Tuesday, December 30, 2008

7 More Things You Didn't Care to Know About Me

The first 5 from 2006 are still true - but I've managed to get my golf score consistently in the 110s.

I think I participated in another one of these too - but I can't put my finger on the post.

Thanks Cammy for tagging me.

1) My best friend from middle and high school contacted me last week. I haven't been called "Boggy" since 1988. It's because her brother (who was a toddler at the time) couldn't say Wendy. Thinking back....Boggy is not such a bad descriptor....

2) My nickname at Virginia Tech was "Bat". Short for Ding.... My college buddies still call me that occasionally.

3) My colleagues at Georgia called me "the Duchess". This was the result of a conversation about our respective geneologies and likely more than a few beers. Not entirely certain how this one stuck....

4) Most of the other nicknames I've gone by are unprintable in a family blog....

5) Managed to get a 161 bowling last Sunday. Shame I can't seem to translate that into league play.

6) Successfully parlayed my new knowledge of Fantasy Football into a solid 5th place finish (among 8 teams). Definitely beats 9th place out of 10. Next year the (unprintable name here) will make it to the playoffs!!!!

7) I have the following motivational poster at my cube, to remind me to play well with others. (image courtesy of Despair.com)

Hey - if you want to play along and don't want to set up a full blog - go ahead and put your 7 things about you in the comments! Just keep it clean and let me know who you are.

No point in letting the bloggers have all the fun!

Game 6: Mario Kart

Game: Mario Kart
Platform: Wii
Cost: $49.99

With the untimely death of our Xbox 360 - the SO has become significantly more open to playing with the Wii and experimenting with games outside of Wii Bowling.

Is the game fun? Why? It keeps us entertained for about an hour at a time. Each session runs about 10 - 20 minutes, depending upon the length of the track and the amount of time we spend falling into out-of-bounds areas. Definitely more fun playing together than individually. Choose the track together, then spend quality time trying to kick each others' butt. (I won 5 out of 7 last time around.) After an hour, we both found the gameplay a tad repetitive. We both like racing games, but we seem to have a shorter attention span for these than for other genres. Not entirely sure why.

Do I want to play this repeatedly? As a party game. Not by myself. I am looking forward to the Manager getting the Wii she got for Xmas set up so we can play online. This is a game I know we both have - so maybe it will get more play.

What did I learn playing it? Certain types of games work better with people there with you. I haven't figured out yet what makes a game work better cooperatively vs. solo play.

What element(s) can I use when designing a game at work? If I decide to design a game for classroom use, designing a game that has strong cooperative play would be useful. I need to look more carefully at what makes a strong cooperative game.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Game 5: Mah Jong

Picture from Kristanix Games.
Game: Mah Jong Epic 1.31 (Kristanix Games)
Platform: Mac
Price: Free - Shareware. There are apparently more features if you pay $20.

My Macbook Pro is my internet portal and occasional multimedia development tool. Playing games on it is not the first activity that comes to mind.

Is the game fun? Why? Mah Jong is essentially a sophisticated pattern-matching game. Very popular with the chinese. This game is gussied up with a soothing loop of Enya and pictures of gorgeous landscapes. The Enya started aggravating me after 4 loops.

Despite the soundtrack (I can only tolerate being "soothed" for so long), there is something meditative about Mah Jong. Match 2 tiles. Repeat until the board is clear. The boards are different enough that each one presents its own challenge. The game is simple enough that you can put your brain essentially on hold and waste hours picking through each of the boards.

Do I want to play this repeatedly? It takes me about 5-10 minutes to get through a board. I could easily see myself turning to this if I needed something to keep myself entertained while watching football or if I needed an activity while I formed my plans to take over the world.

What did I learn playing it? What element(s) can I use when designing a game at work? I'm not sure this game really translate so well to a serious games environment. Unless I figure out how to use it as a form of meditative brainwashing.....

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Game 4: Pathwords

Game: Pathwords
Platform: Facebook
Price: Free

Karyn Romeis is an evil enabler. There....I've said it on multiple platforms.

Is the game fun? Why? LOVE this game also. Make a path that equals a word. Combination of the find a word puzzle and tetris - two personal faves.

Wound up wasting an hour trying to get my score up. Because my friends are smarter than me. And, dangit, I want to be smart too!!!!

Do I want to play this repeatedly? Each segment is 5 minutes. Problem is....those 5 minute segments add up. And seeing that some friends have scores in the 4 digits is motivation for me to keep playing. 1 hour later, I am typing this (and still procrastinating from getting REAL work done).

What did I learn playing it? I have underestimated how motivating it is to play against other people. Even asynchronously. I am quietly practicing so that I can DOMINATE! Bwahahahahaha! (sadly, this may take me awhile.....)

What element(s) can I use when designing a game at work? I could incorporate the competition element into whatever I design. Show the scores of others. Create an unlimited "best score". Plus, build it so that if someone "games" the system, the effort they have expended still means something.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Game 3: Shaun White Snowboarding

From GamerNewsBits.
Game: Shaun White Snowboarding (Target Edition)
Platform: Xbox 360
Cost: $49.99

Our Xbox 360 has decided to stop reading discs. We don't even get the satisfaction of the red ring of death.

Thankfully, we had a chance to play this before the Xbox 360 gave up the ghost.

Is the game fun? Why? LOVE this game. The controllers are appropriately responsive and easy to use. Each run is short (between 5 and 20 minutes). You have infinite ways to interact with the mountain. Fantastic variety in the terrain. SO (who happens to be the resident snowboarder / skateboarder) loves that the tricks and reactions are more realistic than most of the other games in this genre on the market.

Also has one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a skateboarding / snowboarding game. Or as the SO put it "This is the stuff we ACTUALLY LISTEN TO when we are going down the mountain."

Must be nice to be able to snowboard confidently enough to listen to music...

Do I want to play this repeatedly? I would play this more repeatedly if the Xbox worked. Try new tricks, explore other areas of the mountain, see if I can't get into the little house at the middle of the hill....

What did I learn playing it? First - a good soundtrack makes a huge difference. The Loading practice half-pipe is a great tutorial in a place where people are normally waiting.

What element(s) can I use when designing a game at work? I need to figure out how to make the "loading" screen more useful. How can I get people to participate during the loading process, not just during the game itself. Soundtrack is a bit trickier because of the audience I work with. Shaun White highlights how good sound can impact the perception of a game.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Game 2: World Series of Poker

From Midlet Review
Game: World Series of Poker
Platform: LG Dare / Verizon Wireless
Cost: $8.99 unlimited (I've got an unlimited data plan, so I'm not paying data charges)

I've never been much of a card player. And watching poker on TV completely escapes me.

So why did I downlad this? Because I know that each hand takes only a couple of minutes, poker can be interrupted at any time between hands, and I needed something to do while I was on the train to work.

Plus, I'm trying to figure out why poker is so danged popular.

Is the game fun? Why? OK - not being much of a poker player, it is fun for what it is. There is some perverse thrill when you get a good hand, or when you manage to win a hand. It gets a bit dull when you are getting the snot kicked out of you or when you keep getting bad hands. I think what excites most poker players is the uncertainty of what will be in your hand next. Then - what will the river bring. Then, what does the other person have.

Do I want to play this repeatedly? I play this pretty regularly because it fits so darned well into my commute pattern. And I love the fact I can stop at any time.

What did I learn playing it? Well, I'm learning more about poker. Getting a stronger familiarity with the percentages between hands. I don't feel confident enough to try to translate any miniscule success I've achieved with WSOP mobile into a real game. Besides, I've already taken money from my brother playing poker during a party one year ago. :')

What element(s) can I use when designing a game at work? Big fan of the very short segments (hands). The ability to pick up and put down whenever. Also - simple, repeatable gameplay where the crux of the gameplay is in the important decisions. WSOP gives you control of the 2 important decisions - fold or play. If play - how much do you want to bet?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Game 1: Holiday Chicken Invaders

Game: Holiday Chicken Invaders
Platform: MSN Games
Cost: Free

Oh yeah! Space Invaders + Chickens in Santa Suits = potential, entertaining time waster.

This game comes in online and download versions. Oh yeah, and it's free. As long as you sit through an ad for smoking cessation meds.

Is the game fun? Why? As fun as Space Invaders was. Move around, shoot things with the mouse, avoid the stuff that drops from the chickens. This game was also super-intuitive. Move the mouse around, use the left mouse button to shoot. Practically no instruction needed - though the instructions on the introductory page helped.

