Easygenerator to launch new free web based eLearning authoring software at #DevLearn


This Wednesday (October 23rd) we will launch a completely new web-based free eLearning authoring tool. This launch will be at the DevLearn conference in Las Vegas.

This web edition will be the start of a whole new generation of solutions by easygenerator. We will take all the experience we have built in the past 15 years on eLearning authoring and put it in a brand new product. You can register and start working with this new eLearning software by clicking the link (starting on Wednesday 23rd).

I did show the tool in a preview to Joe Ganci, here is his feed back:

“I am excited to see what easygenerator has created. Here’s a tool that encourages proper eLearning design and development by tying together the important elements of learning: set up your objectives, deliver your learning in small nuggets, and test learners. The interface is inviting and simple and best of all, easygenerator is free! It takes into account modern needs, such as HTML5 and Tin Can tracking, and does a lot of the work for you. While it doesn’t replace more powerful tools at the moment, I welcome easygenerator’s new tool as a wonderful way of ensuring better learning occurs.”

In this post I will explain what the product will be about based on the requirements we have set.

2 Learning experience editor

Must run on every device

The world has changed over the past few years. People expect an authoring tool to work not only on a PC, but also on tablets and smartphones. The published content must run on every possible device with any operating system. Ans it does. The new web edition of easygenerator doesn’t require installation of any kind, it runs in any browser. Publications can be used on every device as well and the content will be completely responsive (adapting itself automatically to screen sizes and resolutions).

Must be an easygenerator publication

Our mission is to help you to create better eLearning. One of the things that set’s easygenerator apart from all the competition is that we placed Learning Objectives in the heart of the design process. We did that in our windows edition and the web edition is completely build around that approach. You have to create learning objectives. After that you create questions to assess the learner on those objectives and finally you add content to the question to help the learner answer it. That is it.

Must be easy to use (no training required)

We want users to use easygenerator’s web edition without ant training what so ever. Therefore we gave a lot of attention to the user interface. We hope that that shows.

TinCan enabled HTML publication

Since we developed this application for the future we choose for a TinCan enabled HTML publication. This first edition has no SCORM, but we will ad that later. The idea is that this web edition will grow over the next 12 to 18 months into a solution that can replace our current windows edition. We have the next major release with new functionality planned for the end of the year. We will keep you posted through this blog and through our easygenerator website

Agile eLearning development (4): Planning and execution


When using an agile approach there is a different way of making estimations, you don’t calculate hours but use story-points. Story points are a number indicating the difficulty of a user story (and thus indicating the amount of time/cost it will take to build it).

First estimation

When we start on a new version of easygenerator we will from a business perspective assign priorities to the user stories. Very large developments (epic) stories are divided into smaller stories that fit in one sprint. The development team will give rough estimations on the stories with the highest priorities (the ‘must haves’ and ‘need to haves’). Based on these estimations the priorities are reviewed by the product owner and me. Sometimes when you see that it will take a lot of time to complete a user story you will decide that it is not that important after all, and vise versa. This way the user stories are organized by priority in the backlog.

meten

Grooming and estimates

User stories that are initially produced by the product owner sometimes need some refinement, this is done in so-called grooming sessions. The development team will discuss the story with the product owner, asking questions to get the story and the requirements clear. The user story are updated after this session with the outcome of the discussion. After grooming the team will make a final estimation in story points. For example 3 points for a simple story, 8 points for an average story and 13 points for a difficult one. When you have a groomed backlog with final estimations you know how many story points the work is you have in the backlog.

Each sprint the team commits to a number of stories and afterwards you will know which stories they have actually finished. The total number of story points done in a sprint  is called the burning rate and determines the development velocity. After a while you will know how many points your team can burn in a sprint and you can calculate the time needed to develop all stories. We work with certain release dates and often the total number of story points (and needed time) is higher then what you have available. In that case you have three options.

  • again go through your backlog and look at what is really a must have and skip some stories
  • increase the capacity of the team
  • move your deadline towards a later date.

