Wednesday, July 28, 2010

EDUCAUSE Mid-Atlantic Submission

I hinted yesterday in my twitter and facebook feeds that I was working on a conference submission.

Below is approximately what I sent.

If this goes well, I may submit another version of this session elsewhere.

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Title:Converting to eLearning: A Support and Training Structure

Session Format and Resources:
- Poster session (multiple presentations, same room. One on one format)
- Resources needed
o Standard slide deck
o Multimedia
o Software demo
o Participant access to explore online tools and resources
o Electronic handouts
- Rationale: To provide an opportunity to demonstrate our live setup and provide aids and resources to participants. Also to gain feedback from other experienced eLearning specialists and higher education institutions who are also going down this path.

Suggested Audience: Frontline Practictioners
The session I am proposing will most benefit people who: are new to the content area.

Session Tracks: Supporting the Enterprise through Innovative and Effective IT solutions, Teaching, Learning and Research

Abstract (100 word limit):George Washington University faces a reduction of physical classroom spaces for staff training. As a result, staff trainers and subject matter experts are turning to eLearning to support instructor-led learning or entirely replace instructor-led classes. This poster session will provide a model for helping clients convert their instructor-led materials to eLearning materials. The model includes: eLearning development tools, supportive training, file-sharing solutions, instructional design assistance and LMS scoring and tracking of the resulting solution.

Statement of Problem or Issue (250 word limit): This presentation will directly address how you assist educators and subject-matter experts unfamiliar with eLearning, and wanting to convert material into an eLearning-friendly format, in the conversion of their instructor-led courses. This session will also provide techniques for avoiding the production of click-to-death tutorials.

Description of Activity, Project or Solution(500 word limit):
We designed our eLearning conversion support structure to take advantage of tools and resources already available to the staff trainers at George Washington University. Since the 2 staff eLearning specialists cannot perform all of the eLearning development that needs to take place, we had to come up with a system that allowed other staff trainers and subject matter experts to create their own eLearning materials.

Training and support currently happens as needed by the clients. This allows the eLearning specialist to discuss the specific needs of the client groups as they convert their materials.

Our support structure for elearning conversion contains the following pieces:
- eLearning Blueprint (Instructional Design). Most of our clients are intimidated by the conversion of their materials into eLearning. Often, we are asked to convert huge PowerPoint slide decks. A third-party instructional design tool provides a template for helping clients design and organize their eLearning projects so the result is more effective and engaging.

- eLearning Matrix (Design Tool). This tool assists clients as they determine the appropriate method of delivery.

- Adobe Captivate (Development Tool). We use this as our baseline eLearning development tool. We provide training on Captivate for new users and specific considerations for George Washington University’s environment. We also provide pre-designed templates with the appropriate size settings, university-approved graphics and consistent behavior and appearance across the objects.

- eRooms (File Sharing) . We use this to permit sharing of the base Captivate file. This helps us troubleshoot the file directly and fix potential issues as needed. We also use this as notification for when the tutorial is ready to be ported into SkillPort, our LMS.

- Elluminate (Remote Access). We use this as a real-time troubleshooting and support tool if the client has a quick question or issue.

- SkillPort (LMS). This tool will be the primary content library and reporting mechanism for staff training at the University. Subject Matter Experts, Trainers and Management are provided with reports through this system. A future project will connect the output from SkillPort to a Data Warehouse, allowing reporting on the business impact of our educational initiatives.

Human resources:
- A staff eLearning specialist serves as the primary support person and Captivate expert. She performs the initial training on all of the resources available for eLearning conversion and ongoing support through their design and development processes.

- Each client group has at least one eLearning developer who serves as the primary point of contact between the staff eLearning specialist and the client group

- The Division of IT Help Desk assists with technical issues surrounding installation of any needed software, access to the various resources and PC issues.
Future plans

- A steering committee has been put together to discuss governance and quality assurance for tutorials posted on SkillPort. There are plans for a QA and approval process for all tutorials created for the LMS.

- There are discussions surrounding the creation of a more formal and regularly-scheduled series of classes on eLearning development as the demand for eLearning conversion increases.

Impact (250 word limit):
The Staff Leadership and Development team piloted our model. With their feedback, we have rolled out this support system to Financial Systems and Services, Payroll, Data Warehousing, University Compliance and Medical Center Research Compliance.

Importance or Relevance to Other Institutions (250 word limit)
This presentation will address some common challenges facing universities as they move towards blended and online staff learning solutions.

- Convincing clients that converting a PowerPoint used in their instructor-led class will not result in effective eLearning

- Keeping up with the increasing demand for eLearning creation, particularly at institutions where real estate is scarce.

- Supporting staff trainers and subject matter experts who are in the process of converting their classes to eLearning – either by choice or by circumstance (lack of availability of classroom space, executive initiatives, reduction in training staff, etc)

Session Interaction (250 word limit):
This poster session is specifically designed to accommodate questions and conversations. The presentation of the model, will only take 15-20 minutes at most. The presenter will be encouraging questions and comments at any time throughout the poster session. Demonstrations of any and all tools we use to help support our staff trainers and subject matter experts, will occur as requested by the attendees.
Job aids for implementing the model will be available during the session.