Do I want to play this repeatedly? No. The novelty wore off after a couple of games and 4 levels. I wasn't feeling particularly driven to figure out what was going on at the next level. Plus, if you move your mouse too low, you wind up clicking the ad link. That opened up a new window and interrupted your game play. As a result, you get hit by a chicken. I DON'T SMOKE - I DON'T NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHANTIX!!!!! I SAW YOUR $@#*$&#* AD THE FIRST TIME!!!!!

What did I learn playing it? Controller and interface design is key. A small aggravation (like the ability to click an ad and interrupt gameplay) makes a huge difference in the perception of "fun" and whether I would want to go back and play.

What element(s) can I use when designing a game at work? I will need to keep a close eye on usability. As intuitive as I can make the controls, the more likely the student is going to focus on the content of the game.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Odds and Ends

Time to dump some mental clutter before the holidays....


I am working with one of our soft-skills training groups to develop a tutorial on goal-setting. I'm just consulting on this project. The person actually doing the work is new to instructional design and eLearning. I think her background is in administrative work. She's smart enough (and conscientious enough) to have been promoted into her current position.

I didn't realize how much work it took to develop just a one hour course. Developing objectives, documentation, making sure it all makes sense. Wow!

Her boss has given her a HUGE project with this tutorial development. And I've been impressed by her willingness to learn and her ability to absorb.

So happy to bring another person over to the dark side with us!!!!

And it sounds like we have profiteroles!!!! (Thanks Cammy!)


A follow-up on the group who is implementing a very large IT system without the IT department.

Turns out the IT department put together a proposal to help them with this project. The group decided that they didn't want the IT department's help and that they can do this themselves.

The IT department is currently giving the group enough rope to hang themselves with.

In the words of the mid-level IT manager I talked to:

Keep an eye on how much time you spend on them. We've got a rescue plan. Just waiting for the inevitable.

The IT manager then gave us a mischievous look. I think we both know when that "inevitable" is going to occur. It is going to be a very expensive lesson.


My family celebrated Xmas early. Coolest gift I received - Mom's hand-me-down slow cooker.

What works - Red cooked chicken. Essentially - a whole chicken cooked in a couple cups of soy-based liquid. Fantastic. Moist. Excellent chicken flavor.

Requiring further experimentation - Pork and Sauerkraut. Pork tenderloin in the slow cooker for 10 hours reduces to slightly dry shreds. Sauerkraut in the slow cooker for 10 hours dissolves into a strange pool of indeterminate vegetable matter. Potatoes in the slow cooker for 10 hours cook beautifully. I'm thinking I need

a) a LOT more sauerkraut
b) less time - 8 hours should be enough to cook the pork and the potatoes
c) a little more salt - I KNEW I forgot something when I put the pot together.

The SO and I will be eating many slow cooker meals as I continue to experiment with this new tool.


"socially-networked virtual game-based blended mobile cloudy-learning 4.0" delivered on a portal for your iPhone.

(Conversation best followed from Cammy's Twitter stream)

I plan on doing that this week. But I'm platform-independent. :')

PSA: Don't "mobile" and "cloudy" at the same time.


Have a fun and safe holiday.

The 12 Games of Christmas

Since we are gearing up to do some game design ourselves, and not being a lifelong gamer, I figured I'd investigate what makes certain games compelling.

Gotta do research, right?

Since we are planning to build shorter games (5-10 minutes), I figured I'd focus my investigation on games that can be played in their entirety in short chunks.

Is the game fun?
Do I want to play this repeatedly?
What did I learn playing it?
What element(s) can I use when designing a game at work?

Feedback and recommendations for games to look at are welcome.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What I Learned This Year

An attempt to tackle the end-of-the-year "Big Question" is an opportunity to reflect.
I'm getting a lot more out of the conferences I've been attending through my live-blogging. I've always taken copious notes - but the resulting feedback on those notes have been invaluable. Thanks!
The gap between theory and application is sometimes wider than it appears. Pounding out some baseline assumptions about education and learning from one's practice is proving to be incredibly challenging. Especially the "teacher = expert" assumption. Easy to talk the game. Much harder to do it. It's an assumption held by BOTH sides of the adult learning equation. And I am SOOOOOO not there yet.
Adding a bit of cognitive dissonance to my tutorials (slightly different narration vs. text caption) seems to be improving the effectiveness of the stuff I write and the positive feedback.
Very short chunks = happy students.
Big Ah-ha moment of the year - finally figuring out the relationship between Web 2.0 Technologies and Social Networking. Thanks Stephen Downes!!!!
I'm realizing I need to get more active in the greater e-Learning community and figure out ways to network. I've decided to take that on as Work Literacy project for next year. Especially since "people" is not an area where I'm particularly strong.
Over the past year, I've come to realize that I have found a comfortable niche among the greater eLearning community. All as a result of making my personal processing more public. Though I still write the blog for myself, I am incredibly thankful for the feedback, comments and friendships that have developed this year.

Thanks for reading this blog. I hope we can continue learning from each other over the next year. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Crisis of Problematic Expectations

How to deal with the Gen Y learners coming though our institutions continues to be a hot topic.

Tony Bates (who covers international developments in the eLearning space) links to a summary of thoughts on this topic from the Online Educa Berlin 2008 conference.

With the rise of the Internet age, a social and a cultural revolution is taking place right in front of us. But at the same time, a "crisis of significance" is occurring in our classrooms. Learners want to be active, just like they are in the world wide web. When surfing on the Internet, they filter, comment, rate, as well as create knowledge and thus take an active part in gathering information and knowledge. On the other hand, in our classrooms they are still forced into a passive role, merely consuming the information that is offered to them by others.

- Dr. Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist, Kansas State University

This was labeled a "problematic expectation" in the summary.

In my mind, the only way this expectation is problematic is that it creates more work. Much easier to drift along using old materials and processes than it is to create new materials. Furthermore, it's easier on the instructor to just tell people what to think / do than it is to actually engage the student.

The fact that our current generation of students and new workers are no longer tolerating the "old ways" of doing things can do nothing but help the rest of us - as students and as instructional designers. Think about the amount of material that needs to be repurposed!!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Food for Thought

From Confused of Calcutta

I spend a lot of time thinking about education, about what it really means. Not dictionary definitions, not semantic arguments. What does “education” mean to me?

It’s not about “committing to memory and vomiting to paper”.

It’s not about learning to sit tests. It’s not even about learning to pass tests.

These things are useful, but they are neither necessary nor sufficient for us to be able to be anything, do anything.

So what is it about?

Read the entire post for his answer.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gaming Tool Decision Made - Next Steps

It only took us 3 months, but we have finally decided on a tool and vendor that can help us start building instructional games with the Firewall Group.

I'll reveal who we chose in the next few months or so.

Now that we have made the decision regarding which tool and vendor we want to use, the next step is convincing senior management that this is a good investment.

We are going to create a short presentation with the following information:

- The time spent (and $ spent) repairing computers.

- The types of issues they see repeatedly

- Why we are choosing a "games-based" approach.

- The requirements we set up for our decision.

- The vendor analysis (pros and cons)

- Our final decision for the vendor and why.

- Expected cost for the tool - including training, licenses, maintenance

- Anticipated results (reduction of the time spent repairing computers as a result of the issues they see repeatedly)

It helps that Leader is pretty high up there in the organization. It also helps that she is highly respected in her professional circles outside of the University.

Is there anything else you think we should add to the short presentation?

For those who have tried to implement a games-based approach to training in your organization - what was the information that most excited your senior management? What pitfalls did you run into?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

IT is your Friend

I received a phone call a few weeks back to reserve our training rooms for a special training with a vendor. A special piece of software needed to be installed on the training room machines. The installation went smoothly and the technical staff from this department performed the most thorough testing I've seen any of our clients perform.

The guy doing the installation and I looked at each other when we got together for followup and said:

That was too easy.

Famous last words. So we both made sure we had some flex time in our schedule when the vendor was scheduled to arrive. Because when things go that smoothly - bad things happen at the last minute.

Yesterday morning, I received a panicky phone call from the client.

We can't get into our databases! You all said this was tested! We have to do this workshop!

The issue - just because the software is installed doesn't mean that it is configured. No one gave us that part of the equation. And it's not fair to expect the client (who is NOT a member of the department's technical staff) to know that they need to ask what other configuration steps are required to prepare for the session. Even the department's technical staff was caught off guard. Because they DID thoroughly test the application based on the information they were given by the vendor and based on the knowledge they had at that moment.