Usually we choose the first option. And I like this. You have a triple filter before deciding to build something. First the original prioritization, then after the rough estimation and finally  the second prioritization after grooming. This is a good thing, it ensures that you will only build what is really needed and nothing more.

When the team starts developing you will see every week how many story points they are burning (we work with one week sprints). If this is lower then expected, you will know very soon and you can take measures (try to increase the velocity, or again review the priorities of the must haves). You can steer at very short notice and this is really great. An ideal way to time box development.

Done

User stories will only be presented at demo when they are done. Done means that you could decide to put them in the production version of the product straight after the demo. So build, tested, documented, translated and meeting all the requirements. Requirements are the requirements that where in the user story, but also general requirements for performance and UI.

eLearning

This method of planning and execution can be used for eLearning development without any changes and I promise you it will be a huge difference.

This post is part of a series on agile eLearning development:

Agile eLearning development (3): Best practices, Demo’s, user stories and backlog


In the previous post on agile eLearning development I wrote about culture. I have done some change management in the past, so I know a change in culture is one of the most difficult changes. But there is hope. Agile development offers a range of best practices that are relatively easy to implement. In the next posts I will describe a few.

Demo
Agile development works in short sprints (one or 2 weeks). After every sprint there is a demo where the development team shows the result of the work of the past sprint. At easygenerator we now work in one week sprints. Every Tuesday at 10 the team will show their results. The product owner will check during the demo if the solutions build match the requirements from the user stories and will accept them (or not). I am present (as CEO) and some more colleagues. But we also do invite partners and customers to join us in the demo, this way giving them the ability to get connected to our development and offering them the opportunity to give their input during development. A demo takes 1 hour.

This is an easy first step to implement and if you do it will change your professional life. You don’t have to implement an agile process to do this. When using Addie you can also do this. It is the ideal way of involving your client in the development process. Taking them along in the process, showing early results. But if you see something live you will experience it in a different way than when it is described on paper. How many times did you build an eLearning solution that met the requirements, but still the client wasn’t satisfied. This will solve that once and for all. The other thing is that you will sometimes find that good is good enough. This approach will give the client a chance to say “OK this will do, let’s put it live”; giving you a happy client and a project delivered early!

There are many ways to involve a client in the process but showing your intermediate results and make your whole process transparent to them is really great. If you are not ready to do so, at least consider showing your intermediate results to the client (by using for example the preview function that is available in tools like easygenerator). That would already make a big difference.

User stories

The heart of agile development is formed by the user stories. With an agile process you don’t create all kind of documents that describe the solution from several perspectives, you just create user stories. Of course they need to be connected to the goals (as I described in an earlier post).  A user story describes a change or new functionality from the perspective of a user. It will describe what the user is able to do. A user story can be initiated by an idea or a problem (bug). User stories form the connection between clients and technicians. Both of them understand functionality described in terms of what the user can do. A user story must be small enough to be realized within one sprint. This means that larger stories need to be divided into several stories, with the advantage that they remain manageable.

agile-software-development-user-story-template

In an eLearning project they will describe what the learner needs to be able to do (which gives a great connection to learning goals and the Action mapping approach. (by the way do you see the resemblance between a TinCan statement and a user story?).

The backlog
All the user stories are put in a so called back log, a big collection of user stories that need to be done. There are software programs that help you manage a backlog (we use a program called Gemini). This application plays a crucial role in the whole process.

After a user story is created we assign a priority to it. At easygenerator this is done by the product owner with input from me. In an eLearning project this would be the project manager and the client. Based on the business goals and business impact we will assign a first priority. Based on the priorities and we present a part of the list to the developers. They will make rough estimations for these stories (a special process with story-points, that I will cover in my next post). After this is done we (the Product owner and me) will determine the final priorities. Sometimes you want something badly, but if it takes a lot of time (and money) you will at least reconsider the priority. Based on the estimation we also will have a good idea what we can do for the next version and what not.

