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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays to all, I'm taking a few days off this holiday season and will be blogging again in the new year!


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Learning about 3D Worlds with Tony O' Driscoll

Tony O'Driscoll explaining his "Seven Sensibilities of 3D Worlds" in Second Life class on MSIT Island.

If one of your New Year's Resolutions is to learn more about 3D worlds, check out the workshop being done by Tony O'Driscoll who recently joint the ranks of academia.

You can learn more about Tony's workshop on his blog at Save the Date: Feb 2 and 3 Workshop at Training. If you are planning on being there, I suggest you take the time to attend his workshop, it will be excellent and informative and give you an entirely new perspective on 3D learning.

Here is a brief description of his workshop.

And as a Christmas Present: Use VIP Code TTZE6 to receive $150 off Registration!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Conspiracy Theory: Teaching Ethics

How do you teach ethics? Sometimes a lawyer comes to a company and speaks on the topic, sometimes it is part of a new employee orientation program and sometimes it is an e-learning module where you answer true/false or multiple choice questions....seriously does anyone think that type of training is going to impact ethical decisions?

Instead, I think you should make everyone read three books, all about actual ethical breaches and then dissect and discuss the main characters and then talk about what each person would do in a similar situation.

Most ethics breaches are not because of a "lack of knowledge" which is what training addresses, it is because of a failure to see conflicts of interest or of choosing not to see conflicts of interest because you are somehow small indiscretion leads to others.

But what ethics violators fail to see is the damage they are causing themselves and others...they often think they are justified when they aren't.

So, three good books on the topics of ethics are really good cautionary tales about what not to do. So for future ethics training, I suggest you require your class to read the following (yes, read, I know its sooo low tech.)

Unfortunately, there are lots of books about ethical breaches in companies so if these three don't inspire you...then choose others. I have to say that Conspiracy of Fools about Enron was a page is long but I couldn't put it down...even when I knew what was coming, I marveled at the arrogance and foolishness of the key players but they never saw their downfall coming. It was riviting.

So, I suggest that if you or someone you know this Christmas season is into conspiracies then this is a collection for them. Or, more importantly, if you have to teach an ethics course in 2008, I suggest a reading list like this is a much better way to begin a discussion of ethics than with some type of training or e-learning course.

*Disclosure: In the spirit of true disclosure and to avoid any ethical breaches, I do receive a 6% fee whenever anyone purchases a book through the Amazon links on my blog. It averages out to about $18 a quarter. I really just use the Amazon Associates feature so I don't have to hunt around for pictures of books, video games, etc. Amazon always has the visual I need.


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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Finch Who Stole E-Learning

The folks over at Enspire have created a wonderful holiday greeting. You really need to check out the animated story How the Finch Stole E-Learning. It will bring a smile to your face.

Thanks to Cammy Bean for pointing this out. And thanks to Bjorn Billhardt, Stephen Robinson and the whole gang at Enspire for a little holiday cheer and laughter!


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GeekBrief TV

I am sure you've tuned into GeekBrief.TV before. But...if you haven' should.

GeekBrief.TV provides viewers with quick, easy-to-understand videos with just the right amount of information about the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. I've been into videos lately (see Shooting Educational/Instructional Videos) so the show's format, style and approach has really caught my attention.

The host is Cali Lewis and she provides an energetic look at all the latest gadgets and gizmos in quick, easy-to-understand videos in many different formats so they are easily compatible with almost any video device.

The site, the format and the delivery can all serve as a great model for providing educational videos to your learners. Imagine providing your sales force with product information or insights in a short video format or providing compliance videos as short vignettes or accounting tips to employees that do accounting for a living.

Just enough information to allow the sales force, accountants or shop floor personnel to gain a little bit of knowledge but not so much that they are overwhelmed with facts and figures. Over time they will retain and understand the information better if it is provided in digestible pieces that are...dare I

As GeekBrief.TV states:
Geek Brief TV is a 3-5 minute video podcast, released 4-5 times a week. We cover news about technology, consumer electronics, and Web 2.0 projects. We’ve gotten a lot of requests to make the Briefs longer than five minutes. So why don’t we? Our goal with Geek Brief is to keep people up to date on what’s happening in technology without investing a lot of time to do it. We don’t think technology should be boring, and we have a lot of fun producing Geek Brief.
Watch a few episodes to become enlightened about technology and then watch a few episodes to figure out how to adapt this model to your own internal training. It might be a lot better than creating sporadic 12 minute or 20 minute videos which people tune out after a short time anyway. And a little learning, administered a couple times a week might go a lot further than dumping information onto an employee all at once.

Thanks to Dr. Tim Phillips for reminding me of this great site.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If MacGyver was stuck in a conference room....

Have you ever wondered...

"What would MacGyver do if he were stuck in a conference room with a pen, a projector, a tripod, an LED light, and a Wiimote."

Here is the answer

Two things:
  • Of, course...who doesn't mount a projector onto a tripod???? (generally useful)
  • The hardware, software and concepts of video games are coming to mainstream is only a matter of time.
Special thanks to Andy Shean for this great video.

