4 Things To Consider Before Implementing Emerging Tech In Your Business

Before implementing courses driven by emerging technology, you must determine whether a tech-assisted learning program is a right fit for your learners. These 4 considerations will help you navigate those decisions. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Free Webinar: Select Your Ideal Learning Management System

In May, I partnered with a continuing education organization to offer a class on how to select a learning technology platform. The session was great in the sense that attendees received continuing education credits – but you had to pay for the class. So I’m teaching it again for free on Thursday, October 11th at 12PM EDT.

Click to Register

The session will be hosted by eLearning Industry and sponsored by Adobe.

The description is below:

Has your organization asked you to select a new learning technology platform or learning management system? Are you feeling overwhelmed?

You aren’t alone. Many learning professionals are asked to evaluate and purchase learning technology, and few of us have the background necessary to handle those tasks. After all, there are several hundred learning technology platforms on the market! Many companies simply choose a vendor that offers a lot of features – and then hope for the best.

The result? You could end up overpaying for features that your organization doesn’t need. Even worse, you may find yourself stuck with a platform that lacks the key functionalities you do need in order to engage learners and manage your learning and development program.

This webinar gives you two “selection processes” to choose from. Either process will help you identify a vendor that suits your organization’s continuing education needs. You can choose the approach that works better for your organization.

You don’t need a fancy LMS consultant or an expensive report to find your learning technology platform. This webinar contains the information you need to do it yourself. After all, there is no one who understands your organization’s needs as well as you do.

In this 60-minute webinar, Katrina Marie Baker will explain how to select the perfect LMS, including how to:

  • Evaluate your organization’s current and future needs relative to an LMS
  • Decide on your top priorities for an LMS
  • Assemble a Request for Proposal (RFP) that you can provide to prospective vendors in order to create a functional comparison
  • Assess multiple vendors fairly and equally to determine which will best serve your organization

The post Free Webinar: Select Your Ideal Learning Management System appeared first on eLearning.

Free Webinar: Select Your Ideal Learning Management System

In May, I partnered with a continuing education organization to offer a class on how to select a learning technology platform. The session was great in the sense that attendees received continuing education credits – but you had to pay for the class. So I’m teaching it again for free on Thursday, October 11th at 12PM EDT.

Click to Register

The session will be hosted by eLearning Industry and sponsored by Adobe.

The description is below:

Has your organization asked you to select a new learning technology platform or learning management system? Are you feeling overwhelmed?

You aren’t alone. Many learning professionals are asked to evaluate and purchase learning technology, and few of us have the background necessary to handle those tasks. After all, there are several hundred learning technology platforms on the market! Many companies simply choose a vendor that offers a lot of features – and then hope for the best.

The result? You could end up overpaying for features that your organization doesn’t need. Even worse, you may find yourself stuck with a platform that lacks the key functionalities you do need in order to engage learners and manage your learning and development program.

This webinar gives you two “selection processes” to choose from. Either process will help you identify a vendor that suits your organization’s continuing education needs. You can choose the approach that works better for your organization.

You don’t need a fancy LMS consultant or an expensive report to find your learning technology platform. This webinar contains the information you need to do it yourself. After all, there is no one who understands your organization’s needs as well as you do.

In this 60-minute webinar, Katrina Marie Baker will explain how to select the perfect LMS, including how to:

  • Evaluate your organization’s current and future needs relative to an LMS
  • Decide on your top priorities for an LMS
  • Assemble a Request for Proposal (RFP) that you can provide to prospective vendors in order to create a functional comparison
  • Assess multiple vendors fairly and equally to determine which will best serve your organization

The post Free Webinar: Select Your Ideal Learning Management System appeared first on eLearning.

Podcast: What’s in your #EdTech bag (#EdTechRations)

Nearly two years ago I was invited to appear on Vicki Davis’ Every Classroom Matters podcast to talk about self-publishing books and to give advice to teachers and educators on what to do and how to do it. Last month I was again invited by Vicki to appear on her new ’10-Minute Teacher Show’, this time to talk about our choice for technology we choose to buy for ourselves, for own use and our own bags/pockets. This follows up on my last book, the ‘Emergency Rations #EdTechRations: What’s so important we can’t leave it at home?

David Hopkins, author of Emergency Rations #EdTechRations: What’s so important we can’t leave it at home?, talks about the educational technology that educators around the world carry in their bags and pockets.

