Tuesday, March 31, 2009

RSS Feeds

I often get asked how I come up with great ideas, or where did I find that cool site that does that cool thing. Honestly, I read.

Kinda scary when you think about it. I spend probably close to an hour a day, wither at work, on the bus or at home reading blogs or email newletters (for lack of a better term) on the topics of elearning, learning, mobile learning, presentations, design and creativity. And that hour is sometimes not nearly long enough. I also spend a lot of time thinking... exploring what something would look like in my mind's eye.

To help me do this, I use a RSS reader. Simply put, an RSS reader goes to all the websites I have subscribed to and brings their latest offerings to one location on the web. No more going from site to site to see what's new. I have used two RSS readers in the past and would recommend either one of them. Bloglines and Netvibes. Both are really good at what they do, but a slightly different tools. But that's a topic for another post.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Presentation Zen

I am reading Presentation Zen right now. Great book so far, and it comes highly recommended by the blogging / elearning / learning world. While I don't create alot of "business presentations" I do create a lot of elarning and presentations for the classroom, and I think they are essentially the same thing. I have to communicate (sell) a knowledge skill or attitude (or idea). So the prinicipals hold true. I really like the questions he is possing so far. Some great ones that I can see using here at work.

What your (the) point?
Why does it matter?

Is it useful and necessary? or just interesting and cool?

Can I explain (sell) the message / idea in 30 secs?

oh some food for thought for sure...

This is a different way of thinking, especially for me , working here in the government, where everything seems to be drawn out in great detail. So, to help me practice, the blog will now live by those rules.

Whats the point, why does it matter, and it should take you no longer than about 30 seconds to read the post... lets see how it goes...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Ahhhh one of my favorite web 2.0 tools. Social bookmarking. Have to say, I could be using it a bit better, but its working for me. So, what is social bookmarking? I'll explain briefly...

  1. Its a "Bookmark Favorites" but is kept on-line and not just in your browser. Thus, you can access it where ever you are, you just need an Internet connection.

  2. You can do more than just save your bookmarks. You can tag and annotate them.

  3. Best part... you can share them with friends and colleagues.

My tool of choose is Del.ici.ous. You can see my bookmarks here, a big mix of work related and personal stuff.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why Web 2.0?

I find that I am being asked this question more and more these days, especially as my workplace begins to explore the use of Web 2.0 techonology. Its cool, but why should we use it?

As some of you know I am a big fan of web 2.0, so I have to agree this is cool, we should be doing it. But why is also a great question.

I came across a great line today in a blog post and when I saw it, I immediately thought, that answers that question...
"... that’s where we should all start when thinking about new technologies: with the need they can help up fulfill." (from: http://ialja.blogspot.com/2009/02/my-grandpa-is-blogger-and-doesnt-even.html)

I use a lot of these new technologies, because they fulfill my needs. I have personally have two blogs (includes this one), a Flickr account, a RSS reader, listen to at least 10 podcasts and 1 vodcast on a regular basis, have a social book marking account and am on two social networking sites. I also have a personal wiki, but rarely use it anymore because it no longer fulfills a need for me. Do I need all these to survive? No. Do they make my life and my learning easier? Better? Yes.

We should not be creating blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc for the sake of using these cool new technologies. We should be using them to answer a need or solve a problem.

For example, in the recent redesign of the Preparing for Performance Service Excellence course, we identified a need that our graduates have. They wanted access to course documents/handouts after they had graduated. Sure, someone could have emailed them out every time we got a request, but what a waste of time. So, instead we created a couple of pages on our Wiki where we have placed the documents found in the course. Took about 20 minutes to do that. We also expanded the wiki pages associated with the course to include some other material that will benefit our learners. Even better, because of the nature of a wiki, if our learners find a great article that speaks to the course, they can upload it themselves. Thus, taking a more active role in their own learning. Our learners are told to bookmark the wiki and use it through out the course.

I also recently had a conversation here at the college about using a blog to assist in the roll out of a new program. The blog could be used to announce updates, clarifications, presentation materials etc. Also the readers of the blog could pose questions if they were unsure of some aspect. The blog would allow the information to be published in one place (and could be published quickly with little technical knowledge) and provide one spot for all news and answers. No more searching for emails that may or may not have already been deleted or forgetting to forward the emails on to all users. In addition, with the upcoming launch of IE 7 at work, we will be able to receive updates from these sites using RSS feeds. That way we do not have to continuously visit the site to see if there is something new, the RSS reader built into IE 7 will do that for us.

A few other quick notes… often, these new technologies offer the means for a conversation / discussion to start outside of the classroom, a kind of virtual water cooler if you will. They are also useful for working in a collaborative virtual team environment (wiki's for collaborative documents, instant messaging for quick questions or advice to colleagues in different buildings or provinces, networking across the country with colleagues in other departments, social book marking for sharing online resources).

I could go on further, but I think you get the idea. Why? Not because its cool and new. But because it fulfills a need or solves a problem.