As the installation guys and I worked to resolve the immediate issue, something became very clear: this is a rogue project and the department is way in over its head. Furthermore, they are expecting IT to save them when they start drowning.

Another alarm in my head sounded when I discovered that the department expects the new software to be able to connect to and communicate with our enterprise application. They hoped to do this with minimal IT participation - other than as informal "favors" between friends.

And we all know how time-consuming those "favors" become.

The third alarm sounded when I realized they are building a parallel database hosted outside of the organization (with potentially sensitive information). Not only does this potentially make our "system of record" inaccurate, we may be dealing with an information security issue. From talking with them, there did not seem to be any plan to figure out how to reconcile these two systems.

Bells are ringing.....

Oh, and did I mention that we are about to embark on a major upgrade of that "system of record" that directly impacts their shiny new system. They never bothered to ask if anything would impact them. The departmental director's and the vendor's eyes got really big when I provided that little piece of information.

So I got to spend the past couple of workdays being the bearer of bad news. I'm hoping we caught this in time before real damage was done. The decisions are now being kicked upstairs.

The department may be seeing their pet project's timelines change dramatically.

And I'm going to try to lie real low while the storm passes overhead......


It is a case-study in why you need to talk to the IT department FIRST before embarking on projects that impact organizational computers and networks.

The IT department has expertise and resources that (if you go up to them nicely and well BEFORE you start) can help you implement whatever it is you are trying to do.

Yes, I KNOW that many IT folks have a knee-jerk "No" response.

Within that "no" response, however, is a love of problem-solving. They may have a better idea.

Sell them on what it is you want to accomplish - not necessarily HOW you want to accomplish it. Ask them nicely for advice early (like when you are even THINKING about possibly implementing the project) and often.

IT folks love to play with new tools. They may have information on tools that fit within the existing system or, even better, that already exist in the organization. As a result, they will better be able to support you.

If nothing else, asking their advice along the way will save you a tremendous amount of headache.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

From the "How Cool is That?!?!" File

Rumblings at the Verizon Center when I arrived yesterday.

'Theodore is a scratch!'

We knew Johnson, our other goalie has been playing with a hip injury. This after losing 10 players to injury who are just now coming back. For what seemed like forever the Washington Capitals consisted of the Hershey Bears (the minor-league affiliate - kudos to the callups!!!) + Ovie's Line (Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kozlov / Nylander) + 2 goalies + a few other dudes.

Did you see who they called up?
Didn't recognize the name.
It wasn't Varlamov was it?
Nope - not Neuvirth or Machesney either.
Who is that guy?

In an illustration of why it's good to work in an industry you love - the Capital's Web Producer suited up as the backup goalie for last night's game with the Senators.

And he got the biggest ovation in the rink.

Varlamov finally arrived 1/2 way through the 1st period.

Brett Leonhardt - you have just made the day of dreaming cubicle-dwellers everywhere.

(BTW - after his moment in the spotlight, he had to go back and edit his OWN POST-GAME INTERVIEW VIDEO! How surreal is that?!?!?!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This can't come fast enough....

Captivate 4!

Which includes the #1 most important feature I've wanted since I started developing with this thing almost 5 years ago.


Two recent posts from the Adobe Insider on the new upgrade
Final Countdown
Final Countdown 2

Those who have read this blog for any length of time know that I'm pretty cynical about most upgrades. This one will (if all goes as advertised) solve a myriad of issues I've had with this tool.

No release date yet - but it sounds like they are mighty close.....

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sifting through Mental Rubble

You know that feeling.

You are in the middle of a creatively fertile period in your "professional" life. The response and feedback you receive has been constructive. You feel "productive". Certain puzzles are beginning to make sense.

You go on a lengthy vacation - long planned and looked forward to. Leaving behind multiple bits of unfinished mental business. Away from the computers and cell phones and social media tools. Away from anything that reminds you of "work" or "profession" or career

You return, only to find yourself staring at the bit of rubble wondering how you were planning to put it all together.

Oh yeah, I'm sooooo there.

It's gonna take me some time to make sense of it all.


I've been doing an informal survey among the folks in my immediate work world who have implemented wikis as part of their day-to-day work. Informal findings:

- The groups using and editing the wiki are small and know each other from their day-to-day work.

- No anonymous posting. And since they already know each other, they have found no reason to have some over-arching "editor". The closest thing one group has to an editor is the guy who provides wiki access to the team.

- It is an expectation among them (encouraged by each group's management and driven by peers) to update their portions of the Wiki as needed.

- Other folks update the wiki as they find information, whether they are responsible for that section or not. There may be an informal face-to-face vetting of the information with the wiki article "owner" before the information goes into the wiki. Just a feeling this happens because of the culture of the organization, I need to ask more questions about this.

- To give you an idea of how these wikis are used among the folks I talked to: 2 groups use a wiki to document help desk information (information and links to support various computer models, how to's for troubleshooting, etc). 1 group uses a wiki to keep track of building configurations.

- For all of the individuals who adopted a wiki, the wiki solves a problem. The problem of tracking and accessing constantly changing information.


Karen nailed my main goal for many of my projects on the head: Just-in-time performance support.

Because learning happens best when you actually need it.

Too bad it don't look like a "course".


On vacation, found out that another one of my "real-world" friends actually reads this thing. He's a working historian.

Hi JP!!!!

Despite my stated desire to avoid thinking about anything smacking of education, instruction, or e-anything (OK, nevermind that I brought Deborah Todd's Game Design with me as "recreational reading") JP and I kicked around a couple of ideas for developing online history material.

During our conversation, I was reminded of the importance of copyright, publication and courses as an appropriate educational structure among the professoriate.

I'll let the rest of you argue the pros and cons of those beliefs.

That said, I wondered if there was a way to straddle the old and the new. Hmmm....what hooks people about history to begin with?

From the sessions on gaming at DevLearn, I remembered "Let the student make the important decisions."

So much of historical study centers around cause and effect and the arguments surrounding which variables were more important. Many historical writings (sometimes despite themselves) engage in the "What if..." game.


Still thinking this one through. What advice would you give?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Does education need to change?

George Siemens asked a really really big question. Does education need to change? This question will, hopefully, help me clarify my personal vision of what I want to accomplish over the next 5-10+ years.

The aspect of professional education that has always bothered me is the multi-hour / multi-day sit-in-a-classroom model of "training." I hate teaching that way and I hate training that way. It is grueling for all parties. And, in the end, I never got the feeling that anything we talked about stuck.

Much of the online courseware we purchased is of the same model. Multi-hour sit-at-the-computer and hope you don't get too distracted while working on the tutorial. At least in a classroom, there are fewer opportunities for distraction. (If you lock the door, collect all cell phones and lock down the computers).

We talk about moving away from the notion that education is an "event." Instead, creating an environment where folks get the information they need when they need it and in the appropriate context. I see that creating this environment requires the following:

- MUCH shorter chunks of information. 5-15 minutes max.

- More focused / contextual information. i.e. "How do I DO x" or "Where do I find information on x."

- Emphasis on designing an ongoing support structure. Where can someone find help when they need it?

- Classroom / synchronous interaction time designed more for allowing an opportunity to focus and talk. Fantastic for introducing new material, implementing new processes, the personal touch of change management.

- Providing processing tools for knowledge creation / management. This is where I am seeing wikis and blogs becoming a valuable resource.

I personally have 2 projects where I am trying to implement this model.

- A classroom series (mostly Captivate workshops) for those wishing to put their materials into our LMS for reporting. (BTW - just because it is in an LMS doesn't mean it has to be 3 hours long....or even a fancy interactive movie.....I'm just saying.....)

- A major upgrade to our enterprise higher education administration system.

Some of the ideas I am working on / kicking around:

- Short online courses and quick references will be made available for general tasks and broad training. These are proving to be quite popular, even without broad advertising. Just knowing that something is easily available and out there seems to help.

- Most of the classroom time for the Captivate project will be focused on individual projects. As a result, the classes will be very small - 5 people max. I'm having them bring their own projects rather than creating a "general" project. Kill 2 birds with 1 stone. They get work done and trained at the same time.

- For the upgrade project - larger classes will be created and team-taught with the local experts / managers. The managers can answer the procedural questions that I am not in the position to answer. Most of the questions that occur during implementation training tend to be of that sort anyway. I'm expecting some of the managers to balk at having to be there.