For other great MacGyver-type ideas, see Johnny Chung Lee's web site.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gifting Corporate Clients or Associates? Try 3G4L

It is always so hard to determine what type of corporate gift is appropriate for clients, co-workers or your boss? What do you get them that is not too expensive but not too cheap, that is business-focused but not too business-focused.

Well, I think the perfect answer is Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning., it is fun but serious, informative but easy-to-read, insightful but not overly academic. Check it out as a gift for yourself or others. But don't take my word for it...

It was mentioned by Cammy Bean as inspirational as she was developing e-learning. Learning Visions: Instructional Design Inspiration

It was mentioned by Aaron in his Stuff I'm Doing post.

Here is what ASTD's Magazine, T&D had to say about Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning.
[This book, like others, talks about] the impending retirement of baby boomers and how companies are dealing with the critical knowledge transfer that needs to take place.

But what makes this book different is its unique approach to the knowledge-transfer issue...This book is a valuable resource for any business looking to find practical solutions to the boomer-gamer knowledge-transfer gap. It reveals new methods and tools that are being used successfully in a variety of settings, including Flash mobs and cheat codes, video iPods, instant messaging and blogging.

Several of people I know from the field have sent copies to clients and co-workers as gifts. So if you need a last minute gift...


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Friday, December 14, 2007

Shooting Educational/Instructional Videos

Currently, I am involved in creating an educational corporate video. I've worked on a script, helped to develop the treatment and vision for the shoot, coordinated dates and talent with the client and helped with the talent while on location...corporate executives.

So here are some resources that can help you think about creating videos for educational uses. Even though the technology is gotten simpler and simpler to use, you still need someone with the knowledge and expertise of video shooting to make the difference, you need creativity and experience...we hired a pro who has done a number of on television documentaries to provide assistance (he's also an alum of our program.)

Here are some resources:If you have any good sites or tips, please feel free to add.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gamer 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 or 4.0?

A while back I had a discussion with Cammy Bean of Learning Visions about what level of "gamer" she was and even if she was a gamer at all. No resolution was ever reached but her post Are You a Gamer? generated many comments.

Well the controversy may be over. Several excellent students (Nicole Clark, Heather Gee, Aaron Kennelly and David Robbins) created a fun little assessment tool called Gamer Rater that helps you determine what level of gamer you are according to Games, Gadgets and Gizmos for Learning. You progress through a series of choices you make throughout a typical day and at the end you are given a summary and a brief description of the type of gamer you are.

So take a few moments and take the assessment and please let me and the students know if you have any ideas for improvement or modifications via comments on this blog entry, the semester is over but they'll be willing to make some post-semester changes.

So, if you have some time, take the assessment: Game Rater and let us know what you think.

if you enjoy the little assessment, please pass it along to your friends and co-workers.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yale's Online Course Initiative

Last night in a "blogger only" press conference (love the idea), a team from Yale University announce the launching of seven online introductory courses. Complete courses with audio and video from each class session within the course.

For an excellent summary of the session, see Christy Tucker's summary in Open Yale Courses, New Media Traditional Pedagogy.

As the press release stated:
The project, called “Open Yale Courses,” presents unique access to the full content of a selection of college-level courses and makes them available in various formats, including downloadable and streaming video, audio only and searchable transcripts of each lecture. Syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets and other materials accompany the courses.

Diana E. E. Kleiner, Dunham Professor of the History of Art and Classics and the director of the project, noted that the full content of all the courses is now readily available online and may be accessed at the users’ convenience.

“We wanted everyone to be able to see and hear each lecture as if they were sitting in the classroom,” Kleiner said. “It’s exciting to make these thought-provoking courses available so broadly for free. While education is best built upon direct interactions between teachers and students, Yale believes that leading universities have much to contribute to making educational resources accessible to a wider audience. We hope this ongoing project will benefit countless people around the world

I encourage you to check out the courses for your self at Open Yale Courses. It really is neat that you can "attend" different courses at one of the major universities in the world and see some of what makes Yale...Yale.

The concept is great and the use of many different media to provide content is going to be effective, you can listen to a lecture, watch the video or read a transcript. Content how you want it when you want it. I like the idea and if you don't want to hear an entire semester's worth of a course, you can just find the one or two lectures that you find of particular interest and watch/listen/read those.

So, in your spare time:) take a course from Yale and then consider your own design of courses...are they accessible in various formats or do you have everything "trapped" in a course creation system that is only accessible through a heavily guarded LMS?

Getting your Bachelor degree through some kind of online degree program is one way that some people choose to get their degree for various reasons. For some people online universities are a viable answer to schedule issues that can be overcome by getting an online MBA rather than attending classes in person.

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Content Guide

Monday, December 10, 2007

Using A Game to Teach History

Check out this TeacherTube Video about how a teacher is using Civilization III to teach history. Good stuff. It sure beats a memorization and repetition of facts. I especially like the viewpoint of the kids playing the game and learning history. Also, having a sceptic who eventually converts is a nice touch for the piece.

I've written about similar uses of this game and other commercial games for classroom use in Commercial Games with Educational Value

Here are three more games that can be used in the classroom:


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Friday, December 07, 2007

Roll the Tape!

