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Gamification Case Study: Release Your Angry Bird June 28, 2014

Posted by stephanieF in Best Practices, Blended Learning, e-Learning Tools, Gaming and Simulation, Intructional Design, Trends.
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Our June 19th session was hosted by Zsolt Olah, a Senior Program Manager at Comcast University’s Product Knowledge team. About five years ago, when Comcast University started using more and more “challenges” and “immersive learning activities” in blended and e-learning solutions, gamification was not as loud and widespread as it is today.

In our session, Zsolt reviewed some of the background and recent realities of gamification. He then provided examples of gamified learning activities explaining that game-based thinking was just as important to the overall design and instructional value of a course. The attached PowerPoint also contains a few slides letting you know that Zsolt gave us a case-in-point gamified session as well (i.e. pigs showing team scores).

ATD_PHL_June2014_zsolt_gamification 2

Here are a few key points that Zsolt mentioned that accompany the slide presentation.

Some entertaining examples of gamification: Amazing Race (gamified running), Top Chef (gamified cooking). However, not everything should be gamified or people will become tired of it. With our training courses, gamification is scalable. You can apply a few or many elements – as long as the learning experience is improved to some degree.

There are two types of gamification: knowledge checks (check your memory) or content converted in a more memorable and immersive manner intended to teach you new things. It is proven that learning content through some kind of experience is more memorable. Games that provide challenges or goals and opportunities to learn something (even solely for entertainment) can invoke people to become so driven that collectively many, many hours are consumed playing (16 years spent every one hour).

Various levels of authoring software are available depending on your level of technical savvy:

> Off-the-shelf: Raptivity and eLearning Brothers have templates (rapid development, but structured, not much flexibility)

> Intermediate: Wavicle and Axonify have more flexibility, but require more development time.

> Higher-end: Construct 2 game engine has user physics built in (user actions trigger an onscreen effect). Much more development time; programmer background is useful, but not required.

Many graphics are free, but you must be sure to cite the sources somewhere! Graphic treatments (layout, imagery) can also be used to disguise typical eLearning interactions to seem more game-based, i.e. non-conventional placement of drag-and-drop objects on an image background.

Our Challenge: Convert content-based instructional design to game-based instructional design. Creating the framework first is the key. Write the story behind the game using reality elements and then turn them into a game.


Coming in April 24, 2014 – Battle of the eLearning Tools! March 20, 2014

Posted by stephanieF in Announcements, e-Learning Tools.
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Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself debating which eLearning development software was the right tool for the job? Which tool will give you everything you need with the least amount of tweaks and workarounds?

This session will be an open forum where we’ll walk through several scenarios as time permits related to designing and developing eLearning for system applications (simulations) and business processes, and developing graded quizzes, and addressing LMS compatibility. We’ll discuss/debate the pros and cons of popular tools such as Articulate Studio (Presenter, Quizmaker, Engage), Storyline, Captivate, and Lectora. Is there perhaps another OTS tool that you use every day?  For sample scenarios, please see the PDF below about this upcoming eLearning SIG session.

April 2014 SIG_Battle of the eLearning Tools_v2

Note: As an open forum everyone is welcome to participate – even if you don’t have a lot of experience and just want to learn more about the tools. For those with experience, come prepared to defend your favorite tool!

We’ll keep score and see which tool comes out ahead in each scenario. If you’d like to share a short sample in defense of your tool just let me know in advance (your demo must be less than 2 mins.). Our email: astdphl.el.sig@gmail.com

After the session we’ll post the scores and key notes from our session on this blog and ASTD Greater Phila. LinkedIn site.

Research Participation for Reusability of Learning Objects March 2, 2014

Posted by stephanieF in Announcements, Best Practices, Blogging, e-Learning Tools, Intructional Design.
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This posing is by request from a local colleague, Latonia Ayscue, who is conducting research for her doctorate in Instructional Design. If you are interested please read and click on the short Eligibility survey included below.  Thanks! – Stephanie

Attention: Instructional Designers with five or more years of experience and have reused learning objects to participate in a research study, “An Investigation of Instructional Designers’ Criteria that Predominately Influences Reusability of Learning Objects.”

Instructional Design has made significant contributions to presenting instructional material in virtual learning environments and has facilitated the way information is communicated, changed, and applied in many learning situations.