This results in a list of user stories assigned to the next version in the backlog. When starting a new sprint, the developers pick any of the user stories with the highest priority and start developing.

This post is part of a series on agile eLearning development:

More post will follow over the next few weeks.

Agile eLearning development (2): Culture


I planned to write this second post on agile eLearning development about the backlog and estimations. But when I was preparing this post I realized that I had to cover something else first; Culture.

The difference between a classic waterfall approach and an agile one is way more than applying a different set of tools and techniques, it is a different state of mind. For starters it is a very different way of control and steering. The best way I can explain it is by looking at a management theory called output management.

In 1998/1999 I followed a course in Change Management. It did consist out of a series of three-day seminars. Each seminar we had a guest teacher  from the field of (change) management. One of the guest teachers was Filip vandenDriesche. He is the author of the book ‘Leading without commanding’,  it was originally published under the title ‘The input- output manager’. For me his theory describes the very essence of management but it also applies to an agile approach. The next image is the heart of his theory.

output management

Filip states that the main challenge of management is the conflict between  strategy and operation. There are two contradicting pyramids. The “management funnel”  and the “conflict pyramid’. Both cover three stages (strategic, tactical and operational). On the strategic level (problem and goal) the chances of conflict are small, but if you have a conflict it runs deep! On a tactical level (criteria) the chances of conflict are increasing but on a operational level the chances on a conflict are the biggest. Therefore Filip concludes the following: A manager should be authoritarian on the strategic and tactical level. But on an operational level manager should accept any solution that meets his criteria. In other words keep away from the ‘how’.

I have been working as a manager now for 15 years and I found out that it works. But more importantly I found out that it is about trust and not about control and therefore it is about the culture of your company. Not many companies are build on trust and the recognition of the skills and capabilities of all the participants. As a manager you have to set goals and requirements, but that is it. You need to trust your team that they will come up with a solution, and as long as the solution meets your requirements you should accept it.

ELearning
How does this apply to eLearning? It works like this. The manager (or in case of a project, the client) has to define the problem and set the goals. (The goal is the positive flip side of a problem; ‘we don’t sell enough’ vs ‘We need to sell 10% more’). All the people who are part of the process must recognize the problem and accept the goal. This is buy-in number one.

The problem/goal is a business problem/goal of your company or client and if you or any of the team members don’t buy it, you have a big problem. The chances of this happening are small. After the problem/goal is defined the manager sets requirements for a solution. Requirements can be anything from time, costs to quality and everything in between, as long as they don’t dictate the solution. A requirement should not be: ‘the course must be in HTML5′, but ‘the course should run on all mobile devices and operating systems’. Filip says a manager/client has to be authoritarian on requirements, but I don’t completely agree. The whole process only works if the team that has to create the solution accepts the problem/goal and the requirements. By accepting both they become responsible for the solution within the given boundaries. I found that before acceptance some negotiations on the requirements can/will happen. For example with the goal ‘the course should run on all mobile devices’ the team could come back with the remark that given the time and financial restraints they can do it on IOS and Android only or they need more budget and time, or that they can do it if they have special software available. This second buy-in is all important, by accepting the problem/goal and requirements the team is now the proud owner of the problem, they need to come up with a solution within the given requirements. Thanks to this you empower them, you recognize their expertise and skills and basically you show as a manager/client that you trust them. On the other side the team has to deliver. They have committed to creating a solution and if they fail, it is their problem. They can’t say that they didn’t had enough resources or time, because they have accepted the requirements. In that case they made a mistake accepting it. On the other side the manager/client has to accept every solution that meets the requirements. If the manager/client is not happy with the solution obviously there was something wrong with the requirements.

