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Tech in Training

Tech  in  Training

Welcome to ATD Lincoln's source for everything technology in the training profession.  You will find tips, trends, as well as links to websites and resources that anyone who conducts training can use.

Our guest writer is ATD Lincoln Past President Ranelle Maltas.

  • Wed, June 01, 2011 9:14 AM | Anonymous
    These days when you think of mobile, you think of mobile phones. Not every phone has to be a smartphone with a data plan to use in learning. If your learners do all have a smartphone, there are a ton of apps you can get or even build. They make for great just-in-time learning. But if not, as long as they have texting, you can still have them learn on the go.

    My first and favorite example is Twitter. You may not think this is a great learning tool, but I have built a great Professional Learning Network (PLN) and we tweet regularly. I tend to follow other people in Higher Education, Instructional Technology, and Workplace Learning and Performance. I also follow a number of K-12 teachers as I know their students will soon be my students.

    You may be thinking that this is great for me to learn, but how can I use it for others? Specify a hashtag (ask me at the next meeting and I’ll explain) and have learners follow it. You can post a daily tip or learning nugget. Have the learners do the same and they can learn from each other. Have them tweet a question and some one will respond.

    If you don’t think this will work, I have a great example. Check out @UNL_CropWatch sometime. You may think farmers are not that techno-saavy, but they all have mobile phones and text to stay in touch with the family and home when out in the field (in my day, we used a CB Radio). If a farmer comes across an odd bug or problem with a plant, they take a photo and tweet it to @UNL_CropWatch. An expert (at UNL or perhaps another farmer) will see it and can respond. It used to be they took the bug or plant to the “not-so-local” extension office and it may be days before they get a response. Now, it’s almost instant. How’s that for learning on the job?

    Next up, Short Messaging Service (SMS). http://www.swaggle.mobi is a simple group text messaging service for cellphones. Send one text message to Swaggle, and and they will send it to everyone in your group. When someone responds, that goes to everyone in the group, as well. Use it to send tips, tricks, learning nuggets, reminders, or ask a question. A few others include http://www.cellsea.com/media/smsindex.htm, http://www.buzz411.org/ or use Google SMS Channels at http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/. Some are free, some will cost you. Either way, be sure your users are aware of text messaging costs for this service.

    As far as the apps available for smart phones, I’ll cover those next month when I talk about tablets (iPads, Xoom, Playbook, etc.) since there is so much cross-over.
  • Mon, May 02, 2011 9:13 AM | Anonymous
    Mobile learning (mLearning) can mean many things to many different people. The best description I’ve found is Any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location. The reason I like this description is that there is no mention of technology. Technology is a tool to help you accomplish something but it is not the only thing that will work. I know, this is an article about technology. Let me explain.

    As a teacher, my goal is to either impart knowledge or skill to my learners. (Again, no mention of technology.) The reason I’m so fond of mLearning is that the learning can take place anytime, anywhere--and that doesn’t mean it has to be in a classroom. If my learners can continue learning beyond the classroom walls, I know I’ve gotten them higher up on the Bloom’s taxonomy to where they are applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. I prefer to do this the most efficient way, and for me, that does include technology.

    In the next several months, I’ll take you through some of my favorite tools and talk about mLearning with smartphones, tablets, webinars and podcasts and how you can blend them into your teaching. (Darn, another term: blended learning.) Yes, it all fits together and if you keep reading in the months ahead, you’ll find out how.
  • Fri, April 01, 2011 9:12 AM | Anonymous
    If you are a regular reader of this column, you’ll know that I’m cheap. I like free and hate to pay for things. Many things I find I try the free version and if I get a lot of benefit, I’ll go ahead and pay for the full version. I just did that today with two Android apps for my phone. But in other cases, the free version is just good enough.

    This brings me to my story. I do computer training on the side. My full-time job doesn’t leave room for lots of extra work, so I don’t put a lot of effort into selling my part-time work. Since I don’t make a lot of money, I don’t want to invest much, either. But when people want to learn more about me or my services, I don’t have a website to direct people to. To help give myself an online presence in the absence of a website, I found a virtual business card I can attach to my social networking sites and email signatures. I use BusinesCard2.com, but it’s not the only online business card option out there. However, I found it looks really good and the free version offers a lot.

    On this card, you can have a picture, contact information, your bio, what you offer, links to social networking, videos and files. I haven’t taken the time to make an introductory video, but I plan to someday. It would be nice for people to “meet” me before they really do. I also thought about making videos of customer testimony to link to as well. That would make for a nice sell of me and my services.

