Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jerry Seinfeld loves e-Learning!

It came to me in a dream last night, but it was just as real as the Gucci handbag I'll be sporting on my way into work this morning: Jerry Seinfeld absolutely loves e-Learning!

I first noticed him pulling bags from the trunk of his car as my son and a new friend we'd just met were walking down the quiet Manhattan street. I thought I recognized him from somewhere, but his name didn't immediately pop into my head.

"Joe!" he hollered out as we walked past the front of his nondescript sedan. "Jerry. Jerry Seinfeld." It all came rushing back. I had met Jerry at an e-Learning conference the year before. He'd inserted himself into every conversation about e-Learning that he could find, hanging out in the lobby bar until way past midnight to talk about practical, but fun ways to leverage social media for learning, how reusable learning objects may just have arrived before their time, and whether or not tracking informal learning transmuted it into formal learning.

"Hi Jerry, what have you been up to?" I piped back at him, turning to focus, at least for a moment.

"Oh, the usual, telling jokes to throngs of adoring fans. Nothing exciting, really. But what about you? What have you been doing? Have you built any new courses? Get your hands on any new tools? What about Storyline? What's that all about? I keep seeing references to it on the blogs and it sounds really exciting."

"Lots of questions, Jerry. Well, yes, I've been doing a ton of courses and my team--they've been really rocking the learning scene at Amerigroup, putting together really interesting stuff on clinical quality management topics like HEDIS, NCQA accreditation, and Continuous Quality Improvement. They did a course on Sickle Cell Disease and another on HIV. Actually, we just had a bunch of courses get national accreditation. But really, we're still up against the same challenges that we talked about last time. How do you crank out really good courses quicker and quicker?"

"e-Learning, Joe! e-Learning is the answer. I can't get enough of it!"

"Yeah, I remember you're a pretty big fan."

"Who wouldn't be? The infographics, the scenarios, the stories--and the jokes."

"Gotta have those jokes."

"No more page-turners!"

"Couldn't agree more, Jerry. Hey, it was great seeing you. We're headin' over to the park to hang out, so I'd better get going."

"Great seeing you too, Joe. We should get together again. Are you going to any e-Learning conferences next year?"

"Yeah, I've got a couple lined up. I'm going to the Guild conference in the Spring."

"I'm going to the Guild conference too--Learning Solutions 2012! I already registered and booked a flight! Hey, is Jane going to be there? Let's get together with Jane!"

"I'm sure she'll be there, Jerry. Why don't we try to set up a dinner one night and try to get everyone together so we can talk e-learning like old times."

"Awesome! I can't wait!"

As I turned around, I realized the kids (my son surprisingly younger in my dream than he is in real life) had already made their way to the park ahead of me, so I hurried off to find them hanging out at the monkey bars. "Who was that, dad."

"That was Jerry Seinfeld."

"Must be one of those e-Learning geeks," my son told his new friend. "My dad knows a lot of e-Learning geeks."

"Yep. He's one of those e-Learning geeks," I confirmed. I realized I was starting to think of him in the context of those friends I see a few times a year at conferences and online talking about the same things that interest me for the rest of the year. Seldom in person, but always very near.

As I reflected on the encounter, I remembered that Jerry was known throughout the world for engaging audiences, and that he'd only recently been drawn to e-Learning as a passion and a hobby. I thought of how the old, page-turner models we used to over-use would repel him just as quickly as really interesting e-Learning attracted him to the field. It reminded me that as we plan and design e-Learning solutions, it would pay us to consider how it would impact the average learner. It makes sense for us to constantly ask ourselves how they'll react to each part of the course or module. Before we go forward building any new design, we should ask ourselves: "What would Jerry do?"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Open Clip Art Library

Stumbled upon a fairly significant library of open source clip art at Simple search features, vector images, and all in the public domain. What more could you want?

Here's a screenshot of a simple search I did that yielded a couple pages of presidential images:

The site, which was started back in 2004 boasts hundreds of thousands of images available. Maybe you have some you'd like to contribute too. :-)

Editing MS Vector Clipart in Inkscape

I'm working on a new learning model and I needed a vector graphics tool to help me produce a visual representation of the model. I came across Inkscape, with which I'm quite impressed. It's an open source product that strives to capture some of the functionality of Illustrator, Corel Draw, and Visio. It appears to do most of what I need. One of the great things I realized while playing with Inkscape was the ability to pull a vector image in from the Microsoft Clipart library and edit it in Inkscape. Just copying from PowerPoint won't bring over the vectors; instead, you must copy the item from the clipart library, as shown here.

Then, just Paste in Inkscape and the individual vector pieces are placed. The image below shows where I've updated an avatar with a better wardrobe and hair style. I also changed his eye color and moved the corners of his mouth down in protest. '-) Inkscape produces SVG graphics, so the edited images looked nice and clean in Inkscape; I just did a copy and paste back into PowerPoint to illustrate the changes. Here are a couple of samples in Inkscape. Context menus provide you plenty of options, including the ability to ungroup grouped vectors:

Below, you can see that vectors come through quite well and can easily be modified.

Again, for my needs, it's a pretty robust tool...and certainly worth investigating.

Have fun! Joe

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Learner Engagement

I've been spending the last year focused on two key topics: creativity and learner engagement. Fortunately, I've found that a lot of others are focused on these topics.

Mid-year in 2010, I did a session on Autonomous Engagement and introduced a concept I call "the five opportunities" framework for autonomous learning. The opportunities are:

Assess - learners gain an awareness of their autonomy and the opportunity for self-direction.

Introspect - learners need opportunities to determine what is important, especially at the beginning of the learning, and to construct complex meaning throughout the learning.

Engage - Experience-based activities provide the grounds for proof, as well self-validation of competency.

Reflect - Reconsideration throughout the learning helps learners determine what should be integrated and how. It also helps them decide what to forget.
Share - We all are compelled to make contributions and become advocates for the ideas that we share.
I've shared this model with about 400 people now and it's generated a bit of buzz at conferences and in online sessions. I'd be interested in your thoughts...and would be happy to flesh out more details.