But there is more to agile. It is also a very different attitude to planned development. As I will describe later in more detail, the customer demands are captured in ‘ user stories’ that are prioritized. The developers will commit to these user stories and build them in short sprints (periods of one or two weeks) and then they will demo them. In our case the demo is done to some colleagues (product owner, CEO, instructional designer), but very often partners or customers will also attend these demo’s. The goal of the demo is for the development team to show how they solved the user story within the requirements. The product owner is the person that can officially accept a user story. The cool thing is that seeing the implementation of the user story can trigger some things. Sometimes seeing the solution brings on new ideas (and will lead to different or adjusted user stories) and sometimes we decide that this solution is good enough (although there are more developments planned). An example we had at easygenerator is our version control, we had a whole bunch of  user stories ready, but after the implementation of the first two stories (create a new version every time a page is saved and be able to roll back to a previous version), we decided that this was ‘ good enough’ as a solution for our business need. We decided to leave it like that and bring out the new version with this functionality. And it is still there to this day, it does it’s job and it satisfies the users. So sometimes it will be so agile that you stop earlier than planned. This is just  an example what an agile state of mind is.

Conclusion:
Working in an agile way requires a certain culture. You need to have responsibilities in the right levels (as I tried to explain using the output management approach. Teams should work as a whole accepting responsibility to realize user stories within the given requirements and a project can shift during the execution (maybe even will shift) and can even be ended earlier than planned when the goals are reached.

This post is part of a series on agile eLearning development:

More post will follow over the next few weeks.

#ICE #ASTD2013 conference recap


So my first ICE ASTD conference is finished. What do I think of it and what are the trends I see. Let start with the trends.

astd2013

Trends and topics.
Over the past few years we had  big leading topics in the world of learning; Curating, Mobile, Flash vs HTML5, TinCan.  All these developments are still here, but none of them was really leading at ICE. Just over 30% of the companies are implementing mobile, the rest is too afraid for security risks. This is just a growth of a few percent in comparison to 2012. Everybody now understands that Flash is dead (no matter how unbelievable that seemed  a year and a half ago). TinCan is released  but if you talk about it, people get a desperate look in their eyes (It sounds great, I know I should do something with it, but where to start????). Curation is the same story. So none of these topics is really leading. One thing that I noticed was that agile and agility are increasingly hot. When you read this blog more often it will not surprise you that this pleases me. Michael Allen with SAM (and a packed Ballroom), agile processes are presented as the answer to the ever increasing speed of change.

But overall it looks like everybody is catching his breath and is waiting to see which developments they can’t  ignore any longer. One development is clear Workplace learning and informal learning are getting much more attention now. The role of formal eLearning courses is diminishing. Food for thought for me as a CEO of an eLearning authoring tool. But no surprise and something that we are working on. Creation vs Curation, Formal courses vs learning nuggets, it is still content, but with a twist. I was happy to hear that content management is in the top 10 of attention points for CLO’s. Since easygenerator is a LCMS the future still looks bright.

ICE ASTD 2013
As said, my first ASTD conference. It was different than I expected. I thought it would be a lot more HR and less learning, but learning is the dominant topic. Even the sessions which seemed more HR oriented where predominantly about learning. A pleasant surprise for me, although it did mean that I haven’t  experienced a great epiphany. But it was more than interesting. I will be back next year but first we have MLearn in San Jose next month. a perfect place to check the mobile developments. Easygenerator is not participating in the expo there, so I will be able to follow a lot of sessions and I will blog about it.

Other posts on ICE ASTD2013:

Need more info on the conference? Check out the backchannel.

Agile eLearning development: business goals and road map


This is a first post in a series of post on Agile eLearning development. This series is sparked by the book ‘Leaving ADDIE for SAM’ by Michael Allen and Richard Sites. I wrote a book review on it (and it love it). I do believe that agile software development can offer us even more very practical ‘best practices’ that we can apply to eLearning. Michael told me that he is working on a new book on agile project management, that will also address this. In the meanwhile I would like to share with you our best practices. The idea is to go over the process of agile software development at easygenerator and translate that into eLearning development. I will start with the ‘long term planning’: The road map and how to connect learning to your business goals.

Before I can do that I have to introduce the roles in this process and map them to ‘e-Learning development roles’.