The tape of my television appearance on CBS affiliate WYOU is now available, courtesy of WYOU with editing assistance from Matt Monahan. You can view a large screen or small screen version. The tape starts with some "man on the street" interviews, some info about e-learning, an exchange between the anchor and weather man and then goes into the interview.

I have to say I thought that the anchor Eric Scheiner was well prepared and had actually read the entire first chapter of the book. Plus the entire story and slant made e-learning much more main stream...imagine a newscast talking about e-learning...who'd a thunk?

I provided a bunch of information and even some sample questions but Eric had his own questions prepared and even had the first chapter highlighted with questions he wanted to ask.

I made a couple of mistakes during the interview. At one point, I meant to say "Albert Einstein didn't memorize anything he could look up." If you listen, you'll notice I butchered that quote and the discussion of placing seafood directly or indirectly on ice was not as smooth as it could have been. I did get some really interesting questions from the callers. The first gentleman, Tom was entertaining. And my wife said, "I hope none of your son's teachers are listening to the broadcast." If you wait until near the end, you'll hear why.

I brought all the games and controllers set up in the background and several copies of Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning which they did a great job of showing and promoting in a subtle way. I gave the copies to the producer a production assistant and to Eric. The B-Roll footage was all from the station, it didn't always pertain to what I was speaking about but I guess it worked.

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and look forward to more in the future.

Besides interesting videos and online music there are lots of ways to have fun with stuff online, especially if you can find some sort of online game that you really like and can play from anywhere. Then when it's time to get down to business and turn off the game you can place orders to save money on textbooks online as well.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
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Content Guide

Thursday, December 06, 2007

ASTD's Big Question for December: New Learning

The ASTD Big question this month is What did you learn about learning in 2007?

I learn so much all the time from students, clients and colleagues, it is hard to narrow it down to just one or two things, but I'll try.

Here are a few of the lessons I have learned. Mostly about the power of the network and Web 2.0 tools.

First, I learned how far a digital asset can travel if people find it has value.One of my student's YouTube videos Educational Uses of Second Life has over 5,500 hits and has been favorited 67 times. And a piece I created called Avoiding Death by PowerPoint has taken on a life of its own. I still get emails about the piece and when we switched servers, got a lot of emails asking me to re-instate the link or provide a new one.

The lesson: Good instruction doesn't need to be long and it stands on its own. If you create a learning nugget that people need...they will find it. Learners hunt for relevant information.As learning professionals we need to find out what nuggets interest learners...not what courses to design.

Second, I learned first hand the exponential power of the social network of the web. My blog book tour was a huge success for me both emotionally and from a sales perspective. See Recap of Blog Book Tour for Gadgets, Games and Gizmos. What really amazed me was how far the blog book tour travelled. We had a number of people join the tour, write about the tour and generally created great discussions about the book...about the boomer/gamer knowledge gap.

The lesson: People/learners will voluntarily join a discussion or dialague when they feel they can add value and when they feel part of a larger group. As learning professionals we can create the framework for the dialogue to occur and let learners know their contributions are valuable.

Third, I learned about the power of the blogosphere and Web 2.0 tools to transform traditional learning when I taught a class this summer using blogs, wikis, YouTube and other tools that required the students to create and distribute their own original content. I summed up my initial impression in my blog entry Tear Down The Walls: Web 2.0 Extends Class and then in a follow up Web 2.0 Lessons Learned.

The lesson: Opening up a class to the blogosphere and leveraging Web 2.0 tools provides learners an opportunity to learn from each other and learn from the larger professional community. Opening classes, rather than closing them behind an LMS, is the future of learning and a great way to spread knowledge throughout an organization, community and profession. As learning professionals we need to create and distribute content that is open and accessible to as many learners as possible.

Look forward to next month's question.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Newspaper Article--Great Comment

Last week, I was interviewed by our local newspaper, The Danville News about my book, Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning and yesterday, the article appeared on the front page of the paper (remember, its a local newspaper.)

I think the reporter for the newspaper did a fantastic job with a balanced, fair story and an accurate description and recording of the interview. (So a shout Out to Jamie for great work.)

If you like, you can check out the article Author: Games help children learn: New titles can be used to train adults for workforce and decide for yourself.

But what really had an impact on me was an email sent to me by a local teacher in response to the article.

The teacher writes:
I read your article in the Daily Item today and I thought it was great. I am a teacher at [a local school] and I am a big supporter of bringing technology into the classroom. I hope that your article will speak to those teachers that are reluctant to see technology, especially video games, as a hindrance to education. I think that games and many other forms of technology could enhance education and make school much more enjoyable, especially for students who would rather not be here. While I did not write a book on the subject I did do a paper on it this fall and used some of the same examples and sources that you used. Thank you again for all you are doing by helping people understand the benefits of technology

No...thank you. You are on the front lines using technology to make a difference every day in the lives of kids. You deserve the thanks and I hope the parents and administrators understand and appreciate what you are doing for these kids. Keep up the great work blending education and technology!

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Get People Moving...have them play a Video Game

One of the main complaints about video games are that they encourage obesity and inactivity...that's not always the case. With the sometimes-sedentary senior citizens,video games are actually getting them moving.

The Nintendo Wii is being used by many senior citizens for exercises and recreation at senior centers across the country...See Hoover senior citizens get a Wii bit of exercise where the article states 87 year old residents are enjoying the Wii.

One resident is quoted as saying "I have enjoyed the challenge of playing it [bowling] It's good exercise for your body but also good exercise for your eyes and mind." Also see the blog posting Senior Citizens Going Nuts for Nintendo Wii

Be careful though, all this extra exercise might lead to some aches and pains and sports injuries.

As the Wall Street Journal article, A Wii Workout: When Videogames Hurt indicates
All those flailing arms can sometimes inadvertently smack into lamps, furniture and even competing players.
So keep away from others.

To get seniors (and other couch potatos) moving even more, Nintendo is soon to be releasing the Wii Fit which involves coordination, balance, aerobic exercise, agility, strength and body focus. Check it out in the short video below:

However, don't forget that years ago, Sony's EyeToy pioneered the exercise/video game genre which was a lot of fun and gave you your own personal workout.

Here is a short description from the playstation page.
EyeToy: Kinetic™ is an innovative fitness product that provides players with an authentic personalized exercise program all in the comfort of their own home Utilizing the revolutionary EyeToy® USB Camera technology and developed in association with Nike Motionworks (experts in fitness, motion and body movement) players will experience a more effective workout inspired by activities such as Tai Chi, Kick Boxing, Aerobics, Yoga, Modern Dance and more.

Two unique personal trainers provide direction, real-time performance evaluations and encouragement as players of all fitness levels engage in a comprehensive 12-week training routine or select individual routines to shape and tone specific areas.

Wrapped in modern styling and supplemented with an energetic soundtrack, EyeToy: Kinetic is a fun and immersive fitness product like no other

Check out the Nike Kinetic web page.

So when you think video games, don't always think Couch Potato...think movement

And see My Wife..Guitar Hero for a post describing another game that gets people moving.


Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

Saturday, December 01, 2007

CAC: Fall 2007 Corporate Advisory Council Event ReCap

Twice a year corporate professionals from the fields of instructional technology, e-learning, and instructional design arrive in tiny Bloomsburg Pennsylvania to evaluate students in a our instructional technology graduate program. This year we had over 35 corporate professionals and at the end of the week, we have 11 companies interviewing 16 students for jobs. It was fantastic.

The three day event works as follows. On the first day, the students observe presentations done by the members of our Corporate Advisory Council. Representatives from different companies present what they are doing in the field to the students and to fellow professionals. This year we also had a panel discussion which focused on contractors and what they need to consider when going solo. You can read about each presentation below.
On the second day, students presented. Their presentations are part of a class I teach called Managing Multimedia Projects in Bloomsburg University's Instructional Technology Program.

In the class, I form students into teams and have them each team create a Proposal based on a Request for Proposal I design specifically for the class. The students must write a 40 page response to the RFP, create a working prototype and then deliver a 20 minute sales presentation. Once the exercise is complete, one team is awarded the "contract" but they are all winners because it prepares students to write and respond to RFPs and gives them insight into the business aspects of the e-learning field.

This year, the RFP was focused on the topic of creating a certification program for sales representatives. The idea behind the RFP was that the company issuing the RFP already had a training program in place and wanted to have the "vendor" recommend a certification process that would ensure that the sales representatives knew their stuff before going into the field to sell. The students did a great job researching the topic and determining the best solution.

The first student team to present was Think Fast. Their solution had the benefits of high interactivity between the user and a virtual doctor, instant proof of certification of new employees to sell products, the assessments were self-paced and the solution was provided by experienced experts in the field. The team members were Matthew Monahan, Sunita Adhikari, Steven Davis, Ruth Houck and Garrett Metz.

The second team was Sparta Learning, Inc. The solution they proposed was based on a system they had developed called PACES-Personal Assessment and Certification E-Learning System. Their solution consisted of a series of quizzes leading to both the knowledge and behavioral assessments. The team consisted of Stan Yann, Jennifer Cerreta, Nicolas Hanhan, Aman Tyagi and Lance Collier.

The third student team to present was eJewel International. eJewel's solution consisted of two parts. The first was subdivided into three multiple choice knowledge assessments in teh areas of physiology, human anatomy and various mechanism of action for pain relief. The second was an interactive role playing activity that assessed employee selling skills such as building credibility and other assessment items. eJewel was the overall winner of the exercise. The team consisted of Chase Winters, Danny Collins, Kate Krasnokutska, Mach Meas, and Melanie Campbell.

Over 35 e-learning professionals attended the event and evaluated the students. The students present for 20 minutes and then answer questions about their solution for 20minutes and then receive feedback on how they did. They don't always enjoy the feedback at the time but, in the long term, the feedback and insight provided to them by the professionals helps make them stronger professionals in the field.It really helps in the search for talent to see the students perform in a pressure situation.

That evening the CAC members and the students have dinner together and enjoy discussions in a more informal setting.

On the third day, the Corporate Advisory Council members have a chance to interview the students for jobs and internships. And hear about the initiatives that we are doing at the university and give feedback and input into our curriculum to keep us current and on track. As mentioned earlier, we had 11 different companies interviewing and speaking with the students.

We do the entire event all over again in April, it is a great experience for the students, faculty and CAC members. The connection between what they are learning in class and their future profession is made very clear in this event.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

CAC-Greg Sapnar and Steven Just

Greg and Steven present general industry information about assessment and certification to students and CAC members. The talk provided a good overview of certification programs for training and the various elements that an organization would need to consider prior to undertaking a certification process.

Steven is owner and president of the well-known on-line testing provider Pedagogue Solutions. He holds a Master’s degree in computer science and a Doctorate in educational psychology, and has been active in the field of learning and measurement for over 20 years. He is the co-author of a college textbook and the author of more than one dozen articles on applications of technology to learning.

And Greg Sapnar of BMS was named outstanding SPBT Member of the year for 2007. This award is for SPBT members who go above and beyond, who give amazing amounts of time and energy, and who inspire others with their selfless commitment to helping SPBT to thrive.

As said on the SPBT award page, "Both members and vendors consider him a real pro," says SPBT President John Constantine. "But his willingness to share this expertise is what makes him an award winner."

We thank both Greg and Steven for the time they dedicated this semester to the CAC and thank them for their willingness to share this semester with our students. It greatly enhanced the students educational experience.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CAC-InfoLogix--Tom Kruezberger

Tom's topic was mobile learning and the importance of building solutions to match the needs of the client.

InfoLogix follows a fiver step process to develop instruction which consists of:
Change Management
Knowledge Acquisition
Knowledge Application
Continuing Improvement

Tom talked about not everyone wanting mobile learning and gave an example of hand held devices being returned with screw drivers in them. (we were using them as a stylist and it accidently went through the screen.)

Some examples of people using mobile learning are:
Home Health Care Professionals
MBNA 4000 Marketing Reps

Tom underlined that fact that you need to find the WIIFM for the end user. (What's In It For Me.)

He found that for information acquisition, you need to use traditional e-learning methods. But use actual screen size on the actual hand held device. Make everything the same screen size as the actual application.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

CAC-Louis Biggie

We needed an ad hoc presentation and Louis Biggie stepped up to the plate and gave a great presentation on teaching conversational modeling which tells people not what to do...but how to do it. The learning modules provide different examples of a difficult conversation and provides people the chance to focus on practicing skills like empathy, dealing with negative emotions and other things that can't be automated or outsourced.

One question asked was "How do you teach someone to deal with "curve balls?" Louis indicated that the best strategy for that is to wrap the e-learning modules around coaching and instruction which tells learners that they will experience problems at some point and they need to be prepared but the e-learning module will help but is not the final answer to dealing with difficult topics.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

CAC-Panel Discussion-Consulting/Contracting

Next, we had a panel discussion called Working Collaboratively and Independently Simultaneously:Independent and Contractor and Small Business Forum. The panel consisted of Robyn Defelice, Jennifer Pearson, Brad Keller, Jonathan Jones and Phil Charron and had great information about being an independent contractor/consultant.
The discussion focused on non-compete agreements, intellectual property and other issues related to creating content and ideas for clients. The discussion also centered around how each person got started as a contractor.

A suggestion was made to set expectations with employers about when travel is possible and when travel is not possible, especially as related to family issues. The idea is not to suprise the company for whom you are working.

A discussion about scoping and dealing with scope creep gathered a lot of interest. Fixed-price and time and material issues are discussed as well. Advice was to give a really specific scope for the project and people that hire contractors look for contractors who ask questions to help define scope. You can also ask for a "learning curve" path to help you learn more about the processes and prcedures of your client.

A good discussion was occured concerning networking and finding business. It was mentioned that the best leads are generated based on the "good work" and performance that you have done. So good work is fundamental for getting more work. Also, the need for balancing work and life was discussed.


Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

CAC: Performance Development Group-Phil Charron

Phil showed a simulation, which you can view here. while talking about the development process and how it was designed to give specific feedback based on learner interactions with the simulation and how the simulation dealt with "failure."

He talked about building an environment in which people interact and make decisions while receiving realistic feedback such as a change in the attitude or tone of voice of other characters within the simulation. They are allowed to experience failure.

He talked about failure being a good tool for learning. He said that you should not blindly avoid negative consequences. So the design included the concept of experiencing consquences due to decisions and actions of the learner.
  • Challenge learners in a productive manner:
  • Make simulations difficult to win
  • Improve replayability
  • Leverage competition
  • Challenge learners constuctionly so they return
  • Model relevent aspects of reality
  • Highlight the role of failure
  • Trust Your Learner

He recommends asking the question, "Would you rather learners fail in a virtual world, or on the job?" And designing learning that challenges the learners and, when you challenge learners, at times they will fail but will learn from that failure.

He also recommended a simulationof an airport screener which is a great simulation.

Check out Phil's blog Learning Simulations.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

CAC: Penn State-Bart Pursel

Bart Pursel of Virtual Learning Worlds and an alumni of our program presented on Virtual Worlds.

He defined a Virtual World as a computer-based environment intended for users to inhabit and interact via avatars in a 3D represented world.

Bart gave a list of different 3D worlds and provided a great comparison between a Internet Service Provider and Linden Labs (the company behind Second Life.) For example an island is analogous to a server.

Bart mentioned that many people are doing prototyping and product development in Second Life, people are doing education and training, advertising, campaigning (politically) and, of course, many different types of business.

Here is a link to resources supporting Bart's presentation at his blog called Talk at Bloomsburg University.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

CAC: The Phoenix Group-Cliff Sobel and Rhonda Dorsett

Cliff Sobel and Rhonda Dorsett presented on a companion website that The Phoenix Group created for the PBS television program "Travels to The Edge" hosted by well known photographer, Art Wolfe.

Rhonda Dorsett was the Creative director on this project. The site was so successful it was posted on Adobe's homepage because of its excellence in design and functionality (using Adobe's products). You can check it out here. You need to see the site and the beautiful artwork and photograph that went into the creation of the site.

The challenge was to create a fun and educational web site without promoting the product of the client, so the site had to be carefully crafted to feature Canon products without having them be "front and center."

The site is gorgeous and does a great job of promoting Canon without promoting Canon...if you know what I mean.

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

CAC: Nathan Eckel

CAC kicked off with a presentation by Nathan Eckel (2006 alum) who presented on the process of "teaching ID" to a Subject Matter Expert (SME). The idea was to provide the SME with a basic understanding of ID. The project was originally intended to create Tobacco Cessation videos and during that project Nathan worked with the SME to help him learn about the ID process. Nathan coached and mentored the client to give him enough knowledge to properly design and deliver solutions.

The final product had a car dash board interface and a neat map showing a smoker the road to smoking cessation.

Nathan had five different concepts to keep in mind while working with the SME or any ID project.

Fluidity trumps rigidity (go with the flow, don't follow process without variation)

Pragmatism trumps idealism (sometimes you need to tone done expectations to be able to grasp what the client really wants.)

Progress trumps perfection (sometimes need to get project done rather than get everything "right")

Practicality trumps theory (set high standards but be willing short cut if necessary)

Mentoring trumps correcting (make sure you focus on the mentoring aspects and the growth aspects rather than "red inking" all the SME is doing)


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CAC Starts Today

Our annual Corporate Advisory Council meeting is today and it promises to be an exciting event with student and corporate presentations as well as a lively discussion on the topic of being an independent contractor. For those of you attending, here are some important links.

Panel Discussion Slide Show.

CAC Member Survey (for meeting attendees only big secret it just asks questions about the presentation and you, of course, need to be at the presentation to comment.)

Keep posted here for more CAC information and updates through out the next three days.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ready for my Close Up: Upcoming Television Appearance

Tomorrow on Wednesday, November 28, 2007 I will making my first ever television appearance. I will be appearing on local CBS television station WYOU and speaking guessed it..."Gadgets, Games and Gizmos." The live segment will appear at 11:00 EST.The idea of the show is to encourage interaction between the person "making the news" and the viewers so you are encouraged and welcome to call in.

Actually, for this segment of WYOU Interactive, I will be talking about the "Positive Value of Video Games"...just in time for the holidays. During the piece, anchor, Eric Scheiner, and I will be discussing the positive traits of video games and how children are actually learning valuable lessons from those games.

With Christmas on the horizon, many parents are confronted with buying video games while still believing that they are just a “waste of time” and are “rotting their kids brains.” But parents should consider video games in a positive light.

For example, with video games, kids actually learn business skills, problem-solving methods and how to react to a changing world. Skills that will be invaluable as they graduate and enter the information age workforce.

Check out previous episodes of WYOU Interactive.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Encore Presentation: Hello, You are On the Air with Karl Kapp

So I am listening to the radio today and learned that my radio talk show debut discussion on the topic of Video Games Are Good for Kids which originally aired in October is being re-broadcast tomorrow as part of a "Best of Series." (blush)

You can see my post about the original program at Hello, You are On the Air with Karl Kapp

So if you missed me on the call-in show "On the Mark" in October, you can join me for this "Best of" re-play tomorrow November 27, 2007 at 9:00am Eastern Standard Time.

Just click on the following at 9:00am to listen to the "live" re-broadcast via the Internet.

Since it's not live, you can't call in but leave a comment on this post instead and we'll carry on the discussion via the web.

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My Wife...Guitar Hero

So it is Saturday night, the kids are out of the house for a few hours at friends houses and my wife and I are sitting on the couch enjoying some peace and quite...she turns to me and says, "Let's go downstairs and play...Guitar Hero."

In the past I could never get my wife to play any type of video game, even my boys had trouble getting her to play video games...she always hated the controllers. But my son got Guitar Hero II and now she is addicted. She loves it.

She has been channeling her lost Rock Star! I've blogged before about women and games. See You Go Girl and I have been having an off and on discussion with Cammy Bean about girls and video games. See Games for Girls among other entries on her Learning Visions Blog.

I contend that women like video games and play video games just as much as men but don't think of themselves as "gamers."

Perhaps the real difference is not that women don't like video games (I think they do). No the real difference is they didn't like the interface.

As interfaces to computer and video games become easier to use, the games will be more accessible and more fun for everyone. That's the whole idea of the Nintendo Wii console. Make gaming accessible and more people will do it. And they are.

I witnessed first-hand the power of an easy-to-use, comfortable interface. It draws in players who do not consider themselves gamers...and gets them out Janice Joplin.

If you want to introduce someone to the power of an easy interface and a fun game, check out the Guitar Hero games and interface devices (guitars) below. They are a good introduction to video games for the video gamephobe.

If you are into an entire Rock Band, not just guitar playing...check out the latest in interactive fun...ROCK can sing, play drums and jam on the guitar. Talk about an easy-to-use interface and the disappearance of the idea of a computer...just jam'n on some realistic instruments.

Oh, and don't tell my wife but for Christmas I'm getting her...Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s.


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I won't be blogging on Friday due to spending quality time with my family and recovering from eating all that turkey.

So just, remember to be thankful for all you have, I know I am.

Enjoy the holiday.

And if it isn't a holiday you celebrate...take some time to just give thanks.


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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Acrophobia: Fear of Acronyms

Recently, I have been guest blogging in Phil Charron's (of Learning Simulation) class “Theories of Electronic Communication" which he teaches in the Philadelphia area.

Guest blogging has been a lot of fun as the students were assigned to read the first chapter of my book (available here) and then blog about their impressions of the chapter. What wonderful insights and ideas they have concerning the "Gamers" and the influence video games will have on the future. And how great is it for an author to get open and honest feedback about his work.

As I read their posts, many of them became nostalgic about games they had played while growing up. All of this reminiscing reminded me of a game I loved to play in the late 1990's (1997 to be exact). The game was Acrophobia...the fear of acronyms.

Here is a brief description of the game.(lifted from Wikipedia)

Acrophobia is a multi-round, multiplayer online Internet Relay Chat game. The game was originally conceived by Anthony Shubert and programmed by Kenrick Mock (aka Mach) and Michelle Hoyle (aka Eingang) in 1995. Players enter a channel hosted by a bot which runs the game. In each round, the bot generates a random acronym. Players compete by racing to create the most coherent or humorous sentence or series of related words that fits the acronym - in essence, a backronym. After a set amount of time expires, each player then votes anonymously via the bot for their favorite answer (aside from their own).

Points are awarded to the most popular backronym. Bonus points may be also be given based on the fastest response and for voting for the winning option. Some implementations give the speed bonus to the player with the first answer that received at least one vote; this is to discourage players from quickly entering gibberish just to be the first. Bonus points for voting for the winner helps discourage players from intentionally voting for poor answers to avoid giving votes to answers that might beat their own.

Usually, nonsense backronyms will score low and the most humorous sounding backronym which effectively makes a sentence from the initials will win. Some rounds may have a specific topic that the answers should fit, although enforcement of the topic depends on solely on the other players' willingness to vote for off-topic answers

The thing I liked about it was that it was a Social Networking game...even back then. You could chat with other players online and tell them how great or lame their acronyms were. You could chastize someone for being off topic and generally have a great game and discussion at the same time.

I loved the game so much I wrote about it in my book and how it might be adapted to a corporate environment. Here is the piece from Chapter 2:
With a little modification, this game is a great way to teach acronyms to new employees. This internet game was originally created by Anthony Shubert in the mid-to late 1990s and incorporates a chat room, voting on other players’ answers and the element of speed.

The game play involves entering into a chat room and being presented with a series of randomly generated letters seen by all the players; for example ELO or MLAN. The players then type an acronym as quickly as possible matching those letters; perhaps Electric Light Orchestra or Enterprising Ladies Organization. After all the players submit their acronym and time has expired, the acronyms are displayed and the players vote for the best one. The winner is the acronym/definition combination with the most votes. During the game play, a chat box is available for the players to discuss the various acronyms and what they liked or didn’t like.

Now imagine this game with a few modifications for use as a training tool. Instead of randomly generated letters, the letters represent actual acronyms used in the organization. The players are new employees who compete with one another to see who recognizes the acronym the quickest. Instead of voting, the system determines the winner based on speed. The chat room is monitored by a veteran employee (boomer) who comments on the meaning of the acronym and how it is used within the organization. The gamers enjoy the game while learning acronyms used within the organization. Simultaneously they are mentored by a seasoned boomer monitoring the chat. Players don’t even have to be in the same building or state; they don’t even need to leave their desk.

As we think of the games we played as a child, what modification or change can we make to transform them into learning tools? What games did you play as a kid that could be modifed to be a learning tool?

Getting an online Associates degree in many, various fields is possible, such as English and more. As more colleges offer online degree programs you may be able to find a reputable school near you that offers a degree program online that will help you get your college degree online but still have a diploma from your school of choice.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2007 Announces New Electronic Book...Kindle has jumped into the hardware a big way. Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon, aims to do for the book and publishing industry what Apple and Jobs have done for the music industry...make the digitalization of content cool.