- During the design phase for both projects, I am focusing on processes and tools for ongoing support after the class. For the Captivate project, I am looking at cohorts. For the upgrade project, I am going to be working with the local "experts" and creating cohorts between them as well based on their most common tasks (cohort for payroll, cohort for student administration, cohort for student billing etc). That one may be trickier.

- For both projects, I am looking at implementing a wiki for the cohorts. I'm still researching how best to implement and administer this. We've had some success within individual IT teams - particularly among the Help Desk and Operations staff.

- Since what I do is technical training - I'm getting the help desk involved during the assessment phase. Particularly for the upgrade project. Where are people having problems with the application currently? What are the most frequently asked questions? What technical problems are they running into the most? In exchange, I've been introducing them to Captivate (because the help desk staff like new toys) and including special training for them as part of the plan. A closer relationship with the people who can help with support can be nothing but a good thing.

This is not a radical change, per se. More of an evolution. Trying to retain the best characteristics of what we do while trying to meet the current needs of our audience. Shorter chunks, more context, ongoing education rather than event education and greater support "post-learning." That's how I want to change education in my world.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So How Do You GRADE It?

In the comments to my last post, B.J. asks:

How can we officially say that Person A did everything correctly, and Person B failed. How do we create grading criteria for such loose concepts?

Man....I knew that Instructional Technology degree would help some day....


Grading Rubrics is one of the techniques we are given in Education school. Rubrics help objectify (to a certain point) subjective exercises (like writing, wiki participation, etc).

I haven't seen this technique used much in a corporate environment (at least, not in the corporate environments I've worked in), but it makes sense. An education version of some of the more thorough HR Job Evaluations.

I did some digging around and found a couple of examples for fun Web 2.0 activities (like Wiki participation).

Here's one example,from homemadetextbook,of a grading rubric for Wikis.

Lots of other examples of Wiki grading rubrics. Thanks Google!

Frenchteachers.org has a grading rubric for both Blogs and Podcasts. (PDF)

Once I get my own wiki started (sometime next year - I'll be using it as a support tool for my Captivate / LMS course series), I will see whether I can actually APPLY the grading rubric idea to my corporate environment.

If anyone is using something akin to grading rubrics in your corporate environment - can you pop me a comment and let me know? I'd love to share your experience!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Do It Yourself FIRST

Chris Lott gave one of the most eloquent descriptions of the role of trust and risk in education.

When we ask students to blog, collaborate, participate and present, we are asking them to perform. Meaningful performances demand taking risks. Is it any surprise that students doubt us– resenting and even pushing back– when we demand performances that there is no evidence we understand?

During DevLearn 08 it dawned on me that many members of our profession still need to prove that they understand the tools we are asking them to use. And in my mind, the best way to understand the tools is to use them yourself for an extended period. For your own purposes.

At the Work Literacy session - I heard a number of questions about "how do I get other people to do this stuff" where the real question still needs to be - how do I get MYSELF to use this stuff.

I struggle with that question with Wikis, Twitter, Second Life, Facebook and LinkedIn (for starters). Until I get more comfortable with these technologies, there is no WAY I am going to force my students to use them. As Chris said - "Gotta walk the walk."

Remember: so much of what we do is sales. We just sell ideas. And if we are not familiar and/or don't like the thing we are selling - we are NEVER going to convince others of its value. No instructional design in the world can help that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reflections on Thinking / Doing

Mark Sylvester rightly pointed out that I was being unfair when I blanketly stated some think and others do.

You ... said that we 'talk' and you 'do' - that's partially true, from my POV it is my doing that informs my talking and being extremely closely connected to my 'doers' (clients), I learn so much about what really works, and not what I think works....

At first, I was thinking it was a matter of control. Control over which projects you select, control over timelines, contril over priorities, etc.

Then I was thinking that maybe the difference was internal vs. external. Consultants can just walk away. Professors and many speakers lecture on the theory without actually reflecting it in their own teaching.

That's not quite it either.

The thinkers v. doers may be more of a reflection of a personal bias towards the seemingly practical. Taking the ideas of the folks with more time / inclination to think and theorize and explore and seeing whether those ideas / new technologies work in the environment I find myself in.

Many thinkers still teach classes and attempt to apply their ideas - even if it is on their clients. Many doers try to carve out points in the day / week to reflect on what is working and what isn't, find new ideas to make their product better.

It may be a matter of balance. How much of your job description is based on thinking, researching, planning and theorizing? How much of your job depends on concrete "results" (i.e. number of tutorials built, number of classes designed, number of students in seats)?

For me - the bulk of my job is based on production. Hence - the "doer" designation. And I personally like being able to point to something and say "Look what I did!" I find it more satisfying than wondering if any of the students in the seats really got something out of the course or whether my navel-gazing is of any use to anyone.

Thinking happens in the occasional still points. The processing occurs on the blog and in the production that occurs after the time spent thinking. The attempts to apply the thoughts.

Thanks Mark for forcing me back to the grey areas....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Stuff on the Home Blog

For those of you who visit me on the home blog, and even for you feed reader folks, you will see some changes.

New link to all of the DevLearn posts.

New look for the blog (which I will be toying with at some point to make it more "me").

Very cool new eLearning Learning widget that allows you to search the content of this blog via keywords. Very useful since I am ridiculously lazy about tagging my content.

For those of you playing with Twitter, if all continues to go well my new blog posts will be announced on my Twitter feed. That feed will also show up in my Facebook status. I think I have most of the bases covered.

Further recommendations for improvement most welcome.

Thoughts at the Airport

I didn’t get much of a chance to reflect after Clark Quinn’s session. Found a bunch of troublemakers (you know who you are) and stayed out (much) later than I intended.

Made getting up 4 hours later to catch a Red Eye back to DC painful.

What happens at DevLearn…….

BEFORE the trouble started, I meandered around DemoFest. My personal favorite was a collection of training courses for factory workers produced by Oxygen Education. A few things that impressed me about their offerings:

- VERY interactive. Much of what they showed me was equipment operations training / resources. Turn the knobs, flip the switches.

- They provided a concrete example of what Clark Q talked about in his lecture. Their drill down went – process to machine to section of machine to button location and appearance, then reversing the process. Creating the model…..

- Love how they chunked the training – you can do the WHOLE training, or find the specific piece of information you are looking for at the time you need it. Training as reference. I do that too (when I can get away with it), and it’s validating to see training organizations take that approach.

- The goal of the entire collection of offerings was to provide factory workers the information they need not only to do their jobs (equipment training, safety training etc), but also professional improvement. They had some fantastic offerings (the one they demonstrated was game-based) on group dynamics and professionalism. They also offered some contextual mathematics and English courses.

- I didn’t catch whether they are working on or received the ability to provide college continuing education credits for their work. You are dealing with a student population who is probably holding down 2 jobs, has a 9th grade education, family and not only does not have the TIME for going to the local community college god knows how many miles away, but also does not have the inclination due to bad experiences in K-12.

- The gentleman I was talking to had incredible passion for the product and work. He WAS that audience – the factory worker, then supervisor, who lived the education challenges from both sides. I had the impression that most of the company came from the trenches of the manufacturing industry. As a result, their tutorials demonstrated a fundamental understanding of their audience – straightforward, to the point, not talking down to them, and highly contextual.

For those who have never had the pleasure of working in a blue-collar job, Sprint’s ad - “If Roadies Ran the World” captures how this audience works nicely.

The pyro is a nice touch……

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mystery of the Missing Friday

The great thing about crossing coasts is that you get to wake up way too early in the morning on too little sleep.

And you wind up missing an entire day of a conference because all of the flights leave early.


Thankfully, Brian Dusablon, one of the other attendees, has notes on some Friday sessions.

And don't forget BJ's DevLearn Blogger list!!!!

I've got a final post on another computer that I just don't have the energy to set up right now. I promise it will be up tomorrow.

And for all of the cool people I met during DevLearn - thank you for making this the most fun conference I've ever been to.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Deeper Instructional Design

Presentation: Deeper Instructional Design: Cognitive Science and How People Really Learn
Presenter: Clark Quinn

(yup...blogger...hiding in the corner...near the power....)

Elements of Enhanced ID
- Objective
- Intro
- Concept
- Example
- Practice
- Summary

How do people really learn - use that to design system.
- And what technology affords us.

Doing more strategy. More people looking for 5 year roadmaps in his practice.