Software role eLearning role
The Product Owner (PO), he is the most important person in this process. He is responsible for the ‘What’. What will we develop in the next 12 months. He translate the demands from the market into product demands. In corporate eLearning terms this will be the manager of the Learning department. He will translate the training demands of the company into goals for the learning department. When we are talking eLearning projects this will be the Project manager
Market. Partners, customers, end users, competitors all have developments and demands. This is important input for the road map. Your market are the users of the learning objects (both managers and end users), but also by general developments in the eLearning market with vendors and other companies and theoretical and technical developments.
Innovation. I have put this down as a separate element. Innovation comes from the development team, the organization, users, customers, the market.  If you don’t pay separate attention to it, it will be something that you strive for, but never achieve. Exactly the same here
System architect. A ‘double role’. The system architect checks planned development for technical challenges, but at the same time he will have independent input for the road map. In our case things that have to do with our technical backbone, security, performance. I don’t think that there is a eLearning equivalent for this role. But there should be. Just think of all the technical developments around mobile, standards (like Tincan) and other technical stuff. You need more than a technician to manage this.
Road map. The document that contains the global goals and plans for the next 12 months. This would typically be a year plan for a learning (or HR) department or a ‘customer plan’ for a client.
Development team. The team that builds the software. The team that builds the learning components.

Agile software and elearning development

The road map

We like to look ahead, but no more than 12 months. Therefore the road map documents looks 12 months ahead. We release a new version of easygenerator every 2 or 3 months (we are working on a release every month). This means that it is not a plan for 2013, but it is a plan that always looks 12 months ahead. Before we finish a release we need to renew the road map so it will still look 12 months ahead. The road map is driven by our business goals and will set the development goals on a high level.

Business goals and road map
This means that the first step is to get clarity on the business goals and how they will influence the product development. We use a method called impact mapping. There is a free tool called effectcup that supports this whole process. The Product owner takes the business goals (input CEO) and figures out what this goal means for key persona’s. What activities do they need to be able to do. And which user stories describe these activities. Our business goals are things like:

  • Sell more licenses
  • Sell easygenerator as internal authoring tool to LMS vendors
  • Keep existing partners and customers happy

The road map document is in fact a short document with a bit more explanation about the why of the business goals that you can present to other stakeholders.

eLearning
The trick is to figure out what people need to be able to do in order to achieve these goals. The translation to eLearning is very simple. I love the action mapping approach of Cathy Moore (see a post I wrote about this earlier). It is a one on one translation of impact mapping to eLearning. She also stresses that learning is not what people need to know, but what they need to do. That is the reason she calls it action mapping. You could use a tool like effectcup to assist you in this.

It works for a learning department or a eLearning project. For an eLearning department it is the first step in connecting learning to the business, and it is the foundation of a possible ROI calculation. When you do eLearning projects it is also very helpful. Instead of executing a project this will give you the chance to sit down with your client and talk on a much more strategic level to them.

Another important thing is that you don’t get into solutions at this point. You describe what the learner (worker) needs to be able to do. Not what kind of learning experience you are going to offer. Measuring their (hopefully improved) performance will tell you your ROI.

This post is part of a series on agile eLearning development:

More post will follow over the next few weeks.

#LSCon 13 Day 3 Keynote and wrap up


I’m back home in the Netherlands after LSCON13. I owe you one keynote a a conference wrap up.

Yvonne Camus, Adventurer, Executive and Performance Expert, Leading a high performance life

Yvonne participated in the Eco challenge, a team expeditions race over 300 miles that ou have to complete in 12 days, through the Borneo jungle. It is a race that in principle is impossible to finish. She trained for 6 months with her team next to her job and her family live. A team consist out of four persons with at least one woman. If anyone drops out of the race the whole team is disqualified.

She was the only woman on the team and therefore the least powerful and the slowest. One day during a very bad training session het coach said: 8 out of 10 training are really good, 1 out of ten will be crap, 1 out of 10 will be awesome. And that awesome one you have to focus on. Focus on the last time you were brilliant. Ask yourself what did you do to reach that moment. And try to surpass it.

