Thursday, December 25, 2008

The dreaded Right Click

I am working on developing eLearning technical training courses for an ERP software application being implemented within a division of the company I work for using Adobe Captivate 3. If you are familiar with Adobe Captivate then you are familiar with "Assesment Simulations." I love assessment simulations because they require the learner to do the clicking rather than just viewing a screen recording of the process. This is great because they can actually practice using the software in a safe environment where they can't mess anything up and they will receive constructive feedback based on where they click. This is particularly great for my situation because in this software implementation, learners will be expected to be using the application full time the day the switch is flipped and the software is available to them. Captivate and the assessment simulations are a life saver for me because I can train them on the software without them actually having access to it.

Problem is that the software application has a lot of features that are accessed through right clicking and Captivate has no answer for the right click. I am on a deep dive for ideas of how to simulate the right click in a captivate simulation. I have heard that Captivate 4 is the answer for the right click in a post on Wendy Wickhams blog. Unfortunately Captivate 4 is not out yet and it's going to be a while before I have the budget to upgrade.

There's got to be some creative instructional designers out there who have come up with a way to cover right clicking in a Captivate assessment simulation but I haven't found them yet.
Please post a comment or send me an email if you have any ideas. Look for future posts on my solution to this issue

Sunday, December 14, 2008

eLearning Learning Widget

In a previous post I mentioned a new eLearning community I am taking part in called eLearning Learning. If you haven't already, you really should check out this site. Dr. Tony Karrer has really done some amazing things with the keyword widget making it easy to dig deep into a research topic.

You can actually dive in right here from my blog. In my sidebar you will see the eLearning Learning keyword widget which lists common topics I talk about on my blog. If you click on one of those topics not only will you be brought to posts related to that topic but the keyword list available on the left side of the screen will re sort and display topics related to the previous selected topic. This is a great tool which helps do the research for you. Tony has a much better explanation of how the keyword widget functions in this post.

Diving into this widget I was surprised how often I talk about and research freeware. Guess that goes to show what matters to an instructional designer in this current economic climate. I look forward to spending more time diving into other topics and seeing how relationships emerge.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Moodle: Increasing Max File Upload Size

One of the first hurdles myself and other rookie Moodle implementers have to overcome is increasing the maximum file upload size. Moodle defaults to a measly 2 MB maximum file upload size which is pretty limiting. Through my research I found that many other people struggle with the same problem especially when Moodle is installed on a hosted non dedicated server which is the situation I am in. Here's a brief rundown of how I was able to increase the max file upload size for moodle on a hosted server.

The key to confusion is when you search for answers to this problem on Moodle forums most of the posts instruct to edit the "Max Upload Size" settings (there's 3 of them) in the php.ini file. Problem is that if you are on a hosted server sometimes you don't have access to this file through the Cpanel. But because of the fantastic Moodle community, I finally found more specific instructions for accomplishing this task on a hosted server.

On a hosted server you need to access these settings through FTP. By accessing Moodles files through FTP I was able to access both the .htaccess file and the php.ini file. Once I found the files it was easy to find the line of code to change. Many of the posts on Moodle forums recommend changing these settings in both the .ht access and php.ini files so make sure you check both. The screen shot below points out the files that contain these settings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SCORM and Bandwidth Part 2

In my previous post SCORM and Bandwidth, I described an issue I am having with a Captivate eLearning tutorial freezing up on some of my users accessing it through Moodle. It turns out I was right that the problem has something to do with the zipped SCORM package. I came to this conclusion by posting a link to just the .swf file and it works great for the users who had issues. How come the .swf file works great but the zipped SCORM package freezes up? I also tried posting a link to the html file and that froze just like the zipped SCORM package. At this point I can move forward with the project using just the .swf file but I will not be able to track through SCORM and I won't be able to use the handy Captivate toolbar. I have "work arounds" for both of these issues but I wish that everything would work as intended.

I believe the problem could be that the SCORM package and the html file require more bandwidth and higher modem speeds. In the near future the users who are having problems will be upgraded to a 384K modem so I am hoping the higher modem speeds will solve the issues I am having with the zipped SCORM package but that is still not mindblowing speeds so we'll have to wait and see.