Current wipeouts - Missed Opportunities
- Focus on knowledge, not skills
- Over produced, under designed
- Lack of emotional engagement
- Uninformed by research

Advanced ID
- Learning Grounded
- Skills-focused
- Emotionally engaging

Brain characteristics
- Pattern matchers - good at detecting discrepancies, bad at rote memorization
+ Folks can put rote details in the device, focus on pattern matching

- Learns - compiles knowledge, inaccessible
+ We start with explicit - then compile. Gets into format not examineable
+ Experts have a hard time describing what they do. Gap between what they say they do and actually do big.

- Build explanatory models
+ Explain and predict. If you don't give them model, they will create the model anyway.
+ Hard to extinguish. If the model is wrong, and proven to be wrong, people still hang onto the old model.

It's about learning? Not really
- It's really intellectual self-gratification
- It's about DOING.
- Stuff you do for fun....do you LEARN about that? Avidly? Courses?

2 goals of learning
- Retention over time, between learning experience and when application needed.
- Transfer. Broader the applicability of the skill, less likelihood we are able to address ALL appropriate situations.

We gotta engineer that and support the abstraction.

We can't "create" learning
- We can design environments conducive to learning.
- We design learning experiences.

Don't design CONTENT, design EXPERIENCES
- Design the "Flow".
- Start bringing in emotions and the actions they take

The Nueremburg Funnel.
- Huge manual to train people to use it.
- Got 19 cards and put minimal information on them to get the learner through tasks.
- Principals - let's give people credit for what they already know. What is the smallest amount.

Principal of least assistance - what is the least I need to do to get them over the hump.

Can't dump a bunch of knowledge on people and expect anything to change or retain.

Respecting our learners
- Meaningful goals
- Most effective learning - don't waste their time. How fast can we do this.
- All dimentions - Cognitive (what retain), Affective (learning styles) and Conative (intention to learn - commitment, resistance, anxiety, motivation)
+ Most instructional design really addressing Cognitive component
+ Don't design lesson differently for different learners. Design for the message.
+ Motivation and anxiety. A little bit of stress you perform better, but varies greatly by person.

Ways to improve

Objective to Aligned Objective
- Do NOT assume that it's about a course
- Information update? Job Aid? (like a checklist?)
- COurses are for when you want a significant skill set shift
- Do NOT accept what the SME tells you.
+ Experts don't know why or what they do. They don't have access to the reality of it. It's a story. "Gotta know x,y,z,a,b,c...."
+ Focus on KNowledge (the knowledge dump)
+ Gotta make sure that it's a meaningful decision change.
+ Gotta be able to access and APPLY the information
+ What can the DO differently. Not just what they KNOW
- Make sure it's a meaningful decision change!
+ Having organizational impact
+ Skills, not Knowledge. I reserve the right to raise the level of the objective.

The role of the SME and Instructional Designer changes
- SME is still expert. But - what can the student DO DIFFERENTLY now.
- Use the SME to see what the difference is in the ACTION and RESULTS.
- Focusing on decisions instead of knowledge help them refocus what the SME is talking about.
- Ultimately, what is the bottom-line impact to the organization.

Intro to Motivating Intro
- Motivating example - hook viscerally.
+ Exaggeration of the consequences of NOT having the knowledge for many
+ What do they care about (fear, greed, sloth great motivators)
- Overview - connect from context to content
+ Drill-down to show where you are and why doing this.
- Learner-centered Objectives - NOT designer-centered
+ Want to reactivate the relevant knowledge when introduce the new knowledge.
+ First have to open them up emotionally BEFORE open them up cognitively
+ How is this training going to help THEM (WIIFM)
- Experience expectations - What's coming
+ Let them know when it is short. Or long
+ People who succeeded with a goal, set reasonable small expectations.
+ Big mismatch between expectation and experience - higher anxiety for the student.

Concept to Multi-Concept
- Model-based.
+ People reason with models
+ Group trained with model could still fire the phaser. If SO rote only do it one way - automate it.
- At least text + diagram
+ pictures provide conceptual relationships
+ pictuers map conceptual relationships to spacial relationships
- Multiple representations
+ different ways to look at it
+ different media
+ more models, more examples, more opportunities to resonate with the learner, get to see the pattern, other examples make more sense.

Hardest part - get people to see the importance of the underlying models.
- Models that explain how things work allow you to muddle through better
(Hey! I'm already doing this in my Application training!!!!!)

Example to Story Example
- Stories are better processed
+ We are well architechted to understand stories (see anthropology and cultural myths)
- Worked examples - provide steps
+ with each step, you provide the step AND the example
+ See where the expert make the mistake AND how they fix it.
+ See where the expert deviates from the step....and WHY.
+ More models (experience) = more stuff to bring to bear to solve it.
- Cognitively annotated
+ Make apparent the underlying thought process.
+ Remember: experts no longer have access to what the real thought process is.
- Backtracking
+ Get to see the Expert's perfect process
+ Shows how expert self-monitor and self-correct
+ Self-esteem, self-repair
- Cross-context
+ Transfer by domain
+ The context you show in example and in practice will constrain the distance in which they will transfer.
+ Pick representatively disparate example and context - will help with application transfer
- Explicit link to the Concept
+ Have expert talk to the model
+ Build the expert self-talk within the model / example

Practice - Event-based Practice
- Context they see in Example and Context in Practice
+ Start with similar practice seen in example then spread the gap
- High-enough level
+ Make sure what doing in practice what they need to do in the real world
- Meaningful Decisions
+ Give context
+ Meaningful to domain
+ Meaningful to Learner
+ Active - this does not include RollOvers
+ Concept based feedback - link it back to the concept / model.
+ Goal - have model help them become self-monitoring
+ All of the above is defined as a game
- Misconceptions
+ This is not random
+ People make Pattern-mistakes.
+ The pattern-mistakes are based on their existing model that they are bringing to the table.
+ Take the opportunity to address the mistake they made as a result of the model.
+ What is the most common thing people do wrong and GUIDE THEM TO IT.
- Aided
+ Give them easy-to-access job aids and performance support

Game best used when either hard to change model and/or a skill that really really needs to change.

Learning can and should be hard fun

Summary to Enhanced Summary
- Emotional Closure - acknowledge the emotional commitment and effort.
- Individual Performance. Relate THEIR performance to the material,
+ Give them space to enter their answer. Then give model answer.
+ Give them rubrics to compare what is IMPORTANT in their answer.
+ Deeper thought without having to process the open-ended answer. Did you consider...
- Further directions
+ Type 1 - you are now ready to do...... (hey look, you accomplished something)
+ Type 2 - "If you want to learn more about this subject...."
- Keeping active - supporting beyond practice
+ Encourage using it other places (family, kids, etc.)
+ Learning follow-on. Mobile one option for this.
+ Give them hints. (so how close is MY design to date to this ideal)
- Drill back up
+ Reverse of what you did early on.
+ Put it back in the broader context

Clark loves to start with the emotional hook.
- "You are not going to care about the objective if you have not hooked them emotionally."

Keep your ideas simple. What can you trim down to make your point?

- Real opportunities
- Many cultures have comics as part of their popular literacy. Easy to communicate just enough context without overwhelming.
- Low bandwidth
- Low cost
- Easier to change
- If you leave enough space, not to hard to internationalize
- Watch the humor - may not translate.
- Resistance because not "professional." But it WORKS
(Google with Chrome)

Scott McCloud - Undertanding Comics

Cognitive Apprenticeship- All of these disparate fields will probably converge on this.

Maybe you should separate out the concept from the example.
- Semantic lab allows you to chunk further, tag and find later.
- Stream out multiple examples, not necessarily at the same time. Very valuable if the time between learning and application is large. Can do this mobile, even after face-to-face course.

(One thought - Export Control or other compliance training. You are not going to use the knowledge all the time, but what if you provided small example chunks......)

- Be more regorous in your design
+ Proper elements, properly elaborated
- More flexible design
+ emotionally engaging, minimalist, alternate paths
- More flexible in notion of learning event
+ Little bits more often
+ broader view of learner
+ Broader view of learning

Exaggerate more than SME will tolerate. Make them reign you in.
- The learners will thank you

What is the LEAST I can do
Assume intelligence in your learner.
Assume people have interests and passions. How do you hook them
Why is the SME so turned on by his or her field too?
Not just about the course. About opening up mind and heart.

Have FUN!