In the podcast Vicki and I briefly discuss bags, pockets, cables, charging, devices, technology, connectivity, connected lives, and many many more EdTech-relevant things.   

Listen to the podcast on the link here – What’s in Your Edtech Bag: Trends and Tools from Educators and the World – or on the embedded player below:

The Complete Learning Technologist Certificate Program – Coming February 2019

I’ve wanted to put together a learning technologist certification for a long, long time. Well, guess who had the same idea – Training Magazine! And they’re making it happen at Training 2019! Learning geeks will unite in Orlando for our three-day learning technology program February 22-24, 2019. You can register here.

  • Day 1: Creation and Authoring Learning Tools, presented by Jeff Batt
  • Day 2: Multimedia Planning, Tools and Gadgets, presented by Nick Floro
  • Day 3: Delivery and Emerging Technologies, presented by yours truly

I’m going to cover a variety of technologies on day three, in addition to discussing how to select and implement educational technology. And I’ll give you some free goodies to take home with you. Take a look at the program descriptions below and consider joining us at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort!

The Complete Learning Technologist Certificate Program

Whether you are a designer, developer, manager, facilitator, administrator, or executive, you need to understand what learning technologies are capable of today—and what their promise is for tomorrow. Through demos, hands-on experience, checklists, and rubrics, this program goes beyond identifying the latest shiny training tech objects — and helps you become a well-rounded learning technologist who makes the optimal selection, design, and implementation decisions for your organization.

Day 1 Creation and Authoring Learning Tools; Jeff Batt, Head Trainer, Learning Dojo

Authoring tools change quickly and often, so how do you keep up? We’ll begin by examining the overall principles of development (i.e., elements, properties, behavior). Then, using those principles, we’ll begin our exploration of specific authoring tools. You’ll learn:

  • About the basics of course authoring, regardless of what authoring tool you may be using.
  • How development principles apply to current off-the-shelf tools like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and more.
  • How to make the appropriate selection for authoring tools.
  • How to learn any new authoring tool.

Day 2: Multimedia Planning, Tools and Gadgets; Nick Floro, Learning Architect, Sealworks Interactive Studios

Looking to bring your skills to the next level? On day two, you will learn how to get started building and designing interactive learning. Learn the finer points, practical skills that you can apply, and best practices for delivering engaging learning. You’ll learn about:

  • Architecting your next project with collaborative tools.
  • Sketching a storyboard from paper to PowerPoint.
  • Improving brainstorming and feedback loops.
  • Creating a prototype with Marvel app.
  • Using Explain Everything App to create animated explainers and promos and to provide feedback.
  • Thinking Outside the Box: 5 activities and concepts to add to your next project.
  • Building an interactive chatbot for learning.
  • Strategies for designing for learning and your audience.

Day 3: Delivery and Emerging Technologies; Katrina Marie Baker, Senior Learning Evangelist, Adobe

You’ve spent two days learning how to create engaging training resources. Day three focuses on how to deliver your content using the latest in learning technology and features content from Katrina’s books LMS Success and The LMS Selection Checklist. You will:

  • Define common types of learning technology platforms.
  • Demonstrate how technology can help you engage learners through the use of gamification, mobile learning, social learning, and blended learning elements.
  • Explain how to use reporting and analytics to understand the learner experience.
  • Describe the process to select a new technology platform, including the features and factors you should review with potential vendors.
  • Discuss the process of successfully implementing and maintaining a learning technology platform.
  • Cover best practices that include how to internally market your platform, curate your course catalog and content, and build an effective administrator team.

BONUS! You will walk away with supplemental materials and a free trial of Adobe Captivate Prime.

BYOD:  Please bring a WiFi-enabled laptop with Storyline and Captivate installed (trial versions okay).

The post The Complete Learning Technologist Certificate Program – Coming February 2019 appeared first on eLearning.

After the LMS Implementation: Your Administration Project Plan

Congratulations Obi-Wan. You’ve completed your Jedi mission and rolled out your learning management system! Now what? The party isn’t over my friend. Now it’s time to develop your ongoing project plan for the LMS. The goal is to put together a list of everything you want to do to enhance the learner experience within your LMS.