Based on her experiences in training and during the race she formulated riles for performing great:

  • Great will train with the intention of improving, relentless commitment
  • Surround yourself with incredible people. If two people on the team think exactly alike, one of them is not necessary.
  • You need raving fans
  • Plan to be excellent, energy follows thought; we move towards but never beyond what we can imagine.
  • Things go wrong. You trip over small things, like blisters, and that will distract you from your big goal.
  • Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, misery doesn’t discriminate.
  • Visualize success, great things happens twice, first in your mind and then in reality

Conference wrap up

I’m not completely sure what to think about this year’s Learning Solutions conference, for us as a vendor it was a good show, a lot of interest in easygenerator  and our free edition, and a nice bunch of solid leads and I was able to do some great networking. As far as the conference goes I’m less positive. The key notes were not on the same level as they were in the past two years that I have attended. Maybe I’m getting spoiled, but the past two years the keynotes made me rethink some of my ideas and gave me new insights. I had the feeling that I had to do something with what I learned. I went through the backchannel to read other summaries in order to see if have missed out on something important. The theme is clear it is about high performance. Great stories were told, it was entertaining, but I didn’t get any ‘Aha moment’, no big new insights.

The same goes for this year’s concurrent sessions. The main themes are mobile (and TinCan), performance support, creating more attractive (less boring) eLearning. A bit the same as last year. Last year we had the rise of TinCan and HTML5 vs Flash, this is still there but it is not new. For me the most informative session was from the AICC about CMI-5. That was interesting because I finally understand how all the standards relate to each other and what the future will be (see my previous post for details). So my conclusion must be; a nice conference but it didn’t blow me away. To put this in perspective. If I have to compare this conference to some of the European conferences (Like the Online Educa in Berlin and Learning technology in London), it is still a different league. On a scale from 1 to 10 LSCon13 would score a 7, the European shows will be around the 3-5 mark. I definitely will be here next year again (and I will go the Mlearn and Devlearn). They are as far as I’m concerned the top3 conferences worldwide.

I have also wrote post on day 1 and day 2 of the conference.

Free eLearning authoring with easygenerator, already over a 1000 users!


Reblogged from easygenerator.com:

We launched the free edition of our on-line eLearning authoring tool November 1st at DevLearn. This week we registered user number 1.000. This post is to celebrate that first milestone. This post also contains information on extra functionality we will make available to the users of the free edition in the coming period and some facts and figures about those users.

Easy Generator Logo _free

We had a lot of contact with the users of the free edition. We have a community in Yammer and we have at least two webinars per week to get them started. Based on the feed back we received we decided on some future changes for the free edition. The highlights are:

Branding
The free edition has a fixed look and feel, which is branded in the easygenerator style. We will change this and create a look and feel which is more neutral. In easygenerator you can set the look and feel by applying master pages. In collaboration with our partners we will offer a series of master pages. There will be a number of master pages with a fixed unbranded look and feel, we will have master pages where you can do limited branding (your own logo and background image) and we will offer the ability to use customized master pages. These options will probably be available in January or February and can be purchased for a one time fee.

Question types
The current free edition has three question types. We are currently rebuilding all question types from flash into HTML. In the first half year of 2013 these HTML based question types will become available and will be a part of the free edition.

Extra space
In the free edition you are allowed to create 10 courses and your repository is limited to a maximum of 250MB. Next year we will offer upgrade programs that allow you to create more courses and have a larger repository.

User base
I also want to share some information on the user base. At this moment we have 1077 users, spread over 6 continents and 71 countries. 51% is from the United States, followed by The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Continent Graph

Markets
As far as we know about 45% of all users are from corporations and 20% has an educational background. About 10% of all users works for an eLearning company. The rest is from governmental organizations, Non Profits, Student or Unknown to us.

