Happy New Year: What I Learned in 2010

Happy New Year!

I welcome 2011 with a smile as I also look back on 2010. From Christmas through New Years, I was on vacation with family in real world, and learned how much I depend on the Internet and on social media, or SoMe. Although I was supposed to be offline, I did use my iPad to check my social networks occasionally and post a few comments. In all honesty, I felt afraid I was going to miss out on important tweets or status updates on LinkedIn or Facebook. However, I was rewarded with wonderful F2F (face-to-face) time with my loved ones, and saw some beautiful scenery in Prescott, Arizona.

I did think about what I learned in 2010, and what the learning might mean for 2011. I bravely and humbly share a partial list with you:

  1. Mobile [ fill-in-the-blank ] is here, and is here to stay and grow. I bought an iPad for my business and use it daily. In addition, non-mobile family members and friends moved to smartphones, and they quickly became “addicted” mobile learners; even the older folks. In the new year, I plan to become more involved in mobile anything.
  2. Social Networking via the Internet is also here to stay and grow in leaps and bounds. On a daily basis I use Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, and (to a lesser degree) Facebook to connect with a wide, virtual network of amazing colleagues. I’ve gained new consulting work through this network as well as exchanged expertise. Social media (SoMe) is a permanent part of my business. I will continue to nurture and grow my network in 2011.
  3. Face-to-face Networking still plays an important part in my consulting practice. I pick up the phone and make a call instead of sending an email, and I schedule business lunches when possible. I’ve also discovered that when I’ve had the opportunity to meet my virtual SoMe colleagues in person, it feels like a joyful “reverse reunion”, where we finally get to add the F2F connection to a carefully nurtured business relationship. I look forward to more F2F connections this new year.
  4. SCORE business mentors (click to learn more) provide amazing resources to anyone who is starting a business … and, their advice is free. SCORE also offers low-cost workshops. In 2011, I plan to leverage the wisdom and experience from these generous, warm, and encouraging mentors.

I’ve learned a great deal in 2010, and it’s hard to pick and choose what to share in this post. What did you learn in 2010 that you’d like to share with me and with others? Please feel free to add a Comment to this post!

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Live, on YouTube, with Terrence Wing of LiquidLearn

LiquidLearn’s “10 for 10” at DevLearn 2010

The e-Learning Guild held its annual DevLearn Conference in San Francisco, California, earlier this month. Hundreds of instructional designers and developers attended as always. Me? I had e-learning projects to wrap up, and I felt sad that I could not fly up and see some wonderful people this year.

Instead, Terrence Wing, of LiquidLearn, interviewed me for a (pre-recorded) streaming Web T.V. broadcast he used in an all-day, pre-conference workshop! So, in a way, I was at DevLearn, but virtually.

I’m posting the YouTube video Terrence made. I’m humbly grateful for this wonderful opportunity he gave me to share my crazy thoughts on instructional design. Here’s what Terrence wrote about this video:

10 for 10 is a recurring video interview hosted by Terrence Wing of Liquid Learn. Topics include skills needed to succeed in the modern workforce. The goal of the show is for the host to surface at least ten tips from the interviewee in 10 minutes. In this episode, Terrence is interviewing Jenise Cook from Ridge View Media. The subject matter is instructional design.

Terrence used Justin.tv a streaming video tool you might want to look into for your video projects.


(P.S. I haven’t written a blog post in over a month because I’ve been busy, but, I’ve also been spending more time posting on Twitter.com I’ve been learning a great deal lately about the effectiveness of social media. How about you? Feel free to write and share a Comment.)


Instructional Design vs. ROI: Guy W. Wallace

Personal and Reflective Learning on Twitter

On Twitter, colleagues and I frequently discuss the value of Twitter (and other technologies) for our Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). And, today, the #lrnchat topic focused on reflective learning, or how you reflect on what you’ve learned after completing a learning activity (transcript is here. Lrnchat takes place every Thursday morning and afternoon, twice, and the hashtag is #lrnchat).

After a busy day today, I returned to Twitter before dinner to read through the various learning tweets by members of my PLN. One tweet jumped out at me, I reacted and tweeted, and the follow up resulted in wonderful, reflective learning (at least for me, LOL). If you’re interested in human performance improvement (HPI) and workplace performance results, I encourage you to follow @guywwallace on Twitter. As a respected member of ISPI, his tweets and blog posts encourage me, ground me in reality, and keep me focused as an instructional designer.