Any suggestions or input for solving this issue are greatly appreciated.

Monday, November 17, 2008

SCORM and Bandwidth

I am in the process of implementing Moodle and my first time using an eLearning tutorial developed with Captivate did not go well. I ran a little test with a small group of people who are accessing Moodle through a Citrix connection. The tutorial froze up on about %50 of the end users and worked great for the other half.

There are a variety of things that could have caused the Captivate tutorial freeze up and I am hoping I can find a solution. My first thought is that the organization is currently going through a network upgrade which has caused a variety of system issues. I am hoping that all of my problems are solved after the network upgrade is complete but I suspect that there will still be problems. Many of the users connect on a WinTerm through Citrix which does not encourage great performance : )

Another possible culprit could be how I have the SCORM settings set. The reason I believe SCORM tracking may be the culprit is because I have had nothing but success with flash based eLearning courses that do not use any kind of SCORM tracking. The only difference here is that I am using a zipped SCORM package as opposed to a standard .swf file.

I am going to start by trying some different SCORM settings and run a few more tests. I am currently recording all interactions so I am hoping by changing that setting I will get better performance. I am also waiting to hear back on the status of the network upgrade and hopefully I will get good news.

Related Posts:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Go Kings!

I went to see the Sacramento Kings play the Pistons on Tuesday night and ended up getting a whole lot more than I bargained for. I was picked out of the crowd to come down to the court and compete in a "name that song" contest sponsored by Verizon wireless. I was so caught off guard to be picked out that I didn't even hear her mention what the prize was.

So here I am during a timeout in the 3rd quarter standing on center court ready to compete with one other guy. The announcer explained to the crowd that there would be 3 rounds and the prize get's better each round. The first song started playing and neither I or the other guy knew what it was so the first round went by without either one of us winning the $50 verizon wireless gift card. Then on comes the second song and I nail it! Scored myself a $75 gift card to Verizon which works out because I actually am a Verizon customer. All I needed to hear is the first couple of notes of the song for Round 3 before nailing the buzzer and screaming "Ozzy - Crazy Train!!" It's a song I know very well to say the least. We got shuffled off the court in a hurry having no idea what I won for the second round. As soon as they got me off the court they handed me a piece of paper to write my address down on. I suspiciously asked why and their response was "We need to know where to send your new Blackberry Storm!" This is where the heart skips a beat and the drool starts dripping down my chin.

I like my gadgets and the Blackberry Storm looks to be the hot gadget of the Christmas season. If you haven't heard it's Blackberry's answer to the iPhone. I am particularly excited about this phone because my work is Blackberry dependent so I will be able to replace my current clunker with this giant upgrade. That is unless I decide to put it up on eBay for a pretty penny. There has been a delay on the release of these phones so there is no availability retail which is driving up the price on eBay. The phone arrives in 7-10 days so I will have to see what they are selling for at that time. If they are available retail before then the ebay price will drop. It would be a no brainer to sell it if I didn't want to keep it so bad!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Managing Users in Moodle

This week I was able to overcome what I thought would be one of the most difficult hurdles in a Moodle implementation. I was having nightmares about setting up and maintaining over 1000 user accounts. I knew that Moodle had some options to make this easier but didn't realize just how easy it would be.

Moodle provides a couple of different options for managing users in bulk (at least I am only aware of 2). You can connect to an existing database which is ideal in most circumstances but takes a little more knowledge of databases then I currently have. Or you can take the less tech savvy approach and upload users in bulk using a text file. The downside to this is that you still need to list out each user on the text file. I didn't want to deal with having to create this text file so I went to a friend who is a software developer for help. He was able to whip up a report that listed out all the information I needed in the text file for each Moodle user. Then I was able to simply copy and paste the report into a text file, upload it to Moodle and Bam, every user profile is setup. Something else great about this is if I need to update existing user profiles I can just upload an updated text file and it will make all of the changes. What would have taken days ended up taking a few minutes with the help of my handy Crystal report.

