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April 26, 2007

Going Green


I am a regular reader of Inside Training, Training magazine's newsletter. In today's issue they have a story on two companies that asked their employees on their views on the environment (There's also a blog Easy being green?). More than half of the workers would want their company to be more environmentally friendly! Just a few days ago they also had an article "Greener Office" with great and very simple tips like having a recycling bin in everyone's office, turn off computers and power strips at night (hmm - our office room in San Diego is leased and definitely not a green building, many people here leave their lights on), and using scrap paper.

It's really not difficult to live and work green - so how do you motivate your employees to throw the soda can in the recycling bin instead of the trash can that is sitting right next to it??? Please submit a comment if you have an answer ...

How do you get your company to provide incentives for people that bicycle to work while many organizations don't even have a secure bike parking option?

Talking about bicycling - maybe upcoming bike to work day (May 18 in California) might make a difference in your organization. Check out Bicycle2Work.com, my little side project, where we have some free printable posters and ideas for your HR team (take a look at the organizer page).

Reading the "Greener Office" article, ClifBar is really taking it a above and beyond - most importantly, they are educating everyone on sustainability instead of only focusing on reducing their electric bill. Our Adobe buildings in San Jose are LEED certified and employees can apply for commuter checks (we definitely need more employee education). Another cool story is DivX going green. Would love to hear more stories of companies going above and beyond ...

April 23, 2007

Learning Portal in Slovenia


3 years ago, a project called Piflar.com started in Slovenia, a small country in central Europe with about 2 million people. Today, you can find over 350 video tips (created with Adobe Captivate) for standard desktop software on this learning portal, which gets over 20,000 page views per month! (Example of Word 2007)

Jose Antonio Morales, who works on the project, told me how over time the project has changed quite dramatically from subscription based to completely free to the public. Among the reasons were these:

  • "When opening the contents of the portal we were able to track statistics that could be interesting for other companies. That means that we could get sponsors for contents and pages".
  • "Maximizing the number of visitors increases the chances of receiving feedback from them".
  • "Opening the contents helped us to find some content partners. For example we get partnership with non profit organizations that protect the rights of kids using the internet. Those partnerships improved business opportunities for other services we provide".

I love this success story and it's a win-win for everyone. Thanks Jose for prividing the link and the background info.

April 20, 2007

Create a Knowledge Base


The marketing manager for RoboHelp just sent me a link to our RoboHelp and Framemaker eseminars, which are a bit hidden on our site. To me, RoboHelp is not just an online help authoring tool. It's ideal to create an online performance support system or a knowledge base and here is why:

  • Editing is easy using a built in text editor (it's actually an HTML editor but you don't have to know HTML) or an HTML editor of your choice (you can also import existing word docs)
  • Content is organized and quickly accessible: A table of contents, index, and search are automatically created for you in a format that any computer user is already familiar with
  • You can include media such as images or Adobe Captivate demos
  • You can create any kinds of links including cross-linking to other topics/pages or linking to files on the web or even create hotspots on inserted images
  • Just in time information can be included via drop down text - your pages look clean and not overcrowded with info and learners can choose to drill down deeper
  • Context sensitivity is possible: You can link to particular topics from your intranet or work with your engineers who are developing inhouse applications
  • Use single sourcing to create different output formats (for web and print for example)

It's a great application I always enjoyed working with. I am glad Adobe instantly saw its value and released the new version :)

April 19, 2007

Easy way of tracking meetings: MeetingSense


I have been a beta tester for a cool software application called MeetingSense. It's a really neat application if you are using Microsoft Outlook and you have to deal with many different meetings, participants, decisions, etc. In my position I am constantly working on so many projects that it's sometimes difficult to keep track of what was discussed in which meeting, who attended and who missed it, what were the key decisions and action items.

Well, the simple solution in my life is MeetingSense.There is a free trial download and some demos of the app created with, guess what, Adobe Captivate! The trial only works for 14 days - but for me, it took me only one meeting to know that this app is going to help me in my job.

Thanks Hannon for creating this cool tool and telling me about it :)

April 16, 2007

15% Discount on Adobe Captivate 2 (full and upgrades)

Starting today we have a limited time discount offer for North America. You can save 15% until June 1st when you buy a full or upgrade license of Adobe Captivate 2.

Adobe Store Promotion Code: 15offCPTV2007

Terms and Conditions

April 14, 2007

Learning 3.0: vLearning


The eLearning Guild conference ended looking at the future with Cecily Sommers talking about a brave new world.

Her presentation on change and that we invent our own future reminded me of a great book with interesting cognitive research info Get out of your own way as well as the best education I took to shape my own future - Landmark Education (PS: it's not a cult). Sommers asked the audience to “pick your head up and look outside what’s commonly known”. This is exactly what some of the speakers at this conference have done and gives us a glimpse of, I guess, Learning 3.0.

At the conference, you could find presenters talking about serious games and Second Life. Ellen Wagner (seriously working with a lobster hat in Boston) mentioned the term vLearning (v = virtual) to me and has led a session on how to design and build 3-D simulations. 3D technology has been available for many years, yet, it seems to me it’s finally possible for non-programmers or game developers to use and implement this technology.

