Archive | July 2009

Free Hot Lava Software

Hot Lava MobileHot Lava, which was recently acquired by OutStart, is now offering a free version of their m-learning development tool. It is accessible at this link, Hot Lava download-registration. Here is also a description of Hot Lava.

It is a full version and without any time limitations. My guess is that OutStart will be making significant improvements to the software, so why not offer the current version free as a teaser. If you are interested in creating m-learning, here is a free tool to get you started.

Adobe FlashTutorials

flash_cs3_48x45I have been deep into numerous Flash projects. Some are WBT’s that contain Flash interactions, others are entire courses made in Flash. For some, I am delving beyond my current knowledge of Flash Actionscript. Thus, I have been visiting many Flash tutorials. Here are some of the Flash tutorial sites I found out there. FYI: These sites contain free tutorials.

http://www.entheosweb.com/Flash/default.asp – Entheosweb 

http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flash/ – Flash Development Center 

http://www.w3schools.com/Flash/default.asp – w3schools.com 

http://www.flashkit.com/tutorials – Flash Kit 

http://www.gotoandlearn.com – gotoAndLearn()  

http://www.flashandmath.com – Flash & Math (AS3 tutorials) 

http://flash.tutsplus.com – Flash Tuts+ 

http://www.echoecho.com/flash.htm – EchoEcho

 

If you have any favorite Flash tutorial sites, please share. I am also adding a Flash Tutorial category on the Free e-Learning page.

NOVA's Interactives Archive

I absolutely love seeing great examples of e-learning. While watching NOVA,  I took a trip over to their website and found their Interactives Archive. It has hundreds of educational interactives. They are organized by interest and range from anthropology to technology. Here is the link,  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/hotscience, take a look. It will be added to the Free e-Learning page too.

I Carry My ActionScript Around My Neck

Whenever I write new Flash Actionscript (that works) or find useful Actionscript, I make it a point to place it somewhere accessible where I can access it later. It may be years before I need that particular code again, but I want to access it quickly along with any associated notes I saved with it.

Here has been my solution for many years. I have added a personal wiki to my removable flash drive. As I write or find new code, I add a new post on the wiki, add appropriate tag, and paste the code along with any directions for the code. When I need the code again, I pop in the flash drive, copy the code and paste in right into Flash’s Actionscript pane. This has saved me many hours of hunting down code from prior Flash interactions that I have made or needing to write anything from scratch a second time.

If you need a personal wiki that can reside on your flash drive, TiddlyWiki provides one. There may be others out there, but this one works for me. Oh, get a nice lanyard to put your flash drive on too.

The Eagle has Landed – Apollo XI

One of my earliest memories as a child was the Apollo 11 Moon landing 40 years ago. With the anniversary upon us (7/20), I am promoting some of the great resources NASA has on the web celebrating this event.

NASA – Apollo 40th Anniversary

Explore the Apollo 11 Landing Site

Interactive: One Small Step

Restored Videos of the Moon Walk

Real-Time Replay of Mission Audio (July 16-July 24)

Simulations – Considerations

Currently, I am involved in creating simulations for a new system application. This is something I have done a lot of over the years. And I have learned quite a bit, but the hard way. To avoid the problems I encountered in the past, I strongly suggest making the following considerations prior to developing software or system application simulations.

  • Have access to a “test” system to capture the sim’s screens. If there is not a test system and you must capture screens in a live system, identify all the tasks you can or cannot do without adverse effects on the system or its data.
  • Is there sensitive data or information on the system (test or live) that should not be displayed on the simulation? Can dummy data be added for the sake of the simulation? If not, you may need to alter the captured screens with a graphics editor to eliminate and replace sensitive data.
  • Is the system you are using when capturing the screens exactly as it will appear when it is “live?” The graphic user interface (GUI) and functions should replicate what the user will actually experience when they start using the actual system.
  • Determine the end users’ computer specifications. What is their bandwidth, browser type, Flash player version, etc.? These will all determine how you develop the sims and what software(s) you choose for sim development. For example, some development software may require certain players or plug-ins your users do not currently have or they may have low bandwidth causing the very slow download of the Captivate sim you built, etc.
  • Timing of the course launch. Obviously training should occur prior to when people are expected to use the system, but retention can be an issue and I like people to be use the system soon after training
  • Keep the course accessible. Users will probably find the sims to be great refreshers at a later time, so make sure it stays online and is  easy to navigate. They should be able to launch the course on the fly and go directly to the sim they need. Make sure the course’s menu and navigation are very user-friendly.
  • Provide job aids. If the system is not intuitive or the tasks taught are very complicated, the job aid can be a big help to the users after training.
  • Coaching labs. If geography and resources allow, I like to also offer “training labs.” After attending the online training, system users can come into a computer lab and receive coaching on whatever issues they are having or still confused about.

Following the eLearningLearning Community

If you have not been to eLearningLearning.com recently you will notice their redesign and new features. I am a frequent visitor and also member of this elearning blog community. It’s a great collection of elearning blogs with a wide spectrum of perspectives.

Here are some of the new features that make it easy to to follow:

  • Best of  link– Provides the best posts on eLearningLearning based on social signals.
  • RSS – The best of eLearningLearning or full list of blog posts.
  • e-Mail – Receive recaps of the best of elearningLearning or receive recaps of the full list of blog posts.
  • Twitter (elearningPosts) – An easy way to follow eLearningLearning’s posts and when an interesting blog post appears you can zip right over using the tinyurl link.

Outside of going directly to www.elearninglearning.com, my preferred way to follow eLearningLearning is on Twitter.

If you are not following eLearningLearning, you do not know what you are missing. Go ahead, visit the site, explore and start following this wonderful elearning community.

you have to fight for the right TO BE ENGAGING

I just read a comment on a blog where a someone was very frustrated by bland, unengaging page turners. It got me thinking. How do you get a an organization out of the rut of making page turners and to start creating more engaging and effective courses? Here are my first thoughts:

  • Put on your instructional designer hat and do everything you can to educate all involved (SMEs, clients, managers, and audience too) on what effective e-learning is and how all involved can benefit from it.
  • Show all involved what effective e-learning looks like, actual examples. Here is just one place where you can find examples –http://minutebio.com/blog/free-e-learning/ (this my Free e-Learning collection ).
  • Find case studies, articles, evaluations, etc. that support your case.
  • Create a prototype to demonstrate the level of interactivity and engagement your organization can produce in a course. Get your co-workers involved so they will be vested in the “new approach.” This will earn you supporters and people who can rally against the archaic page turners the organization still wants to produce.
  • When you launch your prototype/course and your audience provides positive feedback. Be quick to send that feedback to the powers to be along with any evaluation you have done. They will have a hard time arguing against more interactive courses then.
  • Continue to evaluate your courses even after you have been given the go ahead and resources to create more interactive courses. If you can demonstrate positive results for all 4 levels of evaluation, especially “results,” they will have little argument for ever implementing a page turner again.

What else can be done to address the organization stuck in page turner mode? Please feel free to make suggestions. Thanks.

Building a Camel

“You put together a committee to build a horse and get a camel.”

That is what I have been going through with my SMEs. I had the right subject matter experts (SMEs), all with the expertise needed, and not too many to be productive or reach a reasonable consensus. Somewhere along the line they took it upon themselves to invite more into the mix  and now reaching a concensus is becoming difficult.

The bigger problem is they all want to throw more content into the course. The SMEs want everyone to be subject matter experts too. While the learners need the skills to do to do THEIR job effectively, not to master all the skills they are not expected to ever apply.

Today the SMEs surprised me. They wanted to push the training up 3 weeks due to an earlier than expected system release. This is the first time I have ever experienced an early system release. Usually these are delayed, maybe on time, but never early. Anyhow, what is an e-learning guy to do?

It was an opportunity to make sure we built a horse!

Here is what I did:

  • Shaved 1 week from the amount of time participants have to take it prior to the system release. This means I have 2 weeks less development time and participants have 1 less week to take the course. It’s a compromise between the learners/participants and me, and the SMEs still get to keep there training prior to the system launch date. I hate giving participants less time, but it is a necessary evil.
  • Revisit the storyboards and determine what can be eliminated from the course that is not essential to participants being able to use the new system. This will accomplish the following:
  • Shave a lot of development time off. Especially if it includes eliminating unnecessary simulations. I know for a fact there are numerous topics, demos and sims that are what I call “nice to knows.” It is great to provide background info or more about the system’s inner workings, but for the sake of time on our part and the participants part too, they can use the system effectively without this some of this info. And believe me, my audience will appreciate a succinct course, while still being able to learn exactly what they need in order to use this system.
  • Redesigning some of the interactive sims (try me sims) into demos (show me sims) instead. The very simple tasks will transfer and be retained just as well with out the practice, in my opinion. I will still invest the time needed to develop the interactive “try me” sims for the more complicated tasks.

Yes, it is a pain to have less time to develop this course, but at least it can be a more succinct, focused and hopefully a more effective course.

Ethnographic Study on Kids and New Media

Here is Mimi Ito on Living and Learning with New Media. She has conducted an ethnographic study on what youth are doing with new media and discusses some of the results. She provides a good perspectives on how kids are using new media, including how they learn with new media/social media. This supports many of the approaches we are taking as an industry including social/informal learning. When watching the video I kept reminding myself that the subjects of her study will be entering the job market rather soon and will be participating in our corporate learning soon. Not to mention 20 somethings are probably using new media in many of the same ways. The video is provided by Edutopia.org.

http://www.edutopia.org/media/videofalse.swf

Here is Mimo Ito’s blog post on the study’s findings.