You want your learning technology platform to constantly update and improve. You will constantly be adding new course content, new interface elements, and better branding. You will perform ongoing curation of your course catalog, and enable new features your LMS vendor makes available. Ask your instructional designers, trainers, and LMS administrators for their ideas as to what tasks your team should tackle first. Figure out priorities and dive right in! A learning management system should be more than just a platform that holds your course content. If you have the right system and administrators, the LMS will actually enhance your content and make the learner’s experience more enjoyable.

The post After the LMS Implementation: Your Administration Project Plan appeared first on eLearning.

It’s not a race

Two tweets have stood out for me this week that I want to connect. One from Seth Godin (my tweet, his blog post – please read it). Seth is “a teacher, and I do projects”. The other tweets was from Alejandro Armellini, Dean of Learning & Teaching at the University of Northampton.

Here are the tweets. 

Why, I hear you ask, these two? Well, for me, they both link back to the same thing … the appropriate and considered approach to using and implementing new technologies or new systems for learning. That learning can be a classroom, a library, online, coffee shop, etc. It doesn’t matter.

Seth wrote about giving up when you get behind, about never reading as many books as someone else, about website traffic so just give up:

“Should you give up?
There are people who have read far more books than you have, and you will certainly never catch up.
Your website began with lousy traffic stats, in fact, they all do. Should you even bother?
The course you’re in–you’re a few lessons behind the leaders. Time to call it quits?”

Linking this to Ale’s tweet, about technology enhancing learning. About the default setting of always looking to the new, the shiny, the different, the ‘cutting-edge’ or ‘leading research’ in designing and delivering meaningful or quality learning. For me these two are linked … we should not always look ahead at new ideas, ideals, or technologies, just as we should not always look back at try and stay 2-steps behind everyone else. We, the learning technologists, the instructional designers, the learning and development managers, the content delivery teams, should look both forward and back – learn from our journey to date (successes and failures), learn about where we are, learn about where we could be going.

More importantly, we should also be learning about how to get there. How do we take an existing course, module or unit and make it better. Who defines what ‘better’ is? Who decides whether it’s to strip out an activity because it didn’t’ work (was it the activity or the students? Let it run again and see if a different cohort has a different experience) or to update an activity because it relies on ‘old(er)’ technology. How do we decide what to take out or leave in? Do we rely on our knowledge of what is pedagogically ‘sound’ and ignore what the students didn’t ‘like’? Is liking an activity or it being popular enough of a motive to keep it in the course if it’s not getting the results? 

Ultimately, we (faculty, learning technologists, instructional designers, etc.) have to make many of these decisions based on our experience of what works (or not), and of what is good pedagogical practice (or not). New technology solutions, be they hardware or software, should still be rigorously tested and trailed to make sure it fits the learning, the policies for 3rd party tools, data compliance (who mentioned GDPR?), etc. 

It’s not a race. We’re not trying to do something before someone else does, or we shouldn’t be, and we’re not trying to beat someone to the finish line … in fact we’e all got different ideas of what the finish line is anyway. The key is and always has been to find a good use of technology that fits the intended purpose or intended learning, that is appropriate for the audience and their technical competence, that is appropriate for the time for study and subject to be studied. 

Let’s not rush to force technology, of any strand, into the learning. It’s better to understand both purpose and implementation, work on the foundation to build a solid stable solution upon, get them both right and the technology will take a backseat for the actual learning.

Image source: Chrissy Hunt (CC BY-NC-ND-2.0)

Awesome little PowerPoint tip

If you’re a regular/power user of PowerPoint you’ll have learned a number of shortcuts and tips to help you get the most out of it. Standard keyboard shortcuts work across all operating system applications, such as Ctrl-C (copy), Ctrl-A (select all), Ctrl-I (italics) etc. 

Hint: If you don’t use keyboard shortcuts it saves a lot of mouse action (and, for me, RSI in my wrist from relying on the mouse too much). Use these links to learn (more) about them – Windows or Mac. The difficulty comes when, like me, you have to switch from one OS to another on a daily basis .. your fingers get used to the action and position on one keyboard then have to almost re-learn them later that day for the other OS. How annoying!

Anyway, back to the PowerPoint tip … If, like me, you have to work with other people’s PowerPoint files, the great thing about them is that the author can record or embed audio narration on the slide. That’s great, until you need to ID (a term I’m learning, which  means to ‘perform instructional design work on the resource’) the slide from a static experience of watching or listening to the presentation to an engaging learning experience.

