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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Special Treat: An Animated Season's Greeting from E-Learning Queen and PetroEd

High-quality animations and immersive experience captured from virtual worlds that can be accessed on all forms of mobile devices, ranging from smartphones, tablets, laptops, as well as desktop systems, are vital education, training, and professional development on emerging science, technology, and equipment. An example of a high-quality multimedia developer is PetroEd. E-Learning Queen is delighted to partner with interactive multimedia training provider PetroEd to share an animated Season's Greeting Card. Please click the appropriate link for high bandwidth or low bandwidth.




Please contact Susan at E-Learning Queen (susan@beyondutopia.com) if you are interested in learning more, and developing a plan for developing affordable, rapid-deployment high-quality multimedia training. Also indicate if you would like a multi-language presentation capability.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Interview with Josh Little, Bloomfire: E-Learning Innovators Series

New ways to share knowledge take advantage of innovative social networking. Welcome to an interview with Josh Little, CEO of Bloomfire.

1. What is your name and affiliation. What is your relation to e-learning?
My name is Josh Little and I'm the CEO of Bloomfire. Bloomfire is the third online learning company I've started. The first is Maestro eLearning, a creative agency focused on building engaging custom online learning experiences for major corporations and non-profits. The second is Wellness Works, an unparalleled interactive corporate wellness education system that teaches employees to live healthier, more productive lifestyles. Thousands of people all over the world engage in a learning experience from one of these three companies every day.

2. What is Bloomfire and what inspired you to develop it?
A platform that allows anyone to start a Bloomfire, which is a website geared specifically for easily sharing knowledge and the discussions that surround it. You can invite members to find and follow experts, ask questions, and share with others. Members can share and upload documents, videos, or presentations, record a video from their webcam, or create screencasts on the fly.


I developed Bloomfire out of the pain I felt along my career as a public school teacher, corporate trainer, and small business owner. In every one of these roles I felt like I was just scratching the surface of what my students, trainees, or employees needed to know to be successful. There needed to be a better way to rapidly share knowledge with people all over the world. Although traditional eLearning tools allow this, the time and cost to create content was still limiting. I knew that by using the power of the crowd, any organization could harness the the long talk of knowledge, how-to's and tricks if they had the right tool.

3. What makes Bloomfire different from wikis and other collaborative knowledge building tools?
Many people feel the same pain I did and attempt to fill the job with tools such as wikis, blogs, social networking tools, and the like. Unlike these tools, a Bloomfire is purpose built for learning with dirt-simple multimedia authoring tools, video streaming, mobile capability, and a strong set of analytics tools for managers. We can promise to forever deliver on one thing - simplicity. We work tirelessly to maintain a simple, clean, easy to use interface.

4. What are the benefits of informal and social learning?
The ability to harness the informal learning occurring in an organization, customer base, or fan club can bring several benefits. I feel the top three are engagement, reduced mistakes, and increased performance - I'll break these down.

Engagement - People love doing what they are good at and hate doing things that they are not. When I have the right information and support structure around me a stressful, risky task turns into an confidence building experience. Engagement comes when I can be successful at what I do and feel connected to the people around me.

Reduced mistakes - Information is moving at the speed of light. We are in a constant state of learning in order to stay on top of our game. In most instances, we have to figure things out on our own - even if there are other people doing the same thing we are. We are all reinventing the wheel because we have no other option. This practice is so common that it's been given names like "sink or swim" or "drinking from the fire hose." This is a rocky path riddled with pain and frustration. Collaborative learning allows others to groom the path for those that follow.

Increased performance - What if you could bottle the knowledge, skills, tips, and tricks of your top 10 performers? What if this could be shared with everyone else? What kind of difference would that make in your organization?



5. How can you be assured that social learning is accurate and not a way to disseminate misinformation or propagandistic / agenda-laden material?
This is the number #1 objection to social learning - what if someone says something bad or inaccurate? It's also the #1 myth about social learning. The fear is that by giving people tools to publish and share, they will go crazy and use the platform for public domination and destruction. This assumption is absolutely false. In fact, in the over 1000 Bloomfires that are burning today, some of our customers have reported the exact opposite. We have called this condition School Dance Syndrome (SDS) because people come in and sit along the walls watching the smaller number who contribute. And because of the very public nature of your identity in a Bloomfire, it makes for a bad place for subversion.

