December 2007

Free always gets my attention. The eLearning guild is offering this holiday gift in the form of a downloadable pdf of 162 Tips and Tricks for
Working with e-Learning Tools
. (Thanks to The Pursuing Performance Blog for the link.*)

The book is packed with ideas and best practices on a variety of tools—course-authoring, rapid e-learning, media, and simulation tools. All geared toward helping you avoid the pitfalls of exploring new territory.

Example: tip for course development

“When recording any audio narration, don’t record things that frequently change. For example, if you record this script: ‘The price for Product X is $19.99,’ a price change will force you to rerecord your audio. Instead, ensure you show the price onscreen, but record your script this way: ‘Here you can see the current price for Product X.'”

Example: tip for tool selection

“Do not look for an all-in-one tool solution. Use tools for their strengths, and combine outputs.”

These are just two out of 162. And the price is so right.

*btw, I found this link through my PLE. I’m discovering the difference between my feedreader and the PLE. In the feedreader, I follow a deliberate selection of blogs, intentionally limited by my capacity to absorb the influx–about 15 learning-specific blogs out of a total of 50+ feeds. By contrast, the PLE taps the vaster network of blogs, bookmarking sites, video sites, etc, on a specific topic, thus surfacing a more serendipitous array of links in small bites. The tools work nicely in tandem.


Michael Stephens at Tame the Web draws our attention to Skokie Public Library’s “Ten Things” learning program. If parking is as bad in Skokie as it is in New Jersey, this is one heck of a learning incentive!!

So what learning incentives (food, swag, gold stars) have you found effective in your training adventures?

I’m the kind of person who learns best from concrete examples. I had already informed myself about the nature of Personal Learning Environments before attending last week’s webinar, but seeing some sample PLE pages really motivated me to go create my own. I wasn’t the only one, judging by these blog posts.

A PLE is an AJAX start page that is dedicated to collecting resources related to your personal learning. This is a different spin on tools that have been available for awhile.

Presenter Marianne Lenox shared these variations using four different tools.

The ability to create multiple tabs or pages is key. Not only does it organize your feeds and other widgets around specific topics, it also reduces load time. A fully loaded page can be a resource hog, especially if you’re pulling in video feeds. There are hundreds of widgets to choose from and you can pull in a feed from any site with RSS. I created a page for “eLearning,” for “Competencies,” and one just for “FunStuff” where I indulged in the lava lamp, creeping tree frog and comics feed. Learning should be fun, right?

You can view the webinar archive for more information.

Everyone is on the podcast bandwagon and it’s easy to see why.  These small knowledge objects are accessible, portable, and even entertaining.  Their uses are varied, and organizations are finding neat ways to leverage podcasting. I’ve recently built some e-learning modules for Gwinnett County Public Library (our first foray into e-learning, by the way) and I’m hosting them on MOSS 2007.  While I was constructing our Virtual Classroom, I discovered how to directly embed video and podcast players into the site.  Now it was time to bring the Virtual Classroom to life. 

Enter TVnima.  Ever heard of it? allows users to upload a podcast into an online TV studio and then have the user construct a news broadcast, complete with a semi-customizable avatar lip-synching your podcast.  I fell in love with this tool instantly.  It’s flexible, easy to use, and your learners will enjoy having a face to go with the audio.  You can even put your avatar into a Power Point.  Check out the news broadcast I made just for this post.   Sorry for having to link to Youtube, but I couldn’t figure out how to embed the player into this blog!   

Here’s a quick guide for making your own broadcast with completely free tools: 

n      Record a short podcast with a free mp3 encoder, such as Audacity, and export the mp3.

n      Enter and start a new project using their documentation.

n      Coordinate your avatar’s appearance, gestures, and camera angles.

n      Record your finished broadcast using a free screen capture tool like CamStudio, which is enabled for full-motion recording.

n      Save the file as an AVI and upload to Youtube.

n      Retrieve the HTML code from Youtube for the embeddable version of your broadcast.  If you want to embed video directly into Sharepoint without using Youtube’s player, I can share the code later.

n      Past the code into the HTML of your webpage and enjoy. 

I currently have a TVnima avatar embedded into my Sharepoint site at work advertising the upcoming training opportunities at the library.  Has anyone else out there used TVnima for training purposes?  If so, for what?