoft is used to develop their course shell, and Captivate is used to develop their simulation.

(Note - I will try to remain as objective as possible here, but, well...if you know me, you know what I do, and you know what I do it with (Captivate))

After developing the courses, they submitted their material to their 'masters' and they determined that anything aside from the actual application simulation was what they considered to be 'fluff'. Right away, I hold issue with this because you have to set up simulations...give the background, if you will. To launch someone straight away into a simulation is like jumping into an ice cold pool or hot bath...

Two issues were identified: Limited time and resources and Knowledge Transfer (SME to ISD, then ISD to developer). Here again, it seems like a major overstaff for what I'm looking at. Why couldn't the SME work directly with an ISD/Developer, especially considering the course was being developed in Captivate? Presenters identified aggressive timelines as an issue, but at this point I really don't see that...

Three problems identified that needed to be addressed before this conversion could be addressed. First, was a redesign of the course 'shell'. They were able to launch six courses from one page. (I'm still not quite on their page as to why this was such a herculean task?)

Secondly, they had to adapt their process to meet an aggressive timeline, and their solution was to adapt their current process to meet an aggressive timeline, which involves storyboarding and a simulation script. (Looking at the process, why so many steps?? I realize I'm very close to the content, but still...13 steps?) A great question came up - What is the difference between a storyboard and this separate "simulation script"? The presenter explained that they're different...but why?

Lastly, they had to design a new template for the revised process and a new shell, overall. Over four years, I've revised our process several times...When we develop, how we develop, how we get the SME involved, and so on. And, again, I fully recognize that there are separate difficulties associated with working alongside an external client. But this is not a huge task...deisgn your new process, submit it for approval, and implement.

So, as I understand it...January to June 15th, 10 staff members, 6 courses with 30-35 slides, on average, each. Maybe healthcare is just simpler content...but I don't know...


I realize I'm very close to this material, so I'm certainly much more opinionated than I normally would be, viewing a presentation, say, that I'm not ingrainedly familiar with. And, again, I understand that not only are our clients in house, but they're in house IT, so it's easy for them to work it in PowerPoint, then submit to us. That said, I just don't follow how any of this is rapid. From my standpoint, it all appeared pretty routine, if not lax in some of the timelines and/or staffing scenarios mentioned.

Session 610 - Leveraging Technology with Human Expertise for Rewarding Results (Skip Marshall)

Skip Marshall is the Director of eLearning for Intelladon.

What is Learning?

More than just the transfer of knowledge from point A to point B, it's about transferring the knowledge AND augmenting learner behavior. Doesn't matter if they've learned it, it matters if they do it.

The organization's definition of Learning includes Employee/Operation manuals, ILT, OJT, Safety Sheets, FAQs. A learner's take on it, however, involves things such as Podcasts, TV Networks, Online Curriculum Maps, Virtual Learning, Informal Learning, Internal Social Networking and Collaboration Platforms.

Discussion came up as to what groups/industries use/allow 2.0 social technologies. Academia proved the majority that was on Facebook, whereas some corporate folks were as well. The topic came up as to why it is/isn't allowed. Was determined that there should be a separation between personal and professional social networking...

Where do businesses provide learning?

- Content Management Systems
- Learning Management Systems
- Learning Content Management Systems
- Shared Drives

Where do learners seek it?

- Learning on Demand
- Wikis (Confluence, Wikipedia)
- Blogs
- Social Networks

Interesting thing to note - The U.S. Navy is using Wiki technology...just found that interesting and would love to hear more about how it's used...

Learning as a Means

The question posed - Why would any executive allow for multiple LMS-es? Decentralization occurs and, previously, there were 'fat' budgets. Now, though, it's a different story...there's a call across most industries to consolidate back to one platform, for both budgetary and organizational concerns.

Skip's solution? One platform for all your needs through Sharepoint: Individual, Team, Division, Enterprise, Extranet, and does it all! QLogic case study illustrated the way in which it can be used to be COMPLIANT (<-- big word in healthcare!).

Another solution presented centered around Cornerstone Talent Management System. Three core features: (1) Engages employees through a highly graphical approach, (2) MyTeam feature pulls in the concepts of Goals, Tasks, and Training and allows management that ability to track short-term assignments, and (3) Integrates Learning, Compliance, Performance, Compensation, and Succession.

There's no one solution that works for everyone...this really sums up the entire session. For as ideal as we can be, no one solution will work across the board. But the bottom line is that these technologies are out there and, for learners to take us seriously and become experts, we have to begin to come over to their side of expectations, rather than sitting/hiding behind organizational expectation. Great presentation, Skip!

