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Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday Learning Gift Ideas

It's Cyber Monday and you are wondering, "What gifts can I give a Learning and Development professional that are informative, reasonably priced and will make an impact?" Well, here are a couple of biased ideas.

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning

Wondering how to convince those hard-to-reach managers about the importance of using online games and mobile devices for learning? Wondering how to impact the "gamer generation" with meaningful instruction? Wondering about instructional strategies for mobile devices, blogs and wikis? Then this book is for you. Written in a fun and readable fashion, it was noted at a conference once that this book "Is thick as a phone book but reads like a Dan Brown novel." If you want to understand some of the conflict between boomers and the new generation of "gamers" or Gen Y, this book is a must. Makes a great gift for a client or a co-worker who you want to have understand that the word "game" is not a four letter word in learning and development circles.

Learning in 3D

This book isn't out yet but why not get that certain someone a pre-gift. A book that is not yet released will be the gift that keeps on giving when it arrives in January. This book discusses how 3D learning environments will revolutionize learning and development efforts as we know it. Give that instructional designer or executive the information she needs to make informed and well thought out arguments concerning why 3D is so essential for future learning. The book contains ideas from over a dozen thought leaders as well as case studies illustrating the value of 3D for learning. If you are curious about this subject or want to implement a 3D learning environment in 2010 this is the book to give.

Winning E-Learning Proposals
Give the gift of money (or at least the next best thing.) If 2010 is the year you want your team to win more e-learning business and recover from the tough times of the last two year then this book can help guide your way back to profitability. This book has been used by many respected leaders in the field of e-learning to help them win business and create exciting and dynamic e-learning solutions. The book highlights the step-by-step process for developing winning proposals and highlights the different elements of a winning proposal. A must read for the salesperson who wants a leg up on the competition in 2010.

Integrated Learning for ERP Success
This is the most obscure of the gift ideas and will only have meaning for a special person. If you know someone who is implementing a manufacturing-focused Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system then this is the book for them. Or if you know someone who wants to own a book that few others have read, this book could be the one. It contains detailed, step-by-step information on how to craft a training program to support the process of a large scale implementation within a manufacturing organization. The information is written specifically for manufacturing but is applicable in almost any environment that requires a large implementation effort.

So there you have it, four gift ideas for Cyber Monday. Why not be a maverick and give the entire gift set of all four books for that learning development professional who has everything except these four soon to be classics:)

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Steps Gen Y (Gamer Gen) Can Take to Understand Boomers and Gen X'ers

Here are some ideas that Gen Y employees or the Gamer Generation can use to better acclimate themselves to the workforce.

1. Seek out a boomer or X'er to serve as a mentor.

2. Mentor a co-worker who is not as comfortable with Technology.

3. Learn the hierarchical structure in your organization, respect it. Talent and skill (unfortunately) can be under cut by politics, know the landscape prior to action.

4. Learn the history (influences) of the boomer and X'er generation. Those who don't study history....

5. Create cheat sheets (job aids) for yourself, verify with your boss or co-workers.(share)

6. Be patient.

7. Ask open-ended questions to glean knowledge from your co-workers.

8. Offer to IM with a co-worker who doesn't IM or Twitter with them.

9. Set up a wiki and give lessons (in a classroom) on how to update.

10. Show a boomer or X'er how to work a gadget or how to work an obscure but valuable feature.

11. Take some time to read corporate policies and procedures, they can be enlightening and valuable.

12. Think of ways to interact with boomers & X'ers to help them understand your thinking.

13. Work to understand the thinking of boomers and X'ers, some of it really does make sense!

14. Take a different boomer or X'er to lunch every day, talk about what he or she knows—take notes.

15. Get up and visit a boomer, don’t just send an email or IM.

16. Volunteer to digitally record production operations and chunk them for quick viewing. Like a corporate YouTube.

What suggestions do yo have?