Authority from Blogging

I'm going to quote Christy Tucker's comment on one of my DevLearn post because she brings up a good point. That and I'm ridiculously flattered. Not often I get my name mentioned with Stephen Downes in the same sentence.

For those not familiar with Christy's blog, she has been blogging almost as long as I have and finds the greatest stuff in her daily bookmarks.

By the way, my lack of comment on any post from anyone is more a reflection of my continued struggle with trackbacks and reporting. If you send me a comment with a link, if I haven't found it already, I will check it out. Promise.

Still have some work to do on the ol' blogging infrastructure......

From Christy:

Way back when I first started my blog, I linked to you from a post about synchronous and asynchronous learning. I linked to "The Downes" too. I remember being very disappointed that I didn't get any responses from that. I wasn't surprised about Stephen not commenting, as I knew at that point that he was a bigger name. I figured no comment from you meant you were just too big of a name in the field to pay attention to lil' ol' me.

Now, of course, I am less naive and figure you never got a trackback from my post (and I didn't know enough to come here to comment and let you know about it). But I do very distinctly recall at the time thinking you were out of my league.

To some extent, blogging and social networking and the rest of these tools do make the playing field more even, and they give us access to people at the top.

But the reverse is also true; our blogs give the people at the top access to us. Tony has access to your unique perspective all year round, not just at the conferences, because he can read what you're thinking about and working on here. People who are theorizing can have easy access to people in the trenches, and the theorists and the practitioners can learn from each other. I know that's idealized and optimistic, but there is some hope of that happening.

Don't think that your thoughts don't matter because you're "just a (now occasionally) harried, low-level Instructional Technologist / Trainer." Tony and Brent and Jay and everyone wouldn't be here in the blogosphere interacting if they didn't see that value; they'd just be presenting at conferences, not engaging people with these tools.

When in the company of rock stars I respect, and eLearning is one of the very few fields where I have had overwhelmingly postitive experiences with meeting the "stars of the field", I sometimes forget that feedback from the trenches can only improve what is going on in the clouds. Particularly when those in the clouds listen.

Implementing Immersive Simulations

Presentation: Best Practices for Implementing Immersive Simulations
Presenter: Corti

(Came in late - first person networking)

- The 'big idea' (what is your hook)
- Defining it
- Project team
- Vendor Selection

- Design it
+ Paper mock-ups important, incl. storyboarding. Mistakes on paper cheap

- Build it
+ Build to work, then build pretty
+ 20: 80 rule. For immersive learning, at least 80 percent of the project needs to be done before you can show the client.
+ Build for learners, not gamer
+ Make sure you have time to do iterative process.

- Manage it
+ Beware of feature creep. Once see it - people's imagination going.
+ Document and sign off everything
+ Disciplined change management processes important. Make very clear implications of changes.

- Test it
+ Define testing regimes at start
+ Test logic before coding (because this is what the end user sees)
+ Test from usability, learning design, IT compliance (incl. LMS)
+ Run through QA separately - typos, visuals, branding, compliance.
+ Final testing - very important to get fresh eyes

- Pre-sell it
+ Launch that it's coming.
+ Posters
+ Video (coming soon - around 90%)
+ Competitions and high score chart (if fits corporate environment)
+ Identify internal advocates

- Support it
+ Dummies guides

- Deploy it
+ Is it going into LMS
+ Access control?
+ Compliance reporting issues
+ Level of data needed for assessment?
+ Remember: IT needs to protect the IT infrastructure. TLC required.
+ Online preferred, but CD/DVD may be one option.

- Review it
+ Project post-mortem

- Measure it
+ What was the success factor? Did it meet it>
+ Use industry standard measurement approaches. Esp the ROI!!!!
+ Get the proof to justify the next project.

Cardinal Sins
- Decision by committee - avoid like the plague
- Skimping on the design
- Diluting the design - accomomodating too many viewpoints creates confusion and waters down the results
- Treat sims as 'content' - there are fundamental differences between the 2. Simulation is how you bring the content together.
- Changing design during development - project suicide
- Failure to communicate
- Not allowing time for testing - VERY important to see whether it behaves the way you want it to.

Some white paper resources from Pixelearning.

Random Thoughts Between Sessions

So Kevin Sigel is around here somewhere and blogged about Captivate 4.
Closed Captioning through Slide Notes. YAY!!!! I put my narration there anyway!!!!!

Interesting conversation with Mark Sylvester before the keynote. He's the CEO of IntroNetworks. Mark O. and Tony K. have convinced him of the value of Blogging. I gave him Ted Leonsis as an example of effective CEO blogging and 2.0 technologies. Mark's big concern (and mine too) is how the written word can and will be used against you.

What is the appropriate level of transparency anyway? Will it vary based on your position or business interests?

I have interest in this as a historian since historians use the written word as the foundation of our tools.

I wonder what all of this blogging / twittering / commenting will say about us 20 / 50 / hundreds of years from now.

Maybe I don't want to know.....


If you want to find the conference bloggers, look at the back and sides of the room....near the power outlets.....


The Great ILS Challenge

(No Wendy - it is NOT ILT challenge, as you regularly freudian slip. Bad Wendy, Bad. And in front of Mark too.....)

Presentation: The Great ILS Challenge
Host: Mark Oehlert

ILS Challenge - the whole idea is that ideas regarding what you can do with design can be stretched.

We help people do their jobs better. Mark wants to stretch the design of what we do. Let's take our usual - what can we do to make it better?

This challenge - Design a game to get to the ethical truth of a person. Predict ethical behavior.

And the very cool thing after one of his speakers left, when he asked for help and submissions on his network - he got dozens of responses from people he didn't expect would even be interested. And got a very high level game designer to do the challenge courtesy of Clark Quinn (1 degree of separation).

A great example of how web 2.0 works!
Deb and Bob Holm (get name from Mark)

One example of background - training CAD Engineers using a first person shooter. (Wow!) Result - a 4th grader got a hold of it and started designing CAD.

They do a lot of the Discovery Channel and PBS Kids games too.

The creative process - bring the designers in EARLY.
- Look at the property from the early early stages.

Bob - one area of interest, how to make games more adaptive.
- What makes commercial games so addictive, the game changes as the user plays it. More challenging.

They are a big fan of rapid prototyping (me too).

The way design is really done, people work together.
- Decided to tackle it collaboratively.

SO what is ethics?
- Took the usual assessment questions. (Mult choice, click Next)

Hey - look at the Ferengies

So the approach
- Gotta be fun. remember - people learn more if they have fun.

What is your message?
+ Let people discover a performance-based strategy based on the message.
+ Any virtual world that is a game has a set of rules implicit in that world. Those rules are the basis of the gameplay.
+ in this case - Karma. What you do has ramifications. Can build a game around that.

- You can twist the message - would you screw someone if you could get away with it?
- Maybe try the middle - what goes around comes around.

Next conversation - what are the game mechanics?
- Casual game - easy to learn, hard to master. Low initial investment, short duration, repeatable. "You can play it while you are watching TV"

- Twitch game - something where someone is doing something quickly (First person shooters, lots of clicking really fast, lots of rapid decision-making).

- Role playing game

What came up with based on Ultimatum
- 2 player game, split $100
- Player 1 offers a split (50/50, 80/20)?\
- Player 2 accepts or rejects
- No negotiation possible
- Reject - everyone loses

So to adapt the game
- Multiplayer? With history? What if played as part of a team? This will manipulate how people will react.
- What really happens if you know who are playing against? Would the response change if you see them? Would the response change based on the history?
- Would they respond differently as an avatar? Realistic or graphical?

Games as research tools. We can use the game to see how people behave based on how they interact with the game.
- We can learn how people are learning through the information we obtain through the game. (This is a whole different level of data gathering when programming).

Remember - online is not just to disseminate information, can also gather information.
- PBS Kids - get LOTS of information as the kids play the game.

The Twitch Game part - assembly line.
- You want so that as someone gets "too good" - the system declines.
- You want to build in an optimum. Force someone who overdoes it to back off a bit.

2 impt. questions
- Who IS your audience?
- What is the message?
- Get the above 2 things nailed, can build around those 2 elements.

Can see how people behave around character / story / environment.
- Where can you get people access to a lot of money that we can develop shady things around?
- Skimming without ramifications that will throw you into jail?

Ethical dilemas - you want conflict between 2 impt. principals. The shades of gray.
- Honesty / Loyalty
- Personal Gain / Integrity

To tune the game
- Find the main ethical principals of the character
- Steer them towards places where those principals will be challenged.