Problem solved for now but after talking with my software developer friend it sounds like it might not be too difficult to connect Moodle to an existing database for an HR program with all of the needed user information. This way Moodle would automatically be updated when information is updated in the HR program. For now I will be sticking with maintaining user profiles via text file but will move towards the database options once the dust settles from the initial implementation.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for methods of maintaing users in Moodle.

Monday, November 10, 2008

eLearning Learning

Tony Karrer of the eLearning Technology blog invited me to take part in a new site called eLearning Learning. This new site brings a collection of ed tech related blogs together making it very easy to research a variety of topics without jumping from blog to blog. Tony describes it best with this quote;

"This is the beginning of a community portal where the community will help to collect and organize the best content from blogs and web sites. The goal is to create a place where it's relatively easy to find current content and highly relevant content surrounding eLearning." - Tony Karrer

If you look on the lower right side of my blog you will see a handy new widget listing labels of common topics on my blog. If you click on one of the topics it will bring you to the learning eLearning site where you will see a listing of my posts related to that topic. From there you can dive deeper into more specific content from a growing number of blogs. But be careful, first time I tried this out I got stuck at my computer for hours reading blog post after blog post : )

I'm excited to be a part of the launch of this new site and just as excited to use it for my own research. Thanks to all who are taking part in learning eLearning.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Establishing Connections on LinkedIn

Everybody talks about how great LinkedIn is so a while back I set up an account to see what everybody was talking about. And that's about as far as I went, I set up an account then didn't really know what to do with it. I found that without connections it's hard to make any use out of it. So that raises the question; how do you establish connections on LinkedIn?

After initially setting up the account, I did not revisit LinkedIn until recently reading a couple of articles praising linkedIn on Tony Karrer's blog . This inspired me to give it another shot and see if I can establish some connections and take advantage of what Tony and others speak so highly of.

Here's what I did to start establishing connections whose expertise I might be able to tap into. First off, I connected with Tony. He has a ton of connections in the educational technology industry and by having him as a connection I am more likely to get a response from other people that he is connections with. The next thing I did to work on meeting more people to establish connections with was to join a few groups. I didn't know this when I first started my account but groups can establish pages with some great social networking features that make it easy to share your knowledge and establish connections with others in your industry. I started off by joining the ASTD, and CLO groups and I think I'll look into the eLearning Guilds group next. Now that I have joined the groups I need to dive into the forums and see what everybody is talking about.

With my newly established and potential LinkedIn connections I hope to learn through others experiences and discover opportunities to improve my career in instructional design and eLearning development. I am currently gainfully employed with a great company but I am always looking for opportunities to gain more experience and LinkedIn is a great tool for this. Please leave a comment if you have any LinkedIn tips and please don't be shy to connect with me on my profile on LinkedIn

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Characters for eLearning

I am working on an eLearning project where I will be using a character that will be the learners tutor throughout the module. I am toying with the idea of creating a cartoonish character and in my research I came across SP Studio which is a very cool site that makes it easy to create custom south park cartoon characters. That's me as a South Park character by the way, yes I am addicted to my Blackberry. I won't be able to use the South Park characters for my eLearning project because there is not enough flexiblity to move the arms around but I will definitely keep this in mind for future projects. It's a great way to add a little fun to an eLearning course.

At this point I am leaning towards using vector clip art to create the character. Although it can be rather time consuming to edit the points of the vector to get it just the way you want it but it's quicker than drawing the images in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Flash, at least for me it is. Tom Kuhlmans post on the Rapid eLearning Blog inspired me to go the vector route.

The other option I am considering is going away from the cartoonish look and taking photos of an employee of the company. I have done this in the past and it was nice to have the flexiblity of asking the person to pose any way you wish rather than struggling with editing points in vector images.

The plan from here is to play around a little more with vector images and if that ends up not working out I will go the route of taking pictures. Unless of course myself or somebody else out there comes up with a much better idea...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Captivate and Moodle play well with others

I finished up my first project developed with Captivate and decided to take the opportunity to dive into SCORM with Moodle. Until now, I have only experimented with moodle and have never had to worry about SCORM when publishing courses. We are now taking our eLearning programs to a larger scale and Moodle will sure save us a lot of headaches as opposed to using MS Sharepoint as we have been doing. So, I decided to take the leap and try and figure out what this whole SCORM thing was about.