It all started with this tweet from Guy:

Here's Guy's tweet. I enjoy analysis and how we can improve a learner's knowledge and skills. So, as a designer, I initially reacted to this tweet instead of responding.

Twitter’s 140 character limit can lend itself to “creative” microblogging. And below, you can see my initial reaction that I tweeted to Guy:

When I find a need during the analysis phase, I want to fix it. Often, my SMEs also want to fix that need, too. I huffed a bit and asked Guy for clarification.

Yea, we Instructional Designers can sometimes get carried away with how we feel about what we do for a living. We have a passion for helping people and organizations improve their K/S (knowledge and skills) through appropriate learning activities. So, I wanted to know more, and sent Guy a few more tweets.

Reflection began to take over, and I began to remember past projects where, ultimately, the internal or external client makes the final decision on learning activities.

As you can see, after my initial reaction, the reflective learning part of my brain took over. I remembered all of the projects where I presented analysis results to my clients (internal or external ones), and watched as what I thought were good ideas ended up on the cutting-room floor (to use an old movie analogy). And then, I was happy to see that I wasn’t alone in trying to figure out where Guy was coming from, because Mark Britz felt the same way.

You can follow Mark on Twitter: @britz

After dinner, I checked my Twitter stream again. Guy not only tweeted the back story, he included three URLs to his blog posts!

Guy confirmed what I suspected...the client's business decisions can trump what instructional designers recommend for performance improvement.

Performance improvement involves not only adult learning theories and methods, but Cost/Benefit Analysis and Return on Investment (ROI). Instructional designers do face a balancing act between the learners’ performance needs and what the organization can afford to spend (or not). Now, I know this, I do. However, it’s easy to forget it when I’m focused on designing an activity so that it’s effective and promotes learning retention.

I then sent a tweet to @britz to let Mark know about Guy's responses. But, dollars don't have to "get in the way". As IDs, we need to match effective learning to what the client can afford.

Guy’s Blog Posts…

The Worthiness of Any ISD/ Learning Solutions Effort Is Situational

Developing Performance Competence Via Formal and Informal Means When ROI Warrants It

12 O’clock: T&D Governance and Advisory System

I mean what I tweeted, too. @guywwallace (don't forget the W from his middle name) is a Twitter gem to me. He tweets pearls of wisdom that I appreciate. He challenges me and keeps me learning and reflecting.

I do try and keep the Cost/Benefit and ROI factors in mind when I discuss learning designs with clients. When all is said and done, if they can see the ROI, then I’ve done my job. Performance improvement is the ROI, although we may need to accept a phased approach over time, especially in the current economy.

For the record, no, I don’t have pigtails, and my darling husband can confirm that I don’t stomp my feet. 🙂

[Dear FTC: I have not received any monetary or other tangible or material benefits from Guy W. Wallace, only the wisdom he shares freely with everyone via his blogs and tweets.]


mLearnCon 2010: Dr. Mimi Ito – What the User Wants in mLearning

Live Blogging Wednesday’s Keynote

I really respect Cammy Bean and others who live blog the conferences they attend. It’s not that easy for me because I want to sit and listen, soak it all in, yet I feel a responsibility to share with you in the blogosphere and Twitterverse. My fingers didn’t always keep up with the speakers or facilitators. So, here’s the “raw” live blogged post from Wednesday’s Keynote Speaker. If you’re reading this and you attended the Keynote, please feel free to use the Comments to add or clarify what I wrote below. Thanks!

What the User Wants in mLearning

Dr. Mimi Ito
Research Scientist
Dept. of Informatics,
Univeristy of California, Irvine

Keynote: Dr. Mimi Ito, 16 June 2010

Dr. Ito began with photos of what Japanese teenagers carry in their purses or backpacks. Typical is two of each device.

Multimedia is enjoyed on one device while commuting on the train and they text friends at the same time using the second device. Device proliferation: teens consume information, capture and produce their own media, and stay in constant ambient contact with each other.

People will go to great lengths to have personal content at hand. Users customize their media environment themselves, filling in gaps inherent in devices. We can harvest this drive this potential.

Social Media, Mobile Media, is highly personal content shared with others. They want to, they need to share it with their mobile community (friends, not necessarily their parents).

Good to look at Japanese youth to monitor future trends as they’re about 10 years ahead of US youth.

Information is flowing across institutions, and the mobile youth culture is the center of innovation. The kids have incubated the trends that have spread globally.