If someone posts something that is just plan inaccurate, it should be praised that there is a way to flesh out problems before they occur. These are teachable moments that can mitigate risk and prevent future mistakes. How else would an organization know if someone was spreading this misinformation. An online learning community should be viewed as an extension of the classroom. If it's OK to say inaccurate things or ask silly questions in the classroom, then it should also be acceptable that this is done in the online classroom.

6. Please recommend a book you recently read and enjoyed.
While it isn't related to social learning, it is related to building no-nonsense software that people love. The book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is packed full of smart practices and wisdom that could benefit just about every organization on the planet. I've read it twice now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Updated Animations and Simulations for Cross-Delivery on Variable Devices, Platforms, Access

Podcast: http://www.beyondutopia.net/podcasts/animations.mp3

Flash-based animations, simulations using virtual worlds such as Second Life, and learning management system-hosted interactive quizzes and assessments have become mainstays of many training programs, college courses, and professional development experiences. Animations and simulations are clearly effective in technical training, but they are often equally useful for sociology, psychology, cultural studies, earth sciences, biology, and other courses. While some of the objects can be downloaded to mobile devices, there are often major gaps in coverage, compatibility, and access.

How can you quickly update your animations, simulations, and other interactive content so that you can deliver them on a wide array of devices, platforms, and in situations with variable access?

The key is organization, access, and flexibility.

You can repurpose your existing learning objects and update ones that need updating fairly easily.

Before you start, ask yourself a few key questions:

Question 1: What are my goals? Who are the learners and what do I want the outcomes to be? What should they be able to do at the end of their instructional experience?

Question 2: Precisely where can animation and simulation help achieve learning goals? What are the skills that need to be acquired, -- the ability to identify components and to participate in processes? What are the decisions to be made, and the collaborative / interactive experiences to be replicated?

For example, let's say that your learners consist of a group of geoscientists who wish to learn more about the potential for natural gas production from the Utica Shale in Quebec. At the present time, your graphics may consist of a few maps, diagrams, and photographs. However, in order for your learners to gain an ability to evaluate a wide variety of geological, geophysical, geochemical, petrophysical, and engineering data, they need to have a good sense of a dynamic system.

If you'd like them to understand how to be involved in successful exploration and production (drilling, hydraulic fracturing, production), then they will benefit from having an immersive experience -- and visualizing what exactly happens in the different activities.

Thus, you're really under pressure to update and improve the quality and dynamism of the training experience. You need better learning objects.

At the same time, you realize that not everyone has equal access to equipment. You need to be able to deliver as much as you can by means of small, easy-to-push objects that your learners can access on a wide variety of laptops and handheld devices -- ranging from smartphones to iPads and other tablets.

Storyboarding: Some of the best immersive experiences involve a series of experiences that range from reviewing diagrams and interactive animations to immersing yourself in a virtual world. You may have an avatar, or you simply move through various levels.


Nested Powerpoint Storyboards: Many storyboards consist of a series of bifurcating powerpoints -- which is to say that each option consists of a separate set of powerpoints. Such an approach is not always the best approach because it can lead to a rather flat presentation, especially if you're needing to look at something from multiple perspectives, or looking at a dynamic application.

Video Storyboarding: If you're working with equipment, processes, or dynamic interactions, video storyboarding can be a great way to go. You can make low-resolution spontaneous video snippets that record what you are doing. Let's take the case of drilling operations in the Utica Shale. You might storyboard a series of 15 - 30 second videos of such scenes as the video of a drill bit turning, the recording of live monitoring of geosteering, etc. The videos can be used "as is" for spontaneous graphics, or can be stylized by using various graphics programs that can then make your graphics virtual world-ready. Depending on the software package you use, you can give all your videos a stylized and consistent look and feel.

Organizing Your Materials:

Step 1: Inventory your learning objects. Determine which ones you can keep and build on.

Step 2: Gap analysis. Where will you need to develop / modify your learning objects in order to make your storyboards develop into learning modules?

Step 3. Prioritize your learning modules. Which processes, procedures, equipment, and content do you need most urgently?

Step 4. Create a schedule for developing the components you can easily transform into high-quality graphics. The components may include still photographs, diagrams, maps, charts, schematics, flowcharts, videos, and audio files.

Step 5. Review your assessment strategies. When / where will interactive quizzes allow you to achieve your goals? When will you need to do something more collaborative and/or interactive? Look at how you record your learners' progress. When / where do you keep a transcript? Do you tie it to a talent management program?

This is a brief overview of the steps you can take to get started with updating your animation and simulation content to meet the needs of learners who use a variety devices and interfaces. It's also a way to expand your use of simulations and animations in a low-cost way.

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