Visual style - they decided Film Noir. Nugget of the story idea.
- looked for other examples for inspiration.
- Exposition pulls you in. Challenge is clear (don't have to be straight-on).

Goal: To get you to think outside of box. Use different approaches to do something fun, interesting and engaging.

When doing brainstorming - have a 20something in the room. The ideas are nice, but you are also looking for thought-process.
- "Why not make it fictional" That opens up more options.

You don't know where the good idea is going to come from.

Thinks to think about (pick any two)
- Time
- Budget
- Quality

So what would you build?

There is transfer effects for any instructional material.
- Build in a pre / post. Based on those measures, did they get it. (Hmm...can't you do it within the game? Scoring?)

So how DO you measure the interaction?
- I'm going to give them x information, did they get it?
+ (So, for example, you are looking for how much time / attempts to figure out how to deal with the new variable. I.e. how long will it take the kid to figure out to flush the microbe)

More is happening on the simulation side than branching.
- Not a big fan of branching because it explodes
- (so how do you go about building simulation vs. branching)
- Advantage of simulation - try out things in a safe environment.

Ultimately, in the end, did they learn what they needed to learn?

What are you trying to convey?
- Knowledge - drill and kill fast
- Skills and concepts - other methodologies work better.
+ Winning strategy demonstrates concept mastery.
+ The rules and heuristics that an expert in a field uses to make decisions faster.

Video - Did you know
- 8x more words in the English language than Shakespeare.

Video games is a LITERACY (Mark O.).
- To gain that literacy - play
- Example - immersive language simulations

2 usable game concepts
- Grow your cube
- Escape the room

Kongregate - lots and lots of user flash games
- A game where you can argue
- Facade

Looking at a concept and how it moves forward.
- Example - look at the science concepts in school by grade. Your level in science maps to the concepts you learn in the grade.

(Mark O) - great games are immersive and engrossing even without the visual elements.
- Story is more important than theme.
- Don't mistake the visual for the dominant. It's easier to create visuals than to write and design the story and game play and learning.

(Bob) Be wary of - uncanny valley
- As you increase the fidelity of the representation of the human, you hit a point where people are looking for the problems in the representation.
- "We are faithful enough to be creepy."

What Mark found with the submissions

Lots of themes of Karma
- One idea - single and multiple lifetimes.
- The game can build on itself. Multiple casual games into a role-playing game.
- No extremes - the middle way works best over the long term.

If people know if they are being tested about ethics, will behave in an ethical manner.
- So wanted to be sneaky about it. (Which is unethical too)
- Teach them that you are testing them about leadership and diplomacy.
- Karl Kapp - up the stakes and make it real.

(Audience) Another part of it....how great is the need? Would the ethical rule change?
- If we are learning from their gameplay, what other variables are we also discovering that we didn't consider in the initial design?

Eve Online - built around horribly unethical behavior in business. In space.

Emergency - try to save patients. The kids found the coolest way to kill people.
- I wonder if they learned the science behind it too!

BJ's Blogger List

BJ Schoen is compiling a list of active bloggers during DevLearn 08.

If you are blogging the conference, send a comment with a link to BJ.

Or just go to the list to see the range of experiences.

How to Create a Napkin with PowerPoint

Dan Roam reminded us that we shouldn't be a slave to our tools when thinking. So...PowerPoint provides a great blank board on your laptop. (Hope this works)

The Back of the Napkin

Presentation: The Back of the Napking Presenter: Dan Roam


We can solve our problems with pictures. When someone thinks visually, they are able to become much more clear about what the problem is about.

Which problems are we talking about? – we can solve any problem we can think of.. If we can articulate it, we can solve it.

What pictures are we talking about? – simple shapes + stick figures + smiley faces

Who is “we”? (Who is going to do this?) – us. You.

75% of your brain is processing vision. - Tells us that vision is pretty important if we are using that much of our brain to process. After kindergarten, we quit teaching pictures.

Help us discover ideas. If can spend a few seconds mapping out with a picture, you will discover ideas in that kernel that we wouldn't have discovered if we do bullet lists, etc. - Triggers different parts of the brain.

Fastest to develop the idea. Once you have created the picture, can share with others. Can this work virtually - heck yes! (Many synchronous meeting tools allow you to collaborate in this way. Elluminate for one).

3 fundamental unwritten rules of visual thinking
- Whoever best describes the problem is the one most likely to solve it.
+ Whoever draws the best picture gets the money
+ Explain something that may be complex in the clearest way. This is not about oversimplification.

Examples: - Creation of SW Airlines - Cuban Missile Crisis - Laffer Curve

(So I've got Mark O's live blog going in one of my other windows and I keep hearing the typing clicks and switching over to see what he is typing.)

(Oh yeah - best us of tablet EVER for a presentation. I wish / hope someone is videotaping this....)

There is a broad range of abilities and talents and ways we think about pictures. - In any given business meeting / setting there is a spectrum.
- 25% Black Pen people - can't wait to run up to whiteboard and start drawing.
- 50% Yellow Pen people (highlighters) - the folks who will stand up and go to the white board and clarify the ideas already drawn.
- 25% Red Pen people - the person who is thinking the whole drawing thing is BS and that the folks at the whiteboard are oversimplifying / misinterpreting the problem.

The Red Pen people probably HAS the greatest grasp of the problem.

The way to get the Red Pen people to participate is to piss them off so much that they erase everything and draw it themselves (because the rest of you morons just don't get it).

Powerpoint is just a tool (hammer) (Here here!!!)
- Enables us to be lazy and turn off ways to process the information differently.
- From a cognitive perspective, if you need to convey information in real-time, this is the WORST way to do it. People will get the first and maybe second page to start. By page 7 , forget the first 2 pages. No time to digest the information.

The napkin sketch is the future. - Think and practice "how do I explain my concept in a picture"
- Replaces the elevator pitch (picture worth ......) Pictures transcend language and culture.

How to create an eNapkin (to share)
- Take 1 laptop computer running PowerPoint.
- Take 1 meeting tool - WebEx, Adobe Connect, GotoMeeting, Elluminate etc
- Take over the desktop and put PowerPoint on the meeting
- There is a great online drawing tool in PowerPoint (that most Microsofties don't know about)
- Go into presentation mode. Icons at the bottom. Look for the pen.
- Can switch the host in the meeting tool and allow them to move.

(If the video doesn't work I will try to post it separately)

Unwritten rule number 2 - The more human the picture, the more human the response.

Certain types of pictures work better than other.

6 ways we see (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How)
- Eyes are pulling zillions of points of data and brain is processing.
- Both a serial and a parallel process.
- the "What" pathway. The part that is able to process what objects are. That is Brent.
- the "Where" pathway. Tells us where things are. That something is about 3 feet down, slightly to the right.
- the "How Many" pathway. Tells us the number of things. There are more than 3, maybe more than nine, therefore "a lot". Mostly process small, medium or large.
- the "How" - We see the passage of timme through the change of location of the objects we see. We can start putting together how the world work.
- If I ask enough times and can put together cause and effect - can think about causality.

So any problem can be broken down into 6 pieces Then draw the solution
- Who/What - draw the person or thing
- Where - Map
- When - Timeline
- How - Flowchart
- How Much - draw a chart
- Why - (multi-variable plot) diagram with multiple dimentions of data mapped on top of each other

Some examples - the Wong Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale.

Those loops / cycles - tend to be a bit more confusing. Do a timeline, then add a hook at the end.

3rd unwritten rule - problems have multiple layers.
- We are in a position to slice the cake
- We can slice it horizontally and vertically - through our pictures.
- Different pictures for different problems.

Breakfast Byte with BJ

I'd give the name of the session, but it was 3 of us and we didn't need to cover the topic he planned.

So we talked instead.
Matt (Indiana University) showed off his Drupal-based Content Management system. It's still in development. What we saw was a tool that forced interaction when entering content. Great work Matt!
Matt, BJ and I talked a bit about Tony K's Work Literacy session. BJ and I agreed that the value of the session was in seeing a fully formed draft of the ideas Tony has been discussing on his blog. Since we've been seeing the idea from its infancy - it's hard to pick out and combine the bits and pieces. Especially when you don't have the bandwidth to concentrate.

After sleeping on some of the ideas that came out in the session, I realized that Work Literacy is really about amping up some of the practices that we already have.

- Scan - we're scanning more information. So we need the tools to do it better. Hence - RSS feeds.