Seeking experienced ID’ers who are willing to share their experiences and provide insights into varying rationale used to identify the criteria that contributed and influenced reuse of learning objects. This research study focuses on experienced instructional designer’s practical experiences to answer the why (rationale) by exploring practices (what are users’ definitions of learning objects, value, expectations), from experienced instructional designers’ perspectives.

The research will investigate:

  • The predominate rationales practitioner’s use of learning objects.
  • The attributes of the learning objects practitioners believe should predominately influence reuse.
  • How practices are construed, formed and shaped from various points of view through vicarious experiences.
  •  The attributes that led to decisions to reuse learning objects (capturing the creativity, reasoning and intuitive thought processes when challenged to solve ill-structured problems)

To be selected to participate in this research, please go to the following link and complete a short Eligibility Questionnaire:


Your participation in the research will offer value from a practical approach to how reusable learning objects could influence intended learning and could clarify understanding how experienced instructional designers established and modified their criteria, based on the attributes, in the decision to reuse learning objects.

Thank you,
Latonia Ayscue, M.Ed., ABD

Going mobile: What it means for training developers February 22, 2012

Posted by mlongstreth in e-Learning Tools, e-SIG Presentations, Global E-Learning.
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Nad Rosenberg presented this informative and timely topic via Adobe Connect during a 1-hour lunch-and-learn webinar for our February eLearning SIG.

 Session Overview:

Did you know that tablet sales grew by 256% this past year?  Or that predictions indicate by 2020 there will be 35 billion connected mobile devices?  It is becoming increasingly obvious that mobile learning is the wave of the future.  Nad Rosenberg covered foundational information and important items to keep in when designing mobile-based training. Specific topics Nad discussed included:

– Mobile Applications and Mobile Websites fundamentals.
– Design issues to keep in mind when designing mobile-based training.
– Performance support needs.
– Potential user-friendly navigation and PDF issues to remember when transferring learning content to mobile-based learning format.

 To access Nad’s presentation, click here:   

About our speaker:

Nad Rosenberg

Before starting TechWRITE in 1985, Nad managed documentation departments for several large corporations.  She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, an Associate Fellow at the Society for Technical Communication, on the Board of Directors of the Plain Language Association InterNational, and a Past President of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication.  You can contact Nad at twnad@techw.com

Designing PowerPoint Slides that Keep Learners Awake, Engaged & Learning January 23, 2012

Posted by mlongstreth in e-Learning Tools, e-SIG Presentations, Engaging e-Learners.
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Noelle Archambeau presented this lively and interactive seminar at our january meeting.   We started our 2012 season off with a packed room of fun and engaged learners!

Session Overview:  Whether you design training for live or virtual classes or create self-paced e-learning using a tool like Articulate, you probably use PowerPoint on a regular basis.  Are your PowerPoint slides engaging your learners or putting them to sleep?  Are they learning what you’re teaching or simply counting sheep?  Those who attended the event learned how to design PowerPoint slides that keep your learners awake, engaged, and learning.   Some of the topics Noelle demonstrated included:

  •  Include the right type and amount of content
  • Add appropriate graphics and images
  • Use fonts and colors effectively 

 Link to Noelle’s PowerPoint Slides and PowerPoint Handout

About our speaker: 

Noelle Aarchambeau

Noelle Archambeau is an instructional designer and e-learning consultant with more than 15 years experience designing effective online training programs for corporate organizations. Her expertise is in integrating solid instructional design with technology. She has also taught graduate-level instructional technology courses for La Salle University and Penn State University. She currently designs and develops interactive e-learning and virtual classes for SAP’s global marketing organization. Noelle holds a Master’s degree in Educational Media & Computers from Arizona State University.

JAMs Free and PDR Elearning Tools July 3, 2010

Posted by jmullock in e-Learning Tools, Misc.
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Thanks to everyone who came to the May ASTD Greater Philadelphia Chapter eLearning SIG meeting!  For those who were interested, the tool I was using to make the presentation is called the Personal Brain.  It is a great tool for brainstorming and producing non-linear presentations.  The version I was using was the paid “Pro” version, but they also have a free version with a more limited feature set. 

Since the dynamic content of the presentation doesn’t lend itself to being posted on a blog, I’ve distilled the material down into the most important part: The links to the tools and resources themselves.