The social context is as important to them as the content you want to deliver to youth. The device is a proxy for the social relationships those devices connect people to.

Youth are not only media consumers, they are media producers. And higher ed professors are struggling with a mobile-media-driven lecture hall.

Question from Dr. Ito: “How many of you checked your iPhone in the first 5 minutes of my talk?” (Lots of guilty chuckles in the Hall.)

Today’s multitasking students and teams are tomorrow’s multitasking workers.

We need new mechanisms for managing and focusing attention of these new learning styles, instead of enforcing the old learning model.

Video: A Vision of Students Today

Dr. Ito played this YouTube video that I’d seen before and continues to amaze me. It was produced by Kansas State University, Professor Michael Wesch:

We need to use these new flows of knowledge for lifelong and ongoing learning.

Social Media = Social Communication + Personal Media. It’s you, making a personal pathway in the mobile world, and sharing with others. Adaptive learning in a world of constant change.

The Mobile World/Social Media Space: Peer sharing. Social viewing. Locative Media. Transmedia

Peer Sharing

Primary tool for personal communication. A portal that links the individual to the Mobile World. A powerful motivator of adoption, individual’s ability to access this world. The small screen of the mobile is not a limitation, it affords privacy and personalization that produces a sense of intimacy, much more than a laptop’s screen. The teen’s SMS messages seem silly, but it’s all about sharing presence not information. A shared meaning of activities they are pursuing. The full-time, intimate community. They text, voice call, get together in RW (real world), then text about the event, voice call, text again. Starts again the next day. SMS drove mobile internet adoption in Japan. (Mixi, most popular social website in Japan). Mobile is the most preferred way to access community/social websites instead of via a laptop.

Shared collaboration and participation…tech support/dispatchers used mobile to share information with each other. Knowledge transfer via exchange of tech info. Their team becomes their “always on” community. Co-consulting. Collegial communication. Ordering parts. Contacting the sales rep. Asking Qs, getting As, sharing learning with others. Reading and learning from each other.

Mobile builds shared awareness, learners benefitting from knowledge gained from each other’s work.

Locative Media

Linking mobile media to specific locations. Use of camera phone. They capture their relationship to things and places. Always take photos of themselves with friends and create sticker albums. They document their social gatherings in urban spaces, and they share the photos. They are always carrying their friends around with them (photo stickers applied onto their devices).
AMBIENT STORYTELLING… USC is doing: (Disclaimer: Dr. Scott Fisher, her husband, is leading this). An effort to invent stories that is used only in one space. For example, architecture. The Million Story Building Project. Playful interaction with the building and learning its history. The building has its own Twitter stream (tweets about the temperature, etc.), QR codes in different parts of the building where people can gain more detailed information. Residents and visitors can also add to the database of information.

Social Viewing

Niko Video is a very popular Japanese YouTube but different in that people can post comments at specific time points w/in the video. It’s like sharing the video on your mobile device with an entire community. Creates a social layer. K-Nect project… a major contributor to the students’ access via the e-classroom support structure via 3G connectivity. Allowed students to connect with peers, tutors, professors 24/7 and anywhere (outside the classroom walls).


Pokemon. Today’s college graduates are the first Pokemon generation to move into the adult world. Portable media. Gaming changed the social landscape. New mode of interaction. No longer strange to see young people in social gatherings with their gaming devices. Huge volume of esoteric knowledge generated while the player progresses through the game. Content that’s about gaming and social interaction. Mobilizes kids to do something with the knowledge. Social glue. Flocking: when a child pulls out their game boy they flock around the device. Context of learning and social sharing help the kids to learn the game boy; there’s an assumption that there’s a social wrapper because one child cannot master Pokemon alone. Nintendo has taken advantage of this social media.  (DS Ware – learning platform by Nintendo) (Brain Age, appealing to older learners) Now, professors are using DS Classroom to use DS Ware devices for education. Early stage.

(Steven R. Crawford of ASU’s Distance Learning raised his hand and mentioned that McDonald’s is using DS devices in employee training.)

MannaHatta Project

New Youth City Network. Eric Sanderson. NYC and it’s original flora and fauna before it was developed. Students can use mobiles to learn about the previous rich ecosystem of Manhattan. In the MannaHatta Project, they explore, share, interact…

(Dr. Ito thanked/acknowledged: Daisuke Okabe. HeyRyoung Ok. Becky Herr. Ellen Seiter. Miranda Banks. Joi Ito. Scott Fisher. Diana Rhote.)

