Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Narrowing Gap between Face-to-Face and Online Presentations

Are people noticing this? It seems that face-to-face and online presenting are becoming more similar. Some aspects:

  • Wireless access is becoming more common in places where presentations occur. If you are a conference organizer and you don't arrange for wireless, be prepared for some negative comments. See Better Conferences.
  • A larger percentage of the audience these days brings a laptop to presentations and it seems that the factor of Laptop Distraction is quieting down.
  • If your audience is already on a laptop and connected wirelessly, then you can use techniques such as Twitter Conference Ideas with twitter as a back-channel or twitter to post links to the audience. You can get the audience to provide thoughts and suggestions just like chat online. In fact, this is on of my favorite things about online presentations (see Examples of eLearning 2.0 for how great the audience input can be). But now you can somewhat do this at Face-to-Face presentations.
  • It used to be that your online audience was distracted. Now your face-to-face audience may seem distracted as well. I had a recent presentation at a large corporation. 75% of the audience had a laptop. Some percentage of that audience was taking notes and chatting on Yammer. Some percentage was reading email. Hard to tell which was which.

The last bullet is probably the biggest change here. I'm used to presenting in-person where the audience is highly engaged, taking notes, etc. It was a bit different for me to see an audience looking at their laptops that much.

I've talked about this in Online Conferences and In-Person Conferences and made the comment that:

In-person conferences have an advantage of getting more attention from the attendees.

That's still probably true as there's a higher commitment level, but the gap is narrowing. Clive as points to this in Multitasking is now every presenter’s problem.

What struck me is how the gap is narrowing between face-to-face and online events. You could usually rely on a fully attentive audience face-to-face while bemoaning the ease with which multitasking occurs online. The reality is that the same phenomenon is now occurring in each setting.

What's interesting here is that it used to be that you could count on your in-person audience to be singletasking (is that a word?) and paying attention. Now, they are going to be multitasking just like your online audience. I've always said that one of the wonderful things about face-to-face presentations is that you can see your audience and get immediate reaction based on their faces. But what about when they are looking at their laptop? If anything it's worse than online. When you present online and the chat channel is active but on-topic, you feel you are doing good. When you are in-person and everyone is looking at their laptop, it doesn't feel good. Hmmm…

One last thought … I recently presented to a group of professional speakers about the use of social media. There was quite a bit of discussion around Face-to-Face vs. Online Conferences. I'm still of the opinion that Face to Face Still Matters. However, because of the dramatically different characteristics of Online Conferences and In-Person Conferences and because of the narrowing gap between face-to-face and online presentations – we will see a shift towards more online conferences such as LearnTrends 2009.

Update: Since this comment block is too small for such big questions, I've decided to make this the Big Question on ASTD for October 2009. You can find the question here:

New Presenter and Learner Skills and Methods

Feel free to comment here as well, but I'm hoping we will attract a few longer entries there.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

2.0 and Interesting Times

Interesting post by Dan Pontefract where he provides definitions of some different "2.0" definitions and the HR & Organizational impacts. It's worth taking a look at some of these:

  • Enterprise 2.0

    • Definition (via Andrew McAfee):
      • the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers
    • HR & Org Implication:
      • Enterprise 2.0 is the use of Web 2.0 concepts in an organization; thus, failure to drive its introduction may result in redundant platforms/processes & confused employees
  • Learning 2.0
    • Definition:
      • the shift from a predominantly formal instructor-led/eLearning model to one that encompasses formal, informal and social learning methodologies
    • HR & Org Implication:
      • organizational culture can evolve via a strong learning ecosystem; to continue with antiquated ‘spray and pray’ formal only training models is akin to GM’s 2011 automobile lineup being full of SUV’s
  • Work 2.0
    • Definition:
      • the shift from a 9-5 workday to a flexible workweek inclusive of work location (ie. home, shared workspace, coffee shops, etc.)
    • HR & Org Implication:
      • the performance of an individual should be measured not on when they are in the office or present in their cubicle; rather, on the end result and its merits for the organization itself (whenever the deliverables are accomplished)

While people may not like the "2.0" terms, I believe there's merit to using them if only to indicate the substantial impact that these things will have on organizations and particularly on Learning and Development.

The theme of LearnTrends 2009 is a term I call Convergence. It's really about the fact that learning and development leaders have an opportunity to embrace 2.0. This means:

  • providing solutions beyond traditional training / courses
  • working closely with other parts of the organization including Enterprise 2.0, Knowledge Management, Corporate Library, OD, IT and, of course, the business
  • getting smart about a whole lot of new kinds of solutions
  • looking outside the firewall for solutions

And all of this comes in an ever more challenging world:

  • The Business of Learning faces real pressure and we are expected to do more with less.
  • We need to provide value to concept workers who are the highest value people in the organization and are in a continuous learning mode – it's part of their work. But concept workers don't get as much value in traditional learning solutions.
  • These workers direct their own learning. Learning and Development is likely not producing much content that will be useful to their day-to-day work except by building core skills. Thus, we must look to provide value in the long tail of learning.
  • The nature and value of content production is changing.
  • There's a ton more content available both inside and outside the organization and some of it is free learning
  • There's much greater accessibility of experts inside and outside the organization and ways to engage with them.

When I described eLearning 2.0 back in February 2006, I focused on the technology aspects. But there's so much more to all of this picture. I'm not sure if Convergence quite captures it, but …

These are truly interesting times.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

CTC-2009 Education Session Videos Available

The NCSC has video recorded many sessions from the CTC-2009 conference and made them available via the Internet to the court community.  Sessions include NPR reporter Ari Shapiro's keynote speech, Super Sessions from the Alabama Courts on their E-everything attitude, and the Korean Courts integrated system.  You can see the selection of available sessions at:

Should I Use Dreamweaver to Build My Course?

I received a question that I've heard in many forms and I'd like to ask help on this.

I am looking for some advice about whether or not my choice to use Dreamweaver with learning extensions (CourseBuilder + Learning Site) is a good idea or not.  I understand that Dreamweaver is not SCORM compliant (or at least it wasn't).

The reason why I thought it would be good to use, is because I work for a small company, and I am the only Technical Writer / eLearning Developer, so needed something simple and straightforward to use, but that could also offer me flexibility to design my own modules.  My modules are going to take a previously written training guide and turn it into an online interactive format.  It will need to have Forward & Back buttons, interactive exercises, tests & quizzes integration.  We don't have an LMS at this point, but we may need to track it in the future.

Also, Dreamweaver is relatively cheap, so I could make a good case to my managers to buy it for me.  There's also good help material available online, and there is a good book written by Michael Doyle "Dreamweaver MX e-Learning Toolkit" (although it was written in 2003).

I do use Camtasia to create my training videos, but have heard that Adobe Captivate is a good product as well.

Dreamweaver appears harder to use than other eLearning tools I have seen out there, but I appreciate its flexibility.

So, first, let's admit that many people in our industry are pretty much solo developers of eLearning.  They have to do everything on their own.  And they also are not building that much eLearning day-to-day, so it's pretty common to have to go through figuring out what tool to use.  And because they are solo, there's no time to spend evaluating a bunch of different tools.  Yes, I could download the free trial version and try it out, but that would take a fair bit of time.  At the same time, if I don't make a good choice, I could be suffering a lot of unnecessary pain.  Sound familiar?

So can you help me (and the reader) out?

  1. Decision Process? If you were this person, how would you go about selecting the tool to use?  Given there are a lot of Rapid eLearning Tools and Software Simulation Tools out there, how do you choose which tools to consider?  How would you decide which to download and trial?  Anything else you would do to make this decision?
  2. In terms of the specific tools here, any suggestions?   Dreamweaver?  Camtasia?  Adobe Captivate?  Articulate?  What others jump to mind?

Thanks, in advance.

Monday, 21 September 2009

LearnTrends 2009 - Free Online Conference

George Siemens, Jay Cross and Tony Karrer are pleased to announce our third annual free online conference:


LearnTrends 2009 - Agenda and Speakers

The Corporate Learning Trends and Innovations Conference

November 17-19, 2009 | Online | Free

The theme/focus this year is on Convergence in Workplace Learning. We will bring together people who look at different aspects of learning and knowledge work to understand better what's going on in those areas and how we should be thinking about this holistically. I'm particularly looking forward to discussions of how:

  • Enterprise 2.0
  • Communities and Networks
  • Knowledge Management
  • Corporate Libraries
  • Talent Management

come together to form a cohesive picture. What should L&D managers be doing relative to these related efforts? How does this impact our eLearning Strategy? Heck just discussing eLearning Strategy should be fun with the right people in the room.

As always, this conference is about getting together interesting people who bring a slightly different perspective and have meaningful conversation around innovation in workplace learning. We typically get more than a thousand people signed up and at least a hundred in each session.

And every year I learn a lot.

To register, you must first register on the LearnTrends community and then register on the Conference Event Page.

Lots of details of speakers will follow.

The conference will also include the LearnTrends Innovation Awards 2009. Please see that post for details.

Please Help

We very much welcome broad participation in the event. Anything you can do to help get the word out would be appreciated. Some ideas:

  • Post about it on your blog.
  • Add it to your sidebar.
  • Put a comment in a discussion group or LinkedIn group.
  • Tweet about it.
  • Send an email to your work colleagues to let them know.

Wow, I ran out of ideas quick. What else can people do to get the word out?

One suggestion I just received - let's use the hashtag: #learntrends to refer to things related to the group and the conference.

Oh and here are some graphics you can use along with your announcement.




Wednesday, 16 September 2009

CTC-2009 - Denver, Colorado - September 22-24

We are looking forward to seeing many of you in Denver next week at CTC-2009. Watch the conference website for important announcements. And if you can't make it this year, plan on attending our E-Courts Conference in December, 2010.

The New NCSC Website

On September 16, 2009, National Center for State Courts Vice President for External Affairs, Jesse Rutledge announced the inauguration of the organizations new website at 

Leave A Comment

Blogs are all about conversation. I just saw a post that explained to readers how to leave a comment, and I thought that might be a good idea to have that post as well and it would be a nice addition to the content in my First Time Visitor's Guide. Please, if you have thoughts or questions on one of my posts leave a comment.
  • It shows me that you care.
  • That it inspired a thought or a question.

I learn a tremendous amount from the comments on my blog. So, please, please, leave a comment.

Have I begged enough?

Comment Policy

I welcome comments on this blog — suggestions, affirmations, critiques, questions.

I ask that your comments:

  • are constructive and not personal or hurtful
  • are related to the content of the post
  • include personal connections to what the post is about. A comment which does not add to the conversation, runs of on an inappropriate tangent, or kills the conversation may be edited, moved, or deleted.

I try to respond to comments fairly quickly. In some cases, I wait a little while so that other people can weigh in.

How to Leave a Comment

To leave a comment, just click on the "Post a Comment" link near the bottom of each post.


It will take you to a page that looks something like:


You can provide various bits of information so we know who you are. I'd recommend not doing Anonymous comments unless that's really important. It's pretty easy to just give a name/URL combination.

This is pretty simple, so please leave a comment.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

iPods for Bailiffs?

Earlier this year, while working on a courthouse project, our NCSC team had a discussion about technology for an essential courthouse employee, the Bailiff.  Now the Bailiff position is one that is critical for the orderly operation of the courtroom and a vital part of the judge’s team.  But, the Bailiff’s job does not seem to have been impacted by technology advances.  So that got us thinking, what kind of technology device does a Bailiff need other than perhaps a Taser?  Our answers were:

1.    A device that is small and light partially so that it cannot become a weapon
2.    Battery power for a full work day
3.    Wireless communications WiFi and/or cellular connection
4.    Capable of  quiet operation so as to not disturb the courtroom
5.    An easy user interface

The result that we concluded from this short but demanding specification list was that either an Apple iPod Touch or an Apple iPhone could be an answer.  And while we realize that there are other touch screen portable devices that available at this time, for sake of this discussion let’s use these two devices as the examples.

But before we get started, please note that the following scenarios pretty much requires a secure wireless WiFi network meaning that the network passwords are enabled and the data traffic is encrypted be installed throughout the courthouse.  Many courthouses have or are already implementing WiFi and we expect that it will be close to universal in the next few years.

The first and most obvious use of the iPod type system would be for quiet communications.  The iPod would allow the judge or judicial assistant to exchange messages via e-mail or some version of text messaging.  Since there is no keyboard on the iPod, the Bailiff’s typing on the touch-screen would not be audible to the courtroom. This preserves the decorum of the courtroom and allows seamless communication with the Bailiff wherever they are in the courthouse.

A second possible use for the Bailiff’s iPod would be to notify the courtroom of the “queue” of defendants or parties who are ready for the judge.  For criminal matters the Bailiffs may work with the detention officers as to which defendants are ready to be brought to the courtroom.  Bailiffs also check with persons appearing at the courtroom as to the reason for their appearance. I am often rightly questioned when observing courtroom operations as to my presence.  This allows Bailiffs to communicate the attendance to the court.  We have seen this type of activity in the courtroom corridors before a court session.  A wireless device that lists persons expected for that session would facilitate the check-in process with the court in and out of the courtroom.

A third possible use for a Bailiff’s handheld system could be as a detained defendant locator system.  The goal of this function is to simply learn where detained defendants are located in the courthouse.  In large courthouses there are many holding areas and persons are placed wherever practical.  With a portable iPod Touch system there are a myriad of methods that a court could implement to keep track of detained persons and notify Bailiff’s quietly as to their location and status.  A simple approach would be that defendant locations could be e-mailed/text messaged to all Bailiffs.  But a more sophisticated approach would be to create a web page type application that everyone could see via the browser.  This system could potentially be automatically updated from the iPod’s touch screen or via bar code – another article on this in the future.

A fourth possible application for the Bailiff’s iPod would be to view the security video system output.  As more security video systems convert to digital IP based computer format, that output could be viewed by the Bailiff via the WiFi network again, with proper security.  This provides an additional level of personal physical security since the Bailiff could visually check the holding area before entering.  It would also allow Bailiffs to monitor the courtroom and corridors as needed/desired.

A fifth possible application would be to allow some secure doors to be opened via the iPod.  For example, by combining the security video output and electronic door control, a Bailiff could be notified on their iPod if say an attorney calls to be admitted to the secure judge’s chambers area.

Sixth, the Bailiff could carry photos of wanted or dangerous persons on their iPod for reference.  If as is expected this winter, the iPod gains a camera capability they could also use it to take a photo of a “person of interest” to send to local law enforcement for research. 

Last, a quick Google search found that an iPod Touch referred to as iTouch in the following message has already been used for school security:

"I worked for a school district that issued the iTouch to each officer. They came equipped with each student from the officers school information. Schedule, locker number, picture, parents name, address, phone number etc. In addition all departmental emails could be received immediately. Next year the iTouches are due to be online with cameras throughout the district." (retrieved from )
In conclusion, the proposed iPod based system would likely not replace a police band radio that many Bailiffs are equipped. But we believe that it provides some interesting additional possibilities.  But we have almost always found that when we think we have thought of something original here at the NCSC, someone in the courts has already done it.  If so, please let us share your story with here at the Court Tech Bulletin.  And we’re looking forward to seeing the hi-tech Bailiff’s in the courthouse!

eLearning Costs

A reader sent a note asking my opinion on the vendor pricing in The Great eTrain Robbery? (Please Opine). Here's his brief description:

The particular course in question is approximately 2 hours of classroom soft skills training that needs to be delivered in an eLearning format. The content has already been written for the classroom. It needs to be repurposed for eLearning. The course will be developed using a Lectora-style system that produces what is essentially an HTML/javascript page turner. Multimedia (animation, narration, etc.) will be minimal. The course will not be narrated in its entirety, but there may be some snippets of narration here and there. Interactions should be basic form-based questions created within the development application. Graphics will include basic stock images/clip art in the classic “eLearning that looks like a bad PowerPoint presentation” style.

The fixed-price contract that has been signed with the vendor for this course is for 766 hours of development at an average hourly rate of $116 for a total of $89,000+.

His question is whether this price is reasonable, high or worth raising a stink.

From his brief description, the price sounds high, but I would need to know a bit more detail to be sure. For example, how much rewrite of the original course will be done. Are you coming up with "simulations" or more complex exercises to teach the soft skills? In many cases, there can be significant work to design that kind of learning experience.

If it's merely a port without significant redesign, then that's a pretty high price.

If you are going to raise a stink, I would suggest you do it by pointing to various resources that discuss costs. I went to my favorite resource (eLearning Learning) and looked at the keywords: Cost and Ratio and found some pretty good sources:

When you look at these, you will come up with various ratios and costs. The one from Karl Kapp in Learning Circuits (Time to Develop One Hour of Training) would seem good to cite.

Take a look and the ratios range from 122 to 243 hours per finished hour for simple courses. This aligns with Bryan Chapman's 220:1 ratio. However, before you jump all over the 383 per finished hour that the vendor is citing, note that Kapp includes Soft Skills Simulations that ranges from 320 to 731 per finished hour.

So, again, a big question is whether they are designing a kind of simulation that plays within the simple interactions you describe?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

15 More Workplace eLearning Blogs

Based on my post Top 99 Workplace eLearning Blogs several people contacted me with suggestions for additional blogs to include in eLearning Learning.  So, I'm happy to say that eLearning Learning now includes the 15 following great sources in addition to the 99 previously listed:

Several of these came courtesy of Mainsh's list - Blogs by Indian Learning Professionals and Companies.  Thanks for helping Manish.

I'm excited to have all of these new sources as part of eLearning Learning.  It helps me find great stuff and especially to make sure that I don't miss good stuff.  With the Best Of feature, I know that I'll see what's coming up as the good stuff each week and month.  For example, yesterday I posted the Best Of August 2009:

LMS – LCMS – Camtasia – Best of eLearning Learning – August 2009

It included several great posts that I had missed during the month.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Twitter Brings Lower Quality Clicks

Richard Hoeg points out that for his blog Twitter = High Visits But Low Conversion. Basically, he shows his "referring sites" from Google Analytics for the past two weeks:


His conclusion:

Folks who visit from Twitter don't visit as many pages and spend less time of the site.

Of course, that made me wonder if twitter really was bringing lower quality clicks than other sources. That's contrary to what I would expect. You would think that someone who gets a link referred by someone they know would visit and then look around. It should be pretty qualified. So, I looked at a similar view of referring sites:


Indeed, people coming from twitter are the lowest in pages viewed per visit and near the bottom in time on site and highest bounce rate. Likely they were interested in the specific item that they came there for, but still it's a bit disappointing that they don't click around a bit more.

Of course, a relatively small percentage of traffic from twitter actually comes from "" – many people use tools like TweetDeck. And I believe many of these are reported as Direct Traffic. So, I went to the list of All Traffic sources:


and while Direct Traffic does have a good number of referrals, it really doesn't provide good results. Basically, it's about the same as organic search traffic. And some of the Direct Traffic that comes from twitter is lumped in with Direct Traffic from other sources including RSS readers. And I believe that those other sources likely are higher quality clicks. Notice that as a referring source (likely Google Reader) is better than Direct generally. Bloglines also has better numbers.

I tried to get a bit more detail by using to see more about sources, but unfortunately, they also run into the same issue with the different twitter sources. Here's their description of "referring sites":

Direct Traffic includes people clicking a link from:
- Desktop email clients like Microsoft Outlook or Apple mail
- AIR applications like Twirhl
- Mobile apps like Twitterific or Blackberry Mail
- Chat apps like AIM
- SMS/MMS messages
It also includes people who typed a link directly into their browser

So they can't help differentiate either. Bottom line, everything I'm seeing suggests that Richard was right:

Twitter brings lower quality clicks

What's also interesting here is that there's been quite a bit of high profile discussion around Does This Blog Get More Traffic From Google or Twitter? where there was a question of whether twitter brought more traffic than traditional sources. For Fred Wilson, he gets pretty huge twitter traffic.

For Richard and I, we don't get nearly the same levels and it's not even close.

Twitter delivers some traffic, but it's still small compared to search.

It's surprising that Fred Wilson is not looking at the question of the quality of his twitter traffic either.

Aggregators Bring Traffic

One last thought, it's been a while since 2007 Traffic Stats - Hopefully a Meme where I looked a bit at my traffic numbers. They've grown considerably over the years, but a lot of the statistics have remained consistent. One of the really interesting things I saw in Richard's stats and in my stats was:

Two Aggregators (eLearning Learning and Work Literacy) are among the top 5 in referring sites.

On Richard's eLearning Learning was number 7 as a referrer. For him, they were 100% new visitors and had pretty good pages clicked and time on site. For me, it was also pretty good quality traffic.

This is somewhat validating the concept behind these sites and the Browse My Stuff concept.

And all of this makes me think:

Marketers interested in quality clicks should focus less on twitter and more on blogging, search and aggregation.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Play and Socialize with People Interested in eLearning

I'm co-founder and CTO of a new start-up, Fantasy World, that creates fun, online games that allow groups of people to have fun, win prizes, play-along with celebrities, and most of all to socialize outside the normal context of the group. It's backed by a major entertainment company and my co-founder comes from the fantasy sports space.

Our first game has just launched, Survivor Football '09.

If you like American rules football (sorry this is not soccer), and you would enjoy socializing with a group of people who read this blog, please sign-up and join the Fight Club that is called - the eLearning Fun Club. I'd especially welcome any of you who can help us make better picks during the season, i.e., actually have some knowledge of Fantasy Football. I'm a fan, but have never done fantasy football before. Luckily the game is pretty simple, but still helpful to have a couple of ringers in our fight club to help us out.

Here's a video that explains a bit more about the game:

When you join, make sure you select the eLearning Fun Club as your fight club. That's where we will be hanging out. In addition to Fight Clubs, there are prizes. You can choose the prize you want at any time prior to the start - Week 2 kick-off.

Some of the other fight clubs are offering prizes in addition to the prize that you play for. I don't specifically have a prize in mind for the winner of the fight club yet.

Any ideas on what we could give? Maybe a copy of some books from authors who read this (and would want to play)? Maybe something from one of the vendors who reads this?

More generally, I believe that this represents something we will see more of in the future. Interesting ways to socialize that is outside the original venue and how we are used to socializing. I'm curious what Nancy White might have to say about this kind of thing. But that's likely another whole series of blog posts.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Nothing More Important in my Life Than Blogging

From Jay Cross' Informal Learning Flow Hot List for August, fantastic video with Seth Godin and Tom Peters discussing the value of blogging.



They sound a lot like what I say about blogging and learning.  This is going to be pretty good for an upcoming presentation to professional speakers about the use of social media.

Seth Godin

Doesn't matter if anyone reads it.

What matters is the metacognition of thinking about what you are going to say.

How do you force yourself to describe in three paragraphs why you did something.

You are doing it for yourself to become part of the conversation even if it's very small.

Tom Peters

No single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important in my life than blogging.

It has changed my life.  It has changed my perspective.  It has changed my intellectual outlook.  It has changed my emotional outlook.

Best damn marketing tool by an order of magnitude.


And it's free.