Here are some features from Amazon itself:
  • Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.
  • Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing.
  • Wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from your Kindle—whether you’re in the back of a taxi, at the airport, or in bed.
  • Buy a book and it is auto-delivered wirelessly in less than one minute.
  • More than 88,000 books available, including 100 of 112 current New York Times® Best Sellers.
  • Top U.S. newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post; top magazines including TIME, Atlantic Monthly, and Forbes—all auto-delivered wirelessly.
  • Top international newspapers from France, Germany, and Ireland; Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine, and The Irish Times.
  • More than 250 top blogs from the worlds of business, technology, sports, entertainment, and politics, including BoingBoing, Slashdot, TechCrunch, ESPN's Bill Simmons, The Onion, Michelle Malkin, and The Huffington Post. (Not sure why Kapp Notes was not mentioned...I'll have to call Jeff.)
  • Lighter and thinner than a typical paperback; weighs only 10.3 ounces.
  • Holds over 200 titles.
  • Long battery life. Leave wireless on and recharge approximately every other day. Turn wireless off and read for a week or more before recharging. Fully recharges in 2 hours.
  • No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments—Amazon takes care of the wireless delivery so you can simply click, buy, and read.
  • Email your Word documents and pictures (.JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG) to Kindle for easy on-the-go viewing.

Others have tried to create a digital book with the ability to call up any book, article or other traditionally hard copy item and read it as if it was on paper but they've never taken off, Sony's Digital Reader is one such example.

...Bezos claims Amazon has done it this time.

If this is really as good as is claimed. If it really is an easy-to-use realistic tool for storing and displaying up to 250 books and you can download them wirelessly at night and then pick up your Kindle and go, then what a revolution for training and for schools. If it catches on, what will happen to the backpack industry which has thrived on huge bulky books?...oh, and publishers.

I've written about the cost of books vs. the cost of electornic devices before in MP3s for Everyone. Ultimately, the cost of books is far more than the cost of electronics like Kindle.

I watched an interview with Jeff Bezos last night. He was asked, "Why the name Kindle?" He responded, "It was named after the idea of a fire. You kindle a fire. Kindle means to cause to start burning. So we wanted to convey the idea of starting an intellectual fire with books." He also said that he doesn't think we are at the end of the idea of "book" and that it will continue to evolve as it always had from papayus to paper to pixels. He also said he sees the return of serialized novels since it can now be done inexpensively.

I immediately thought of my book which would be a great work to update and revise on a yearly basis. I could add things to it like the release of the Kindle and the iPhone.

You can bet the Kindle is on my Christmas list.

Whether you want info on new computer parts so you can upgrade your computer to play a new game, or you're just looking for stuff online to do while you're bored, it can be fun to go and try a new online music site to find new artists or use an online gaming to play free games.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Commercial Games with Educational Value

Often, it is too expensive to build a game or simulation from scratch for use in the classroom. However, some very clever teachers are using commercially available games to achieve educational goals. Here are three examples.

First example is Kurt about what he has done in the article Let the Games Begin. Here is a sample from the article:

Packed with geography and history, yet exciting enough to keep teen and adult players engaged for hours, Civilization III was, in many ways, already an educational game before Kurt Squire, an assistant professor of education technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, decided to try it out on groups of 11- to 15-year-olds at an inner-city Boston school. "You might think of it as a map in a history book come to life," Squire explains. Players choose a geographical region and develop it using only resources available 6,000 years ago. Slowly but surely, they obtain agriculture, architecture, knowledge. Trade routes are forged; diplomatic ties with other players are established. Civil unrest and natural disasters pose formidable challenges, as do invading forces from neighboring countries, especially when the invading force is also your playground nemesis.

What I like about the article is that it gives a balanced account of trying to add a commercial game into the mix of a classroom.
Still, integrating a game designed to entertain adults into a classroom full of teenagers wasn't easy. In his study, Squire discovered that the advanced vocabulary and complicated rules frustrated students, while teachers struggled to manage 25 kids doing 25 things at the same time. Also, because Civilization III teaches the underlying principles behind history, rather than names and dates, it didn't do much to help teachers prepare students for testing. Although Squire says the teachers he worked with were overall very positive, he adds, "This is not something I would throw on unsuspecting teachers." Squire has since published curriculum support and is developing an online network to aid teachers who wish to use Civilization III in their own classrooms.

Another example is that of Tim Rylands. He uses the computer game Myst in his classroom to inspire creative writing, speaking, listening, music and art appreciation. He has taken the idea of using games and interactivity in schools and made a career of it. Check out his story in an article titled Reading, writing and playing The Sims which has several great examples of using commercially available games to teach kids in addition to the information about Ryland.

Or, check out this YouTube video of how Ryland inspires kids.

Also, check out Tim Ryland's web site especially the Story So Far section. Interesting approach.

Another example is using The Sims to teach foreign language in the classroom. Check out Language Learning with New Media and Video Games for some ideas on using The Sims to help students learn a new language.

So, on this Monday morning, I'm thinking...we need more computer games in the schools. And, it turns out, I'm not alone. The National Science Foundation, the Federation of American Scientists and the Entertainment Software Association got together in October 2005 to talk about the value of video games for education and have the following to say...
Games offer attributes important for learning—clear goals, lessons that can be practiced repeatedly until mastered, monitoring learner progress and adjusting instruction to learner level of mastery, closing the gap between what is learned and its use, motivation that encourages time on task, personalization of learning, and infinite patience.

Read more about what these three groups had to say about video games at the Summit on Educational Games web site. They have a report, a highlight sheet and a presentation you can view.

So get out there and play some video games...

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