Archive for the ‘Professional Specialist’ Category

From Idea to Print: Getting Your First Book Started

August 4, 2012

©copyright by Robert W. Lucas

In previous articles in this blog series, I have addressed how you get started as a book author and made some suggestions related to where to start your research about the publishing industry and in determining whether to pursue a major publisher or self-publish your work. As you may have started to realize, there is more to being an author than just writing words on a computer.

GETTING STARTED

Successful authors have a vision or goal related to where they want to see themselves and their work once the writing is done. They also typically have something they want to say. This might be professional advice or a story they want to tell. No matter what your purpose, you have to gather together information and develop a plan before you attempt to find a publisher or write your book. Anything less will likely result in wasted effort and frustration and the possible extinction of your creative writing vision forever.

If you feel that you have the ability to communicate your message to others through printed or electronic means, then go for it. If you have the ideas or a tale you want to share and do not feel competent at writing it or simply do not have the time or patience, there are people who will do that for you. They are called ghost writers. Many professionals and celebrities use them to craft their story. You can find these people through an Internet search or through professional networking with a writers group.

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Getting Connected – Leveraging Your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

August 2, 2012

If you have ever relied on our families, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances to grow your knowledge about the world, you have taken advantage of a Personal Learning Network (PLN). You have also used a PLN if you have used reference books, textbooks, television (CNN or MSN, for example) and radio stations (National Public Radio or BBC) , and professional and personal-interest magazines. And, more recently, we have been connecting with people and information through the digital realm via social media sites. The good news is that there is an ever-growing repertoire of applications that have taken content from the printed page, and have given voice to the ideas of people we have never had access to before. This enabling us to redesign our information experiences to suit our needs.

Part of our role as facilitators of learning is helping our learners learn to teach themselves. That is why modeling a learning lifestyle is one of the best things that we can offer our learners.

Harnessing these new technologies to create and grow our own PLNs is imperative for educators who want to stay connected to the changing world we are charged with introducing to our students.

PLNs provide access to sources of information that were not even available a few years ago. This now creates an information overload, which we are seeing every day. To our rescue come continually evolving technologies. They make it easier to capture and tame this overload.

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Learning Objectives – A Discussion of Bloom’s Taxonomy

July 23, 2012

How many of you create objectives that look like this?
“The learner will know how to format text.”

How do you test this? How do you know if a learner knows how to format text? What you really want to know is if the learner CAN format the text. They need to be able to apply the proper formatting if someone directs them to “italicize” and “center” a paragraph of text. You really don’t care if they can recite the steps to do this…you want them to do it. I have actually known peopel that “know” how to do lots of stuff, but can’t actually DO any of it. If they can, it isn’t very well. This is the issue with the DIY channels and Food channels. You can “know” how to do the stuff they show, but you probably aren’t “doing” much of it. This is also where “teaching to test” starts to come under fire – you are typically “knowing” or “understanding” rather than really comprehending, being able to apply, or analyze the information you “know”.

This post is going to discuss what Bloom’s Taxonomy is and share some objective key words you can use to steer your course development in the direction that meets this methodology.

Bloom’s Taxonomy has six cognitive objectives.

  1. Knowledge – Can the learner recall material they previously learned?
  2. Comprehension – Does the learner grasp the meaning of an idea? Can they restate it? Can they explain the idea?
  3. Application – Can the learner use the material they have learned in a new situation?
  4. Analysis – Can the learner separate the content into its separate parts and show a relationship between those parts?
  5. Synthesis – Can the learner put the separate ideas together and create a new whole, thus creating a new relationship between the parts?
  6. Evaluation – Can the learner judge the worth of material against some stated criteria?

As you can see, developing ideas around creating learning content is a lot more than just does someone know how to do something. Higher learning comes when you challenge a learner to take the idea they have learned and manipulate it in some way to create something new from that. Ever had to take content you just learned and re-explain it to someone new? You have to perform analysis, synthesis, and evaluate that content, rather than just recall it. This is the exact reason you learn content better when you have to share it with someone else.