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cartoons Not all that Bad for Learning

When most people think of cartoons, they think of a mindless activity for young kids but, it turns out, cartoons used for learning can be very beneficial.

First, check out Howtoons which shows kids how to create really neat stuff with just a cartoon like explanation. I can tell you these cartoons are far easier to follow than a lot of instruction manuals I've read. What a great way to encourage the learning of math, science and engineering topics.

Cartoon from the mega-cool site Howtoons 
showing kids how to build a submarine out of a soda bottle.

Second, research by Professor Carol Tilley, from the department of library and information science, indicated that comics are just as sophisticated as other forms of reading, and children benefit from reading them at least as much as they do from reading other kinds of books.

Tilley said there was evidence that comics increased learning vocabulary and instilled a love of reading.
She said: "A lot of the criticism of comics and comic books come from people who think that kids are just looking at the pictures and not putting them together with the words.
"Some kids, yes. But you could easily make some of the same criticisms of picture books – that kids are just looking at pictures, and not at the words."

She added: "Although they've long embraced picture books as appropriate children's literature, many adults – even teachers and librarians who willingly add comics to their collections – are too quick to dismiss the suitability of comics as texts for young reader  Check out the full article.

Third, is a comic describing the safe operation of an M16 Riffle. Serious stuff for a serious subject but consider the audience. Typically young people around the age of 18 with a sense of adventure.

One more example is the instruction manual for Google Chrome.

So, next time you are trying to decide how to make that complicated educational manual a little more simpler and ensure that people actually read it, think about a delivery style based on comics.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Major Video Game Development Contest Focused on STEM Announced

This week President Barack Obama launched a new “Educate to Innovate” campaign. This initiative aims to increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy among students in US educational institutions.

As part of that initiative, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), Microsoft Corporation, and the MacArthur Foundation today announced a collaboration based on a video game focus to improve education.

As Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers, says "Computer and video games are one of the most effective ways to reach America's children and encourage them to stay interested in vital STEM principles." He goes on to say that "We are honored to have President Obama recognize the unique ability of games to act as a catalyst in generating new areas of growth in education."

So what does this mean? A national video game competition will be launched...that's what it means.
This competition is a component of the 2010 Digital Media and Learning Competition, a $2 million annual effort funded by the MacArthur Foundation that advances the most innovative approaches to learning through games, social networks and mobile devices. SCEA, in cooperation with ESA and ITI, will team with MacArthur to support the competition, which will result in the creation of new game play experiences that enhance STEM principles using new discoveries on an existing popular video game--LittleBigPlanet(TM)--winner of numerous "game of the year" awards in 2008. Additionally, SCEA will donate 1,000 PlayStation(R)3 (PS3(TM)) systems and copies of LittleBigPlanet(TM) to libraries and community based organizations in low-income communities and make the winning levels available to game players at no cost.

Applications will be judged on criteria related to participatory learning, the support of learning related to science, technology, engineering and math, and the degree to which assessment of learning is integrated into the learning experience itself.
Proposals will be posted for public comment and multiple awards will be given, including a People's Choice Award, which will be decided by the public. Winners will be announced in 2010.
(Check out entire news release on the topic.)

In early 2010, ESA, ITI and their partners will make a formal announcement of the competition's details including eligibility rules and entry procedures. Winners will be announced at the E3 Expo, the leading video game industry trade show event, which takes place June 15-17, 2010.

Look for details in the near future.

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Alternatives to Second Life (continued, again)

Here is a companion post to two previous posts on the topic:

Alternatives to Second Life

Alternatives to Second Life Continued

If you know of more, please feel free to add in the comments section.


Short "flyby" of Nortel's web.alive.

This is Nortel's entry into the 3D space. web.alive is an enterprise ready, network secured virtual world platform designed to solve business problems of working together over distances in real time and the costs associated with travel and training on complex equipment or in hazardous areas. The project was formerly known under the codename of "Project Chainsaw" and was built specifically for integrating into business applications already existing within the enterprise. Look for it to break out in the near future.