Just as a reminder, I currently use the Windows XP versions of these products, however many of them are either cross-platform, have specific MAC versions, or are entirely browser-based.  Also, while most of these products are truly free, I have included some that I consider PDRware (Pretty Darn Reasonable $$).

If you have any free (or PDRware) eLearning tools that you would like to add to the list, please feel free to send me your personal recommendations! 

Cheers…….Joe Mullock


Classics… Freeware you may already be using…

Audacity:  In my estimation, Audacity is even better than many commercial audio editing programs.  http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Gimp: A graphic editor that rivals PhotoShop, without the pricetag.  http://www.gimpshop.com/index.shtml

 OpenOffice: A very nice alternative to Microsoft Office.  http://www.openoffice.org/

Security… Protecting data and your computers… 

TrueCrypt: A file encryption program.  Easy to use, and great for securing data on flash drives.   http://www.truecrypt.org/ 

SpyBot Search & Destroy: Scan your machine for unwanted “critters”.  http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html 

Facebook Privacy Scanner:  Run a web-based scan on your facebook page to see if your information is as secured as you want it to be.  New photo privacy scanning features added since the day of the presentation.  http://www.reclaimprivacy.org/

Sandboxie:  Bonus info.  This item wasn’t part of the original presentation, but came up in the  conversation following.  Sandboxie isolates downloaded software into a “safe” area so that your cool new find is separated from everything else on your machine until you are confident it doesn’t have contain any unpleasant surprises.  http://www.sandboxie.com/

 Some Other Google Tools… Ones you may not be familiar with just yet…

Google Forms:  Part of Google Docs.   Allows you to create surveys and questionnaires.  Surveys can be distributed as links or embedded into a website, and survey responses are automatically compiled into a google docs spreadsheet.  http://www.google.com/google-d-s/forms/

Google Groups:  Create your own discussion group, either open to the general public, or restricted to specific individuals you invite.  A better alternative than all those email cc’s for small and medium sized working groups.  http://groups.google.com/

Google Translate:  As discussed in the presentation, this isn’t going to put any live translators out of work just yet, but these tools can be handy for providing working translations of a website or even just a specific block of text.  http://translate.google.com/

 Google Webmaster Tools:  Useful tools to help you monitor your website.  http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/?hl=en

Visualization…  Some interesting ways to view and display your data…

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods:  From visual-literacy.org, a web page illustrating dozens of ways of illustrating data:  http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html

 Animoto:  Upload your picture, text, and short video clips and Animoto will create a Ken Burns-style montage, complete with authorized background music.  http://animoto.com/

 Slickplan: A basic, but useful online tool for creating organizational charts.  http://www.slickplan.com/

Personal Brain: Sort of an interactive outlining program.  Add “thoughts”, connect them in multiple ways, and change your view/focus at any time.  http://www.thebrain.com/ 

Collaboration… Working separately together…

Dimdim:  A webinar-type tool for small groups (paid version available for larger groups).  http://ww.dimdim.com/

Stixy:  Think of a bulletin board (not the virtual kind–the real world kind with staples, and thumbtacks!), and you’ll have the idea of Stixy.  You (and your group) can “tack” documents, photos, sticky notes, and to-do lists up on the board.   Just to clarify from the presentation, items do stay up on the board between sessions.  http://www.stixy.com/

Ning:  Ning was what I was thinking of when I came up with the category of “Pretty Darn Reasonable” Ware.  I loved Ning when it was free and I still love it, even though there is now a fee.  Essentially, Ning lets you build your own private “mini-Facebook” sites.  If you are a member of any sort of work, volunteer, or interest group, take a look at Ning to see if it might make keeping connected easier.  http://ning.com  (Note: I have no affiliation with Ning, but I am a fan, and am a member of several user-created Ning communities). 