Session 504 - The Evolution of All Things 2.0 (Brent Schlenker)

Had to take a break hands are starting to lock up on me, I've been blogging so much. Brief overview of this can be summed up thusly:

Learning in Web 2.0 should be 5able:

- Searchable
- Linkable
- Editable
- Taggable
- Feedable

And the greatest quote, lending credibility to 2.0: WE are smarter than ME.

(Example: Journey found their new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, on YouTube)

Keynote Speaker - Day Two - Bill Tancer

From Bill's bio: Bill Tancer is the world's preeminent expert on online behavior. He is general manager of global research at Hitwise, the world's leading online competitive intelligence services company. He is widely quotede on the latest Internet trends. He appears as a frequent guest on CNBC and has been quoted in major print and online media. Bill writes a weekly column for Time magazine called "The Science of Search".

(Bill won his science camp talent show by reciting Pi to 200 digits...I like this guy already)

It all started with a junk email from, that Bill almost deleted, asking if he wanted to write a column. Instead of deleting it, Bill replied to it "sure". Lesson one = check your junk email!

Mystery Searches, Prom Dresses, and the Ultimatum Theory

Bill showed an example of data collected by Hitwise - 1/1 to 1/5 had the most search traffic, annually, for diets than any other time during the year. The lowest, conversely, was in and around Thanksgiving. This trend exists year after year.

The most popular retail search is for Prom Dresses and, again, the real spike occurs in early January. The problem with this, though, was that retail stores began marketing their dresses in March. The disconnect was clear. Hitwise aided the industry by providing the data and, essentially, expanded their sales period of prom dresses from March - May to January - May, doubling their annual sales. Awesome use of the data!

Prom dresses aside, engagement ring sales, in brick and mortar, spiked the week after Thanksgiving. Bill's data showed it was actually the week before Thanksgiving (for what reason {"I'm not going home empty handed"} he's not sure), but, again, HitWise data was pointing out an inefficiency in the marketplace.

Women Wrestlers, Economic Predicitons, and The Narrative Fallacy

Dancing with the Stars is a popularity contest...and, therefore, searches on the stars could, essentially, predict who was going to win...or so Bill thought. Stacey Keibler came in as the most searched, Drew Lachey and Jerry Rice second and third. But Stacey didn't win...what happened? What was the intent of the search? Five words - Hot Pictures of Stacey Keibler...perhaps the 'searchers' weren't really Dancing with the Stars fans...

You have to go beyond the search term and look at the actual intent of the search - and, thus, The Stacey Keibler Correction Coefficient was formed. Intent as well as content...Other areas of application included unemployment filing and home sales. Not nearly as interesting as women wrestlers, though...

Cognitive Dissonance and the Adult Entertainment Industry

Cognitive Dissonance means to answer a question posed to you in the best possible light. Observed behavior doesn't contain CD, but how you sayyou behave differs from how you actually behave. Bill asked the audience how many people frequent adult entertainment sites, and nobody raised their hand. Would this not, then, dictate that the internet is porn free? Of course, we know different...(not from personal experience, mind you)

Somebody's not telling the truth...this is one of the most extreme examples of CD. Narrative Fallacy was also covered, referring to when you sample a large amount of data, it's very easy to look through the data and filter out, if you will, the data that suits your needs best. The remaining data is left by the wayside...

An example of Narrative Fallacy - The CEO of Estee Lauder said that as times got tough, sales of more affordable luxuries (in this case lipstick) go up. HitWire study of this trend just happened to coincide with the Stock Market crash. The study showed that while sales of lipstick went up, it was more to do with the "Lipstick on a Pitbull" comment than the 'affordable luxury' concept.

Is eLearning Recession-Proof?

As the economy has been going down, users are stepping away from online commerce and focusing more on online education...a form of 'self-betterment'. Interest in eLearning went way up as the economy went way down. An interesting trend with this data - Individuals in the higher income brackets showed the greatest increase in visits (going from about 9% to about 13%), whereas it actually dropped in lower income brackets.


- Observed behavior provides unique insight into changing consumer sentiment.
- eLearning, both from the perspective of insitutions and platforms, is moving opposite of the economy.

Great presentation, overall. The fact that eLearning is going in the opposite direction of the economy is a great sign for those of us in this industry. What's more, this might actually be able to drive more for us, whereas other departments are going through cutbacks. This data will definitelybe used when I get back...hopefully for some Captivate 4 love!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Session 307 - Forceps, Scalpel, Captivate... (Me!)

To all the folks who survived my session:

A world of thanks for making my presentation enjoyable! You all were a great audience to have and it was your input and intelligent questions that made it just a great time!

Thanks again,

Session 208 - Using Wikis in Instructor-led Training (Rachel Troychock)

What is a Wiki? A collaborative, sharing, creativity-based information community...they're editable, linkable, searchable, and, again, collaborative.