Here’s a tip I’ve learned about stripping the audio out of the PPT file … from here:

  • Save the PowerPoint file as a PPTX file.
  • In Windows explorer change the file suffix from ‘.pptx’ to ‘.zip’.
  • Extract the files from the ZIP file.
  • Open the extracted files. You should find a folder called ‘media’ in the folder called ‘ppt’.
  • Et voilà … a list of audio M4A files from all the slides that had audio recorded on them.

This isn’t the end of the story here though, as the file names for the audio files are just simple ‘media1.m4a’ and ‘media2.m4a’. You will still need to revisit the slidedeck and change the filenames so they either reflect the slide they have been extracted from, or another meaningful naming convention that you use. You may also find it useful to work on the audio files to either clean them up and/or change the files to MP3 format … I use Audacity for that kind of stuff.

Image source: Frédéric BISSON (CC BY-2.0)

Improving your (Blackboard) course

Here are a few of my initial thoughts on finding myself a Blackboard user again after a four year absence. These are based on my recent experience in picking up on courses designed by others, co-designing courses with Keypath colleagues and eight years as a Bb user and those memories of how frustrated I used to get with Bb! Think of this as a check-list for your course.

  1. Descriptions – There is no reason why a folder, file or activity does not have even a short descriptor available. It takes such a short time to write one, so do it. Give the student a reason to click the title (no, ‘click here’ does NOT count!). What is the file or folder about? What do you expect them to do with the information or activity when they click the link? Put the link contents into context of the course, unit or week subject. Give them a purpose!
  2. Naming convention – Adopt a naming convention for your files and folders, and stick to it. Ideally this should be used consistently across the whole course or programme, not just your own modules. Think about the file or folder or activity in isolation … which looks better: ‘week_1.pdf‘ or ‘Accounting1.pdf‘ or ‘MD001_Week_1_Acocunting_Introduction.pdf‘. 
  3. Dates – If you’re re-using a Bb course and have rolled it over (see, I’m getting right back into the terminology here!) then please, please please check and re-check any and all dates? This is one reason why I never liked to use dates for adaptive release on content as this would make the rollover such a massive job, with a very real scope for some adaptive release settings to be missed. Get it wrong and students won’t be able to see or use your course. Also double check the grade centre for any and all dates. If in doubt, delete previous assignments and start from scratch.
  4. Links – Check all links, and not just to see if they work. Check they go to the right website or webpage and that it is still the right page/site you need (check for errors too). If you link to other Bb or institutional pages these are also available to your new students; either they need permission or you should move/copy the page to somewhere where they can access it.
  5. Formatting – Use the textbox for formatting your text, don’t rely on formatting copied across from Word. In fact, make sure you don’t by pasting any copied text into the HTML aspect of the textbox, which will not copy and formatting, then using the formatter for all formatting. Nothing annoys me more than seeing changes or inconsistencies in font, font size, indents, bullet or lists, etc. A little bit of attention at the start can improve your course no end.
  6. Contact – Are the right details available for the academic teaching and administrative teams? Have any changed? Can you put any extra content here like the time a student should expect a response (24/48 hours?), weekend or out-of-office replies, etc.?

Improve your course with images, descriptions, videos, assessments, interactions, etc. More here
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  1. Images and graphics – Use images and graphics carefully, make sure you attribute them properly, load them to the course content collection to be sure they’ll copy across in rollover. if possible always talk with your friendly ID or LT, they’ll help either find them images or design new ones for you ;-)
  2. Video – Consider video. Whether you record your own (with or without professional support) or use one of the many that are available online (YouTube, Vimeo, TEDTalks, etc.) but be sure to check the owner and copyright status of the video. If user ‘jonny5alive‘ loaded a BBC news item then odds are it wont be available online for very long. If the video is from the legitimate BBC account, then it’s a good one to use. This is not just about copyright, it’s also about making sure the video is less likely to disappear mid way through your module and you have to scramble around trying to find an alternative. If nothing else, record a short module intro AND a short intro to each week/unit. Not only will this be something you can reuse next year, it’ll also be a way for your geographically scattered students to engage with you and build a relationship. I’ve written more about videos in learning here.
  3. Activities – Whether your module space is for purely online learning & delivery, blended learning or your campus-based students, you can still make use of the Bb course area for activities or, if not the activity itself, explanatory and help guides to help students find and partake in the activity.
  4. Assignment – As with ‘dates’ above, check and re-check all aspects of the assignment submissions, especially how and when it’s available. Check with the academic and admin teams about grades, feedback, etc.