The wrapper of peer mobile sharing will make mobile learning happen and be effective.


Middle School is the age when they can be captured to stay on the academic path. The Quest to Learn school in NYC, using gaming and mobile in their instructional models. Different from traditional classroom learning. The kids are building things together. The kids just finished their first year, and studies continue regarding results.

Q: What will these youth be like in today’s traditional Workplace?
A: We don’t know yet. Referred to research and studies going on at The Quest School in NYC, see above.

Q: Big risk in the shared knowledge ecosystem with sharing of ideas not based on fact that become a truth.
A: Like Wikipedia, needing more mentors and an established vision to self-edit and confirm information. It’s not there yet. Needs to be.

Management of personal attention is a new Competency. Youth may need to acquire this.

Q: What ways do you see higher ed changing due to these youth?
A: Higher ed is being more responsive. Extension Colleges. Innovation begins at the margins, or youth don’t show up for classes. Both provide pressures to change the University’s core functions. Faculties are trying to adapt and change.

Thank you, Dr. Ito, for an amazing Keynote!


How to Answer Voice Over Narration Questions

What a Strange Title for a Blog Post

I know it is, but it best describes what you’re about to read. My e-learning colleague in Chicago, IL, Tricia Ransom, has asked me a few audio narration questions that many of you also ask. She gave me her permission to blog about her questions and my answers based on my experience. I also hope our e-learning community will share their experience with Tricia as well. We all can learn from each other, so please write us a comment in the Comments section.

Tricia and her team are going to hire professional voice over talent to record the audio narration for Tricia’s e-learning course.

Tricia wants to follow a proven project workflow for collaborating with this off-site voice actor. Let’s take a look at Tricia’s four questions and my answers based on what I’ve learned from my projects. Again, we both welcome your contributions!

Q1. What Is the Best Way to Provide a Script? Per slide, per module, per entire course?

A1. My answer is “that depends”. If you hire a voice over talent who has experience with e-learning narration, they may already have a workflow they prefer. Feel free to ask that talent for his/her preference.

Generally, I try and provide the voice talent with the entire “story”. (Effective e-learning tells the business story.) If you have a course curriculum made up of several modules, and if you’re going to work with the same voice talent throughout the curriculum, give the talent the entire course script. If the later modules’ scripts are still in draft mode or under revision, then give the voice talent an outline of the entire course. As a voice talent myself, I like to know where the content is starting and where it ends, meaning, I like knowing up front what’s in Module One through to the final module.

Why? Because audio narration involves voice acting. Voice talent seek to know, understand, and internalize the story, the business story your e-learning course will tell. They will then communicate your story through their tone of voice, phrasing, etc.

So, Tricia, ask the voice talent you hire what they prefer: module by module, or the entire course. Make sure your script template is easy to read, and that the narration script section has 1.5 line spaces between each line of text and font that’s 14 points at least. Provide the script in a Word file instead of as a PDF.

Q2. Should we have them record it and send us back files per slide? If so, have you found an easy naming convention?

A2. Again, my answer is “that depends” for this question as well. It’s important to first think through your project workflow. What’s my workflow? I record a module in one recording session. Then, if I’m the audio editor/producer as well, I go through the recorded narration and save each screen’s narration as a separate audio file. In past projects, I used to name the file the same number as the screen’s number. That system can work just fine. If you move or change a screen, remember to renumber all of the subsequent audio files. That can be a pain and a waste of time.

For one project, I named the individual audio files with the first three-to-four words of the screen’s first sentence. That way, if the screen or it’s narration is changed by the SMEs, I don’t have to go through and rename the rest of the audio files in the audio library. That was a small project.

On one project we named the files by Course, Module, and Page (Screen) number:

C2M3P1 = Course 2, Module 3, Page (or Screen) 1.

Q3. What are some of the pitfalls you’ve encountered? Does it help to have one of the IDs there while they are narrating?

A3. I haven’t had any designers with me while narrating. Either I was the ID and the voice talent, or our Project Manager was the one who did a quality check of the hired talent’s audio narration during production. Will it help to be present while the voice talent records the narration? I can’t answer that question from personal experience, but I know that marketing clients often are at recording sessions for radio or TV commercials.

Q4. HELP???

A4. The community is here for you, Tricia. Can you assist Tricia? Here’s her contact information:

Home Page: http://flavors.me/TriciaRansom

Her blog: patriciaransom.wordress.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/patriciaransom

Twitter: @TriciaRansom