- Process - So we need to make it a point to PROCESS some of this information we are receiving. The processing, ideally, can be public for feedback. More quality feedback, more learning. Tools available - Blogs and Wikis.

- Network - LinkedIn and Facebook allow us to network over distances. The face-to-face, however, doesn't go away. You can make yourself available as a resource. You can ask questions of your direct network or 2nd level (since they are likely to respond if you both know each other.

Again, all 3 things are activities we already do as professionals - we just need to change our processes a bit.
Cool resources - Thanks BJ!

Discovery through eLearning - Tracy Hamilton. She's in the throes of an LMS implementation and is journaling her thoughts. She's looking for help and advice. We're with you!!!!!!

ELearning Development News

Running out of time - Keynote time!!!!

Thoughts on Dinner

Last night, I had the privilege to join some of the luminaries in our field for dinner.
- Mark Oehlert
- Brent Schlenker
- Tony Karrer
- Jay Cross
- Alica Sanchez
- Mark Sylvester(IntroNetworks)
- David Metcalf

Among others…..

I realized that I go to a conference for different reasons than the rest of the folks around the table.

They go to a conference to network. Meet folks they have had online conversations with, contact folks who are experts in areas where they may need help. They decide on which conference to go to based on who will be there and do preliminary research on people they intend to meet for talking points.

I go to a conference to collect information. Oh yeah….and I meet people too…..

This difference in approach may be a result of my lack of participation in the greater professional world of eLearning (at least, up until recently). It’s also a reflection of the small number of conferences I attend. This past year was busy – I went to 3!

The eLearning Guild conference is different because, for the first time, my main purpose is to meet people that I have read and corresponded with in the Web 2.0 world (Tony K, B.J.) and touch base with other fellow bloggers I have run into before (Mark O., Brent S.). Oh yeah, and perform (minimal) face time with some vendors who participated in an RFP with us for game development.

The session list, in many ways, is secondary to my purposes here. (Don’t worry boss – as you can tell, I’m still attending stuff!)

I wonder if my change in purpose is a result of going to more of these conferences, blogging (and having folks reading it), and seeing familiar faces.

Witnessing the “networking” part of Work Literacy in action.

One member of the table is doing research and asked the others whether they knew some experts. 3 people grabbed their phones.

I have Singapore on the phone – wanna talk to her?
I know contacts in Uganda and Turkey – you want their information?

The in-person networking has its parallel in LinkedIn and Facebook. The food is not as good.

Before dinner, I talked to Mark O. about how he manages all of the technology he works with. (Paraphrasing – Mark was a LOT more eloquent).

It’s like a fish in water. The fish didn’t create the water. It’s just the environment it works in. I was so frustrated before all of these tools came out. They solve a problem. Just like the water does for the fish.

What he leaves out….he’s aware enough to realize there is a problem long before the rest of us. Case in point: we went to graduate school in History / Anthropology about the same time (early to mid 90s). I didn’t see an issue with the way we worked then. He did. That’s why he is an “Alpha Geek” and I am a “Gamma Geek.”

I admitted to Tony K. during the reception that I felt a bit intimidated by these fantastic people that I’m meeting. The speakers at this conference are the big wigs in the field. Clark Quinn, Will Thalheimer, Jay Cross…. Plus, Mark O and Tony K have been kind enough to let me tag along on some of his conversations. More luminaries… Avron Barr, LETSI/SCORM guru; Ellen Wexler, former muck at Adobe…..

Wendy, we need a voice like yours in these conferences. Look at the list.

They are experts!

Yeah – but you have a unique perspective that is refreshing.

I’m guessing what Tony K meant was that they talk, I do. I’m not a high level muck somewhere or a consultant or an evangelist of anything. Just a (now occasionally) harried, low-level Instructional Technologist / Trainer who diaries about her experience in the trenches.

Tony’s right. Maybe I do need to get out more…..

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 1 thoughts - while the brain still works

I may do a second round of this after the evening. Or in the morning since I am on east-coast early bird time.

- So happy to finally meet B.J. and Tony (Dr. Karrer). Tony has been a huge supporter since practically day 1. B.J. has a great blog that has pride of place in my feed reader.

- Tony's explanation of what Work Literacy is now makes sense (Wendy's AhHa moment of the day). Apparently, it is a collection of practices that I have been doing all along. The challenge, as both B.J. and one of the other audience members put it, is to figure out how to transition the learning practices we do for ourselves to others who may not be so motivated.

My thinking, however, seems to center on the "model it first" worry about spreading it later. I am just not a fan of trying to implement / force practices that I haven't worked with first. Furthermore, few things agitate me more than having folks force stuff on me that they won't do themselves. (i.e. don't ask me to blog if you won't).

- I don't know if TwitFeed is working or if it's just moving really slow. I suspect there will be a whole mess of New Blog post items appearing on the Twitter feed sometime tonight. Or maybe I broke it.....

- Finally ran into Brent as I was setting up for these final thoughts. Dude - I don't know how you do it....

- The experiment with the conference infrastructure has been interesting. This is a time where I wish I was better at texting. I feel like I've got way too much stuff going on - pictures, blog, Twitter, keeping up with other stuff, AND paying attention to the sessions. Thank goodness I am a habitual compulsive note-taker.

- Best quote I've heard all day, from Mark O as I complained about how I'm having a tough time with short-form Twittering.

Wendy - just let go....Let us discover how dark you really are.

I need at least one editing step before my dark thoughts becomes permanent record.

It's best for all of us.

Using Simulation in the Classroom

Presenter: Ken Spero, James Allen

This was more of a quick in and out thing for me

Essentially, the presenters argue that we can use some of the higher tech simulations as Instructor-facilitated classroom tools. The simulation he developed made a point of getting rid of the best and worst options. Still complex, decision-based branching.

The strength of this approach, he argues, is that it allows for more immediate conversation during the decision process.

The entire session modeled what he was talking about. Folks were informally put into groups (I was talking to some guy in the back since I walked in so late). The group then had to come up with a unilateral decision - since there was only one computer. This way, you can facilitate conversations about the pros and cons of each decision.

Cribbed from their handout - the process in the classroom looks something like this:
- 10 minutes of an Instructor led intro
- 20 minutes working with the simulation in teams of 4 (they suggest a combination of 3-5 people)
- 10 minutes of feedback and a small group debrief
- 10 minutes of a large group debrief
- 10 minutes of Q and A

Just a little reminder that "eLearning" development does not strictly need to be solely on a computer, but can be used to support / supplement instructor-led courses.

No-Compromises Rapid eLearning

Presentation: No Compromises Rapid eLearning
Presenter: Tom Kuhlmann

Rapid eLearning tools have democratized learning.
- Everyone is an expert at "something."
- Empowers people to share their expertise.
- Ultimately Communities of Practice center around expertise.
+ Before - to build, it was a hassle (Authorware anyone?)
+ If you don't have connection to "Training" - you need to do something, right?

2 types of tool
- Form or freeform
- Form - software does stuff for you - you dump in content. (like Sealund's offerings, Raptivity)
- Freeform - blank screen and you can do whatever with blank screen (Flash, Authorware)

PowerPoint is a nice authoring tool. millions of people use it. It's easy.
- But you have to look at it from an eLearning perspective.
- Templating also nice - can provide form element.

Pros - Form-based tool
- Speed
- Consistency / Uniformity
- Easy to use (one hopes). Place to add text. Button to add audio. Looks great.

Cons - Form-based tool
- no flexibility
- redundancy
- visuals / branding issues

Form-based tools are great for brand new person. Now you have first generation of rapid e-learning authors who want to do more....
- The form-based tools can't do the new stuff they want to do.

Pros - Free-form
- Very flexible / creative
- More control
- Power

Cons - Free-form
- Can be very hard to use - high learning curve
- Speed of delivery. May take (a lot) more time to develop.

Rapid eLearning - because using a form, most think isn't interactive beyond the Next button.
- Even though you are still using a form, it can still be interactive.

In our industry - there is an unspoken hierarchy
- Complicated Custom is best
- "Level 1" (basic reading - created in form) is "lame".

But the hierarchy should be based on your content. Not the tool.
(Because you can build really lame content with really complicated tools.)

(at this point, he demos Articulate Engage)

Many form-based tools let you use various interactions - just a matter of using those interactions creatively. Rollovers, click boxes, etc. that come with most form-based tools.

Michael Allen - his books highly recommended.

(at this point, as interesting as the tool is, I left. Other stuff that I need to look at)