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Rapid E-Learning – Articulate Storyline

July 13, 2012

As part of my research in figuring out which rapid eLearning tool I plan to reccomend to my training manager, I looked at both Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate 6.

I will say that Captivate 5 or 5.5 versus Articulate Storyline is kind of a no-brainer and Storyline wins, in my opinion. However, Captivate 6 changes the story a little because it brings the two products closer together. It is not my intention with either of these posts to tell you which tool is better or which I am reccomending to my company. I am trying to provide you with enough information to make your own decision based on your organization’s needs.

There are not as many videos from Articulate as there are from Adobe. So, here is what I can offer you as part of your research.

Here is a blog post by The Rapid eLearning Blog discussing some of the features of Storyline. In it,you can find several examples and tutorials.

Here is the official feature list from the Articulate site. There is a nice series of videos on thier site for you.

Here is a list of user created courses using Storyline. You can use them as a sample of what you can do with this rapid eLearning tool. I think the Storyline examples stop after the Periodic Table example.

Whichever way you think you want to go, I would reccomend you try the 30-day trial of both products. There are always some features that are promoted and work in a slightly different manner than you expect.

Rapid E-Learning – Adobe Captivate 6 Sneak Peeks

July 13, 2012

I have been spending a little time evaluating Adobe Captivate 6, which is brand new, against Articulate Storyline.

In this post, I wanted to share some of the videos put out by Adobe, so you can see for yourself what they are offering.

Currently, it looks really interesting.

If you want to watch more Captivate 6 videos from Adobe, here is their YouTube Channel.

If you want to see the full list of features offered by Adobe Captivate 6, here is the feature page on their site.

Author – Getting Your First Non-Fiction Book Published

July 9, 2012

©copyright Robert W. Lucas

As you might have read in my previous blog article, writing comes from within you and can start simply by sharing nuggets from your knowledge and experience. We often forget that others do not know everything that we know. In many cases, people are struggling to solve problems or deal with personal and professional issues that you have already solved or dealt with during your life or career. They are often willing to pay for your knowledge, but first you have to put it into a meaningful format and then deliver it to them conveniently. Luckily, in addition to all the traditional print media, there are a number of electronic reading devices or eReaders like the Apple iPad, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Amazon’s Kindle, Sony Reader and other less expensive models where consumers can download and read electronic copies of books and other publications, typically at less cost than printed versions.

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Presentation Skills – Present Like Steve Jobs

July 5, 2012

This is one skill we all need to have! We all need to be better at giving a presentation. So, if we are going to model someone’s style, learn from than the master himself – the late Steve Jobs.

This video speaks about wowing your audience, limiting images and text, adding a little flair, and the dramatic close.

It isn’t very long, so maybe you will find a tip or two to add to your personal presentation style.

Course Design – Becoming an eLearning Professional

July 5, 2012

As I was looking at videos, I found this video by Tom Kuhlmann, of Articulate. It is a longer video, but it addresses these items:

• Design an e-learning strategy based around available resources
• Get the most out of simple, practical e-learning projects
• Visually align course designs around learning objectives and content
• Apply rapid instructional design models to make courses more engaging and interactive

Medieval Help Desk – Boil Content Down to the Problems…and Solve Them

June 19, 2012

I sat in on a web seminar by Ray Jimenez, of VignettesLearning.com. The discussion was how to boil down long PowerPoints into chunked content.

As part of his presentation, he offered up this video. It is subtitled, but it offers a pretty good laugh.

Some of us like to think of our content as all the stuff you should know – History, Background, References, etc.

Think about what a course for this poor monk would be like – probabaly not include those three items. Just answer the main questions and solve the learners’ problems. They can learn history and background at a different time. Do you need to know the history of Detroit or how a car is made to learn how to turn the key, press the gas, and go forward? No.