Location in Activeworlds.

This platform has been around for a while and has the usual features such as customizing an avatar, online stores and the ability to own a home online. Businesses can license the Activeworlds technology to have their own looking for your own virtual world separate from the main Activeworld's Universe. For educational users, Activeworlds launched The Active Worlds Educational Universe (AWEDU). The AWEDU is an educational community that makes the Active Worlds technology available to educational institutions, teachers, students, and individual programs in a focused setting. Via this community, educators are able to explore new concepts, learning theories, creative curriculum design, and discover new paradigms in social learning.

Metaplace (Shut down January 1, 2010)

See Not a Good Week for Virtual Worlds.

Screen capture from Meteplace.

Is a Flash-based virtual world platform that allows players to buy and sell items, own property and play online games. Because it is Flash-based there is no download required. Another particularly interesting aspect of Metaplace is that it can be embedded into a webpage. This means that a user created "portal" into a virtual world can be accessed from web location. You can add content from other web locations like Amazon or videos as well. Formerly Meteplace was known Areae.


Here is a movie showing how to dress in Twinity to give you and idea of the world.

This is a "mirror-world" so it mirrors real places. So far it is mirroring Berlin and Singapore and London is on the horizon. The world allows for creating an avatar and exploring historical as well as modern day locations. One interesting thing is how the world can contrast things like Berlin today and Berlin during the cold war. This has a number of interesting educational applications when you consider the historical value of exploring what cities and locations looked like in the past and what they look like today. Currently it is in Beta which you can join for free.

If you want to learn how to implement and successfully deploy collaboration and training within a virtual world, check out Learning in 3D which will be released January 15, 2010.


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Monday, November 23, 2009

Interviews: Questions and Answers

Lately it seems as if I have been doing a number of interviews, I was interviewed over at The eLearning Coach on the topic of Games and Simulations. Stop over and check out the interview. It was a lot of fun. Also, here is the second part of the interview (it was so long it became two parts.) Also, check out the other interesting content on the site. Some good stuff.

I also received an email with some interview questions. Here is a glimpse at some of the questions and answers from that email.

Why do you think parents disapprove of the idea of videogames in classrooms?

Parents only hear about the “bad” aspects of video games and a number of video games do have offensive language and content but so do books. Some of the most offensive subjects and written word has been captured in books. Do we ban all books as bad? No. We ban certain books but the rest we view as positive. We need the same focus on video games. Some are bad but many aspects of games are good. Parent just don’t know about those aspects because they are not as well publicized.

What are the differences between game-based learning and traditional learning methods used in schools now?
Many academic environments are not situated to take advantage of interactive learning opportunities; instead, they focus too much on one-way communication. The instructor lectures to the students. In that environment not a lot of information is retained by the learner. Other times, students are forced to do rote memorization which can be boring. Games can disguise rote memorization and make it more palatable for the learner. For example, games are played over and over again for a higher score, to beat someone or to reach the next level. We know that distributed practice (or spaced rehearsal) is an effective learning technique and a well designed game naturally embodies that concept more so than a traditional classroom lecture or homework assignment.

Another advantage of gaming over a traditional lecture is that games focus on problem-solving. In many classroom environments, time constraints and the need to keep every learner on the same page minimizes the opportunity learners have of truly engaging in problem solving. Games allow learners to engage in problem-solving on a regular basis.

Immediate feedback is another advantage. Games provide immediate feedback unlike a test or a quiz which requires time for an instructor to grade and return. Games also tend to motivate learners more than text on a PowerPoint slide that is presented in a typical classroom.

What are the problems with traditional learning methods?
The instruction all has to progress at one pace, students don’t get enough of a chance to practice problem-solving. The traditional methods don’t teach students to work with multiple variables and to see pattern recognition.