All the above are iterative stages to creating a working, competent, consistent, relevant and engaging course/module space for the students.

Image source: Domiriel (CC BY-NC-2.0)

Learning Technologists as Project Managers too

As I work my way through job boards and role profiles in my effort to avoid my recent redundancy and the impending doom of an empty bank account (yes, really) I have found a lot of roles being advertised with headline grabbing titles and/or impressive requirements. What I’ve also found is there is sometimes a narrowness in thinking, from both employer or agency, in that people can and should be pigeon-holed into a role because of the title. If your title is one thing (LT?) then that means you can’t be considered for a role as an ID. Yes, there are differences, but there are also similarities which can be greatly enhanced by crossing disciplines, and this cross over can benefit both individual and employer with fresh ideas, fresh perspective and fresh enthusiasm.

What I’ve also seen, and this is the reason for this post, is that Learning Technologists* (LT) are also very effective project managers. Here’s why. The quotes are taken from jobs being advertised today for project managers in engineering and finance companies:

“As a project manager it is your responsibility to deliver projects on time and in budget, by planning and organising resources and people.”

Obviously, yes. An LT is required to work with multiple teams from academic, administrative and IT perspectives. Often the estates teams can be involved if it means new kits needs installation, as well as legal and HR if contracts need signing. Not to mention what happens when you need to dig into the data the system collects, where it’s stored and the data protection (and GDPR) issues that follow. Sometimes the LT is at the heart of this making sure the work is done and everyone involved has the necessary information to hand in a timely manner.

The thing is, we LTs often don’t know about the budgets or wider timelines involved, other than start of term or assessment dates. But this doesn’t stop us working to deadlines and strategies that have defined and immovable timelines. Damn, we’re good!

“Select, lead and motivate your project team from both internal and external stakeholder organisations.”

Sometimes the ‘team’ may just be you and the academic colleague who wants to do something they’ve never done before. Sometimes you may be experienced at this task, or it’s new to you too. The stakeholders here may be other staff who need mentoring or training on something new, they could also be students who need guidance on new assessment criteria or group working parameters. Again, it’s up to you to manage, “lead and motivate”.


Unleash your inner project manager
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“Planning and setting goals, defining roles and producing schedules of tasks.”

The timeline could include a new cohort of students, the NSS survey, release of module/unit materials for online learning, scheduled meeting, fixed reports, annual budget review, etc. It doesn’t matter the actual purpose of the goal, role, or schedule of tasks, the LT is at the centre and working with others to ensure nothing slips and everything works.

“Report regularly to management and the client.”

However the report is structured it doesn’t matter if this report is verbal over a coffee, written via email or other social channel used, or a formal document presented to a board or committee, the ‘client’ will have contact from the LT on the status of the work and progress. A good/great LT and project manager will also make sure delays and timeline slippage is reported well in advance and any impacts taken into account.

“… first point of contact for any issue or discrepancy arising from within the project before the problem escalates to higher authorities.”

As above, the LT is this point of contact on any work he/she undertakes. Whether the work is consider small or ‘incidental’ or a full-on VLE review with institutional impact, the LT is fully aware of the impact to themselves and those involved.

Project management is defined as “the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives” (APM) and a project manager is “typically to offer a product, change a process or to solve a problem in order to benefit the organization” (Project Insight).

Working on implementing a new VLE or LMS for your department or institution? Chances are you’ll be working with a dedicated project manager or someone who’s acting in that role. Initiating some training on new tools or design or assessment criteria or rules around lecture capture … chances are you’ll again need to plan ahead for delivery of the training, resources to support it, room bookings or webinar time/space. See … you’ll need to employ project management techniques to make sure it happens when you want it to, how you want it, and where you want it.

Sounds familiar? It sounds like work I’ve engaged in for years now. I just didn’t know I could add ‘project manager’ to my list of skills too!

* Note: When I say Learning Technologists, I also mean Educational / Instructional Designers too.

If you’re interested, I’ve found this series of 15 journals (free download) from Product Focus, really useful introduction to project and product management. You’ll have to read your own skill and projects into the words, but it’s all there if you want it.

Image source: Judith Doyle (CC BY-ND-2.0)