    If you want to check out my card, go ahead. You can find it at http://ctrlaltgeek.businesscard2.com. I also have it posted on my ASTD-Lincoln profile page. I hope to see yours there soon, too!
  • Tue, March 01, 2011 9:11 AM | Anonymous
    Did you get the chance to attend the February meeting? If not, you missed out on some great stuff. But I’m not here to tell you what you missed. I’m here to tell you about what you can use. During the February meeting I reminded people about the shared bookmarks for ASTD-Lincoln for online resources. It became apparent that I was the only one aware of them. You should visit http://www.delicious.com/astdlincoln and find out what you’re missing.

    It all started with a list of personal resources I was keeping for myself. People ask me often about this, that or the other thing and what I would recommend. I thought, “hmmm, I bet my ASTD-Lincoln friends could benefit from these same resources.” So I created the list.

    The list is in Delicious.com because that’s what I used and my coworkers used. I have since moved on to Diigo.com for my social bookmarking of personal sites, but kept the Delicious.com for ASTD-Lincoln. I use it the resources and links almost as often as I add new ones.

    To use the social bookmarking site, just go to the URL given in the first paragraph. On the right side, click a keyword or topic to narrow the list. You can click another to further refine the list. If you want to share the resource page with someone, you’ll notice it is the basic URL followed by a forward slash and the keyword (eg. /video).

    If you are a Delicious.com user, you can subscribe to the astdlincoln page and get updated with additions. I usually add at least one or two each week. Enjoy this tasty tidbit of knowledge, it’s DELICIOUS!
  • Tue, February 01, 2011 9:11 AM | Anonymous
    There are many times when teaching, I need a big list of fake information. It could be names, dates, addresses or whatever. It doesn’t have to mean anything, but I don’t want to take hours just to type a whole bunch of fake data that looks fake. I need it to look real and act like real data. Sometimes it’s for spreadsheet training, database testing, mail merge training (you get the idea).

    Lucky for me, I found a website that will do it all for me. And customized, too! Check out FakeNameGenerator.com. The first page will give you just one record, but if you click on the Order in Bulk link at the top, you can order up to 50,000 records with the information you request (from a predefined list). You can choose from which country, approximate age groups, and gender.

    For me, the .csv (comma separated value) format works best as it can easily import into most programs I use. But, there is a good variety of options for you to chose from. And best of all, it’s FREE! Oh yea, uh-huh, do the “happy me” dance.
  • Mon, January 03, 2011 9:10 AM | Anonymous
    Happy New Year! Did you count down to the New Year? If you were watching television, that was easy. But what if you are in a training session and need to count down to the end of a break, breakout session, quiz, or whatever? There are lots of options for you.

    e.ggtimer.com is a simple online timer. They have lots of predefined timers, but you can set your own and bookmark it to go back to it easily. If you need more than one, try my.online-eggtimer.com. You can create multiple times and bookmark them for easy use later.

    My favorite is the online-stopwatch.com. You can use it online or download for off-line use. They have a countdown, stopwatch, split lap, egg, bomb, clock, chess clock, chess timet, online clock, online alarm clock, online digital clock, cash clock, interval timer, metronome (for you music people), a stay on top app, custom countdown, online calculator and a Windows 7 gadget. I’ve downloaded the timers and saved them on my USB drive along with my presentations and exercise files I use for training. It’s with me where ever I go. Small and simple and hasn’t failed me yet.
  • Wed, December 01, 2010 9:06 AM | Anonymous
    For the past six months, I’ve been writing these articles. I type them up in Google Docs and then share it with David Jacobs, Vice President of Communications. It’s so easy to either type in Google Docs or upload a Microsoft Word file. Then I click the Share button and pick David out of my contact list. He then has access to the document where he can edit and save or copy/paste into the newsletter. It has worked very well for us since neither one needs access to a specific email account, just the Internet, which we can access from anywhere. I’ve worked on articles at home, on vacation and in the office.

    You may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with training technology?” Let me ask you a question, “Do you work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and require them to provide you information for your training?” If the answer is “yes,” I have the answer you’re looking for. Google Docs. The SME can type/upload the file to Google Docs where you can edit to make it more understandable to the lay-person.

    Do you have more than one trainer working on the same training? Google Docs allows you to share the training materials as you work on them. When you need to share the documentation with a new trainer or if it’s a handout, you can share it with the learners without printing on paper.

    I could go on, but I hope this has sparked your imagination. Also, Google Docs is not the only answer. It’s just the one I use. There is also Zoho Docs, Microsoft Office Live (Skydrive), Adobe Buzzword, TitanPad, Entri, and collabedit just to name a few. Each have their own benefits. Not every option may work for you, but give it a try. You may become addicted to sharing!

    Want to check out this article on Google Docs? Visit http://tinyurl.com/28apupp. Just so you know, I made it public to view, but not edit. Sorry folks.
  • Mon, November 01, 2010 9:09 AM | Anonymous
    You may have heard about Audience Response Systems (ARS), Personal Response Systems (PRS), Student Response Systems (SRS) and Classroom Response Systems (CRS). Most people refer to the device as Clickers. What ever you call it, many people have found them to be an invaluable tool to increase learning during instructor-led training. 

    On campus, there are some professors that use clickers to just take attendance or a quiz. Although that works, it's not really the best practice. While training, you ask questions of the participants like "do you understand?" to determine of what you just said made sense. You hope someone is brave enough to shake their head "yes" or "no," but all you get is a glazed over look like you just spoke Latin. Quizzes are designed to give feedback to verify what the participants have learned. But you only get this feedback after the training and the papers have been graded.

    Imagine you are training and you ask a question to find out if they comprehend what you just told them. On the spot, you find out who is awake and answered (anonymously) and if they really understood the concept. If you find they did not, you can at that point in time address the topic from another point of view. You can ask the question again to see if the responses have changed for the better or not. You can stay on topic until the topic is learned. This is clickers at work. 

    There are a ton of options for clickers on the market. Two of the top are Turning Technologies and i>Clicker. Another popluar one is eInstruction. These are paid products where each participant has either a proprietary clicker or software for a laptop, and you have software to manage the responses. If you are looking for a more simple option, Poll Everywhere is gaining in popularity. It lets you use any mobile device without requiring the purchase of a proprietary clicker. Want to go more mainstream? Have people use Twitter and answer with a specific hashtag to filter the results or use twtpoll. Feeling adventurous? Try Text The Mob [Beta]. Participants can respond with their cell phones. 

    If you just want to learn more, check out Derek Bruff's blog, Teaching with Classroom Response Systems, at http://derekbruff.com/teachingwithcrs. He literally wrote the book on Teaching with Classroom Response Systems.

  • Fri, October 01, 2010 9:09 AM | Anonymous
    In the world of computer training and support, I often get phone calls from people telling me that their headers and footers aren’t working (or something of the sort). Not being computer techies, they don’t know how to describe what is on their screen accurately enough for me to understand. Being a wimp myself and not wanting to run across campus in the rain or snow, I needed a way to see their screen without leaving my computer. (Okay, so a more politically correct option is that it I waste 20 minutes of my day to walk there and another 20 minutes back. Option two is that they are at a remote site in another town.)

    I began using Adobe’s Connect Now. It’s free when you register and can have up to three connections at a time. It uses audio and video with screensharing capabilities. I don’t use the video or audio to save bandwidth and just talk on the phone with the other person. Once the other person joins the meeting via a URL, you can then promote them to a presenter. They now have the ability to share their screen with you or you can share your screen with them, which ever you prefer. It does use flash technology and so you have to download and install a plug-in (which is easy to do) but requires administrative rights on the computer.

    Recently, I discovered a couple other options. The first is called join.me. It’s a free service offered by Log Me In. This one also requires you to download the join.me client. It’s a quick install. It gives you a simple toolbar at the top of your screen. Just send someone the nine-digit code (join.me/###-###-###) to give them access to your screen. I can see this being used to give a quick tutorial when needed.

    Another one, Mikogo, looks just as easy. It requires you to have a free account with them. Once registered, you can download the client application (it’s small). Once installed, it adds a shortcut to your desktop and also appears as an icon in your system tray (I used Windows). Click the icon to open the menu and begin a session. Share the nine-digit code with participants (there is a Join Session link on the home page). You could also have participants download and install the participant program to make joining easy if you hold regular sessions.

    Do I even need to mention at this point that all of these are free? Adobe Connect does have a paid option that works very well.

    I plan on using one of these with my mom who just got her first computer. She never calls to say, “I love you” anymore. Every time I answer the phone it’s, “I need your help with something on the computer.” I think this will make my life easier. I love you, Mom!
  • Wed, September 01, 2010 9:08 AM | Anonymous
    Do you ever have a hard time explaining what you do to people in just a couple of sentences? More importantly, can you do it so they want to know more? A couple years back, one of our ASTD-Lincoln programs was how to build an effective “elevator pitch.” You know, that quick speech about you and/or your service that can be delivered in 1-2 minutes. It was really effective and I’ve used it a lot. But what do you do if you missed this valuable resource?

    The Harvard Business School has created an online elevator pitch builder. It helps you pick words for the five rules, then builds a speech with a word count, estimated time of delivery, and count of repeated words. It’s not perfect, but is certainly a great way to help you look at your speech in another way.

    You can check it out online at http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/careers/pitch/. And did I mention it’s FREE?
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