What can change if schools start to participate in game-based learning?
I believe we can raise a generation of problem-solvers and innovators. We can’t solve today’s problems with the education of yesterday. The classroom model has been around since the 1800’s and is appropriate for an industrial society but we are now an information society and we need a new focus. Games will our children to think on their feet and to aggressively confront issues with a sense of urgency.

Nolan Bushnell, the father of videogames, says “Everything can be done through a game. The learning and the exercise.” He continues to say that games teach much more than any teacher can. “They teach to work in teams, whether it is with another person or a simulation. They teach experiences and creative thinking and encourage students to learn by themselves.” Nolan concludes, “Students will learn if they just continue to play their videogames.”
Do you agree with Nolan Bushnell’s statement?

I agree to a large extent with his statements, I think I would modify to focus on educational games. I think “bad” games can teach some pretty bad stuff so to say all video games are good no matter what is like saying all video games are bad no matter what—-neither statement is true.

Games are an instructional strategy for teaching content but are not a panacea. While many good aspects of video games are ignored and should be highlighted and leveraged more in educational institutions, we cannot abandon all other types of learning in favor of games. An intelligent balance of instructor-led instruction, games, simulations, hands-on experiences and peer-to-peer interactions is necessary. A mistake too many people make is to see any one solution or technique, like video games as the answer to all educational problems. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. So, the “everything can be done through a game,” is, in my opinion, going a little far. But I do agree that learning and the exercise or application of the learning can be learned through the game but, more is needed. Practical, hands-on elements and working side-by-side and being able to see another student and work shoulder-to-shoulder is also important.

Bushnell also wants to create a “Game-Based School” where children learn from only games. What do you think the pros and cons of a school like this would be?
The pros would be the problem-solving focus and the motivation. The cons would be, as mentioned above, one cannot learn everything they need to know at all times through a game. Many more dynamics are needed. A game centered curriculum can be successful if other elements are also included. Again, a one dimensional solution to educational problems is short-sighted and is wrong.


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Training Industry Statistics

Here are some interesting statistics from TRAINING.

  • 2009 U.S. Training Expenditures (including payroll and spending on external products and services) was $52.2 billion (a 7% decrease from last year)

  • 41% of organizations plan on purchasing online learning tools and systems in the next year.

  • Payroll was $32.9 billion, about a $1 billion dollar overall loss from 2008.

  • 47% of organizations surveyed reported a decrease in training budgets this year.

  • Companies spent $1,036 per learner this year ($1,075 in 2008).

  • Small companies (10-999 employees) spent about 33 hours of training per employee in 2009.

  • Midsized (1,000 to 9,999 employees) spent about 29 hours of training per employee in 2009.

  • Large (10,000 or more employees) spent about 33 hours of training per employee in 2009.

  • 1.5% of companies are using social networking or mobile training methods.

  • 47% of training hours are delivered by a stand-and-deliver instructor in a classroom setting.

  • 18.5% use online or computer-based technologies for their training delivery.

  • $306,178 was the average expenditure for training outsourcing

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday of CAC

It's been a good 3 days of Bloomsburg University's Corporate Advisory Council meeting. We had great Corporate Presentations on Wednesday, the students did a Fantastic Job on Thursday and on Friday, Dr. Doll gave a great presentation highlighting Google Wave.

Dr. Doll makes a point about Google Wave.

Meanwhile, students interviewed with many companies including Kodak,  RWD Technologies, Geisinger, Bristol-Myers Squibb as well as several others.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

CAC 2009 Student Presentations

Today student's present their mock solution to a mock exercise as part of their Master's of Science in Instructional Technology degree requirement. It is a great event. Students have written a 40 page proposal, created a 20 minute "sales" presentation and are prepared for a 15 minute question and answer session from our corporate advisory council members (we have over 30 in attendance this semester).

Here is a brief overview of the Request for Proposal to which they've responded this semester (it changes every semester.)

Mock E-Learning RFP Fall 2009

This semester the focus is on developing a “Training System” for the introduction of a new product from Big Power Tool Company (BPTC).  The RFP has opportunities for product training, sales training, e-learning, hands-on instructor-led elements, multiple languages and follow up training. As well as training geared toward experts and novices and the opportunity for students to offer a solution using Web 2.0 and social media solutions.


The purpose of this semester’s Request for Proposal is to have the students submit a proposal to design and develop a training system for the launch of a new hardware product aimed at three markets, retail “big box” stores, independent hardware stores and professional contractors. The new combo tool kit will revolutionize the hand tool market and allow for the powering through of work with less fatigue and all day run time.

The kit contains a Drill/Driver, an Impact Driver, a Reciprocating saw, one Work light, one Charger and two Interchangeable Lithium-ion Batteries. The training systems must encompass the needs of both experienced sales representatives and a field force of new representatives who have not previously sold our products before.

Additionally, the instruction must be in three different languages, English, French and Spanish.

About the Client

Big Power Tool Company, Inc. (BPTC) is an international manufacturer and marketer of quality power tools and accessories, hardware and home improvement products focused on making the construction and building of residential and commercial properties easier and more efficient. They are well known for the Model Z drill line and their innovative approach to new product design and development as indicated by our being awarded the IDEAS 5.0 Innovation Award for six consecutive years. BPTC’s products and services are marketed in more than 100 countries, and they have manufacturing operations in fifteen countries.

Objectives Students Need to Fulfill

The objectives of the work BPTC wishes to commission are:

·        To design, develop and deliver a training system (no longer than 5 days) that provides sales representatives (both novice and experienced) with the product knowledge and sales approach necessary to sell the SUPER MAX Combo into the three markets.

·        The training system must include initial training and then follow up training exercises, techniques or approaches that continually coach the sales representatives and alert them to competitor responses in the market. (This is the opportunity for social media solutions).

·        Create both online and hands-on learning events within the overall system for the time frame.

·        Create the system in three languages.

The event has over 40 CAC members in attendance.

Jason introduces himself and tells the year
 he graduated from the program.

First Team: Stellar Strategies

Liz, Michael, Joe, Nitin and Susan of 
Stellar Strategies discuss their solution.

Joe discusses the prototype. 

Susan presents her "close."

Team answers questions from CAC members.

Student Team Global Talk

Elaine, Romona, Tony and Dion.

Showing how the training process 
flows with a short automated piece.

Global Talk addressing the training 
needs of Big Power Tool Company.

Student Team MicroManage

Eric, Rachel, Michelle and Adam present their solution.

Rachel outlines the solution for BPTC.

Adam discusses the prototype.

Written Winner: MicroManage
Presentation Winner: Global Talk
Prototype Winner: Stellar Strategies

MicroManage wins overall.

Throughout the day, I will post pictures and overviews of the student presentations. Also, you can follow the tweets with the #BUCAC hash tag.

(student presentations will not be streamed.)

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fall 2009 Corporate Advisory Event Starts Today

Today marks the beginning of one of my favorite events of the year. Our annual Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) event. This is an event where students of instructional technology have a conference with professionals in the field where they can learn, exchange ideas and select students for jobs and internships. It is a great win-win event.

This semester we have over 35 individuals representing 31 different companies including representatives from Kodak, KPMG, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Tyco Electronics, Vanguard, Northrop Grumman and others are in attendance. Including several entrepreneurial companies started by alumni of the program. The first day the corporations will present to the students and each other. On the second day students will present solutions to a mock Request for Proposals (RFP) while the CAC members evaluate their presentations and on the third day students will interview for internships and job opportunities.

Here is a brief synopsis of the RFP the students will be answering this semester. The focus of the RFP is on developing a “Training System” for the introduction of a new product from the fictitious Big Power Tool Company (BPTC). The RFP has opportunities for product training, sales training, e-learning, hands-on instructor-led elements, multiple languages and follow up training. As well as training geared toward experts and novices and the opportunity for students to offer a solution using Web 2.0 and social media solutions.

And, as an added bonus, this year we are going to be streaming live the presentations by our CAC members on Wed (today).

Here is a list of the presenter and link to the streaming video. This is new this semester so we'll see how it works. Also, you should be able to even email in questions using this system so if something is of interest, drop an email. All times are Eastern Standard.

Dr. Phillips Kicks Off the Meeting
Welcome and Introductions (12:15 PM) Dr. Karl Kapp and Timothy Phillips (if you had to miss something, this might be it.)

Carl Siedel of AXIOM Professional Health Learning (12:30 PM -1:00 PM)(not available for streaming)

Jen talks about a virtual preceptorship.

Carl answers a question.

Jason W. Smith of KWConnect (1:00-1:30)

Jason introduces himself and the company. 
Talking about developing training to
 build relationships and communications.

Jason discusses different types
 of training his company delivers.

Screen shot from Jason's streaming presentation.
Ahaa about e-learning
-They are benchmarking you against the web (
-Videos 3-5 minutes
-How does the content help me right now
-Don't bore me (passionate, engaging or I'll leave)
-Let me share it.

Mark Burke of ViaAcademies (1:30-2:00)

Mark talks about 
online music education at viaAcademies 

Mark explaining how he has integrated several 
different technologies to teach music online.

Anna Griffith of Discovery Machine (2:15-2:45)

Anna and her presentation in the streaming interface.

Anna talking about mapping expertise.

Anna answering questions from the audience.

Experts can always identify mistakes new learners make.

Chris Reichart of Zerion Software (2:45-3:15)

Chris highlights some features of their iPhone applications.

Game engine that started it all.

Map of users of one of the applications developed.

Check out more iPhone applications at Zerion Software.

Sherry Engel of Performance Development Group (3:15-3:45)

Sherry talks about forecasting ROI. 

Sherry from the Performance Development Group
 emphasizes that learning must support business goals.

John Menapace of Menapace Productions (3:45-4:15)

John shows his learning product to walk a 
student through the writing process.

John talking about the patterns of teaching.

Cliff Sobel of The Phoenix Group (4:15-4:45)

Cliff and Rhonda talk about interactivity and engagement.

Rhonda talks about Cannon Live Learning.

Cliff describes The Phoenix Group.

Great presentations today, thanks to all the great presenters. I'll be posting the download information shortly so you can check out the presentations at your convenience.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Designing a Virtual World Learning Event? Think Participant Centered

Immersed in a learning environment
 (notice, no bulleted list of objectives)

An important virtual world design principle is that the participant (not the teacher) must be positioned at the center of the learning experience--a 360 degree immersion in an learning experience. Thus the term Virtual Immersive Environment (VIE)

Unlike the classroom-based “Sage on the Stage” model where the teacher imparts knowledge upon the passive learning consumer, in a 3D Learning Experience, the participant must be actively engaged. Within the environment, the learner's actions and interactions must have consequential outcomes within the learning experience itself.

In virtual world learning, the locus of control moves from the instructor or teacher to the learner and the contextual design must accommodate the actions and interactions that participants have within the immersive environment. Learning objectives are not covered conversationally, but experienced viscerally. In 3D Learning Experiences, participants become a component in the design of the learning experience itself (which requires a different approach from instructional designers)

In a typical classroom setting objectives are introduced, explained via illustration or example and processed via conversation. In a 3D Learning Experience, situations are encountered, experienced and learning is synthesized as a part of the experience itself. Content and process are fused to the point where the distinction between learning and doing becomes almost imperceptible.

In placing the learner at the center of the design and in exploring how to bring the learning objectives to life via participant activity, Instructional Designers can discover new possibilities and approaches to improve and enrich the participant’s learning experience.


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