My History of Live Blogged Notes

When I attend webinars or participate in online courses and conferences, I usually live blog my notes. That helps me remember what I attended and what I learned, and it lets me share that knowledge with others. In a recent discussion about how I have learned about instructional design without getting a master’s degree, someone asked me what courses and webinars I’ve attended. Because I have done so much live blogging, I was able to provide proof of my ongoing professional development efforts. These posts go back to 2007, so some of the content and references are dated. Generally newer posts are at the top of each category.

Woman-typing-on-laptop-cropped

Storytelling and Scenario-Based Learning

Synchronous Learning

 Attention and Motivation

Trends and Future Predictions

Games and Simulations

LMSs and Other Tools

Learning Communities

Other Topics

Image credit: Matthew Bowden http://www.digitallyrefreshing.com (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/145972) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

8 Years of Blogging

I missed my anniversary by a few days, but I’ve now been blogging for 8 years. My first post on 12/26/06 explained that I was creating a graduate course on social media for teachers and felt I should “practice what I preach.” Although that course has been updated by others in the past few years, Building Online Collaborative Environments is still being taught several times a year.

8Some statistics:

  • Total number of posts: 920
  • Total number of comments: 2,261
  • Total views: > 877,000
  • Best day ever: 9/27/13 with 2,617 views & 1,885 visitors
  • Best month: January 2014 with 17,928 views &  8,205 visitors

The top 8 posts written this year:

  1. Time Estimates for E-Learning Development
  2. Voice Over Scripts: Writing Style Tips
  3. Voice Over Script Pitfalls
  4. Top Ten Tools for Learning 2014
  5. Formatting Tips for Voice Over Scripts
  6. Voice Over Script Review Checklist
  7. Tips for Storytelling in Learning
  8. Story-Based Coaching and Mentoring Course

My Instructional Design Careers posts also continue to be popular, and are a primary way people find me on search engines.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing. All of you are part of my personal learning network. I’m looking forward to many more years ahead.

 

Image Credit: Graphic Stock

Top Ten Tools for Learning 2014

Jane Hart is collecting her eighth annual list of top tools for learning. You can vote for your top tools until September 19, 2014. I haven’t done my list in a few years, but you can see my past lists from 20112009, 2008, and 2007.

My list is divided into personal learning and course design/development.

Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbeth - 10 mph sign

Personal Learning

Feedly is my RSS reader of choice since the demise of Google Reader. I read on my smartphone much more in the past, and Feedly’s mobile app fits in my workflow.

Diigo is my social bookmarking option. Diigo automatically generates my ID and e-Learning bookmarks posts. People are sometimes amazed at how quickly I can find resources for various topics; Diigo is what lets me put my hands on links from my library in a hurry.

LinkedIn, especially LinkedIn groups, is a source for many useful conversations and resources.

Google Search is one of the first places I go when I need to learn something specific or am researching courses and clients.

WordPress is my blog host. Even when I’m sporadic in posting, WordPress is a great tool for personal reflection. I appreciate the active community and constant improvements to the platform. My business website and portfolio were also built with WordPress.

Course Design/Development

Microsoft Word isn’t exactly the most glamorous tool here, but it is a tool I use regularly for design documents, storyboards, and other projects for clients.

Microsoft PowerPoint isn’t particularly exciting either, but it’s still a tool I use for storyboard, mockups, simple graphics, flowcharts, and more. Once in a while I actually use it for presentations too.

Google Docs is where I keep track of my time spent on projects, create quick drafts, and other tasks.

Moodle is the LMS used by several of my clients. Although my primary freelance work is designing courses, I do some LMS consulting as well. Almost all of that is helping clients use Moodle more effectively. The active community for this open source tool and the numerous free tutorials and resources are a huge benefit for me when I’m working in Moodle or Totara (a corporate version of Moodle).

Skype is one of my primary tools for keeping in touch with clients. If I have a question for them or they have one for me, a quick message on Skype can often keep a project moving. I use video calls and screen sharing regularly as well.

Image Credit: Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbeth – 10 mph sign by Elliott Brown

Learning the Language: Why IDs Don’t Need To Be SMEs

My daughter was born last May. “E” was in a hurry to meet us and arrived two months early. When my water broke, we rushed to Duke University Hospital. I quickly received a dose of betamethazone and a bolus of magnesium. E spent over a month in the NICU. My conversations were suddenly filled a whole new language: brady, desat, gavage, TPN, bili lights, central line, kangaroo care.

E at 5 days old

E at 5 days old. She was breathing on her own, without oxygen support, but still connected to a lot of wires and sensors. She was so small that even the preemie diapers were a little big.

My husband and I continued working while she was in the NICU. I had to finish up a few projects before my maternity leave could really start. I pumped every three hours, so I never got more than two hours of sleep at a stretch that whole month. We drove 40 minutes to Duke every afternoon to visit her in the hospital, while juggling work and getting the house ready for her to come home. The staff at Duke were wonderful and helpful, but I was completely exhausted.

As fatigued and stressed as I was, I quickly learned the language of the NICU. In the first week, five separate nurses or doctors at Duke asked me if I had a medical background. I seemed so familiar with the terminology that they assumed I had formal training. I always chuckled and explained that I have no medical background, but learning the language of different fields is part of what I do for a living. As an instructional designer, it’s my job to be able to work with experts in lots of different subjects. The fact that multiple healthcare practitioners were fooled into thinking I’m one of them is just a sign that I’m a competent ID.

A few years ago, I wrote a course on bulldozer safety. I’ve never even ridden on a track dozer, but working on that course expanded my vocabulary: tramming, trunnion, berm, FOPS, frog, grouser, windrow, ROPS. Every organization also has its own lingo. At Cisco, I’d ask people to “pass me the ball” during meetings so we could finish before our “hard stop” and discuss what’s changed in CSAP since the program was “put on pause.” Like any big organization, Cisco uses hundreds of acronyms, and the same acronym in one group can have a different meaning in another team.

Learning those acronyms and becoming familiar with the vocabulary of your organization and field is part of the job of an instructional designer. It’s actually one of my favorite aspects of being an ID; one of the reasons I enjoy freelance work is that I’m constantly learning new things from a variety of sources. Lifelong learning is a major perk of this career.

I’ve seen people argue that IDs should have content expertise in the fields where they develop courses. Usually it’s in job listings where a company requests something like “5-10 years experience in healthcare or pharmaceuticals.” I’ve even seen someone in the learning field argue that content expertise is an “essential” qualification for doing this job. Personally, I think that’s completely wrong. It’s not essential; it’s not always even beneficial.

I agree with Connie Malamed: Instructional designers are content neutral. Connie explains some strategies for gaining knowledge when you’re not a mini-SME: preexisting content, instructional analysis, task analysis, research, and interviews. Even without the motivation of being responsible for the well-being of a teeny tiny human being, you can do the research and learn enough about a field to ask SMEs intelligent questions. That’s often the real key: do you have the right language to ask the right questions? We don’t need to be SMEs; that’s why we have a SME on our team. Our role is to be experts in learning, not on the content. We do have to learn about the field so we can collaborate with SMEs and develop content, but we don’t need the true depth of expertise of a SME. As long as we can learn the language, we can ask the right questions and explain our ideas in a way that others can understand them. We don’t need to be SMEs; we need to know how to talk to SMEs.

E is now 10 months old and doing great. Her language skills right now are focused mostly on blowing raspberries and saying ba-ba-ba-ba, but that’s a fun language for us to play with together.

E at 9 months

E at 9 months. She’s getting so big! You can’t quite read it, but her top says, “This is my little black dress.”

A New Year Filled With Magic

I came across this quote from Neil Gaiman, originally from 2001 but it’s made the rounds several time since then.

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

What we do as instructional designers is part science, part art. We can create those “flow” experiences that are so good that people lose track of the fact they’re learning.  I hope this year you create something so magical that you surprise even yourself.

Nature's magic

Image Credit: Nature’s Magic by photophilde