Drag left or right to rotate - this is a SWF file consisting of multiple 3D images giving you the illusion of 3D. Click here to see real 3D in Adobe Reader.

Ellen’s co-presenter was Ovidiu Ciobanu, who is a dentist teaching dentistry. One of the challenges he faces is teaching students what to do in a small environment where only one student can actually see what the teacher is doing. His solution: detailed animated 3D models, demos and virtual surgeries. The technology is already here with 3D scanners under $3000, 3D applications usable for a non-programmer, and the deployment of 3D content ubiquitous via PDF. Ovi encouraged the audience to try it – if a dentist can create 3D models, instructional designers and developers certainly can do it as well. Ovi uses 3D Studio Max to finish the scanned objects and Acrobat 3D to distribute via PDF.

As Sommers said, real discovery comes through experience. Go out there, use the 3D applications, enter Second Life, play games to find out how game developers keep you engaged and find ways to apply the concepts in your learning content. Inventing our future of engaging virtual immersions means to act today and start learning the tools and technologies that are already available to make this idea a reality.

After blogs, wikis, and informal learning taking hold, Learning 3.0 seems to be on its way ;)

PS: Let's hope we don't turn this idea into placing text heavy presentation slides into meeting rooms in Second Life ...

April 12, 2007

Update on eLearning Guild Conference


The eLearning Guild Conference here in Boston is getting more interesting and fun every year. I know I should have blogged earlier and whatever I write is old news as soon as I hit "publish" ...

Quick belated update on the sessions I spoke at: The first was a panel of "The future of rapid e-learning tools" with Adobe Captivate, Articulate, Qarbon, and Jay Cross. I think you can get a good impression by reading Clive Shepherds blog for Wednesday 4/11. His observation and the comment to it are a good reflection of the audience in the session and my own experience with Adobe Captivate users: Some instructional designers want SMEs to use rapid tools to create rapid eLearning, some would not want them near an authoring tool. For me it seems less a discussion between rapid eLearning that SMEs develop content or not, it's rather rapid eLearning developed by IDs (Instructional Designer) with the SMEs (SMEs start by capturing the knowledge, IDs add the ID) versus the informal learning SMEs like most of my coworkers produce using rapid eLearning tools - they don't call what they do "rapid development" nor "rapid eLearning". They create demos or tutorials. So how do we reach SMEs who don't know that tools like Adobe Captivate even exist and don't even think they have a need for these tools until someone (e.g. ID) shows them how they could save themselves a lot of time?

Regarding the future of rapid eLearning and the tools? I can't wait for the day when I turn on my computer and quickly get the info I want and need Just In Time. This brings me to our blogging tool we are using at Adobe - how can it be that in 2007, you have to use HTML to add a picture to your blog?!? Mark Oehlert mentioned to me that I can change the right hand side of my blog - I want to add links to different blogs. Why do I have to work with tags? I am a SME in my field, not HTML, and I don't want to dig around on the blog site to figure out how to change the style of my blog and add a list of links to other blogs?

At least by using Contribute for editing my blog entries, I can add rich media via simple drag and drop. Thank you for making my life a little bit easier :) but why doesn't the blog tool have this functionality built in in the first place? ...

My other session on informal tools covered Adobe's rapid eLearning tools where I demoed Adobe Captivate, Contribute, and VlogIt. To me this is the ideal rapid eLearning toolkit for under $1000: interactive Flash content and simulations without having to learn Flash, HTML editor without having to deal with HTML, and cool video broadcasts without even having to buy an expensive camera. VlogIt rocks! If it's not part of your toolkit, get it asap - it's only $29 and maybe the easiest step to your next raise!

During the Q&A, I noticed there are a misconceptions about our products - so here are some answers:

  • Adobe Captivate is not a pure screen recording tool. You can add interactivity and you can create more than just screen demos (e.g. soft skills, import existing PowerPoint slides, quizzes including matching questions, etc.)
  • You can create branched soft skills or scenario-based learning content. Adobe Captivate 2 even has a branching view that shows you all the learner paths in your project.
  • You can record animations using Adobe Captivate - switch to full motion recording (check out your recording options for the function keys or to change the keyboard shortcut)
  • You can import library objects from other projects (version 2)
  • Screen demos should be around 3 minutes or less - that's all the attention your learners will give to your content. For longer demos, give them control via a menu and string multiple pieces together.
  • Adobe Contribute can be purchased and used standalone as your main HTML editor. You don't have to buy or install Dreamweaver on your machine to use Contribute. I can do all my content authoring and editing in Contribute. It's fast and easy! Your SMEs can handle it.
  • Vista as well as the new version of Flash and Flash Player 9 will be supported with Adobe Captivate 3 (I'll let you know through the blog when we start looking for beta testers)
  • Adobe has an entire ecosystem of tools that can be used in combination, not just Adobe Captivate, Flash and Connect. Ellen and the rest of our eLearning team will be working on more info on that. Until then, take a look at your daily workflow and you'll see that we cover the ground from rapid to traditional, static to dynamic, passive to interative, informal to formal, asynchronous to synchronous, and informational to serious games.

Hope this helps ...