At first I had a hard time finding specific instructions of how to make a SCORM class work in Moodle. Forgive my ignorance but I had no idea that you were supposed to upload the entire zipped package intact. I think this is beneath the regulars in the Moodle forums which is why I had a tough time finding anything on it.

Once I figured that out everything went surprisingly well. The scores from assesments within the Captivate eLearning module were recorded in the Moodle gradebook flawlessly. Now that I have this hurdle out of the way I am ready to dive into Moodle and make it my companies full time eLearning university. This comes in perfect timing for the eLearning courses I am working on for a management training program. I am just about ready to run a pilot test of the courses so I will also be able to use this opportunity for a pilot run of Moodle.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brain Based Learning

I read an interesting article titled "Behavioral, Cognitive, or Brain Based Learning" by Paul G. Whitmore and it gave me a whole new perspective in analyzing performance problems. The article discusses how when you are conducting an analysis, not only do you want to look at how the task is completed, but you also want to analyze what the audience is thinking while they are completing the task. What is going through their head while they are getting the job done? What mental cues help them complete the task without error? How does the audience mentally process how the task needs to be completed?

This opened my eyes to some things that I may be missing in performance analysis. I always conduct a thorough task analysis but I have never taken the audiences thoughts into consideration. By taking "Brain Based Learning" into consideration during the performance analysis, it is likely there may be unexpected outcomes discovered.

This "Brain Based Learning" approach highlights the importance of experiencing the performance first hand. Without completing the performance yourself it can be very difficult to understand what mental cues assist in executing the task at hand. I look forward to applying this lesson in my next performance analysis.

Behavioral, Cognitive, or Brain Based Training?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hello Captivate!

My Adobe creative suite and Captivate arrived and I have already dove into a project in Captivate. While I was waiting for the software to arrive, I designed and storyboarded a soft skill scenario simulation for management training courses that I am working on. Now I am knee deep in developing it in Captivate and I am kicking myself for not pushing harder for this purchase a year ago. Now I would love to go back and re do several of the eLearning courses I developed using Power Point and a Flash converter. Unfortunately I have too many projects on my to do list to spend the time going back and re developing courses. Some day.

I have also been improving my skills in Photoshop with this project. I am using employees of the company as characters in the eLearning module which is requiring quite a bit of work extracting images from their background in Photoshop.

I've been stoked about work now that I have all of these cool tools to play with. I'm looking forward to learning more.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Custom Reports in Moodle

This week I had some time to moodle around in Moodle. I really haven't dug too deep until now so this was definitely an eye opener. I didn't realize how easy it was to set up. One thing that did trip me up though is customizing reports.

Moodle has some great standard reports but it doesn't appear to be too easy to customize them. I'm looking to make the simple modification of adding a column of information and from my small amount of research, it looks like you have to get into the root folders and edit the PHP. Is this true? Is there an easier way? I have a work around for what I need to do now but I will definitely need to do more research on this as I am sure we will have a need for customized reports in the future.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I took a big step in my web development skills by moving my portfolio web site to a new web host and domain name that I purchased. Last semesters web design class held my hand through FTP'ing the files to the university web server so I was a little nervous to go out into the big scary Internet all on my own.

Everity was recommended to me as a web host and everything went well minus a small password problem. Everity handled the problem brilliantly and actually responded to my support ticket within minutes. Support like that will keep me with them.

Now that is up and running I am eager to put some more work into it. At this point it is very rough and needs a lot of work which I hope will bring future opportunities. Suggestions are very welcome.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Software Shopping

Jackpot! Finally got the buy in from the boss to spend some money on Adobe software, mainly for developing eLearning and printed training materials. Thanks to the good ol' educational discount I can really make the most out of a $1000 budget.

Obviously, I need the Creative Suite 3 but that's where things get sticky. I am looking at 2 different packages and the only difference between the 2 packages is that one includes InDesign and the other includes Fireworks. I have never used either of these products and I'm not sure which I could use more.