It all started for KPMG based off of two concepts - Web 2.0 and Going Green. Specifically, they used Sharepoint, as part of 2.0, which was, in essence a team blog. From there, there was a Kickoff Meeting, which consisted of clients and management. This spawned a design meeting and one of the initial kickoff questions was "Can we embed a PowerPoint on a Sharepoint page?".

Fast forward, acceptance later, Train the Trainer sessions occurred, allowing the training staff to illustrate their knowledge of the new 2.0 concepts. Once the trainers were trained, the actual participants received their training. With all trained and the functionality in place, the only thing left was to establish a Support Team for this new technology.

The way they utilized Wikis in four separate generations. These included:

1st Generation - Replacement of paper guides, Wiki pages, Document repository
2nd Generation - Glossary
3rd Generation - Online activities, capturing of feedback
4th Generation- Threaded discussion for question box

From an ROI perspective, using Wikis in instruction saves 10,000 sheets of paper per 30 person instructor led training session. Beyond this, the costs of printing and shipping were saved, along with there being a more flexible development period and development time was cut in half. User response was overwhelmingly positive, citing that the Wiki was great and that they enjoyed not having three ring binders.

Overall, for me, these are awesome concepts to listen to, but given the nature of my organization, it's hard to conceptualize where any of this will fit in. One thing that started circulating around my head again was the concept of Epic online community that would allow Epic users to submit and answer one another's questions. But it comes down to, again, the life or death nature of a wrong answer - a lot can happen if something's not answered right in healthcare. Nervewracking, but I think there is something there that can be worked with...more to come on this, I'm sure. (And, BTW - Ideas always welcome!)

I've given in...

I'm on Twitter, at the behest of someone who will remain nameless, but whose name rhymes with Staple Boystock...

Session 104 - What Activities are Needed? (Patti Shank)

How do songbirds learn their songs?

Objectives for this presentation are to (1) Determine which practice activities are needed and (2) Consider ways to build these activities online.

Focusing on the "How-To's", the presenter used an example of performing a workplace violence threat assessment. The overall goal is to make selecting activities easier and make the activities mroe valuable. Out of the three steps (Uncovering the DOs, Converting the DOs into activities, and Selecting media to support), we mainly focused on the second step.

We looked at the first step briefly - Uncovering the DOs (recall facts, find and make use of information, etc.). Basically, this is task identification. Look at the DO types and assign them to specific DOs. Once you've identified these tasks, or DOs (if you will), you need to identify the practice activities. The overall flow looks like this:

Do Types --> DOs --> Practice Activities --> Media

An example would be as follows:

(5) Complete Needed Steps --> Perform a Threat Assessment --> Threat Assessment Completed and Submitted to HR --> Threat Assessment form, etc.

Another general breakdown of this concept: What do they need to do? What don't they know how to do? What can they do to learn it? What do we need to help them learn?

Overall, this presentation covered assigning appropriate activities to appropriate tasks, all the while making sure these activities are appropriately administered (ex: If the DO is online or computer based, the activity should be, as well). A nice, in-depth look at instructionally appropriate activities for specfic learning tasks.

"The songbird must babble before they can sing" - but the songbird must listen to another bird, not pop radio...

Keynote Speaker - Day One - Jeff Howe

The Suburban Morons...seriously? Fluevog? This guy's already a class act in my book, content aside...


Crowd Sourcing - The analogy goes like this: A lot like Old Faithful...but it's not about the water that sprays out, rather it's about what's below the surface...the magma, the pressure, etc. It's not something I've ever really thought about before, or really knew about - but I've participated in it more than I've known.

Practically, I can't see a tie in to what we do, but that's not to downplay it in the just means my industry is a bit more tight gripped in the way we do things. Thinking to other, less rigid industries, I can see an amazing amount of applications.

Crowd Sourcing = cheap labor, input for free...and you can't argue with that.

My apologies...I got so engrossed in Jeff's presentation that my details are a bit sparse, but there are four tenets that lend themselves to the rise of Crowd Sourcing. They are:

1.) The Amateur Renaissance
2.) The Open Source Revolution
3.) The Democratization of Production
4.) The Rise of Online Communities

Again, great presentation - I can definitely see value in Crowd Sourcing for other industries. I don't know that I'd ever be able to find a use for it, creating CBT for the Healthcare industry (specifically, an EMR with very specific processes), but who knows...they said four years ago that CBT wouldn't work either!

Up and running

Well, I swore I'd never blog again...but, given that I'm here, amongst my peers, immersed in the glorious technological glow of eLearning...time to start again.

I'm currently at AG09 and soaking in the first keynote...sounds good so far...more to come.