We are very exited about the interest in this edition. When we launched it we really didn’t know what to expect in terms of numbers and types of users. The response has exceeded our expectations and we are curious where this will take us next year. In case you are interested you can register and activate within minutes. Just click here to go to the form.

Returning to the didactical roots: innovation in eLearning?


Earlier this month I presented at DevLearn on connecting learning to the business and this week I did a webinar and a seminar on adaptive learning. During these sessions I noticed that our basic approach (Determine learning objectives, Figure out how to assess and then create only the content that is really needed) is far from standard.  Most people create content, create an assessment and that is it. But the funny thing is that this ‘old school’ approach is the foundation of innovation at easygenerator.

Originally I’m a teacher in social studies and economics. They taught me that for every lesson you want to create you need to figure out your goal first and that you need to find a way to asses if that goal is reached in the end. Only then you could start creating your lessons. I did apply this approach through my working live: with teaching, with writing books (on bookkeeping – how boring can you get?-), when I create eLearning and even when I manage a company. I know it is not common practice, but I still believe that this is the way to go.

Old school didactics
Let’s first take a look at this old school approach.

 

As said you start out with your learning objectives. Creating sound and useful objectives is an art in its own right. I will not go in too much detail here but I’m a fan of the action mapping approach from Cathy Moore. The essence of this approach is that learning is not about obtaining knowledge but to (learn) to be able to perform a task. Cathy doesn’t link this to learning objectives, but if you do, they should state what the learner needs to be able to do.

The second step in the development process is the assessment: how do you prove that the learner is able to do the task? You can do this by asking questions, presenting cases, really anything that will measure the performance and comes up with a score. By the way thanks to our new emerging standard (‘Tincan API’ aka ‘the experience API’) we will be able to measure this in real live and use the outcome in an eLearning course). When you create good cases (or scenario’s) this assessment will be the learning experience by itself.

And only then you start creating the content. But in the spirit of Cathy Moore only the content that is really, really needed to (learn to) do the task. When in doubt leave it away, ‘less is better’ and much cheaper!

Innovation
We have applied this principle in the authoring platform of easygenerator and it has become the foundation underneath the innovations we have created and will create in the future. I will explain.

In easygenerator we created a dashboard to create and manage your learning objectives. You can’t create a course without a learning objective (if there no goal there is no point in creating a course after all) in easygenerator.

After creating the course you need to set how to measure the progress in the course. You do that by connecting the Learning objectives to questions and cases. In fact you are determining how to assess the objectives. Finally you connect these questions to related information pages.

And this simple approach will change and enable a lot:

  1. It will change your design process and with that the kind of course you create.
  2. The learner is able to see the objectives and his progress on the objectives during the course.
  3. The course is able to present a personal study advice to the learner.
  4. You will be able to report the outcome per learner per learning objective, giving you meaningful data to evaluate you course and your contribution to the companies goals.

These are only the first developments we did based on this approach, a lot more will follow. This video shows you how this works for the learner and for the author.

Based on these very basic dialectical principles we will continue the innovation of eLearning courses and the creation process. Some of the things on our road map are:

  • Create non-hierarchical metaphors and interfaces for eLearning courses (no book metaphor).
  • Create better support for designing eLearning courses in our authoring environment.
  • Implement TinCan
  • Create learning maps, where the learner can navigate through on his journey to reaching his learning objective
  • Create better support for case based and scenario based eLearning in the authoring environment

And there will be much more. But the bottom-line is that this idea is independent of a tool, it is how you organize your development process. You can do this on paper if you want, but I believe eLearning developers should do this much more, regardless of the tool they are using.

Devlearn conference day one: an exhilarating day


So we are off to an excellent start with DevLearn. As always at the first day of a guild conference it was an exhilarating day. I was able to attend some sessions and keynotes and talked to lot’s of people. Here is my wrap-up.

Trends?
I try to spot the emerging trends at conferences like this, for this conference there are two. One is SaaS or cloud based solutions, the other is the future of the Learning Management Systems. Acceptance for cloud based solutions is definitely growing, almost all the vendors have plans in that direction.

TinCan and IACC
The other trend is that the LMS market is changing rapidly. The big thing here is TinCan. I wrote about it before. Yesterday it became even bigger. Before the second keynote there was an extra unplanned presentation by Aron ‘TinCan’ Silver. He showed a video where AICC announced that they will adopt TinCan. I don’t think that the entire audience grasped the meaning of this announcement. We have two main standards in our industry SCORM and IACC, both of them enable us to track and trace results, both of them confine eLearning within the borders of the LMS. TinCan will free us from this, it allows you to track and trace any learning experience, anywhere. I don’t know what the adoption will actually mean but it sounded like TinCan will be the next version of IACC. This leaves us with one standard and but more importantly it ‘frees’ eLearning from the boundaries of the LMS. This really is a big thing and it will affect the way we use any LMS and in the long run it will change the market completely. We will see how this develops, but I’m exited.

Way to reinforce learning
A morning buzz session I attended, presented by Art Kohm. It was about how to improve memory retention.

His story was along the lines of the keynote of last year by John Medina at the Learning Solution conference. The brain filters information (to prevent information overload), in principle you forget the most information that you encounter, you need to reactivate the facts in order to really store them in your brain. He refers to research by Rodigger. His solution is Booster training. Two days after the learning event you have to trigger the information by asking (multiple choice questions). It forces you to retrieve the information and that will enhance the retention. After two weeks you have to do that again. The interesting here is that in this phase he will ask open questions, that not only require retrieval but also processing of the information. I believe that memory retention is a sort of blank area in eLearning, there are some tools but the notion isn’t widely spread. Ans it is important it determines the effectiveness of your Learning experiences.

Brent Schenkler
Brent opened the first session. He is the driving force behind DevLearn, but he has accepted another job. So this conference is his last one. It will be interesting to how this affects future conference. He spoke briefly about all the elements of the conference.

Keynote: John Landau

John is the producer of many movies, the most famous ones are Titanic and Avatar. Great presentation. His message is that the story precede the technique. The technique to shoot the scripts of these movies wasn’t there when the scripts were written. They just developed the techniques they needed. According to him the same goes for eLearning. Make the learning experience leading and then just make it work. Great keynote.

Easygenerator Free edition launch
After the keynote I presented the launch of easygenerators free edition. I had a good turnout and great responses. It is great to see how the story about better eLearning courses catches on. More info at our website, you can register and start working within minutes.

Xtranormal scenarios
I joined this session because I am a scenario based learning fan, but this turned out to be a session about the posibilities of a product that let’s you create animated video’s with Lego images and text to speech voices. Looked ok, but is really not my thing.

Learning objectives concurrent session
My second presentation of the day about learning objectives and how you can use the in many ways, but most importantly how to use them to connect learning to your business goals. I really enjoyed giving this presentation. Good crowd, good responses.

Organizational Learning with agility
A session by Jenet Clarey of Bersin. I was triggered by the term agility. It turned out to be something very different. She was talking about trends in the LMS market. She says that the trend is that it is changing rapidly. The core function of LMS was track and trace and course management. In the ‘Agile LMS’ it is just one of the functions. It grows to become a broad talent management system or even a corporate portal where learning is just a part of. I have two photo’s of interesting slides. I think they tell a large part of the story, again a story about the changing LMS market.

Brian Bushwood, how to scam your way to the top.
This was interesting. He is a ‘sort’ of a magician. But his story turned out to be a marketing story, he told us how he build his internet brand. He is hugely succesfull with his ‘Scam school’ he had great stories how created fake Ibooks and made them top-ten hits in Itunes and his Scam school is very successful. Some of his lessons:

Identify one niche and own it, be first at least in your category or in the minds op people. His niche was internet magician and it is great to hear and see how he made it to the top of his market.
And he is funny:

More to come tomorrow. Make sure you check out the curated backchannel of Devlearn by David Kelly.

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