Fireworks appears to be very similar to Photoshop with some extra features that will come in handy for web development. InDesign looks like a great tool for developing printed materials which I do often. I am tempted to go with InDesign because it is far more robust than the program I currently use (MS Publisher) for printed materials and it seems like all of Fireworks perks can be had in other programs if not Photoshop.

So, I am off to do more research on Fireworks and InDesign. I would just go with the Master suite because with the educational discount it comes in under $1000 but does not include Captivate which I consider a must have. It sure would make my life easier if Adobe would come out with an Instructional Design Creative Suite!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

To Moodle or not to Moodle

To Moodle or not to Moodle, that is the question. I have come to a crossroads with a project that I have written about before. I am currently in the process of developing a series of eLearning courses that are part of a blended management training program. At this point, I have 3 of the 6 courses complete.

Here is where it get's interesting, an associate installed Moodle to start playing around. It's up and running, just needs to be used. So here's the decision, do I migrate from simply uploading these courses to MS Sharepoint like usual, or do we get crazy and try to implement these new courses on Moodle.

I am struggling with the decision of whether I want to make the leap to Moodle because I can't think of a good reason other than to try out Moodle. Here are some factors to consider; the majority of the courses require the learner to submit a project for completion. Only one course has a quiz. I have no experience with LMS's, but from what I understand the biggest benefit is tracking the results of quizzes etc. Is that a benefit to me if I only have one quiz? But then again, there are probably a lot of features that will help with logistical tasks.

I am going to have to invest some time in playing around with Moodle to see if it is worth changing what we are doing now. But will I really know until I try it out??

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Portfolio Web Site

I put together a portfolio website with my newly learned Dreamweaver skills. My intentions of the portfolio website is to share some of my work and tell you a little more about who I am. At this point, it doesn't contain much but ultimately it will contain a collection of my work in instructional design. This is definitely a rough draft, as it is going to be an ongoing project throughout the ed tech program at San Diego State. Please take a look at it and let me know if you have any suggestions.

My Portfolio Site

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flash Rookie

I earned rookie status in Adobe Flash by making my first GIF animation. I had always been interested in this and was surprised at how easy it is to learn Flash. After playing around with this a little I am amazed at how skilled some people are with the drawing tools. I found the drawing tools very difficult to work with. Any tips or tricks for becoming better at using the drawing tools in Adobe products?

What spurred me to get started with Flash is an assignment for a web development class I am taking. The assignment required that we use the drawing tools to draw a sunrise with a flower sprouting out of the ground. Although this is a very basic start in Flash I had fun and I am looking forward to learning more so that I am able to develop custom animations for future eLearning courses. Click here to check out my very first GIF animation.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Progress on Management Training Program

Months and Months ago I mentioned how I am starting my first larger scale eLearning project in a posting titled Manager Training Program. I am now knee deep in the project and learning a lot along the way.

I designed and developed a prototype for the first course and it is under review now. I am expecting that there may be some barriers I have to overcome due to the fact that this is a big change in how we facilitate training programs, and nobody likes change.

Due to budgetary restrictions I am limited to Power Point in combination with a PPT to Flash Converter as my authoring tool. This has actually gone surprisingly well and I am having a hard time figuring out what the major authoring tools out there have over power point when it is used with a Flash Converter. This has proved to me that the instructional design truly is the most important part. With good design, a power point can become a high end eLearning module.

So far the only hiccups I came across along the way was finding a good ppt to flash converter. I went through several trial versions finding something that worked well with MS Office 07. In "Better than Bullet Points" by Jane Bozarth, she recommends a product called PowerConverter that works with MS Office 07 but I was not happy with the results. PowerConverter did not like anything that used "Motion Path" animation. After testing with the trial versions of several different products, I ended purchasing the PPT 2 Flash Converter by Wondershare and so far it has worked well. I was not able to get it to work with PPT 07, but after saving the file as a PPT 03 it worked like a charm. I also had a little trouble removing the control bar from the flash player but the support staff quickly responded with a solution. The quick response from the support staff is what prompted me to make the purchase. Good job Wondershare.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Site Definitions

The web design class I am taking is really getting my feet wet with Dreamweaver and photoshop. I am currently working on my portfolio site which will eventually contain a gallery of my work along with some information about me.

Something that is confusing me about Dreamweaver is the need for multiple site definitions. Our teacher had us set up 3 different site definitions which makes it hard to know which one I should be working out of. Teach say's we will get a better understanding later in the semester. As of now, it seems like it's not neccessarry and only complicates the process.

So far, I have been amazed at what you can do with Dreamweaver and photoshop and I am hungry to learn more.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Progress at SDSU

So far, the Ed Tech program has been hard work but extremely rewarding. It's very exciting to find a Masters program that is catered to the line of work I have a passion for. So far, I have completed a course on Educational Technology and I am currently enrolled in a class on Web Design.

The Ed Tech class was more of an introduction to the theories of instructional design, mainly the ADDIE model. I was particularly interested in the subject of performance analysis. Prior to taking this class, I had a tendency to put the cart before the horse and jump straight to a solution without conducting a proper analysis. From this class, I have learned that trying to save time by jumping to a solution is only going to cost me more time to create an inferior product.

I just started Ed Tech 541 - Web Design and I am loving it. One of the main reasons I enrolled in the program is to build on the nuts and bolts of building eLearning and web design is a foundation. This class is really helping me to become confident in Dreamweaver and is also teaching me a thing or two about Photoshop. Sounds lame to be excited about school but honestly I am stoked because these classes are definitely providing me with tools that will help me do better at my job.

I'm Back!

After a long hiatus I am making an attempt to get back to posting. Classes in the Ed Tech program at SDSU have me swamped on top of my work schedule so it's been tough to make the blog a priority.

However, I have been learning some great stuff at SDSU and feel like I need to get back in the blogging habit so I can reflect on these lessons. So, my plan going forward is to get back to posting but I need to write shorter, quicker posts so that I can fit it in to my schedule. Here goes nothing.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Moodle Frustrations

I am seriously considering bringing on Moodle as our company’s first LMS but I am a little nervous about setup and support. I recently had a discussion with a high school teacher going through the aches and pains of using Moodle with his classes and he is having a much harder time getting other teachers in his district to take advantage of Moodle.

Although I work in the corporate sector, I work with a team of “Trainers” that could be described as Teachers. I have a hard time getting the Trainers to take advantage of any technology that might be a little complicated. If they become frustrated on their first experience there is a rare opportunity for a second chance. I would hate for this to happen with any LMS.

So, how do you overcome the support hurdles that may come along with an open source solution such as Moodle? I referred the Teacher to for outsourced support but I wasn’t able to give him any kind of cost estimate.

I’m coming to the conclusion that I need to give some of the more expensive options a second and third look. Although they are more expensive at startup it may be cheaper than occurring expenses at each roadblock with a Moodle implementation.

Any nuggets of wisdom out there?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Management Training Program

Now that the tide towards eLearning has turned I am getting ready to begin the biggest eLearning project I’ve worked on. It’s actually two projects for the same course. This would be small beans for experienced Instructional designers but I am new to the party and I am still trying to find my way so I am looking forward to getting started.

The first project is to revamp our current “Manager Training Program” aka “MTP” certification course. Prior to becoming a manager we require that the employee is certified through the Management Training Program which is currently a 5 day, 100% instructor led course. We are looking to drop this to 3 days by converting select topics to eLearning modules that they can take during slow times at the store. There are several topics that would be ideal for eLearning but the entire course cannot be converted because some of the topics are much more effectively covered through instructor led training.

The second part of the project is to develop a MTP re certification course that will be 100% eLearning with a follow up day in the classroom to bring it all together. We require that managers get re certified in the course every 2 years and up until now we put them back through the same 5 day course that new managers go through. This is a hassle for experienced managers because it’s old hat and they want to learn something new as well as brush up on some of the important aspects of the course. The veteran managers will love this and it will be a big money saver because we will drastically reduce the amount of days we are paying them to sit in a classroom.

Now comes the hard part! Executing these plans and receiving better results than we do in the current ILT courses. We are in the preliminary stages of planning so everything I have described is very flexible. I am starting out my research by going through the current version of the course as a participant next week. It’s been years since I have taught or been a part of it so I need to refresh my memory. With everything I have learned over the past couple of years I am sure I will see the course in a whole new light.

The tide is turning

I work for an organization that has heavily depended on Instructor Led training and has experienced great success with ILT over the last 20 years. I am the computer geek of the training dept and have been working hard to bring our systems into the 21st century by gravitating towards a blended format of training. It has been a tough battle due to the resistance to change. However I have been experiencing some “Wins” of late by supplementing our current ILT with small eLearning projects that have been used as pre and post work. The facilitators have been giving me rave reviews because they have been able to cover the material in much more detail because of the knowledge that the participants have already gained through the pre work. On top of that, using some kind of an eLearning assignment as post work has been helping with transference back on the job.

Yesterday I sat in a meeting to plan the Training Dept objectives and goals for 2008. Turns out the main objective for 2008 is to make a large leap towards a blended learning format. The eLearning tide has turned now that I have gained support and the economic belt is tightening more than ever. My Task list just got very full!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

First day of school

I started my first class in the ed tech program at SDSU and the first discussion topic is simply “Why are you here?” We are getting to know each other by explaining what lead us to enrolling in this program. Simple, but interesting.

The one sentence answer for me is; “I want to do better at my job.” I fell into a career that I get a kick out of and I want to make the most out of it. I love working in the field of training and performance improvement and I want to take my skills to the next level.

Up to this point I have taught myself everything I know related to educational technology by reading books and researching on the internet. I’m starving for more knowledge and the Masters in Ed Tech is my buffet of knowledge. I would like to advance my career in this field and I believe this is a very important step in doing so.

In my current position I have the opportunity to move a training dept into the 21st century by taking it from 100% instructor led training to a blended format. By strengthening my skills in educational technology I can make a big difference to the bottom line of the company and I would like to seize that opportunity.

In addition to strengthening my skills for my current position I would like to improve my marketability in the Educational Tech field. Don’t get me wrong, I love the company I work for but I am intrigued by the opportunities in the ed tech field outside of my organization. I am interested in the consulting field and look forward to opportunities to explore that career path.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Serious Games

If you have read my previous posts Proving ROI in Training and One small step for eLearning, a giant step for the company you know that we are focusing on improving product knowledge amongst our sales staff. One of the methods I decided to implement to improve this deficit in product knowledge is online games. Luckily I don’t work for one of those organizations scared of the word “Game” so I did not have to overcome that objection.

I used Quia to create a few games that resemble “Who wants to be a millionaire” and “Jeopardy” which turned out to be a smash hit amongst the sales staff. Prior to the games it was always memorizing info from documents and flash cards then being tested on it. They loved the fact that they didn’t have to read the same thing over and over in an effort to memorize the information, to only find out that they didn’t retain much come test time.

Being that sales people are generally competitive, they loved that they were able to challenge each other to a game. They were so distracted with beating their co worker that they forgot they were actually studying and learning. Several inventive sales leaders developed round robin tournaments and awarded the winner with a free lunch. Overall it was a smash hit because it was a fun and different way to approach a boring subject.

I received several emails on the first day of the games being available asking when I was going to add new questions and games since they almost have all of the current questions memorized. I wasn’t expecting this but the games were so popular that they are already stale after just a couple of days.

So I am already to the point where I need to create more games and freshen up the current ones with new questions. The only problem is that it was not easy coming up with the questions and it’s going to be hard for me to come up with more.

I have decided that I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone by having the sales staff come up with the questions and submit them to me so I can use them for more games. Not only does this make it easy for me but they will retain more by creating the questions then they will by playing the games. The process of thinking it through and coming up with questions is sure to help them memorize the information.

But how do I get them to put in the effort to create new questions that are of high quality? What’s in it for them? Being that they are commission driven sales people it may be most effective to compensate them somehow. I am pondering devising some kind of contest or reward system to incentivize it. But, is that even necessary? Is there a way I can motivate them to put in the effort required to create new questions without rewarding them monetarily?

Once I figure out a way to motivate sales people to submit questions to me I will be looking into expanding my game creating from just Quia to other resources listed at the link below. I came across this link from a post on Brent Schlenkers blog Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development blog