Session Outcomes (250 word limit):

At the end of this session, the attendee will be able to:
- Design and plan their own support and training system for converting instructor led training into a blended learning or eLearning solution

- Identify and assess tools they can use for implementing the model at their own institution

- Utilize various techniques for facilitating the creation of robust, interactive eLearning rather than click-to-death tutorials.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Working with the Deaf

The manager was tasked to train an individual who has been given a new task. This individual is profoundly deaf.

The deaf student had attempted to take an eLearning course on the task. The thought was that he would be able to work the tutorial at his own pace. That, apparently, didn't work. (I haven't seen the tutorial, so I am not certain whether it was an instructional design flaw, lack of 508 compliance or some other issue that is the culprit.)

As a result, the deaf student's managers reached out to my manager for some one-on-one instructor-led training on this new task.

My manager had worried about this session. She asked me to step in and observe once I had completed my own class. I walked in at the 45 minute mark.

It wasn't going well.

As I watched, my manager tried everything in the book to help him understand and perform his new task.
- Screen pointing
- Model and repeat
- Repetition
- Writing and drawing

She would talk slowly and wait for the interpreters to provide translation. She worked very hard to keep her frustration levels down and her tone level (I was behind her, so I couldn't see her face).

No matter what she tried...He just wasn't getting it.

The student used two sign-language interpreters (I've personally never seen that before). The interpreters switched off as the manager delivered the training. At first, the interpreters switched off every 30 minutes, then every 15, then as often as they could convince the other to take over. They cut off the session at 2 hours. The class was only supposed to take one.

The sign language interpreters I've met tend to be incredibly careful with body language and facial expressions. I could tell this was out of the norm. One started displaying the "This guy's a moron" facial expression. The other performed the universal slow breath exhalation of frustration. It appeared that at least one of them had worked with this individual before - and seemed none-too-happy about having to translate for him again.

Something is not right here.

I also got the sincere feeling that I was witnessing the "Willful Stupidity Act." I had seen the "willful stupidity act" before among the hearing population. The willful stupidity act is usually demonstrated by folks who are only interested in their job for the paycheck. They want nothing to do with learning new skills or taking on new responsibilities. No amount of persuasion, motivation or training is going to help this person. If anything, training just gives the individual one more thing to blame his or her "lack of performance" on. The trainer becomes a new scapegoat.

Before the student left, he threw up his hands and complained about how he was expected to do all this work.

We've heard this before.

"You need to have a conversation with your manager."

When everyone had left, my manager turned to me - "I don't think he got a thing out of it."

I didn't think he did either.

We both wondered whether trying to pay attention to the screen AND trying to pay attention to the translator caused the issue. Maybe.

I inquired about any online training he had been exposed to. Maybe he just needed to have something that offers a slower pace and text. Already tried - with resources for questions while he worked through the tutorial.

My manager demonstrated all of the strategies I knew about for working with the hearing impaired, so I couldn't think of any new ideas.

Are there other things we could have tried?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How I Use Facebook

My use of Facebook, as well as the types of friends on it, has evolved over the past couple of years.

Current friend makeup - part professional, part co-workers, part current friends / acquaintances / family, part folks from high-school / college.

I am finding that this has been the best way to keep up with folks that I actually want to talk to from 20+ years back. Better than trying to write letters / xmas cards. Better than trying to dig up some outdated phone number / e-mail / physical address. I catch up with them. They catch up with me. We can see what interests each of us currently have. And, thankfully, most of my friends update with cool links / video etc. Not just "FML! I hate my job!" That would make reading my feed depressing.

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I've been playing a couple of Facebook games. Unfortunately, I find they quickly devolve into the "doing chores" variety. My Tribe is starting to feel like that. Gave up on Social City pretty quickly. Lots of friends on Frontierville - so I may join them to see if the social thing improves the experience or just makes me feel obligated to do chores.

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Best use of Facebook - library of links and videos that I find interesting that I do not necessarily want to organize. Sadly, many of these videos seem to feature Muppets. I guess that is not a bad thing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Test Scripts

Right now, we are testing our Batch add and update process for our LMS. Unfortunately, this process is going to be manual - as in, the senior Business Analyst creates a .csv file and I upload it to the LMS. Why manual? Because we are waiting for a particular, just-launched project that is supposedly going to solve all of our identity ills.

To test this project, I created a test script in Google Docs.
Here is an open example script with comments.

I broke the testing down into 2 sections:
- Testing the actual batch add and edit process.
+ make sure the .csv files organized the groups the way we expected them to
+ determine any hazard points (like inadvertently erasing everything for a user)

- Functional testing of the group
+ Is the LMS going to do what we thought it was going to do now that we have our users organized in groups.

I gave edit permissions to all of the testers.
We added things to test as we worked.

For testing - we managed (after some begging and pleading) to get some sandbox time so that we didn't inadvertently mess up live data.

Recommendations we will be sending to the Steering Committee are in yellow.

There are pros and cons to working in a system that we have no control over.

My next step is to figure out a way to sell some solutions that don't particularly come close to meeting the requirements. This oughta be good.....