Authoring…  It’s hard to find much in the way of good free/low-cost course creation software, but here are a couple worth exploring…

Udutu: From their website, “The myUdutu Online Course Authoring Tool has always been free and will continue to be free for all users. Anyone can create and distribute SCORM compliant courses at no cost…”.  They do provide additional (for fee) hosting and tracking services for those who need them.  http://www.udutu.com/

Zoho Challenge:  A tool for creating online tests and quizzes.  An interesting tool, but the free version is somewhat limited.  Various price options for larger groups of users.   http://challenge.zoho.com/login.do

Utilities…  Security items were covered elsewhere, but here are some useful items on connectivity… 

Connectify:  Turn your Windows 7-based computer into a secure, wireless hotspot.  Great for when you are at a remote locate and have multiple users  attempting to work off of a single, wired internet connection.  http://www.connectify.me/about.html

Make your Laptop a Hotspot: A CNET video on how to do the same with your machine running Windows XP, or the MAC OS.  http://cnettv.cnet.com/make-your-laptop-hot-spot/9742-1_53-28619.html

Reference and Resources…  There are a million places to look for these kinds of software and online tools on the web. Here are a few of my favorites…

Lifehacker:  Suggestions and tips for all areas of your life (not just tech or eLearning).  http://lifehacker.com/

Jane’s Pick of the Day:  “Selected by Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies”  http://janeknight.typepad.com/  (correction from my comments during the presentation, this is not the author of  E-Learning Solutions on a Shoestring.  Certainly a worthwhile read, but a different Jane—Jane Bozarth!)

Open Source as Alternative:  Lists recommended alternatives to commercial software products.  http://www.osalt.com/

PC World  Downloads:  From the readers and editors of PC World Magazine.  Search their archives for downloadable software.  Search specifically for freeware by selecting the “Free Licenses”  option.  http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/downloads.html

Joe’s Guide to Free Elearning Tools: Two Quick Tips on using Audacity December 9, 2009

Posted by jmullock in e-Learning Tools.
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Item: Two Quick Tips on Using Audacity

Category: Audio Recording, Editing & Resources

At a recent eLearning conference, I spoke to a colleague who said that his office had purchased an audio recording/editing software package.  I asked how he liked it, but it turns out he never opened the package and was still happily using Audacity.  While I am sure there are projects and applications that may need more advanced features, there is not a lot I can think of that can’t be done with Audacity.  The only minor drawback may be that some of the features in Audacity may require additional plug-ins or technical knowhow to do some of the tricks that paid software may handle “out of the box”.  If you are not already familiar with the product, take a look at the brief overview (I wrote some months back—not to mention the tons of information available online).

If you are already familiar with audacity, but haven’t yet “looked under the hood”, here are two quick tips to show you

  1. How to set up Audacity for use with MP3 files, and
  2. How to make use of the Noise Removal effect


Joe’s Guide to Free Elearning Tools: Firefox Environment Backup Extension November 11, 2009

Posted by jmullock in e-Learning Tools.

Item: Firefox Environment Backup Extension

Category: Utilities

It’s not something you often think of but a pc is not just a computer, it’s personal computer.  Think about it:  How easy or difficult would it be to log in and get your work done on a colleague’s machine?  We’re not talking about defeating the password, just being a to figure out what is installed, where files are saved and with what defaults the various programs are set.

While I don’t know of a universal “reconfigurator”, I do know of a great utility that will allow you to move you personal browser settings easily from one machine to another, or reinstall them easily on your own:  The Firefox Environment Backup  Extension.


Joe’s Guide to Free Elearning Tools: Bulk Rename Utility September 9, 2009

Posted by jmullock in e-Learning Tools.

Item: Bulk File Renamer

Category: Utilities

I was fortunate to be able to get out of town with “Mrs. Free eLearning Tools” for a few days before the beginning of the new school year. Of course, getting away no longer means leaving the digital world behind. In fact, in addition to our usual day-to-day electronic gear, we also had our GPS and digital camera—the better to find the touristy spots and take pictures of them!

Once the pictures were taken, we had dozens (if not hundreds) of digital picture files—all named “DSC001, DSC002, etc, etc.” As memorable as some of the photos might be, the file names don’t exactly bring “Summer 2009 Vacation” to mind. It’s easy enough to change a single file name, but changing hundreds requires either lots of time and patience, or…something like the aptly named Bulk Rename Utility. (more…)

A Better Way to Design & Build Immersive E-Learning July 23, 2009

Posted by Noelle Archambeau in e-Learning Tools, e-SIG Presentations, Engaging e-Learners, Intructional Design.
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Thanks again to Robert Penn, CEO of Suddenly Smart, for a wonderful presentation today on building immersive e-learning.

Click the following links to learn more about rapid prototyping: